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Friday Footnotes: Bob Moritz Disappoints Us; ERC Window Slamming Shut; 2024 Sucks For Firms? | 3.22.24

dog looking disappointed while resting on a large brown leather chair
Footnotes is a collection of stories from around the accounting profession curated by actual humans and published every Friday at 5pm Eastern. While you’re here, subscribe to our newsletter to get the week’s top stories in your inbox every Tuesday and Friday.

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ICYMI: The IRS Is Ready to Strike the Fear of God Into Anyone Who Took ERC
Today, March 22, is the last day to participate in the Voluntary Disclosure Program. After that God help you if you made ERC claims you weren’t entitled to. Yes, we realize saying “ERC claims” is like saying “ATM machine,” let it go.

HR Garbage

How EY is focusing on neurodiverse talent – and why it benefits everyone [BBC]
Karyn Twaronite, EY’s global vice chair of DEI, enters the BBC’s Executive Lounge to talk about how the untapped pool of neurodiverse workers can lift businesses and employees alike.


PwC’s Future of Work Officer: Responsible AI will ‘redefine’ the work of leaders [UNLEASH]
Artificial intelligence, DEI, flexible working – these are just some of the trends that will continue to shape the future of work. Although these open us up to a world of new possibilities, HR teams and executive leaders need to be fully aware of how they can ready their organizations, while also equipping employees with the right skills and tools to harness them correctly. One business that is particularly focused on paving the way to a successful future is PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), after appointing Michael Fenlon as Chief Future of Work Officer. But what does this role actually entail, and will it catch on to other businesses? In an exclusive interview with Fenlon, UNLEASH gets the inside track to discover how PwC – which generated a whopping US$50 bn in 2022 – is preparing for the future.

This Shit Is Still Going On?

PwC chairman refuses to share tax leaks scandal investigation with Australian parliament [The Guardian]
PwC’s global chairman, Bob Moritz, has refused to comply with a request from the Australian parliament to share a copy of an investigation used to contain the tax leaks scandal to Australia. The international firm has cited legal professional privilege over a report by law firm Linklaters, but provided more information about the scope of the investigation and the conduct of those it mentions. The decision will likely set up another showdown with Australian politicians who have strongly criticised the firm for not sharing the report, and frustrate government departments that have believe it should be shared.

Movers and Shakers

Jackson M. Day Named Technical Director of the Financial Accounting Standards Board [FASB]
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) on March 20 announced the appointment of Jackson M. Day to the role of director of technical activities. Mr. Day will begin his new duties at the FASB this July. Mr. Day will join the FASB from Ernst & Young LLP (EY), the global accounting and professional services firm, where he is a partner working in Professional Practice. Mr. Day has spent most of his 38-year accounting career at EY, which he initially joined in 1986 on the audit staff in St. Louis, Missouri. Rising through the ranks at the firm, his career path later took him to London, New York, and Munich serving as EY Global’s director of capital markets, as well as EY’s US chief accountant.

KPMG UK confirms Jon Holt as CEO for second term []
Jon Holt has seen his tenure as KPMG’s UK chief executive extended to a second term. The decision was backed by a partner vote, following a first three years dominated by efforts to repair the firm’s reputation in the wake of a series of scandals.

She made general manager at 29 with a CPA [eFinancialCareers]
Many young professionals begin to eye managerial posts as they approach their 30s – but Shanny Lee (CPA, Aust.) went one step further by making the leap to general manager at just 29. With the backing of several partners, the savvy accounting professional established skills training firm Hustle Singapore in 2022, and ran it so successfully, the team expanded to 20-strong in a year. “Many in finance are looking to take on senior roles in MNCs and eventually become CFO,” she says. “My path is different. With my experience, I wanted to try something on my own. I wanted an adventure.” The experience she speaks of comes courtesy of a business degree, stints at a Big Four firm, an accounting consultancy, and a media group – and most recently, a CPA Australia designation that cements the depth, breadth and quality of her finance expertise.

Survey Says

KPMG GenAI Study: the path to sustainable returns [KPMG]
97% of leaders are investing in GenAI over the next 12 months, with 43% of leaders saying their organizations plan to invest $100 million or more. 51% of leaders are currently measuring GenAI-related ROI through productivity gains, followed by employee satisfaction (48%) and revenue generated (47%). Many organizations have already or are planning to provide mandatory GenAI skills training for both employees (75%) and leaders (77%) in the next 12 months. 54% of leaders expect new business models to support their growth strategies in the next 12 months, followed by new product and revenue streams (46%), productivity (39%) and profitability (31%).


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The worst of times: Issues in accounting in 2024 [Accounting Today]
It’s a great time to run an accounting firm — except for how hard it is. While many members of Accounting Today’s Top 100 Firms and Regional Leaders are reporting record revenues, more work than they can handle and a number of exciting emerging opportunities, they are also facing a daunting roster of serious challenges. Even before getting into the issues that are specific to accounting, leaders from some of the most successful firms in the profession noted the atmosphere of economic risk that is enveloping the country — and, indeed, the world. “The uncertainty of the marketplace remains a challenge for firms across the globe,” explained David Kessler, CEO of New York City-based CohnReznick. “We enter our fiscal 2025 with many of the socio-economic issues we had in fiscal 2024: high inflation and interest rates, tightened lending, uncertainty in the real estate markets, global conflicts.”

Complying with the Corporate Transparency Act [CPA Journal]
By now, CPAs should be aware of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), passed in 2021 and effective January 1, 2024. There have been many articles and programs covering which information has to be reported for the entities affected and their beneficial owners and company applicants (that is, individuals who file the papers to form or register the company). There may be significant civil and criminal penalties for failure to file. Generally, every small business (those with fewer than 20 full-time employees or less than $5 million in annual receipts) must file a report disclosing who its beneficial owners and substantial control persons are. As this article is being finalized, a larger number of trade organizations have petitioned the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to delay implementation. But until a deferral is confirmed, CPAs must consider which role they will serve for clients required to file when the CTA becomes effective.

Partner Accountability a ‘Gigantic’ but Overlooked Issue in CPA firms, Consultants Say [INSIDE Public Accounting]
Most firm leaders believe strategic planning is important, but where firms often fall short is execution – particularly when it comes to holding partners accountable. Partner accountability can be a delicate area, but it’s necessary for firms looking to turn a paper plan into measurable steps forward. And while managing a crushing workload amid an unprecedented labor shortage has dominated the concerns of MPs over the last few years, a lack of partner accountability lurks in the background. Charles Hylan, managing director of The Growth Partnership, calls it a gigantic, but largely silent problem for many firms. Hylan and Matt Rampe, partner at Rosenberg & Associates, agree that in firms of about $15 million or less, partner accountability is nearly non-existent. Even though partners don’t like it, creating a culture of accountability is a firm imperative, Rampe says. “It’s not easy but it’s worth it.”


City Of Rawlins Opts To Select New CPA’s For City Audits [Bigfoot99 News]
Here’s how much a city audit costs in Wyoming.
The Rawlins city council voted to switch auditing services due to delays in state-required financial reporting. City Manager Tom Sarvey said every three years, the city is required to review its contracted auditing firm. Sarvey said the city’s current certified public accountants, Atlas CPAs and Advisors, out of Casper, was late completing the legally required 2023 audit. Of the three bids the city received, Mountain States CPAs and Consultants were the highest, at $147,773 for three years’ worth of auditing services. At $136,500, Carver, Florek, and James was not the lowest bid the city received. Atlas CPAs and Advisors undercut the Utah-based auditing firm by $12,000. However, as City Manager Sarvey stated, Atlas was unable to meet the previous fiscal year’s audit deadlines.

What Role Should Auditors Play in Corporate Compliance? [ProMarket]
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has proposed an amendment to its auditing standards that requires auditors to assume a larger role in corporate compliance. Roy Shapira and Luigi Zingales suggest a simple modification that addresses auditors’ concerns while improving the effectiveness of corporate compliance.

Ontario accounting regulator disciplines five Deloitte partners [The Globe and Mail]
Five current and former partners at Deloitte LLP have settled allegations levelled by CPA Ontario that they falsified date and time stamps on audit work papers. The actions by the provincial regulator of chartered professional accountants and firms are the first against individual Deloitte employees since its October sanction of the firm. Deloitte agreed to pay $1.59-million to settle the matter. The settlements with the five partners require each to pay a $20,000 fine as well as $20,000 of CPA Ontario’s investigative costs. The settlements also detail Deloitte’s August, 2019, internal disciplinary actions for the five partners, but none of the descriptions say any were suspended, demoted or terminated. Three of the five remain with the firm, while another describes himself on LinkedIn as “retired.” The Globe and Mail could not determine the fifth partner’s current employment status.

China Scrutinizes PwC Role in $78 Billion Evergrande Fraud Case [Bloomberg]
Chinese authorities are examining the role of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in China Evergrande Group’s accounting practices after the developer was accused of a $78 billion fraud, ramping up pressure on the global accounting giant that audited a slew of developers before the sector’s meltdown. Chinese officials are now looking into PwC as they continue their probes of the developer’s founder Hui Ka Yan, according to people familiar with the matter. They are in contact with some former PwC accountants who handled Evergrande’s audit, one of the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter.


Counterpoint: Neither you nor accountants should fall for an anti-licensing agenda [Minnesota Star Tribune (Opinion)]
Author Marta Zaniewski is vice president for state regulatory and legislative affairs at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and executive director of the Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing.
Things are about to get a lot harder for Minnesota CPAs and everyone who depends on them. Here’s why, and here’s why you should care. Under the premise of attracting talent, Minnesota lawmakers are proposing to lower Minnesota’s CPA education standards. This would create a second-tier licensing standard that would make the Minnesota license the most opportunity-restrictive in the nation and potentially worsen its talent pipeline problems. It’s not easy to become a licensed CPA, with good reason. CPAs underpin reliability and public trust in financial systems, safeguard our 401(k)s and pensions, and guide individuals and businesses through complex tax issues. This level of complexity and impact requires rigorous standards. Those standards were thoughtfully developed by 55 states and territories, including Minnesota, to ensure requirements are substantially equivalent across the United States. This consistency safeguards the public and enables CPAs to practice in any state or territory with just one CPA license. Unfortunately, under this proposal, many Minnesota CPAs will no longer be equivalent to CPAs licensed in other states, costing them their ability to practice nationwide.

National Accounting Leader Shares Real-World Insights [North Carolina State University]
Poole College of Management Master of Accounting (MAC) students welcomed George R. Botic to their Advanced Auditing class, where he shared his knowledge and insights through a lively Q&A session.


EY Canada supports the fight against poverty with a transformational $10 million multi-year gift to United Ways across Canada [Cision]
The generous five-year gift comes at a time when needs among communities and the demand for United Way funded programming have been rising at an unprecedented rate. Proceeds from this transformational gift will support programs fighting poverty and the issues that stem from it, including tackling unemployment, housing and homelessness, mental health support, and women empowerment.

Baker McKenzie partner sues IRS for documents on partnership audit strategies [ABA Journal]
A lawsuit filed by a Baker McKenzie tax partner is seeking to compel the Internal Revenue Service to disclose documents about its tougher policies for auditing partnerships, other pass-through entities and their owners. The March 18 suit filed by tax partner George M. Clarke says the IRS has not produced records in response to his Dec. 19 request under the Freedom of Information Act.