Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Accounting News Roundup: EY Emoticons and Ballparking Trump’s Tax Plan | 09.20.16


In the past, one of the more fruitless exercises that large accounting firms have forced upon their employees is the assessment of the firm as an employer. The idea being that firms want to know how their employees feel about working there — do they feel great or not so great? Why do they feel great or not so great? The responses are then shared at big meetings or with a media outlet to market the firm's employee-friendly culture. The problem is that the cherry-picked responses never really reflected reality and despite pleas from the firms for honesty, the responses were almost always ludicrously positive.

These days, people don't express themselves in words — that's old-timey stuff — they express themselves with emojis! And because annual reviews of any kind are on their way out, expression of feelings should be made whenever someone has the urge. Thankfully, at least one Big 4 firm is on this:

Gauging how workers are feeling could soon be a matter of simply assessing the frequency of smiley versus sad faces for EY managers.

The professional services giant is piloting a program with Sydney audit and assurance staff that allows them to select from one of four emoticons – a laughing face, a smiley face, a sad face and a crying face – to provide feedback on their emotional state.

The smartphone Wellbeing application, developed during an internal brainstorming session, also allows staff to provide feedback as often or as little as they like about their supervisor, workload, client and to each other.

I wonder how many consecutive crying faces are allowed before an HR representative has to intervene? 5? 10? In general, the idea is sound, but there will be some kinks to work out.

If this catches on, I imagine this could improve other areas for EY. For example, the poop emoji would only apply to rating clients. And the eggplant emoji be included in case you suspect someone on your audit team of having an inappropriate relationship with the client. Right now, somewhere, someone at EY is seriously considering this.

Elsewhere in EY doing things: EY Brace Yourself The Freshman are Coming Snapchat Filter

Has Donald Trump released his tax returns?

Nope! Although many of his supporters want him to. I bet if Trump promised to round up all the IRS employees and send them to Canada, he could change their minds on this issue. 

Elsewhere in Trump confusion, the Tax Foundation did their best and only managed to ballpark the cost of his tax plan to somewhere between $4.4 and $5.9 trillion. But they also explained why, so that's nice.

IRS phone scams

IRS Phone Scams, Inc. is still finding new customers, including a man in Brookfield, Wisconsin who lost more than $71k over a two-week period:

"That started me down the rabbit hole of doing things for them to basically clear out my own accounts and to rob myself for them. They are very very good at this," he said.

It finally dawned on him that he was being ripped off "when they asked for access to his Individual Retirement Account." Ugh, these stories make me sad. Perhaps the AICPA and Benjamin Bankes need to go on a nationwide bus tour to educate the public about this. I can't take it any more.

Elsewhere: there is no federal student tax. Come on.

Previously, on Going Concern…

I wrote about EY independence violations. And so did Matt Levine at BloombergView, who rightly points out that these personal relationship things are tricky:

It is easy enough to make bright-line rules that an auditor shouldn't accept bags of cash as a bribe from her audit client. It is harder to make bright-line rules that an auditor shouldn't have too many dinners with her client, or send him too many e-mails, or laugh too loudly at his jokes, or enjoy his company too much. You can't take all of the human element out of business, even if you wanted to (and why would you?). You can try to cut back on some of the most dangerous mixtures of business and pleasure, but it's not easy to define what those are. 

This will all be much simpler when the robots take over.  

In other news:

Get the Accounting News Roundup in your inbox every weekday by signing up here.