Top firms set new audit benchmark.

Twenty-three of the leading global accounting firms have signed up to a plan to establish a benchmark to improve the quality of auditing and financial reporting.

Only two of the top 20 firms, the Smith and Williamson group and Saffrey Champness, have declined to join. This is the first time accountancy firms have been directly linked to a project with the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), a collection of accountancy bodies.

The project has been brewing since 1999, following pressure from the World Bank and securities regulators that raised concerns over the lack of consistency of quality in audits.

The provisional chairman of the Forum of Firms is Karl Ernst Knorr, a member of the executive board of BDO in Germany.

His position will remain provisional until formal constitution and operating procedures have been agreed upon.

Knorr said: ‘We plan to formally establish the Forum of Firms within the next few months. We expect to have policies and procedures ready by the summer.’

Details of the plan can be found on IFAC’s website at

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