Browsing our stats on any given day, I can’t help but notice how many people arrive at this website by Googling “careers after public accounting” or some variation of such. “Fuck public accounting” is also a popular one, I can’t possibly imagine why. Given the current economic environment, we’ve seen an uptick in searches of this nature, presumably because it’s the end of the world and life’s too short to rot in a cube in a job you hate. Either that or it’s laid off accountants stuck to the couch in their underwear worried about their unemployment running out. Probably a combination of the two.
Based on the search volume I just mentioned, I’m excited to share this opportunity with y’all. Now, it’s certainly not conventional but boy is the pay good. Imagine being able to retire before 40 with more money than you’d ever know what to do with. Still with me? Excellent. The SEC explains more:
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a nearly $50 million whistleblower award to an individual who provided detailed, firsthand observations of misconduct by a company, which resulted in a successful enforcement action that returned a significant amount of money to harmed investors. This is the largest amount ever awarded to one individual under the SEC’s whistleblower program. The next largest is a $39 million award to an individual in 2018. Two individuals also shared a nearly $50 million whistleblower award that same year.
“This award marks several milestones for the whistleblower program,” said Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. “This award is the largest individual whistleblower award announced by the SEC since the inception of the program, and brings the total awarded to whistleblowers by the SEC to over $500 million, including over $100 million in this fiscal year alone. Whistleblowers have proven to be a critical tool in the enforcement arsenal to combat fraud and protect investors.”
The SEC Whistleblower Program was signed into law in 2010 as part of the sweeping, post-2008 Great Recession Dodd-Frank financial reform package, which I won’t proselytize on here as I’ve done it for 12 years and no one curr. Section 21F of the amended Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 directs the SEC “to make monetary awards to eligible individuals who voluntarily provide original information that leads to successful Commission enforcement actions resulting in the imposition of monetary sanctions over $1,000,000, and certain related successful actions. The SEC can make awards ranging from 10 to 30 percent of the monetary sanctions collected, which are paid from its Investor Protection Fund (IPF).”
Prior to Dodd-Frank, the SEC operated a whistleblower program, and the olds among us will recall the case of Harry Markopolos, who repeatedly attempted to warn the agency about Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme between 2000 and 2005 only to be ignored. If you need something to get lost in today, knock yourself out with this SEC Office of Investigations report on the agency’s failure to nab Madoff sooner.
In the case of the largest whistleblower award mentioned above, BNY Mellon paid out $700 million in fines after one of its traders helped the SEC with their investigation over a period of 10 years. Although the SEC does not reveal whistleblower identities, the Wall Street Journal went ahead and outed the tattling trader as Grant Wilson. Doing the math, the award comes out to a little more than 7% of the overall fines. I’m no mathlete but isn’t that about $21 million short of the low end? Whatever, someone better with numbers than me can figure that out.
“This matter was resolved more than five years ago and we are pleased it is behind us,” a BNY Mellon spokesperson told CNN Business.
The SEC says it received more than 26,000 whistleblower tips from 2011 to 2018 so know competition is pretty stiff in this unique niche. I have faith in you, future whistleblowers of America.