Consultants Diversify into Pitches for Audit Committees
Byline: Kit Bingham
Advising board audit committees is a growth area for consultants. One of the latest businesses to pitch in is Independent Audit, established last month by two former PricewaterhouseCoopers partners.The practice aims to help directors be more knowledgeable about internal and external audit functions.
Jonathan Hayward, one of the founders, says: "We offer support to non-executive directors and executive directors in new positions where they have a need for expert-led analysis of the governance risks they face."
Hayward anticipates that a typical Independent Audit project would involve spending about six to eight weeks with a company reviewing existing controls and uncovering potential trouble spots.
He says: "We would produce a report for the audit committee, highlighting the sorts of things they should be looking for and raising questions for them to ask of management and the auditor. We want to help audit committees appreciate the risks in the business."
Hayward emphasises that the firm will not compete for statutory audit business, nor will it seek to check auditors' work.
"We have no interest in competing with the Big Four, and we're certainly not offering an audit of the auditors. We offer a complementary service by looking at problems differently," says Hayward.
Independent Audit has established a team with top-level experience of financial management. This includes Brian Thomas, former group financial director of Zurich Financial Services in the UK, and Brian Birkenhead, former group finance director of National Power and one-time chairman of the FTSE 100 group of finance directors.
"It's a team of hard-boiled veterans, not trainee accountants. They're people who've been at the top, who know where the bodies are likely to be buried and who can sniff things out quickly," says Hayward.
Independent Audit will also assist newly appointed finance directors or audit committee chairmen to reach speed on a company's financial position.
The group's launch comes as company audit committees are re-evaluating their role, thanks to the recent Smith report. …