October 1, 2020

This requires your participation

Let’s Try to Match Big 4 Firms to Their Statements About the OFT Inquiry

As we mentioned this morning, Britain’s Office of Fair Trading has determined that the Big 4 isn’t playing fair in the audit market and that it’s time everyone sat down (at roundtables, preferably) to sort this thing out. You’d expect the Big 4 to be a little rankled by this, accused of being benefactors in a game played with a stacked deck but actually, they’re quite comfortable with the situation. Accountancy Age got statements from various people at all the firms in the UK but just for fun, let’s try and identify which statement belongs to which firm. NO PEAKING.

STATEMENT #1:

A […] spokeswoman said the firm was “happy to co-operate” with the inquiry, outlining its ideas on opening up the marketplace.

She said: “We support increased choice in the audit market to enable audit committees to have a wider range of audit firms to choose among in meeting their audit needs and obtaining a high quality audit.

“To this end, we support a number of measures to increase choice, including reinforcing the audit committee’s role in auditor appointments; publication of independent inspection results for all audit firms that are active in listed company audits; removing Big-Four only restrictive covenants from loan agreements; liberalising audit firm ownership rules; and the creation of a single market for audit services in Europe.”

STATEMENT #2:

“We welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the OFT and participate in relevant discussions.

“We welcome all measures that enhance the quality and value of audits and we are supportive of measures that can increase competition and ensure there is – and is seen to be – a level playing field for market participants.”

STATEMENT #3:

“We welcome the OFT’s announcement today, in particular to engage all stakeholders in a programme of round tables and bilateral talks. [The firm] plans to play a constructive and active part in these discussions.”

STATEMENT #4:

A […] spokesman said the firm “welcomed” the inquiry, but said it believes there was already effective competition and pricing in the UK audit market “and look forward to hearing from the OFT its reasons for believing otherwise”.

“It is important to bring to a head the long-running debate on competition and choice, and we support calls for progressive and practical change within the industry.

“In carrying out its work, it is important that the OFT puts audit quality at the heart of the debate. We support a level playing field for all parties, and market-based – not regulatory – intervention.”

First correct answer in the comments will get GC luggage grips (yes, that’s what they are) and other swag that our publisher will gladly send you along with a recipe for Chicken Kiev.

Big Four welcomes OFT inquiry [Accountancy Age]

What Are Your Questions for a Forensic Accounting Partner?

Afternoon, gang. As the busy season winds down, you might be thinking about your next career path. Lots of you have expressed interest in forensic accounting and fraud investigations and as luck would have it, I got introduced to Derek Royster, a partner with RGL Forensics in Charlotte, North Carolina. From his bio, Mr. Royster has been with RGL since 1997, having worked extensively with insurance companies and attorneys focusing the scope of his career on forensic accounting, the measurement of economic damages and litigation support. He has lots of letters behind his name and has provided testimony as a damage expert witness.


Mr. Royster has agreed to discuss his career and other aspects of a forensic accounting with GC but since you people are the ones with career decisions to make (whilst I just write about it) we thought it would be best to get your questions for Derek. So whatever you want to know about a career in forensics but were afraid to ask, this marks your opportunity to get the answers.

Leave your questions for Derek in comments below or (email them to us) and we’ll get the answers for you and post our discussion with him.

What Would You Ask the AICPA About the New CPA Exam?

Lucky me, I’ll be speaking with the AICPA about the successful launch of CBT-e as well as grilling them about the new format, their motivation behind the change, and all this nonsense about changing the passing score from 75.

Because you guys are the ones taking the exam and I’m just the one writing about it, I figured it would be appropriate to give you all the opportunity to weigh in on what I should ask. I swear I’m not being lazy as I have plenty of my own questions to ask but thought it might be nice for all of you with questions to have the chance to get them answered directly from the source.

You’re welcome to put your suggestions in the comments or, if you’re embarrassed because your question also makes you look like a big fat failure, please feel free to email me and I promise I’ll guard your identity like Caleb guards his yoga mat.

What Are Small Accounting Firms’ CPA Exam Policies?

From the mailbag:

I work for a local accounting firm and am part of a committee to revise our CPA exam policy. [C]ould you do a story on other firms’ exam policies and what CPA exam candidates find the most motivating and helpful and like/dislike about their own firm policies.

I [am] looking for the bonus and reimbursement policy. I am interested to see how many smaller firms pay for study materials, reimburse for the exam, what type of bonuses they give, etc.


What we’ve generally heard is that it’s a mixed bag when it comes to small firms and their CPA exam policies. Bonuses are fairly common although the exact amount of the said bonus varies. Likewise, we’ve heard that firms will reimburse your costs for taking the exam, although there’s a cap on how attempts for each section (e.g. after you bomb FAR twice, you’re SOL).

Where the smaller firms are especially stingy is the cost of your review course materials. Hell even the Big 4 aren’t shelling out the cash for Becker, Roger, Wiley et. al like they were back in the mid-aughts.

Anyway, the readership knows better than us. If you work for a smaller firm, do share your firm’s policies on reimbursement, bonuses, etc. And as a more general question, what policies does your firm have that actually motivate you to crank this thing out? Does the bonus do it for you? Is the carrot stick take the form of a raise after you knock out the fourth section? Explain in excruciating detail. Our reader thanks you.