Time to forget the past[QQ] – Can someone please tell me what it is about school days that employers find so fascinating?

I am 38 and have been an ACMA since 1994. I left school, however, with a paltry three O levels and three CSEs mainly because (23 years ago) I didn’t intend seeking a career in accountancy.

So when seeking my latest career improvement I am stunned that agencies find it more interesting to go back to school days rather than focus on the six years of college (for AAT then CIMA) that I did, or even focus on my work experience!

Or maybe I am using the wrong agencies?

Jamie Crampton, ACMA, Hartwell, Northants

In support of sensible IPR

– I am writing with reference to the piece (Now accountants like cold figures, Taking Stock, 15 February).

I fail to see the necessity for the tone of your comments about ‘the great dame’. Their comment was entirely appropriate and should have been echoed by others present as the lack of figures (about district society costs) made the presentation completely inadequate. Indeed, considering our necessary strictures on the filings of others it is hardly admirable that our own executive accepted so poor a standard.

I can however, as a retired banker, support both the council and the bankers on their demand for audited account for those seeking support.

IPR is an entirely sensible cost cutting move for those living happily within their means (although creditors might not always accept they should be forgotten) but not when having to go outside.

David Shalit, London, W14

Fight the good fight

– We were pleased to see (news in brief, 8 February, page 2) that retired chartered accountant, Derrick Prince, is set to continue his fight against Eastbourne borough council, alleging errors in the local authority’s accounts.

We strongly support Mr Prince and are disgusted his case has been ignored by the ICAEW.

Prince is a former Deloitte’s auditor who believes that, based on this case, auditing standards have plummeted to unacceptable levels.

So much for self-regulation!

Jeff Wooller, ICAEW Ginger Group (not ICAEW approved) London


Ahead of the big boys

– This is one instance where the smaller end of the marketplace is ahead of the big boys (Supermarket giant outsources finance activities, 25 January, page 1).

We have been running an outsourcing facility for small and medium-sized enterprises for the last year. In fact it is our first birthday this week.

The company was developed by two accountants who wanted to combine the efficiencies of up and coming technology with an experienced team of financial professionals to offer affordable high level financial support to the SME marketplace.

The encouragement of entrepreneurism from the government is very heartening but ‘a good idea’ isn’t enough to survive in today’s competitive environment.

As you know it’s a juggling act for many small businesses and start-up organisations, between the demands of government.

We have a wide range of clients primarily in the hi-tech sector for whom we provide financial management services ranging from bookkeeper to finance director level.

For most of our clients we have become almost an integral part of their business, offering all the benefits that sound finance support can give without the recruitment and ongoing costs that an in-house position would incur.

An additional benefit is we can be ‘turned up’ or ‘down’ in line with their business needs.

Cathy McAuley, sales and marketing director, e-fm

Would you like a copy?

– Tony Kirby’s comments (HSBC insolvency rights row, 25 January, page 3) are well known and only attempt to prop up the bankers’ love of the receivership.

Receivership is only for the benefit of the debenture holder not to any other stakeholder.

I recommend that Kirby should read Professor David Milman and my joint research project entitled Security and Corporate Rescue which has been quoted in the recent consultative document on company rescue mechanisms.

If he would like a free copy, I will send him one!

David Mond, via email

Not our fault

– What a chuckle we had reading the Revenue’s comment that ‘it is imperative to remember a number of miscalculated tax returns come as a result of incorrect information sent to us’ (Taxman admits mistakes, 11 January, page 2).

Whilst we are not infallible it is amusing that the majority of ‘miscalculations’ that have arisen where the calculation has been received stating that the return has been processed without amendment.

Yet the miscalculation has arisen due to Inland Revenue keying errors.

Steven Biggs, ACCA, Payling, Hepworth & Clarke, Wakefield

It’s serious

– Looking at the issue affecting the UK’s membership of the eurozone from a business point of view, it is difficult to believe the UK’s economic prospects, whether in the short-term, or long-term, would be different whether inside or outside the eurozone.

The UK’s economy is dependent on many factors: trade conducted in sterling; trade conducted in euros; trade conducted in US dollars; and trade conducted in other currencies. Trade with the eurozone is not dependent on membership on the eurozone. Fantasy views of currency stability of interest rates stability are not relevant.

In both the short-term and long-term, currency fluctuations and disparities between interest rates will affect all the euro, the pound and the dollar.

The main issues are and always will be political. The key question is should the affairs of the citizens of the eurozone be decided by unelected officials in Brussels and unelected bankers in Frankfurt or should they be decided by parliaments?

Any system of government that it turns its back on democracy does so at its peril, for it otherwise contains the seeds of its own destruction.

Those who believe government should be the responsibility of democratic institutions are extremists is a contradiction in terms. It is a fiction that just will not wash.

Denys Seager, Winchester

The perfect call box must combine voice and data

– Finance directors presumably rely on their IT managers and costs could be cut if IT managers’ duties encompassed data and voice.

Unfortunately, they often seem to fall into one camp and that is usually data. Worst still, you can have a telecom’s manager and network manager.

The net result is too much bandwidth being bought for leased lines when voice and data could be dynamically allocated through a single pipe.

We have situations where two separate 2Mb circuits were installed by customers to the same location because the internal parties did not communicate.

All of this could have easily been accommodated with a single circuit.

Telephone systems today can have data routers incorporated to provide either leased line or dial up networking. Alternatively, there are a number of ‘black box’ solutions available.

Where data transmissions are using a dial-up connection, there are great savings to be made even if you are in a long-term contract with BT.

Access to alternative networks can be made via access codes.

Many FDs only look at the headline prices for voice calls but would probably be astonished if they knew how much they were paying for international data traffic.

Mark Frost, via email.

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