After yesterday’s news that LECG that was more or less pulling the plug, Grant Thornton finally put out a press release that they were acquiring a “significant portion” of the company’s business.
GT is taking on 270 employees in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Portland across all its service groups. Naturally, Stephen Chipman is thrilled to share this dynamic news, “We are pleased to welcome these outstanding individuals to Grant Thornton LLP,” SC said, “I am confident that they will fit in perfectly with our people — intellectually curious, talented individuals who want to make a difference with their clients, in their workplace and in their communities.”
Which was a perfect segue into this:
“As I have stated before, our goal is to be the leading audit, tax and advisory firm serving dynamic organizations in our chosen markets,” continued Chipman. “Dynamic companies are companies that are ambitious and growing, expanding internationally. They are dealing with critical events or transactions and are in need of our value-added, integrated service solutions. We will continue to explore additional strategic mergers and acquisitions as our balance sheet is healthy [Ed. note: care to share?] and we are in a position to attract similar talent.”
In other words, GT is still on the prowl for more people to join their party. Any interested parties need to come with dynamism in boatloads.
The two highest remaining seeds – Grant Thornton and BDO – are looking defeat square in the face right now to their respective opponents – Crowe Horwath and Rothstein Kass. First round comeback kid Reznick Group is currently getting worked by Moss Adams which makes should make us all wonder what happened to the teamwork we saw in the first round. Perhaps they’re a one-trick pony?
Finally, in the least talked about match-up, Mickey G’s and Dennis Rader’s favorite firm (ideas for something better are welcome) look like they’ll be taking it down to the wire. There’s just over thirteen hours left to vote, so get the word out sooner rather than later (sorry Clifton Gunderson).
BDO announced a new member firm in Brazil today because…well, KPMG kindasorta poached their last one. Well, BDO Global CEO Jeremy Newman has had it up to here (i.e. eye-level) and wanted to point out that A) this not uncommon:
“BDO is not the first firm to have suffered as a result of our larger competitors using their dominant financial position to buy market share and we have expressed our concerns about this in BDO’s recent submission to the European Commission’s Green Paper on the role of the audit profession,” said Newman.
B) this is some shady dealings:
“These tactics are not driven by client needs but by one firm’s wish to buy market share and presumably achieve further economies of scale. We are concerned that when one firm looks to dominate it reduces choice for clients and leaves the market worryingly dependent on just a few players.
and C) these aren’t just fightin’ words. The most interesting accounting firm in the world will be taking action:
“BDO will be lodging an objection to this deal with the Brazilian competition authorities.”
BDO lines up complaint against KPMG Brazil [Accountancy Age]
Remember those GT/Moss Adams rumors from back in January? At the time, our post sent both firms calling for plumbers but we still mangaged to get a copy of an email from Moss Adams CEO Rick Anderson that denied the rumor in an email to the firm’s partners. Everything has been quiet since then mostly because…well, it’s busy season. Granted, firm leaders like Stephen Chipman and Rick Anderson aren’t thigh-deep in spreadsheets like most of you so the fact it’s entirely plausible that while you’re all distracted, TPTB have been courting each other.
We received this brief note from a tipster yesterday:
Rumor is [Grant Thornton] [is] about to announce big west coast deal.
Our source originally speculated that a tax/valuation/consulting boutique was the target because of an old Andersen connection but then told us that the latest word from the west coast is that Moss Adams is back in the picture. In our original post, we went over the reasons for and against the GranMoss merger and frankly it still could go either way (we’re leaning “no” at this point). That said, Grant Thornton has been on a buying spree, most recently picking up some attest services from the LECG Corp. fire sale, so a merger of some kind wouldn’t be a surprise but WHO?? We’re listening to any and all well-founded or crackpot theories.
Moss Adams has declined to comment on the rumor thus far and Grant Thornton did not return an email requesting comment.
UPDATE: This just in from a Grant Thornton tipster:
While I have no actual basis for substantiating this, we have a Moss Adams wireless signal in our office in the central region. There is no Moss Adams office in our building, or even out state, its been there since about January when the rumors first popped up. I just thought it was interesting. I have no insight into any of this, I’m just a lowly peon staff…
Perhaps there’s an explanation for this but I’m no expert on the wireless signals and whatnot so I’ll leave it to you to reason this out.
Welcome to the upset-special edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a future public accounting foot soldier has to make a decision between a Big 4 firm and “GT/BDO type firm” but is stumped on what to do and can’t find a two-sided coin anywhere. The next best solution was, obviously, emailing us.
Want to know if you’re in a dead-end job? Trying to deal with stress in the waning days of busy season? Anxious about changes in your job? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you pull through.
Back to the indecider:
Hi Going Concern,
I have an offer from a Big 4 and a GT/BDO type firm and am having a tough time deciding. I wanted to ask which option will be better in the long-run if I want to start in public accounting, but then might want to move to a large publicly traded tech company? I guess my question is which route would give me better exit opportunities and long-term benefits should I decide not to stay in public accounting? (If I leave, I have a good idea of where I’d like to work on the corporate side.)
1. Mid-Tier Firm experience — having taken lead on small projects by my second year, more interaction with clients etc. Having experience with mid-sized (not public) tech companies, and experience with large, public companies that are not tech companies.
2. Big 4 — staying a little more than 2 years (enough to move up to Sr. Associate level but not staying too long beyond that) – and having worked on large, public tech companies. Having the Big 4 brand name on my résumé.
Also, there’s a chance that I might enjoy staying at the Mid-Tier in the long-term, but without being sure, I want to keep my options as open as possible.
Thanks. Any advice is appreciated.
Stuck in Indecision
Dear Stuck in Indecision,
I’m impressed that you’ve managed to cover all the angles here. You could possibly like each scenario without considering what it is actually want with your career other than “might want to move to a large publicly traded tech company” or “might enjoy staying at the Mid-Tier in the long-term.” You’re basically saying that you’re up for anything – hence, ” I want to keep my options as open as possible.” Your options are open all right since you’ve committed to exactly nothing. However I’m here to help, so here goes.
To keep it brief: all things being equal, go with the Big 4 firm. Here are some details – it’s likely that you will have the opportunity to work on smaller clients at a Big 4 firm, thus giving you the chance to “take the lead.” If you also have experience working for larger, publicly-traded companies (not as likely at a mid-tier), your experience will be more vast and allow you decide what it is you actually want to do (because, at this point in time, you don’t seem to have a clue). GT, BDO, McGladrey et al. are fine firms but you have a Big 4 offer – take it. You didn’t mention the people (a big selling point at most firms) so I’ll assume you’re indifferent or that they were all equal on this front. The network you build in a Big 4 firm will benefit you the long run and the experience will as well. Just don’t expect your firm to do well in “cool” contests. Good luck.
A new survey of more than 300 chief audit executives (CAEs) by Grant Thornton LLP finds that while nearly half believe that the shifting regulatory landscape poses the greatest threat to their company, a vast majority (88%) do not believe that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) should be repealed. Of those that believe SOX should be repealed, the cost of compliance is the main reason for doing so. “Since the passage of SOX, organizations have had to dedicate significant resources to comply with a host of new laws and regulations,” noted Warren Stippich, a Chicago-based partner and Grant Thornton’s national Governance, Risk and Compliance solution leader. “Based on discussions with various CAEs during the survey process, many believe that SOX brings a continued focus by management on financial and governance-related controls. However, CAEs believe that compliance audit processes are now well-defined and are currently exploring ways to contribute value creation to the organization well beyond compliance monitoring and reporting.” [GT]
I figured you guys should know that.
Ex-CEO Denis Field’s trial for his alleged lead-wolf role in the tax shelter case started last week, while the rest of his fellow wolves – Michael Kerekes, Adrian Dicker, Charles Bee Jr. and Robert Greisman – all pleaded guilty back in 2009.
Led by Field, BDO Seidman was one of the most aggressive tax-shelter marketers, starting in the late 1990s. Inside the firm, the tax-shelter team was known as the “wolf pack.” Field became CEO of the firm in 2000. Tax services accounted for nearly half of BDO Seidman’s $420 million in U.S. revenues in 2002, up from 28 percent in 1998.
Maybe! Denis Field’s lawyers certainly aren’t amused with the tactics:
Denis Field, ex-CEO of BDO Seidman, the world’s fifth largest accounting firm, claims Manhattan prosecutors intimidated his former firm into curtailing and eventually cutting off payments to his lawyers. In recently filed court papers, he claims that the government deprived him of his constitutional right to counsel and seeks dismissal of the case.
Field alleges that among other tactics, prosecutors threatened to indict the firm if it kept funding his defense. During a hearing on Thursday, U.S. Judge William Pauley III of the Southern District of New York, who is presiding over the case, closely questioned prosecutors about the accusations. A ruling is expected soon.
If this sounds familiar, it should. Back in 2007, the very same prosecutors – Stanley Okula and Shirah Neiman – pulled a similar stunt, “convincing” KPMG not to pay the legal fees for the partners and employees that were facing criminal charges for their roles in the firm’s tax shelter schemes:
That case was thrown out in 2007 after U.S. Judge Lewis Kaplan found that prosecutors had improperly “coerced” KPMG into cutting off the legal fees of 13 former KPMG partners and employees. “KPMG refused to pay because the government held the proverbial gun to its head,” Kaplan wrote.
Two of the prosecutors called out by Judge Kaplan — Stanley Okula and Shirah Neiman — have also been involved in the Field case, a fact that is prominently noted by Field’s lawyers in their motion to dismiss. “The reason for the government’s conduct is obvious — as with KPMG, the prosecutors believed BDO ‘should not pay the fees’ of allegedly culpable individuals,” Field’s lawyers argue. They cited the KPMG case no fewer than 50 times in their brief.
So it appears that Okula and Neiman aren’t much for personal reflection and may have pulled out the proverbial gun again. But they’re making a case for themselves, saying BDO’s motivation for sticking Field with the tab isn’t related to them putting the screws to the firm, “the government argues that BDO stopped paying Field’s legal bills after the firm discovered that Field hid from the board a report, prepared by law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, warning that certain tax shelters that Field was promoting were questionable.” Hey! – you can even ask BDO’s general counsel, he’ll tell you that the firm’s decision had nothing to do with get the government off their backs. And if you can’t believe a lawyer, who can you believe?
Welcome to the Calebs-are-a-loyal-sort edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a non-tradish student is getting all wishy-washy about choosing between BDO and a Big 4 firm. There are lots of variables involved so we’ll get right to it. But first…