Insider Business Club: the stories so far

Business recovery

Business recovery expert and former chief executive of the Football
Association, Mark Palios, claimed that simply hitting budgets in the NHS would
probably result in a cut in service levels.

As controversy raged around the financial management of the health service,
Palios said: ‘The real win for the government is in getting to a position
whereby you improve performance.’

His controversial comments came as part of the webcast on business recovery.
Fellow panellist, Tony Supperstone, chairman of R3, the Association of Business

Recovery Professionals, tackled the vexing issue of negotiating debts to HM
Revenue & Customs.

‘One has to be totally upfront, totally honest,’ he said. ‘They will listen
to sensible proposals, they don’t want to shut down businesses for the sake of
it, they want to get their money back like everyone else and they are becoming
more commercial these days.’

The Budget

Within minutes of Gordon Brown finishing his Budget speech, City tax expert
Hartley Forster, a lawyer with DLA Piper, claimed that harmonisation of
corporate tax systems across Europe was essential to beat discrimination in the
tax system.

‘This country, along with other member states, needs to sit down and ensure
that their tax systems are reformed so that they’re compatible across the
European Union.’

The webcast also saw KPMG partner Adam Bainbridge slam HMRC for reducing the
UK’s competitiveness.

He said the taxman had become more aggressive in its pursuit of tax
avoidance. ‘You could see it start as a sort of arcane debate around tax
avoidance through the trade press and then it emerged more into issues about
ethics and I don’t think its going away.’

He added: ‘From the point of view of Gordon Brown trying to make the numbers
add up and deal with the tax gap, it’s making the UK a less attractive


Continuing professional development is as important for accountants as it is
for doctors, according to Si Hussain, chief executive of accountancy education
provider BPP.

‘The analogy one would draw is perhaps doctors,’ he said. ‘The International
Federation of Accountants considers that there should be a mandate in place for
education critical to the competence of accountants, which is carried out on an
ongoing basis.’

International standards and increased scrutiny of the profession were seen as
the main drivers for ongoing education.

Hussain said that an accounting qualification would remain a ‘passport’ to
good careers rather than becoming a ‘driving licence’ with an annual test.

Fellow panellist Tony Osude of ACCA said CPD would help win an accountant
their next job: ‘Career development is key, particularly given the young age
profile of our members.’


David Cairns, a former head of the governing body for international
accounting standards, said the standard setter for the new rules had made
mistakes, but appeared to be learning from them. He said that the IASB had made
‘some very necessary improvements to the standards,’ adding that it was ‘always
an evolutionary process’.

Cairns said the road to implementation had generally been smooth for most
companies, but added that there were some ‘misunderstandings’ of the

Phil Hosp, director of Ernst & Young’s financial reporting advisory team,
said there was some doubt whether analysts understood how to use the extra
information made available by the new standards.

‘When companies and analysts look at the accounts, some things are now
extracted out for them that were not previously extracted, such as movements in
fair value and derivatives. Whether they understand it and factor it into their
analysis, I’m less sure.’

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