FDs back Big Four probe

UK finance directors have narrowly voted in favour of an Office of Fair Trading investigation into the implication of the Big Five being reduced to a Big Four.

The result comes after controversy surrounded the remarks of a Treasury official who said the disappearance of Andersen as a separate firm in the UK was an issue for the competition authorities.

In this week’s Accountancy Age/Reed Accountancy Personnel Big Question 43% of FD’s said the OFT should push on with an investigation.

Mead Fluid Dynamics FD David Weston said: ‘Considering the recent financial disasters that have occurred, it is paramount to ensure that the Big Four don’t appear to be running a cartel on big business.’

In Scotland FDs unequivocally backed an investigation with 75% in favour.

Edinburgh University FD George Sutherland said: ‘In effect a few large firms set, and perpetuate, audit style and standards. Fine if it works, but it doesn’t. The standards of auditing would seem to be inadequate particularly in the context of multinational operations.’

Overall 39% of the 250 FDs polled objected to an OFT investigation. One FD said an investigation would be a ‘total waste of money’.

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