Magazine article Public Finance

No Business like Snow Business

Magazine article Public Finance

No Business like Snow Business

Article excerpt

My auditing year got off to a promising start with a business process re-engineering assignment for a northern-based toy manufacturing and distribution business owned by a Mr Claus.

My first recommendation was that he should employ taller people. Positive discrimination in favour of vertically challenged members of the community is all very well but not when it interferes with the efficient loading of a sleigh.

Secondly, I voiced doubts about the effectiveness of using livestock to deliver the finished product. I wonder if the lead reindeer has a drink problem, judging by his visage.

Thirdly, the location of the factory is not at all convenient with regards to the European customer base.

Finally, I expressed concerns about Mr Claus's policy of responding to every child's request, no matter how obscure, how badly behaved they have been during the preceding year or how poorly spelt their letter was. I also consider that Mr Claus should use a more conventional method of gaining entry to his customers' premises.

The one positive note of my trip was that Mr Claus had recently updated his customer records by purchasing a couple of CDs from a man in a public house.

Unfortunately, my recommendations for improvement seemed to fall on deaf ears. In common with most badly run family-owned businesses, Mr Claus seems to regard himself as the linchpin of the distribution operation and was reluctant to countenance change. Our relationship had deteriorated somewhat by the end and he accused me of 'not believing in him'.

My second assignment was the business restructuring of a small accounting partnership following the death of one of the founding partners, Mr J Marley. The surviving owner, Mr E Scrooge, seems to be much more in line with modern audit thinking and would be an excellent role model for the aforementioned Mr Claus.

However, I am pleased to report that I was still able to add value to even this most tightly run of ships. First, I noted that one of the employees, Mr Cratchit, seems to allow the travails of his personal life to overly influence his work.

I will be sending Mrs Cratchit details of the exceptionally generous tax credits available to working mothers.

Secondly, I made a mental note to check on the tax deductibility of gifts of poultry to employees and, in the same vein, check whether or not this is a benefit in kind that should be declared by the Cratchits. …

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