I’ve updated the post to point to some recent news about PwC and banks that failed in Ukraine and Spain… I returned to Washington D.C. and my job as a journalist at MarketWatch in late June, after almost three months as a Journalist in Residence at the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. My fellowship deliverable, in exchange for the opportunity to study with the researchers, was three posts for the Center’s Pro-Market blog on the state of the audit industry.
The last time anyone attempted to “modernize” auditor independence rules it was the Securities and Exchange Commission, in 2000, before the Enron failure and Arthur Andersen’s demise, as a result of the growing concern that firms increasing focus on consulting was distracting them for their core purpose, auditing. The Big Four firms are now opportunistically lobbying to go back in time, before Enron, when the industry was self-regulated and mostly left alone, able to have as many conflicts of interest as their powerful public clients would allow.
Your first obligation as a professional is to your client, not your firm, your partners, or even your family.
The PCAOB’s second “progress” report on broker-dealer audits found deficiencies in all of the audit firms inspected and in 57 of the 60 audits inspected. That’s not much progress.
How much lower does investor confidence have to go? How many more billions do customers have to lose before someone steps up?
With Democrats like Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, who needs the Republicans? When special interests pursue self-interested legislation or seek to block legislation that affects their interests Maloney is ready to wave the jobs and economic growth flag for her campaign contributors rather than looking out for investors.
There are still many unanswered questions about how and why the financial crisis frauds occurred. New frauds, such as the Chinese reverse merger frauds, took advantage of a public listing loophole that the SEC and auditors missed. All these investor losses occurred under the supposedly watchful eyes of auditors, who are paid dearly to protect shareholders but in many cases are either complicit, incompetent, or both.
re: The Auditors has seen a confidential, internal Deloitte training document, prepared this past summer, that reveals the firm expects the worst when the inspection reports for their 2009, 2010, and 2011 audits are published by the PCAOB. Is Deloitte truly committed to a sea change in tone as well as technique? I’m not convinced.
My American Banker column on Tuesday focused on the risks to banks, their audit committees, and shareholders of an auditor who blows off its regulator. Deloitte’s ongoing conflict with the PCAOB poses the risk of undue scrutiny by other regulators and unwanted publicity to all its clients.
It wasn’t even a verdict. Just a decision by New York Federal Court Judge Lewis Kaplan in one of the Lehman failure cases Ernst & Young is fighting. A decision to allow substantially all of the allegations against Lehman executives and at least one of the allegations against Ernst & Young to move forward to discovery and trial. That is, if there’s not a settlement first.
Although the state and federal wage and hour laws governing eligibility for overtime pay are complicated, the public policy issues they present for audit firms are not.
I spoke at the Fifth Annual Fraud and Forensic Accounting Education Conference on June 2. My presentation, “The Skeptical Professional: Requirements and Case Studies,” was given on Thursday morning and I had a full house.