Print Published 14th Jan 2019, 17:20

Publisher’s announcement

After 18 years in print or digital format, Marketing Services Financial Intelligence will be closing at the end of January.  The decision has been a difficult one and is driven primarily by the time commitment required from its ageing editor to maintain the quality and extent of its coverage.

Arrangements have been made to assign the publishing rights of the “Private Plums” annual survey to Kingston Smith so that it will form part of that firm’s ongoing range of services to the marketing sector.

We are exploring the possibility of bringing together the 27 Special Reports previously published in Marketing Services Financial Intelligence into a single volume and publishing this in book form for the benefit of future agency and marketing executives and students of accountancy.  We would also hope to include in such a book a further Special Report that has so far remained unpublished for legal reasons.

We intend to repay the unexpired proportion of annual subscriptions at the end of January or shortly thereafter notwithstanding that there is no obligation to do so under the company’s terms of business.  In the meantime subscribers will still be able to view and download content from the website.

The first edition: December 2000

Looking back over the 18 years, we hope that Marketing Services Financial Intelligence has performed a useful service to the marketing industry.  We have tried to encourage and highlight good financial management insofar as a modest publication like this can reasonably expect and the Private Plums survey is one such example.

We have also drawn attention to aspects of individual companies’ financial affairs that in our view their suppliers, clients or the wider public deserve to be made aware of in order to form a balanced view, undistorted by the natural desire of marketing businesses to put the best possible gloss on every aspect of their financial condition. Perhaps the most memorable example was the unlamented Miles Nadal’s series of claims, including one that MDC Partners had achieved “record results” by incurring a $21 million loss – see MDC’s losses increase by 74%: another “record” result.

We have argued against the widespread practice among public companies of giving undue attention to “adjusted” results, rather than to the profit or loss that is deemed under law to give a true and fair view.  It is a practice that has been condemned by the current chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board, but to little effect.  In our reports we have always adopted a standard presentation that shows any such adjusted profit as a footnote to the statutory results without disturbing the figures included in the statutory format of the income statement – see Porta describes loss of £4.4m as a “headline” profit of £0.8m.

Nevertheless we have readily acknowledged that the trend towards adjusted results that exclude so-called “highlighted” items will almost certainly have been encouraged by the accounting rule-makers’ preoccupation with “as if” accounting – requiring accounts to present results based on a number of hypothetical assumptions that are divorced from actual circumstances but which have academic appeal.   A sensible reconciliation of the conflict between the preparers of accounts and some of the more academically based accounting rules is long overdue.

And finally, we have deposited with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy a dossier of examples we have come across over the years that suggest there are still shortcomings in company law.  That seems an appropriate final act in the life of Marketing Services Financial Intelligence.

Farewell and thank you for your interest, loyal support, and in many cases friendship, over the years.