Professional Practice Archives - Emile Woolf writes

HBOS, KPMG & FRC – a trio mired in scandal

“ACCOUNTANCY” – DECEMBER 2017 HBOS, KPMG & FRC – a trio mired in scandal How much credence can shareholders of public companies safely attach to financial statements that carry a “true and fair” imprimatur from their auditors? Big-4 firms hold the lion’s share of public company audit appointments, yet they are regularly found to have […]

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Institutionally Gullible – loan-loss provisions

“ACCOUNTANCY” – JUNE 2017 Banks, criminality and accounting: end of the road?  All those banks and other financial institutions that have gone bust, or been bailed out, over the past 20 years demonstrate that the sector’s corporate conduct has been wayward, to put it mildly. That these dodgy outfits are located in the UK, USA, […]

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BANKING SCANDALS: CAN THE RBS SAGA TELL US ANYTHING NEW?

It’s not as if each successive banking scandal throws up new insights. The proverbial “innocent bystander” might reasonably suppose that, by now, something would have been learnt from the cyclical repetition of egregious behaviour and the crises it generates. Much of this behaviour is just plain foolish: unbridled credit expansion; lending practices landing banks with […]

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Why revised Ethical Standard will not restore public trust

‘ACCOUNTANCY’ – AUGUST 2017 Why the FRC’s ethical standard fails to restore public trust Ethics is far more than an incidental feature of the auditing framework. It is actually its very essence. In virtually every instance of audit failure that finds its way into the public domain, whether it concerns undetected management fraud, money laundering, […]

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Clarity or obfuscation?

Cashing in on complexity: the ultimate conflict Last month I deplored the unfathomable regulatory maze into which accounting rules have descended, noting its utter irrelevance to stakeholders’ needs. I condemned the vast tracts of clutter in company reports that leave little room for anything potentially useful, and I denounced the massive sums wasted on consultancies […]

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Accounting clarity – or regulatory clutter?

APRIL 2017 – ‘ACCOUNTANCY’ MAGAZINE The impediment of accounting clutter Management accounts have never been subjected to the rigorous straightjacket of regulatory standards because people running businesses base their internal accounting systems on utility, or relevance to their needs. In an ideal world, users of published financial statements would be consulted on utility before involving […]

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Useless Sanctions against Banks

‘ACCOUNTANCY’ – JANUARY 2017 MONETARY SANCTIONS? USELESS ON THEIR OWN Unfortunately for our profession, the ‘Big 4’ label may equally be taken to refer to HSBC, RBS, Lloyds and Barclays, which between them have incurred an eye-watering £50 billion in fines and lawsuits since the financial crisis began ten years ago. Their misdemeanours relate mainly […]

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Boardroom mega bucks – ludicrous pay deals

Explaining boardroom mega-bucks The basic pay of most employees is governed by industrial and professional norms, and is relatively stable over time when so-called “inflation” adjustments are factored in. Almost unbelievably, today’s average hourly wage has the same buying power as it did 45 years ago! By contrast, executive remuneration in the largest companies is […]

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Economic Perspectives 9 – Regulatory extortion and legitimising corruption

News media gloat over the eye-watering levels of retribution (in the form of fines and penalties) finally being meted out to aberrant banks found guilty of having violated securities laws leading up to the last financial crash. I find it astonishing, firstly, that it has taken close to 10 years to identify, formulate and punish […]

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“Excessive regulation is the enemy of transparency”

December 2016 “ACCOUNTANCY” Excessive regulation is the enemy of transparency Government departments, lacking the relevant expertise themselves, often grant extensive powers to professional bodies responsible for overseeing the activities of their members. The chief problem with this growth of administrative (compared with constitutional) law is accountability. Given such powers, professional bodies hardly expect to be […]

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