It has become increasingly clear that the front line of the war on audit firm oligarchs is in the U.K. While regulators and observers in the U.S. seem ambivalent about the Final Four Horsemen of the Financial Apocalypse, the British have seemed quite content to irritate the Big 4 with their Competition Commission's insistence that there aren't enough dancing partners out there.
The Big 4 have responded by claiming the audit market in the U.K. is "fiercely competitive" which nearly caused one Grant Thornton Partner to fall off his chair. The CC doesn't seem to be buying it either, despite PwC's attempt to provide everyone with a real-world example.
Apparently, it's been suggested by the Commission part of the problem is that many FTSE companies end up choosing a Big 4 firm as an opiner on financial statements because bones are being thrown to firms by alumni who occupy key positions in these companies.
Deloitte, for one, would like to make everyone aware that this is chutzpah of the highest order:
Deloitte took umbrage at the suggestion that because so many FTSE 350 finance directors and audit committee chairmen were Big Four alumni, they automatically pick former employers to do their accounts. The Deloitte paper said: "We completely disagree with these allegations which seem to us to be a direct criticism of the integrity of some of the UK's leading businesspeople."