RSM joins top five in
Italy…
IFAC to strengthen
independence requirements…
IOSCO releases
subprime report…
Grant Thornton gains audit
clients…

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
RSM joins top five in Italy

RSM International has become the largest accountancy network
outside the Big Four in Italy. The mid-tier group has admitted one
of the country’s largest audit firms, H-Audit, and a network of tax
consultancies, Synergia Consulting Group. RSM now has a workforce
of 356 staff and a combined fee income of €32.8 million ($50.9
million) in Italy. According to a recent International
Accounting Bulletin
survey of the Italian profession, this
would place RSM Italy as the fifth largest Commissione Nazionale
per le Società e la Borsa-licensed accountancy group, just above
Mazars (€28.1 million) but well below the smallest of the Big Four
Deloitte (€171.4 million).

PEOPLE
FASB unveils staff changes

The US Financial Accounting Standards Board has announced
several leadership changes. Russ Golden has become the technical
director with overall responsibility for staff work on all
standards-level projects. Ron Lott has assumed the newly-created
role of research director and will be responsible for the
conceptual framework project and for research activities. Sue
Bielstein is now the director of planning and support.

REGULATION
IFAC to strengthen independence requirements

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants, a
subsidiary of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC),
has issued a re-exposure draft of proposals to strengthen two areas
of the independence requirements contained in the IFAC Code of
Ethics for Professional Accountants. The proposals relate to the
provision of internal audit services to a public interest audit
client and the safeguards that are required when the fees from a
public interest audit client exceed 15 percent of a firm’s fee
income.

STANDARDS
IASB forms fair value panel

The International Accounting Standards Board has established an
expert advisory panel to discuss the valuation of financial
instruments and fair value measurement. The panel has been formed
in response to Financial Stability Forum recommendations that the
standard setter improve accounting and disclosure standards for
off-balance sheet vehicles and improve guidance and disclosures
about valuations, methodologies and uncertainty associated with
valuations.

REGULATION
IOSCO releases subprime report

A report that tackles underlying causes of the subprime crisis
has been released. The International Organization of Securities
Commissions (IOSCO) Technical Committee’s Task Force on the
Subprime Crisis recommended further investigation on whether
additional guidance and disclosures relating to off-balance sheet
entities would be valuable in meeting the needs of investors. The
task force also urged standing committees on market intermediaries
and investment management to explore whether registered
intermediaries and investment advisers are using practitioners
capable of modelling fair valuation adequately in illiquid market
conditions.

STANDARDS
IASB and FASB push ahead on conceptual
framework

International and US standard setters are seeking feedback on
the first two phases of a project to establish a conceptual
framework. The framework will be used to develop a single set of
international standards. The first document published for comment
is an exposure draft of the first two chapters of the framework and
seeks views on an improved objective of financial reporting, the
qualitative characteristics of information provided by financial
reporting and constraints on the provision of that information. The
second document sets out the preliminary views of the International
Accounting Standards Board and the Financial Accounting Standards
Board on the reporting entity concept and related issues. Comments
are invited on both documents by 29 September 2008.

AUDIT
Grant Thornton gains audit clients

Grant Thornton UK is closing in on its Big Four rivals,
according to newly released rankings. The Hemscott quarterly
adviser rankings guide showed that KPMG continued to audit the most
listed companies, gaining five new clients and taking it to a total
of 412. Further down the table, fifth-placed Grant Thornton
exceeded the 300-client mark with a net gain of 16, taking the firm
to 315 clients overall and only five short of Ernst & Young.
The Big Four all retained their strong hold over FTSE 100 rankings.
At the top of the rankings, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) gained a
single client, taking it to an overall tally of 40; 15 ahead of its
closest challenger KPMG. Grant Thornton extended its hold on the
audits of AIM-listed companies with 230 clients.