PracticeAuditDTI to scrutinise the Accountancy Foundation

DTI to scrutinise the Accountancy Foundation

Trade minister Patricia Hewitt today launched a review of the accounting industry's independent regulator in response to US corporate scandals and concerns over the UK body's structure and funding.

Link: The self-regulation conundrum

A review of the Accountancy Foundation, the UK’s first independent regulator of the industry, was originally scheduled for 2005.

Following the collapse of Enron and subsequent US corporate scandals concerns have been growing over the Foundation’s unwieldy structure and the source of its funding.

The main issues to be looked at will include whether the industry should continue to set their own ethical standards; if there should be stronger independent oversight; whether the Foundation should focus on just the auditor or the industry as a whole, and if it should monitor the work and conduct of audit firms.

Hewitt said: ‘The UK regime is already built on solid foundations and has set quality benchmarks across the world. But recent events in the US show that we cannot afford to be complacent.

‘Any proposals resulting from the review must be transparent and proportionate and will be carried out in co-operation and partnership.’

She added that no reforms will be hurried in case they ‘later prove unworkable or have unintended side effects’.

The three-month long consultation wants to garner opinion from business, academics, union and consumer groups, as well as independent regulators and the accountancy industry.

The Accountancy Foundation is made up of four subsidiary bodies; the Review Board headed by Colin Reeves which oversees the work of the three remaining bodies. They include the UK’s Auditing Practice Board, Ethics Standards Board and the Investigation and Disciplinary Board. It is exclusively funded by the UK’s five accountancy institutes, plus the Irish accountancy institute.

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