As one of the many bitten by Steinhoff — fortunately only nipped — I was struck by an increasingly common theme. The accounting profession seems to have lost its credibility. Many of us, including many investment managers, purchase shares on the basis of trust. We trust that the audit reports we get are true and fair. Time and again we learn that the likes of KPMG and Deloitte produce reports on which we dare not rely. The management and board of Steinhoff is a mass of CA(SA)s, including the chairman, now acting CEO. When I studied auditing, the expectation was that an audit would attempt to find fraudulent activity by, for example, examining which staff did not take leave. Then computers took over and auditing became a different ball game. Understanding what the system was doing was not a requirement of audit clerks and audit managers, as they changed roles. Now many CAs don’t even audit anymore. The big firms use CAs in all sorts of nonauditing roles and many with qualifications e...

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