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Accounting News Roundup: PwC Satisfies Millennials and Big 4 Fines | 03.24.16

How Satisfying Millennials Could Save PwC $850 Million [Bloomberg]
If there's one upside that you can sell to anyone who gripes about catering to all the demands of Millennials, it's the cost savings.

PricewaterhouseCoopers had a big, expensive problem. Turnover, especially among younger employees, was "dreadful," says Carol Sawdye, the company’s vice chairman and chief financial officer.

So PwC surveyed 44,000 of its employees to find out why. The top gripe was stereotypically millennial: Some 71 percent said their jobs "interfere with their personal lives." Nearly as many wanted to be able to work from home.

PwC's plan to make all of its offices "co-working spaces" could save the firm $850 million. With the added benefit being, "Hey, look! We're flexible!" What's so weird about all this flexibility is that it seems like employees are always working. Aside from the physical environment, that isn't different from the previous arrangement:

Amanda Miranda, an associate in charge of recruiting for PwC, says she spends an average of one to three days a week in the office. When she’s not traveling, the 24-year-old either works from home, where she can bring her laptop to the kitchen while cooking dinner, or at the library, or once, in the waiting room while accompanying her boyfriend to a dentist’s appointment.

"In comparison with my friends, I have a lot more flexibility at my job,” she says. "It’s a definite selling point."

So I guess people don't mind working all the time as long as they can do it anywhere and everywhere, which includes following directions on a Blue Apron recipe and a cramped waiting room while your beloved gets loaded up with Lidocaine. But don't forget, the savings!

The no-office office may be a logical extension of the trend toward ever-less personal space at work. Workers in Manhattan, where real-estate costs are particularly high, have about 25 percent less space than they did in the mid-1990s, said Ken McCarthy, principal economist at Cushman & Wakefield. 

"The younger generation likes an open environment," he said. "They have been raised in an environment of much more stimulus around them all the time."

Your firm saves money, Millennials stay stimulated. Doesn't that sound nice?

Novartis Settles with SEC Over Accounting Failures [R&CJ/WSJ]
For $25 million:

An SEC investigation found that employees of two China-based Novartis subsidiaries gave money, gifts and other things of value to health-care professionals, leading to several million dollars in sales of pharmaceutical products to Chinese state health institutions. Among the gifts, according to an administrative order filed by the SEC, was travel for the health-care professionals and their spouses to a conference in Chicago, along with walking-around money and coverage of strip-club charges on the side.

A Novartis spokesman felt it necessary to point out that these issues "largely pre-date many of the compliance measures introduced" as if trading "walking-around money" and strip-club charges for business have only recently become unacceptable business practices.  

Big 4 Netherlands
Here's a brief Reuters report that states all Big 4 firms in the Netherlands were fined for "shortcomings in the audits of many Dutch companies' annual reports in 2011 and 2012" with no further explanation.

Find the Shults
A couple of expat accountants have gone missing since the terror attacks in Brussels on Tuesday.

The mother of an American accountant missing since the Brussels bombings was flying to Belgium on Thursday after the family said it had been wrongly informed that he had been found.

Justin Shults and his wife Stephanie have not been seen since two blasts rocked the check-in hall at the city's airport, killing at least 11 people Tuesday morning.

The whole thing is pretty gut-wrenching. The Shults were waving good-bye to Stephanie's mom when the explosion occurred. Afterwards, Justin's brother told NBC News the couple had been found only to report later that the family had been misinformed. Calls to the Shults' phones go straight to voicemail. Ugh.

Previously, on Going Concern…
Leona May gave us her white-collar crime report. And in Open Items, someone's asking about internal audit.

In other news:

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