It’s said that northern Europe is culturally more equipped when it comes to transparency and public debate. The Scandinavian model of democracy is often hailed as an example in that regard. If this were true, this month’s issue could feed the stereotypes of a cultural divide between Northern and Southern Europe.

Or one could also say that this month’s issue is made up of lighting effects where jumping from one page to another, is like a jump from transparency to opacity.

On the one hand, the Netherlands has embarked on a journey to revive the audit profession’s relevance and reputation.

Faced with a series of accounting scandals involving some of the larger accounting networks, and pressed by politicians and public opinion, Dutch firms in collaboration with the Dutch professional body are implementing a series of reforms that could alter culture and behaviour in accounting public practices forever (pages 8-11).

On the other hand in the Italian peninsula, a deal steeped in secrecy and still very little advertised brings to mind the intrigues of ancient Rome. Mazars and BDO the two largest mid-tier networks have merged and yet no one talks about it. It would seem this is due to legal issues (page 5).

Also in this issue, Nancy Altobello, one year into her new role as EY global vice-chair talent, tells us about the challenges of a Big Four firm attracting and retaining talent in more than 150 countries and how corporate culture can be effective across borders.

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In other news this month we announce the finalists of this year’s International Accounting Bulletin’s awards (page 4). Winners will be revealed at International Accounting Bulletin 2015 Forum held in partnership with sister publication The Accountant on 1 October 2015 in London.