The chief finance officer of the world’s third largest manufacturer of
set-top boxes has launched a stinging attack on accountancy firms for raking in
huge fees but using disclaimers to rid themselves of any responsibility in
Stuart Hall, CFO of PACE, said that firms were consumed by ‘insecurity’ in their
efforts to protect themselves from damage.
‘The most disappointing thing is the insecurity,’ said Hall in an interview with
Accountancy Age. ‘If you’re doing a transaction, then of all your advisers the
one with most disclaimers, the largest engagement letter, the hardest person to
engage, the person who accepts no responsibility for anything they do and
charges the biggest fees is the accountants. It used to be the lawyers, but not
His comments echo those of private equity boss Jon Moulton, who has attacked the
legal buffers enjoyed by firms doing corporate finance work.
Hall also weighed into the still unresolved issue of liability caps.
‘Forget the liability caps; they’re not liable for anything,’ Hall said.
‘There’s no point having the caps if they’re not liable in the first place.’
Hall said that the gulf between the Big Four and the chasing pack had put PACE
off the mid-tier when it was looking for advisers.
‘There’s a big difference between a truly worldwide firm and a firm that says it
has offices around the world,’ he said.
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