Skip to main content

Are audited financial statements reliable

I am reading the article on the BBC website "Lehman Brothers Bank Collapse" dt 16-Sep-2008.

The company is an investment bank that specialises in big and complex deals and investments.

Despite this, Lehman's collapse and the troubles of other financial institutions will probably be felt by millions of people around the world - at least indirectly.

Most of our banks and pension funds have dealings with Lehman, or with firms like hedge funds that traded extensively with Lehman.

Unwinding Lehman's complex deals will take months if not years. During that time the global financial system will be snarled up. Many banks won't know for sure how much they are exposed to Lehman, and will have difficulty freeing up the money in those deals.

This in turn is likely to intensify the credit crunch, with potentially dire consequences for businesses and consumers.

The other article "Three deadly sins of portfolio credit risk management" published in June 2002.

Three deadly sins lie in wait to wreak havoc on a portfolio: a disproportionate percentage of the portfolio in the low pass categories; emphasis on higher-risk types of lending; and concentrations that build in the portfolio with a small group of borrowers. Some banks commit multiple sins--aggressively underwriting individual loans to borrowers in higher-risk types of lending and taking large positions in those loans. How does your bank fare? Is it time to pass out the pitchforks?

Prem Sikka in his article "The Auditors have failed" in Guardian explains how the top audit firms had given a clean chit to the companies whose survival today is doubtful. Moreover the audit firms have charged an atrocious amount of fees for performing the job. The directors also had fat cheques to take home.

The question is

whether auditors should rely on management representation while commenting on true and fair view of the Balance Sheet ? Or do they have go further to investigate in the dealing to see whether they have any material impact on the financial statements ?

The reason for the fall of Lehman Brothers only became known when the bank collapsed. Who knows how many such caskets will opened to know the magnitude of damage. Should the auditors gone into the trail of the dealings to confirm the representations made by the management is correct !!!

Or to protect themselves from neglience, should the auditor insist on the management for an expert opinion in all aspect of the Balance Sheet. E.g.

  • Bad Debts Provision - Assessment from the legal department of the company
  • Brand value and goodwill - Expert opinion from valuerers
  • Fixed Assets - Report of the surveryor
  • so on and forth.
Just like how a jury relies on the experts opinions and finding on a case, should the auditor follow a similar trace. Top firms, I am sure, they should be following the convention. I don't understand how does collapse of such magnitude is trigged every 4 years.

The other question that is raised frequently is the audit fees are exhorbitant. Big 4 firms audit more than 80% of the fortune 1000 companies in the world.

The question is will such auditors be impartial while auditing the companies ?

Santosh Puthran

Do you like to be updated in Accountancy ?

Subscribe to Management Accountant by Email


Subscribe in a reader

SAP Store, UK

Visit MA Stores ? You will find something you are looking for ....

Management Accountant Store, US - Powered by Amazon
Management Accountant Store, UK Stores - Powered by Amazon, UK
Digital Store, US

You may also like to read
  1. Have Auditors failed us - Prem Sikka
  2. Does IT strategy of your company influence your career
  3. The Audit Cartel - Prem Sikka in Guardian 06- June-08
  4. How to Share Blog posts with friends 25-May-08
  5. Management Accountant Blog Home


Popular posts from this blog

Poll : Does CIMA, UK qualification add value

Poll : Does pursuing CIMA, UK qualification add value to a member of ICWAI, India ? Vote on the poll and share your thoughts by commenting the blog. Poll: Vote here I feel that if you are a member of ICWAI and you pursue CIMA, UK qualification, you are not adding any value to your skills since you will be learning the same. Once you are qualified, you are still a Cost & Management Accountant but from UK. For an employer, I would still have same skills and training on Management Accounting. However if you pursue qualification like Company Secretary or CPA or ACCA , your skills are enhanced with the knowledge gained during training and passing of exams. After qualification, you are bound to follow the CPD programs of ICWAI and other institute. In competitive world, employer look for people with multiple skills. Which one promotes you as professional better against your name: AICWA, ACMA or AICWA, ACS or AICWA, CPA or AICWA, ACCA Widgets Regards, Santosh

Learning Curve Theory

Learning Curve Theory is concerned with the idea that when a new job, process or activity commences for the first time it is likely that the workforce involved will not achieve maximum efficiency immediately. Repetition of the task is likely to make the people more confident and knowledgeable and will eventually result in a more efficient and rapid operation. Eventually the learning process will stop after continually repeating the job. As a consequence the time to complete a task will initially decline and then stabilise once efficient working is achieved. The cumulative average time per unit is assumed to decrease by a constant percentage every time that output doubles. Cumulative average time refers to the average time per unit for all units produced so far, from and including the first one made. Major areas within management accounting where learning curve theory is likely to have consequences and suggest potential limitations of this theory. Areas of consequence: A Standard

Resistence to Change - Approaches of Kotter and Schlesinger

The Six (6) Change Approaches of Kotter and Schlesinger is a model to prevent, decrease or minimize resistance to change in organizations. According to Kotter and Schlesinger (1979), there are four reasons that certain people are resisting change : Parochial self-interest (some people are concerned with the implication of the change for themselves ad how it may effect their own interests, rather than considering the effects for the success of the business) Misunderstanding (communication problems; inadequate information) Low tolerance to change (certain people are very keen on security and stability in their work) Different assessments of the situation (some employees may disagree on the reasons for the change and on the advantages and disadvantages of the change process) Kotter and Schlesinger set out the following six (6) change approaches to deal with this resistance to cha