This week’s blogs: buyer beware

With every major scandal we hear the inevitable ‘this must never happen
again’, and questions about the effectiveness of the regulatory and legal
framework. But while our profession and regulators will, of course, have to
explain our parts and maybe learn some hard lessons, I think other stakeholders
should be looking to their roles.

What about investors and their analysts who seem to have forgotten the first
principle of ‘let the buyer beware’?

Maybe they should have been sharper in spotting the potential warning signs –
based on the simple premise that if something looks too good to be true, then it
probably is.

I also wonder about the role of the media in business. While there is now so
much focus on and intrusion into celebrity lifestyle, isn’t there a case for
more resources to be put into exposing issues which materially affect millions
of people?

There are some excellent business commentators in the media who have, in many
cases, forecast serious problems. Isn’t it time that resources were diverted
from showbiz gossip to the business desks to enable them to help root out abuses

Richard Aitken-Davies is global president of ACCA

It will be interesting to see how KPMG staff respond to the firm’s offer of a
four-day week.

It sounds immensely attractive on paper, provided, of course, you have a
personal financial situation that allows for a sizeable drop in salary. But
there are drawbacks.

One national newspaper that recently offered journalists a similar scheme had
very few takers. And why?

Well, I gather there was widespread fear that anyone coming forward would be
seen as saying that theirs was a job that could be done in four days, and that
the change would become permanent.

With chargeable time perhaps the most significant difference between
accountancy and journalism staff, perhaps that might not be a factor.

However, I can well imagine fear arising among KPMG staffers that seeking to
take up a four-day week (or indeed the firm’s offer of a sabbatical) will be
seen as a signal that your heart really isn’t in the job and that you aren’t
partner (or promotion) material.

Damian Wild is publisher and editor in chief of Accountancy

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