Professional Practice Archives - Page 4 of 6 - 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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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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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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Competition amongst auditors – not the answer

Have auditors learned more from the 2008 financial crash than economists? The high priests of the dismal science refuse to recognise that the world has changed, though their discreditied theories continue to collapse about their ears.  Any serious penetration of the causes of collapse are not in the university syllabus, which now reads more like […]

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Standards can obscure the simplest concepts: try ‘true and fair’

UK Companies Acts since 1947 have stipulated that audited accounts of companies should give a ‘true and fair view’. After 66 years the meaning of that elusive formula continues to be hotly debated by accounting bodies, regulators, representatives of investors and pension funds, civil servants and politicians. Prior to that time the Acts used the […]

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Spicing up the Audit Report will end in tears

A study of the evolution of the form and content of UK audit reports over, say, the past 50 years would make nostalgic but intriguing reading because it would at the same time reflect changing public and investor expectations of the audit function. Under the Companies Act 1948 audit reports were required, positively, to include […]

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