One of my clients has had a particularly tough year and is only now being to see their way out of it. Thanks in no part to sheer hard work on behalf of all of the staff and our own involvement in sorting out their internal systems, financial controls and giving them a strategic focus to work to.
I’ve just received their accounts from a well respected firm of accountants and it set me thinking. The accounts have been prefaced by a missive detailing how they are members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales (ICAEW) and how these accounts have been prepared within their guidance terms.
I’m very much in favour of Service Level Agreements and Terms Of Trading and I do understand the difference between audited and non-audit accounts but at what point does “we do not accept or assume responsibility to anyone other than you” or “We have not verified the completeness of the accounting records or information” further- “Current Assets is stock as valued by Proprietors”. At what point does the firm of Accountants assume responsibility for anything that it has done, or is it just when they submit a Sage timesheet itemised in minutes and charged by the guinea?
This client was in major difficulty, their asset list was woefully out of date, their liabilities mis-stated and there was no meaningful management information and no KPI’s in place and yet the Accountants have charged over £7,000- for what? Washing their hands and saying “it wasn’t me!” Where were they when trouble reared it’s head? A mile down the road hiding behind an air of professional competence which is so ironic given that having a “Client focussed relationship” is their strap line.