GORDON LOWDEN is the president of the Institute of Chartered

Accountants of Scotland. Last month he voted ''yes'' for a merger with

colleagues in England and Wales. The majority of Scots voted ''no''.

The whole thing has, he agrees, been a great experience. Very

interesting. Others might suggest dramatic, even traumatic. But senior

chartered accountants in Scotland don't use that kind of language.

Professor Lowden gives the voting figures, 55% in Scotland against

merger, with 94% in England and Wales voting for.

''Having studied the paper by the working party looking into the

situation,'' he says mildly, ''a merger was the way forward, to my mind.

The membership having rejected it, that is now water under the bridge.

The merger is dead.''

It could have meant a new British Institute, with around 100,000

members and 12,500 in Scotland. But many clearly feared it effectively

meant an end to a separate Scottish identity. That traces its roots to

1854, and an Accountants' Society in Edinburgh -- the first in the


Was there a corollary to current devolutionary attitudes?

''I think there is a feeling that Scotland should stay Scottish,''

Professor Lowden acknowledges. ''How high you place that factor among

priorities involved in making a decision is difficult to say.

''The Scottish dimension was there. To lose the pre-eminent Scottish

position was something that stuck in the craw of a lot of people I

think. They couldn't give it up and move to a larger organisation.''

The essential requirement now, he points out, is not to go over the

past but to go ahead. There is a strategy review, drawn up before the


''We want to develop our education system so that it becomes more

flexible. We hope to train people in aspects of accounting apart from

auditing. Everyone should have a general basic background. Some will

concentrate on management accounting and industrial accounting and

others on finance and strategy. We are still feeling our way forward on


''Undoubtedly we have strengths,'' he says firmly. ''We have our

education system. And we are a small body, relatively speaking. We can

communicate effectively with our membership. When people are involved

they become committed. We have always been a stubborn race.''

There are inevitably potential disadvantages -- weaknesses is not the

preferred word -- for a small organisation.

''Where larger groups make their voices known, government and other

bodies may be swayed by the multitude. One of our concerns is to get the

recognition we believe we deserve. We may have to work a bit harder, to

be recognised as a separate entity, with a voice to be heard.

''The way to achieve that,'' he adds, ''is to ensure we continue to

produce people of quality. That is why education and training is one of

our strengths.''

Independence may have problems. But problems are made to be overcome.

Someone who learned to play golf at two and still plays off six is not

going to be bunkered easily.

Equally someone who went to Strathallan, to take his Highers at 14, is

not afraid of hard work and application. Even having National Service

interrupt law studies at Cambridge need not be the end of the world.

Go back to university, at government expense this time. Take your

degree. Add a Blue in rugby. Do your accountancy training.

Get your qualifications, get your LLB, get married -- all in 1953. Set

up a department of accountancy at Dundee -- one lecturer and one student

soon becomes hundreds of students. A lecturer becomes a professor.

Nothing really changes.

Being a signalman in the navy was good training, for latter days.

Reading the signals is what a president has to do. Keeping two-way

communications is a basic requirement in life.

Golf remains a matter of great interest. As a member of Rules of Golf

Committee of the R&A he sees fair play.

''You give your views, if asked for. Telling people what to do is not

really the name of the game,'' he says.

It's the same with the Institute. The presidential year is going to be

a busy one. It needs application.

''We certainly don't intend to disappear as a Scottish body.

Credibility in fact is not our problem. People know about us. What we

have to do is to continue to attract the best students. They are our

life blood.

''Scots have a great belief in their own ability. We are proud of our

traditions. We hope to maintain them. When 1992 comes we have to be

ready. We have an important part to pay in accountancy. There is no

question of that.

''We are looking to see what we can achieve, together with other

bodies in the profession. I must say, I have no difficulty in living

with my neighbours.''