Leader – Profession’s reputation on the line.

It’s that time of year again when the profession gets a chance to demonstrate to the outside world that it is as willing to stand in the spotlight as it is to shine one on businesses up and down the country, week in, week out.

Next month sees Accountancy Age publish its first Top 50 of the new millennium. And it’s crucial. Last year all but two firms provided information (hang your heads Horwarth Clark Whitehill and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which supplied only global figures). That level of response was a landmark for a profession that had, until then, not done enough to counter accusations of a lack of transparency by publishing figures.

But this year firms have to go further. In 1999, the huge increase in the numbers responding was welcome. But many firms were still reluctant to break down their income between services. That needs to change. And any firm that is not really a unified body but more a network of regional offices should watch out too. We will be looking closely at that this year.

Of course partnerships are different to other business structures. But notwithstanding that fact no one should think that the issue of transparency doesn’t matter, especially to a profession that preaches transparency to others.

With the Office of Fair Trading currently conducting an inquiry into the profession, the government thinks it matters. So do we. And with your reputation – and that of your peers – at stake, so should you.

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