Posted by Christie Malry on March 28, 2014 at 12:41 pm
Yesterday, Economia magazine published the latest in its rather controversial series of debates. Entitled "Can accountants be trusted?" it put former ICAEW president, Mark Spofforth up against journalist and author, Ian Fraser.
I didn't find myself convinced by Fraser's case and, thanks largely to Twitter's 140 character limit and my own mercurial mood, we didn't get that close to resolving our differences on Twitter. So that's the purpose of this post: to set out what I see in flaws in Fraser's reasoning that lead him to incorrect conclusions about the accountancy profession.
It's worth pointing out that I'm not in the employ of the Big 4. As has been the case with this blog ever since I first started blogging in 2010, I care only about facts and what can logically be deduced from those facts. So my issue with Fraser's piece is that I see it as drawing inferences that cannot be inferred, not that I am personally unhappy with where he ends up. Nor should you read anything into my clashes with Fraser before. This is solely to do with this piece.
Because annotating each comment in HTML might become cumbersome, I've uploaded his entire text to Google Drive and added comments there. Please feel free to add your own comments to my comments (I think I've set the permissions right for you to be able to do this). Or you can simply comment below too.
In most cases, my issue is that Fraser makes claims which he doesn't support. If these claims turn out not to be true then everything that is deduced from them is in turn also not true. I also find that he has drawn examples from a selection of accountancy firms' behaviour and then claimed that these behaviours are representative of other accountancy firms and other work done by those firms, without demonstrating that it's appropriate to do that.
Whether accountants can be trusted is an important debate, and it needs rather more air than Economia's rather unfortunate to-and-fro, restricted to a single page of their magazine, can provide. So I hope we can get rather further than Economia managed.