Mario Christodoulou, Accountancy Age, Thursday 8 July 2010 at 08:25:00

Radical changes, which include auditors being present at analyst meetings andfielding questions from investors at AGMs have been sugegested

Auditors might one day stand shoulder to shoulder with clients at analystpresentations according to the latest suggestions to reform the industry in thewake of the crisis.

Steve Maslin, chair of the partnership oversight board at Grant Thornton,envisages an expanded audit role which may involve greater face-to-face timewith stakeholders, including question and answer sessions at annual generalmeetings.

?Many investors believe there is valuable information that gets discussed bythe auditors with management and audit committees to which investors do not haveaccess ? and I think they are right,? he said.

He made the comments to an audience of accountants in London, hosted by ICASthis morning.

Maslin said another reform could come in the form of an expanded auditcommittee report which offers information on internal company judgments andbusiness uncertainties. He believes this report could be reviewed by an externalauditor.

?I would go as far as to make such reports a primary statement and include aspecific fairness opinion in the auditor?s report,? he said.

Maslin?s comments come as ICAS releases a research paper which suggestsinvestors would welcome an expanded audit role.

The paper, by academics from Glasgow Caledonian University and the Universityof Stirling, found investors and shareholders often found front-of-the-bookexplanations in annual reports ?boilerplate? which includes ?misleadingmanagement spin?.

The report found there was ?significant demand? for some degree of auditorassurance on annual report?s front end.

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