Accountants, pressing on regardless

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I was fascinated to read the following (which I have cut considerably):

The papers have been full of reports of how auditors are going to take a tough line with banks and the valuations they attribute to those troublesome derivatives when they start reporting in earnest in a few days. Clearly, they are terrified of being sued, and the sound of stable doors crashing shut is deafening, given that they accepted all the values without demur last year.

But there is no aspect of accountancy or auditing, even in these troubled times, that addresses human talent and managerial effectiveness. Audit is totally focused on verifying the numbers. It does not seek to measure the things which, as we have just seen, really matter because they really make a difference.

Although no one is yet ready to admit it, the conventional audit is probably no longer worth paying for. It would be a relatively simple matter for systems of real-time monitoring to be created, allowing a virtual real-time audit that monitors performance and alerts regulators or analysts to serious departures from the norm.

Accountants tend to be far too busy making money - at least £750,000 a year average for a London Big Four partner - to think much about the future, and besides a desire to look ahead was not why most of them became accountants. They would be well-advised, however to, get out more and note how the world is changing.

The entire global business culture may change as America declines, power shifts to China and the key investors of the world are sovereign funds. But with a doggedness you have to admire, the accountants press on as if nothing was changing. Maybe that is why they became accountants.

Which left winger wrote this? Anthony Hilton in the Mail. And he's spot on.