A List of Prominent Accounting Incompetence

In this age of pervasive unavoidable media, everyone has a platform, a handle, a persona, a BRAND. Or at least they want to. The reality is that no one gives a shit about your brand or your proprietary hashtag that is 50 million light-years away from trending.

It’s bleak to think about, but the truth is that the vast majority of us are wholly insignificant in the greater context of the universe. If you zoom in to our own, individual little worlds, then that significance increases, of course, but even if you are influential in your relative sphere, you’re still highly meh.

But who’s the mehest among us? Hard to say; it’s a tight race! If we keep things within the confines of the accounting world, however, I think we can at least get things down to a handful or so.


Honestly, did anyone ever care about auditors? Why else do we have #auditorpride? It’s not as if auditors were shoved in the closet for the whole of human history and then, fed up with not being treated as human, burst onto the scene singing show tunes demanding respect. They’re here! They like bagels and schmear! GET USED TO IT.

And their effectiveness has more or less always been debatable! It shouldn’t take a massive company going bankrupt every five years to remind people of that fact.

Cloud experts

I wrote a cloud explainer for laggards recently, and you know what I learned—who cares if they’re behind the times? I feel like if some self-identified cloud guru was harping on the next big thing in accounting, I’d ignore their advice out of spite. Oh, the internet allows you to do things that weren’t possible before? KNOCK ME OVER WITH A FEATHER. We ended up with infinite free porn and a bullhorn for authoritarians disguised as a cute bird. I’ll get on the cloud when I damn well please.


Seriously. Get over yourselves.

EY’s HR department

I have to believe that someone in EY’s HR department has muttered to themselves, “Well, at least Harvey Weinstein isn’t a partner.”

The 10% of controllers who’ve just resigned themselves to committing fraud

From a survey: “Among the 64 percent who said they have felt pressure to misrepresent their company’s performance, 10 percent reported this is a regular part of their job.”

Yep! There’s a not insignificant number of controllers who’ve looked at their situation and decided, “To hell with it! No one even cares.”

KPMG’s head of tradecraft

If you’re following the trial of ex-KPMG partner David Middendorf, it’s pretty clear that this particular band of thieves were in way over their heads from the beginning. They really had no business trying to pull any of this off. (Allegedly!) Whoever’s job it is at KPMG to teach partners how to keep their cool when conducting shady business failed miserably. I wouldn’t put them in the category of accepting paper bags of cash from a golf buddy in a Starbucks parking lot, but they’re still a bunch of morons.

PwC’s Oscars team

I mean, obviously. And sure, things have gone off without a hitch the last couple of years, but: Guys! You’re just counting ballots, stuffing the results in envelopes, and handing them to celebrities. A team of gifted eighth graders could pull this off.

The robot that’s supposed to take Barry Melancon’s job

Adrienne has a hunch that AICPA President, CEO, and Cardi B fashion consultant Barry Melancon is the robot that is supposed to take Barry Melancon’s job. And if she’s right, then the future is going to be really dull if our sentient robot overlords are going to be old white dudes.

Caleb Newquist

Speaking of old white dudes, I’m becoming one! Not in the cultural sense, I’d like to think, but, rather, in the literal sense. I’m middle-aged! I’m white! I’m a man! I’m building a repertoire of Dad jokes. Virtually no one cares what I have to say about accounting. Which is fine! There’s enough white dudes in accounting telling people what to think.  

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