KPMG Europe Makes an Announcement that Won’t Upset Anyone
In a demonstration of spreading the wealth or possibly just a strategic international ploy, KPMG Europe is adding seven new nations to its firm.
Regardless of the motivation, it clearly demonstrates that the most positive news that the
Scrooge American firm is capable of announcing is that it is ruining everyone’s holiday season prior to the start of football season so you have plenty of time to get over it.
KPMG Europe will add Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Georgia to its stable of bean counters. They join the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands and will increase the Europe revenues to over £4bn which probably could pay for a few parties (but not full bar) in the States.
KPMG Europe spreads wings to take in seven nations [Accountancy Age]
E&Y Appreciates the Little People
E&Y’s Dallas office sure appreciates their new associates because they’ll be the only ones getting pay raises this year. It’s either that or they want to the put them in the position for additional ridicule until the fresh batch of new associates comes on.
According to the tip we received, the announcement was made at the townhall meeting today and this is first office of any firm that we’ve heard of to make an official announcement to employees that pay was being frozen.
Those being promoted to a new level (e.g. SA to Manager) will receive bonuses but no details were given. We’ll update as we learn more.
Ernst & Young Interns Receiving Offers Today?
Guest 6 @ 1:03 informs us that interns may be returning from their little rendezvous with their international counterparts to find out if they made the cut of those receiving full time offers. This is clearly a matter of “win or lose, we still booze”.
So whether you’re a proud new E&Y’er or you dreams of being a CPA-rock star have been blown to smithereens, let us know the details. If you’ve got the scoop on salaries and numbers discuss in the comments or send us tips to [email protected]
Follow-up on PwC Layoffs
A quick follow-up on the layoffs we mentioned in last week’s firm watch that went down at the PwC Denver office. We heard over the weekend that it was approximately a dozen employees that got the boot and it occurred at all levels including at least one senior manager.
The layoffs, which occurred last month, were deemed to be “performance related” which has been P. Dubs’ consistent story regarding cuts. Similarly, everyone seems to consistently disbelieve that story. If you have more details regarding these layoffs or if there were recent layoffs at your office, let us know at [email protected].
Christmas Hanukkah Kwanzaa the Holidays in August
To round out the year, KPMG is kindly reminding everyone about the SPEND SMART initiatives implemented this year and with just two months to go in the fiscal year, the Radio Station has decided that some additional belt tightening is necessary.
We understand that the email we received will be sent out by each Office Managing Partner to each individual office. We have not received confirmation that employees have received the email.
We are reaching out to KPMG for co rong>See the Firm’s statement below.
According to the email obtained by GC, Radio Station’s leadership has decided that all offices will suspend this year’s holiday office parties. Instead offices will host “community service events” between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. We find this commendable that the firm wants to give back in this fashion but we imagine some of you probably would probably still like to get your holiday party drink on.
Some other cost cutting measures for August and September include:
Check out the entire text of the email, after the jump
To: All Partners and Employees
From: ANY OMP
Additional SPEND SMART Initiatives
First, I want to thank everyone in the ANY office for following the many SPEND SMART initiatives that the firm has implemented this year. Your compliance with the firm’s travel and meetings policies, as well as careful management of other costs, has enabled the firm to reduce our expenses by hundreds of millions of dollars.
In spite of some indicators that the economy may have hit its lowest point, businesses everywhere are still feeling the impact of the economic crisis, and that includes our firm. And while there are indications that the economy is at the beginning of a recovery, no one can accurately predict how long that will take.
With that in mind, the Operations Committee has identified some short-term cost management initiatives for travel and meetings that–if implemented immediately–can help us begin FY 2010 in a stronger position. Those measures are outlined below and remain in effect until October 1, unless otherwise noted.
During the next two months, the firm will be reviewing all of our Time and Expense policies to align with our cost structure for FY 2010 and beyond. However, we’ve made one decision now that will impact the way we celebrate the holiday season.
Community Service Event
The end of the calendar year is traditionally the time when KPMG offices hold parties to celebrate the holiday season. A great deal of time and planning go into these events and they are a great opportunity for all of us to get together in a festive atmosphere. However, given the impact of the economy on so many people’s livelihoods, people throughout the firm–at all levels–questioned whether there would be other ways we could create this same sense of community during the holiday season while giving back to those in need. After careful thought and consideration, firm leadership has decided that all KPMG offices will suspend this year’s holiday office parties and instead host a community service event between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
You may recall that last year, in lieu of a holiday gift, the firm donated a full week of meals to families in need through an organization called Feeding America. In total, we donated 1.6 million meals in the communities where we live and work.
This is a tremendous way for all of us to come together to help make a meaningful difference for people in need during the holiday season. You’ll be hearing more about this effort and how you can get involved later this fall.
In the meantime, please do all you can to follow the SPEND SMART guidelines we announced in October and the additional initiatives I’ve outlined below.
Meetings and Travel
· Additional Travel Restrictions – Airfare is one of our largest travel expenses. Currently, our policy provides partners and employees with a choice of airlines when traveling. Until October 1, the travel team will book the lowest cost flight for your destination and travel times, regardless of the airline. We also ask that you continue to limit non-client travel as much as possible, and verify the criticality of all international travel.
· Car Service – Until October 1, car service may only be used when a taxi or one’s own car is not available. We also ask that you use taxis for transportation to and from airports, rather than a car service. If taxi service is not available in your city or area, or the cost of using a taxi exceeds that of using a car service, a car may be used. We will continue to honor our car service policy for employees required to work past 8:00 p.m. during winter and 9:00 p.m. in the summer; however, we expect that during August and September the need for this service will be rare. Click here for information about our transportation policy.
· Meal Reimbursements – During August and September, we are putting the following policies in place regarding meal reimbursements:
Lunch – Lunch for partners and employees while traveling will not be reimbursed since this is a meal that one would buy during the workday regardless of location. We will continue to reimburse lunch meetings with clients.
Non-client Meals – During these two months, the firm will not reimburse non-client meals held outside our offices. Meal expenses for those traveling for internal training or meetings are subject to the expense limits allowed by our meal policy. As always, team leaders should use their judgment when ordering meals for groups working overtime.
Cell Phones, PDAs, and Other
· One Mobile Device per Person – Effective August 1, we will no longer reimburse individuals for both a cell phone and a TreoTM or Blackberry®. People who have both devices have the option of adding phone service to their PDA. If you wish to keep both devices, you will be charged the full price of service for one. In addition, per our existing policy, we will deduct $20 a month from everyone using firm-supplied cell phones or PDAs. We also encourage you to review your current plan to determine whether you need all the features to which you’ve subscribed. To learn more about the various mobile plans available to you, please click here.
· Inter-office Mail: Use Scanning and e-Fax – Going forward, we will be looking at ways we can reduce the cost of handling interoffice mail, including the frequency of delivery. In the meantime, we encourage you to make use of all the technology available within the firm to send documents between offices, including scanning documents that can then be e-mailed to colleagues or clients. When scanners are not available, make use of our e-Fax capabilities. Check with your local OneStopOps group to learn more about these services.
In closing, both the ALL partners and I want to thank all of you for your ongoing support of our SPEND SMART initiatives. Your efforts have made a difference and we continue to welcome suggestions to help our office and the firm run more efficiently.
Even more important, we want to thank you for your high-quality service to our clients. We all know that these are difficult times, but that is why our clients are depending on us to deliver our highest standards of service and professionalism.
Thank you for your continued support.
UPDATE, 5:51 pm EST: We reached out to KPMG regarding the Grinchiness and we were provided with this statement:
“Like businesses everywhere, we’re identifying cost-saving opportunities that will provide the most benefit while still allowing us to provide high quality service to our clients.”
Rumor of the Day: Comp and Bonus Pools at Big 4 Seriously Depleted
We’re not trying to ruin your Friday but at the very least, this might encourage some of you to get your drink on a little earlier than planned.
Rumor received late last night that a Big 4 CEO was asked about compensation and bonuses at some grin n’ grip and he responded that the compensation adjustment and bonus pools for all the Big 4 firms was going to be down 90%.
This fits together nicely with the rumors of freezing and/or cutting pay that have been going around. Okay, now try to get some work done or figure out where you’ll be having that three martini lunch.
Lock up the Booze, E&Y Interns in Orlando
We just picked up one of the few Tweets that has made it through today:
This type of event will likely lead to many things including international hookups, late night skinny dipping (and probably urinating) in the pool, and widespread drunkenness of epic proportions.
If you’re down in Orlando this weekend for this three day extravaganza, send us your stories of debauchery to [email protected]. According to the website, the festivities are at Disney World, so don’t embarass
your firm yourself and try to keep the nudity out of the view of children.
International Intern Leadership Conference [EY.com]
Firm Watch: Deloitte
The last of the Big 4 Horsemen of the Bean Counter Apocalypse is Big D-period. Catch up on the rest of the usual suspects: Radio Station, P. Dubya, and E&Y to get the gist of this little exercise.
Deloitte’s got a pretty similar list as the rest of the firms but with a couple twists so let’s get down to brass tacks:
Get the details, after the jump
• Losing Clients – We’ve heard that firms are low-balling their RFP’s so it’s no surprise that some clients are switching but Deloitte seems to have had worse luck than others. UAL, Heelys (for the kids), Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Washington Mutual have all disappeared from D-period.
• Lawsuits – Believe it or not, the Parmalat debacle is not a done deal, as some lawsuits against the US and Internationalfirms are still out there as a judge ruled in January that the agent/agency issue was worth a closer look.
• Madoff Exposure – All week we’ve been referring you to the list of Feeder Fund Lawsuits over at D&O Diary. In a small water into wine moment, Deloitte does not appear on the list once. Nice bullet dodge Big D.
• Overtime Lawsuits in California – Deloitte is listed as the defendant in three of the cases.
• Layoffs, performance reviews, etc. – So, as we saw yesterday, this is where Deloitte’s sitch gets, pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay ugly. Layoffs were reported in both December and March nationwide. The
performance stealth cuts are common here too and more may occur. All this is going on while an out-going CEO is talking to the press about how bad things have been in the last five years and the UK CEO is having Scrooge McDuck pool parties.
• Miscellaneous – The worst drug dealers in the world used to work for Big D.
So that does it for Deloitte, God bless ’em. And that does it for the
Final Big 4. We’ll throw in GT and BDO in for good measure but if you want to throw some more jabs at the big boys, email us at [email protected]. You’ve got until around high noon tomorrow before we’ll start coming up with our completely unfair and unscientific ranking.
Firm Watch: KPMG
dissecting opining on sliming P. Dubs and E&Y, we’re moving on to KPMG in round three. We’ll dispense with the pleasantries and get right to the list:
• New Century Lawsuit – This is the ball buster for KPMG. A $1 billion lawsuit filed back in April that alleges “grossly negligent audits”. This tale also includes a
smoking gun quote from an email sent from New Century engagement partner to a specialist, “As far as I am concerned, we are done. The client thinks we are done. All we are going to do is piss everybody off.” We’re not sure if it’s possible to take that out of context.
Check out the rest of the Radio Station’s list, after the jump
• Madoff Exposure – Per D&O Diary, the Radio Station is named as a defendant in at least ten lawsuits as a result of auditing the Madoff feeder funds.
• Overtime Lawsuits – Listed as a defendant in five lawuits.
• Layoffs, Pay Freezes, etc. – Allegedly, the word that pay was being frozen was slowly leaked from the top on down. Layoffs have been pretty steady for the last twelve months including rounds in November and March in the audit and advisory practices. In addition, the ubiquitous trend of performance rating cuts is in full effect, and we just learned that by the this time last year, audit interns had heard yay or nay on receiving a full time offer. That probably makes for some
nervous intoxicated co-eds.
• Miscellaneous – Phil Mickelson, the Radio Station’s walking billboard, was a bridesmaid at the U.S. Open for a
third fourth fifth time.
Done-zo. Anything else you want to see tacked on? Drop us the dirt at [email protected] and we’ll get it in for the final tab.
Preliminary Analytics | 08.05.09
• Donald Trump Faces Bondholder Battle in Bid to Reclaim Casinos – Our advice: Don’t mess with this
hair ego man. [Bloomberg]
• ADP Says U.S. Companies Decreased Payrolls by 371,000 – The trend of lesser bad news continues. [Bloomberg]
• Banks Get Picky In Doling Out Credit Cards – Postal workers rejoice. [WSJ]
• Chinese survey finds prostitutes more trusted than officials – More bang for your buck. [The Raw Story via Naked Capitalism]
Deloitte UK CEO Does All Right For Himself
Apparently Deloitte was feeling a little left out of the populist outrage because after the news that Big D UK reported shrinking revenues yesterday, today we learn out that John Connolly, Big D CEO across the pond, earned £5.22 million this past year.
Not too shabby even though that’s a little less than his earnings last year of £5.69 million, according to the London Evening Standard.
Big John should probably send some biscuits over to the Royal Bank of Scotland for the payday as RBS paid Deloitte nearly £59 million this past year, up from the £31 million in the year prior. RBS has received billions of bailout funds from the UK government, so some crazy taxpayer wrath headed in the direction of Big D would not be outside the realm of possibility.
Deloitte boss rakes in £5.2m after the bailout of RBS [London Evening Standard]
Firm Watch: Ernst & Young
Round two of our Firm Watch this week covers everybody’s favorite resident of Times Square, Ernst & Young. We’ll get started on E&Y’s trubs with the Schein lawsuit where the firm was recently found to be marginally negligent and were ordered to pay a smidge over $10 mil as a result. NBD really, as E&Y probably spends that much money screwing up the spelling of their name on cheesy coffee cups.
The more serious stuff on E&Y, after the jump
Here’s some major stuff that probably keeps some E&Y partners awake at night:
• Lehman Brothers – E&Y’s role in the collapse of Lehman Brothers has got little attention in the press, however, suits have already been filed by San Mateo County in California, the City of Long Beach, California and the Southern District of Texas. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to speculate that more suits are likely to be filed.
• Madoff Exposure – E&Y also has significant Madoff exposure, as the auditor of several feeder funds. D&O Diary has them listed as defendants in at least ten different lawsuits.
• Layoffs – There have lots of reports of layoffs at E&Y in the last month or so, many of which occurred in the tax practices in the Northeast, and many of those getting the axe were supposedly on visas. Real classy. This was a follow-up to layoffs that also went down in February. As if that’s not enough, there were also rumors of layoffs occurring monthly since September ’08 in the Detroit office. Plus, with lots comments about stealth layoffs at all levels, it sounds like it has been a bloodbath at E&Y.
So that seems to be the major stuff, from our view, for E&Y. Again, we want to know what we’re missing. We’re looking for tips and dirt on any of the things we discussed above and everything we didn’t mention. Email us at [email protected] and we’ll get all your additional gripes on here.
Deloitte UK Reports Shrinking Revenues
Big D’s UK revenue was down 2% to £1.93 bil for the latest fiscal year, marking the first time a Big 4 firm has reported declining revenues in six years.
Partners are still doing okay though, as they will receive £601 million. That’s an average of £883,000 per partner. Not too shabby, even though that’s down over 7%.
Leaders within the firm are expecting another rough year ahead for the economy but are still planning for “growth not contraction”. We’re not sure how that fuzzy math will work but whatevs.
Oh, and little D’s, don’t worry, you got a shout-out from John Connolly the UK CEO: “our success will continue to be the product of our exceptionally talented people being relentlessly committed to our clients, to market leading, innovative service and to an obsession with quality”.
Relentlessly committed. Obsession with quality. Sounds like they must have re-instituted the tradition of shipping the
criminals lesser performers down under.
Deloitte revenue drops in `extremely tough’ market [Accountancy Age]
Deloitte’s UK revenues shrink 2% [FT.com]
Barry Salzberg’s Imaginary Advice for the President on Healthcare
We’re not going to debate about healthcare here because after about one-tenth of a nanosecond we’d consider jumping out the window. What we would like to discuss is Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte-period, giving imaginary advice to the President on how to proceed with his strategy in getting support behind his reform efforts.
Check out some real advice, after the jump
Bar lays out his advice for B to the O in classic accountant fashion, ” I would counsel more patience.” and “Measured haste, you might call it. My advice to the president would be to find that balance of urgency and patience.” Haste. Balance. VOMIT. Wouldn’t you like to see one of these stoic Big 4 CEO’s just give completely batsh!t crazy advice on something, JUST ONCE?
Like if Salz advised that Obama’s strategy should consist of hosting Lebowski Fest at the White House. Bowling, white russians, chicks in viking costumes. That’ll get the people behind your plan Bam.
Measured haste. Pfffft. Is it any wonder everyone thinks accountants are boring? Feel free to discuss your favorite Big 4 CEO and all their words of wisdom they’re constantly bestowing upon you.
Subtlety Not a Strong Suit for Some Deloitte Aussies
Rumor out of Deloitte down-under, where, supposedly, some associates got canned because of organizing drug deals on Big D’s premises. Details are pretty scarce but this got us thinking:
More, after the jump
1. They were probably tax associates. They’re an unassuming bunch.
2. Is the pay so bad in Australia that Big D associates are resorting to illegal means of earning supplemental income? Wouldn’t turning tricks be easier?
3. How in God’s holy name did these f’n amateurs get busted? We’re they walking around soliciting potential customers like they were at a Phish concert?
We reached out to a Deloitte spokesperson who said they won’t comment on rumors. If you hear of other extracurricular activities going on at any of the firms, shoot us the scoop at [email protected]
KPMG Thinks the Appearance of Independence is Overrated
The Radio Station is throwing caution to the wind in the UK, accepting a new arrangement with Rentokil Initial, that brings out the ghosts of accounting scandals past. Under the new agreement, the firm will serve as both the external auditors and take on internal audit work, working alongside the client’s internal audit staff.
Prior to the new agreement with KPMG, Rentokil’s external auditor was PwC and internal audit services were provided by Deloitte.
Last we checked, audit textbooks still state that external auditors are to be independent in fact and appearance but KPMG UK must have got their hands on an edition that was printed in auditor bizarro world.
Rentokil’s KPMG deal raises eyebrows [FT.com]
Firm Watch: PwC
This week we’re putting together a series of posts on the six largest accounting firms to give you an idea what their latest image seems to be based on the latest news and rumors we’ve read or heard about them. At the end of the week we’ll wrap up with a completely unscientific and probably unfair ranking which you will be
allowed expected to take exception with.
We’ll start with P. Dubs because they seem to have had the uncanny ability to attract bad news lately:
Get the gory details, after the jump
• Satyam Fraud in India – $1b fraud, two auditors rotting in jail, Satyam throwing the Firm under the bus every chance it gets. This is the story that will definitely not go away.
• Discrimination Suit in London – GBP 40 million lawsuit, including alleged sexual harassment. P. Dubs is saying the lawsuit is “without merit” but at the very least there are a number of bigots working there.
• Rumors of PwC interns working 60 hour weeks in the New York office. Might as well give them an idea of what they’re in for, right?
• Chosen to take a
suicide mission contract in Somalia to monitor the incoming aid
• Wage and hour lawsuits in California – Listed as defendant in three cases
• Huron Consulting Restatement – P. Dubs isn’t mentioned in this debacle. YET.
• Madoff exposure – listed as a defendant in over a dozen lawsuits.
As for layoffs, we haven’t heard much lately. There was a rumor that the PwC Denver office had let some associates go in the past few weeks but we don’t have any more details than that. Layoffs that have occurred in the past year at PwC we’re rumored to be of the stealth variety and not related to the recession which nobody really believes.
So, that does it for P. Dubya for now. What are we missing? Whatever office you work out of, send us the latest scoop on layoffs, performance reviews, promotions, pay raises, bonuses, juicy gossip, scandalous stories, etc. to [email protected] and we’ll update the posts appropriately throughout the week.
UK Court Decides it Will Leave the Major Lawsuits to the Americans
Big 4 firms dodge a bullet in the UK as the highest court dismissed a negligence lawsuit against an accounting firm that failed to detect fraud that brought down a trading company. The ruling will significantly limit the firms’ liability in cases “where a determined criminal drives a company to financial ruin”.
Doesn’t make sense to us, since if you can’t make auditors accountable, who the hell is accountable? Hey, whatevs, we’re sure the Big 4 and other accounting firms won’t be celebrating long anyway, since a ruling like this won’t happen in the States, which is where the serious money gets handed over.
Auditors win ruling over Madoff-style frauds [FT.com]
California Overtime Lawsuits Update
This is our initial coverage of the overtime lawsuits against some of the major accounting firms doing business in California. For those of you not up to speed, these suits were filed by non-licensed associates who believe they were misclassified under California law as exempt professionals and are due overtime and other benefits due to non-exempt employees.
The suits are all in various stages but the key case that may determine how the other cases will proceed is Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Campbell is currently awaiting argument before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The primary issue before the court has to do with whether or not, under the professional exemption, an associate is required to be licensed by the state of California in order to qualify for exempt status. Counsel for Campbell essentially argues that only licensed or certified accountants can qualify for exempt status in California while PwC argues that uncertified accountants who can qualify as “learned professionals” are exempt employees and thus not eligible for overtime pay.
The U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of California granted summary judgment on liability in favor of Plaintiff Campbell and ruled that attest associates must have a license in order to be exempt. The court further held that they may not qualify for exempt status under the “learned professional” section of the exemption. However because the trial court felt it was a close question, it certified the matter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for interlocutory appeal.
According to Bill Kershaw, of Kershaw, Cutter, Ratinoff LLP, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, the ruling in this matter could have significant repercussions for other remaining wage and overtime lawsuits. Mr. Kershaw believes that if 9th Circuit does rule in the favor of the plaintiffs, then the likelihood of the case resolving itself prior to trial would substantially increase.
If the court of appeals rules that learned professionals can be defined as exempt, PwC (and likely the other defendant accounting firms) will center their argument back in the trial court on the appeals court’s ruling that unlicensed accountants are indeed “learned professionals.”
We contacted Dave Nestor, Head of Communications for PwC in the U.S. and he provided us with the Firm’s statement:
PwC believes that its attest associates are professionals who spend the majority of their time engaged in challenging work requiring the use of their intellectual abilities, judgment and discretion. Based on these and other factors, PwC’s attest associates are properly considered exempt under applicable law, and are therefore appropriately compensated.
We’ve provided a list below of all the cases against accounting firms currently in the courts in California for your information. Check the list for your firm and please remember that it is your right to participate in any of the class action lawsuits if you meet the criteria set forth in the case. Even if you are still employed by the firm being sued, they cannot retaliate against you.
Likewise, you can participate in the case on behalf of the defendants if you are approached and choose to do so. You also have the right to not participate at all if you so choose.
If you receive any correspondence from your firm regarding the overtime and wage lawsuits, please let us know using [email protected]. We’ll always keep you anonymous.
We’ll be covering this story as it progresses and continue to check back here for periodic updates.
Does The Times (UK Edition) Have a Hot Crush on PwC?
The Times Online put out its “Top 100 Graduate Employers” list today and P. Dubya tops this list for the fifth year in a row. We congratulate P. Dubs on this momentous achievement but can’t help but wonder about such a dominating performance by a Big 4 firm.
More details, after the jump
The first thing we notice on the list is that the TOP THREE (PwC, Deloitte, KPMG) are Big 4 firms. These four came in the exact same order on last year’s list. The red-headed step child of the Big 4 is apparently E&Y who comes in at #11.
Accenture came in at #4 and Goldman Sachs sneaks in at #10 but JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, IBM, and Google all fall outside the top 20. Other notables include McKinsey & Company at #48 and Grant Thornton at #97 (that’s eight spots behind the Transport of London, btw).
So what we’re wondering is how the Big 4 can dominate this list while in States they seem to be all over the map (highest on Fortune’s list was E&Y at #51) . Are the firms in the UK allowing employees to crush three or four pints at lunch and thus making work infinitely more tolerable?
UK readers, let us know why you’ve seemingly got it so good across the pond. As for my fellow Americans, what do you think is going on over there that we’re all missing out on? We’ve never seen The Queen in her damned undies, so maybe that’s it? Anyone done any rotations and have first hand knowledge of the awesomeness that is the Big 4 life in the UK? We’re thinking there’s got to be some reasons…
The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers [List]
Top 100 graduate employers: No 1 – PricewaterhouseCoopers [Times Online]
UAL Dumps Deloitte for Ernst & Young
Deloitte has gotten dumped by UAL, the parent company of United Airlines, for E&Y. The change will be effective after D-Period finishes the 2009 fiscal year-end audit engagement. This continues the trend of heartbreak for Deloitte, who was kicked to the curb by Heelys over fees.
UAL claims that it doesn’t have any disagreements with Deloitte which we don’t really believe. They have to disagree on something. White Sox vs. Cubs fans at the very least.
More after the jump
Also, changing your auditor isn’t like changing your underwear (well, it might be hard for some). We’ve got the feeling some top brass at UAL were sick of shacking up with Deloitte. However, the article also states that UAL cited the mandatory rotation of the lead partner, “firms often choose to seek bids for audit work in anticipation of that rotation.” Okay, going out to bid to tease the other firms is one thing but actually opting for a change is quite another.
We’re guessing there’s more to this story, so if you’ve got some inside dirt on this latest break up, let us know at [email protected].
UAL hires E&Y to replace Deloitte as accountant [Reuters]
PwC’s New Investigation Will Invite Terrible Bovine Jokes
PwC has investigators all up in their grills again as another audit is going to be subject to an investigation. This time a sub-prime lender in the UK, Cattles.
Cattles is blaming the whole shitshow on a “breakdown in internal controls”, which has been the standard PR sound bite since before Enron.
The Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB), which regulates the profession, announced the inquiry on Thursday.The board, part of the Financial Reporting Council, said it would examine the conduct of PwC and its individual auditors concerning the preparation of financial statements of Cattles and Welcome Financial Services, its subsidiary, for the year ended December 31 2007 and for the six months ended June 30 2008.
According to one analyst referenced in FT Alphaville, Cattles was letting loans go 240 days delinquent before taking any impairment charges. Apparently PwC was okay with that practice.
And since the AADB is going to be looking at “individual auditor conduct”, what are they going to discover? Besides the partner and manager’s daily fat-cat lunches, obv. We invite your thoughts.
We’ve also got the feeling that this might be the type of engagement where you could include a high-def photo of the manager dry-humping the partner’s leg (wearing a leash and spiked collar, natch) as part of the audit workpapers and it would get signed off on anyway. But, like we said, it’s just a feeling.
UK watchdog opens probe into PwC audit of Cattles [Reuters]
Regulator probes PwC over Cattles audit [FT.com]
Ernst & Young Found to be ‘Marginally Negligent’ in Superior Bank Case, Will Pay Plaintiff $10M
Color us surprised:
A Broward County jury on Wednesday dealt a small blow to Ernst & Young in a negligence and fraud lawsuit, deciding that the accounting giant was only marginally negligent for a local businessman’s losses in connection with the demise of Superior Bank in 2001.
UPDATE, 7:00 pm EST, E&Y Statement: We believe we should have prevailed and will seek appropriate relief from the courts.
Ernst & Young to pay $10M in Superior Bank lawsuit [Triangle Business Journal]
Big 4 Firms Will Probably Have to Cut Some Checks
International Global Coordination was able to dodge the bullet in the Banco Espirito case, litigation against the Big 4 has been pretty quiet. Oh sure, you could bring up Schein v. E&Y but the money at stake isn’t that big and Schein is claiming Oliver Stone-type conspiracy theory so we’re hesitant to get too worked up about it.
However, if you’re craving bean counter courtroom drama it won’t be long until you’re up to your ass in Jack McCoy-types screaming about how crooked accountants are.
According to research firm, Audit Analytics, there are eight firms at risk for potential lawsuits related to King Ponzi alone along with six other potential lawsuits related to the financial clusterfuck.
Audit Analytics also was kind enough to pull together some data on who’s winning the race to pay out the most settlement. The top 50 malpractice suits against the Big 4 since 1999 break down like this, per Compliance Week:
1. E&Y – $1.92 billion
2. KPMG – $1.42 billion
3. PwC – $1.27 billion
4. Deloitte – $1.24 billion
Don’t expect the trend of the firms handing over asstons of cash to end anytime soon as settling these cases out of court seems to be best way for the firms to extend their seemingly shortening lives.
Promotion Watch: KPMG
Forgive us for being a little behind on this, we’re still twisting arms out there:
On July 15th, the Radio Station announced the promotion of 874 new Senior Managers and Managers. This compares to 1,228 that got the bump last year.
Some might say that there were less people up for promotion this year, hence the drop. Others might say “that’s because I got the axe and now live on government cheese”.
Click on the image below for a full-size view of the announcement (please note the crookedness as a sign of authenticity). Anyway, congrats to all the new
taskmasters managers at KPMG!
Center for Audit Quality Continues to Be Made Up of Firms Doing Bad Audits
Per Web CPA, the Center of Audit Quality has re-elected the four members of its governing board:
Ernst & Young chairman and CEO James Turley has been unanimously re-elected to serve a second term as chair of the governing board. Michele Hooper, co-founder of The Directors’ Council, and AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon will extend their service as co-vice chairs. Harvard business administration professor Lynn Paine has been re-elected as a public board member.
BFD, right? Perhaps but it’s worth noting that the rest of the board is also primarily made up of representatives from large firms:
Crowe Horwath CEO Charles M. Allen, former SEC Commissioner Harvey J. Goldschmid, PricewaterhouseCoopers Chairman Robert E. Moritz (who replaced Dennis M. Nally on the CAQ board), Grant Thornton CEO Edward E. Nusbaum, Deloitte CEO Barry Salzberg, McGladrey & Pullen managing partner David R. Scudder, KPMG CEO John B. Veihmeyer (who replaced Timothy P. Flynn on the CAQ board) and BDO Seidman CEO Jack Weisbaum
In case you’re not counting, all Big 4 firms are represented along with BDO and Grant Thornton. That’s all well and dandy and I’m sure these guys could at least audit their way out of a paper bag but has it occurred to anyone that all these “representatives of the industry” work for firms that continue to have problems with AUDIT FAILURE?
The list is long of pending litigation but the firms don’t really seem to mind because they’ll claim TBTF. They have the AICPA set out this nice little group, focused on “audit quality” in order to put out press releases about the “work” they’re doing, meanwhile, audits still keep blowing up. Yeah, I guess re-electing the same people will be fine.
CAQ Governing Board Re-elected [Web CPA]
Our Speculation About the Motivation Behind Deloitte’s Most Recent Survey
Big accounting firms like doing surveys. We’ve often thought about the motivation behind the constant surveys and further wonder if firms ever josh the numbers around out of a personal vendetta against its rivals, enemies, former clients, etc.
Deloitte’s survey that states that American consumers are planning on spending less this back-to-school season causes us to speculate as to why the Big D would do such a survey? It’s a nice little press release we suppose. Shows that the firm is plugged into the current state of the economy, etc., etc. But then we got to thinking about how Heelys, the obnoxious shoes with wheels, recently dumped Deloitte because their fees were too high in favor of Grant Thornton.
Far be it from us to speculate about the temperament of a Big 4 accounting firm when it has business swiped away by a second-tier firm but isn’t it possible that Deloitte is bitter about the whole sitch? Isn’t it possible that Deloitte is merely putting out this survey as a way to scare consumers out of spending money on back-to-school junk like Heelys?
Back-to-School Shoppers Plan to Spend Less, Save More [Bloomberg]
Ernst & Young Is Here to Help (For a Small Fee)!
We thought that Ernst & Young was advising the New York Fed on the winding down of AIG out of the goodness of their hearts but it turns out it’s actually about the money.
E&Y could make as much as $60 million advising the New York Fed, which is 50% more than the initial agreement, according to Bloomberg. The NYF is also reimbursing E&Y for expenses, up to 10% of the professional fees. This occurs after the parties had initially said $40 million would be the cap but $60 mil is it, we swear, no more.
And because E&Y is solid like that, the firm is billing out partners and directors at discounted rates ($775/hour). I mean, ’cause, let’s face it, this thing’s a mess and E&Y is going to be working hard, working late, working weekends.
Ernst & Young’s Maximum Pay for AIG Advice Swells [Bloomberg]
In Case You Need Another Reason to Hate the French
Walking around the PwC office in Midtown Manhattan, our blogospondent in the field happened across a couple of young ladies having the picture taken in front of the P Dubya sign out front, proudly posing as if it was their names on the building at 300 Madison.
Said blogospondent approached the young ladies and asked if they worked at the P Dub and they responded in heavily French accents, “yes”. As result of further prying, it was revealed that the ladies do work a lot during “busy times”, sometimes between 50 and 60 hours a week!
This compared to an American tax associate who we spoke to just a couple days before who, in the last fifteen days, had worked 185 hours.
Let’s recap: America – 185 hours in 15 days in the middle of June vs. France – 50-60 hours in one week during the “busy time”.
American vitriol towards the French may now ensue.