• KPMG Australia has recruited 571 graduates,
cadets and co-operative students…

Ernst & Young Slovakia has recruited
Tomáš Osuský as the new head of its risk and business advisory
services practice…

• The South African Institute of Chartered
Accountants
has reported a 53 percent overall pass rate in
the Financial Management Part II of its qualifying
examination…

The US Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) is to propose amendments aimed at modernising its disclosure
requirements for foreign companies…

Asia-Pacific

KPMG Australia has recruited 571 graduates,
cadets and co-operative students at the firm’s national induction.
KPMG chief executive Geoff Wilson said this year’s intake is more
than a 14 percent increase from last year and is a new record. “The
graduate market is incredibly competitive but this is the third
year in a row where our graduate numbers have increased
significantly,” Wilson said. “The firm has experienced exceptional
growth across the board over the past 12 months and that combined
with our reputation as an employer of choice means we are able to
appeal to the best and brightest graduates.”

• Australian institutes have hit back at media claims that
accountants are encouraging clients to pursue self-managed
superannuation funds (SMSFs) in order to generate a revenue stream
for the profession. The article, published recently in a leading
Australian financial newspaper, claimed accountants pushed clients
into SMSFs to generate an A$1 billion ($907 million) industry for
the profession, despite a recent turndown in the value of funds. In
a joint statement, The National Institute of
Accountants
, CPA Australia and the
Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
said the claims did not accurately represent the role accountants
play in establishing SMSFs and the bodies rejected the claim
accountants had acted in greed.

WHK Group, an Australian member of Horwath
International, has announced half-yearly operating revenue of
A$51.5 million ($47.4 million) for the second half of 2007. This is
a 33 percent increase on the second half of 2006. The Australian
Stock Exchange-listed group made net profit after tax of A$15.8
million for the same period – a 28 percent rise on the second half
of 2006. WHK Group is the largest mid-tier accounting firm in
Australia. Its fee income for the year ended June 2007 was A$265.1
million.

The Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA)
and the Companies Commission of Malaysia have signed a memorandum
of understanding (MoU) in the hope that they will jointly uphold
public interest and promote good corporate governance. The MoU will
enable accountants to attend relevant training programmes organised
at the commission’s training academy. MIA president Nik Yusoff
said: “The education and development opportunities that will be
offered as a result of this MoU will also go a long way in
contributing towards the enhancement of the nation’s pool of human
capital.”

• Australia’s auditor independence framework is operating
effectively and no changes are required to the regulatory framework
for accounting firms, according to reports released by Australia’s
Financial Reporting Council. Firms are also
investing enough resources to ensure compliance with independence
and quality requirements. However, some small- to medium-sized
audit firms reviewed for the first time had not taken a proactive
approach to planning and implementing effective policies, systems
and processes to ensure compliance with legislative requirements
for audit independence.

Africa, Middle East, South Asia

• Enhancing the capacity of the profession, establishing
convergence with international standards, promoting compliance and
greater integration with global imperatives are among the key tasks
in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of
India’s
(ICAI) action plan for 2008. The institute hopes
that facilitating and promoting multi-disciplinary and limited
liability partnerships, as well as encouraging greater
collaboration with professionals and experts will enhance the
capacity of the profession. The ICAI also intends to popularise
consolidation and merger through success stories, role-models and
pilot projects.

• Shri Bhave has taken over as the new chairman of the
Securities and Exchange Board of India. Bhave was
previously chairman and managing director of India’s National
Securities Depository.

Ernst & Young South Africa has labelled
the establishment of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors
(IRBA) a success but warns that a suitable funding model for the
body must now be adopted. The IRBA began operations in early 2006
and is responsible for setting auditing standards, disciplinary
activities, and setting education requirements of the profession.
Recently, two major regulators from other countries have said they
wish to evaluate the effectiveness of the IRBA. Mike Bourne,
E&Y professional practice director of audit, said it is
important the IRBA employs sufficiently talented staff and adopts a
transparent funding model.

• The Institute of Chartered Accountants of
India
has named its new leadership team. The new president
is Ved Jain and the new vice president is Uttam Prakash
Agarwal.

• Baker Tilly International has announced that its member firm
in Jordan has adopted the Baker Tilly name. They will now operate
as Baker Tilly Rafidi.

• The International Accounting Standards
Committee
(IASC) Foundation eXtensible Business Reporting
Language team has released for comment an Arabic translation of the
complete set of labels for the 2006 IFRS taxonomy. The Arab Society
of Certified Accountants assisted the IASC with the translations,
which are based on the IFRS Arabic bound volume.

• The South African Institute of Chartered
Accountants
has reported a 53 percent overall pass rate in
the Financial Management Part II of its qualifying examination. The
pass rate is a significant improvement on the previous year’s 41
percent pass rate. The pass rate for first-timers increased to 63
percent from 51 percent last year. The percentage of passes among
black African candidates improved from 19 percent to 36 percent
this year. According to the institute, the majority of candidates
are still following training inside public practice as opposed to
training outside the profession due to a limited number of training
opportunities externally.

• The total tax contribution of large companies in South Africa
is substantially more than the corporate tax disclosed in their
annual financial statements, according to a
PricewaterhouseCoopers South Africa study. For
every rand of corporate tax paid by large companies a further 54
cents in other business taxes was also contributed. 

 Europe

Ernst & Young Slovakia has recruited Tomáš
Osuský as the new head of its risk and business advisory services
practice. Osuský joins the firm following 15 years with IBM. He
will lead a team that focuses on services including business
advisory, IT solutions, risk management, internal controls and
project management. Ernst & Young Slovakia managing partner
Stan Jakubek said: “We believe that [Osuský’s] expertise in
information technologies, as well as in other advisory areas, will
help our clients minimise risk and maximise deliverables from their
investments in other areas as well.”

Deloitte UK has reported a 22 percent rise in
the number of student applications for graduate positions this
year. Deloitte, which recruits more than 1,400 graduates and
undergraduates to its UK offices each year, normally receives ten
applications per vacancy. This year, the firm opened applications
three months earlier and nearly 2,400 students have applied with
high demand for consulting and corporate finance positions.

• Accounting, payroll systems, human resources and IT systems
are four key areas that will be most affected by Slovakia’s
adoption of the euro currency, according to a survey of 150 Slovak
firms by Ernst & Young Slovakia. Nearly half
of respondents have now performed an analysis of euro-adoption.
Accounting is the area that respondents believe will be most
affected by the adoption of the euro, closely followed by payroll.
Slovakia is set to adopt the currency on 1 January 2009.

KPMG has appointed Simon Ranger as a
London-based financial services relationship partner to work with
key UK and international insurance clients. Ranger joins KPMG from
Deloitte UK where he was head of financial services business
development and part of Deloitte’s bid advisory team. KPMG’s
European financial services head Jeremy Anderson said Ranger brings
a wealth of experience in creating strong partnerships with
clients.

• Birmingham-based accounting firm Wenham Major
is planning to open an office in New York this month. The new
office represents part of the firm’s strategy to achieve global
coverage. The firm’s executive chairman, John Joyce, said: “Our
global markets’ clients are operating in all continents and for us
to be a serious contender for this work we can no longer restrict
our work to a UK presence.” Wenham Major, a member of the World Tax
Service, has offices in Birmingham, Leicester, London and
Dubai.

• Norman Murray, the chairman of Scottish-based FTSE 100 oil and
gas company Cairn Energy, has been named as the chair of a new
working group that will develop a code of best practice governance
for UK firms that audit public interest entities. The working group
was formed following a recommendation in the October 2007 report
from the Financial Reporting Council’s Market Participants
Group
. The working group will include individuals from
firms, investors and listed companies.

North America, Latin America

• The Rehmann Group, a US member firm of Baker
Tilly International, has hired a new head for its audit department.
Rick DiBartolomeo joins the firm after spending 25 years at
Deloitte US. His specialities include serving middle market
companies in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, real
estate and service industries. He has significant experience in
assisting companies with initial public offerings, securities,
restructurings, and mergers and acquisitions.

• US Leading Edge Alliance firm DeLap White Caldwell
& Croy
(DWCC) has admitted a new partner, bringing its
total number of partners to nine. Douglas Brown joined the firm in
2004 after spending nearly a decade as a senior manager in
assurance at PricewaterhouseCoopers US. According to DWCC, Brown
has significant experience in managing large audit engagements for
publicly and privately held businesses. He has also worked
extensively with early stage companies.

Deloitte Canada has appointed its first chief
diversity officer. The Big Four firm said the appointment of Jane
Allen puts it at the forefront of Canadian businesses that are
dedicated to building a more inclusive, fulfilling and safe work
environment. Allen said: “We all have parts to play in creating
more diverse workplaces in corporate Canada. With predictions of an
increasingly limited talent pool, it is of utmost importance that
organisations like Deloitte make managing diversity a business
imperative.” Allen joined Deloitte’s consulting practice in 1996
and became national leader for the firm’s power and utilities
segment in 2004. She will retain this role in addition to her new
duties.

Grant Thornton US has reported its revenues
grew just over 14 percent to $1.1 billion in the year ended 31
December 2007. Grant Thornton chief executive Edward Nusbaum
commented: “Our growth is the direct result of the quality of our
people. Our goals are to continue providing outstanding,
independent service to clients, and speaking out on issues that are
of importance to the profession, our people and investors.”

The US Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) is to propose amendments aimed at modernising its disclosure
requirements for foreign companies, including eliminating paper
submissions. Many of the proposed SEC rule changes are designed to
reflect developments in technology and respond to the increasing
globalisation of the capital markets. SEC chairman Christopher Cox
said: “The proposed amendments would bring our foreign company
disclosure requirements into the 21st century by eliminating any
requirement for paper, and by giving investors instant access to
foreign company disclosure documents electronically, in English, on
the internet.”

Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) Business
Consulting has appointed a new managing director and national
practice leader for its financial services industry group. Jeffrey
Donaldson, formerly of management and technology consultants
BearingPoint, brings 20 years’ experience in operations and
technology to the position. He will be responsible for operations
of the IT department and other processes that support business
outcomes. A&M Business Consulting is a US affiliate of global
professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal.