The audit market is to come under the scrutiny of the House of Lords which
will look at the domination of the Big Four and whether auditors should have
done more ahead of the banking crisis.
Lord MacGregor, chairman of the Lords economic affairs committee, said: “The
auditing industry has been dominated by a very small number of players for some
time now. We will look at the scope for promoting more competition.”
The competition issue is already on the agenda of the Financial Reporting
Council and has been examined by the House of Commons Treasury committee.
A recent report from the FRC and FSA criticised the role of auditors during
the crisis saying they had failed to tackle management bias.
The Lords investigation will look at basic questions such as wether Big Four
dominance increases the price of audit and whether the market needs to be opened
But it will also examine much more sensitive issues about the audit of banks
and whether the auditors were sufficiently sceptical in the run up to the
crisis, and could they have done anything to mitigate the crisis.
The Lords are inviting responses to the probe by 24 September.
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