Quintessentially and BDO to cut audit ties

25 August 2022 Consultancy.uk 2 min. read
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Reports in the British media suggest BDO is set to quit its role as auditor of Quintessentially. The ‘luxury lifestyle management’ firm is yet to file its financial statements from 2020, which were due more than a year ago.

In 2020, Quintessentially Group selected professional services firm BDO to oversee its accounting, after PwC pulled out of working for the company. Just two years later, BDO has similarly withdrawn from working for Quintessentially – following a breakdown in the relationship between the companies. According to reports from the Financial Times, this means that while BDO’s auditors have already severed ties with Quintessentially’s travel service, and is also set to exit its relationship with the wider group.

A Quintessentially spokesperson argued that the changes were “entirely driven by the Quintessentially Group not BDO”, and claimed the firm was keen to instead “appoint travel specialists”. However, the announcement comes after the Financial Reporting Council found that 42% of BDO’s audits in the last year needed improvements – something audit market reform advocates alleged was the result of the firm picking up the ‘more challenging’ audits dropped by the Big Four.

Quintessentially and BDO to cut audit ties

After PwC pulled out of working for Quintessentially, and was replaced by BDO, Quintessentially later admitted making £7 million in errors on its accounts, and paying out £1.4 million in unlawful dividends in 2021, after the firm reported a loss of £4.4 million on its 2019 revenues of £50 million. At the same time, the firm still has not filed its accounts for the year to April 30 2020, despite them being due in April 2021.

In 2021 professional services firm Deloitte was tasked with finding a buyer for Quintessentially. While no deal has been completed yet, sources familiar with the story said at the time that the directors were hoping to sell off the company before it issued its latest financial statements.

Quintessentially is a members-only "luxury lifestyle management service" that provides concierge services including travel bookings, restaurant recommendations, and access to events. Founded by Aaron Simpson, Paul Drummond and Conservative Party co-chair Ben Elliot, the firm has helped super-rich clients access its high-society networks in Britain, since 1999.

As reported by the Financial Times, the company has previously boasted about how it served wealthy Russian clients, which includes opening an office in Russia and creating a "dedicated Russian team." However, after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the company deleted its webpage, playing down its services for Russian elite clients.