Spreadsheet errors spark fears over company reporting

FEARS ABOUT potential errors in spreadsheets have led the ICAEW to launch a troubleshooting service for its members.

There is growing concern that accountants ill at ease with computer spreadsheets could be inadvertently preparing reports containing errors.

In some cases, the consequences of this can be huge. In 2003, US mortgage giant Fannie Mae issued a third-quarter report that had $1.2bn (£700m) of discrepancies. The report had to be reissued amid falling shareholder confidence.

In response, the institute has launched an online Excel Community to help reduce the risk of such spreadsheet errors among its members and the possibility of incorrect management and statutory reports being issued.

Richard Anning, head of the initiative, said: “The creation of the Excel Community is in response to the growing need to help accountants understand the risks involved in using and relying on spreadsheets”.

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