Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

I note that PwC is concerned about its ability to recruit and retain the young auditors on whom its business model depends (“Focus on audit failures scares recruits, warns PwC UK boss”, ReportDecember 29).

It blames it on the government and regulators for making critical remarks about audit, but the problem is of its own making.

First, the profession still insists that audited accounts exist solely for the benefit of the providers of capital to companies when it is clear that the duty of the auditor towards the community in general should be. Who wants a job as a servant for capital?

Second, while trying to reduce their obligations to society, auditors reduced the audit process to a blockchain process. Who wants a career in boxing? Third, despite these reductions in scope designed by auditors, it is still found substandard at least 30 percent of the time. Who wants to be trained by those who can not do their job?

Fourth, the audit profession continues to strive to keep climate and other environmental, social, and managerial reporting as far away from the numerical dimensions of financial reporting of gains and losses as it can. Many young people think that auditors are part of the climate change problem and do not yet offer nearly any solutions. Who wants to work for an industry that is considered a denier of climate change?

Auditors’ problems were made of their own. If they have both cleaned up their act and redefined accounting as a profession that has held corporations accountable for both the good and harm they inflict on society, they can make accounting and auditing an engine for change. Their recruitment problem would be solved overnight. Instead, they are seen by some as the “whitemakers” of the status quo. No wonder no one wants to work for them.

Young people are sending a message to the auditing profession. It needs to listen, take notice and change rather than whine.

Richard Murphy
Professor of Accounting Practice, Director of Sheffield University School of Management, Corporate Accountability Network, Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK

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