Sir Donald calls out for Spartacus

In his blog our CEO shares personal insights from a career in accounting and tech

Last week I joined a Q&A session with Sir Donald Brydon, hosted by ICAEW in London, UK. 

It was a lively discussion, with a great number of questions coming from both the room and a live-stream audience. It’s a great shame Sir Donald’s trip to Australia for a comparable session with CA ANZ has had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. 

There were some common themes across the questions and some very helpful insights from Sir Donald. A few have stuck in the memory. 

Many questions pointed to the increased liability and exposure of the audit service if it’s defined stakeholders are broadened. Sir Donald shared that if auditors wish to hide behind liability then they will, but that won’t enable the progress that those outside the profession are looking for. 

Questions rained in regarding the implications for audit services of organizations which are not public interest entities (PIEs). Sir Donald shared the scope of his review was specific, but that outside of his scope a sensible principle could prevail. Where a recommendation adds value, it should be applied. Where it doesn’t, it shouldn’t. 

I was also able to have one of my own questions answered.  

I asked during Sir Donald’s review, as someone previously not immersed in the world of auditing, what had most surprised him about the audit profession, product or process. He kindly gave 3 answers: 

  1. That there isn’t a true audit profession, but that it sits within the accounting profession,
  2. An obsession with language, to a very pedantic level,
  3. That auditors didn’t feel their role was to inform, but that rule adherence was the priority. 

The last two points certainly resonated with my experience and to a degree, frustrations over the years. 

In closing, Sir Donald openly shared that his recommendations, and those of the other recent reviews in the UK, are just that. Recommendations. Subject to further consideration, government review and additional deliberation. But in his view, the time for discussion and debate is over. The time for action is now. 

And to that, Sir Donald shared that there is nothing stopping those of us who can influence and enable change reviewing these recommendations and taking on the challenge of making the audit service better.  

Sir Donald called out for the Spartacus of audit to rise and take on that challenge. So, who will be Spartacus? 

Mark Edmondson

Inflo President & CEO