Accounting & Auditing Archives - Page 5 of 11 - Emile Woolf writes

Financial rectitude: do the non-execs help?

Any columnist writing about financial misdeeds rarely lacks material. Buccaneering chief executives and ineffective auditors are invariably centre-stage – but what of the wise owls making up the panel of non-executive directors? How effective are they as a bulwark against executive opportunism or worse? I remember one prominent public company CEO, the darling of his […]

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Banks: prudence and sanity return?

Banks’ auditors have had to deal with the absurdity of accounts failing the ‘true & fair’ test for the very reason that they comply with a flawed standard. Auditors accused of rubber-stamping defective accounts of banks should now feel some relief. The International Accounting Standards Board appears at last to acknowledge the folly of its […]

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Words: weapons of mass destruction?

Concepts, like Plato’s “forms”, exist in the world of ideas. Compared with their myriad manifestations, the concepts of, say, “window”, “chair” or “coin” exist in the mind, immutable and unchanging. Similarly, our structured accounting lexicon began with broad acceptance of its underlying concepts. These criteria were treated as assumptions, laying the groundwork for that other […]

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Auditing the auditors: some improvement. But what of the economy?

The audit failures I have been highlighting so regularly are given full exposure in the Financial Reporting Council’s latest report on big-firm audit quality in the UK. Adverse findings relate to the usual suspects: goodwill impairment, revenue recognition, IT controls and loan loss provisions. Although quality (or lack of it) varies between the four top […]

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If management breaks the law, don’t penalise the shareholders

Most penalties for financial wrongdoing are levied on institutions rather than the inventive executives who master-mind these grubby manoeuvres. Regulatory authorities themselves do not benefit from the fines they collect, now amounting to serious money – over £500 million in this year alone. Apart from relatively modest retentions to cover regulators’ costs, the money is […]

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You can print money, but not direct its course

Legal claims against top Wall Street banks arising out of the financial crisis have, so far, settled at over $100 billion, and no doubt there will be more. Claims against audit firms for their involvement will surely follow, and it will be interesting to see how far IFRS-compliance will serve as the defence of choice.  […]

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Loan book valuations – accounting standards’ greatest challenge

  The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards recommended that the “expected loss “ model should replace the existing  “incurred loss” model in IFRS – in other words, that the concept of “prudence” should be reinstated in the accounting framework. In support, the European Parliament has instructed the European Central Bank to undertake stress tests on […]

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Sloppy auditing has its consequences – just look around you

My repeated warnings to auditors that compliance with IFRS does not guarantee accounting truth and fairness appear to have struck a resounding chord in high places: the House of Lords, to be precise, where the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards debated the Bill on banking reform, now enacted by Royal Assent. In Hansard for 23 […]

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Auditors, wasted loans, currency wars… and gold

I noted last month that the record of auditors’ ability to assess the worth of banks’ loan portfolios is singularly uninspiring. In the US the Securities and Exchange Commission is actively pursuing auditors who issued clean opinions after accepting management’s assurances of worth, followed by massive bailouts. Yet any meaningful audit is impossible when supposed […]

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Auditing banks’ toxic debts

AUDITING BANKS’ TOXIC DEBTS Ever since the financial markets registered their massive tumble in 2008, when Lehman Brothers was left to drown in its swamp of toxic debts, banks’ managements, regulators, rating agencies and auditors have been muttering that banks must rebuild their balance sheets in line with successive Basel capital adequacy criteria. Their auditors, […]

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