In Brief

Temple of debit

Scottish chartered accountant Alastair (surnames are strictly confidential) struck a major blow for accountants everywhere when he got up on his pedestal on LWT's Blind Date last month and regaled a surprised Cilla Black with how interesting accountants are.

As Cilla's first contender of the evening, 27 year-old Alastair said he was there to defend the accountants of the nation, and to prove to everyone that accountancy can be fun.

'It's not just about being stuck in the corner with your calculator pushing a pen.…it's a financial jungle out there. You get the taste for figures and you have to satisfy your hunger for the balance sheet. From the moment I sit at my desk, it's war. Tackling the perils of projected profit, striving through blood, sweat and tears to break the back of those balance sheets. It's really satisfying - I could talk about it all night.'

He added: 'I'm the Indiana Jones of the Temple of Debit, a financial freedom fighter.'

Alastair, who works for a major high-street bank in Edinburgh, was the only contender in a suit. But his powers of persuasion won through. He was picked by Lisa, a 24year-old graphic designer from Huddersfield - lucky girl.

Sheer luck

ICAEW Council member Anne Jenkins and her husband and fellow chartered accountant Peter are £125,000 better off after a nail-biting round of Millionaire Couples with Chris Tarrant. But they failed to consolidate their position because they couldn't agree on who did the voiceover for Shere Khan, the man-eating tiger in Disney's The Jungle Book.

The owner of those deep, mellifluous tones was, of course, George Sanders, and had the Jenkinses gone with Anne's instinct, they would be £250,000 richer and just two questions away from that tantalising £1m. But they had already gambled on an earlier question - what is a fieldfare? - and they obviously felt their luck was about to turn. Still, £125,000 isn't bad for 20 minutes' work - even for chartered accountants.

'I don't know what you've got, Anne,' Chris Tarrant concluded, 'but you'd better bottle it.'

BDO on the air

Listen out for Men Behaving Badly's Martin Clunes, and Dune Mackichan from Smack the Pony, as they expound the virtues of BDO Stoy Hayward in the firm's new radio ad campaign.

Recordings and transcripts were unavailable as Accountancy went to press; however, hearing comic Clunes promoting the firm's 'increasing focus on specialist services for the entrepreneurial market' should be worth a giggle.

BDO says it has chosen a radio campaign, which begins this month and will last for five weeks, because 'we see ourselves as standing apart from other firms and wanted to convey this in our creative approach and choice of media'.

Arty party

City professionals looking to add a touch of colour and creativity to the office can now flatter the walls with works of art without having to part with millions for the pleasure.

Office Art Rentals offers City firms original works of art to rent, and advice from a personal art consultant. The service includes a detailed review of the client's art requirements, followed by a recommendation of paintings and sculptures that will reflect the company's image and brand identity.

The practice is well-established in the US, Germany and Japan. Managing director Christopher Sabin says the business advantages of placing original art in the boardroom have long been recognised. 'Many companies that display art identify the benefits as more motivated employees and an enhanced image with clients.'

For a month's free trial service, call 020 729 9629 or visit the gallery website at

Time for a change

More than a third of accountants are unhappy with their work's impact on their social lives, according to Robert Half International's annual survey of accountants' pay and perks.

It reveals that 39% of them are actively seeking to change their jobs over the next six months - although most bosses expect only 1% of their staff to leave within the first year. More than half of the respondent accountants believe that staying in a job for too long makes you stale.

Londoners are the most dissatisfied accountants - 58% are unhappy with their work/life balance; which is not surprising given that most respondents put in 10 hours' unpaid work on top of their average 38 hours in a week.

But most importantly, around a quarter of respondents are dissatisfied with the décor, layout and temperature of their offices - a legitimate concern if you spend 48 hours a week at your desk.

InCALCulable generosity

Among the uninitiated, City of London livery companies have a reputation as dining clubs for old fogies of the (largely) male variety. But the truth is very different, as a short ceremony at last month's Chartered Accountants' Livery Company spring dinner revealed.

This year's reigning master, Kim Staniforth, presented a record £50,000 in grants from the Company's own charity, CALC, to five charities around the country.

The largest grant, of £20,000, went to Place to Be, a charity that provides help and advice to vulnerable children in schools, and will cover the cost of an accountant to help it roll out the scheme nationally. Other grants benefited the elderly and terminally ill, as well as children in deprived areas.

In announcing the package, Staniforth paid tribute to the generosity of the Company's 350 livery men and women who had raised the money. 'I am pleased that we are able to reach such a wide range of deserving causes, helping young and old in locations spread around the country.'

See also 'Just another pastime', p22.

CABA needs you

Over the last year, the Chartered Accountants' Benevolent Association has relocated to Daventry, Northants, taken on a new director and formalised its corporate governance procedures, according to its annual report published last month. However, it is still in need of greater support in its endeavours to serve accountants in need.

The charitable organisation assists ICAEW members in trouble (and members of the former Society of Incorporated Accountants) by offering a range of services including counselling, loans, grants and donations, accommodation through a housing association and educational awards. Its fundraising events last year included a golf day and a concert.

However, only 7,700 of the Institute's 119,000 members and 300 of the 17,000 firms in the UK contribute annually to the CABA, and it is continually looking to raise funds. If you can help, contact David Barker on: 01327 314830 or email:
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