August 15, 2022

Big 4

If it happens at a Big 4 accounting firm, we’re talking about it here.

Compensation Watch ’10: PwC Moving Up Adjustment Date?

There’s been some whispering about PwC moving up its compensation and adjustment time frame from September to July and that’s got people curious.


At first glance this makes sense because the firm has a June 30 fiscal year-end. PLUS! Since Bob Moritz has already made it abundantly clear that there will be raises for 2010 we figure everyone would be excited to hear that the bumps would be coming a little earlier this year.

However, since everyone likes to jump to conclusions over the slightest little change, we’ll indulge. There have already been whispers of layoffs at PwC here and there but nothing that we’ve been able to confirm so people are probably antsy. And if the adjustment date is moved up we’re sure people are worried that means layoffs will be happening sooner rather than later. We can’t read anyone’s mind but we’re thinking this should be in the ballpark…

But if you’re anxiety is well founded, tell us why or get in touch.

UPDATE, a shade before 1 pm: One of our sources inside PwC shared their thoughts with us:

I think the overall feeling was positive…it will probably make some people happy (depending on the %) and hopefully limit the higher performers from going out into the market, however, it may also help some people look for jobs sooner (i.e. they don’t have to wait until September now, if the raises are low). Most people still have a lot of questions, including the estimate of the increase for each band of the rating system, what the bonus pool is going to look like, and although that is not being paid until September, whether we will know what the bonus amounts are in July.

Quote of the Day: If Felix Salmon Was on an Audit Committee | 03.25.10

“If I was on the audit committee which received this letter, I would certainly be shopping my account right now.”

~ Felix Salmon, on Ernst & Young’s “hilariously disingenuous” letter to various audit committee members.

Dennis Nally: PwC’s Credibility with Our Clients Is Doing Just Fine, Thankyouverymuch

Awhile back we told you about PricewaterhouseCoopers Global CEO Dennis Nally admitting that the PwC brand had been damaged because of the whole Satyam fraud.

DN has done another interview with the Indian press and he says despite this litng is on the up and up in India for PwC. The long/short of it is that Dennis & Co. are going to keep giving their clients the P. Dubs experience now and forever.

Pretty wide range of questions but we’ve presented the highlights for you.


Was the PwC Magic 8ball broken?

Q: When you look back at it do you think you could have avoided all that happened?

A: I don’t know if we could have avoided it. As we all know this was probably one of the most significant frauds that suddenly has taken place here in India but even in the global market place. So I do not know how you avoid that type of situation.

Where was the P. Dubs swagger when the shit hit the fan? Did you realize that everything was f’d and didn’t know what to do?

Q: [T]he firm didn’t seem to respond in a confident manner. The impression was that it didn’t know what it had been hit by. Do you think it could have been handled better?

A: I think with hindsight you can always do things better and that is part of learning and trying to deal with issues. But quite frankly this was a major event and of course it took us time to understand the pattern and what transpired.

In fact we are still learning and everybody is still learning. Now all the facts aren’t quite out yet but I think we are in the business of being out in the public and when something like this happens and it happens in a negative way, we are part of that. That is just a reality of being in a profession that we are involved with.

Why is this PwC’s fault?

Q: What role did the auditors have to play?

A: You are into an interesting debate and discussion because what is the role on a professional standards for the detection of a fraud. That is one of the areas that has been the focus not only on Satyam but a broader profession wide issue and we certainly welcome that debate.

I think there is an expectation out there in the public that auditors uncover every single fraud that they are involved with and that is not what professional standards call for but there is the public perception that that is what we are there to do. I define that as the expectation gap. If that is the expectation then we need to make sure that we are focused on the right kind of procedures, the right kind of standards, the right kind of reporting which is quite frankly really different than what we do today.

Will you stop all future frauds in India forever and ever and ever?

Q: Can you tell us if India will never see a Satyam again?

A: I wish I had a crystal ball but I don’t. As I said when you have a situation like Satyam or a major fraud I suspect somewhere in the world of corporate reporting, you are going to see another situation like that. Our job is to make sure we are doing everything we can possibly do consistent with the standards that are out there to ensure that we play our role in that process to avoid them.

The new India managing partner came from Singapore? You got something against Indians?

Q:But he has not come from India, you didn’t appoint him from the India firm – he was brought in from Singapore?

A: Gautam is originally from India which is great so it’s little bit of coming home programme.

Q: But it’s not a vote of confidence on the India management?

A: It is not. This is all about ensuring that we get the very best talent to focus on an important market like India and that’s exactly what we have done.

You let everyone down. Speak to them!

Q: A word to all those investors who felt disappointed with PriceWaterhouseCoopers for not alerting them to what was going on in Satyam. What is your message to them today?

A: Whenever we have situation like this, right or wrong, whatever standards are we are part of that and for that we regret what has happened. But this firm is about quality. It’s about doing the right things, it’s about being here for the investor community and we are very much focused on that.

Satyam fiasco has not dented credibility with clients: PwC [Money Control]

(UPDATE) John Veihmeyer to Succeed Tim Flynn as Chairman of KPMG’s U.S. Firm

UPDATE/Correction, Wednesday 3.24.10 – Previously, headline stated that John Veihmeyer was succeeding Tim Flynn as Chairman and CEO. John V. has actually been the U.S. CEO since 2008. Sorry JV, for not giving you credit there.

The suspense is over. Johnnie V. has been serving as th the U.S. Firm since 2005 and he has the full confidence of TF, “There is no finer individual to lead the U.S. firm and build upon the progress that has been made over the last five years…John is equally passionate that KPMG continues to be a great place for our people to build their careers, in a culture that embraces diversity.”

JV will be succeeded by Henry Keizer in the Deputy Chairman role. Hank will also be the U.S. firm’s Chief Operating Officer. Timmay is also excited for Keizer Soze’s promotion, “His leadership and professionalism will be vital to ensuring the firm meets the challenges and capitalizes on the tremendous opportunities ahead…he has championed the use of technology and off shoring to enhance our operational effectiveness and efficiency in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

Tim will be focusing on his roles as the Chairman and Senior Partner of Klynveld International, dashing our wishes for him to be the next Secretary of the Treasury. He was “strongly endorsed” by the Global Board to get down to business in this “unprecedented global economic and regulatory environment.” You can probably plan on more Davos interviews next year, chatting up royalty, caddying, etc.

I am extremely pleased to announce that the partners have ratified the election of John Veihmeyer as Chairman and CEO, and Henry Keizer as Deputy Chairman and COO, of the U.S. firm. John and Henry will assume their new responsibilities on June 10, 2010, when my term ends as U.S. Chairman. John and Henry bring strategic insight, deep leadership skills and extensive experience in serving clients to their new roles.

While it was a difficult decision for me not to continue in my role as Chairman of the U.S. firm, it has become increasingly clear to me that my additional role of Chairman and Senior Partner of KPMG International requires a full-time commitment. Last week, the Global Board strongly endorsed that I serve full time as Global Chairman in this unprecedented global economic and regulatory environment and period of tremendous opportunity for our member firms and people.

Having the privilege to work side by side with John during our five-year term as Chairman and Deputy Chairman, I have seen first-hand his professionalism, leadership and commitment to KPMG, its people and clients. There is no finer individual to lead the U.S. firm and build upon the progress that has been made over the last five years.

In addition, Henry will bring a tremendous amount of operating experience and energy to the Deputy Chairman and COO role. His leadership and professionalism will be vital to ensuring the firm meets the challenges and capitalizes on the tremendous opportunities ahead.

John has served as Deputy Chairman of KPMG since 2005, and he brings a unique combination of skills and experience, across all aspects of our strategic priorities, to the role of chairman. John is equally passionate that KPMG continues to be a great place for our people to build their careers, in a culture that embraces diversity.

Henry comes to his new role after serving as U.S. Vice Chair, Audit since 2005 and Global Head of Audit since 2006. In these roles, he has championed the use of technology and off shoring to enhance our operational effectiveness and efficiency in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

John and Henry’s professional depth, integrity and commitment to our clients, partners and the people of KPMG will serve the U.S. firm well as we move forward. Please join me in congratulating John and Henry and welcoming them to their new roles.

In closing, there was never a day that I was not grateful and humbled by the opportunity to lead and work with the truly exceptional people of KPMG. I have been awed by your talent, proud of your accomplishments and appreciative of your dedication. It truly has been an honor to serve as Chairman of the U.S. firm for the last five years.

Thank you for all that you do every day to support our firm and deliver on our promise of professionalism to each other, our clients and the capital markets we serve.

All the best,

Tim

Big 4 Firms Are Planning for Your Exodus

For some time now, Caleb has been touching on the upcoming/ongoing/always-occurring exodus from Big 4 into the private sector. The obvious reasons for the change from public to private are obvious, but here’s a few for kicks:

• Bigger pay day (and potential growth)

• CPA requirements completed

• Actual work/life balance

&ill set transition to a new career

There are other reasons of course, but it is the ferocious combination of these that leads to the breaking point – low morale.


Going Concern received an email from a distraught and burnt out Big 4 auditor from the Southeast region:

The level of morale in the [XYZ] office is at an all time low. Discussion with low level staff, through managers, have yielded the same opinion of overwhelming expectations without the needed support from the firm. They want us to draw blood from a turnip, and they want it done better, faster, and with less resources than last year. This has caused everyone to start exploring options in the market. A vast majority have started fielding resumes and contacting recruiting firms. The select few who have made it past that hurdle are interviewing with no looking back.

Not to downplay what this auditor is saying (and I’m not), but this sounds like the unfortunate reality of many auditors working on smaller, non-public clients. You know, the not-as-sexy-as-ABC Bank but just as important to the firm’s bottom line. You won’t get tickets to the pro sport’s game, but thankyouverymuch for your efforts.

The reader goes on:

Primarily, people have expressed their interest in holding out any real intentions of leaving until promotions roll around in the later part of the summer. They’re hoping that maybe there will be some juicy 20% raise waiting for them, but the stark reality of a measly 5% raise is what they know is coming. Any fifth year Seniors who are waiting for the promotion to manager are just using it for resume purposes.

Our offices are already using under qualified second year staff at the Senior level, as well as retaining new managers in the Senior position because they are extremely understaffed at that level. This, in turn, is causing all of those people to take measures to leave perhaps after busy season and certainly after the insulting promotions come through in August.

It’s a matter of time before this individual (and half of their respective office) becomes another statistic that the Big 4 HR guru’s term “natural attrition.” From an HR perspective, here’s a loose idea of the attrition formula:

Fall 2010: 100 new hires

Fall ’11: 95 new hires become “2nd years”

Summer/Fall ’12: 88 2nd years promoted to senior staff, 70 seniors remain

Summer/Fall ’12: 2 years of public experience reached, 55 seniors remain

Summer/Fall ’13: 45 seniors remain

Summer/Fall ’14: 35 seniors remain

Summer/Fall ’15: 25 seniors remain; 15 promoted to manager, 10 remain on as seniors

Summer/Fall ‘XX: 10 senior managers are eligible for partner

The recession stunted this formula for every firm, as they were forced to make cuts, not only for cost cutting purposes, but also to keep their staffing formulas close to being in-check. But think about it – your firm expects this kind of turnover. They know it’s a matter of time before their hiring class is whittled down to 10% of its original size.

And in the case of the reader, their firm dropped the analytic ball 3-5 years ago. Had they better estimated the percentage of projected losses, there would be more seniors to handle the work.

Remember that time you felt bad about leaving? They’re waiting for you to do so.

Can the Month of March Get Worse for Ernst & Young?

Today in non-Lehman Brothers Ernst & Young news, the firm has been sued by a liquidator in Luxembourg just a few weeks after a Lux court ruled that individual investors couldn’t bring suits against UBS and E&Y. The suit seeks over $400 million in damages against the two firms. The Iriving Picard de Lux is Alain Rukavina, who filed the suit today.

BBW reports that “Rukavina is one of two liquidators who in December sued UBS and Ernst & Young over Access International Advisors LLC’s LuxAlpha Sicav-American Selection Fund, which once had $1.4 billion in net assets.”


A UBS spokesperson stated that this development was not unexpected and we’re sure that E&Y isn’t yawning at this news, chalking it up to fairly typical Monday.

So in case you’ve been in a coma for the last week or so, you’re probably aware that JT and Co. haven’t had such a great March. Anyone got ideas for how they turn all these frowns upside downs? Do Canadian Tuxedos become standard dress code M – F? Does Jimbo send everyone a complimentary pair of Timberlands? An E&Y Hitler video to lighten the mood? Suggestions are welcome.

UBS, Ernst & Young Sued by Madoff-Fund Liquidators [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

Has the Post-Busy Season Big 4 Exodus Already Started?

Seems a tad early but with two major deadlines passed, it’s possible that the Spring 2010 exodus may have started.

From one Big 4 auditor, “[A]pparently the DC and/or Philly office just underwent some serious turnover – my [schedule] just got all kinds of fucked up and my performance manager’s explanation was that “we’ve had some turnover and you have been shifted around as a solution.” So that’s cool. And by cool, I mean WTF because there was no warning, and it seems to be changing every few hours now.”


Our source continues:

Not a clue just how much turnover or if it was limited only to the audit practice, and how the turnover took place (I’m assuming people are quitting, as that is what pretty much all anyone at my level can talk about lately), but it was enough that I just went from two normal-hours clients to five “plan on overtime” clients. (It was six clients last night, but it looks like it got switched up again this morning.)

If there’s one thing that may cause violence more than someone quitting in the middle of busy season, it’s getting assigned to a “plan on overtime” client in the second half of March.

It’s likely that the timing of people leaving is an office by office phenomenon as one of our New York sources said that people aren’t leaving but “everyone wants to, but that’s nothing new.”

So if people are heading for the exits in your office, forced or otherwise, let us know.

Quote of the Day: Mary Schapiro Is Being Coy | 03.18.10

“It is safe to assume that we are looking at the conduct of a number of firms.”

~ Mary Schapiro, to a House appropriations subcommittee, not specifically naming Lehman Brothers or Ernst & Young.

(UPDATE) Ernst & Young Doesn’t Care if You Missed Murray State Upsetting Vanderbilt

From an upset Ernster on the Left Coast:

EY Blocks all Websites with “sports” because of March Madness. People in my SoCal office are all ticked off. This sucks. First it was pandora and now it is sports websites. What is next? Lunch breaks? Bathroom breaks?


Music, sports, food, bodily functions. That seems like the right order, doesn’t it?

Since our source sounds pretty upset, this must not be an annual ritual for E&Y. It’s also not clear if this some kind of punishment for everyone showing up hungover today or if it is somehow Lehman Brothers related. Let us know if you’re blacked out at we’ll send you updates.

UPDATE, 6:43 pm: Turns out this was just temporary, THANK GOD:

It turns out there was an internal webcast about Lehman Bros so they shut down all sports websites during the webcast because it was interferring with the webcast. Sports websites are back up but there were a lot of people who were ticked off and went home to work.

Damn you Lehman Brothers! We knew it! So now the question is, what was said on the webcast? Anyone take copious notes?

KPMG’s Layoffs in Advisory May Have Made Room for Some Auditors

Happy Hangover Thursday, folks. Hopefully the green food coloring washed off easily this morning.

I was out networking with my Irish brothers last night in midtown New York, quite a few blocks north of my normal after-work locale. Second Avenue bars full of cold beer and burned out white collars, St. Patty’s Day was a welcomed Wednesday relief for those in busy season. The day was over, the night was turning late and, for once, shop talk was put on the back burner. That is, until I heard the phrase “Uncle Peat” used as the object of affection bitterness for a toast.

Obviously, I couldn’t resist.


DWB: “Are you guys auditors?”

Auditor 1: “Yeah, over at KPMG. Hopefully not for long, though.”

DWB: “Nice, nice. Moving on to better things?”

Auditor 2: “Hopefully.”

Auditor 1: “Not soon enough.”

A round of drinks later (toast to Uncle Peat not included) and these Irish-for-the-day gentlemen filled me in about an email circulating around KPMG’s NYC audit practice regarding a temporary rotation into the Transaction Services (TS) practice. TS specializes in mergers & acquisitions work and was — most likely — hit steeply by the rounds of the falling guillotine back in 2008 and 2009.

How does a practice that was hemorrhaging money and resources a year ago now have business blowing through the door at such a fierce rate? If you read anything beyond the usual busy season distractions, it’d come as no surprise to you that the markets are slowly picking up. But service firms typically lag in response, both on the positive (Woo-hoo, new business!) and negative (Sorry, this isn’t about you – this is about the numbers) sides of the equation. Nonetheless, Uncle Peat’s auditors should be leaping at this opportunity. A rotation out of audit can be refreshing, even in the quieter months of summer.

Did KPMG’s advisory shake up and realignment pay off? Is the firm’s leadership blowing smoke to perk up the down-trodden auditors currently drowning in busy season? Was a picture of a giant carrot on a string used in the email? If you received this email, I’d love to read the text. Last night’s informants promised to send it over, but they probably called in with emergency doctor “appointments” this morning.

KPMG Reinstating “Standing Ovation” Bonus Awards

Back in November 2008, KPMG suspended the highest level of its Encore bonus award, the Standing Ovation to “manage costs.” Since there is no shortage of exceptionalness at Radio City, the $500 awards were adding up so word came down that it was ixnay the tandingsay vationsoay.

The firm did keep its “Bravo” award that was good for $200 and replaced the five-hundo bonus with a $25 award and “thanks e-cards” that were way better than anything from Hallmark simply because Tim Flynn probably included a personalized message.

And you, simply, cannot put a dollar figure on that.


The most devastating part of the Standing O kibosh was that the trophies — which could easily qualify as a “blunt object” at a crime scene — were no longer handed out. These, understandably, are most coveted of all KPMG tchotchkes.

Well now, according to accountants familiar with the matter, the firm has reinstated the Standing Ovation for reasons that we can only speculate. It will be reserved for those Klynveldians that “go above and beyond” the call of their duties. Again, we can only speculate as to what this actually entails. Considering the fact that the hours you’ve been putting in for the last month or so have been expected, it may just mean that you have to try a little bit harder.

The reintroduction is being received tepidly, as one source told us:

Kinda meaningless to me. They don’t hand them out. Except for managers that want to get laid by younger staff.

Seconded by another source:

Just because they bring them back, doesn’t mean any partners plan on approving them. – “Oh, I nominated you for a standing ovation, but it didn’t get approved! It’s the thought that counts though, amirite?”

Another source saw it as too little, too late:

“Do they really think $500 is going to stop a mass exodus of [people] from leaving? Perhaps they should have thought about that when they didn’t give raises.”

Despite the vague qualifications for the award, it’s good to see TPTB reinstating the bonus for the sake of morale/bribery/empty hope. Now go get yourself one!

Jefferies Follows Select Comfort’s Lead, Dumps KPMG for Deloitte

So this makes two SEC clients lost for KPMG in as many days. Again, Jefferies had no disagreements with KPMG yada yada yada. Jefferies didn’t even receive a GCO like Sleep Number. However, KPMG did include this language for this year’s (i.e. December 31, 2009) audit opinion:

“As discussed in Note 1 to the consolidated financial statements, in 2009 the Company retrospectively changed its method of accounting for noncontrolling interests in subsidiaries and earnings per share due to the adoption of new accounting requirements issued by the FASB.”


BFD, right? Could Jefferies really be so bent of shape over that to make the auditor switcheroo?

The other point is — and maybe we’re making a mountain out of a molehill here — this is the second example of a non-standard auditor opinion from the House of Klynveld followed by clients kicking them to the curb for the clean scalped, mustachioed comfort of Deloitte.

One thing is for sure and that is that Deloitte is clearly on the offensive here after losing so many SEC clients last year. Still, we’re curious about a few things: 1) Is Big D going after KPMG clients specifically? 2) Is there a secret weapon being employed to woo these clients (e.g. Barry does a dead-ringer Dr. Phil impression during the presentation)? 3) Are KPMG clients upset about Tim Flynn stepping down as chairman? OR are they upset that the Radio Station is still camping out in Iran?

If you’ve got concrete knowledge, crackpot theories or just want to take a shot in the dark (since most of you are probably drinking by now) on this new and emerging (?) trend, fire away.

8-K [Jefferies]
10-K [Jefferies]
Jefferies Announces the Engagement of Deloitte & Touche LLP as the Company’s Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm [Business Wire]

PricewaterhouseCoopers Shutting Down Orlando Tax Practice

Yesterday, PwC tax professionals got word that the firm is discontinuing tax operations from its Orlando office effective May 3, 2010.

Mario de Armas, the South Florida managing partner, explained that lack of business, “Orlando-based tax clients has declined, and we have been forced to import tax hours from other offices to keep our people busy,” and staffing challenges, “We have also faced a continued challenge around staff development in a primarily compliance environment,” lead to the closure of the practice.


The email states “We are committed to assisting each impacted individual with this transition,” although no details were given. The email also states that there will be no other Florida practices will be shut down, “To be clear, we have no plans to close any other practice areas in any of our Florida offices.” Emails to Mr de Armas and Jorge Gross, the Florida Tax leader were not returned. An email to PwC’s national press relations was also not returned.

This practice closure follows recent office closures by both Grant Thornton and Ernst & Young (“virtual” closure) in Greensboro, NC and E&Y closing its Manchester, NH office last fall.

If you will be affected by this closure, get in touch with us and we’ll continue to update you as we learn more.

Florida Colleagues:

We are constantly evaluating our client service delivery to ensure that our clients receive the best service possible and that our people are being offered opportunities for development and advancement. Over the past few years, revenue from Orlando-based tax clients has declined, and we have been forced to import tax hours from other offices to keep our people busy. A limited number of corporations are headquartered in Orlando, and while many of those corporations have been retained as audit clients, fewer have been tax clients. We have also faced a continued challenge around staff development in a primarily compliance environment, and more compliance work will be performed at the centralized Tax delivery center over time. As a result, the Firm has concluded that we will no longer have tax professionals located in the Orlando office effective May 3, 2010.

Knowing that we will be asked about this decision in the marketplace, it is important that we have a clear message to the market. From a strategy perspective, we believe that our distinctive footprint across the state of Florida makes us uniquely positioned to service our Orlando clients from our other offices, following the One Market concept.

This has been a difficult decision, and one that was reluctantly made after considering many factors. Our Tax professionals in Orlando have served our clients well. They have contributed in many ways to our market, and their efforts are valued and greatly appreciated. We are committed to assisting each impacted individual with this transition.

To be clear, we have no plans to close any other practice areas in any of our Florida offices. Please contact me or Jorge Gross, our Florida Tax Leader, with any questions you may have.

Thank you,

Mario

Former SEC Chairman Pitt: Criminal Prosecutions Are Possible for Ernst & Young, Lehman Execs

Okay then! Not exactly what you’d want to hear from a former SEC Chairman on Monday but what’s a former SEC honcho to do? Paint a rosy picture for everyone? Hell no! The man is gong to get real about this latest bank/accounting firm disaster. Barron’s ran down Harv to get his $0.02 on the whole Lehman/E&Y sitch and he he laid it out for Dick Fuld, E&Y, et al. as how to best handle this dicey situation.

Regarding the timing of a response to the report, you best explain yourselves ASAP and while you’re at it, none of that fancy-schmancy language. Everyone needs to be able to understand this:

If they want to avoid the logical consequences of the Report’s conclusions-and none of those consequences are at all good for either Fuld or E&Y-they will need to come forward quickly with a very plain, easily understandable explanation of the errors or their defenses. The longer it takes them to do that, the less likelihood they will have of mitigating the publicity the Report’s allegations have already received.

Consequences, you ask? How about indictments? How about no more SEC clients for E&Y? Next Andersen? Maybe! Shockingly, the SEC seems to be dragging its feet, per the usual standard operating procedure (emphasis original):

Many are wondering why there hasn’t been any action taken, and why the government hasn’t reported on the same events itself. Criminal prosecutions are possible, as are SEC civil actions. For Fuld, an SEC action could mean that he would forfeit his right to participate in the securities industry and possible disgorgement of monies he received over the years from Lehman. For E&Y, the SEC has the power to suspend their right to practice accounting, limit their ability to take on new clients, and impose remedial sanctions.

Yeah, that last part is kind of the crux. As you may recall, Andersen did not bite the dust because of the money it had to pay to Enron investors but because it’s reputation took such a bad hit that states began revoking their license even before the firm voluntarily surrendered its license to practice before the SEC. This occurred after Andersen clients started running away from the firm like a band of lepers. There’s no indication that’s what will happen to E&Y but there’s a 2,200 page report with E&Y’s name all over that says nothing flattering about the firm.

And say what you want about Harvey Pitt: bearded Bush yes-man, lawyer, whatever. As far as we can tell, he has nothing to gain by throwing out wild-ass speculation about what the possible outcomes could be.

Lehman: Criminal Prosecution Possible, Says Pitt [Barron’s]

Inside Ernst & Young: Talking Points on Lehman Brothers

If you’ve ever worked at a Big 4 firm, you’re aware that when big news hits the MSM, A) it’s never good and B) there is typically some sort of communication from management reiterating the firm’s position on the matter, everything is cool, thanks for your hard work, etc. etc.

With last week’s revelation of the bankruptcy examiner’s report on Lehman Brothers, E&Y seems to be following this protocol as it relates to the troops on the ground. As you would expect, leadership is keeping their heads about this while in the background in-house counsel is likely engaged in all-night smoky room strategy sessions.

We checked in with a few of our Ernst & Young sources to get an idea of what people were thinking and so far, there doesn’t sound like there are any signs of panic (yet!).


From one source:

Overall reaction from what I gathered is pretty muted. We did get a call from some of the higher-ups saying that we reviewed our work and that we feel that our audit was completely adequate and that Lehman’s failure was nothing more than the same systemic failure of two of the other major banks and that we plan to defend ourselves vigorously. Presumably, the examiner’s report really didn’t give any ah-ha moments….

[I]s there a possibility of a payout at some point? It’s possible. Are we worried that we’re the next Arthur Andersen? I don’t think so.

So at least on the surface, E&Y leadership is communicating that what came out in the report wasn’t surprising and that the defense of the firm’s position will be, as usual, vigorous.

That doesn’t of course stop the speculation:

I heard from a technical guy there was some concern because they didn’t issue a going concern opinion [for the previous audit].

And as you might expect, “I heard that [the firm] helped cook the books and is deep shit,” with the book cooking being arguable but pretty hard to prove and the “deep shit” aspect being a given.

Some Ernst & Young partners are probably losing sleep just thinking about the potential liability involved here but eventually they’ll get over it (until something else comes up).

No partner worth their salt got admitted to the partnership focusing on the downside. The problem is that when people use consistently use words like “deceptive” and “misleading” to describe Lehman’s accounting this reflects poorly on the firm since they were comfortable with the treatment.

And because it’s still busy season for a lot of people, they are focused on the shitstorm that currently surrounds them, not one that will likely drag on for years after they’ve left the firm (voluntarily or otherwise).

Anyone with more insight or thoughts on the matter, get in touch with us and we’ll keep you updated on the chatter inside E&Y.

UANI Goes After KPMG for Iran Ties

[caption id="attachment_6035" align="alignright" width="260" caption="There\'s no connection. See? Iran is way over here. "][/caption]

It’s hard enough to be a Big 4 firm these days that you don’t need this. New York-based United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a little upset with any and all companies that are doing business in Iran and just because you claim that you are a protector of the capital markets, that doesn’t earn you a free pass.

The Financial Times reports that UANI’s latest target is none other than the House of Klynveld and the lobby group sent a letter to Tim Flynn stating their displeasure with KPMG’s ties to their independent member firm in Iran, Bayat Rayan.


Flynn, who is stepping down as the Chairman of KPMG this summer, probably isn’t too psyched to have the firm lumped into the cross-hairs of UANI, who has relentlessly pressured companies to stop doing business in Iran.

The FT reported that the UANI set its sights on KPMG “after [a] week-long campaign against Ingersoll Rand ended with the Dublin-based diversified industrial company announcing on March 8 it was instructing its subsidiaries not to sell products ultimately destined for Iran.”

We contacted KPMG for comment but have not yet heard back regarding a response from the firm.

According to the letter, UANI will take “any and all action we deem necessary to hold KPMG accountable for its inappropriate business relationships with Iran,” which sounds pretty serious. Although we’re not sure what ‘any and all action’ will entail but for T Fly’s sake, we suggest he gets this resolved sooner rather than later. If he doesn’t, he can expect calls from Bill O’Reilly and his mug next to Ahmadinejad’s on the Factor.

KPMG is latest target for activists seeking to cut corporate ties to Iran [FT]

Quote of the Day: Ernst & Young Partners Losing Sleep? | 03.12.10

“A successful lawsuit against E&Y could result in a court finding that the failure to properly advise the audit committee prevented Lehman from taking genuine steps to substantially reduce its leverage, which may have saved the firm from bankruptcy. Which is to say, E&Y could find itself blamed for all the losses to Lehman shareholders. That would be a stretch – such a claim would be speculative – but it still should be scaring the heck out of the partners.”

~ John Carney

Auditor

Are Big 4 Auditors Irrelevant?

Okay people, the calls for the complete obliteration of the accounting world have begun. Check that. It’s more or less the accounting world as it relates to auditors of public companies (i.e. Big 4 auditors).

Steve Goldstein at MarketWatch, for one, is NOT A FAN, “What precise purpose does it serve to have a supposedly independent auditor (paid for by the company) sign off on accounts? From Enron to Lehman to Satyam to Parmalat, it’s clear that the major accountants lack either the skill or the determination (or both) to ferret out fraud.”


So in case you didn’t catch it, he’s calling into question the Big 4’s (our assumption) integrity, competence and fortitude. Oh and before you start huffing about “it’s not the job of the auditor to detect fraud,” we’d argue that’s not even the point any more. Lehman was engaging in what a former CFO calls “shenanigans” that E&Y knew about for years and went along with it. Why? Because Lehman said everything was kosh.

Goldstein goes on:

Company executives already are forced to sign off on their accounts. When they are caught lying, companies face liability over disclosure.

So the threats that keep (some) companies honest are there regardless of whether the reports are audited. The outside auditors themselves are assigned a negligible value by the market.

A solution? Here’s two admittedly out-there solutions that the Securities and Exchange Commission probably won’t adopt.

One is quite simple: get rid of accountants. Who cares? They add no value, and their expenses weigh on the bottom line.

The other would be for someone else to hire the accountant. How about the company’s top five shareholders? While the likes of Fidelity would grumble about the added costs and the free-rider benefit for smaller shareholders, they would certainly have an interest in securing a far tougher audit.

Okay, Big 4 auditors, here’s your homework: explain why auditing for public companies isn’t irrelevant. We’ll listen, we swear. Or just start shooting off at the mouth if you feel it necessary. Goldstein isn’t the first to make this determination. Francine McKenna and Jim Peterson have argued that the value of an auditor’s opinion has been nil for quite some time and they’re both Big 876454 alums. It’s okay if you admit it. Acceptance is the first step.

What exactly is the point of having accountants? [MarketWatch]

Lehman Brothers sign removal

Ernst & Young Was ‘Comfortable’ with Lehman’s Shady Accounting

Late yesterday, U.S. Bankruptcy Examiner Anton Valukus released a 2,200 page report that details the collapse of Lehman Brothers. It points the finger at Lehman execs for engaging in shady accounting that Ernst & Young knew about and was comfortable with. Lehman’s Board of Directors were not informed of the questionable accounting treatment.

To put it in more technical terms: Ernst & Young is in deep shit. The lead partner on the Lehman audwed more times than Dick Fuld for crissakes.

The accounting in question was known inside Lehman as “Repo 105.” These transactions moved billions of dollars off of Lehman’s balance sheet that were described by emails in the report as “basically window dressing” and their global financial describing them as having “no substance.” The Times reports that the treatment was so crucial to LEH that one executive, Herbert McCade, was known internally as the “balance sheet czar” and that he described in an email that the treatment was “another drug we r on.”


The really bad part for Ernst & Young is that they were okay with the “drug.” From the report, the lead partner stated that E&Y “had been aware of Lehman’s Repo 105 policy and transactions for many years.” For you wonky types, Lehman was accounting for these “Repo 105” transactions based on guidance from Statement on Financial Reporting Standard 140, Accounting for Transfers of Financial Assets and Repurchase Financing Transactions.

E&Y’s “team had a number of additional conversations with Lehman about Repo 105 over the years,” although they were not involved with drafting the policy nor did the firm provide any advisory services related to the transactions. According to the lead partner on the engagement, the firm simply “bec[a]me comfortable with the Policy for purposes of auditing financial statements.”

The problem, according to the Examiner’s report is that E&Y was okay with the treatment based on the theory:

Ernst & Young’s view, however, was not based upon an analysis of whether actual Repo 105 transactions complied with SFAS 140. Rather, Ernst & Young’s review of Lehman’s Repo 105 Accounting Policy was purely “theoretical.” In other words, Ernst & Young solely assessed Lehman’s understanding of the requirements of SFAS 140 in the abstract and as reflected in its Accounting Policy; Ernst & Young did not opine on the propriety of the transactions as a balance sheet management tool.

According to Lehman’s Global Financial Controller Martin Kelly, “Ernst & Young ‘was comfortable with the treatment under GAAP for the same reasons that Lehman was comfortable.'” Don’t you love it when things work out like that?

Ernst & Young has issued a statement that simply addresses the final audit that the firm performed: “Our last audit of the company was for the fiscal year ending Nov. 30, 2007. Our opinion indicated that Lehman’s financial statements for that year were fairly presented in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), and we remain of that view.”

SO! E&Y is in a bit of a pickle. Civil suits have already been filed against both firms and more investigations will certainly be coming. If you’ve got some time over the weekend, take a flip through this beauty. We know there is accounting porn in there for some of you.

Report Details How Lehman Hid Its Woes as It Collapsed [NYT]
Examiner: Lehman Torpedoed Lehman [WSJ]
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Chapter 11 Proceedings Examiner’s Report [Jenner & Block]

Why Isn’t Deloitte Ranked Higher on DiversityInc’s Top 50 List?

What a relief. We were really concerned that we would get half way through March without hearing about a list of companies being good at something that included the Big 4. Fortunately, DiversityInc comes to our rescue today with their list of Top 50 Companies for Diversity for 2010.

Aaaand as you might exall present and accounted for, although some firms may wish to be higher(?). How does one determine success on these lists? Just being on it? Making the top ten? Is it an honor just to participate in the survey?

Speaking of the survey, the website describes the methodology so you can get an idea of how this particular jumble falls together. The survey is broken down into four areas:


CEO Commitment

Human Capital

Corporate and Organizational Communications

Supplier Diversity

Digging further, we found more details:

The survey consists of more than 200 empirical questions (no subjective or qualitative information), which have predetermined weightings. Ratios between key factors, such as demographics of managers compared with managers who received promotions, play a significant factor in determining point scores. Companies must score above average in all four areas to earn a spot on the list. CEO Commitment is the most heavily weighted area because if a company lacks visible leadership, its diversity-management efforts will fail to be a priority.

SO! While this explains some things, it certainly brings up more questions. Since we spend the majority of our day perusing the web for every instance of Big 4 CEOs simply breaking wind, we’d like to think that any “CEO Commitment” as it relates to diversity would be noticed by us or our team of monkeys that work around the clock.

That being said, we’d be hard pressed to find a bigger diversity go-getter than Deloitte’s CEO Barry Salzberg. The man is tirelessly pursuing diversity at every waking moment. Even after Deloitte announced its freshly minted Chief Diversity Officer, Bar gave a speech earlier this week on as part of the DiversityInc festivities demonstrating that he’s still on this.

So then, our question is, how does Ernst & Young rank 5th, PwC 6th, KPMG 15th and Deloitte bring up the rear at 25th?

Perhaps the other firms display diversity fliers with their CEOs mugs on them to serve as constant reminder to all employees of the diversity in their firm but if CEO commitment is measured by MSM talking points, how does anyone beat Barry Salzberg? The only thing we can think of is there is some sort of secret anti-male pattern baldness bias at DiversityInc that quietly knocks Deloitte down the list. Sure Dennis Nally is slowly going Costanza there but Moritz in the tighty-whities probably made up for it.

So the efforts of Deloitte’s diversity commitment are rewarded but did they get the recognition they deserved?

The Unveiling of the 2010 DiversityInc Top 50 [DiversityInc]
The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity [Full List]

The Purpose of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ New HR Service in India Isn’t Entirely Clear

PwC has launched a new HR service in India and one can only speculate as to the inspiration behind staging the move there (I’ll give you a hint: it starts with Satyam and ends in fraud) but let’s take a look at the official spiel before we rush to judgment.


India’s Financial Express:

Global audit firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, announced the launch of its human resources service ‘Saratoga’ in India along with India Human Capital Effectiveness survey (HCE), a top company official said.

“Saratoga is the most extensive database of HR metrics available globally. We are launching it in India and we have already got an immense response from Indian companies,” PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Partner and Global HRM network leader, Richard Phelps, told PTI here.

On the surface, Saratoga looks like little more than an inventory count of companies’ human capital, which means something when you have to keep a leash on a bunch of customer service guys with fake first names (how else would you keep track of them?).

See, PwC cares. They care that JP Morgan outsources call center jobs to India – I know this because I’m a Chase customer (leave me alone) and have had the misfortune of dialing in. Meanwhile, JPM’s off-shore hiring spree continues and someone’s got to handle all that “human capital”, why not PwC?

I don’t care that some guy in India has a job, I care that he calls himself Patrick and pretends to have a bizarre hybrid Texas/New Jersey accent. Is there going to be a check box on these PwC Saratoga metrics for guys who fake 50s-style American first names from Indian call centers?

I’m not bitter. It’s good that PwC cares about the global community and wants to reach out to facilitate cheap labor for its audit clients like JP Morgan (for the record I use BofA too and they have the decency to hire air-headed middle-state chicks named Kelly and Sarah).

Could you imagine what would happen if the Fed stepped in and barred PwC from auditing anything that’s moving here in the US? Hell, it happened in India.

Good luck with that human capital census or, uh, whatever it is, PwC. I mean that.

We’re Not Convinced That CFOs Mean What They Say When They Switch Audit Firms for No Apparent Reason

Today in boilerplate press releases, MedAssets dropped BDO as its auditor for the bigger and bluer KPMG and the CFO punted on giving a real reason as to why.

“We are very fortunate to have had the pleasure of working with BDO Seidman for many years, including during the period of time covering our initial public offering in 2007,” said Neil Hunn, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, MedAssets. “BDO has been a tremendous business partner for us and instrumental in our success. MedAssets has experienced tremendous growth, especially over the last few years, and we expect this trend to continue. As such, we feel that KPMG is best suited to serve our Company and stockholders in the future. We look forward to our new relationship with KPMG.”

So if we were translate this statement, basically it sounds like MedAssets wants a big firm because the business is growing like gangbusters and they simply can’t be held back by a second-tier firm like BDO.

Or maybe we’ve got it dead wrong. Maybe MedAssets is spooked about BDO’s chances in the Banco Espirito appeal. Maybe KPMG’s Atlanta office is desperate for work and lowballed the audit fee. Feel free to share your own speculation but we’re sure as hell not buying the statement that a firm (in this case, BDO) ‘has been a tremendous business partner’ and ‘instrumental in our success’ and just gets up and dropped because ‘tremendous growth’ is expected to continue. Is BDO really that incapable of continuing to serve the company?

Basically, we are asking for more honest language in SEC filings and press releases.

MedAssets Engages KPMG as Auditor [Press Release]
8-K [SEC.gov]

Barry Salzberg Is Going To Talk About Diversity Again

But this time it is called, “Diversifying Business Standards” and he’ll be touching on a number of issues that don’t have anything to do with with the “218 reprimands for failure to meet mandatory training requirements” (which may or may not include mandatory diversity training).

And we’re guessing he won’t make reference to the Chief Diversity Officer because if you don’t happen to have one, it’s simply impossible to be a diverse company.

Oh, and never mind the whole H-1B controversy at Deloitte Consulting. That will blow over.


This particular chat will be going on at the DiversityInc’s “How Global Diversity Impacts the Domestic Diversity” event that is going on Washington, DC next week. The agenda indicates that the speech will address the following issues:

What are global values? What are emerging global standards for accountancy? What standards should companies meet in every country? How can you get your top leadership to understand that diversity efforts must be global?

Now if you are able to understand these questions, please inform us of their meaning because we’re a little lost.

Will the speech be about global values for accounting firms? Are global diversity standards the next thing that will be converged? If so, we’ll remind you that the whole accounting convergence thing hasn’t gone so well. How do you think global diversity rules will work out?

Will the top leaders in companies need to attend training about global diversity first before they understand that world is diverse? Apparently some men at Deloitte don’t understand women yet, how the hell are they going understand someone in another country that might be across an ocean?

Deloitte CEO to Speak at DiversityInc Event [DiversityInc]

Luxembourg Court Ruling Nullifies Madoff Investors’ Claims Against Ernst & Young, UBS

Of course the investors are appealing but one win at at time, amiright?

The suits were filed in the fall by investors who lost millions in the LuxAlpha Sicav-American Selection fund which had 95% of its fund invested with Bernie Madoff. The fund claims that it had $1.4 billion in net assets a month prior to Madoff’s arrest.


UBS acted as the custodian while E&Y was the auditor and were sued for “seriously neglecting” their supervisory duties for the fund. Investors in the fund filed more than 100 lawsuits against the two companies.

Luxembourg’s commercial court said in a ruling today concerning 10 test cases that investors can’t bring individual lawsuits for damages. The court said it’s up to the liquidators of the funds that invested with Madoff to seek the “recovery of the capital assets.”

In other words, UBS and E&Y, you’re going to get sued by Irving Picard de Luxembourg rather than 100+ pissed off individuals whose life savings went *poof*. Setting legal precedent aside, taking emotion of the equation works wonders for making an argument.

UBS, Ernst & Young Win Bid to Block Madoff Lawsuits [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

Earlier:
Ernst & Young Is Thankful for Lawyers, Possibly Toblerones

Imprisoned Ex-KPMG Partner Sentenced to 57 Months for Defrauding IRS

Today in insult to injury news, Bob Pfaff, who pleaded guilty back in the fall for conspiracy to defraud the IRS, was sentenced today to 57 months for his tax untruthiness. He was also ordered to pay the IRS over $1 million in restitution. The bright side for Pfaff is that Judge Richard Berman ordered that only three months of this new sentence would be served consecutively. After 97 months, an additional three will be nothing. That’s just half of a baseball season.


Pfaff is already serving a 97 month sentence for his role in the KPMG ‘tax shelter mill’ that originally involved 17 KPMG executives. Charges were dropped against all but four of the accused after it was determined that prosecutors had pressured the Firm to not pay their legal bills.

Seemingly this marks the end of this particular KPMG/tax shelter case. Another recent case involves Daryl Haynor, a partner in the Tysons Corner office. Mr Haynor was indicted back in the fall for allegedly conspiring to defraud the IRS to the tune of $240 million.

Ex-KPMG Partner Pfaff Gets 57 Months for Tax Crime [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

Is Deloitte Trying to Ruin Spring Break?

We kid, we kid. Deloitte would never want to ruin spring break but they are giving a few students an alternative to drinking themselves blind for a week and possibly getting a bad case of crabs.

The firm is teaming up with the United Way and Teach for America for the third consecutive year to offer “Maximum Impact: Deloitte Alternative Spring Break”.


We’ve got no idea if all the slots are filled up but since one of them starts this Saturday you best get on this if your Cancun plans have fallen through:

• March 6 – 12 — Deloitte and United Way will co-host 50 students from approximately 30 colleges and universities along with 20 Deloitte professionals during a week of hands-on and skills-based volunteerism in Atlanta, Georgia. Students will work to enhance childcare centers, refurbish playgrounds for low-income youth, guide students in college exploration and promote literacy in children.

• March 14 – 18 — Deloitte and Teach For America will co-host 25 students from six colleges and universities along with 20 professionals from Deloitte and Teach For America for a week of education-centered volunteerism in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Volunteers will spend time working with schools and local students who face the challenges of educational inequity through projects that include improving campuses, developing classroom lessons and helping with class preparation work.

You better get on this ASAP if you’re interested since only 75 students and 40 professionals get to participate. The problem for current Deloittians is most of you are eyeballs deep in busy season anyway so this isn’t an option. So does this mean that non-busy season types like Jim Quigely, Barry Salberg, and Punit Renjen will be in attendance? And if so will they be sporting new board shorts for the pool time they are able to squeeze in?

Deloitte Offers Students Chance to Give Back, Explore Careers on Spring Break [Press Release]

Are the Big 4 Desperate for Audit Work?

In the latest predatory tactic from our friends at the Big 87654, we see that the recession may not be treating them so badly. Sure, non-profit busywork isn’t exactly a good time to be had by all but it pays the bills and for the Big 4, there is no such thing as bottom of the barrel.

Take what you can get, right?


Crain’s:

The financial crisis blew up many big-name clients, leaving audit firms with excess capacity. Bear Stearns Cos., Merrill Lynch & Co., Washington Mutual Inc. and Fannie Mae disappeared from Deloitte LLP. Ernst & Young saw Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc. implode, while KPMG lost Countrywide Financial Corp. and PricewaterhouseCoopers lost Freddie Mac.

Gary Boomer, a Kansas-based accounting industry consultant, says Big Four firms sometimes are bidding less than $100 an hour for non-profit and public-sector work, down from $175 to $250 for junior auditors. “What they’re doing is buying some work to keep the staff busy,” he says.

That’s hilarious, shouldn’t we stop and think about why they allowed “the financial crisis” (you mean the unstable positions of those financial firms lost in the bloody battle?) to blow up so many of their big-name clients before we let them scavenge the scrapings for a tasty morsel of audit work?

I guess it works, it’s not like you’ve got guys in the cathedral on December 31st counting saint candles.

It could be worse. Here are some really nasty audits that the Big 4 could be doing in lieu of cheap non-profit and public sector work:

Joe Stack – Think about it, KPMG, you have some awfully tall buildings, be grateful.

Blackwater expenses – They really deserve their own audit team. It’ll keep those juniors busy, ifyaknowwhatImean.

C Street – Bonus side work helping Mark Sanford convert his dollars into Argentine pesos.

Whore yourselves out however you have to, guys, even if it means a door-to-door campaign for whatever audit work you can find.

Ernst & Young Auditors Accused of Missing ‘Tax Loan’ for Investment Adviser’s Stripper Girlfriend

Today in unaudited stripper expense news, two Ernst & Young auditors have been accused in an SEC enforcement action for not investigating a “tax loan” that was misappropriated by a Chicago investment adviser.

John Orrechio founded AA Capital, Inc. in 2002 and he immediately started wining and dining potential clients (primarily unions) in Detroit and Las Vegas. In August of ’03, Orrechio started dating a Detroit stripper (as these stories often go) and he started spending truckloads of money on her and her family. Shortly thereafter, in 2004, Orrechio started taking money directly from client’s tax accounts to fund said his lifestyle and the lifestyle of said stripper.


Orrechio’s stripper fund must have ran dry at some point and he decided to pursue other methods of financing his family fun time. Since he probably wasn’t too keen on letting everyone in on his little problem, Orrechio told his CFO, Mary Beth Stevens, that he owed a grip to the IRS because of his ownership in one of the affiliate private equity fund and that E&Y screwed up filing one of his tax returns:

Orecchio told Stevens that he needed to borrow money to pay his taxes. At Orecchio’s direction, Stevens withdrew $602,150 from AA Capital’s client trust accounts and then wired the money to Orecchio’s personal bank account.

Between May and December 2004, Stevens made three additional disbursements to Orecchio to pay his purported tax liability. During 2004, Orecchio received a total of four separate disbursements under the guise of the “tax loan” totaling approximately $1.92 million.

Ms Stevens, probably not wanting upset the boss (i.e. get in the way of a man and his stripper girlfriend), played ball. When the two auditors in question, Gerard Oprins and Wendy McNeely, learned of this tax loan, they are accused of doing, well, not much:

20. After learning about Orecchio’s purported “tax loan,” Oprins and McNeeley failed properly to evaluate the transaction or require other audit team members to do so. The audit team did not obtain any documentation reflecting Orecchio’s tax liability or the terms of the “tax loan.” They did not discuss the “tax loan” with Orecchio. They did not take steps to confirm Stevens’ statements that Orecchio “made a payment to the IRS for $1,921,050” or that the “tax loan” would be repaid by Orecchio or the IRS during 2005. They did not take steps to assess the collectability of the “tax loan.” They also failed to discuss Orecchio’s tax liability with their colleagues in Ernst & Young’s tax department who prepared the tax filings for AA Capital and its affiliated private equity funds.

21. Oprins and McNeeley also failed to scrutinize Orecchio’s “tax loan,” or require other audit team members to do so, in light of several red flags that the audit team encountered related to Orecchio’s spending habits.

This all led to an unqualified opinion issued by Ernst & Young on AA Capital’s and AA Capital Equity Fund’s (the affiliated private equity fund) 2004 financial statements. Because of the undisclosed stripper piggy bank, the actions of the auditors amounted to financial statements that weren’t in accordance with GAAP and an audit that wasn’t performed in accordance with GAAS.

An Ernst & Young spokesperson declined to comment.

The two auditors are accused of “improper professional conduct” which could result in the two not being allowed to appear or practice before the SEC, which, if you were to ask Harry Markopolos, will save you the trouble of working with idiots.

ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING ENFORCEMENT [SEC]
Ernst & Young Auditors Accused in Investment Case [Web CPA]

(UPDATE) Jim Turley Breaks Out the Fancy Footwear for His Interview on Bloomberg

~ Update includes quote from Britt Aboutaleb of Fashionista

We meant to get to this on Friday but there was a social engagement occurring that couldn’t be avoided; you know how it is. Anyhoo, the Ernst & Young CEO sat down with Bloomberg last Friday to talk tax policy and we found a few things rather interesting. Watch and we’ll chat about some things after the jump:


First things first: How about the two hotties that Bloomberg threw at JT?

Second: why does the MSM always refer to the “Big 4” as the “so-called Big 4”? Does Big 4 carry some negative connotation in some corners of society or is it meant to be a not-so-subtle dig, like when you call the token short guy on your team “big guy”?

Third and of utmost importance: what’s with JT’s footwear? Are those Timberlands? Does he just put on whatever the wife lays out for him or did she happen to take all of his wingtips to the cobbler this week? OR did he just get back from hiking the Appalachian Trail à la Mark Sanford?

Whatever the situation is, they look like they’ve gotten some good use. We’re not sure what Jimbo likes to do for recreation but it must involve some rugged backdrops that may involve him wearing a flannel shirt and chopping wood.

Britt Aboutaleb, one of the editors of our sister site, Fashionsita, had these thoughts, “I can’t even see the shoes — they look like they’ve emerged from a swamp! Maybe he forgot the shoes he was supposed to change into after trekking through the snow? Or maybe he didn’t realize his feet would be caught on camera…”

God, we hope JT could have arranged for some car service rather than schlepping through the snow. On the other hand, maybe walking to interviews is part of a green initiative? Either way, he could have brought the shoes along and changed into them. Just a thought.

On the other, to say that this is a fashion faux-pas would be an understatement akin to saying “E&Y had a few layoffs last year.”

KPMG Knows You’re Feeling Like a Fatty

Yes. You. Spending day after day at that desk, consuming a steady diet of red meat, bagels loaded with cream cheese that is going straight to your [insert problem area] and, of course, caffeine. Sweet, sweet caffeine.

It all adds up to a bunch of tubby Klynveldians, and tubby = not happy. This is not lost on the leadership at KPMG. They want you to know that they want to help you lose that paunch ASAP and they are prepared to offer you a human being to assist you.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of American adults are overweight, and many people are actively seeking a solution for weight loss. Losing weight isn’t just about looking better in the mirror—being overweight can contribute to a range of health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and even certain types of cancers.

Lots of us have tried to lose weight, but find ourselves giving up because it can be tough to do. But what if you had your own weight-loss coach, someone who could provide personalized guidance about nutrition and exercise, and provide strategies geared toward your specific situation? What if you could call that coach as many times as you wanted over a six-month period, when you had a question or needed some encouragement?

You can have just that, at no cost to you, thanks to KPMG and LifeWorks through the iCanChange program. iCanChange gives you access to a dedicated, experienced and credentialed health coach who will help you identify goals, strengths, challenges, and strategies for managing your weight.

You will be able to receive four scheduled calls from your coach, and you can call him/her as many times as you would like over a six-month period. Your coach will help you track your progress and set realistic goals to lead you along the road toward losing weight.

So, just who exactly is KPMG recruiting to help these numbers nerds get back in fighting shape? Richard Simmons? Chuck Liddel? Phil Mickelson?

Assuming this doesn’t have to wait until after busy season you best get crackin’ in case Radio City announces its own Canadian Tuxedo reprieve. Fat guy in a little denim coat is not a good look.

Ernst & Young Announces Canadian Tuxedo Fridays for the Remainder of Busy Season

Officially, it appears that it’s just half of the Canadian Tux. You can show up in the jacket if you want but we’d advise you lose it while at the office.


Oh right, showing up at your client from head to toe in denim is not advisable so that eliminates a fair share of you. As for the rest of you, kindly schlep that extra outfit with you just in case. You never know when you’ll need the biz-pro or biz-casual uniform handy. On a somewhat related note, it’s not entirely clear is if the Texas Tuxedo is allowed.

Allowing denim on Fridays during busy season is probably not unprecedented but it may be enough to get some of you through the next 30-ish days. Enjoy.

When Will Accounting Firms Fully Embrace Social Media?

Accounting firms seem to be on the fence when it comes to social media. While the Big 4 recruiting teams (and non-Big 4 for that matter) are into it full force, we’re skeptical about the enthusiasm of the firms’ leadership, especially the operational leaders.

To them blogs, Facebook, Twitter et al. is a way to waste time and has nothing to do with producing results. But now that Microsoft has announced that it will be including plug-ins for Outlook (sorry, firms on Lotus Notes), we wonder if the momentum behind social media will prove too much to ignore forever.


There are some signs of acceptance including Stephen Chipman (still needs to make it public)and Jeremy Newman communicating through the blogosphere, the growth of social networking and, as we mentioned, recruiting. Eventually the firms will come around, but when?

Our friendly HR expert, Dan Braddock thinks it won’t be long, “Facebook’s privacy settings are getting sophisticated quickly; someone can make their Facebook page look as professional as a LinkedIn profile.”

And what about friending clients, co-workers and potential recruits? “People are getting more and more comfortable with the idea, so it won’t happen right away but in 3 to 5 years, you’re going to start seeing more of it,” DWB said.

Microsoft’s director of technical accounting called out financial reporting as being pretty much irrelevant. It remains to be seen if firms continue to resist social media while the rest of the world continues to find ways to innovate by utilizing it.

Deloitte’s Ad Nails the Olympic Spirit

Every two years we go through the same ritual. Jingoistic flag waving, the non-stop talking head of Bob Costas, and a hyped-up athlete (Lindsey Vonn is this year’s model). Add a bunch of schmaltzy, sappy, million-dollar commercials.

Welcome to the Olympics folks, originally intended to celebrate pure (amateur) athleticism, and now unabashedly worshiping pure consumerism. The Olympics games party like it’s 1998. The commercials are out of step with the somber mood of the age, depicting faked optimism. The feel-good machine of Madison Avenue did not take a break even on the day that the Georgian luge racer died.

Perhaps that is why the commercial from Deloitte stands out among the cacophony of hyperbole for its sobriety and clarity. The commercial is straightforward and engaging: using imaginative line drawing to represent Olympics sports, it depicts the pure thrill of competing in the games. Delivering its message through titles only, it avoids embellishment with its almost haiku-like script: “combine perfect movement through time and space, with the heart and drive of a champion, and you are golden”. Simple, clever, to the point:


The spot does not try to draw a direct comparison between Deloitte and the athletes. The connection is implied, cleverly, by using the Deloitte “green dot” from its logo as the “athletes” in the spot. Brilliant. And of course the spot is made more effective because it is relevant to the games. Mark this commercial on the credit side of the ledger.

Bravo Deloitte.

Avi Dan is President & CEO of Avidan Strategies, a New York based consultancy specialized in advising professional service companies on marketing and business development. Mr. Dan was previously a board member with two leading advertising agencies and managed another.

Alexandre Bilodeau Is KPMG Canada’s Phil Mickelson

When our Olympic Fever started last weekend, we had no idea what would happen. Sure there would be torches, majesty and endless montages but if you had told us that we would discover that KPMG has got dibs on a marketing dynamo like Alexandre Bilodeau, we would have said NFW.

AB was the first gold medalist for Canada in the Vancouver games. He won the Freestyle Men Ski competition on Sunday and now he’s got people just throwing money at him.


However, Al has had KPMG as a sponsor since 2006 (longer than Phil!) when he competed in Turin, Italy (the old man is a tax partner). All these new companies that want a piece of Golden Boy are going to have to get behind T Fly and Co. because Al strikes as a loyal guy.

KPMG Canada nailed this one. This dude is young, handsome, and doesn’t have to worry about a slimeball rival returning to steal the thunder. Now if he could only win the U.S. Open…

A Lawsuit Seeks To Find Out How Old is Too Old to Become a Partner at PwC

[caption id="attachment_3069" align="alignright" width="260" caption="That's a good one Bob but you really shouldn't tell old people jokes"][/caption]

Or any firm for that matter. There’s probably some opinions on this but allegedly at PwC it’s 54 on the low end and if you’re approaching the firm’s mandatory retirement age of 60 then you’re definitely not getting the bump.

The reason we bring it up is that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has granted new life to an age discrimination lawsuit against PwC. Two advisory professionals, Harold Schuler and C. Westbrook Murphy’s lawsuit alleges that P. Dubs de-nied their admittance because they were close to the Firm’s mandatory retirement age.


The partner track at accounting firms is a long and tough road the way it is and for partners to allege age discrimination seems like insult to injury.

The DC Circuit ruled that the plaintiffs deserve some closure on whether or not the bigwigs in New York really snubbed them based on their age:

Judge Douglas Ginsburg said a 2008 D.C. Circuit ruling involving Schuler entitled the plaintiffs to a “reasonable inference” that PricewaterhouseCoopers’ decisions not to promote them were made in New York, where the firm is based.

“PwC says (the earlier case) ‘does not control’ because it addressed only PwC’s adoption and maintenance of a discriminatory policy, not the ‘discrete decision’ not to admit (Schuler) to partnership,'” Ginsburg wrote. “To which we say: Pettifoggery and piffle!”

Nice touch, Judge Ginsburg. So this means the case goes back to the district so they can get to the bottom of this.

We left messages at the other firms to find out what their mandatory retirement policies were to get some context on the age issue but so far we haven’t heard anything back. We’ll update you with those if we hear back from anyone.

It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out since we’re pretty confident that their is no document anywhere at 300 Madison that says Schuler and Murphy were just too old to become partners. If we were to take a wild-ass guess, we’d say that the firm will point to performance reviews, etc. to rationalize the snub even if these guys were rainmakers.

PricewaterhouseCoopers age bias lawsuit revived [Reuters]

PwC’s Oscar Partners Get Teased, Possibly Need Adult Diapers

As we mentioned earlier this week, PwC loves Oscar time. It’s easily the biggest display of Big 4 shameless self-promotion and no one — not even us, (sans Francine?) — can blame them.

The Carpetbagger has a chat with two of the partners, Rick Rosas and Brad Oltmanns that touched on a number of things, like exclusivity, “there’s only been 12 partners to do this” and secrecy, “we go to a very quiet, windowless room in an undisclosed location”. but just because they’re counting ballots don’t get the idea that they aren’t working:

During the telecast, Mr. Rosas and Mr. Oltmanns stand at either side of the stage, with the 24 sealed envelopes containing the winners’ names, ready to be handed off to the celebrity presenters just before they walk to the podium. “It is work,” he said. “We’re standing literally in one spot for three hours or so, no rest room breaks or anything, because we have to be ready when the presenters get on the stage.”

Jesus, no bathroom breaks? Sounds brutal. Does PwC front them for a bag or Depends or something? What if they make a Starbucks right before the show? That could be problematic. Plus, you’ve got puny movie stars that used to be funny giving you a hard time:

“We do get teased from time to time especially by some of the comedians,” Mr. Oltmanns said. “I remember one year Jack Black said he was going to come over and rip the briefcases out of our hands and give us a good beating.” Did he? “No. I think each of us are larger than him, so he did not.”

Seriously. Don’t fuck with these guys. They have to keep their cool when Halle Berry walks by and their bladders are about to burst. Could you handle that?

PwC Basks in the Oscar Gold

Man, PwC is on a tear this week. Along with the announcement of the three-peat yesterday for the Training 125, the firm also rolled out its press release on the upcoming Academy Awards.

The firm is proudly counting the ballots for the 76th year in a row but this year there are ten best picture nominations and that’s a new wrinkle for the vote counters at P. Dubs.

Now we’re not going to insinuate anything like Slate did back in 2007 where they somehow made a superficial connection between scandals at PwC to their ability to count ballots. That’s just foolhardy and we wouldn’t entertain such a notion here.


Quite the contrary, this should be the biggest slam dunk engagement that PwC has. Sure there are some archaic mechanical issues (e.g. the U.S. Mail) but at the end of the day they’re just counting ballots. The biggest risk that PwC faces is someone trying to rip their arms off with the briefcases still attached. Besides, we’re sure there is a security device on the briefcases that will destroy the entire contents if opened by anyone other than a PwC partner.

But we digress.

Back to the boilerplate press release, PwC drops all kinds of facts on us including that it takes ten total days (between the nominating and the final ballots) and approximately 1,700 “person-hours” for the team to count the ballots by hand.

This begs the question: could the Oscars be indirectly responsible for PwC being embroiled in the wage and hour lawsuits? Is our insatiable demand for red carpets and Brangelina driven the importance of this annual event beyond health care reform, financial regulation, and U.S. GAAP/IFRS convergence and thus, created the sweatshop engagement that is the counting of the Academy Award ballots?

This prestigious engagement may have its benefits (e.g. tuxedos, the opportunity for awkward sexual advances on celebrities) but at what cost, dear reader? What cost?

AIG Adopts Big 4 “Forced Ranking” Method

Good news servants of the capital markets! Remember how we talked last summer about forced ranking and how it’s rampant within the Big 4 performance ranking system? No? Put it right out of your minds? Had occurred to you because you’re delirious from the lack of sleep, poor diet, et al.?

Well as soon as busy season
is over, we’re sure it’ll come back to you; in the meantime, you’ll be happy to know that everyone’s favorite ward of the state, AIG is now joining you in implementing what might be the worst possible method of rewarding its employees.

American International Group Inc. is rolling out a plan to revamp how it doles out annual incentive pay to its employees, as the government-controlled insurance giant moves away from retention bonuses that have proved controversial over the past year.

The new initiative, called a “forced distribution” system, is being pushed by Chief Executive Robert Benmosche. Under the plan, thousands of AIG employees will be ranked on a scale of 1 to 4 based on their performance relative to their peers, and their annual variable compensation, which may include bonuses, will be determined by their rank. Individuals ranked in the top 10% will get far more relative to their peers.

Yes! The 1 to 4 ranking scale. That’s not quite as shrewd as PwC’s 1 to 3 scale and it’s at least simpler than KPMG’s 9 box but AIG employees have every right to be concerned about this arbitrary ranking system.

Warden Robert Benmosche doesn’t care though, there were too many rock stars, “Mr. Benmosche said performance-appraisal systems previously in place at AIG weren’t discriminating enough. In one case, he said, there was a ranking system with four categories, but about half of the people got the highest rating, and half got the second rank. ‘You can’t have 50% in the top,’ he said.” Bobby B also said that AIG is “unlikely to impose a requirement that underperformers leave.” Write that one down.

Our contributor Francine McKenna who has written both here and on her blog about forced ranking told us, “Investors will get contrived ‘performance’ enforced by cutthroat atmosphere that further encourages excessive risk taking.”

In addition, Ravin Jesuthasan a “talent-management” consultant (not involved with AIG’s change) who was quoted in the Journal (our emphasis), ” [Mr. Jesuthasan said] the approach can work in turnaround situations by helping to foster more accountability, but could be risky if not communicated well or “if links to consequences like compensation and employment are not properly thought through.”

Any of that sound familiar?

AIG Plans Revamp on Pay [WSJ]

(UPDATE) PwC Did Not Foresee the Sexting Phenomenon

We heard a rumor today that PwC is currently renegotiating their cell phone contract because, yes, they underestimated the amount of texting that would be done by employees on work phones. Foiled by Gen-Y again!

We realize it’s hard to believe that the numero uno Trainer would somehow not educate its people to avoid sending hundreds of sexually explicit messages to the person in the next row when they simply could have pull together some instructions on cubicle sex. This would have alleviated at least some of the problem.


Well it’s too late now, you randy fools. You’ve no doubt cost the firm millions in charges because you couldn’t compose yourselves.

On the other hand, who were the geniuses sitting around 300 Mad trying to figure out what the texting plan was right for P. Dubs? We know Bob Mortiz wasn’t in on it. Did they consider the fact that PwC employees might be a bunch of savages that would be spending every waking hour sending photos and dirty limericks to their spouses and FWBs?

We understand that firms are trying to save money these days but jesus, it’s common sense to spring for the unlimited texting plan.

UPDATE, Friday, Feb. 12th: We heard back from a source who shared this:

I think they give us something like 100 a month (not positive) which doesn’t affect me, but some people in my office laugh about how much they go over.

Let’s say it is 100 a month. Depending on your prowess, one sexting encounter could conceivably use up a whole month. Someone tell PwC Ops (or whoever is in charge of these things) to go for the unlimited plan.

PwC Achieves Dynasty Status on Training Magazine’s Top 125

Did you think that the Big 4 domination of all magazine lists was over? Jesus, were you wrong. Not only is PwC numero uno on Training Magazine’s Top 125, they’ve been in the top spot for three years running. Clearly this is solidifies the dynasty for P. Dubs.

Personally we don’t think it would be that hard to get on this particular list. You fly everyone to a relatively large city that has bars, casinos, and strip clubs near the hotel and you’ll get some positive feedback regardless of the boring topics discussed.

The magazine lists its criteria for measurement (and, shockingly, our criteria wasn’t mentioned) so we can understand how this index of companies was cooked up:

• Training tied to business objectives

• Demonstrable results

• Number of trainers

• Employee turnover and retention

• Leadership development

• Tuition assistance

• Training technology and infrastructure

• Certification

• Training budget and percentage of payroll

Because we know you’re wondering, only two other firms made it on to the list: KPMG at #5 and Grant Thornton at #103. So this begs the question: WTF E&Y and Deloitte? Completely SHUT OUT? Are your efforts being expended elsewhere? Deloitte’s diversity trainings don’t count? What about the Deloitte University plans; doesn’t that count for something? Sorry, E&Y; the donuts and secure bathrooms obviously don’t help you on this list.

Never mind those losers; back in Titletown, you had better believe P. Dubs put out a press release. Our favorite part being the last paragraph before the “About” section where it catalogs every list the firm has ever been on for the past decade and a half. We get the picture P. Dubs. You can make it on to lists. Good job. Please feel free to notify us directly for the next one.

Digitial Issue [Training Magazine]

Ex-Ernst & Young Partner Sentenced to One Year and a Day for Securities Fraud

James Gansman, a former E&Y partner in transaction services, was sentenced to one year and one day in jail on Monday after being convicted on six counts of securities fraud last year.

Gansman had provided his mistress, Donna Murdoch, with tips on mergers that Ernst & Young were advising which she subsequently traded on. Despite the help, Murdoch needed more money and she began an affair with another man who used the tips to make trades.

To add insult to injury, Murdoch ultimately cooperated with investigators and testified against Gansman. She is still awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to fifteen charges of securities fraud, obstruction of justice, and making false statements.

Beside making bad relationship choices, Gansman’s hot tips were in violation of E&Y’s “written policies and the duty of trust owed to the firm’s clients.” That extra day in prison should give him just enough time to study better decision making.

Ex-Ernst & Young Partner Gansman Sentenced To 1 Year, Day In Prison [WSJ]

(UPDATE) Was Deloitte’s Warning to Merrill Lynch Lacking Urgency?

Updated to included statement from Deloitte

By now you’ve heard that Ken Lewis and former BofA CFO Joe Price are in a bit of pickle, thanks to NYAG Andy Cuomo.

Long/short is that Drew has filed civil charges claiming that these two ignored advice to disclose information about the losses at Merrill Lynch and went ahead with their plans that ended up screwing just about everyone in the entire world.


According to the complaint, Deloitte was right in the middle of the action back in December of ’08 as the auditor of ML and from the sounds of it, they kinda-sorta encouraged ML’s counsel to disclose the losses saying:

given the losses through what it looks like will be November when it closes, given the fact that you have another couple of billion of dollars coming down the road in goodwill impairment, we believe it’s prudent that you might want to consider filing an 8K to let the shareholders, who are voting on this transaction, know about the size of the losses to date

Okay, so “prudent that you might want to consider” sounds like a “you can disclose the losses if you want to but we’re not making a BFD out of this” but Andy’s complaint sure presents it as a legit warning. We’re not saying that Thomas Graham, the Deloitte partner on Merrill, needed to be hyperventilating while telling ML’s Chief Accounting Officer David Moser that they “might want to consider” the disclosure but Moser was worried enough to tell in-house counsel about it.

Maybe Moser didn’t bring it up because he knew that lawyers don’t take anything auditors say too seriously. If everyone who claims to be worried, was legitimately concerned, perhaps they should’ve considered some double exclamation point usage. Oh well; next time!

We haven’t seen a statement from Deloitte anywhere and they haven’t gotten back to us at this time. Deloitte provided us with the following statement:

Deloitte personnel have testified as part of the New York attorney general’s investigation. Some of that testimony is cited publicly in the attorney general’s complaint. Deloitte is not a party to this proceeding, and due to professional standards, we cannot comment further on confidential client matters.

At the end of the day, BofA’s own general counsel tried to tell KL what’s what and he ultimately got fired so Deloitte ends up being a small fish in this whole situation (i.e. “not a party to proceeding”). Cuomo wants to be governor for crying out loud. Voters don’t give a shit if you file civil complaints against auditors.

NYAG_Complaint

Plaintiffs File Brief in Big 4 Overtime Lawsuit

Last summer we initiated our coverage on the wage and hour lawsuits against the Big 4 and other firms that have been filed in California. As you may remember, the case that is currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, is the key case as it may decide how the rest of the cases proceed.

Just a quick refresheramicus (i.e. friend of court) briefs following in early November.


The plaintiffs’ amicus briefs are scheduled to be filed tomorrow and while Mr. Kershaw would not share any names with us, he did inform us that there were some notable supporters that will be filing briefs. Parties claiming support via web (though it is not clear whether they are expected to file as amicus) include among others, labor union UNITE HERE.

The briefs are under seal at the request of the defendants who are claiming proprietary privilege.

In the past, the 9th Circuit has been accused of having a liberal bias which could be perceived as an advantage to the plaintiffs. While Mr. Kershaw agreed that the 9th Circuit was more “worker friendly” in the past, he told us, “After eight years under the Bush administration, the court has considerably more conservative justices.”

According to the 9th Circuit’s website, former President George W. Bush appointed seven justices while in office. Of the 47 justices currently serving, 21 were appointed by Republican Presidents and 26 by Democratic Presidents.

Despite the political makeup, Mr. Kershaw believes, as he did when we last spoke with him on the matter, that the evolution of the law of the exemptions (i.e. who, among other things, is and is not eligible for overtime) will demonstrate that the plaintiffs were not “learned professionals,” and will prevail in case.

Lead counsel for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Norman Hile of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP did not respond to our request for an interview.

We reached out to all the firms; receiving responses from only BDO, who provide the following statement: “We believe that the employee in this case was properly classified as exempt. This case has been stayed pending resolution of the PwC appeal. As is our policy on matters of litigation, BDO does not intend to comment further until this case is resolved.” We were also informed that in the BDO case that the class certification was denied by the trial court and the appeal was also denied.

In the case of Hood & Strong, LLP, we were referred to their attorney, Jonathan R. Bass of Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, who we spoke with briefly about his case, Kathleen McFarland v. Hood & Strong LLP.

Mr. Bass indicated to us that the lawsuit against his client is only one of four that is being tried in state court and would not necessarily be affected by the ruling in Campbell. He further indicated that these lawsuits are something that his client, and most likely all the defendants, did not anticipate, “it is not likely that any of these firms considered the possibility of their employees being treated as anything other than exempt.”

No other firms listed as defendants responded to our request to comment.

Ultimately a decision in Campbell may not be known until 2011 at which point the litigation could actually proceed or be settled. We’ll continue to follow these cases as they progress.

KPMG Boston Is Sprucing Up the New Headquarters, Sans Sign

This morning we shared with you the news about Deloitte’s new nightlight in San Jose. Back on the right coast, KPMG Beantown is getting a little redecorating done themselves although it sounds a little more substantive than a sign that can’t send morse code to San Fran in case someone needs an extra intern.

KPMG bestowed Jones Lang LaSalle with the honor of designing the interior of the new digs at Two Financial Center and it sounds like all Klynveldians will be infinitely more productive at the new HQ. 96,000 square feet of pure auditing, tax, and advisory bliss:

The interior will enhance workflow efficiency and accommodate KPMG’s growth requirements, which include capacity for 692 employees. Highlights of the build out, valued at $5.8 million, include: a central reception area on floors one and two, a large conference center with full media capabilities, an employee café, dedicated Human Resources suite and open office areas.

By the sounds of it they’re implementing some sort of Feng Shui strategy that will result in robotic efficiency.

We’re thinking that less than $1 mil a floor sounds like a decent deal but no sign? How the hell is that worth it? It probably wasn’t up to the gang at JLL but they could have at least looked into it. If the British invade again, a warning from the four blue squares would go a long ways towards KPMG’s national security cred.

Deloitte San Jose Re-signs Lease for a Nightlight

We got pointed to an article about Deloitte’s San Jose office signing a new 10 year lease (subscription required) which is pretty ho-hum although since a $50,000 Deloitte sign sealed this particular deal it made us think back to the idea of the Big 4 and shameless self-promotion.


According to the San Jose Business Journal, the mere idea of a Deloitte sign was the ultimate temptress, “permission to put a sizable sign near the roof of the 16-story building was too tempting to pass up.” This despite the a 25% vacancy rate in downtown San Jose and a 20% vacancy rate in Silicon Valley. All that and we learned that when the sign is illuminated it’s only visible as far away as I-280 and U.S. Route 87.

Couldn’t they get something brighter? If it were us, we’d be looking for something akin to the Aurora Borealis.

Having never been to the Deloitte offices in San Jose (we’d love a tour though, virtual of course, or maybe just some still images of the cube farms) we can’t tell you if the troops out there were in desperate need of an upgrade in facilities. WTFK, maybe everything at 225 W. Santa Clara St. is tip-top. Aaaannnnnd maybe it was the best deal to stay put but the fact that the sign was the clincher seems a little, well, shameless.

More Deloitte Construction:
Deloitte’s Version of Delta Chi Breaks Ground Tomorrow

Dennis Nally: Satyam Scandal Has Damaged PwC Brand

While kicking it in Davos, Dennis Nally had to have known that eventually he was going to have to answer questions about his mother of all nightmares, Satyam. Having just passed the one year anniversary of the cat being let out of the bag about, you know, totally bogus numbers, everyone is talking about it. In India.

CNBC India caught up with Nalls and considering everything that’s going down, DN doesn’t seem worried. He’s leading P. Dubs full steam ahead into India; there’s no crying over failed audits, “Without question the firm has had real challenges in India but that has not changed my outlook and view on the importance of India economy to global economic picture.”


Stoic; as he should be. Not that the firm hasn’t had to do a little damage control. But no worries; Dennis is a man with a plan, “We just need to continue to deliver, service our clients, respond to their needs, help them deal with their issues and challenges. If we do that and we do that consistently over a period of time the PwC brand in India will be as strong and as good as it has been in the past and where we want it to be into the future.”

Plus, this is a blip, an outlier, a rare occurrence, “Any one-off instance can do harm to your brand and that is the reality. Our job is to make sure we are doing everything and we have done a number of things in India to ensure that this would not happen again,” so there’s no cause for concern.

This isn’t Tiger Woods brand damage we’re talking about. It will all be a distant memory before you know it.

Satyam scam has hurt PwC brand: Global Chairman [Money Control]

PwC Accepts Responsibility for Losing Personal Records of Alaska Public Employees

In Alaska news that doesn’t involve Sarah Palin, it emerged late last week that PwC lost the personal records of 77,000 public employees and retirees who participated in the State’s Public Employees Retirement System and the Teachers Retirement System in 2003 – 2004.

Alaska had engaged P. Dubs as expert witnesses in a lawsuit against its former actuary Mercer and turned the data over to the firm for analysis during the discovery process. PwC discovered that the data vanished in December and PwC notified the state last week (nobody wants to share bad news during the holidays).


PwC has accepted responsibility for the whole mess and has agreed to pay for identity theft protection, credit monitoring, and security freezes (if necessary) for the 77,000 employees affected. The firm will also reimburse any losses suffered by any of the participants.

The firm must have realized that there was little upside to disclaiming responsibility, as this would inevitably lead to a sentence in a Sarah Palin speech that involved PwC opposing God, guns, and regular Americans. Populist rancor would ensue and the firm would be run out of Alaska within a week (give or take).

This is the second SNAFU for PwC in the last month. The firm issued a press release on January 15th announcing that someone was sending bogus PwC checks to random people advising them that they had been selected to be secret shoppers. It’s not clear as to whether this is a sign of the wheels coming off or simply bad luck. We’ll keep you informed of any additional slip-ups.

State Acts Promptly to Safeguard Alaskans Against Potential Identity Theft [State of Alaska Department of Law]

Big 4 at Davos: Jim Quigley is Long Dubai

He’s not really sure how much is debt (Jim, it’s a metric asston) is being restructured but Quigs believes that Dubai will come out of it a-okay.

Black holes aside, Quigs also wants to see global accounting standards which puts him firmly in the camp with the other half of Jim-squared and Knight of Accounting David Tweedie.

We’re not sure when this interview was done but could someone get JQ a cup of coffee or something? The guy seems a little stiff. Plus, no red light/green light of trust from Fox Business? They have got to start getting more creative over there.

Who Will Be the Next Chairman of KPMG?

Yesterday we told you the sad news that Tim Flynn will not be serving another term as Chairman of KPMG.

After taking the time to compose ourselves and realized that life will somehow go on, we had questions. Figuring you had some of your own, we’ll throw a few out there for some discussion. These will range from the obvious (i.e. headline) to the inane but they are all of equal importance:

• Why Tim? Why?

• Is the Davos trip the last hurrah and if so, what is doing to celebrate/reflect/mourn?

• If he’s not taking Tim Geithner’s job then what? Will T Fly defect to one of the other Big 4? Launch a blog? Ponzi scheme?

• How does Phil Mickelson feel about this and does this mean he will keep TF on the bag or is this an honor reserved only for the Chairman?

We may not have covered everything here so chime in with your questions or simply respond to those we’ve put out to the group. And please, if he happens to change his mind, notify us immediately.

Tim Flynn Will Not Serve Another Term as Chairman of KPMG

Tim Geithner better be paying attention. This could be your successor.

As you may know, my five-year term as U.S. Chairman ends in June of this year. Late last week, I informed the Board and subsequently announced to the partners, that I have decided not to serve an additional three-year term as U.S. Chairman after my initial term ends this June, as permitted by the firm’s governance.

This decision was made after much thought and personal reflection. KPMG’s partnership agreement has a well-defined and time-tested set of protocols in place whereby the Board of Directors is expressly responsible for managing the succession process for Chairman. Over the next 60 days, the Board will execute that process, the planning for which began late last summer.


Our firm has an outstanding group of partners and an effective, seasoned leadership team that is focused on our partners and employees, our clients, and the marketplace.

You have my personal commitment that I and the entire leadership team will remain focused on these key priorities throughout the remainder of my Chairmanship.

Thanks for all you do every day for KPMG.

Chairman_Succession

Ernst & Young Shares the Glory of Its Fortune 100 Victory

Shockingly, many of you don’t get too excited where your firm falls on the F100BCTWF list. Well, in case you’ve forgotten, your firm cares. They care a lot and they want you to care too because dammit, this is important. Somebody over at E&Y got to thinking and decided that bribing you with pastries was the solution to get you Scrooges to appreciate the firm’s 12th year on the list aaannnd being the highest ranking accounting firm on this year’s list:

We’re guessing Jim Turley might be phoning someone in order to save him all the bearclaws, so you best get there early.

Tim Flynn at Davos: We’re Moving Toward the Green Light of Trust

After wondering aloud if the Big 4 was just going to spend the entire week at Davos chasing blondes and eating chocolate some of the more easily rankled of you pointed out that Tim Flynn was all business and had already given an interview with CNN. Plus, since we saw Dennis Nally this morning it would seem like there is work being done. God forbid the guys do anything fun while they’re over there.

Anyhoo, we finally got around to watching TF’s chat with Richard Quest at Davos and we thought he did a pretty bang-up job. One thing we would have done different — if we were T Fly that is — was ask DQ why we were excluded from the last CNN interview. “What about it CNN? I’m not good enough for APEC piece but you’re happy to include me on this little campout?” Or something to that effect. We imagine that he was asked to keep it cordial.


Back to business: The one thing that threw us off was the red light/green light of trust thing. Trust doesn’t really strike us a color, least of all green. Think about it: Green = money = Goldman Sachs. Plus, has T Fly seen those tea party people? They don’t trust anyone. See why we’re confused? If you get it, please explain, but watch first.

KPMG Haiti Relief Effort Details

We finally nailed down some specifics from a trusted source on KPMG’s efforts to assist with Haiti relief.

The Americas Region (U.S., Canada, Central and South America, and Israel) have contributed $300,000 to the efforts so far, with a total goal of $500,000. These are the combined contributions of the both the firm and its employees. The International firm has pledged $500,000.

All contributions are going to UNICEF and Save the Children.

If you’ve got updates on your firm’s efforts or if you would like to notify us of what your firm is doing to assist the efforts in Haiti, email us at [email protected]

Earlier:
We Knew Accounting Firms Were Helping Haiti

Are the Big 4 Laying Low at the World Economic Forum?

The World Economic Forum kicks off tomorrow and as expected, the Big 4 bigwigs will be there in full force.

Having been through their share of busy seasons, the fearless four of Jim squared, Dennis, and Tim are no doubt glad to be on this getaway.

Their hearts and minds never stray too far from all of you serving the capital markets back at home but it is a great opportunity for them to explore the land of secretive banking, blondes and Toblerones. Plus, there are some meetings and whatnot where they spread their wisdom amongst the other grand poobahs of the world.


Despite the presence of the Fab Four, Big Four Blog points out that the firms’ websites don’t hardly make a mention of their participation at the rager in Davos:

[We] could find hardly a mention of this on the firm’s websites, contrary to prior years when a press release would proudly proclaim their participation. Are the Big Four firms keeping a low profile this year? We wonder why?

Why would they possibly want to keep their profiles on the DL? Are they taking their cues from the Times? Are they still amped/disappointed by the Fortune results?

Are they nervous about their next sit down with CNN, who may not leave it there this time? Ideas? Hopefully they’ll loosen up and enjoy themselves.

PwC Motivates the Troops with Just Two Words

More examples of motivation are rolling in as we pick up speed during this most wonderful time of the year.

The latest token of gratitude comes courtesy of P. Dubs. While some people need gift cards to remind them that the next ten weeks will be worth the pain but one PwC office knows that such superficial bait won’t motivate everyone. It requires something more, something meaningful:

Picture 3.png

This goes above and beyond getting off your chair, walking all the way over to someone’s cube-pod, looking them straight in the eye and saying, “You’re awesome!”

This involves handing a piece of paper (below) to this awesome person and then telling them how kick ass they are. Then high-five, chest-bump, fist-jab ass-slap, whatever the hell it is you’re doing these days to top it off. It’s the little things that make it special. Now get to it.

You’re Awesome! Award-1.pptx

Putting Accounting Firms’ Quest to Dominate Magazine Lists into Perspective

We’ve hypothesized about accounting firms’ quest to dominate every magazine list on Earth. Admirable goal, no question but the motivation has escaped us.
Until now. We’ve been enlightened:

Going back to the dominating magazine lists – its a lot like the bald middle aged guy (Big 4 accounting firms) that buys a Corvette (magazine awards) to compensate for a lack of equipment size (crappy work environment) to attract the ladies (slaves).

That pretty much clears it up.

Deloitte Has Stepped Up the Motivational Techniques to Include PowerPoint, Gift Cards

Yesterday we shared with you some motivational words of wisdom from Deloitte. Today the firm is stepping it up a notch, not just offering words, but a PowerPoint presentation informing the troops about Winter 2010 C.P.R. (Cash, Prizes, & Rewards). The long/short is that Green-Dotters will be eligible to win gift cards starting tomorrow, once in February, once in March, and a grand prize on March 31st.
While we’re impressed with this particular method of distraction/motivation, the best part is that there is a key slide that includes an admission that they know, that you know, that your life is temporarily over:
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Whether your slim chances of winning one of these gift cards is worth A) your skin not seeing a ray of sun for three months B) not having any semblance of a social life or C) your significant other screaming “That’s it! It’s so over! You can sleep at the f—ing office if you like being there so much!” has to be determined by you and you alone.
CPR 2010.ppsx

The Latest Challenge for KPMG Employees

Team, KPMG has submitted a challenge to its employees in the Florida/Carolinas/Puerto Rico neck of the woods, and we felt compelled to include the rest of you, just for the sake of expanding the brain pool:

Name the Business Unit Contest
January 22, 2010
How do you describe the most scenic business unit in the nation? From the mountains and outer banks of Carolina to the Everglades and beaches of Florida and the rain forests and blue waters of Puerto Rico, we have it all!
As the former FBU and CBU business units come together, we thought it would be fun to invite each of you to participate in a contest to name the new BU. In addition to bragging rights, a prize will be awarded to the person who submits the winning name.
Remember…be creative and have fun!
Send your ideas to US-FBU CSS COMM Leadership Mailbox by Friday, January 29, 2010. A prestigious selection committee will make the final selection and the winner will be announced by Friday, February 5, 2010.

Lost of questions here: 1) It’s busy season; between reading this fine publicaion, trying to get laid, and wallowing in disappointment, who has time to come up with name for the FlorinasRico business unit? 2) Who’s on the prestigious selection committee and how did they get this cushy gig? 3) Does Phil Mickelson figure into this prize in any way, shape or form? 4) If yes, will Tim Flynn be caddying for you, Phil or both?
You’ve only got until Friday to submit ideas, so we suggest you get on this ASAP.

What Are the Diversity Goals of the Accounting Firms?

GOALS.jpgLast week when Deloitte announced the appointment of a new Chief Diversity Officer, we surmised that the reason for such a position is so firms can promote their diversity 24/7. Finally realizing that this wasn’t physically possible, we started wondering what kind of objectives a Chief Diversity Officer would set for their firm.
Deloitte’s press release from last week states that the new CDO, “will be responsible for Deloitte’s diversity strategy and will lead its continuing efforts to attract, retain and develop the best talent in the marketplace.” Isn’t attracting the best talent something the firms are constantly doing? The statement seems to indicate that “responsible for diversity strategy” is mutually exclusive from “attracting the best talent in the marketplace.” So are goals for the diversity strategy different? If so, are they SMART, like our little chalkboard friend suggests?
If the goals are based on percentages (i.e. measurable), then we’re in luck because the Fortune one-hundo included diversity information that stated what the percentage of minorities and women were at each firm on the list (sorry omitted firms).


Ernst & Young – 29% minorities; 50% women
Plante & Moran – 6% minorities; 54% women
Deloitte – 32% minorities; 44% women
PwC – 27% minorities; 49% women
KPMG – 27% minorities; 48% women
We emailed and left a voicemail for John Zamora, the new CDO at Deloitte, to get some perspective on these numbers (for Deloitte) but have yet to hear back. We mostly want to know if these numbers are acceptable or if not, and if they aren’t, what percentages the firm is attempting to achieve (if those are part of the goals).
In the meantime we do know that all of the Big 4 have Chief Diversity Officers (technically E&Y’s is an inclusiveness officer) and P&M has a Diversity Council so there seems to be people assigned to this issue at every firm, large and small.
Furthermore, all of the Big 4 appear on the Diversity Inc’s list of Top 50 Companies for Diversity for muptiple years, so we know that they have been recognized for their diversity efforts.
So that’s why we’re confused; what exactly are the goals of these firms with respect to diversity? Are they looking to dominate the Diversity list, like they do the best places to intern list? Is this all about dominating magazine lists?

Motivating Words During Busy Season, Deloitte Edition

From a friend of GC:

If you’ve got your own words of encouragement for this busy season for Deloitte, or your own firm, feel free to share. Or if you’re feeling creative send us your poster to share with the group.

Technology SNAFU of the Day: DeloitteNet 2.0 Has a Case of the Mondays

We were notified last week about some exciting news for the capital market servants at Deloitte. DeloitteNet 2.0, the D’s new and improved internal intranet debuted today and the message was, because of this upgrade, your busy season, hell, your LIVES we’re going to be infinitely better:

Scheduled to launch Monday, January 25, DeloitteNet 2.0 is the result of an organization-wide effort to upgrade and redesign our intranet. It will include a new content structure and navigation, a new search engine, your very own “My DeloitteNet” site, and much more…
DeloitteNet will still be your go-to resource for the latest news and information. It will still provide access to essential tools and resources to get your job done, as well as offer access to the applications you need to manage your life here at Deloitte.

Not only that but Deloitte’s very own social networking phenomenon, D Street, would be fully integrated into the new intranet including a “My status” feature in case you want to tell everyone about the weather or how much you hate Mondays.


All this excitement was scheduled to kick off today with much fanfare. Many of you raced into work this morning, not being able to sleep last night in anticipation of this occasion were devastated to be greeted by this:
Thumbnail image for DeloitteNet2.0.jpg
Maybe too many people were distracted by the diversity debate or caught up thinking of new ideas for Project JARED.
Regardless of the cause, we’re sure everything is hunky-dory by now (?) and you’re all enjoying the plunders of DeloitteNet 2.0.
Earlier:
Big 4 Technology: Open Thread

The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: KPMG #88

Last, but definitely not least, on the F100BCTWR is the House of Klynveld. We figure that if you judged the HoK based solely on the fact that it sponsors a golfer who can manage to keeps his pants on for five minutes, they dominate this list. Unfortch, Fortune takes additional variables into account out of respect for the process.

KPMG – Previously ranked #56. It’s great because, “[The] firm introduced a sabbatical program allowing employees to take leaves of four to 12 weeks at 20% of pay. Some 450 employees immediately signed up for it. Employees average 25 paid days off.” Thoughts?


Other interesting stats per the snapshot:
New Jobs (1 year): -1,581
% Job Growth (1 year): -7%
% Voluntary Turnover: 12%
No. of Job Openings at 1/13/2010: 2,700
Most common salaried job: Senior Associate with average salary of $78,100

So the numbers aren’t so hot compared to others. Not to worry though! TF is out there rallying the troops even jumping across the Hudson every now and again just to check on everybody. What more could you ask for?

Earlier:
Ernst & Young #44
Plante & Moran #66
Deloitte #70
PwC #71

Tweets and Pokes: How the Big 4 Is Recruiting the Next Crop of Accountants

BelushiCollege_CPA.jpgNo one here is arguing that there is a vast disparity between the intern program experience and the stark reality of working in public accounting. What’s bothersome, however, is the smoke and mirrors that the firms use to convince recruits that their careers should start in one location over another. This begins and ends with spending exorbitant amounts of time and money on campus, growing multi-yeardressing up public accounting as one’s best bet if you want to work globally.

It has come to the point where the firms’ online presence is two-faced. One side of the proverbial coin shows the straight-laced, information-packed websites that industry and employees see. Flip it over and you’ll encounter extensive and oftentimes flashy sites targeting tomorrow’s crop of new hires:

Deloitte
E&Y
KPMG (warning – mute your speakers)
PwC

Accounting never looked so sexy.


Many of these sites are taking advantage of the technology that students use, which makes sense. E&Y spent thousands on creating a presence on Facebook, one that would show advertisements to a select target of majors. KPMG chose to go the YouTube route, primarily to promote its Global Internship Program. PwC’s campus-focused site has its own “.tv” brand. And of course, Twitter.

All of these methods of communication and established online web presences are fine and dandy, albeit expensive to maintain (marketing teams are dedicated at each firm solely for campus recruiting needs). However, what about the relationships with the students? Recruiters target students as freshman, four to five years prior to any chance of return on investment. Honors programs are sponsored by firms; same goes for professor salaries. Every Big 4 hosts their version of a “leadership summit” – these generally take place one or two years prior to being eligible for an internship. These multi-day summits occur under the sun and are attended by the respective firm’s national leadership. Trust falls and scavenger hunts in sunny Florida. Or Arizona. Or California. Every year. At every firm.

By the way, that bonus you were expecting? Sorry, can’t find the money in the piggybank.
In defense of the Big 4’s marketing gurus; their work is paying off. BusinessWeek’s 2009 ranking of “best” internships has the Big 4 in the top five: Deloitte is #1; KPMG, #2; E&Y, #3, PWC #5. This translates to the same firms taking the top four spots in BusinessWeek’s ’09 rankings of best places to launch a career. This comes as a no-brainer when you consider the vast majority of new hires were former interns. The Kool-aid has been known to have long-term effects.
But the questions remain – is the multi-million dollar recruiting campaigns run by each Big 4 firm worth it? Are these rankings worth the time of students and the decisions they need to make? And what happens after your career has been launched? What’s the next step?

Daniel Braddock, your friendly Human Resources Professional could very well be considered the hypothetical love child of Suze Orman and Toby Flenderson. Following his varsity jacket wearing college days, he entered the consumer markets as an auditor for a Big 4 firm in New York City. He spent three brisk years as an auditor before taking the reins of stirring the HR kool-aid. He currently resides in Manhattan. Daily routines include coffee breakfasts and scotch dinners. You can follow him on Twitter @DWBraddock.

The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: PricewaterhouseCoopers #71

Next on the F100BCTWF is PwC. While one of you (yes, we’re speculating that it was an inside job) was irked enough at P Dubs to send bogus checks out to randos, enough of you still love the place to keep it on the list.

PwC – Previously ranked #58. More lemons into lemonade from Fortune, “Accounting firm had minor layoffs (less than 1% of the staff), canceled 2008 year-end holiday parties, and gave two extra paid holidays to employees.”


Other interesting stats per the snapshot:
New Jobs (1 year): 402
% Job Growth (1 year): 1%
% Voluntary Turnover: 8%
No. of Job Openings at 1/13/2010: 5,097
Most common salaried job: Manager/Supervisor with average salary of $93,274

Still not sure about that number of job openings but it’s less unbelievable than the 11k that Deloitte had in their snapshot.

We still get the feeling that PwC is the biggest of Big of Brothers what with everyone’s utilization getting extra special attention. We’re not saying utilization can’t be considered but motivating employees with something more useful, like say, tighty whiteys, may be a better approach. Certainly wouldn’t hurt the ranking.

Earlier:
Ernst & Young #44
Plante & Moran #66
Deloitte #70

Ernst & Young “Believes” It Will Have Pay Raises This Year

guarantee.jpgGreat news Ernstiverse! If you didn’t have the pleasure of hearing it yesterday, Steve Howe, your Americas Area Managing Partner, announced that he “believes” that you’ll be back to pay increases this year, but he’ll let you know for sure as you get closer to the “salary adjustment date”. Sounds like a guarantee to us!

Plus! Being a general believer in resolutions (and noticing you haven’t don’t anything about that paunch), we heard that the firm will now reimburse “reasonable fitness fees incurred while traveling.”


No doubt Steve-o was in a good mood yesterday after seeing that E&Y was the highest ranking Big 4 firm on the F100BCTWF list and he felt like spreading more good news. In his mind, the title was never in doubt but it’s still nice to see the confirmation.

SH makes three accounting firm big shots to announce that happy times are here again in 2010. Along with soon-to-be blogger Stephen Chipman and the original shot-caller, Bob Moritz, the thawing of salaries might be gaining momentum.

The question does remain: will T Fly and Dr. Phil make similar announcements? Have they already? Are they saving it for a better time, say, mid-February when many of you will be close to losing your shit and are about to storm out once and for all? If they’ve made guarantees, kindly let us know, we’d like a superfecta if possible.

(UPDATE) Ernst & Young Partner Sentenced to Prison for Role in Tax Shelter Scheme

prison.jpgIn accountants going to jail news, E&Y partner Robert Coplan was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in creating tax shelters for wealthy clients from 1998 to 2006.
In addition to the jumpsuit (denim?), Mr. Coplan was ordered to pay a $75,000 fine and peform 120 hours of community service, half of which must be counseling of tax professionals about his time as a scofflaw.


Judge Sidney Stein said that while Mr. Coplan was an otherwise all right guy, the sentence was for ‘general deterrence’ and that he understood that ‘there was pressure coming from higher-ups at Ernst & Young’.
Judge Stein is scheduled to hand out more prison time to former E&Y partner Martin Nissenbaum today, while former partners Richard Shapiro and Brian Vaughn tomorrow.
Presumably all the men have access to a toilet without too much hassle.
UPDATE, Friday 8 am: Martin Nissenbaum was sentenced to two-and-a-half years. Not sure why he got 6 months less than Coplan but we’re sure he’s thrilled with the outcome.
E&Y partner gets prison over tax shelter scheme [Reuters]

The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: Deloitte #70

Continuing our F100BCTWF coverage, we find Deloitte next in the pecking order at #70. This extends Deloitte’s streak of umpteenththousandth straight years on the list. Congrats.

Deloitte – Previously ranked #61. Fortune cites Delta Chi as the big whoop-de-do at Deloitte: “[The] Firm has invested $300 million in Deloitte University, a 107-acre campus in Texas that opens in 2011 and will be the ‘symbolic heart’ of their organization.”


Other interesting stats per the snapshot:
New Jobs (1 year): 296
% Job Growth (1 year): 1%
% Voluntary Turnover: 10%
No. of Job Openings at 1/13/2010: 11,000 (?)
Most common salaried job: Senior/Senior Consultant with average salary of $84,658

11,000 job openings? Thoughts on that?

The snapshot also states that 32% of its workforce is minorities and 44% of the workforce is women. What do you think new Chief Diversity Dude John Zamora is shooting for? 50/50? People are kvetching about a few H-1Bs, can’t imagine what that will sound like if Barry Salzberg finally is satisfied.

Plus — not to disappoint some of you looking forward to doing keg stands — if Deloitte scrapped the whole “symbolic heart”, project JARED (can anyone come up with something better than “Jointly Address Reducing Expenses at Deloitte” for the love of God?) wouldn’t even be necessary.

Earlier:
Ernst & Young #44
Plante & Moran #66

The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: Ernst & Young #44

The always über-hyped Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For is out and a handful of accounting firms make an appearance, thus, extending the number of years that firms will continue to boast about their inclusion. We’ll present each in the order they are ranked for your enjoyment/debate/debunking, starting with E&Y.

Ernst & Young #44 – Previously ranked #51. According to Fortune E&Y is great because, “E&Y is the only one of the Big Four to offer a traditional pension in addition to a 401(k). The firm is courting alumni via a new magazine, Connect.”


Other interesting stats per the snapshot:

New Jobs (1 year): -1,111;

% Job Growth (1 year): -4%;

% Voluntary Turnover: 10%

No. of Job Openings at 1/13/2010: 622

Most common salaried job: Manager with average salary of $105,544

This is the first we’ve heard of Connect but we’re guessing Zitor makes a regular appearance. If no Zitor, we wouldn’t bother.

On a more biological note, it’s not clear is where E&Y would rank if Fortune had gotten word of someone hoarding the keys to the mens john in Jericho. We figure if they knew a sicko like that worked at E&Y it would knock them out of the top 50 at least.

Deloitte Gets More Serious About Diversity, Names Chief Diversity Officer

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for small salzberg.jpgBarry Salzberg didn’t waste any time addressing all the belly aching over the H-1B controversy. Yesterday, Deloitte announced the appointment of John Zamora as Chief Diversity Officer and we expect all the complaining to subside by the end of the week.
We like this move. Dr. Phil simply cannot be expected to be out there 24/7 developing training sessions that nobody attends, doing interviews, and keeping up the general free-wheeling on his own. And if someone isn’t out there doing all those things, no one — we mean NO ONE — is going to think that Deloitte is diverse. Constant bombardment of diversity initiatives and efforts is the only way. Solution? Chief Diveristy Officer John Zamora.
Full press release after the jump.

NEW YORK, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ — Deloitte today announced the appointment of John Zamora to the position of chief diversity officer. Zamora will be responsible for Deloitte’s diversity strategy and will lead its continuing efforts to attract, retain and develop the best talent in the marketplace.
“John brings 20 years of professional services experience to this position along with the passion, energy and commitment to lead our organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and inspire others in the industry,” said Barry Salzberg, chief executive officer, Deloitte LLP. “I am confident in John’s ability to sustain and advance Deloitte’s inclusive environment, where the brightest are valued for their ideas and contributions to each other, our clients and our culture.”
Zamora currently works with clients in the Real Estate and Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure industries and is the operations leader for the Southeast region. He will continue in this role in addition to serving as chief diversity officer.
“Diversity is the foundation of Deloitte’s competitive business advantage,” said Zamora. “In the global marketplace today, diversity of thought, backgrounds and experiences are at the core of an organization’s ability to build high performing teams that deliver outstanding results to our clients and our people. As chief diversity officer, I plan to further Deloitte’s longstanding commitment to diversity and fostering an environment where the industry’s highest caliber of diverse talent can achieve their personal and professional goals.”

Deloitte, All Out of Cost-Saving Ideas, Launches Project JARED

Thumbnail image for salzberg-barry.jpgWhen we first received the tip about Project JARED we thought that Big D had struck a deal with Subway in order to help you lose those extra pounds you’ve been carrying around.
Unfortunately, “Project: Jointly Address Reducing Expenses at Deloitte” won’t be getting you sandies on the cheap; rather it’s a solicitiation of your ideas for saving the Firm money. Apparently Deloitte is plumb out and needs some help

This is your chance to help make Deloitte fitter and stronger — by contributing your ideas to Project JARED.
Project JARED was launched in the U.S. earlier this year to enable our organization to ‘shape up’ by building organizational muscle ― devoting maximum resources to our people and market opportunities. Hence, Project JARED: Jointly Address Reducing Expenses at Deloitte.
“Jointly is a key word here,” said Tony Forcum, Deloitte Consulting LLP, who leads Project JARED.
“More than 600 partners, principals and directors have already been involved in detailed discussions and input sessions, generating over 1600 cost-reduction ideas. We are certain that opening up the dialogue to all of our people will generate additional insights. We need transformational ideas if we are to reach our goal of permanently eliminating $750 million of costs by FY12. We have made a good start toward our goal. The team has validated more than $120 million in sustainable cost savings from the changes made in FY09,” he said.


Changes have produced savings and improvements in all kinds of ways ― for example, by using our telesuite facilities to reduce business travel, thus not only saving money but also reducing the time everyone spends away from home: a win-win for all.
The Project JARED team is looking for suggestions from those who know the organization best — its people. If you have often thought: “We could save a lot if only we…” now is the time to share your idea. It could be a day-to-day activity, a fresh approach to leveraging technology, an enhancement to a process, a way to change behavior that saves money―all cost-saving suggestions are welcomed.
Visit the Project JARED site to submit your ideas, learn more about the project and ask questions.

This latest plan struck at least one person as dubious and they asked the question on probably everyone’s mind:

Q: Is this just a fancy way of saying we’re going to be losing more jobs?
A: It is impossible to predict the future, but that is not the focus of the project. The organization is casting a wide net for cost savings, looking at tactical savings (printing on both sides of the paper), operational savings (streamlining the process by which work gets done from inception to completion) and transformational savings (transforming some of the ways we do business). All of the decisions we make about Project JARED will be consistent with our core values, brand and strategy.

So “not the focus of the project” should put your concerns to rest, no? And it looks like your bright idea of printing on both sides of the paper is already taken, so don’t bother submitting that one.
Let’s put our heads together gang and figure out how we can save Deloitte money. Should Barry Salzberg stop getting haircuts? Pull the plug on Deloitte University? Give up on training male employees to better understand their female colleagues?
Nothing is too crazy people. Get on this.

KPMG Advisory Has Another Potentially Awkward Meeting, Sans Dog

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PomeranianSP1324.jpgIf you’ve been hanging around these parts long, you’ll remember back in the fall when Klynveldians were sitting down for their compensation discussions which gave birth to one of our favorite mascots. All professionals in the Southeast region of the advisory practice witnessed an awkward moment when the then partner-in-charge of advisory phoned in, along with his dog, to break the news to the troops that they weren’t getting squat for raises.
Well today, there’s another call down in the Southeast — the “SE Advisory Market Development Staff Update Call” to be precise — and apparently there’s more bad news. It seems that the SE advisory practice (the largest in the firm, according to one source) is a bit behind on its revenue targets for the first three months of the new fiscal year and January isn’t shaping up so well either. The actual revenues are trailing the planned targets by approximately 15%, according to slides from the presentation obtained by GC.


Sources have indicated that while there is significant pipeline revenues, as of January 11th, only ten percent have either verbally committed to an engagement or are currently being negotiated. More than one-third of the pipeline is classified as being in the “identification” stage which is largest group. Now perhaps that is a normal ratio but another slide indicated that the number of client wins are on pace to be down considerably (~50%) for the month of January as compared to the prior three months.
One of our sources indicated to us that a major problem is that “identification” of a potential client was enough to have it included in the pipeline. In other words, if your Pomeranian sniffs a Boston Terrier’s ass at the dog run and you talk shop with the owner of said Boston T, that person is more or less in the pipeline. The conversion of the BT apparently is not crucial and even if the Boston Terrier is converted to realized revenue, it was a far smaller percentage than initially estimated.
The problem, as it appears to us, is that business in the advisory practice in the Southeast could be drying up (or maybe just getting more competitive) and that conversion of potential business is slipping. It’s far too early in the fiscal year to speculate — but by all means go right ahead — about what this all will mean and if business picks up, then it will be moot. But after the shake-ups that went down in that part of the country, the pressure is most certainly on.
If you were on the call today or have more insight, discuss and get in touch.

Layoff Watch ’10: More Details on Ernst & Young

Thumbnail image for ey8ball.jpgWe have some additional details to share with you to supplement last Friday’s post on E&Y’s New Year layoffs.
While we were surprised at the timing, a source has indicated to us that IT Risk and Assurance layoffs have occurred at the firm each January since 2008. This is due to a serious drop off in utilization in the new year after high utilization in the fall months with the exception of especially in the audit heavy ITRA practices.
In regards to the audit practice, we spoke to another source over the weekend that told us that layoffs would not occur until after busy season but assured us that they are being planned.
Finally, in response to one comment asking about severance details, we were informed that the severance for those let go is a week’s pay for each year of service with a minimum of 4 weeks pay. This seems to be fairly standard (with a few variations) amongst the Big 4.
We’ve received word on some positions cut but we’re still awaiting further details so if you have any information or can provide more insight discuss below or get in touch and we’ll update them here.
UPDATE: A source has indicated that three IT Advisory managers in FSO in New York were included in the cuts.

Which One of You Was Sending Out Bogus PwC Checks?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgRight before the holidays even! The worst part of the scam is that they forged the timeless P. Dubs logo. As in the KPMG Letterheadgate case, this calls for a complete rehaul of the firm’s image. Your suggestions are encouraged. Our preference would obviously involve something around this.
Sounds like the entire firm is at DEFCON 1 so if you happen upon one of these checks, we suggest you notify someone in your office that handles these things after you take a picture of it and send it to us of course.
The firm issued a press release today giving us details about the scam, you can read it after the jump.

The checks began arriving in people’s mail boxes just before the Christmas holidays. They looked so good, they could have been real. But they weren’t.
In a new twist on an old crime, scam artists created bogus checks bearing the logo of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Accompanying the checks was a letter advising the recipients that they had been selected to be “secret shoppers.” The letters guided the potential scam victims to cash the checks at specific banks, then wire the funds to another address for use by a second “secret shopper.”
As soon as the first report about the checks surfaced, PwC’s US Security team began working with the banking community and law enforcement agencies to shut down the scam. “Besides working with law enforcement, we put all of our local offices on alert. We prepared our telephone operators and receptionists to provide guidance for anyone who might call,” said Rose Littlejohn, head of US Security. “We put all of our people on notice, in case they saw or heard anything.”
The checks were dated December 21, 2009. Because the scam took advantage of the US Postal Service, a Postal Inspector has been assigned to the investigation. Anyone who has received one of the solicitations should contact Doug Smith, Postal Inspector at (813) 281-5228. If they have the capability to fax information, they should fax a copy of the bogus check and any instructions they received with it to 813-375-8047. They should then keep the originals as law enforcement will have separate instructions for what to do with them.
“Since the first batch of checks went out in December, we suspect those recipients have either reported the issue or thrown out the materials,” said Littlejohn. “But right now there is nothing to prevent the scammers from making another attempt. We hope people will be skeptical about any kind of offer like this they receive in the mail. Meanwhile, we’ll keep trying to track down and bring to justice the perpetrators of this scam.”

Layoff Watch ’10: Ernst & Young January Edition

Confused doesn’t even begin to describe what were feeling. We are hearing tons of rumors about layoffs in the Ernstiverse this week.

We’ve heard rumors from Denver to the East-Central (fka North-Central) and New York FSO. This includes both client serving professionals and support staff. We have already confirmed that two admins were let go earlier this week in New York.

The timing is especially strange since, you know, it’s January and in some offices the mandatory hours have already rolled out. Even if it were only support staff being let go, the timing is still unheard of. Why wait until January to let people go when having cuts in November? Maybe it’s just us but if we had survived that November cut, we would have thought that our job would be safe until at least the spring.
And since the roundtables seem to be SOP you wouldn’t think they would be anything to worry about but they definitely have people talking and wondering what will go down.

So far, Ernst & Young has not responded to our request for comment.
If you hear anything about your office get in touch in with us and discuss in the comments.

What Happens When the “Numbers” People Can’t Count?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for accountant.jpgThere was some quiet chatter here at GC about Ernst & Young’s closure of its Greensboro, NC office this past December, right around the Merry Happy holidays. Thanks Ernie.
This is nothing new. Smaller offices have been getting shut down for years. Years. Years.
You’ll probably find this to be a shocker but your feelings are not the main problem facing the firms due to the combination of recent closings and endless rounds of cuts. The problem is – it’s the theme of any busy season – firms finding themselves short staffed.
Many readers have commented that engagements are understaffed heading into the cold winter months. Albeit this is typically the unofficial “norm,” but slashed fees are only compounding the problem this year. The troubles of ’09 will be used as firm scapegoats for 2010. Move along, kids. Nothing more to see here.
Serious trouble is brewing for at least one Big 4 firm, however. A source confirmed that their Big 4 Beast is outsourcing work in the Carolinas to smaller regional firms because they are so understaffed:

The combination of layoffs a year ago and people leaving now that the market is turning around is causing the firm to hire outside help just to get through busy season.


Ummm. How did this happen? Is this firm (or any other firm for that matter) initiating rotations from staff “heavy” areas like Chicago and New York to cover the lapses in smaller areas like Buffalo or Greensboro? If so spread the winter cheer, because that sounds downright awful.
The public accountant’s mind is a simple one with regards to job searching:
Picture 1.png

The middle area is commonly referred to as “run through a venti latte on the client and debate.”

The market is moving ever so steadily from red to green. This time is now, and no one, not even leadership, is denying that. Firm leaders have been talking, talking and talking some more about the upswing of 2010. If they are handing out the Kool-aid, doesn’t SOMEONE take a moment to think, “Hey guys, should we really have cut so much staff six months ago?”
Someone, somewhere underestimated staff needs or overestimated staff loyalty. Or both. So now, cutting into the already razor thin fees will be the misguided expense of hiring outside help just to get by. The situation is only going to get worse in the coming months; money is starting to move, financial firms are beginning to reinvest, and jobs are going to be created and filled by your colleagues.
How can a firm’s leadership whose fundamental – and societal stereotyped – sole function is numbers be so off the mark? This is elementary, is it not?

Is the Fury at Deloitte Consulting Over H-1B Workers Overblown?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DTa.jpgBack in November, we introduced you to Punit Renjen, the new Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Consulting. Based on his statements at the time, PR sounded pretty stoked about leading D Con and making sure the firm remains on any “Best Places to Work” list .
But since P. Ren took the helm, there has b speculation on the Deloitte forum Greendotlife about laid off Americans in favor of Indians on H-1B visas.
As you might expect, it’s a pretty ugly conversation:

Deloitte Consulting under the leadership of Punit Renjen has completely lost its moral compass. This man has put profits ahead of the American workers. He has shown his deliberate willingness to sabotage the dreams of many American young men and women who are able and hard working. Sacking highly qualified Americans and then replacing them with cheap less qualified foreigners is morally wrong and Un-American. That is the Punit paradigm.


And:

Let’s be serious here- do we really want to outsource the strategy ops/ human capital work to a bunch of foreigners? It makes sense to give them the behind the scenes job such as programming, testing, payroll, etc.

And a response:

WHAT? “Lost his moral compass”?? Firstly, his job is to maximize partner profits. He is legally allowed to fire Americans, in America, and bring in foreigners to replace them. If he didn’t do it, someone else would. Competitors such as IBM, Accenture etc. cartainly do this all the time.

And this is the tame stuff. It would be easy for us to say that this is typical American xenophobia but if enough people are complaining about it, does that make it a problem for Deloitte leadership? As another comment attests:

It seems there is much concern amongst posters on this thread that Indians are replacing American workers in an American firm in the USA because they are cheaper and because the senior leadership wants to “celebrate diversity”.
Looking at the number of posts and the level of passion exhibited, this is a real issue for many people, so stop trying to shut down the conversation. People are concerned about this. And don’t start bleating “racist” like a sheep.

Deloitte certainly likes making their diversity efforts known but it would difficult (if not impossible) for anyone to prove that this is the firm’s approach at promoting diversity.
Further — as much as Lou Dobbs hates it — if Deloitte is replacing Americans with Indians, it’s perfectly legal and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The whole thing is moot anyway, as a lawyer friend told us that the H-1B quota has already been met for 2010.
We reached out to a Deloitte spokesperson who said that the firm would not comment on individual opinions from the forum.
Wanting some additional perspective, we asked some of our sources at Deloitte for their opinions on the discussion:

[F]rom looking at what’s going on in my group and region, I would tend to conclude the opposite. The vast majority of people who got got axed were on H1B and Senior Managers were often heard talking about how it’s hard to justify (to who I’m not sure) hiring non-American when there’s such a glut of American capacity; and I doubt that the hiring/firing strategies would differ so drastically.

Another source was not only skeptical but told us that maybe people should be more concerned about their clients:

[Many] seemed to be paranoid about losing their jobs to someone in Hyderabad. I think that their fears are overblown. I was always more concerned about my client going bankrupt or us being replaced…than I was some guy on the other side of the world taking my job.

So what exactly is going on here? You’ve got a forum full of angry Deloitte employees claiming that jobs are disappearing for the sake of diversity and cutting costs but is there anything to it? Aren’t we witnessing an international company making business decisions? If you’ve got additional thoughts and insights, get in touch with us and discuss below.

Rumor Mill: New Ernst & Young Office Requires Sterile Cubes, Secure Lavatories

As you’re all aware, your working environment is crucial to your productivity (or lack thereof). The slightest change can throw off your mojo for days or weeks at time. Maybe indefinitely.

So when we heard that the E&Y Long Island office had moved from Melville to Jericho we were concerned for the professionals in that office.

Brand new office in EY spirit, bright white, yellow partner and senior manager offices, orange walls in the enormous staff through manager room. We have super tiny cubes with really short walls where you just sit up an inch and you can see the person across from you. No space heaters or mini fridges allowed and you aren’t allowed to put up anything on you [sic] “cube” / “workstation” walls. They have to remain white. Oh and the bathroom requires a key in which you must walk from the far back of the office (where are seats are) to the front desk to get the key. There are 5 keys for men and 5 for women but the mens keys have dwindled down to 2 so you have to wait for someone to come back from the bathroom to go.

The team colors are a nice touch but the cube dwellers aren’t allowed to decorate? No pictures of spouses, kids, friends, dogs, cats, co-worker crush, favorite metal band allowed? What about the certificate you got from the latest in-house CPE? Can that go up? It sounds as though TPTB are insisting on the most sterile environment possible. No distractions. What about looking that person across from you dead in the eye while they’re eating with their mouth open? How’s that for a distraction?

Speaking of sterile environments, what’s with the bathroom keys? Are homeless people sneaking in and stanking up the joint? And they’re down to two keys for the men? Where did the other three keys go? What sadist is hoarding keys at the expense of other people’s excretory and digestive systems? Any ideas people? Maybe the keys just got flushed. Let’s get to the bottom of this mystery. Discuss.

Ernst & Young Extends Busy Season Two Weeks

While Deloitte rings in the new year with generosity, E&Y has apparently taken a different approach.
One of our sources in the Ernstiverse has told us that busy season is being extended by two weeks this year. The first “official” week is this week (moved up one week from its usual spot) and there will be an additional week on the back end (first week in April as we understand it). This means mandatory 55 hours weeks are in full effect, so find some work people.
Oh! And it’s also our understanding that this week, “roundtables” are going on in the audit practice. We don’t know what those are exactly but it sounds sorta serious and it’s definitely not billable, so enjoy making up the time. If you’ve had the pleasure of attending one of these sit-downs, let us know how it went and keep us updated with other details.

Deloitte Starts Off the New Year with Some Generosity

Good news Green Dotters with iPhones. After having to shell out $13 a month, we’re now happy to report that because so many of you were coveting them Deloitte will now offer the iPhone under at the standard rate under its mobile device program.

Our records indicate that you have an Apple iPhone connected to the Deloitte network–and we have good news for you!
We have continued our negotiations with AT&T and Apple. Based on Deloitte’s volume of iPhone orders, we are now able to offer the iPhone at the standard rate covered by the Deloitte mobile device program.
The good news–you will no longer be charged the monthly $13.00 surcharge for the iPhone.
Sincerely,
The PDA Team

So now everyone at Deloitte will have an iPhone? That should help with AT&T’s service issues. If you’re less enthused about this development, or you’re just hella-jealous because your firm doesn’t offer cool gadgets, discuss.

Rumor Mill: More Ernst & Young Offices to Become “Virtual”?

Thumbnail image for EY Ball of Useless.jpgLast month we told you about the E&Y Greensboro office shutting its doors to become a “virtual office”. All the client-serving professionals (around 60) are now reporting and being serviced out of the Raleigh office.
This followed the closure of the Manchester office that we reported on in October and that became official in November. In this particular case, there was no merging of sites and client service professionals (non-partners) were let go.
The latest speculation is that there are several small offices that are at risk of going virtual as opposed to out-right closing post busy season, using the Greensboro office as the model. Offices that are being serviced by nearby larger offices are of greatest risk as well as small offices that have a dwindling client base.
Although the virtual office seems to be the most warm and fuzzy of the two options, there would certainly be layoffs of support staff and service professionals that weren’t interested in working from an office that was a considerable distance from where they lived.
Whether or not this strategy will be utilized by other Big 4 firms is not clear but this story will continue to develop as busy season progresses. If you hear rumors about your office get in touch with us. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

Signed, Your Friendly Human Resources Professional

HR.jpgEditor’s note: Welcome to the debut post from Daniel Braddock, your friendly Human Resources Professional. He could very well be considered a hypothetical love child of Suze Orman and Toby Flenderson. Following his varsity jacket wearing college days, he entered the consumer markets as an auditor for a Big 4 firm in New York City. He spent three brisk years as an auditor before taking the reins of stirring the HR kool-aid. He currently resides in Manhattan. Daily routines include coffee breakfasts and scotch dinners. You can follow him on Twitter @DWBraddock.
Greetings,
Please let me take a moment to introduce myself.
My name is Daniel W. Braddock, and I was a resourceful human. I was not chargeable. I was not overworked. I stroll in at 9:00am, take a long lunch, and skip out before 6:00pm. You consider me a waste; overhead expense; non-vital to the process. You have me to thank for Summer Friday’s, the crackdown on mentor-ship lunches, and for that blasted Bear Hunt. My degree can be in liberal arts, accounting, or psychology. I was from the world of H.R., or Human Resources Rubbish, as you refer to me.
You generally loathe my kind.


My name is Daniel W. Braddock, and I was on your side once. Stressed, over-utilized and under-charged. I know work/life balance initiatives are as good as the fluffy magazine rankings they earn. I saw first-hand how leadership continously drops the ball on estimates, budgets, and correspondences. I was invited to lush recruiting events, asked to slap on the charm and pretend the ship wasn’t sinking. I’ve been in the trenches, didn’t like what I saw, and left.
My name is Daniel W. Braddock, and I am adaptive. I spent years in the audit practice of a Big Four firm before transitioning my career to the the H.R. side of the house. I have traveled through the looking glass and back. Contributing to GC will shed new light on many topics, including:
Outsourcing, both foreign and domestic
• Hiring forecasts
• The world of recruiting
• Hiring cycles and leadership’s faults
• Work/life balance initiatives and the real “initiative” behind them
• Firm rankings in the media
• The next step – life after the Big 4
I’m looking forward to our future discussions, beginning with a new topic on Thursday. As always, please send suggestions and ideas for topics to [email protected].
Regards,
Daniel W. Braddock
H.R.

Tim Flynn Speaking at the KPMG Town Hall Meeting Circa Now

Thumbnail image for TimMFFlynn.jpgOur understanding is that T Fly is rallying the New York troops this morning so if he says anything worth noting (e.g. “I’m leaving the firm to become the next Treasury Secretary“), be sure to get in touch with us or discuss below.
We’re not sure if he’ll be giving pep talks to other offices so if you’re in not in New York and you’ve got TF on the docket, keep us updated.

The GC Metaphor Challenge

Yesterday we shared with you at least one person’s opinion about how quitting the Big 4 is a little like leaving Ike Turner. If that name doesn’t mean anything to you, insert Jon Gosselin. Get it now?
As accurate as that may be (and certainly not a laughing matter), we can’t help but think there are other metaphors that you’ve heard that you might want to share here.
Of course there’s the proverbial pimp/whore relationship but that’s played. Get the team together and come up with something good. We’ve got E&Y tchotchkes to give away as prizes (don’t let that dissuade you E&Y peeps, we’ll come up with something).
We’ll give you a couple of options to work with:
1. Working in the Big 4 is like…
2. Leaving the Big 4 is like…
Annnd go.

Quote of the Day

From a soon to be ex-Ernst & Young SA:

Being employed by a big 4 is like being in an abusive relationship. You know its bad for you but its still kind of addictive.

Right on the money? Dead wrong? Addictive like salt & vinegar potato chips or addictive like the stuff that’s in Rush Limbaugh’s medicine cabinet? Discuss.

Big 4 Performance Analysis Will Probably Come as a Huge Shock to CNN

You may remember a little rant we (and others) went on not so long ago about CNN buying what the Big 4 were selling re: growing business in shrinking economy.
Well! The gang over The Big Four Blog have put out a performance analysis (PDF can for download: big4_media_kit.pdf) for the firms’ 2009 revenue and their conclusions tell a different story.
From the Execkquote>2009 was a difficult year overall for the Big Four accounting firms: Deloitte, Ernst & Young (E&Y), KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), as their financial performance was affected by tough external conditions, slow global economic growth, cost-conscious clients and sluggish merger and acquisition activity.


After an extraordinary period of continuous revenue growth from the early 2000s to 2008, combined revenue for the four firms in fiscal 2009 did fall by 7% from fiscal 2008 in US dollar terms. Revenue decreases in US dollar percentage terms ranged from negative 5% for Deloitte to negative 7% each for Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers to negative 11% for KPMG.

One of the more interesting tidbits was presented in the chart below:
Picture 1.png
After a growth in employment of over 10% in 2008, the rate dropped to 2% for 2009 and judging by the firms’ expectation to offer less internships this year we’d expect that trend to continue.
It’s worth noting that even in the rebuilding year, the firms’ combined revenue was $94 billion so no one is starving but, as BFB pointed out, the firms near decade long run of growth has now come to a screeching halt.
With all the new information, CNN might consider a follow-up story. We’d be happy to take a look at it. Or they may just leave it there:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
CNN Leaves It There
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How Does Seeing 5 Times Square on New Year’s Eve Make You Feel?

EYa.jpgWe’ve noticed a lot of chatter in the Twitterverse from soldiers in Uncle Ernie’s army regarding the E&Y sign in Times Square. As you might imagine, the reaction is mixed.
Wanting some reader input we asked around to some of our E&Y sources for their thoughts on seeing the sign on the tube while ringing in the New Year or their reaction if they saw it. So far, we’ve only heard back from one source (are people working too hard already?):

Hmmmm EY on a TV…..I’d flip the eff out!!!!!! No raises this year. I’d probably drag the TV out by its power cord. Then I would taunt it, kick it, give it cigarette burn marks and finally bury the tv alive by strapping it to a gas generator and dumping it in to a smelly landfill. I would then go home, feel bad for the tv for about 5 seconds and eat some apple pie.

For the non-E&Yers the sign may not provoke such shockingly violent images. However, if you did have any thoughts, any thoughts at all, when you saw the sign on NYE, feel free to share them here. We don’t want you to scare your therapist.

Let’s Go Over this Independence Thing One More Time

To be fair, Thomas Flanagan — having been a partner at Deloitte for 30 years — probably didn’t remember the day that his auditing professor covered independence. If you figure that Tom was in college in the late 1960s, it’s surprising that he remembers anything.

Also, as the vice chairman of the firm, his job was to remind people of their duty to remain independent of the firm’s audit clients. He didn’t actually have to be independent himself. What good is insider information if you’re not going to use it, amiright?

Deloitte had sued Flanagan in Delaware Chancery Court in October 2008 for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and breach of contract, saying the 30-year partner who had risen to vice chairman of the firm had secretly hidden trades in shares of Deloitte’s audit clients and lied about it to the firm.

“Because an auditor sells, at base, its independence and integrity, the firm relies heavily on the purported honesty and independence of its professionals,” Vice Chancellor John Noble, of the Delaware Court of Chancery, wrote in his opinion.
Deloitte said in its complaint that starting as early as 2005, Flanagan had made more than 300 trades in shares of Deloitte’s audit clients, including several clients for which he was Deloitte’s advisory partner.

Meanwhile, Flanagan specifically told the firm he was not trading in client stocks, which are restricted under the firm’s independence policies, according to the complaint.

Tom must have been a choir boy prior to getting the Vice Chair gig. How else could he have gotten to be such a bigwig if he wasn’t a poster child for integrity? Was he that good of a liar?

Never mind that for a sec. What’s really curious is why the hell a Vice Chairman needed the extra scratch. A comic book collection that would rival Nic Cage’s? Financing a business opportunity? A spendy wife/mistress/pool boy? If you’ve got any thoughts, discuss below and if this story doesn’t clear things up on independence, start crack the auditing textbooks.

Deloitte wins insider trading suit vs. ex-executive [Reuters]

Is Tim Flynn Being Vetted as the Next Secretary of the Treasury?

Welcome back, servants of the capital markets. We’ll dispense with anything substantive this morning in order to help you combat the depression. We’ll start off by presenting you with the following:
obama-kpmg.jpg
As you can see, this is the POTUS on vacation working in Hawaii with the entourage in tow. One member of said entourage just happens to be donning a KPMG cap and since not just anyone can get their hands on these coveted lids — and since the gentleman’s face is mostly obscured — we’re curious about a few things: 1) Is Tim Flynn leaving the Radio Station for a cabinet position and if so, which one? 2) Was Phil Mickelson joining the Prez for some time on the links and had a overwhelming urge to represent? 3) If this is just some Obama yes-man, did he receive the cap from a Klynveldian representative and is this a bold move to get KPMG representation in the President’s inner circle?
If you’ve got thoughts, theories, or wild-ass guesses, dispense them in the comments and again, welcome back.

KPMG Rolls the Dice, Will be the Next Auditor of Overstock.com

Thumbnail image for 200px-KPMG.svg.pngBut you already knew that was going to be the case. Back when we asked you to vote on which firm would be the next firm fired engaged by Overstock, over 42% of you said it would be KPMG.

This news comes despite reservations expressed by at least one reader who, at the time, had this commenlockquote>I for one think it is sad that such a high percentage of survey responders think KPMG will pick up OSTK. I hope from a public opinion and liability standpoint that KPMG will resist the urge to add yet another high risk client to its listing and cause further damage its reputation.

Sorry, dear reader but apparently the high profile cat fight between the company and Grant Thornton wasn’t enough to scare KPMG off. Not even the very public revelation of Patsy’s creepy-ass stalking of Overstock critics in the financial media and blogosphere caused the KPMG partners in SLC to turn this client down.

Oh, and not to mention a management team who thought that filing unreviewed 10-Q was the best course of action. But as white-collar crime expert (and self-proclaimed crook) Sam Antar told us:

KPMG is taking a client with no management integrity and is well advised to study SAS No. 99 about “Consideration of Fraud in a Financial Statement Audit” regarding the unethical “tone at the top” set by Overstock.com’s unprincipled management team. Every single initial financial report for every reporting period issued by Overstock.com has failed to comply with GAAP and other SEC disclosure rules since the company’s inception. Overstock.com has restated its financial reports two times in the last three years and now is trying to avoid a third restatement of financial reports resulting from its improper use of “cookie jar” reserves to inflate its financial performance from Q4 2008 to Q3 2009.

In case you’re not convinced of management’s shadiness, Sam also pointed out that they intended to wait for the current SEC inquiry to be resolved prior to choosing a new auditor:

Patrick Byrne and Jonathan Johnson went back on their promise that they would not shop for an audit opinion. Both Byrne and Johnson previously told investors that Overstock.com would wait until after the SEC Division of Corporation Finance completed its review of the company’s financial disclosures.

We looked at the transcript of the conference call and here’s what we found (a link to the entire transcript is below):

Willis TaylorGagnon Securities – Analyst

Since you’ve dismissed your auditor for a very specific accounting choice, when you go to select a new auditor, how do you prevent yourself from being accused of opinion shopping?

Jonathan JohnsonOverstock.com – President
That’s a great question, Louis, and that’s part of the reason that we’ve decided not to select a new auditor until this — until we resolve this issue with the SEC. We do not want to be accused of opinion shopping. We’d like the SEC to help us figure out — we’d like them to say we’ve done it the right way or we’ve done it the wrong way. Once they say one of those two, we don’t need to opinion shop.

Patrick ByrneOverstock.com – Chairman and CEO
But, so, I would even say to the point that when people have contacted us, we have discouraged any communication on the grounds that we got — for just that reason — well, I have the — no matter who we talk to now, then whoever we ultimately pick, people are going to say, well, you did this because you opinion shop.
So we’re really not having discussions with anybody. It’s nice to get phone calls, but we’re not talking to anybody until we get through this just to prevent — just as a prophylactic measure.

From the sounds of it, Overstock was beating off firms with a stick, so the pressure must have gotten to company’s audit committee to pick a new firm prior to the SEC wrapping up its little inquiry. So can we assume that since the SEC hasn’t told them yay or nay on their accounting, they ARE opinion shopping?

And so the winner (read: next to be dismissed) is KPMG, who not only has to throw together an audit for 2009, they have to re-issue 10-Qs for the last three quarters. Who in SLC is giving up sleep for the next four months?

Here is the Overstock press release (we emphasized some good parts) which is not shy about slamming Grant Thornton or that the SEC isn’t finished with its inquiry:

Overstock.com, Inc. (Nasdaq: OSTK) today announced that its Audit Committee engaged KPMG as the company’s independent registered public accounting firm of record for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2009. KPMG will conduct an integrated audit of the company’s 2009 financial statements, including review of the company’s quarterly information for the periods ending March 31, 2009, June 30, 2009 and September 30, 2009.

It is nice to be back with a Big Four accounting firm,” said Jonathan Johnson, President of Overstock.com. “We are pleased to have the resources and professionalism that KPMG brings as our auditors. We will work closely with them to timely file our 2009 Form 10-K. In the meantime, we remain in discussions with the SEC to answer the staff’s questions on the accounting matters that lead to our filing an unreviewed Form 10-Q for Q3.”

Overstock.com’s Audit Committee dismissed Grant Thornton, its previous auditors, in November when Grant Thornton advised the company that they had revised their position on how the company should have recorded a $785,000 asset in 2008, and, that as a result of this revised accounting position, Grant Thornton would be unable to complete their review of the company’s Q3 2009 financial statements unless the company amended its previous 2009 quarterly filings and restated our 2008 financial results.

We wanted to get KPMG’s thoughts on this but our emails have gone unreturned at this time. If you’re in the know, definitely get in touch with us about anything related to the latest twist to this story.

OSTK_Transcript.pdf

Barry Salzberg Is Proud of All of You

salzberg-barry.jpgSomehow we missed Barry Salzberg’s latest masterpiece on leadership from last week and since you’ve all checked out, we’re sure you won’t mind.
When asked “Who was the best business leader of 2009?”, Dr. Phil — using every fiber of his being not to nominate himself — chose “Do-right employees”. It’s not about the BSDs of the world. It’s those of you that manage to not sit bare-assed on the copy machine and resist the urge to watch porn on your work computer. You’re the leaders setting the example:

Rather than single out a best business leader, I’d recognize the many unsung ethical heroes in our organizations. I’m talking about people who, even when no one is watching, consistently do the right thing. And they’ve been doing it at a time when confidence in business urgently needs to be restored.

Not only are you restoring confidence (?) in business, you’re going to lead us the charge into this recovery:

As we prepare our organizations for the upturn, we also need to prepare our people for the uptick in wrong-doing that can accompany better times.

First of all, what is this “upturn” you speak of? Also, Costanza-stache: “uptick in wrong-doing accompany better times”? Just what the hell is all this accounting fraud talk? Or how about executives’ bad attitudes about its employees? Or everything else?
Apparently you need to get even more vigilant people! This ship is turning around and wrong-doing is really going to take off. We need you more than ever.
Do-right employees [Washington Post]

Rumor Mill: More Ernst & Young Restructuring Details

Thumbnail image for ey8ball.jpgWe’ve got a follow up to our post yesterday about E&Y’s restructuring plans for the North Central and Pacific regions.
A source has informed us that the Financial Services Office (“FSO”) began nationalizing non-audit banking and asset management clients earlier this year. Insurance clients are also going to be under FSO, which will centralize all non-audit financial services clients. Our source has further indicated that the next step is to nationalize the audit clients. The ulitmate goal is to slim the firm down to five total regions (West, Central, Southeast, Northeast, and FSO).
We asked a couple of sources about this particular rumor to get some opinions:

I do hope this is not true, as [FSO] can’t audit their way out of a paper bag. I’m not sure why they would make an interim step as they’re making now if there’s an ultimate goal of five sub-areas

Another view:

Running FSO out of NYC seems like a good call from an overhead…cost standpoint but that’s about it. I have heard horror stories about the kind of hours FSO staff typically pull year round. I don’t see this making the “people in the trenches” any happier. Having all the work routed to one place makes it easier…to make sure that work is getting done…Of course I think this is just going to turn FSO into more of a meat grinder than it already is since they are going to do everything they can to get as much work in the pipeline as possible to keep that group busy.

As we mentioned yesterday, E&Y would not comment on internal firm matters.
If you’re in the FSO practice and can attest or refute any of the above details (horror stories, meat grinders, auditing out of paper bags) or even if you’re not and have an opinion share your thoughts below.

In Better Late Than Never News…

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for two thumbs up.jpegHey gang, we’ll just take a moment of your time to point out the bang-up job that’s being done at the The Business Journal of the greater Triad Area. They’re not in the class of the CNNs of the world but we figure some recognition is appropriate.
They ran a story dated Friday the 18th entitled, “Ernst & Young merging sites, making Triad virtual office” which is kinda, sorta similar to a post we did on December 10th.
Maybe we’re hung up on little stuff like choice of words and timing but we’ll be damned if we see “first reported by Going Concern” anywhere.

…roughly 60 client-serving professionals based in the Greensboro office at 202 Centreport Drive will remain with the firm, with most staying in the Triad to work remotely. They will report to and receive support services from the Raleigh office…
The statement did not specify the impact of the move on Triad support and administrative staff, including whether there are any transfers or layoffs occurring.

If the TBJ is curious, we know the impact on the support staff. You can email us here if you’re still wondering.
We also don’t see any mention of the Manchester closing either but that’s in a whole other state, so it’s probably not relevant.

Ernst & Young Restructuring Plans Affect North Central, Pacific Regions

Thumbnail image for ey8ball.jpgWe received several reports over the weekend and today about regional restructuring at Ernst & Young that will go into effect on January 1.
The majority of the North Central region will combine with the Mid-Atlantic region to form the new “East-Central” region, while the Toledo and Detroit offices will join the Midwest region. One source has told GC that this move is “an effort to reduce infrastructure and we should not be distracted from our client serving duties.”
We have also confirmed that the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Southwest regions will combine into a single “West” region. Again, sources indicating this move is an attempt to reduce overhead costs, saying “Lots a current senior leadership will be moved around,” as a result of this consolidation.
Both regions have seen significant layoffs just in the past month, and reports as recently as December 9th for the North Central. Some may go so far to say that the layoffs were a precursor to these plans but that’s speculative sport on our part.
We reached out to an E&Y Spokesperson who said that the firm prefers not to comment on internal matters.
E&Y’s restructuring follows a major restructuring at KPMG that we reported on earlier this year which saw several leadership changes and rumors of the firm consolidating down to two regions in the U.S.
One of our sources indicated that more news is expected this week so if you have any further details on these changes, get in touch with us, and discuss your thoughts in the comments.

The Day After: KPMG and E&Y Holiday Party Report

Thumbnail image for HolidayParty.jpgWe were reminded that not only was E&Y FSO raging at a tourist trap last night, KPMG’s Financial Services practice was also tying one on at Jim Brady’s in the FiDi. This particular fiesta is the first major get-down we’ve heard of KPMG hosting so it’s good to know that there’s a little bit holiday cheer at every firm.
The Jim Brady’s party has been a popular event in the past and it’s a partner-free party so it’s a perfect opportunity for Klynveldians to blow off some steam, pants optional.
One source told us that it was well attended again this year despite being beer and wine only. We’re confident that was supplemented by flasks and other treats as another told us that the party was a “blast”. Safe to say that there was plenty of ass-grabbing as well as being an all-around bitch-about-KPMG fest.
Considering we haven’t heard a peep about E&Y’s get-down at TOTG, we can only assume that it was also epic.
Hopefully your cocktail flues have subsided to the point that you can tell us about the great night. If you remember anything, share the highlights or get in touch.

An Opportunity Lost

Thumbnail image for Holly.jpgGang, we’re a little upset about something today. Last week we told you about something that had the potential to turn awards for accountants on its green eyeshade wearing head.
Yes, we’re talking about the doomed Deloitte ballot sent out by Holly Leam-Taylor. Today would have been the day that she had sent out the results of her sluttiest future partner, hottest old man, et al. awards, if it had not been for her inexperience with sending out superficial emails about her colleagues.
If Holly had only consulted with someone, anyone with experience on such matters, they could have explained that Deloitte is not a place for such “fun” things and that using her work email was not the best way to solicit nominations.
Alas, our request for someone to pick up where Holly left off has been roundly ignored and here we are on a Friday with nothing to share about Deloitte’s hottest men in London.
So far we’ve been unable to track down Holly since her Deloitte email has been obliterated. Holly, if you’re out there, get in touch. We’ll get your side of the story out there. We know you’re fed up but this will be fun. We promise. Anyone else that can put us in touch with Holly, please help. We’re still getting over our disappointment.

KPMG Global Revenue Drops 11.4%

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PomeranianSP1324.jpgThe wait is over Klynveldians. Your firm’s revenue results are out and — not to put fine a point on it — they’re disappointing.

The press release has the typical spin that we’ve come to expect from the Big 4 bigiwigs as Tim Flynn focuses on the, ‘high growth markets’ and the opportunities that arise out of ‘a markedly changed regulatory environment’ (code for: “Democrats are in power”).

These “opportunities” are noted but the numbers speak for themselves. As Big Four Blog notes, “A drop in revenue was expected, the surprise was the magnitude of the drop, which was higher than other Big4 firms.”


From the press release:

KPMG, the global network of professional service firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services, today announced member firm combined revenues totaling US$20.11 billion for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, versus US$22.69 billion for the prior fiscal year, representing an 11.4 percent decline in U.S. dollars.

“While overall revenue results for the 2009 fiscal year reflected the global economic downturn, we were pleased that our continued investments in high growth markets resulted in continued growth in those country member firms,” said Timothy P. Flynn, Chairman of KPMG International.

The drop in revenues breaks down like this:

Audit – $9.95 billion in FY09 versus $10.69 billion in FY08, a 6.9% decline in U.S. dollars.

Advisory – Revenues of $6.07 billion in FY09, versus $7.27 billion in FY08, a 16.6% decline in U.S. dollars.

Tax – $4.09 billion in FY09 compared with $4.73 billion in FY08, a 13.4% decline in U.S. dollars.

The numbers certainly speak to the tough year that KPMG professionals have witnessed through many rounds of layoffs and several shake-ups that appear to be part of major restructuring in the U.S.
So now that the 2009 earnings season has come to a close, all the firms can focus on making 2010 less crappy. That should be breeze. We shall see. If you’ve got thoughts on the Radio Station’s year, or want to talk about how psyched you are for 2010, discuss in the comments.

KPMG reports 2009 revenues of US$20.1 billion [Press Release]

See also: KPMG 2009 Revenues of $20 B Drop 11%, Most Among Big Four Firms [The Big Four Blog]

Ernst & Young Pays $8.5 Million to Settle Charges with SEC Over Bally Fraud

Thumbnail image for ey8ball.jpgSix current and former partners at Ernst & Young were charged, along with the firm, by the SEC late yesterday in relation to the audits the firm performed of Bally Total Fitness’ financial statements from 2001 to 2003.
Bally settled accounting fraud charges with the SEC in 2008 that were related to its financial statements from 1997 to 2003.
Because everyone and their dog was freaking out over Enron in screws to their clients to follow GAAP, E&Y had identified Bally as “one of E&Y’s riskiest 18 accounts and as the riskiest account in the Lake Michigan Area.”


Floyd Norris:

The firm forced Bally to stop recording revenue in an improper manner that allowed it to claim earnings earlier than was allowed by accounting rules.
But in doing that, the firm allowed Bally to not admit to having violated the rules in the past, an action that would have forced it to restate its accounts and admit that losses in previous years had been much larger.

Mr. Norris also reported that a source of his at the SEC has stated that “he knew of no previous enforcement cases in which a partner of a major firm was cited for his actions as head of a national office.”
The partner in this case is Randy G. Fletchall, the partner in charge of E&Y’s National Office. He along with Mark V. Sever, E&Y’s National Director of Area Professional Practice, and Kenneth W. Peterson, the Professional Practice Director for the Lake Michigan Area office are the current E&Y partners who settled the charges with the SEC.
The former partners include: Thomas D. Vogelsinger, the Area Managing Partner for E&Y’s Lake Michigan Area through October 2003, William J. Carpenter, the E&Y engagement partner for the 2003 audit, and John M. Kiss, the E&Y engagement partner for the 2001 and 2002 audits.
While the news of a current partner of such lofty heights is notable, an extra twist that isn’t being reported in the MSM comes from GC contributor, Francine McKenna, who tells us that Mr. Fletchall served as the former AICPA Chairman from 2007-2008 and Mr. Sever, a former chairman of the Accounting Standards Executive Committee:

What none of the stories that just hit tell you, though, is that at least two of the EY partners charged, Fletchall and Sever, held leadership positions with the AICPA in the past.

Did Mr. Fletchall get off with a slap on the wrist given his AICPA leadership position, AICPA PAC contributions and significant campaign contributions to Senator Christopher Dodd? Mr. Fletchall is used to telling the SEC what it should do. Quite used to it.

These are interesting questions that the SEC probably doesn’t want to address. The connection, in appearance, is shady and we can only speculate as to what happened during the negotiations of the settlement.
The Commission, remaining stoic, gave a standard issue boilerplate statement, saying:

“It is deeply disconcerting that partners, even at the highest levels of E&Y, failed to fulfill their basic obligations to the investing public by not conducting proper audits. This case is a sharp reminder to outside auditors that they must carry out their duties with due diligence. The $8.5 million settlement, one of the highest ever paid by an accounting firm, reflects the seriousness of their misconduct,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

So it appears E&Y is getting sent to their room here, despite the $8.5 million fine being “one of the highest ever paid by an accounting firm.”
The firm also agreed “to undertake measures to correct policies and practices relating to its violations, and agreed to cease and desist from violations of the securities laws.”
Were the AICPA connections enough to keep them out of really hot water? At the very least, it didn’t hurt anything. If you have any information regarding this story, get in touch with us, and we will update you with any developments.
SEC Charges Ernst & Young and Six Partners for Roles in Accounting Violations at Bally Total Fitness [SEC Press Release]
EY Settles SEC Charges Re: Bally’s Fraud-Lives To Audit Another Day [Re: The Auditors]
Ernst to Pay the S.E.C. $8.5 Million [Floyd Norris/NYT]

Deloitte Survey: The Next Generation of Employees Will Not Stand for the Inability to Update Their Status

Thumbnail image for cry baby.jpgIn Deloitte’s Survey Du Jour we learn that your future underlings are going to want — nay — DEMAND the ability to move up in Farmville while they’re at work (at least one person understands your obsession).
Okay, demand is a stretch but dammit the kids these days are an ethically conscious bunch so you can trust them to get their work done while checking all their hot friend of friends.

Nearly nine-in-10 (88 percent) teens surveyed use social networks every day, with 70 percent saying they participate in social networking an hour or more daily. More than half (58 percent) said they would consider their ability to access social networks at work when considering a job offer from a potential employer. This comes as many organizations have begun implementing policies that limit access to social networks during the workday due to concerns about unethical usages, such as time theft, spreading rumors about co-workers or managers and leaking proprietary information, among other reasons.
Most of the teens surveyed feel prepared to make ethical decisions at work (82 percent) and a significant majority of teens say they do not behave unethically while using social networks (83 percent).

There’s really no cause for concern when you’ve got newbies out there asking their friends to vote for their sluttiest co-worker using a work email address. We do realize that some people make better decisions than others.
Overall, we don’t see what the BFD is. Commercials on the tube portray “responsible” adults on Facebook so to allude that the next wave of corporate soldiers would be the only ones that wouldn’t take a job with limited access to social networks seems weak. There’s plenty of people working already that have that point of view. Plus, pretty soon everyone on FB, Twitter, et al. will have phones that can run those apps. Just let people do what they want and they’ll be much happier.
Now excuse us, we’ve got strawberries to harvest.
No Facebook at Work? No Thank You! Teens Expect Access to Social Networks On-The-Job [Junior Achievement/Deloitte Poll]

Rumor Mill: Tim Flynn Paying a Visit to Montvale Today?

TimMFFlynn.jpgThat’s what we’re hearing! A source has informed us that TF is in the Garden State today “announcing a significant amount of outsourcing within the IT practice of the firm.”
Our source also indicated that TF — currently running second in the Accountant of the Decade vote — is:

…making general statements about the firm as a whole in regards to outsourcing. We were told that if we were getting outsourced there would be “advanced warning” or that they would try to move people around without letting them go, etc.

“Advanced warning” like a flare gun? Church bells? A lighthouse? The people need something more specific, TF.
It sounds both internal IT and advisory IT professionals are getting the pleasure of the pep talk so if you were there (or going this afternoon, rumor is there’s two meetings), send us your thoughts and discuss.

Don’t Forget about the Ernst & Young Holiday Rager Tonight!

In case you’ve been so distracted by the Tiger Woods story that everything else has been pushed to the back corners of your mind, we’ll remind you that New York FSO Holiday Party is tonight from 6 to 10 pm over at Tavern on the Green.

For the less fortunate of you, this may be your last chance to get some shameless ass-grabbing done. So if you’ve got nothing better to do, we suggest you check it out.

On the booze front, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that you’ll have open bar, but judging by the actions of other E&Y offices, you might want to stop by the ATM just in case.

Our invite appears to have gotten lost so if someone wouldn’t mind sending ours over that would be great. We’ll accept especially festive pics in lieu of an invite (read: JIM. TURLEY. DANCING.) Have a great time, and don’t forget who you’re representing (?).