Gary Buswell’s Prescription Is Wrong.

In his January 10, 2022 Fair Observer article “Auditing Firms’ Strong Performance Masks Unsolved Issues,” Gary Buswell notes in the subhead that “The Big Four have been fined £42 million in the UK in the past three years, a startling sum that underscores the need for regulation.”

It’s not just the UK of course. CPA firms worldwide are 1) doing well financially, by 2) providing the same rubber stamp endorsement-for-cash that the bond rating agencies perpetrated in 2007 for their part in fomenting the 2008 world financial system crash.

Buswell’s prescription echoes the conventional wisdom, which is completely wrong. Regulation is not going to fix this.

A first question, "Who regulates the regulators?," is followed by any number of questions that may be summed up in one more fundamental question: how do we change human nature so that members of teams assume individual responsibility and liability for the actions of the whole team?

The only valid answer to that question is: “Ain’t gonna happen.”

Rather than write this out, I’ll ask you to jump to 6:57 in this video, which was scripted and recorded not long after the 2008 financial meltdown:

Watch from that point to 9:22 for the answer to the question, “How do we bring integrity to the accounting profession?”