Regulating the Accountancy Profession

There are persistent complaints that the Financial Reporting Council is very reluctant to take firm action against larger firms. For instance:

The FRC had to be forced by the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons to mount an inquiry into auditor KPMG's role in the 2008 collapse of HBOS which had failed only eight months after being given a clean bill of health by KPMG.

Paul George, an FRC executive director, is said to have driven through a rule change which added the word 'significantly' to the rule that requires firms to 'fall significantly short of standards' before being censured, fined or banned. The rule change allowed the FRC to announce in September 2017 that KPMG had escaped censure. Mr George was a former KPMG partner.

KPMG then acknowledged that the inquiry had "highlighted a gap between what society expects of an audit and what an audit has been designed to do". This is a fair point. Audits are basically designed to assure shareholders that a company is financially sound. Auditors do not accept any responsibility or accountability to customers, suppliers or wider society.



Martin Stanley