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Hikers helping one another | AccountingWEB | ICAEW president takes trust to task
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ICAEW president prioritises building trust

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ICAEW president Malcolm Bacchus has stressed the importance of continuing to work on building trust in the profession, while also recognising the impact that events over recent years have had.

8th Jul 2024
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The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) must step up and continue to regenerate trust in the accounting profession, the organisation’s new president Malcolm Bacchus has told AccountingWEB.

Bacchus succeeded Mark Rhys in the role last month and will serve a one-year term until June 2025.

He will support the implementation of ICAEW’s 10-year strategy and wants to highlight the importance of ethics and building trust within both the profession and within the wider business community.

Diminishing resource

In a wide-ranging interview Bacchus spoke on that trust, noting that “rebuild” was the wrong word.

“Trust is something which dissipates automatically, so you have to continue building trust all the time,” he said. “That’s not to imply that it’s necessarily got worse but it’s just something you have to continue to work at, always. It’s a diminishing resource.

“It’s like any other type of branding in a sense – you have to keep working at it, and I think the last couple of generations of people have shown that trust in everything – not just the professions – is less accepted than it used to be.”

Bacchus recognised that there’s been “one or two big events over the past few years that have reduced trust in business and the profession in a more marked way than one would hope”.

“Though, if you look back in history, those things have always happened. That’s not to say they’re good, but they have always happened. We just know more about them now but that does mean we have to step up and do a lot more to continue to regenerate that trust, all the time.”

Undoubtedly difficult

Asked what stepping up looks like, Bacchus stressed: “In the current world, it is difficult, there is no doubt.

“I’m pleased that the Edelman Trust Barometer always puts us near the top and indeed, we have been going up when an awful lot of other professions have been going down. So that shows we must be doing something right but we do have to continue to work at it.”

Bacchus added that strong regulation is needed and “we need to work with other bodies on it”.

“One of the things that we’ve said within the institute many times in response to corporate governance is it’s something we can’t do on our own. We were very much disappointed that the corporate reforms, particularly at board level, did not go ahead because a lot of the mistrust that has been placed on audit failures.

“Yes, there have been audit failures but there’s also been corporate failures and they were corporate failures before they were audit failures.”

Level playing field

Bacchus concluded that if trust is going to be built in the profession, then corporate governance needs to be sorted out. “That’s not more regulation,” he said. “It’s just making sure everybody is on a level playing field; that all directors and all boards step up to their duties.”

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By FactChecker
08th Jul 2024 16:24

"Bacchus concluded that if trust is going to be built in the profession, then corporate governance needs to be sorted out. “That’s not more regulation,” he said. “It’s just making sure everybody is on a level playing field; that all directors and all boards step up to their duties.”"

That sounds an awful lot like the playbook of Harra and other 'professional mandarins' - as in:
"It's not us that's the problem, guv; it's everybody else's fault"

Thanks (3)
VAT
By Jason Croke
08th Jul 2024 17:14

Bacchus recognised that there’s been “one or two big events over the past few years that have reduced trust in business and the profession in a more marked way than one would hope”

One or two? Are we referring to the nearly monthly headlines of the Big 5 firms being fined for yet another copy/paste audit report that only comes to light when a big corporate collapses? Are are we talking about the Australian case where senior partners in a big firm were leaking proposed tax changes so as to circumvent them before the Australian government could even implement them? Or the countless mentions in the Panama papers and similar expose stories involving well known accounting firms seemingly unphased by AML or sanctions?

Or maybe they mean the numerous SME accounting firms which take great care and pride in delivering honest and accurate work but who seemingly end up continuously ignored by membership bodes such as the ICAEW and CIOT and all whilst not challenging HMRC's perpetual view that all accountants/agents are "crooks" and can't be trusted.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
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By HelenHally
09th Jul 2024 10:43

A perfect summing up of the current situation for small practices. Might also be an idea to substitute truth for trust in the above article - if there was more truth, then surely trust would follow on?

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Rob Swan
By Rob Swan
09th Jul 2024 12:55

"Trust is something which dissipates automatically, so...."

Oh? Really!
Don't think so!

Trust is lost/destroyed when people - HUMANS - do stupid things. Period!
ICAEW, other professional bodies, HMRC, and various firms/individuals in the accounting sector - large and small - have demonstrated, beyond any doubt, that they cannot be trusted. Trust did not 'erode' naturally.

There are many, many GOOD accountants and practices, but it only takes a few rotten apples.... And boy, are they rotten! They - and those around them - are unlikely to be 'cleared out'.

And Bacchus has a one year term. Well, we'll see.

IMHO , the forecast is bleak.

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By Verified
09th Jul 2024 14:23

Speaking of trust and the ICAEW, I'd like to know why ICAEW's claimed "costs" for bringing a Big 4 firm to book over audit failings in the audit of a large company are typically only £7k - £10k. That sounds low for a job that involves a lot of information, complex and subjective issues and will surely involve having to have it out with Big 4 partners and lawyers.

But the "costs" for bringing a one man band or a student to Tribunal over some simple thing that they admitted also seem to come in at around a similar level.

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Replying to Verified:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
15th Jul 2024 16:35

Catch is they have abandoned charging by the hour and are now fixated upon fixed price services.

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