Peter Layhe, the new president of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, is far too tactful and charming to be critical outright. Nevertheless he gives the impression of believing firmly that his organisation is superior, in many areas, to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the much grander body with which a couple of years ago the management accountants were planning to merge.
Take his own position. Though he clearly has objectives for his year in office, he is at pains to point out that the body has long had a policy of building continuity through involving the vice- presidents in the development of strategy. Consequently, much of what he will be - in his own phrase - "putting to bed" was initiated or developed under his predecessor, Norman Lyle. Moreover, Mr Layhe's own vice-presidents, long-serving Kodak manager David Melvill and former head of consultancy at KPMG Michael Jeans, will be involved in the ideas that will be set out over the coming 12 months.
At the English institute, by contrast, it is only now that the current president Chris Swinson, along with future presidents Dame Sheila Masters and Graham Ward, have set out to have a common strategy for the next three years.
And then there is regulation. Close followers of accountancy politics will recall how, at an infamous press conference, Cima apparently did its best to derail Mr Swinson's cherished plan for reforming this tricky area without giving it up to an independent body. Just when Mr Swinson thought he had squared the circle, up popped the management accountants' representative to announce grave reservations.
Though the row simmered under Mr Lyle's presidency of Cima, Mr Layhe says that the differences have been buried to the extent that, if the Department of Trade and Industry approves the Swinson proposals, he and his organisation will go along with them.
But that does not mean that he cannot see problems. His own view is that disciplinary matters should be put under the aegis of the Financial Reporting Council, which also has under its wing the Accounting Standards Board and its enforcer, the Financial Reporting Review Panel. For now, he has not been successful in putting forward that argument, but he points out that there might be a change of mind when arrangements are reviewed in a few years time.
Cima has gone from strength to strength since that proposed merger failed to win the backing of chartered accountants who were reluctant to share their hard-won credentials. In survey after survey, as Mr Layhe points out, it has appeared as the preferred qualification, while the English institute has sought to update itself to deal with the modern world. …