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Severe CPA Cheapness, Fiscal Cliffs, and Big 4 Houses of Hogwarts: The Ten Most Popular Going Concern Posts of 2012

It's the last week of the year and that means no one is doing much of anything besides exchanging gifts for stuff they actually want and planning all the New Year's resolutions they won't keep. 

Your humble servants here at Going Concern are attempting to recharge our batteries this week, but we know you can't be left alone to fend for yourselves, so to better serve you this final week of 2012, we'll rehash the most popular stories from the past year.

From money to expense reimbursement abuse to the shit you say during busy season, these are the stories that even the OMP of your office had on their screens this past year. 


10. The elimination of all the Big 4 firms prior to the Elite 8 round in Going Concern March Madness

Going Concern March Madness: The Coolest Accounting Firm falls somewhere in between "stupid fun" and "incredibly lame."

Regardless of where your feelings lie, this event has allowed smaller firms the opportunity to make a name for themselves in the shallowest way possible. So when all of the Big 4 were bounced in this year's first round, a lot of people seemed excited about that.

The more we think about it, "incredibly lame" seems more and more accurate.

9. E&Y Senior Manager's farewell fail

In this day and age, everyone feels compelled to let the universe know their comings and goings. This is no different in a professional environment, when a colleague, friend or complete stranger informs everyone that they are leaving your firm. 

Many people do this gracefully, keeping their message short, concise, filled with clichés about "developing great relationships" and "missing all of you." Some people attempt humor; some attempt sentimentality. All of these things are 

One Ernst & Young senior manager did not follow the traditional farewell email path. This email was long (over 3,000 words!), self-aggrandizing, had plenty of clichés, and was incredibly unfunny.    

Many of you will leave your firms in 2013, so if there is a lesson to be found in this farewell, it's the perfect guide for what you shouldn't do when you depart your firm. Bookmark this.

8. The cheapskatiest cheapskate CPA ever.

Kate Hashimoto of PwC is about as thrifty as it gets. Dumpster diving is her preferred method of grocery shopping. She runs to work, thus avoiding buying a Metrocard, cuts her own hair, and washes her clothes in the shower. 

What does all cheapness translate to? Well, she paid off her Harlem studio in NINE MONTHS and ended up on TLC's Extreme Cheapskates.

If being more careful with money is on your list of resolutions, this CPA's habits may be a good place to start.

7. "Hey, Bob. You're a CPA. Help me understand this fiscal cliff."

Back in November, immediately after the election people, started getting seriously worried about the fiscal cliff. Now it's the last week of December and…people are still seriously worried about the fiscal cliff. 

Because we can't escape the news of this cliff and our country going over it, naturally people that aren't wise to such things are asking their fiscal-minded friends to explain what, exactly, the hell this cliff is and what will happen when we plunge off it.

Greg Kyte explained just how CPAs should handle this situation. His advice certainly made you look smart at Thanksgiving; it got people thinking that you were a know-it-all during your Christmakwanzakah get-togethers, and at this point, if it's brought up again over New Year's, you're risking a punch in the face. 

6. The best performing schools on the CPA Exam

If you're the type of person that likes to boast about your school's performance on well, anything, then this was the post for you. Institutions like Wake Forest, Penn, College of St. Benedict, UVA, and Duke are probably used to various accolades and they don't make an exception for the certified public accountant examination.

If your school isn't anywhere near the top of these statistics, don't worry, not only are CPA certificates devoid of your scores, they don't mention where you went to school either.

5. Ernst & Young firing people for violating its expense reimbursement policy

When you have lunch with someone that is not in the same physical location as you and then submit the cost of this imaginary lunch for expense reimbursement, that may get the attention of some administrative people.

Abuse of the corporate credit card happens at every level of your organization and while most offenses would be considered minor, E&Y had cause to ask a number of people to take their services elsewhere after they ran through some less-than appropriate charges on their firm's dime.

If you find ever yourself asking if a client lunch at the local gentleman's club is within the confines of an appropriate business expense, this post should enlighten you.

4. PwC's Confidential Guide for Its Performance Review Process

It's fair to say that a lot of people would like to know the method to the madness behind compensation at accounting firms. It's not as simple as a dartboard and picking numbers out of a hat.

Back in May we got our hands on a confidential memo for PwC's performance review process and we learned that some people, somewhere, are putting a lot of work into determining what you make.

Is it fair? Does it make sense? Are you doomed to a five-figure salary for your entire career? This guide may have something that closely resembles an answer. 

3. Big 4 Houses of Hogwarts

We ignore plenty of stupid questions from readers, but when someone suggested comparing the Big 4 accounting firms to the four Houses of Hogwarts, it seemed like a worthy exercise.

Your humble editor knows nothing of the Harry Potter tales, so this turned out to be an exhaustive endeavor. No surprise, plenty of you know this Hogwarts place inside and out, so there was plenty of debate and even segued into a Game of Thrones comparison as well. 

It was billable time well spent.

2. Shit Accountants Say

When you're a new member of the capital market servitude, it can be an enormous challenge just trying to understand what your more experienced colleagues are saying. 

Luckily, a video was created to get many of new people acquainted with some common expressions that would be heard during busy season. 

This historical record of accountant language will become an important tool for future generations of the profession. It's crucial that you share it with your teams.

1. Money

Honestly, what did you expect? We're not going to give each firm's individual spot on this list because that would make for a really lousy list. But obviously it's worth mentioning that the top five posts in 2012 were compensation related and seven of the top ten. — 1) PwC's comp watch; 2) E&Y's comp watch; 3) the 15-year compensation outlook; 4) the pre-comp season discussion for the Big 4; 5) KPMG's comp watch; 7) The 15-year outlook with three different scenarios; 9) GT comp watch (Deloitte peeps are obviously in it for love, they came in 11th).  

Compensation is important to you for all kinds of obvious reasons but it's important to your firms too because it's helpful for them to know that you feel adequately compensation for all the capital market serving you do.

And we don't expect that to change in 2013. Greed will always be good…for pageviews.