Responsibility for Accounts

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This client was in major difficulty, their asset list was woefully out of date, their liabilities mis-stated and there was no meaningful management information and no KPI’s in place and yet the Accountants have charged over £7,000- for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.

About Michael Carr

Specialising in Strategy, Systems and Organisational Design I've had a varied and rewarding career and been fortunate to work for some superb companies such as Courtaulds, Unipart International, Akzo Nobel and more recently Jaguar Landrover, all luminaries of a solid, disciplined and a conservative, though never lacking in innovation, approach to business management and development. Augmenting my career with studying for my MBA at Warwick in the early 90's has given me a balanced and I believe rich resource set to draw upon in my Consultancy Practice. My Clients have been good to me, tolerating my idiosyncrasies, giving me enough rope to go along the journey that I was taking them and hopefully in return I've been able to repay them by raising the bar and their business performance, giving them the results and achievements they were looking for. I really enjoy my work and love the challenge - isn't that what it's all about?
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