Accounting for Growth. By Terry Smith. Century; 226pp; £12.99. Review by Dennis Henry.
In 12 chapters Terry Smith describes a dozen cosmetic techniques that are widely used to massage annual accounts within the strict limits of the law. None of these practices is illegal. While any one of them may have a significant effect on the figures, the frightening impact comes when they are used in combination. The author identifies major companies which use them in combinations of up to nine. It was this naming of names which made him a celebrity.
It is extremely unlikely, though, that Smith foresaw his suspension from employment as head of UK company research at UBS Phillips and Drew as a result. He had only set out to produce a sound (and overdue) technical analysis of corporate accounting practices, written in plain English. Besides achieving this, and its other merits, the book is bang up-to-date, as far as Maxwell anyway.