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Friday Footnotes: No Foolin’ Here; 18,000 New Accounting Jobs; Skills Auditors Need NOW to Be Future-Ready | 4.1.22

a cute pair of young kittens

Ed. note: forgive us, we lack the bandwidth to come up with an April Fool’s prank today. For your reading pleasure, you can reminisce on the time we hid the entire site behind a (fake) Bitcoin paywall for a few hours on April Fool’s Day 2014 and proceeded to get cussed out by readers and haters alike. Ah, memories.

431K jobs added in March, with 18.2K in accounting [Accounting Today] Some of the main job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services, along with retail trade and manufacturing. Professional and business services added a total of 102,000 jobs in March, including 18,200 in accounting and bookkeeping services. Overall employment in professional and business services was 723,000 higher than in February 2020. Average wages rose 13 cents to $31.73 in March. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 5.6%. The labor force participation rate increased to 62.4%, just about one percentage point below its pre-pandemic level.

How accounting firms deal with hybrid working [Journal of Accountancy] Accounting firm leaders collectively say they are facing numerous challenges: establishing formal and fair policies that suit everyone, especially with talent at such a premium; maintaining a consistent company culture when people are spread out; in some cases monitoring productivity, particularly with younger or newer employees; facing resistance from some leaders, who want everyone back at headquarters; onboarding new recruits into a half-empty office; and perhaps, most importantly, ensuring everyone in the firm is visible and noticed, no matter their location, and that cliques don’t surface among office workers.

ARB’s auditor Messrs BDO voluntarily resigns after failure to reach agreement on proposed increase of audit fees [The Edge] Expect to see a lot of this going forward: ARB Bhd on Friday (April 1) announced its auditor Messrs BDO PLT (BDO) has voluntarily resigned. Elaborating on the reason for its auditor’s resignation, the software and platform provider said in a bourse filing: “We could not reach a consensus on the proposed increase of the audit fees covering the financial statements for the 18 months ending June 30, 2022 of the company and some of its subsidiaries.”

SEC Begins Identifying Public Companies under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act [JD Supra] Per the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has begun identifying public companies that retained audit firms that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has determined it cannot inspect completely due to a position taken by the authorities in a foreign jurisdiction.

U.S.-listed Chinese stocks audit dispute: China regulator tells auditors to consider preparing for inspections [CNBC] The China Securities Regulatory Commission said in a statement to CNBC Friday that it convened a meeting this week with some accounting firms and told them to consider preparing for joint inspections. Chinese and U.S. regulators’ consultations on audit supervision and cooperation are overall going well, the commission said.

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX) reintroduces the PCAOB whistleblower protection bill [Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia] “The PCAOB Whistleblower Bill of 2022 strengthens the transparency of our Nation’s public markets by protecting whistleblowers who have reliable information for law enforcement,” said Congresswoman Garcia. “This bill is a necessary first step in protecting the integrity of public companies and markets.”

IRS doesn’t need more workers; it needs less work [The Telegraph] The IRS has its issues. Law professor Beverly Moran reported that last year, “taxpayers had trouble reaching the IRS, tax returns took months to process, almost a quarter of refunds didn’t go out until 2022, and collection notices were sent out even after the tax owed was paid,” and added that the IRS failed to answer 250 million phone calls. The Washington Post suggested that, “What the IRS really needs is a big investment to staff up and modernize its systems. Congress must treat this with the same degree of urgency as the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.” That’s one way to go. Another approach would be drastically reducing the complexity of federal taxes.

The auditor in 10 years [Accounting Today] In 10 years, auditors will need a number of new skill sets, new competencies and new capabilities, and they’ll want to start developing many of them now — whether they’re currently in the profession, or are just starting their careers.

#TaxTwitter is a ghost town. I think we all know why.

After accounting problems, Plug Power fires KPMG [Times Union] Roughly a year after disclosing that it had made unintentional errors on its financial filings with federal regulators over a period of several years, fuel cell maker Plug Power has fired its accounting firm KPMG. Plug Power’s audit committee, a sub-group of its board of directors, voted to dismiss KPMG on March 16 in light of the accounting issues, which at the time they were announced caused Plug Power’s stock to tumble. Shareholders also sued the company as well over the issue.

Report Looks at Goodwill Impairments Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic [CPA Practice Advisor] Total goodwill impairments recorded by U.S. public companies more than doubled in 2020, according to the 2021 U.S. Goodwill Impairment Study (“2021 Study”) released today by the Valuation Advisory Services practice of Kroll, the leading provider of data, technology and insights related to risk, governance and growth.

How autism can help close Canada’s talent gap – Deloitte [Business Chief] “The autistic community has so much to offer, and unfortunately, a lot of the potential of neurodiverse Canadians is either lost on employers, or goes untapped,” says Roland Labuhn, Partner, Digital & Analytics, Deloitte Canada. “From the hiring process to a clear lack of support systems for employees, the autistic community still faces significant barriers in finding meaningful work, and it’s important for employers to recognize that removing these obstacles will lead to a more inclusive workplace for all employees.”

Fee bonanza ahead for PwC, KPMG from climate disclosure rules [Australian Financial Review] Auditing firms will get “a shot in the arm” out of proposed climate disclosure rules in the United States, which will force companies to get external assurance before publishing details of their carbon footprint.

Remember this? Yeah, it’s still happening. In 2015, an AICPA exposure draft said the AICPA estimates that approximately 75% of its members will be eligible to retire by 2020. Reddit discusses it here:

Climate change: What the SEC proposal means for companies, auditors [Journal of Accountancy] A long-awaited draft proposal from the SEC could bring new standardization to the way companies report on climate-related risks and their own carbon emissions, with auditors set to play a major role in assurance on climate reporting. The draft rule builds on prior SEC guidance and reflects changes in the market, said Wes Bricker, CPA, U.S. vice chair for PwC and U.S. trust solutions co-leader. “I think this is a very significant step for businesses in their reporting for emissions, but everything requires context,” Bricker said in an interview.

Dubai-Based MContent Partners With PwC to Launch Doc ‘Ripple vs SEC Saga’ in the Metaverse (EXCLUSIVE) [Variety] Dubai-based cryptocurrency-based content platform MContent has partnered with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Middle East to launch its documentary “Ripple vs SEC Saga” in a virtual theater in the metaverse. Produced by MContent and Amsterdam-based Insight TV in tandem with Villain Studios, “Ripple vs SEC Saga” (first look image above) delves into the ongoing case being brought by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) since 2020 against blockchain company Ripple Labs.

PwC in Talks to Lease 38K SF at Miami’s 545wyn [Commercial Observer] Accounting behemoth PwC is in lease negotiations for about 38,000 square feet, or one floor, at the 545wyn office building, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

Photo by Cristyan Bohn