APB is finally heard

As part of its review of the UK listing rules, the Financial Services Authority has said it will look at the issue of mandatory reviews of interim accounts by auditors for listed companies.

But this does not make it certain that anything will happen.

The listings review will be comprehensive, and the FSA has said it is going to take some time to get it right.

So don’t expect to see much by way of final recommendations before 2004.

That’s no real surprise as there are going to be, as the FSA put it, ‘a lot of fingers in the pie’.

The industry, as you might have noticed, is in a state of flux. New legislation and standards are flying out of every body imaginable as quickly as they can muster their recommendations.

On top of this you have a consultation document on the role of the Accountancy Foundation, a review of company law, international accounting standards due in 2005 and the SEC sticking its nose in wherever it wants. All of this has to be taken into account by the FSA when its drawing up these revisions to listing rules.

So where does a mandatory interim review fit in with this? The answer is probably not very high up the list. With so much else going on, this plea by the APB could get swamped by other more pressing issues.

Is it important enough to get more than just a cursory glance from the FSA before it moves onto another matter?

The APB obviously thinks so and has been pushing this issue for some years but the FSA has pointed out that a good majority of FTSE-100 companies already carry out such reviews, while there is the important issue of the cost of such reviews for smaller listed businesses.

Perhaps the FSA is hinting with this that the APB shouldn’t be so hopeful.

  • Paul Grant is senior reporter on Accountancy Age.

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