Harnessing the power of social media for small businesses

Written by June Dennis, Dean of Staffordshire Business School, Chartered Marketer and Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.


If you only have a small marketing budget, social media can seem like an ideal way to promote your product or service. Twenty years ago marketers could only dream of having access to such a huge audience so quickly.  However, where does one start?

Here are just four suggestions that could help you get more out of that limited budget:

Know your audience – it’s so obvious, but it’s really easy to make the simple mistake of taking your eye off the ball when it comes to ensuring your communication channels and messages are targeted at the appropriate audience(s).  We can get carried away by all the opportunities open to us that we forget what the purpose of engaging with social media actually was!  For example, why use Facebook if you’re primarily targeting a business-to-business audience?  (Sometimes, there’s good reason to do so, but you need to know why).  Spend time to make sure you know who your intended target audience is and what the key message is that you want to communicate with them.  Only then can you identify and choose the communication methods which best fit your message and audience.

Know your limitations – basically, don’t try to do too much!  Social media may seem very low cost compared to other forms of advertising or sales promotion, but there is still the cost of your time to factor in, at the very least.  It’s also very content hungry and if you commit, say, to writing a daily blog or tweeting several times a day, you may find you crash very soon.  Take note of what other businesses your size manage to do and try, where possible, to plan out your messages in advance.

Know how to create synergy – try to use the same or similar content more than once if you can. So, if you write a blog or post something on LinkedIn, can you direct people to it via Twitter? Could you use the copy for some promotional material or a newsletter? When you put something on YouTube, how can you maximise its use? It’s pretty obvious, but not everyone does it. Encourage customers and staff to send in stories which you can promote. I’ve found that people get a buzz from seeing something they’ve submitted being used or published and it creates a virtuous circle and they submit more material….

And, finally, think of ways you can work with others to create mutual benefit. A while back, I did an interview for a friend who was looking to increase traffic to her website via YouTube. As a result, I also sent links to my contact to her webpage and used the content of the interview to develop this blog. We both benefited and had some fun doing it.

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A Recipe for Success

Written by Angela Lawrence, Senior Lecturer & Esports course leader


There’s an Autumn nip in the air, the Great British Bake Off has begun and the annual McMillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is just around the corner. Kenwood mixers are whirling into action in kitchens across the UK.

Meanwhile, bags are being packed, goodbyes said, and freshers are itching to begin their university life. Around the World lecturers are preparing to welcome their new students and planning for the academic year to come.

It strikes me that these two situations have something in common. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that all lecturers are good bakers (far from it!), but there is something vaguely familiar about the nurturing, caring principles of baking and lecturing; the desire for a good outcome and the commitment to working hard to achieve this.

Quality Ingredients

Ever tried baking a cake with less than quality ingredients – with a dodgy cooker and scales that don’t quite weigh correctly? The chances are your cakes won’t turn out to be as good as you would like them to be. Quality, fit-for-purpose equipment and excellent ingredients are needed to guarantee the bake that you are looking for.

When choosing a university to spend three or more years of their life at, prospective students similarly seek quality – high rankings in the league tables and TEF, good NSS scores, high levels of student satisfaction and committed, highly qualified academics. A quality university is needed to turn out a top-notch, highly qualified and work-ready graduate.

The Recipe

Even quality ingredients can’t ensure a perfect bake if the recipe is wrong. One too many eggs or not enough baking powder and the cake’s a flop.

The same balance needs to be considered within the course that a student selects. The onus is on academics to create a balanced mix of exciting learning content, activities, guest lecturers, trips and course materials to ensure that students learn exactly what they need to know. Miss out a vital ingredient and students will struggle to achieve success in their assessments.

The Temperature

Too hot an oven and your cake will burn. Too cool an oven and your cake won’t rise. Getting the temperature right is as important as having the correct recipe.

Lifelong friendships are made at university, so a good balance between studying and fun is needed. The correct work-play balance creates an environment in which students flourish – without the fun some students struggle with the pressure of study and can be tempted to drop out. Too much fun and grades may suffer. A good university seeks to provide exactly the right balance between social and study. Student Unions, personal tutors, pastoral care and student guidance teams are all there to support students in getting it right.

Decorations

Jam and cream fillings, a sprinkle of icing sugar here, a coating of chocolate there and your cake is more than a cake, it’s a thing of beauty. It’s those finishing touches that make your cake the one that everyone wants to take a bite out of.

Similarly, a degree is not enough. Employers are inundated with graduate applications for advertised vacancies, and applications that stand out are those where the candidate has more than just a degree. Work experience, success in student competitions, self-awareness, confidence, professional presentation, global awareness…these are many of the added extras that lead an employer to choose YOU over other applicants.

Staffordshire University has a recipe for success. A university that has risen to within the top 50 universities in the league tables, been awarded a silver in the TEF, achieved one of the highest graduate employability rates in the UK and provided a supportive and fun environment in which students flourish.

Would you like a taste of our recipe? Come and visit us at one of our Open Days to find out for yourself – we can promise you a delicious time.

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Leaders versus Leadership

Professor Rune Todnem By, MBA and Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship course leader

r.t.by@staffs.ac.uk   @Prof_RuneTBy


Leadership is often defined as “something leaders do”, and this common (mis)understanding is the cause of much confusion, conflict, and under-utilisation of resources in both organisations and the wider society. Finding themselves somewhat pre-occupied developing superhero Teflon-shoulders, flip-flopping around meeting short-term targets in support of their own survival, bonuses, the next step up the career-ladder, and a golden pension others can only dream of, too many formal leaders simply don’t have any time left to provide leadership. However, many who don’t perceive themselves as leaders do provide leadership. Tons of it – every day (that is if we could measure it in metrics). When cheering on your child, supporting a colleague, taking your grandparent to a doctor’s appointment, picking up some litter, or volunteering in a club or society, you are in fact undertaking acts of leadership through actively contributing to a better society.

To live in a society which we like to refer to as highly advanced and developed, we are rather backwards.  Many of our institutions and organisations are still operating under the Great Man concept, with one all-powerful, strong and macho leader whose word is law. This is often a person we all tip-toe around and tell what they want to hear. Well, this reflects power – not leadership. Leadership is the activity of undertaking a journey together in order to deliver on a common good. As with migrating geese, it is less important who is flying first. What is important is where we are going and going first is something we all need to take in turn.

Although we are somewhat obsessed with titles, power, status and salaries, leadership is something we do – not who we are. The activity of leadership is not the prerogative of a small, exclusive group of ordained individuals. It is a shared responsibility none of us can abdicate from. Unfortunately, we are living in a country where class still defines us. Who our parents are, the post code we live at, and where we receive our education all matters, when it shouldn’t. As a result, many of our formal leaders are made from the same mould with the same notion of privilege. As a result, many who could provide leadership are never given the opportunity. Such a status quo is holding us back. Simples.

I am pro-leadership with a view full of hope. Just imagine what we can achieve as a city and society by releasing the leadership ability and energy in us all. Imagine the potential! Once upon a time not too long-ago, women were perceived as less able than men, and ethnic minorities less able than white people. These things have thankfully changed, and not a minute too soon. However, what hasn’t changed yet, is an equally outdated view that leadership can only be provided by a small group of all too often, white, middle-aged, privileged men. Because surely, no one else can provide leadership…

Thinking of joining us? Find out more about our courses in clearing

Why not take a look at the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship Level 7 that we offer!

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Accounting and Finance achieve 98 per cent satisfaction in National Student Survey

Written by Karl McCormack, Course Leader in Accounting and Finance


We are proud to announce that the Staffordshire Business School’s suite of Accounting and Finance courses are in the top 5% of institutions for overall student satisfaction according to the recent National Student Survey results.

The suite of courses achieved 98% satisfaction in the overall quality of the courses, ranking 6th out of 107 institutions teaching Accounting and Finance. The two-year accelerated award achieved 100% overall satisfaction rating for the second year running.

The breakdown of key results for the suit of courses is as follows (all rankings are out of 107 institutions teaching Accounting and Finance):

  • Staff are good at explaining things – 98%
  • Staff have made the subject interesting – 90%
  • The course is intellectually stimulating – 98% (3rd)
  • I have received sufficient advice and guidance in relation to my course – 93% (3rd)
  • I have been able to contact staff when I needed to – 93%
  • I have been able to access course specific resources when I need to – 98%
  • The course is well organised and is running smoothly – 93% (9th)

Karl McCormack, Course Leader for the Accounting and Finance degrees, said:

“It is really good to see that our accounting students are having such a great experience on their course and at the university. Our strong personal tutoring programme, staff enthusiasm and promotion of the Staffordshire Graduate attributes all play a crucial role in these results. It must not be forgotten though that the dedication of staff, both academic and support, shapes the overall experience.”

Dean of the Staffordshire Business School, June Dennis, added:

“These results are testament to the great work that our Accountancy and Finance team does in producing a fantastic student experience. To be in the top 10 in the UK is a real achievement.”

More information on our Accounting and Finance courses.

Thinking of joining us? Find out more about our courses in clearing

Great places to eat in Stoke on Trent and Newcastle under Lyme

Staffordshire University have a lot of international students and staff from all sorts of cultures. Here are some of the more varied places to try in the Potteries.

Hawasana is based in Shelton and on Stoke Road (the next road over from the College Road campus), they will provide you with authentic Afghan cuisine including huge naans  and cheap food – on facebook  

Miso is a Japanese restaurant on the London Road in Stoke Town Centre. Also in Stoke town further along the London Road is Carmen’s Caribbean Cuisine which is a takeaway.

Hong’s Kitchen -in Newcastle specialises in Hunan pot dishes – plus a lot of stuff you don’t usually see on Chinese menus in the Potteries.

food

A selection of food from Hongs Kicthen

For authentic Polish food try Agie and Katie in Burslem (Agie is a Business School alumni).

Newcastle has two good Thai restaurants – The Blue Chilli (alumni of the Business School) and The Art of Siam  . Also in Newcastle is Patty and Shake which is very popular with a young clientele  and excellent value.

Popular for burgers and curly fries

The best Italian in the area also happens to be in Newcastle Amore  also on facebook. It is very popular during the day for coffee and cakes and a different night time menu.

A delicious plate of pasta from Amore

A delicious plate of pasta from Amore

Try the great pizzas from a clay oven at Klay Pizzeria in Hanley  

For vegetarians try Rawr at either Hanley or Trentham Gardens  also in Hanley is the Slamwich Club . Also at Trentham Gardens Davids Brassiere is very good for bistro/Mediterranean influences.

Finally, if you fancy something traditional try the excellent pies at Pieminster at Trentham Gardens

If you want to find out more on food in the area the following accounts are excellent

Eat Stoke on Instagram   

Staffs food and drink on Instagram

Moorlands Eater website see especially the reviews, facebook, twitter

If you have any recommendations please add them in the comments section.

Interested in tourism and events? Find out about our courses in clearing  

Or call us on 0800 590 830

Five things you didn’t know about Staffordshire Business School!

Written by Rachel Gowers, Associate Dean Recruitment


1.    We are one of the leading Business Schools in the world for Social Media. We’ve won the Edurank ‘Best Twitter Performance’ award twice in the Business School category (beating Harvard into second place) and we’ve also come in the top 20 Business School blogs in the Top 20 Business Education Blogs And Websites To Follow in 2018

2.    Our Marketing Management course includes exemptions from The Chartered Institute of Marketing and also Google Garage Exams, covering SEO, PPC and loads of other practical skills so you can start to build your own digital marketing campaign straight away.

3.    The Events Management Degree is a top ten course* according to The Complete University Guide League Tables 2019. We’ve also added some new modules this year like ‘experiential marketing’ and ‘managing the visitor experience’ which mean you get out and about straight away and start working with companies to design their systems.  You’ll also get to go on an overseas residential in your second year – last year we went to Iceland.


4.   
Business degrees are the same wherever you go – right? Wrong! Our Business Degree covers topics you won’t find anywhere else, we worked with employers to come up with them.  You’ll study Business Agility, Big Data, Authentic leadership and Customer Experience Strategy (CX) – don’t know what these are? Google them – these are vital topics for 21st Century leaders.

5.    Accounting and Finance degrees at Staffordshire Business School offer more than just a degree.  You will also gain exemptions from three professional bodies meaning you can fast-track to professional qualifications when you’ve finished you’re degree. Plus we were ranked 1st for ‘Students Satisfied with Teaching’ in the Guardian League Tables 2018.

As if five wasn’t enough, did you know we are the first Business School in the UK to launch an Esports degree…don’t know what this is? Find out here.

*ranked 7th in the ‘Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism’ category

Thinking of joining us? Find out more about our courses in clearing

 

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Exciting news for Esports students at Staffordshire University

Written by Stuart Kosters, Lecturer in Esports at Staffordshire Business School


 

Staffordshire Business School launches the brand new Esports Hub – a customised esports lab for showcase and learning.

We strive for excellence and have spoken to many esports industries to deliver the very best training; in delivery and presentation.

Computer equipment is top of the range industry standard, featuring tournament level hardware and software, allowing for ease of use and the best in quality assurance.

  • Razer Naga Chroma Professional Grade Ergonomic MMO Gaming Mouse
  • Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma V2 – Gaming USB Headset and 7.1 Surround Sound with 50 mm Drivers, Retractable Digital Microphone
  • Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2, Linear and Silent Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
  • Razer Goliathus Chroma RGB Gaming Mouse Mat

Stylish graphics surrounding the room showcasing your home of Esports Hub, stems from extensive research and design prototypes, to be unique and current in the world of competitive gaming and learning. This esports lab strives to be one of a kind.

State of the art broadcasting area for your training experience and exhibition pleasure featuring an incredible range of the best equipment from sound editing, to vision mixing and full 360% camera rotations to capture every moment and showcase the very best in esports event exhibitions:

  • 360 degrees camera
  • vision mixing unit
  • soundboard
  • and full streaming training unit

Custom made interview area with a backdrop and modern esports furniture for viewing pleasure allows for extensive use of training in casting and interview skills, building soft skill management and providing the best experiences to share with online and local viewership.

Want to find out more? Visit us on one of our Open Days to have a look around and speak to our expert staff!

Details of our Esports Hub Launch Event on 18 August 2018!

Thinking of joining us? Find out more about our courses in clearing

 

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Is there a panacea for low productivity ?

By Ema Talam   on twitter as @ematalam

Productivity differences between different producers exist and persist, even among those operating within the same industries (Syverson, 2011; Van Reenen, 2011). Achieving higher productivity is of an utmost importance for firms as it leads to better firm performance and leads to increased profits. These increased profits can be used for future investment and wage rises.  The panacea for low productivity is often sought, however, the factors determining productivity are numerous, differing in their scope, level of influence and complexity.

One of the factors determining productivity is innovation. While some studies establish that innovation in general is positively linked with productivity (Movahedi et al., 2017), some limit this link to product innovation (Cassiman and Golovko, 2011). Porter (1990) argues that firms often have no choice but to innovate, as they face competitive pressures coming from their buyers or competitors.

The productivity of a firm may be determined by talents and practices of its managers. Bloom and Van Reenen (2010) have shown that firms that employ better management have higher labour productivity. Management practices differ widely both among different firms and different countries. They are influenced by numerous factors, some of them being: product market competition, labour market regulations, relationship between ownership and management of a firm, education of managers and workers, etc. (Bloom and Van Reenen, 2010).

Quality of inputs is another factor that determines productivity. Rather than clinging on basic resources (or lack of those), it can be argued that productivity is mainly determined by superiority of labour and capital inputs (Porter, 1990; Syverson, 2011). Education, training and experience can all affect quality of labour inputs. Quality differences of capital inputs can influence productivity (Syverson, 2011). The lack of basic resources can push firms to innovate and improve (Porter, 1990). It has been shown that differences in intangible capital and IT can also affect productivity (Syverson, 2011).

Another significant factor that can influence productivity are different decisions regarding the organisation and structure of a firm. Different process improvements through learning-by-doing can also influence productivity (Syverson, 2011).

Productivity spillovers and competition are important external determinants of productivity of a firm. Productivity spillovers occur mainly within the same or similar industries. Competition can hugely affect productivity and firms can face competitive pressures from both other domestic and foreign firms (Syverson, 2011).

The theoretically established ‘learning-by-exporting’ hypothesis states that exporting can improve productivity of a firm. On the one hand, a firm participating in an export market is exposed to a larger competition. On the other hand, by participating in an export market, a firm can gain new knowledge from its buyers and competitors (Wagner, 2007). Some empirical research has confirmed this hypothesis (Damijan et al., 2010).

As discussed above, productivity of a firm is influenced by a numerous factors. Some of the above-mentioned factors can be influenced to a greater extent than the others and some of those factors require shorter periods to be adjusted than the others. However, given that there is variety of factors, their complexity and the level of their potential interactions, the question still remains: is there really a panacea for low productivity?

References:

  1. Bloom, N. and Van Reenen, J. (2010) ‘Why do management practices differ across firms and countries’, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(1), pp. 203-224. Available at: https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25703489 (Accessed: 24th June 2018)
  2. Cassiman, B. and Golovko, E. (2011) ‘Innovation and internationalization through exports’, Journal of International Business Studies, 42(1), pp. 56-75. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25790105 (Accessed: 28th March 2018)
  3. Damijan, J.P., Kostevc, C., & Polanec, S. (2010) ‘From innovation to exporting or vice versa?’, The World Economy, 33(3), pp. 374-398. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 24th March 2018)
  4. Movahedi, M., Shahbazi, K., & Gaussens, O. (2017) ‘Innovation and willingness to export: Is there an effect of conscious self-selection?’, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, 11(25), pp. 1-22. Available at: http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/journalarticles/2017-25 (Accessed: 1st May 2018)
  5. Porter, M. (1990) ‘The competitive advantage of nations’, Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/1990/03/the-competitive-advantage-of-nations (Accessed: 4th June 2018)
  6. Syverson, C. (2011) ‘What determines productivity?’, Journal of Economic Literature, 49(2), pp. 326-365. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/23071619 (Accessed: 30th April 2018)
  7. Van Reenen, J. (2011) ‘Does competition raise productivity through improving management quality’, International Journal of Industrial Organisation, 29(3), pp. 306-316. Available at: https://ac-els-cdn-com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/S0167718711000208/1-s2.0-S0167718711000208-main.pdf?_tid=48b828f4-40fc-4fad-a130-5cec9cbc83ab&acdnat=1530139607_684e48c04c59ac476baa4ece54f7c606 (Accessed: 22nd June 2018)
  8. Wagner, J. (2007) ‘Exports and productivity: A survey of the evidence from firm-level data’, The World Economy, 30(1), pp. 60-82. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 16th April 2018)

 

 

Culture and Ethics In The Workplace

Dr Bharati Singh, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School


I knew when I was joining Staffs last year that I was going to be part of a connected University. During the various inductions and trainings that I had, it was obvious that being active on social media was expected. So, I opened an official FB page and a Twitter account. I already had a profile on LinkedIn and other academic research sites.

However, almost a year down, one of the things that I have procrastinated on is writing a blog. I did not know what to do and where to start from. I am struggling to write articles out of my own thesis so a ‘blog’ about something that interests me was hard coming by.

I googled on ‘how to write a blog?’ and there were suggestions galore. The list of dos and don’ts was long. I pondered and contemplated and deliberated on what interests me and what could I write to draw the attention of readers.

I had worked for many years in the corporate world which included traveling and working with various multinationals and different nationalities before changing directions towards a full-time academic role.

In this role, having just attended the Business Staffs graduation ceremony, an idea for a blog started to take form in my mind. This emanated from the general conversations I had with the graduands and the pride for some to have already secured a job and the primary aim of others to secure a job as quickly as possible.

I knew then that I had to share my experiences of having worked with large multinational companies and banks and to provide some insight about work culture and ethics to my students and anyone in general.

One can face both success and failure at work. It is part of life as much as is birth and death. I am not trying to be macabre here but just dishing out some hard facts. You will not like some people at work and some people may not like you. So where is it that you can make a difference?

Integrity, honesty and being true to your job are first and foremost. Sometimes job descriptions can be misleading but never despair. Give it your all because you will need that recommendation letter when you do move on to your dream job.

 

The other important fact to remember is: what goes around comes around; so maintaining relationships is very important with people you like or don’t like. You never know who you will meet at any given point of life: the world is round.

Words can never be retracted so be careful what you say, to whom you say and when you say. Be mindful of the external environment (and I don’t mean the weather here).

Finally, never be afraid to own up to your mistakes. A very important lesson that I had learnt at a very young age (courtesy Reader’s Digest): the least important one word is ‘I’ and the most important six words are ‘I admit I made a mistake.’

Dr Bharati Singh, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School

Twitter: @BharatiCSingh

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BHS Death: Who is to Blame?

Image: The Herald, Scotland https://goo.gl/X59KeM

British Home Store (BHS) was born in 1928 with steady expansion growth and increasing competition with rival stores that bring excitements to the British workforce and customers. In pursuit of survival, BHS has undergone several successful surgical operations in the post-war era such as expansion across the UK, merging and franchising its brand. Many feared that BHS survival chances would diminish in 2000 when Sir Philip Green took charge of the company health affairs, but he dismissed the fears. However, sickness symptoms were confirmed in 2005 when BHS announced its losing customers to rivals. After several attempts to revive BHS, the health continued to deteriorate. This continued until 2015 when it was transferred to Dominic Chappell, unfortunately for BHS its health has gone beyond resuscitation. In 2016, the once healthy and competitive BHS was in coma without a chance of survival.

Losers

Although all BHS stakeholders were disappointed in the news of its death, this has different implications for different stakeholders. During its heyday, BHS had 163 stores, 11,000 British workforce that comprised direct and indirect staff, servicing 22,000 pensioners, tax-payer, and 1.2m British loyal customers. These were the biggest losers as the death of BHS significantly changed their way of life and in some cases, it threatened their survival as well.

Image: Drapers, https://goo.gl/vDGG41

Companies Act 2006

The Companies Act 2006 s830 specifies that companies should only distribute a dividend to the shareholders from the profit available or accumulated profits. This profit should be after deducting its accumulation losses. Also, Companies Act 2006 s172 specifies the duties of company’s directors to act in good faith with the aim of promoting the company’s success for all its members. In the case of BHS, members include all the stakeholders such as employees, pensioners, customers, suppliers, creditors, government, UK taxpayers, and shareholders.

Many commentators argued that Sir Philip Green and his family members along with other shareholders did not regard corporate governance or Companies Act 2006; and they made decisions on the BHS activities in their personal interest to the detriment of the other BHS members. Other commentators believed that The Green family and other shareholders enjoyed unfettered access in the heart of BHS; that was cleverly done with a complex company structure and inter-company transactions that include £422m dividend pay-out against £208m profit, £10m loan interest, £151m rent received from sales and lease-back, £250m management charges and £3m ground rent, all received from BHS. As a result, between 2000 and 2015, the pension fund has fallen from £5m surplus to 571m deficits and BHS survival and going concern was set on a slope.

Structure of Taveta Group (Controlled by the Green Family): Source from HC Committee Reports, https://goo.gl/reA7Er


International Standards on Auditing

The International Standards on Auditing (UK) specifies that the objective of the audit work on the financial statement is to give reasonable assurance. This assurance should be included in the auditor’s report to highlight whether the financial statement is free of error or fraud. Although, it is not a guarantee that material misstatement due to error and fraud will always be detected when audit work complies with ISA (UK). However, the ISA (UK) requires that auditor should exercise professional judgment in identifying and assessing the material risks in the financial statements. Auditors are required to design and perform audit procedures that are responsive to material risks, and to obtain appropriate, and sufficient evidence regarding the business activities from audit procedures upon which audit opinion will be formed. In this regard, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) audit design and procedures failed to detect or raise going concern issue during 2015 audit when BHS was sold for £1.

PwC Leeds firm audited BHS Group Ltd financial accounts for the 74 weeks to 29 August 2009 and since then they continued to audit BHS financial account till 2015. They are also the auditing firm for other Green Family companies such as Taveta Investment Limited and Taveta Investment (No.2) Limited, the parent companies of BHS. Commentators believe that this could have created threats to their objectivity due to possible close or personal relationship with the Green family and non-audit fee (audit fee ratio of up to 8:1). These threats include familiarity, intimidation, and self-interest as the audit firm and senior partner may not be necessarily sceptical and may be sympathetic towards the directors and employee with whom they have a relationship.

Image: Accountancy Age, https://goo.gl/ZVN1Yu

On the 13 June 2018, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) halted the over 30 years career of Steve Denison a senior partner with a 15-year ban and £325,000 fine. PwC accounting firm was fined £6.5m and FRC will be monitoring their practice over the next three years.

Blame

In my opinion, the directors of BHS acted unethically and with total disregard for the Companies Act 2006 and corporate governance in discharging their duties between 2000 and 2015. Considering the consequences of their actions, the innocent pensioners, direct and indirect employees and taxpayers will pick up the bill for the BHS pension deficit. It is unfortunate that those directors got away with just over £363m fines without a ban from serving as company directors in the future or possibly jail terms.

However, as much I would like to agree with  PwC that their failure could not have contributed to BHS death, from a professional viewpoint, they have the duty not only to advise the BHS board of directors, but the 2015 Audit Report should have explicitly raised going concern issues. This would have raised other stakeholder’s awareness as the Audit Report would have been available to the public through Company House.

Mayowa Akinbote ACCA, MA, PGCHP, FHEA, BSc.                                                Lecturer in Accounting and Finance                                                                        Staffordshire Business School

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