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More than fee gathering

For consumer businesses with a winning formula, an aggressive roll-out strategy can prove hugely successful. David Prosser looks at how - and where - to go about it.

I’m getting old. But getting old at least allows me to look back at better times with diminishing likelihood of contradiction. I believe, with uncomfortable conviction, that in my younger days the accounting profession was something with strong values and a strong image of honesty and quality, but that this is no longer necessarily the case.

Consider modern practice on a "due diligence" report. First there is the engagement report, which marks the beginning of a relationship and starts from the proposition that you are not supposed to rely upon the work being done for you. Quite recently, I got such a report with "Not to be used for investment purposes" stamped across the front of it. Its only possible purpose was to help make a decision on an investment. Erm?

In my experience, it is highly unlikely that the modern-day investigating accountant will do much more than reproduce the words of the management or owners of the target business on dazzling logo-plastered PowerPoint pages. Rigorous checking or verifying is a rare activity. For some reason this low-intellect activity is supposed to be ‘high-risk’ and ‘value-added’, so fees should be far higher than for an ‘assurance’ engagement. Really?

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