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.

You are (probably) a liar...

Here’s a nice ethical question for you – have you lied recently? My guess is that you have. Now before you get all righteous about[..]

Don't worry, he's ok...

A few years ago if a company wanted to advertise their products they mainly used the traditional media methods of TV, radio and print. Nowadays[..]

There's a 90% chance...

There’s been a significant reduction in the use of cash during the pandemic. A lot of shops now only accept card payments so that they[..]

Start walking...

Do you sit at a desk when you’re at work? If you do, how long do you spend sat there before you get up to[..]

I never emailed you...

Sometimes it’s the simple scams that can cause the most damage. We hear all the time about ignoring scam phishing emails where fraudsters are pretending[..]

Does this help you concentrate?

The Journal of Consumer Research published the results of five experiments into how the level of background noise can impact on performance when someone is[..]