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 Mark Billings

Mark Billings

Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Business History


+44 (0) 1392 722658

Streatham Court, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4PU, UK

Mark Billings joined the Business School in December 2011.  He was previously Lecturer in Accounting and Risk at Nottingham University Business School, where he was co-director of the Centre for International Business History.  Before this he held positions in banking, business and the accounting profession and at Sheffield Hallam University and City University Business School.  He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.  His research interests are in financial reporting, and banking, financial and accounting history.  His teaching has covered several areas, mainly financial reporting, auditing, corporate governance, financial accounting theory and risk management in corporates and financial institutions.


MSc (London), BA (Sheffield), PGCLT (Sheffield Hallam), FCA

Research interests

  • British banking history in the twentieth century
  • Financial reporting of corporate pensions obligations

The continuing financial crisis has exposed British banks to considerable criticism, resulted in full or partial state ownership for some institutions, and stimulated significant reforms to the banking system.  But the recent problems in the banking sector are the continuation of a long tradition in the complex relationship between the British government and the country’s large commercial banks.  In my research on banking and financial history I try to convey the message that there are no simple answers to such problems and that we have seldom found permanent solutions.

The reporting of corporate pensions obligations is one of the most technically difficult areas in financial reporting and arguably has significant consequences for pensions provision by employers.  Reporting in this area has improved dramatically in recent years but my research on this topic shows that considerable scope remains for further improvement.

Research projects

I am currently working on a series of papers with Alan Booth, Professor of Economic History at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campus, on banking in post-World War Two Britain.  We are particularly interested in the interaction between rising affluence, improvements in technology and the changing attitudes of government and financial institutions to regulation and competition.

With former colleagues at Nottingham University Business School we continue our work originally undertaken for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) on how sponsoring companies report the risks arising from their defined benefit pension schemes.  Risk reporting benchmarks do exist in this area, but reporting practice varies widely, which is not helpful for the users of financial statements.  The scope for managerial discretion in pensions reporting raises the possibility of the manipulation of reported pensions liabilities, and we are working with a large data set covering several years to identify whether there is evidence of such manipulation.

Awards and Honours

  • My 2009 article with Forrest Capie in Accounting Forum was cited as one of the Top 50 Papers in Emerald’s Citations of Excellence for 2010.

External positions

  • Member of the Board of Studies for the Association of Corporate Treasurers - Advanced Diploma qualification which confers full membership of the Association
  • Trustee of the Economic and Business History Society. Associate Editor of the Society’s journal ‘Essays in Economic and Business History’; Program Chair-elect for the Society’s 2014 conference held in the UK.’  The Associate Editor post is with effect from May 2012
  • Independent examiner (effectively honorary auditor) of the Association of Business Historians.
  • Honorary Treasurer, Devon and Cornwall Record Society.

Much of my teaching has been in areas key to professional accountants such as auditing and financial reporting.  These areas can sometimes appear dry or irrelevant to students, but the reality is different.  The business world is not perfect and there are numerous scandals and frauds which can illustrate governance and accounting problems.  I also draw on my experience in the accounting profession and in business for many examples and insights relevant in understanding such topics.