Before the debates and discussions of
2010 cause memories of 2009 to fade, The Accountant asked a
selection of accounting firm leaders to share their most
significant moment of 2009 and their number one prediction for


Issues relating to the financial
crisis are unsurprisingly dominating the thoughts of the
profession’s leaders as we enter 2010, while some other interesting
themes have emerged.

Two mid-tier leaders cite legal developments
relating to vicarious liability as the most significant events in
2009 and issues surrounding financial instruments valuation are
also being discussed.

Geoff BarnesGeoff
Baker Tilly International president and chief

Biggest moment of 2009: “I suppose
one of the highlights for me was, after the year end, having
Collins Barrow join the network.”

Prediction for 2010: “Outside of
England winning the World Cup?

More mergers everywhere – I think
this downturn will have affected many former excellent firms, who
may take the opportunity of coming together with other firms to
increase their service capability and share the burden of some of
the issues they’re facing…

“At times of downturns, people get


Jeremy Newman,Jeremy Newman
BDO International chief executive

Most significant event of 2009: “The
global economic crisis. I think aspects of it will have a positive
effect on the profession.

“We, like a whole host of other
people, had lost sight of the reality of business cycles…

“So I think bringing a sense of
balance and a reality check has been good for a whole host of

Prediction for 2010: “I think the
thing to watch out for is to not to kid ourselves when we start to
see the first shoots of spring that everything is going back to
where it was before.”


Ed NusbaumEd Nusbaum,
Grant Thornton International chief executive

Most significant event in 2009: “I
think the thing we dealt with in 2009 and will continue to deal
with in 2010 is the global adoption of IFRS. The issues we’ve had
with valuations and market value assessments caused a lot of
struggles in the accounting profession and continues to cause a lot
of struggle.”

Prediction for 2010: “It’s going to
continue to be a very competitive environment for the accounting
profession and a challenging environment.”


Frank ArfordFrank
Horwath International chief executive

Most significant event of 2009:
“There are two for me.

“One was the dismissal of BDO
International from the Banco Espirito Santo case, while the other
was the combination of the Madoff fraud and the Lehman

Prediction for 2010: “There will be
increased regulation, both of clients and of accounting firms
themselves. The regulatory environment is going a little bit
tougher and it is going to get worse.”


Norbert NeuNorbert Neu,
Nexia International chairman

Most significant event of 2009: “I
think that – especially from a network perspective – all these
discussions about the Deloitte and the Parmalat case were quite
substantial, because it showed to what extent there might be a
general or overall liability for the work that is done here or
there, and we have to keep an eagle eye on that.”

Prediction for 2010: “I am pretty
sure that we will have continuing agonising over the
network/association distinction.”


Jos van HuutJos van
Praxity Global Alliance chairman

Most significant event of 2009: “[It
became apparent that] the accounting profession needed to
demonstrate more than we ever did before what our role is in terms
of the assurance part of our practices – how we add value in terms
of reliance to financial statements.”

Prediction for 2010: “I think we
will start giving the answer to the question I just raised. I don’t
see many changes in the accounting world or in the firms as such,
hopefully we will all survive in whatever way.”