This week’s blogs: a step too far

Slipped into the small print of the 2009 Budget bundle was a proposal to make
senior accounting officers personally liable for their companies’ tax accounting

It is a proposal that has caused consternation, not just within the
profession but more widely within the business community.

Ultimately, it is the collective responsibility of the directors as a whole
to maintain proper systems. Of course, the company should be penalised where it
submits an incorrect return due to poor systems but to take that one step
further by making the senior accounting officer personally liable would, in my
view, not be the right course.

If the government is concerned about internal accounting systems, then a more
targeted approach rather than a blanket measure that applies to all large
companies would be a better way forward. Through its existing risk analysis
procedures, HMRC should be able to identify companies that it believes do not
have adequate accounting systems. Targeting these would be a better strategy to

Michael Izza, CEO, ICAEW

On qualification, we will finally have all the options open to us that we
were informed of at the start of our studies. One of the possibilities is a
secondment to another department within our own firm. This provides many
benefits. It gives the chance to experience another part of the accountancy
world before deciding what step to take next.

There are many departments available to try out, including corporate
recovery, corporate finance and forensics. Each provides separate challenges, so
it is possible to seek out those that you feel you will most enjoy. It is good
to have such a selection available, and so these are exciting times indeed for
any students approaching qualification.

I already have some ideas as to what I plan to do, although obviously my
main concern at present is that I’ve passed the final exam!

Daniel Chown, CA student at PKF,

Companies don’t come much bigger, grander or more putatively proper than
Royal Dutch Shell.
So it is profoundly shocking that Shell’s shareholders should have voted against
the substantial remuneration paid to its directors.

Under governance rules, the vote is advisory only: it is non-binding. But it
is a PR disaster for Shell.
It is a warning to every company that shareholders will not tolerate
discretionary pay awards when performance targets are flunked.

Robert Peston, business editor,

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