As I See It

Scotland’s tycoons think big – now it’s Holyrood’s turn + PwC’s audits

Terry MurdenScotland’s technology pioneers get another opportunity to showcase their talents to an international audience next month. The most pleasing thing about staging an event such as Turing 2015 is that the country is no longer the insider knocking on the door of global expansion asking to be let in.

Incubators are not only established, they have developed a track record for producing great businesses, some of which are becoming household names. From Entrepreneurial Spark to Codebase, they have catapulted young company assistance from ‘how to get started’ to ‘how to become global’.

Scotland is learning to think bigger, think more competitively. It is learning to believe in itself; learning that dependency is the old way and that living the dream of ambition and achieving goals is the present and the future.

Let’s not allow us to become disappointed when the next big thing is sold, usually to an overseas rival. It is part of company evolution. It does not mean we have ‘sold out’ or given up on ambition. Quite the opposite. It means we have created something that someone else desires and can make even bigger and better. It can mean lead to more wealth, more jobs. It also means capital is available for the next adventure.

Nicola Sturgeon manifestoMuch is made of the lack of venture capital in Scotland to support the eco-system of young companies. If this really is a problem it is something we need to see appearing on the agenda of a government whose First Minster recently told a London audience was “pro-business”.

It does not go unnoticed by the business community – old and new – that politicians talk a good game when it comes to supporting the wealth agenda while at the same time plotting ways to exploit it to fund their welfare programmes.

If Nicola Sturgeon really thinks her government is pro-business then how about establishing a proper dedicated Business Minister? How about committing to new measures that will encourage a venture capital industry to develop and flourish?

PwC adds up for Aberdeen

PricewaterhouseCoopers received some welcome news last week following a string of lost audits. Aggreko, Barclays, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have all dumped the big four accountant in recent months which has the added worry of being subject to an inquiry by the Financial Reporting Council over the Tesco profits debacle.

However, the cavalry arrived on Thursday in the shape of Aberdeen Asset Management which intends to appoint the firm as its external auditor for the year ending 30 September 2016.  Shareholder approval to confirm the appointment of PwC will be sought at the annual general meeting next year.

It also means PwC gets a goal back from KPMG, Aberdeen’s current auditor which has been bagging some of its rival’s clients. KPMG will undertake the external audit for the year ending 30 September this year.

The switch also ends an association with KPMG that began when Aberdeen was launched in 1983. 

Auditors are facing increasing scrutiny after critics said they had to share the blame for the financial crisis by failing to spot trouble that was brewing.

In an attempt to improve standards and the level of competition among auditors, regulators and the European Union imposed new rules that mean companies are now required to put their audits out to tender every five years.

Even so, four accountancy firms – PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY – audit most of the companies listed in the FTSE100 index of leading firms. Despite its recent setbacks, PwC remains the biggest, with about 40 FTSE 100 companies on its books.

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