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November 6, 2014

Editor’s letter:140 years in the front line

This magazine would be older than Sir Winston Churchill, if the statesman was still alive today. He was born on 30 November 1874. A month earlier, the first issue of The Accountant had come out, hot off the press.

Its first publisher, Alfred Gee, made it clear that the publication was going to be independent.

As the ICAEW explains in its library database, Gee didn’t want the magazine to be affiliated to any professional body, although in 1890 ICAEW’s council encouraged its members to subscribe and submit articles for publication.

I’m proud to say that Timetric, the title’s current publisher, is committed to maintaining Gee’s original stance on editorial independence.

As such The Accountant remains a broad church where various viewpoints are discussed and a forum where issues are debated independently – not least to practice what we preach.

One of those debates today relates to the EU, of which Churchill was one of the first proponents, and the UK’s continued membership of it. The UK premier David Cameron recently suggested capping national insurance numbers for EU nationals who want to work in the UK.

That proposal, in breach of EU laws and treaties, has heated up the debate ahead of the UK General Election in May next year.

In our UK annual survey we asked leaders from the profession for their thoughts, should a referendum on the UK’s EU membership be held sometime after the Election.

The most general view was that an exit from the EU wouldn’t be beneficial for businesses and trade.

From Europe, this year, has come the second chapter of a massive debate initiated four years ago – the reform of the EU audit market.

After years of endless discussions and political shenanigans at the heart of the EU, the European Parliament passed a final body of law.

However, it gives plenty of leeway to member states in key areas such as the extension of auditors’ rotation and the provision of prohibited non-audit services.

As much as "united in diversity" is the motto of the EU, how many different regulations can European markets support?

Governments and regulators of many member states are working hard on the implementation of the rules, which should be ready by June 2016. But how are they coordinating their work? Who are they listening to, given the wider areas of the economy that audit affects?

At least in the UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the FRC are listening to what accountancy bodies and other stakeholders have to say – among them the ICAEW, the ACCA and the ICAS.

We’ll know very soon how things are going to play out. BIS will launch a public consultation before the end of year, where it might anticipate what its favourite options are; or just leave the final decision for the FRC to make.

Stay tuned for more news with The Accountant. We have 140 years of experience.

Carlos Martin Tornerocarlos.tornero@uk.timetric.com

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