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How to report non compliant company accounts?

I'm getting fed up of seeing non compliant accounts on Companies House website. This is particularly annoying on the odd occasion when a set of my accounts has been rejected for a trifling reason. Also follows the thread about being rejected when the "limited" or "ltd" is used wrongly.

I'm not talking about stupid irrelevant things.

Just seen a set of accounts that had no analysis of current assets on the balance sheet - which should have been split between stocks, bank and debtors, but just said "current assets". The notes refer to FRSSE but don't say which year (annoying because I've had rejections for saying the wrong year, but apparently ok to say no year!). Then, no comparative columns on the balance sheet nor on the notes page. How did it get past quality control?

Last week I saw a set of accounts where the balance sheet totals didn't balance. Again, what is the point of Co House quality control if they let through something so glaringly wrong.

A while ago, I saw a set of full accounts which should have included cash flow statement and relating notes, but they'd simply not been done - the words were there, but absolutely no numbers - clearly been left to be done at the end of the job and then promptly forgotten!

Is there a particular person or dept within Co House that we should be reporting these contraventions to?

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Complaints

A Google search brought up this BusinessLink page which tells you how to progress through the various levels of complaint.

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Complaints

I read your post about 20 minutes and was going to comment that I had compleined in the past by letter and got a reply that was a complete waste of time. However as i am busy  i did not bother. Instead I have just downloaded from Companies House a full set of accounts for the year ended 05/04/2009 on a potenial new client. I have just printed out the six pages and it a corporation tax computation. This has got to be the best yet. How could Companies House have possibly accepted these. I wonder if they will give me back my £1 fee?

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Top 5 five filed too much once

One of the "top" 5 firms once filed a letter of representation as well as the Accounts for a company.

The "top" 5 firm concerned, so far as I am concerned, is a "selling their signature firm".  They'll sign or support anything to earn a fee...supporting selling publicly owned companies at undervalue to preferred bidders, belittling "whilstleblowers" in the banking industry (before wreckless lending became widely known).

So even (one of the) "top" firms can be rubbish.

 

 

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Smaller firms problems

In my experience there are a few smaller firms who seem to have a policy of filing full accounts at Companies House for a significant number of their clients.    I do wonder if their clients are blissfully unaware of this matter.

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Medium size firm problems

I've recently come across an "award winning" medium size firm who have the following errors with Abbreviated Accounts (for small companies) at Companies House sometimes:

Disclosing dividends paidDisclosing credit balance directors loansReserve movements note (as in profit) disclosedBalance Sheets that don't add up

So, "top 5", small and medium sized firms can ALL over-disclose and breach client confidentiality.

I rather suspect that the sort of errors that I've come across are all a symptom of the "check list" mentality - if the check list don't say "do NOT over disclose" or "check that the Balance Sheet adds up" then these "minor" issues (not getting in the way of being "award winning" or "top 5") will slip through.   I also sense that there's misguided belief by some firms that "the software can't get it wrong" (so Balance Sheets might not add up but not be spotted!).

Personally I advocate a 30 to 60 minute "calling over" or general review of so-called finalised accounts before they get issued as final or filed with third parties.   If this policy was followed my guess is that a lot of the errors seen would be eradicated.   In the real, commercial pressure world however this seems to NOTt be a valued part of the professional process of preparing accounts.

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Write a letter

DMGbus wrote:

So, "top 5", small and medium sized firms can ALL over-disclose and breach client confidentiality.

Just to play devil's advocate. It is also possible that the client's themselves actually requested over-disclosure ?  That would not be mentioned in any audit report or accountants report.  If it was with client agreement it would not be breaching confidentiality.

 

In relation to the OP actual point, I have made a complaint against a company's annual accounts by sending in a letter to companies house, explaining the issues and asking for them to be resolved.  A few months later I received a letter back with a new set of accounts - which had been amended by the company, along with a new audit report.  This was from a company audited by a big 4 entity.

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Many such examples

I have seen:

1. A quickbooks balance sheet printed, company number written on top and a signature on the bottom without a typed name, none of the exemption text, no accounting policies, etc. accepted by Companies House as abbreviated accounts.

2. The subsidiary of a listed company - accounts prepared and audited (!) by a big 4 firm - prepared under FRSSE and small company exemptions taken, loads of missing disclosures, notes that did not agree with accounts, notes that did not add up, etc.

3. A large company that has not complied with FRS17 Defined Benefit Scheme exemptions (The FRRP rapped the knuckles of one company a few years ago that used the same grounds for not complying). A complaint to Companies House came back with the reply that they are satisfied with the reasons for non-compliance given by the company. In my opinion they were clueless so accepted whatever crap the company gave for non-compliance.

4. Many detailed P&Ls attached to both full and abbreviated accounts.

5. Many balance sheets that do not balance.

6. I have heard of a dormant set of accounts filed with a detailed P&L attached which clearly showed that the company is not dormant.

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Don't waste your time

If the accounts pass their cursory check and get on the register then they no longer want to know.  You complain about it they just say that they are a humble registry agency and simply put on the record whatever (rubbish) they are given.  Another favourite is when you catch out an unqualified filing audit reports at Companies House.  Absolutely nobody gives a toss.  Not Companies House, not ACCA, not trading standards.

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Marketing opportuinity....

Why not write to those companies and advise them their current accountants are making a hash of things (maybe not worded exactly like that) and let them know you offer a much high level of quality etc.

Sit back and see what happens.

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Waste of time

Agree with Jon, waste of time and effort.

Far better to just point out the errors in previously filed accounts to new prospects when you meet them.

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I've recently picked up a client who has had their accounts prepared by someone else and from my small knowledge of the company and it's operations could see some glaring errors - not disclosures, mateially incorrect figures.

For example this is a service business who have an amount of accrued income at the year end - this has been vastly overvalued and included within stock (I assume it's been treated as WIP).  In addition the staff costs associated with performing this work have not been accrued for.  Add to that they are showing a large overdraft in creditors and the company doesn't have an overdraft facility.

I'm told these won't be filed until the deadline 'in case something crops up'.  I'm going to have to ask these to be corrected before filing.

And a further point, what are you supposed to do when the DLA supplementary pages of a CT600 have never been completed for an overdrawn DLA?

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What do people suggest as a quality control mechanism? There are obviously major errors going on, and it appears that unless they are in consolidated listed accounts nobody cares. The FRRP expanding its remit to non public-interest entities?

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I've seen abbreviated accounts.....

that had the balance sheet of another company in them.  Both companies have the same registered address.  What makes it worse is that after the accountant had prepared the wrong accounts, two directors of the company then signed the balance sheet, which was that of the other company and contained in their accounts.

 

I was slightly irritated by it as I had left the company 6 months earlier and had prepared a proper set of accounts.  Circumstances changed after I left and they were left scrambling around before the deadline to file the accounts.

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No-one seems to give a toss....

Lodged a complaint at Companies House about a practising accountant whose own personal company was struck-off and reinstated after not filing accounts for 4 years.  They struck the company off again.  The Institute don't want to know.

 

He is now FD of a large company, which - guess what - is now over 9 months late in filing the accounts.  Again, neither CH nor the institute seem to be bothered.

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No-one seems to give a toss

Please remember that (I believe) by its own Charter, CH is a register and not a regulatory body. Its main function is to maintain records of  limited companies/LLP's and its power to supervise the standard of filed accounts is limited by statute.

Bear in mind that the real issue here is whether accounts are true and fair, or are misleading. If the latter, it is rarely the directors or the company at fault, but their advisers/accountants who they rely on to get the details right. Whilst minor issues may be considered insignificant, I happen to believe that small visible errors are probably indicative of larger underlying problems.

If you feel strongly enough about any errors and if (as is often the case) the accountants are members of a professional body, a complaint to that body is far more relevant. In doing so, it should be remembered that members of a particular body usually have a duty to report other members of their own body, whilst there is no such obligation for cross-body reporting.

It is a matter for all of us to ensure that company accounts are completed properly and we surely have an ethical obligation to take an active role in ensuring that bad advisers are discouraged. 

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