E&Y

Interns, Here’s the Lowdown on Ernst & Young’s FSO Assurance Practice in NYC

Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com with your problem(s) but only if you’re comfortable being mocked in an older sibling kind of way.

GC,

I know my question is somewhat specific but I just accepted an Internship offer for E&Y FSO Assurance in NYC and was interested in gaining some insight into the 3 divisions within FSO Assurance. First, I would love to hear your opinion on the pros and cons of each of the three sectors (Asset Management, Banking, & Insurance) including which EY is best known for. I was also wondering if there was a clear leader in each of those sectors in NYC and was wondering which of the Big Four was bestnks so much for your help. I know I am still a year away from having to actually select one of those options but gaining people’s opinions never hurt. Thanks so much.


Congratulations on landing a sweet summer gig with Uncle Ernie. You’ll be working for a great firm in a great city making a great salary while fetching great coffee for your superiors. Cheers!

But really, welcome to New York. You’re smart in thinking ahead to the fact that where you start with your internship will lead to a fulltime offer with the same group. This is because internships are essentially training camp for your first year – make it through the summer successfully and you’re in the club. I did a little digging within my professional circle to uncover some of the EY clients that you’d have the potential of working on, as well as my own two Lincolns.

Insurance – Let’s start with this one because I have a feeling that the group consensus will be unanimous: DO NOT JOIN THIS GROUP. Sure, it is a small, “family-like” practice in the financial services industry, but you’re not coming to work for the warm and fuzzies (if you are, avoid public accounting altogether). You’re coming to make yourself a valuable asset to future employers – one, three, or ten years from now. Can you receive accelerated responsibilities and extensive interaction with your clients? Yeah, but that’s because your co-workers are jumping ship and no one within the firm wants to transfer to the Insurance group. Unless you have an absolute passion for the industry (which you don’t, since you emailed us), I would avoid this group. Stay in this group for five years (you know, to make the dream promo to manager) and you’re setting yourself up for a career working for an insurance (or re-insurance) firm.

Banking and Capital Markets – This group is bigger and more prominent than the Insurance group. It’s taken its hit in recent years because…ummm…the banking industry is in turmoil, but some of the pain has been buoyed by their growing Broker Dealer client base (also falls into this group). Potential clients include Bank of America (*gulp*), UBS Wealth Management (the shining star in the UBS sky), Icahn Securities, JG Wentworth, ING Financial Holdings, and Cantor “run for the hills” Fitzgerald. Sources tell me audit staff are constantly trying to take rotations to the asset management group, so take that for what it’s worth. Career advancement outside of public can take you to either a banking or hedge fund depending on your client exposure, but have you read the papers recently? Banking ain’t the hottest date to the prom to these days.

Asset Management – this is EY’s money train in New York when it comes to audit (and even tax) services. EY and PwC dominate this market in New York, and depending on whom you ask EY has a more rounded client base (blue chip and start ups). Premier clients include Eton Park, Reservoir Capital, Anchorage Capital, and Och Ziff Capital (do some Googling to get an idea about these firms). The exposure to different investment strategies and financial products you will see will be second to none. Don’t forget that you can count the relevant investment banks left standing on two hands, whereas there are thousands of hedge funds and private equity firms in the country (most of which are in the greater NYC area, too). Your easiest and most lucrative path out of audit and into the private sector will be with a background in asset management. Absolutely, positively, 100%.

So there you have it. As always, GC’er please chime in below with your comments.

Your Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs Of The Year Include the Dude From Groupon, Patrick Byrne

We really don’t pay much attention to the E&Y Entrepreneur thingamajigs because, well, it’s boring. Sure, we like entrepreneurs just fine but c’mon. These guys are filthy rich and successful and E&Y gives them trophies? Is this sort of commercial circle jerk really necessary? Regardless of our personal feelings, the awards are a big deal – Jay Leno hosted this year’s event for crissakes – and the Google News feed for E&Y is constantly clogged with stories about people advancing to the next round of voting like some sort of capitalist March Madness.

Anyway, Casa de Turley officially announced this year’s winners over the weekend and Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner, founders of Facebook for Suits LinkedIn, are your entrepreneuriest entrepreneurs.


In addition to the dynamic duo there are quite a few guys you’ve never heard of that are doing well for themselves including Roger Linquist and Jose R. Mas. See? Never heard of them, have you?

There are also some winners that you have heard of including Andrew Mason, one of the co-founders of virtual clipfest and increasingly looking insolvent Groupon. As well as Patrick Byrne, the founder of Overstock.com. You know, the guy on the Segway. The guy who Sam Antar can’t help to poke and prod every chance he gets. The guy whose company is being sued by seven California counties thanks to a Walmart sticker. The guy who may have had some weirdo trolling a bunch of bloggers’ Facebook friends. Yes, that Patrick Byrne.

But HEY! not every entrepreneur can be squeaky clean. It’s not like he’s Pete Rose or anything. Unless you count this.

[via E&Y]

Hiring Watch ’11/’12: Ernst & Young Chicago Taking Applications

They’re looking to fill 500 JITs with new Black and Yellows by June of next year.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the jobs on Tuesday, saying the firm will start hiring immediately and hopes to have all the positions filled by June. Ernst and Young currently employs about 2,000 people in Chicago. The hires will be diverse across experience levels and include support workers.

Just remember that E&Y seems to be upgrading the gene pool, so uglies need not apply.

Ernst & Young to add 500 jobs in Chicago [CT]

The Fall Busy Season Has One Ernst & Young Team in Danger of Going into Diabetic Shock

By way of the Ernst & Young Staff Twitter account, we learn that the young associates are quite fond of the snack drawer:

While I’m not one to condone such unhealthy life choices, I am not lost on the fact that these drawers of death are not uncommon. That said, if all of you out there in E&Y land insist on this type of sustenance, I suggest you get a pair and put down the whole drawer in a prescribed amount of time. The bankers and hedgies have been doing this for years and since many of you think yourselves worthy of their ilk, you should be able to hold your own in the mass consumption of factory produced crap. Anyone up for the challenge should provide a full inventory of the items to be consumed as well as the time limit and the prize to the winner should they emerge victorious. Additionally, I would need to be given a play by play in order to appropriately report the progress and results to the world at large.

We’re waiting. The gauntlet has been thrown.

New Jersey Hasn’t Forgiven Ernst & Young for the Whole Lehman Brothers Thing

I mean, you know how it is, when you lose $192 million. It’s a tough thing to forget. The Journal reports that the Garden State has renewed its lawsuit against E&Y saying “Those review reports were false, as E&Y knew or should have known that Lehman’s quarterly financial statements were not prepared in accordance with [GAAP].” When reached for comment, E&Y spokesman Charlie Perkins’s voice was barely audible on a nearly worn out tape recording, “Lehman’s demise was caused by the global financial crisis that impacted the entire financial sector, not by accounting or financial reporting issues.” Wouldn’t it be nice if Chuck had Nick DeSanto sing the statement? With a rock accompaniment? At least it would liven up this story again. [WSJ]

Another Ernst & Young Employee Is Yearned for in Craigslist Missed Connections

This past summer, a comely E&Y auditor was the subject of a missed connection for “personal and professional” reasons. As disappointing as that is, we’re hopeful that we can make true Internet love happen, as another E&Y employee is the object of someone’s Craigslist Missed Connections post, which makes us wonder if the firm’s recruiting efforts have taken a turn for the superficial. Regardless, this particular encounter is of anonymous affections but is far less creepy.


I had to split up the post since our lady friend opted not to use the “Return” button. The rest of it is on the next page.

Since this was in Rutherford, we’ll go out on a limb and say that this is a Secaucus employee. If you’ve got some idea of who, what and where, help us figure out a way to get these two together. We’re trying to make some love happen, people.

[via Craigslist]

Where Is Ernst & Young Finding All This Musical Talent?

Look, I understand that these firms want well-rounded individuals but when more and more people start showing talents that outshine their professional services skills, it makes you wonder if the recruiting folks need a talking to. I bring this up because, unbeknownst to us, FORTUNE puts together a Battle of the Corporate Bands every year and this year’s winner is American PI, a 12-member band, 11 of which are E&Y employees. Granted, they won’t be winning Record of the Year any time soon since they’re simply covering I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Southbound, People Get Ready, and Superstition but they did have three members win “best of” awards.

And with this triumph by American PI, E&Y now has rock, show tunes, and hip-hop covered. It’s probably only a matter of time until they manage to poach the PwC pianist.

[via AT]

Ernst & Young Just Gave the New York Attorney General 22.9 Billion Reasons to Feel a Little More Motivated Today

Because business is good at E&Y. Not PwC good or Deloitte good but good enough.

Ernst & Young today announced combined global revenues of US$22.9 billion for the financial year ended 30 June 2011, compared with US$21.3 billion in 2010, a 7.6% increase. In local currency, revenues grew 5.3%. “We have had a very strong year in each of our four geographic areas. We continue to see very positive reactions to the way we have globalized our organization over the last few years, our investments in emerging markets and the great dedication and commitment of our people,” said Jim Turley, Global Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young.

Also, Jimbo says that E&Y is “focused on building lifelong relationships with our people. This ensures we have outstanding talent to provide our clients the best service wherever they do business.” So if your heart belongs to show business, fine. But your ass belongs to Ernst & Young.

[via E&Y]

Is This Ernst & Young Auditor the Next Character on Glee?

I don’t watch Glee. Hell, I don’t even have TV. I did flip through the GQ spread with Lea Michelle and Dianna Agron but otherwise, I’m completely unfamiliar with any of the characters on the show. ANYWAY, I hear it’s popular. It’s so popular that regular people want to be characters on the show as overblown versions of themselves and are submitting auditions for a chance to do so. One of these regular people is Nick DeSanto, an auditor at Ernst & Young.

We can’t embed Nick’s audition video from the Glee Project web page but we did find his YouTube channel so we can give you idea of his talent:


More about Nick – he worked for a couple of years at McGladrey before joining E&Y’s FSO Media & Entertainment group, where he’s been for about a year. We spoke to him over email and by phone (he “visit[s] GC almost every day”) and that this audition is his first stab at breaking into showbiz. Can you imagine if he had been involved with the In a JIT project? His singing career would already be on the fast track, winning Tonys and such.

So go over and support him at his Glee Audition page by liking his page if you feel so inclined. And even if you don’t feel the urge, go and like/vote for him anyway. Just because your dreams won’t come true, doesn’t mean you can’t support someone who’s trying to do something to achieve theirs.

Ernst & Young Aware of This Sino-Forest Situation, Seems Content to Watch It Play Out

Jonathan Weil has a column today on the train wreck that is Sino-Forest, the Chinese-Canadian timber company. In case you need caught up, there have been some questions about the company’s ability to report accurate disclosures and accounting. This led the research firm Muddy Waters to issue a not-so-flattering analysis of the company. Things like “Ponzi scheme” and “investing for the 23rd Century” don’t exactly get people jumping up and down for your company. Ask John Paulson.

Of course Sino-Forest didn’t do this all by themselves. They had credit rating agencies and auditors telling them everything was hunky dory for years and that’s Weil’s point. He reports that Fitch pulled its rating on S-F back in July and S&P finally pulled their rating this week. That just leaves Moody’s but guess who else is still hanging in there? Ernst & Young, baby! They’re still standing behind their audit opinions and showing no sign of budging. And JW is really curious to know who’s going to jump out of this tree first.

One question lingers: Which of the company’s paid opinion merchants will be the last to step aside? Will it be a credit rater? Or will it be the company’s auditor, Ernst & Young LLP in Toronto, which has yet to rescind any of its reports on Sino-Forest’s finances?

So far Ernst looks like the favorite, with only one rating company left in the hunt. Think of it as a contest between giant tortoises to see which one is slower. This time-honored ritual — of market gatekeepers waiting to blow the whistle until long after a scam has been exposed — has become so familiar, we might as well revel in the spectacle.

So these “gatekeepers” Weil speaks of – obviously this includes the Big 4. And it’s true that we’re all used to them waving their arms, screaming “DANGER!” in front of the burning heap that everyone has been aware of for ages (I didn’t say Lehman Brothers. Did you say Lehman Brothers? Who said Lehman Brothers?).

ANYWAY, E&Y should know that they have choices:

Ernst does have options, aside from bracing for the inevitable years of litigation and investigations. It could resign, explain why it is doing so and face criticism for acting too late. It could withdraw its previous audit opinions. It could insist to Sino-Forest’s directors that it be permitted to answer questions from the public about the work it has performed, as a condition of remaining onboard. Or it could hang on in silence, as it’s doing now, and watch its reputation endure more damage.

Could be that this is just another part of E&Y’s strategy. Sit tight while things play out, wait until things get really serious (i.e. bankruptcy, severe economic turmoil, civil charges, etc. etc.) and then come out swinging.

Tree Falls on Sino-Forest, Auditor Can’t Hear It [Bloomberg]

Ernst & Young Still ‘Flawlessly’ Tabulating Those Emmy Awards Ballots

For the past 23 years, Primetime Emmy® Award winners have remained television’s best-kept secret thanks to the efforts of Ernst & Young LLP, part of the global Ernst & Young organization that is a leader in assurance, tax, transaction, advisory services and strategic growth markets. “We are extremely proud to be continuing what has become a 23-year tradition for Ernst & Young by maintaining the integrity of the Emmy® Awards tabulation process and the accuracy of the results,” said Andy Sale, Ernst & Young LLP, lead partner for the 2011 Emmy® Awards engagement. “The Emmy® Awards have a far-reaching impact on the television industry and it is critical that the balloting and tabulation process be implemented flawlessly.” [E&Y]

Today in Sketchy Chinese Company News: Ernst & Young Suspends Audit of Zungui Haixi

It’s been quite the year for the Chinese-based, reverse-merger clients of accounting firms. There have been curious press releases, audit workpapers held hostage, and the run-of-the-mill blowing off of auditor recommendations among other things. With all that, you probably figured the fun was over.

Not so! The latest in China-doesn’t-really-know-what-the-hell-it’s-doing news is the report that Ernst & Young has walked out on Zungui Haixi, an athletic footwear and apparel company listed in Canada. Why? Well, it’s not really clear but it sounds like Zungui has some explaining to do:

Zungui said auditor Ernst & Young LLP has advised its board that its has suspended its audit for the year ended June 30, 2011, until the company “clarifies and substantiates its position with respect to issues pertaining to the current and prior year”.

Ernst & Young recommended that the issues identified be addressed by an independent investigation, the company said in a brief statement that did not provide any details on the issues.

As we all know, “issues” could be just about anything from missing cash, to a CFO resigning. Hopefully it’s nothing quite so serious and the crack squad of investigators assigned to the task will get to the bottom of it and not wait for Roddy Boyd to pick it up.

Zungui Haixi shares tumble after E&Y suspends audit [Reuters]

Ernst & Young Serving Simpler Businesses After the Sour Taste Left by Lehman Brothers

Actually, it’s just for the kids.

Ernst & Young LLP, a global professional services firm, will be the Presenting Sponsor of a Guinness World Records attempt by local area elementary school students to make history with the “Longest Lemonade Stand.”

The record-setting attempt will be made Saturday, August 20, National Lemonade Day, in Beverly Park in Beverly Hills, Michigan, with proceeds going to support local school initiatives. The Longest Lemonade Stand record attempt includes an age-appropriate curriculum specifically designed to use the lemonade stand concept to teach kids basic business principles.

The students have already sold nearly 300 individual stand “kits” to families representing 16 area public, private and parochial schools. Participating families will bring their individually decorated stand sections to the park on event day to create the 1,200-foot-long stand required for the Guinness World Record!

Considering the fact that it’s not uncommon for local authorities to take a no tolerance stance on non-compliant stands, I hope Ernst & Young has informed participants that attention to detail is very important in business.

[via LLS]

And Now…Ernst & Young Interns Employees Singing a Song About Making Partner, Acronyms in the Tune of Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’

UPDATE: Don’t ask me why staff are singing a song about “Intern Dreams” but apparently that is the case, hence the change in the headline. Carry on.

After being away for awhile, many you probably thought that I get on here and bitch and moan how awful it is to be back to grind with you all. It’s been quite the opposite experience actually, as we’ve learned that Adrienne is more than capable of getting people’s attention that inevitably result in emails being sent directly to me while it was widely known that I could be doing any number of things at the time, including A) watching someone’s Vespa go up in flames in London B) eating space cakes C) speaking to French women with a bad American accent D) watching a shockingly violent fight at Amsterdam’s Gay Pride Parade.

But nevermind all that. Cooler heads typically prevail around here so it’s nothing that couldn’t be handled. Plus, it nice to know that I can leave for a couple of weeks and the site doesn’t miss a beat.

But what really makes my life easy is coming back to emails pointing me to the EYConnects Facebook page where you can find this video:


As any long time reader of GC knows, Ernst & Young runs away with from the rest of the Big 4 when it comes to producing videos that border on hilarity. No need to look further than the masterpiece of “In a JIT” to the video from the Las Vegas office featuring an Elvis impersonator.

While “EY Dream” doesn’t feature legendary lyrics like “On a jet like Turley” mocking acronyms and well-rehearsed choreography wins points in our book. Still would have been funny to hear some self-deprecating lyrics related to Lehman Brothers. Oh well, we’ll keep waiting.

Feel free to leave your thoughts on this latest effort below.

The Greatest Farewell Email We’ve Seen…EVER

Subject: And When I Leave Come Together Like Butt Cheeks

You can figure out where this is going to go based on that alone, I’m sure.

Predictably, this email has been making the rounds since it was sent. If the OP was shocked it went viral in public accounting inboxes up until this point, wait until he sees it here. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, including the OP, who isn’t innocent at all but still deserves that. I think.

Hey Motherfuckers!

Guess who just got the fuck outta Dodge?! This guy! How many people had Craig Douchenozzlestein lasting until August 4, 2011 in the YMP pool?

But seriously, it is NOT easy to get out of these contracts. Im pretty sure it would have been easier to escape from Auschwitz th knew from the second week I start here that this wasn’t going to work out. I mean, working past 7pm cuts significantly into my drinking and foundling women time. So therefore, since October 28, 2008 when I was forced to work until 10pm on my fucking 23rd birthday, these wheels have been in motion.

I feel like it is probably appropriate to go over what got me to this point of release, in case anyone wants to take a similar approach and not have to pay back any tuition money and get a severance package.

The first breaking point for EY was during my staff 2 year when I lost an inventory count and the bitch of a senior manager WOULD NOT stop hassling me about it. Dude, I told you I lost it. No matter how many emails or sametimes you sent me, that sheet isn’t coming back. Get over it. Rose cried less when the Titanic sank. Needless to say, he personally wrote my review. Didn’t go over too well during roundtables.

The next “occurrence” happened in February 2009 during busy season. It was a Friday night and I was newly broken up with [the girlfriend] for the 24th time. That Saturday I had to work on [rando client] in the office because we just received their 10K. However, this was a minor inconvenience because 2 buddies from college were in town and I had a kitchen full of liquor waiting for them. During that night at the bars, I hit it off with one of the girls in our party and, as any guy knows, the first lay after a break up is as necessary as oxygen. So we leave to go back to my apartment only to realize I had given my buddy from college my keys so he could get in later. In a crime of passion and lack of forethought, I punched through our glass window to get into the lobby, only to realize the door to my apartment was still locked. Not letting this stop my teenage sex drive, we hopped a 30 minute cab to her place. The next morning I awoke at 11am realizing I should have been at work 2 hours ago. By the time I got to work it was 1pm, I reeked of booze and was bleeding all over the place because of my hand. AND I had forgotten my badge so called the senior manager to come let me in who greeted me with a “what the hell happened to you?” I also found out I had texted my senior the prior night while in the cab saying “Getting laid in West Randombury, Ill be at work ASAP” at 3am. Needless to say, my year end review mentioned something about “unprofessional” and “this is a career, not some part time job”

Those 2 situations resulted in me being held back for my staff 2 year. After that, there was not much anyone could do that would prevent me from doing what I wanted to do. I worked from home, ignored deadlines, and pretty much didn’t give a shit. I even made up some bullshit excuse that I was stuck travelling back from the Kentucky Derby in Pennsylvania during a 3/31 year-end just so I could catch up on the DVR I missed while away for the weekend.

The final straw that broke Camel Craig’s back resulted from a year-end job at the beginning of January. The Manager was a complete bitch and I spent most of my day exchanging texts with a girl I had met the prior weekend at the bar. She did not take kindly to this. But the breaking point for her was definitely when I didn’t show up til 2pm on that Friday because it was my roommates birthday the night before. Everyone knows Roommates birthday=Your Birthday, right?!?! That’s another thing that gets me about this place, everyone is so caught up in work they forget about enjoying life. Shit, life is so short (especially if you are a raging alcoholic) and is way too short to spend stressing over excel sheets all damn day. Every once in a while enjoy it! Take a sick day to go to the beach. Get hammered on your roommates birthday and come in late, have unprotected se…. well, maybe not too much enjoyment. But you get the message!

But I digress, I truly enjoyed my summers with you guys and the shit we got away with. I hope I was able to have a positive effect on your lives in some way, even if it was just “damn, at least Im not as bad as Craig . Did you see him lick the Backer pole last night?!” I hope you all keep in touch and wish you the best down the road.

If you guys are ever in the Random City area, Im always down to meet up. Just no rioting like we did when Joey and Dan were here.

One Love,

Craig

Good luck to you in your future endeavors, “Craig,” you’ll need it.

Please note, we’re pretty sure this guy is a one-off and not at all reflective of the overall quality of his colleagues. Therefore let’s reserve any judgments for Craig and Craig alone. Judge away, my darlings.

Comp Watch ’11: A Detailed Explanation of Uncle Ernie’s Complicated “Metrics”

… and it promises that if you just stick around for 12 years, you could be an executive, director, partner or principal.

Warning: the propaganda is absolutely raging in this piece of HR gold, dive into it accordingly (and turn your head to be able to read it).

EY Curve

PCAOB Bans Former Auditors From Faking the Audit Trail For the Near Future

The PCAOB has banned former Ernst & Young partner Peter O’Toole from associating with a PCAOB-registered firm for the next three years and fined him $50,000 for his part of a 2009 scheme to fake audit paperwork. E&Y removed O’Toole from the audit engagement team in June of 2010 and canned him several months later in September. The three year ban from audits is the longest bar that the PCAOB has imposed on a partner of a Big 4 accounting firm to date.

“These actions threatened to undermine the integrity of PCAOB inspection processes, and the ability of the Board to discharge its mandate to inspect the auditors of public companies,” said James R. Doty, PCAOB Chairman in a statement. “The Board moved swiftly to address this conduct, having commenced litigation against these respondents within seven months of learning of their conduct. I commend the Board’s Division of Enforcement and Investigations for its timely and effective work,” he added.

The PCAOB has also banned Darrin Estella from working with a PCAOB-registered firm for two years in connection with the improper creation, addition, and backdating of audit documentation in this case. Estella was a senior manager with E&Y’s Boston office and also let go in September of 2010.

The Board found that, shortly before a PCAOB inspection of an E&Y audit, O’Toole and Estella — acting with O’Toole’s knowledge and authorization — created, backdated, and added a document to the audit working papers that related to the most significant issue in that audit. The Board also found that O’Toole authorized other members of the audit engagement team, including Estella, to alter, add, and backdate other working papers in advance of the PCAOB inspection.

Additionally, the Board found that O’Toole and Estella provided a written document to PCAOB inspectors in which E&Y represented to the Board that no changes had been made to the audit working papers following the documentation completion date for the audit. Neither O’Toole nor Estella ever disclosed to the PCAOB inspectors that, in fact, the working papers were altered after the documentation completion date and shortly before the inspection.

The Board found that O’Toole and Estella’s actions violated PCAOB Rule 4006, which requires cooperation with Board inspections, as well as PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 3, which governs audit documentation.

The PCAOB has not released the name of the company involved, who hired E&Y as  independent auditor in 2002. E&Y expressed an unqualified opinion on the company’s September 30, 2009 financial statements, which led to notice by the PCAOB that an inspection of the unknown company’s audit was being performed on March 30, 2010. The partner, senior manager and manager on the engagement were given notice on March 31, 2010. The inspection fieldwork was set to begin on April 19, 2010.

This comes on the heels of an earlier PCAOB decision which censured 27-year-old Jacqueline Higgins for her part in the scheme. Word is she has since taken a job with McGladrey’s Boston office (unconfirmed rumor), who could probably use the help.

Comp Watch ’11: Ernst & Young Comp Discussions Start Today

We’ve received several short, anxious emails (presumably all from Uncle Ernie’s nervous camp) tipping us off to the fact that E&Y comp discussions are going down this week, so it must be true. Of course, this post is useless without actual comp numbers, which we’re sure you’ll give us as soon as you have your sit-downs.

Hi Going Concern –

To give you heads up, E&Y comp and promotions dicussions [sic] are happening this week (they’re happening today in my office). Perhaps it’s a good time to open the new thread on the topic.

Cheers,
E&Yer

Great, so does this mean the Ohio and Michigan crews have already packed up and are ready to bail if they get anything less than whatever it was they are holding out for?

Rumors so far are that raises will be in line with last year’s, which were not at all disappointing considering that we are still (not technically) in a recession, not to mention all that Lehman drama the E&Y lawyers are still hashing out. Too soon? Anyway, as usual, you’re welcome to entertain each other with disparaging comments about the size of your, er, comp packages until we hear news on actual numbers.

Update: Looks like some pretty good numbers are rolling in but please, for the sake of your fellow EY brethren, if you want to share your comp info, be sure to at a minimum include where you are (general metro or region is fine), what service line you are in, your rating (hint: this is a number) and, of course, the actual new pay and bonus number (if any).

Ernst & Young Is Really Wishing They Hadn’t Blown Off That Lehman Brothers Whistleblower

FT Alphaville found this notable quote from District Judge Lewis Kaplan’s opinion (whole thing after the jump):

The TAC alleges that Lee told E&Y in June 2008 “that Lehman moved $50 billion of inventory off its balance sheet at quarter-end through Repo 105 transactions and that these assets returned to the balance sheet about a week later.” Assuming that is so, E&Y arguably was on 308 notice by June 2008 that Lehman had used Repo 105s to portray its net leverage more favorably than its financial position warranted, a circumstance that could well have resulted in the published balance sheet for that quarter being inconsistent with GAAP’s overall requirement of fair presentation. Accordingly, the TAC adequately alleges that E&Y misrepresented in the 2Q08 that it was “not aware of any material modifications that should be made to the consolidated financial statements referred to above for them to be in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles” notwithstanding Lee’s disclosure to it.


“Lee” you may remember is Matthew Lee Lee, the Senior VP for Global Balance Sheet and Legal Entity Accounting who also said this about E&Y’s reaction to his warning on Repo 105:

They certainly didn’t support it. On the Repo 105 issue, they knew about it; they did not appear to know that the number was so large.

Ouch.

lehmanruling

Comp Watch ’11: Rumors of Imminent Exodus at Ernst & Young Has Some Perplexed

This just in:

I have been talking to a variety of people at E&Y from several offices in Ohio and Michigan. The word from them is that there is going to be a significant movement of people once compensation info is passed out. It’s kinda conflicting since the rumor is that raises should be around what they were last year. Not sure what to make about it.

As you recall, last year’s raises and bonuses at Ernst & Young were competitive with PwC, which came as a pleasant surprise to everyone at Black and Yellow but understandably this rumor has our tipster in a flummox. Of course, this could be limited to the Ohio/Michigan area but it’s worth seeing what the Turley’s Troops in other areas are hearing. Share below.

Ex-Ernst & Young Partner Trades Tech Companies for Cuddlesome Creatures

The Oakland Tribune shares this charming story of an accountant who discovered her talents would be more appreciated in helping animals:

Like many people who love animals, Sue James dreamed of becoming a veterinarian when she was a child.

“I looked into going to vet school but my parents, they wanted me to pursue a more traditional career,” said James, a Danville resident who grew up in a house in New York state where the family pets included dogs, rabbits — even a monkey.

After a long stint in the corporate world, James found an outlet for her lifelong love of animals at Tri-Valley Animal Rescue, an all-volunteer group founded in 1992 with a mission to prevent the unnecessary euthanasia of shelter animals.

Uncle Ernie gets a badass plug in the next bit:

She started volunteering in 2005 as she was winding down a long and successful career at Ernst & Young. There, she was a partner who oversaw audit work for some of Silicon Valley’s leading high-tech companies. Today, she serves on the boards of Yahoo, Applied Materials and Coherent.

Working at Ernst & Young, she learned the importance of teamwork to meet the needs of clients. That focus also carries over to her volunteer work. “It’s about the cats and dogs,” she said. “But also, for me, it’s how can we work effectively as a team.”

It makes sense that she’d end up at the shelter; from what I hear, actual auditing isn’t much different.

By the way, she’s 65. She holds a bachelor’s in math from Hunter College, New York (1967) and bachelor’s in accounting from San Jose State (1975). She taught math and science in junior high and high school in New York state from 1967-69, worked in San Jose office of Ernst & Young starting in 1975, was named partner in 1987, retired in 2006, then consulted for the company through 2009.

Promotion Watch ’11: Ernst & Young Admits 548 New Partners Worldwide

Still a little perplexed that I have to find this out via press release but I understand that at least some of you are beating off clients

with a stick.

Jim Turley, Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young says, “Building the next generation of partners to lead our business is vital to our future. This year’s marked increase in numbers reflects our ongoing commitment to excellence and our confidence in the future.”

John Ferraro, Chief Operating Officer of Ernst & Young says, “These admissions are the result of a rigorous selection process and recognizes the significant contribution of each individual to our success. This is a strong vote of confidence in the leadership potential of these outstanding individuals.”

Congrats to the all the new partners at E&Y!

Comp Watch ’11: Someone at Ernst & Young Wasn’t Too Discreet with Sensitive Info on Their Commute

From the mailbag:

Happened to be sitting behind someone on my NYC commute this week who was reading a deck (in font large enough for me to read) on EY’s salary ranges etc. Didn’t see any $ numbers and most was hard to see without context or the full page but I did see this:

(I don’t know ey terms – apr = annual performance rating?)

APR 3 4 5
S. Mgr 1% 2% 3%
Mgr 2% 3% 4%

Our tipster stated that the percentages were supposed to represent “minimum raise.” Hard what to make of this as rumors have been all over the board from “They told us not to have very high expectations,” to ” Per my discussions with an Office Managing Partner and a National Practice Leader …. raises should be close to (if not the same) as prior year.” But considering there’s an expensive legal battle on the horizon, maybe this isn’t so crazy? Discuss.

(UPDATE) Ernst & Young Auditor Area Man Takes His Crush for Co-worker Ernst & Young Auditor to Craigslist Missed Connections

Don’t you just love missed connections? Maybe you’re more of a casual encounters person but there’s something to be said for someone that is experiencing such infatuation that dropping a post on Craiglist seems like the best thing to do. Of course, it’s another thing entirely when you are infatuated with someone at work and you conclude that your best way to tell them that they are the most beautiful creature on Earth is by posting on missed connections. Apparently, UPDATE: some dude crushing on an Ernst & Young auditor did just that.

Dating Fails: Dating, Breakup, Boyfriend, Girlfriend - Office Romances Don't Count Online, Right?
see more

Okay, a few notes:

1. For a lot of reasons, personal and professional, there’s no way I can say anything to you. – What exactly are the “personal” reasons? You can’t speak in coherent sentences? You have awful body odor? You’re actually a serial killer? As for “professional” reasons, we all know that auditors are banging auditors all over the place (SEE UPDATE BELOW), so if you’re simply saying that this can’t happen because it’s against your professional morals then fine but other people around you are getting busy and you will not.

2. I can’t believe you don’t hear that all the time. You probably do. – You’re right. She probably does hear it all the time. But not from anonymous people on the Internet.

3. I wish I could tell you and not come across as a sleaze! – You’re not “coming across,” broski. You’re already there.

This was posted in NYC (expired now) so maybe we can track this guy down and help him with his game.

UPDATE:
After reader input and discussing it with my partner in crime, it’s clear that this is a client leering at the E&Y auditor and AG and others are postulating that our Craiglist creeper is either married or in a committed relationship. If this is the “personal reasons” he spoke of, it’s far less interesting and funny than some kind of social anxiety disorder that renders him a stuttering love-sick fool. But it does begs several societal questions among them: 1) does posting a missed connection constitute cheating? or 2) do we applaud his self-control (until he gets home of course). Discuss.

Are Ernst & Young Employees Looking Forward to Their Performance Discussions?

Since this feels like one of those days where everyone is at a ball game or is so hung over that they can’t operate their email, I’ll share the latest news from the mail-cum-money bag:

@EY – Just got an email saying we need to meet with our counselors before 7/31 to discuss annual review. I doubt any comp info though.

Even if these chats don’t involve any numbers, they may be useful in one of two ways: 1) It gives cranky employees the opportunity to fly off the handle because this last busy season was a special kind of personal hell and that no amount of money can possibly make up for that. or 2) It may be the perfect time to inform counselors about what kind of numbers are being thrown around at another firm who the Black Yellow had no problem keeping pace with last year.

Smiling and nodding works too, if that’s more your speed.

Ernst & Young Auditor Wants to Give a Partner an Earful About Comp Even If He Receives a ‘Very Generous’ Raise

Last week, we tried to get the ball rolling on Ernst & Young compensation rumors and while some may chalk up the lack of chatter to “PwC sticker shock,” others claim this is simply standard operating procedure. If you remember last year, eventually Ernst & Young reported some impressive raises that kept pace with P. Dubs but one of Turley’s troops is expecting the worst this year and would like to give a partner a piece of his mind. Unfortunately, he isn’t sure how to do it:

Hello,

By way of introduction, I am a loyal reader of going concern as well as a big four slave in the audit practice. Slavery had begun four years ago at EY and with all the compensation talk going on at other big four firms, I can’t help but to think –

What is a tactful way of telling a partner during the comp talk, “well thank you for that oh so very generous double digit percentage raise (assuming if it’s even double digit), but I am still unhappy because even after this supposed raise, you are still not paying me jack for the amount of contribution and commitment that you demand from me.”

As noted above, I’m a second year senior from an east coast office and my base is still not breaking mid-60s. Seriously, what the f___?

I will be forever grateful if you post my question up for discussion. Thanks so much!!!

Yours,

Angry EY audit senior

There are various directions we can take here so I’ll try to cover a few options before turning it over to you all.

A. Start off with a variation of, “Look, I’m an ungrateful, bitchy auditor. I also have unrealistic expectations and an inflated notion of my self-worth. I’d really appreciate an explanation as to how you can reconcile these traits to this paltry 10-15% raise.”

B. Continue with the slavery narrative.

C. Start questioning leadership at every turn, from challenging Andrew Cuomo to rumored twisting of Senators’ arms. “If this is the type of firm your running, yada yada yada.”

D. Simply ask if E&Y’s raises will beat PwC’s.

Now you may not think these are “tactful” ways to have this conversation but he did sign, “Angry EY Audit Senior.” If I tried to reason with this person, I’d be doing him a disservice. And when is honesty ever not tactful? If you sugarcoat your frustration, the partner will assume you’re a pushover like everyone else. My guess is most partners want you to give it to them straight. If you’re a performer (and something tells me you think you are) than this partner doesn’t want to lose your talent.

Having said all that, not everyone can muster up the courage to ditch the filter in these meetings. If you’ve got better more practical ideas than what I’ve listed, feel free to bestow your sage advice below.

Comp Watch ’11: Ernst & Young Keeps ‘Em Waiting

If I seemed impatient about hearing from the Black and Yellow, it’s because I was. Fortunately, someone answered the call:

As of now, we haven’t heard ANYTHING regarding raises/bonuses etc. On our performance management internal website the status of my annual review just changed from “Leadership Review/Roundtable” to “Release to Compensation” so hopefully we will be getting some news soon!

So, no news is…news, isn’t it? Last year, we started hearing Ernst & Young compensation rumors around the 15th and here we are, one week from our nation’s birthday and hardly a peep. Someone buy a partner a happy hour beer tonight or something, wouldja? Keep us updated.

(UPDATE) Can Anyone Make Sense of Ernst & Young’s Hiring Numbers?

I’ve been out of the numbers game for awhile now but for the life of me, I can’t figure out just how many people Ernst & Young will be hiring off campus for this year. Or is it last year? The firm put out a press release yesterday that states that it “will hire approximately 5,000 students from campuses across the US in the 2010-2011 academic year.” That’s all fine and good but it’s different from the report in CNN back in March that we told you about that said “It’s looking to hire 7,000 employees from college campuses — 4,500 full-time and 2,500 interns […] in 2011.”


That report also stated that “campus recruits are up 20%,” but yesterday’s press release said “campus hiring [increased] 25 percent from last year.”

All told, E&Y and the rest of the Big 4 are hiring lots of people but the numbers don’t quite add up. The nice folks at E&Y are trying to help me out, so I’ll report back when I’ve got some answers.

UPDATE: I’ve been informed by an E&Y spokesperson that “numbers referenced in the release are for the US, whereas the numbers cited in the Fortune article are for the Americas.” To clarify, the “Americas” includes the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean.

[via Ernst & Young]

Ernst & Young Didn’t Appreciate the Threat of ‘Action’ By Audit Client Who Wanted Rubber-Stamped Financial Statements

Some clients treat their auditors like dirt. Given. To these haters, the financial statement audit is an onerous task that is mandated by the SEC and it amounts to an assault on liberty, capitalism and Ayn Rand’s genius. Accordingly, some clients try to push auditors around because typically they can. Today we bring you a rare example of a pushy-ass client going too far and an auditor standing up for themselves.

Ernst & Young resigned at the auditor of Life Partners Holdings Inc. in a letter dated June 6, 2011 after the CEO, Brian Pardo, WROTE IN A MEMO that he would “take action” against the firm if they did not sign off on the financial statement committee got wind of this little soapbox moment and promptly told E&Y about it.

From the 8-K Filing:

On June 6, 2011, Life Partners Holdings, Inc. (“we” or “Life Partners”) received a letter from Ernst & Young LLP (“Ernst & Young”) addressed to the Chairman of our Audit Committee (the “Resignation Letter”) confirming that it had resigned effective June 3, 2011, as our independent registered public accounting firm, as had been orally communicated to the Chairman of the Audit Committee on June 3, 2011. The resignation means that Ernst & Young will not certify our financial statements for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2011 (“Fiscal 2011”), which is necessary for completing and filing our Annual Report on Form 10-K for Fiscal 2011 (the “2011 Annual Report”).

The resignation follows a letter from Mr. Brian Pardo, our Chairman and CEO, to our licensee network (persons who refer purchasers to us) commenting upon the delayed filing of our 2011 Annual Report. The letter stated that it was Mr. Pardo’s position that we would “take action” against Ernst & Young if it did not promptly complete its audit and sign off on our financial statements without adjustment. Our Audit Committee wrote to Ernst & Young disclaiming the letter’s statements and asserting that the letter did not speak for the Audit Committee. Notwithstanding the Audit Committee’s disclaimer, Ernst & Young stated that the letter compromised its independence, and when considered with other recent developments, that it was no longer able to rely upon management’s representations, and that it was unwilling to be associated with the financial statements prepared by management.

Just for good measure, E&Y also stated that the company’s revenue recognition policy sucks, needs revised and they pulled their unqualified opinion over the 2010 financial statements. How’s that for “action”?

8-K [SEC via WSJ]

UPDATE:
As noted by the first comment below, the second comment on a post over at Deal Journal has what appears to be the memo in question from Brian Pardo.

Message From Brian Pardo

Yesterday we filed for an extension of the time to file our annual10K which should have been filed by May 15th because the Auditors have not yet completed their part. Quite frankly I am confident that the SEC is interfering with us by trying to unnerve the Auditors (by asking frivolous questions) which has added to the delay in getting out the 10K which is done and ready to release. They are trying to force us to “restate” our revenue recognition criteria; one that has been in use for ten years now.

Restating for any period, for any reason is viewed by the market as an implicit admission that prior quarters were probably misstated, which they were not. We do expect to file shortly, but the WSJ called last night to print another negative article.

There is no reason to restate because any proposed adjustment is immaterial under GAAP guidelines. E&Y signed off on our revenue recognition criteria policy last year and every other audit firm has as well since we went public in 2000. However some of your clients will probably read about it in the WSJ or in some other supposedly legitimate news media. And, the shorts will no doubt make a big deal about it.

My position is we either ratify the 10k as is very soon or we will take action against E&Y as well as with the SEC in Washington. It is time to put an end to this nonsense! I believe E&Y is trying to mitigate problems they may have with the SEC at our expense. For instance, we were never told by E&Y that they audited at least one large organization in the Madoff matter.

We are well within GAAP boundaries regarding every of aspect of our financial statements including all materials created, used or reviewed in relation to our published financial statements. We have ten years of doing this the exact same way and every Auditor from every firm for the entire time has signed off on every single 10k over those last 10 years.

Brian D. Pardo

PS You are authorized to share my statement with concerned clients and Licensees, but, not the press although the matter is in the public domain now.

Ernst & Young Toronto Invites Employees to Don Their ‘Best’ Denim This Summer

It’s not everyday we get news from north of the border, so it’s nice to see our Canadian friends reaching out to us. If you’re from the True North and have some gossip or other newsworthy items to share, send them our way. As for today’s news, we’ve been informed that Ernst & Young’s Toronto office has given the green light to their employees to rock half of the Canadian Tuxedo starting this Friday through Labor Day. Our tipster was quite excited about this since, “This is unheard of in Big 4 accounting firms in Toronto.”

Hi everyone,
If you watched my “[Toronto OMP] Korner” video from last week, you’ll know that the topic of Jeans Day was discussed.

I know many of you have been waiting for a few Jeans Days in the [Greater Toronto Area], so I’m pleased to share that there will be many opportunities for you to wear your best jeans to work over the summer months.

Starting this Friday, 20 May until 2 September, every Friday will be Jeans Day.

From time to time we’ll add a charity-challenge component to Jeans Day. However, for the most part, feel free to wear your best jeans to work on Friday just because.

Retaining a professional appearance is important to us — even when wearing jeans. Please — no rips or tears in your jeans, no t-shirts or running shoes either. If you’re seeing a client on a Friday, please wear your usual office attire.

Best regards,

[Toronto OMP]
Managing Partner, [Greater Toronto Area]

All the emphasis is the original, so you know when “best” is best, the Toronto brass means business. Per usual in these situations when you give an inch of denim, some people take a mile of looking like a complete slob, so please pass the warning on to the Toronto leadership.

Big 4 firms have a staunch pro-denim track record here in the States, as E&Y’s FSO was given a similar reprieve from the drabness of the business casual uniform last busy season and KPMG’s Summer Blast last year. It’s likely that you’ll be seeing more denim around the office the summer again this year but we’d be very interested in seeing pictures of some egregious vilolations. So if you fancy yourself a member of the fashion police and see a perpetrator, take a pic and send it our way.

What Was Discussed on Ernst & Young’s ‘All Hands Broadcast’?

We’ve heard from a couple people that Ernst & Young had an “all hands webcast” of some kind today but so far, no one has given us any details as to what was discussed.


Of course there were probably kind words about all your hard work this busy season, your commitment to the firm and so on and so forth but we want to get to the crux; this calls for speculation on our part, until we get something more solid. Possible topics include:

1. Hazing methods for the folks from LECG Corp.

2. The announcement of special screenings of In a JIT.

3. Two minutes’ hate for a certain Governor.

4. Mysterious references to “exciting changes” to the compensation structure that won’t be revealed until “details” are sorted out (i.e. management knows what PwC is doing).

5. Your input.

Ernst & Young Advisory Intern Wants to Get an Idea of What the Overtime Gravy Train Will Be Like

From the mailbag:

I will be a full time Advisory intern at Ernst and Young in Manhattan this coming summer. The duration of the internship is 7 weeks starting mid June. We just received a raise in our salary which has me thinking about compensation.

As you know, interns receive overtime which can contribute significant weight to overall pay. After researching the internet and the GC archives, I have not been able to find a clear answer regarding what I can expect for overtime hours. I know this varies by firm, workload, work groups etc but can you estimate an average of overtime hours per week? If any?

Right you are, grasshopper – it will depend on various factors you mentioned as well the clients you are assigned to, and what kind of expectations your superiors have (maybe that’s what you mean by work groups?). ANYWAY. In all likelihood, you’ll see some overtime hours which will probably result in some nice paychecks this summer but don’t be surprised if managers are staying on top of the hours you’re working. The Big 4 and other accounting firms aren’t quite as loose with the wallet as they used to be so I’d guess your hours will top out somewhere in the 50s on a weekly basis. That puts you in the range of 10 to 15 hours of OT a week (20+ only for those who work for lunatics). If your senior isn’t a headcase then you can expect 40-50 hours a week.

If you fancy yourself a intern hour handicapper, throw some numbers out there. And, interns, when things get rolling, get back to us with your numbers.

Ernst & Young Adding 30 Professionals From LECG

A little bit of fresh news from the LECG implosion as Ernst & Young announced yesterday that it was picking up thirty professionals to add to its insurance tax and life actuarial practices in the firm’s Financial Services Office.

These LECG refugees are led by Chris DesRochers and Greg Stephenson, according to the release, and E&Y is thrilled to have them, “This represents a significant addition of intellectual capital to our insurance tax and actuarial teams,” said Carmine DiSibio, Vice Chair and Managing Partner, Financial Services, Ernst & Young LLP. “We were very fortunate to be able to add so many experienced professionals at one time — additional talent that greatly enhances the breadth and depth of the services we provide.”

E&Y is the latest beneficiary of the LECG collapse, joining Grant Thornton, WeiserMazars and FTI Consulting.

[via E&Y]

Did Ernst & Young Convince Republicans to Skip Last Week’s Senate Subcommittee Hearing?

If you followed last week’s “Role of the Accounting Profession in Preventing Another Financial Crisis” hearing before the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment, you may have noticed that “Ernst & Young” was never uttered by anyone on the panel, although Lehman Brothers was mentioned a number of times throughout the hearing. Anton Valukas, the bankruptcy examiner for the Lehman, was there after all and “Ernst & Young” appears in his report probably thousands of times. So why wouldn’t Ernst & Young be mentioned? This is a hearing about the accounting profession preventing, after all and Mr Valukas has stated in his report and elsewhere that “colorable claims” could be filed against E&Y. Stands to reason that perhaps the firm would come up at some point.


Also, if you followed the hearing with us on our live-blog, you definitely heard Francine McKenna and I complaining about the sorry turnout by the members of the subcommittee. The majority of questions coming from the subcommittee chairman, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), with a few from Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The eight GOP members were nowhere to be found. Now maybe accounting isn’t the sexiest of topics but it’s hard to argue that this wasn’t an important hearing where many questions could have been asked of an industry that witnessed excrement coming into contact with an old Century. However, after a tip from a person familiar with situation, we may have an idea why there was such a pathetic turnout:

[T]he auditing firms did not like it they were holding the hearing and E&Y really was complaining to Reed that Valukas had been invited. As a result, the Republicans agreed that none of them would attend the hearing which in fact, none did.

Gotta love spiteful absence! Obviously we had to call around on this one and Ernst & Young spokesman Charlie Perkins declined to comment. As for the Republican members of the subcommittee, we have…well, nothing else to share at this point. But we’re hopeful! It’s entirely possible that all eight GOP members had something better to do than ask questions of industry experts that had a front row seat to the financial crisis, but then again the hearing was pretty early in the morning.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Senator Mike Crapo, the ranking member on the subcommittee, informed us that Mr Crapo was sick last Wednesday and canceled all his appointments for that day.

ISA Consulting Takes Up with Ernst & Young

The firm that wouldn’t be named adds the Philadelphia-based company to the advisory business.

“The acquisition of ISA Consulting is part of a broader strategy to expand Ernst & Young’s already strong presence in the performance management and analytics market,” said Bob Patton, Americas Advisory Services Leader, Ernst & Young LLP. “ISA Consulting’s reputation for quality service and integrity, as well as the experience of their team, makes them a great cultural fit with Ernst & Young.” Just don’t get mixed up with those auditors. [PRN]

Ernst & Young, Guy Who Plays Boy Wizard to be Recognized by Trevor Project

Having seen the rabid crowds outside FAO Schwarz to see this guy first hand, it’s hard telling what kind of internal battle there is at E&Y to rub elbows with Harry Potter (even if he’s likely to be sans spectacles).

Daniel Radcliffe will be honored by The Trevor Project with the Trevor Hero Award during “Trevor LIVE” at Capitale (130 Bowery, NY, NY). The annual show benefits the life-saving work of The Trevor Project and will also honor Ernst & Young LLP with the Trevor 2020 Award.

If you’re not familiar with the Trevor Project, they do great work, focusing on “suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.” Kudos to E&Y for the recognition.

ESPN’s Website Deemed Not Crucial for Ernst & Young’s Non-Monetary NCAA Bracket Competition

Perhaps circumstances have changed but as of yesterday, access to the most popular and comprehensive coverage on the web will not be allowed.


Which is unfortunate since some offices appear to be supportive of some bracketing.

Are you ready for March Madness?

As part of _______________ into spring campaign, it’s time to join the festivities during the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament. The “Madness” begins today with a non-monetary NCAA Tournament bracket competition. Everyone in the ___________ office can submit an online Tournament bracket. At the end of the Tournament, the person from each service line who picks the most winning teams will receive _____________________ (and bragging rights!).

You must complete your Tournament bracket before Thursday, March 17 __________________. Expand the section below for instructions on how to submit a bracket under your service line. During the Tournament, which concludes with the championship game on April 4, you can visit your group’s page and see how your bracket is performing compared with your service line colleagues’ brackets. If you have any questions, please contact ____________________________

Not exactly sure how you guys feel about a non-monetary competition but as far as strategy goes, since we’ve already given you access to the best strategy you can find. Of course some people are enjoying this immensely.

Latest Epic Video Out of Ernst & Young Includes Lots of Bleeps, Faux-Coffee Diss, Best Lyric Ever

It’s been increasingly obvious that Ernst & Young has the most talented video producers amongst the rank ‘n’ file Big 4 professionals. Last year we saw a video from the Las Vegas office (it was pulled) that was not the most impressive in terms of the talent presented but a Elvis impersonator made up for the rest of the group.

More recently from the Black and Yellow we’ve seen a farewell rock video and a mockumentary from across the pond (also pulled) that both demonstrate the sort of right-brained capabilities that exist within E&Y. Today, we bring you the latest in epic E&Y videos that brings voice to the frustration of being stuck in a JIT (“just-in-time”) cubicle.


So there’s a lot to digest here but I’ve got my favorite moments picked out:

1. I’m not sure who wears vests to the office these days but it’s fashion-forward and I like it.

2. Cursing right off the bat (and not letting up) score bigs points with Adrienne.

3. A Flavia diss is always apropriate.

4. Best lyric ever: I’M THE KING OF EY; ON A JET LIKE TURLEY; YOU’RE IN PUBLIC ACCOUNTING, NO YOU AIN’T LEAVIN’ EARLY

5. Kicking the roller was mean (but hilarious).

6. They should have known they were doomed when they wrote the lyric about a partner “seeing me now.”

7. Chuck Norris? Obama? Paddycake? Things really took a strange turn at the end.

The word from the tubes is that it’s been making the rounds inside and outside E&Y so we’re not exactly sure when this was made but our tipster was a little miffed about the possibility of these guys not having anything to do:

Here’s another video produced by auditors in the midst of busy season who somehow find time for this shit. This one comes courtesy of EY San Jose. Apparently it’s been making it’s rounds inside (and outside) of EY all day. HR must be thrilled at this use of company time (and property, from what it appears).

Apparently it never occurred to our tipster that this was a firm-sanctioned production since the Vegas vid went over so well. There’s only one way to find out so I left voicemails for both of these guys to try and get the behind-the-JIT story. So far I haven’t heard back from either of them but it’s still a little early out in San Jose. But whenever you can guys, email us.

Your thoughts on this latest bit of video ingenuity are welcome at this time.

Ernst & Young Video Accurately Portrays First Year Associates in Their New Habitat

This came by way of Jersey (this Jersey, you idiots) and the footage is incredible.

A few things that I observed and/or learned from watching this video:

1. “Duckling syndrome” is something I was familiar with but not that it had a name or was a syndrome.

2. All tax professionals seem to behave exactly the same, no matter where you encounter them.

3. Apparently this was filmed on a casual Friday based on the denim worn by the guy that appears at the 4:00 mark.

4. Timesheets are due at 5:30 on Fridays?

One thing that was less surprising:

1. “At some critical stage in their development, tax professionals generally fail to attain the basic skills necessary for social interaction.”

Leave your own observations below.

What Did Ernst & Young Call Lehman’s ‘Goat Poo’ Assets?

Considering E&Y was, ya know, the auditors and all, they should have been aware that these assets were a grade or two (or three) below human excrement and probably had some name for them.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc (LEHMQ.PK) filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008 and then quickly sold its prize investment banking assets to Barclays Bank (BARC.L). JPMorgan had been Lehman’s banker. The court papers, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on Thursday, said that Barclays and Lehman called certain Lehman assets “toxic waste” and “goat poo” and knowingly excluded them from their sale agreement.

Jim Turley has been a willing participant in this whole thing so far but were far more interested in what you guys think.

JPMorgan says Lehman called assets “goat poo” [Reuters]

How Long Does It Take to Climb the Ladder at Ernst & Young?

Welcome to the where-the-hell-is-Bahrain? edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a future E&Y tax associate wants the lowdown on the black and yellow ladder. How high are these rungs, anyway?

Caught in a career conundrum? Have a co-worker that keeps swiping your red Swingline? Want to put the moves on a fellow auditor in the copy room? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll help you avoid anything that involves in a knuckle.

Back to our girl on the partner track:

Hi,

I will be starting in the tax dept of a Big Four soon.

How long would it take to move up the tax ladder? (Yes, yes I know your response will be to start first before I start thinking about promotions… But I am thinking ahead…)

What is the minimum number of years typically required at each level? Are exceptions ever made? What goes into promotion decisions? How long would it take to get to the partner/director level? Is the promotion criteria generally standard across all Big Four or is there some variation?

Thanks,
Ms. Thinking Ahead

Dear Ms TA,

You’re quite the eager….errr, go-getter aren’t you? That’s good, I like my accountants ambitious. We’re not intimately familiar with the ladder at E&Y but we’ll give it a go and let the bean gallery fill in the gaps.

Typically, you can expect to be an associate two to three years before being promoted to senior. Depending on the needs of your practice group and your performance, this could be shorter or longer. In order to get the bump to manager, you can expect another three years at a minimum, again, subject to the needs of your group and whether or not you’re impressing the pants off the brass. From there, you can expect at least two years at manager, another two to three as a senior manager and then, if you’re lucky and you have a good business case, TPTB might start looking at your for admittance to the partnership. Altogether, you’re looking at a bare minimum of nine years before you can even get a whiff of partner and twelve to fifteen is probably a more realistic time frame. There are exceptions of course but that’s more or less the timeline.

Because tax doesn’t have the same fee pressure as their audit counterparts the wait might not be as long but don’t forget, not just anyone gets into the partnership. You need to be a performer and be able to win new clients. The benefit of tax is that it has more diverse career paths available, so if you find discover that you’re a wizard at transfer pricing or M&A, you might see a quicker ascension.

This presupposes the fact that you obtain your CPA in a timely fashion as most tax practices will not promote you to manager without a CPA, a JD or EA. How about it black and yellow tax troops? Dispel with the gory details as necessary.

Ernst & Young Employee Ups the Farewell Email Bar By Including Self-Made Rock Video

Last month, we kicked off a new year of epic farewell emails by sharing an ex-Deloitte employee’s somber sendoff. This was followed-up with a P. Dubber who answered the call to fight crime on the streets of Baltimore.

Today, we bring you the latest in epic sendoffs, this time courtesy of the “Black and Yellow.”

My fellow citizens of EY nation past and present. I know the EY grapevine talks, so this email probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but I wanted to personally let you know. Tomorrow is my last day here at this beautiful place called Ernst & Young. It’s almost been 6 years, which I believe EY years to be somewhat like doggie years, so that probably comes out to more like 7. Monday, I am moving into a new role as a [number cruncher] for [new employer] (here in [a city]). I am very excited about this new opportunity, but over the past few weeks, I have become oddly nostalgic about this place. So those 17 pages of EY jabs and complaints that I’ve been compiling for this day will have to stay with me. Just kidding! It certainly hasn’t been an easy road, but I honestly know I’ve gained some valuable experience, knowledge and skills I wouldn’t have in another position. I’ve also really enjoyed working with you all over the years and hope our paths cross in the future. Even though some of you are crazy workaholics, it’s so nice to be able to know that you will get the job done and even share a joke or a story along the way. I appreciate all that has been done for me and as a token of my appreciation I’ve thrown together a going away present from me to you:

Favorite lyrics and whether he’s as good as Steve Beguhn are now on the floor for discussion.

Jim Turley Doesn’t Seem to Be Tired of Answering Questions About Lehman Brothers

Jimbo does admit that “we are not pleased to be in the spotlight like this” but per ushe, he takes it in stride and says, “it is something that we will deal with.”


Turley Says Specifcs From Obama Need to Come `Quickly'
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Jim Turley Wasn’t Impressed with the State of the Union

The Ernst & Young Global CEO chimed in di-rectly from Davos.

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address failed to convince executives and economists at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting that he’s serious about taming the U.S. budget deficit.

Hours after Obama used the speech to propose a partial freeze on government spending, delegates at the conference in Davos, Switzerland, said the U.S. is lagging foreign counterparts in cutting a budget deficit of more than $1.2 trillion.

“There is an unwillingness to deal with the real gorilla in the room,” said Martin Sorrell, chief executive officer of advertiser WPP Plc. James Turley, CEO of Ernst & Young LLP, said, “we need a heck of a lot more action on it” and that Obama’s speech “lacked details.”

The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: Ernst & Young #77 (2011)

Well, there had to be a biggest loser in Fortune rankings this year amongst the accounting firms and this year the honor belongs to E&Y. Now, we’re sure you’ll give us your thoughts on why you think the firm took a dive from #44 (highest ranked firm last year) to #77 but the fact that Fortune indicates the firm dropped subsidized gym memberships could be a good place to start. Maybe E&Y decided it prefers its people on the frumpy side? Or maybe they’re simply saving for the Lehman Brothers defense fund?


Ernst & Young – Previous rank: #44. Need reasons? How about corporate citizenship? Fortune says, “The consulting and auditing firm donated some $31 million to charitable causes in 2009, including $6.4 million in matching contributions.”

Stats of note:
New Jobs (1 year): -1,751
% Job Growth (1 year): -7%
% Voluntary Turnover: 11%
No. of Job Openings at 1/13/2010: 10,000
Most common salaried job: Manager – $102,593
% Minorities: 29%
% Women: 49%

Taking a look at last year’s stats, new jobs, percentage job growth, voluntary turnover, average salary for most common job all trended negatively. Percentage of minorities was flat and percentage of women ticked down 1%. The number of job openings jumped from 622 last year to the 10,000 above, so interpret you can either interpret that as “we’re desperate for people” or “we’re growing like gangbusters.” Arguments for each, thoughts on the 33 slot drop or speculation on what kind of cigars Jim Turley (Cohibas, we thinks) took to Davos are welcome at this time.

Earlier:
The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: Plante & Moran #26 (2011)
The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: Deloitte #63 (2011)
The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: PwC #73 (2011)
The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: Ernst & Young #44

You’d Be Wrong If You Thought the Ernst & Young Golden Globe Auditors Were Taking a Back Seat to Other Award Show Auditors

Because, really, is team of Ernst & Young and Ricky Gervais versus PwC, James Franco and Anne Hathaway even a debate?

If you feel strongly about it we’ll hear you out but it’ll take some convincing.

The winners of the 68th annual Golden Globe® Awards will remain a secret until they are revealed January 16 to millions of viewers around the world, thanks to the efforts of Ernst & Young LLP, a leader in assurance, tax, transaction, advisory services and strategic growth markets. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has relied on Ernst & Young for the past 38 years to conduct the ballot tabulation process of the Golden Globes® with security, integrity and reliability.

And just in case you’re concerned about Ernst & Young’s “security, integrity and reliability” because of you know who, the protocols have been laid out in detail:

• Winners are known only to three senior Ernst & Young executives in advance of the telecast;

• Ernst & Young is also responsible for qualifying voting members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, confirming that their credentials are current and meet the standards set forth by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association;

• Ernst & Young controls the entire voting process beginning with the nomination ballots, and maintains control of the ballots until the telecast is over;

• Results are triple-checked to eliminate any margin of error; and

• Winner envelopes are assembled by Ernst & Young and are maintained exclusively under Ernst & Young’s control until they are handed directly to each celebrity presenter moments before they appear on-stage.

Did We Also Mention Our Flexible Work Schedule Arrangements?

“We stand by the audit opinions issued by Ernst & Young relating to the financial statements of Lehman Brothers.”

~ Sarah Jurado, a spokeswoman for Ernst & Young in the UK, who sounds like she’s got the talking points down, quoted in Bloomberg.

KPMG Takes Subtle Approach Wooing Anyone Interested in a Job at Ernst & Young

Recruiting for the talent amongst the Big 4 is competitive. This is known. What isn’t widely known are all the tactics in this competitive game of catch the accountant. In the past, we have seen direct solicitation by an E&Y recruiter which may be an effective method but it may be too abrasive for many within in the business who value propriety over the win-at-all-costs attitude.

Now comes news of a more subtle approach from KPMG, courtesy of an E&Y tipster who was searching for the firm’s career website:

While searching for the link to my firm’s career website I stumbled upon a pretty awesome ad (in a “ohhhh no you didn’t!” sort of way).


Since we’re fairly unfamiliar (read: completely unfamiliar) with Google’s method to the madness, we can only speculate how this little link found its way to the very top of Google search of “ey careers” but it does say “Ad,” so make of it what you will. Anyhoo, just for fun, we did our own quick Google Search of “ey careers” and got this:

So, it’s in the margin for us as opposed at the very top. But it’s still prominently placed on the search page and it’s also pretty hilarious that the hyperlink, “Ernst & Young Opportunities” goes directly to a KPMG URL (yes, it’s clearly disclosed by the Jobs.KPMGCareers.com at the bottom but who pays attention to that?). Perhaps our tendency to make mountains out of molehills is getting the best of us here but at the very least, this is an exciting twist on Sneaky Pete Piet.

Making Sense of the Ernst & Young Defense

Over at Bloomberg, Jonathan Weil (who has the tendency to let the dust settle before chiming in) takes Ernst & Young to task for their lack of willingness to take responsibility for the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and digs up a bunch of old bodies in the process.

E&Y had established itself as a repeat offender long before Governor-Elect Cuomo filed his suit. In recent years we’ve seen four former E&Y partners sentenced to prison for selling illegal tax shelters, while other partners have been disciplined by the SEC for blessing fraudulent financial statements at a variety of companies, including Cendant Corp. and Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp.

In the Bally case, E&Y last year paid an $8.5 million fine, without admitting or denying the SEC’s professional-misconduct claims. The SEC also has imposed sanctions against E&Y three times since 2004 for violating its auditor-independence rules.

After that friendly reminder (which certainly makes some people wince), JW takes a look at the E&Y’s response to the suit, specifically the part where they more or less say that Cuomo is off his rocker, “There is no factual or legal basis for a claim to be brought against an auditor in this context where the accounting for the underlying transaction is in accordance with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).”

Weil says E&Y is missing the point entirely:

That isn’t an accurate depiction of the claims Cuomo brought, though. Cuomo’s suit unambiguously took the position that Lehman violated GAAP. What’s more, it’s not credible for E&Y to say that Lehman didn’t. (An E&Y spokesman, Charles Perkins, said he “can’t comment beyond our statement.”)

In the footnotes to its audited financial statements, Lehman said it accounted for all its repurchase agreements as financings. This was false, because Lehman accounted for its Repo 105 transactions as sales, a point the Valukas report chronicled in exhaustive detail.

The question is, of course, if this all adds up to fraud on E&Y’s part. Cuomo says it does. Weil says that E&Y needs to come up with a better story. Colin Barr, on the other hand, writes that E&Y could easily turn the tables:

The Ernst & Young statement suggests the firm will argue that it can’t be prosecuted under the Martin Act because Lehman, not E&Y, was the outfit actually producing the financial reports, and because it was Lehman, not E&Y, that was peddling billions of dollars of securities just months before its implosion.

In this view, E&Y was just a gatekeeper hired to vouch for Lehman’s books, something it will claim it did well within the confines of the law. This strikes lawyers who are familiar with the law as an eminently reasonable approach, if not exactly a surefire recipe for success.

“If I were Ernst & Young, I would assert I was not a primary actor,” said Margaret Bancroft, a partner at Dechert LLP and author of a 2004 memo that explained the Martin Act soon after Spitzer began brandishing it against Wall Street. “You can say that with more than a straight face.”

“Just gatekeepers,” and not “fraudsters,” is obviously the preferred view but the catch is, E&Y would be admitting that they are really shitty gatekeepers.

Ernst & Young Wants a Showdown

This was worth the wait.

Directly from the firm’s website:

Ernst & Young’s Response to New York Attorney General’s Complaint

New York, 21 December 2010 – We intend to vigorously defend against the civil claims alleged by the New York Attorney General.

There is no factual or legal basis for a claim to be brought against an auditor in this context where the accounting for the underlying transaction is in accordance with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Lehman’s audited financial statements clearly portrayed Lehman as a highly leveraged entity operating in a risky and volatile industry.

Lehman’s bankruptcy occurred in the midst of a global financial crisis triggered by dramatic increases in mortgage defaults, associated losses in mortgage and real estate portfolios, and a severe tightening of liquidity. Lehman’s bankruptcy was preceded and followed by other bankruptcies, distressed mergers, restructurings, and government bailouts of all of the other major investment banks, as well as other major financial institutions. In short, Lehman’s bankruptcy was not caused by any accounting issues.

What we have here is a significant expansion of the Martin Act. Although the Martin Act is almost 90 years old, we believe this is the first time that an Attorney General is attempting to use this law to assert claims against an accounting firm, rather than the company that took the alleged actions.

We look forward to presenting the facts in a court of law.

In other words, Andy – get lost; drop dead; suck it. AM Law Daily reports that E&Y has big guns on the case:

Miles Ruthberg, a former global litigation chair at Latham & Watkins, confirmed, via an e-mail to The Am Law Daily, that he’s representing E&Y in the suit along with Latham securities litigation and professional liability cochair Jamie Wine and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel white-collar defense and SEC regulatory cochair Barry Berke. Latham, which has previously represented E&Y, has been handling securities litigation against the accounting firm stemming from Lehman’s failure.

To mark this occasion, we present an appropriate video (BL-inspired):

Fraud Experts: Calls for Criminal Charges Against Ernst & Young Are ‘Absurd’

Since Andrew Cuomo decided to make our lives insanely busy this week, we’ve been talking to lots of different people about what will happen next in the Ernst & Young saga. We stumbled across a couple of experts, Dr. Mark Zimbelman an Accounting Professor who specializes in fraud, forensic accounting and auditors’ detection of fraud at BYU’s Marriott School of Business, along with his son, Aaron Zimbelman, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign whose research interests include auditing, financial statement fraud and corporate governance.

The father and son team have a blog, Fraudbytes, that discusses, well<arious forms including a post from yesterday about this week’s developments.


We corresponded with the Zimbelmans by email for this interview. They have combined their positions to provide us with the answers to our questions.

Going Concern: Does E&Y risk losing creditability with the market at large (á la Andersen) because of these civil fraud charges?

Zimbelmans: We don’t think this case will hurt E&Y’s credibility, based on what we know at this point. Lehman’s accounting for Repo 105 transactions was in accordance with GAAP and appears to have been a common practice for similar transactions in the industry. In other words, E&Y was probably following the letter of the law in signing the audit opinion. In Andersen’s case, the firm had shredded documents and faced criminal charges. Until we see a clearer act of wrongdoing (e.g. a clear departure from auditing standards), we don’t see E&Y individually facing a significant loss of credibility. More likely, the auditing and accounting profession as a whole will take a credibility hit as individuals question the standards and industry norms adhered to by E&Y in auditing Lehman.

GC: Reports say that E&Y is in talks to settle – how do you interpret their willingness to settle rather than litigate in this matter?

MZ/AZ: We think a willingness to settle speaks mostly to the great deal of uncertainty associated with the litigation process in auditing cases. Jury trials in cases like these can be very unpredictable and may not be strongly related to whether or not E&Y actually did anything wrong. Juries tend to have a poor understanding of auditing and accounting issues and also tend to side with victims and against deep pockets. In this case in particular, were the case to go to trial, E&Y has a good chance to become a scapegoat for the collapse of Lehman and perhaps even the economic crisis as a whole. Even if the probability of a verdict against E&Y were fairly low, the damages assigned by a runaway jury could be devastating. This gives E&Y a strong incentive to settle, regardless of whether or not they did anything wrong.

GC: Is there any advantage to litigating?

MZ/AZ: If the requested settlement amount would be devastating to E&Y, the firm is better off litigating. The firm may also be better off litigating if the requested settlement amount is high and E&Y feels they have a very solid case that has a good chance at overcoming the common jury biases we discussed in the previous question.

GC: How would you react to those who feel that are calling for criminal charges against the firm?

MZ/AZ: We don’t really see any criminal behavior here–E&Y allowed Lehman to account for Repo 105 in accordance with GAAP and in accordance with what was fairly standard in the industry. Until we see evidence of potentially criminal behavior, calls for criminal charges seem absurd.

GC: Prediction time: what happens next? Fine of $X and….?

MZ/AZ: We doubt there are any criminal issues here. E&Y will likely try to settle as quickly as possible to get this behind them. Cuomo is likely to want a huge settlement because of the magnitude of the bankruptcy and because of the potential for a runaway jury. Given that Lehman’s bankruptcy was $691 billion, this settlement could easily exceed E&Y’s Cendant settlements which were over $600 million.

Is This a Picture From Last Night’s Ernst & Young Holiday Party?

Supposedly the picture at right was from last night’s E&Y festivus/”suck it, Andy Cuomo” party and we thought we’d share it with you to see if you recognize the scene.

Our tipster simply confirmed “EY Christmas Party: awkward sexual advances,” the former being in question, the latter, well, obv We employed some detection skills to help us determine if the pic is, in fact, from last night’s festivities. Here are a few clues that lead us to believe that this is a legit picture:

1. The lady is still wearing her ID badge – Lots of Big 4 types are hardly fashion conscious, so this oversight was probably fairly common last night.

2. Three dudes, three whites shirts – No tie on twinkle toes and the guy in the background is wearing khakis. Obviously not front office.

3. Talk to the Hand – Or alternatively, “Do not take my picture with this accountant who, sure as hell, isn’t Patrick Swayze.”

If you’ve got additional evidence to prove this picture as an authentic E&Y holiday rager action shot, (e.g. post-dance photo-op with Jim Turley) we’d love to see more pics. Or if you can provide more details to give it more context: a) What song were they dancing to? b) Was this serious dancing or twisting at Jack Rabbit Slims? c) Did everyone circle around or did a conga line ensue?

Any or all of these details would be helpful.

Ernst & Young Wasn’t About to Let Some Civil Fraud Charges Put a Damper on Their Holiday Season

A trusted source emailed us that things were getting festive last night:

EY had their FSO party last night at Cipriani’s downtown. Used to be at Tavern on the Green.


This is good news. And not just because this is an upgrade from last year’s party. Despite all the bad press the firm is getting, the celebration will go on! It must go on! Now whether the Governor-elect was aware of this and purposefully decided to make a few people’s hangovers a little worse by filing the charges today, we can’t possibly know (but he does seem to have an innate sense of timing).

What we would like to find out is the mood at this fiesta. Were there a lot of long faces, grumbling about Hank Paulson, weeping in their single malts? OR did people manage to convince themselves that this whole thing is NBD and people had a good time – enjoying the open bar, power smoking Cohibas, making awkward sexual advances, partners dancing?

We need, and the people demand details, so if you were at the party email us the details.

Lunchtime Reading: The Complaint Against Ernst & Young

Get some coffee first.

We’re working through it and we’ll update with anything interesting. If you see anything worth mentioning, chime in below.

Ernst Young Complaint

Cuomo Checks Ernst & Young Off the Hit List

Or throws another scalp on the pile, whatever you prefer.

The Journal is obviously very cozy with the Governor-elect:

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a lawsuit against Ernst & Young for civil fraud Tuesday, accusing one of the nation’s largest accounting firms of helping Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. hide its financial weakness from investors for about seven years before the bank finally collapsed in September of 2008.

Ernst & Young knew about, supported and advised Lehman on its “Rs, a type of debt the bank took on, but labeled as sales, which made the firm appear to investors less risky than it really was, according to the complaint. The audit firm also stood by while Lehman misled analysts and investors on conference calls and in financial filings about its levels of risk, particularly after the firm’s stability began to crack after the credit crisis began in 2007, said the complaint.

“Ernst & Young substantially assisted Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., now bankrupt, to engage in a massive accounting fraud,” Mr. Cuomo wrote in his complaint.

Now that the AG has pulled the trigger on this, we’re wondering what’s next. E&Y still isn’t talking, other than the statement they’ve been giving since the bankruptcy examiner’s report came out in March. One comment suggested a settlement in the nine figure range which would put them in proximity of the DOJ’s fine of KPMG back in 2005.

Colin Barr over a Fortune reports that Cuomo wants at least the audit fees back ($150 million, according to the complaint):

The complaint, filed in state Supreme Court, seeks the repayment of at least $150 million in fees the audit firm collected between 2001, when Lehman’s aggressive accounting began, and 2008, when the venerable bank collapsed, precipitating a global bank run.

“Our lawsuit seeks to recover the fees collected by Ernst & Young while it was supposed to be using accountable, honest measures to protect the public,” said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Something tells us that Cuomo won’t be satisfied by simply the audit fees; we’re talking about the largest bankruptcy in history, after all. If you feel like ballparking the fine, we wouldn’t turn away any outlandish guesses.

UPDATE: Felix Salmon also points out E&Y’s lack of communicado:

E&Y knew this was coming—we all did—but despite that fact, its only public reaction so far has been to refuse to comment. That doesn’t look good, and it forces us back to what the company said in the wake of the Valukas report—that its work as Lehman auditor “met all applicable professional standards,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

He also agrees with us that the fine will be greater than the $150 million and notes (not hiding his disappointment) that no partners were named, “E&Y will avoid admitting blame and also avoid criminal prosecution. […] [T]he only defendant is Ernst & Young LLP; there are no named individuals on the list. So E&Y’s partners are probably safe too. Sadly.”

Unless, of course, the SEC or PCAOB opt to take up that disciplinary slack. Don’t forget that some people think that Cuomo is making this move because he wants the “last scalp” before leaving the AG’s office for the Governor’s mansion. We realize pinning hopes on the SEC and PCAOB isn’t exactly comforting for those wishing to see more action but maybe Cuomo’s actions are the motivation they needed.

We’ll keep you updated throughout the day and if there’s any internal word from the hallowed walls of 5 Times Square, do email us the details.

But What if the Auditors Were Fools?

“Could Ernst & Young have done a better job? Maybe, but claiming they could have done a better job doesn’t necessarily make them liable. Even the best of auditors can be fooled.”

~ Anthony Sabino, professor of law and business at St. John’s University

Charlie Gasparino: Someone’s Holiday Vacation Is Holding Up the Ernst & Young Settlement Talks

The Fox Business Network ace reporter is saying that Cuomo & Co. would like to settle this thing up ASAP (a “quick scalp” before AC goes to Albany) however it is definitely not happening this week because, “According to people at Ernst & Young […] one of the lead investigators in Cuomo’s office is on vacation.”


Also interesting is that Chaz reports that E&Y thought there wasn’t going to be such a rush to get this thing settled but now everyone is all worked up because the story got leaked.

As for the SEC stuff, we don’t know what to make of it since there’s been hardly any news about talks between E&Y and the Commission. Francine McKenna told us that Gaspo “got a lot of smoke blown up his tush,” which is typical for reporters who cover Big 4 firms once in a lunar eclipse on the winter solstice.

Ernst & Young Partner May Have Known This Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy Situation Was Going to Get Worse

This was in January 2009 after the shit had hit the fan and E&Y’s partner on Lehman, Hillary Hansen, may have had an idea of how cozy she was going to get with bankruptcy examiners, the NYAG, SEC, PCAOB, etc.

Skip ahead to around 17:00 (you have to go to the website to watch) where Hansen says, “We audit Lehman Brothers, unfortunately,” to sparse chuckles.

Zero Hedge makes the case against E&Y (Hansen being the main culprit) in excruciating detail and thinks FSO might be down for the count:

[W]e are confident that (again, with the assumption that we live in some semblance of a sane/ration world), E&Y’s Financial Services Office is done (even despite such ironically apropos warnings on the firm’s website as “Top six liquidity risk management challenges for global banks “), and quite possibly the entire firm. Integrity is the number one currency for an auditor, and just like Anderson, E&Y’s just went out in a puff of green-colored smoke.

(UPDATE) Early More Chatter on the Ernst & Young Civil Charges

As we mentioned earlier, the Wall St. Journal has reported that out-going New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will be filing civil fraud charges against Ernst & Young related to its actions (mostly lack thereof) that led to the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Charges are expected this week but everyone is talking about it now obviously (and we were hoping for a quiet week).

Anyhoo, we’ve rounded up some of the early sound blog bites out there and we’ll keep you updated throughout the day. Of course, if you’re with E&Y and have any insight or hear some calming, soothing words from TPTB, email us t��������������������ore–>
In her column at Forbes, Francine McKenna is happy that Andrew Cuomo is actually doing something, which is more than can be said for the Feds:

Whether Cuomo is doing this on his own, in defiance of the Feds, or has their implicit blessing in light of the Federal Government’s seeming unwillingness to act, New York’s Attorney General is showing the world he’s the only one in the US with the nerve to shake this tree.

Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren is not so impressed, saying criminal charges are really what’s needed:

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo needs to get tough instead of this “window dressing” CIVIL business. He is soon to be the Governor of NYC and this is his last act as the State’s Attorney General. I hope this is not to appease Wall Street. Let a jury decide whether is is criminal behavior or not and whether anyone has committed a crime. As it stands now, Cuomo is blocking that determination with only civil charges.

Felix Salmon postulates that Cuomo is using the possibility of criminal charges to scare E&Y into a settlement:

On the other hand, a civil fraud suit is not a criminal prosecution. Even if E&Y fights the charges and loses, it probably won’t find itself on the receiving end of the kind of criminal charges which brought down Andersen. Still, I’m sure that Cuomo’s office is doing nothing to downplay the contingent existential threat here, in its negotiations with E&Y.

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism is practically giddy and hopes that this will turn up the heat on Dick Fuld:

One can only hope turning up the heat on Ernst & Young will lead to the prosecution of Richard Fuld. The buck is supposed to stop with the CEO, particularly when they are paid as many bucks as Fuld received. Given the scale of looting that took place in the runup to and after the crisis, there is no hope of getting the banking industry back in its proper role of supporting the real economy until we see some senior bank executives in orange jumpsuits.

CNBC’s John Carney thinks that execs at both Lehman and E&Y should take the civil charges as good sign:

Why should executives at Lehman and Ernst & Young be relieved? Because the filing of civil charges rather than criminal charges may signal that prosecutors do not believe they can prove a criminal case. The key difference between criminal and civil charges in these contexts is the quality of evidence and it looks as if New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office has decided it doesn’t have the evidence to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Fortune’s Colin Barr is appalled that E&Y’s Global CEO Jim Turley believes that there wasn’t any chicanery going on:

Take this exchange between E&Y chief Jim Turley and Fortune’s Geoff Colvin, from a September interview.

Colvin: Would it be fair to say that the crisis was caused in part by some financial firms doing misleading things that were within the rules?

Turley: I don’t know that it would be fair to say they were doing misleading things.

It’s remarkable Turley would still say that two months after the financial firm of the best and the brightest, Goldman Sachs (GS), agreed to pay $550 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it misled investors in a bubble-era debt deal. The auditors weren’t involved in that one, but the Wall Street mindset was pretty obvious to everyone not running an audit firm.

Over at DealBook, Peter Henning has an interesting theory that the NYAG could be going after the accountants while the SEC focuses on individuals:

If the S.E.C. agreed to share the Lehman case with the New York attorney general, then it may be that the state took the accountants as the focus of its investigation while the federal government concentrates on individuals. Such a division of labor would allow each to husband resources by avoiding any duplication of effort in the investigation – and may be the reason the state is planning to file charges before the S.E.C. decides to act.

Emily Chasan at Reuters managed to get a statement out of someone (Charlie Perkins’s phone has likely exploded by now) although the firm is sticking to the talking points:

A spokeswoman for Ernst & Young said the company did not comment on speculation and repeated a previous statement made by the firm about its dealings with Lehman Brothers. “Throughout our period as the auditor of Lehman, we firmly believe our work met all applicable professional standards, applying the rules that existed at the time,” the statement said.

Matt Taibbi (whole post is worth a read) is calling for the paramedics:

My guess is that this suit is the beginning of the end for Ernst and Young and, who knows, may be the beginning of a series of investigations that ultimately take down the auditors and ratings agencies that made the financial crisis possible. Without accountants and raters signing off on all the bogus derivative math and bad bookkeeping, a lot of this mess would never have happened.

We’ll be updating this post with more reactions and as things develop.

At Least One Ernst & Young Employee Is Less Than Thrilled with the Firm’s Efforts at Mid-Year Bonuses

As previously discussed, a few people are getting impatient with the lack of mid-year comp surprises at Ernst & Young and KPMG. While KPMG seems to be chewing on the idea, we couldn’t help but notice the lack of any word out of E&Y.

We had concocted several scenarios, including the firm paying people large bonuses in exchange for absolute silence but we immediately dismissed this idea as “idiotic” since Big 4 types can’t resist getting chatty when it comes to money. But the lack of kvetching is what we found to be most perplexing.

Until today that is! Finally, someone has had it with the efforts (or lack thereof) of E&Y in response to Deloitte, PwC et al. We may wrong but since there’s less than two shopping weeks left until Jesus of Nazareth’s birthday, people are, as is typical, a little irritated (something which, we’ve never really understood, this is a great time of year). Case in point – the observations we received from “Ernie Guy” in the midwest:

I recently read your article discussing the fact that E&Y and KPMG are lagging in their variable pay efforts. Well E&Y Midwest thinks they have solved the problem, but they haven’t. It seems that their response to PWC’s recent generosity is simply more of the same. They have “enhanced” the recognition program so that gift card awards can be given in more denominations (instead of just $50 or $100 they can now be $50, $150, $200, $300, $400, or $500). However, this doesn’t seem to do much as the next level of award already was eligible for $500-$2000 amounts.

It’s a completely ad hoc process anyway, and does not at all ensure that high performers are rewarded for their work. On top of it all is the fact that I’ve heard that many award nominations have been pending approval for the last month. How great would that be if a bonus meant for Christmas (and remember, they are mostly gift cards, which would be ideal for Christmas shopping/gifts) doesn’t arrive until January 17th!

Needless to say, I AM ANNOYED.

Thanks,
Ernie Guy

We’d add more here but it doesn’t seem necessary. Discuss the efforts of E&Y to date and if there is a pleasant holiday surprise coming your way, email us the details.

Update on Censured Ernst & Young Manager

Just a brief follow-up on the manager who received the disciplinary action handed down by the PCAOB on Monday.

We attempted to reach Jacqueline Higgins late yesterday at her office number in Boston, however we discovered that when we were transferred to her extension we simply bounced back to reception, who needless to say, was very confused about that phenomenon. After attempting to page Ms. Higgins, only then did the receptionist learn and then relay to us that Ms. Higgins was no longer with the firm.

We checked with Ernst & Young spokesman Charlie Perkins on this development and he confirmed that Ms. Higgins “will be leaving the firm at the end of the year.”

And lest there still be any confusion due to the carefully worded E&Y statement, the partner and senior manager in question have been dismissed from the firm.

We’ll keep you updated if we hear more from inside at the firm or if further action is taken by the PCAOB.

(UPDATE 2) PCAOB Gives Ernst & Young Manager the Charlie Rangel Treatment

~ Update includes statement from Ernst & Young.

~Update 2 includes statement from Claudius Modesti, PCAOB Director of Enforcement and Investigations

Today in obscure accounting oversight board enforcement actions, an Ernst & Young Manager in the Boston office was censured by the PCAOB for repeated violations oy to Cooperate with Inspectors, and Auditing Standard No. 3 (“AS3”), Audit Documentation.


The violations occurred when 27 year-old Jacqueline Higgins “(1) added documents to the working papers without indicating the dates that documents were added to the working papers, the names of the persons preparing the additional documentation, and the reason for adding the documentation months after the documentation completion date; and (2) removed a document from the working
papers after the documentation completion date.”

The timeline goes like this: E&Y was given notice by the PCAOB that an inspection of the unknown company’s audit was being performed on March 30, 2010 and the partner, senior manager and manager on the engagement were given notice on March 31, 2010. The inspection fieldwork was set to begin on April 19, 2010.

On April 5th, the three Ernsters began preparing for the inspection and that’s when problems started cropping up which led to more trouble. The order has the details:

First, Respondent reported to the Engagement Partner and the Senior Manager that a “Review Procedures Memorandum” was missing from the external working papers. The Engagement Partner and the Senior Manager directed Respondent to create and print out the missing document, and to backdate the document to November 30, 2009. The Engagement Partner and the Senior Manager directed Respondent to backdate her sign-off on this working paper to November 30, 2009, and to add this document to the external working papers.

17. Second, Respondent reported to the Engagement Partner that the tie-out of the financial statements contained in the external working papers was performed upon a pre-final set of financial statements. The Engagement Partner directed Respondent to remove this document from the external working papers, and to replace it with a newly created document which tied-out the final financial statements, and which the Engagement Partner directed Respondent to backdate to November 2009.

18. Third, Respondent reported to the Engagement Partner that the Average Forward Foreign Currency Contracts Calculation (“A3a Working Paper”) was missing from the external working papers. The Engagement Partner directed Respondent to gather the missing document, backdate it to November 2009, and add it to the external working papers.

19. Finally, Respondent reported to the Senior Manager that three checklists were missing from the external working papers. The Senior Manager directed Respondent to assemble the missing checklists as a single document (“HH6.8 Working Paper”) and to backdate her sign-off on this working paper to November 2009. The Senior Manager directed Respondent to add the document to the external working papers. The Senior Manager and Respondent reported to the Engagement Partner the facts and circumstances related to the creation of the HH6.8 Working Paper, and the Engagement Partner took no steps to cause the document to be properly dated, or to have it removed from the external working papers.

So those are the wonky details. Where this particular story is most interesting (in our opinion) is that Ms Higgins was, prior to this little mishap, on the fast track. According to the order, she graduated in May of 2005 and started with E&Y in September. She was promoted to senior associate in October of 2007 and then promoted to manager in October of 2009. Now, perhaps she was an audit-savant or perhaps not but in just over four years, she was a manager, which is a much quicker pace than usual.

Granted, she was still under the supervision of the senior manager and partner on the engagement but a young manager nevertheless. Now, you might be asking yourself, “what about the senior manager and partner? Are they getting their wrists slapped?” Conventional wisdom tell us, “absofuckinglutely” but the PCAOB isn’t saying. We were told by a spokesperson that the Board cannot comment on any other action related to this case.

As far as what a censure by the PCAOB actually entails, we were told that “It is an official reprimand from the PCAOB.” Some might call it a wrist slap but we’re damn sure you don’t want that in your file when you’re 27 years old. The action also states that Ms. Higgins was removed from the engagement in July 2010 and “at that time Higgins ceased participating in issuer audit engagements.”

Messages with E&Y spokesperson Charles Perkins and A message left with an attorney for Ms. Higgins were not immediately returned.

Ernst & Young has issued the following statement:

Our firm policy clearly prohibits persons from supplementing audit workpapers in circumstances like those described in the disciplinary order. When we determined that firm policy had been violated, we put the three individuals involved on administrative leave and subsequently separated the partner and senior manager. We have advised the PCAOB of these facts and have cooperated fully with the PCAOB throughout its investigation of this matter.

Based on the above, you might conclude that more disciplinary action will be coming from the PCAOB but like we said, they’re not talking.

UPDATE 2 – circa 3:30 pm: Claudius Modesti, PCAOB Director of Enforcement and Investigations, explained the seemingly light punishment in an email to Going Concern:

As to the censure, under the facts and circumstances, the censure is appropriate given Higgins’ relatively junior position on the audit team and her overall role in the conduct. We also considered the fact that she settled the matter without requiring the Board to commence litigation, which would have been nonpublic as required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.”

It was then explained to us that the PCAOB has never explained a disciplinary action in this way: “We also considered the fact that she settled the matter without requiring the Board to commence litigation, which would have been nonpublic as required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.”

If that’s not quite clear, consider this: It is significant because, had Ms Higgins acted in the alternative (i.e. not settled), litigation would have been necessary and no one outside of the PCAOB, Higgins, her lawyers and E&Y would have known about the proceedings. Granted, it’s fairly common for lighter disciplinary action to result from a settlement but it also makes sense from a PR perspective (not to mention, transparency and investor protection) if the PCAOB can actually announce that they are taking action against people who break the rules. Part of the challenge the Board has faced is convincing anyone that they have teeth.

It will be interesting now to see if the senior manager and partner follow the same track as Ms. Higgins and how the PCAOB will respond to their cooperation (or lack thereof).

Jacqueline a Higgins CPA[1]

Ernst & Young Study: U.S. Is Great for Renewable Investment If You Don’t Count the Red States

China has everyone beat, no shocker there, but if you don’t count Sarah Palin’s real America the red, white & blue is #2!

Ernst and Young counts only perhaps half (or is it three quarters?) of the 300 million people in the US as “US”, by considering only those states that are doing anything about renewable energy, like California…The “US” excludes all the dirty states that lack renewable policy; states like Wyoming, Indiana, North Dakota, Kentucky, Oklahoma and so on.

Ernst & Young: U.S. Blue States Nearly as Attractive as China for World Renewable Investment [Reuters]

Some Clarification on the Bathroom Situation at E&Y Jericho

Yesterday, we shared a story with you that probably caused you to thank your lucky stars that you don’t work in Norway (especially if you’re a woman). In that post, we called back to our old report from January about the secure lavatories at Ernst & Young’s Long Island location in Jericho.

You may have been under the impression that someone within E&Y was responsible for the lockdown, however, thanks to an enterprising E&Y employee, we now know who the keymasters really are:

I don’t work in the Jericho office, but got shipped out there for random clients for most of this summer. The bathrooms are in the common areas shared by all tenants of the building, so the keyed entry to the bathrooms is mandated by the building management, not EY (not that I’d put it past the partners to come up with something like this, though).

Also, while there are keys for each bathroom, there are also entry codes you can use instead. So you can grab one of the communal keys (kinda gross), or remember the terribly difficult four digit code (0001 if I remember correctly).

As a side note, I remember the admin mentioning that the original set of five keys for the men’s room was down to two. I’m wondering why someone would make off with these nasty over-sized germ farms.

Okay, so the missing keys aren’t news but what’s it going to take to get some extras made? And, again, who’s making off with the keys in the first place?

And while it’s good to know that the E&Y brass in Jericho aren’t actually the ones putting the clamp on the johns, would it kill them to spring for some private restrooms that non-E&Yers don’t have access to? It’s one thing to have to schlep to the front desk to get a key every time; it’s entirely another to be sharing a bathroom with the entire building. What is this, Penn Station?

Seriously, how much time and cost would it take to throw in some pots, sinks, urinals and XLERATORs®? It’s a health issue for crissakes.

Some Ernst & Young Employees Got Paid to Look at a Plethora of Porn

Really not sure why or how E&Y landed this gig but work is work.

Police may be called on to investigate reports [New South Wales] [Members of Parliament] or their staff accessed websites containing sexually explicit images of young people.

The findings were contained in an independent report by Ernst & Young, commissioned in September after an unauthorised audit of computer use in the NSW parliament showed “adult” websites had been visited from the offices of some MPs.

The report, tabled in parliament yesterday, says that of the 72 most-used websites on parliamentary computers over a 10-month period, 35 “appear to be adult-related sites”.

Nine contained sexually explicit images of young people, some of whom may be under 16.

Nearly 50% of the most-used sites over a 10 month period? And some that could involve minors (in NSW)! That’s impressive even by SEC standards.

Ernst & Young Rang the Closing Bell Today

We don’t recognize anyone but you’re invited to point any notables out.

.

And you just know that somewhere, Dick Fuld is slobbing around in a old CU sweatshirt, muttering about backroom number-crunching dweebs that are still in business.

[via NYSE]

Ernst & Young Employee Disappointed with Boston Office’s Party Planning, Lack of Boozehounds

From the mailbag:

EY Boston Tax had their end of busy season party last week. On Tuesday, we had beer and wine in the office. Considering everyone had to work through the first football sunday of the year, the least they could do is get us drunk on a Thursday so we can enjoy ourselves. Who’s gonna get drunk in the office on a Tuesday? [Ed. note: show of hands?]

I have to say I’m disappointed with the social/drinking scene at this place compared to other Big 4s in this market. Pretty stiff, but I feel like the firm takes pride in that–I have no idea why.

Without the proper context, it’s difficult to know what kind of a drinker our tipster is. If he/she is merely a two wines/beers and out person then E&Y Boston is really bucking the trend in that fair city. However, if the tipster is Charlie Sheen, then there’s no cause for concern.

Any Bostonians familiar with the situation are invited to elaborate on the Big 4/next tier drinking scene below or share with us directly.

Ernst & Young: Hedge Funds Like Us! They Really Like Us!

A source informs us that this is hardly surprise as E&Y has some the best known shops as clients including SAC Capital, Third Point, Anchorage Capital Partners, Reservoir Capital Group and Pershing Square. Although the HF honchos still appreciate the recognition:

“Receiving this award is a testament to Ernst & Young’s 25-year commitment to serving hedge funds through every phase of their business – from starting up through investment, global expansion and going public,” said Art Tully, Co-leader, Global Hedge Fund Practice, Ernst & Young LLP. “Since we began serving the alternative investments industry more than two decades ago, our seasoned professionals have worked to help hedge fund clients anticipate and meet new regulatory, transactional, accounting, tax, technology, operations and investor demands.”

“Ernst & Young’s hedge fund practice was founded on start-ups. In 2009, we audited the most significant share of the top 25 fund launches in 2009,” said Mike Serota, Co-leader, Global Hedge Fund Practice, Ernst & Young LLP. “As these organizations continue to evolve and expand, we can support their evolving needs through our extensive portfolio of services.”

E&Y is two for two in Hedge Fund Manager Week’s Best Accounting Firm Category so it’s a little early for any “dynasty” rhetoric but they seem to have a decent hold on things.

Some People Are Wondering When/If KPMG and Ernst & Young Will Ante Up

From the mailbag, courtesy of an E&Y senior associate:

I work for EY. Roommates are Deloitte and PWC. I’m hearing from the PWC employees that in addition to a holiday bonus, as well as a March compensation adjustment similar to Deloitte’s, PWC is also giving their employees the last two weeks of December off without requiring them to use their vacation days.

Thoughts on whether EY or KPMG will ante up? Hot topic at my client site today as you can imagine 🙂


Before we get to E&Y and KPMG, it should be noted that PwC is really playing hardball here. A quick recap:

Mid-year bonuses that include an option for an iPad. Steve Jobs hater or not – that’s a cool bonus.

• Rumors of poaching seniors in Chicago and New York.

• New Yorkers given the option to shovel Thanksgiving sustenance at a Manhattan location to be named later (btw, we really want to know where, so get in touch with details when known).

• iPhones are now available and Christmaskuh festivities return.

Now there are rumors of a merit increase in March and two free weeks of time off? This is quite the run of employer gratitude. We won’t say “unprecedented” but it is an impressive show of generosity.

Maybe PwC has gone on this offensive because they had a kick-ass first quarter. Or maybe it’s because they lost the number one spot to Deloitte and they still want everyone to know that they’re still capable of equating love with money. OR maybe they’re trying to make people forget about Logogate. Whatever the motivation, the firm is throwing money around with the gusto of Charlie Sheen and they are getting a relative amount of attention for it.

Now, then – Ernst & Young and KPMG. Maybe these two firms are spreading the wealth on the Double-DL but if not, TPTB have to be aware of the what the competition is up to. If not, maybe someone should clue them in. Regardless, there has to be heat to act in some way.

One explanation for the House of Klynveld is that the fiscal year just ended, so it is too early for leadership to communicate “the great first quarter,” thus rationalizing a mid-year bonus. If KPMG comes out to soon with the news, they risk the “Monkey see” effect.

As far as E&Y is concerned, we’re stumped. They have the same fiscal year as PwC and should have a pret-tay good idea how Q1 went. Now that PwC has made the first move, any action by E&Y is going to look reactionary .

So for the E&Y and KPMG crowd – you clearly have some expectations for something but are you hearing anything about mid-year bonuses or will the belly aching continue into the holidays? Discuss below and get in touch with details.

Ernst & Young Employee Shared Sue Sachdeva’s Taste in Loot, Lacked Her Fraudulent Self-control

If you work for a partner who likes shamelessly showing off their money, it’s likely that you will think to yourself one of two things: 1) “What a flashy douchebag.” OR 2) “How do I get to be that flashy douchebag?”

For Lily Aspillera, her thinking was more along the lines of the latter, as she made off with $1.7 million from 2002 to 2008 by writing checks to herself that drew on an account of an E&Y client. She used the cash to buy your run-of-the-mill embezzler items: German cars, jewels, vacations, a nice home, etc.

An executive assistant at the giant accounting firm Ernst & Young has been sentenced to more than two years in federal prison for a $1.7 million embezzlement scheme that helped finance a posh San Francisco home, two BMWs, jewelry and stays at luxury resorts, authorities said Wednesday.

Lily Aspillera, 65, of San Francisco was ordered Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to serve 30 months behind bars for mail fraud and tax evasion.

Impressive. Not necessarily by Sue Sachdeva’s standards but impressive nonetheless. However, Lil’s little scam only last a measly 6 years compared to Sachdeva’s twelve year scam because yes, her own greed got the best of her:

“Like so many who commit fraud, over time she increased the amount of money she embezzled, apparently emboldened by not getting caught,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Sprague wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Defense attorney Donald Bergerson wrote in court papers that his client “has been punished by her own conscience as much as she can be punished by any term of imprisonment.”

The personal guilt over getting caught – after managing to steal money for only six years – would be pretty overwhelming.

Ernst & Young employee gets prison in embezzlement [SFC]

Jim Turley Explains Why You Should Work at Ernst & Young Rather Than Facebook

JT spoke to NYU students earlier this week and of course during the Q&A, Diane Brady, a senior editor at Bloomberg threw him a softie, asking if the firm was hiring, to which Diego responded, “we’re always hiring.” This, of course brought the house down (laughs, raucous applause).

Anyway, Brady decided to throw Jim a curve and asked why a young recruit would pick E&Y over Zuckerland.

“Should students ever consider starting at a big firm of yours?” Brady said. “Why not just go out there and make the billions with Facebook? What is the attraction at Ernst & Young?”

Turley responded by saying that most entrepreneurs, despite common misconceptions, are not just out to make money.

“[Entrepreneurs] go out there to find a need,” he said. “At Ernst & Young, you have opportunities to be extraordinarily mobile and move around the world.”

His advice? “First, find something that you love doing,” Turley said. “Second, align with an organization that actually thinks about where the world is going. And lastly, find an organization that wants you to change them as opposed to them to change you.”

See, if you can’t find a need then you need care about being “extraordinarly mobile.” Seems like a fair trade-off, especially since billionaires don’t travel much.

And just curious, how would the members of Ernie’s army like the firm to change? We’re assuming JT goes with the “whatever is good for the goose” mantra. Leave your suggestions below.

Ernst & Young CEO speaks at Stern [WSN]

Ernst & Young Employees Are Chipping in a Little Extra for Medical Insurance for 2011

According to this:


It’s our understanding that the firm is going to “unitized pricing” which apparently results in the increases above. In addition, the firm had an “eye discount card” in the past which was a freebee but now an insurance option has been added. The deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums are also increasing.

So question for the group – are you seeing similar changes to your benefit options for next year? Our feeling on the matter is that it’s always easier to blame a faceless insurance company than any other mega, faceless corporation but if you’d like to take issue with your firm on this trend, your rationale will be heard below.

Will Ernst & Young Be the Next Firm to Get a Makeover?

[caption id="attachment_18945" align="alignright" width="150" caption="No more square?"][/caption]

It sounds like it!

Judging by the article over at Marketing Week ideas are being kicked around and since Audits the Emmys!” Perhaps, “Zitor works for us!” Or simply, “Our opinion indicated that Lehman’s financial statements for that year were fairly presented in accordance with GAAP!”

Even a more important questions – should they incorporate a mascot? Maybe an E&Y Phanatic? A live animal may do the trick. Or this.

Let’s hear some ideas.

Ernst & Young looks to stand out among “big four” [Marketing Week]

Ernst & Young Staff Twitter Account Shares School Pride, Multiple Sneezes Record

Exciting news gang! Ernst & Young has given an entire Twitter account to its staff! “Sunny” is the current Tweeter. She is a Virginia Tech grad and a multiple sneezer:


The question that remains is that after these eleven sneezes, was Sunny greeted with “God bless you” or “You are sooooooo good lookin’.”? And did she get laid out of it?

Jim Turley Doesn’t Think That The Financial Crisis Was Caused By Anyone Doing Anything Misleading

It turns out – without naming names (read: Dick Fuld) – the companies at the nucleus of the shit hitting the fan were just making bad business decisions. That’s all.

He also takes exception with the notion that E&Y committed malpractice.


And would like to explain exactly what the Bankruptcy Examiner does and points out that he didn’t have any problem with the accounting.

C-Suite Strategies [Fortune]

KPMG, Ernst & Young Sneak on to U.S. News Tax Firm Ranking

You may or may not be aware that U.S. News & World Report is the shot caller when it comes to ranking law schools (much to the chagrin of some) and now (to even more chagrin) the magazine is delving into extensive law firm rankings and the Big 4 will enjoy a little bit of perceived prestige that comes along with these rankings.

Christ. We’re barely into rankings/list season and they’ve already chalked up working moms and consulting rankings and U.S. News is now throwing around its weight with this new list.

Granted, virtually no accounting firms will even get a whiff of this list but something tells us that because U.S. News has decided to dive head first into ranking law firms by practice are the Big 4 will be jockeying to make the tax list, even though it is a sliver of a much larger and broader ranking that they won’t be included on at all.

Excuse us while we choke down the vomit that we caught making it’s way out.


Why the hell not?!? U.S. News figured that the world couldn’t do without it’s rankings-for-hire in one more area for the legal field but this time the Big 4 will enjoy a bit of a ride on this wave.

Right. The list. The two of Big Four of course, make their way on the ranking for tax firms: Ernst & Young falls into the coveted Tier 1 (includes 36 firms) and KPMG drops on Tier 2 (47 firms). There were a total out of 119 firms across three tiers.

Admittedly, this is an opportunity for both KPMG and E&Y to boast their tax practice prowess over Deloitte and PwC who don’t appear on the list at all. That being said, Deloitte and PwC enjoy higher spots on the consulting rankings so they’re probably not overly concerned although no one turns down a notch on the bedpost if they can get it.

What this new ranking ultimately will be is one more marketing tool for the firms to use on the impressionable recruits and experienced hires who want to work in top notch – TOP NOTCH! – tax practice. Be it lawyers or CPAs, the firms will tout this ranking to their tax professionals (if not firm-wide) to throw around ONE. MORE. LIST. to impress the trousers off the masses but now people will be saying, “Oh, this is a U.S. News ranking.”

So for the Big 4 to be included in this “prestigious” ranking is a little bit, as Elie Mystal states, like “Christmas morning – if only Santa were a jolly red prestige whore.”

U.S. News Tax Firm Rankings [TaxProf Blog]
Best Law Firms [U.S. News & World Report]
U.S. News Launches First Official Law Firm Rankings [ATL]

Will Defecting from E&Y to PwC Change Anything?

Today in makeshift accounting therapy, a fed up E&Y vet is contemplating a move to arch-rival PwC and wants to know if this is a suicide move.

Have a question about your career? Need advice on how to explain why your Fantasy Football league is always up on your laptop? Looking for advice on how to best flirt with recruits without being creepy? Send us an email with your query to advice@goingconcern.com and will give you the best free advice you’ll ever get.

As for our potential E&Y Benedict Arnold:

I’m at EY, looking at a position one-level above where I am at PWC. Is this a frying-pan/fire situation?

EY as “more people friendly” is a concern, because EY is horrifically NOT people friendly.

I’ve know the guy I would be working for at PWC very well and I think I’m maxed out at EY.


Okay, so not a lot to go on here but we’ll take a stab at this. First off, if you’re maxed out at E&Y then looking for a new gig is the right move. The timing isn’t bad (assuming you’re not in the tax practice) and it sounds like you’ve got a decent lead at PwC. That said…

What makes you think PwC will be better than E&Y? Has the guy that you would be working for told you explicitly that he’s having the time of his life over there? That, besides the PwC Experience, you’ll be getting 40-50 hour weeks, happy hours devoid of assaults and access to professional oral sex providers on a regular basis?

More questions to consider: Does “the guy” stand to get a referral bonus for poaching you? Can you see yourself working for him? This could turn out to one hell of an epic mistake if he gets a few thousand bucks and you end up working for a whip-wielding taskmaster.

Now that we’ve planted the skepticism seed, if “a position one level above” is a legit promotion (title and salary bump), that might be worth considering. If it’s more of a lateral move, then we’d suggest passing unless there were perks like we described above.

Other important things to consider: 1) You will be torching many bridges at E&Y. Are you okay with that? 2) Is your potential new job really what you want to do. We’re making the assumption that you like your work but you’re over life at E&Y. If you don’t like your work then you’ve got a whole other problem. 3) Do you really, really, really, really want to stay in Big 4? Have you seriously asked yourself that question?

Ultimately, the opportunity may be a great one but you’re still taking a big risk assuming your life will be infinitely better working at PwC over E&Y. Proceed with caution.

Why Did Dave & Buster’s Fire Ernst & Young?

Earlier in the month, adult playground company Dave & Buster’s filed an S-4 to register $200 million in senior notes. Everything seemed to be in order and the month of August just moseyed along as it does.

Until the 24th, when GOD KNOWS what happened and D&B’s audit committee up and fired E&Y. They then filed the amended S-4, letting the whole world know about it:

CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON
ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

On August 25, 2010, Ernst & Young, LLP (the “Former Auditors”) was dismissed as the Company’s independent auditors. The Audit Committee of the Board of Directors of the Company approved their dismissal on August 24, 2010.

The Former Auditors’ audit report on the Company’s consolidated financial statements for each of the past two fiscal years did not contain an adverse opinion or disclaimer of opinion, and was not qualified or modified as to uncertainty, audit scope or accounting principles.

During the Company’s most recent two fiscal years and through the subsequent interim period on or prior to August 25, 2010, (a) there were no disagreements between the Company and the Former Auditors on any matter of accounting principles or practices, financial statement disclosure, or auditing scope or procedure, which disagreements, if not resolved to the satisfaction of the Former Auditors, would have caused the Former Auditors to make reference to the subject matter of the disagreement in connection with its report; and (b) no reportable events as set forth in Item 304(a)(1)(v)(A) through (D) of Regulation S-K have occurred.

Naturally, this invites rampant speculation as to the why, why and the why? It’s not the most high profile client on Earth but as Adrienne pointed out, Ernst & Young is now on a list with Vice-President Joe Biden and no one needs that.

Dave & Buster’s, Inc. Announces Dismissal of Independent Auditor [Business Newswire via JDA]

Ernst & Young Loses a Special Houseguest

Or a loudmouth neighbor depending on your political preference. Either way you look at it, 5 Times Square won’t be the same.

Giuliani Partners, the consulting business formed by the former mayor shortly after he left City Hall, has vacated the flagship office it had on a floor of the Ernst & Young offices in Times Square for nine years, consolidating space with the ex-candidate’s law practice, sources confirm.

Giuliani Partners closes Times Square office [Maggie Haberman/Politico]

Is Everyone at Ernst & Young Excited About the Four Day Weekend?

There has to be some tax people working. Just a hunch. If your plans have been ruined, we want to hear about it.

Good Thing They Had Auditors

“Lehman’s books were in such a mess that I don’t think they knew where they were.”

~ Elizabeth James, a director of Barclays’s futures business, testifying in bankruptcy court.

There Are More Than a Few Texans Who Aren’t Impressed with Ernst & Young’s Auditing Abilities

And this has nothing to do with Lehman Brothers.

Attorneys from Houston’s Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Anaipakos are representing a group of investors in a lawsuit filed against hedge fund auditors Ernst & Young after the group lost more than $17 million following the collapse of a Plano, Texas-based hedge fund that promised low-risk investments.

The lawsuit focuses on two funds sold by Plano’s Parkcentral Global and was filed on behalf of Houston financial consultant Gus H. Comiskey and four Tucson, Ariz.-based entities, including the Thomas R. Brown Family Private Foundation. The now-defunct Parkcentral Global was operated by affiliates of billionaire and former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot before closing its doors after losing a total of more than $2.6 billion.

“Our clients were told that an investment in Parkcentral was designed to preserve capital. Instead, they lost every penny in record time. E&Y was supposed to be auditing Parkcentral, but the audited financial statements never once warned Parkcentral’s investors of their impending doom,” says attorney Demetrios Anaipakos, who will try the case with Amir H. Alavi.


Did you hear that E&Y? RECORD TIME! But why the Ross Perot mention, Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Anaipakos? Got something against eccentric Texas billionaires that like explaining complex things with charts? Sadly, the BPR does not elaborate.

The lawsuit includes claims that New York-based Ernst & Young falsely represented that the company fairly audited Parkcentral Global and the auditor failed in its “watchdog” [Ed. note: These quotation marks appear to be unnecessary. Also, the “watchdog” thing, sucks as metaphor.] role to warn relying investors of the risk of fraud and noncompliance by management. The suit accuses Ernst & Young of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, securities fraud and conspiracy.

This month, Brown Investment Management, L.P., one of the plaintiffs in this suit against Ernst & Young, won a Delaware Supreme Court ruling that requires Parkcentral Global to disclose its former investors. Those investors could be added to the new Houston lawsuit.

The investments of the Brown foundation, Brown Investment Management and the two other family-related ventures totaled $16 million and were lost within 90 days despite a “worst case loss” estimate of 5 percent. Mr. Comiskey, like his fellow investors, lost 100 percent of his investment when Parkcentral Global went under.

Mr. Anaipakos and Mr. Alavi have handled disputes against hedge funds and private equity firms for more than a decade. This lawsuit is separate from a class action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against Parkcentral Global.

Ernst & Young Partner Might Be Hiding Emmy Results Under His Pillow, Fails to Land Groupies

On Sunday, The Emmys will be handed out to several cast and crew of Mad Men and a few other people. In order to give these proceedings some legitimacy, Ernst & Young partner Andy Sale (and possibly a few others) counts these votes and certify the results.

The L.A. Times published a Q&A with Sale today since the big day is nearly here and we took the liberty of bringing you the highlights.


For starters, Andy understands that the MSM could really get two shits about accountants except when there are audit failures or celebrities involved:

How cool is it to walk on the red carpet?

It’s one of those things where for at least one day a year, being an accountant is something the press wants to shine a light on.

He also doesn’t appreciate the LAT’s presumption that being an accountant is boring:

Is it the one day of the year it’s fun to be an accountant?

I think it’s fun to be an accountant every day.

Cool fact: if one of the presenters is Mel Gibson-drunk and just blurts out a name that is completely wrong, Andy must sprint on stage give the presenter a roundhouse uppercut and state unequivocally who correct winner is. Fortunately, that has happened…yet:

Has anyone ever screwed up reading a winner?

Part of our role is to ensure the appropriate name is read onstage. If a name was omitted or read inappropriately, we would be duty-bound to go onstage and correct it. It’s never happened. We hope to continue that streak.

The security around these events has to be tight and Sale and the team have to keep things creative when hiding the results. That means the results could be anywhere – a vault, his underwear drawer, Jon Hamm’s pants:

Let’s talk security. After you’ve finished counting the votes, where do they go?

Where they are secured and how they are secured changes every year. It can be in a vault. It can be under a pillow. We have multiple sets of envelopes and those multiple sets of envelopes arrive at the Nokia Theatre by different means. For security reasons, I can’t divulge those specific means. They’re delivered by a means both conventional and unconventional, and that’s all I’ll say on that.

And as glamorous as this gig is, it still not getting Andy as much action as he would like:

Do you get groupies out of this?

I can’t say I’ve seen a lot in the way of groupies.

Andy Sale is counting on Emmy Awards [Los Angeles Times]

Ernst & Young Risks Alienating Acrophobic Employees in China

From Big 4 Blog:

Ernst & Young China is announcing the grand opening of its new office in China’s tallest building and premier location – Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) in the Pudong District of Shanghai. All of Ernst & Young’s 2,500 Shanghai people (of the 9,000 total China employees) will be one single location to help provide better services to clients and laying the groundwork for our further expansion in the China market. Prior to this, E&Y was in three different Shanghai locations.

Jim Turley managed to ignore the issue entirely saying, “Our confidence in the long term prospects in China is demonstrated in the investment in our business and our people. We currently have over 9,000 people in China, and will further grow our manpower with the business.”

Former Ernst & Young Partner Still Getting Screwed By Mistress He Gave Insider Tips To

Former E&Y partner James Gansman could finally be done paying for all his bad decisions. Web CPA reports that Gansman has settled with the SEC over his insider-trading-for-sex activities. You may recall that Jimbo received (and is currently serving) a one year and a day prison sentence back in February for his efforts.

This settlement with the SEC will set him back $250k but his mistress – who admittedly cheated on him and then testified against him – seems to have gotten a better deal.

The final judgment to which [Donna] Murdoch consented further orders that she is liable for disgorgement of $339,110 together with $64,943.52 in prejudgment interest, but, based on her demonstrated inability to pay, waives payment of disgorgement and prejudgment interest and does not impose a civil penalty.

Murdoch will probably still see some jail time but this just has to burn the Gansman up. Unless he’s found Jesus or something.

Former E&Y Partner Settles Insider Trading Charges for $250,000 [Web CPA]

Is Ernst & Young Dishing Out iPhones to New Associates?

A soon-to-be E&Y associate would really like to get their very own version of Alan the Accountant but would prefer it if Ernie chipped in with the whole iPhone part of that equation:

I’m starting with Ernst & Young in the fall, and was wondering whether you know if Ernst & Young allows iphones to be used with their system like Deloitte? I don’t really want to ask a recruiter or anything just in case it looks bad.


For the record, some of the recruiters are easily rankled, so if there’s anything you don’t want to ask a Big 4 recruiter, you can certainly ask us.

Back to the issue at hand – if your memory serves, you’ll recall that Deloitte has been allowing all professionals to opt for the iPhone for awhile but it was just back in January that the firm quit charging you $13 a month for it.

But as far as E&Y goes, we’ve got no idea what the iPhone situation is, so enlighten the future associate.

Experienced Recruiting Amongst The Big 4 Gets Aggressive

As you know the Big 4 are extremely competitive when it comes to picking up talent. Now that the firms have amped up their experienced hiring, things appear to be taking an interesting turn.

Case in point, the following email went out to PwC professionals in the Southeast:

Hello. I work for Ernst & Young’s Assurance Recruiting Team and, through my networking, came across your name. I was wondering if you would be interested in making contact for professional networking purposes.

We are currently seeking managers and senior managers in our Southeastern markets. Your referrals would be greatly appreciated as you know the best people in this industry! We are expanding our Assurance Experienced talent pool and look forward to hiring only the best and brightest talent!

There are twelve more reasons to consider EY as a strong career option!! Ernst & Young was just named to FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the 12th year in a row–and ranked highest among the global professional services organizations. The reason? Our people. Together, we’ve created a culture of learning, flexibility, inclusiveness and community responsibility that truly makes a difference.

I have been a finance/accounting recruiter for six years and assure you that not all Big 4 firms are cut from the same cloth……it never hurts to have a dialogue!!!

Thanks in advance for your time and consideration. Have a wonderful summer!

Say what you want about these particular tactics but if there is a need in a particular office or region, it is Big 4 recruiters’ job to go out and find the talent to fill that demand. Other Big 4 firms seem like a pretty good place to start since they have the “talent” that the firms want. Plus, the email does state that the intent of the message is to “open a dialogue” which, sure, could lead to someone switching firms but let’s be real – this happens.

And don’t forget! This isn’t confined to Dixieland. You may recall that PwC in the UK had been allegedly poaching E&Y partners, as reported by the Times Online.

So if you want to get all defensive about a rival firm going behind enemy lines to do their jobs, so be it, but your firm is likely doing the exact same thing.

Earlier:
Grant Thornton Picks Up Four Tax-Exempt Experts from WTAS

Ernst & Young Striving for Fewer “Cookie Cutter” Engagement Teams

E&Y’s annual intern conference invaded Orlando yesterday and the ‘Berg had Director of Campus Recruiting, Dan Black on to discuss Gen Y and why they are pre-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay important to the future of the firm.


Despite their technology savviness, it appears that Gen Y is still relying on rock-paper-scissors as a key decision-making tool. Apparently, darts and jigsaw puzzles are important too.

Oh, and the time you put in as a line cook at Applebees’s in college really doesn’t translate into anything useful so don’t be too concerned about that.

Comp Watch: Early Returns at Ernst & Young Keeping Pace with PwC

So far there are several reports of low to mid-teens and some as high as 20%, which some simply don’t believe.

We do have some specific details for assurance associates in New York and they don’t sound terrible:

NYC first year associate went from $55k to $64k, associate raises [are] coming in around 11-18%


So if you’re keeping score at home (and we know you are) it appears that the partner at E&Y who prognosticated that raises at his firm would beat PwC’s Raises appears to be right in some cases but perhaps not all.

Sooo, Ernie troops – are you happy? Disappointed? Suicidal? Ready to jump ship? Or calling your friends at PwC to brag how you’re keeping the pace? Discuss.

Earlier:
Are Ernst & Young and PwC Neck and Neck in the Compensation Race?

(UPDATE) Comp Watch ’10: Ernst & Young Numbers Coming Out This Week?

Last time we checked in on E&Y in the comp department, convos on promotions and ratings were to have gone down by last Friday. That appears to have happened right on cue and now we’re told that starting this week, the numbers will be coming down from 5 Times Square:

Latest regarding compensation (exact $ amount) in both FSO/New York and Northeast/New York regions is discussions should start today and run for 2 weeks. Big push right now in all business units to try and appear to care about people; people advisory board members have been reaching out for ways the firm can improve.


Feel free to speculate as to why the “caring” and “reaching out” is happening at this particular time of year (and if the Facebook downloading is at all related). Also, if you’ve had the talk and have great/disappointing news to report, do share or get in touch with us.

UPDATE: Word is that meetings are still being had this week and the numbers are still good. One source (Manager) in the assurance practice reported a 5 rating and a 21% bump. Not too shabby.

Why Would E&Y Download 100 Million Facebook Profiles off BitTorrent?

Good question! In case you didn’t hear, someone – his name is Ron Bowes – created a “crawler” (resident tech expert Nick told us it’s “a bot that has directives and algorithms based on known patterns in a webpage it ‘visits’ a webpage and pull information from selected places in that structure.”) that pulled data on 100 million Facebook profiles.

Since it only pulled the data that was publicly available, you could claim that this is NBD as Nick told us, “[A]ll the crawler did was collect it and put it into a single place, presumably in a format that is searchable and very ordered.”


And Engadget agrees, “There’s nothing illegal about any of this, of course — we put our information out there into the public forum that Facebook is, after all — but there’s still something creepy about the idea of someone torrenting our profile.”

What may be even more creepy is that lots of corporations – including E&Y – are downloading the data.

Nick told us that any corporation could have done this anyway but since someone else did, these companies figured, “why the hell not?” and downloaded the data. But E&Y? Maybe it’s just some back office guy stalking ex-girlfriends, as Gizmodo suggests, or Zitor collecting names for future abductions but it certainly makes you wonder.

So much so, we emailed E&Y spokesman Charlie Perkins to ask him about it (and if nothing else, we may have introduced him to a new website!) but we haven’t heard back and we don’t have our hopes up.

Major Corporations Are Downloading Those 100 Million Facebook Profiles off BitTorrent [Gizmodo]

Is Mary Schapiro Talking About a Certain Lehman Brothers Auditor?

Maybe! After last week’s settlement with Team Jehovah and the financial reform bill allowing for a few more hands on deck, the SEC chair says there are some other smackdowns in the works.

Unfortunately she doesn’t name names but use your imagination:

“We have investigations in the pipeline, across products, across institutions, coming out of the financial crisis,” SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said after testifying before a House of Representatives subcommittee hearing.

Asked if the bulk of the cases have already been brought to light, she said: “Not necessarily, not necessarily.”

So it’s a grab bag really. Although, as you may recall, Dick Fuld is on the record that E&Y was on board with whatever the dorks in accounting were doing. Or maybe MS is just messing with Congress. The situation remains fluid.

SEC chairman says more post-crisis cases in pipeline [Reuters]

Are Ernst & Young and PwC Neck and Neck in the Compensation Race?

From the mailbag:

I heard some scoop and wanted to share with my fellow indentured servants in the big 4 field. Word on the street is that P-dubs gave 10% raises to staff 2s becoming senior 1s (early promote) and 16% raises to staff 3s becoming senior 1s.

However, P-dubs doesn’t hand out the 5k bonus that Uncle Ernies offers to its staff 2s becoming senior 1s. I’d like to see how EY will top this, per an earlier promise from a partner that EY raises will be higher than P-dubs (maybe can some low performing partners?). In addition, the variance between average performers and high performers at P-dubs is only .6% (not significant at all).


If you forgot what this is referring to, back in April we reported a tip out of the Ernstiverse that a partner had claimed that the raises at E&Y would beat PwC’s. The reports out of PwC have been better than expected, although not for everyone.

So if this partner’s prognostication holds up, how will they pull it off down the stretch? Seems like a good question. Conversations are going on right now and the official news will reportedly be out in a couple weeks.

Since we’ve got half of the Big 4 involved here we’ll just mention that the belly aching at KPMG is in full force on the bonus front but maybe there’s hope for a strong move down the stretch?

As for Deloitte, apparently communication has occurred for promotions but it sounds like word on comp could be more than a month out. If you’ve got the scoop get in touch with the details and discuss this four horse race but as it stands right now, it looks as if PwC has E&Y by a nose.

Forced Rankings Appear to Be in Full Effect at Ernst & Young

Confirming some discussion in the comments from last Friday’s Ernst & Young compensation post, a source got in touch with us with more details on some rankings getting chopped:

I’ll confirm what your sources are saying about reviews being available in fso. Not only that, but forced rankings are in full effect. While [there] was less pushback during roundtables earlier (which was accurrate at the time), the ratings for at least 5 people were lowered by a notch from what was agreed to by the full committee at the end of may. (5 to 4, 4 to 3) While they do say after all people are discussed they’ll assess the levels to ensure the same criteria is being used, I firmly belive its being used as a way to lower ratings (and raises). Why have the formal review committees (roundtables) if the partners are going to have the ability to act unilateraly to ‘right size’ the ratings?

We’ll still have to wait a couple more weeks before we find out if the forced rankings actually translate into disappointing raises, as the official communication won’t come until August but this news surely doesn’t bode well. If you got knocked down a peg, discuss below and as always, keep us updated.

Promotion and Compensation Watch: Ernst & Young Communication to Come Eventually, Someday

Straight out of the Bubba Gump Shrimp location up the street from 5 Times Square:

Ernst & Young, Financial Services Office, NY
Received communication that our annual ratings were finalized and discussions between counselors and counselees to occur by July 30. Promotions are still not final, but promotions and compensation will start to be communicated in August (to be effective October).


So t-minus three weeks (give or take a day here or there) until “you’re not going to be disappointed with raises” which apparently could mean that they will make PwC’s raises look like chump change (for auditors anyway).

BUT! In case you need a refresher on the numbers so far: 3-5% is what we last heard for those in the meaty part of the curve. No word on what top performers are getting but speculation is welcome. Keep us updated.

PCAOB Report States That There Was a Fair Amount of Failing Going on at Ernst & Young

The PCAOB has issued its annual report on Ernst & Young having given the firm the third degree at its national office and 30 of its 80 U.S. offices. It inspected 58 audits performed by the firm but exactly who is, of course, a big secret (unless you tell us).

There were five “Issuers” that were listed in the report and some form of the word “fail” was used 25 times (that includes the footnotes).

[Issuer A] The Firm failed to adequately test the issuer’s loan loss reserves related to certain loans held for investment. Specifically, the Firm failed to reconcile certain values used in the issuer’s models with industry data, failed to test the recovery rates used in the issuerfailed to test the qualitative components of the reserves.

Damn those loan loss reserves!

[Issuer C] The Firm failed to perform sufficient procedures to test the issuer’s allowance for loan losses (“ALL”). The issuer determined the general portion of its ALL estimate, which represented a significant portion of the ALL, using certain factors such as loan grades. Data for this calculation were obtained from information technology systems that reside at a third-party service organization. The Firm relied on these systems, but it failed to test the information-technology general controls (“ITGCs”) over certain of these systems, and it failed to test certain of the application controls over these systems. Further, the Firm’s testing of the controls over the assignment and monitoring of loan grades was insufficient, as the Firm failed to assess the competence of the individuals performing the control on which it relied.

This loan thing appears to be a trend…

[Issuer D] The Firm failed to sufficiently test the costing of work-in-process and finished goods inventory. Specifically, the Firm’s tests of controls over the costing of such inventory were limited to verifying that management reviewed and approved the cost allocation factors, without evaluating the review process that provided the basis for management’s approval.

Hopefully that doesn’t blow back on an A1.

Anyway, you get the picture. The whole report is below for your reading pleasure. E&Y’s got its $0.02 in, however it was short and was mostly concerned about the firm’s right to keep its response to Part II (the non-public part)…non-public:

We are enclosing our response letter to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding Part I of the draft Report on 2009 Inspection of Ernst & Young LLP (the “Report”). We also are enclosing our initial response to Part II of the draft Report.

We note that Section 104(g)(2) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires that “no portions of the inspection report that deal with criticisms of or potential defects in the quality control systems of the firm under inspection shall be made public if those criticisms or defects are addressed by the firm, to the satisfaction of the Board, not later than 12 months after the date of the inspection report.” Based on this statutory provision, we understand that our comments on Part ii will be kept non-public as long as Part ii of the Report itself is non-public.

In addition, we are requesting confidential treatment of this transmittal letter.

So this doesn’t mean much other than E&Y would prefer that no one know how it managed to tell the PCAOB to fuck right off as nicely as it could.

If you had the pleasure of being on one of these 58 engagements, we’d love to hear about your experience.

2010 Ernst Young LLP US

Today in Auditor Musical Chairs: KPMG and Deloitte Both Get the Boot

Evergreen Energy of Denver dismissed Deloitte effective June 23rd according to the company’s 8-K filing. Hein & Associates, a local Denver firm, will take it from here.

It stands to reason that Evergreen didn’t appreciate the going concern opinions that Deloitte gave the company for its December 31, 2009 and December 31, 2008 financial statements but in cordial SEC filing fashion, there are no parting shots from the company.


Evergreen’s press release indicates that this was simply an opportunity to throw some action to another firm (most likely with lower fees), “With the sale of certain Buckeye assets and our exit from the coal mining industry, Evergreen Energy has transitioned into a green technology company. This is an ideal time to switch to a Denver-based regional accounting firm with substantial public company expertise in the clean technology and software industries that can more cost effectively meet our needs.”

Deloitte’s letter to the SEC is abruptly admits that everything is cool rather than flat out saying, “you’ll be sorry you ever ditched us, you losers.”

Similarly, Measurement Specialties, Inc. showed KPMG the door for Ernst & Young. The company says everything was hunky-dory between the two although there was a small matter of the internal controls around a significant joint venture of which the company had no control. Oh, and the effectiveness of internal controls of some recent acquisitions also couldn’t be determined. But it was cool and the company said, “it was in the best interests of the Company to change its independent registered public accounting firm.”

KPMG has NFI what that means saying in their letter, “we are not in a position to agree or disagree with Measurement Specialties, Inc.’s statements relating to the reason for changing principal accountants.”

We wish everyone nothing but happiness.

Wanted: Actor Who Can Channel the Quality of Ernst & Young

We know Ernst & Young is looking for some extra help but this particular role will require someone (an extra from Inglorious Basterds, perhaps?) that is theatrical first and a numbers person second:


For starters, why do you need an actor to “demonstrate what not to do in the workplace”? Couldn’t they just secretly film employees on any old regular Thursday and get the footage they need? Then you could do a candid camera type ending where Jim Turley jumps out and cans their asses.

As far as casting is concerned, David Hasselhoff immediately comes to mind but in the off-chance that the Hoff isn’t available, who picks up this gig? We imagine an in-house choice would be preferable in order to save on costs.

JT has a nice strong face/chin but can he do the accent? We know the Vegas office is a cesspool of talent. Perhaps this is the hazing for one of the new partners? Ideas welcome.

Promotion Watch ’10: Ernst & Young Names 126 New Partners in the Americas

To please you hair-splitters, that number includes principals. E&Y also named 62 new executive directors and 19 new directors.

It’s been a couple weeks since the announcement but we finally were able to run down a few details on the new partners at E&Y:


We’re not sure why Howe had to slip in the diversity soundbite there but he did. Thoughts?

In terms of the breakdown, right now we only have a few specifics so far out of the Northeast:

Of the offices in NY, MA, CT, RI, and NJ, we had a total of 16 new execs: nine tax, four advisory, and a whopping three assurance.

If you’ve got more details, let us know. Congrats to the new PPEDDs at E&Y!