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Accounting News Roundup: Deloitte Digital Has People’s Attention | 08.17.15

Inside Deloitte’s $1.5 billion ad agency [Digiday]
We've talked about Deloitte's quest to be the Walmart of professional services in the past. Deloitte Digital is part of that effort and they're not the only accounting firm elbowing their way into creative services:

“Deloitte, along with Accenture and IBM and to a lesser degree KMPG [sic] and PwC have long been sleeping giants in agency services,” said Pivotal analyst Brian Wieser. “If you take a step back, agencies are outsourced marketing departments with specialities in things marketers don’t do themselves. So that’s what these guys are doing.”

From a strategy standpoint, I don't quite understand why an accounting/consulting firm would branch into creative services. From a revenue standpoint, I completely understand why an accounting/consulting firm would branch into creative services!

It's also worth noting that the incumbents (i.e. advertising agencies) aren't amused by this trend:

The most common complaint is that these shops can’t provide the creative chops that traditional agencies can. In fact, some traditional agency execs have been known to refer to this new breed of shops as “faux-agencies.” They may do so at their own risk. “People who dismiss them as ‘that tax company’ have a misplaced sense of their role in the universe,” said Wieser. The marketer isn’t hiring an agency because it’s special. It’s because they have a job and they need to get it done.”

Which is correct. Clients aren't interested in "creative chops" so long as you can help them. Not everyone needs "I'd like to buy the world a Coke." Some companies just need a new website with a slightly clever user experience. There's more than enough work to go around, so if Deloitte or Accenture or KPMG can help, they're going to win some of it and, yes, it adds up to a lot of money.

How Etsy Crafted a Tax Strategy in Ireland [WSJ]
While Etsy shunned the "Double Irish" and "Dutch Sandwich" tax avoidance strategies, they couldn't help but utilize a common, but far more boring, tool. The boilerplate PR response:

“Etsy’s revised corporate structure was implemented to more closely align with its global operations and future expansion plans outside the U.S.”

I imagine that in some communications programs there's an entire class period devoted to learning the dark arts of spinning tax avoidance tactics. It probably goes something like, "Rule #1: Always state that it complies with U.S. tax law. Rule #2: Never forget Rule #1."  

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace [NYT]
Working at an accounting firm sounds like pure bliss compared to this: "At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are 'unreasonably high.' The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: 'I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.')"

Promontory to Challenge New York Regulator on Ban [WSJ]
Appears reasonable: "Promontory is expected to ask a New York state judge to put a stay on the DFS suspension as early as Monday, according to the documents, prepared for the fight. The expected litigation follows months of acrimony between two entities that have developed into power players in a heightened regulatory environment."

Lobster Festival unwittingly skipped sales tax for decades [BDN]
This is from last week but those of you who know David Foster Wallace's "Consider the Lobster" will appreciate it.

Image: Raysonho/Wikimedia Commons