欢迎访问译联翻译公司!  联系邮箱:fanyi@translian.com
当前位置:首页 > 新闻动态 > 译联动态

新闻动态 / NEWS



作者: 来源: 日期:2016/8/29 8:29:49

Leader_Accountancy’s Big Four need more competition





There has been plenty of blame to go around for the financial crisis and the scandals it exposed. Most of this has bespattered the bankers, but some have also adhered to their perceived accomplices, including the auditors who signed off on accounts that were quickly exposed as fraudulent.



Last week, a Florida jury started hearing evidence in the latest of these cases: a lawsuit brought by the trustee of a failed US mortgage lender, Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, against PwC. The plaintiff is seeking $5.5bn in damages from the global accounting firm for failing to detect a massive fraud perpetrated by TBW’s own executives in cahoots with another lender, Colonial Bank, which collapsed in 2009.


最近,美国佛罗里达州的一个陪审团开始听取一个最新案件的证据:倒闭的抵押贷款机构Taylor, Bean & Whitaker(TBW)的托管人起诉普华永道(PwC)。原告以这家全球会计师事务所未能发现TBW的高管与另一家贷款机构、2009年倒闭的Colonial Bank合谋犯下一起大规模欺诈为由,要求被告赔偿损失55亿美元。


While the case is complex, it raises familiar questions for the accounting profession — ones that stretch back at least as far as the Enron fraud 15 years ago. What duties should auditors have placed on them for rooting out bad behaviour? And how can this oligopolistic industry be overhauled to prevent firms slipping into cozy complicity with their clients — the very condition in which blind eyes are most likely to be turned to malpractice and fraud.



Auditing is not just a business; it is an important public service. Without confidence in the veracity of companies’ reported numbers, the machinery of capitalism can become gummed up, with serious consequences for society.



Granted, auditors see their role as akin to watchdogs rather than forensic bloodhounds. But even so, the so-called Big Four have a poor record when it comes to sniffing out bad conduct. Their misses include the collapse of MF Global and Lehman Brothers, as well as Xerox’s accounting shenanigans, and Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

诚然,审计师认为他们的角色更接近监督者,而非寻找证据的侦探。但即使如此,所谓的“四大”会计师事务所在发现不当行为方面的记录也欠佳。它们漏掉的包括MF Global和雷曼兄弟(Lehman Brothers)倒闭、施乐(Xerox)的会计欺诈,以及伯纳德•马多夫(Bernard Madoff)的庞氏骗局。


One can question whether the profession has done enough to address these shortcomings. True, the rules require auditors to “obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether caused by error or fraud”. But attempts to move audit judgments beyond the traditional pass/fail review towards a more nuanced assessment of risk have been halting, both in the US and Europe.



In any case, for such reforms to work, auditors must first remember that investors are their true constituency. That means they should not get too cosy with bosses who sign contracts.



Attempts to inculcate more independence among auditors have so far been too timid. While Europe has cautiously embraced mandatory rotation, the US profession has successfully pushed back attempts to force big companies to rotate between auditors over time. The authorities need to be bolder. Auditors and bosses are most likely to become too chummy if incumbents feel they can retain mandates without any realistic likelihood of replacement.



In any case, reform should go beyond rotation. The Big Four make more money from non-audit businesses like consulting. They have a stake therefore in not upsetting companies to whom they want to sell other services. There are some limits on cross-selling but these too should be tightened.



More broadly, the auditing business needs more competition. Four big firms are too few, not least because their very scarcity makes the application of strict regulation more difficult.



Encouraging new entrants should be a priority. Yet market rules requiring qualified auditors to control audit firms makes it very hard to find third-party funding for new ventures. Opening up the ownership of auditing firms, or even breaking up the Big Four, may yet be the only way to shake up the industry and create the competition that it still clearly requires.