Hewitt sets agenda for Foundation changes

But while the document is looking to improve the function of the foundation, it does acknowledge that, in general, the accountancy audit professions are on a fairly sound footing.

‘The UK regime is built on solid foundations and has set quality benchmarks across the world, but events in the US show us that we cannot afford to be complacent,’ she said.

One possible option that has been put forward in the consultation document is the possible refocusing of the foundation’s attention so that it concentrates solely on audit, with the possible additional criteria that it should only look at the audits of publicly quoted companies or firms where there’s a significant public interest. This proposal has been cited as it is in these areas that it will have the greatest interest in promoting confidence in the markets, claims the document. The Accountancy Foundation currently also addresses ethical standards and includes an investigation and discipline board.

Glyn Barker, UK head of assurance and business advisory services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, did not object to the Foundation handling other areas of accountancy, but that to restore public confidence it should be mainly focused on audit.

The consultation document will also look at the structure and funding of the Foundation and whether the profession should continue to set its own ethical standard or bring in independent oversight and intervention.

Steve Edmonds, head of entrepreneurial business services at Grant Thornton said:’While we agree that a review of funding is worthwhile, it’s been such a short time since the Foundation was set up that much of the review will be inconclusive.’

Consultation will last until 7 January 2003 and the government will publish its findings towards the end of that month.

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