In these post-Enron days, the buzzword when it comes to self-regulation is transparency.
And new Insolvency Practitioners Association president Colin Hague has openness and transparency very much front of mind as he takes the helm at the regulatory body. ‘It is certainly important for the IPA to be seen to be an effective regulator. I do think that, as self-regulation is under the spotlight, regulators have to be seen to be fair, effective and robust.
‘I would also like to make the decisions the IPA reaches more accessible to other concerned members of the business community,’ he goes on.
Hague believes maintaining a level head in the aftermath of the Enron collapse will be crucial if the profession is to avoid making knee-jerk reactions to the increased public scrutiny of the self-regulated accountancy world. ‘In the context of a legal system which places a great emphasis on human rights, it’s more important than ever that actions we take against (IPA) members are well researched and beyond reasonable doubt.’
The IPA, he believes, has a duty to ensure there has been ‘proper consultation’.
But Hague insists the emphasis on proper self-regulation has not come as a response to Enron, and the standards of insolvency practitioners had already been rising steadily.
‘Generally things are a lot better now than they were four or five years ago. As in all groups there are a few people that don’t meet the standards.’
But the change in regulation, he believes, has to be incremental, not fundamental.
One important aspect of this is that regulators should focus not only on the detail of compliance, making sure all the boxes are ticked off, but on the quality of the advice given by the IPs.
‘It’s difficult to do that because the law doesn’t set standards, but IPA does have standards and it is important to enforce them.’
Hague certainly has a lot on his plate this year. Besides his duties as president of the IPA, he is heading the business recovery team at Baker Tilly, which recently doubled in size following the merger with Kidsons.
But the Londoner from Mill Hill is not complaining and admits he looks forward to going to work every day, as working for Baker Tilly is ‘good fun.’
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