Row escalates over auditing ethics

The ACCA has reacted angrily to a letter from the head of the Auditing Practices Board and called for a radical overhaul of its structure.

Link: Student and membership numbers grow for ACCA

John Brace, president of ACCA, said APB chairman Richard Fleck’s comments in a letter to the Financial Times were ‘an affront to the whole auditing profession’.

Fleck had claimed that auditors were upset at not being able to audit their own accounting work for clients, without appropriate safeguards.

‘The APB had a chance to realign its new standards to the internationally accepted IFAC code of ethics but failed to do so,’ said Brace. ‘This means that all auditors in the UK and Ireland have to comply with two sets of ethical requirements, and clients have to pay for that.’

He called upon the board not only to have a wholesale rethink on the standards, but also for a major shake-up on the board and its priorities.

‘The APB’s lack of understanding of the SME market appears to have caused them to misrepresent the profession’s legitimate concerns,’ he said. ‘Until the APB’s membership is radically changed to include a majority of those who understand SMEs it will struggle to issue standards that are genuinely in the public interest.’

Fleck had said that the APB might have been seen as failing in its duty to demonstrate independence from the profession had its decisions been universally popular. He added that the APB would continue to require members of the profession to ‘observe ethical standards that their forefathers would be proud of’.

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