audit quality or lack thereof

Can the Big 4 Survive the U.K. Regulators?

Ed. note: Jim Peterson, a 19-year veteran of Arthur Andersen’s internal legal group, has been writing since 2002 about the issues and challenges confronting the Big Audit model, including as an occasional guest here. Since last winter, Jim has been covering the intense public criticism in the U.K. of the performance and business model of […]

Here’s Your Scorecard For KPMG U.K. Fines So Far In 2019

While I was vacationing in South Carolina last week, word officially came down from across the pond about the highly anticipated fine KPMG U.K. would be receiving from a Financial Reporting Council disciplinary tribunal for bungling reports on Bank of New York Mellon Corp. The tribunal let KPMG off the hook, deciding on a fine […]

U.K. Inspection Reports Reveal That Grant Thornton Can’t Audit Its Way Out of a Paper Bag

Here’s some good news for the 300 new auditors Grant Thornton in the U.K. is expecting to hire within the next 12 months: You can’t be any worse than the auditors GT has employed in recent years. The Financial Reporting Council released its annual audit inspection reports for the Big 4 firms, as well as […]

Deloitte U.K. Hit with Large Fine Over Its Incompetent Auditing of Serco Geografix

It was Deloitte’s turn on the Financial Reporting Council’s dunk tank today, as the U.K. regulator fined the firm and one of its partners over the audits of the 2011 and 2012 financial statements of Serco Geografix Ltd., a subsidiary of outsourcing firm Serco Group PLC, which were found to be complete rubbish. The FRC […]

Hiring Watch ’19: Grant Thornton U.K. Is Looking For Competent Auditors to Fill 300 Jobs

Hey, auditors! How confident are you that you wouldn’t royally screw up auditing the financial statements of a well-known U.K. cafe chain and could uncover a £94 million accounting fraud? Pretty confident, eh? Well, you couldn’t do much worse than the dolts Grant Thornton U.K. had handling the audit work on Patisserie Valerie’s accounts. While […]

PwC In the U.K. Got a Big Fine For Doing a Crappy Job Auditing Redcentric

Oh look, a Big 4 firm other than KPMG got in trouble earlier today with the audit overseer across the pond. The Wall Street Journal reported: The Financial Reporting Council, Britain’s regulator for accounting and audit, on Thursday penalized PwC and partners Jaskamal Sarai and Arif Ahmad in relation to audits of the 2015 and […]

Ex-EY Audit Partner’s Lousy Audit Judgment Landed Him a $25,000 Fine From the PCAOB

Earlier today, we talked about audit quality or the lack thereof in Australia, the U.S., and, for that matter, all over the world. Well, this latest enforcement order from the PCAOB doesn’t help make a case that audit quality at the biggest accounting firms in the U.S. is getting any better. Compliance Week reported: The […]

Deloitte Australia Told to Stop Bitching About Regulator and Do Better at Auditing

Last week, the Australian Financial Review reported that a regulator’s inspections of a small risk-based sample of public company audits found that Deloitte’s audit quality was the worst of the Big 4 accounting firms, with 14 of 44 (32%) key audit areas examined having deficiencies. But instead of owning it, Deloitte played the blame game, […]

When It Comes to Audit Quality, Deloitte Is the KPMG U.S. of Australia

And that’s not a compliment. The Australian Financial Review reports: Deloitte has attacked the way the corporate regulator assesses audit quality as inaccurate, “not fit for purpose” and too volatile, after revealing its latest inspection findings were the poorest of the big four consulting firms. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission found that in 14 […]

Another Day, Another Fine for KPMG

Here we go again … A U.K. regulator on Wednesday fined KPMG LLP and a partner at the firm after they admitted to misconduct in relation to the audit of financial statements of Co-operative Bank PLC. The Financial Reporting Council, Britain’s watchdog for accounting and audit, handed KPMG a fine of £5 million ($6.51 million) […]

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KPMG Just Can’t Stay Out of Trouble

On this week’s episode of “KPMG Did Something Bad” … A U.K. regulator on Tuesday fined KPMG LLP and three executives after an investigation that found misconduct in relation to the audit of financial statements of a Lloyd’s of London insurance syndicate. The Financial Reporting Council, Britain’s watchdog for accounting and audit, fined KPMG £6 […]

Audit Deficiencies Got Much Worse Among Big 4 Firms in Canada

I came across an article on the site Canadian Accountant this morning that said Canada’s audit regulator, the Canadian Public Accountability Board, recently issued its annual inspection results for 2018, finding significant audit deficiencies increased from 15 in 2017 to 34 in 2018. Thirty-four total significant deficiency findings might not seem that bad compared to […]

U.K.’s Audit Regulator Wants to Find Out Exactly Why KPMG Is Such a Hot F*cking Mess

From the Wall Street Journal: The U.K. watchdog for accounting and audit on Tuesday launched an independent review into the governance, controls and culture at KPMG LLP’s U.K. audit unit. The Financial Reporting Council will examine KPMG’s risk management, its controls and the behavior of partners and other employees in the audit practice. This first-of-its-kind […]

KPMG Appeals One-Year Auditing Suspension In Oman, Loses

KPMG couldn’t talk its way out of trouble, as an independent appellate court in Oman recently upheld a securities regulator’s ruling last November that prohibits the firm from taking on any new auditing clients for one year. In a statement on March 3, the Capital Market Authority of the Sultanate of Oman said: “Capital Market […]

Grant Thornton Current and Former Partners Will Have a Seat In the PCAOB’s Penalty Box

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board doled out suspensions to a current partner and a former partner at Grant Thornton on Feb. 26 for their roles in screwing up the 2013 audit of a real estate investment trust. Richard Huff Jr., CPA, was censured and given a one-year ban by the PCAOB. Huff was the […]

As a Result of Breaking SEC Rules, Deloitte Japan Is $2 Million Lighter In the Wallet

There was some bad decision-making going on at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu in Japan. Dozens of its employees had bank accounts at the subsidiary of a client for which Deloitte Japan issued audit reports, which is a no-no because Securities and Exchange Commission rules don’t allow accountants to have bank accounts with audit clients that have […]

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Grant Thornton Jumps on the ‘Let’s Form a Panel to Show We’re Committed to Audit Quality’ Bandwagon

Last week we let you guys know about a three-member independent committee EY recently created that will be tasked with advising senior leadership on how to strengthen audit quality. Not to be outdone, Grant Thornton announced Jan. 30 that it, too, has formed a three-member, mostly independent panel that will counsel the firm’s partnership board […]

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EY Felt the Need to Form an Independent Audit Quality Committee

If someone had told you that a Big 4 firm just created an independent committee that will advise the firm on how to improve the quality of its audits, you’d think it was KPMG, right? I mean KPMG partners stole confidential inspection information from a couple of rogue PCAOB employees because the firm’s inspection reports […]

SEC Got All Grinchy on Crowe, Four Partners for Bad Banana of an Audit

We interrupt your Christmas Eve merriment to bring you this press release from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which on Dec. 21 announced not-so-glad tidings about Crowe LLP’s audit team: The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed settled charges against national audit firm Crowe LLP, two of its partners, and two partners of a now-defunct audit […]

Deloitte, CPA Get Taken to the Woodshed in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Institute of CPAs doled out some fines on Nov. 13 to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and a Deloitte CPA for making some auditing faux pas. The firm and accountant Lee Po Chi each have to pony up $50,000 HKD ($6,384 USD) “for their failure or neglect to observe, maintain or otherwise apply professional […]

KPMG Gets One-Year Auditing Ban in Oman

2018 has been a no-good, rotten year for KPMG. The firm has been embroiled in accounting scandals in the United States and South Africa, was told by the United Kingdom’s accounting regulator that its audit quality sucks, defended an indefensible audit of the now-collapsed Carillion in the U.K., was fined £4.5 million in the U.K. […]

FRC Didn’t Want Grant Thornton U.K. to Feel Left Out of All the Disciplinary Fun

The Big 4 firms in the U.K. have been the target of repeated tongue-lashings from the Financial Reporting Council lately because, let’s face it, audits have been pretty damn bad. Things have gotten so desperate that EY is bringing in behavioral psychologists to improve audit quality. But the U.K. accounting watchdog’s most recent tongue-lashing wasn’t […]

Broker-Dealer Audits Are Still Sloppy, But Hey, Auditor Independence Violations Are Down, So That’s Something

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board released its report on 2017 inspections of broker-dealer audits on Aug. 20, and once again, there was some disappointing news for those who champion audit quality. According to a PCAOB press release: In this inspection period, the PCAOB inspected 75 audit firms and reviewed portions of 116 audits and […]

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before: FRC Reprimands KPMG U.K. for Crappy Audit

When it comes to the Financial Reporting Council and KPMG audits, it must be like shooting fish in a barrel. This time, the U.K. accounting watchdog fined KPMG £2.1 million ($2.7 million) on Aug. 20 following the Big 4 firm’s admission of misconduct on the audit of fashion company Ted Baker Plc’s financial statements in […]

Deloitte’s Audits of SIG Under U.K. Regulator’s Microscope

The Financial Reporting Council, the U.K.’s audit watchdog, is calling, is calling, is calling out Deloitte’s name in a probe of the Green Dots’ 2015 and 2016 audits of building products distributor SIG, according to several publications across the pond. From the Financial Times: SIG said in February it had discovered misstatements after a whistleblowing […]

U.K. Accounting Regulator Chides KPMG For ‘Unacceptable’ Decline in Audit Quality

And here I thought Phil Mickelson’s meltdown on the 13th green at the U.S. Open on June 16 would be the worst thing to happen to KPMG this week. From Bloomberg: KPMG’s audit work in the U.K. is of an unacceptable standard, Britain’s accounting regulator said, fueling calls to reform the industry, including dismantling the […]

Let’s Congratulate Grant Thornton For Its Dynamic and Record-Breaking Audit Failure Rate

Colin put this in ANR this morning but it's the kind of thing that deserves a post of its own just to make sure you don't miss it and mock appropriately: The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board gave a failing grade to Grant Thornton on 65 percent of audits inspected in 2012, the highest failure […]

Ex-KPMG Chief to Auditors: You Are All Flirting With Irrelevance

According to a Financial Times article posted today, KPMG UK's former head John Griffith-Jones — who is now a regulator for the UK's Financial Conduct Authority — dropped a bomb at a posh lunch for accountants in London recently. Griffith-Jones verbalized what many of us already know and have been saying for years. FT says […]

Audit Leaders Use AICPA Council to Vent About ‘Crisis’ at Partner Level

Knowing you guys as well as I do, I realize it's pointless to bore you with details from Council; like how Tom Hood got snapped at by a very frustrated Maryland senator in her office or what people wore to last night's black tie gala. However, I will share with you an interesting panel yesterday […]

PCAOB Chairman Doty Shares Some Confusing Statements Made by Auditors

Yesterday, prior to today’s excitement regarding Satyam and PwC, PCAOB Chairman James Doty spoke at the The Council of Institutional Investors 2011 Spring Meeting and he had some interesting things to say about the audit profession, specifically that auditors don’t always remember that “protecting investors” ≠ “client service”:

Time and time again, we’ve seen services that might be valuable to management reduce the auditor’s objectivity, and thus reduce the value of the audit to investors. While management may need the services, they just don’t have to get them from the auditor.

Audit firms call this “client service,” and it makes things terribly confusing. When the hard questions of supporting management’s financial presentation arise, the engagement partner is often enlisted as an advocate to argue management’s case to the technical experts in the national office of the audit firm. The mortgaging of audit objectivity can even begin at the outset of the relationship, with the pitch to get the client.

Consider the way these formulations of the audit engagement that we’ve uncovered through our inspections process might prejudice quality:

• “Simply stated we want management to view us as a trusted partner that can assist with the resolution of issues and structuring of transactions.”

• We will “support the desired outcome where the audit team may be confronted with an issue that merits consultation with our National Office.”

• Our audit decisions are “made by the global engagement partner with no second guessing or National Office reversals.”

Huh. Doty doesn’t name names but you could easily interpret those statements as one made by a client advocate, not a white knight for investors. He continues:

Or, to demonstrate how confusing the value proposition could be even to those auditors who try to articulate it:

• We will provide you “with the best, value-added audit service in the most cost effective and least disruptive manner by eliminating non-value added procedures.”

(What is a “non-value added procedure”? Whose value do you think the claim refers to? If a procedure is valuable to investors but doesn’t add value to management, will it be scrapped?)

In other words, “we promise that we won’t be pests” and “value” will be a game-time decision. And finally:

Or, consider this as a possible audit engagement formula for misunderstanding down the road:

• We will deliver a “reduced footprint in the organization, lessening audit fatigue.”

(What is “audit fatigue”? Does accommodating it add value to investors? How should investors feel about a “reduced footprint”?)

Yes, what is “audit fatigue”? Is that what happens to second and third-year senior associates every February/March? Or is this better articulated by “we know audits are annoying and our hope is that we won’t annoy you too much.”?

Taking this (the whole speech is worth a read) and everything else that happened today into account, it will be interesting to hear what Mr Doty has to say at tomorrow’s hearing.

Looking Ahead: Auditor Oversight [PCAOB]
Also see: Watchdogs caught nuzzling and wagging tails; auditor sales pitches exposed [WaPo]