ACCOUNTANCY AGE BIG QUESTION: Just one in four FDs believe regulatory system strong enough to prevent conflicts of interest

The damning verdict from the profession comes in this week’s Big Question survey conducted by Accountancy Age with Reed Accountancy Personnel. Only 27% said the current system was strong enough. Some 44% said regulations were not sufficiently secure with the remainder neutral.

FDs said the main reason behind their doubts centred on the fact the big five had interests in a number of areas, making it difficult for them not to have occasional conflicts.

The survey followed the news a UK inquiry into audit independence may be launched this year following a SEC probe into PricewaterhouseCoopers in the US. ‘Conflict of interest is going to arise in all professions and auditing is no different. No amount of regulation is really going to prevent the conflict. Regulations that are currently in force are adequate and it will be a waste of time trying to think of new ones,’ said Paresh Samat, FD of employment services company SBJ ESS.

But Stuart Chapman FD of educational organisation International Baccalaureate, said current system was good enough. ‘On balance, the answer is yes. There will always be cases of inappropriate conduct but the medium and large size firms have too much to lose by crossing the line,’ he said.

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