Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Monday Morning Accounting News Brief: PwC CEO Resigns Over Tax Scandal; RTO Propaganda; Unproductive Productivity | 5.8.23

sleepy dog on a bed

Hi! Happy Monday. Here’s some news to get the week started.

We’ll be writing this up later but you might as well read about it now, PwC Australia CEO Tom Seymour has stepped down from his post. Financial Times:

The head of PwC in Australia has resigned as chief executive three days after admitting that he had received emails regarding confidential government information on changes to tax avoidance laws to win new business.

Tom Seymour, chief executive of PwC Australia since March 2020, has stood down with immediate effect following a discussion with the board of partners on Monday. Kristin Stubbins, its head of assurance, will serve as acting chief executive.

“We have agreed with Tom that it is in the best interests of the firm and our stakeholders,” said PwC.

Here’s Australian Financial Review write up on Tom’s self-yeeting. He will remain at PwC…for now.

Partners had complained that Mr Seymour’s ongoing preference to treat the matter as a legal argument instead of dealing head-on with the issues had become a threat to the firm’s reputation in the wider consulting and auditing market.

Against that concern, Mr Seymour was widely liked within the partnership and by staff, and until last week’s cache of emails there was general consensus he had dealt with the leaks scandal effectively.

The immediate concern was that the firm’s relationship with the Albanese government had become poisoned over the scandal and emerging calls for a complete ban on the firm winning further work from the government.

Alright then. What else is going on?

Seiler put out a press release to announce the firm has once again been recognized as one of the Bay Area’s preeminent employers as part of the San Francisco Business Times’ and Silicon Valley Business Journal’s annual “Best Places to Work” awards. 2023 is the fifth time Seiler has been on the list since 2017. This quote is…something.

“This is our 4th consecutive year to be recognized as one of the Bay Area’s premier employers. We are proud and honored to be included alongside so many other inspiring companies that prioritize a workplace culture where team members feel supported, fulfilled, and enthusiastic about advancing their careers,” said George D. Marinos, Seiler’s Chief Executive Officer. “No period in my lifetime has produced the kind of profound changes punctuated with such significant tests to the operations of organizations of all industries and sizes. We feel confident in our ability to overcome any challenges that may present themselves in the future and to remain a supremely attractive place for employees to call home.”

Does EY still oversee the NHL draft lottery? This ESPN article about tonight’s draft mentions only “accounting firm.”

The Guardian briefly mentions EY layoffs as it declares that the brief Age of the Worker is over and employers have the upper hand again:

During the past few years, we’ve heard employees publicly demand unlimited paid time off, four-day workweeks, wellness sabbaticals, gigantic bonuses to switch jobs and even “pawternity leave” – getting time off when you adopt a puppy. Facing labor shortages, customer demands and supply chain headaches, most employers caved. The Age of the Worker blossomed.

That age is at its sunset. The economy has slowed, costs have risen and capital is drying up. Companies are now being forced to do what they need to do to maintain profits and please their shareholders. And that something is always the same: cut some heads.

Don’t let The Guardian scare you about layoffs, find a new accounting job instead. Accountingfly is seeking professionals at all levels to fill all kinds of remote accounting jobs.

From Journal of Accountancy, IRS must end higher audit rates for Black taxpayers:

Black CPAs were not surprised at the results of a study showing that the IRS is up to 4.7 times more likely to audit Black taxpayers than non-Black ones. They already knew that from their work with clients.

And now that research, led by Stanford University, confirms their anecdotal experience, it is time to change the U.S. tax system to one that is fairer and not targeted — intentionally or unintentionally — at Black people, they say.

“Somebody should audit the algorithm being used and compare it to the type of people they’re auditing and propose audit parameters that don’t target a higher proportion of Black people,” Davita Pray, CPA, a firm owner in West Chester, Pa., said in an interview with the JofA. “It shouldn’t be hard to figure out which audit flags are targeting Black people.”

Chris Hughes rags on KPMG in this Bloomberg op-ed:

If KPMG LLP’s near-30-year tenure auditing the collapsed Silicon Valley Bank seemed excessive, consider the entrenched relationships on display at First Republic Bank. The lender rescued by JPMorgan Chase & Co. not only engaged KPMG just as long, but also retained directors with unusually protracted tenures.

First Republic’s accounts point out that KPMG was auditor since 2010. The actual term is longer. The audit firm was signing off the books from 1989 to 2007, prior to First Republic’s brief ownership by Merrill Lynch (later bought by Bank of America Corp.). Long-running relationships can threaten objectivity. In the US, this risk is managed by periodically changing the lead audit partner so auditor and audited don’t get too close.

Elsewhere, the findings of a review into the suicide of an EY employee last August are due “within weeks”, the firm says, as staff increasingly share concerns about safety in the absence of any news. A source told Accountants Daily “EY staff were quietly agitating” about the report and some “felt unsafe not knowing what had happened”. “The review will identify what is working well, areas for improvement, and actions that EY Oceania can take to continue to promote a safe, inclusive and respectful work environment – an environment where all people are empowered to speak out if they see or experience harmful behaviour,” the Broderick website says.

Fortune spoke with Gregory Daco, chief economist at EY-Parthenon, for “American worker productivity is declining at the fastest rate in 75 years—and it could see CEOs go to war against WFH.”

Some other stuff:

And that’s it. We’re keeping an eye on suspicious PIP situations at several firms otherwise it’s fairly quiet out there (ignoring the big PwC Australia news). Be well and gimme a holler if you come across anything exciting.