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Taking Stock: Did Hodge duck ICAEW Dinner?

TS THOROUGHLY enjoyed the ICAEW’s Annual Dinner last night, despite not realising it was a black tie event. The guests’ disdain for TS remained at its usual level, despite the sartorial faux pas.

It felt like a proper ‘adult’ evening. Not in a ‘weird’ way, but in that the likes of ICAEW president Mark Spofforth and Sir Mike Rake weren’t making any attempt at holding back during their respective speeches.

Spofforth was possibly even more robust than usual. He voiced his contempt about the populist opinions on tax avoidance, although he added that tax professionals must act ethically on the issue.

But his comments on audit were particularly tasty. Discussing audit quality, Spofforth called into question the type of box-ticking that has become the norm during the audit process – but also that put in place by the regulators during its inspections of the auditors themselves. FRC chief executive Stephen Haddrill, sat just ten feet away on the top table remained unmoved – but TS was sure we could hear his teeth grinding.

Sir Mike Rake said that bankers had lost their way in terms of being a ‘profession’ – citing accountants as where they should aim for in terms of integrity and client care.

All good stuff. But then Sir Mike rather strangely confessed to the attending luminaries that he failed his first accounting exam…who would’ve thunk it?

Last but not least tax advisers’ favourite, PAC chair Margaret Hodge, was lined up to attend the event, according to the dinner brochure – but the table plan had her missing from the list. A last-minute change of heart?

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