Profession seeks solution as changes take hold

Profession seeks solution as changes take hold

Most of us will be thankful for the Easter break, but for most accountants it will come as a much-needed respite. As of this week, you could be forgiven for thinking that everything in the world of finance is different, as last week saw significant change on no fewer than five separate fronts.

The re-launch of the Financial Reporting Council, with a greater breadth of responsibilities, hogged the headlines. The FRC now controls everything from standard setting, oversight and enforcement to investigation, discipline and ensuring transparency.

But the changes did not stop there. The government launched its new bankruptcy regime via the Enterprise Act, legislation which is designed to offer bankrupts a second chance.

Meanwhile, the International Accounting Standards Board took a great step forward by publishing standards on insurance contracts, asset disposals and discontinued operations, macro hedging and business combinations.

As if that were not enough, after years of discussion, the audit threshold finally went up, meaning that thousands of small companies with a turnover up to £5.6m can exempt themselves from audit.

And then there is the new tax year. While many of the significant measures ushered in by last month’s Budget will not take effect before 2005, others – including the government u-turn that will see SMEs facing 19% corporation tax bills, and a rise in the tax rate applicable to trusts – have come to bear over the last week.

Add to this last month’s new money laundering regulations, and you could forgive many finance professionals for feeling like they might buckle under the weight of change.

Every accountant will be affected by one or other of these changes. But the pressure will be most keenly felt by some of the smaller multi-practice firms with thriving insolvency practices and client bases that run from SME up to smaller listed companies.

As this week’s Accountancy Age/Robert Half Finance & Accounting salary survey demonstrates, the profession has a great deal of work to do if it is going to deal with these and other challenges. And in that respect, coping with regulatory change is no different to managing employees’ salary expectations or tackling discrimination. Recognising a problem is one thing. Finding a solution is an entirely different proposition.

Have a good break.

Email comment@accountancyage.com.

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