Sheila Masters said the institute had to be outward-looking and to embrace internet technology.
'If we do not reinvent ourselves, will we be able to meet the legitimate demands of our members in the future?' she asked. 'If we ignore the power or digital technology how can we hope to match our members' business needs?'
But the institute's reformers suffered a blow earlier this week when its members voted narrowly to reject plans to allow specialisation in its examinations - a reform supported by the big five accountancy firms, which provide provide training.