Euro turmoil on IT

Companies across Europe need to move faster to change their businesses. operations and IT systems over to the euro, the European accountancy body FEE, the Federation des Experts Comptables Europeens, said last week.

Noel Hepworth, euro project director for FEE, said: ‘Life is easier if organisations change earlier. You don’t need to deal with clever triangulation software.’

Hepworth’s advice reflects FEE’s role as the lead organisation in the European Commission’s campaign to educate businesses about the euro. But it brings him into direct conflict with Dennis Keeling, chief executive of the UK Business and Accountancy Software Developers Association, BASDA.

Keeling, whose BASDA guide to implmenting euro software is published this week, said two weeks ago that UK companies should delay moving their operations to the euro because business software will not be available to cope with it.

BASDA and FEE have written parallel reports on the impact of the euro on IT, and consulted each other closely on the content, which overlaps in many instances.

FEE’s report was written by Arthur Andersen’s Luxembourg subsidiary and will be published on FEE’s Web site in the next few weeks.

‘Ours is aimed at buyers,’ said Hepworth. ‘We try to put the euro in a business context and identify which are the strategic issues. From an accountant’s point of view, the sooner you change, the easier it will be and you will need less complex software.’ He added that businesses would also gain competitive advantages from trading in the euro.

However, a recent FEE survey showed UK businesses are following Keeling’s advice. The UK was well down the league table, with only 22% of financial directors reporting that they had begun to make preparations for the euro.

But Vicky Pryce, head of economics for KPMG, appeared to endorse FEE’s view when she warned: ‘Even in “out” countries like the UK and Sweden, big companies appreciate the need to trade in euros from 1 January 1999. The euro is coming in through the back door.’

Related reading