Overly friendly relationships between corporations and their external auditors were blamed for some of the big financial scandals of recent years. As regulators lean on auditors and post-scandal regulatory changes take effect, companies are starting to experience the new reality: That warm, fuzzy feeling is gone.

Given the changes, auditors are making an effort to keep their clients at arm's length. While auditor independence was clearly one of the goals of the governance reforms, some companies are complaining that it's gone too far. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some companies are finding it hard to get advice from their auditors, while others are getting advice that may be unduly cautious.

"The relationship is definitely changing," says Therese Webb, practice director at Horn Murdock Cole, which offers finance and accounting professional services. "Right now, the external firms are being sensitive to the objectivity and independence issues to the point where they're somewhat reluctant to give specific guidance." Webb says that many audit firms are still willing to give advice, "but we're definitely seeing a trend toward being a little bit more cautious about advice." She adds that some companies that are having a hard time getting the information they need from their auditors are wondering whether they should be keeping another firm on tap to help them deal with technical questions.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to Treasury & Risk, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical Treasury & Risk information including in-depth analysis of treasury and finance best practices, case studies with corporate innovators, informative newsletters, educational webcasts and videos, and resources from industry leaders.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and Treasury & Risk events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including PropertyCasualty360.com and Law.com.

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.