PracticeConsultingAccountancy Age exclusive: Big firms and institutes in bidding war to regulate accountants

Accountancy Age exclusive: Big firms and institutes in bidding war to regulate accountants

ACCA, PricewaterhouseCoopers, or even the Law Society could emerge as the sole monitor for most firms conducting investment business, under proposals currently being considered by the Financial Services Authority.

In a move certain to keep the conflicts of interest debate alive within the profession, the FSA put its new powers to regulate accountancy firms for investment business out to tender last November.

At the time Roger Purcell, group manager for the FSA’s recognised professional body division, said it would be more cost-effective than to take on its own staff.

The FSA has now received eight bids to monitor the eight registered professional bodies whose members provide investment advice.

Accountancy Age understands that ACCA has put in two bids, one jointly with PwC and one in its own right. The Joint Monitoring Unit of the three chartered institutes – backed by the Institute of Actuaries – and PwC have also submitted separate bids.

The Law Societies of England and Wales and Scotland have also made individual bids, while Bacon & Woodrow and IFA Bankhall Investment Management have made submissions too.

Successful bidders will be announced by 1 April. But the decision will be made difficult by the fact that many of the bids could lead to major conflicts of interest.

Purcell said: ‘We are aware that a number of the bids have conflicts of interest and we have asked them how they would deal with that.’

Stephen Thomas, head of the Joint Monitoring Unit, said: ‘The JMU has a proven track record in the monitoring of investment business. Our tender focuses on territory where we are the acknowledged experts. I believe we represent a very strong proposition indeed.

‘NEWS ANALYSIS – Will ‘big brother’ accountancy firms end up watchdog to their smaller brethren ?

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