Category Archives: Books

The Silence of the Auditors.

In the Good Old Days, when every day was sunny, there were only two TV channels and Bank Managers weren’t anonymous, every Debit used to have a Credit. Unfortunately, in Banking, this is no longer the case…..but is it only the bankers who were to blame for the hugely creative accounting which resulted in the 2008 banking meltdown?

While we’re all busy vilifying bankers for their greed an incompetence, there is still one group of professionals which has managed to remain silent since 2008.

Here is a table (by no means complete) which shows companies and the results of their 2008 Audit Reports.

COMPANY AUDITOR AUDIT DATE AUDIT RESULT AUDIT FEE (Millions)
Abbey National D &T 4.3.2008 Unqualified £2.8
Alliance&Leicester D &T 19.2.2008 Unqualified £0.8
Barclays PwC 7.3.2008 Unqualified £29
Bear Stearns D &T 28.1.2008 Unqualified $23.4
Bradford& Bingley KPMG 12.2.2008 Unqualified £0.6
Citigroup KPMG 22.2.2008 Unqualified $81.7
Dexia PwC/Mazars 28.3.2008 Unqualified €10.12
Fannie Mae D&T 26.3.2008 Unqualified $49.3
Freddie Mac PwC 2.3.2008 Unqualified $73.4
HBOS KPMG 26.2.2008 Unqualified £9.0
ING E&Y 17.3.2008 Unqualified €68
Landsbanki PwC 2.1. 2008 Unqualified ISK259
Lehman Brothers E&Y 28.1.2008 Unqualified $27.8
Lloyds TSB PwC 21.2.2008 Unqualified £13.1
Northern Rock PwC 27.2.2007 Unqualified £1.3
RBS D&T 27.2.2008 Unqualified £17
UBS E&Y 6.3.2008 Unqualified CHF61.7
US Bancorp E&Y 20.2.2008 Unqualified $7.5
Wachovia KPMG 25.2.2008 Unqualified $29.2

An “Unqualified Audit” is also known as a complete audit. That’s an audit that has been performed and researched so thoroughly that the only possible remaining discrepancies stem from information that could not be obtained by the auditor.

An unqualified audit analyses both the internal systems of control, as well as all of the details in the organisation’s books.

Unfortunately, an audit has to rely on the information provided by the company and as there is often a “relationship” between senior bankers and senior auditors, the auditors have always assumed that the information that they are being given by their clients and chums is accurate and honest.

You can see from the table above that in 2008, every audit signed off every bank as “Unqualified”. A QUALIFIED audit would have meant that a “qualified” opinion would have been given. THAT would have outlined the auditor’s reservations concerning the organisation’s financial statements.

However, so complete was the conspiracy and fraudulent reporting by the banks, that experienced Audit Companies just sailed-by the morass of deceit and misreporting.

Note the fees in the right-hand column. They are in MILLIONS………..NOT that fees measured in so many zeros would EVER have any influence on the outcome of an audit!

So the FIRST question is VERY simple: Should the  Bankers AND their Auditors be standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the dock?

The SECOND question is also very straightforward: Shouldn’t the Regulators be working with the Auditors and NOT with the Banks?


BTW, if you’re investing in Equities, do take the time to read J.K Galbraith’s (very short) book entitled “A Short History of  Financial Euphoria”. Hopefully, it will help you to realise exactly where Markets are headed and on the day after the banks have climbed out, you won’t be one of the many unable to sell your investments.

Publishing Crushed Nuts

“Crushed Nuts on the Cote d’Azur” is published on Amazon and on several other sites and is doing very well thank you – but it has been a long road to publishing.

I have been writing commercially for many years and have had articles, training material and a ton of other stuff published and been paid for it.

However, publishing a novel, as many of you who are reading this know, is nigh-on impossible. Unless you are extremely lucky, a “celebrity”  or have achieved some sort of notoriety, the chances of an agent or a publisher taking you on are near-zero.

As someone who is used to writing a few thousand words and then being paid, imagine how difficult it was to start receiving enough standard rejection letters to wallpaper an average four-bedroom house.

Then, several months ago, I was shocked to receive a letter from a Brighton publisher who LIKED my book. I had done the usual “Synopsis, a few sample chapters and letter” and probably like you, had grown used to the sight of my own envelope (the one with the fold across the middle) containing the unread script with the standard bland agent or publisher letter hitting the doormat.

This time it was different! I had been asked for the whole script!!!

To cut a long story short I delivered the script by hand and was told that they would be in touch in a few DAYS!!

An envelope arrived three days later. Contract? Advance? I was already imagining the Booker speech!!!

Alas, it was a letter enclosing a glossy brochure. Apparently, the publisher had several publishing “plans”. Plan A was very straightforward and consisted of the publisher picking up all the costs. I read on.

The publisher LIKED my novel but would like me to contribute over £10,000 towards the “printing costs etc”.  For that I would even receive a load of beautifully-bound copies of my novel for distribution to “friends and family”.

My Nuts were Crushed!

That was my “road to Damascus” moment. No more letters or calls to posh breathy women agents who “used to work for a major publisher”, no more rejection slips and no more damaged ego.

As someone who understands a bit about marketing and PR with a wife who used to be in direct marketing, we decided “Fuck the lot of them!”.

They won’t be around in a few years anyway and had I REALLY contemplated giving away a percentage in “commission”?

I knew that about HALF of the book market is now in electronic form so Amazon was the obvious way to go.

We had the book uploaded and selling on Amazon within half a day. The BIG lesson that I have learned since Day 1 is that price DOES matter and that the name of the game, if you are an unpublished unknown, is to get your name out there. Use the first two or three novels for the initial marketing but make it as easy and painless for your future fans  to download your book onto their kindle, iPad or PC.

Keep the price below ONE POUND!

Yes, I know that 100,000 words of hard slog seems very cheap but in business (that IS what you are entering!), you have a simple choice:

Low turnover with high profit OR, high turnover and low profit. Electronic publishing is a major opportunity for the latter!! Forget the agents! If your book is good enough, it WILL be picked up by a publisher.

The book “Crushed Nuts on the Cote d’Azur” IS semi-autobiographical and is based in the South of France where I lived for many years. (Photo above is me and  my son in the 1980s in Port Vauban (Antibes) before all the Russian gin palaces arrived).

The germ of any idea for a novel is somewhere in YOUR experiences. I had some fantastic times in the Med and met interesting people such as David Niven , Henry Kissinger, Roger Moore, Michael Caine  and many other celebs.

We went to the Cannes Film festival EVERY year and I used to see the Monaco Grand Prix from the aft-deck of someone’s (anyone’s) yacht. I knew which yachts were owned by the Mafia and which French customs officers were corrupt.

I was offered a job by Brigitte Bardot’s husband and was asked by a well-known British barrister if he could watch me screwing his girlfriend.  I spent a couple of years living on a yacht and worked undercover for a well-known insurance company which insures expensive yachts and ships. At some stage  these experiences ( and many others) will become mutated and appear in subsequent work.

Believe it or not, during those days, I had a proper job and a family!

You may be a  writer who has not had  the opportunity to experience and “touch” life in such a direct way. That does NOT mean that you do not have something GREAT to say. Your sources may be less glamorous and you may consider them mundane but if you are what I call a “looker” – an observer – it does NOT matter.

I ALWAYS carry either a Moleskine or CIAK notebook and continue to be obsessive about noting down phrases I hear or weird things which I see.  It’s almost a curse.

The only practical piece of advice which I shall pass on to you is to be humble enough to accept advice and criticism and don’t be “precious” about your work.

Once you have been paid for something, it doesn’t matter WHAT a sub-editor or editor does to it!

Good Luck.

“Crushed Nuts on the Cote d’Azur” is HERE.