Deloitte is moving from 160,000 square feet on nine floors of the 600 Tower into 100,000 to 110,000 square feet on six floors in the 200 Tower. The Detroit office employs about 1,000 people. Managing Partner Joseph Angileri said no downsizing of staff is involved.
“We’ve actually been hiring,” he said. “We’ve been in our current space since 1991, and the space is old and traditional and not conducive to the way we do work now. When half of your workforce only spends 20 percent of their time in the office, you don’t need to build the way you used to.
“It’s going to be an eye-opening environment. It will be really next generation, cutting edge.”
Deloitte’s Sharon Allen recently had a little chat with our friends at FINS as part of their coverage of Women in the Workplace series over the next two weeks. Ms. Allen will be coasting into retirement as her second term as the firm’s Chairman (her preferred term) comes to end.
The Allen interview covers all kinds of fun stuff so let’s get to it, starting with those pesky regulators:
Some of us are still getting comfortable to having the PCAOB sticking their beak into audits:
The public accounting arena has indeed changed a lot. It’s now a regulated profession with oversight that’s provided through the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. We are still, both the regulator and the profession, trying to work through that, with the common objective of improving audit quality. We’re learning how to work within a regulated environment that some years ago we just didn’t live with.
None of the firms chose to be the “Big 4” it just sorta worked out that way:
Just last week, we were talking at our global board meeting about how the profession got narrowed down to this number to begin with. The last reduction wasn’t the choice of the profession with [Arthur] Andersen out of business.
And speaking of four, she’s pretty comfortable with that number:
You have to have concentration of enough business to service the clients properly. If you spread that across eight firms, there just isn’t enough that supports that kind of that activity. In some of the major countries, the additional number of firms make sense, but when you look at it across the world, it doesn’t work. We’re not opposed to the competition; there are next-tier firms that are very good, and we encourage them to be in the mix in terms of proposal opportunities. It’s healthy. But the reality is the concentration will and probably should continue.
Term limits have somewhat led to SA’s retirement but there’s at least one person who’s especially happy about her quitting early:
I’m approaching the end of my second four-year term as chairman. We have a limit of two terms. While I’m not at mandatory retirement age yet, I concluded that it’s a really good time to make this move. I’ve had a fabulous 38-year career. But I’m also very comfortable with the transition leadership and the state of the firm. It’s a good time for me to leave at the top of my game. My husband is looking forward to spending more time with me.
FINS went ahead and asked Allen about the leadership election process, even though they already knew how the process went down.
We have a nomination process that we undertake. We interview through a nominating committee chosen by the board. They interview about 1,300 partners for their input on the type of attributes they’d like to see in the chairman and CEO positions. Then the committee interviews some individuals who match up with those qualities and ultimately proposed the nominated person.
One of the biggest challenges Allen has faced as Chairman was dealing with this clusterfuck of an economy. Luckily for the Green Dots out there, Deloitte management saw this coming and was able to save a bunch of you:
We were a little ahead of the game in anticipating the downturn that allowed us to prepare well for the difficult times to come. We had some reductions in our workforce, but they were not as substantial as they might have been had we not appropriately planned for the downturn.
And as a high-flying executive, there has to be coping mechanisms:
[Julie Steinberg of FINS]: How do you handle all the travel you do?
[Sharon Allen]: I drink a whole lot of water. I’m also fortunate to be able to adjust to time zone changes relatively easily. I work on domestic flights, and I do take my iPod and my computer.
JS: What are you listening to these days on your iPod?
SA: I’m a country music fan.
Chesney just came to mind for some reason (FYI Sharon: I can get you into the sold-out Red Rocks show, so reach out if you’re interested). But maybe she’s more of Toby Keith person, I can’t possibly know not having had the pleasure of seeing what ended up on the cutting-room floor. You’re invited to speculate as to artists (I’m pulling for Willie Nelson myself) and react to anything else you see above.
Deloitte’s Sharon Allen on Big Four Domination, Self-Promotion and the Corporate Lattice [FINS]
Earlier: Deloitte’s Sharon Allen Never Misses Date Night, Discovered Early on That She Wasn’t Meant to be a Car Hop
Let’s be completely honest here, when I heard James Quigley had worked on a book subtitled “Individual Action/Collective Power,” I half-expected this to be a handbook on how to get miserable shlubs to do your evil bidding for you while you abuse and humiliate them. After all, the man oversees an entire army of miserable green dot shlubs, surely he knows a thing or two about getting people to do things for you.
Lucky for Quigs and theinds behind As One, however, this book was nothing of the sort. More like Choose Your Own Adventure for leaders, which allows the reader to first determine which archetype of leaders and followers his or her group falls under. Featuring case studies (“inspirational” stories) with such big names as Apple, GE and Pixar, As One looks the why of these organizations’ collaborative efforts before taking on the how.
Deloitte spent two years studying effective collaborations and in the process defined eight archetypes of leaders and followers: Landlords & Tenants, Community Organizer & Volunteers, Conductor & Orchestra, Producer & Creative Team, General & Soldiers, Architect & Builders, Captain & Sports Team and Senator & Citizens. The main archetypes are strategically located across a circular axis, with Landlord & Tenants and Community Organizer & Volunteer anchoring the upper and lower poles. Conductor & Orchestra and Producer & Creative Team sit at the extremities of the horizontal “nature of the task” dimension on the west and east ends of the axis. The other four archetypes are hybrids, occupying the spaces between the main archetypes and combining some characteristics of each.
So this got me thinking, where would Caleb and I be on the axis?
As much as I would like to paint your dear Going Concern editor in a sycophantic, borderline psychotic light, “Dictator & Huddled Masses” wasn’t included in As One, so instead I used the easy chart in the book’s intro to answer a few simple questions about how our organization works. I have the creative freedom to carry out tasks the way I choose (as long as I don’t talk too much about the Federal Reserve), and we have a fairly small hierarchy given the size of our website and TPTB that rule over us. Instead of choosing the archetype I assumed we’d be (Producer & Creative Team), I went by the chart to determine we were most like Community Organizer & Volunteers.
From key characteristics:
Volunteers cannot be told what to do; they must be given the choice to join on their own terms. The persuasive message of the community organizer motivates them to join in the cause; and it’s that common purpose that inspires volunteers to make a difference.
[Volunteers] independently choose to follow the path of altruism or enlightened self-interest. Community organizers and volunteers may be passionate, selfless and dedicated, but, above all else, they are independent thinkers who, of their own volition, decide whether to get involved in a cause and for how long.
“A community organizer is someone who uncovers [volunteers’] self-interest,” says Jana Adams, the National Training Coordinator at the Direct Action Training Research Center. “They give [volunteers] an opportunity to work in their own self-interest and address problems in the community that they could not address by themselves.”
All of those key characteristics rang true with me, though I wouldn’t necessarily call making misogynist jokes about work/life balance altruistic. And I definitely cannot be told what to do, so another point to the book for that one.
As One allows the reader the opportunity to brand his or her own strategy, whether or not the current structure allows for such freedom. Unlike much of what one might encounter in public accounting or any other similarly-structured business, the free flow and adaptability of As One gives leadership the chance to form itself, mostly through analysis of what makes an archetype tick. Even miserable shlubs have a drive (be it money, stability, masochism or the perpetual carrot of becoming partner one day being dangled in front of one’s face), it’s how they are driven that makes all the difference. Point being that leadership isn’t about who can bark orders the loudest, despite how life in public accounting might make it appear.
Are we all so easily prodded into distinctive roles? Not really, and As One doesn’t attempt to do so. Its authors argue that life itself is a collaborative journey, and it may just be easier on all of us to accept that. Organizational structure doesn’t necessarily have to create a disenchanted workforce just in it for the paycheck, and recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each collaborative group can actually help infuse a little pride in the job, or at least more willing participation.
As One isn’t a book about how to get people who hate you to do things for you, it’s about recognizing the individual power in each of us to accomplish collective goals, be that running a business or changing the world as we know it. It presents some awfully lofty goals but asks one very important question: what could we accomplish if we could unlock the power of As One on a global scale?
Sounds like CFO Geoff Chatas and state auditor Dave Yost wanted to figure a way around a 15-year limit but it was to no avail, “Ohio State CFO Geoff Chatas said Yost discussed with him the possibility of letting Ohio State be the first to stick with the same audit firm, but the school opted to put the contract out for bid.”
A likely story. If you ask me, this has everything to do with the fact that Deloitte’s main color is blue while PwC has opted for slightly more appropriate hues.
Barry Salzberg will be the next global CEO of Deloitte, according to a statement released by the firm today. Of course, if you’ve been following our coverage of the controversy around the election process at Deloitte, then you already knew that this was coming. As you know, this election was an all or nothing deal and with Salzberg taking the reigns from Jim Quigley on June 1, Joe Echeverria will be the new U.S. CEO and Punit Renjen will assume the Chairman’s role vacated by Sharon Allen.
The always quote-worthy (at least in the context of a Deloitte press release) Dr. Phil said he was “humbled by the confidence that the network has placed in my leadership during this historic time.” He also had some kind words for predecessor, “Over the years, I have worked closely with Jim Quigley and admired his commitment to our strong global culture and shared values, which have brought us to our preeminent position in the marketplace today.”
So congrats to Mr. Salzberg on the promotion (and surviving the coup d’etat). Feel free to leave your well-wishes or other thoughts on the matter in the comments below.
For those not in the know, San Francisco is already an overpriced third world toilet but Pacific Heights is the go-to for wanna-bes, socialities and trust fund babies who can afford the pricey rents and even pricier home values. According to earlier reports, Annabel McClellan fell in the “wanna-be” category, though we aren’t sure if the fact that her husband worked at the Deloitte had anything to do with that.
A Pacific Heights housewife will be heading to prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to insider trading and obstruction of justice charges.
In her plea agreement, Annabel McClellan says she gleaned confidential information about publicly traded companies by overhearing her husband, Arnold McClellan, then a partner at Deloitte Tax LLC, discussing details of deals he was working on. She then passed the information on to her sister, Miranda Sanders, and brother-in-law, James Sanders, who was involved in a trading business in London, according to the document.
James Sanders made money from the tips, including about £396,851 (about $648,000 at current exchange rates) from information about Getty Images, according to McClellan.
McClellan also says in the agreement that she obstructed justice by lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission about having obtained and passed on the information.
Both Arnold and Annabel McClellan had been named in a civil suit filed in November by the SEC, but Annabel alone faced U.S. criminal charges.
We’re not sure where this puts McClellan’s sex app – My Nookie – but we’re pretty sure she won’t be needing it behind bars; her only sex position in the years ahead will likely be Don’t Drop the Soap, or maybe Reverse Don’t Drop the Soap if she’s feeling particularly randy.
Meanwhile, let this serve as a lesson to partners: keep your trap shut in front of the Mrs., lest she act on anything she overhears you talking about and later get taken down by the authorities for sharing that information with the girlfriends and in-laws.
McClellan will be sentenced on September 20th. She faces a maximum prison sentence of five years and fines of up to $250,000. That’s 83,612 copies of My Nookie (priced at $2.99) if you are playing along at home.
Did I say lending? Sorry, that’s not technically accurate. Deloitte Consulting is monitoring Michigan’s welfare computer systems and that involves billable hours. Lots of them. $15 million worth.
The state of Michigan is spending millions of dollars on a contractor to run its welfare computer system partly because it doesn’t offer enough money to attract new hires. A system called Bridges keeps track of welfare cases in the Department of Human Services. In February, Deloitte Consulting was given a one-year contract for about $15 million to maintain it and make regular updates.
Of course it would be cheaper if the Wolverine State did this themselves but there’s a small problem:
[The State’s technology department] lost 15 people to early retirement in December and had several vacancies starting at roughly $42,000 a year. Nobody applied.
By crisis, we don’t mean 70 hour work-weeks and diversity training in the face of that A1 in your office who likes to wear short skirts and low-cut tops just to mess with you.
In the event of a catastrophic emergency like an earthquake, it’s good to know where your co-workers are if you’ve got to evacuate the building. Deloitte Australia has addressed the issue of safety and keeping tabs on the worker bees with Bamboo™, a Business Continuity Management (BCM) smart phone application (so far released for BlackBerry and iPhone only).
How does it work?
The BlackBerry application uses the device’s unique PIN (anyone addicted to BBM knows what that is) as well as voice, SMS and email to keep the team in communication in the event of an emergency. Emergency plans are readily available with Bamboo, eliminating the need to lug along a huge contingency binder stuffed with exit plans and instructions in a crisis situation.
Bamboo automatically logs all usage on each handset and when there is network access, sends these logs to the Bamboo server. The Bamboo Administrator is able to view all logs, from all users to understand its usage, retrace all steps taken and tailor training based on this usage. This data is also valuable in post-incident reviews and audits.
Don’t try to find it in the app store, Bamboo is an enterprise application and as such is deployed by the Company through enterprise application deployment, supported by the local Deloitte office.
Follow Deloitte’s Australian BCM team at @DeloitteBCM and stay tuned, they assure us they’re working to get the kids in America hooked up with their own BCM team.
Check it out in action below:
In the wake of Roddy Boyd’s epic post from March 11th, China MediaExpress announced some bad news today – Deloitte resigned as their auditor effective Friday and as a result the company’s CFO, Jacky Lam, quit yesterday:
China’s largest television advertising operator on inter-city and airport express buses, today announced that the Company’s registered independent accounting firm, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (“DTT”) has formally resigned its engagement by the Company as of March 11, 2011. Following the receipt of the DTT resignation letter, on March 13, 2011, the Company received notice of the resignation of Jacky Lam from his position as Chief Financial Officer and director of the Company, effective immediately. As a result, CME will delay its fourth quarter earnings release and will not file its Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2010 by March 16, 2011, its original due date.
As you might have already guessed, Deloitte got spooked after all the fraud talk and they also came to the conclusion that management couldn’t be trusted (even if he did say great things about them):
The DTT resignation letter stated that DTT was no longer able to rely on the representations of management, and recommended that certain issues encountered during the audit be addressed by an independent investigation. DTT’s letter also stated that these issues may have adverse implications for the prior periods’ financial reports and that, in their view, further investigatory procedures would be required to determine whether the prior periods’ financial reports are reliable. Upon receipt of the formal DTT resignation letter, the Company requested the suspension of trading in the Company’s common stock on the NASDAQ Global Market to permit full disclosure of DTT’s resignation to be disseminated to the public.
So the company now needs a new auditor and a new CFO. Of course you’ll have to work around forensic accountants and a bunch of lawyers that will be helping the company through this little hiccough but otherwise, this should be a snap.
Remember China MediaExpress? That’s the company whose CEO – Zheng Cheng – responded to the accusations of fraud by evoking ‘reputable and well-known’ Deloitte to get the haters off their back. Even though the company is still taking heat, Mr Cheng will be happy to know that he’s got someone in his corner: Glen Bradford, CEO of ARM Holdings LLC, a Hedge Fund Advisory Company. The thing is, Mr Bradford seems a little confused about what an auditor’s purpose is (for fun, I added some emphasis):
I have received tons of messages that can be summarized by the belief that auditors do not look for fraud and that all they do is make sure things line up in the reports. I can say that this is not true simply by being practical. If we didn’t have auditors to verify the claims that companies make, then companies could claim whatever they want to. The purpose of auditors is completely, entirely, and wholly to look for indications of fraudulant activity — and to do their best to remove all possible doubt that the company is misrepresenting itself on its financial statements.
You can make of that what you will but then Glen continues:
Then, if things are OK, they sign off on them. Some auditors are better than others. Deloitte is the best. Period. End of Statement.
Well then! I’m sure Deloitte appreciates the ringing endorsement regardless if it comes from someone who is under the impression that “The purpose of auditors is completely, entirely, and wholly to look for indications of fraudulant activity.” At the very least, this is debatable point, so if you have a difference of opinion with anything above, feel free to share below.
China MediaExpress Holdings: All Eyes on Deloitte [Seeking Alpha]
This announcement is a week old but it’s GC worthy so if you feel compelled to mention the timing of our post, don’t. Supposedly, this chap to the right is Nectophrynoides deloittei and was discovered in the Rubeho Forest in Tanzania in 2005. The African Rainforest Conservancy (“ARC”) slapped the name on him for Deloitte’s contributions to the nonprofit’s environmental efforts in the Rubeho region.
A new species of frog has been named after Deloitte, in recognition of the firm’s work in helping to preserve the Rubeho Forest in Tanzania, an ecologically distinct part of the country known as the ‘Galapagos of Africa’. Nectophrynoides deloittei was discovered in the Rubeho Forest in 2005 was named by the African Rainforest Conservancy (ARC), an agency set up to conserve and restore Africa’s rainforests.
Not only is Mr Farber a Deloitte audit alum, he also had stints as the controller at Bear Stearns and CFO at Gamco Investors. Today came the announcement that he is still winning, now as the new sidekick to David Herzog.
In this new position, Mr. Farber will provide global leadership and coordination for AIG’s Controllership and Accounting Policy functions, as well as the AIG Global Tax Department. He reports to David L. Herzog, AIG Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
It’s worth noting that as the a leader and coordinator for global tax department, Farber alone will encompass more oversight than all of Weatherford International.
ANYWAY, back to the boilerplate:
“Jeff Farber is well prepared to help take these key AIG finance functions to an even higher level,” said Mr. Herzog. “Over the past several years the finance team has worked diligently through an extraordinarily complex restructuring, and this new role provides Jeff with an opportunity to lead a great team and work closely with the finance transformation team as we roll out our new financial platform.”
Sounds like a hoot. Best of luck to Mr Farber.
Last week we shared the Deloitte U.S. Leadership candidates with you but at the time we hadn’t confirmed that the thumbsup/thumbsdown had begun. This week, a source confirmed for us that voting had, in fact, started last week but no one should get too anxious about hearing the results:
The vote continues at least until the Firm achieves a 50% voting rate from all the partners. This is typically a struggle, and many voice messages and e-mails are sent rounding up at least the 50%. This is part of the problem (and a bit pathetic). Nobody believes their voices are heard, so they don’t care to vote. Or, if they vote NO, they fear retribution.
As we reported in January, the retribution of a “No” vote is something that many young partners may fear and you can presuppose that many veteran partners who are a little preoccupied with a little something called “busy season clients” aren’t exactly concerned with casting a vote in an election that is all but decided already. All this adds up to a pretty sad voter turnout, sayeth our source:
Ok – so then, among that paltry 50% voting rate, there needs to be a 2/3 approval for each candidate in order for them to win election. So – if you do the math…we have about 2800 partners. Only 1400 need to vote for a quorum, and only about 940 need to approve each candidate for them to get into office. So perhaps only about 33% of the partners end up approving of the people that run the firm.
Unfortunately – nobody focuses upon this fact. Unbelievable. And now we have a non-CPA being put up for the Chairman’s spot of an accounting firm. It’s insanity, really.
Oh, right; the non-CPA chairman controversy. For those of you that are unfamiliar, Punit Renjen is the CEO of Deloitte Consulting. Mr Renjen has been on the job for just over a year and by all accounts has done an acceptable job and it doesn’t surprise us that he’s up for this position. The fact that he, in all likelihood, will become the next chairman of a Big 4 firm, bothers a lot of CPAs. Despite the bellyaching of those on the audit/tax side of the house, what’s not up for debate is that Deloitte Consulting is the second largest practice, according to the this year’s revenue data. But what’s even more important, consulting is the fastest growing segment, with double digit growth in FY 2010. So if Mr Renjen’s ascension to the chairman position bothers some in a CPA puritanical sense, we can appreciate that. But from a numbers standpoint, it’s probably overdue and is definitely not surprising.
Last month, we shared with you the concerns of a Deloitte partner who has a lot of issues with the processes around electing the firm’s leadership. As the partner explained it to us, “The elected individuals are the Chairman, the CEO, and a CEO ‘Alternate.’ The CEO ‘Alternate’ is there in the event that the CEO elect is also elected as the Global CEO (which will typically happen).”
Recently, we were able to confirm the candidates and thought we’d share them with all of you since some of you might not be aware of who they are:
• Punit Renjen, for Chairman of Deloitte LLP (Current CEO of Deloitte Consulting)
• Barry Salzberg, for CEO of Deloitte LLP (Current CEO of Deloitte LLP)
• Joe Echeverria, for CEO Alternate (Current Managing Partner of U.S. Operations)
What’s not immediately known is when Deloitte partners will be voting “Yes or No” on these candidates. One of our sources speculated that the vote could be as early this week.
In our previous post, we learned that the partners vote up or down on these candidates as a group as the partner in our last post explained “The partners get to vote ‘YES or NO’ on the ‘slate’ of candidates that is advanced.” Since we know a lot of you out there in Internetland are Deloitte employees but not partners, we thought we’d get your perspective on this slate of candidates and whether you would give them a “Yes” or “No.” And since the comments box allows for further explanation, feel free to elaborate on your vote. We know of one person who will be voting no.
A message left with Deloitte spokesperson Jonathan Gandal was not immediately returned.
For anyone out there concerned about Chinese companies who have less-than solid accounting practices, you can rest easy, as Gary Weiss reported in his TheStreet.com column yesterday:
All you have to do is believe in the infallibility of Big Four auditors!
Responding to allegations that the company is a “fraud and reported revenue is exaggerated by tens of millions of dollars,” China Media’s CEO Zheng Cheng said in a letter to shareholders: “The company is strong and doing well. Its revenues and cash position have been audited by reputable and well-known auditors who have confirmed both.” [Emphasis is GW’s.]
With China Small-Caps, It’s Shorts vs. Auditors [The Street]
One big concern: once Charlie Sheen continues his epic run (does anyone believe that rehab is going to take?) will the masses be able to survive without Two and a Half Men? Personally, I’ll manage but what about all those American Families that depend on this show to complete that void in their lives every week?
In a media environment saturated with new and evolving online entertainment platforms, TV continues to be king. Released today, Deloitte’s fifth edition “State of the Media Democracy” survey reveals that 71 percent of Americans still rate watching TV on any device among their favorite media activities.
The survey results indicate that live viewing on a home TV system continues to be the most common method among individuals for watching their favorite programming, and supporting the notion that traditional television advertising continues to be a viable model. In addition, 86 percent of Americans stated that TV advertising still has the most impact on their buying decisions.
Deloitte’s State of the Media Democracy survey assesses media consumption preferences of nearly 2,000 consumers, ages 14 to 75 years old in the United States, revealing significant trends including the power of TV when supplemented by the Internet, a dramatic rise in smartphone adoption, the steady popularity of print magazines, and the emergence of cloud computing as a potential consumer entertainment storage and access solution.
And guess what? Not only are people watching more TV, they’re talking about it more. But not face-to-face: Americans can’t be bothered with leaving the confines of their homes or take their eyes off their computers long enough to manage human interaction and thanks to social media, they don’t have to!
Deloitte’s survey indicates that the Internet, mobile and social media channels are enhancing the overall television viewer experience, driving people to watch first-run programs and live events during their initial broadcast. The survey also reveals that nearly three-quarters of American consumers are multitasking while watching TV. According to the research, 42 percent are online, 29 percent are talking on cellphones or mobile devices, and 26 percent are sending instant messages or text messages.
Perhaps even more importantly, 61 percent of U.S. consumers now maintain a social networking site, where constant streams of updates and discussion forums have made delaying awareness of live TV outcomes a near impossibility.
“Consumers are not only watching television, they are talking about it, and those conversations are frequently taking place in real-time online and via IM/texting,” said Phil Asmundson, vice chairman and technology, media and telecommunications industry leader, Deloitte LLP. “By embracing the Internet as a platform that encourages audiences to participate in discussions about their favorite programs, television is maintaining its hold on the American public. People want to be part of the real-time conversation and they are embracing both platforms in a complementary fashion.
Because discussing the train wreck that is Sammi and Ronnie in real time is crucial to the human experience. Carry on.
Allegedly! Admittedly, we’re a little behind on this one but you know how it is. Anyway, your Ponzi scheme du jour comes by way of the great Northwest, where Frederick Darren Berg, who seems to have some sort of charter bus fetish, is being prosecuted for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in Washington.
When he was at the University of Oregon in the 80s, Berg allegedly helped himself to his fraternity’s cash to fund a “charter bus venture” and then pleaded guilty to a check-kiting scheme with another bus company a few years later. After those nickel and dime failures, Fred was done messing and decided to really do this:
The 48-year-old founder and chief executive officer of Meridian Group is accused of defrauding hundreds of more than $100 million invested in his Seattle company’s mortgage funds between 2003 and 2010.
Prosecutors allege Berg spent tens of millions on a ritzy lifestyle, including a posh Mercer Island mansion, two yachts and two jets.
But investigators say Berg diverted a bigger chunk, estimated at $45 million, to create a luxury bus line that served tour groups and sports teams, including the Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.
And we all know what happened to mortgage funds, don’t we? Okay, then. So your next question probably is, “how did the auditors miss this one?” Well!
Berg used some simple stratagems to mislead auditors at Moss Adams, a large Seattle-based firm, which produced audits for a trio of Meridian funds for three years.
The standard procedure is to send out confirmation letters to a random sample of mortgage borrowers and compare what they say they’ve paid with what the lender’s records say.
But Moss Adams didn’t notice most of the confirmations it sent out were going to post-office boxes and coming back with the same handwriting, said [bankruptcy trustee Mark] Calvert.
Berg had rented more than 20 P.O. boxes and had the mail forwarded to another address in Seattle. He was replying to the auditors’ queries himself, according to the indictment.
[Cringe] Oops. To be fair, auditors can’t be expected to be hand-writing experts…can they? Mr. Calvert seems to think so and told the Seattle Times that he plans on suing Moss Adams and Deloitte for their roles. Oh, right! How do they fit in? To wit:
Berg also hired Deloitte Financial Advisory Services to do a “valuation report” on funds V through VII, meant just for Meridian management. Meridian, however, used it to reassure investors, touting Deloitte’s conclusion “the sample mortgage pool appears to be of higher quality and better performance” than comparable loan portfolios.
But Calvert said Deloitte’s supposedly random sampling “was not completed as outlined” in its agreement with Meridian. He declined to be more specific.
Moss Adams and Deloitte would not comment on their work for Meridian.
Next up on Fortune’s “You wish you worked here” list, comes the newest future resident of 30 Rockefeller Center. A slight improvement for the Green Dot this year, as the firm jumped from 70 to 63. Let’s get right to it.
Stats of note:
• New Jobs (1 year): -552
• % Job Growth (1 year): -1%
• % Voluntary Turnover: 11%
• No. of Job Openings at 1/13/2010: 3,511
• Most common salaried job: Senior/Senior Consultant – $81,622
• % Minorities: 33%
• % Women: 43%
Compared to last year, new jobs, job growth, number of jobs (last year it was 11k), average salary and percentage of women are all down. Turnover ticked slightly up as did % of minorities. So while Deloitte manages to be the top Big 4 firm in the ranking, we’re guessing that the brass is a little miffed by the wide margin between themselves and P&M. Still no tweet from Jim Quigley on this but he seems a little distracted with Davos to be notice a seemingly permanent spot on the F100BCTWF, “Oh, gosh. That old thing? That’s great, just change the number and dates on the press release. And try to get Salzberg to say something a little less cliché.”
Too late, Jim.
We’re still waiting for Jim Quigley’s tweet to confirm but it appears, based on an internal email sent to Going Concern, that Deloitte will be consolidating its offices to 30 Rockefeller Center.
Here’s our tipster’s email:
[I]t appears that they will be going public with this in the next couple of days. D&T is consolidating its three New York offices into 12 floors of Rock Center. The sublease from Merrill Lynch at 2 WFC is up next year and apparently [Bank of America] wanted to raise rents on them. The consensus is that there is just too much space that isn’t getting used and that consolidating the offices would be a more efficient use of the space.
And here’s the internal email:
The only attention we’ve really paid to the Deloitte commercial real estate story is that they were threatening to leave the City altogether last summer but DWB debunked that theory sufficiently. This not only marks a major move for Deloitte but it also is a major new tenant at 30 Rockefeller Center. But why is so much sprawling cube farm space available at 30 Rock? Is this a result of Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal from General Electric or is Jack Donaghy holding a fire sale? We don’t know the real estate business well enough to give it an educated guess so if you’ve got other theories, leave them below. We left a message with Deloitte but Christ, it’s after 9 pm on Friday, so we’ll back to you Monday.
There goes the Twittersphere.
Jim Quigley has broken the Big 4 CEO cherry on Twitter (to our knowledge) and he decided to do it in honor of the World Economic Forum (aka: The annual CEO ego strokefest) in Davos, Switzerland that gets underway in less than two weeks. Above is Quig’s one and only tweet so far and it’s very CEO-ish. We’re not expecting anything of the Kaplan variety but cripes man, add some color. May we recommend our series of “Doing it Wrong” Twitter posts from our resident expert?
Anyhoo, here’s the video from the tweet:
Thoughts on the performance are welcome. And JQ should know that we know Twitter can have a slight learning curve, so we’ll save you the trouble: you can follow Going Concern here. Oh, and Adrienne will be writing a review, so tweet to impress.
While some of you are understandably
broken up CRUSHED that Natalie Gulbis is off the market, there are some who are emotionally exhausted from their experience in the Big 4 and aren’t looking forward to another busy season. That got one Green Dot to thinking:
The following email is making its way around the company, it’s a good bye email from a staff out of the NE region. At first I thought it was funny, but after reading it again, I found it quite troubling. As today marks the start of another busy season, I thought you might want to share this with your readers and stress the importance of mental health. The re end of the day, this is just a job. I think that staff, particularly staff straight out of school, have trouble understanding that. The email ends on a high note and it sounds like he is going to get the peace he really needs, but I hate to think about the hundreds of other people in this industry (this is not a uniquely Deloitte issue) who find themselves in similar situations.
Keep up the good work!
Concerned at Deloitte
Before we get to the farewell email, we aren’t making light of anyone’s personal situation and certainly not the importance of mental health but for crissakes people, your job is not life or death. If your job is weighing on you to the point of misery, talk to someone you trust. And if you need to take a mental health day, or take a leave of absence or just LEAVE, then do so. There’s no point in pushing yourself beyond your limits. We’ve seen it first-hand and it’s not pretty. Just because some people enjoy (and thrive) under the torture of 60-70 hour work weeks that doesn’t mean that you have to. And if you happen to observe a co-worker slowly losing it, take it upon yourself to ask how that person is doing.
ANYWAY, here it is:
Subject: One day I was sitting wondering to myself, why do people do things to intentionally cause themselves pain?
I’m sure some of you have forgotten who I am, and I’ve forgotten who some of you are too, not most but some. I’m sitting here in my old desk in the 2wfc on the 9th floor where I worked during the 2009 audit busy season. I’m writing to inform you that I have decided to part ways with the old uncle D.
I’m not sad and I hope you aren’t either, because this isn’t an end it’s just a new beginning. During my time at Deloitte I meet so many amazing people that I can’t even count them all, so many people have touched my life deeply. I wish I could spend more time with each one of you, and I can. I’m only an email away. During my time here I had a lot of fun, there was a lot of pain, more pain and sadness then I can even hope to describe in a single email. But more and more I’m choosing to only remember the good times, which is making me a better person, a happier person.
Which brings me back to the question I asked myself. Why do people do things to intentionally cause themselves pain? After coming back to the office and reflecting back on my time here I can start to understand. Sitting here in my cold dark cubical on the 9th floor, located in the furthest most isolated corner of the floor, overhead there is no office light as the other cubicles around which all have a single UV light positioned in the ceiling over head, so it’s the darkest cubical around.
Now coming back to all this I can finally see why, why I sacrificed my happiness to sit and stare at a computer monitor for 12 to 14 hours a day. You might be saying, it was because you had too, this was your job. But in our society, in modern America no one can make me or anyone else do anything. I could have just as easily not came in, I could have decided to just leave the firm. But day after day I kept coming. Why? Now looking back I see that it was two things. The first but not most important was my loyalty to the people I worked with, the second was my own fear.
The answer to my fear lies in a song I used to listen to several times every day during the 2009 audit busy season. The song “Drones” by Rise Against is a description of the modern office worker, the song helped me to feel that someone out there understood how I felt, that I wasn’t alone. It speaks office workers who keep coming back to work, to work their lives away. They come back to work every day in order to serve a faceless queen (aka: Money, C.R.E.A.M.). A god which can never love them back or help them attain love because it’s at the end of the day it’s only an object. Yet the people keep working to make that paper.
Well enough of my rant about money. I wanted to thank everyone, even the system which is Deloitte. I want to thank you all for everything you taught me, and all the fun and crazy experiences I had will never be forgotten.
To all the people whom I complained too, didn’t listen too, and got angry with. I am sorry, I want you to know I appreciate all of you dealing with my nonsense and being patient with me, and teaching me. I understand how difficult I can be to work with, and sometimes even be around. I’m sorry if I made your lives harder.
Please keep in touch.
P.S. Yes I am crazy, and no I don’t need help
P.S.S. My email is [redacted] Please feel free to write me any time.
As previously discussed, making partner at a Big 4 firm is no small feat. It takes years of work, some political savvy and luck. When you finally get a seat at the big table, you discover that everything leading up to that point was simply the beginning. Now that you’re calling the shots, you have big responsibility, be willing to resist temptation, and try to keep employees happy. Not an easy task but that’s why they get paid the big bucks, right?
But forget all that. Partners, as we know, are owners. They have an equity stake in their firm and have a say in how the firm should be run. Or do they have that say? One Deloitte partner, a twenty year veteran of the firm, reached out to us recently to express their concern about the upcoming election of new leadership at the Green Dot:
I’m an audit partner with Deloitte. Don’t want to bore you with the fact that I love the firm, and I am a die-hard D&Ter. But, all firms have their faults, right? Even Deloitte. While we tout and sell “Good Governance” strategies – our own governance process is severely BROKEN.
What many may not know is that Deloitte has an election year happening in 2011. Yes – Sharon Allen is off to retirement [Ed. note: PARTY! – Oh sorry, this is serious], and so is Jim Quigley. No tears for them…they have very rich retirement packages that will keep them wealthy for decades to come.
We’ve already been through our “Nominating Committee” process, where all the partners are able to be interviewed by committee members and submit nominations of individuals that they would like to see in different leadership roles. The elected individuals are the Chairman, the CEO, and a CEO “Alternate.” The CEO “Alternate” is there in the event that the CEO elect is also elected as the Global CEO (which will typically happen).
We’ll jump in here to make a quick point: our tipster reiterated to us that (s)he loves Deloitte and the motivation for reaching out to us is due to his/her commitment to the firm. (S)he even admitted that reaching out to GC seemed odd but clarified it to us this way, “It is akin to someone that loves their country and wants to improve upon it because we know we have the right to speak out and improve our country. Right now, our election process at Deloitte is broken.”
The thing that angers many partners – but few voice this concern – is that the Nominating Committee Process and the “election” of the Firm’s leadership is a farce. The “independent” Committee comes up with their recommended candidates after hearing the soundings of the partners. I should add that Committee is selected by the Board and Management. There is no “election” to approve the Committee. Then the Committee comes to a conclusion on ONE set of recommended candidates, and the Board approves that recommendation (shocking). Then, the partners get to vote “YES or NO” on the “slate” of candidates that is advanced. This “election” occurs in late February/early March. The leaders must be installed in June. So what if the partners said NO? What would the leadership team do then?? Guess what – they don’t care! Because they know the partners always say YES! It is so painful. And nobody is willing to challenge this process. Because – you have three camps of partners. (1) the camp that doesn’t care and never will because it “doesn’t affect my daily life; (2) the camp that is so rich in the number of units they have, they wouldn’t upset the apple cart because they make too much money to want to risk it even though they know it is wrong, and (3) the younger partners who fear retribution of having their “heads cut off” for speaking up.
Jumping in again – we spoke to a former Deloitte partner, who confirmed the broad details of the process and also the widely-held notion that the election process is a “farce.” This former partner also confirmed this is a feeling held by many partners, especially the freshly minted ones. In addition to the fear of retribution, he said that younger partners also feel apathetic, being of the mindset that the “nominating committee won’t listen to me” and they are being given “lip service” by leadership. Further, for many young partners, simply joining this exclusive club is exciting enough that few pay attention and, oh yeah, they have TONS of work to do. As for the “gray-haired partners,” our source confirmed their attitudes as well, saying that there would be little motivation to speak up when they are “riding out their careers” or have a lot vested with the firm already.
The thing is that these leaders represent our firm, manage our firm, and control our collective destinies. They also rig the elections. And they then tout, continuously, the importance of the “Sense of Partnership.” The truth is that Deloitte is not run like a partnership. Yes, the partners have capital at risk, we are owners of the “Firm.” But, we are not appropriately represented. We lack a true collective voice. We keep quiet for the “good of the Firm.” And, we are now going to embark on a new “BOLD LEADERSHIP” move that is being done to passify all the various interests of our firm (Consulting, Audit and Tax). The thing is – we don’t attempt to have our partners select the BEST leaders – but simply the leaders that a select few believe fit a set of criteria that are BEST for us ignorant partners. It’s a bit like the government telling us what is good for us.
It angers me. And, I wish that I could wake up every Deloitte partner and have them realize this. But – if I did this – I’d likely be fired. So, I’m sending this to you to see if you can help WAKE up our Partners!! They should VOTE NO to the nominating committees recommended leaders. We need to take back our firm, much like the American voters took back our country.
An anonymous Deloitte partner who cares deeply about our Firm and our culture.
Our “anonymous Deloitte partner” speculated that 75% of partners share his/her feelings on this. What’s been the catalyst to all this frustration? Well, the former Deloitte partner we spoke to said that it’s a partly the nature of the governance process itself but it has been made worse by how leadership handled layoffs and the economic crisis during 2008-2009. As you may remember, Deloitte leadership admitted that the May ’09 layoffs were handled poorly last spring, however, morale amongst partners remains extremely low.
Just to add a few more things from the “anonymous Deloitte partner” – when we asked about the details of the nominating process, the response we received was that while it was a “cordial” and that the partners that serve on the committee feel as though they are doing “God’s work,” but ultimately it is a “falsehood.” The former Deloitte partner confirmed this, who told us he had a friend who served on the nominating committee who joked with him about flying around the country, “listening to crap,” throughout the exercise.
When we asked about the firm’s leadership considering a more democratic process (i.e. partners are nominated by vote), that doesn’t appear to be on the table because another firm does it that way, “In situations where our CEO has been asked about the process, Barry Salzberg stated that our firm doesn’t want a divisive culture where certain partners get their feelings hurt in a race for the CEO spot or other positions. ‘That’s not part of our culture. That is what PwC does, and we don’t want to do that.’ ”
Stepping back from all this (we realize it’s a lot), if we were a run-of-the-mill Deloitte partner, it be pretty difficult to see this as an equitable process. As we said at the outset, being a partner means having a say in how the business is run. Granted, when you’re talking about a firm as large as Deloitte, there has to be centralized leadership but wouldn’t you want a direct voice in determining who that leadership is and not simply up or down on a list of names handed to you? It sounds like a lot of partners at Deloitte are feeling shut out of this process. Maybe some don’t care but many new and aspiring partners probably do (Millennial attitude and all) and this lack of true representation will certainly make some think twice about their long-term careers with the firm.
Remember the hipster drama Deloitte caused this past summer when they resigned as the auditor of American Apparel? It was quite the rs the stock took a beating (it has recovered in the meantime) and questions were raised about the company’s ability to continue as a [g]oing [c]oncern.
Some recent developments in this particular story have come to light as Dov & Co. have been providing a whole mess of information to Deloitte, as is SOP in these matters. For starters, Deloitte notified the APP audit committee that the 2009 financial statements are not kosher and anyone using them for any other purpose than lining a bird cage is nuts.
From the 8-K:
On December 15, 2010, the Audit Committee of the Company received notice from Deloitte stating that Deloitte had concluded that Deloitte’s report on the Company’s previously issued consolidated financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2009 (the “2009 financials”), including Deloitte’s report on internal control over financial reporting at December 31, 2009, included in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009 (such reports, collectively, the “Deloitte Reports”) should not be relied upon or associated with the 2009 financials.
Deloitte explained that its conclusion was based on the significance of the declines in operations and gross margin in the Company’s February 2010 monthly financial statement, combined with the January 2010 monthly financial statements, the Company’s issuance of revised projections in early May 2010 which reflected a significant decrease in the Company’s 2010 projections, and Deloitte’s disagreement with the Company’s conclusion that the results shown in the February 2010 monthly financial statements would not have required a revision to the Company’s projections as of the date of the 10-K filing and the issuance of Deloitte’s reports. Deloitte further indicated that their decision considered their inability to perform additional audit procedures, their resignation as registered public accountants and their professional judgment that they are no longer willing to rely on management’s representations due to Deloitte’s belief that management withheld from Deloitte the February 2010 monthly financial statements until after the filing of the 2009 10-K and made related misrepresentations.
So if you can get past how poorly written these paragraphs are, you can boil down Deloitte’s concerns about the 2009 10-K to a few things: 1) business was not looking good; 2) they didn’t buy APP’s notion that financial projections for February ’10 were hunky dory (which weren’t made available until after the 10-K was filed); 3) APP management was more or less full of shit. You can also read their official letter to the company, if you are so inclined.
You won’t be surprised to learn that Dov & Co. have a difference of opinion here:
The Audit Committee of the Company has commenced an investigation into the assertions that management withheld the February 2010 monthly financial statements and related misrepresentations. Management disagrees with Deloitte’s assertions and does not believe that the February 2010 monthly financial statements were withheld. The Company does not currently believe, including after discussions with Marcum, that the reaudit will result in any changes to the 2009 financials, though no assurance can be given in this regard.
So, somewhere, there are February 2010 financial statements stuffed in a drawer (but whose drawer?) that basically caused this whole fiasco. This seems like a completely plausible scenario.
Hell hath no fury like an obscure California county that feels completely gypped (to the point that they feel it’s fraudulent) by the largest professional services on Earth.
Marin officials fired another salvo in an escalating $105 million legal war with international computer consultants, filing a new lawsuit Thursday accusing them and a former county official of violating racketeering law in a bid to rip off taxpayers.
The new suit was filed against Deloitte Consultant LLP, software developer SAP and former assistant auditor-controller Ernest Culver, who served as project director of the county’s troubled computer installation before quitting to join SAP.
As you may recall, Marin County’s original suit against Deloitte for $35 million involved allegations of “fraud, misconduct and misrepresentation” which included using ‘neophytes’ on the implementation of the county’s ERP system. The new racketeering charges are especially interesting and the Marin Independent Journal has the details:
It alleges a conspiracy, asserting consultants wined and dined Culver and interviewed him for employment at the same time Culver was approving deficient work on the project, approving fee payments and helping line up new contracts.
“County taxpayers were charged for millions of dollars in services that Deloitte failed to properly perform” and residents were “defrauded of the honest services of a high-ranking county official,” according to County Counsel Patrick Faulkner.
Deloitte denied the allegations of the original suit, saying that Marin County was actually responsible for the snafu. However, and unfortunately for Deloitte, new shit has come to light:
Faulkner disclosed that the county has combed through its computer system to retrieve thousands of e-mails issued by consultants and Culver while they worked in county offices, providing a backbone for accusations leveled by the latest suit.
The complaint alleges six violations of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by Deloitte and SAP, and three counts of illegal conduct against Culver, including a violation of the state anti-corruption statute.
So it doesn’t sound like there’s a smoking gun per se but enough back and forth that adds up to this:
The lawsuit, the county said in a press release issued late Thursday, claims that when problems with Deloitte’s work surfaced, Deloitte and SAP engaged in a “cover-up that included bribing Culver to falsely ‘approve’ Deloitte’s defective work, and silencing an SAP employee who tried to intervene on the county’s behalf.”
So, in other words, pretty bad stuff. The MIJ reports that “Settlement talks are expected and while the parties remain at odds, the latest court filing could spur negotiations.” Using our best translation skills, this more or less says, “Deloitte, SAP and Culver realize they’re fucked – begrudgingly – and will be going to the table any day now to sort things out.”
The Independent Journal also reports that SAP, Deloitte or Ernest Culver “could not immediately be reached.” Our own messages with Deloitte spokemen Jonathan Gandal and John La Place were also not immediately returned.
What the hell is in the water today?
FYI – “Select” resources in Northeast Advisory are getting notified that they will be getting a small holiday bonus (ranging from $500 – $2000) in their next paycheck.
Happy Holidays 🙂
If you’re not “select” feel free to get Grinchy in the comments and if you are, then go but an iPad.
Funny how slow TPTB were to react this (message is dated today). Assange isn’t even haunting our dreams any more. Nevertheless, NO. PEEKY. And if you’ve already taken a look, you need to report yourself, ASAP.
ALERT: New federal government guidance on accessing or downloading classified information
The following is a message from [redacted], chief quality officer.
In the wake of the recent WikiLeaks disclosures of U.S. classified information, the U.S. Office of Management & Budget (OMB) and the Department of Defense (DoD) published guidance that prohibits federal government employees and federal contractor personnel from accessing the WikiLeaks website to view or download classified information. As federal contractors, the Deloitte U.S. Firms and their professionals are obligated to protect the integrity of classified information.
This notice is designed to facilitate compliance with the OMB and DoD guidance. All personnel should note the following:
Despite the unauthorized public disclosure by WikiLeaks, the information disclosed retains its classified status. The decision to remove classified status must be rendered by a government classification authority. In short, the information remains classified in spite of any public disclosure.
The access or download of classified information could be determined to be a security violation that requires immediate remediation, including removal of such information from our systems. A security violation could pose risks to the operations of Deloitte’s Federal practice and could negatively affect our client service capabilities.
You should not attempt to access the classified information on the WikiLeaks website or any related website. If you previously visited the WikiLeaks site or any related website to view or download classified information, you should immediately report a “Federal DOS Incident” via 1 800 Deloitte (option 5).
If you possess a security clearance, keep in mind that you are personally obligated to uphold the requirements for appropriate handling and dissemination of classified information, as outlined in your respective Classified Information Non-Disclosure Statement.
If you have any questions, please send them by e-mail to [redacted: presumably someone inside Deloitte who is familiar with these sorts of things].
Chief Quality Officer