Auditors are good at lots of things but could we spot what’s happening to the bees?

, , , ,

I often believe that society at large does not get best value for money from auditors.

That’s not to say that we deliver bad value for money.  Quite the contrary in fact; audit work does not attract especially high fees, has high costs of provision and very high insurance costs as a result of fairly high risk of litigation.

All of these factors conspire to mean that audit work is often not undertaken by smaller firms of accountants at all – the risk/ return profile is just not good enough.

Today, I noticed that the UK government had committed to spending up to £10 million for urgent research by eminent scientists into why the population of bees and other pollinating insects is rapidly falling.  Answers are needed soon – bees play an essential role in the food chain that we all depend on.

There are significant amounts of money spent on government research and enquiries. For example, the results of an enquiry into the “Bloody Sunday” killings were announced last week.  This enquiry had reportedly cost £100 million in fees, with a further £91 million in disbursements.  It had also taken fourteen years to reach its conclusions.

Now, I rather doubt that most auditors have the scientific skills necessary to determine the reason for bees’ decline, but I suspect that they do have the skills necessary to identify the key assertions by witnesses to the Bloody Sunday killings, obtain and evaluate sufficient, appropriate evidence and then reach a conclusion.

This process is often known by an alternative name of “auditing”.  Our skills are already used in forensic investigations.  I wonder why people don’t think to use us in other situations where establishing facts is so critical?

With our innate focus on VFM audit and the natural sense of urgency that comes from having to report on financial statements within a matter of months, I can’t help but wonder if auditors would have been able to do the job for less than £191 million and sooner than fourteen years.

Rolling in it...
Here’s a question for you – what do you think the average age is of somebody who buys a new Rolls-Royce? Perhaps surprisingly the average[..]
An unexpected ending...
A lot of you may have been on business trips but I bet your trip wasn't as exciting (and tragic) as this gentlemen's trip was.[..]
Would you send a photo?
Picture the scene. You’re one of the largest supermarket chains in the Netherlands employing more than 100,000 people. You’re planning on introducing a new staff[..]
Ericsson fined $1 billion for bribery.
The Swedish telecommunications group Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (or Ericsson as most people refer to it as and how my spell checker prefers) is an incredibly[..]
Exams for sale....
One of the five fundamental ethical principles is Integrity. Being straightforward and honest is a vital characteristic of being a professional accountant. Most people who[..]
Wave hello to a discount
The accountants amongst you will be well aware of the different methods of setting the price of a product or service. Going rate, cost-plus and[..]