A number of small listed companies are without an accountant. As a result, it was previously announced that six funds will soon disappear from the stock exchange because there is no accountant to audit annual accounts. However, one investment fund has found a solution, they hire a Portuguese office to check the books. And that is possible, knows FD journalist Eva Schram, ‘although there are also concerns’.
The shortage of accountants stems from the fact that not every accountant is allowed to audit a listed company. ‘You need a special permit for that and in recent years there were only six Dutch offices with that permit’, Schram explains. Three firms surrendered their licenses in 2019 under pressure from the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) because an inspection showed that things were not in order enough.
Due to the disappearance of the offices, ten listed companies had been without a suitable accountant for years. Six of them subsequently missed the deadline to find one, so they had to disappear from the stock market in November. ‘But for three other offices the deadline was in June and one of them has now found a Portuguese office’, says Schram.
According to the FD journalist, the investment fund is now going to work with a Portuguese company. ‘The license that an accountant must have is based on European legislation. The Portuguese office has such a license in Portugal and because of the free movement of services they can also operate in the Netherlands as long as they register with the AFM, the Dutch regulator.’
Reprimand disciplinary committee
Looking for an accountant across the border therefore seems to be a solution to the problem, but not everyone is jumping for it. The Association of Effectenbezitters is concerned, for example. “Four Dutch accountants work at the Portuguese office and one of them was reprimanded by the disciplinary committee last year,” the FD journalist explains.
However, it is still unclear how the precise division of tasks at the Portuguese office works. It is therefore not possible to say with certainty whether the relevant Dutch auditor audits Dutch annual accounts via a diversion. Nevertheless, Schram expects that more Dutch listed companies will consider the option of working with foreign accountancy firms. “It’s fluid now that it could.”