Accounting & Auditing Archives - Page 5 of 12 - Emile Woolf writes

QUESTIONS FOR THE PROFESSION’S REGULATOR

Columnists are spoilt for choice – I could have covered the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing programme (more accurately, “counterfeit”); the Greek anti-austerity surge (“reneging on your debts”); unshackling the Swiss franc (“reality check”) – and I could have thrown in the fact that the examination syllabus for becoming a chartered accountant excludes the word […]

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Perplexing times for economists and accountants

The world of economics and business is riddled with anomalies. For example, the UK is enjoying buoyant GDP growth and low unemployment, yet the excess of government spending over income (the “deficit”) continues to grow. Despite so-called “cuts”, 46% of GDP still goes on public expenditure, of which 60% doggedly adheres to welfare, health and […]

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Big Audits: are they fit for purpose?

Over the past 30 years the 12 largest firms, through various consolidating moves, became the Big-8, then the Big-5 and, following the Enron/Andersen debacle 14 years ago, settled down as the “Big-4” who alone possess the reach, technical capability and manpower to conduct audits of the worlds largest enterprises. Although second-tier contenders like BDO and […]

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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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