The UK ’s largest auditors fail to provide enough information to compare one firm’s quality against another.
This is the verdict of the regulators, who want audit firms to produce hard facts to back up claims about audit quality amid criticism from investors that it is near impossible to compare one auditor against another.
The Professional Oversight Board (POB), which sits within the UK’s reporting regulator the Financial Reporting Council, believes the audit industry should produce more quantitative data to better equip investors and companies with the tools needed to scrutinise their auditors.
So let's get this clear. First we'd like to know who the Big 4 are. Not nearly as easy as you'd think - just look at PWC's wriggling out of liability on Satyam.
Second, you might like to know where they are - again, and as I'll show soon - not nearly as easy as you might think it should be.
Third - you might like to know how financially durable they are - but look at the absence of contingent liability notes in their accounts and you'll see how hard that is to determine.
Fourth - you might want them to say how good they are at compliance - but none as far as I can see advertise the penalties they pick up, pretty often unless we're talking Deloittes.
Fifth, you'd like to have meaningful price compraisons. You mean you can't get it? Does that mean there's a cartel?
We've got a long, long way to go until these guys are accountable. Which is a pretty damning indictment of the profession as a whole.