Quotes of the year must have some essential qualities. They must be routed in reality. They must encapsulate a moment. They must have inherent in tem a demand for action. Hopefully they’re elegant, pithy, pertinent and prescient all at the same time.
The following from Steve Hadrill, new head of the UK’s Financial reporting Council responsible for regulating auditors fails on elegance. It also needs contextual setting so it is not pithy. But it’s good on the other two. In December 2009 he said, when speaking about whether a fifth large firm of auditors was needed:
[T]he priority for us has to be that we are prepared for the worst and that is where I will put my focus
Blow creating a fifth firm in other words, making sure we keep four is going to be tough enough in his view, and mine.
The prescience? Threefold, I suggest: first, failure of one of the Big 4 is inevitable; second, he has no idea what will happen if they do and third we’re setting ourselves up for another â€šÃ„Ã²too big to fail’ scenario. As the pillars of our current version of capitalism collapse all around us all we seem able to do is prop them up until like dominoes they’ll fall again.
It’s not encouraging. And it shows, time and again, that the wrong people are in the regulatory jobs.