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December 3, 2022

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]

Ready to Do the Unthinkable and Work for Less Money?

office-space-402a-061907.jpgWith all the blood being spilled in the past year, you don’t have to be a math wizard to know that: Fewer People + Same Workload = People Working Like Dogs
It has gotten to the point that many of these people that are doing more work, for the same amount of money are ready to move on for, GASP, less money.
More, after the jump

Rick Telberg, at CPA Trendlines quotes a recent survey they did that says that nearly half of the people polled so far were ready to move on to a different job, ‘even if it meant a paycut’. No surprise really since doing the work of two or three people loses its luster pretty much instantly, especially when it becomes the expectation.
He also mentions that regardless of this emerging trend of people willing to turn down big (or mediocre) bucks to get their lives back, the enrollment on campus in accounting programs is at record levels.
So after giving it very little thought we came up with the following approximate timeline: Everyone in college thinks accounting is sexy; It takes 1-2 years to find out that it’s not; 3-6 years to actually get out (one way or another); Then, well, WTFK? Become a hack blogger?
Recession Adds to Workloads, Stress; Sends CPAs Looking for New Jobs [Rick Telberg/CPA Trendlines]

Better Learn to Like that Intern

intern-where-is-my-report.jpgTime to give a little love to everyone’s favorite prank victims, the interns. The word on the street is that this year’s dinner delivery specialists at the major firms will serve as the major pipeline for next year’s fulltime hires.
According to our source, next year’s budgets for much of the audit, tax and advisory service lines for the Big 4 will be met if all of this year’s interns accept their offers. And unless they’ve all suffered serious brain injuries, we’re guessing they’ll be accepting those offers.
More, after the jump

What hell does this mean? Well, in years past, the firms have had large budgets to go back to campus and hire additional new staff in addition to the offers that they made to the crop of interns from the previous year. And just like merit and bonus pools, the hiring budgets have shrunk to the point of the absolute bare minimum. Why? Because no one is jumping from the sinking ship like in years past.
So for you interns out there, it sounds like if you’ve got an internship you better learn to love that firm because if you decide it sucks, finding a fulltime gig at another Big 4 firm will be next to impossible.

Preliminary Analytics | 08.18.09

ubs.jpgUBS tax deal may pave way for bank’s recovery – Actually we really thought the best course of action would to be to drag the whole thing out until armed IRS Agents descended on Zurich. [Reuters]
Schwab Vows Court Fight in Cuomo’s Auction-Rate Securities Suit – Who’s doing all this work? God knows it isn’t AC. [Bloomberg]
Hertz to Photograph Cars in Dent Scan to Boost Damage Payments – Could this be the death of, “It’s just a rental.”? [Bloomberg]
German investor optimism at 3-year high – Zee Germans are leading us out of this? []
CalPERS Backs S.E.C. Move to Open Corporate Ballots – Look out, someone supports a move by the SEC. [DealBook]

Good Luck Today KPMGers

Received word last night that a known executioner (and we’re assuming others) at the Dallas office has reserved several conference rooms from 7 am to 3 pm today and that some had already received emails setting up with their meetings last night. Let us know when the shooting starts in your office and drop us any details, including where you’re getting bombed tonight. Go with God (and for the atheists, just go).

Review Comments | 08.17.09

facebook at work.jpgFacebook’s Evil, Genius Plan to Own Your Life – Was there ever any doubt that this was the plan? [The Atlantic]
Three Indicted in Major Hacking Case – “Three men were indicted Monday on federal charges of conspiring to hack into computer networks of major U.S. retail and financial organizations and stealing data related to more than 130 million credit and debit cards.” [WSJ]
Sordid Penn Station Needs Overhaul for $9 Billion Tunnel LinkFor the love of all that is good and holy why not use $9 billion get the human feces out of there? [Bloomberg]
A.I.G. to Pay New Chief Executive $7 Million a Year – Seven million times more than the last one. Appears reasonable. [DealBook]
Federal Prosecutors May Let Andy And Mark Madoff Enjoy Labor Day Weekend – Because it’ll be your last! [Dealbreaker]

Which Accounting Firm Will Risk the Label ‘Stoner Firm’?

marijuana-herb.jpgMedical Marijuana, Inc. who, “is the first public company to recognize the vast and unequaled opportunities that exist in the rapidly expanding medical marijuana industry,” wants to get listed on the OTC Bulletin Board in order to demonstrate it’s desire to become a fully transparent corporation.
The company now needs a PCAOB-registered CPA firm to audit its books, preferably one that’s cool with a little Maui Waui prior to lunch.
More, after the jump

Our thought is that the Big 4 are way too prudish to take on such a progressive client. We’d go so far to say that not even Grant Thornton or BDO Seidman would touch this one. That being said, we’re sure there are a few partners out there that have grow houses that rival anything in High Times.
If you’re sure your partner is a regular Willie Nelson when it comes to kush maybe throw this post their way. In the meantime, feel free to handicap the odds of your respective firm picking this client up. We’d give the edge to any firm from the Santa Cruz area.
Medical Marijuana, Inc. Begins Procedures to Be Quoted on OTC Bulletin Board [Press Release]

KPMG Doomsday Eve?

fired.jpgWe’re going to briefly remind you about the hammer that is going to drop on some unlucky Klynveldians tomorrow.
So far it sounds like there has been blood shed in Dallas, Indianapolis, and New York but no details on severance and it sounds like only second year associates have gotten shown the door so far.
If you’re one of the KPMG casualties, drop us a line at [email protected] and give us the gory details: severance, number laid off, lunging across the desk, did the partner you met with wear an executioner’s mask? Tell us everything.

Bank Failures by the Numbers

empty-2dpockets-small.jpgThis isn’t mathleticism, this is simply truth in numbers. With Colonial Bank officially R.I.P. and torn to shreds (North Carolina-based BB&T has picked up the branches, the garbage will likely be marked down and sold off to whichever sucker the FDIC can find) this past week, it might be a good idea to look at the mathematical reality of the situation.
Lately, bank failures seem to lead tangentially to accounting in that banks often point the finger at mark-to-market as the key piece which sent them hurtling toward doom. Sure, blame the accounting, that’s always a classy move. But all’s fair in love and value right?
In an era where the word “trillion” hardly raises an eyebrow, let’s put this into perspective and look at the 5 largest bank failures of all time (in terms of costs to FDIC):
More, after the jump

5. BankUnited, Coral Gables, FL: $4.9 Billion
4. American Savings and Loan, Stockton, CA: $5.7 billion – at the time, the amount to cover American S & L cost the FDIC 10% of its “fund” and was one of the largest failures of the savings and loan crisis.
3. Continental deserves its whole epic tale
2. Washington Mutual (we can’t discuss costs to the FDIC for this one since JP Morgan swooped in to get it and there are still active lawsuits around the deal)
1. IndyMac: $10.7 billion. That wasn’t too long ago so you should still remember the tale.
In one day (this past Friday), the FDIC found itself on the hook for an estimated $3.68 billion, and surely that’s a positively-doctored number. Move along now, nothing to see here.

Authorities on August 14 closed down five banks — Colonial Bank; Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association; Union Bank, National Association; Community Bank of Arizona and Community Bank of Nevada.
As per the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which is often appointed as the caretaker of failed entities, the collapse of these five banks would cost the agency a staggering USD 3.68 billion.

Maybe now would be a good time to express a doubt.

New Accounting Firm Name Challenge

merge.jpgWe read about an accounting firm M&A specialist who is predicting what he calls a “mega-merger” between two of the top 25 firms. Since this guy is probably getting greased on the deal we’ll take him at his word but unfortunately he’s not naming names.
So for the pure sport of speculation, we need your best and worst guesses of what firms will be getting together and what the new combined firm will be called.
We’ve taken the liberty of listing the top 25 firms for you:
The list, after the jump

• Deloitte
• PricewaterhouseCoopers
• Ernst & Young
• BDO Seidman
• Grant Thornton
• RSM McGladrey/McGladrey & Pullen (divorce nothwithstanding)
• CBIZ/Mayer Hoffman McCann
• Crowe Horwath
• Moss Adams
• Plante & Moran
• Clifton Gunderson
• J.H. Cohn
• UHY Advisors
• Reznick Group
• Virchow, Krause and Co.
• Dixon Hughes
• LarsonAllen
• Marcum & Kliegman
• Rothstein Kass and Co.
• Weiser
• Eisner
• Eide Bailly
• Wipfli
Try to use your number crunching brains for some creative combinations. Call your friends in marketing if necessary. If we get enough good suggestions, we’ll put together a poll to vote on the best.
We’ll get it started: Hughes Dixon Moss
Think about it. Work with us people. Just charge your time to an administration code, it’ll be fine.

New Accounting Firm Merger Challenge

merge.jpgWe read about an accounting firm M&A specialist who is predicting what he calls a “mega-merger” between two of the top 25 firms. Since this guy is probably getting greased on the deal we’ll take him at his word but unfortunately he’s not naming names.
So for the pure sport of speculation, we need your best and worst guesses of what firms will be getting together and what the new combined firm will be called.
We’ve taken the liberty of listing the top 25 firms for you:
The list, after the jump

• Deloitte
• PricewaterhouseCoopers
• Ernst & Young
• BDO Seidman
• Grant Thornton
• RSM McGladrey/McGladrey & Pullen (divorce nothwithstanding)
• CBIZ/Mayer Hoffman McCann
• Crowe Horwath
• Moss Adams
• Plante & Moran
• Clifton Gunderson
• J.H. Cohn
• UHY Advisors
• Reznick Group
• Virchow, Krause and Co.
• Dixon Hughes
• LarsonAllen
• Marcum & Kliegman
• Rothstein Kass and Co.
• Weiser
• Eisner
• Eide Bailly
• Wipfli
Try to use your number crunching brains for some creative combinations. Call your friends in marketing if necessary. If we get enough good suggestions, we’ll put together a poll to vote on the best.
We’ll get it started: Hughes Dixon Moss
Think about it. Work with us people. Just charge your time to an administration code, it’ll be fine.

Follow up Rumor: Green-dotter Merit Increase Edition

DTa.jpgAfter hearing speculation last week that Green-dotters were getting froze out, we got some potential details on the lucky few of you in the Northeast:
Get the scoop, after the jump

I’ve been told by a reliable source that merit increases will be available for 1s and 2s, but not for the majority of 3s and def not for 4s or 5s. On the AIP (bonus) side of the house, >50% of 3s and all 1s and 2s will get them. Of course, the actual amount will be smaller, I’ve also heard ~2% pool.

So, if you find yourself lucky enough to be on the good side of a particularly well connected senior partner, you might see a bump for all your trouble. Since performance rating cuts are all the rage these days, sources tell us the number of 1 and 2 will be scarce. We’d advise serious ass kissing but at this point you’re probably just getting the jump on next year (if you’re around).

Fill Wrap Up and Final Performance Review

For you duffers out there awaiting our Fill wrap up, we’re sure that your anxiety levels have reached such a level that you gave serious consideration to holding up the nearest drug store to get your mitts on some Zoloft. Fortunately, your patience has paid off as this post will wrap up our Fill coverage and also serve as official final performance review.
Thank the Maker that this one is over. Fill managed to shoot another +4 round yesterday to finish at +12 for the tournament and lock up his quest to not finish second at the PGA Championship. The silver medal went to…Tiger Woods unexpectedly but we’ll let the sports geeks dissect that one.
As for us, we’re here to give you Fill’s final 9 box rating and to give you an idea of what his future with the Radio Station looks like.
Check out the final rating after the jump.

As you can see, no final 9 box rating was necessary. Fill’s future is as bright as ever. He will continue to do grip n’ grins with Tim Flynn and he will need to use dumptrucks to transport all of his cash. This all will occur while he has consistently disappointed on the golf course but thrived as a billboard for the Radio Station by pulling a hat down on his melon.
Hmmm, an underachiever but consistently rewarded. Sound like anyone you know?
GC Weekend: Fill Has Broken the Mold
GC Weekend: Following Fill at the PGA Championship

More Money Talk

money.jpgIn another follow up, we got a decent thread going last week when we brought up starting salaries for your soon-to-be new associates that will be messing up your dinner orders this fall and winter.
We got a request to open up the discussion to number crunchers at all levels so that everyone can get a good idea of who is paying what, where.
Our requester was kind enough to give their details: First year tax senior associate, Houston, Big 4 firm, makes $67k.
More, after the jump

Anonymous Coward 49 in last week’s thread segues nicely as well, listing the amounts for audit professionals at the Radio Station Dallas office for the associate and senior associate levels. Coward notwithstanding, we would say that they are well informed, so we don’t expect all of you give that level of detail but we would request the following:
Level – Associate, Senior, Manager, etc. We know there are partners reading so please, feel free to share and make us all jealous.
Practice – Audit, Tax, Advisory, Transaction Services, and Consulting for you Green-dotters.
City and Firm – We want details from every corner. If you’re a senior associate at Rothstein Kass or Miller Kaplan and you know you’re making bank compared to those Big 4 losers, let ’em know it.
All right, get on with it.

KPMG Decides that Eating Lunch While Traveling for Work is Acceptable

penny.jpgLast week we learned about KPMG’s latest effort to do some belt tightening for the last two months of their fiscal year. These penny pinching plans included, most notably, filling your stockings with coal before winter.
On Thursday of last week a lot of the Kylnveldians, mostly in the Northeast, had not received the gracious and long winded email. Our suspicions at that time were that Tim Flynn and Co. were reconsidering the butchering of time honored tradition of drunken idiocy on company dime.
More, after the jump

Turns out out we were half right. It was noted in the comments and we received several tips that the Radio Station did indeed cave on their grand idea of not letting traveling partners and professionals expense their lunches “since this is a meal that one would buy during the workday regardless of location.”
If we were to guess, this would have been #2 on the list of the new policies that garnered most of your wrath. Well, you must have let them know because the firm then came out with this:

after hearing feedback from many of you about the short-term change to meal reimbursement policy, the firm has decided that for now the existing meal reimbursement policy provides the appropriate level of flexibility and room for judgement when it comes ot managing the cost of meals while traveling….

So FOR NOW your ass better get used to value menus and $5 footlongs because we’re guessing that’s the meaning of “ROOM FOR JUDGMENT“. If there has been more correspondence from up on high about this particular issue send us the details or discuss in the comments. On the other hand, folks in the Northeast, if you’re still in the dark, let us know.
Oh, and Santa Claus is still not coming to town.

Preliminary Analytics | 08.17.09

BuffettCarriesLunch.standard.jpgWhat Buffett’s Firm Bought and Sold WB continues to be long on folksy yet risque analogies. [DealBook]
US banknotes show cocaine traces – 95% of dollar bill in DC have traces of cola which we find hilarious and just solidifies any preconceived notions we had about our esteemed elected officials. Other cities that had cash with high levels of the llello are Baltimore, Boston, and Detroit. [BBC]
UBS Tax Crackdown Widens to Hong Kong -“On Friday, John McCarthy, a UBS client in California, agreed to plead guilty to one count of failing to file an annual report to the Treasury Department. A document filed with the plea shows the tax scheme relied in part on channeling funds to a Swiss UBS account held in the name of a Hong Kong entity, the second time accounts in the Asian financial hub have figured in these cases.” [WSJ]
BB&T Plans $750 Million Share Sale After Colonial – Things already going swell for BB&T. [Bloomberg]

GC Weekend: Fill Has Broken the Mold

Round 3 has come and gone for the Radio Station billboard and it’s nothing but more disappointment.
After two straight rounds of +2, Fill is in the clubhouse at +6, after shooting +4 today. Obviously, he has not bounced back as many Klynveldians had hoped he would.
With this latest performance, we’re thinking that Fill has all but solidified his slot in the upcoming current RIF. This simply means that he’ll have to continue to slum it for the likes of Barclays, ExxonMobil, and Rolex.
This latest poor performance forced us to get a little creative with the rating system.
Check out our latest 9 box, after the jump

Phil_9 box_sat.jpg
As you can see, we decided that it was appropriate to modify the traditional 9 box for this special occasion. It’s no longer at NI9 for Fill, he has his own special box: the Fill NI9. This rating will now represent the most disappointing performances for Radio Station employees.
Check in with us tomorrow Monday to get the final round Fill coverage.

GC Weekend: Following Fill at the PGA Championship

Phil-Mickelson_Tim Flynn.jpgYesterday we had all but given up on Fill. At +4, he was in serious danger of missing the cut. Well, the golf gods obviously felt that Fill deserved to spend his weekend working (along with many of you, we’re guessing) as the cut fell right at +4 and Fill gets to keep playing.
Now some might call that luck, we’d call it…well, luck. Nevertheless, we’ll continue to follow Fill’s progress in Lake Wobegon or wherever this thing is being played.
He’s already +2 for his round today after nine holes so he better get his act together on the back nine or he’ll be doomed to the NI9 slot and he’ll most certainly be part of next week’s RIF (which we heard started yesterday in NYC and Dallas).
So keep up with us as we track Fill this weekend, we’ll have his latest 9 box update later today after he finishes up.

Review Comments | 08.14.09

kelly_wallpaper8.jpg• Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and join our group on Facebook!
It’s Official…Accountants are Normal – This woman is looking for an accountant. This could be you. Okay, probably not. [Accounting Nation]
Postal Clerk Admits $600,000 Stamp Theft – Beats the hell out of using an AK on the co-workers isn’t it? [WP]
Madoff Feeder Will Auction Assets “Tremont Group Holdings Inc., which lost more than $3 billion in client assets through investments with Ponzi mastermind Bernard Madoff, has reached a deal to auction off the bulk of its remaining hedge-fund assets.” [WSJ]
RIP, Colonial Bank, and good luck BB&T [JDA]
Auditor Independence: Will “Crisis” Cause Compromise? [Re: The Auditors]

KPMG UK’s Sweet New JPM Gig

KPMG_chair.jpgNothing like a good (alleged) fraud story to finish up our week, eh?
Just in case you missed the story, it appears as though KPMG UK will be a tad busy in the near term trying to unravel this little mess. I suppose that’s good news for the kids working those 4 day work weeks across the pond, though the same cannot be said for JPM, who is facing an unlimited fine as a result.
UK’s Daily Mail:
More, after the jump

The FSA has called in a top firm of accountants to examine the bank’s London activities after evidence emerged that JP Morgan had mixed customers’ funds with its own.
Banks are meant to maintain a strict segregation of their own money from that which is held on behalf of clients.
But JP Morgan managers in London discovered last month that client and bank money used for trading futures and options – a way of speculating on movements in currencies, share prices and commodities – had apparently been put into a single pool.

This isn’t the first time regulatory authorities have busted firms for pooling client money and using it to play craps in the market but it is certainly the first time the FSA has gone after a big player like JP Morgan.
JP Morgan claims an “operational error” in their options and futures arm dating as far back as 2002 caused the “mix-up” though we aren’t sure we buy that line. “We identified an operational error that was corrected within 24 hours of its discovery. No clients have lost money as a result of this error and we are cooperating fully with the FSA,” a spokeswoman for the bank said.
Sure, okay. Just because no clients lost any money doesn’t make it legal. It’s now up to KPMG to slog through 7 years of transactions (at JPM’s expense) to see if any clients missed out on interest due as a result. Prelim findings are due to the FSA by the end of August, with a final report expected in September.
Have fun, KPMG UK!

Accenture, Feeling Left Out, Gets Our Attention

Accenture_logo.pngSince Andersen went the way of the dodo almost ten years ago, Accenture has been moseying along just doing whatever it is they do. They’ve done a pretty decent job of getting people to forget that they were once part of the Big 5 4.
Since we’re pretty sure there are plenty of you out there that have friends, former colleagues, sworn enemies, and booty calls at Accenture we thought we’d pass along that they are rumored to be getting into the pay freezing spirit.
Get some details, after the jump

Apparently an email went out today stating that “Most individuals will not receive an increase in base pay.” But if you’re one of the lucky few getting a promotion you’ve got a shred of hope, “People being promoted will receive an increase in base pay only if they are below the minimum salary range for their new career level.” Awesome.
This seems very curious because at least Accenture’s super star golfer sponsoree is playing well while someone else is screwing the pooch and risking a RIF.
So if you know some Accenturites pass this along and see if they know just WTF is going on in the Haunted House of Andersen. If you ARE an Accenturite, get us the info on this whole sitch at [email protected]. Their PR has apparently checked out for the weekend already and we’re not probably going to hear anything until Monday but we’ll update accordingly.

Fill to be Part of a RIF at the PGA?

Continuing our coverage of Fill’s quest to not finish second in the PGA Championship, our hero has finished up his second round and he shot another round of +2. That puts him at +4 for the tournament and in serious danger of missing the cut and possibly being included in the rumored upcoming reduction in force.
Check out the latest 9 box, after the jump

Phil_9 box_round 2.jpg
Fill, this is going to be a difficult conversation. Obviously this isn’t where we’d like to see you. We had high expectations for you. Maybe too high. We have to make a lot of hard choices when there are so many talented people out there. Fill, we don’t want you to wear the Radio Station hat any more.
While there are several hackers out there the projected cut is currently at +2, so we don’t like the chances of seeing the Radio Station hat on the weekend. Got anything you want to say Fill? Tell us in the comments.

Hammer Wants Everyone to Know That the IRS Can’t Touch This

mc-hammer.jpgWhy on Earth would someone like MC Hammer have to go and make reassuring claims about his financial situation? The fact that the IRS is hassling him with an illegit, illegit to quit, tax lien has us completely nonplussed (is that the right word?). The man is the poster child for rag to riches to completely over-leveraged riches to bankruptcy to mediocre comeback celebrity.
More on HammerTime’s trubs, after the jump

Hammer is all bent out of shape over a lien that the IRS slapped on him last month for $625k that is related to some damn thing 15 years ago. Right about the time when he was working really hard at going bankrupt.
HammerTime would also like everyone to know that along with a hit TV show, he is a very successful Twitterer with over 1 million followers, so obviously this whole tax lien is a huge misunderstanding because everyone knows that 1 follower on Twitter = $1 in the bank. So if the IRS could just drop it, that’d be great. Thanks.
MC Hammer Raps IRS over Tax Debts [Web CPA]

It’s Hard Convincing People to Use Lame Internal Social Networking Sites

facebook at work.jpgWe’ve covered the whole social networking thing on a couple of different occasions, including the new kid on the block, HubStreet, which will allow you to keep yourselves isolated from the bottom feeders in your professional social scene (at least virtually).
A reader who was a former Green-dotter informed us about that firm’s attempt to develop an internal social network known as Dstreet. This was clearly a priority within the Firm, according to our source:
More, after the jump

When I was wrapping up my sentence there, they were trying to get everyone to join up to their internal social networking site – Dstreet. As if that is what we wanted to do after working there 12 hours. After I got my third email asking me to update my profile for my promotion to manager (I hadn’t even set up a page yet and already I have to update it!), I set up a joke profile complete with picture of myself with huge 80s hair…I told people about it at my going away party and no one had seen it (it had been posted for 2 months)…complete waste of time!!

Apparently the Big 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse are hell bent on trying to re-invent the Facebook-wheel because to our knowledge, all the firms have some form of an internal social networking site it sounds like they all suck.
At the very least, we would suggest that status updates be allowed so that all your connections can get real time updates on how close you are to quitting for the umpteenth time.
If your firm is failing miserably at developing an internal social network or has developed anything else that seems to be of little use, let us know in the comments.

Rumor of the Day: KPMG Layoffs in Dallas Next Week

As if you didn’t need another excuse to go on a three day bender, we received a tip that audit professionals will be getting laid off at the Dallas Radio Station next Tuesday, the 18th. Tax professionals will get their turn in September, most likely after the filing deadline.
Word is that no one level is safe as the cuts will be made at all levels including partners.
KPMG did not immediately respond to our request for declined to comment.
If you’ve got more information on the sitch or you’ve heard similar rumors for other offices, drop us a line at [email protected].

E&Y SoCal Intern Offers: Don’t Spend it All in One Place

It may still be a little early for the citizens of Arnie, especially if you’ve got the Friday morning cocktail flu, but whatevs. We got word that E&Y audit interns have gotten their offers nationwide and Whale’s Vagina San Diego and L.A. are both getting $50k, no bonus. If you got a Masters, you’re getting $52k, no bonus (seems worth it now, eh?). No word on tax or advisory, so if you know these, fill us in.
Last year’s lucky little Ernies got a bonus so at the very least, that makes for a smidge of animosity. For all the love we’ve been giving Ern we haven’t got a lot of specifics on the actual details. Discuss in the comments or drop us the numbers at [email protected]

Phil Mickelson 9 Box Update

Fill had a less than ideal first round, shooting +2, which is seven shots behind the leader. On the one hand, he’s well on his way to not winning the tournament. On the other, he’s well on his way to not finishing second.
Check our initial rating if you need to get caught up.
So after not considering a hell of a lot, we’ve come up with Fill’s new ranking:
Check out where the Radio Station billboard falls, after the jump

As you can see, Fill has dropped from the relative safety of SP5 to the less than acceptable position in NI7. He teed off at 9:35 EDT so Radio Station employees can waste their entire Friday watching Fill try to step it up.
Discuss the current ranking in the comments and if by chance you’re at the tournament following Fill, let him know that Going Concern (and Tim Flynn) would like to see more out of him today.

Preliminary Analytics | 08.14.09

obama_point.jpgObama Considers Raising Fees on Larger Financial Institutions – In other news, the President giving consideration to anything appears to be news. [Bloomberg]
Tax-Cheat Showdown: Fess Up or Stay Quiet? – The Journal seems to think that playing Russian roulette with the IRS is an option worth considering. [WSJ]
Blackstone’s Schwarzman Tops Best-Paid Chiefs With $702 Million – In case you were wondering, it was only $2.3 mil in actual comp and $700 mil in vested options. Not too shab. [Bloomberg]
Bernie Madoff’s biz partner Frank DiPascali beats drug and gun raps – Man. Dude would have been in some real trouble had this gotten slapped on him too. [NYDN]

Phil Mickelson Gets 9 Boxed

We’re upping our coverage of Phil Fill Mickelson’s quest to not come in second place at this year’s PGA Championship.
In the spirit of performance review season, we thought we’d see where Phil Fill would fall on the illustrious Radio Station 9 box.
See the initial ranking, after the jump

As you can see, Phil Fill is right where he needs to be. We’d like to see him step up his game and shoot for that EP though. Right now we hear that he’s +1 at the turn for his first round. We’ll update you tomorrow morning with his first round results and his updated ranking.
Feel free to approve or disapprove of the current rating and give us your suggestions about where you think Phil Fill should be.

Review Comments | 08.13.09

arrested.jpgFinally, something we can agree on [A Whole Lotta Nothing]
California To Stop Issuing IOUs As Budget Stabilizes – FTW Arnie. [NPR]
PwC, do you have some Colonial Bank sins to confess? [JDA]
UBS tax deal forged in sweat-drenched talks: source Morons should’ve known the a/c was going to get turned off. Chocolate probably melted too. [Reuters]
Rick Pitino Not Coming to Samford Law – Nope. He’s being extorted by a woman who he paid $3k to have an abortion. [ATL]

Deloitte is Baiting the New Hires

iphone.jpgOn a day like today, we never thought we’d be telling you about a firm actually spending money but color us surprised.
Deloitte will start issuing iPhones to partners, principals, and directors starting Monday, according to a tip we received and will be available to “eligible personnel on Monday, September 14.”
So the obvious question is who the hell is eligible? The trend seems that senior associates haven’t been getting squat so our money would be on the new hires getting the new toys gadgets business tools in order to write down everyone’s order for take out but we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you SA’s.

Ernst & Young Ups the Ante

Guest 46 @7:17
makes a good point and wants everyone to get some perspective on a firm’s priorities. Don’t even think for ONE SECOND that your office is thrifty stingy until they axe a corporate volunteering event because it conflicts with the FSO All Hands Webcast*.
More, after the jump

Uncle Ern would like you to forget about these difficult times by staying within the confines of your cube farm and getting down with a mandatory webcast because there are plenty of people without jobs out there that could volunteer instead.
The Radio Station takes a slight different approach, clearly thinking that if everyone sacrifices one night of open bar to help others, the joy you feel will certainly beat puking and then passing out in the bathroom at some hotel.
So now the debate looms: what firm currently wins the award for the best example of a company channeling its inner-George Costanza: E&Y or the Radio Station? Discuss in the comments and if you’ve got additional examples to bolster the case for/against your firm, please share.
*That’s the word we got from E&Y, so if someone can elaborate on just what the hell that is, that’d be great.

KPMG Takes Phil Mickelson FTW

Phil-Mickelson_Tim Flynn.jpgBecause we’re big fans of shameless promotion, we’re starting our coverage of the quest of the Radio Station’s walking billboard, Phil Mickelson, to win the PGA Championship. He’s teeing off circa now, so drop what you’re doing and get to at TV Radio Station duffer geeks.
Phil won the tournament back in 2005 but gets lots of attention for being a bridesmaid at the U.S. Open five times. Most notably for our purposes, he has not won any majors since he signed with the Radio Station back in early 2008.
No word on where Phil is falling on the 9 box rating system or if his visions of sugar plums have been dashed but if someone could put us in touch with his performance counselor or get us a copy of his contract with KPMG, that would be great.

Bean Counter Reputations Hit a New Low

A woman who was a CFO for a charity that invested with Bernie is claiming, in a book of course, that she not only had all her personal money invested with him that went poof but that she was also bumping uglies with the Master Ponz. Supposedly there will be pictures which obviously begs several questions. Check out Dealbreaker for the debate.
Sleeping with the enemy is certainly a new low for bean counters. She could’ve done us all a favor and gotten down with Dick Cheney and it wouldn’t look nearly as bad.
Madoff Had Affair With Ex-Hadassah Finance Chief, Her Book Says [Bloomberg]

KPMG Incommunicado?

We’re getting mixed reports on the email going out to Radio Station employees about canceling the one thing to look forward to in the month of December.
We heard the email got sent out to some offices in the West but also that New York hasn’t heard a peep so we’re getting suspicious if the big dogs in NY are reconsidering their Grinchiness.
Let us know whether or not your visions of sugar plums have been dashed or not in the comments.

Do You See What Happens?

accountant.jpgThe PCAOB was kind enough to issue a couple of examples this week of what happens when you don’t take your role as auditor seriously.
We wouldn’t dream of putting them both in one post so we’ll give you one in the morning to ponder and save the second for later right about the time you’re ready to flip out, so hang in there.
We’ve also done you the courtesy of reading (sort of) both of the orders so that you can remain fully chargeable (not counting the time you take to read this post of course):
Thomas Linden was a partner in the Chicago office of Deloitte and lead engagement partner on Navistar Financial Corporation (NFC). At the 11th hour, prior to filing the fiscal year 2003 10-K, the engagement team realized that assets, revenues, and net profits were overstated by $19.7 million.
Check out the rest, after the jump

Having a typical over-confident management team, NFC had already taken the liberty of announcing the fourth quarter earnings prior to filing the 10-K.
Because Tom Linden was a Big 4 Partner and thus impervious to any challenge he encounterd, he took the following action (all our emphasis):

• Initiated an increase of approximately 50 percent in Deloitte’s planned tolerance for misstatements in NFC’s reported financial results
• Authored, with the assistance of a member of the NFC engagement team, an NFC auditwork paper that inaccurately characterized the reasons for and circumstances surrounding the increase
• Failed to evaluate adequately the risk that NIC’s financial statements were materially misstated due to error or fraud
• Otherwise failed to act with the requisite due professional care and professional skepticism

Okay, so the last two are boring but the first two kinda, sorta give us this impression of what happened:
Dude finds out the numbers are bunk, client isn’t cool with telling their analysts (who NFC told that they had a kick ass quarter) that said numbers are bunk, so Dude up and decides to ABBACADABRA make the tolerance for misstatement 50% higher than it was for the entire audit (read: that’s a lot).
Then, after probably putting the proverbial (or possibly literal) gun to head of the “member of the NFC engagement team”, they wrote a workpaper that supposedly explained why the tolerance was all of sudden 50% higher but the rationale was something to the effect of “because we said so”.
So for all that tomfoolery (snap!), Linden gets fined $75,000 and can’t be associated with a registered accounting firm for two years and which point he can petition to be to be reinstated. Yow-za. To better times, Tom.

Gentlemen, Your Life is Now Complete

commuter-tie-low-res.jpgApparently some suit had their headphones ripped out of their ears that caused their iPod to go flying one too many times because Thomas Pink is now presenting the commuter tie for your mp3 device.
Maintaining a stoic demeanor regardless of the circumstances thrown at you on your commute is crucial for any straphanger. The new commuter tie will now guarantee that you’ll be able to listen to Shakira uninterrupted while maintaining your Blue Steel that puts the rest of your fellow commuters to back the F off because I have headphones in and must be respected.

Rumor of the Morning: No raises for SA’s at Deloitte

Big D is the now officially in the toilet frozen pay camp, as we have received a tip that senior associates in the Northeast region will not receive raises this year. On the less-bleak side, B. Salz and his fellow partners are doling out bonuses out of 2.2% pool which will probably amount to barely enough to pay for one night of your now three day drinking binge.
Rumor is that the disappointing word for associates should come down tomorrow but if you’ve got the scoop for us early or have more details on the cold news let us know at [email protected].

Preliminary Analytics | 08.13.09

clunker.jpgRetail Sales Dipped in July Despite Clunkers Program – “U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in July despite the debut of the government’s ‘cash for clunkers’ program meant to jump-start the auto business and help turn around the economy.” [WSJ]
France and Germany exit recession – FTW. [BBC]
U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Increased to 558,000 Last Week – “Applications rose to 558,000 in the week ended Aug. 8 from a revised 554,000 the week before, the Labor Department said today in Washington, while staying under 600,000 for a sixth time. ” Under 600k? Does that mean the recession is over? [Bloomberg]
Cheney Uncloaks His Frustration With Bush “[Bush] showed an independence that Cheney didn’t see coming.” [Washington Post]
Ex-AIG CEO, others to pay $115 million to settle lawsuit: source – Tough month for Hanky [Reuters]
UBS shares climb further on U.S. tax case deal – Closure helps. [Reuters]

Review Comments | 08.12.09

ben_old.jpgFed Suggests Economy Is Stabilizing – “U.S. Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday left official interest rates near zero but suggested the economy is on more stable ground, more confirmation that the severe recession is either already over or will be very soon.” Does anyone know if this really means anything? Are we stabilizing in crappiness? [WSJ]
Save This Store – A case for big bonuses. [Floyd Norris/NYT]
Colonial: No 2Q report due to irregularities – FTW guys. [AP via Miami Herald]
Simplifed Reporting: Forgotten in the Crisis? – An advisory group gave the SEC a 170 page report to recommend how to simplify accounting rules. Anyone see a problem here? [CFO]
Presented Without Comment: Ragnar Danneskjöld Lives? Damn Swedes. [DB]
Rivkah, an Israeli woman, paid $32K to fly her dog, Orchuk, in business class from Paris to Tel Aviv – ‘He is my child, not a dog. And he deserves the best.’ Appears reasonable. [NYDN]

Thank God There’s a Facebook Specifically for Accountants Now

facebook at work.jpgSocial networking has reached new heights people. Now there’s a professional networking site that is specifically for “accountants, lawyers, and lenders”. allows you to network professionally without that guy in IT trying to add you as connection because god, he’s such a geek.
No, HubStreet is here to make sure that those lesser beings out there can’t impose upon you in the virtual networking universe because you must enter your license number to even be allowed to register with the site*.
Get more details on this new method of wasting time at work, after the jump

HubStreet also claims “Take the Work Out of Networking” because God forbid you talk to anyone face to face or leave your home or office to meet other people. Or actually call them on the phone. THE HORROR.
HubStreet just finds people that thinks you’ll interact well with professionally and puts you in contact with them. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any sort of physical attraction widget implemented yet so you will probably most certainly continue to fail hooking up with your chosen “connections”.
Accounting Social Network Launches [Web CPA]
*Okay, not really

The IRS Should Really Reconsider Their Employee Screening Process

IRS_logo-thumb-150x140.jpgIn another case of former a IRS Agent having reckless disregard for their old employer (i.e. the Federal Govt.), a 76 year-old former agent was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for his part in a fraudulent tax scheme that went on from 1998 to 2000. Thomas Steelman was also ordered to pay more than $10 mil back to the Service.
The old guy really worked hard at his craft too:

He took part in promotional meetings, conferences, rallies and telephone conference calls to promote Renaissance’s services and recruit clients, according to prosecutors. Steelman was also a featured speaker on Renaissance’s promotional videotapes.

From the sound of it, this guy Steelman was the Peter Olinto Tim Gearty Rick Duffy of Renaissance, The Tax People, the defunct company he worked for. It disappoints us how the pleasure of serving your country, as crusader for tax compliance, would eventually lead to a life of a scofflaw and tax avoidance. We are truly saddened that there continues to be very few true tax heroes among us.
Ex-IRS Agent Sentenced to 46 Months for Tax Fraud [Web CPA via TaxProf Blog]

Hey Big 4, How’s Gen Y Working Out for You?

I read an article awhile back in CFO mag about Generation Y, or more specifically how large firms were preparing for this ‘special’ crop of soon-to-be new grads.
I’m not sure ‘panic’ is the appropriate word but let’s just say these kids had partners freaking out; technologically-inclined, lazy, and pre-programmed with a sense of entitlement normally reserved for royalty and Nobel prize winners, you knew something was up with these kids if management was stressing their arrival. The Big 4 went so far as to hold trainings for partners on how to tame this hyped generation as they prepared to descend on the corporate world.
More, after the Jump

Now that the first wave of Gen Yers have successfully penetrated the corporate fortress, we figured it might be a good time to check in and see how that’s working out.
‘Screw our SEC deadlines’ may not be an exact quote but that was the typical Millennial attitude impressed upon us by one of our sources, a 40-something CPA lucky enough to be stashed away in private accounting out on the East Coast. He also called working with Gen Y ‘horrid’ but private accounting can be horrid in and of itself so we won’t credit that fully to the Under 30 crowd.
Gen Y is driven by… Well we haven’t figured out if they are driven at all. All reports are that they think ‘work ethic’ means avoiding checking their Facebook pages on company time, expect the corner office as soon as the ink dries on their offer letter, and have absolutely no grasp on the concept of performance-driven bonuses.
What’s worse, say sources, is they don’t seem fazed in the least by economic turmoil. Though employers using performance above seniority as a lay off gauge naturally look to their poor performers as first in line to get sliced, the Millennials are so dosed on the illusion of their own greatness that they seem absolutely stunned when the pink slips come.
So why would the Big 4 continue the tradition of recruiting new hires from college campuses, blocking out the 35 year olds who understand that just getting up in the morning is not cause for a gold star?
You’ll have to talk to the hiring managers if you want an answer to that. Perhaps it’s that we’ve got them all wrong and the generalization itself is what’s driving the conflict.
In the meantime, we are looking forward to seeing how Gen Y breaks out of the stereotype to impress the pants off of us and inherit the empire. With all that ambition and talent, we’re sincerely hoping they learn to apply that to the Big 4 to shake things up for the better. Hopefully they can also bury the billable hour once and for all while they’re at it. Go, kids, go!

The SEC Doesn’t Care if ‘The Numbers Don’t Work’

magic money.jpgTry to control yourselves, the SEC continues to kick some ass. The Commission has charged Terex Corporation of Westport, CT with accounting fraud:
Check out the details, after the jump

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Terex Corporation, a Westport, Conn.-based heavy equipment manufacturer, with accounting fraud for making material misstatements in its own financial reports to investors, as well as aiding and abetting a fraudulent accounting scheme at United Rentals, Inc. (URI), another Connecticut-based public company.

The Commission had previously charged URI executives with fraud back in September when the company paid $14 mil to settle with M. Schape and the gang. Terex is settling for $8 mil.
The complaint alleges that both companies engaged in some shady revenue recognition which enabled them to meet earnings forecasts. It also states that from 2000 to 2004, accountants at Terex couldn’t figure out some of their inter-company transactions so they just decided to RAM some journal entries in there to make it work.
We understand that. Every once in awhile it’s 1 am-ish and you’re looking at a bunch of numbers that are getting blurry and you say “F THIS“. Entry gets made. Done.
Problem is, the SEC doesn’t like that.
SEC Charges Terex Corporation With Accounting Fraud []

UBS is Naming Names (Finally)

300px-Toblerone-1.jpgIn what probably amounts to UBS caving out of pure exhaustion from the nagging of U.S. Tax authorities, the Swiss Bank reached an agreement in which it will turn over names of wealthy clients. The Wall St. Journal is reporting that it could be between 8,000 and 10,000 names which will likely get UBS on the list at Hop Sing’s with Ned Isakoff.
More, after the jump

The whole sitch has caused many to confess their offshore banking sins and may make for more begrudgingly honest reporting of offshore accounts in the future but we hope that in hindsight, future Swiss negotiators see the wisdom of considering the undying power of the cocoa bean.
UBS Tax Lawsuit Settled by U.S., Swiss Governments [Bloomberg]
UPDATE: Read more at our sister site, Dealbreaker.

KPMG Europe Makes an Announcement that Won’t Upset Anyone

8ball.jpgIn a demonstration of spreading the wealth or possibly just a strategic international ploy, KPMG Europe is adding seven new nations to its firm.
Regardless of the motivation, it clearly demonstrates that the most positive news that the Scrooge American firm is capable of announcing is that it is ruining everyone’s holiday season prior to the start of football season so you have plenty of time to get over it.
KPMG Europe will add Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Georgia to its stable of bean counters. They join the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands and will increase the Europe revenues to over £4bn which probably could pay for a few parties (but not full bar) in the States.
KPMG Europe spreads wings to take in seven nations [Accountancy Age]

Preliminary Analytics | 08.12.09

ben_old.jpgEconomists Call for Bernanke to Stay, Say Recession Is Over – “Economists are nearly unanimous that Ben Bernanke should be reappointed to another term as Federal Reserve chairman, and they said there is a 71% chance that President Barack Obama will ask him to stay on, according to a survey.” Sure, why not? [WSJ]
U.S. Firms Probed in Mexico Oil Scam – “The probe is part of a broader two-year joint U.S.-Mexican investigation into a network of Mexican oil smugglers supported by the Gulf drug cartel, one of Mexico’s most powerful and brutal criminal organizations.” Appears reasonable. [WSJ]
Lying Low After a Layoff – Are you really going out of your way to look employed? [Washington Post]
Amex, Discover to end fees going over credit limit – Back to maxing out! [AP via Miami Herald]
Feinberg’s Pay Decisions May Set the Template for Wall Street – “companies must tell him how they plan to pay the 25 top-earning employees. Feinberg will rule on the plans within 60 days after they’re completed.” Uh oh. [Bloomberg]

Review Comments | 08.11.09

thumbs down col.gifBankruptcy Filing Near for Taylor Bean – “The motion, submitted in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, was filed on Aug. 6, one day after the privately owned Ocala, Fla., company ceased its lending operation and dismissed most of its work force.” No surprise, but that sucks guys. Try to keep truckin. [WSJ]
Benmosche Said to Start AIG Tenure With Croatian Trip “plans to spend part of his first month leading the insurer in Croatia on vacation, according to two people familiar with the situation.” The guy’s got stones, that’s for sure. [Bloomberg]
IRS Impostors Burglarize House “The IRS impersonators made off with a weed trimmer, chain saw, jewelry and a utility trailer.” [Web CPA via TaxProf Blog]
The Sweet Sixteen: A List of Audits I Need in my Life [Accounting Nation]

SEC Would Like the Stanford Receiver to Relax a Little

r.jpgRalph Janvey, the court appointed receiver in the Allen Stanford “where’s the f’n money Lebowski” case is what some people might call, shrewd.
Janvey is fighting to have certain brokerage accounts held by investors frozen because the holders of said accounts made principal withdrawals prior to the uncovering of the fraud.
The SEC kinda, maybe thinks that this is a little overboard and filed papers opposing Janvey’s suing of what the Commission calls “innocent fraud victims”.
We’re thinking that since Janvey is on the wildest of wild goose chases, he has had to resort to suing regular people that had the fortunate dumb luck to pull their money out of a Stanford Bank Institution garbage bag prior to the poop + fan.
SEC Opposes Motions in Stanford Case [WSJ]

Guilty Madoff CFO Update

It’s offish. DiPascali pleaded guilty to all ten counts against him and faces 125 years in prison, just quarter century short of Boss Ponz. However, because he is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney, DiPascali may be lucky enough to get a sentence under the century mark.
The bright side for Frank DiPascali is that he gets to spend his last few days as a free man courtesy of a very nice sister who put up her house for the $2.5 million bond. Sentencing is tentatively set for May 2010.
DiPascali was the man that many Madoff investors corresponded with directly so it’s clear to us that he was LYING A LOT.
Per the WSJ:

The former chief financial officer for Bernard Madoff says he helped the disgraced financier and others “carry out a fraud that hurt thousands of people”…Mr. DiPascali said at the plea hearing that the transactions were “all fake. It was all fictitious. It was wrong, and I knew it was wrong at the time.”

Okay then, nothing really new there but we will be waiting patiently to hear the other names. Next bean counter up for book throwing is David Friehling, who was kind enough to rubber stamp the Madoff financial statements for around $14k a month. Bright side for Friehling is that he’s looking at 50% less time in jail then Bernie.

Let’s Get Right to the Heart of this Thing

money.jpgAnd by that we mean money. We’ve started hearing rumors about the starting salaries for new associates and we don’t know what the hell to believe, so we need your help to set us straight.
We’ve heard $50k in Atlanta, $52k in Houston, $57k in DC and $61k in New York. Nothing yet from the left coast, so help us out. Sounds like signing bonuses are either significantly reduced and in some cases completely eliminated. Nothing has been firm specific but we’re guessing they’re all pretty close.
Talk to your fellow newly minted bean counters and find out the sitch on this year’s salaries and how it compares to last year’s newbies for your respective city. Also let us know if your start date has been pushed back. Discuss in the comments or send us the deets at [email protected].

Huron Consulting Has a New Problem

Cooking the Books.jpgHuron Consulting, after cleaning house, admitting to some book cooking, and having multiple class action suits filed against it, now has a brand new SEC investigation to look forward to. This new investigation is in addition to a separate investigation the SEC was conducting related to its chargeable hours.

The new investigation relates to the accounting hocus-pocus that led to the announcement that three years of financial results were being restated. On top of all this, the 10-Q, due yesterday, has yet to be filed. The company said everything is cool though and that it will be filed…who the hell knows as soon as possible.

Huron crossed its heart and hoped to die that it would cooperate with the new investigation. After all, they’ve won new business since the scandal dropped, so not everybody thinks they’re crooks.
SEC investigating Huron accounting errors [Chicago Tribune]

Respect the Expense Reimbursement Policy Or…

With the firms cracking down on expenses of every sort, including canceling the Holidays prior to the autumnal equinox, hopefully the following story doesn’t occur to any of you. At the very least, it can show what can happen when you have blatant disrespect for your firm’s expense reimbursement policy:
More, after the jump

A former Deloitte Consulting manager who disappeared on the day of her sentencing for bilking her employer out of more than $500,000 was found dead in a Costa Mesa park Saturday morning, authorities said….[Jamie] Watkins, a former operations manager for the Santa Ana office of Deloitte Consulting LLP, faced up to 10 years in federal prison after abusing the company’s expense reimbursements to steal about $550,000 to pay for things including property taxes and furniture.

As tragic as this story is, it serves as example to those of you that find yourself regularly explaining to an HR rep the $500 lunches you had at Bobby Vans and the theatre tickets that ended up on your last expense report. This may be where you are headed if you don’t shape up.
Deloitte manager hangs self [Orange County Register]

National Training Lore

cheers!.jpgA few weeks back we dabbled into the sex lives of those of you that call yourselves accountants. Several comments eluded alluded that national trainings are about as a good opportunity as some of you are going to get.
National trainings are not only a great time to make awkward sexual advances, they’re also a great opportunity to get together with hundreds of your peers and drunkenly complain about your superiors and subordinates. It’s also an opportunity to make a complete ass out of yourself in front of those same peers.
National trainings have also been known for chicanery such as but not exclusive to:
Check out the idiocy, after the jump

• All night excursions to the strip club where one person passes out in the bathroom and somehow the whole night ends up on your manager’s expense report.
• A night of bottle service that results in dragging several lifeless bodies back to the hotel but thanks to some friendly hotel staff, everyone ends up safely back in their rooms.
• Training Instructors showing up to class over an hour late, wearing clothes from the previous day and smelling like Mel Gibson.
• A week where, instead of spending your time learning accounting/tax/audit updates, you spend the entire week in your hotel room working a normal 12 to 14 hour day because your manager’s whip somehow has the range.
So because summer is winding down and national trainings are coming to end for another year, we’d like some stories to order to get an idea of how good/bad/ugly your trainings this year.
We’ve heard that some firms have shortened some of the trainings to just a few days rather than a full week and also that the firms are seriously clamping down on the expenses so maybe your city’s blowout party got axed or you got charged back for the round of shots you bought for everyone. Regardless share your experiences in the comments and send us other gossip that you want us to put up at [email protected].

Is Accounting Fraud Coming to Broadway?

samuel-west.jpgIt goes without saying that the lack of stage and screen productions of anything related to accounting is no accident.
We Americans crave the spoon-fed Hollywood experience and don’t have much patience for cerebral art. The Brits, on the other hand, have decided that accounting fraud is truly meant for the stage because Enron will start showing at the Royal Court Theatre on September 7th and run through November 7th, according to the Theatre’s website. skilling_tie1.jpg
Get the details, after the jump

The comedic tragedy stars Samuel West as Jeff Skilling and it has gotten excellent reviews in previews, indicating that they avoided the accounting aspects completely.
No word on the whether the play will make its way to the States but if it did we’d suggest James Gandolfini as Skilling, merely for the crucial scene where Skilling has a vein pop out of his forehead when he blows a gasket on an earnings call with skeptical analysts. We’d pull for Hugh Jackman as the Arthur Andersen partner but we’re guessing that it would end up being Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Discuss your casting choices in the comments and if you’re in London, you can see the play for as cheap as ten quid so go get yourself some culture.
Enron…The Play [Bruce Carton/Compliance Week]

Preliminary Analytics | 08.11.09

mary_schapiro_1218.jpg‘Urgency’ Drives SEC Crackdown – Does this woman look like she has a shred of urgency? [WSJ]
CIT delays report, could have to file for bankruptcy – Can someone please handle this? Thanks. [Reuters]
BofA Judge Seeks More Data on SEC Bonus Deal – Judge Rakoff certainly doesn’t feel the urgency. [WSJ]
AIG’s Liddy Heads Toward Retirement With ‘$1, a Few Bruises’ – And with any luck, won’t ever appear in front of a Congressional committee ever again. [Bloomberg]

E&Y Appreciates the Little People

E&Y’s Dallas office sure appreciates their new associates because they’ll be the only ones getting pay raises this year. It’s either that or they want to the put them in the position for additional ridicule until the fresh batch of new associates comes on.
According to the tip we received, the announcement was made at the townhall meeting today and this is first office of any firm that we’ve heard of to make an official announcement to employees that pay was being frozen.
Those being promoted to a new level (e.g. SA to Manager) will receive bonuses but no details were given. We’ll update as we learn more.

Review Comments | 08.10.09

oompa.jpgangelo_mozilo.jpgBank of America Will Pay $55 Million to Settle Claims – In other news, Angelo Mozilo still appears that he has, at least partially, descended from Oompa Loompas [Bloomberg]
U.S. recession seen ending in third quarter – Hold your breath in 3…2…1…[Reuters]
Huron Shareholders Sue over Accounting Scandal – Yes, P. Dubya is named. [Web CPA]
Swiss Cabinet Discusses UBS’s Legal Woes – It’s pretty clear that IRS is just going to nag the living crap out of the Swiss Government until they give the Service all the bloody names. [WSJ]
OMG I HATE MY JOB!! Facebook bitching about work will get you insta-fired. – Best to stick to the trite statements about your weekend plans, hating Mondays, how nice/crappy the weather is, etc. [Adland]

Ernst & Young Interns Receiving Offers Today?

Guest 6 @ 1:03 informs us that interns may be returning from their little rendezvous with their international counterparts to find out if they made the cut of those receiving full time offers. This is clearly a matter of “win or lose, we still booze”.
So whether you’re a proud new E&Y’er or you dreams of being a CPA-rock star have been blown to smithereens, let us know the details. If you’ve got the scoop on salaries and numbers discuss in the comments or send us tips to [email protected]

The IRS is Warm and Cuddly Again

IRS_logo-thumb-150x140.jpgObviously not wanting to ruin its grandmotherly image, the IRS has announced that will extend its deadline for certain taxpayers to submit their “Report for Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts” or FBAR.
The administrative relief is for “taxpayers with signature authority over, but no financial interest in, a foreign financial account, and taxpayers with a financial interest in, or signature authority over, a foreign commingled fund.”
Perhaps realizing that putting the gun to the collective head of taxpayers that have foreign bank accounts isn’t the best approach or coming to the conclusion that the drop dead filing date of September 23rd just didn’t make any damn sense, the new deadline is now June 30, 2010.
IRS Extends FBAR Filing Deadline Again [Web CPA]

Follow-up on PwC Layoffs

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgA quick follow-up on the layoffs we mentioned in last week’s firm watch that went down at the PwC Denver office. We heard over the weekend that it was approximately a dozen employees that got the boot and it occurred at all levels including at least one senior manager.
The layoffs, which occurred last month, were deemed to be “performance related” which has been P. Dubs’ consistent story regarding cuts. Similarly, everyone seems to consistently disbelieve that story. If you have more details regarding these layoffs or if there were recent layoffs at your office, let us know at [email protected].

KPMG Cancels Christmas Hanukkah Kwanzaa the Holidays in August

8ball.jpgTo round out the year, KPMG is kindly reminding everyone about the SPEND SMART initiatives implemented this year and with just two months to go in the fiscal year, the Radio Station has decided that some additional belt tightening is necessary.
We understand that the email we received will be sent out by each Office Managing Partner to each individual office. We have not received confirmation that employees have received the email. We are reaching out to KPMG for corong>See the Firm’s statement below.
According to the email obtained by GC, Radio Station’s leadership has decided that all offices will suspend this year’s holiday office parties. Instead offices will host “community service events” between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. We find this commendable that the firm wants to give back in this fashion but we imagine some of you probably would probably still like to get your holiday party drink on.
Some other cost cutting measures for August and September include:
Check out the entire text of the email, after the jump

To: All Partners and Employees
Additional SPEND SMART Initiatives
First, I want to thank everyone in the ANY office for following the many SPEND SMART initiatives that the firm has implemented this year. Your compliance with the firm’s travel and meetings policies, as well as careful management of other costs, has enabled the firm to reduce our expenses by hundreds of millions of dollars.
In spite of some indicators that the economy may have hit its lowest point, businesses everywhere are still feeling the impact of the economic crisis, and that includes our firm. And while there are indications that the economy is at the beginning of a recovery, no one can accurately predict how long that will take.
With that in mind, the Operations Committee has identified some short-term cost management initiatives for travel and meetings that–if implemented immediately–can help us begin FY 2010 in a stronger position. Those measures are outlined below and remain in effect until October 1, unless otherwise noted.
During the next two months, the firm will be reviewing all of our Time and Expense policies to align with our cost structure for FY 2010 and beyond. However, we’ve made one decision now that will impact the way we celebrate the holiday season.
Community Service Event
The end of the calendar year is traditionally the time when KPMG offices hold parties to celebrate the holiday season. A great deal of time and planning go into these events and they are a great opportunity for all of us to get together in a festive atmosphere. However, given the impact of the economy on so many people’s livelihoods, people throughout the firm–at all levels–questioned whether there would be other ways we could create this same sense of community during the holiday season while giving back to those in need. After careful thought and consideration, firm leadership has decided that all KPMG offices will suspend this year’s holiday office parties and instead host a community service event between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
You may recall that last year, in lieu of a holiday gift, the firm donated a full week of meals to families in need through an organization called Feeding America. In total, we donated 1.6 million meals in the communities where we live and work.
This is a tremendous way for all of us to come together to help make a meaningful difference for people in need during the holiday season. You’ll be hearing more about this effort and how you can get involved later this fall.
In the meantime, please do all you can to follow the SPEND SMART guidelines we announced in October and the additional initiatives I’ve outlined below.
Meetings and Travel
· Additional Travel Restrictions – Airfare is one of our largest travel expenses. Currently, our policy provides partners and employees with a choice of airlines when traveling. Until October 1, the travel team will book the lowest cost flight for your destination and travel times, regardless of the airline. We also ask that you continue to limit non-client travel as much as possible, and verify the criticality of all international travel.
· Car Service – Until October 1, car service may only be used when a taxi or one’s own car is not available. We also ask that you use taxis for transportation to and from airports, rather than a car service. If taxi service is not available in your city or area, or the cost of using a taxi exceeds that of using a car service, a car may be used. We will continue to honor our car service policy for employees required to work past 8:00 p.m. during winter and 9:00 p.m. in the summer; however, we expect that during August and September the need for this service will be rare. Click here for information about our transportation policy.
· Meal Reimbursements – During August and September, we are putting the following policies in place regarding meal reimbursements:
Lunch – Lunch for partners and employees while traveling will not be reimbursed since this is a meal that one would buy during the workday regardless of location. We will continue to reimburse lunch meetings with clients.
Non-client Meals – During these two months, the firm will not reimburse non-client meals held outside our offices. Meal expenses for those traveling for internal training or meetings are subject to the expense limits allowed by our meal policy. As always, team leaders should use their judgment when ordering meals for groups working overtime.
Cell Phones, PDAs, and Other
· One Mobile Device per Person – Effective August 1, we will no longer reimburse individuals for both a cell phone and a TreoTM or Blackberry®. People who have both devices have the option of adding phone service to their PDA. If you wish to keep both devices, you will be charged the full price of service for one. In addition, per our existing policy, we will deduct $20 a month from everyone using firm-supplied cell phones or PDAs. We also encourage you to review your current plan to determine whether you need all the features to which you’ve subscribed. To learn more about the various mobile plans available to you, please click here.
· Inter-office Mail: Use Scanning and e-Fax – Going forward, we will be looking at ways we can reduce the cost of handling interoffice mail, including the frequency of delivery. In the meantime, we encourage you to make use of all the technology available within the firm to send documents between offices, including scanning documents that can then be e-mailed to colleagues or clients. When scanners are not available, make use of our e-Fax capabilities. Check with your local OneStopOps group to learn more about these services.
In closing, both the ALL partners and I want to thank all of you for your ongoing support of our SPEND SMART initiatives. Your efforts have made a difference and we continue to welcome suggestions to help our office and the firm run more efficiently.
Even more important, we want to thank you for your high-quality service to our clients. We all know that these are difficult times, but that is why our clients are depending on us to deliver our highest standards of service and professionalism.
Thank you for your continued support.
UPDATE, 5:51 pm EST: We reached out to KPMG regarding the Grinchiness and we were provided with this statement:
“Like businesses everywhere, we’re identifying cost-saving opportunities that will provide the most benefit while still allowing us to provide high quality service to our clients.”

Ken Lewis Should Have Been a CPA

KenLewisNOPEb.jpgWe know public accounting is hard. The unpaid overtime (*cough* perhaps PwC can tell you about that *cough*), busy season, the misconception that all CPAs are number-crunching mathletes, and, of course, the inconvenience of having to answer everyone’s obscure tax questions. “Dude, I don’t even WORK in tax, I’m an auditor.” “Yeah but I just have this quick question about a deduction…”
As bad as the CPAs may have it, they’ve got it easy compared to this guy. Poor Ken Lewis. Someone invite him to waste a few years in public accounting please, he’s getting pounded from every angle over here, poor bastard.
Let’s check the timeline – please compare to your busy season and see who has it worse if you’re still regretting your decision.
More on KL’s banner year, after the jump

Ken Lewis’ year started sucking in January after the Merrill bonus scandal erupted. This got NY State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on his back, eventually leading to the Fedgate scandal in which Lewis claimed Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson “threatened” the Bank of America CEO or kept him on a short TARP leash or some such “OMG did he really just say that?” revelation. He’d already come off a pretty rough year previous but you already know that story.
Bernanke and Paulson didn’t take getting fronted off too kindly (we can only assume) and Lewis hasn’t really gotten a break since. The guy couldn’t even sell his Porsche without feeling the heat. Now a judge is blocking the $33 million settlement he’d love to make with the SEC and some Citigroup reject is being groomed as his replacement. Burn. Oh, and then there are the JP Morgan analysts saying Bank of America will service the loans that TBW cannot since, well, it was raided by Federal agents and barred from making loans by the FHA.
So how bad do you really have it? We told you it could be worse. Next time you’re out there ticking and tying wondering how in the hell you’re going to spend the rest of your life that way, just think about Bank of America and remember you could be Ken Lewis right about now.
What we’d really like to know is: will Lewis be able to limp along for the next 3 years and make it to retirement before totally flipping out?

Bean Counter Obituary: Eli Mason, 1920-2009

Eli Mason, a driving force for the independence of accountants and an outspoken critic of large accounting firms, died last week at the age of 88.
He was a CPA for more than 60 years, starting his own firm in 1946 with two clients. He served on the NYS Board for Public Accountancy for ten years, including two as the chair. He was also the President of the NYS Society of CPA’s for 1972-1973.
According to the New York Times obituary:

Mr. Mason went to the business school of the City College of New York, where he studied accounting with Emanuel Saxe, a distinguished professor and one of the accounting world’s stars at the time. He graduated in 1940 and was a lifelong supporter of the college, now Baruch College of the City University of New York , where he endowed a chair for accounting in 1992 and financed the restoration of the school’s biggest auditorium, now called Mason Hall.

More, after the jump

Mr. Mason was taking on the big firms before most of us were born:

In 1979, he helped found the National Conference of C.P.A. Practitioners, which consisted of 1,500 small firms, and became one of the profession’s most vocal critics of the big accounting firms, then known as the Big Eight. In particular he resented the practice he referred to as lowballing, or aggressively cutting prices, sometimes below cost, to attract new clients.

He also saw the danger of firms offering consulting services and the consolidation of the large firms when the mergers began in the 1980s:

He also spoke against the industry’s mergers in the 1980s, which reduced the number of major firms to five, and he was critical of large firms that offered consulting services as well, fearing this would erode their independence from their clients. Many of his fears turned out to be justified later when the accounting scandals of Enron and WorldCom highlighted the cozy relationship between some of the world’s top accounting firms and the companies they were supposed to audit. Arthur Andersen was one, having been Enron’s accounting firm.

Mr. Mason was known as an accounting purist and earned the nickname “the conscience of the profession”, something we could certainly use more of. Follow this link to read an interview he did with the CPA Journal in 1999. He will be missed and our condolences go out to his family.
Eli Mason, 88, Outspoken Accountant, Is Dead [New York Times]

Rumor of the Morning: Tax Layoffs to Come After Filing Deadlines?

Over the weekend we received an email that basically confirmed our suspicions that many of you were working over the weekend. Considering the time of year, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that hours are starting to pile up and you’re spending at least one hour a night deciding where you’re ordering take out from.
We received word over the weekend that tax groups at KPMG PwC all the major firms are working like crazy already in anticipation for the September 15th and October 15th filing deadlines.
There have also been whispers among some in the tax practice at KPMG that layoffs may occur after the deadlines due to large number of idle hands that will be around after the deadlines pass.
Tax associates out there, let’s know what your hours have been, what you’re hearing about post-deadline layoffs, and where you don’t want to get take out from ever again.

Preliminary Analytics | 08.10.09

paulson2.jpgPaulson’s Calls to Goldman May Have Tested Ethics – “During the week of the A.I.G. bailout alone, Mr. Paulson and Mr. Blankfein spoke two dozen times, the calendars show, far more frequently than Mr. Paulson did with other Wall Street executives.” Paging Representative Waters. [DealBook]
Textbooks Offered for iPod, iPhones – “A provider of subscription e-textbooks for college students is making its 7,000-plus titles accessible on Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPod Touch as interest heats up in the digital-textbook arena.” [WSJ]
States End Up Losers in Gambling Pullback – Now, everyone loses! [WSJ]
Expert: Madoff Victims May Wait 15 Yrs. For Full Payout – “…some non-wealthy clawback subjects paying $50 to $100 a month in an installment plan.” [New York Post]
Even sex tough to sell in this recession – BAIL-OUT! BAIL-OUT! BAIL-OUT! [Greg Burns/Chicago Tribune]

Going Concern Weekend: Your Weekend Plans

The summer weekends are running out people. So what are you up to? BBQ? Beach? Baseball?
Here’s an email we received late last night:
Check out one accountant’s plans, after the jump

I am working both days this weekend. On top of that, I had to work (although not explicitly enforced) on a holiday. The problem is upper management says all these things about maintaining a healthy balance at work but in reality it can never be realized. They say to eat your lunch in peace but they also say do a boat load of work by the end of the day. No sane human can even take an hour in the middle of a day to do such a thing. The duplicity is beyond annoying. Shitty management across the board. Nothing is sacred to these people except for the revenue generated from a bunch of stupid clients.

Sounds like a party. Are you working this weekend? Let us know what’s going on at [email protected]. If you know someone that is working this weekend, pass this along so we can get the scoop on how much fun they’re having.
10-Q’s are due Monday, Corporate tax deadline is just a month away, sleep is becoming optional but GC is here for you. Let it out. You’ll feel better.

Review Comments | 08.07.09

mary_schapiro_1218.jpg• Don’t forget to join our group on Facebook!
Enforcement push gives SEC image boost Let it be known that we still think very lowly of the SEC. []
Ethics Panel Clears Dodd in Countrywide Refinancing If only Chris Dodd had that Angelo Mozilo glow there might have been more of an obvious connection. [Bloomberg]
A Defense of Bank of America’s Chief FTW Ken Lewis! [DealBook]
Former Rabbi Charged in $35M Tax Fraud Scheme 3,300 tax returns using the names of prison inmates. [Web CPA via TaxProf Blog]
D.C. Circuit Slams IRS, Opens Door to Billions of Dollars Telephone Excise Tax Refunds [TaxProf Blog]

Your Token IRS/UBS Update

300px-Toblerone-1.jpgIn, oh for the love of God make it stop, news, Judge Alan Gold has allowed the IRS and UBS more time to hammer out a deal over 52,000-someodd names of American account holders.
There was supposed to be a deal today but then the judge said the 10th would be fine. Now the 12th is the date and if that doesn’t work, then they have until 17th. OH to hell with it. Who needs a drink?
U.S. and UBS Get More Time to Reach a Deal [DealBook]

Michael Jackson’s Doctor is a Deadbeat

1.michael_jackson_71246050015.jpgWe have failed again to avoid deceased King of Pop news. Turns out the doctor who is suspected of providing Jackson with drugs that may have killed him is also is a tax scofflaw.
Dr. Conrad Murray is facing a $20k tax lien to the State of California, who, we’ve heard, needs the money. It was filed nine days before Jackson died which will likely add to the batsh!t crazy conspiracy theories surrounding his death.
Michael Jackson Doctor Faces Tax Lien [Web CPA]

Colonial Bank Shouldn’t Make Any Late Summer Plans

thumbs down col.gifSo all that fuss over at Colonial Bank? Accounting irregularities, natch. According to Reuters, “Colonial BancGroup Inc (CNB.N) said it faces a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) related to accounting irregularities at its mortgage lending unit, and the struggling lender warned it may be put under receivership.”
The SEC is also taking a peek at the bank’s participation in TARP. Book cooking for taxpayer funds may have its poster child. Top notch, Colonial. Top notch.
Colonial BancGroup faces criminal probe, FDIC action [Reuters]

The FDIC May Have to Seize Itself

PiggyBank_broken.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.
In honor of Bank Fail Friday, let’s take a look at our doubt over the FDIC continuing as a going concern. Sure, we know it’s technically a government agency and therefore not subject to the same sorts of worries as public companies but there is certainly something brewing here.
We are not in the business of auditing the financial statements of the FDIC, even if they provided such information. Frankly, if they did, we really aren’t equipped to analyze said statements. Be that as it may, you don’t need to be an expert to see that the FDIC is in a whole shit ton of trouble (yes, that is our qualified opinion).
More, after the jump

Remember Colonial Bank? Surely Sheila Bair has been up late since the news broke on Monday that they’d cooked their books, or something about TARP fraud (though the bank never received TARP funds after that TBW deal for $300 million fell through Friday). Maybe it was undercapitalization? Who keeps track of these things?
Anyway, the point here is that the FDIC well has run dry and there’s no magically conjuring up a Treasury line of credit. While Congress has offered up a $500 billion “line of credit” to our friends at the FDIC, that money technically does not exist. (Psst: hate to break it to Congress but yours truly is only a tad concerned that there may be trouble in the bond market ahead).
I’m no mathlete but this should be fairly simple to understand:
Colonial has about $25.5 billion in assets, while the FDIC has about $13 billion remaining in the fund. According to Sheila’s math, new FDIC fees levied against Too Big to Fail will net the fund about $27 billion this year. To put this into perspective, the FDIC lost $33.5 billion in 2008 to cover 25 bank failures. Add it up, as we’ve had 69 bank failures in 2009 to date. Carry the 1 and I believe we arrive at the following figure: the FDIC is screwed.
Like I said, someone might want to check my numbers but it doesn’t look good.
I could also point out that perhaps the FDIC should have chosen the “proactive” route and collected insurance premiums for the last 10 years instead of assuming the good times would last forever but again, not my jurisdiction.
Disclosure: the author has long since diversified her “investments” in the First National Bank of Her Mattress, thankyouverymuch.

Bob Herz is the Most Dangerous Man in America

bob herz.jpgAccording to Reuters columnist, James Pethokoukis, that is. JP argues that the FASB’s most recent attempt to go balls to the wall with mark-to-market will endanger the economy:
“What if an upgraded mark-to-market standard forced slowly healing banks to set aside huge sums to cover paper losses and further crimp lending? Not FASB’s problem.” He also argues that the FASB is motivated by the ideology around transparency as opposed to “practicality and experience”.
The problem, as we see it, with this argument is that JP sees mark-to-market as an inconvenient rule considering the circumstances that the economy is under. That very well may be but we would ask, what the hell is the alternative? “Massaging” the rules every so often, as he puts it? So making the rules less principled when they are inconvenient is the solution? Accounting rules are not written so that we can change them when they don’t work in our favor.
Make no mistake, we’re not crazy about the current system as it exists. GAAP continues to look more and more like the U.S. Tax Code, so the FASB’s sloth-like attempt to develop a “principles system” is promising encouraging something. Mark-to-market is the best reflection of that something. The idea that tweaking of the rules under duress is an acceptable form of determining the direction of financial reporting is what drives accountants f’n berserk.
America’s Most Dangerous Man? An Accountant [James Pethokoukis/Reuters]

Firm Watch Ranking and Wrap-up

winners.jpgSo here’s our little wrap up on the firms we covered this week. Pretty difficult to figure out who’s really got it the worst out there, as every firm seems to have its own skeletons. God knows that we’ll continue to dig through as many closets as we can find in order to keep you all informed, especially as we approach the fiscal year ends for raises and bonuses (or lack thereof) and the incoming new hires get razed.
See the rank/em>

Taking a Beating
1. PwC – On top of everything that PwC is already dealing with, rumor has it that this year’s new hires got their starting pay cut but it’ll be spreading over the next 24 months to ease the pain. PwC is, for the lack of a better comparison, the Goldman Sachs of the accounting firms. They’re always going to take the most heat and be scrutinized the most. So with that in mind, they top our first ranking as the firm that seems to be taking the most serious beating.
2. E&Y – Judging by the comments, sounds like E&Y has had the most significant layoffs. Somehow the firm still finds the cash to throw a monster international rager for interns. The Lehman Brothers lawsuits haven’t really even gotten started. Our suggestion: Sneak down to Orlando and party on the company dime while you can.
Bloody but Somehow, Still Standing
3. BDO – BDO has got to figure what to do about the $520-odd million they owe Banco Espirito. Considering the fact that they won’t be getting help from the International Firm Global Cooperative, this may be a hell of a problem. Other than the TTT comments, BDO-ers aren’t saying much. Get your friends that work there to spill their guts here.
4. KPMG – Rumors of another reduction in force in October, forced PTO, teams are short staffed. We would like more info on those cell phone chairs please. The Radio Station troops are doing a lot of belly aching, which we love, that’s what were here for. Keep it up Blue! Obviously, the big risk here is the New Century lawsuit which includes the “we’re going to piss everyone off” quote. Considering the pace of these lawsuits, we’ll be talking about it well into next decade.
5. Deloitte – Deloitte, while canning plenty of people, partners not sharing the love and losing some big clients, does not have any major litigation pending that we can see so they fall near the bottom of our list at this point in time. Oh sure you could say that Parmalat is out there but does anyone give a damn? They make extra long-shelf-life milk. That’s a fraud in it’s own right.
6. Grant Thornton – Sounds like G to the T is able to keep their layoffs pretty quiet but they possibly have had it the worst. Keep enlightening us with those details. Refco is out there but those guys were cheats, liars, and thieves. A public defender could get you out of that. However, the biggest strike we see against is trying to squeeze into cool kids club with the coining of “Global 6 Accounting Organization”. Nice try GT.
So there you have it. P. Dubs and E&Y take the top two spots in our very first Firm Watch ranking. Radio Station and BDO have got serious issues to work and Big D and GT seem to fall to the bottom of the ranking by having less bad issues than the other firms.
Give us your thoughts. Reshuffle completely? Any more tips? Send them to [email protected]. We’ll do the firm watch every so often as big events unfold. In the mean time, keep sending us tips, dirt, and ridiculous emails that inform you about paper clip rationing and the such.

Rumor of the Day: Comp and Bonus Pools at Big 4 Seriously Depleted

We’re not trying to ruin your Friday but at the very least, this might encourage some of you to get your drink on a little earlier than planned.
Rumor received late last night that a Big 4 CEO was asked about compensation and bonuses at some grin n’ grip and he responded that the compensation adjustment and bonus pools for all the Big 4 firms was going to be down 90%.
This fits together nicely with the rumors of freezing and/or cutting pay that have been going around. Okay, now try to get some work done or figure out where you’ll be having that three martini lunch.

Preliminary Analytics | 08.07.09

ben_old.jpgObama likely in no rush to nod on Bernanke’s fate Apparently this is the one thing that doesn’t need addressed immediately. [Reuters]
U.S. Payroll Losses Slow, Unemployment Rate Declines 247,000 lost, 9.4%. Is that green shoots? [Bloomberg]
France targets bankers’ bonuses – Soon, pols are going to have to find something else to pander to the masses with. [BBC]
AIG Posts $1.82 Billion Profit, First Since 2007 – You can just sign that over to the us, thankyouverymuch. – U.S. Taxpayer [Bloomberg]
Willis Group Sued by Stanford’s Venezuelan Clients – Sure, why not? [DealBook]
Judge Approves Lawyer Fees in Madoff Liquidation – In other news, Madoff victims are still pissed. [DealBook]

Review Comments | 08.06.09

bill-clinton.jpgNorth Korea Wanted Only Bill Clinton for Mission to Free Women – And Bill Clinton wanted the mission to free women. Worked out great. [Bloomberg]
Senate Votes 68-31 to Confirm Sotomayor – Senator Stuart Smalley Al Franken presided over the vote, which Bill O’Reilly will hate, which we, in turn, will love. [ATL]
AIG’s Hank Greenberg Pays $15 Million to End SEC Suit [Bloomberg]
Unemployed Man Getting Really Good At Unemployment Not surprisingly, it’s pretty easy. [The Onion]

Firm Watch: BDO

BDO-small.jpgAll right, so this is it for our firm watch. We realize loading three firms into one day wasn’t such a good idea but we procrastinated out of habit.
We wrap up with BDO Seidman, who some of you probably consider to be TTT-1 but whatevs.
See BDO’s list, after the jump

Lawsuits – BDO International Global Cooperation hit the lottery when a jury in South Florida bought the wedding planner defense in the Banco Espirito lawsuit. That left the U.S. firm to deal with the $520 million verdict in the original case. The U.S. firm just reported revenue results of $622 million. No word on how that will reconcile.
Madoff Exposure – Listed as a defendant in seven lawsuits.
Overtime Lawsuits – List as a defendant in one lawsuit.
Layoffs, etc. – Same dealio as GT. We’ve only heard of minor layoffs but as high as 200 in the UK. Get us up to speed if you’ve got details.
Miscellaneous – Global CEO Jeremy Newman has a blog that is frequently TLDR. The U.S. CEO has been compared to a special version of Ricardo Montalban and a former partner had to recently give up his boat.
Finally. That catches you up on all the firms that you’ll see regularly around here. They all seem doomed but also have the tenacity of cockroaches. You’ll see our totally unfair, unrealistic ranking tomorrow with some updates that we’ve gotten throughout the week. Before then, continue to send us your tips to [email protected].

PCAOB Reminds Us That They Have Their Own Oversight Board

overtheshoulder.jpgGod bless the PCAOB. Back in 2004, they created the Office of Internal Oversight and Performance Assurance (IOPA) just in case those smartass Peekaboo inspectors were getting a little too self-righteous all over your audit.
Apparently, the fact that the PCAOB has its own internal oversight board is supposed to make all of you auditors comfortable. That assumes you knew about it in the first place. We sure didn’t know this internal affairs-esque board-within-a-board existed.
Maybe realizing that the IOPA had virtually no identity among anyone, anywhere, the PCAOB did everyone the courtesy of updating its “About” section of its website today reminding us of the internal watchdog. So whether you’ve got a legitimate complaint or you’re just seeking sweet, sweet revenge on that know-it-all dick questioning your tickmarks and indexing method, now you can give the PCAOB a taste of their own medicine.
Internal Oversight []

Firm Watch: Grant Thornton

grant-thornton-logo-with-rose.jpgNow that we’ve dispensed with the Big 4 on our Firm Watch, we’ll throw in the two major second next non-Big 4 firms to demonstrate our willingness to spread the love hate coverage.
Get acquainted with GTTT, after the jump

Lawsuits – The lawsuits worth mentioning for GT are Parmalat and Refco. While Deloitte was able to get the suit tossed, GT wasn’t so lucky. Investors in the never-go-bad dairy company are allowed to proceed with their lawsuit which will guarantee that this case continues on to the end of time. As far as Refco goes, well, we’ll be damned if we can find anything that is even remotely recent as it relates to GT. Help us out if you can.
Madoff Exposure – G to the T’s UK office is running down assets across the pond. That unenviable task could almost qualify the firm for sainthood.
Overtime Lawsuits – Listed as defendants in two cases.
Layoffs – This is where we need your help, GT-ers. As far as we can tell, not a lot of blood has been spilled at G to the T. If you’ve details on rumors on anything upcoming or layoffs that have gone down recently, let us know.
Miscellaneous – GT’s partners in the UK have interns sign off on audit reports and the Midtown New York office as a diabolical address. Oh, and the lame attempt by their PR team to coin “Global 6 Accounting Organization” as the new tag for accounting firms.
There’s the study on passionate folks at GT. Get us caught up on stuff we’re missing at [email protected]. We can’t imagine it’s that boring to work there.

Lock up the Booze, E&Y Interns in Orlando

We just picked up one of the few Tweets that has made it through today:
Picture 4.jpg
This type of event will likely lead to many things including international hookups, late night skinny dipping (and probably urinating) in the pool, and widespread drunkenness of epic proportions.
If you’re down in Orlando this weekend for this three day extravaganza, send us your stories of debauchery to [email protected]. According to the website, the festivities are at Disney World, so don’t embarass your firm yourself and try to keep the nudity out of the view of children.
International Intern Leadership Conference []

Rumor of the Day: All Big 4 Firms Freezing and/or Cutting Pay?

We’ve heard some rumors that all the firms are giving serious consideration to freezing pay this year and possibly pay cuts in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. This would follow the Radio Station rumors that we mentioned last week.
Top performers and promotees, determined by God knows how, may be getting bumps but we haven’t heard anything definite. If you’ve got some deets or just more rumors, shoot us an email to [email protected].

Firm Watch: Deloitte

DTa.jpgThe last of the Big 4 Horsemen of the Bean Counter Apocalypse is Big D-period. Catch up on the rest of the usual suspects: Radio Station, P. Dubya, and E&Y to get the gist of this little exercise.
Deloitte’s got a pretty similar list as the rest of the firms but with a couple twists so let’s get down to brass tacks:
Get the details, after the jump

Losing Clients – We’ve heard that firms are low-balling their RFP’s so it’s no surprise that some clients are switching but Deloitte seems to have had worse luck than others. UAL, Heelys (for the kids), Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Washington Mutual have all disappeared from D-period.
Lawsuits – Believe it or not, the Parmalat debacle is not a done deal, as some lawsuits against the US and Internationalfirms are still out there as a judge ruled in January that the agent/agency issue was worth a closer look.
Madoff Exposure – All week we’ve been referring you to the list of Feeder Fund Lawsuits over at D&O Diary. In a small water into wine moment, Deloitte does not appear on the list once. Nice bullet dodge Big D.
Overtime Lawsuits in California – Deloitte is listed as the defendant in three of the cases.
Layoffs, performance reviews, etc. – So, as we saw yesterday, this is where Deloitte’s sitch gets, pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay ugly. Layoffs were reported in both December and March nationwide. The performance stealth cuts are common here too and more may occur. All this is going on while an out-going CEO is talking to the press about how bad things have been in the last five years and the UK CEO is having Scrooge McDuck pool parties.
Miscellaneous – The worst drug dealers in the world used to work for Big D.
So that does it for Deloitte, God bless ’em. And that does it for the Final Big 4. We’ll throw in GT and BDO in for good measure but if you want to throw some more jabs at the big boys, email us at [email protected]. You’ve got until around high noon tomorrow before we’ll start coming up with our completely unfair and unscientific ranking.

Your New Career: Actor

Are you a young bean counter totally apathetic towards your career choice? Do you wake up thinking that if you have to look at spreadsheets for one more day you might just go mental on everyone in your office?
Well, the gods are shining on you today:
See the role, after the jump

Casting for the short thriller “A Paper Trail”
A group of friends finds a large sum of money hidden away in the woods. Unfortunately the owners come looking for what is theirs.
Casting for the male and female leads:
Matt – A competent accountant who decides that the best course of action will be to keep the money.

Stacey – She is nervous and has her reservations about taking the money.
Send an email with your headshot and resume. We will be casting on Sunday, August 9th, from 12-5 @ The Rosendale Youth Center!

Sorry lady number crunchers, unless you’re capable of summoning your inner-Hillary Swank, this one is for the gents.
So dudes, basically no acting involved. Show up, looking however you normally look and act how you normally act: Competent. Best course of action is to keep the money. Completely natch.
Not a thespian? Then tell us what you’d rather be doing than pulling sample selections or researching 1031 exchanges. SHUDDER. Anything has gotta beat the hell out of what you’re working on right this second.
Casting for a Short Thriller film (Rosendale) []

Preliminary Analytics | 08.06.09

Businesses Learn To Make Do With Fewer Workers – Sound familiar to anyone? [NPR]
Judge raps $33m bank bonus fine – “A US judge has refused to approve a $33m (£19m) fine that Bank of America agreed to pay to settle charges that it misled investors about bonuses.” [BBC]
SEC Asks to Self Fund to Allow for Better Enforcement – OH, that was the problem. [naked capitalsm]
AIG Breakup Is Fee Bonanza – Bankers, lawyers, accountants. Everybody’s happy. Oh wait. Taxpayers. [WSJ]
Madoff Victims Said to Start Getting Tax Refunds – Anger will only subside briefly. [DealBook]

Review Comments | 08.05.09

stanford10.jpgWho Will Defend R. Allen Stanford? – There’s always…hmmm, anyone? [DealBook]
Judge Orders Sale of Creation Science Theme Park to Pay Evangelist’s Tax Debts Agnostic judge probably. [TaxProf Blog]
The alleged grifter who duped corporate giants – The fairer sex, taking it to the man. [Fortune]
A Battle of Goliaths: Michael Bloomberg and His Gun Control Group Take on the NRA – At least this is a fair match. [Washington Post]
Huron’s ex-CEO cashed out $8.3 million since last July But it wasn’t about the money. [Greg Burns/Chicago Tribune]
IRS Commissioner Joins alliantgroup [Press Release]
Bernard Madoff and the Solo Auditor Red Flag [Ross D. Fuerman]
Going Concern is now on Facebook! Join the group.

Grant Thornton Spreads Out the Liability, Admits Nineteen New Partners

grant-thornton-logo-with-rose.jpgNineteen individuals have proven their passion for the business of accounting (as well as an intrepid attitude towards liability) as G to the T admitted new partners and directors effective August 1.
The press release is your standard trite lexicon but we can’t help but notice GT taking the opportunity to slip in their favorite moniker, “Global 6 accounting organization” or a derivative of such. GT is bound and determined to get this to catch fire even though no one outside of the GT press team has probably uttered the phrase.
Grant Thornton LLP admits 19 new partners and principals to the firm [Press Release]

IASB Chairman Would Like the SEC to Get With It

TOLD YOU.jpgSir David Tweedie, IASB Chairman, would sure appreciate it if the SEC would make up its damn mind about whether or not to commit to converging U.S. GAAP with IFRS. He spoke at the American Association of Accountants (AAA) annual meeting in New York yesterday and figured he might as well call out the SEC, who seems to be stonewalling him. He’s giving them until 2011 to figure it out.
Tweedie has been making like some kind of financial reporting missionary, going all around the world preaching the good word of IFRS. He’s said he’ll have 150 believers by 2011. But everywhere he goes, all anyone can talk about is whether the U.S. is converted yet.
More, after the jump

“That is a question I am asked all around the world. The convergence program is designed to reduce the cost of transition. FASB is riding two horses: US GAAP and trying to converge at the same time, but so are we.”…If you’re going to have global standards, we need the US, but it can’t go on indefinitely,” he said

We’re impressed that the knighted bean counter is putting his foot down here. We figured the SEC and the FASB could just continue doing whatever it is they do and Tweedie would just keeping asking them about it every month or so like they owed him fifty bucks.
Tweedie Warns of 2011 Deadline for IFRS Choice [Web CPA via Accountancy Age]

Moss Adams Gives Venture Bank the ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’ Routine

GeorgeCostanza_art_200v_20090306003944.jpgThings that could be perceived as bad:
Your auditor is putting a going concern paragraph in your audit opinion.
You agree with your auditors when they tell you that you have a material weakness in internal controls.
It’s August 5th and you haven’t filed your 10-K..
Along with everything listed above, Venture Financial Group entered into an agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco that lists a bunch of stuff that Venture can’t do. Plus they get to report to Fed-SanFran every quarter how they’re doing such a good job at not doing anything they’re not supposed to.
More, after the jump

Apparently all this was more excitement than Moss Adams could stand because they’re kicking Venture to the curb after the 2008 agreements are finished. The firm broke the news to Venture on July 24th and the SEC got the filing just last week.
Accounting firms being the dumper and not the dumpee is usually a good sign of damaged goods. Best of luck to Venture Bank in its quest to find new auditors.
Firm bows out of Venture audit [The News Tribune via Jr. Deputy Accountant]

Firm Watch: KPMG

KPMG_chair.jpgSo after dissecting opining on sliming P. Dubs and E&Y, we’re moving on to KPMG in round three. We’ll dispense with the pleasantries and get right to the list:
New Century Lawsuit – This is the ball buster for KPMG. A $1 billion lawsuit filed back in April that alleges “grossly negligent audits”. This tale also includes a smoking gun quote from an email sent from New Century engagement partner to a specialist, “As far as I am concerned, we are done. The client thinks we are done. All we are going to do is piss everybody off.” We’re not sure if it’s possible to take that out of context.
Check out the rest of the Radio Station’s list, after the jump

Madoff Exposure – Per D&O Diary, the Radio Station is named as a defendant in at least ten lawsuits as a result of auditing the Madoff feeder funds.
Overtime Lawsuits – Listed as a defendant in five lawuits.
Layoffs, Pay Freezes, etc. – Allegedly, the word that pay was being frozen was slowly leaked from the top on down. Layoffs have been pretty steady for the last twelve months including rounds in November and March in the audit and advisory practices. In addition, the ubiquitous trend of performance rating cuts is in full effect, and we just learned that by the this time last year, audit interns had heard yay or nay on receiving a full time offer. That probably makes for some nervous intoxicated co-eds.
Miscellaneous – Phil Mickelson, the Radio Station’s walking billboard, was a bridesmaid at the U.S. Open for a third fourth fifth time.
Done-zo. Anything else you want to see tacked on? Drop us the dirt at [email protected] and we’ll get it in for the final tab.

Try to Compose Yourselves After Reading This Post

Being accountants, we don’t have too may rock stars among us. Oh sure, maybe Tim Flynn is the cock of the walk at the Radio Station or Barry Salzberg can’t walk around Big D’s office without associates crawling all over each other to touch his clothes but these men pale in comparison to the immortal we are about to present to you.
If you saw this man on the street, his swagger would make your knees week, his impeccable attire would cause you to stare uncontrollably and the sound of his voice might overcome you with so much nervous excitement that you might projectile vomit all over him.
Find out who this man-god is, after the jump

We present you with this:
Now we realize that the mere thought of Tim Gearty and Bob Herz on a cruise at the same time is probably more than most of you can handle but we had to share with you that the oracle of Becker Review was on Twitter bestowing encouragement and wisdom. All of you out there working to dominate the CPA exam can now rest easy that Tim will always be available in the Twitterverse.
You’re welcome.

LandAmerica: Victims of Bad Marketing or Ponzi Schemers?

RG-1031.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 adve 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.
There’s nothing we appreciate more than a really juicy tale of crappy auction rate securities, fire sales ignored by regulators, and bankruptcy when the scam runs out, especially when the perps happen to be audited by a Big 4 firm you may have heard of (there are only 4, just throw a dart).
Excuse our bad grammar and run-on sentences, we just don’t know where to start with this.
More, after the jump

Once upon a time not that long ago when a tarp was just something you brought camping, LandAmerica was at the top of the 1031 exchange game. That entire story is a tad too long for today’s 140 character attention span so let’s fast-forward to the part where there are even entire forums dedicated to discussing why regulators missed LandAmerica. In short: LandAmerica exchangers are pissed off.
To get a hint at just how pissed off, take a peek at what the forum has to say:

Then LandAm files Bankruptcy proceedings on their 1031 subsidiary, saying: “…you 1031 clients of ours are ‘…going under the wheels of the Bankruptcy bus” because “we” made bad decisions in $290 million ARSs. Wow! a $300 million “wash.” A “Back-Door” merger without the “toxic” ARS funds. LandAm1031 clients get hosed!

Burn! Those are some wild accusations, is it fair to spit such venom at LandAmerica?
Well… um… yeah, actually. And LandAmerica has due diligence to blame Fidelity has due diligence to thank.
On November 24th, 2008 LandAmerica went into free-fall after Fidelity announced that it would be pulling out of the tentative deal (subject to final due diligence). Given the BBB mark of the beast by Fitch shortly thereafter, LandAmerica slumped off to bankruptcy court. Meanwhile, those who found themselves at the short end of LandAm’s 1031 exchange stick started getting letters from the IRS while their money was off in SunTrust accounts getting killed by illiquid auction rate securities without their knowledge. You’d think more people would be discussing something that involves millions of misappropriated investor dollars but who are we to judge?
As with most (alleged) Ponzi schemes, the “scheme” escapes detection until the money runs out. And when Fidelity backed out of the LandAmerica deal, LandAmerica had what can only be called a Madoff Moment.
Making this saga even better is, that for some completely bizarre reason that escapes us, the Richmond Fed has decided to hire LandAmerica’s former legal counsel Michelle Gluck to serve on their team as Chief Legal Officer (perhaps they are taking a cue from the Fed Board of Governors who hired an ex-Enron PR girl awhile back?). We truly love hate to wildly speculate here but this goes against logic, which we are generally used to seeing from Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker and his bank. “With her broad range of leadership experience and extensive legal expertise, I know she’ll make great contributions to the Bank and to the Federal Reserve System,” he said of his new hire.
So what exactly is Richmond trying to do here? With credentials like that, I’m only slightly concerned now.
We’ll let you know if we ever figure that out. The SEC couldn’t be bothered to comment about it and reminded me why I don’t like picking up the phone.
We did however speak with one angry LandAmerica creditor who has a lot of questions and no answers and we’d be happy to update you with his comments as the investigation unravels. Oh wait, who said there was an investigation? Could someone kindly forward this to the SEC? Some of us have a day job.

Arlen Specter Not Pandering to the Bean Counter Vote

Arlen_Specter_official_portrait.jpgArlen Specter is many things. Senator. Cancer survivor. Some might say, turncoat. And since he is a newly minted Democrat, Specter is expected to prove his political stripes.
Well, Specter has decided that the best way to earn those stripes is to embrace the recent investor outrage and introduce legislation that will allow investors to sue accountants, lawyers, and investment banks, that provide, what Specter calls “substantial assistance” in a fraud.
More, after the jump

According to Bloomberg:

Shareholders are barred from suing parties that have only an indirect role in a fraud after Supreme Court decisions that limited liability to those directly and publicly involved in the scheme.The Specter measure would upend rulings in Stoneridge Investment Partners LLC v. Scientific-Atlanta Inc. of 2008 and Central Bank of Denver v. First Interstate Bank of Denver. Prior to the rulings, investor lawsuits against fraud accomplices were common, Langevoort said. The 1994 Central Bank decision was a “major gift” to individuals and corporations that aided in a fraud

The Refco scandal is right at the heart of this debate as attorneys, auditors, and investment bankers were all misled by Philip Bennet, Refco’s then-CEO. Suits against PwC, Grant Thornton, KPMG, and E&Y were dismissed back in April along with suits against several investment banks. Refco’s outside counsel Joseph Collins of Mayer Brown is currently involved in a lawsuit that is being reviewed by the SEC.
We’re all for making accountants responsible when they screw the pooch but if clients just flat out lie and go way the hell out of their way cover those lies up, there’s very little that can be done.
And if there’s one thing that keeps Big 5 4 partners up at night it’s the threat of litigation. The premise that this legislation would increase that litigious exposure is, at the very least, disconcerting to partners.
Specter Law Would Let Investors Sue Fraud Accomplices [Bloomberg]

Preliminary Analytics | 08.05.09

DonaldTrumpHair.jpgDonald Trump Faces Bondholder Battle in Bid to Reclaim Casinos – Our advice: Don’t mess with this hair ego man. [Bloomberg]
ADP Says U.S. Companies Decreased Payrolls by 371,000 – The trend of lesser bad news continues. [Bloomberg]
Banks Get Picky In Doling Out Credit Cards – Postal workers rejoice. [WSJ]
Chinese survey finds prostitutes more trusted than officials – More bang for your buck. [The Raw Story via Naked Capitalism]

Review Comments | 08.04.09

bill-clinton.jpgKim Pardons Journalists – Arkansas moxie does it again. We never doubted it for a second. [WSJ]
SEC accuses GE of accounting fraud – Cue a smug but probably still unsatisfied Bill O’Reilly. [FT Alphaville]
PayPal Users Hit by Global Service Outage – How will anyone pay for the Lehman schwag? [WSJ]
SEC set to target flash trading – “The US Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing to clamp down on lightning-fast “flash” trades made on electronic trading systems amid growing concerns that the practice puts some investors at a disadvantage.” And disadvantages are not the American way. []