Edward E. Nusbaum is CEO of Grant Thornton International, the fifth-largest audit and accounting firm in the world. GTI makes up the second rung of accountancy firms after the Big Four (PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, and E&Y). It is expected to get into the top rung soon. Nusbaum spoke to BT's Suman Layak during his recent India visit. Edited excerpts:
While the big four help the multinationals find their feet in India, Grant Thornton will specialise in helping Indian companies go global. It might be in terms of setting up businesses abroad or advising them on acquisitions as well as fund raising - especially companies in their growth phase that want to list in an exchange like AIM of the London Stock Exchange.
Most countries are moving towards International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, though all the regulations are not out. IFRS provides consistent information around the world, but it means more work for the companies. The speed at which countries are moving varies. The US is probably the slowest. Europe and China are moving fast. It will benefit the Indian companies in their global transactions. (In India, around 300 companies will move to IFRS by the next financial year.)
We need dialogue to improve the quality of audits, address the fraud risks, and a huge push to change regulations. The first thing to recognise is that status quo will not work. On a global basis, we need to keep evolving. Scandals are very damaging, not just for accounting but for business in general. You will never be able to stop all fraud, but it will be a mistake to put our heads in the sand, hoping that the problems will go away.
Auditor rotation will have its impact on the long-term costs, which may be a negative impact on the quality of audits. Over the short term, it may be beneficial for us, but over the long term, it has not really proven to be useful