Don’t overhaul audit’s role, says Vodafone’s CFO

THE NEW CHAIRMAN of the Hundred Group, the influential lobby group of FTSE 100 finance directors, has rejected calls for a sweeping overhaul of audit rules following the banking crisis.

Vodafone CFO Andy Halford, who has taken on the chair role, said that although lessons could be learnt from the audit of banks, there were no serious concerns over the performance of auditors in other industries, meaning that sweeping changes to audit rules were not necessary.

“[Questions around auditing] were very much limited to banking. Looking at the number of companies that have gone bust, the level of fraud [in general] has not been particularly different over the past few years,” Halford told Accountancy Age.

Halford’s comments come amid growing calls from politicians and regulators, and some within the industry itself, for audit reform. Mooted changes include banning auditors from selling consultancy services such as tax and IT to audit clients, and requiring auditors pay more attention to future business risks faced by clients.

He revealed three priorities for the Hundred Group: to lobby the government over making the UK economy more competitive and business-friendly; to ensure that any business regulations passed in response to the economic crisis are proportionate; and to raise the profile of the group.

Halford welcomed government plans to simplify the tax system but cautioned: “Unfortunately complexity has built up over decades in the tax system. The key thing is getting the right people round the table to work out how to simplify the system.”


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