The auditors in the street, worried for their future

The auditors ‘ protest in front of the ministry of Economy in Paris, on may 17, 2018 (Photo JACQUES DEMARTHON. AFP)

“A profession that does not want to die”: several thousands of auditors demonstrated on Thursday in several cities in France against the new law Covenant, which should deprive them of a large part of their activity in raising the threshold for audit to the companies.

A “social plan of approximately 10,000 jobs.” This is what they say to fear the statutory auditors, who will ensure that the results published by the companies are in compliance with legal standards and reflect their financial situation.

At issue: a project of the government planning to raise the thresholds for statutory audit for companies, in order to alleviate the constraints on businesses and promote growth and employment.

“With the reform, nearly 150,000 companies will no longer see their audited accounts,” says Jean Bouquot, president of the Compagnie nationale des commissaires aux comptes (NBAC), organization at the origin of the gatherings.

“The announcement was made in a brutal way and without consultation. However, these 150.000 companies represent almost 40% of our activity,” adds Dr. Bouquot, who is afraid of 3,500 job cuts with the commissioners and almost double among their employees.

– “Control for life” –

According to the NBAC, 4.000 auditors in total responded to the call for demonstrations, in Paris and in province, 13,000 in the profession. A high figure for this sector professional, who is involved, and for only the second time in its history (the first movement dated back to 2008).

In the detail, and according to sources the police prefecture, the processions were attended by 1,250 people in Paris, 1,100 people in Lyon, 600 in Toulouse, 270 in Nantes, 200 to Strasbourg and 350 in Marseille, where the parade was held “in a calm and good mood”.

“The Mayor makes us angry”, “a case for social more”, “a profession that does not want to die”, could be read on the placards brandished by the demonstrators, who have come to some in a suit or in a suit.

“If the reform passes, we will lose 50% of our turnover. Our job is going to disappear”, told AFP Julie Pluot, commissioner of accounts for the past six years in a firm of Troyes (Aube), present in the procession in paris.

“The government wants to facilitate the business by reducing the control obligations. But this control is vital to the public finances, it is a bulwark against tax fraud,” said of his side, Yann Chaker, head of a paris firm of 10 people.

In Paris, the procession, the party of the bibliothèque François Mitterrand, in the Thirteenth district, has converged to the ministry of Economy and Finance, where a delegation was received by the cabinet of Bruno Le Maire.

– “simplify the system” –

“We have confirmed that the minister was listening and ready to work on the future of the profession on the basis of concrete proposals to accompany the reform of the thresholds” indicated to the AFP the entourage of the minister.

Currently, the threshold for the statutory audit in France is set at € 2 million for the SAS (societies for simplified joint-stock) and € 3.1 million of revenue for the SARL (limited liability companies). For limited companies (SA), audit is mandatory from the first euro of turnover.

In the framework of the law Covenant, which must be submitted by the summer, the government hopes to meet these thresholds at the level of european rules, or 8 million euros of turnover and more than 50 employees.

This modification will allow “millions of SMES that are now subject to this threshold and who pay today 5.500 euros on average to certify their accounts” no longer having to pay this sum, justified in mid-April, Bruno Le Maire.

“We are agreements to simplify the current system (…) But the auditors do not want to be sacrificed on the altar of european harmonisation”, said the chairman of the NBAC, Jean Bouquot.

The minister, assuring to hear “the reluctance of the statutory auditors”), has agreed to launch a mission on the future of the profession, which will make its work in June.

“Once the report is submitted, the minister will receive representatives of the statutory auditors to talk directly with them”, said on Thursday the finance ministry.

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