September 22, 2021

PwC

PwC Needs a Few Good Accounants…Average Accountants Will Do Fine Too

We had little intention of hitting the Big 4 Superfecta today but sometimes that’s how the workpapers shred, amiright?

Back in April, Ernst & Young put its people on a mission to find friends, enemies, jilted lovers, basically anyone that you’ve ever met, and refer them to E&Y.

Well now PricewaterhouseCoopers is getting on this action, as a source tells us that assurance and advisory needs bodies ASAP and Bob Moritz is encouraging you to get out there and start tricking telling people that they should join the 24/7 disco dance party that is the P. Dubs experience. And just in case your pure unadulterated love for PwC isn’t enough, TPTB are bumping up the referral bonuses:

Bring a friend to the firm

I want you to know that your leadership team recognizes how this phenomena is affecting many of you, and we’re working on ways to help better distribute that workload. One way is by increasing our efforts around talent acquisition, both in terms of getting it done faster and finding new and improved ways of sourcing talent. By increasing our staffing levels, we hope to lighten up the pressure you’re feeling and better spread the work around. We already know one of the best ways to attract new talent is to tap into your personal and professional networks, and we want to make it worth your while. That’s why we’re increasing our employee referral bonuses for client service positions between now and September 30th.

Click here to go to our career site, see our open positions and read more about how our enhanced referral bonus program works. We also want to increase the level of excitement, fun and passion around the firm. You’ll be hearing from me soon about some interesting ideas we plan to implement, as well as from your market leaders and/or functional and vertical leaders about local Pulse results and ways we plan to address them.

Whoa! “Increase the level of excitement, fun and passion around the firm”? Any ideas on what this could possibly be? We’ll get things rolling:

A) Hug a new partner day.

B) Sending the interns on wild goose chases.

C) Brainstorming sessions on how to poach some partners from E&Y.

D) Two words: Undies only.

E) Your ideas…

PwC May Have Overlooked Billions in Illegal JP Morgan Transactions. Oopsie.

Now £15.7 billion may not seem like much to you if you are, say, Bill Gates or Ben Bernanke but for PwC UK, it may be the magic number that gets them into a whole steaming shitpile of trouble.

UK regulators allege that from 2002 – 2009, PwC client JP Morgan shuffled client money from its futures and options business into its own accounts, which is obviously illegal. Whether or not JP Morgan played with client money illegally is not the issue here, the issue is: will PwC be liable for signing off on JPM’s activities and failing to catch such significant shenanigans in a timely manner?


PwC did not simply audit the firm, they were hired to provide annual client reports that certified client money was safe in the event of a problem with the bank. Obviously that wasn’t the case.

The Financial Reporting Council and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England are investigating the matter, and the Financial Services Authority has already fined P-dubs £33.3 million for co-mingling client money and bank money. That’s $48.8 million in Dirty Fed Notes if you are playing along at home.

Good luck with that, PwC. We genuinely mean that.

Inquiries mount after PwC ‘failed to notice’ mistakes [Times UK]

PwC Interns Have Invaded Grand Central Station

If they ask, try to resist giving them bogus directions.

PwC’s Ian Powell Will Have You Know That His Firm Is Turning Away Millions in Business in the Name of Independence

It could be argued that the Big 4 is on some thin ice re: independence by trying to grow their advisory businesses. But hey, can you blame them? The audit and tax service lines alone can’t keep the lights on of a multi-billion dollar firm (but not really one firm, it’s actually a network of firms that operate under a single name, JSYK).

And besides, if you were to ask Ian Powell, the UK Chair of PwC, he’d tell you that they have to beat off clients with a stick that want that PwC experience all over them. But you know what? Independence is far too crucial tenant of the business to be jeopardized by some overeager clients that are throwing a few million clams at P. Dubs. THEY. DON’T. NEED. IT.


Mr Powell put down his binoculars to give an interview to the Financial Times where the “affable and youthful-looking” Chair dispelled any idea that the consulting business posed any risk to PwC losing its independence merit badge:

Mr Powell thinks the traditional skills of consulting can still have great value, such as in “sourcing, outsourcing, supply chain and workforce efficiency” – areas PwC has been investing in – “that can demonstrate a short term payback”.

Here again he faces controversy – persistent claims since the collapse of Enron that the Big Four’s growing consulting practices could affect their audit independence.

He responds: “We will not take on any assignment that we believe either will bring us into any independence issue, but even more so would bring us into any perceived independence issue – so we turn away millions and millions of pounds worth of business each year.”

PwC boss seeks debate on regulation [FT]

Promotion Watch ’10: PwC Admits 83 New Partners

[caption id="attachment_12392" align="alignright" width="260" caption="83 pairs of undies just like ours!"][/caption]

Is it a complete coincidence that it’s National Donut Day?

Besides complimentary undies any thoughts as to what comes in the gift bags? We called Pricew�������������������� folks to find out but so far there’s no word.

But we did hear there’s a little party going down at 300 Madison circa now to introduce the new partners. If there are tears, fist fights, or old partners icing new partners, get in touch with the details (and pics).


First a word from TPTB:

It is with great pleasure that I share the names of the 83 individuals who are being admitted into the PwC partnership as a result of our internal admissions process on July 1, 2010, along with the names of the partners who are retiring from the firm on June 30.

The level of talent in this year’s class of new partners is tremendous and gives me great confidence in our ability to create value for our clients and continue to invest in and develop our people in even more meaningful ways. For those of you who know some of these outstanding professionals personally, you know that they are on this list for good reason. While they have individual talents, skills and experiences, they all share certain qualities. These include a passion for serving clients, a relentless focus on quality, a talent for coaching and mentoring, and the ability to add value to every interaction among our various stakeholders — all while helping grow our business and leading our firm into the future. In addition to their cumulative credentials, two-thirds have worked in more than one office, about a third have changed roles or line of service, and close to a third have done an international tour or have spent significant time overseas. These statistics emphasize that high performers are open to change and willingly step out of their comfort zones.

At this time of the year, we not only say congratulations to our new partner class, but we also say thanks to those moving from being an active partner to a retired partner. This group of partners has collectively contributed to the success and overall brand of our firm. It’s difficult to acknowledge them as a group, as each of these partners has made unique contributions and leaves behind a distinct legacy. I’m proud to say I know many of them personally, and I have learned a great deal from them. Many have been excellent at serving our clients and have been exceptional coaches, mentors and role models for our future leaders. Overall, during their careers at PwC they have made a noticeable difference — for our clients, for our people, for our communities, and for one another.

Refreshing our partnership with new talent each year is one way we continue to drive innovation and a fresh perspective on our business. I think it’s appropriate to celebrate the contributions and legacy of our retiring partners as we welcome a new class of partners to take that legacy and shape it into something inspiring and new. Please join me in wishing our retiring colleagues and friends much success and happiness as they begin the next phase in their journey, and in celebrating our new partners and wishing them ongoing success as they help support the firm’s goal of being the #1 professional services firm!

Here’s a brief breakdown by service:

Assurance – 32
Tax – 40
Advisory – 11

And by city:

Denver – 1; Philly – 3; Houston – 7; Moscow – 1; DC Metro – 4; Florham Park – 6; Minneapolis – 2; Detroit – 3; Hartford – 2; Boston – 5; NYC – 12; Chicago – 7; Tokyo – 3; St. Louis – 1; Baltimore – 1; Indy – 1; Columbus – 1; Pittsburgh – 1; Raleigh – 1; Cleveland – 1; San Jose – 6; Atlanta – 3; Stamford – 2; San Fran – 2; L.A. – 1; Dallas – 3; San Juan – 1; Washington, DC – 1

Congrats to all the new partners!

PwC, Ernst & Young Building Defenses Against Each Other’s Spies, Peeping Toms

Ernst & Young had a nice little buffer zone from the other Big 4 in their London office until PricewaterhouseCoopers decided they’d set up camp next door and now the two firms are strategerizing.

P. Dubs is finishing up the construction on their new digs and the Telegraph reports that “At their closest point the two offices are roughly 10 [meters] apart.” This proximity (not to mention the obnoxious tendency of Big 4 types to be competitive just for the sake of being competitive) has apparently led to rampant paranoia at the two firms about spying.


Getting up in E&Y’s shit seems to be bean counting as usual at PwC, as this latest move more or less correlates with the alleged poaching of 20 E&Y partners in the Middle East.

The Telegraph is insinuating hilarious war-esque undertones, saying, “First blood in the battle has gone to PwC with the installation of blinds that close automatically whenever audio-visual presentation equipment is switched on and an office layout that ensures no computer screens face windows.” The obvious concern being that PwC’s secret “we provide the absolute best client service” plan would be imitated by E&Y, which would mean an all-out war.

However, the real concern should be voyeurs scoping out the office sexcapades. As we’ve mused in the past, the odds of fornication for accountants are slim as it is and work relationships are a convenient option. With this development, some E&Y and PwC minions will be denied the opportunity for office sex. This is not as much of a problem for the exhibitionists at the firm, however, that cross section is likely small.

E&Y is reportedly “evaluating a number of options,” to combat P. Dubs’ tactics, which may or may not include the following:

A) A group mooning that will involve the most portly E&Y employees.

B) Placing inflatable bozos in the windows.

C) Draping the entire building with a photo of Susan Boyle in Beckham’s PwC undies.

D) Your idea.

Blackout curtains beckon as accountancy rivals find themselves too close for comfort [Telegraph]

PricewaterhouseCoopers Suggests You Put Your Money on Brazil to Win the World Cup

Leave it to an accounting firm to make a conservative pick on the biggest sporting event in the world. The firm tries to make the point that wealthy countries do not outperform poorer ones in the football tournament. The most poignant (and blatantly obvious) example being that the United States sucks and Brazil is a heavyweight:

“The US football team performs well below expectations based on the size of its economy or population relative, for example, to Brazil. This reflects the ascendency of football in Brazil as contrasted to the greater popularity of sports such as American football and baseball in the US.”


However, P. Dubs manages to give England a fighting chance, “England seems a reasonable bet to reach the quarter finals based on its current FIFA world ranking and past World Cup performance, but it will do well to get beyond that point – which it has never done before when playing outside Europe.” That’s especially shocking since the firm has a vested interest in at least one English lad.

But as we mentioned at the outset, P. Dubs suggests the safe money is on Brazil, “Brazil remains the favourite to lift the World Cup this summer as the number one ranked footballing nation and the only country that has won the tournament outside its home region.” If you want some sweet action, take the home team.

Power v passion: Wealth comes second to location and tradition when projecting World Cup winners [PwC]

Allegedly, a Few Ernst & Young Partners Just So Happened to Join PwC

Never having the pleasure of attending a partner-only soiree, we don’t have much knowledge about the haps at these events but we do imagine catering slightly better than what you would find at an in-house training but served by oompa loompas. And an open bar, natch.

Likewise, we’ve never heard about Big 4 partner mixers where, for example, an PwC partner might chat up a E&Y partner talking IFRS, where they fall on the staff’s hottie list and “oh by the way, waddaya say you join our firm?” To save face, we imagine said E&Yer responding with a “No, I will not make out with you” retort followed by open-faced slaps and ripped Jos. A. Bank until the beefy security pulled the two apart (at which point the P. Dubs partner gives his target the “call me” sign).


We bring all this up because the Times Online reports that there has been a fair amount of defection from Ernst & Young to PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Middle East (no sissies allowed). PwC’s Middle East practice was purchased by the UK firm last year and now the Times reports that 20 E&Y partners have been poached by P. Dubs:

According to people familiar with the situation, the defections — amounting to almost a fifth of Ernst & Young’s partners in the Middle East — were in several locations across the region. Most were from Ernst & Young’s consulting business, The moves began last summer but were kept secret because of a settlement between the two firms. PwC agreed that it would not approach any more Ernst & Young staff in return for Ernst & Young agreeing not to take legal action to block the departures.

Neither firm would comment for the Times article except to boast about their numbers in the region, “PwC confirmed that it had recruited 25 new partners and 400 staff in its Middle East offices in the past 12 months,” and “A spokesman for Ernst & Young said that it remained ‘easily the largest’ of the Big Four in the Middle East,” so both firms’ communication departments seem to be operating as normal.

Whether such (alleged) deliberate defections have happened in the States, we don’t know but we hear it is quite the spectacle (marched out by the OMP the second the news got dropped) when one partner notifies his/her intent to leave for a competitor, so all out war could reasonably be expected.

PwC raids rival before Middle East step [Times Online]

PwC Chimes in on How Companies Can Retain Top Talent

It was only a few weeks ago when Deloitte threw their two Lincolns into the mix; now it’s PricewaterhouseCoopers offering advice on how to retain workers during this economic recovery. So, in an effort to not play favorites:

1. The financial crisis and ensuing recession have quickened the pace of structural changes already underway in many industries. As companies rethink the way they operate, they should assess the talent pool and look for opportunities to add new skills while keeping their existing employees motivated and engaged.

DWB: Because nothing says your job is safe with us like hiring new workers, right? The cojones on Dubs to lead off with this statement. Essentially Dubs is suggesting that companies poach talent from competitors; the exact action the article is intended to prevent.


2. With budgets expected to remain tight, it makes sense to focus on non-financial incentives such as training and mentoring programs, challenging assignments and other opportunities for growth and flexible work schedules.

DWB: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Did they really just lump (mandatory) trainings and (mandatory) mentoring programs together with “challenging assignments?” Does anyone else think that last one is code for “your staff has been cut in half due to layoffs and departures?” Umm…no…neither did I.

3. This may be obvious, but determine whether your top talent feels well compensated.

DWB: How much does PwC charge to perform that survey?!? It continues:

“By freezing pay across the board or cutting bonuses and benefits during the recession, you may have inadvertently given key employees a reason to leave.”

DWB: Dubs, are you looking in the mirror again? Shameful.

4. To figure out the right mix of incentives, executives need to first determine what motivates their top performers and other key employees.

DWB: Common sense. As an HR professional, statements like three and four really bother me. They only perpetuate the “HR fluff” stereotype that is associated with our field of work. (Some of you might say the same about my posts, so I should probably be careful where I tread.)

pwc_pointofview_keeping_talent

Apparently PwC Partners Aren’t Eligible for Anti-Bullying Protection

When you become a partner at a Big 4 firm, the culture rewards you with certain privileges. Some of these include: 1) the ability to strut out the door before 5 pm and no one gives you the stink eye; 2) stealing food out of the fridge without fear of retribution; 3) “Black” Starbucks cards; 4) private bathrooms that blast “You’re the Best” when you walk in the door, among others.

Unfortunately, it turns out that sometimes you lose some privileges when you take seat at the big table.

We previously mentioned Colin Tenner, who is suing PricewaterhouseCoopers for disability discrimination, alleging that he was fired after taking time off due to depression and anxiety. His suffering was caused, he claims, by a client bullying him (e.g. taking his lunch money, using emails as TP and returning them) and PwC’s mishandling of the situation.

His fellow partners weren’t buying it, claiming that he was a total wuss, “partners simply do not get sick” and possibly just faking it.


At first, we thought this sounded a little harsh but the Times Online is now reporting that there is a perfectly good explanation for partners’ reaction. They had a policy to back them up:

Mr Tenner, 45, said that a junior member of his team had raised a formal complaint against the same individual, which was investigated by PwC.

Although he complained about his treatment from the individual on several occasions over six months and had asked PwC to implement specific procedures in its anti-bullying policy, “nothing was done”, it is alleged.

Instead, Mr Tenner said, several senior managers told him that he was not protected by the anti-bullying policy because he was a partner.

Now this makes sense. Had this been one of P. Dubs’ rank and file, certainly there would have been hell to pay for this type of treatment by a client. But since a partner was involved, they figure your bully tolerance should be at such a keen level that no protection is necessary.

Bullying ‘did not apply’ to PwC partner [Times Online]

Stressed Out PwC Partner Was Criticized By Fellow Partners for Being a Total Pansy

On Monday we briefly mentioned the unfortunate case of Colin Tenner, a former PricewaterhouseCoopers partner that is suing the firm for disability discrimination. He is claiming that after he took a leave from the firm after “mismanagement by PwC and bullying by a client,” after which, negotiations for him to return to the firm fell apart and he was let go.

Now the Times Online is reporting some of the feelings of Tenner’s fellow partners. In January 2007, Mr Tenner took sick leave for a couple of days and that did not sit well with his fellow partner Hugh Crossey:

While Mr Tenner was on sick leave in January 2007, his managing partner, Hugh Crossey, e-mailed a third partner to say that he had heard that Mr Tenner was ill again and that the firm needed to point out that “real partners simply do not get sick”, it was alleged.

Depression? Anxiety? Apparently those aren’t real sicknesses, according to Hugh. But wait! Hugh wasn’t the only ones that thought Tenner was a total wuss. The tribunal also heard that a member of PwC’s “partner affairs team” (which probably has nothing to do with treating people like whores) wrote to the firm’s chief medical officer (?) “that there was a ‘very strongly held view that [Mr Tenner] was not as unwell’ as he claimed.” So not only is he total sissy, he’s also a faker.

Tenner claimed that his health had deteriorated to the point that it led him to “actively research ways of committing suicide,” although he actually never made any attempts on his own life.

PwC maintains that this mental health thing is all bullshit, sticking with the standard communiqué, “We believe that his claim is completely without merit and we will vigorously contest it.”

PwC manager told Colin Tenner ‘real partners do not get sick’ [Times Online]

Summing Up the Feeling Inside the Big 4

“There are increasing job opportunities in the marketplace and anxiety on the inside.”

~ Bob Moritz, in the Wall St. Journal.

Ernst & Young’s Raises Will Be Better Than PricewaterhouseCoopers’

I said it on Tuesday and I’ll say it again. HERE. WE. GO.

Caleb ran a post yesterday about Ernst & Young raises that as of deadline time had no comments. Zilch. Nadda. I was surprised by this because if anything guarantees comments on GC posts it’s talk about layoffs, Overstock.com shenanigans, and money (not in that order). Needless to say, I think this update will change things.


GC received a tidbit from an EY reader about the recent phone call:

“I did receive a voicemail from Steve reassuring compensations but, it appears that the firm will concentrate giving raises to its “high performers”. So, this potentially could mean that only EYers rated a 5 (need to catch a fraud to get this or have really sore knees) or 4s (need to be well liked all the way up the pipeline on an audit) will have a respectable raise.”

So – if you burned through busy season working yourself to the bone for Uncle Steve but stopped short of needing knee pads (it should also be noted that the parts in parentheses above are part of the original email…) you might be shit out of luck for a respectable raise.

Continuing…

“In addition, I checked with a partner and the August 1st early pay increase is a rumor. The rumor appeared believable since EY is a monkey see monkey do type of firm but, our partner said that EY’s raises although be start on October 1st, will be higher than what PwC will offer to its auditors.”

Boom. To quote my man and crime fighting detective Marcus Burnett, “Shit just got real.”

Shit. Just. Got. Real.

Is there any credibility to this? Sure there is. To think that the upper leadership from every firm does not talk to one another about compensation targets is ridiculous. Merely for the sake of the partners’ bottom line, it’s necessary to know what ones competitors peers are paying in compensation. Why some loose-lipped partner is sharing this information is beyond me, but hey, it’s dedicated readers fed up with their own compensation that forward these tips on. Now, let’s talk it out.

Which would you prefer – every 10 key cruncher receiving a mediocre payout or just the stars receiving something slightly-better-than-insulting? Comment below, regardless of which firm you work for. Be sure to shed some light on the timing of EY’s payouts if you know any details.

Barry Minkow Would Like to Remind Everyone, Especially PwC, That InterOil Has Never Found Any Oil or Gas

Barry Minkow has a message for InterOil auditors at PwC and it appears as though he would really, really like for P. Dubs to remember its fiduciary responsibility. So much so that he even made a video to help drive the point home so let’s hope this lands where it is supposed to and PwC considers Barry’s friendly suggestions.

Peep the press release:

“InterOil and its CEO have shown a troubling pattern of behavior that goes back to the company’s founding in 1997,” Minkow said. “We’ve seen inflated assets, a missing report from world-class Netherland Sewell, no major partners willing to put up cash for its proposed LNG plant, a recent bad-faith bankruptcy filed by CEO Phil Mulacek for a company he controls, and unreported $5.7 million commission, insiders dumping tons of stock last month, hyped press releases, and the list goes on. In fact, the only thing we haven’t seen from InterOil is any commercial oil or gas.”

Previously: Let’s Take a Closer Look at This Shia LaBeouf and InterOil Situation

PwC Reminds Us All to Be Realistic Come Raise Time

HERE. WE. GO.

With PricewaterhouseCoopers’ communication about raises behind us, the proverbial dam of anticipation, expectation, and hopefulness gets closer to cresting. From the sound of things though, disappointment and frustration might be joining the flooding the gates as well.

Debate all you want about how much gravy is (or isn’t) on the train, but the partners in your respective firm will tell you that times are still tight. And to be, they’re probably not stretching the truth too far. Here’s what we know:


Revenues were down in 2009 for everyone. Want a re-cap?

Professional service firms are lagging in the market. When Wall Street (and the rest of America) began melting in 2008, accounting firms were still collecting on contractually agreed upon procedures fees. Fees were slashed when contracts were negotiated over the course of the next year, and it was these cuts in services and fees that cost employees their raises, bonuses and sometimes even their jobs. Fees might be back on the uptick; you would know better than me. But the general consensus in staffing camps around the country is that teams are doing more work with less billable hours in the budget. Less billable hours means…less revenue. Less revenue means…double digit bonus season? Doesn’t add up.

Expenses were cut but will the savings make enough of a difference? Recruiting budgets, headcounts, national trainings, corporate donations, and holiday parties – all areas of cost-savings. The financial faucets to many of these areas were adjusted; how soon they’re opened up again is hard to gauge. “Slowly” is the first word that comes to mind.

Raises will be purpose-driven – The vast majority of – if not all – well performing employees will receive raises this year. The pot will be spread out, but don’t be surprised when more love is thrown at strategic groups. Sorry, healthcare auditor, you’re simply not generating as much revenue as your firm’s M&A tax group. Fatter raises will be given to those that the leadership thinks are vital to generating continued revenues and/or will be expensive to replace should they move into the private sector.

The one upside to raises, small as they may be, is that they will drive up your base salary. If you do decide to test the job market, the last two years of effort in public accounting will be mostly represented in your new target number which will lead to a higher base elsewhere.

Stay tuned as we learn more about the state of raises across public accounting. As always, share your thoughts in the comments.

Some Feedback for PwC

From a source at 300 Mad House:

“I just took the firm wide pulse survey and I laid into them. I told them to stop falsely advertising work life balance.”

Not being intimately familiar the work/life whathaveyous that comes by way of Bobby Mo emails but acutely aware of the motivation techniques employed, we can understand the frustration. Especially judging by some of your reactions to last week’s number. If you feel like sharing your feedback for the year that was at P. Dubs, let it rip.

Compensation Watch ’10: PwC Puts a Number Out There

Multiple sources have told us that Bob Moritz has put a number out there for comp adjustments during the firm’s webcast today :

Sitting in the Bobby Mo Firmwide Townhall Webcast. Raises: 5% to 8%.

But don’t start high-fiving just yet:

PwC expected to be 5% to 8% raises this year, but still a “quarter to go” per Moritz on today’s townhall webcast.

Early reports also are that internal firm services (IFS) will be getting 3-5%.

Thoughts? Your move, KPErnstDeloitteMG.

Some People Would Like to Know Why PwC Is Mum on The Alleged Morgan Keegan Fraud

Last week, the SEC continued its “Bustin’ Up Fraud” tour by charging Memphis-based Morgan Keegan & Company, Morgan Asset Management, and two employees, James C. Kelsoe, Jr. and Joseph Thompson Weller with “fraudulently overstating the value of securities backed by subprime mortgages.”

The long/short of it is that SEC’s Enforcement Divish alleges that Kelsoe “arbitrarily instructed the firm’s Fund Accounting department to make ‘price adjustments’ that increased the fair values of certain portfolio securities.” Weller didn’t do a damn thing to remedy this, Morgan published fraudulent net asset values (NAVs) based on these valuations and investors ended up losing something like $2 billion. Typical stuff in this day and age.


While Khuzhami and Co. gave the usual spiel about “lies” and whatnot, Jonathan Weil over at Bloomberg is wondering why PricewaterhouseCoopers is being totally left out of this ordeal (our emphasis):

Now that the Securities and Exchange Commission has accused Morgan Keegan & Co. of fraudulently overvaluing subprime-mortgage bonds in several of its mutual funds, there’s still one major player in this saga that hasn’t uttered a peep.

That would be PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the Big Four auditor that blessed the funds’ year-end financial statements for fiscal 2007. Funny thing is, officially at least, PwC is still clinging to its position that there wasn’t anything wrong with the funds’ numbers. That’s a lot harder to believe now than it might have been before last week.

Not to take issue with Jonathan Weil (who we think is great, btw) but we aren’t surprised at all that PwC is standing by their audited numbers. “Deny ’til you die” is Big 4 101, even if that denial is through complete and utter silence. They’re better at holding out on guilt than Pete Rose.

JW ends up addressing his own inquiry saying, “Perhaps PwC is awaiting the final outcome of the SEC’s case, which might take years to litigate. While the SEC didn’t name PwC as a defendant, the firm is being sued in court by fund investors. So PwC has a clear incentive to avoid acknowledging that any of its audit conclusions may have been wrong.” Jackpot! And if there’s one advantage that PwC and the rest of the Big 4 have on the road to failure, it’s time.

Ultimately, this detecting fraud. The public want auditors to find it. Auditors claim that’s not their job. The “expectations gap” as the leadership likes to say. And while Big 4 leaders cling to this “gap” like a security blanket, Weil brings up the question that more people have been asking lately, “if auditors can’t detect fraud, what good are they?”

Bond-Fund Fraud Suits Leave Auditor Speechless [Bloomberg/Jonathan Weil]
SEC Charges Morgan Keegan and Two Employees With Fraud Related to Subprime Mortgages [SEC Press Release]
SEC Complaint

PwC Report: We’re Not Getting Sued for Accounting Issues Nearly as Much

That goes for the rest of you Big 4 and non-Big 4 too! Okay, the report doesn’t come out and state that CPA firms are the ones getting slapped around by plaintiffs but it seems like a logical conclusion since we’re talking about, ya know, accounting.


The PricewaterhouseCoopers report states that of the 155 federal lawsuits in 2009, only 37% of them were related to accounting issues, compared to 41% in 2008. To clarify just a little bit, the decline was because “many of the cases were connected to the financial crisis and tended to focus more on disclosure issues not having to do with whether the defendants followed generally accepted accounting principles.” In other words, the accounting is wrong as much but apparently people are forgetting to bring up certain important details. Like say, repos?

Plus the lawsuits that do involve accounting issues are the most expensive settlements. The reports states that out of the top ten lawsuits, seven of them had an accounting component to them. The total value of settlement in ’09 was $2.3 bil.

So what causes all the problems? Lots of bad guessing for starters. According to the report, 57% of the cases mentioned issues related to estimates, while 43% of the suits cited internal controls. Unfortunately, those two things are right in the wheelhouse of auditors. Bright side is that revenue recognition isn’t citied nearly as much. Don’t let anyone tell you different, screwing up less is a good thing.

Accounting-Related Lawsuits Fall [CFO]

PwC Had Enough with Old Republic’s Sketchy Accounting

Accounting firms take a lot of grief for bending over backwards for their clients. They’re in the client service business after all and keeping them as happy as possible is priority numero uno (despite what you might hear). Considering this factoid, when an accounting firm decides to cut a client loose for a “disagreement” over an accounting practice, we feel that’s a pretty good reason for any future accounting firm to think long and hard before taking on said client (case in point: KPMG taking the Overstock.com audit).


PricewaterhouseCoopers notified Old Republic International Corp. on March 19th that they would be “declining to stand for re-election as Old Republic’s independent registered public accounting firm for 2010.” That’s nice SEC filing language for “We’re so grossed out by you that we refuse to audit you any more.”

The two firms disagreed about the accounting treatment of “certain mortgage guaranty reinsurance commutation transactions with captive reinsurers owned by lending institutions.” That description alone makes us nauseous. The gist from Old Republic’s 8-K filing:

Old Republic had concluded that, in accordance with traditional reinsurance accounting practices, funds received ($82.5 million) in excess of amounts owed to it by the captive reinsurers should be deferred and recognized in the income statements of the future periods during which the related claim costs were expected to occur. PwC believed that generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) required that the $82.5 million be recognized immediately as income from a contract termination.

So you have “traditional accounting practices” versus almighty GAAP. The tradish accounting wasn’t good enough for PwC, so they brought the probelme to the attention of the audit committee. The AC ultimately decided…wait…that management was correct. Shocked? Us too. The disagreement was brought to light back in November and in a press release when the company said that the transactions in question “which resulted in little consequential effect on the pretax loss.”

Apparently PwC wouldn’t let it go and the Company called in the SEC to get their $0.02 on the matter. Lo and behold, the Commission sided with PwC. After a lot profanity-laced belly aching (that’s what we imagine, anyway) and sleepless nights for both OR’s accounting department and the PwC audit team (that’s not debatable), Old Republic filed the delayed 10-Q last month with restated financial statements.

After what was surely 5 or so months of pure hell, PwC figured that this was an awkward enough situation that a break up was warranted. This was probably the perfect opportunity for PwC to get out of this engagement. They figured Old Republic wasn’t going to change their less-than GAAP-y ways, the audit committee is obviously no help, and God knows you don’t want to get the SEC involved every single time there’s a disagreement. If you were to ask us, its seems like a pretty logical reaction.

Now the only question is, which audit firm picks up Old Republic? PwC will certainly have some interesting things to share with the firm that decides they’re up for this particular headache.

PricewaterhouseCoopers drops Old Republic [Chicago Breaking News/CT]
8-K [SEC.gov]

Compensation Watch ’10: PwC Moving Up Adjustment Date?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Was the PwC Magic 8ball broken?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is this PwC’s fault?

Q: What role did the auditors have to play?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You let everyone down. Speak to them!

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

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

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

PricewaterhouseCoopers Shutting Down Orlando Tax Practice

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

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


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

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

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

Florida Colleagues:

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

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

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

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

Thank you,

Mario

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

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


India’s Financial Express:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PricewaterhouseCoopers age bias lawsuit revived [Reuters]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PwC Basks in the Oscar Gold

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

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

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


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

But we digress.

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

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

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

(UPDATE) PwC Did Not Foresee the Sexting Phenomenon

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

PwC Achieves Dynasty Status on Training Magazine’s Top 125

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

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

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

• Training tied to business objectives

• Demonstrable results

• Number of trainers

• Employee turnover and retention

• Leadership development

• Tuition assistance

• Training technology and infrastructure

• Certification

• Training budget and percentage of payroll

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

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

Digitial Issue [Training Magazine]

Dennis Nally: Satyam Scandal Has Damaged PwC Brand

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

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


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

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

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

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

PwC Accepts Responsibility for Losing Personal Records of Alaska Public Employees

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

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


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

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

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

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

PwC Motivates the Troops with Just Two Words

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

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

Picture 3.png

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

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

You’re Awesome! Award-1.pptx

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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.”

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]

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.

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.

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]

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.

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?

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 tips@goingconcern.com.

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.

PwC Gets a Small Win in the Satyam Case

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgHey, any win is a good win, right?
A has judge ruled that there was no evidence that the Delhi office had anything to do with the actions of the Bangalore office, the statutory auditors of Satyam.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) — the AICPA of India — had brought actions against PwC offices in Delhi, Kolkata, and Bangalore but the judge isn’t buying that they are related:

“They are separate partnership firms with separate balancesheets. There is no inter-connection (between PW Delhi, PW Bangalore and PW Kolkata [ Images ]) and profit and loss of one cannot be shared by others. You cannot say that the Banglore firm which was statutory auditor of Satyam has anything to do with Delhi firm,” said Justice Sanjiv Khanna.

The court did indicate that if the ICAI wanted to take another shot at Delhi — you know, with some evidence — if it so chose.
P. Dubs has to be happy with the small victory but would probably prefer if their previous suggestion to just forget this whole thing would start getting some traction.

Layoff Watch: PwC November ’09 Edition

Thumbnail image for becks.jpgWe’re not going to say that the pending endorsement of Becks’ undies has anything to do with it but that guy doesn’t come cheap.

Our contributor, Francine McKenna, is reporting on her blog that PwC Advisory cuts will be going down next week:

I’ve just received word: There was a PwC Advisory partners emergency conference call tonight announcing upcoming involuntary staff reductions.
(This time the source is impeccable.)

New US Advisory Leader, Dana McIlwain laid out the bad news: The time has come to cut. Average utilization is hovering at 69%. Cash collections are millions short. Campus recruiting for Advisory has been stopped cold. Business sucks and then there’s the 800+ BearingPoint folks to absorb.

On November 11th the rank and file partners, fortified after training and coaching by HR via a webcast in the next few days, will chop 300+ professionals from PwC Advisory, at all levels, all geographies, all practices. Most have already seen the writing on the wall via forced ranking.

Well, crap. We’re not talking Lotus Notes developers this time around. If the guillotine does indeed drop next week, it probably won’t come as a surprise with the less-than exciting revenue numbers and the rumors that the firm was phoning in no raises for fiscal year 2010.

Oh and then after whoring themselves out for AHIP, P. Dubs turned around and folded like a cheap lawn chair. That probably won’t win you clients.

We’ll keep our ear to the ground on this but in the meantime, let us know if you’ve got more details on these rumored layoffs or if you get an unexpected email much earlier than next Wednesday. It’s been known to happen.
Veteran’s Day In PwC Advisory: Say Auf Wiedersehen [Re: The Auditors]

Earlier: PwC’s Re-thinking of the Bell Curve Ranking

Also: Ratings, Raises, and Promotions: Forced Ranking in the Big 4

Is David Beckham PwC’s Answer to Natalie Gulbis?

becks.jpg
Nothing is official with Becks of course but PwC has signed on as the first sponsor of England’s bid to host the World Cup in 2018.
Seriously, P. Dubs. Think about it. With the sole exception of RSM McGladrey, accounting firms are totally rejecting the “sex sells” mantra. This is your opportunity.
PWC backs England’s World Cup bid [BBC]

PwC Has the Perfect Solution to This Whole Satyam Misunderstanding

Solutions.jpgP. Dubs India wants to avoid having a long, tedious, legal battle over this whole thing. Nobody wants that. So they offered a consent application to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to say sorry about the mixup and let’s just forget the whole thing ever happened.


Not that burying the hatchet won’t take time. The SEBI seems to have an even more dense bureaucracy than the SEC:

The application will be looked at by the Internal Committee of SEBI. If the committee feels that there is merit in this consent, both sides are willing to come to a certain point, it goes to a high power committee on consent proceedings which is headed by a retired Bombay High Court Judge.
Based on the committee’s decision, both sides will sit across the table and decide whether or not they agree with the punishment that could be meted out. As per the consent agreement, there is no acknowledgement of wrong doing.

Oh right, did they mention that last part? There’s nothing to gained by pointing fingers at any one responsible individual or company. PWI would just prefer that they come to an agreement where they aren’t no one is to blame. Problem solved!
PwC hands out olive branch to SEBI in Satyam case [Money Control]

PwC Employees Don’t Need AmEx Gift Cards to Motivate Them

That’s right! We’ve confirmed that PwC’s annual employee survey went out Monday and unlike other firms, the rank and file at P. Dubs are more than happy to tell TPTB exactly how they feel without being bribed (but it would be nice).

Overland Storage Probably Fired PwC Out of Spite

you are fired.jpgIt appears that Overland Storage’s audit committee was pissed off enough about a second consecutive going concern audit opinion that they just up and fired PwC last week.
San Diego-based Overland filed the 8-K, notifying the Commission of the dismissal, on October 16th which also named Moss Adams as the new auditors. At the request of Overland, PwC sent a two sentence letter to the SEC stating that they “agree with the statements concerning our Firm in such Form 8-K.”
The Register states that Overland was all bent out of shape because PwC didn’t explain why they issued the going concern opinions:

While even accountants are entitled to a view about the state of the struggling business, Overland was upset because PwC didn’t actually identify any specific factor in the accounts that led them to that conclusion.
Presumably PwC was expressing a view based on such business events as Overland avoiding running out of cash by factoring arrangements, repeated staff headcount reductions, Nasdaq delisting, declining revenues and losses. Overland’s thinking is that, if so, it shouldn’t have.

The most recent 10-K has all the gory details and as The Register pointed out, Overland didn’t think all those negative things really matter, so obviously, firing the auditors was the next logical step. Moss Adams will get the esteemed pleasure of holding Overland’s hand to the bitter, tragic end.

The PwC Experience, Romania Edition, Involves Fifteen Unpaid Days Off for Everyone

mandatory.jpgWhores PwC employees in Romania are being sent on mandatory vacay starting this month through June 2010. The leave will be for fifteen days and will be unpaid, according to Ziarul Financiar, a daily financial newspaper published in Bucharest.
We were hoping that the firm would require everyone to take the same fifteen days off in order to participate in a firm wide charity event but instead PwC Romania has asked to employees to take turns being quasi-unemployed for half a month and will simply do more with less.
This is not a measure that we have heard about occurring Stateside but there have been delayed start dates and sabbaticals which some may say are close enough. However, the innate ability for Big 4 types in the U.S. to show up to work when they aren’t supposed to would certainly foil any potential cost savings. Until, of course, someone reminds them, “Aren’t you supposed to be on vacation?” to which the glutton for punishment replies, “Oh, I’m not charging the time.”

Can PwC’s Week Get Worse?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgOh sure, anything is possible. However, on top of everyone not called Fox News calling P. Dubs the most shameless whore ever to issue a report on anything, Jonathan Weil at Bloomberg is now calling out some of P. Dubs’s (and KPMG probably for good measure) banking clients’ less-than consistent use of mark-to-whatever-the-hell-we-like.
Weil names three PwC clients (Midwest Banc Holdings, First Bancorp, BB&T Corp.) as showing loans with fair values greater than their carrying values as of June 30th. Midwest and First Bancorp’s stock prices are trading far below book value while BB&T’s stock price trades above book value.
As Weil points out, WTFK if these values are right or not? What is obvious is it seem like some banks are legitimately making a run at fair value and others are still using a dart board. Oh, and the PwC audit teams are okay with that. Nevermind comparability, Dow is above 10k bitches! Onward!
Mark-to-Make-Believe Turns Junk Loans to Gold [Bloomberg/Jonathan Weil]

Firm Mascot Challenge: PwC

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Ashley3.jpgWe’ll assume everybody is down with the KPMG Pomeranian and Uncle Dangle for Deloitte. If not, speak now or shut your pieholes.
There’s some resistance to the idea of famous Governor banger, Ashley Dupre, being worthy of the PwC Mascot.
Frankly, since P. Dubs has made some feel like prosties already and has also shown that, as firm, they don’t mind whoring themselves out for some scratch, the argument can easily be made that Ashley is the perfect mascot. On the other hand, the point has been made, and is duly noted, that high-priced call girls are much cooler than any accounting firm.
So you see the problem here but it’s not our decision. We’ll leave it up to you. State your submission for the PwC mascot and give a brief explanation for said suggestion in the comments.
Keep it clever people, mascots already assigned to any other team or organization will be ignored with extreme prejudice. On with it then.