September 30, 2022

Big 4

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

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:

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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 (?).

Deloitte Changes Its Mind on Kohlberg Capital’s Ability to Value Its Investments

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DTa.jpgA friend of GC pointed us to this 8-K filed by Kohlberg Capital Corporation yesterday. Unless we’re misinterpreting this, there are some seriously awkward conversations going on between Deloitte and Kohlberg right now (our empahsis):

Deloitte issued an unqualified opinion on the Company’s December 31, 2008 financial statements, which was included in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 16, 2009. The Company is not aware of any allegation or belief by Deloitte that the information provided by the Company to Deloitte at the time of the preparation of the Financial Statements regarding the Company’s valuation methodology and procedures was incomplete or inaccurate or omitted any information requested by Deloitte at such time. On December 10, 2009, the Company and its management were advised by Deloitte that (i) the audit report issued by Deloitte accompanying the Company’s financial statements for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2008 in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for such fiscal year and (ii) Deloitte’s completed interim reviews of the Company’s financial statements for the interim periods ended March 31, 2009 and June 30, 2009 in the Company’s Quarterly Reports on Form 10−Q for those respective periods should no longer be relied upon because Deloitte had changed its position with respect to the appropriateness of the methodology and procedures used by the Company under SFAS 157 to value the Company’s investments as of the end of each of those periods and, as a result, the Company has been informed that Deloitte now believes, based upon such changed position and the additional information provided to Deloitte by the Company following Deloitte’s internal inspection process, that such Financial Statements contain material misstatements with respect to the value of the Company’s investments included therein. Accordingly, the Financial Statements should not be relied upon until the foregoing matters are resolved.

This filing followed up Kohlberg’s filing of an 8-K and form 12b-25 on November 9th to let everyone know, um, yeah, that Q is going to be late because Team D wants to take a look at this 157 stuff again. That was probably annoying enough.
But nowwwww it looks like the audit team spent the last month realizing that the pooch had been screwed on the last two 10-Qs annnnd last year’s 10-K. So yeah, don’t pay attention to the those filings. The one bright side to this is that Kohlberg had the sense to not file an unreviewed Q.
If you’ve got details on this, definitely get in touch with us, we’d love to know how the partner broke the news and how Kohlberg took it. The 8-K certainly doesn’t do that conversation justice.

Deloitte’s Latest Survey Reminds Everyone That Americans Like Vedging Out

couch.jpgDeloitte threw their “State of The Media Democracy” survey together for the fourth year in a row, and man are we glad they did. This latest opus informs us that TV is 34% of Americans’ favorite form of media and that it ranks in the top three for 70% of Americans. Viewing hours increased to almost 18 hours a week, up two hours from the same study last year.
The same survey also states that 60% of the U.S. Households have a gaming console including 70% of GenX households. So for many of you, after a long day of opining and complying, you like to go home and pwn some noobs.
Forget — for a minute — about what this reveals about Americans in general. What’s really important is that Deloitte is going out of their way to perform a survey annually that will remind all of us how lazy we are.
This is almost as helpful as as the reports based on World of Warcraft analysis. Keep up the good work, D.
Deloitte “State of The Media Democracy” Survey: Recession Intensifies America’s Love for TV [Deloitte.com]
Study: Interest in TV viewing on the rise [The Hollywood Reporter]

KPMG Prolongs the Agony by Releasing Just UK Revenue Results

Thumbnail image for 200px-KPMG.svg.pngThose of you that are dancing on one leg for KPMG’s global revenue results are going to have suffer with the anxiety for awhile longer. We know, we know. We’d love for the whole reporting season to limp into history but we have yet to hear Tim Flynn put his positive spin on this year’s revenue results.
Oh sure, we’re getting teased today by the UK firm and its European parent but this just prolongs the agony:

The UK firm saw revenues fall by 1.6%, to £1.63bn for the 30 September year end.
Profits fell 1.3% to £382m from £387m.
KPMG Europe’s revenues were €3.5bn, a 0.4% decrease on the previous year.
Its joint chairmen said the results were a “creditable performance”.
“We might have hoped for better economic conditions in our second year as a merged firm but rather than put our expansion plans on hold we have continued to pursue a whole range of strategic initiatives that will shape our performance over future years,” said John Griffith-Jones and Rolf Nonnenmacher.

Despite the disappointment Even with this creditable performance, Europe wasn’t without its problems, seeing the tax revenues drop 12%. No worries though, they promise to pull their weight 2010:

After suffering a 12% fall in tax revenues, Griffith-Jones said the service line was set to hold firm with the rest of the business next year.
“We resized the practice, and are fine where we are, [it’s performance] should be much more in line with the rest of the firm – it’s taken the pain.”

That’s the spirit! Lemons into lemonade. Now make with the band-aid ripoff method on these global results. Nobody’s expecting the world. Dump the press release, get a pep talk from TF and get back out there Kylnveldians. Here’s to 2010!
KPMG UK chief lines up modest 2010 growth [Accountancy Age]

KPMG Has to Be Pretty Happy with the Golfer They Chose to Sponsor

Phil-Mickelson_Tim Flynn.jpgAs we mentioned yesterday, Accenture is on the hunt for a new poster boy. While we speculated that poaching Phil from the House of Klynveld as a possibility for Accenture it’s more likely that the spotlight will be falling on Mickelson and his KPMG cap (black or white, depending on the mood).
Although Phil won’t be dancing on Tiger’s grave, Tim Flynn may have been quietly making the rounds at 345 Park high fiving anyone and everyone at work on the Monday after Tiger’s crash.
If you’ve got any thoughts on how TF celebrated (sweater vests for everyone!) discuss in the comments.

An Open Thread on Accountants’ Salaries at the Big 4: What Do You Make?

money.jpgWe received a request over the weekend to discuss everyone’s favorite topic: money.

This is a great idea on many levels since A) it’s been quite some time since we’ve dedicated a post to the subject B) there are plenty of newbies that have started since then but mostly C) knowing what everyone else is making is your God-given right.

Hopefully, this new thread will get everyone up to speed (or just completely pissed off on a Monday) and ready to run through brick walls in 2010.
In the comments, provide the following:
• Salary without bonus, bonus amount
• Level
• Practice (audit/tax/advisory), practice subgroup
• Firm, city/region
• Other notes/complaints
The reader requesting the thread, was kind enough to provide their details:
• $52k, $3k (in start year, bonus was a whopping $0 this year)
• Associate 2
• Audit
• PwC, Northern California

This is an equal opportunity post so regardless of your firm, get your numbers out there (this means you: GT, BDO, RSM/M&P, Crowe, Moss Adams, anyone else).

UPDATE, Tuesday: Thanks for all the input so far. Feel free to email us if you want to give us more details on your salary or ideas or other related thread discussions.

Other money related discussions:
Problem of the Day: Do You Quit Your High-Paying Job with the Idiot Boss?
Satisfied with Your Salary?
Problem of the Day: Your Staff Makes the Same Money As You (Maybe More)

Layoff Watch ’09: Deloitte

We received word late yesterday about two audit senior mangers in the Tampa office being shown the door yesterday. This makes us wonder if more professionals in the senior manager “parking lot” will take this is as a sign to either move on or will hold out hoping to eventually get a seat at the big table.
There doesn’t seem to be any kind of uniform method to the Deloitte’s cuts so if they’ve recently gone down at your office, let us know.

Does This Mean We Aren’t Going to Find Out Who’s Sleeping Their Way to Partner?

Dammit people, what’s with the amateurs? If you’re going to superficially judge your co-workers, wouldn’t common sense tell you to not to use a work email address?

Holly Leam-Taylor became the latest victim of a viral email craze when her light hearted message to colleagues spread like wildfire across the internet.

In the email, entitled Deloitte First year analysts Christmas Awards, sent on December 8, Ms Leam-Taylor asked her female colleagues to vote on which men in the office they considered most attractive.


A terribly disappointing turn of events, since it was all in good fun:

Miss Leam-Taylor, who studied at Warwick University before landing a place on the prestigious Deloitte graduate trainee scheme, said: “Obviously I never imagined the email would reach this level of awareness. Most people have recognised that what I wrote was in good spirit, but in retrospect I realise it probably wasn’t the best idea.
“It was my choice to resign and I will not be providing any further comment.”
Speaking at the family home in Staines, Middlesex, her father Andrew said: “She is very fed up about the whole thing.”

She’s fed up? What about the rest of us? We were expecting RESULTS.

Pictures, STD reports, the works. Now what the hell are we supposed to do? Is anyone willing to pick this up where poor Holly left off? If you do pick up the torch for crissakes, use a personal email address.

We cannot express our devastation further.

Analyst quits over embarrassing email [Telegraph]

Ernst & Young Updates

We’ve updated the E&Y Greensboro post to include the approximate number of professionals affected plus we’ve added an additional ball of useless to the tchotchke collection. Continue to keep us updated on both.

Deloitte Tops BusinessWeek’s ‘Best Places to Intern’ List, KPMG Gets the Silver

Thumbnail image for confidence.jpgAll right Deloitte. What are you paying BusinessWeek? Seriously, you take the “Start Your Career” crown and now you’re just getting greedy with the arbitrary magazine list championships. You’re risking backlash if you continue to dominate:

Our ranking of the best U.S.companies for undergraduate internships highlights employers who have put together an outstanding experience for students. Accounting firm Deloitte tops our list, followed by rivals KPMG (No.2) and Ernst & Young (No.3).The last of the Big Four accounting companies, PricewaterhouseCoopers, comes in at No.5, right behind consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble.


This is getting ridiculous BW. Four out of the top five spots go to Big 4? Do they really have an unbreakable stranglehold on your list methodology?

To compile our list, we judged employers based on survey data from 60 career services directors around the country and a separate survey completed by each employer. We also consider how each employer fared in the annual Best Places to Launch a Career, our ranking of top U.S. entry-level employers released in September of each year.

So, the employer’s own surveys are judged and you consider a list previously issued by you? Unless we’ve been misled, those employer might not have gone so well. As for considering your own list to make a new list, does that mean that this is basically the same list but with a different name?
Putting the methodology hocus-pocus aside, we notice that while Deloitte took home the gold medal, KPMG got the big talk up for their global rotations:

Two years ago KPMG realized it had to make a substantial investment in its internship program if it hoped to woo top students from larger consulting and accounting firms. So the company decided to offer interns an opportunity to gain valuable overseas experience. KPMG lets student interns spend four weeks in the U.S. and four weeks abroad. “It’s extremely competitive [to recruit top students], and this is a differentiator,” says Blane Ruschak, executive director of campus recruiting at KPMG.
A chance to work overseas is precisely what appealed to Andrew Fedele, 21, an accounting and economics double major at Pennsylvania State University. “I was sold pretty much when I first read about [KPMG’s] global internship program.” He spent four weeks in Chicago and four weeks in Johannesburg, South Africa. “South Africa has just such an interesting history. To go there and live with the locals and work with them was really exciting.”
What did KPMG get in return? Exactly what it hoped: Fedele accepted a full-time job almost immediately after KPMG made its offer at the end of the summer.

The article does manage to point out that “KPMG…hired nearly 900 fewer entry-level employees this year. But 91% of those full-time hires were former interns, whereas only 71% of new hires in 2008 were interns.”
The trend of fewer non-interns getting hired on at Big 4 (in this case KPMG) firms was something that we touched on in August, although BW doesn’t bother mentioning that it’s most likely due to the slashing of the firm’s hiring budgets.
We can’t give this latest meaningless index any more thought. If you’ve got an opinion on the latest jumble of the Big 4 in a BW list, leave them in the comments.
Best Places to Intern [BBW]

At One Point, Ernst & Young Was Handing This Stuff Out

Today in money well spent news, we bring you items from a care package that was sent to GC from a friend:
E&Y_DonKing.jpgEY_DK.jpg
Can anyone explain the purpose of this particular item? More pics after the jump.


SUN.jpgEY_Sun.jpg
This item also has no discernible use.
pen_hair.jpg
Um.
Anyone want to venture a guess on how much money is spent on this stuff? It’s got to be enough to foot an open bar. If you have more useless stuff that makes you question your firm’s spending habits, kindly pass them along and we’ll throw up the most useful items.
UPDATE: The most recently submitted ball of useless:
EY Ball of Useless.jpg

Is Low Bidding by Your Firm Going to Bite You in the A$$?

Sale.jpgBy now it’s no secret that accounting firms are getting all Wal-Mart with their bids/fees in order to drum up desperately needed new business and keeping current clients happy.
Offering or renegotiating lower fees, while an excellent “client service” tool, can cause all kinds of problems with staffing and the feasibility of engagements.


If you’re working on a small engagement with a tight budget, things could tricky (read: impossible) to reconcile mandatory hour work weeks to the budgeted time on your engagements.
One reader is curious as to the repercussions of all this:

[They are] low bidding jobs, taking audit clients at rates < $100/hour when average rates used to be $150 - $250/hour. Tell me they won't dump those clients when the economy turns around. Or have people eat hours on the jobs. They are desperate for work right now.

Those numbers are relative of course but it does make one wonder how this will all pan out long term. As we’ve noted, if it gets to the point to where there’s simply not enough money coming in the door, closing up shop isn’t out of the question. If you’ve got concerns, thoughts, complaints, etc. on how this latest trend will affect you and your office, discuss them in the comments.

Rumor Mill: Ernst & Young Closing Greensboro, NC Office

From a source:

Greensboro, NC office is being shut down. Admin staff are being let go. Most client serving have been given the option to transfer to Raleigh or work remotely.

We tried calling the Greensboro office but couldn’t get through to anyone and E&Y’s national PR team hasn’t returned our emails yet. This closing would follow the Manchester office closure that we initially reported on in October. We’re trying to get more details on the closure date, numbers, etc.
In the meantime, if you have more information on this rumored office closing or others get in touch with us and discuss in the comments.
UPDATE, 12/11: Another source has confirmed the closure. We’ve also learned that the Greensboro has in the nabe of 70 – 80 client service professionals. E&Y is still mum. Keep us updated.
Earlier:
Are Other Small Big 4 Offices at Risk of Closure?

More Deloitte Holiday Cheer This Week (Unofficially)

Big day everyone. Oh, sure there’s that but there are far more important things on the agenda. Namely, Christmaskuh festivities/cafeteria chats at the Stamford, Long Island and two NYC offices. Perfect opportunity to discuss the nominees for most likely to catch an STD on the path to partner.
Elsewhere in the Deloitte stable, the Chicago office is amping up for its rager that is going on this Saturday in Wrigleyville:
Picture 6.png
So by “unofficial” and “informal” we’re sure that’s the “All Clear” for someone to lose their pants and/or shirt by the end of the evening. Plus, we interpret the last line as an open invitation to P. Dubs and KPMG professionals for temporary adoption into the Deloitte family.
That might be the best chance they’ll have at taking in a butchering of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and shameless ass grabbing under the mistletoe, so we suggest they consider it.

And the Award for Deloitte Analyst Most Likely to Sleep His Way to the Top Goes To…

Gents, are you sick of being treated like eye candy? Are you tired of getting attention for your looks when all you want to do his serve your capital markets? Being judged for alleged promiscuity with superiors?

No? Cool with it? Good, because there are awards being handed out across the pond primarily based on your superficial qualities and your willingness to whore yourself out for personal success (click to enlarge).

Picture 2_jpeg.jpg

We’re filling out our ballot now but as the message says, you’ve got until the 18th, so ponder these carefully. Barry Salzberg is a lock at #6, especially if he’s wearing a hard hat.

Btw, who is going to tabulate the votes? We sure as hell can’t trust anyone from Deloitte to do it. Consider this the official RFP.
Also discuss your thoughts on the categories included, what categories are omitted, nominate yourself by sending us photos (we’ll pass them along). Anything on your mind, really.

Rumor Mill: Ernst & Young Layoffs Move on to the Advisory Practice

We’re hearing more about layoffs in E&Y’s North Central offices today. The chatter is that cuts are now hitting advisory professionals in Detroit, Toledo, and Cincinnati. Our source indicated that it was 2 – 3 professionals in each office which puts the total number of layoffs in the region over 30 since this latest round started last month.
Rumor also has it that the Columbus office — home of dollar beer night — could also get into the axe swinging but we’re scant on details at this point.
These cuts in the advisory practice would be the first we have heard of since the dozen layoffs (that we confirmed) in the Pacific-Northwest.
Continue to keep us updated with the specifics.
Earlier: (UPDATE) Layoff Watch ’09: Update on Ernst & Young

Just When You Thought All Hope Was Lost

A Festivus miracle! After we raised concerns last month that the likelihood of any PwC office having a Christmaskuh bash was nil, we’re now aware of at least one jamma-lamma-ding-dong:
Picture 5.png
Okay, it’s just the tax practice and it’s only two hours but hey, it beats the hell out of an ordinary Tuesday. Those in the audit practice will just have to crash the thing.
A word of caution however: with everything that’s gone on up in Stamford don’t knock back the Glens or white wine with anyone you don’t trust. Who knows what somebody is dropping in your cocktail.

Chairman of PwC India Steps Down, Wants Time to ‘Look at Other Things’

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgThis is the latest development in the Satyscam that P. Dubs hasn’t been able to wish away.
Ramesh Rajan still had a ways to go in his current four year term as the India Chair which might suggest that someone told Ram that his services were no longer needed:

Rajan, who was at the helm of affairs when the Satyam scam broke early this year, had about one-and-a-half years remaining of his four-year tenure as the chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers India network of entities (PwC India). When contacted, he refused to divulge exact reasons behind his sudden exit, and said he wanted time to “look at other things” within the firm and “allow someone else to take charge of the operations.”

Gosh, that’s a little mysterio. Apparently he was having such a good time that he wanted someone else to experience the fun? Okay then. The new lucky duck is Gautam Banerjee, and he is coming over from Singapore pronto to take the wheel.
We’re confident he’ll do a bang-up job but we’ll take this opportunity to remind him that he’s still got some auditors in jail and a lot of pissed investors that want PwC to pony up. Probably should get crackin’.
Satyam effect? Chairman of PwC India steps down [Times of India]

Operation Bear Hugs Debrief

Thumbnail image for Tim_Bear_King_jpeg.jpgSeriously Kylnveldians, we were hoping for a stellar report on last Friday’s nationwide Bear Hugs but so far we’ve heard nothing (other than some people were bolting early to get their drink on).
We’ll take your radio silence as admission that you had an awesome time and that not having an open bar rager wasn’t so bad after all. Besides, it’s for the kids.
There’s video of the New York Office’s get-together over CBS2 where we learn that there was actual sewing involved and a dancing bear to keep everyone entertained.
Share your thoughts on the experience including if your bear’s head ended up on its ass, if you couldn’t resist spiking the punch, or if you were MIA and what your punishment is.

Jim Quigley, Still ‘a Proud Aggie,’ Fails to Go Out on a High Note

Jim_quigley.jpgThat’s right, he’s proud. Never mind that the football team just finished their season 4 – 8. Sports aren’t everything.
The Big Q, swindler of unsuspecting journalists, took time away from calling CEOs on private jets to give a speech at Utah State (his alma mater) to faculty and students on ethics.
We won’t give you all the gory details since CNN probably is working on that piece right now. We’d hate to steal their thunder.


We will mention that Quigs is swelling with pride that USU’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business Scholars agree to “principles” which he quoted in the speech:

“I agree to conduct myself according to the highest ethical standards. I will accept personal responsibility for my conduct and any consequences for mistakes, accidental or intentional. I will be honest, truthful and fair in alof my actions and interactions with others. I will also demonstrate civil, respectful and courteous concern for and behavior toward others at all times both in and outside of the classroom.”

It seems like a fine group of sentences but I implore you: is it an oath/promise laminated on tiny cards? Hardly, dude.
Ethics and integrity aside, Quigs’ remarks seem like the standard boilerplate metaphors and clichés. Hell, he even quotes the Oracle in his conclusion, “Warren Buffett said: ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.’ And, once lost, it can take years to rebuild.”
It works well enough but we would have rather heard Quigs wrap it up with “I’ve never gone to bed with an ugly woman but I’ve sure woke up with a few.” It would’ve brought the house down. High note, Quigs. Always look to go out on that high note.
Jim_Quigley_Utah_State_remarks.pdf

Deloitte’s Commitment to Client Service Will be Tested by Dubai World

Thumbnail image for dubai-the-world.jpgLast week we touched on Deloitte and KPMG facing off in the whole Dubai World fiasco. Today we get the lowdown on the possible difficulties that Aidan Birkett — Deloitte’s MD of corporate finance and the Chief Restructuring Offficer of DW — could run into serving his finicky client.
Hard to believe that a group of über-wealthy sheiks (responsible for re-creating the Earth out of tiny man-made islands, no less) would resist outside advice but it sounds like Birkett will have his hands full.


Zawya Dow Jones:

Bankers say his biggest challenge will be getting Dubai’s government to listen. It’s unclear whether he’ll be given a free hand to remodel Dubai World without the interference of the emirate’s political elite.
“When a foreigner comes into the country, ultimately what happens is that the door closes, people speak Arabic, they come out and they say that’s the deal,” said a Dubai-based investment banker, who asked not to be named.

That doesn’t sound complicated. Go to meeting. Listen to your interpreter struggle to keep up. The sheiks nod in agreement at each other. Meeting adjourned.
Naturally, Deloitte is confident that their man will get what he wants:

People who have worked with Birkett in the past say he is a tough operator and will demand that his advice is heeded by Dubai’s powerful sheiks.
“He is robust and he’s absolutely straight, no nonsense,” said Deloitte’s Ward in Dubai. “He doesn’t have to upset everybody along the way but he gets his own way.”

Sounds like a perfect recipe for a boardroom blowup/storm out session to us. DW doesn’t sound like it has a lot of options since all their assets were purchased with debt, so it’ll be interesting to see how they rationalize their “we’ll do whatever the hell we want” attitude. Best of luck, Deloitte.
FOCUS: Deloitte’s Birkett Faces Struggle With Dubai Sheiks [Zawya Dow Jones via WSJ]

Rumor Mill: The Latest E&Y Columbus Details Include $1 Beers

We continue to receive details about the layoffs at E&Y’s Columbus office. The first bit of information is that one of the unlucky few — a recently promoted SA — was given one day to consider taking a transfer to another office. According to our source, the client the SA was serving caught wind of the dismissal and the client’s reaction convinced TPTB to let the SA stay on an additional week to finish his/her work.
Our source also indicated that new manager training was going on at the time and “those [managers] with potentially the best chance to speak on the behalf of those to be axed were all in sunny Florida oblivious to the proceedings.”
Oh and the dollar beers thing. As you may remember, the layoffs occurred the day before the office’s holiday get-down. The rumor is that the festivities had a tab in the nabe of $1,200, which included $1 beers.
This causes us to wonder a few things: A) No open bar? B) Beast or Natty Light? and C) we realize Columbus is a college town but $1 beers? Were there penny pitchers and $3 Jager shots too?
For reasons that escape us, we’re completely enamored with details that continue to emerge from this. Continue to keep us updated.
Earlier:
E&Y Columbus Layoffs Update
Layoff Watch ’09: Update on Ernst & Young’s November Round

PwC’s Moritz: ‘We Will Have Base Increases Next Year’

Thumbnail image for moritz_becks.jpgNow we’re talking! Nothing like calling your shot.

Moritz did his best Joe Namath today on PwC’s firm wide webcast today (is it over?) so all that speculation of P. Dubs phoning in 2010 can be put to rest. WRITE. IT. DOWN.

If you’ve got other thoughts or details on the web cast, get in touch and discuss in the comments.

E&Y Columbus Layoffs Update

Just a little more context on the latest E&Y layoffs that we reported on this morning.
A new source has indicated to us the cuts were absolutely based on utilization:

The staff confirmed that no counselor was addressed.
The staff confirmed that no personnel with whom the individual worked within the past 6-8 months was consulted, including manager and above.
The staff confirmed that no performance reviews since April 2009 were referenced.
You better have a strong anchor client that keeps you going year round, and good luck if you lose them. So much for people.

We don’t feel further comment is necessary but if you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments.

Layoff Watch ’09: Update on Ernst & Young’s November Round

It’s been a couple of weeks since we last heard any details from last month’s layoffs at E&Y, so we just assumed this particular story had run its course.
Well now, we have received word of (and confirmed) layoffs in the Columbus, Ohio office. One source indicates it was 2 – 3 staff and possibly one manager in the assurance practice. This would put the number of layoffs in the North Central region in the nabe of 25. Our source indicated that it seemed that Columbus had been spared for the round last month, so this may be their attempt to catch up.
Annnnnnd it’s our understanding that the cuts happened the day before the holiday party in Columbus. So there’s that.
If you have additional details, continue to pass them along and continue to keep us updated on any layoffs you hear for your office.

Rumor Mill: KPMG Debunking ‘Six Year Manager’ Rumors?

corp_ladder.jpgWhile many Klynveldians are getting amped to cobble together some bears for the kids this morning we’ll pass along a little rumor about a rumor.

The rumor that the KPMG bigwigs have been considering a six year timeline to make manager in the audit practice has been kicked around for at least a couple years. Naturally, there were two schools of thought:

• Managers thought it was good idea

• SAs thought it was a terrible idea

According to a tip we received, apparently there is an email floating around that says the rumors about a “six year program are not true and that the firm will continue with existing promotion timing.”

A friend of GC told us that while it’s entirely possible that such an email exists, it’s definitely not coming down from 345 Park and could be some local office trying to calm down those SAs that are considered flight risks.

Regardless of the rumored debunking, the path to partner is certainly becoming longer as we reported earlier this week, and early promotions will still happen based on need or political maneuvering.

If you’ve been notified that your promotion timing is still on track, by email or otherwise, pass the info along or discuss in the comments.

Deloitte Gets into the Ribbon-Cutting

Thumbnail image for grand opening.jpgMore giant scissor danger today as Deloitte had its own ribbon-cutting in Arlington, VA to open their new Federal headquarters. According to the firm’s press release will serve as the “hub for Deloitte’s Federal Government Services.”
The firm’s press release explains how this year’s BearingPoint acquisition provided Big D with many plunders:

“The opening of our new Federal headquarters today is the final milestone in the integration of Deloitte and BearingPoint,” said Robin Lineberger, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and leader of Deloitte Federal Government Services. “Deloitte was already a leader in the Federal marketplace, and the acquisition marked an aggressive expansion into the U.S. federal space, gave us increased market share, strengthened our global position and altered the entire competitive landscape. With the integration of the teams now complete, we’re thrilled to continue serving our clients in the important work they do.”

Still feels like Deloitte might be dancing on the BP grave a little bit but maybe that’s just us.
Anyhoo, now that Deloitte is well positioned to get some lobbying done better serve its Fed clients, all the blue collar efforts can focus on The U.
Deloitte Opens New Federal Headquarters In Arlington [Press Release]

Are You Ready to Build Some Bears KPMG?

Tim_Bear_King_jpeg.jpg“Tim, you really shouldn’t have. Seriously. I’m a King, for crying out loud.”

In case you’ve forgotten, KPMG’s bear-building extravaganza is tomorrow and word around the campfire is that everyone is psyched.

At least one office is dedicating the better part of the morning to the “Town Hall” portion of festivities which sounds like it could be a real hoot. We’re guessing there might be a little session regarding stationery controls, given the whole Canopy sitch.

Since all the offices are having their get-downs tomorrow keep us updated throughout the day on anything interesting that comes up.

(UPDATE) KPMG’s Letterheadgate May Require the Firm to Revisit Stationery Controls or Get Rid of the Blue Squares

kpmg_pink.gifAll right Klynveldians, we don’t know which one of you was a little generous with the letterhead but you’ve really done it.
Jeremy Blackburn, COO and President of Canopy Financial was able to raise $75 million for Canopy Financial based on bogus audit reports he provided to investors and pocketed more than $2 million for himself, according to the SEC’s complaint against Blackburn and the Company.


We’ll give the man credew the script:

Blackburn sent [Canopy CEO, Vikram] Kashyap an email dated June 30, 2009, attaching the KPMG Audit Report and the audited Canopy financial statements, with an email subject heading of “Audit Finally Complete,” and email text stating “I never wanna [sic] go through this again!!”

Kashyap apparently wasn’t in on the little secret that KPMG was not engaged to audit squat for Canopy. Nice work staying on top of everything, Vik. Meanwhile, Canopy’s investment bank, Financial Technology Partners, didn’t need an email telling them the audit was hell. They just ran to VCs with the notion that everything was on the up and up.
The bank is all bent out of shape because they’re taking heat and claim ‘We clearly had no clue about any such wrongdoing.’ Who wants to bother with the auditors? As Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch notes, “A 10 second phone call could have cleared this up before investors plowed $85 million into the company.”
The whole thing finally went south when Canopy’s new general counsel contacted an acquaintance at KPMG to help him find a new CFO. Canopy’s general counsel then sent over the “audit report.”

KPMG quickly responded to Canopy and advised Canopy in a “Cease-and-Desist Demand” letter dated November 3, 2009, that Canopy used KPMG’s name without KPMG’s authorization and consent. Further, KPMG told Canopy that it: (1) had never been retained nor agreed to audit any of Canopy’s financial statements; and (2) did not issue the audit opinion dated June 29, 2009. KPMG demanded, among other things, that Canopy “immediately CEASE AND DESIST from using the subject report and/or the unauthorized use of the KPMG name….”

It’s seems obvious that KPMG did nothing wrong here but this is still a big bowl of awkward. The firm’s name is all over the complaint and who knows how many other companies are running around with the firm’s letterhead throwing their “audited” financials around.
As we’ve indicated, this may call for a completely new look for KPMG. That means no more blue squares. We realize that’s a horrifying thought but the whole firm may be compromised. If you’ve got suggestions for the look (other than pink) or any thoughts on this snafu, discuss in the comments.
UPDATE: A tiny clarification/correction here: The original post over at Tech Crunch states, “Multiple sources have told us that Canopy was absolutely making up their financial statements, even forging audited statements with fake KMPG [sic] letterhead.” One could get the impression from our post here that genuine KPMG letterhead was used. That does not seem to be the case. The SEC’s complaint states that the audit report was “falsified” or “forged” without mentioning the authenticity of letterhead.
Nevertheless, we still stand by our conclusion that the Firm has no choice to either revisit stationery controls (since it’s obvious you can’t just get the shit anywhere) or change the entire logo as a precautionary measure. Similarly, we will continue to address this particular scandal as “Letterheadgate” to best follow the tradition of any scandal happening in the post-Nixon era to be suffixed with “gate”. We’re done here.
Canopy Complaint.pdf
Canopy Financial Turns Into Sad, Comical Game Of Hot Potato [Tech Crunch]
Earlier: KPMG Will be Stingy with the Letterhead From Now On

Apparently Some Men at Deloitte Have Trouble Understanding Their Female Colleagues

salzberg-barry.jpg

If any Deloittians were even remotely concerned that Bloomberg would squash the BusinessWeek list franchise — and thus stealing Deloitte’s crown — as part of yesterday’s completed ause for concern because the big D is now extra super special.

Deloitte has been named the “model employer” in conjunction with “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” according to a press release.


The release is not yet available on the Deloitte website so we’ve presented it here:

SHRIVER REPORT NAMES DELOITTE MODEL EMPLOYER


Deloitte Recognized for its Strategies to Adapt to the Evolving Workforce


NEW YORK, December 2, 2009 — Deloitte LLP has been named the “model employer” in conjunction with “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” a study released last month by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. The Shriver Report is an in-depth study and analysis of what has happened, and what still needs to happen, now that women comprise half of the United States workforce and contribute significantly to household income. The study explores how business, government, the media and other institutions can work together to adapt and benefit from the trend.

The report has been delivered to President Obama, each of the Fortune 500 CEOs and all 535 members of Congress. Shriver has presented its findings to the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

The Shriver Report refers to Deloitte as “an excellent example of an employer that has taken an aggressive leadership position in protean career approaches,” providing career-life integration programs that allow both the organization and its workforce — women and men — to reach their goals.

Barry Salzberg, chief executive officer of Deloitte LLP, said, “Deloitte applauds The Shriver Report’s efforts to raise awareness of a trend that is not only transforming our institutions, but providing them with opportunities to grow, innovate and enhance their performance. Through our own substantial efforts to retain and advance women, we’re realizing the benefits and value to our organization, to the clients we serve, and to the cities and communities in which we do business.”

In 1993, Deloitte established the first major corporate initiative for the retention and advancement of women to harness opportunities presented by the growing representation of women in the workforce. Today, Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative focuses on building a strong pipeline of women professionals that strengthens leadership, drives marketplace growth and creates a culture where the best people — women and men — choose to be. Through a variety of ongoing professional development, mentoring and career-life programs, Deloitte has increased the number of women partners, principals and directors to more than 1,000 today from 97 in 1993.

Most recently, recognizing that one-size-fits-all workplace practices suit fewer and fewer professionals, Deloitte has moved from a corporate ladder to a corporate lattice model of career development. No longer is moving up the ultimate goal — there are now many ways to have a successful career. Since adopting this model, Deloitte’s has enjoyed a 25 percent increase in overall employee satisfaction with career-life fit and earned the No.1 ranking on BusinessWeek’s list of “Best Places to Launch a Career” in 2009.

“Deloitte’s experience since the inception of our Women’s Initiative parallels the journey described in The Shriver Report — the transition from a fixed idea of what professionals must to do develop their careers to the idea that career development can be more fluid. We have steered our organization toward a new paradigm of work, one that allows both men and women the flexibility to grow their careers and live their lives, without having to sacrifice one for the other,” said Barbara Adachi, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and leader of Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative.

Deloitte’s leading talent initiatives and benefits include:

• Mass Career Customization ™ — a model that enables all Deloitte professionals to dial up and dial down their careers to fit their needs at various life stages

• Women as Buyers, a program to help men at Deloitte build stronger relationships with women clients and colleagues by better understanding their work styles

• A voluntary sabbatical program that allows Deloitte employees to take up to six months off to engage in volunteering and other personal pursuits

• Deloitte University, a state-of-the-art learning and leadership development facility currently under construction to foster personal and professional growth at Deloitte

• Paid parental leave with no minimum eligibility requirements, emergency back-up dependent day care, adoption assistance, and a Personal Pursuits program to support those who take career breaks for up to five years

About Deloitte
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and Deloitte Services LP, separate subsidiaries of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.

Dr. Phil is obviously ecstatic since he’s been out there working the diversity angle. And we have to admit that it’s nice recognition for the firm. A couple of more notable things fell under “Deloitte’s leading talent initiatives and benefits.”
We’re all familiar with Deloitte’s version of Delta Chi. The destruction will be centralized and will not doubt save the firm millions in the long run. Brilliant.

We’re even more interested in the “Women as Buyers” program. Unless we misunderstand, there must be a hell of a lot of men at Deloitte that need help understanding that their female colleagues aren’t interested in spending 2 – 3 hours a day strategizing for this week’s matchup in fantasy football. Or that shirts come in colors other than blue. Couldn’t they have passed out copies of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus instead?

Gents, if you’ve participated in the Women as Buyers program we’d love to hear about it, since our speculation about the content is suspect at best. Also, feel free to discuss Deloitte’s latest triumph (not to mention promotion opportunity) in the realm of ubiquitous employer lists.

Here’s a Good Example of How Not to Sue a Big 4 Firm

Thumbnail image for morans.jpgWere you at all concerned that you would never hear another story about a lawsuit related to the AOL/Time Warner merger from 2001? A merger described by BusinessWeek as possibly being the “worst of the worst.”
AOL’s revenue recognition practices for booking online ad revenue led to restatements of their financial results from 2000 to 2002. This led to hundreds of shareholder lawsuits, most of which were consolidated into a class action suit. All of the suits have been settled or dismissed.
E&Y, who audited the AOL portion of this little gem, has now had the final lawsuit against the them dismissed. Back in 2003, AOL shareholder Dominic Amarosa decided that he was going to file suit on his own rather join the class action. Problem was, he didn’t file suit on time and failed to connect his losses to statements that were made by E&Y. Those both sound kind of important.
On top of that, Judge Colleen McMahon didn’t really care for the plaintiff or his attorney Christopher Gray, calling Amarosa a ‘vexatious litigant pursuing clearly frivolous claims’ and Gray’s tactics, ‘shenanigans.’ Judge McMahon also indicated that she was considering sanctions against Gray for said shenanigans.
So if you’re looking for a blueprint on how to completely screw the pooch on a lawsuit against a Big 4 firm, this is probably a good place to start.
Lawsuit over Time Warner-AOL merger dismissed [Reuters]

Are Other Small Big 4 Offices at Risk of Closure?

closed.jpgEditor’s Note: Francine McKenna is a regular contributor to Going Concern
We came across a report in the Birmingham Business Journal (subscription required for full article) describing the reduction in professionals of the KPMG office there from 63 to 39 after two rounds of layoffs.
While there doesn’t seem to be any indication that the office will be closing, the reduction is significant enough to get us wondering if there hadn’t been talk about pulling the plug altogether.


On that note, we recalled the Manchester, NH closure we reported on last month and we called up the folks in Live Free or Die country to get the latest. While the receptionist was very helpful, the person we were eventually connected to decided that hanging up on us was the best course of action.
Undeterred, we reached out to E&Y’s national PR team and they provided us with the following statement:

After careful consideration and based on our analysis of the market, we have decided to close our Manchester office by the end of November. As part of that process, a number of our people will transfer to the Boston office, and our clients will be served from the Boston office.

Unfortunately, since “a number of our people will transfer to the Boston office” we can only assume that there will be a number of people that will not transfer to Boston.
We reached out to all the Big 4 firms regarding this issue, with E&Y being the only one to respond and they only addressed the Manchester office specifically. Wanting more perspective, we asked our contributor, Francine McKenna, for her thoughts:

Small office closures mirror the fortunes of local economies they operate in, including the limited number of clients some offices have been built on. Often just one/two parters wanting to be closer to home, have Managing Partner title.

There has been a considerable amount of chatter regarding office closures so we decided a thread on the issue was due. Discuss your thoughts/speculation on office closures (including any more details on E&Y Manchester) for your firm in the comments and keep us updated with your tips.

Deloitte, KPMG Will Make Out Okay on This Whole Dubai Thing

dubai-the-world.jpgIf you spent the last four days in a tryptophan-induced coma, you may have missed the news that there’s a bit of a problem in Dubai. A $59 billion problem.

Long/short: Dubai World, the state sponsored investment company, asked for a six month extension on repaying principal and interest maturities to its lenders.

While this spooked a lot of people, the latest reports indicate that Dubai is of the opinion that it’s NBD.


Despite the claims by DW that nothing is fucked, it’s being reported that at least two Big 4 firms will get to bill the hell out of the parties privy to this latest debt-related SNAFU.
Dubai World has hired Deloitte to help them restructure their house of cards debt while KPMG is representing banks that hold $30 billion of the Dubai World debt in the negotiations. Now while we’d like to imagine tense, smoked-filled rooms with fists being slammed on conferences tables and screaming into speaker phones, it’s likely that it will be a much more cordial affair but we remain hopeful.

As for the other two usual suspects, why E&Y has been left out of the proceedings altogether is a mystery but the PwC/Becks/Dubai World connection seems like a good enough reason to us to keep P. Dubs on the sidelines. Call it a hunch.

We’ll keep you updated on the Big 4 angle of this story as it continues long into 2010.

KPMG lined up in $30bn Dubai rescue mission [The Independent]
Also see: Duh, Dubai! [JDA]
Deloitte Versus KPMG in Dubai World Saga [The Big Four Blog]

Ernst & Young Is Thankful for Lawyers, Possibly Toblerones

Thumbnail image for madoff-sentenced.jpgJust when we think the Madoff beat has quieted down, we’re reminded that the tentacles of the Ponzi scheme of our lifetime reach far and wide and for that we are thankful.


Not because we enjoy the carnage that has come about from this particular scheme. No, that would be in bad taste. We’re mostly thankful because we’re certain that today, 90% of you will spend the entire day gabbing about turkey-lurkey-do instead of sending us details on your firm’s cost saving initiative du jour, thus making it a slow news day.
So, thank you Berns, for providing us a story on this most non-productive day of the year:

Private and institutional investors who lost money through Access International Advisors LLC’s LuxAlpha Sicav-American Selection are suing UBS and Ernst & Young for “seriously neglecting” their supervisory duties of the fund. A Luxembourg court will decide in hearings that started today whether investors have the right to bring direct claims against the fund’s custodian and auditor.
“These cases are very important,” Pierre Reuter, who represents clients in six of the lawsuits being reviewed over four days of hearings, said by telephone before the hearing. “They could set the course for some 100 pending cases and many more to come.”

Since these are simply “test cases” the plaintiffs will be anxious to see the results, especially since the Swiss are involved. A pallet of Toblerones will certainly find their way to the offering table at some point. Whether UBS allows E&Y to squeeze in on this valuable bargaining chip remains to be seen.
UBS, Ernst & Young Face Test Cases Over Madoff Funds [Bloomberg]

(UPDATE) KPMG Will be Stingy with the Letterhead From Now On

Thumbnail image for 200px-KPMG.svg.pngHave you been craving a tech startup accounting scandal? Thought so. Enter Canopy Financial, Inc. who “provides technology-enabled electronic payment, account management, and investment technology platforms for health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts, and health reimbursement arrangements.”
The company was ranked #12 in the 2009 Inc. 500 List of fastest growing companies in America:

In 2008 CEO Vikram Kashyap said his company had 2007 revenues of $9 million. More recently, we’ve heard, the company was saying they’d hit $60 million in revenue and $9 million or so in EBITDA.
All of this may have been lies.
Until recently all the venture capitalists involved proudly placed Canopy Financial on their portfolio pages. Now all trace of the company have been erased from the portfolio pages of investors GGV Capital, Spectrum Equity and Foundation Capital. And their investment bank has erased them from their trophy page as well.
So what happened? Multiple sources have told us that Canopy was absolutely making up their financial statements, even forging audited statements with fake KMPG [sic] letterhead. And somehow the investment bank and all the investors never figured it out.

Jesus, this doesn’t even qualify as cooking the books. This is more along the lines of:

CFO: No, we cannot say $100 kajillion.
CEO: Why?
CFO: Because no one will believe it.
CEO: Why?
CFO: Do you know what a kajillion looks like?
CEO: Um, no.
CFO: It has to look like a real number. I’m saying $59,984,387.
CEO: What about…
CFO: Shut up, that’s the number.

Then all you have to do is get your hands on some KPMG letterhead and BAM your company is listed in a magazine.
We tried contacting KPMG about this but our emails have gone unreturned. We’ll let you know if we hear back from them. In the meantime, if you know anything more about this particular story, enlighten us in the comments.
UPDATE: See the clarification about the authenticity of the letterhead on our post from December 3rd.
Canopy Financial Accused Of Serious Financial Fraud, Investors Burned [Tech Crunch via FINS]

PwC Is Here to Remind You that Someone Is Watching Your Utilization

scrutiny.jpgEarlier this month, we mentioned a rumor we heard about PwC putting in calls to the rank in and file of one industry group in the tax practice. The caller was just letting them know that their utilization was getting the crook eye by the partner in charge of the group. Not exactly something that would give you the warm and fuzzies Well, now have another report of P. Dubs putting people on notice:

I was recently informed that despite my good performance and strong mid-year reviews, “[my] utilization is being watched.” Its nice to know that this company values cold metrics as opposed to quality, hardworking employees.

Here’s a question: who at PwC thought that notifying employees that their utilization is being scrutinized was a good idea? Especially since Bob Mortiz sent an email to say that it’s unlikely that there will be layoffs in tax and assurance?
One email says “don’t worry, everything is fine” while someone else calls you up in order to scare the bejesus out of you by letting you know that despite your fine performance someone is watching. Can anyone explain the rationale? Our emails to PwC have gone unreturned, so we’re all ears.

Ernst & Young Wins Hedge Fund Award, Partners Give Boring Acceptance Speech

The accounting firm awards bonanza has begun stateside. After last week’s Accountancy Age awards, Ernst & Young has now been named “Best Accounting Firm to Hedge Fund Industry” at the inaugural Hedge Fund Manager Week US Service Provider Awards.

While this is certainly a less comprehensive ceremony than the Accountancy Age Awards, it should not be taken any less seriously. This is a sincere effort on the part of the hedge fund industry to recognize who has bent over backwards the farthest for them. Nice work, E&Y.


As for the speeches:

Arthur F. Tully, Partner, Financial Services and Global Hedge Fund Practice Co-leader, Ernst & Young LLP said, “It is an honor to receive this recognition. It reflects our ongoing efforts to provide relevant insights into our client’s most pressing issues, particularly in today’s challenging business market.”

“This award is a testament to our efforts to provide consistent, high-quality service to our asset management clients as we strive to anticipate, understand and offer insight into the biggest issues facing our clients,” added Michael J. Serota, Partner, Financial Services and Global Hedge Fund Practice Co-leader, Ernst & Young LLP.

We understand that there’s a an expectation for tactfulness but c’mon guys. This was your opportunity to get on a stage, drunk as Ken Lewis on a Tuesday morning and say something like:

“It feels damn good to win. You other firms, I wish I could say it’s an honor to be nominated with you but I can’t. In other words, suck it. I accept this award on behalf of all those staff and managers that continue to suffer from sleep deprivation, obesity, and overall misery because I know they’re working at this very second. And if I find out that you’re not, you’re uninvited to the party. Oh, and I just want to say, Jim Turley, you complete me. You really, really, really do. I love you.”

Or something to that effect.

Ernst & Young LLP Named Best Accounting Firm to Hedge Fund Industry [PR Newswire]

The KPMG Dress Code Now Accommodates Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Ugly Sweaters 130.jpgAt least for one day, anyway.

You’re all acutely aware that many firms are opting to forgo holiday parties this season in favor of charitable activities.

Regardless of your desire — and our sincerest hopes for you — to get cop-slugging drunk on your firm’s dime, the commitment of time to charity is admirable. KPMG is spending an entire day building bears and wrapping them with books. We’re not sure how that will work but whatever.

As an added bonus, we heard that at least one office is attempting to make things more festive:

Picture 4.png

If some of you aren’t able to get behind the celebration of hideous Clark Griswold-esque sweaters for the sake of sport, shame on you. In fact, since the charitable activities are mandatory (as we understand), we’d go so far to suggest that the donning of ugly sweaters should also be mandatory. Judging by many or your fashion proclivities, this will be as easy as opening your closet.

Caption Contest Monday: The King and I

TimFlynn_KingAbdullah.jpg
Background: Tim Flynn talking shop with King Abdullah of Jordan.

Same rules: Submit possible captions in the comments. We’ll choose our favorites — with preference given to those with an accounting/KPMG bent — and then let you vote for the best one.

Memo to TF: If you’ve got a transcript of the convo, feel free to post your favorite highlight as your submission(s).

Deloitte Is Saving Money by Offering Zach Morris Phones

zmorris.jpgWe kid, we kid. Obviously you’re aware that you can shell out $13 a month and get an iPhone. Whether that’s worth it or not, we’ll let you decide but if you don’t want the iPhone, you’re taking your chances with another option, as one source describes, “crappy Windows Mobile devices that are getting shoved down our throats.”
Not only that but if you’re looking to get reimbursed for your PDA, don’t expect to get to choose whatever you want. Or to spend that much:

Deloitte also now limits the re-imbursement of PDAs to $199.99 + taxes. They used to cover the entire cost of devices that they chose to support (which mostly sucked to begin with). You’d figure that since they only pay $199.99 that we’d be able to pick the device now… but no; still limited to their “approved list” of crappy devices.

We’re not really up-to-date on the whole who-gets-what-phone-at-what-level question these days so if you’ve got some insight for your firm, discuss in the comments.

Rumor Mill: KPMG L.A. Layoffs, Maybe Dallas?

We’ve received multiple reports of layoffs that occurred last week in the audit practice of the Los Angeles office.
The numbers have been described as “a few” and the news has been “hush hush” making us wonder if these cuts were some unfinished business from either the August and September rounds.
There also have been rumors about additional layoffs in Dallas tax but we don’t have any more details than that.
If you’ve got any details for these layoffs or details for other cities, get in touch and discuss in the comments.

Will PwC and KPMG Reconsider Canceling Their Holiday Parties?

mickflynnsanta.jpgDoubtful! But with the news of sugarplums dancing in some Big 4 heads, we got to wondering if any of the offices of KPMG and PwC might reconsider the firm-wide kibosh on the Holiday jamma-lamma-ding-dong.
Maybe this would be a coup d’état of the highest order but we’ve heard of offices going rogue in the past, so it’s worth mentioning.
Perhaps we’re expecting too much but it seems possible that partners in your local offices could rally the troops by pooling together some of their own cash and springing for cheese trays a few kegs of Beast.
Partners, you wouldn’t necessarily have to let anyone use the bathroom (especially the new associates, we know how they overdo it). You could set up Rent-A-Johns in the driveway.
Because as it stands right now, it appears that Bob Moritz will only be handing out fresh undies, and Tim Flynn will argue that the Phil Mickelson sponsorship is the gift that keeps on giving. That may fly with some but certainly not all. Discuss your hopes for an eleventh hour fiesta in the comments.

At the Deloitte Holiday Party You’ll Have to Mill Around While Trying to Avoid the Guy Mopping the Floor

We have confirmed the comment that mentions the Deloitte Holiday parties going down in the lunchroom. According to our source, this makes two years running that D has thrown it down in the caf which was a step down from the epic ’07 rager at the Waldorf. It’s not that nice of a hotel anyway.
Personally, we were hoping that Barry Salzberg was going to encourage everyone chip in and build the location of this year’s festivities with their bare hands but it might be too late to get that project started. Maybe next year.
Picture 3.png
Obviously this is less than ideal because 1) it’s definitely not a full bar and 2) instead of catering you’ll have to choose between what you think is salisbury steak and chicken a la king.
As far as atmosphere, we will admit that this is less touristy than TOTG but still. And what about the poor saps in Parsippany? Training rooms A – C? Jesus. Nothing better than crushing beers in the room where you were introduced to the FASB Codification.

The Holiday Spirit Is Alive and Well at Ernst & Young

After a rough week of layoffs at E&Y we’re glad we can bring you some good news out of the Ernstiverse. After our reports back in September that the New York office that there was going to be no Christmaskah festivities, the FSO practice has had a change of heart:
Picture 2.png
Not only are the partners in FSO encouraging you to have a cup of cheer, they’re helping out a financially troubled New York institution.
We reached out to one source in FSO who had these thoughts:

I think for the most part people are very surprised we are having a party, and there is definitely a mixed feeling. Most would rather have gotten a raise, but apparently we got a great deal from Tavern so if there are no raises we might as well have a party!!

Since we don’t have many details at this point, important questions remain: A) Are you going? B) Open bar or GASP beer and wine only? C) Will there be dancing? D) If so, will Jim Turley be there getting his (rumored) $6 million man groove on?
Photos please, especially when he’s doing the sprinkler dance. Keep us updated with the details.

In the Spirit of the Season, Deloitte Is Giving You a Bigger Inbox

Thumbnail image for DTa.jpgFirst off, you’re welcome. And they already hear your bellyaching you ungrateful brats so CUT. IT. OUT.
Second, they had to do it because, as you may or may not be aware, the increasing number of emails being sent and received just might be a sign that this economy is turning around:

I’m not yet convinced that the increase we’re witnessing in the number of e-mails (and e-mail size) is an early indicator of economic growth…but just in case, we are increasing the size of your e-mail mailbox by 50 percent.


Effective immediately, you will now have 600MB to do with as you wish (of course, don’t forget our communications policies enshrined in APR 208, which will undoubtedly both constrain and guide your rush to fill that additional 200MB void). Also, the 600MB is in addition to the almost unlimited e-mail storage on your laptop using PST files.
OK…I can hear a few of you grumbling, “but Google gives me at least 1GB…for free.” Sure…but does Google provide a free laptop, a free PDA, a world-wide directory, e-mails you can search while on a plane, technical support where a live person answers the phone, and ITS walk-up support in your local office staffed with smiling IT professionals anxious to serve you? I rest my case.
One last note: Increasing your mailbox size should not be construed as an invitation to avoid reading, deleting or filing messages…or using your mailbox as your central music repository.
Enjoy the space…consider it an early holiday gift.
As always, click here to respond or provide comments. They are always welcome.
Larry Quinlan
Chief Information Officer
Deloitte LLP

Barry Salzberg Makes Bob Vila Look Like a Lego Master

salz_dirty Hands_JPEG.jpgBarry Salzberg took time from talking up his chief rival for the Global CEO spot the new Deloitte Consulting CEO to write a piece for the Washington Post about how corporate philanthropy is alive and well.
You’re probably aware that this isn’t Dr. Phil’s first foray into virtual print. Not only has Salz given imaginary advice to the POTUS but he also did a “freewheeling” piece for Fortune on volunteerism.


The latest WaPo piece rings the same charitable note (although it’s considerably less freewheeling) and reminds everyone that not only will Deloitte continue to cut checks, they will also provide “skilled volunteers.” This is clearly part of the ongoing effort to not be seen as a giant faceless, professional services firm but a giant professional services firm that has mustache that may have buried treasure in it and a clean scalp that you can barely resist rubbing for luck.
Now while these “skilled volunteers” could possibly include the best and brightest giving NPOs the lowdown on double-entry accounting, you’ll note that the piece is entitled “Getting our hands dirty”.
Since it’s probably been many moons since the big guy has looked at a spredsheet — and he doesn’t really strike us as the type of guy to speak in metaphors — we’ll assume that he’s literally getting his hands dirty. That being said, we definitely envision something with a tool belt and possibly coveralls with an expertise in drywall or indoor plumbing.
If you’ve got thoughts on Dr. Phil’s latest scribal effort or what kind other blue-collar skills he has, discuss in the comments.
Getting our hands dirty [Washington Post]

Reports of Ernst & Young Layoffs Still Trickling In

We thought E&Y layoffs had finally quieted down but unfortunately late yesterday we learned of an additional ten cuts in the tax practice of the North Central region including Cincinnati, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.
These cuts in Cincy and the ‘Burgh are on top of the initial cuts we reported but this is the first tip we’ve received about layoffs in Detroit. Jump back to the main thread for the latest discussion and continue to keep us informed with details.

Satyam Would Like the U.S. Lawsuits Moved to India, Oh, and PwC Would Like to be Left Out Altogether

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgSatyam wants the U.S. Courts to kindly BTFO of business that should be handled in India. Specifically these silly fraud lawsuits.
Besides, PW India has already said that they want to bury the hatchet, so they feel that this whole will be best handled in the Eastern Hemisphere:

In a court filing yesterday, the software-services provider said it was joining a motion by its auditors, Price Waterhouse and Lovelock & Lewes, to dismiss the American fraud suits brought by investors.
“This case belongs in India,” the auditors wrote. “Satyam’s alleged billion-dollar fraud, as well as the allegedly improper audit, took place in India. Virtually all of the defendants are India-domiciled companies or individuals.”

P. Dubs India and Lovelock want the whole thing dropped since they were acting on the honor system. Annnnnnnd, since PwC International doesn’t have control over any of the individual firms they’d like it very much if the judge just dropped them out of this thing too:

PricewaterhouseCoopers International Ltd. said it should be dropped from the case because the investors failed to show it had control over its Indian member, Price Waterhouse, as is required by U.S. securities law.

From the looks of it, no PwC firm wants to be responsible for anything that went wrong with Satyam even though they signed the audit report. Fine, so can we agree that audit opinion was worthless? That’d be great.
Satyam Says U.S. Fraud Suits Must Be Moved to India [Bloomberg]

Ernst & Young Severance Negotiable?

Everything is negotiable, amiright? We heard that staff in one North Central office were given one month of severance but at least one person made a big enough stink that they ended up with three months. Personally, we thought the Big 4 was pretty inflexible on this point but hey, if it’s true, nice work.
Jump over to the main thread to check the latest discussion and if there are still details to be reported, get in touch.

Deloitte Names New Partner in Charge of Southeast Region

Thumbnail image for DTa.jpgSome leadership changes for Deloitte are being reported in the DC area, as Gary Tabach will be the new partner in the charge of the Southeast region:

Gary Tabach, Deloitte LLP’s Greater Washington managing partner, has been promoted to vice chairman and regional managing partner for the accounting and consulting firm’s Southeast region.
He is replacing Maritza Montiel, who has been named managing partner of leadership development and succession.
Tabach now oversees some 10,200 staffers in 20 offices from Baltimore to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Mr. Tabach still has to do most of the heavy lifting for his old job as he will remain the DC managing partner.
Ms. Montiel’s new position, managing partner of leadership development and succession, strikes as mysterious. That particular title gives the impression that she is “partner in charge of telling other partners that they need to lock it up or they’re fired”. If we’re in the ballpark let us know and keep us informed about any leadership changes for your office or region.
Deloitte’s Gary Tabach lands bigger regional role [Washington Business Journal (subscription required)]
Earlier:
New Deloitte Consulting CEO Plugs Magazine Lists, Shuns Facebook Fans

More KPMG Leadership Changes

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PomeranianSP1324.jpgJust a brief update on KPMG leadership moves that we’ve been following.

Late Friday we learned that the office managing partner (“OMP”) of the New York office has been promoted to serve as the Vice Chair of Market Development. Our understanding is that all the OMPs across the country will report to this position and it will focus on 21 key markets in the U.S.

The former head of the New York Financial Services will move up as the new New York OMP. No word on who will fill the leadership role in NYFS.

This appears to be the first instance where the OMP was promoted to a national position as opposed to a “client-facing role”.

Continue to keep us updated with the latest on the comings and goings of the grand poobahs and discuss your thoughts on the progress of the restructuring in the comments.

Earlier GC coverage of KPMG Leadership Changes and Restructuring:
Another KPMG Shake-Up
KPMG Shake-up Continues
Rumor Mill: KPMG Restructuring Plans
(UPDATE 2) KPMG Atlanta Shake-up Makes Us Wonder

CNN Says that Big 4 Business Is Blowing Up

That’s not necessarily verbatim but they’re definitely buying what the Big 4 bigwigs are selling.

If you saw the asinine CNN piece that came out on Thursday entitled “Accounting grows in shrinking economy“, you know what we mean.

The title itself should cause you to throw up in your mouth. Certainly the author of this gem, Kevin Voigt, isn’t talking about growth in revenues but he still manages to make a case for accounting industry stretrong>just that:

[T]he firms have emerged from the worst with balance sheets that would be enviable to most companies: Ernst & Young and Deloitte finished the 2009 fiscal year with flat growth, while PWC revenues were down 7 percent.

Getting nauseous yet?


Then there’s this:

[T]he Big Four firms continued to add to headcount through the recession. For example, PWC will end the year with 163,000 employees worldwide, an increase of “3 or 4 percent” from last year, Nally said. “There is a core element of what we do that continues regardless of the economy — public companies need audits, tax services need to be provided,” he said.

First, we notice that Dennis Nally conveniently left out that the ‘core element’ of services being provided is being done so with far fewer people. He makes it sound like that if you’re working in the audit or tax practices, your job is safe. We all know that’s not true.

Further, we’ll point out that E&Y did not add to their global headcount. That’s according to E&Y’s own press release for their revenue results.

It’s also interesting to note that the words “layoff” or “reduction in force” are nowhere to be found in the article. Voight manages to sneak it in with some subtlety:

Ernst & Young has kept hiring young college graduates, in part, because it wants to ensure an unbroken pipeline of talent after the crisis, Turley said.

“In a typical year, you would see 15 to 20 percent of our workforce hired away, not by our competitors, but by companies that need financial or tax or other financial talent … that process was curtailed this year because most in the marketplace weren’t hiring,” Turley said.

As a result, Ernst & Young and other Big Four firms have had selective culling of staff in some markets for performance-related issues. “We work in a high performance environment, and for those whom that environment doesn’t fit we’ve encouraged them to leave,” said Quigley of Deloitte.

“Culling of staff”? Interesting choice of words. Then Jim Quigley lies says that Deloittians were “encouraged” to leave the firm. That’s rich. Any former Deloitte people out there that would describe their experience differently?

The article also hints that — because Jim Turley said that typically, ’15 to 20 percent of our workforce hired away’ — the Big 4 had no choice to but to engage in the “selective culling of staff…for performance-related issues.”

To top it all off, Tim Flynn wasn’t even interviewed for this piece. In fact, KPMG is only mentioned ONCE in the whole article but Voight refers to the “Big 4” throughout. From the sounds of it, TF wasn’t in Singapore for the APEC and thus, probably not available (probably caddying). Just as well, if we were T. Flynn, we wouldn’t want our name included in this travesty anyway.

So gives us your thoughts on the latest Big 4 campaigning in the MSM. They make everything sound like it’s business as usual but as the discussion in our Exodus post indicates, the people on the front lines probably have a different opinion.

Accounting grows in shrinking economy [CNN]
Also see: CNN Lies: Accounting Industry Stronger Than Ever, Explosive Even [JDA]

GC Weekend: Update on Ernst & Young Layoffs

We received more details late yesterday on the E&Y layoffs. The latest cities reporting layoffs are now Minneapolis and Milwaukee.
We also learned that there were approximately ten layoffs in the tax practice last month in the Chicago office. These were all at the associate and senior associate level.
Check back to the original thread for the latest and continue to keep us updated.

Ernst & Young Layoffs Update, Friday Edition

We’ve updated the E&Y layoff thread to include the latest reports. Check the latest and send details to our tips line if your office is missing or have details to add.
Good luck to everyone that got laid off this week.

Ernst & Young Layoffs: The Latest

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ey_bandaids.jpgFrom a reliable source on the west coast we have learned that the advisory practice of E&Y was feeling left out and has decided to get into the act.
Twelve advisory professionals — we’re speculating that it was all staff at this point — were laid off today in the Pacific-Northwest Region. The only confirmed city that we have so far is San Jose. Emails were sent out last night and meetings with partners were held this morning. For an added personal touch, our understanding is that the staff met with partners that they were not previously acquainted.
Our calls to E&Y have gone unreturned. An E&Y spokesperson declined to comment.
Jump back to this post for all the details on this round of E&Y layoffs and get in touch with details for your city, practice, and severance.

New Deloitte Consulting CEO Plugs Magazine Lists, Shuns Facebook Fans

Thumbnail image for DTa.jpgDeloitte Consulting has appointed a new Chairman and CEO, Punit Renjen, succeeding Douglas Lattner. This is good news because A) fresh blood is always a positive and B) it’s news that doesn’t involve “Deloitte” and “lawsuit” in the same sentence.


Not only that but this Renjen character seems like a go-getter:

“I am honored to lead the talented professionals of this great consultancy, particularly at such a challenging time in the marketplace,” said Renjen.

Worst economic conditions in generations? Bah. Watch Renjen take this economy out to the woodshed. Granted, that may involve all the non-Punit Renjen Deloittians abandoning any semblance of a life outside of work for the duration of his tenure but it’ll be worth it. Why?

“Our commitment to our people is best reflected in Deloitte being named ‘The Best Place to Launch Your Career’ by BusinessWeek magazine for two years, being named a ‘Best Firm to Work for’ in 2009 by Consulting magazine and perennially ranked on Fortune’s ‘Best Companies to Work for’ list.”

Perpetual inclusion on arbitrary employer lists put out by business magazines, that’s why! While that should put your minds at ease, Renjen manages to overlook the ever-increasing Facebook, and Twitter numbers, so we wonder if he’s really cut out for this job. Just seems like a disservice to the Green-dot fans out there, that’s all.
Punit Renjen Named Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Consulting LLP [Press Release]

PwC Needs to Recognize Marketing Genius When They See It

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for becks.jpgAccountancy Age has a extra puffy puff piece on P. Dubs’ “head of sport” Julie Clark and how PwC will be everyone’s hero — and she’ll be a regular Einstein — if England can land the World Cup for 2018.
Sidebar: According to the piece, E&Y is sponsoring the Ryder Cup next year and Deloitte is sponsoring the Olympics in 2012. This brings up two points: A) Real original E&Y and B) What the hell, KPMG? If you want to keep up with the Joneses you better dump that always-a-bridesmaid (okay, occasional champion) golfer and get those letters on a BCS bowl or something.
Not only does Accountancy Age not give any details on Clark’s plans but they also manage to completely ignore the ingenious marketing campaign/sponsoring opportunity that would all but lock this thing up.
Need we remind everyone of our first brilliant (albeit subtle) suggestion regarding an accounting firm and a certain sponsored golfer? Working out, isn’t it?
Make no mistake, I’m sure Ms. Clark knows what she’s doing and we’re not expecting her to take our suggestion that seriously but if she blows it…We’ll be expecting a call.

Are We Experiencing a Big 4 Exodus?

Thumbnail image for Moving on.jpgMaybe! Nevermind people leaving involuntarily for a second.
We’re hearing from many that people are heading for the exits en masse and it’s getting the bigwigs’ attention. According to one reader:
“[A]pparently its got higher ups here a bit worried. It was an agenda [point] for a [recent manager] meeting. Just wondering how it was elsewhere. ”
Of course, this leads to many, many, many teams finding themselves short-staffed. We just heard that the New York office of one Big 4 firm has been contacting other offices aggressively recruiting audit personnel for huge advisory engagements. This has been received with a resounding “GET BENT” since those offices desperately need the people for their local audit engagements.
It can be easily argued that the reason people are bolting is because of the pay freeze trend or since no one’s job seems to be safe, people are simply taking matters into their own hands.
So discuss in the comments what you’re seeing, hearing, and speculating about regarding people leaving your firm. This may be an office by office phenomenon so we’ll put out to you to give us the details for your office, your team, your firm in general.

E&Y Layoff Update

Jump back to our post from yesterday to read the latest on this week’s cuts at E&Y.

Big 4 Sick Days: Open Thread

Benflu2_jpeg.jpgSince Team Jehovah is nabbing all the swine flu vaccine, there’s a pretty decent chance that some of you might come down with the H to 1 to the N to the 1. That has at least one reader concerned:

Can you look into the sick day policy at the Big 4’s? Is KPMG the only one who does not give any sick days? If you are sick you take the time from your PTO allowed (the days reduce your vacation time). I have seen people literally dying in the cubes – with temperatures, the chills etc – yet they insist on coming to work since they have no days left or don’t want to use their vacation time. Is this a responsible policy during the H1N1 epidemic???

We touched on this briefly but it’s worth revisiting since the swine flu coverage in the MSM is reaching fever pitch.
Discuss in the comments your firm’s sick days policy, if it’s forcing the bedridden to report, or it’s handing out surgical masks to everyone. Oh, and if you’re sick, for crissakes, stay home.

The Deloitte Lawsuit Du Jour

Thumbnail image for DTa.jpgDeloitte is doing a damn fine job of keeping attorneys in business these days.

Two founders of casino industry supplier Global Cash Access Holdings Inc. [(“GCA”)] of Las Vegas are suing an accounting firm, charging it harmed them by disclosing information in an FBI bulletin they say wrongly associated the founders with criminal activity.
Attorneys for Robert Cucinotta and Karim Maskatiya filed suit Friday in federal court in Las Vegas against Deloitte & Touche LLP and Larry Krause, managing partner of Deloitte’s Nevada practice.
Asked about the allegations Monday, Deloitte & Touche said in a statement: “We believe the complaint to be without merit and intend to defend against it vigorously.”

The lawsuit alleges that Deloitte told GCA’s audit committee that Cucinotta and Maskatiya were involved in criminal activity including, ‘murder, extortion, tax fraud and financial fraud, and also may be subject to substantial back taxes.’
That didn’t go over well:

Cucinotta and Maskatiya assert Deloitte didn’t contact them or investigate the information in the FBI Bulletin before contacting the GCA Audit Committee; and that Deloitte demanded that GCA investigate the allegations and said it wouldn’t certify the third quarter 2007 financial statements until the probe was completed.
The actions by Deloitte caused GCA to announce on Nov. 14, 2007, it would delay filing its quarterly financial report with the Securities and Exchange Commission pending conclusion of an investigation into “confidential” issues, the lawsuit says.
“Predictably, the market reaction to that shocking press release was brutal and GCA market capitalization declined by $400 million,” the lawsuit charged, adding Cucinotta and Maskatiya together lost almost $100 million in a single day.

GCA hired Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom to perform an internal investigation and the subsequent report found, ‘no evidence that (Cucinotta and Maskatiya) engaged in serious wrongdoing or are under investigation by law enforcement officials.’
Deloitte, still sketched out by Cucinotta and Maskatiya, threatened to resign as the auditors of GCA if they didn’t remove themselves from the company’s board of directors. Eventually the two men agreed and ‘pursuant to seriously oppressive terms’ sold all their shares in GCA back to the company.
So C&M get strong-armed into selling their shares back to company at a huge loss and now they want to Deloitte to settle up. While the plaintiffs’ seem to have a legitimate beef, was Deloitte acting as they should have?
Sure, maybe they jumped the gun with the information. It’s not uncommon. If you assume that Deloitte informed the audit committee that C&M were bad dudes to protect GCA’s investors, then they were probably acting in good faith (insane as that may seem). Auditors just can’t seem to win.
Casino supply company’s founders sue over link to criminal activity [Las Vegas Sun]

(UPDATE) Layoff Watch ’09: Update on Ernst & Young

In addition to the layoffs we reported on yesterday in Chicago and Dallas, we now have reports of cuts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Irvine. Our source on the left coast speculates that the current round can’t be too large in scope since everyone is already stretched thin.
So far it’s been in assurance only and we’re scant on details for severance so get in touch if you find yourself with some extra time on your hands or you have details on the numbers in your office.
UPDATE, Wednesday Nov 11th: Our sources are now reporting layoffs in the tax practice including the tax managing partner for the Phoenix office, and an executive director in Denver. We also have reports on tax layoffs in the Southern California offices. Per our source:

• Los Angeles: 4 that I know of. At least 1 Senior, 1 Staff
• Irvine: 4 that I know of. At least 1 staff
• San Diego: 4 that I know of. 3 Senior managers, 1 Senior.

Senior managers are reportedly receiving three months pay and A2’s are receiving one month for severance. Continue to keep us updated.
UPDATE 2, Thursday, November 12th: Twelve advisory professionals in the Pacific-Northwest region.
UPDATE 3, Friday, November 13th: Charlotte office dismissed three audit SA1’s. In the North Central region: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Cleveland offices all laid off three SAs. Twenty total layoffs reported between Pittsburgh (at least three), Cincinnati (at least three), Cleveland (3), and Detroit.
UPDATE 4: Saturday, November 14th: ~5-6 audit professionals in Minneapolis and ~1-2 audit in Milwaukee.
Chicago: In addition to the ~20 layoffs we originally reported there were ~2-3 in support roles were let go.

Rumor Mill: PwC Is Pretty Sure That No One in Assurance or Tax Will Be Laid Off

moritz_becks.jpgBob Moritz, the U.S. Chairman, is trying to calm everyone down, as an email has been sent to the troops letting them know that it’s unlikely that there will be layoffs in the Assurance or Tax practices. We haven’t been able to track down a copy of the email yet but that’s the gist.
While this is good news, we would be more comforable if the email would have read something like:
“We’re absolutely, 100% sure that no one in Assurance and Tax will be laid off like we just did in Advisory. Write it down. No one. Not even you, guy that dicks around in the cubicle by the window so that he can see everyone approaching. Your utilization is in the crapper but it’s cool. You’re safe.”
Or he simply could have just added the photo to the email so everyone would feel better. Nothing says, “trust me” like a fresh pair of P. Dubs tighty-whities, amiright?

Another KPMG Shake-Up

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PomeranianSP1324.jpgFollowing up on our earlier reports of leadership changes in several cities, — as well as the Southeast region — the Charlotte Business Journal is reporting that John Switzer now sits in the big chair of KPMG’s Charlotte office.
Swizter ascended to the new gig after serving as the managing partner of the Cleveland, Louisville, and Lexington offices.
This appears to be another restructuring switcheroo as Switzer’s predecessor, Paul Chapman, will be “[taking] a new role, serving some of the firm’s largest audit clients.”
As prestigious as that sounds, we’re inclined to believe that the bigwigs decided some fresh blood was needed in Ken Lewis land.
If you’ve got any news on freshly minted grand poobahs in your office, kindly pass along the details and feel free to speculate on the progress of the restructuring in the comments.
KPMG names managing partner [Charlotte Business Journal]

Big 4 Alumni Watch: Ex-KPMGer Wants You to Please Yourself (or Someone Else)

sex toys.jpgWhen considering your next professional move, do you take the time to ponder all the options? Oh sure, controller, technical accounting manager, CFO all sound nice but do they really get you excited about your work?

If you answer yes, then stop reading and return to Forbes.


Former Klynveldian, Matt Thomas is the co-founder of La Coquette a website for sex toys, paddles, handcuffs and other adult accessories. Unlikely as it may seem for an ex-Big 4 type to get into the business of sensual delights, he clearly is a master of utilizing critical thinking skills:

“sex has always sold – and we thought there was a gap in the market for really good quality products.”

Hear that? ‘A gap in the market for really good quality products’. Have you been able to find something that can provide eight hours of 24k bliss? How about leopard nipple tassels? Crystal handcuffs? Didn’t think so.

Plus, that device that you’ve dreamed about that plugs into your iPod and provides magical pleasure to the beat of JT? Dream no longer. The Naughtibod Vibrator will only set you back £46 and batteries are included.

Suffice to say, the man is far more interesting to talk to:

“It is a brave new world,” he laughs. “At dinner parties and weddings I used to tell people I was an investment banker and that would be that. Now, they’re hanging onto my every word!”

Although we understand Matt’s excitement about his newfound popularity, it can’t be that hard to keep someone’s attention if you’re carrying around a picture of a Shiri Zinn Minx vibrator. Call it a hunch.

Ex-Banker Tries His Luck with Sex Toys [City AM]

Jim Quigley Couldn’t Wait to Tell Everyone That Deloitte Will Be the New Auditor of Satyam

Thumbnail image for DTa.jpgJimbo obviously had ants in his pants and he couldn’t keep it to himself because after saying it’s a ‘done deal’ he admits, “The company is the one who would make the announcement. So I ought to be more cautious in terms of not speaking for them. We are prepared and ready to step into that role.”
Oh. So maybe JQ is talking out of school but he backpedaled nicely. We understand your excitement Jim but we also know that discretion is in order. Next time though, just throw caution to the wind. In fact, if it strikes you, don’t be afraid to mention how PwC screwed the pooch and their attempt to weasel out of the whole thing is a travesty.
Deloitte says will be auditors for Mahindra Satyam [Money Control]

Rumor Mill: PwC Tax Practice Eyeing Utilization

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgWe’ve received a tip that human resources for PwC has made calls to staff saying “the lead partner [of the] group is reviewing everyone’s utilization numbers one person at a time.”
This is occurring in at least one industry group in the New York tax practice. Although our source stated that it was not unexpected for utilization to be scrutinized, it seemed unusual for a lead partner to be examining so many individual utilization numbers. Then again, PwC isn’t really known for a transparent performance review process.
Since the forced ranking trend seems to be in full effect, this could be the new standard operating procedure. The timing also seems dubious in the wake of (or during) last week’s layoffs in the advisory practice.
If you’ve recently been informed that your utilization rate is getting a close eye (and this comes as surprise) or if you know of the motivation behind such close inspection, email us at [email protected].

Layoff Watch ’09: Ernst & Young

We’ve received tips that layoffs have recently occurred in both the Chicago and Dallas offices of E&Y. The reports out of Chicago were that layoffs occurred on Friday and over the weekend.
Our source told us that the Friday layoffs were seniors in the Retail and Consumer Products industry group and weekend layoffs were across as well as other industry groups. Altogether approximately 20 professionals.
We have fewer details on the Dallas layoffs except that they were a couple of managers from the asset management group in the audit practice. The small number leads us to speculate that these were performance related, similar to the cuts we reported in August.
There have been several rumors circulating about layoffs occurring this week at E&Y and other firms as well so if you have more details on the Chicago or Dallas layoffs or know of cuts in your office, send us the details to our tips line.

KPMG Has Its Reasons for Banning Google Talk

Klynveldians have been warned about certain software that should not, under any circumstances, be downloaded by any of you:
Picture 3.png
In the firm’s defense — and since they didn’t mention it — many of these programs are used by you to waste precious billable hours complaining to each other about a myriad of things including why the Phil Mickelson hats only come in black and white and where Tim Flynn and John Veihmeyer buy their suits (we hear Marshall’s but that could be total bupkis).
Furthermore, we’re not going to sit here and say that none of these programs present a legitimate risk. That would be foolhardy and insensitive.
What we do wonder about is what “disciplinary action” involves. Feel free to wildly speculate on this in the comments.

Layoff Watch: Update on PwC November ’09 Edition

We’ve confirmed that the layoffs have started.
The first casualty that we know of was out of the Boston office and worked in Forensic services. No severance details as of yet. Kindly update us with your office, service line and severance details.

Rumor Mill: ‘Meeting with Partner’ Requests Going Out at PwC

Maybe it’s just an informational sit-down for the new P. Dubs tighty-whities that you’re all going to be expected to wear but our contributor, Francine McKenna had this ominous tweet:
Picture 1.png
Apparently someone else may have an itchy trigger finger. According to the comments over at RTA the emails have gone out to an office on the east coast but nothing more specific than that.
Keep us updated if you get a notice or if you know someone who gets a notice, or you know someone who knows someone, etc.

Caption Contest Results: KPMG Scary Stories

Not a surprising choice but we thought it would be a closer race. The winner, garnering 45.5% of the vote, after the jump.
Thumbnail image for RL-Stine-and-kids_350.jpg

KPMG hires replacements for staff who were laid off.

What’s not known is what kind of offers they are getting. It’s an absolute certainly that it includes the standard CYA language: “Due to the volatility of the current economic conditions, your starting salary may be adjusted to market at the time you begin employment.”
Thanks to everyone for voting and we’ll have the results from our salary satisfaction poll later today.