This seems reasonable enough to me

The Treasury Select Committee has questioned a decision by the UK audit watchdog to clear KPMG over its work with HBOS just before its rescue, with chairman Nicky Morgan demanding a full explanation as to why the auditor has been allowed to get off scot-free.

So, why?

KPMG audited HBOS’s accounts in 2007 under the assumption that market conditions would not worsen and the bank could fund itself, the FRC wrote in its conclusion. However just over six months after the accounts were published Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, causing turmoil in global financial markets, and HBOS was taken over by Lloyds.

“The extreme funding conditions which arose in October 2008 were not anticipated,” the watchdog said, adding that market conditions when the accounts were published in February 2008 did not make the auditor’s assessment of HBOS seem unreasonable.

As the Senior Lecturer keeps insisting, financial markets cannot deal with uncertainty. An audit isn’t really the place to predict implosion of the interbank market, is it? Not that the Senior Lecturer will go onto say that of course…..

7 thoughts on “This seems reasonable enough to me”

  1. Witch hunt and grandstanding by politicians. I am coming to see anything that they do individually or collectively, with very few honourable exceptions, as a means of maintaining the oligarchy.

    Democracy, or rule *for* the people has been replaced by modern equivalents of bread and circuses in an attempt to keep the masses docile.

  2. Having just been through the annual audit at work, I’m pondering the point of a lot of this stuff.

    Most (non-financial) audits are useless as they are run by power skirts who have little comprehension of the upside of risk (that things will work out better than planned).

    Their view on risk is that it’s all bad and slow and steady (or strong and stable) wins the race. Which isn’t very helpful, if you’ve got someone incentivised to grow business being hindered by someone who is incentivised to do the exact opposite.

    The committee in the story above is the same- it seems determined to expand the scope of the audit to take into account incredibly high impact, very low probability external events.

  3. Murphy trained and worked at KPMG and as a consequence (reason unknown) seems to harbour a bitter hatred of them beyond his general hatred for the other Big 4. Expect some critical comment from him.

  4. Why do auditors seem to make such a poor job of spotting fraud? One factor, says Richard Murphy, a partner at accountant Murphy Deeks Nolan, is a massive expectation gap about what auditing can and can’t do. Despite unshakeable general assumptions to the contrary, he says, auditing (like accounting in general) is a subjective, not objective, discipline representing an opinion, not a certainty.

    ‘Put five accountants in a room with the raw figures,’ says Murphy, ‘and they’ll come up with five different profit figures, all legitimate. Accountants and companies understand that, but regulators, users of accounts and governments want it to be black and white.’

    The basic function of an audit as currently practised is to confirm that reported transactions actually took place, not to root out dishonesty. Current thinking in corporate governance puts increasing responsibility for the latter on a company’s directors.

    ‘Deep down, every auditor knows he is on a hiding to nothing,’ says Murphy. ‘Every time he signs off a “true and fair view”, he knows that another view could be perfectly possible.’

    Worth reminding him every time he screams that the auditors should have done better.

  5. @Bravefart – Murphy left KPMG as soon as he qualified which these days happens for one of two reasons; either people want to go and work in industry, or they have been told (or worked out for themselves) that they aren’t cutting it and won’t go anywhere. Your view of which of these happened in Murphy’s case is, of course, your own. *discreet butler’s cough*

  6. Can we bill Tyrie for the cost of this fucking circus? The FRC told him beforehand there was no realistic chance of the case succeeding. He urged them to do it anyway because, y’know, bolitics.

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