What is wrong with accountancy?

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I was asked yesterday by one of the UK’s accounting institutes if I might fill in an appraisal of their performance. I decided to do so, out of curiosity as to what they might ask.

Having not given them scores to gloat over during the questionnaire stage of this process I was then given the opportunity to provide any additional comment on my feelings about their performance, particularly with regard to their public perception. I decided to not hold back. I suggested that this Institute had failed to address issues of public concern in the following areas (with one of these having been added since submission as I reflected on this issue):

  • Members working in tax havens;
  • Taking any positive measures to stop members selling tax avoidance;
  • A failure to create accounts that deliver information that is meaningful to the vast majority of their users, including the owners and managers of almost all small and medium size enterprises;
  • Overseeing the degradation of audit until it has become an almost meaningless box ticking exercise that does not serve the public interest;
  • A failure to demand the meaningful reform of Companies House so that the accounts of all limited liability enterprises are available on public record. It seems that you, like other accounting institutes, delight in hiding information from the public rather than making it available to them;
  • A failure to deliver accounting standards for public interest entities that meet stakeholder needs;
  • A failure to tackle green issues, and only now playing catch up;
  • A failure to engage in tax reform on behalf of society at large;
  • You are far too slow to tackle ethical failure by your membership;
  • Discrimination  still appears to be rampant within the profession and there is no indication that this is being tackled;
  • You, like other institutes, appear to have failed to deliver public education on critical issues around accounting, from household budgeting, to basic taxation, to understanding the way that business works, to understanding government accounting;
  • You have not demanded that the government account in a true and fair fashion for its own actions.

As I noted, I could easily add to this list. My point was that the accounting profession has a long way to go to meet reasonable expectation of them.

I signed my comment with contact details. It will be interesting to see if I get a response.