Auditors debate the future, but live in the present

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From Mr John Griffith-Jones.

Sir, Lord Lawson makes two interesting points about the audit and accounting profession (“Forget Fred and focus on the real banking scandal”, Comment, February 6).

I think we all accept that dialogue between bank supervisors and auditors needs to take place. I have been a more than enthusiastic supporter of the need for new arrangements between the Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority and ourselves, which have now been put in place and are, in our view, filling the gap. I would hope that we and the regulators can be trusted to maintain this progress, but if parliament wants to make our dialogue a statutory obligation, let’s do it.

On International Financial Reporting Standards as they apply to banks I fear, even today, there is far less consensus despite the best efforts of the standard setters. Banks, auditors, governments and regulators all have opinions on the merits or otherwise of the current rules and proposals, which it will be remembered were themselves the product of discontent with previous bases of accounting and much discussion as to the alternatives. As professionals we are participating constructively in the debate as to what should change but, as auditors, in this regard we already have a statutory obligation to report against the standards in force for the time being.

John Griffith-Jones, UK Chairman, KPMG

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