Accounting News Roundup: Get Some FP&A Skills; KPMG’s Forgetful 2015; Tardy PCAOB Filings | 12.22.15

Metrics Sell Doughnuts and More [WSJ]
This articles says financial planning and analysis (aka FP&A) skills "are rapidly gaining relevance in company finance departments" which is weird because, haven't they always been relevant? Perhaps they're a little more visible now because the Association for Financial Professionals ("AFP") launched a credential a couple of years ago. And if you're thinking, "Isn't this just a CMA or CGMA," someone would say you're wrong:

A person must have two-to-three year’s of work experience to enroll. There are no required courses, but participants spend about 72 hours preparing before taking a two-part test that involves basic financial knowledge and free-form spreadsheet modeling.

About 1,500 people so far have registered for the test, and 366 people from 24 countries have passed it, according to AFP executives. The exam fee ranges from $875 to $1,425, depending on when participants register and if they are AFP members. Materials, such as textbooks, cost about $1,000.

“Most companies don’t have a professional development track for these roles, and no other professional organization supports this group,” said Jim Kaitz, AFP chief executive.

That is great trolling, even if it is too subtle for the AICPA and IMA to notice. As is this:

The skills required for FP&A roles “are highly critical if one desires to become a CFO,” said Scott Simmons, an executive recruiter with Crist|Kolder Associates. “It’s the forward-looking skill vs. the rear-view skill of accounting,” he said.

It's hard to argue with that. But FP&A isn't without its own annoying tendencies:

Yet the advent of the certification highlights the challenges FP&A professionals face in the workplace. With hybrid roles straddling headquarters and field operations, many struggle with hazily-defined mandates and a lack of influence over business leaders.

In a recent survey by consulting firm CEB, 61% of FP&A directors said decision makers used their analyses only selectively. That’s because many FP&A professionals “tend to be perceived as financial bureaucrats” who spend more time focused on missed budget projections than improving profitability, said Tim Raiswell, CEB finance research leader.

So, I guess the good news is that you can easily go out and get some sought-after skills. The bad news is that you have to take a test and people will consider you a bigger paper pusher than even your garden variety accountant.

KPMG UK’s year to forget: revenue falls and audit probes [FT]
By most accounts, KPMG's 2015 wasn't so good. Global revenues were down compared to last year and in the UK, the firm fell behind EY to become the smallest of the Big 4. When the firm released its annual report last week, Simon Collins, the UK chairman "faced an outpouring of grievances from partners" over the performance. One nameless partner even said, "You don’t know what a partnership means until it rebels. Then you know it exists. It’s not a straightforward time for us," which is uncharacteristically expressive for a Brit. Interestingly enough, KPMG Legal did quite well in 2015 and the back here in the States, there are "legacy walls" in the Charlotte office (and 20 others) that people seem to like. You gotta find silver linings where you can!

PCAOB enforcement
David A. Levy, CPA, PC and Craig M Harbsmeier, PSC didn't file their PCAOB annual reports on time so that cost them $1,000 each. Levy got caught up but Harbsmeier filed a Form 1-WD aka the "F this." Form.

In other news:

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