If it feels like accountancy has taken a hammering in the national press like no other sector, figures prepared for Accountancy Age this week confirm it.
In terms of negative press coverage over the past 12 months, accountancy ranks a distant 45th out of the 45 leading UK business sectors. Accountants fared worse than banks, telecoms companies and estate agents, according to the PressWatch index, which measures the balance of positive and negative publicity.
Only Deloitte & Touche enjoyed more positive coverage than negative.
PKF, Saffrey Champness and BDO Stoy Hayward all finished in negative territory – though only just.
But it was the rest of the then Big Five that really suffered. Ernst & Young, which has endured a hard time over its handling of the Equitable Life audit, scored minus 105; KPMG (accused of violating auditor independence rules) scored minus 362; while PricewaterhouseCoopers (criticised for its audit of Russia’s biggest company, Gazprom) scored minus 438.
Not surprisingly, Andersen’s demise hurt accountancy the most. The firm scored minus 5,133 making it the worst performing of all UK companies assessed. It was run close by Marconi.
But there was some good news in the figures. Since Andersen’s collapse, the sector has begun to recover. Recent figures show accountancy climbed back up to a comparatively respectable 36th place out of 43 in September.