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Monday Morning Accounting News Brief: Unintended Audit Consequences; The IRS Needs Experienced Accountants; PwC AI | 9.18.23

Corgis in fall leaves

Good morning and welcome back to another Monday, we’ll get through this together. Here’s some news from elsewhere to start your day.

Inside PwC’s push to train its workers on AI:

PwC is rolling out training on artificial intelligence for 75,000 workers in the US and Mexico so they can find new ways to incorporate the technology into its business — and that of its customers.

“We want all of our people to be skilled on AI enough that they can have a conversation with the client — whether or not you’re an associate or an experienced partner — so that you can identify opportunities for us to be able to go in and support that client and that AI transformation, as well as to be able to support the firm itself,” Shannon Schuyler, US chief purpose and inclusion officer at PwC, told Insider.

The training is designed to teach partners and employees what AI is and how they can safely incorporate it into their work. After the initial round is complete, PwC plans to provide personalized training for certain teams and workers.

‘There is no work to balance’: how shrinking budgets, Covid and AI shook up life in consulting:

Andrew* is a 63-year-old partner in a small consultancy in England who finds himself with too much free time and too little cash. Shambo, a 32-year-old associate management consultant in India, has the opposite complaint: his hours have increased dramatically as clients demand more work for the same fees.

Sierra, a 23-year-old associate in New York is feeling “horrible” pressure to perform so she is not laid off.

The experiences of these workers illustrate the unique set of challenges facing the global consulting industry, which generates annual revenue of about $860bn, according to US research group IbisWorld.

IRS looks to hire 3,700 employees nationwide to help expand compliance for large corporations and complex partnerships; experienced accountants encouraged to apply for Revenue Agent positions:

These compliance positions will be open in more than 250 locations nationwide and is part of a larger effort to add fairness to the tax system and expand tax enforcement involving areas of concern with high-income earners, partnerships, large corporations and promoters. The hiring will be for higher-graded revenue agents, which are specialized technical positions that generally focus on audits.

“This is another important step for the IRS as we work to transform the agency and make improvements,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Our first wave of hiring focused on taxpayer service positions to help improve our phone and in-person assistance. This next wave of hiring will help the IRS add key talent like tax accountants to help reverse a decade-long decline of audits for the wealthy as well as complex partnerships and corporations. These new employees will be focused on higher-income and complex tax areas like partnerships, not average taxpayers making less than $400,000.”

Interested individuals in the financial services industry — such as tax accountants, forensic accountants auditors, controllers and treasurers — can learn more and apply through the job announcement.

In hiring, the package is ‘not as important as it once was’:

Over the past couple of years, there has been a dramatic change not only in the way people work, but also the kind of work they look for.

“The candidates still very much drive the marketplace, so while the package is still important to everyone, it’s not as important as it once was,” said Jack Gallagher, head of experienced hire recruitment at PwC’s Dublin office.

“What we see is people are very much interested in the projects that they’ll be working on because they know their package will usually be at the commensurate level.”

According to Gallagher, a lot of candidates applying to PwC want their skills and values to align with the company’s values, resulting in what he calls an “enhancement of employer branding”.

Insider trading from top corporate executives spikes after audits, per University of Minnesota study:

Insider selling on the part of top executives and directors at some public companies spikes in the weeks after they receive negative audit reports and before that information becomes public, said Salman Arif, an accounting professor at the U’s Carlson School of Management.

Using a forensic accounting approach, Arif and his co-authors detected novel evidence of “opportunistic insider trading,” based on the timing of when insiders receive information from auditors. Their research, they said, is the first to document the way some insiders take advantage of an unintended consequence of the audit process and use confidential information for personal gain.

“This is arising from a mechanism to protect the public and protect investors,” Arif said. “And here we are, where this protection system is being used to exploit investors. So that’s deep irony, I think.”

India’s Rediff resurrects an old name from the audit dumpster fire graveyard (Satyam) and discusses the topic of audit firms ditching clients:

On January 7, 2009, when B Ramalinga Raju resigned as the chief executive officer of Satyam Computer Services after admitting to fraud, he set in motion a series of acts by regulators to clean up corporate governance in India, including the role of top executives and independent directors.

Most of all, the incident changed the profession of auditing, which till then was usually described as ‘dull’ and ‘anodyne’.

The ripples of Satyam continue to be felt and are perceived to be the reason for many auditor-client separations.

More than the number, auditors are exiting big names, which used to be a rarity.

Earlier, the auditor used to be like the family doctor that would treat generations, until the regulators stepped in — in Satyam’s aftermath — to say the audit firm must be rotated every 10 years.

Now we have instances of firms not waiting that long.

Code of Professional conduct revisions address attest client fees and ethics in professional education:

The AICPA Professional Ethics Executive Committee (PEEC) has approved revisions to align the Code of Professional Conduct (the Code) with international standards on attest client fees and to clarify members’ ethical responsibilities when allowable collaboration for professional qualifications and competencies crosses the line into cheating.

The revisions related to fees will necessitate additional planning by AICPA members with attest clients. The clarifications related to collaboration and cheating do not add responsibilities, but members will want to be aware of these changes, especially those who work in an environment with multiple generations who may have a different understanding of collaboration and cheating.

Financial Worry Is a Top Driver of Anxiety Among Gen Z, New EY Study Finds:

Money continues to be a growing concern for Gen Z as financial uncertainty, worry about an uncertain future and distrust of large businesses propels generational anxiety to an all-time high, according to the Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) 2023 Gen Z Segmentation Study.

“Right now, Gen Z is particularly important as the newest generation of consumers, employees and citizens that will dramatically impact businesses today and into the future,” said Marcie Merriman, EY Americas Cultural Insights & Customer Strategy Leader.

“Our research has consistently found that mental health is an ongoing challenge for Gen Z,” Merriman said. “As the generation moves into our prime workforce and consumer markets, several shifts are happening simultaneously. The oldest Gen Z are aging out of their parents’ health care plans this year, and they are feeling the impact of financial independence amid economic uncertainty. These factors are shaping their views of work and life and what success looks like.”

Overland Park Police Foundation under scrutiny over disbursements to Arizona marketing firm:

They were supposed to help police officers, their families, and the community.

But tax records show the now suspended Overland Park Police Officers Foundation, the charity for the Fraternal Order of Police, paid an Arizona marketing firm roughly three out of every four dollars that company raised for the Foundation.

James Spies, a Kansas City, Kansas attorney who is not involved in the case said, based on what’s publicly known through tax records, there are significant unanswered questions.

“Local police officers who were part of this organization trying to raise this money, are they profiting from this in some fashion? Is there some kickback from that telemarketing group in Arizona? I mean, those are questions that need to be asked,” he said.

Tax records show an Overland Park accounting firm, Graham & Associates, prepared the tax reports for the Overland Park Police Officer’s Foundation.

Reached by phone, a representative of a newly re-worked firm said the man who did the tax returns retired due to medical issues.

That’s all I’ve got for now. We’re working on a deep dive on Croft & Frost, the Chattanooga firm that went belly up last week after months of payroll issues. It appears the payroll issues were just the tip of a very fucked up iceberg, thanks to everyone who’s reached out to give us all the gory details since the story dropped Friday . Anyone else with info on the firm and/or the two dudes behind it is encouraged to get in touch, tipsters are anonymous and I won’t publish anything without checking with you first. Cheers.