Someone who's a little short on billable work felt compelled to share this with us on the tip line: The girl who sits next to me just got her REG score and passed. Of course there could be any number of reasons that this person would share this news with us. Among them: 1) In […]
Former BDO CEO and wolfpack leader Denis Field has won a new trial on charges of tax fraud thanks to a juror in his trial who lied about her alcoholism and, oh…pretty much everything: U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan today overturned the convictions, ruling that the presence of Catherine Conrad, who was Juror No. 1, […]
SGOCO Group, Ltd. issued a press release this morning to let everyone know that Grant Thornton's Chinese affiliate decided to take a walk on May 14th. They disclosed this with the SEC around 10 am on Friday, but with the Facebook circus going on, no one noticed. What's interesting is that the company filed Form […]
Are you considering wasting my time instead of wasting your own when you should be studying for the CPA exam? Do you get off on degenerates criticizing you? Just need a good old fashioned AG talking to? Get in touch and I'll help you procrastinate by answering questions you could ask Google. I was wondering […]
Ernst, audit clients cut lobbying ties-records [Reuters, Earlier]Ernst & Young's lobbying unit is no longer listed as a lobbyist for three major U.S. companies, all of whom were 2011 audit clients of the accounting giant. The deregistration follows questions raised by two U.S. senators in March about whether the dual relationships crossed auditor independence boundaries. Documents […]
Last month we learned that Virgnia Spidle, the Chief Accountant for the City of Birmingham, Alabama, was fired a second time by her employer. The grounds for the first dismissal were racism, which a personnel board dismissed. Not one to be dismayed by awkwardness around the office, Spidle returned to her job only to be […]
Earlier we discussed how Warren Buffett's secretary and glory hog, Debbie Bosanek, has become a poster child for all of us that have effective tax rates higher than those of wealthy dudes like her boss and GOP Presidential cyborg Mitt Romney. This has caused a number of people to freak out and start wondering aloud how […]
I'm sorry if you guys are sick of these stats but someone suggested we hit these rankings and last time I dared to write about something other than CPA exam scores, I was essentially laughed right off the Internet. Thanks for supporting my dreams, people, that'll teach me to try to get you all excited […]
Yesterday we broke the news of Mark Weinberger jumping into the big Black and Yellow chair when Jim Turley steps down next year. It's pretty big news for E&Y as JT has been running the show since July 2001. With all his fancy schmancy credentials, there's no question that Mark is up for the job […]
As we've discussed, Occupy Wall Street has had a bit of trouble with tracking their finances. Donations initially were collected in "a large cooking pot covered in cardboard and duct tape" but as methods became more sophisticated; "donation buckets" and "a yellow messenger bag" were also utilized. Expenses are numerous, including but exclusive to meals, bail, and […]
It's that time of year again, folks. Holiday parties are wrapping up. Some of you are trying to squeeze every drop of water out of the CPA stone. And from the chatter we've been hearing, this busy season could be one of the hardest in years. Chalk this up to the fact that voluntary turnover shot […]
For any of you CPA exam candidates looking to spend this Thursday evening in front of computer listening to my magical voice sharing infinite wisdom, you’re in for a treat.
You may or may not be aware that Phil Yaeger of Yaeger’s CPA Review has a weekly radio show where he talks about…wait for it…yes, the CPA exam. I’ll be the featured guest on Phil’s radio program this Thursday evening at 10 pm eastern time. We’ll be discussing the delicate balance of studying for those three special letters and working full-time. You’ll be able to call in with questions or if you feel compelled to berate me about typos or ask why Adrienne has to use so many curse words in her posts, I’ll be happy to oblige you with answers.
Click here if you’d like an email reminder for this week’s show. Whatever your motivation for calling in or listening, it should be a hoot.
For once, we have a heartwarming story of a person who set her mind to accomplishing a goal in spite of more than her fair share of adversity and challenge. This should shame all of you C students into at least pretending like you are grateful for what you have, at least until next semester.
Last week, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants announced that Ms. Hefgine G. Fils-Aime, a spring 2011 graduate of the University of South Florida, has been awarded Beta Alpha Psi’s Medal of Inspiration Award. The award, sponsored by the AICPA, is bestowed upon a student who has experienced extreme hardships in his or her life and who has demonstrated an unusually high level of success d y. The award includes a $5,000 cash stipend, which Ms. Fils-Aime plans to use to help continue her education by pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in accountancy at Wake Forest University.
Ms. Fils-Aime’s story is one of overcoming persistent obstacles. In the mid-2000s, her parents sent Fils-Aime and her sister to Florida to live with relatives, fearful that their young daughters were in danger if they remained in Haiti. Then 14-year-old Fils-Amie, a native French and Creole speaker, had to learn English immediately and was enrolled as a junior in high school due to having skipped a grade in Haiti and the differences between the Haitian and American school systems. Fils-Aime graduated high school at age 16 and enrolled in the University of South Florida.
While the other 18 year-olds in the dorms were partying and trying to get her to take that route with them, she chose to remain focused on her education. As if that weren’t challenging enough, her biggest challenge arrived on Jan. 10, 2010, when Haiti was hit with a 7.0 earthquake. It would be days before she knew what happened to her parents and younger brother. Her mother did not survive the earthquake, buried in the rubble of their home when it collapsed. Port-au-Prince was so damaged that she could not fly in to attend her own mother’s funeral. Somehow during all this, she stuck to school and her extra-curricular activities, which included serving as student project support assistant at the Business Systems Reengineering Department, a candidate for Beta Alpha Psi and the Brothers Points coordinator for Alpha Kappa Psi. She attended PwC’s Florida Leadership Adventure in the summer of 2010.
“The winner of this year’s Beta Alpha Psi Medal of Inspiration Award, Hefgine G. Fils-Aime, is a shining example of a person who overcame extreme hardship, and a language barrier in a foreign country, to achieve success,” said Jeannie Patton, AICPA’s vice president of academic and career awareness. “Her dedication, motivation and courage to continue offers inspiration and hope to every one of us who has thought about quitting when the going got tough.”
Fils-Aime was presented the award on Friday at Beta Alpha Psi’s 2011 annual meeting in Denver.
“Hefgine Fils-Aime’s life story is an inspiring one for everyone who is part of Beta Alpha Psi,” said Mary Stone, president, Beta Alpha Psi. “For members, it is a story to remember when life seems overwhelming or unfair. For faculty advisors, forum members, and staff, it is a story to remember when confronted by the media stereotype that today’s students don’t work hard. For all of us, it is reminder that great challenges can be overcome with hard work, perseverance and good humor.”
Fils-Aime graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting with an overall GPA of 3.89 in May of 2011 and received a full-time offer from PwC. She was recognized on the College of Business’ top 25 under 25 and had been active in Beta Alpha Psi, Alpha Kappa Psi and Beta Gamma Sigma.
Current BAP students may vote for either themselves or another BAP student who they feel meets the criteria for this award, which is given out annually. There are two criteria whereby students can win. First, they may have experienced extreme hardships in their lives in pursuing their education, and demonstrated an unusually high level of success in spite of that adversity. Or, second, they may have done something particularly inspirational in the course of their young lives that had tremendous impact on someone else’s life. Either path is acceptable. Students are encouraged to participate in the program, not to bring honor or glory to themselves, but to inspire students to want to affect on the world around them in a positive way.
I’m no longer surprised by the fact that otherwise (allegedly) rational human beings think it is appropriate to ask a bunch of assholes on the Internet what they should do with their lives. No offense to any of you but I’d hardly bet my life’s decisions on the input I get from a bunch of Internet trolls hiding in cubes around the country making dick jokes amongst themselves.
That said, I’m hoping you guys have some good input for this guy. And by good, I think you know what I actually mean.
I’m a B4 intern graduating in May 2012. Unfortunately, I won’t have 150 credits by that time, but I’ll hopefully have a full time offer from the firm. While this doesn’t seem like an uncommon problem, I feel like I’m between a rock and a of hefty Master’s programs’ tuition rates and the intensity of CPA studying. Therefore, I have the following dilemma…
I could take the CPA right after graduation (to become NY certified) and take a one-semester Master’s program in the Fall. I’d have the whole summer to study and pass the CPA, but I’d be paying $15K for the Master’s and delaying my start time (and future promotions/bonuses) to January 2013. I want to start making money sooner rather than later to pay off my mounting college debts.
The other option is finishing off my last 12-15 credits at a local community college (far cheaper obviously) immediately following graduation. I could then study for the exam either during or after the extra courses. I would be able to start (I think) around October and avoid the massive MAcc tuition. However, I don’t think I’d have enough time to study and pass before beginning full time work, and I’ve heard the longer into your B4 career, the harder it is to find time to study and pass the first time.
I have a tough decision to make and enough time to become more well-informed. People have been telling me it’s all about preference, but I don’t think that’s a good enough answer. There are strong pros and cons in both, but I’m worried my mind will continue to stagnate as it gets closer to decision time. Do you have prior-experience-related advice that will lead me in the right direction? Thanks in advance.
Where do we start with this? First of all, you’ve a) already fallen into the debt trap and b) totally fallen for the myth that you’ve got to get a MAcc to get anywhere in this industry. You’re tripping. Nowhere in the NY exam requirements does it state that you have to take on more debt and another degree to be a CPA in the state:
A bachelor’s or higher degree from a program that is registered by the Department as meeting New York’s 150 semester hour education requirements; or a Masters degree in accounting from an AACSB accredited accounting program; or a bachelors or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university and completion of 150 semester hours in the following content areas, including the following:
* 33 semester hours in accounting with at least one course in each of the following areas:
• financial accounting and reporting
• cost or managerial accounting
• auditing and attestation services
* 36 semester hours in general business electives and
* The curriculum must also include, either as stand alone courses or integrated into other courses, the study of business or accounting communications, ethics and professional responsibility, and accounting research.
(Acceptable course work is detailed further in the 150 semester hour course content table.)
As for the rest of it, anyone who has taken any of the routes you mentioned will probably have some advice for you related to their experience but please keep in mind that it is just that: their experience. Your own will be based on a lot of factors, such as the actual level of debt you are willing to sustain, your motivation to get a CPA/MAcc/awesome Big 4 job, your skills and how committed you are to any of the decisions you make. So that’s probably why you’re getting really vague answers on this from others.
What’s this about your mind stagnating? Knock it off, take responsibility for whichever path you desire to take (not which path the Internet or your parents told you to take) and take that path like a motherfucker. It sounds to me like you’re not all that into any of these options, and that’s probably the biggest cause of your inability to make a decision right there.
Do you want a MAcc? Do you want to get through the exam in less than a year? Do you want to take Advanced Accounting from some musty community college teacher? No one can answer those questions for you. You’re a grown up now and obviously NOT too young for this if you managed to get this far, so grow up and decide already.
You are doing the right thing by reaching out but what I mean to say with all this yelling at you is that, ultimately, the decision is yours. I would always advise you to avoid as much debt as possible at this stage in your life; you are already assuming you are going to have to slave away to pay it off, why would you want more unless you either absolutely have to or truly desire a MAcc? It doesn’t sound to me like you do. So don’t.
From the mailbag:
How about an open thread for KPMG 2011 comp discussions? Sit downs are happening this week. I’m a senior, Midwest, 13% salary increase, $3K bonus.
It seems early for comp discussions at the House of Klynveld but none other than the memo from Johnny V. and Keizer Söze stated that they were happening “later this month.” Our tipster speculated as to the motivation:
In the interest of getting people to not quit, they moved up discussions this year. The salary increases are finalized. The bonus amounts are projected, but they have stated that they are conservative projections.
Okay, then. Feel free to add if you’re planning on deferring your Early Career Investment Bonus or taking the money and GTFO (if you make it to May 2013, that is).
The latest from an auditor in New York:
I have my comp discussion tomorrow and I’ve heard good things (16.4% and up)
Keep us updated.
Welcome to the at-least-you’re-not-John-Edwards edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a first-year auditor has an opportunity to do a rotation with Transaction Services but feels that his senior manager has taken an aggressive cock-block position. Will our hero have to get their performance manager involved or resort to thinly-veiled threats?
I am a long time GC reader, and I usually only read the career advice postings to feel slightly better about my own situation. Now, however, I find myself with a question that I would love to put before the GC readership. I am a first year at a B4. I enjoy my job, but am always interested in a new opportunity. Recently, I was offered a rotation in transaction services that will last a few months. I accepted the opportunity, but the timing of the rotation was not set in stone. I just found out that a sr. mgr. on my biggest client is trying to keep me staffed on that engagement at the expense of the opportunity of taking the rotation.
I have made my interest in taking a TS rotation since day one, and my performance manager supports it 100%. He knows that I was offered the rotation, but not that the sr mgr is standing in the way. I would like to know how to proceed. Should I go over the sr mgr? Should I forget the rotation? I enjoy my audit clients and don’t want to be seen as someone who will leave as soon as a better opportunity comes along, but this is a particular interest of mine that I made know upfront.
Dear Cock-blocked Auditor,
Sounds like your senior manager has a non-sexual, professional crush on you. That can be a good thing but in your case, it’s a very bad thing. Your senior manager probably wants the best team possible and it sounds like that would involve you but you’ve got your own ambitions and those need to be respected. This especially true because TS has already offer has been extended to you. It’s not for someone else (senior manager or not) to stick their beak in your business and prevent you from following the career path you choose.
Having said all that, I suggest that you first talk to the senior manager on your audit engagement. You say that they are blocking the rotation but how do you know? Nothing in your email indicates that (s)he walked straight up to you, pointed a finger in your chest and said, “You’re mine, bitch!” It’s entirely possible that the SM kept you on to prevent you from getting picked up by anyone else. This will allow you to get the story straight before running off to your performance manager. If your suspicions are true (or you did experience a finger pointing incident), then it’s time to get your PM involved. If he is “100%” behind this opportunity like you say, then this should get resolved rather quickly. Transaction Services obviously wants you to work with them and it’s something you’re interested in doing. That isn’t complicated but these things do take time and that may be the hold-up.
So be patient but be direct. Until your rotation’s timing is finalized, there’s no need to get anxious but confirm the motivation behind the scheduling before you have to pull out the big guns. Good luck.
Japan Battles Nuclear Meltdown as Millions Without Power, Water [Bloomberg]
Workers battled to prevent a nuclear meltdown after a second blast rocked an atomic plant north of Tokyo, as helicopters and convoys of army trucks headed toward areas worst-hit by Japan’s strongest earthquake. No large release of radiation was detected after the explosion, which didn’t breach Fukushima power station’s No. 3 reactor and followed a build-up of hydrogen gas, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters in Tokyo today. The risk of a large leak is very small, he said.
BOJ Takes Action to Bolster Money a href=”http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704893604576199261875222164.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLETopStories”>WSJ]
The Bank of Japan jumped into action Monday to temper the economic blow from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency that hit northern Japan, doubling the size of its asset-purchase program and pouring a record 15 trillion yen ($183.17 billion) into money markets to ease liquidity concerns. “What we were most concerned about was the possibility that increases in anxiety and risk-aversion moves would negatively affect the real economy, so we judged it appropriate to mainly boost purchases of risk assets,” BOJ Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa said after the bank’s policy board meeting, which was cut to one day from two because of the crisis.
Lehman Auditor May Bear The Brunt [WSJ]
Federal investigators have grown increasingly doubtful they can prove Lehman executives violated the law by using an accounting maneuver known as Repo 105, which obscured the amount of risk Lehman held, making the firm’s finances look better than they were, The Wall Street Journal has reported. But Ernst & Young, Lehman’s auditor, is fighting fraud charges filed in December by the New York attorney general for, among other things, allegedly failing to adequately follow up on a whistleblower’s claim that Lehman was misstating the value and size of its assets.
Texting Japan earthquake donations [DMWT]
$10 will be added to your next phone bill for contributions to the following charities: American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Convoy of Hope, GlobalGiving and World Relief.
Big 4 Bias – Can We Ever Overcome It? [BDO/CEO Insights]
BDO Global CEO Jeremy Newman wants some respect!
Nine Months is Not a ‘Severe Punishment’ Fitting Survivor Winner Hatch [Yahoo]
Hatch famously failed to pay the taxes due on the $1 million prize won from the first season of “Survivor” more than 10 years ago. He was convicted of tax evasion and subsequently served more than three years in prison. He also, obviously, was ordered to refile amended tax returns that accurately reflect his 2000 and 2001 income and pay the income taxes due. Though any reasonable person disinterested in spending any more time in federal prison would have immediately filed corrected tax returns and pay the taxes due, Hatch failed to do so, and according to the Hollywood Reporter, he has been sentenced to prison for an additional nine months. Hatch was released from prison in 2009, and since then has been serving a three year term of supervised release.
India’s IFRS Carve-Outs and the Pipedream of Global Accounting Standards [The Accounting Onion]
If IFRS adoption was ever a goal worth pursuing, it has long since vanished, and the political motivations of its remaining supporters are now deprived of any pretense of legitimacy. It’s time to let the rest of the world “countdown to IFRS” if they want to, but If the SEC were really serious about protecting investors, it would scrap the IFRS roadmap. In it’s place, there should be a new plan for making U.S. GAAP unquestionably the pre-eminent financial reporting system in the world.
AIG Adopts Poison Pill to Preserve $65 Billion NOL [TaxProf Blog]
AIG, like GM and Citigroup before it, has adopted a poison pill to preserve its $65 billion NOL by ensuring that no investor acquires a 5% stake and triggers the change of ownership rules.
Welcome to the I’ve-never-been-so-disappointed-with-commercials-in-my-life edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a future Big 4 auditor is thisclose to finishing up the CPA and is worried that his summer won’t be sufficiently ruined without an exam to study for. Is hitting the books for a Certified Internal Auditor badge the answer?
Need career advice? Need a myth about your firm debunked? Is your job driving you mad to the point of considering a terrorist act? Email us at email@example.com and we’ll keep your face off a most-wanted list.
Back to our glutton for punishment:
I keep going back and forth on whether or not to go for another certification. This month I’m studying for, and taking, the last section of the CPA exam. I’m starting an auditing gig at a Big 4 firm this Fall. With no CPA exam to ruin my life this summer, I’ve considered ruining it by studying for a new exam, specifically the CIA.
I’ll have the required work experience for the certification as of June 2011, so my first set of biz cards would be able to read “Indentured Servant, CIA” right out of the gate, with it being updated to “Indentured Servant, CPA, CIA” in 2012, just in time for the world to end.
The CIA exam is cheaper than the CPA and probably easier at this point. Plus, everyone would think I worked for the CIA. Should I take the exams, or get a life that will be ripped away from me in a few months?
Dear Indentured Servant,
I think a more appropriate pseudonym for you might be “Auditing Overachiever” or “Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” OR “Prefers Books About Auditing as Opposed to Interacting with Humans, Even Those Who Might Want to Have Sex with Me.” NEVERTHELESS, I’m here to help.
Your letter is a little confusing but I’ll try to piece things together. Your job starts in the fall but you’ll have enough work experience (24 months) to obtain a CIA in June so that can only mean that you’ve been an auditor for awhile. It also means this new Big 4 gig is fresh start for you in some way, shape or form since you’ll effectively be a new hire. Making those assumptions, I’m not really sure what the CIA will do for you as a Big 4 auditor. Yes, having a extra credential is nice but it likely won’t mean squat to your co-workers, partners or clients and it won’t make you any extra money. Plus, as far as I can tell, the superficial motivation behind this endeavor – paraphrasing your words – is A) “I want to ruin my summer” B) “it’s cheaper than the CPA” C) “people will think I’m a spy.”
My response to these is A) What’s wrong with you? B) How is spending more money “cheaper”? C) No, they won’t.
See why I’m confused? The underlying motivation – if i can put you on the couch for a sec – is that you’re worried about being bored. Are you completely incapable of enjoying a summer if it doesn’t involve being indoors with your nose in a book? Take a vacation, take a staycation or do nothing but study for an exam that will get you an obscure certification? In my opinion, there’s extremely limited upside to the CIA at this point in your career so do yourself a favor, finish your CPA and give the certifications a rest for awhile. They’ll always be there for when the disappointment of the world NOT ending in 2012 gets you down.
In other words – get a life, dude.
Maybe! Denis Field’s lawyers certainly aren’t amused with the tactics:
Denis Field, ex-CEO of BDO Seidman, the world’s fifth largest accounting firm, claims Manhattan prosecutors intimidated his former firm into curtailing and eventually cutting off payments to his lawyers. In recently filed court papers, he claims that the government deprived him of his constitutional right to counsel and seeks dismissal of the case.
Field alleges that among other tactics, prosecutors threatened to indict the firm if it kept funding his defense. During a hearing on Thursday, U.S. Judge William Pauley III of the Southern District of New York, who is presiding over the case, closely questioned prosecutors about the accusations. A ruling is expected soon.
If this sounds familiar, it should. Back in 2007, the very same prosecutors – Stanley Okula and Shirah Neiman – pulled a similar stunt, “convincing” KPMG not to pay the legal fees for the partners and employees that were facing criminal charges for their roles in the firm’s tax shelter schemes:
That case was thrown out in 2007 after U.S. Judge Lewis Kaplan found that prosecutors had improperly “coerced” KPMG into cutting off the legal fees of 13 former KPMG partners and employees. “KPMG refused to pay because the government held the proverbial gun to its head,” Kaplan wrote.
Two of the prosecutors called out by Judge Kaplan — Stanley Okula and Shirah Neiman — have also been involved in the Field case, a fact that is prominently noted by Field’s lawyers in their motion to dismiss. “The reason for the government’s conduct is obvious — as with KPMG, the prosecutors believed BDO ‘should not pay the fees’ of allegedly culpable individuals,” Field’s lawyers argue. They cited the KPMG case no fewer than 50 times in their brief.
So it appears that Okula and Neiman aren’t much for personal reflection and may have pulled out the proverbial gun again. But they’re making a case for themselves, saying BDO’s motivation for sticking Field with the tab isn’t related to them putting the screws to the firm, “the government argues that BDO stopped paying Field’s legal bills after the firm discovered that Field hid from the board a report, prepared by law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, warning that certain tax shelters that Field was promoting were questionable.” Hey! – you can even ask BDO’s general counsel, he’ll tell you that the firm’s decision had nothing to do with get the government off their backs. And if you can’t believe a lawyer, who can you believe?
Welcome to the two-out–of-three-groundhogs-can’t-be-wrong edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a CPA with nine years experience as a sole practitioner has CFO aspirations but isn’t having any luck landing interviews. Does her near-decade of running her own shop hurt her desire to rejoin the corporate ranks?