Accountancy’s Big Four have been given just four years to seal off their audit practices.

The Financial Reporting Council told the firms yesterday to build Chinese walls between their audit and advisory teams in an attempt to avoid repeating the scandals that have blighted the industry in recent years.

While some have called the proposals the “most radical shake-up in a generation”, critics have likened it to “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”.