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Accounting News Roundup: Overrated Values; A Tradition of Busy Work; VW Saving for a Rainy Day | 10.05.15

Hands up if you can say what your company’s values are [FT via BV]
Seventeen of the FTSE 100 state no corporate values and, get this, outperformed the other 83 companies by 70 percent.

Eugene Freedman, 83; overhauled, energized accounting field [BG]
Yes, this is an obituary but Eugene Freeman was a former U.S. Chairman of Coopers & Lybrand and it has this hilarious anecdote:

Mr. Freedman attended Classical High School in Worcester, where he was voted most likely to succeed. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in economics and received a master’s in economics from Columbia University’s Business School.

Hired for $300 a month in 1954, a few years before the merger that created Coopers & Lybrand, he nearly quit because he was assigned to sort checks for an insurance company audit, a task he considered “an absolute waste of time some clerk could handle.”

It has to make some of you feel good that audit firms have been giving young accountants busy work for a long, long time.

KPMG accountant denies indecent proposal towards teenage girl in Perth [WAtoday]
This is a story from Down Under but it's too ridiculous not to share. Duncan Harvey Calder's allegedly made an "indecent proposal" to a 14 year-old girl; he offered her $500 "to show him her breasts" in the early hours of a morning in January 2008. When police caught up to Calder, he told them "he was under a lot of pressure from his work as an accountant for KPMG, had just left the office and was out walking to get some fresh air as he couldn't sleep." Calder denies that he propositioned the girl, that he was only offering to help her. The story about the stress from his job keeping him up at night is obviously plausible, though.  

GE runs an intense 5-year program to develop executives, and only 2% finish it [BI]
But is it as tough as getting a job at Deloitte?

Volkswagen Assesses Emissions Scandal’s Impact on Its Finances [WSJ]
Oh, to be a fly on the wall within the VW accounting/finance department:

Volkswagen’s treasury department is making contingency plans that take into account worst-case scenarios, including the financial fallout of possible ratings downgrades or unexpectedly large penalties, according to the people familiar with the company’s planning. Volkswagen also may consider postponing some of its bond and other debt offerings in the near term, these people said.

The company said in an emailed statement that it isn’t suspending its debt-financing programs, but has to adapt the paperwork for planned issuances to the current situation. Volkswagen added that it doesn’t regard its financing operations as being at risk.

The company has €21.5 billion in cash sitting around and plans to boost that to €25 billion, although some analysts are skeptical whether that will be enough cushion to cover "potential recall costs/fines or subsidy clawbacks." I guess this where those "critical thinking skills" are going to pay off.

In other news: