Almost all senior council finance staff, and many chief executives, are among CIPFA's 12,368 members.
Mr Adams, who took up his post at the start of this month, used April's staff newsletter to tell employees that a long-awaited organisational review of the institute by consultant KPMG will eventually mean that 'not everyone will still be employed by CIPFA'.
In his first formal message to CIPFA's 275 staff, Mr Adams says: 'Concern about the effectiveness of the present structure and the need to update it has been expressed by staff as well as by [CIPFA] council and committee.
Mr Adams adds: 'CIPFA's reliance on commercial activity to balance the books is too great for long-term comfort.'
In 1995, CIPFA had a turnover of£18 million, producing a surplus of£36,000. Key institute commercial activities include its revenue services wing and the Competition Advisory Service, which offers advice on CCT. There is speculation that the latter has been earmarked for sale.
Mr Adams says the organisational review, as well as CIPFA's IT review and quality initiative, 'have the twin aims of increasing service quality to our customers and reducing costs. These aims pull in uncomfortably opposite directions'.
He warns: 'We shall have to examine downsizing, delayering, market testing and outsourcing as part of our reviews . . . we shall rely on the commitment of our staff in responding to the challenge of competitive alternatives.'
KPMG is due to report in the next couple of weeks, with Mr Adams making recommendations to CIPFA's management committee on 9 May.
The director sought to reassure staff that CIPFA would 'act as a good and responsible employer' throughout the process of change, but the review has fuelled speculation about Mr Adams' intentions. Feelings of job insecurity are now widespread in the organisation.
Comments from staff this week included: 'Nobody feels their jobs are safe . . . People are worried. You can imagine what morale is like.'
One rumour is that the institute will shed 70 staff from its education and training centres. As one staff member put it: 'Why do we need education and training centres? There are plenty of colleges around.'
But some sources argue that a 'big bang' within CIPFA is unlikely and that the review 'will probably do the institute a lot of good in the long-term'.