Improving the Professions Grade Means Returning to Basics
A recent survey showed that although the integrity of the accounting profession is not questioned (the Enron/Andersen scandal notwithstanding), overall customer satisfaction has been neglected. The survey, conducted by NFO WorldGroup and released in April, shows mixed feelings about the virtues of using the same vendor for both auditing and consulting. Highlights include:
The study surveyed companies that purchase outside accounting services. The results were compared to a database of results from more than 1,500 studies and 2.6 million interviews across all business sectors.
The results showed that businesses using outside auditors give the profession an overall score of 61 (a D grade). General business-to-business services averaged 80 (B), and top performing businesses with the strongest relationships fell in the range of 90 to 100 (A).
The low rating is reflected in client evaluation of auditor performance. Fifty-five percent of the respondents ranked overall performance of their auditor as excellent or very good, compared to the 7075% typically seen in survey results for professional services. Similarly, only 55% said they definitely or probably would recommend their auditors to business colleagues, versus the 7580% typically seen for professional services.
Respondents did, however, give auditors high marks on the following statements:
Auditing were rated as average to below average on the following statements:
The survey indicated mixed feelings about the virtues of using the same provider for both auditing and consulting. Results showed that 35% of the respondents would recommend using their current outside auditor for nonauditing services to their company, but 27% would not; 42% were unsure or undecided. This division may suggest the issue is far from clear for corporate decision-makers. Fifty percent of the companies surveyed said that they are currently using auditing and consulting from the same vendor, suggesting a strong probability that businesses will reevaluate and possibly begin separating these relationships, regardless of any future regulatory actions.
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