Almost 200 SME FDs were quizzed for this week’s Big Question, carried out by Accountancy Age and Reed Accountancy Personnel, following last week’s announcement by PwC that it will split its audit and consulting arms.
The move is expected to trigger a raft of similar moves from Big Five rivals.A resounding 63% of those interviewed said that auditors should be allowed to act as consultants, while many FDs said large firms already provided both services.
‘As part of a small firm I say I do not want to have to go to two different firms. We are dealing with professional people and I hope they can professionally distinguish the two,’ said Frank Fletcher of animal feed merchants, Anson Brothers.
‘Audit firms should be allowed to act as consultants,’ said Ron Halley of Andrews Kent & Stone, the construction consultants, ‘but not for the companies they audit’.
However, almost a third of FDs were concerned the two arms should remain independent to reduce the risk of conflicts of interest – a view being enforced by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Firms with access to clients’ affairs could become involved in ‘insider trading’, said Mike Cook of Imperial College.
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