Friday 22 February 2013
Big 4 Accounts: Lobbying mission accomplished
However, far above the fray, lie the professionals, those lawyers and accountants. Well paid and respected, they have not only escaped most of the opprobrium from the Financial Crisis but remain with much of the pay and rations intact in a time when the wider City has been taking a haircut.
Moreover, there has long been justifiable criticism of the Big 4 accountants. Where were they when Lehmans was lying? Where were they when Northern Rock was juicing its balance sheet?
The reaction from the UK regulators and Europe was to talk about some very serious changes to the cosy world of audit appointments. There was talk of splitting non audit business, active rotation, appointment of non-Big 4 firms and reporting to shareholders rather than executives.
I know the Big 4 were scared as they have made some quite big structural changes to their businesses to prepare for this. But hooray for them, their hard lobbying has paid off. Today it is announced there are some concerns about their actions, but little meat. More frequent audit changes are a small price to pay and given that PWC audits 55% of the FTSE100 there is only one firm that can lost in a major way from more frequent rotation of auditors. Even the EU has given up on any grandiose ideas of reform.
So roll on accountants, keep your money and your cosy world - all is not lost for ye.