September 22, 2021

Preliminary Analytics | 09.01.09

KenLewisNOPEb.jpg
BofA Seeks to Repay a Portion of Bailout – “Repaying this would mean BofA would no longer be considered an ‘exceptional’ aid recipient — a designation that has put it under a microscope by Congress and regulators, with its pay packages subject to review by the federal ‘pay czar'”. Ken Lewis isn’t going to take it anymore. [WSJ]
Madoff Liquidator May ‘Claw Back’ Charities’ Fake Profits – ‘Picard has an obligation to the bankruptcy estate to collect all the assets he can find and in theory he has to treat everyone the same way.’ Most thankless job ever. [Bloomberg]
Warning Signs: I Started Looking And The Bubble Burst… – Deloitte. Start listening. [RTA]
Icahn Pares Yahoo Stake With Sale of 12.7M Shares – Deal is done. Might as well work on GTFO. [NYT]
Corporate failures forecast to rise – “Insolvency specialists are forecasting a second wave of corporate restructurings to break in September as bankers and investors face problem investments.” [FT]
IRS to Mine Payment Data on Mortgages – “The Treasury inspector general said in a Monday report that tens of thousands of homeowners who paid more than $20,000 in mortgage interest in 2005 either didn’t file a tax return or reported income that appears insufficient to cover their mortgage interest and basic living expenses.” GASP. Someone living beyond their means? [WSJ]

Review Comments | 08.31.09

allen_stanford_1110321c.jpgAllen Stanford to undergo heart tests: lawyer – What lengths is this guy willing to go to in order to get released from prison? [Reuters]
Disney Buys Marvel In $4B Deal – The trickiest thing we foresee is reconciling comics sex with Disney sex. [NPR]
Least Informative Announcement – Citi isn’t too concerned with telling you what they sold, who they sold it to, for how much, or what they made or lost on the deal. They just thought they would do us all the courtesy of letting us know that something happened. [Floyd Norris/NYT]
Women, Testosterone, and Finance – “If they discriminate based on testosterone levels, isn’t that the same thing as discriminating based on gender (obvious extreme examples aside…i.e. Vera de Milo types)??” [Accounting Nation]
AIG’s New CEO Will Do Unspeakable Things To Andrew Cuomo. You Don’t Even Want To Know. [DB]

Handicapping Firm Failure

epic-failure.thumbnail.jpgGod bless the speculative and sensationalist British media. They’ve got no problem wondering aloud about whether accounting firms will be able to survive the backlog of lawsuits out there that amount to billions in damages sought by plaintiffs.
More, after the jump


PwC has already pointed out to everyone that they were not the auditors of King Ponzi’s empire but nobody cares because, the bloody money has to come from somewhere to compensate the victims. Plus, accounting firms have deep pockets and are likely to settle when in a tight spot, using insurance coverage. The problem now is that the suits are so big that insurance coverage may not be enough to keep the partners safe.
We’ve mentioned some of the more prominent lawsuits in our firm watch series of posts if you need to get caught up.
Natch, everyone laments about Andersen when the topic of firm failure comes up as it serves as a template of what can happen when a firm gets in serious trouble:

Andersen’s collapse highlighted the fragility of a global accountancy partnership. As soon as the extent of the fraud was made public, Andersen’s international divisions and partners not involved in the scandal detached themselves from the firm, making it impossible for Andersen to survive.

We’re not really sure what the odds of another Andersen sitch are but you can definitely count on firms continuing to get sued when there’s no one left after company failures and frauds. We’d invite our readers who are partners (or have partner-knowledge) to give us an idea what the feeling is in the current secret society re: the liability risk. Bonus points for former Andersenites’ stories.
We invite the rest of you to handicap the field for chances of failure in the comments. Ours, after giving it very little thought, appear in the tag line.
Billion-dollar lawsuit could destroy top accountancy firms [Telegraph]

Today in IRS Employee Chicanery

IRS_logo-thumb-150x140.jpgYet another example that should cause the IRS to seriously reconsider its employee screening policy, a now-former IRS compliance officer is looking at jail time after he thought it would be okay to swap a bogus audit report for $1,000 and assistance in finding an apartment.
More, after the jump


Web CPA:

[Fernando] Cruz…told the woman he could “fudge” their tax records so they would have less tax liability. Cruz coached the woman on how to answer questions during an upcoming audit appointment…and instructed her to say that she did not have receipts to verify expenses. Cruz also accepted $500 in cash from the woman and was told that he would receive another $500 if he could make their tax liability go away…the woman met with Cruz at his IRS office as planned, and Cruz prepared an IRS income form with the false information she provided. Cruz also mentioned that the woman might assist him in finding an apartment in exchange for his help to the couple on their audit.

Cruz pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe in exchange for preparing a false tax audit report for a taxpayer. He could also probably be found to be so socially awkward that he needs to be banished from society, since asking for a complete stranger’s help in finding an apartment is just plain weird.
Former IRS Employee Pleads Guilty to Accepting a Bribe [Web CPA]

Chrysler Auditor Switcheroo Follow-up (UPDATE)

We’ve confirmed with a Chrysler Spokesperson that the new entity emerging from bankruptcy has appointed Deloitte as the external auditors, a role that KPMG held for the entity that remains in bankruptcy:
More, after the jump

[We] can confirm that, as a new company, Chrysler Group LLC has appointed Deloitte as its external auditors. KPMG had previously served this role for the old Chrysler, which remains in bankruptcy. The new company, Chrysler Group LLC became operational on June 10, 2009.

Basically, as some have speculated, this may be a chance for Deloitte to poach the entire KPMG team, which, we have to admit, might not be a bad idea.
KPMG did not immediately respond to our requests for comment. Deloitte got back to us with no comment.
UPDATE: Chrysler got back to us with some additional information including
Why the change in auditors – “Chrysler Group LLC is a new company and, as such, the company has decided to appoint Deloitte as its new external auditors.”
If Deloitte was in the field – “Deloitte has begun initial planning work for the 2009 audit.”
KPMG’s remaining responsibilities – “We cannot address any services KPMG may be performing for OldCarco (the official name of the company that remains in bankruptcy).”
Nothing too surprising here except for the hilarious awesomeness of “OldCarco”.

Guess the Tab: E&Y Edition

Unfortunately our source didn’t know the final tab on this particular fiesta so we’ll put out for you to speculate.
Possibly a Bacardi bottle on the far left and maybe that’s Glenfiddich, second from the left, so we’re not talking top shelf but it’s also not that garbage that gets served out of the well. Plus, the receipt seems far too long for the number of bottle shown. Leave your best guess in the comments.
ernstwhile.jpg

Cash and Cash Equivalents, Insolvent State Version

statebudget_woes.jpgIs your state broke? Suffering from liquidity issues? Desperate to buff up municipal coffers? Worry no more, dear resident, if your state is anything like mine, they’ve got one hell of a plan up their sleeve.
Lots of bright ideas, after the jump


NYT:

With the economy floundering and tax revenues falling, governments and public authorities have tried to patch holes in their tattered budgets by charging new or higher fees for a broad range of services — including taking a civil service exam and operating a nuclear power plant.
The purpose of the many microcharges is to help avoid, or at least limit, broader tax increases. But with escalating fees for things like tanning bed inspections, pistol permits and marriage certificates, daily life can start to seem like a labyrinth of public-sector panhandlers.
There are increased payments required from cradle (birth certificates) to grave (plots in municipal cemeteries); in the workplace (licenses for private investigators, lifeguards and tax preparers) and at leisure spots (entrances to parks and public golf courses).

It doesn’t end there. Municipalities will have to make their pennies up wherever they can – this affects everything from parking meters to licenses (yes, even your precious CPA, little beancounter!), booze to license plates. “Fee-based government” is the new “tax and spend” and you can pretty safely bet that you’re going to get it squeezed out of you everywhere you turn. States argue that the policy allows them to make up vulgar budget shortfalls in the least offensive way possible, applying increased fees to specific services instead of vague, across-the-board tax increases.
We are used to this when it comes to the CPA exam as NASBA has increased fees every August as far back as I can remember (thankfully a beer is now $96 in California so my short term memory has increased as I’ve cut out discretionary spending and at the same time unintentionally solved my drinking problem that came as a result of my accounting job) and 2009 is no exception. It cost $809.71 in 2008 and is now $822.73. Putting this into perspective, just Audit would have cost you $159.25 in 2006. By 2008, it was up to $226.28 – keeping in mind that this is only the fee paid to NASBA and does not include re-exam fees and/or applicable State Board of Accountancy/Prometric fees.
Ouch. Don’t expect this to get better any time soon.

Recruiting Season Kicks Off

BelushiCollege.jpgClasses started for a lot of colleges in the past week and it sounds like some firms are already out there spreading their propoganda good word. At least according to one account, the early events have been well attended which fits with the notion that enrollment has remained high.
So if you’re a student, let us know what your early recruiting events have been like and if you’re a recruiter for a firm or a professional working these glad-handing fests, let us know your early impressions about next year’s newbies and interns.

PwC Basically Says That the Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy is a Trainwreck

trainwreck.jpgIf you find yourself out of work but are willing to endure several sleepless nights across the pond, PwC in the UK may need some help with the administration of Lehman Brothers.
More, after the jump


Reuters, via NYT:

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which is working with over 100 companies, mostly in the UK but also in continental Europe, said on Sunday: “We’re dealing with a large number of entities and therefore the claims could be as much as $100 billion.
“These claims are exceptionally complex and we anticipate a large amount of further work in dealing with (them).”
A significant amount of the claims arose as a result of guarantees issued by the parent company to its subsidiaries, the administrator said.
PwC said it had worked with administrators in other affiliates to understand Lehman’s accounting system so a standard approach to the reconciliation of inter company balances could be agreed.
“If this can be achieved then it should reduce the likelihood of affiliates suing each other in pursuit of amounts that are owed between the different Lehman estates,” it added.

Not sure what kind of expectations Lehman’s creditors have but we’d encourage a cynical outlook.
Lehman Claims Could Reach $100 Billion: PwC [Reuters via NYT]
Lehman Bankruptcy Won’t Be Pretty [JDA]

Labor Day: Long Weekend or Just a Long Weekend?

Labor Day.jpgAs the psychological end of summer approaches, there’s an issue out there that we find confusing. We heard a rumor that KPMG is requiring its remaining faithful to take Friday as PTO, even though some offices have kindly asked for their employees’ to squeeze in some extra time for the month of September.
On the one hand we’re sure lots of you don’t have to be asked twice to take an extra day of PTO. However, this is still America, which means if you’re inclined to spend an extra eight hours in your massive gray cubicle, to comply with your office’s request of 50 hour weeks, you’re allowed to do so.
The risk the firms run here is that by extending a typical three day bender into a fourth, this will allow you additional time to seriously consider saying, “To hell with this,” and fulfilling your lifelong dream of becoming a freak show performer.
So discuss in the comments the upcoming weekend and whether your firm is putting the gun to your head (and if you’re cool with that) to start the festivities early or if you’re expecting a long romantic weekend with your spreadsheets.

Preliminary Analytics | 08.31.09

barneyfrank4.jpgFrank Said to Back Broader Fed Audits – “In an interview Friday, Mr. Paul said Mr. Frank agreed to allow a vote on the bill and to work on language that would allow the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to audit the Fed’s monetary-policy operations.” [WSJ]
Fed makes $14bn profit on crisis loans – In case anyone needed another reason to audit the Fed. [FT]
Big Firms Are Quick to Collect, Slow to Pay – “As credit markets remain tight and banks rein in lending, corporations are being forced to squeeze more cash from their day-to-day operations at a time when revenues are slowing and the economy remains weak. ” [WSJ]
The Savings Rate Has Recovered…if You Ignore the Bottom 99% – Dubious government stats? The horror. [Naked Capitalism]
Raft of Deals for Failed Banks Puts U.S. on Hook for Billions – “The agency’s total exposure is about six times the amount remaining in its fund that guarantees consumers’ deposits, exposing taxpayers to a big, new risk.” She Bair, rebuttal? [WSJ]

Review Comments | 08.28.09

1.michael_jackson_71246050015.jpgMichael Jackson’s Death Ruled a Homicide – Thank the Maker. We’re in need of a circus. [Reuters via NYT]
MADOFF VICTIMS FIGHT PICARD OVER PROFITS – Yes, because he’s working against you people. [NYP]
Tech Firms Drowning in Their Options Worthless paper. [CFO]
FASB Stakes A Claim On Disclosure Of Litigation Contingencies – Let’s just go back to cash basis. Thoughts? [FEI Blog]

Grant Thornton is Making Their Passion Known Worldwide

grant-thornton-logo-with-rose.jpgBecause, you know, some of you may have forgotten that they were an international firm. Nevermind the complete failure to coin “Global 6 Accounting Organization” as a way to sneak into the prestigous cool biggest firm club. GT is giving interviews with obscure accounting publications to make this happen.
Eddie Nusbaum, who will be the new Global CEO on January 1st, is going after Big 4 clients to continue building their international business, which kinda sorta works, we guess.
What’s most confusing about G to the T’s “strategy” is that no matter what happens, they’ll never compete with the big firms through organic growth.
Even if GT and BDO made sweet accounting firm love their total international revenues would still be dwarfed by what the fourth place Big 4 firm rakes in. Huge, Big 4-apocalyptic events that would involve government intervention are the only way GT is making it to the big time. So maybe the stars are lining up. WTFK…
Grant Thornton Plans International Growth [Web CPA]

The PCAOB Doesn’t Care for the Flagrant Disregard of Their Rules

thumbs down col.gifHaving never been part of a PCAOB investigation, we’re not able to attest to the uncomfortable violated feeling one must have when you have a government foot soldier crapping all over your work.
That being said, if you can at least make an argument for your shoddy work, you’ve got something to throw at them. The same cannot be said when you have no discernible argument whatsoever that will allow you to look yourself in the mirror and call yourself an auditor.
Enter Moore & Associates and its President, Michael J. Moore:
Poor auditing, after the jump

After M&A registered with the Board in October 2004, Moore began auditing
the financial statements of public companies for the first time in more than ten years.
Over the next three years, M&A accepted nearly 300 public audit engagements, with
Moore serving as the auditor with final responsibility on each of them. Respondents
added new clients at a nearly exponential rate while the audit staff was comprised of
inexperienced staff members overseen by one professional. M&A staffed the audits
with assistants who had no accounting or auditing education, experience or training.
These unqualified audit assistants planned and executed the audits with little or no
supervision from Moore.

So, you’re back in the audit game after a ten years on the bench and you really don’t have the resources to pay anyone that has any accounting background. Not being one to shy away from adversity, you go out and find whatever warm bodies you come across at the Greyhound station. Eventually you get the call that the PCAOB is on to your little game and you’ve got to think that the jig is up.
Nah. Keep rolling with it:

Respondents also failed to cooperate with the Board’s investigation…Respondents created false work papers that did not accurately reflect the work performed on the relevant audits and produced those false work papers to the Board’s Division of Enforcement and Investigations. Moore also falsely testified that these work papers produced by Respondents were true and accurate audit work papers completed during the audit, when he knew they were not.

Nothing like going down in flames. For his incredibly diligent dishonesty and disregard for the PCAOB’s rules, Moore has been banned to the CPA darkness.

Moore & Associates, Chartered, and Michael J. Moore, CPA (8/27/2009)
[PCAOBUS.org]

Chicago Learns the Importance of Public Comment

parking meter.jpgWe haven’t seen outrage like this since FASB bent over and rewrote mark to market!
Denver is now considering taking a cue from a Chicago plan that basically pimped out the city’s parking meters for a lump-sum lease payment instead of relying on a constant stream of unknown revenue in quarters. Genius… sort of.
More, after the jump

Councilman Doug Linkhart would like to solve the city’s $120 million budget shortfall with quarters. But instead of fixing the deficit one quarter at a time — about $9 million in revenue from parking meters per year — the councilman would like to sell the city’s parking meter revenue stream to a private firm for one lump sum — as much as $430 million — and then use some of the money to close the budget gap. “It’s got some potential,” Linkhart told the Denver Daily News on Friday. “It sounds like a good idea … by no means is it perfect, and by no means is it exactly what I would do … but the concept is certainly worth looking into.”

That’s all well and good and on the surface it appears as though this plan cannot possibly go wrong, right? I hope Denver is watching how this unravels before jumping prematurely on the parking meter pawn shop bandwagon.
Hmm:

Clint Krislov, a Chicago attorney for a group of taxpayers, said on Thursday that a Cook County Circuit Court judge on August 28 will hear their petition to allow the lawsuit challenging the deal to proceed. “The contract is illegal so we’re asking (the court) to block spending tax dollars on it,” Krislov said. “After the transaction closed, the city continued to expend public funds to maintain and repair CPM’s privately controlled meters based on complaints that a number of CPM’s parking meters were disabled, would not take coins, did not properly recognize the coins placed in the meters, and displayed inaccurate parking rates and times of enforcement,” the lawsuit stated.

Chicago taxpayers have a point. You cannot use city streets as a private pawn shop and then apply taxpayer money to pay interest on your pawned items. Perhaps someone can point to the FASB that says as much?

Rumor of the Day: Deloitte Snagging Chrysler Audit from KPMG?

chrysler1.jpgMaybe figuring that bankruptcy means a fresh start with everything, we received a tip that Chrysler is dumping KPMG for Deloitte as their external auditors:
“it was announced to KPMG Detroit employees late yesterday…via voicemail or conference call”
Could be the reason the Green-dots in Detroit were rumored to be getting raises but WTFK.
Right now we’ve reached out to all three members of this love triangle and only Deloitte has gotten back to us and could not confirm or comment.
If you’re at Radio Station or the D in Detriot and have details on this, let us know. We keep all sources anonymous.

Who is the Mastermind Behind Accountants’ Lack of Prestige?

conspiracy.jpgEditor’s Note: Robert Stewart is a former Big 4 auditor and ex-Marine who has since served in several executive management roles in both Internal Audit and Corporate Finance. He is also the founder and chief contributor to online accounting and audit community, The Accounting Nation. Outside of work, he is a husband, father, brother, writer, and woefully inadequate aspiring triathlete. To learn more about The Accounting Nation, go to http://www.accountingnation.com.
Harris Interactive recently published their annual list of the most prestigious occupations, as perceived by the obviously mal-informed public being led astray by the obviously biased and poorly designed Harris Interactive survey. Here’s the headline…
The rest, after the jump

Firefighters, Scientists and Doctors Seen as Most Prestigious Occupations
Real estate brokers, Accountants and Stockbrokers are at the bottom of the list

bobs-big-boy-statue.jpg
Don’t pull any punches Harris…God forbid. Just put it right out there. In my opinion, this is a very narrow survey that does a great injustice to the world of accounting as it seeks to strengthen its image and recruit the leaders of tomorrow. I think much of the problem arises from shades of gray attached to the moniker “accountant”. If I say that I am a police officer…you probably have a pretty good idea about the scope of my responsibilities.
But if I tell you that I’m an accountant…you might think you know what I do…but do you really? I could be a Controller at a Fortune 500 company, a Partner at E&Y, or an accounts payable clerk at Bob’s House of Meats (a fictitious entity…but I envision an 8-store family business with a giant Bob’s Big Boy-esque statue out front that sells the finest cuts of meat from across the land…just me? I digress). Clearly all three would have remarkably different responsibilities …but all three are technically “accountants”. See the issue there? It’s in the pitch. It plays into the public perception and stereotype rather than painting the true picture.
Doesn’t the accounting industry have any lobbyists out there that can work some mojo to influence the slant of these types of reports??? As if the accounting profession doesn’t have enough publicity problems what with the continuous onslaught of media-inflated accounting nightmares …now we have to deal with these types of shenanigans..and annually no less…like some bad recurring nightmare about alligators trying to eat you or some other manifestation of your self-perceived inadequacy.
Perhaps it’s a bigger conspiracy propagated by the business community at large in order to dissuade the bestest candidates from pursuing a career in accounting thereby lowering the profession’s overall collective IQ and subsequently clearing the way for them (the business community at large…pay attention) to have their way with financial statements and the investing/banking communities for all eternity? Why are you looking at me like that…it could happen…it could totally happen.

Rumor of the Morning: E&Y SoCal Layoffs

Received word late last night that layoffs went down out west yesterday. According to our source, the breakdown is as follows:
• Two in LA
• Two in Irvine- tax (one staff 1)
• One in San Diego – tax (staff 2)
• A few in Vegas- Audit only
We reached out to an E&Y spokesperson, who declined to comment.
Our source says it was performance based but that particular reason has been a matter of debate for some time. If you’ve got your own theories, discuss in the comments and send us any more details if you’ve got them.
Here’s hoping that Ern isn’t getting warmed up…

Preliminary Analytics | 08.28.09

ticket-scalper.jpgBig Ticket Seller Tried Deal With Scalpers – Ticketmaster has obviously never tried to get Phish tickets on the day of the show after dropping boomies. You can’t reason with that scum. [WSJ]
Frank: No Consensus In Sight On Financial Reform – As opposed to thoughts on Maxine Waters’s lunacy, which we all happily agree on. [NPR]
SEC’s Schapiro Calls Derivatives Data ‘Critical’ for Probes – And by critical, Schape means, “If you don’t give me the data, I will end you.” [Bloomberg]
Treasury Document Called AIG Investment ‘Highly Speculative’ – No honesty in government? Bah. [Bloomberg]
‘Blood Oath’ Sealed Stanford Deal, Court Is Told – What the Times isn’t saying is that the whole thing went down in a treehouse and they kept emergency antiseptic and bandages nearby just in case things got out of control. [NYT]

Review Comments | 08.27.09

stanford10.jpgSir Allen Is Down – And his CFO/Number-maker-upper pleaded guilty. Not what you would call a good day. [DB]
Swiss Negotiator for UBS Says IRS May Seek More Data – Not satisfied by a measly 5,000 someodd names, the IRS is going back for more. MORE. MORE. [Bloomberg]
Boeing hopes to fly 787 by year-end – Ten says it doesn’t happen. Takers? [Chicago Tribune]
US ‘problem’ bank list hits 15-year high – Plenty of time to break more historical marks. [FT]
IFRS could well fail in the US [AccMan]

Joe Francis Plans to Argue That Anything Related to Topless Girls is Deductible

Joe-Francis.jpgSome might call Joe Francis a genius. Others may call him a pig. Regardless, the IRS is calling him a scofflaw tax evader. His defense strategy will entail an elaborate slideshow that will explain that Francis is the “business of sex” and that most of what he’s doing are business expenses.
Sex is a confusing business so Francis’s defense will help the jury understand:
Get informed, after the jump

• Mr. Francis is in the business of sex
• Mr. Francis IS Girls Gone Wild
Girls Gone Wild is Successful

See? It’s not complicated.
The defense strategy will also include pictures of celebrity guests (with some misspelled names) that were at Francis’s beachside house in Mexico where he incurred “business expenses”. Francis will also present a slide that shows himself to be akin to Hugh Hefner and thus, proving that anything to naked girls should be allowed as a deductible expense.
Open and shut as far as we’re concerned.
Jennifer Aniston For The Defense? [The Smoking Gun via TaxProf Blog]

More KPMGers Have Their Labor Day Plans Put in Jeopardy

This time it’s San Fran:
See the text after the jump

Dear Senior Managers, Managers, Senior Associates and Associates,
Thank you for your hard work and continued commitment to the firm. As you know, we continue to do everything reasonably possible to achieve our chargeable hour goal for the remaining fiscal year. While we have made progress toward achieving our collective goal, there remains a gap between where we are and what we need to achieve to give ourselves the best chance of meeting our forecast for the month of September.
In order to close this gap, we are increasing the scheduled chargeable time for each senior associate and associate in the month of September to 50 hours per week (average of 10 hours per day). Teams already scheduled at 10 hours per day or more will remain as scheduled. We ask that each engagement team does its best to find meaningful work to fill this additional chargeable time. If seniors and associates are unable to identify meaningful work for themselves or their team, they should contact their engagement partner or manager to discuss ideas for utilizing this time. This increase in chargeable time has been discussed with and is supported by the engagement partners on your accounts.

Any idea what qualifies as “meaningful work”? Discuss in the comments.

A British D-Lister Does What Many Only Wish They Could Do

kerry katona.jpgWe’ve got no idea who Kerry Katona is but she had it with her accountant and decided that punching him in the face was good idea.
From the looks of the guy, can’t say that he probably didn’t deserve it. He’s was busted for fraud back in 2004 and was involved in a scheme involving pink rabbits at 600 quid a pop.
K-squared, for her part, declared bankruptcy last year, owing £417,000 in taxes. And just for good measure, she was just picked up two nights ago for being caught on video putting a blizzard up her nose. This whole thing is about as sketchy/awesome as you could possibly ask for.
Kerry Katona accused of punching her accountant [Accountancy Age]

Barry Salzberg Has Found Someone That Wants His Job

small salzberg.jpgA ghostwriter Dr. Phil has gone and granted our request for Big 4 CEOs to tread into the blogosphere. He’s managed to find time away from making awkward remarks about diversity and giving faux-advice to the President on healthcare to do a puff piece over at Fortune called “The value of volunteerism”. Basically, he’s talking up Deloitte doing skill-based volunteerism, which we think might involve auditing for free but we’re not exactly sure.
We’ve presented the opening paragraph for your enjoyment:
After the jump

Recently, I was sitting with several dozen inner-city teens, talking with them about college and careers. It was a free-wheeling conversation. I was peppered with questions-including, “How can I get your job?”

Dr. Phil is out there. He’s free-wheeling with inner-city teens. He’s blogging about it. He’s talking up the Big D:

Our company, Deloitte, recently conducted a survey on corporate volunteering…only 16% of companies offer skills-based volunteering as an option for employees. Only one out of six…Given the obvious need out there and also given President Obama’s impassioned call for national service, we’ve gone way beyond surveying about volunteerism. We’ve pledged $50 million in services-that’s right, $50 million worth of our employees’ time

So the message here appears to be, “We’re Deloitte. We’re out here kicking ass at volunteering because the President impassionately called us to. $50 mil worth. THAT’S RIGHT. Why aren’t you?”
Not sure what part Salz has played in all this other than faux-writing about it but if you’ve got some thoughts on his stab at taking credit for other people’s volunteering, in the blogosphere, we’d invite you to share.
Guest Post: The value of volunteerism [Fortune]

Mentors are Your Friends…Right?

overtheshoulder.jpgThe WSJ has a little Q&A about how to handle the sitch of a not so great mentor. Since mentor/mentee (use whatever internal buzzword that applies) relationships seem to be ubiquitous in accounting firms we thought that this may be of some interest to you.
More, after the jump


We, personally, cannot fathom an instance where any of you would go out and find yourself a mentor that you wouldn’t burn the town with but maybe you don’t get to make that choice. Or, maybe, since accountants seem to be gluttons for punishment, you picked a mentor that you thought would help your career and it turned out to be a HUGE MISTAKE.
If you’re not choosing your own mentors then it’s an absolute certainty that there have been scores of awkward and borderline inappropriate encounters experienced by you.
Or maybe we’re dead wrong and mentoring just involves spending exorbitant amounts of your firm’s money on U2 tickets and bottle service. Either way, discuss your awesome exploits with your mentors or your complete nightmare, creep-out sessions.

Rumor: Deloitte Motor City Edition

mustache-ted-nugent.jpgThe last place we would ever expect to get good news from is Detroit. Not that we don’t love Motown (Eminem, The Nuge) but let’s face it, things are not good up there.
So when we got a tip that raises for Deloitte audit were happening in Detroit, we just couldn’t believe it. Especially after all the talk last week that nothing but disappointment was being handed out.
Maybe it’s just certain audit prodigies getting the love, which was speculated, but that’s why we’re checking with you all. Any specifics, fire away or discuss in the comments.

Gold Star of the Day: Deloitte

DTa.jpgBrace yourselves, we’ve got a positive story about accountants, specifically auditors. Taylor, Bean, & Whitaker, filed bankruptcy on Monday after some strange goings on in the past month between the lender and the purchaser of its loans, Colonial Bank.
More, after the jump


The collapse came, at least partially, due to some very pesky Deloitte auditors who were calling TBW on their shenanigans. Per the WSJ:

Edward Corristan, the Deloitte & Touche LLP partner who headed the audit, was uncomfortable with the way Taylor Bean was accounting for foreclosed properties, according to a court filing and people familiar with the matter…Deloitte believed that employees of Taylor Bean and Colonial “had engaged in potentially inappropriate communications” about accounting for the foreclosed homes, according to a filing by Taylor Bean in connection with its bankruptcy case. With Ginnie Mae’s deadline for filing an audited financial statement approaching, Taylor Bean agreed to hire the law firm Troutman Sanders LLP to investigate Deloitte’s concerns. Meanwhile, Deloitte suspended its audit.

When TBW missed their deadline for filing with Ginnie, they had some explaining to do:

That task fell to Paul R. Allen, a former Fannie Mae executive who had served as chief executive of Taylor Bean since 2003…On July 6, Mr. Allen wrote a letter to Ginnie stating that there were no unresolved issues between Taylor Bean and Deloitte, according to the court filing. The letter hadn’t been reviewed by Mr. Farkas, Deloitte or Taylor Bean’s legal counsel, the filing said…Ginnie then met with Deloitte, learned of its concerns and decided that Mr. Allen’s letter was misleading. On Aug. 4, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees Ginnie and the FHA, suspended Taylor Bean’s authority to make or service FHA-insured loans. HUD said Deloitte had found “certain irregular transactions that raised concerns of fraud.”

Deloitte declined to comment, as it is their policy not to, on client matters. Okay but we’ll say, pret-tay, pret-tay, prety-tay good job Deloitte. Our faith has been restored. For now.
For Lender, a Fast Fall From Audit to Collapse [WSJ]

True Partners Consulting Layoffs Get Our Attention

fired.jpgTrue Partners Tax Consulting (TPC), who provides “Intelligent Tax Advice” according to its website, decided that it didn’t seem some of its intelligence. According to a tip we received, the Chicago office decided that it really didn’t need some of its intelligence:
Details, after the jump

[TPC] just cleaned house in Chicago. I can tell you for sure that they laid off at least 20 employees (non-partners), most of whom were mid-level or juniors, and that they just rescinded the vast majority (28 out of 36) of outstanding offers of employment. Apparently, the tax attorneys were hit disproportionately hard. I personally know three University of Illinois College of Law newly minted tax attorneys who were just given the axe before they even started work. I have no idea about the firm’s other offices, but I assume they are undergoing a nation-wide bloodbath.

We’ve reached out to TPC who has not responded to our request for comment.
Since it’s possible that many of you aren’t familiar with TPC, we took the liberty of checking them out. TPC has fourteen offices worldwide, including New York, Chicago, LA, London, Munich, and Paris and they specialize in a wide array of tax and business consulting services.
TPC was also listed 9th on Crain’s Chicago Top 20 Places to Work in the spring. PLUS: “There’s free beer and wine after 5 p.m. and a big-screen TV, Nintendo Wii game system and pingpong table for quick escapes from the daily grind.”
If you keep reading the Crain’s piece, you find out that your abrasive assholey ways will not be tolerated, “True Partners won’t hire anyone who can’t pass the collegiality test and will not keep anyone on board who doesn’t display respect and selflessness toward peers.”
Okay, think we got it. So are we to assume that the 20 let go were all dicks (around 20% of the Chicago office) and the offers were rescinded because it was decided those people couldn’t be trusted to play nice? We’ll start there. Help us out with this one and if you know someone that works at this tax utopia pass it along to them. At very least find out what kind of beer they stock in the fridge.

Preliminary Analytics | 08.27.09

r.jpgStanford’s Private-Equity Stakes to Be Sold Over His Objection – “Court-appointed receiver Ralph Janvey won approval to sell several pieces of Stanford’s private-equity portfolio on an emergency basis to avoid meeting capital calls or diluting the investments, according to an order posted yesterday by U.S. District Judge David Godbey in Dallas.” You don’t need investments in hell anyway. [Bloomberg]
Volunteering Waning in Recession, Report Says – Cutting out the volunteer time to spend time feeling sorry for yourselves. Classy. [NYT]
Blackstone Gem – Hedge fund of funds rockstar, Steve Schwartzman. His picture accompanies the article anyway. [NYP]
Microsoft Cuts Price of Xbox 360 – Most of you gamer geeks probably need a back up system or something. [WSJ]

Review Comments | 08.26.09

two thumbs up.jpegGrant Thornton LLP named one of PINK Magazine’s TOP COMPANIES for WOMEN – Ditto KPMG. [Press Release]
FDIC Sets Standards for Private-Equity Firms to Buy Shut Banks – Dropped the capital ratio to 10%. Sayeth Chair Bair, ‘We want to maximize investor interest in failed institutions.’ [Bloomberg]
G.E. Is Shopping Security Unit – Bill O’Reilly conspiracy theory in 3…2…1…[DealBook]
Microsoft in web photo racism row – That’s not good for anybody. [BBC]
Recovery rubs off on Freddie, Fannie, AIG – Break ’em up. [FT]

Grant Thornton to Tango with E&Y at Dismissal Party

grant-thornton-logo-with-rose.jpgActually we’re not sure but it would be pretty awesome if they did. A judge in New York has dismissed the case against GT, E&Y, and law firm Mayer Brown that was filed by customers of Refco’s currency trading-unit.
More, after the jump


There may still be a problem, according to Bloomberg:

[Judge] Lynch dismissed the case against Refco’s auditor Grant Thornton, outside counsel Mayer Brown and tax adviser Ernst & Young because the trustee who sued failed to allege enough facts in his complaint to show the defendants aided the Refco fraud. He said the trustee may file a new complaint.

So if you’re feeling it you can put on “Por Una Cabeza” but we think that GT and E&Y will probably get cut off mid-dip.
Grant Thornton, Ernst Win Dismissal in RefcoFX Suit [Bloomberg]

Eating Hours: Are You in Denial?

Do we need to say anything else? Ok, we’ll say a little.

Now that there’s less of you doing the same amount of work, it’s entirely possible this could be a hell of a problem, especially come winter.

So who’s doing this? You getting word directly? In writing? If so, for God’s sake, send us the email. If you’re getting less obvious pressure we want to hear about that too.

If you’re doing it, get some stones and quit doing it. Get yourself a support group if ness.
Don’t even try telling us it’s not going on, we heard about it in the Twitterverse. Gospel.

Let’s Talk the CPA Exam

Disclaimer: Author is Project Coordinator/new media scientist for a leading CPA Review course. She’ll try her best not to bash any competitors (*coughthismeansyouTimGeartycough*)
Let me start this by saying we have a problem in the accounting industry. I’m not sure if it starts with the accounting professors or the firms, nor am I sure whether or not it is even fair to blame the powers that be over the accountants themselves but there seems to be an overwhelming thread of apathy and fear dominating professional licensure.
More, after the jump


Some facts are unavoidable; firms don’t always support the journey to CPA licensure (let’s face it, it isn’t exactly an easy trip), accounting professors don’t always prep future grads for the careers they are about to embark on and of course the AICPA Board of Examiners complicates things by throwing curveballs like new pronouncements and a laundry list of changes to exam content that pile up every six months. Who can keep up?
Well that’s the candidate’s job, isn’t it? Is this what you wanted to do with your life? Is this the path you took?
Of course it is, if it weren’t such a long, drawn-out process we’d have way more CPAs running around signing off on half-assed audits and trying to claim a client’s parrot as a deduction. Firms hate to think that they aren’t getting all of your blood, sweat, and tears; knowing that the exam will likely take all the good brain cells an accountant has left, they hate to see their new hires buried in Financial Accounting and Reporting. Why?! Don’t they want qualified professionals on their payroll? Well yes. To hear the firms tell it, new hires are the ones dropping the ball.
I can’t say why the Big 4 and beyond make it appear as if they do not support licensure. I do know that in the last two years I have personally witnessed a critical shift in the industry; whereas once upon a time the they just wanted a warm body in the chair to push buttons, they are now looking beyond “mediocre” and towards ambition, which inevitably leads to certification. The days of stumbling up the corporate ladder to manager without a CPA license are over and frankly I couldn’t be happier to see that shift.

KPMG Didn’t Hear You Say ‘Uncle’

So we know why the final numbers in a few offices haven’t been reported for last week’s layoffs at KPMG: They’re still happening, circa now. According to somebody within earshot: “I passed someone in the hallway mumbling about getting the ax. I thought they were over; clearly not the case.”
We hear that the timing of these is partially due to the firm sending little auditors to training first and then bringing them back only to say, “Hope you enjoyed yourself, ’cause it was your last.”
This begs the obvious question of why the hell KPMG would go to this expense of sending them down there only to can their asses upon return.
We’d love to hear some wild speculation on the reasoning although based on yesterday’s mention, you’re all numb at this point.

Cynical Executives are Expecting More Bad Behavior Out of You

fraud.jpgLet’s talk about fraud, friends. We’re all sure that you’re number crunching sleuths and that no accounting hocus-pocus would ever get past you but apparently executives are still expecting more of it. This probably means one of two things: A) You’re not as smart as you think you are, or 2) You’re in on it.
Now, we should clarify that in Web CPA’s piece, these executives polled expect a rise in one of three areas: “financial reporting, asset misappropriation, or as another illegal or unethical act”. If you’re involved in the first kind, that’s boring. If you’re involved in the second kind, we suggest you retain counsel.
More, after the jump.


We’d like to focus on the “illegal and unethical act” part. Now, assuming you’ve passed the CPA, and also passed the grueling ethics exam that most states require, this shouldn’t be an issue for you.
For the rest of you, we’re assuming that your typical day is rife with unethical behavior. Some of you are probably unable to consume lunch and turn the entire work environment into a biohazard. So what we’re getting at here is that your clients and/or bosses don’t trust seem to trust you. We’re sure they’re right. We want to know why.
What kind of chicanery is going on that the bigwigs wouldn’t want to know about? Do you jimmy the vending machine on a regular basis for your lunch? Are you raiding the supply closet to build replicas of the [insert city here] skyline with staples? Let’s keep it to minor offenses though. Nothing that qualifies as misdemeanors and above will be allowed.

KPMG Arrives at the Paperless Audit Party

office-space-402a-061907.jpgWe’ve received several reports about Klynveldians attending “eAudit” training this summer which marks the firm’s attempt to get break into the “paperless” audit world. Reports have been mixed with some saying that it’s best technology KPMG has invested in but others claiming that it will only run on Vista which may be problematic when Windows 7 rolls out.
Forgetting the technology mumbo-jumbo, it’s been long rumored that KPMG was the last major firm to make the move to a paperless audit. This could have been due to a number of things:
More, after the jump


• Partners that have been around since WWII that can’t even use email put the kibosh on the whole idea
• M-O-N-E-Y
• Accountants, in general, resist the idea of trying a new restaurant so don’t even think about messing with their audit methods
What’s more surprising is that some Radio Station clients have said that they prefer the old school audit. Not exactly sure what is so appealing about young auditors schleping around boxes of binders that weigh a few metric asstons but whatevs.
Our point, dude, is that KPMG has finally caved on this whole “paperless” idea. Since audits aren’t truly paperless we’re not sure what all the fuss is about but KPMGers got an extra week in Florida in the dead of summer out of it. Discuss the firm breaking into the new century in the comments or let us know how terrible your lives will be because of it.

The SEC Awkwardly Reasserts its Authority

mschape.jpgThe SEC, having lost every shred of dignity it once had, is kindly reminding everyone that they are the authority on accounting rules. It sounds like the Commission is concerned that some of you might be a little confused by the new FASB Codification and just wanted to put it out there that M. Schape and crew are still the ones in charge.
Forget about any possibility of a bean counter coup that would upend the accounting rule universe. It’s not happening on Mary Schapiro’s watch.
Nevermind that it took the better part of a year to get a Chief Accountant officially appointed. The Commission was probably worried that, with all the hubbub, people may have lost some perspective, that’s all. The SEC, could torpedo this whole Codification nonsense back to the stone age, if it wanted to. Just wanted to remind everyone. Thanks.
SEC Clarifies Authority Over Accounting Rules [Compliance Week]

Preliminary Analytics | 08.26.09

dimon_250x375.jpgHow much money did JPMorgan make on Madoff? – According to one brainy prof, probably less than $500 mil. That doesn’t mean they did anything wrong though: ‘Few would say that the vendor who sold Mr. Madoff a hotdog on the street was doing anything wrong.’ Yeah, ’cause it’s the same thing. [FT Alphaville]
Edward Kennedy, Senator and Democratic Icon, Dies [Bloomberg]
Fight Brews as Proxy-Access Nears – “The largest U.S. businesses, law firms and business groups have stepped up their challenge to the ‘proxy access’ rule, which would let certain shareholders use a company’s board-election process to nominate directors opposed to management.” [WSJ]
Colonial BancGroup files Chapter 11 – Shoe. Dropped. [Reuters]
U.S. Postal Service seeks 30,000 job cuts via buyouts – As of now, no reports of gunfire at any post office locations. [Reuters]
Swiss Bank to Leave U.S. Amid Tighter Restrictions – No, not UBS. Wagelin & Co., who’s obviously fed up with the newfound inability to dodge taxes. [DealBook]

Review Comments | 08.25.09

Phil_9 box_round 2.jpgUnfounded Rumor Of The Afternoon: Dick Fuld Staging Dress Rehearsal For Comeback? – If Fill made his way over to 345 Park to get his 9 box review and you didn’t inform us, we don’t even want to begin to tell you about the wrath that will ensue. [DB]
White House Raises Long-Term Deficit Forecast – “The Obama administration shaved $262 billion from its estimated 2009 federal budget deficit but said the U.S. will run a $9 trillion deficit over the next 10 years — $2 trillion more than it forecast earlier this year.” Can we all agree that the government needs to quit releasing stats? Great, thanks. [WSJ]
Brewers Planning to Raise Beer Prices – If you didn’t have an excuse to revolt before, you’ve got one now. [WSJ]
Bernie Madoff mistress Sheryl Weinstein to send copy of book to scammer in prison – The class on this gal continues to impress. [NYDN]

Possible Confirmation for Your Unfounded Rumors about Partner Expenses

magic money.jpgThere’s a large misconception that partners and directors can run anything through on their expense reports. Lapdances, red meat at Bobby Van’s, shoes at Bergdorf’s, you know, the usual rumored fare.
Alleged abuse notwithstanding, one KPMG director in London has managed to live up to the reputation of flagrantly assaulting the expense reimbursement policy:
More, after the jump

Andrew Wetherall, a director at the firm, fraudulently claimed expenses to pay for holidays, cars, computers and even his divorce from his first wife. The 49-year-old also used them over five and a half years to keep his second wife happy by funding her £15,000-a-month lifestyle. Southwark crown court heard today how he falsely claimed £545,620.89, making several claims for flights abroad and expenses relating to business trips he never went on. After a boss raised the alarm, Wetherall initially claimed it was a mistake. But he owned up to the fraud after an internal probe.

We’re all for bending the rules for some bagels here and there but seriously. What did this guy spend his salary on? Did he have a Stevie Nicks-type coke habit? Whatever happened, all’s forgiven because according to the piece, Wetherall was “suspended by KPMG and has repaid more than £337,000.” It’s only money, right?
Accountant paid for divorce and holidays with £545,000 fraud [London Evening Standard]

Chipotle is Here to Help Increase Your Chargeability

ChipotleBurrito.jpgChipotle must have got word that Deloitte was handing out iPhones because the bean slingers have developed an app that will allow you to order your 1,000+ calorie lunch directly from said gadget.
It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to wonder if the accounting firms had something to do with this. The only thing we can’t figure out is how this fits in with some firms’ newfound trend of caring about your health. Regardless, now that ordering Chipotle is totally portable, accountants won’t have an excuse to leave the office, EVER.
No more excuses about “I’m going to get something to eat”. Nonsense. Order your brick of deliciousness from your iPhone and get your ass back to your cubicle. The intern will pick it up and return with your tin foil surprise, pronto. Nevermind that food coma that will ensue after consuming one of these beasts, you’ll be in front of your spreadsheets, looking chargeable. Besides, some of you have extra hours to come up with for next month anyway.
Chipotle launches iPhone ordering app [Denver Business Journal]

Barry Salzberg isn’t Satisified with Deloitte’s Diversity

small salzberg.jpgAccounting firms get lots of recognition for their diversity, but Barry Salzberg isn’t satisified:
More, after the jump

Deloitte still plans to do aggressive hiring of Asian employees, including in Asia, where Salzberg said the firm was doing more offshore outsourcing of accounting work, especially at a center in Hyderabad, India. The firm also plans to ramp up its recruitment of African American and Latino employees.

What he can’t figure out is why 30% of annual recruits are Asian, but only 20% of the Deloitte workforce is Asian, and only 6% are partners or directors.
He has some ideas though:

“We think there is a cultural issue there with Asians typically being less aggressive, a little bit more reticent to speak up, and when they move to the manager and senior manager ranks, which happen very clearly within the organization, it then appears that their leadership skills are not being demonstrated in the minds of those that are evaluating them,” he said.

We’re not exactly sure if B. Salz is saying that Asians don’t make partner because they are reticent to speak up or if it’s because the people evaluating them have unattainable standards of performance.
One thing is for certain. The trend of bald men in leadership roles remains strong to very strong.
We’re sure you’ve got opinions on this. Like we mentioned, the firms aren’t shy about promoting how diverse they are. So what are you thoughts on diversity at Deloitte? In the Big 4? Discuss in the comments.

Countdown for Current CPA Testing Window

olinto_cpa.jpgSince exam scores were being released last week, we probably don’t need to remind some of you that next Monday marks the end of the current testing window for the CPA exam. For some of you that means that you’re working 10-12 hours a day and then going home to study on your own or to listen to the sweet voice of Peter Olinto. For a few of you, it may mean that you’re coming up on your 18 month deadline to finish the exam. SHUDDER.
Of course if you were/are up for manager and you’re still studying, you probably haven’t been sleeping for months. We’re guessing that tax associate didn’t even bother registering to sit this summer but we could be wrong.
Whatever your situation, we’re sure that you feel like you could be studying more. Does your firm allow you to study at work? If so, is that even feasible for your current workloads? The firms put a big priority on passing the exam but your work better get done, right? Are they still paying bonuses for passing or did they cut that too? Let us know about your firm and whether or not passing the exam is a reality considering you’re all doing more with less.

Apparently There Was No Rush on the Naming of the Chief Accountant

mary_schapiro_1218.jpgIt’s nearly September and Mary Schapiro has finally gotten around to naming a Chief Accountant. It’s been a busy 7-8 months, and with Ponzi schemes popping up out of nowhere and Steve Job’s liver, sometimes getting appointments made can’t be squeezed in.
James Kroeker, a former partner and Deloitte gets the honor of whatever it is the OCA actually does. Oh wait:
More, after the jump

Kroeker, who has held the job on an interim basis since January, would be responsible for interpreting rules requiring companies to disclose their financial health to shareholders. If named, he would referee disputes between banks and investors over writedowns for assets that lost value during the recession.

That’s it? This will be a breeze. Get crackin’ Jimmy. You’re got eight official months to get caught up on.
SEC’s Schapiro Said to Name Kroeker as Agency’s Top Accountant [Bloomberg]

Preliminary Analytics | 08.25.09

graduation.jpgObama to Reappoint Bernanke as Fed Chief – “Mr. Bernanke is seen by supporters inside the administration and in markets as a creative and steady hand who helped to keep the financial chaos, which became especially dangerous in the past year, from becoming much worse.” Now that the next four years are in the bag, the beard is getting grown out. [WSJ]
Volcker: Money funds weaken financial system – Sounds like someone wants headlines on someone else’s big day. [Reuters]
Appeals Court Says Stanford Must Remain in Jail – Let’s get this circus of a trial started already. [DealBook]
GameStop says CFO will retire in March – Presumably to work on his GTA game [Reuters]

Review Comments | 08.24.09

KenLewisNOPEb.jpgBofA Denies It Misled on Merrill Bonuses – In other words, piss off. [WSJ]
Swine Flu May Cause 90,000 U.S. Deaths, Report Says – We’re looking forward to hysterical 24 hour swine flu coverage again. [Bloomberg]
Bureau of Prisons Denies Madoff Has Cancer – Chest hair removal and getting high is definitely accurate though. [DealBook]
Philadelphia Eagles Pass on $10k Tax Credit for Hiring Ex-Convict Michael VickThat explains it. [TaxProf Blog]
IRS Could Target Off-Shore Hedge-Fund Investors Next ‘Expect U.S. investors in off-shore hedge funds in places like the Cayman Islands, who failed to properly report earnings to the IRS, to be the next target of U.S. tax authorities’ [WSJ]

E&Y is Freezing Pay Because it’s Fair

E&Y has officially entered the pay freeze zone, via a voicemail left for employees, according to multiple tips we received. This follows the rumor that was announced a couple of weeks ago.
The following factors led to freeze:
Excuses Reasons and our explanations, after the jump


Fairness – “It’s fair that everyone’s pay is being frozen.”
Market Competition – “Monkey see, monkey do”
Invest in Top Performers – “Top Performers” is subject to interpretation.
Market Pressure – “Our clients are biting the dust or they’re ditching us”
Fiscally Responsibility – “It’s a recession”
One exception to the freeze is that second year associates will get a raise in order to put them at the level of or above the incoming new associates, which is consistent with the earlier rumors. Select cities and practices may receive increases but it doesn’t sound too promising.
Bonuses are being paid to those of you that got promoted and they break down as 5k to SA’s, 6.5k to Managers, 8k to Sr. Managers. Sounds like partners took a pay cut this year so dammit, no belly-aching. Just kidding, go ape. If you have your own interpretation on the reasons given for the freeze, discuss in the comments.

KPMG Needs Everyone’s Help

Whether or not you’ll be working on Labor Day isn’t exactly clear:
More, after the jump

As we approach year end, we need everyone’s help to finish the fiscal year strong. Our goal is to achieve our forecast for the month of September. Based on the hours that are currently projected…we are falling short of that goal.
As a result, we have asked all Client Service Delivery professionals (including partners, senior managers and managers) to increase their chargeable hours in the month of September. With respect to seniors and associates, we are asking each of you to work an additional 32 hours in the month of September. We recognize this may result in overtime hours for some individuals
I encourage you…to make sure all chargeable hours for September are reflected. The amount reflected…will be increased by 32 hours to arrive at your goal. Please work with your managers to determine the best way to utilize this additional time in a productive manner.
We encourage you to delay any non-charge activity until October, assuming there are no required deadlines. This will help maximize our chargeable hours

At least they’re kind enough to “recognize this my result in overtime hours”. Tax associates probably won’t have any problem coming up with the extra hours but as for the rest of you, we’d love to hear your feelings on your extra four days of work in September.
UPDATE, 7:46 am: Our understanding is that this email was sent to audit professionals in the New York Office but judging by the comments, other offices have been put on notice to squeeze in some extra time for September. If you’ve received a similar email for your practice or office, shoot us the details.

The IRS is on YouTube and iTunes But Still Needs Our Help

We’re guessing that the IRS has been struggling for years to figure out how to relate better to the general public. They finally came to the conclusion that people like videos and audio as opposed to instruction booklets that make the New York Times look like a kaleidoscope. Clearly progress has been made, however, we still foresee challenges.
The biggest problem we have is that the videos are pretty much the live-action equivalent to the instruction booklets.
More, after the jump


Example:

Sorry we had to put you through that. Now our suggestions:
• Hugh Jackman or Megan Fox-types cast in the videos.
• A little song and dance, possibly performed by NPH.
• If a song and dance isn’t feasible, inject a little comedic relief. We’re thinking strategically inserted movie clips.
• Did we mention Hugh Jackman and Megan Fox?
As with anything in our society, celebrities (especially attractive ones) make everything better. Remember the Hollywood Vote Campaign videos? This is the model we would suggest the IRS strongly consider.
We’re fairly certain that Leonardo DiCaprio explaining how to avoid tax scams using his steely gaze will have a much greater affect on taxpayers than our friend here in the yellow blazer. Just a thought. If you’ve got other suggestions for the service on how to make their videos more watchable, discuss in the comments.
IRS Spotlights Recovery Credits on YouTube and iTunes [Web CPA]

PwC Layoffs Continue to Mystify Us

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgWe’re slowly getting details on PwC layoffs that occurred a few weeks ago that were part of the newly stripped down performance rating that we talked about last week.
More, after the jump

I was one of the employees involved in these so called layoffs out of the Boston office. I can say that these staff cuts are coming at a time in which PwC, specifically it’s advisory services, has seen a dip in it’s numbers concerning profit…The lay off that I received came as a big surprise to me. For one I did not recieve a single negative reveiew throughout the entire performance year. I was actually on track for promotion and was reccommended by numerous individuals to be promoted to senior associate…From what I have heard, these staff cuts have been happening at all levels and all lines of service.

What’s not clear is how each office determines the timing of the layoff. We haven’t gotten any indication that there is one big whacking day or if it’s staggered among offices to keep on the DL. The one thing that seems clear is that PwC whackings come with little or no warning as performance ratings seem to magically change for the worst.
This seems to be all occurring while Denny Nally was spreading good cheer this Spring. Via an email we received from a reader:

While I am realistic about the challenges ahead, I continue to see the glass as half full and, based on the picture we have right now, I am committed to moving forward with our people strategy. That means, even though in some markets and in some practice areas we may have excess capacity, we will continue to manage our cost structure and explore all available options before we consider reductions to our staff.

Not exactly sure what “all available options” includes but it sounds like those have been exhausted because “reductions” are certainly occurring and all indications have been that everything remains “performance related” and that all levels are affected.
If you’ve got details on your PwC office’s latest layoffs shoot us some details, including numbers, city, practice, and severance.

We’re Probably Going to Have to Accept the Fact That Accounting Rules are No Match for the Bank Lobby

reservoir-dogs-mexican-standoff.jpgWe’ve been over this 1000 times but like a bad rash, the issue keeps coming back.
NYT has already accused politicians of meddling in the esoterica of accounting, though personally I think that accusation might have been expressed just a tad too late.
As I mentioned when the July article came out:
More, after the jump

Ex FASB chair and former KPMG partner Edward Trott got it right saying “The area for bank regulators to be involved with accounting standards setting is to help identify the financial information the banks need from others to make appropriate lending and investing decisions. In my experience, banks want current fair value information about assets that serve as collateral for loans. They do not want information about what assets cost two or three years ago.”

Exactly! So what’s the debate about?
Assets are not being valued rationally. If someone can explain the model to me, I would love to hear it.
Or as we now call it, “fuzzy math.”
I’ve never been a huge fan of math, probably a large part of why I ended up on the fringes of the accounting industry, we hardly use it. It’s the rules that are being perverted, not necessarily the numbers. That’s Trott’s point, and he’s not the only one who feels that way.
The problem is that companies (non-financials) need to navigate these waters that have been artificially stirred up to allow banks to appear healthier than they are. Companies are licking their wounds and selling off assets while banks are preening over their profitable quarters? That doesn’t make sense.
Accounting pressure is not new either:

What’s gone unnoticed is that in the late ’90s Summers did nothing to stop former Fed chair Alan Greenspan from pressuring US accounting rule makers to water down a proposed new derivatives accounting rule that may have helped stop the current crisis. Many business leaders had strongly opposed the new rule…In fact, in 1998, Summers testified in Congress against regulating the derivatives market.

The ongoing debate gets stranger. What is there to debate about? The pressure is there, minus the understanding of what occurs as a consequence of these actions. Somehow, the behavior continues and we’re still arguing over it.

Not Paying Taxes to Prove a Point Doesn’t Seem to Work

IRS_logo-thumb-150x140.jpgThe expression “but in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes” has once again proved resilient as a man in Mississippi has been convicted of not filing tax returns from 2002-2005. This occurred after he filed a civil lawsuit for $1.1 billion against the IRS claiming Congress did not have the authority to tax.
We really don’t have much experience in taking on the government over the constitutionality of taxes but conventional wisdom would probably suggest that if you’re going to sue the IRS for a billion dollars, not filing your tax returns in order to prove your point is not going to help your case.
Pearl man convicted of tax evasion [Clarion Ledger via TaxProf Blog]

Some Might Call it Revenge, Others May Call it Justice

revenge.jpgIn the fallout of the last weeks layoffs at KPMG, we’ve received many tips that tell stories of betrayal, shock, bitterness, etc. One particular story that we were tipped about however, tells us a story of sweet, sweet revenge in Palin-country:
Get details on the accountant equivalent to Charles Bronson, after the jump

In May KPMG fired a long time partner in its Anchorage office…In the course of a few months the fired partner convinced many of the offices major clients to request proposals from other firms…The three top revenue clients left for other firms. Two of the clients went to Grant Thornton Seattle where it now appears the fired KPMG partner has landed himself. Did I mention that was 30% of the offices revenue?

We’re not sure which of our readers are able to exert this type of influence over clients to get back at their former employers, so we’ll open it up to all stories of revenge for those of you getting the axe. Nothing is too petty so let’s hear it. Besides, isn’t vengeance part of the American way? We would ask that you keep your revenge tales of Kill Bill proportions to yourselves. Discuss in the comments or shoot us your cold dish at tips@goingconcern.com.

PwC Canada Wants Everyone to Know That They Didn’t Audit Bernie Madoff’s Funds

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgWith all the D talk out there re: anything Madoff, and most recently possible hotboxing and manscaping we’d hoped that maybe this whole story had taken a turn towards smut for good. Alas, we find ourselves back to a litigious story, this time it’s P. Dubs of the Canadian variety that are getting their asses sued:
More, after the jump

The Canadian arm of PwC has been named in seven separate lawsuits claiming as much as $2bn in damages for investors who lost almost everything in the largest fraud in history…PwC Canada has been accused of negligence for failing to spot that Fairfield Sentry’s $7.2bn of assets simply did not exist. The firm signed off accounts in 2007 that stated 97.3pc of Fairfield Sentry’s assets were held in short-term US treasury bills – an asset class that should be safer than cash.

PwC, obviously quite aware that a sex scandal wrapped inside a financial scandal may confuse anyone that is both distracted by sex and financially illiterate, issued this statement:

“PwC Canada provided auditing services to the Fairfield Sentry fund, but was not the auditor for Bernard Madoff Investments where the alleged fraud occurred. PwC Canada’s auditing of the fund’s financial statements fully complied with professional standards.”

Now, to some, this may seem unness for P. Dubs to explain that they didn’t audit Bernie’s funds since this never would have gotten past any reputable firm. However, since we now have a sex scandal mixed with the biggest financial scandal ever, involving thousands of duped investors, PwC decided to err on the side of caution.
Madoff victims to sue accountants PwC over feeder fund audits [Telegraph]

PwC Canada Wants Everyone to Know That They Didn’t Audit Bernie Madoff’s Funds

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgWith all the D talk out there re: anything Madoff, and most recently possible hotboxing and manscaping we’d hoped that maybe this whole story had taken a turn towards smut for good. Alas, we find ourselves back to a litigious story, this time it’s P. Dubs of the Canadian variety that are getting their asses sued:
More, after the jump

The Canadian arm of PwC has been named in seven separate lawsuits claiming as much as $2bn in damages for investors who lost almost everything in the largest fraud in history…PwC Canada has been accused of negligence for failing to spot that Fairfield Sentry’s $7.2bn of assets simply did not exist. The firm signed off accounts in 2007 that stated 97.3pc of Fairfield Sentry’s assets were held in short-term US treasury bills – an asset class that should be safer than cash.

PwC, obviously quite aware that a sex scandal wrapped inside a financial scandal may confuse anyone that is both distracted by copulation and financially illiterate, issued this statement:

“PwC Canada provided auditing services to the Fairfield Sentry fund, but was not the auditor for Bernard Madoff Investments where the alleged fraud occurred. PwC Canada’s auditing of the fund’s financial statements fully complied with professional standards.”

Now, to some, this may seem unness for P. Dubs to explain that they didn’t audit Bernie’s funds since this never would have gotten past any reputable firm. However, since we now have a sex scandal mixed with the biggest financial scandal ever, involving thousands of duped investors, PwC decided to err on the side of caution.
Madoff victims to sue accountants PwC over feeder fund audits [Telegraph]

Our Invitation to Big 4 CEO’s to Start Blogging

jnewman.jpgWe’d like to think that we encourage free and open discussion here. Everyone is welcome to join the conversation.
And by everyone, we mean if Dennis Nally, Tim Flynn et al. were to tell us in the comments how we deserved a life sentence of footing the Brooklyn phonebook because of our butchering of the English language, we’d be thrilled. Sadly, this is probably nothing more than a pipe dream.
Jeremy Newman, the CEO of BDO International, is by far the closest to fulfilling this dream. J. New, you’ll be interested to know, has his very own blog.
More, after the jump


Not surprisingly, the blog doesn’t seem to have the class or brilliant readership of other accounting/finance blogs that we know about but we give the dude credit for putting himself out there. Granted, if someone calls him a “hack loser” it probably won’t get published in the comments but you’ve got to start somewhere.
So this is our invitation to the rest of the Big 4 CEO’s and, yes, you too, Grant Thornton, to make the unprecedented leap into the blogosphere. Think of the transparency these firms would have as a result. The need for the annual survey about how these firms are such great places to work would become unnecessary because there would be constant real-time updates based on every decision made.
The best part is that, if GC happens to say something that they find offensive, unfair, blown out of proportion, or just plain obnoxious, then they’ll have the opportunity to talk shit respond directly. Then we can have feuds in the blogosphere that will be significantly more direct than any confrontation that has ever occurred between two people in a Big 4 firm.
Let’s help these guys out as I’m sure this will be a difficult task for them. Leave your suggestions of what your favorite CEO’s blog would be called or what kind of questions you’d like to ask them in the comments

Preliminary Analytics | 08.24.09

hummer-h2-accident001.jpgGM Said to Be Close to Agreement on Sale of Hummer to Chinese – Because that’s EXACTLY what China needs. [Bloomberg]
IMF set to decide on Serbia loan – “The 800m euros instalment is dependent on the government making reforms to comply with IMF conditions set out when the original loan was agreed.” Oh, Serbia. Take that money and you’re doomed. [BBC]
Humour is an act of aggression, claims German academic – This guy obviously saw Inglorious Basterds over the weekend. [Telegraph]
Common Sense 2009 – Larry Flynt says we all strike. It’s not the worst idea we’ve ever heard. [Huffington Post]
Senator Seeks Broad SEC Market Study – “In a zero-based regulatory review, each part of the current market structure would be reviewed comprehensively, as opposed to a traditional review of one particular type of market structure.” Which is what Senator Kaufman is requesting. Sure. Why not? [WSJ]

Review Comments | 08.21.09

geithner-tim-4.jpgGeithner: U.S. Dealings With Goldman Were Appropriate – “We have been forced to do just extraordinary things and, frankly, offensive things to help save the economy,” Mr. Geithner said. “I am completely confident that none of those decisions…had anything to do with the specific interest of any individual firm, much less Goldman Sachs.” We’re done here. [WSJ]
Informant in UBS Case Gets 40 Months in Prison – That was worth it. [DealBook]
Humble pie for bust billionaire – He called Russians not in the bil-club ‘losers’. Classy. [BBC]
Meredith Whitney Predicts More Than 300 Bank Failures – Meh. [Bloomberg]

Poll Results

For the love of God has anyone started drinking yet? We figured we’d share the results of our two polls today before you all blow out for the weekend and start making bad decisions.
Get the results, after the jump


With nearly 41% of the vote, Weiner, Diner, Dicker & Dunker will be the new firm formed after the speculated super-duper mega-merger occurs.
And, risking a mistake of Election 2000-esque proportions, we’re calling the race for best/worst video for E&Y who has edged out KPMG. We’ve presented it here again for your viewing and completely off beat clapping pleasure:

PCAOB, We are Paying Attention

TOLD YOU.jpgPublic accounting could learn a thing or two from Wall Street. What if we treated the PCAOB like Goldman Sachs does the CFTC and the Treasury? Can you imagine PwC partners dispatched into high-profile regulatory positions doing the dirty work for them? We’d save millions in intern fees (oh wait) since no one would have to run a single shredder.
Case in point, the head of the CFTC (who used to work at Goldman) says, “I believe that position limits should be consistently applied and vigorously enforced. Position limits promote market integrity by guarding against concentrated positions.” And what does he do? Block GS competitors with federal limits while letting his friends run wild in commodities futures. We need one of those on our team!
More, after the jump


Oh wait a minute, we already have that! And it gets better, not only does his work history read “E&Y”, he used to be on Fed payroll as well. Double winner – this is the guy you want heading up the audit board? That’s laughable.
Remember?

Mark W. Olson was recently appointed head of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board by Chris Cox, SEC Commissioner. This ends months of uncertainty about leadership at the PCAOB or Peekabo as it is popularly known. Mr. Olson was a Governor at the Federal Reserve Board.

In fact, the PCAOB chair’s wife probably hangs out with Goldman wives. A quick glance at his resume reveals the sorts of circles Mr Olson travels in; future partners of Big 4 firms might start setting their goals right about now if they’re trying to out-schmooze this guy.
So if you believe Wall Street and the auditors are that different, you’re wrong. No one is going to call Deloitte the vampire squid but it might be a good idea if we started looking at our own questionable regulatory ties. Perhaps accounting can learn a thing from Wall Street before it hits us like it has them?
And who is letting things go to hell?
Now that Olson has abandoned the PCAOB for bigger and better things, we can only hope his mustachioed replacement and those who come after continue the tradition of questionable business associations set forth by our friends at Goldman Sachs and of course the Big 4. Life just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Today in Big 4 Thriftiness

soda machine.jpgOur post from yesterday re: PwC’s concern over your consumption of high fructose corn syrupy beverages has struck a nerve with some.
So, being big believers in striking while the iron is hot, we thought we’d tell you that about a tip we received telling us that KPMG has also recently raised the price of soda in their offices from 50 cents to 75 cents.
Thriftiness continued, after the jump


We also learned that any perks, luncheons, birthday cakes, etc., etc. that do not benefit the entire office have been eliminated. Gourmet coffee machines apparently still remain because the coffee drinkers will not settle for freeze-dried Taster’s Choice.
Bottom line seems to be one of two things: 1) The firms are squeezing pennies until Lincoln’s beard pops off or B) The powers that be are faux-concerned about the reality of you sitting on your asses for 12+ hours a day and are attempting to get you to cut down on the calories.
Discuss your firm’s favorite cost cutting measure, unique revenue ideas, or your plans for losing the Big 4 fifteen in the comments.

PwC’s Re-thinking of the Bell Curve Ranking

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgA tip we received yesterday mentioned that PwC has been progressively narrowing their performance rating scale. P. Dubs originally had the 1 to 5 scale, then moved down to 1 to 4, and now uses 1 to 3.
Obviously, this leaves less room for interpretation of one’s ranking as it compares to the other firms. As far as we know, E&Y and Deloitte both use 1 to 5, and KPMG has the indecipherable 9 box which is somehow combined with a 1 to 5 scale (we think?).
More, after the jump


So let’s talk about this whole mess. You don’t have to be a Elijah Watts recipient to figure out that, at the very least, PwC is making their rankings clear: 1 – you’re well connected; 2 – you’re lucky; 3 – you’re gone. On the one hand, there’s less confusion. On the other, it’s the firm’s way of squeezing people out based on “performance” rather than admitting that they are impervious to the struggling economy.
The rest of the firms are doing the same thing but due to the unwillingness or inability to make their ranking system less mystifying or subject to manipulation, forced ranking will continue. PwC seems to be the first firm to integrate a system that “legitimizes” it.
Discuss in the comments P. Dubya’s move here and why it works/doesn’t work and what the firms should be doing to improve their ranking systems because as it stands right now, it’s total bunk.

A Quick Word About Sending Us Tips

anonymous.jpgHey, it’s Caleb. I’m going to take a few minutes of your otherwise 100% chargeable day to let you know that there are several ways that you can send us tips:
Email: tips@goingconcern.com
Twitter: @going_concern – Send us a direct message
Facebook: Join our group or friend me and send me a message.
AIM: ID is CommandoL1
We also want you to know that we will always keep your tip in confidence and that all sources are unidentified when cited in posts.
We appreciate all of you reading and all the tips that you have provided so far. Keep them coming!
Thanks. Now do something billable.

Preliminary Analytics | 08.21.09

300px-Toblerone-1.jpgSwitzerland’s Profit on UBS: $1.13 Billion – “On Thursday, Switzerland converted a note that gave it a 9.3% UBS stake and immediately sold the 332.2 million shares at 16.50 francs each, a 1.4% discount to the stock’s closing price Wednesday. The government said it earned an annualized return of 30% on the 10-month investment.” No doubt they went and bought… [WSJ]
Madoff Yacht Up for Sale – Ninety footer named Leopard Bull. Sounds like Bern might have been describing his favorite undies combined with a self assigned nickname for a certain less than spectacular organ. [DealBook]
Sale of Chicago Cubs to Ricketts family called ‘imminent’ – Yay, nay, or meh Cubs fans? [Chicago Tribune]
#98 Sharon Allen – Forbes most powerful women list includes the Deloitte Chair. [Forbes]

Review Comments | 08.20.09

clunker.jpg‘Cash for Clunkers’ to End Monday – “The move comes as the department tries to get an accurate accounting of how much money is left in the program, formally called the Car Allowance Rebate System.” Auditors needed? [WSJ]
Benmosche Says He’ll Rebuild Units to Repay U.S. – That’s a bold statement. [Bloomberg]
Harold Ramis Answers History’s Most Burning Question – “One Microsoft Excel owner recently speculated that Bill Murray’s character spent a total of eight years, eight months, and sixteen days reliving the same 24-hour period in Groundhog Day.” Okay, which one of you is wasting your billable hours on this? [Vulture]
The problem with PowerPoint – Where do you start? [BBC]
In a first, Starbucks lowers price of some drinks – Everybody breathe…Okay, got get one. [Reuters]
Will Bank Regulators Diverge from GAAP? – Why the hell not? It’s not like anyone wants to converge with anyone else, anyway. [CFO]

PwC Thinks it Can Dance

Probably not a new video for most of you but it’s the best PwC has to offer, as far as we can tell. If you’ve got other candidates, shoot them our way.
Video, after the jump



There you have it. Grant Thornton and BDO people need to lock it up. Point us in the right direction for a stupid video. We’ll put a poll together or something tomorrow to vote on the vids.

Your Daily Fix

bubbles.jpgBecause some of you are obviously jonesing for it, we’ve got some updated details on this week’s Radio Station bloodbath:
Dallas Somewhere between 30-40
Silicon Valley Between 20-30
Kansas City Five staff – Two associates, three SA’s and three in client service support
Still no final word on New York. Shall we just call it 50?

PwC is Thinking About Your Health

penny.jpgIt’s no secret that accounting firms are desperate either to cut costs or to find new sources of revenue.

Today’s wonderfully shrewd example comes courtesy of PwC, who decided that your four or five soda a day habit was a perfect weakness to take advantage of. Apparently the firm increased the price of a can of soda from 30 cents to 60 cents to squeeze out an additional $30,000 in revenue.


Our source informed us that this was a such a brilliant idea that a partner felt compelled to mention it at a firm alumni council dinner. Classy.

It’s entirely possible that PwC is just concerned that too many of you are consuming far too much high fructose corn syrup but our speculation is totally unfounded.

If you’ve got more examples of your firm taxing you on junk food consumption or other redonkulous cost saving measures, discuss in the comments or shoot us the shrewd details to tips@goingconcern.com.

Ernst & Young Opted for Smooth Jazz

It appears that this from back in ’01 but for the love of God, who’s bright idea was this? We apologize for the small screen, we spent the better part of our morning trying to find the full size.

PwC Calls Out KPMG

argument.jpgAwhile back, we mentioned how KPMG didn’t seem so concerned about the appearance of independence. Well now it appears that P. Dubs might be getting a little self-righteous about the whole issue or they’re just bent out of shape that the Radio Station swiped the Rentokil audit by lowballing the proposal:
More, after the jump

KPMG’s arrangement was able to shave 30% from Rentokil’s audit, but it was the manner in which the firm brought about the cost saving that raised eyebrows. Audit guidelines warn against two threats when an external auditor takes on internal audit work. The first threat, known as the self-review threat, warns against the external auditor relying heavily on its own internal audit work. The second threat, known as the management threat, warns against the internal auditors assuming the role of management.

KPMG says it’s totally fine because that’s where the client’s interest was:

KPMG said it was fielding interest from potential clients. ‘Unequivocally we have found interest,’ says Oliver Tant, KPMG’s UK head of audit. ‘We will be discussing it with more people, undoubtedly as will other competitors.’

PwC, at present, seems to be taking the highroad, even though we’re pretty sure they think Rentokil are a bunch of cheapskates:

PwC, would not be drawn on its opinion on the Rentokil audit, citing its policy not to comment on clients, but did say: ‘It is vital that we maintain our independence from – and in no way are seen to act as part of – management infrastructure…Internal audit can often be regarded as acting as part of that infrastructure.’

Typical passive-aggressive accounting rhetoric but it still sounds like P. Dubs is calling bullsh*t on KPMG. Feel free to defend your firm’s position by whatever means necessary (we suggest low blows and name calling) or get on your soap box about independence.
Debate rages on over KPMG’s cut-price Rentokil audit deal [Accountancy Age]

Deloitte’s Magic Potion

In our continuing effort to lift everyone’s spirits this week, we’ll present a few a videos today for your viewing pleasure. We’re attempting to find something for every firm but if you know of something that you feel that is imperative to share with everyone, shoot us the link, tips@goingconcern.com. Feel free to get all Roger Ebert on these videos in the comments. Oh, and as we’ve mentioned before, just charge the time to an administrative code.
We’ll start with Deloitte:
Video, after the jump

E&Y Isn’t On Board with Anything Delightfully Tacky and Unrefined

Hooters_Logo.pngWould someone kindly tell Ernst & Young to get with the program? This country is falling apart at the seams and there are certain time honored traditions that we’ve all agreed on as TBTF.
So when we find out that the Hooters Casino in Vegas may go bankrupt and that E&Y warned of this back in March, we thought that it was a mistake. Of all the businesses out there, wouldn’t Ernie have the sense to help these poor saps cook the books so they can stay in business?
More, after the jump


Where in the name of God will divorced men and former college football players go to eat mediocre misshapen “wings” that come from, we’re pretty sure, a bird that was created by someone that we envision to be a cross of Doc Brown and Dr. Moreau? Served by women in skimpy, tight-fitting uniforms? IN VEGAS?
See the problem here? E&Y, would you care to explain yourselves?
Hooters Casino may go bust [The Deal]

Preliminary Analytics | 08.20.09

mschape.jpgSEC Plays Keep-Up in High-Tech Race – “But by many accounts, the agency is outmatched by the traders and market venues with technology that is remaking the trading world.” [WSJ]
Switzerland Selling UBS Stake After U.S. Tax Accord – UBS, you’re fired. [Bloomberg]
Bernanke, a Hero to His Own, Can’t Shake Critics – But what’s a hero? [NYT]
AIG Customers Sue Insurer for Not Covering Madoff Fraud Losses – Why not? Lump it on. [Bloomberg]
Bring on the breakfast burritos: Taco Bell rolls out new morning menu – After the all nighter at the office, you’ve got new options and new digestive challenges. [NYDN]

Review Comments | 08.19.09

Dispute with E&Y forces Vantis delay – Accountants arguing against auditors. The incestuousness is making us sick. [FT.com]
UBS to Give 4,450 Names in Settlement – “[The IRS] said the criteria used to select the 4,450 accounts to be turned over is being kept confidential.” [WSJ]
Scholes, Merton Says Banks Should Value Assets Better [Bloomberg]
BBVA Likely Winner for Guaranty – “According to people familiar with the auction, the most likely scenario is that regulators would seize Guaranty’s banking unit, Guaranty Bank, and then sell all or most of it to the winning bidder. That is similar to the government’s handling of Colonial Bank, the Colonial BancGroup Inc. unit that failed last Friday and was sold to BB&T Corp.” [WSJ]
Business to fight SEC director nominations – The most shocking new of the day. [FT.com]
Citigroup’s Asset Guarantees to Be Audited by TARPYesterday’s victims. Here you go. [Bloomberg]

We Have Just the Thing to Cheer You Up

A few of you have poopy diapers out there (you’re not alone). Maybe you got let go yesterday. Maybe your blood sugar is low. Maybe you’ve haven’t gotten laid in long time. Whatever the case may be, we feel for you. The best thing that we can recommend is for you is to participate in something that falls into the category of stupid fun.
So we’re kindly reminding everyone out there to participate in our naming of the new-not-really-mega firm that will exist post the speculated merger we mentioned on Monday.
This is your chance to focus all your energy on coming up with a sexually suggestive name for this new firm. You can either participate or continue to wallow in your own excrement. Your choice.

Dear FASB, I’m Breaking Up With You

begging.jpgEditor’s note: Adrienne Gonzalez is founder and managing editor of Jr Deputy Accountant as well as regular contributor to leading financial/investment sites like Seeking Alpha and GoldmanSachs666. By day, she teaches unlicensed accountants to pass the CPA exam, though what she does in her copious amounts of freetime in the evening is really none of your business. Follow her adventures in Fedbashing and CPA-wrangling on Twitter @adrigonzo but please don’t show up unannounced at her San Francisco office as she’s got a mean streak. Her favorite FASB is 166.
I can’t take it anymore. I’m serious, this is BS. It has been nothing but up and down, agony and ecstasy for as far back as I can remember on fair value and I want off this ride.
More agony, after the jump


Via SmartBrief:

The Financial Accounting Standards Board’s updated fair-value rules will require companies to fully understand fair-value and mark-to-market concepts and extensively document their analysis of illiquid assets, as this article notes. The FASB gave companies some new latitude in applying fair-value principles but stood firmly behind the importance of fair value in preparing meaningful financial statements.

Stop, please. This is getting to be abusive.
Remember when you whispered in our ear, “Certainly, to those who say that accounting should better reflect true economic substance, fair value, rather than historical cost, would generally seem to be the better measure” in 2003, Bob Herz? We totally fell for it. Who wouldn’t? Swept off of our feet and still hurting from Enron, we needed a rebound and fair value totally worked.
Now what?
I truly wish you and IASB the best of luck in whatever you two decide to do with your miserable little lives.
WebCPA:

While FASB may be pushing back in the other direction and mulling the use of fair value and mark-to-mark with bank loans in addition to assets like mortgage-backed securities, the IASB seems to be tacking in an alternative direction. That could be leading them on the road to divergence, not convergence.

And I’m defriending you on Facebook, Bob. At least you know your new girlfriend does fair value.
Love,
AG

Deloitte Disappointment is Officially Starting

DTa.jpgWe’re starting to receive confirmations of last week’s rumors of the less-than-exciting details re: Deloitte-period raises:
More, after the jump

I’m a senior in Chicago moving into my fifth year, and I’m one of those 2s who got bumped to a 3, got a zero raise and a $1000 bonus. I’m apparently a “3 -plus” as they had “3-minuses” also and those folks did not get bonuses.

Also got a tip that compensation discussions are set to begin in the Northeast for the ERS and Tax practices soon so we recommend watching Leaving Las Vegas or The Reader immediately prior to your meetings to cushion the blow.

KPMG Layoff Debrief

Akin to talking gun control at the RNC, we’re here to dispense more red meat.
Here are the final numbers that we have for select cities:
Gory details, after the jump


San Fran9 17 total, at least 8 SA’s
Dallas – 16
Chicagoclose to 15 Between 30-35 50
NYC – Someone help us out. We know it’s big but we haven’t gotten any specifics
Louisville – 3, including a 9th year Senior Manager
LA – 18, 6 associates, 10 SA’s, and two managers.
Why such good details on LA? Here’s a tip we received:

how do I know this so precisely? Because today our office also sent out an email notification of a staff meeting tomorrow to discuss what happened, and the email shows the names of everyone in the audit practice it was sent to. All lay offs were left out of the email. Way to be sensitive KPMG. Within a day, our whole practice knows the names of everyone who was let go. Also, Orange County office had 10 total lay offs in external audit. For a smaller office, that was quite significant.

See yesterday afternoon’s post for additional cities that we didn’t get final numbers for. If you’ve got the details, either post them in the comments or send us the bodycount to tips@goingconcern.com.
UPDATE, 1:54 pm: Word is that the remaining Klynveldians in San Fran will also have an awkward meeting re: yesterday’s bloodbath. We’d ask you to submit audio/video of the proceedings if possible.
UPDATE, 5:47 pm: Two managers in Oklahoma City down.
UPDATE, August 26, 11:29 am: One lonely SA in Bodymore, Murdaland and two associates in Boise, ID.

Deloitte Settles American Homes Lawsuit

Barry Salzberg.jpgDeloitte becomes the first accounting firm, to our knowledge, to settle a sub-prime lawsuit by burying the hatchet with American Home Mortgage Corporation.
The total settlement was for $37.5 million of which Deloitte’s share was $4.75 million. We’re guessing that Barry Salzberg wasted more money on Rogaine last year.
We should mention that Deloitte and their fellow defendants decided to settle prior to the judge hearing their motions to dismiss the case. We thought this was a little strange so we decided to consult with some experts.
Their take was that the settlement seemed a little premature but made the points that 1) It’s often cheaper to settle early and B) if your company’s name is associated anything “sub-prime” you’re more or less responsible for the whole damn financial crisis.
Another Significant Subprime-Related Securities Lawsuit Settlement [The D&O Diary]

Preliminary Analytics | 08.19.09

PiggyBank_broken.jpgReluctant Shoppers Hold Back Recovery “Retail executives said they don’t expect conditions to improve until next spring. Some stores are girding for slow back-to-school and Christmas seasons by cutting inventories.” [WSJ]
California to get $1.5-billion loan from JPMorgan Chase – Oh Jamie Dimon, you can do anything! [Los Angeles Times]
Anschutz Sues Bond Raters, Banks Over Auction Rate Securities – You show ’em Phil. [Bloomberg]
More Banks in Europe Identified in Tax Probe – “Among the banks named in the voluntary disclosures are Swiss banks Credit Suisse Group AG, Julius Baer Holding AG, Zürcher Kantonalbank and Union Bancaire Privée, known as UBP.” [WSJ]

Review Comments | 08.18.09

favre.jpgBrett Favre Returns to NFL, Signs With Minnesota – Look, we don’t like to talk much sports here but would someone do something about this FOR THE LOVE OF GOD? [Bloomberg]
Backdating Likely More Widespread – “The study identified 141 companies with such advantageous options-granting practices that the researchers concluded they were highly likely to have been involved in backdating. Ninety-two of those companies never were publicly linked to investigations or announced earnings restatements related to backdating.” [WSJ]
UBS’s American Clients Face U.S. Criminal Probes – “U.S. tax authorities are expected to obtain the identities of potentially thousands of other American UBS clients soon as part of a legal settlement finalized last week between the bank and the U.S. and Swiss governments.” [WSJ]
Regulators urged Citi to replace CFO – In case you were short on the government meddling in private business affairs news. [FT.com]
Bernie Madoff’s Greatest Scam Of All – Size matters? Whose size? [Dealbreaker]

McGladrey & Pullen Sued for Helping Bad Guys

fraud.jpgMark this suit in the “Accountants are Crooked” column as opposed to the “Accountants are Stupid” column.
McGladrey & Pullen, its predecessor auditor, and the partner on the audit engagement, G. Victor Johnson, are being sued by the Sentinel Management Group Trustee for being a knowing participant in the fraud put on by Sentinel who collapsed in 2007.
More, after the jump


M&P is accused of “knowingly and substantially assisted and participated in the fraud by [Sentinel], and as a result, committed and are liable for fraud themselves.”
Many suits against accounting firms accuse negligence related to technical mistakes that were made so we’re impressed see a lawyer say “To hell with it, these guys are crooks, I’m taking them down like Arthur Andersen.”
On a more personal level, between this suit and the messy divorce with RSM McGladrey, we’re expecting to M&P to have the CPA firm equivalent of a nervous breakdown any day now. Feel free to speculate as to what that might actually be.
Collapsed Financial Company’s Trustee Claims Accountants Knew About Fraud [Chicago Bar-Tender]

Needed: Honest CPA’s for New York State

thumbs down col.gifAs if the State of New York doesn’t have enough trouble with half of the citizens think their legislature is the worst in the country, annoying artwork, and a budget crisis. Come to find out, part of this whole budget nightmare might be due to an unusual amount of bogus tax returns.
This is a quote from a profile of the NYS Deputy Commissioner of Tax Enforcement (our bolding):
The rest, after the jump

This year, we’ve done a little project on tax preparers. We go out pretending to be tax preparers … we’ve done it at 170 different tax preparers. Fifty-one of them have prepared bad returns that are just horribly fraudulent. I have some transcripts … here’s one: a tax prepared describes how he’s gonna do a ‘ho-hum, no muss, no fuss, simple [expletive] return that’s gonna get through the system’ and he’ll never get audited and never get caught. He underreports income then for two years of about $80,000. That he knows. Do you think he knew what he was doing? He was selling our investigator as a taxpayer, ‘I know how to cheat without getting caught.’ … We’ve arrested about 20 this year so far. And there’s lots more in the wings.”

Horribly fraudulent? God help us.
Capital Profile of William Comiskey [Albany Times Union via TaxProf Blog]

Radio Station Black Tuesday Update

Four weeks severance, termination date of September 1st, not performance related. Cities reporting bodies include: New York, Hartford, Dallas, Kansas City, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Cleveland. We’ve heard all levels have taken a hit, although it varies by city. We haven’t gotten any confirmation of partners being bought out at this point. West coast cities have yet to confirm victims since last night’s comments.
If you’ve got final numbers on your office or any other details we didn’t discuss here, shoot us an email: tips@goingconcern.com.
KPMG representatives had no comment.
UPDATE 4:11 pm: San Fran reports at least seven victims, six of which are SA’s.
UPDATE 2, 6:16 pm: San Fran updated to nine total, eight SA’s. Other cities reporting layoffs: Boston, Houston, and Louisville.

Huron Consulting Beats the Numbers, Cooked Books and a Bunch of Other Shadiness Notwithstanding

Cooking the Books.jpgIf you’re an accountant and you see a company’s name in the same sentence as “accounting irregularities”, “alleged cooking of the books”, or “SEC investigation”, your likely advice to any person would be to run away from said company like it was a band of lepers.

This is just conventional wisdom, nothing ground breaking. However, since Huron Consulting reported big second quarter numbers, the stock price is up more than 30%.
Now some of this is short sellers getting burned but according to one analyst quoted by Reuters, some investors may be going long because of “confidence in the underlying business”.

We’re not too crazy about the “underlying business” for a lot of reasons:


1. The Company said in a filing that they are likely going to take a goodwill impairment charge that will put it in noncompliance with a financial covenant of its credit agreement.

2. It’s worried about “‘reputational issues’ that may affect the company’s ability to retain its senior managers and attract new talent and new business”.

3. Can’t predict the outcome of the SEC investigations or private lawsuits (P. Dubya take note).

4. They warned that their current numbers may not be legit since the new management has no idea what the hell else is out there in the way of kickbacks payments made to Huron Management, questionable allocated billable hours (but don’t worry, this won’t affect client billings) or anything else for that matter that may call for another restatement of its results.

5. The whole Arthur Andersen connection creeps people out.
Far be it from us to speculate on a company’s future but this place seems doomed. We might just listen to tomorrow’s earnings call to see if there’s anything worth mentioning but in the meantime, put your money in…WTFK?

Huron Consulting fights to stay alive [Greg Burns/Chicago Tribune]

Huron shares rally after restatement, SEC filings [Reuters]

Presented Without Comment

“The CPA profession had a great run for these past six years,” said Marc Rosenberg, creator of the Rosenberg Survey. “The post-Enron climate created a huge surge in demand for CPA firm services, allowing firms to virtually become order takers. Throttled by a historically low supply of experienced staff, partners worked harder than ever before, and the benefits showed up in their paychecks: Income per partner rose 50 percent since 2003.”

CPA Firms Hit Wall on Fee Growth Last Year [Web CPA]