Overall results from the most recent FRC inspections during 2017/18 show that 72% of audits required no more than limited improvements (compared to 78% in 2016/17). Or to put it another way, 28% of the audits reviewed required improvements (category 2B) or significant improvements (category 3).
For KPMG though things were particularly bad. When the FRC looked at their audits within the FTSE 350 (the largest 350 companies on the London stock exchange), they found that 50% required MORE than just limited improvements (compared to 35% in the previous year).
If you take a step back then this really isn’t very good is it. If you went to a restaurant where 50% of the meals served required more than limited improvements you’d be unlikely to go back to that restaurant again and I’m sure that restaurant wouldn’t be in business for much longer.
KPMG are going to face increased scrutiny by the FRC in the next round of inspections. 25% more KPMG audits will be examined over the 2018/19 cycle of work and the implementation of their Audit Quality Plan will be closely monitored.
So what went wrong?
The FRC noted that there were a number of factors. These included a failure to challenge management and show appropriate scepticism across their audits.
Stephen Haddrill, CEO of the FRC, said “At a time when public trust in business and in audit is in the spotlight, the Big 4 must improve the quality of their audits and do so quickly. They must address urgently several factors that are vital to audit, including the level of challenge and scepticism by auditors, in particular in their bank audits. We also expect improvements in group audits and in the audit of pension balances. Firms must strenuously renew their efforts to improve audit quality to meet the legitimate expectation of investors and other stakeholders.”
Whilst the level of quality found within the Big 4 audits fell, the performance of the mid tier companies improved. The FRC inspections on BDO, GT, Mazars and Moore Stephens showed general improvements in the quality of inspected audits.
The FRC’s Audit Quality Review is explained in more detail here and if you’re interested in reading the reports on the individual firms they can be found on the following links:
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/big-4-frc-report.png9441678Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2018-07-05 08:39:242018-07-05 08:55:52Room for improvement at the Big 4…
Do you have children? Have they ever told you a lie? Even a small teeny weeny lie?
Well, if they have then although you may not be particularly pleased with them, it may actually mean that they have good memories and excellent thinking skills.
Psychologists at the University of Sheffield tested 135 children and found that those children that lied performed much better than the honest children in the group.
The children in the study were aged between 6 and 7 years old and during the study they were given a trivia game. The answers to the trivia game were on the back of the card which they had been given. Initially, each child was in a room accompanied by one of the researchers but the researcher then left the child alone with the card with the answer on the back.
Before leaving the room the researcher told the children not to look at the answer but what the children didn’t know was that when they were alone in the room there were hidden cameras which were monitoring whether they would look at the answers on the back.
25% of the group subsequently cheated and looked at the answers on the back of their cards but claimed that they hadn’t cheated when the researcher returned to the room.
At a later stage, all of the children had to perform a separate memory test and the research found that the children who had lied performed significantly better than those children who didn’t lie.
Dr Tracy Alloway, project lead from the University of North Florida was also involved in the research and said that “this research shows that thought processes, specifically verbal working memory, are important to complex social interactions like lying because the children needed to juggle multiple pieces of information while keeping the researcher’s perspective in mind”.
This has got me thinking as a lot of the readers of this blog are accountants or studying to be accountants.
“Thought processes”, “verbal working memory”, “juggling multiple pieces of information” and “keeping other people’s perspective in mind” are all skills which many accountants need.
Does this mean that you would make a good accountant if you were a good liar when you were a child?
Whatever your answer is, I’m not sure I would believe you…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Young-accountant.jpg7691361Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2018-05-03 13:00:252018-05-03 13:00:25Would a good liar make a good accountant?
Some of you may have heard of the website Ashley Madison.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Ashley Madison, it’s a website where married people can register to meet other married people without their respective husband or wife knowing and then have an affair.
In fact, some of you may be registered members of the site (this does raise the question that if you are a registered member of Ashley Madison and are reading this business blog then at the moment you are finding business stories more interesting than having an affair so well done on that).
Ignoring the rights or wrongs of a website facilitating affairs, Ashley Madison has had an up and down ride over recent years.
Back in 2015, they were hacked. As a result the personal details of their users were leaked and there were a lot of users. When I say “a lot”, there were 32 million users.
The situation got worse for Ashley Madison though.
As well as their systems being hacked and details of who had signed up being leaked, it turned out that the vast majority of users were men and of the women who had signed up a significant proportion were Bots (i.e. a piece of software) or prostitutes.
All in all, not great selling points when trying to encourage new members.
In an attempt to build up trust (if trust is a relevant word for people looking for affairs that is…), Ashley Madison commissioned Ernst & Young to cast an eye over the membership data and see if it stood up to scrutiny.
There were some interesting results including the fact that 15,542 new members signed up each day in 2017 (that’s nearly half a million new users per month).
There were also more active women on the site than men. Globally, the ratio of active males to active females was 1 to 1.13 but there were variations on a regional basis ranging from Australia where the male to female ratio was 1 to 0.78 and Columbia where the ratio was 1 to 2.39.
Ernst & Young also reported that “The Client had used Bot programs to generate message activity with paying customers in prior years. The Bot programs were decommissioned in 2015 and our procedures related to calendar 2017 found no evidence that the use of Bot programs previously operated had been reinstated.”
So, in theory the registrations are human and there’s no danger of falling in love with a bot.
The full Ernst & Young report can be found at www.ashleymadison.com/2017report but I would be careful as if you’re viewing this on a computer at home and your husband or wife finds you’ve been visiting ashleymadison.com then there could be some difficult questions to answer.
Then again, if you start typing in the website and your web browser recognises it from a previous visit to that site then maybe…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/ethics-in-business.jpg18833347Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2018-04-26 13:34:212018-04-26 13:34:21EY confirm the women were real
KPMG UK released their results last month for their most recent accounting period and they showed a fall of 10% in pay for the KPMG partners when compared to the previous year.
Although the firm’s revenue rose by 5% to £2.2 billion, it’s profit fell to £301 million.
The firm wrote off a number of technology investments.
KPMG, like the rest of the Big 4, have invested heavily in technology companies in an attempt to stay at the forefront of technology.
Unfortunately for KPMG, not all of their investments were successful. Bill Michael, the Chairman of KPMG, highlighted one investment that hadn’t done so well – KPMG had committed £3 million to Flexeye, a tech company that analyses large amounts of data and it hadn’t proved to be the wisest investment.
Whilst profits fell, it hasn’t all been bad news for KPMG as their audit practice grew by 10%.
Back to the average pay of the KPMG partners though and although their average pay fell by 10% I’m sure that the partners will still be able to afford to buy a sandwich for lunch.
The average pay for the KPMG partners was £519,000 each.
That’s not too bad is it?
But how does it compare with the average pay from the partners of the remaining Big 4.
The most recent reported results show the following average pay per partner:
Deloitte – £865,000
EY – £677,000
pwc – £652,000
It looks like Deloitte partners will be having the more expensive sandwiches for lunch.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/KPMG-salaries-1.jpg476846Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2018-01-28 21:37:382018-05-11 07:41:46How much do Big 4 partners get paid?
Picture the scene – you’re the senior auditing partner of KPMG in America with more than 30 years of experience serving some of KPMG’s most prestigious clients. There are over 9,000 KPMG people in the US who look up to you as the boss.
You receive some leaked information about which of your audits the US audit watchdog is going to examine as part of their annual inspection of how well KPMG perform audits.
(a) Disclose this unethical breach immediately, or
(b) Try to keep things quiet and make sure that the audit files of the audits selected are perfect?
Unfortunately for Scott Marcello, the (now ex) head of KPMG’s audit practice in America, he didn’t choose option (a).
The background to the issue is that every year the US audit regulator, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) selects a sample of audits to inspect and ensure they have been performed properly.
A former employee of the PCAOB had joined KPMG. A friend of his who was still working at the PCAOB tipped him off about which audits would be selected for inspection this year.
The confidential information was then passed up the KPMG hierarchy until it reached Mr Marcello.
We can only guess what Mr Marcello and 4 other KPMG partners were planning on doing with the leaked information but one thing was for sure and that was they didn’t disclose the leak.
Whilst the 5 partners clearly weren’t very ethical, KPMG as an organisation acted quickly once they found out about it.
The 5 partners were fired and Lynne Doughtie, the chairwoman and chief executive of KPMG was quoted as saying “KPMG has zero tolerance for such unethical behaviour. Quality and integrity are the cornerstone of all we do and that includes operating with the utmost respect and regard for the regulatory process. We are taking additional steps to ensure that such a situation should not happen again”.
The PCOAB publish the results of their inspections and the previous results of the KPMG inspections perhaps give a reason for why Mr Marcello was keen for any help, whether it was ethical or unethical.
In 2014 and 2015, KPMG had more deficiencies in their audits than any of the other Big 4 in America.
38% of their inspected audits in 2015 were found to be deficient whilst in 2014, 54% were found to be deficient.
There are clever frauds and there are not so clever frauds.
Both are morally wrong but this gentleman’s attempt at fraud clearly showed that he wasn’t the brightest individual. It’s also resulted in him receiving an 8 year jail sentence.
Mohammed Shareef from Harrow in the UK ran a number of ice-cream shops and thought that an easy way to fraudulently obtain money was via his VAT affairs.
If somebody is registered for VAT they have to charge VAT on their sales but they can offset any VAT on eligible expenses. If the VAT on their sales is greater than the VAT on their purchases, they pay the balance to the tax authorities. If VAT on their sales is less than the VAT on their purchases, they can reclaim the excess VAT suffered from the tax authorities.
This is where Mr Shareef’s grand plan originated.
His plan was to submit false VAT repayment claims and to do so he needed some false VAT expenses.
Mr Shareef’s plan went to his head though as instead of small amounts, he submitted false VAT repayment claims amounting to £1,669,463 over a number of years.
These claims came to the attention of the authorities and they investigated the expenses. They found that Mr Shareef clearly didn’t have the greatest criminal mind in history.
Ignoring the shops he actually owned, he instead submitted invoices for shops that didn’t even exist.
He also claimed he had no knowledge of certain documents but they were all found on his computer and investigators proved he was the author of the documents.
He also created fake bank statements but these statements were obviously fake as they had spelling errors in them. He also had fake 2012 statements where he had mistakenly put transactions in with a date of 2011.
He was found guilty of cheating the public revenue and sentenced to 8 years in jail.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/fraud.png477846Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2017-04-06 09:51:482017-04-06 09:51:48Not the brightest fraudster
I admire them for being brave enough to do it but if I’m honest, by the look on some of their faces, I think a few of them aren’t sure that this will be the high point in their career.
Partners in accounting companies are renowned for being hard working and intelligent individuals.
One thing they are not renowned for is singing.
Now, whilst there are no doubt a number of partners who are good at singing, the PwC partners in Hungary have just released a video of them singing a cover of the famous John Lennon song “So this is Christmas” and it has confirmed that their finance and business skills are far superior to their singing skills (or at least I hope their finance and business skills are better than their singing…)
Congratulations though to them for getting into the festive spirit and their singing skills can be seen in the video below (if you’re viewing this in the office I’d advise headphones so as not to alarm any of your colleagues…)
What’s one way of increasing the chances of getting hold of someone’s password?
Does it involve the use of the very latest supercomputer? Does it involve some clever IT geeks hacking into a computer for you?
Or does it involve chocolate?
A recent bit of research published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour attempted to find out how people are obligated by the kindness of others. Or in other words, if someone does something nice for a person, how likely is it that the person will be nice back to them?
The researchers in Luxembourg conducted a survey of random people in the street asking them about internet security including questions about passwords.
Some of the people interviewed were given chocolate and some weren’t.
30% of those that were not given chocolate revealed their passwords which to me is a surprisingly high percentage and just goes to show that quite often human stupidity is the weakest link in internet security.
For the people who were given chocolate at the beginning of the interview the figure rose to 44% and if the chocolate was given just before the question on passwords was asked an incredible 48% gave their passwords! Yes, nearly half of the people asked their passwords as part of a survey told a complete stranger their password if they had been given chocolate.
Andre Melzer, the author of the study said that “when someone does something nice for us we automatically feel obliged to return the favour”.
So, in conclusion, if someone walks up to you in the office and offers you a piece of chocolate be careful what you say…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/chocolate.png9211637Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2016-07-01 12:55:442016-07-01 12:55:44Would you do this for a bit of chocolate?
Let me ask the men who are reading this a quick question – how would you feel if you had to wear uncomfortable high heels during a 9 hour working day?
My guess is that unless you have a pretty unusual job, as a man you wouldn’t feel too happy wearing high heel shoes. There would also probably be some fairly blunt discussions with your employer if they made it compulsory that you wore high heels.
If you’re a woman though, then it’s a different matter.
Nicola Thorp, a 27-year-old lady was temping at PwC’s office in central London as a receptionist. She turned up for her first day of work at PwC in flat shoes but she was told she had to wear shoes with a “2 inch to 4 inch heel” (5 cm to 10 cm).
According to the BBC, when she refused and complained that male colleagues were not asked to do the same, she was sent home without pay.
To be fair to PwC though, they had outsourced the reception duties at their London office to outsourcing firm Portico and the dress code was not a PwC policy. A PwC spokesman told the BBC that “PwC does not have specific dress guidelines for male or female employees.”
Portico said that Ms Thorp had signed the appearance guidelines but would now review them.
Ms Thorp however has taken the matter further. She has launched a petition on the UK Parliament website calling for it to be illegal for companies to demand that women wear high heels.
The UK Parliament website works in such a way that if a petition receives more than 100,000 signatures the matter will be considered for debate in parliament.
As at the time of writing, the petition has received over 140,000 signatures so it’s likely that the matter will be debated in Parliament.
My guess is that being debated in the UK parliament was the last thing on her mind as Ms Thorp put on her shoes to head into her first day of work at the offices of PwC in London…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/pwc-heels.jpg8841571Stevehttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve2016-05-29 17:29:252016-05-29 17:29:25High heels at PwC
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has just published its audit quality inspection reports for the 6 largest auditing companies in the UK. The job of the FRC’s Audit Quality Review (AQR) team is to monitor the quality of the audit work of those UK audit firms that audit public interest and large entities.
The AQR team have been busy over the last year and have now released lengthy reports for BDO, Deloitte, EY, Grant Thornton, KPMG and PwC.
Overall, the quality of the audits has improved during the last year with the number of audits that required “significant improvements” dropping from 10 to 2 for the Big 4. There were no audits that required significant improvements at BDO or Grant Thornton.
Unfortunately for KPMG though, they were the company that undertook the two audits that were highlighted by the FRC as needing significant improvements.
The FRC reviewed 22 KPMG audits and out of those there were 2 that required significant improvements.
The first one involved a change of systems and a 3rd party IT provider. The FRC identified that the KPMG audit team did not “design and perform procedures to obtain sufficient audit evidence in response to the migration risk”.
In the second audit where there were problems the FRC highlighted that insufficient audit work had been performed in relation to revenue and inventory.
Details of the scope of the reviews can be found here and are the full reports on the individual companies are on the following links:
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