Thu. Jan 27th, 2022

I’m surprised to see that Richard Murphy, as a professor of accounting practice, demands such a broad social role for the auditing profession (“Auditors only have themselves to blame for recruitment problems”, Letters5 January).

The primary function of auditors should always be to assess all aspects of financial performance. Their main components as account users are investors in, and large lenders to, the entities they audit.

Most of us are, directly or indirectly, equity investors in listed companies at some point in our lives. As citizens, of course, we can have many concerns and interests that overlap with the activities of commercial companies, far beyond their financial performance. Yet we should not expect or need to find useful information on many of these matters in company annual reports.

We need to look at the state in its various arms to regulate, with as much cost-effectiveness as possible, the actions of businesses that affect environmental and safety considerations, and some other areas of social concern. The agencies involved in such regulation range from police fraud groups to health and safety inspectors, environmental authorities, tax officials and many others. Their professionals may need to refer to the products of audit work, and in some cases actively engage with accountants and, of course, attorneys. This does not mean that all their disciplines should be rolled up into one supervisory profession.

Murphy says that “many young people think that auditors are part of the climate change problem”.

Do they really do? Or does it depend on who they taught?

Andy Thompson
Worcester Park, Surrey, United Kingdom

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