Usually Adrienne handles these things but I seem to have started a beef, so here goes. Last Friday, I poked fun at BDO Global CEO Jeremy Newman, after he admitted that regulatory intervention in the UK would be necessary to “open up the audit market,” even though that’s the last thing he wants. “It is a shame it has taken so long and that it will require regulatory intervention,” he writes but then immediately qualifies the statement, “though it is not too late for my colleagues in the Big Four, and others, to act on a voluntary basis to create the environment necessary to allow real competition.”
This overt doublespeak caused me to open my post with this:
Perpetual fusspot and BDO Global CEO Jeremy Newman has not been shy about how unfair he thinks the dominance of the Big 4 is. The majority of his blog posts are tagged “Global Accounting” and several consist of bellyaching about Big 4 this and the Big 4 that. Of course, since the mainstream media has finally picked up on the idea that the concentration of auditors could be a bit of a problem […]
Newman wrote another blog post today starting with “I have never understood Twitter” but then did a Twitter search on himself, “not expecting to find anything” but he eventually landed on my blog post. He blockquoted the excerpt above (and linked!) and then wrote this:
Now call me sensitive, but I do not see myself as a “perpetual fusspot” or “bellyaching”- just someone raising a valid concern and one that has now been recognised by others, including the OFT but also the European Commission, MEPs, the UK’s House of Lords and many others, as being a potential issue. I also don’t think the dominance of the Big 4 is “unfair” – I think it is a risk and not in the public interest. And again this view is shared by others – including those who represent the public interest.
Clearly, Mr Sensitive had never graced this fine publication before but I read most of his blog posts and as I pointed out, lots of posts are tagged “Global Accounting” with titles such as “Big 4 bias – can we ever overcome it?,” “Financial Reporting and Auditing: A time for change?,” “There is a Credible Alternative,” and “Restrictive bank covenants keep the Big Four on top….”
Now maybe I’m way off base here but having so many posts (there are more) attributed to this topic, strikes me as someone who is excessively worried about something (i.e. “fussing“). I’m not suggesting he should start doing Mad Men recaps but there is consistent narrative. Plus, the word “fusspot” is funny. Furthermore, evoking “bias,” “can we overcome” and “credible alternative[s]” inherently speak to an unlevel playing field (i.e. “unfair“). Perhaps I’m too wrapped up in semantics but I think my point has been made.
On the bright side, I’m flattered that Mr Newman was offended enough to write a response of sorts (without naming names, unfortunately) and hopefully he finds some things on GC that are to his liking. Unfortunately he still doesn’t appear to be on Twitter, the catalyst to this whole exchange. I encourage JN to join the fun. Then he’ll be able to keep up on himself.