Why the end of Thomas Cook is one step closer to the end of Accounting

Back in May 2019, the market told us what Thomas Cook accountant’s and financial reports were not prepared to say, “According to Citigroup, Thomas Cook’s tour operations and airline are worth £738m, but its debt is around the same “and implies zero equity value”.

It was effectively worthless, and so were the financial reports that went with the “material uncertainty” statement and £1.5bn half year loss.

So is this the death knell for traditional financial reporting, or do we carry on regardless?

Pace of change…

I am not bashing accounting and accountants, no way, I have been there and know how hard it is, but the slow pace of change in our profession is hurting us as a profession.

The insistence on age old methods of reporting and financial management, which offer little or no value to shareholders and investors, let alone internal management and employees, is creating an information gap.

More information, more trust!

But this information gap needs to be filled to build trust.  Whether it is a more data driven approach to forecasting and performance management, a better understanding of intangible assets that are rocking throughout our balance sheets, or the true value of “our greatest asset” people, we need to take a long hard look at what we produce as a finance and accounting team.

Change is hard, people need significant support, technology is new to us, but there is only so long until investors and employees accept poor information, especially if its means losing money and jobs.

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