Firms want to do more than ‘count beans’

A survey by Summit International found that of its 104 member firms, more than four-fifths were in favour of offering clients corporate finance, business advisory and consultancy services.

All American and African firms affliated to Summmit said they were against demerging their ‘lucrative’ non-audit services, followed by 89% of all European firms and 78% of firms based in the Asian Pacific.

The only region which supported audit-only accounting firms was Latin America, with 56% of firms in favour of shedding add-on services.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Geoff Barnes, chief executive officer at Summit, said member firms worldwide believed they could and should offer more than just audit.

‘They want to juggle them too!,’ Barnes added.

Despite the recent splits at Andersen and Ernst & Young, the IPO of KPMG Consulting and the future sale of PwC’s consulting arm, Barnes still believes firms should be able to offer additional services.

‘Clients want these services and will benefit by receiving them from a professional and trusted business adviser.

‘It is an insult to suggest accountancy firms are only interested in selling unnecessary services to clients at double or treble the normal audit fee – ultimately, this approach would be counter-productive,’ Barnes said.

However his comments are unlikely to impress the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which last year battled long and hard for limits to be placed on non-audit work accounting firms could offer clients.

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