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Editor’s Choice: The Least Worst Stories of 2023

Screenshot of a Going Concern article

Well it’s about that time, time for us to start shitting out “best of” lists to cover for the fact that we’ve been phoning it in since mid-November (…of 2014). The stories below aren’t necessarily our best in the traditional sense nor were they strictly the most popular, they’re just my favorites for the year.

Before I look back on what I think were the best posts (ranked arbitrarily by me), allow me to resurrect this post from January 7: Let’s Start the Year Off With Some Doomsaying Predictions For the Profession in 2023. Yes, let’s.

Jack Castonguay, PhD, CPA (who is currently boycotting Twitter but whose back catalog can be found at @profjack) tweeted these predictions, ✅ or ❌ and commentary in brackets added by me.

The accounting profession is in for a bumpy road in 2023:

  1. Staff shortages will persist – salaries remain low & hours high ✅ [Yep. And firms started pulling back on the generous raises and bonuses of 2021]
  2. CPA Evolution will depress the pipeline further ✅ [See: CPA Exam Changes and Pipeline Woes Are a Perfect Storm of Problems For the Profession and No One Will Be Surprised to Hear CPA Exam Candidate Numbers Are Down in Every Way the Numbers Can Be]
  3. Audit failures will become more frequent & high profile (#FTX now, what next year?) ❌ [what we lacked in audit failures we made up for in testicularly massive tax scandals]
  4. Turnover will likely increase – the dam is cracking & will break ❌ [the dam is cracking however turnover was historically low this year, probably due to uncertainty around the economy]
  5. Regulators will increase pressure to improve audit quality, as they should ✅ [the PCAOB was very busy this year]
  6. More pressure = more hours = more turnover = more pressure… ✅ [LOL there was literally an article about this the other day: Auditors say accountant shortage ramps up work pressure: CAQ]

With that out of the way, off we go.

Tech layoffs started happening way before we started seeing mass layoffs in our own sector and it seems EY thought they’d be able to clean up on all that talent on the market. Surprise, the tech people didn’t want to work for EY.

Excerpt:

While their employees were quietly boasting about not losing their jobs, it seems EY leadership was waiting in the wings hoping to snap up some of the newly-liberated tech talent. Hilariously, that didn’t work out for them.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, EY CEO and future King of Advisory Carmine Di Sibio told Bloomberg that “it’s business as usual” when it comes to hiring, which means the firm is having trouble finding talent though he didn’t say as much. In fact he said the opposite. Gotta keep up appearances for that consulting IPO after all.

“We’re not struggling to source talent, but it’s not like we’re seeing a rash of talent that’s all of a sudden available,” he said. “If you just read the headlines around what’s going on, you might think, there’s all kinds of people who know technology out there.”

Oh if only he knew in January what was to come just four months down the line…


In 2023, there was a great beef between the AICPA and Minnesota that is still ongoing. The TLDR is Minnesota wants to add a second pathway to CPA licensure of 120 units and two years of work experience, the AICPA wants them to not because they refuse to let this 150 thing go. When all the bickering started earlier in the year I was getting some great inside information about the fight behind the scenes and frankly I’m a bit disappointed in the AICPA (they know what I’m talking about).


A lifelong commitment to the profession:

One of these days I’m going to convince an artist to tattoo A = L + E on my knuckles.


I completely forgot this post existed until just now when I was putting this list together. Shortly after it was published, NASBA pulled the entire merchandise section down (though that could be mere coincidence). It’s back now.


How could we forget this gem:


This headline might be my favorite of the whole year. No, it definitely is.


“I Love Accounting. So I Had to Leave” was a great guest post published in May, here’s an excerpt if you’re opposed to clicking on things:

On the comp side, accountants are routinely gaslit about their worth and how much they’ll earn because only a few firms control most of the salaries (which have barely risen in 10 years).

So, with costs rising and an income barely enough to survive on, accountants are naturally thrown into the pressure cooker just to survive.

Ok, fine, fine. We’ll do the tasks, and we’ll take a less-than-fair salary. But buckle up; here comes another train.

Apparently, organizations see accountants as expensive ditch diggers. Whereas if you aren’t constantly doing something and making visible progress, you are stealing time. Forget thinking and processing (the thing we do); You must be fully optimized all the damn time for you to be considered a resource rather than a burden.

And finally, for those brave souls inclined to go above and beyond in completing tasks or finding a way to make them better/faster, your reward is… you guessed it… more work! (Hint: The answer is always more work)


Key findings from Deloitte’s 1,567th survey of the year:

  • Workforce well-being is declining, but, in general, employees feel that some executives don’t recognize this. Most employees feel their health worsened or stayed the same last year — only around one-third say their health improved. However, more than 3 in 4 C-suite leaders believe their workforce’s health improved.
  • For some, work remains an obstacle to well-being. Eight in 10 respondents are struggling to improve their well-being, with a heavy workload and stressful job topping the list of obstacles they face. The result is that compared to last year, an even greater number of people — 60% of employees, 64% of managers, and 75% of the C-suite — say they’re seriously considering quitting for a job that would better support their well-being.

Sigh.


Hey remember this anti-WFH propaganda shit out by a UK furniture company? They threatened that this is what you’ll look like at 70 if you continue to work from home. How’s everyone doing on the claw hands? Mine are coming along nicely.


This headline was so stupid I’d be a fool not to include it in this list. I was a fool to write it.

Imagine my surprise when we found a reason to write about the 259th largest accounting firm again later that year.


I too had to Google delayering after a tipster gave me the details on this particular all-hands call.


I shouldn’t have to explain why this was one of my favorite headlines of 2023.


A man commented on a PCAOB proposal from his iPhone:


A headline like this brings me back to a decade ago when this site was much better than it is now.


Wall Street Journal went really hard on the accountant shortage stuff this year (didn’t we all), really the entire thing is explained by one salary chart they shared in one of their many shortage articles.


To give the dead horses a temporary reprieve I’ve tried to avoid an excess of talent shortage/pipeline articles in this look back on the year but just had to include this one: An article in CPA Journal basically put the shortage on TB4A. Damn you, social media.

And that’s it. Next time we’ll do the most read stories of 2023, fans of news and profanity-free headlines will probably appreciate it.