Agile? My A**

I usually like Accountancy Age.  This UK publication at least covers the accounting industry.

I’ve linked to them many times.  The article below, however, has got to be the one of the most facile collections of impotent paragraphs I have read since the WSJ’s David Reilly swallowed PwC’s PR line hook, fishing line and sinker on AIG.

As Dennis Howlett so aptly reminds us in his post today about our conversation over the weekend, “It’s the systems, stupid.”  And the Big 4 is woefully undermanned when it comes to assuring that systems supporting financial reporting accuracy, integrity and timeliness are also positioned to make businesses better.
I have given Deloitte a pass on this criticism in the past, due to the fact that they didn’t sell their consulting arm when the others did.  And, of course, the non-US, independent, locally owned and operated international franchise locations of the Big 4 may still purport to have systems integrations and systems consulting practices.  But given the fear of tripping up on NYSE listed companies where consulting and auditing of the same company is not allowed, the Big 4 pushed consulting to the back seat in pursuit of the revenues afforded by audit clients held captive and wiling to pay any ransom for a clean audit opinion.  Their “agile” audit minds are convinced they can pull consulting practices out of their a** whenever it’s convenient and sell their “expertise” to all of the clients they’re not auditing.
Maybe someone should tell them.  You can’t grow true consultants overnight or with no support structure, care and feeding, or within a “conservative” audit culture.  And you may be able to buy them, but you get what you pay for…
And so it’s with tongue in cheek that Mr. Powell at PwC in the UK had to claim his firm was forced to become “agile” in spite of its conservative DNA and that “tax and advisory would form the new lines of revenue for PwC.”  Shades of 1997 anyone, when all this started and consulting was going to supplant the price sensitive commodity service that auditing had become for the firms?
Oh, and they’ve certainly got the liability catastrophe drumbeat coordinated, no?
As Guy Ritchie’s mother said this weekend as the rumors of her son’s divorce from Madonna were swirling, “Total tosh.”
PwC needs to be ‘agile’ to stay in the lead
‘If you’re number one and you’re not agile, you’re a target’ – Ian Powell

The number one firm’s chief says that PricewaterhouseCoopers must become more agile if it wants to maintain its lead of the pack.

‘If you’re number one and you’re not agile, you’re a target,’ Ian Powell said.

Powell, who takes over as senior partner tomorrow, described the auditing and accountancy profession as ‘relatively conservative’.

‘… and we’ve been a relatively conservative organisation. Now it’s time for us to really start to use our position as market leader,’ he said.

PwC dominates the UK audit as it conducts audits for two fifths of the FTSE 100 audits and also stays ahead of the Big Four with revenues of £2.1bn.

Powell told the FT that limiting liability was the key to helping newcomers develop and for alleviating the risk of a firm collapsing.

‘That’s the biggest protection that we could create for ourselves with our clients, to make sure that they do get their choice [of auditor] going forward,’ he said.

The PwC head, who himself comes from an advisory background, said that he believed tax and advisory would form the new lines of revenue for PwC.

‘We think that that is just going to be one of the biggest agenda items for CEOs and boards of companies going forward,’ he said.