Wednesday, 15 June 2011


Nice job in Budapest, working for MGI, one of the largest alliances of independent auditing, accounting and consulting firms in the world: 161 members across 286 offices in 82 countries.  Who said the world of accounting wasn't glamorous!

I was invited to attend this year's European Area Meeting and, among other things, consider MGI's points of difference.  As I reflect now, I'm wondering the extent to which you can simply package a brand and a message around 'trust'.  What I observed was a collection of professionals who know each other uncannily - more so than you see in some individual firms even - who have taken the time to build solid, collaborative reltaionships and who know intimately how best to work together, or refer work between one another.  Nearly all the firm representatives I spoke to named the need to refer clients to an overseas advisor they can totally trust as by far and away the most important benefit of their MGI membership, with referrals from other member firms very much a secondary.

So 'trust'.  Is this enough to hang a brand on?  Considering the damage done to the business world from a distinct lack of trust over the last few years, my current thinking is that, 'soft' as it is, this message would actually pack a powerful punch.


Whilst in Hungary, I had the fortune to meet UK- and Mauritius-based accountant and trust specialist Gary Killmister.  Not only is Gary an expert in offshore trust issues (he grew up in Jersey) but he is an alleged cousin, no less, of Lemmy from Motorhead. They even share a surname.

This reminded me of a wonderful story told to me by John McDonnell QC who represented Motorhead in their legal battle with GWR Records before the release of 1916.  John is credited on the album sleeve as 'Big Mac' for his help in allowing the album to see the light of day.

The story he tells though, is that on the first day in court Lemmy et al turned up in matching T-shirts, all emblazoned with the words "Judges Are Nice".  Neat.

* * *

How did this story get such a grip of the headlines this week?
Yes it's significant as the first case of contempt of court involving the internet - particularly as the juror who communicated with a defendant on Facebook caused a multi-million pound drugs trial to derail, and particularly as the juror (and the defendant) now faces up to two years in jail. But what I can't understand is the continual debate on our airwaves this week about how 'even' communication on the social networks now needs to be controlled in the context of a court case, and how this must be impossible to police. Surely it's obvious that the same rules should apply to social platforms as they do to conversations in the real world, telephone contact etc? The one point I will concede is that it's easier to dig out someone's details on Facebook to make that connection. Maybe it's only a matter of time before jurors are secluded for the duration of a trial.

Your view?