It was good for SME Strategies to be represented at this year’s ‘Information for Better Markets’ conference, part of the thought leadership programme, at Chartered Accountants’ Hall. It provided a great opportunity for academics, technical experts and practitioners to discuss ways of strengthening effective financial reporting. A fascinating historical overview of lessons learnt from accounting scandals and financial reporting failures was given. The current scrutiny of auditors, especially the Big 4, following the collapse of Carillion and other big failures gave a timely backdrop to the conversations. The recent collapse of the fraud trial of the Tesco directors and the current investigation into Patisserie Valerie all made for a contemporary backdrop. As ever regulators can find themselves behind the curve.

The argument between a principles based or a rules based approach to accounting is as live as ever. One specific phrase caught my eye “It’s the profits that you don’t understand that are much more dangerous than the losses you do.”

The contribution of Gillian Tett from the FT who explored cultural anthropology and the importance of what isn’t talked about was insightful. Gillian also pointed to the increasing role of the media to cast a spotlight onto companies when there seems to be issues even when quite what those issues are is opaque. It was good to see Private Eye be given credit for its role in holding corporates to account!