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Accounting News Roundup: Retirement (or Not) and the Arthur Andersen Gallery | 05.24.17

Arthur Andersen & Co.


For many years, 65 has been the magic number for retirement. That was the milestone everyone shot for when deciding they would stop working and start doing nothing. Over the last few years, however, many people have decided that they’re going to cruise into their retirement…still working:

Nearly 3 out of 4 Americans plan to work beyond traditional retirement age on at least a part-time basis, according to a recent Gallup poll of 718 adults. Close to 40 percent of those participating in the survey said they plan to retire after age 65.

Believe it or not, more adults say they intend to extend their careers beyond retirement age because they would like to — not necessarily because they have to: 44 percent of participants said they want to work part time into their golden years, up from 34 percent in 2013.

People like to talk a big game about not wanting to work, but in reality, everyone doesn’t not want to work. It gives people purpose, makes them feel appreciated and useful. Why do you think CPAs in some states still want those letters behind their name after they’ve retired? Despite it sounding good, I think most people understand that doing nothing is probably bad, so they’ll keep right on doing something.

Legal stuff

Last year, we briefly mentioned that PwC was caught between one of its clients, ExxonMobil, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. You see, Schneiderman is looking into Exxon’s climate science and has subpoenaed certain PwC workpapers as part of the investigation. Exxon and PwC have tried claiming accountant-client privilege under Texas law, but a judge ruled last fall that it didn’t apply. Exxon appealed annnnnd got the same result:

A panel of the Appellate Division, First Department, refused to quash Schneiderman’s request for documents from PriceWaterhouseCooper related to ExxonMobil, upholding a lower court ruling that stated Texas law didn’t apply in New York cases.

The unsigned decision affirmed Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager’s 2016 rejection of ExxonMobil’s claim of Texas pre-eminence through a narrow reading of that state’s accountant-client privilege law, which allows a carve-out for certain court-ordered production requests.

These kinds of disputes — ones that involved entrenched powers with deep pockets — can last for years. New PwC associates will be celebrating their retirement as senior partners by the time this case gets resolved.

Accounting firm museums

Yesterday, in the wake of learning that KPMG’s new training center would contain a KPMG museum, I wondered aloud “Are accounting firm museums a thing?” Jeffrey Johanns, a lecturer at the University of Texas answered the call:

It’s a gallery to be precise. It was dedicated in 2013, marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the firm. Besides the doors, there appears to be a number of old adding machines, but no sign of a preserved VisiCalc spreadsheet. While I’m sure it’s impressive, no serious collection would be without a spreadsheet exhibit. If UI wants to get serious, I’d gladly entertain an offer to become the curator of the gallery.

Despite my initial skepticism, I guess I’m not surprised that Arthur Andersen has a museum. This is the same accounting firm, after failing in spectacular fashion, that was revived in San Francisco a few years ago. This is the same accounting firm that some nobodies in France tried to revive, possibly just to shake down the guys that revived it before they did. This is the same accounting firm that has an alumni Twitter account that, as recently as six months ago, claims to have provided the best career experience for accounting graduates.

I guess Arthur Andersen is just one of those things people don’t get over, like high school football, Creed or cargo shorts. If you’ve been to the gallery, feel free to write a review in Open Items.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Rachel Andujar wrote about speaking up when you want something to change. In Open Items, someone’s asking about accounting entrepreneurs.

In other news:

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