In its 2017 annual Audit Quality Thematic Review, the Financial Reporting Council found nearly a third of audits carried out “required more than just limited improvements”. In reporting about the review, the Financial Times pointed out that recent high-profile accounting scandals “raise questions about whether auditors are being appropriately sceptical when they scrutinise company accounts”, quoting a £4m fine the FRC had charged Deloitte for its audits of Aero, and a £3m fine against PwC for its audits of Yorkshire-based sub-prime lender Cattles.

Relationship-building with clients

We understand that as the majority of companies start out small – many as sole traders – directors prefer to use the services of a sole practitioner accountant or a small accountancy practice. It’s understandable that the accountant and the client will build a very good relationship with each other, with a lot of trust and loyalty on both sides.

As a business expands, it is inevitable that the director will want that relationship with the accountant to continue – and so it should. The problem for the accountant is that if the company is ever in a position to need auditing, it could become problematic if they don’t have the training and experience to undertake the task.

Many accountants in this situation are hugely reluctant to introduce their client to another accountancy firm as there is a risk that their client could be poached by a larger company. Quite often they muddle through with their own audit – but without the specialist training, experience and accountability, it could leave them vulnerable.

Outsourcing

The best compromise for sole practitioner accountants, or those in firms too small to have trained auditors, is to outsource the task to a registered auditor.

We are Registered Auditors with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales and specialise in audits for businesses requiring FCA compliance, charities, pensions and solicitors.

At HB Accountants, we pride ourselves on our ethical stance and would never approach your client.