Member Since: 31st Mar 2016
29th Jun 2020
Whilst I don't disagree with you "Putting aside the issue of age discrimination and the fact that the job market should offer a level playing field no matter how old you are." is possibly THE major obstacle to individuals making job moves in the later stages of their career, so to put it aside does not do the situation justice. Having myself made a major move at 57, proved an interesting experience. I am currently at the stage of trying to reduce my working hours significantly and to find interesting NED roles, and I can tell you, first-hand what a challenge this is proving. There is an informal "club" that operates to try to monopolize the NED marketplace that is making it very difficult to break into that particular arena. So, whilst I fully agree that it is firstly about one's own approach to age, please let's not pretend it is anywhere near so straight-forward as this, and that it is largely how the market perceives us, and not merely about us, alone, that dictates the art of the possible!
10th Jun 2020
Just had to declare over-payment in our claim submitted due to payroll provider error in April NIC, but the system did not want to let me put in a negative NIC figure, so I had to fudge the furlough salary payment box to get the overall total right, after the refund! Pretty sure HMRC may not like that, if they check it, but couldn't get it to work any other way......
15th Jan 2020
I too am of a certain age, and I don't know, but I always felt accounts were being prepared by accountants for users who are (in the main) not accountants. Our role is to be able to communicate information to owners and other users. Merely preparing them is surely only half the story. I have found that SME owners understand cash in a way that they don't really understand the term profit, to the same degree. Therefore, being able to say how they have accumulated and paid out cash, in arriving at the cash they have at the end of a reporting period feels like a rather good wheeze to me. Of course they can understand profit, but my experience tells me it tends to lack the "tangibility" that "cash" has for them! Understand fully the theoretical benefit of having a cash flow statement produced using the direct method, and the improvement that can give over the indirect (Balance Sheet movement) approach, but as one who has also struggled for years with large company accounting systems inability to track the other side of the transactions to allow them to arrive at direct movements, I too know the difference between theory and reality. More recent developments in accounting software may well improve things, but it seems that large-company systems do not seem to move at the same pace as those such as Zero, QB, etc. Until they can, the indirect method is often all we have. Anyway, I shall hoist a glass and lament the passing of another SSAP, whether that makes me "old-school" or not! Nice article.
24th May 2019
Of course the accounting community wouldn't recognise the social immobility. For the most part they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Turkeys never, ever vote for Christmas, and this is just a mirror of the other professions where the very same issues are at play. Never going to change, where one group of people have much to lose. Creating an illusion and aspiration of social mobility is a veneer and not a solution. Can't imagine why anyone could be surprised at the conclusions. Accounting firms can all express concern at the recruitment problems this may cause them, but it helps keep salaries, profits and bonuses up!
15th Feb 2019
I suppose he should have gone to a tax wizard, instead of using a Muggle!!
14th Feb 2019
I wonder if the TOMS scheme (Tour Operators Margin Scheme), which I believe is also an EU scheme, will be similarly affected. Perhaps it will just be converted into a "UK-only" equivalent, or the UK/EU will wrap it up in some (future) negotiations on how to co-exist after Brexit
17th Jan 2019
"Turkeys" and "Christmas" spring to mind when considering what the audit profession might have to say regarding the future of audit!
19th Nov 2018
I agree with @JDBENJAMIN that it is the management of the business (and the industry), that need to bear most responsibility for such failures. I have written before in this column, that this aggressive financial behaviour is not uncommon, and Carillion were very well known among its competitors and former staff for these behaviours. They have to operate on wafer-thin margins, and when they go after growth, to satisfy the markets and their associated personal/board bonus structures, they inevitably take on more risk, often "unbalancing" their portfolio, towards higher-risk opportunities, where virtually everything has to go right, to achieve the tendered profit margins they set for themselves. Often they miss and hope the good contracts support the inevitable bad ones ("portfolio management"!). The government has its own share of the blame to take, in their zeal for VFM contracts, driving pricing ever-lower. Companies like this probably only make 2-3% PBT, and so, when you push people to the wall, this can happen. The company bear's the lion's share of the blame, for sure, but many different stakeholder groups have some blood on their hands.
To blame auditors alone is crazy. But to say they did nothing wrong in all this, is equally as crazy. They need to probe harder, and when audit and consulting fees might be at risk if they were to do so, then we know where the conversation is likely to end up.
Perhaps some comprehensive type of business failure insurance or schemes across the riskier industries might be of some use, in the event of failures, but again, this would likely only (a) raise costs, and (b) provide an easy "disincentive" to all involved, to work hardest for success and survival.
Not an easy one to solve, unfortunately.
27th Sep 2018
Sorry, forgot to say it should "all of the above" and not any 1 from 3!!
27th Sep 2018
I don't know, but here's a slightly different thought. How about we:
- prohibit auditing firms offering any consulting services (although, I will say, as a "client" there are times when it is highly beneficial to get advice from our auditors, because we have a relationship with them and they know us, our situation and our history, so perhaps we should put some form of value or percentage limit rather than an absolute ban)?
- have a mandatory "X" years rotation requirement (3 or 5 years)?
- prevent any ownership cross-holding by owners of the audit firm of consulting firms (and vice versa), and connected parties, and all forms of ownership structures intended to circumvent such rules, including opaque foreign ownership structures?