Tellwell Talent (2022)
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (10/2022)
After more than 35 years as an investigative accountant, author Al Rosen pens his third book “Avoiding Swindlers” as he aims to provide a public service announcement and protect the average investor/saver. Combining Rosen’s accounting knowledge with Canada’s International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) instituted in 2011-2012, “Avoiding Swindlers” warns investors of the need to protect themselves while simultaneously calling for auditors and the government to admit failure.
Rosen successfully pens an intriguing and informative read surrounding the misplaced trust investors/savers have in the financial reporting of publicly traded companies. While Canada has historically weathered financial downturns, the game was changed in 2011-2012 when the government began allowing IFRS standards of financial reporting. “Avoiding Swindlers” provides evidence and real-life accounts of the dangers of IFRS reporting, such as the valuations allowed and misleading income figures. This book also details the lack of protection investors have received from the Canadian government when businesses inevitably go south.
Taking a complex topic and simplifying it for the average reader is no easy task, but the author has used his decades of experience as an investigative accountant to boil down a series of examples, wording it in a way that captures the urgency in layman’s terms. Detailing how companies are getting away with misleading financials and, at times venturing beyond audited statements to real estate “get rich quick” scams, this book educates investors on what they need to look for in each to avoid getting swindled.
“Avoiding Swindlers” does include some basic and foundational accounting language but explains it in a way that clearly shows the reader how businesses are hiding true losses through “valuation” gains, other non-cash income, and revenue from sales that have not yet occurred. For instance, one heavily relied upon example is the recent issues surrounding the marijuana industry. Marijuana growers were reporting sales as revenues on plants that were still in the ground growing, a practice allowed under IFRS, misleading investors with false income figures and ultimately swindling individuals out of their hard-earned money.
The narrative and real-life examples within “Avoiding Swindlers” were interesting. It was clear to the average reader how the practices allowed under IFRS can begin to unravel over time. Media enhanced statements such as reliance on dividend figures entice investors but can ultimately be entirely inaccurate when IFRS reporting standards are in play. No industry was off limits in the author’s recounting, providing an eye-opening education. Investors/savers beware.