A deep split has emerged among Group A firms over the disclosure of but silence is proving a damaging option. annual results.
Accountancy firms are not compelled by law to open up their books, but more and more have chosen to do so over the past few years in a laudable bid to prove they have nothing to hide.
Those who have shed the cloak of secrecy afforded to partnerships – some despite less-than-impressive figures – can take the moral high ground, while those who have not hide behind their lame excuses.
Grant Thornton and Horwath Clark Whitehill said they were standing by a Group A pledge made last year not to produce results in this survey. Moores Rowland and Kidsons Impey, currently locked in merger talks, also refused to offer results.
Clients of these firms are beginning to tire of their accountants’ approach to openness. Michael Trayler, the managing director of book publisher Wordsworth Editions, a client of Moores Rowland, said: ‘I don’t know why they don’t report. Everybody is happier when they reveal results.’
Another dissenter, Robson Rhodes, saw four of its partners quit at the beginning of July after rows over governance and demands for increased capital contributions from the firm. Partner profits at the firm collapsed by more than 20% in 1997.
Senior partners of mid-tier firms that did produce results were scathing of the policy. Smith & Williamson managing partner Gareth Pierce said: ‘I’ve no idea why they don’t do it. There is a trend towards accountability and not announcing results is a retrograde step.’
Clive Parritt, chairman of Baker Tilly, said: ‘I can’t see what they have to lose.
I think if I were a client, all this would create speculation about what they might be doing.’
Adrian Martin, BDO Stoy Hayward’s managing partner, plans to release a full balance sheet for his firm in the next few weeks. He says: ‘It’s far better to have an open relationship with your clients and staff and to provide a clear understanding of the nature of the accounting profession.’
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