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Accountancy Age [EN]

'Institutional prejudice' restricting audit market
Gavin Hinks, Accountancy Age, Wednesday 3 November 2010 at 00:00:00
Richardson Brown reaches FD role at Ascent
Kevin Reed, Accountancy Age, Tuesday 2 November 2010 at 10:28:00Current executive FD Cunningham relocates to Australia, as Scott RichardsonBrown takes top jobScott Richardson Brown has been appointed to the executive finance directorrole at AIM-listed oil and gas company Ascent Resources plc.Richardson Brown will replace Simon Cunningham, who is relocating toAustralia, as executive finance director with effect from 4 January 2011. He hasalso been appointed as a non-executive director with immediate effect.A chartered accountant, 34-year-old Richardson Brown began his career as anauditor at Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC) in the banking and capital marketsdivision, before moving on to Oriel Securities and CSR, a FTSE 250 semiconductorcompany.Ascent Chairman John Kenny said, "Scott's overall corporate financeexperience, strong investor relations focus and broad City contact base makeshim ideal for the role of Ascent's finance director, as we continue developingandgrowing the company primarily through the development of our European portfolioand particularly the operated projects in Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy."During the last two and a half years Simon Cunningham has done an excellentjobas our finance director and we thank him for that and wish him every success onhis return to Australia in the New Year."Further reading:Andersontakes partner role at Crowe Clark WhitehillSercoapologises for FD’s rebate demand
PKF warns secret Swiss account holders not to hide
David Jetuah, Accountancy Age, Tuesday 2 November 2010 at 09:52:00PKF's John Cassidy says that UK residents with secret Swiss accounts shouldnot hang back and wait for an amnesty because the taxman could catch them in themeantimeTalksbetween Switzerland and the UK lined up for next year to address secret Swissbank accounts will take time to complete - but this will give thetaxman more breathing space to catch errant taxpayers before any new amnestybecomes available.John Cassidy, tax investigation and dispute resolution partner at PKF, said:"Since the talks were announced, we have heard of several major advisers who areeffectively telling their clients to sit tight and wait for a future UK-Swissdeal before coming clean on UK tax arrears."This is poor advice and could leave their clients facing unnecessarily largetax bills." Cassidy added that those with undeclared income who do not come forwardvoluntarily should realise that there was a significant risk of HMRC discoveringthat they have underpaid or evaded tax."If an investigation is started it will be too late to use any amnesty. HMRCnow has the funding to scale up its investigations against offshore accountholders and has amassed a lot of data on offshore bank account holdersgenerally," Cassidy added."It has already shown it is willing to use stolen bank data to openinvestigations into Swiss account holders in an attempt to catch tax evaders."Further reading:Taxevasion: Good cop, bad COP9
Shortage of internal auditors to fight fraud
Gavin Hinks, Accountancy Age, Tuesday 2 November 2010 at 09:29:0051% of internal auditors say they have too few staff to deal with fraudA little more than half of internal auditors say they have too few staff todeal with fraud.The research in Deloitte's first Fraud Survey also concludes that a fifth ofthose polled said their companies had no formal fraud policy. More than 60% saidtheir vulnerability to fraud had increased in the past 18 months.Nic Carrington, a partner at Deloitte, said: "In spite of the high profilecases of fraud that have come to light during the economic downturn there is aworrying gap between talk and action."77% of respondents stated that the economic environment has generated boardlevel discussion on either introducing and/or enhancing fraud risk monitoring,but the day to day practicalities of delivering these monitoring procedures areproving challenging."Read more:Fraudduo get 20 yearsCarouselfraud discovered in gas and power sectorBegbieslaunches for global fraud and risk division
Anderson takes partner role at Crowe Clark Whitehill
Kevin Reed, Accountancy Age, Tuesday 2 November 2010 at 09:08:00David Anderson joins CCW as an audit and assurance partnerDavid Anderson has joinedCroweClark Whitehill as an audit and assurance partner.Anderson spent eleven years as a partner working in a top six firm.Mainly acting for private companies, including those with private equityinterests, his public company work has been more US than UK-based with aconsequent strong appreciation of US reporting requirements for UK subsidiaries.In his new role he will focus on developing corporate business clients inCheltenham and the South West.Further reading:InsolvencyService should replace courtsPayboost for BA finance director
Serco apologises for FD’s rebate demand
Paul Grant, Accountancy Age, Tuesday 2 November 2010 at 08:49:00Outsourcing company Serco apologises for FD Andrew Jenner’s letter demandinga 2.5% rebate from its largest suppliersOutsourcing giant Serco has been forcedinto an embarrassing u-turn following FD Andrew Jenner’s demand for a 2.5%rebate from its largest suppliers.The service company, which lists the government as its biggest client,“apologised unreservedly” for the move and withdrew the demands after thecabinet office expressed its anger over the weekend. In October, Serco hadpromised cabinet office minister Francis Maude it would not cut costs withsuppliers.In September Jenner wrote to 193 of the company’s biggest suppliers askingfor a rebate of 2.5% on contracts for the first half of 2010.“Your response will no doubt indicate your commitment to our partnership butwill also be something I will seriously consider in our working relationship asSerco continues to grow,” he wrote in the letter.Serco says that by the time it made its commitment to the government itsplans had already “evolved” but that it had failed to communicate this to itssuppliers.“We deeply regret this action and apologise unreservedly,” said a companystatement.The Serco statement in full"Serco yesterday reaffirmed to the Cabinet Office that Serco's mostrecent offer of savings to the UK Government will not result in any of theGovernment's cost saving programme being passed on to our suppliers.Serco has an ongoing procurement process with our supply chain partners,which has been underway for more than five years. This is part of our regularmanagement system.More recently we have also been working with the Cabinet Office as partof their efficiency programme, which has involved discussions with our leadingsuppliers. As a result our plans evolved and we decided not to seek or acceptany contributions from our suppliers, who had recently received letters askingfor rebates.As a company that values our relationships with all our supply chainpartners, large and small, we deeply regret this action and apologiseunreservedly to them for the concern that this has caused. We are nowcommunicating this to our supply chain partners and retracting the letters."
BDO wants root and branch audit overhaul
Kevin Reed, Accountancy Age, Tuesday 2 November 2010 at 08:10:00A fresh approach needed to audits: including scrapping statutory assurancefor smaller companies, BDO will tell a Lords committeeA root and branch overhaul of audit is required to bring assurance infinancial statements, according to BDO.The firm will argue to a Lords committee on Tuesday afternoon that audits forsmall businesses and company subsidiaries should be scrapped, while regulatorsshould encourage investors and non-executives to consider hiring auditorsoutside of the Big Four.TheLordsEconomic Affairs Committee will hear from BDO, Grant Thornton,Mazars and RSM Tenon for their views on audit market concentration.BDO audit partner James Roberts pooh-poohed earlier reports that hadsuggested the firm would encourage government intervention to force auditorrotation. Instead the firm would prefer investors and company non-executives tobe persuaded to consider auditor options outside the Big Four firms.“We don’t like the idea of government-style [audit] appointments,” saidRoberts, “but audit committees directed to consider other firms.”“The oligopoly is unhelpful. We hear general rumblings [from investors]. Wehave to get over the institutional prejudice.”Only the largest banks, financial services firms and oil giants werecurrently out of reach of BDO’s ability to audit among the UK’s top companies,said Roberts.Further reading:Lordsenquiry: accounting fuelled banking crisisAuditfirm division should be exploredAnalysis:auditors prepare for major rule changes
ASB appoints interim chairman
Kevin Reed, Accountancy Age, Monday 1 November 2010 at 12:29:00Former PwC man as interim chairman of FRC operating body the AccountingStandards BoardAn interim chairman has been appointed to the Accounting Standards boardafter Ian Mackintosh's departure last week.Roger Marshall takes on the top role at the ASB. The former PwC seniorpartner has audited FTSE 100 companies, and was chairman of the firm's corporatereporting task force in 20008/2009.In May he joined sister body the Professional Oversight Board. He is also adirector of Old Mutual."Roger brings with him an enormous wealth of professional expertise and akeen interest in technical accounting issues that will be valuable to theAccounting Standards Board at this important time in the evolution of nationaland global standards," said FRC chairman Baroness Hogg.He takes up the role with immediate effect. A further announcement regardinga permanent appointment is expected in "due course".Further reading:UKstandards chief steps down after IASB appointmentNewSME accounting will cost businesses Ј80mNoeasy choices for the ASB on moves to IFRS
Taxman reveals sacking figures
Gavin Hinks, Accountancy Age, Monday 1 November 2010 at 10:42:00Dismissals and disciplinaries revealed by the taxmanMore than hundred people have so far been dismissed from HM Revenue &Customs this year for reasons other than poor performance, according to figurespublished in parliament.Gauke was replying to a question from Tory MP Priti Patel about the number ofHMRC staff who were sacked for errors. A statement said that the department doesnot record ‘error’ as a reason for dismissal.The numbers appeared in written answers from exchequer secretary David Gauke.They revealed that 116 people have been sacked for reasons other than poorperformance among 369 who have been disciplined. Performance related issues havelead to the sacking of 294 staff.Last year saw dismissal for 402 people for poor performance. Another 633people were disciplined for other reasons, among them 158 who were sacked.The Treasury also revealed the pay rates of senior management staff. Theaverage pay for someone at the highest Senior Civil Service grade is Ј86,199.Average pay for the lowest ‘officer’ grade is Ј25, 235.There is a two-year pay freeze in place for everyone below SCS level whichruns from 2011 to 2013. SCS staffers have seen their pay frozen for 2010-11.Read more:Taxmanestimates Ј6.3bn written off
Protiviti deal aims to raise internal auditors' profile
Rachael Singh, Accountancy Age, Monday 1 November 2010 at 10:24:00A partnership between the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors andconsulting firm Protiviti hopes to develop the profession and raise its profileThe internal audit profession received a boost to raise its profile as theChartered Institute of Internal Auditors(IIA) and consulting and internal audit firm Protiviti joined forces.Protiviti has been awarded IIA partner status, and they will work with theinstitute across a variety of activities aimed at raising the profile of theinternal audit profession.Tim Brooke, MD ofProtivitiUK, said: "As the independent voice of the profession, the IIA is leadingthe way to ensure internal audit’s role and value are understood by all thosewithin and outside organisations who have an interest in improving riskmanagement and promoting strong corporate governance."His comments were echoed by Ian Peters, chief executive of IIA, who said hehoped the partnership would help develop the profession further and raise itsprofile.Further reading:NewProtiviti MD to head up internal audit and financial controls teamAuditfirm division should be exploredEuropeset to reveal audit reform
Norway and Saudi Arabia to join KPMG Europe
David Jetuah, Accountancy Age, Monday 1 November 2010 at 10:21:00KPMG's European network of firms will increase to 16 with the admission ofNorway and Saudi ArabiaNorway and Saudi Arabia have joined KPMG Europe's network of member firms,swelling its ranks to sixteen countries.The other firms in KPMG Europe's network hail from the UK, Germany,Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Russia, Ukraine,Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey.The combined firm will have over 30,000 partners and staff working from over120 offices – with total revenues in the region of €4.7bn (Ј4.1bn).John Griffith-Jones and Rolf Nonnenmacher, joint chairmen of KPMG Europesaid:"We warmly welcome the decision of the partners in KPMG Norway and KPMG SaudiArabia to join ELLP."We are already seeing clear benefits for both our clients and our peoplefrom being more closely aligned and are delighted to extend these to bothjoining countries."Their local expertise in energy and natural resource issues in particularwill help us bring even deeper insight to our clients in what is a priorityglobal growth area."Further reading:Swissjoin KPMG's European merger
Taxman estimates £6.3bn revenue write-off
David Jetuah, Accountancy Age, Monday 1 November 2010 at 09:54:00The amount of debt HMRC believes it will not collect rises from Ј4.5bn toЈ6.3bnThe level of debts owed to the taxman which the department is prepared towrite off has risen by almost 40% according to UHY Hacker Young.The firm said the amount of expected revenue HM Revenue & Customs nowclassed as irrecoverable had jumped from Ј4.5bn to more than Ј6.3bn in the yearto 31 March 2010.UHY Hacker Young believed the increase in bad debts had been caused by therecession forcing more businesses to keep hold of money they should pay in taxesin order to pay other bills and keep afloat.Roy Maugham, partner at UHY Hacker Young said: "The Treasury is very hungryfor cash at the moment – they have a huge hole in the government’s finances tofill."Our concern is this is all going to lead to much more aggressive debtcollection tactics in the future against both individuals and businesses."Further reading:SMEsface double whammy in tax avoidance clampdown
Accountancy firm to offer free services for regular referrals
Paul Grant, Accountancy Age, Monday 1 November 2010 at 09:42:00Alexander Rosse will provide free accountancy services to those that refersix or more clients a yearMilton Keynes-based practice Alexander Rosse is to offer free accountingservices to clients who regularly refer the firm to others.The firm recently moved into a new office and took on ten new team members.It is looking to continue its expansion by rewarding clients who recommend theservice and help bring in new business.Companies that refer six new clients a year will no longer have to pay fortheir accountancy fees from the firm.“We value our clients’ recommendations and referrals and want to reward theirloyalty,” said Alexander Rosse director Rashesh Joshi.
Sabien restates figures after error
Kevin Reed, Accountancy Age, Monday 1 November 2010 at 09:00:00Sabien restates 2009 accounts after FRRP reviewA review into the accounts ofSabienTechnology has seen the company correct an error in its 2009results.A review of Sabien 2009 accounts by theFinancialReporting Review Panel had focused on its reclassification ofconvertible loan notes in its consolidated cash flow statement.Sabien has corrected this through a restatement of its comparative figures inits 2010 prelims.The main correction focused on presentation of cash generated fromoperations, and cashflows from financing activities. Cash outflow was originallyreported as Ј257,000, understated by Ј483,000. Net cash outflow from financingactivities was overstated by Ј483,000, The changes have not effect on theopening and closing cash position, or statement of its financial position."The panel welcomes the corrective action taken by the directors and regardsits enquiries into the company’s accounts for the year under review, initiatedon 13 July 2010, as concluded," said the FRRP in a statement.Further reading:KPMGinvestigated over BAE auditAIM-listedcompanies need to lift financial reporting standardsJigsawnumbers didn't fit into place: FRRP
US tests standard setter's independence
Gavin Hinks, Accountancy Age, Friday 29 October 2010 at 17:48:00Securities and Exchange Commission publishes work plan for assessing itsdecision to accept IFRS and the IASBThe independence and funding of the International Accounting Standards Board(IASB) will be among the key issues to be examined by the US before it finallymakes a decision on whether to buy into international standards.A work plan released by the US Securities and Exchange Commission reveals thedetails of the key issues to be placed under the microscope before the watchdogcommits the world’s biggest economy.The SEC will look at whether the current governance structure will maintainthe standard setter's independence. As part of this it will look at the work ofthe IASB's supreme oversight body, the Monitoring Board, in reviewing currentgovernance structures.The SEC will also look at the IASB's mission of developing standards forinvestors. The work plan report said SEC staff would "analyse stakeholderperspectives in this area."The SEC will also consider its own funding arrangement for the IASB's work.It reports that it is the largest national contributor to the standards bodyeven though it has still to make a decision on adopting the standards. In 2009the US provided Ј1.85m for the IASB towards a total spend of Ј16.6m.International accounting firms donated Ј5.7m collectively. Nationally, the UKdonated Ј800,000.The SEC notes that only a quarter of the countries committed to IFRS in oneform or another is contributing to the IASB's costs. Only one country in Africa,Uganda, made a donation.Jim Kroeker, the SEC’s chief accountant, said: “The staff has investedsignificant time and effort in executing the Work Plan, and we’ve made greatprogress to date. This progress report emphasizes the importance of transparencyin the staff’s activities, and can help the public’s understanding of themagnitude of this project and the staff’s progress.”The SEC’s decision will be guided by an examination of six key areassufficient development and application of IFRS for the US; the independence ofstandard setting for the benefit of investors.; investors’ education andunderstanding; the regulatory systems that would be affected by adoption; theimpact on public companies both large and small; HR readiness.Read more:USregulator threatens to ban european firmsEUchief urges US to buy into IFRS

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