PracticeAccounting FirmsTop firm refuses to open books

Top firm refuses to open books

A top 10 UK firm has declined to commit to publish its annual report and accounts, despite ministerial calls for leading firms to start practising the transparency they require of clients.

Link: Dramatic plunge in PwC revenues

The Department of Trade and Industry has received commitments from 12 of the largest firms, passed on by former ICAEW president Peter Wyman.

But one firm, which remains unnamed, could not be persuaded to offer the same assurances.

The firms were reacting to a recommendation in the DTI review of accounting and auditing that transparency among companies could be improved if those firms that audited listed clients also published their own annual report and accounts.

The ICAEW confirmed that one firm declined to join the 12, but refused to name it. The DTI also would not name the firm or any smaller ones that might have followed suit.

The news emerged just a week after the Auditing Practices Board launched a major consultation aimed at improving the transparency and objectivity of audit firms. Those that made the commitment said that they did so for the sake of transparency. ‘It’s about openness and transparency for us and our clients,’ said John Mellows, UK senior partner at Mazars.

Steve Maslin, a partner at Grant Thornton, said: ‘If it’s seen that greater transparency is helpful in restoring confidence in financial reporting then GT is very happy to play its part.’

Wyman said he was ‘delighted’ by the willingness of the firms to commit to publishing their results. Insiders believe it will not be long before the last firm decides to join its competitors. The sector can expect to see the large firms publishing their financials by the end of 2005.

The Co-ordinating Group on Audit and Accounting Issues last January recommended that firms should reveal their financials, but only as a voluntary measure.

A spokeswoman for the DTI this week said the department would continue to monitor whether the voluntary scheme was working.

Only firms that have taken limited liability partnership status are obliged by law to publish their results.

But many began the practice before they adopted LLP status, in the belief that they had to be as transparent as their listed clients.

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