Member Since: 24th Sep 1999
2nd Sep 2021
You’re conflating two separate, albeit related, issues.
No one is defending the profession regarding the various egregious audit failures.
People are simply making the point that, even when certain auditors aren’t making life difficult for themselves with slapdash or worse work, all auditors are really on a hiding to nothing due to the open-ended nature of users’ expectations of what an audit can achieve.
This is a forum where accounting professionals moan about Joe Public. Are you saying that we can’t moan about Joe Public’s mistaken assumptions about audit?
1st Sep 2021
I don’t know where the OP trained but, when I trained in audit in the 80s, there was substantially more to it than adding up long columns of numbers. Auditing for understatement, anyone? Perhaps the OP could cast us a few pearls of wisdom on how you check for something that isn’t there.
There’s no doubt that the antics of auditors make defending the profession a difficult job but my take is that audit is a fundamentally difficult concept to explain to the layman and will always be a shades of grey thing.
My experience is that frauds are never actively found but are merely stumbled across, and much more often that not they’re stumbled across internally and not by the auditors. That being the case, we need to get away from this modern mania of making the auditor responsible for everything and let them get back to the primary role of encouraging people to stay on the straight and narrow by their presence. Bring back the auditor is a watchdog and not a bloodhound is what I say!
My other audit experience was realising just how long it takes to get a grip on complex organisations. In year 1, you’d think you’d done a decent job, only to come back in year 2 and think “how the hell did I miss that last year?” Only in year 3 did it feel like you were getting on top of things.
So, yes, auditing is difficult if done properly and it doesn’t help that people who know sweet FA about the subject still feel free to weigh in with their opinions.
My recipe for audit reform would be for auditors to do less, charge a LOT less, and for users of accounts to stop using the audit report as a rubber stamp of accuracy on absolutely everything (which would require legislation to roll back some of the more recent case law and is therefore never going to happen, unfortunately).
30th Aug 2021
I’m not sure the example given was particularly illuminating. For me, a UPS serves no purpose by itself and isn’t therefore a system in itself (assuming the author means a UPS as a plug in backup supply).
More fundamentally, though, this article illustrates why most sensible builders find it easier to “CIS” everything rather than wade through sh.1.t like this. Those same sensible builders are also currently “DRC”ing everything for exactly the same reason.
19th Aug 2021
I think programming skills are probably a two-edged sword for accountants.
I’m a self-taught programmer (in VBA if that counts) and I started purely out of intellectual curiosity. I can now program badly in Excel and Access, and a little bit in Word but I’m not as familiar with its object model. For 20 years of effort, I’ve got two big applications which I wouldn’t be without and / but am still developing and I’m also always tinkering with little workarounds and time savers.
That sounds great but, when looked at purely from a commercial point of view, the thousands of hours I’ve spent really can’t be justified. So, beware if you’re ever thinking of stepping out on this road!
30th Jul 2021
And the lesson from that in my opinion (other opinions are of course available) is to not make yourself dependent.
For me, that means assiduously swerving cloud software except for the few clients who are insistent they want to use it. For others, it suggests that a more defensive stance might be to spread your clients over a number of different cloud platforms to try and minimise this sort of risk (but of course create some new risks).
22nd Jul 2021
If 93% of sole traders and 67% of partnerships already align their accounting year to the tax year, then they are obviously not going to be affected by this change and only a small minority will.
So, how would making this change a) be worth the effort given the small proportion affected, b) improve matters as one set of special rules (which are well understood despite the rubbish which HMRC got the minister to sign off) are replaced by another, or c) be a simplification of any sort when the new rules would likely require significant use of estimated profits?
9th Jul 2021
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I have a 24 year old son myself and he seems fit and healthy but your story would horrify any parent of a child any age. I appreciate that it must be early days for you and I'm sure there will always be a hole in your heart but I would just like to say that I am impressed by the way you, and others who suffer loss too, are still functioning.
9th Jul 2021
Lucy, you were incredibly unlucky but also incredibly lucky. What your story tells us is that we're all potentially one step away from disaster: "there but for the grace of God" and all that.
Thank you for sharing. I'm not really a touchy / feely people person myself but it's nevertheless uplifting to read a massive human interest story like yours and see this as an example of triumph through adversity.
23rd Jun 2021
And just another thought:
31 Dec isn’t the universal tax year end. Australia’s is 30 June and they’re likely to become an increasingly important trading partner so, that argument goes, why not align with them?
Or, radical idea here, why not just align with what works best for us? At the end of the day, international issues are a vanishingly small part of the average practice’s workload and of the average taxpayer’s tax burden, so let’s avoid the tail wagging the dog here.
23rd Jun 2021
Hang on a minute, isn’t there a certain inconsistency of thought here?
Most of us are opposed to MTD, partly because we can’t see the point, partly because we’re defending our clients’ right to arrange their own affairs their own way, but mostly because we think HMRC will make a complete cobblers of the job.
Yet on this thread there are multiple posters advocating not only a “sensible” date for the tax year end but the opportunity to be radical and move it to 31/12. What leap of faith is needed to believe that HMRC can find its way out of the toilet let alone manage a change of this magnitude? (And bearing in mind that this isn’t the same Revenue of 30 years ago which handled the SA / CYB change pretty well).