Jeremy Newman, the head of
Stoy Hayward, the fifth-biggest audit network’s UK member firm, and newly
named chief executive of BDO International, believes the Big Four accounting
firms face the biggest threat yet to their dominance of the audit market.
Newman will step into his new role in October 2008 when his term as UK head
ends. He will replace Frans Samyn.
Newman told the Financial Times there was at present ‘a massive market
opportunity’ to change people’s perceptions and attitudes about non-Big Four
auditors and make the necessary investments. ‘We can become a credible
challenger,’ he said.
Newman maintains there are invisible barriers to entry in the market for
top-level company audits. Recent UK research by BDO Stoy Hayward showed nearly
half of investors would be concerned if a company switched to a non-Big Four
auditor and a third would review their investment decisions. But of those with
concerns, a quarter were unable to say why and a third could only cite lack of
‘A lot of these perceptions are based on assumptions that have been there a
long time,’ said Mr Newman. ‘We’ve managed to displace those in the UK and the
US, but not consistently around the world. We have the international capability,
but that message needs to be got out globally.’
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