Accountancy Column

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Full name: The Accountancy Column

Area of interest: Accountancy

Journals/Organisation: Financial Times

Email: jennifer.hughes@ft.com is the most regular contributor

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Website: http://www.ft.com/companies/accountancy-column

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Financial Times: 'The Accountancy Column'

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Remit/Info: "Dedicated to the creation of new international accounting standards, taxation and the business of accountancy"

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Email: jennifer.hughes@ft.com is the most regular contributor

Website: FT.com / Companies / Columnists / The Accountancy Column

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Day published: varies

Regularity: monthly

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Articles: 2012

Articles: 2011

Articles: 2010

  • New IFRS rules could shake investor supremacy - Who do company accounts serve: just investors or a diffuse group of interested parties including regulators, managers and employees? This question was at the centre of the financial reporting debate in 2010 and will remain pivotal in 2011 - 30th December
  • Black book of scandals is required reading - Questionable financial reporting in emerging markets is not so different to the Enrons and Parmalats of developed economies, suggests a book that examines 58 accounting scandals across countries - 25th November
  • Getting a grip on Big Four’s perilous dominance - The systemic danger posed by the dominance of the Big Four in the vetting of big accounts should be the priority for regulators examining the audit profession amid the banking crisis - 28th October
  • IASB head knows all about cross-channel frictions - Sir David Tweedie has locked horns with France several times as chairman of the the body that sets the International Financial Reporting Standards rules followed in the EU and other countries - 30th September
  • Chance for change as decade-old double act exits - Both of the top jobs in the accounting world – chairman of the US Financial Accounting Standards Board and the international standards setter – are simultaneously up for grabs. And what has looked like a problem may yet become an opportunity - 26th August
  • New thinking is key to opening door of Big Four - The UK’s House of Lords is the latest body to open an inquiry into the part that accountancy firms – especially PwC, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte – played in the financial crisis - 29th July
  • G20 could push corporate reporting reform - The summit’s focus on the accounting profession could provide a platform to tackle the broader failures of regulatory standards, which are expected to need some form of political impetus to succeed - 25th June
  • Don’t waste chance of a wider debate on fair value - The new proposal by Bob Herz, US FASB chairman, keeps the issue on accounting for financial instruments and fair value as divisive and controversial as ever - 27th May
  • Lehman case revives dark memories of Enron - The rules covering auditors and their clients have changed dramatically, but the Valukas report’s questioning of Ernst & Young’s role in Lehman’s demise has raised familiar issues all over again - 24th March
  • Multinationals face a gathering storm on tax - The issue of ‘trade mispricing’ has shot up the agenda of the OECD and the European Commission as campaigners claim profits are being moved out of developing countries - 25th February
  • Turner hits at standard setters’ ‘good crisis’ - The FSA chief’s call for accounting standards boards to reflect the concerns of regulators as they write rules suggests that the profession’s role might not necessarily be to improve transparency - 28th January

Articles: 2009

  • Single standard proves elusive goal - With a deadline of little more than a year ticking down for the creation of a single, high-quality global accounting standard, achieving this aim is far from certain - 31st December
  • Time to speak out on Brussels’ delay to rules - The 11th hour decision by European officials to delay the introduction of new global rules on ‘fair value’ has shown how close technocrats have come to losing their grip on their craft - Rachel Sanderson, 26th November
  • Accounts ‘fair value’ heads for exit - Some might remember that an economist’s definition of fair value is not market value but something more fundamental - Jane Fuller, 29th October
  • Convergence should remain on backburner - Doubts are emerging about both global accounting harmonisation and standards quality, measured against the information needs of the financial reporting audience - Nicolas Véron, 24th September
  • Accountancy: Beware ripple effect of expected losses - As preparers and users of accounts brace themselves for another regulatory onslaught this autumn, one thing they should not count on is an end to “pro-cyclical” accounting - Jane Fuller, 27th August
  • A pact to get banks to abide by the spirit of tax legislation - Amid the wreckage of the financial crisis, there are few areas of banking less tipped for a comeback than the baroque world of tax-driven structured finance - Vanessa Houlder, 30th July
  • Accountancy industry needs strong views - If accountants don’t speak up on their specialist topic, others with narrow lobbying agendas will. And those slick special interests can be bad for the wider business world - Jennifer Hughes, 28th May
  • Politicians must allow rulemakers breathing space - Accounting has rarely been so political. During the past six months, elected officials have forced the accounting standards boards to change their rules - Jennifer Hughes, 30th April
  • Putting a price on toxic assets could cost public finances - Proposed IASB and FASB changes will yield healthier-looking banks but also lead to less clear accounting and no progress in the conflict over what the market will pay and the price the banks will accept - Jennifer Hughes, 26th March
  • Seeking a model in Spain’s ability to avoid pain - Bank of Spain’s system of forcing banks make provisions for bad loans is being scrutinised as a workable model for the global industry - Jennifer Hughes, 26th February
  • Avoid temptation of cookie jar in rainy days to come - Accountants fear that dynamic provisioning, the act of keeping back money in reserve for bad events in the future, is the new sexier form of cookie jar accounting - Jennifer Hughes, 12th February
  • Fuzzy oversight will not solve standards issue - A new monitoring board to appoint trustees to the International Accounting Standards Board Foundation is unlikely to end the controversy over the publication of IFRSs - Nicolas Véron, 5th February
  • Global auditors tackle problems of local scandals - The Satyam case is just the latest in a sequence of events which have begged the age-old question: ‘Where were the auditors?’ - Jennifer Hughes, 29th January
  • FRS gets political as SEC unfolds roadmap - US influence is such that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s viewpoint is likely to shape a great deal of the debate about all sorts of changes to accounting rules over the coming years, including international ones - Jennifer Hughes, 22nd January
  • Not fair game to attack accounting for crisis - Fair value accounting has received a lot of blame as the cause of the current financial crisis, not least by politicians, who do not fully understand the operations of the market - Oonagh McDonald, 15th January
  • Auditors must not forget to allow for wider picture - As the credit crunch began to bite last year, auditors faced their toughest issues for many years, particularly around establishing values for financial instruments and other judgment calls. The good news this year is that they have had a year of it under their belts. The bad news is that this year, those problems have got worse - Jennifer Hughes, 8th January

Articles: 2008

  • Spotlight on fresh off-balance-sheet proposals - New accounting proposals for reporting off-balance-sheet assets will be published on Thursday by the international standard-setter. They’re more restrictive, and prescriptive, than before. Will they do the trick? - Jennifer Hughes, 18th December 2008
  • Time to rethink our corporate reporting model - Complaints about corporate reporting have grown over the years. Now is our chance to get the model we want and, frankly, the one that we need - David Phillips, 11th December 2008
  • A magical mystery tour over private equity valuations - How can you value a private equity investment? Let me count the ways. Or rather, let the industry come up with the answers as that is exactly what groups are struggling to do now as they face year-end reports to investor - Jennifer Hughes, 4th December 2008
  • Dogfights that test client confidentiality issues - The case of BCE, which may be unable to complete a buy-out deal because KPMG deemed it likely to breach solvency tests in the process, could indicate a new toughness among auditors - Jennifer Hughes, 27th November 2008
  • Foundations to be laid before bridging gap - More than 100 US companies could have the option of producing annual financial reports for 2009 in another accounting language - Robert Pozen, 20th November 2008
  • Two sides of same coin affect accounts judgments - There is an accounting joke from the days when assets and liabilities sat by each other on balance sheets, rather than above each other. It says the left side of the balance sheet (assets) might have nothing right and the right side (liabilities and equity) has nothing left. But they balance. So in accounting terms, that’s alright. - Jennifer Hughes, 13th November 2008
  • Convergence on standards is crucial - We must use the momentum of the current market turmoil to accelerate towards converging accounting standards rather than to re-open the debate about how to make the journey - Douglas Flint, 6th November 2008
  • It’s time to put the brakes on convergence - The US looks less likely to adopt global accounting rules as the IASB has now shown it is not ready to be the premier accounting standard setter in the world - Jack Ciesielski, 30th October 2008
  • Tax breaks are part of the problem - As recriminations fly over the world’s banking crisis, the role played by flawed tax policy may not escape scrutiny for much longer - Vanessa Houlder, 23rd October 2008
  • Debate to ease fair value accounting intensifies - It will ease the strain on banks’ balance sheets, won’t cost the taxpayer a penny and is quick and relatively painless, apart from a handful of upset accountants - Jennifer Hughes, 16th October 2008
  • Reverse auctions useful but no panacea - The approach may help the US Treasury avoid overpaying for assets but different methods will be needed for other goals of the bail-out - Robert Pozen, 8th October 2008
  • Banks want to shoot the messenger over fair value rules - Transparency is critical to gaining investors' trust in markets. Unless information is accurate and reliable, investors will not trust it - Lynn Turner, 2nd October 2008
  • Bernanke is right on fair value rules - Anti-fair value lobby has renewed its calls for some softening of the accounting rules but Fed chief said this would hurt investor confidence - Jennifer Hughes, 25th September 2008
  • SEC mandate invites monopoly - If US companies are required to use international accounting standards, it will create a single set of standards used around the world by taking away the one system – US GAAP – with the influence to challenge the international rules - Shyam Sunder, 18th September 2008
  • Fresh ‘creeping crumple’ needs to be resisted - Beancounters with “all the backbone of a chocolate eclair” or fearless painters of economic reality? That is the choice facing accountants today according to Sir David Tweedie - Jennifer Hughes, 10th September 2008
  • A nostalgic farewell to standards that have served the US well - The Securities and Exchange Commission signalled the end of an era when it proposed a road map that could move all US public companies to International Financial Reporting Standards - Timothy Flynn, 3rd September 2008
  • Pensions rate change adds to the liabilities burden - Pension funds and their corporate sponsors are being dragged, kicking and screaming, into a brave new world where accounting and regulatory police scrutinise their every move - Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, 27th August 2008
  • For a single language, audit regulators must go global too - PwC’s reorganisation is of interest to more than just those in the firm - it highlights a number of issues of great interest to the wider business world - Jennifer Hughes, 20th August 2008
  • Bad financial practice can’t exist without bad theory - Traditional accounting is flawed, reinforcing swings in the economic cycle by exaggerating news, whether good or bad - Anthony Rayman, 6th August 2008
  • Help companies tackle their weight problem - It is time for an attack on the weight of annual reports to make them simpler and shorter - Ian Wright, 30th July 2008
  • Fair valuation of own debt is counter-intuitive - A new report examining 16 European banks highlights the issue of banks fair-valuing their own debt - Jennifer Hughes, 23rd July 2008
  • Why investors should keep an eye on goodwill charges - As the US earnings season heats up and stock prices continue to cool, there is one oft-ignored accounting charge that investors should take note of this time around: goodwill - David Zion, 17th July 2008
  • Why the word 'writedown' need not spell disaster - Writedowns are not all bad news; some companies actually want to make bigger ones - Jennifer Hughes, 10th July 2008
  • A perfect time to try to clear up the dating game - Corporate reporting is often criticised for being too complex. Accountants point out - rightly - that reflecting all that has happened in a business in a few, or few hundred, pages is challenging - Isobel Sharp, 3rd July 2008
  • Shake-up could signal better service - A more integrated structure would be better for accountancy firms and, by extension, the corporate world that they serve - Jennifer Hughes, 28th June 2008
  • Much needed beacon for investors - It is almost exactly a year since the Committee to Improve Financial Reporting was launched by the Securities and Exchange Commission and soon we will report back with our recommendations - Robert Pozen, 18th June 2008
  • ‘Real’ results must not be at expense of reality - Phrases such as “headline earnings”, “core results” and “underlying profit”, often accompanied by “adjusted” or “record”, are common features in many financial reports - Andrew Buchanan, 11th June 2008
  • On and off the balance sheet - Many elements of off-balance sheet accounting are being scrutinised right now but one – a US convention called qualified special-purpose entities – is about to be removed for good - Jennifer Hughes, 4th June 2008
  • Alice in Wonderland' in need of a clarity tweak - Goldman Sachs spiced up the accounting world last week when it dealt a blow to some of its biggest rivals by terming their proposals "Alice in Wonderland" accounting - Jennifer Hughes, 29th May 2008
  • Difficulty of defining fair value in a changing market - Volatility and complexity have long been causes for complaint about financial reporting. In the middle of a credit crunch, these complaints now focus on the reporting of financial instruments at fair value - Ian Mackintosh, 21st May 2008
  • Standard-setters need to focus on cash flow - I sometimes wonder whether the highly intelligent people who set accounting standards live on the same planet as me - Peter Reilly, 14th May 2008
  • Little value making goodwill more intangible - How much of the inner workings of a deal do you want to know? The usual answer is as much as possible - Jennifer Hughes, 7th May 2008
  • Judgment too important to be left to the accountants - Two serious asset bubbles–the dotcom explosion of the late 1990s and the recent dizzying ascension in housing prices–have developed in the US economy within the past decade. Given their damaging consequences, it is time to look for causes - Peter J. Wallison, 30th April 2008
  • Pressures grow ahead of 2011 convergence - The year 2011 might seem a fair way away – unless you are part of a company preparing to switch to international accounting rules - Jennifer Hughes, 23rd April 2008
  • US must take the bold path on standards - Fahrenheit or centigrade? Miles or kilometres? International financial reporting standards or US generally accepted accounting principles? - Mary Tokar (head of KPMG’s International Financial Reporting Group), 16th April 2008
  • Securitisation hits top of international agenda - Do you know a QSPE from a mere SPE, or a VIE? Or the difference between ARB 51, SFAS 140 and IAS 27? - Jennifer Hughes, 9th April 2008
  • Reporting move could break the writedown spiral - The credit crunch is still serving up new shocks. Investor confidence, already undermined, is now being totally eroded - Carsten Zielke, Michael Starkie, Thomas Seeberg, 2nd April 2008
  • Tax competition is more complex than many thought - London has enjoyed 20 years in the financial sun, with growth in the City and benefits to the UK, but many other jurisdictions are now looking for some rays of their own - John Cullinane, 26th March 2008
  • Muddy waters of ‘fair value’ rules - An investor might be tempted to think these days that many of the largest banks in the world have suddenly and inexplicably swung into loss after years of reporting record profits - Christopher Whalen, 5th March 2008
  • Investors have a vested interest in fair value’s future - What has fair value accounting got to do with how much shareholders get in dividends? An increasing amount, it would seem - Jennifer Hughes, 28th February 2008
  • Weighty problem of reports - Should we offer a prize for guessing the average weight and length of this year’s annual reports? - Jennifer Hughes, 21st February 2008
  • Banks come under scrutiny for tax practices - The beleaguered banking industry is under fire from a new direction. The world’s largest tax authorities are setting their sights on the aggressive avoidance fostered by some banks’ structured finance divisions - Vanessa Holder, 7th February 2008
  • Accountancy: Push for pensions bombshells - They’re at it again with pensions accounting. The UK Accounting Standards Board is proposing changes* to the current rules that can only be described as explosive - Jennifer Hughes. 31st Januaruy 2008
  • Crunch time puts squeeze on auditors - Here we go. The books are closed and “busy season” for auditors has arrived - Jennifer Hughes, 2nd January 2008

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