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Editor's letter: The good, the bad and the ugly

"This is all lies - this is all about who can lie the most," a CEO of one of the top 10 networks globally once told me pointing at International Accounting Bulletin's World Survey rankings. The scene took place at International Accounting Bulletin's launch event of the 2015 World Survey, a little over a year ago.

I didn't mind the criticism - at International Accounting Bulletin, we know that our rankings might not be perfect but it is as closed as it can be. We also know where figures are dubious and which participants are more transparent then others.

But the criticism sparked an idea for the following World Survey: what would happen if International Accounting Bulletin was to invite all participating organisations to a roundtable to discuss the survey's findings, strengths and shortcomings?

And so this year we invited all participating organisations in the survey, some didn't reply, some couldn't make the dates and some had to drop out due to last minute issues.

We separated those who replied and could make the dates in two smaller groups to facilitate discussions and tried to find a balance between large and small actors in both groups to ensure diversity of views. The result is two roundtables held on 1 February (page 6-11) and 2 February (page 16-21) and a host of spicy remarks.

Unfortunately we couldn't keep them all as the conversation was held under Chatham House rules and we couldn't risk revealing the identity of the speaker by including some of the quotes. But still these two roundtables provide an in-depth look into the good, the bad and the ugly of International Accounting Bulletin's ranking.

An interesting point was made by one of the participant though, contrasting with the CEO's comment about lies. "No-one's asking you to police it, we are firms of accountants and are supposed to be acting ethically, in reporting our own numbers," he said.

You would think so... but as Blondie tells Tuco in Sergio Leone's classic The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: "You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig."

At International Accounting Bulletin we will continue digging for information to ensure the rankings are as close to perfect as they can be.

Talking about loaded guns, also in this issue, Franchesca Hashemi looks at how an accountant took down Al Capone and the latest trends in Forensic accounting (page 12-13). While Carlos Martin Tornero asks the big question about the Big Four: has the countdown to the Big Three started? (page 4-5)

 

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