Two of Britain's top accountancy bodies are considering merger plans which will lead to the creation of new training routes into the profession.
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales are hoping to develop a common core syllabus for training under the amalgamated organisation they aim to form next year.
Students would be able to qualify either as chartered accountants through a practice training route or as chartered management accountants through a business training route.
Common elements in the syllabus will allow students to make later choices about which route to follow, or even to switch. A note on the merger principles from CIMA also suggests that members who acquire one title by qualification would be able to exchange it for the other, subject to demonstrating appropriate defined standards of knowledge.
Both institutes are keen to ensure that the core curriculum does not lead to a fall in standards.
George Vallings, secretary of CIMA, said: "I believe the merger will mean some significant changes in the curriculum. But we are not going to compromise the qualification in order to make it easier to cross over from one stream to another. We have to find the right balance."
Phil Armitage, director of education and training for the ICAEW, said that some institute members were against the proposals on the grounds of defending training traditions. But the changes made sense in the light of a growing convergence in the training offered by the two bodies.