Andersens Indian plan lets down UK regions I was dismayed to read the story on the front page (12 December) reporting that Arthur Andersen is proposing to relocate its tax processing function to India.

We have organisations who are spending millions of pounds trying to attract foreign companies (and jobs) into the UK. Then we have organisations such as Andersens exporting quality jobs in order to gain a ‘cost advantage’, even though it is earning very lucrative fees from the UK Government and indigenous companies.

Why doesn’t Andersens relocate to the peripheral regions of our country such as West or North Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland? What is wrong with Carmarthen, Kilmarnock and Portadown? People in these areas have the skills or can be trained to have the skills. The people without jobs are here, the IT links are in place now and the offices can be built for them.

There are organisations such as the Welsh Development Agency, the tecs and colleges who can assist in making the transfer painless and financially attractive. If Andersens will not back Britain, then why should the taxpayer fund Andersens via consultancy and audit fees? No investment, no return.



New technician qualification will open up market

technician-level qualification (News, 5 December).

This will have a very serious impact on the Association of Accounting Technicians’ qualification. The AAT will find it very difficult to compete against the better-known ACCA, particularly outside the UK.

To some extent, the AAT committed hara-kiri in its overseas markets by making it virtually impossible to attend a college running its courses.

Many students were in the absurd position of being told there were no authorised colleges in their country and, to continue the qualification, they would have to go abroad.

ACCA will have no problems in picking up partly-qualified AAT students round the world. And, in countries where there is genuine competition, ACCA should have the pulling power.

It is surprising that ACCA has delayed its entry into the technician market for so long. Perhaps being a sponsor of the AAT made it difficult.

There is little doubt it will have to withdraw its sponsorship of the AAT.

There is no need for the English ICA to follow the lead of ACCA. It stands to gain, in that more AAT members in the UK may be pushed towards the institute qualification route. Statistics show that where good-quality AAT candidates have joined the institute, they have tended to do well.

The big question is whether CIMA can afford to leave the overseas market to ACCA. It may think it can. It in my view cannot.

There is no doubt that the flexibility of the ACCA qualification is of great appeal to students. CIMA must realise it has an outdated exam structure.

ACCA is already picking up around 50% of all accountancy students. Its new venture will increase this figure and make the future of ACCA even brighter, particularly overseas.



Small company audits protect smaller firms

As a sole practitioner in a small firm, I believe John Malthouse’s defence of the small company audit is no more than a call for the protection of the small firm (Letters, 5 December).

Compliance with the Companies Acts and public disclosure is a high price for a small company. If there is no public interest, the independent accountant’s report is sufficient to complement this.

An audit report is addressed to the shareholders as a comment on the directors’ accounts. If the shareholders and the directors are the small people and do not want an audit, it will be of little value and professional resources can be better used in other areas. If the bank or suppliers do not like it, then they can refuse to deal with the company.

Of course, small firms can carry out as good an audit as anyone, but should it be forced on companies to prove the point? Companies should be allowed to compete in Europe on an equal footing. If higher exemption limits work in Europe, why should they not work here?


Article paints unfair picture of firm’s work

I was somewhat disturbed to find our firm mentioned in the feature article on the sex industry, ‘Filthy lucre’ (7 November), in the manner in which it was.

We are not in the business of making moral judgements and I object strongly to the tone of the article which contains factual errors.

What is particularly objectionable is that the average reader, having read the piece, comes away with the impression that we have created a niche in dealing with the sorts of clients mentioned in the article. This impression could not be further from the truth.

I am aware of journalists needing to ‘spice up’ a story, but did not consider it happened in Accountancy Age. I, therefore, can be excused for thinking that Accountancy Age has now entered the tabloid end of the market.


Kumar & Co,


CSM rejects ‘isolationist supplier’ tag.

Charles Woodgate of Hartley Computer UK depicts CSM Ltd as an ‘isolationist supplier’ (Technology File Opinion, 28 November). On the contrary, CSM’s 32-bit software supports connectivity between differing suppliers’ software.

This is evidenced by our use of the Microsoft Jet 3 database engine accessible from a host of third-party products such as Word, Excel, Visual Basic and Access. For the less computer-literate user, a special ‘data server’ has been designed to allow access and exchange of data without specialist skills.

In terms of supplier co-operation in support of the ‘customer is king’ philosophy, Hartley has never approached CSM to discuss working together to benefit our mutual customers. Had it done so, it would have enjoyed our full co-operation as others have already done.

Woodgate fails to point out that the use of OLE to effect connectivity falls well short of providing accountants with what they expect in terms of integration. It is fine when sharing selected numbers between applications, but when it comes to the real business issues, such as use of a single practice database and non-duplications of data, it is a wholly inadequate solution, exposing the ‘best-of-breed’ hype for what it is.


Managing Director,

CSM Ltd, Birmingham

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