Alarmed by disclosures about the way the Catholic Church manages its finances, the Pope has brought in auditors. This could be interesting. As one who began his career with nearly seven years in Chartered Accountancy, I feel I have some insights into the first day of what will undoubtedly prove a fascinating assignment.
Scene: A back room in the Vatican. Enter George, audit senior, Tarquin, 1st year trainee and Mr. Farquarhson, the manager. They seat themselves, open notebooks and sharpen their pencils.
Farquarhson: This is a very big one for the firm, lads. We've got to make a good impression on this client, it could lead on to much bigger things. Now we've only got two weeks allotted for this review so we'll have to look sharp. George, have you got the plan ready?
George: Um, yes, I've had a look at the draft accounts, the mission statement and the organisation plan. As I see it, the first thing we need is a cup of coffee. Off you go, Tarquin, the machine is down by the Sistine Chapel, mine's a large Americano and don't start chatting up any nuns.
Tarquin: Right ho. exits
Farquarhson: Now, then George, I'm having lunch with one of the senior financial advisers, a Cardinal Borgia. At his estate in Sardinia. The helicopter will be picking me up in about ten minutes. What will you be doing?
George: I thought we'd go to the Vatican canteen.
Farquarhson: I meant, what is your work plan for today?
George: Ah. As it's the first day we need to walk about, get the feel of the place, talk to some priests and make notes on how it all works. Then I'll get young Tarquin to check the petty cash in the Museum and count a few candles, see if their stock records add up. I'll have a look at the confessional records, get the computer audit team to run some tests and see how sins have changed over the past hundred years or so, make sure the Church is properly accounting for everything and the right number of sinners are in hell.
Farquarhson: Excellent. Tomorrow I've been asked to go on a short tour of South America. The Lear jet will pick me after breakfast and I may not be back for a week or so. Think you can cope?
George: No sweat. OK if I take the afternoon off though? I'd like to have a stroll round the Forum.
Farquarhson: That's fine.
Tarquin enters with coffees
George: Ah, that's what the doctor ordered.
Farquarhson: Had good look round, young man?
Tarquin: Golly yes. It's a big place. Lot of praying going on round the front. I wonder what that's all about? laughs
George: Nothing to do with us. We just check out the books.
Farquarhson: Yes, stay focussed lads. Right, I'd better be off.
George: By the way, there's a note here about millions of euros just lying around, some sort of surplus from the collections.
Farquarhson; I'll read it when I get back from Rio. Bye. exits
George: Have a good one.
Tarquin: What should we do now? I've never done an audit as big as this before.
George: Don't worry. They're all the same, really. We just do what we always do. Although I think here we may get some decent wafers with our tea....