U.K. Audit Regulator Encouraged to Slap Big 4 Wrists Slightly Harder
Despite what you might hear, Big 4 audit firms have it pretty easy when it comes to compliance. Yes, there a ton of rules to follow, but in the event that a firm, one (or several) of its partners and employees run afoul of those rules, the consequences range from a mild rebuke to a […]
EY Law Continues to Not Threaten Law Firms By Poaching Lawyers
EY Law has picked up the former managing partner of Addelshaw Goddard, a large international law firm based in London, and another AG partner who will both join EY UK's legal services practice. I trust EY will let law firms know when this sort of behavior is a threat. Until then, carry on, law firms. […]
Deloitte UK Boss Not Sure What You Were Expecting From That RBS Audit
Deloitte UK CEO David Sproul has been all over the British press for his remarks that politicians are hurting the country's economy by "trying to force companies to pay their fair share of tax." While it's true that politicians have an uncanny knack for getting in the way of all kinds of things, it's also […]
UK Regulator Tasked with Focusing on Audit Quality May Be Tasked with Focusing a Little Less on Audit Quality
When it comes to Big 4 bustin', UK regulators have proven the most willing to throw poo at a wall to see what sticks. Specifically, the Queendom's Competition Commission has decided that the Big 4's stranglehold on the FTSE is a little too tight for their liking and have been trying to come up with […]
Accountant Hopes Bankers Will Have the Integrity of Accountants One Day
Sir Michael Rake is currently the Deputy Chairman of Barclays. and, from 2002 to 2007, he was the Chairman of KPMG International. Last night, Sir Mike did quite the impressive thing — that is, he got all Dad on accountants and bankers by telling the former how proud he was of them while telling the […]
(VIDEO) Watching an Accountant’s Day-to-Day Activities Is Arguably More Interesting with a Skrillex Soundtrack
Dubstep is disco for the contemporary era. Some day, you'll be like, "Remember dubstep?" And one of your friends who is in the middle of sticking his/her hand into a dirty diaper will stop short, look over at you and respond, "Oh, yeah. Jesus. I'm lucky my brain didn't melt a couple of times." And […]
Anyone Concerned That PwC’s Legal Troubles Lacked International Flair Can Rest Easy
Scandal-hit subprime lender Cattles is suing PwC, alleging negligence over its audit of two years of financial statements. PwC intends to contest what it called the “inflated and misguided claim” in the High Court in London. […] A supervisor representing Cattles’ creditors asserted that PwC should not have signed off the 2006 and 2007 financial statements of […]
MP Really Disappointed with Big 4’s Life Choices
Margaret Hodge, chairman of the House of Commons public accounts committee, told specialists from PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG that their skills ought to be directed to nobler ends than minimising tax bills for big business.“What really depresses me is you could contribute so much to society and the public good and you […]
Big 4 Firms Performing Quite Well in the Self-Preservation Department
If you are able to find Google's homepage and have a couple of functioning digits, it isn't difficult to find news of Big 4 audit firms settling lawsuits over the past few years. Satyam. Countrywide. Bear Stearns. Sino-Forest. There are others. There will be more. In the UK, regulators have been grilling the Big 4 over […]
RSM Tenon Shareholders Actually Acted on Their Dissatisfaction with PwC’s Auditing Ability
You may not know this, but McGladrey's British sister from another mister is RSM Tenon. Like most large accounting firms RSM Tenon provides a wide variety of exemplary professional services demanded by the capital markets. Unlike most large accounting firms, however, it has shareholders and is listed on a stock exchange. Those shareholders get to vote […]
Layoffs Watch ’12: KPMG Has Good News and Bad News
With regard to the aforementioned cuts, the good news is that some of you got to keep your jobs. The bad news is many still did not: KPMG lost 275 staff following a restructuring exercise to streamline the business. Earlier this year the firm announced it would reduce its headcount by 3% equal to about 330 […]
Big 4 Firm Doesn’t Appreciate the Insinuation That Former Big 4 Employees Are Anything Less Than 100% Objective When Choosing an Audit Firm
It has become increasingly clear that the front line of the war on audit firm oligarchs is in the U.K. While regulators and observers in the U.S. seem ambivalent about the Final Four Horsemen of the Financial Apocalypse, the British have seemed quite content to irritate the Big 4 with their Competition Commission's insistence that […]
Grown Man Curious to Know If Other Accountants Are Experiencing Mockery From Coworkers, Mom Issues, Crabby Spouse During Movember
For the past several years, the month of November has been flush with gentlemen, dudes, and hyperhormonal young boys growing moustaches for the sake of bringing awareness to men's health issues like prostrateprostate cancer and depression. This trend has expanded globally, much to the chagrin of family, spouses, co-workers and the populace who are decidedly […]
Maybe If Non-Big 4 Firms Just Worked a Little Harder…
For some time now, observers have voiced concern about the relative lack of choice when it comes to large audit firms. Yes, they are all fine organizations with plenty of smart and capable people but some companies prefer to have a few more options. They're not asking for a Vegas buffet or anything, but, you […]
Layoffs and Compensation Watch ’12: KPMG
KPMG has made good on its promise to send over 300 of its UK employees packing, but, reportedly, there's a bit of a surprise for everyone who remains: Some 340 jobs were cut at KPMG following its headcount reduction plan, and a pay freeze has been implemented across KPMG. An internal email to staff said that […]
Layoffs Watch ’12: KPMG Cuts Have Some People Spooked
Last month we learned that KPMG's UK operation announced its "regrettable" plans to tell 300 of its people to hit the bricks. While there hasn't been any other Big 4 firms in the Queendom, the news out of the House of Klynveld has people concerned: The job cuts announced by KPMG could be the start […]
Layoffs Watch ’12: KPMG
Meanwhile, across the pond, a few hundred Klynveldians will have to find something else to do with their time in the very near future: Staff at the auditor and consultant’s UK arm were told on Thursday that it was conducting a review of several business units after reducing its growth expectations. KPMG said just under […]
Chartered Accountant Initially Figured Same Diff Between”Going Abroad” and “Going Away”
Apparently what the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales didn't know (i.e. that one of their members was doing six years for hiring a hit man) wasn't going to hurt them: A member who resigned from ICAEW in 2002 saying he was going abroad, and no longer intended to practise, was in fact […]
Deloitte Will Take Small Victories Over PwC When It Can Get Them
One can safely assume that Deloitte is still smarting from its one-and-done year as the biggest of the Big 4 accounting firms. One year as the top dog probably only whetted their appetite to leapfrog PwC again. The firm's fiscal year ends on Thursday, but there appears to be signs of hope that a comeback is […]
‘Constantly Confused’ Accountant Is Clearly Confused About What Constitutes ‘Sexism’
As you know, from time to time we like to see what's poppin' with our friends in the Old Empire. Today, we discover an inquisitor over at AWEB UK, "Constantly Confused" is still living in the 1960s. For starters, it doesn't appear that his office has air conditioning. As a result, he's a little bent […]
Why Yes, This Guy Did Pay His Accountant’s £800 Bill in Coins Purely Out of Spite
The problem is that you can't really do that. The stunt backfired when Philip Lawrence took Robert Fitzpatrick to court, arguing that it is illegal to pay off debts higher than £10 with coins. Mr Fitzpatrick, 24, ended up with a £1,118.62 bill after a judge ruled that the delivery was unacceptable. Okay, unacceptable. Strange? Duh: […]
Stephen Chipman’s Gut Tells Him That the SEC Will Get on Board with IFRS
The Grant Thornton CEO tells Accounting Today he doesn't have any "inside information"; you're just going to have to trust him. “My sense is that the SEC is getting closer to a position,” he said during an interview with the Accounting Today staff on Tuesday. “I don’t have any inside information. This isn’t based on […]
(UPDATE) Today, Your Life Is Better Than Those of KPMG UK Employees
Here's an unfortunate story of Klynveldians across the pond falling victim to a "glitch" in their payroll system that is preventing nearly 11,000 employees from being paid today. They'll get their money on Monday, but suffice to say there are lots of kranky KPMG kampers in the pubs right now. Hug your paystub just a […]
Brits Want to Make Wrist Slaps for Big 4 Auditors Slightly More Uncomfortable
Britain's audit regulator, the Financial Reporting Council's accountancy and actuarial discipline board (AADB), has decided that even though its fine of £1.4 million of PwC in January was a record, it really didn't satisfy as a "credible deterrent." Accordingly, the AADB is floating some ideas on how to make the fines a little less "meh" […]
Apparently an Ernst & Young “Strategy Update” Meeting in London Got Out of Hand
Rumor has it that the bobbies had to get involved because the situation "involved broken bar property": From: [Operations Manager Whose Responsibilities Include Being the Fun Killing Messenger] To: [Lots of People] Date: 11/04/2012 12:00 Subject: Behaviour at staff social events All, We recently held a BCM Strategy update meeting last week in London. […]
Ernst & Young Has Been Buying Ad Space on Dudes’ Faces, Will Now Sponsor Dudes’ Website
Ross Harper and Ed Moyse are a couple of Brits who created BuyMyFace.com to pay off their college debt. They started this little project back in October 2011 and by all accounts, it's been rather successful. They've been thrown out planes, shredding down wintry slopes, and go-karting [!] "all in the name of advertising." Ernst […]
Layoff Watch ’12: KPMG UK Looking to Avoid Awkward Face-to-Face Exchanges, Sobbing
When informing people that, despite their best efforts, they don't have what it takes to be a resident of the House of Klynveld, management has decided that a pre-recorded message will be best in avoiding uncomfortable situations: An email asked 500 of the firm’s management consultants to dial in to a pre-recorded message giving details […]
Accountants Coping with Busy Season: Booze or Spreadsheets?
Once again, we take a peak at what our friends across the pond are talking about because you guys are clearly working to hard to email us anything of interest: Over the weekend I have put in the [sic?] hours working. Not by force, just to overcome the feelings of negativity. I have found getting […]
KPMG to MF Global UK Clients: Those Yankees Are Costing You 16 Cents on the Dollar
This is progress, okay? They're doing the best they can. [MF Global] [a]dministrators in New York and London are involved in a dispute over about $742 million of customer funds used as margin collateral for American clients trading in Europe. The U.S. trustee of MF Global Inc. wants the money to come from the client […]
Analysis: Are Clients Being More Dickish Than Usual or Are Accountants Just a Little Too Sensitive?
It's been quite some time since we checked in with our friends across the pond and since many of you may be dealing with client relation issues yourself, this seems like as good of an opportunity to discuss all the fun you're having. I know it's our busiest time of year and maybe that's making […]
All It Took Was Vital Organ Failure and Sepsis to Motivate This Accountant to Start His Own Firm
Some of you people have aspirations to start your own firm one day. We think that's great and your career/life path will take many twists and turns on the way to becoming professionally independent. You may become at partner at your current firm. You may get fired several times for being "difficult." You may even […]
Stupid Man Frustrated with Girlfriend Engages in Random Act of Accounting Firm Violence
Are you a jobless loser? Is your significant other driving you batty? Not sure how to vent your frustrations? One man found himself in such a predicament an acted in the best way he knew how:
An unemployed man who smashed the window of a Burton accountancy firm during a heated row with his girlfriend has been ordered to pay £750 compensation.
Luckily, Craig’s Guy moment of rage resulted in some poetic justice for Mom and Pop accounting firms everywhere:
The 28-year-old, of Balfour Street, Horninglow, was left with a ‘substantial injury’ to his wrist after he punched and shattered the 10ft by 5ft window on Monday evening. Emma Thompson, prosecuting, told magistrates: “It was 6pm when two witnesses saw the defendant put his fist through the window. Police were called and they traced him 45 minutes later in Evershed Way. He was found to be bleeding heavily. “He made full and frank admissions straight away and said he’d had a heated row with his partner,” Ms Thompson said. “He told officers he punched the nearest thing to him and he accepts it was a stupid thing to do.
[via Burton Mail]
Accountant’s Neighbors Disgusted with His Overgrown Bush
It would probably surprise no one that landscaping is hobby that many accountants are fond of. Or maybe it would. Whatever. The meticulousness of making sense of numbers seems to jive well with a finely manicured lawn, trees and bushes that adorn one’s property. Plus, the green thumb matches the eyeshade.
Anyway, putting all that time and energy into natural aesthetics could cause anyone to get a little possessive. If anyone so much as lays a finger on a single tree branch without permission, things could get ugly. To wit:
An accountant who allegedly left a former policeman bleeding and concussed in a brawl over hedge trimming before launching an expensive law suit has defended his response insisting: “It wasn’t just trimmed it was butchered”.
Now if that sounds like a bit of an overreaction, the accountant in question – Anthony Branson – claims that this incident was part of ‘extreme intimidation’ by his neighbors, the Marreros. Intimidation that was ultimately brought to a head:
The next day Mr Marrero, who had been away, sent family to attempt to finish off clipping the hedge, something Mr Branson said further antagonised the situation. He also claims he discovered the gates of the adjoining paddock, where he and his wife Corrinne keep around a dozen alpacas, left open, apparently deliberately.
Trimming a man’s bush without permission could be understandable. But dragging innocent, sometimes overly hairy, camelids into the situation? That just seems uncalled for.
Hedge brawl accountant: ‘It wasn’t just trimmed it was butchered’ [Telegraph]
KPMG Is Sorry for Not Sorting Through This Giant Charlie Foxtrot (aka MF Global) a Little Faster
Initially the House of Klynveld wasn’t worried about any MF Global clients getting their money back. Then yesterday we learned that plenty of people were pretty cranky, including one trader who thought the firm’s efforts so far were hilarious. Now, after a number of cranky phone calls and thousands of sternly-worded emails, KPMG is apologi[z]ing for all the “disruption” since they’ve been appointed as the administrator of MF Global:
“We are working with the companies’ staff to transfer client positions wherever possible. Where exchanges and counterparties have defaulted the company under their own rules, we have worked closely with them to try to optimise the outcome,” said Richard Fleming, UK head of restructuring at KPMG. “We understand the frustration among clients and market participants at the disruption that is currently being experienced and are sorry for the inconvenience this is causing. In relation to client assets and monies held by the company we are actively working to reconcile holdings and accounts in order to enable assets to be released as soon as possible.”
So, c’mon guys; I know it’s been over 72 hours but please bear with them.
KPMG Is Confident That MF Global Clients Will Get Their Money
That is, in case you were worried. Reuters reports that Richard Fleming, the Head of Restructuring in the UK, said that “It’s still a large number. It’s still billions,” but so far things are moving quite nicely. “Our strategy this morning has been … where we have clients whose position is reconciled, and are due funds, then that money will flow.” Keep truckin’! [Reuters]
Brits To Give Big 4 the Full Monty
Britain’s top accountants are to have their own books scrutinised after the consumer watchdog referred the business of checking companies’ figures for a full-scale competition inquiry. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said it had been concerned for some time that the audit market is highly concentrated with low levels of switching and substantial barriers to entry. The watchdog estimates that in 2010 the “big four” firms, PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and Ernst & Young, earned 99% of audit fees paid by FTSE 100 companies, while between 2002 and 2010 only 2.3% of FTSE 100 firms changed their auditor. [UKPA]
Non-U.S. Survey: IFRS Is Getting More Popular
Global Reporting Standards are gaining popularity among investors and finance executives, according to a new report by ACCA. Around 170 senior executives and investors were questioned. More than 40% said international financial reporting standards improve access to capital, while around 25% believe the global standards have lowered capital costs. ACCA chief executive Helen Brand said: “Growing support amongst CFOs and investors for [IFRS] must be considered carefully” by US regulator the SEC as it debates converging US GAAP with international standards. “We believe a positive answer from the SEC would give a tremendous boost to the cause of financial reporting and more importantly the world economy.” [Accountancy Age, Earlier]
KPMG Is Going to Buy Itself Some Indentured Servants in the UK
There’s nothing like buying your loyalty. I’m not saying Big 87654 programs like this aren’t somewhat good for the morale and worth the firms’ dime(s) not just to buy loyal servants but also to help prepare future capital market servants in general but it’s sort of a scam. Sometimes, these education programs don’t work out and the slaves revolt, as happened with this young man in an undisclosed market somewhere in a state that ends in tts.
Anyway, KPMG wants to recruit a whole bunch of 18 year-olds into its work/school program (across the pond they call this a “scheme,” which makes it exponentially more funny) by next September. The House of Klynveld will pay these kids’ tuition fees and pay them a whopping starting salary of £20,000 ($31,460 in Fed Funny Money).
Here’s a brief and completely related link to an article on indentured servitude: “Servants typically worked four to seven years in exchange for passage, room, board, lodging and freedom dues. While the life of an indentured servant was harsh and restrictive, it wasn’t slavery. There were laws that protected some of their rights.”
Sound at all familiar?
According to The Telegraph, the course opens its doors to 90 students for the first time this month, with two-thirds of entrants coming from state schools or colleges, compared with around half from the traditional graduate entry route.
More than 1,000 would-be ex-KPMGers applied for the program, and that number is expected to rise year over year. They say that’s because tuition is up to £9000 a year (about $14,153 but there’s a Fed meeting fast approaching, that number is subject to change) but my guess is mediocre performers need jobs and accounting isn’t that bad of a gig for some of them. I’d also guess that a few of these program “graduates” actually go on to have successful careers.
If you remember, one former participant of a similar program once (allegedly but eloquently) wrote to his former colleagues “I’m pretty sure it would have been easier to escape from Auschwitz than a YMP contract. I knew from the second week I start here that this wasn’t going to work out.” Ernst & Young’s Your Master Plan nurtured one hell of a profanity-laced, poetic farewell email, a true testament to its power. One requirement for the program was advanced written and verbal communication skills… it’s a wonder Uncle Ernie didn’t call Craig immediately and ask him to come back with a fat raise.
Anyway, the head of audit at KPMG told the Telegraph “At a time when many young people, graduates included, are finding it difficult to gain employment, this programme represents a credible alternative to mainstream university education and provides an attractive route into employment for talented students.”
I highly – and I mean highly – recommended checking out the comments on the Telegraph article, as it finally identifies the link between public accounting and anal rape that we have been trying to pinpoint for years. It’s the one that starts off with “If you work at a large accounting firm, beware, it is perfectly acceptable for the large accounting firm to tell massive lies about you such that you will be butt raped repeatedly…” You can’t miss it.
Comp Watch ’11: PwC Partners Making Deloitte Counterparts Look Like Peasants
The FT reports that the average partner in the UK took home £763,000, up 1% from last year. Ian Powell, the Chairman of the UK firm, took home £3.7 million. The average take home at P. Dubs puts Deloitte partners to shame who only managed to scrape together an average of £758,000, down from £873,000. What does the mean for the partners in the States? Probably nothing but it could indicate that Deloitte’s reign as the biggest of the Big 4 could be a one year wonder. [FT]
Deductible or Not Deductible: Bartender Refuses to Serve Drunk; Drunk Slashes Bartender’s Tires (Allegedly)
As you know, we like to check in on our friends across the pond every once in awhile to remind them about Valley Forge and whatnot and to see if they have managed to straighten up. There are problems aplenty for accountants in the UK and some of the strangest ones are shared with the peanut gallery over at AccountingWEB UK. Today’s problem is kind of fun because it may be one that many of you have been privy to.
I think I know the answer to this but will put it out there anyway.
Publican [Ed. note: that’s the landlord of a pub for the Yankees out there.] refused to serve a “customer” drink on Saturday night. The publican found his 4 tyres slashed after closing time.
To me, this seems like one of those situations that qualify as “the cost of doing business” (i.e. that’s life) and thus, not deductible. Think about it. You’re a bartender. You deal with assholes. Often times, these assholes get drunk. It’s your job as a bartender to take note when one of these assholes is drunk and refuse said asshole any further service. Since assholes don’t like being cut off (been there myself a time or two) this is usually taken personally and bad decisions end up getting made (e.g. attempt to walk to another bar, awkward sexual advances, vandalism).
Now, our publican friend would gladly trade any potential tax deduction for the chance to catch the guy who slashed the tires but that ship has sailed. My thinking is that he’s just going to have to let this one go. Other opinions? Fire away.
Someone Obviously Needs More Billable Hours
Where do you draw the line between a hobby and hoarding? Probably right here, with the young UK accountant so obsessed with ice cream he bought the ice cream truck he used to patronize as a kid:
Chris Copner loves everything to do with ice creams, so much so that he has a house full of memorabilia, including bins, signs, and Matchbox vans.
Chris – who no doubt counts 99 among his favourite numbers – spent £1,400 on the 1976 Ford MKI Transit van after he saw that it was up for sale and recognised its number plate from photos of him as a child.
He has since restored it to its former beauty, complete with all the old-school favourites such as Rocket lollies and Mr Whippy ice cream, at his home in Abergavenny.
The 23-year-old said: “It all started off when I was about five and my friends and I used to wait for the ice cream van to come each day. I just remember being fascinated by it so I started buying little Matchbox cars and vans and my collection just grew and grew from there.
Copner admits to having quite the hoard, including a cabinet full of stuff at his home and boxes upon boxes in his house, as well as a bunch stashed away in the homes of his parents and grandparents. Man, why am I paying $50 a month for my storage unit?
Strangely, the young number-cruncher has no idea why he loves ice cream vans so much. “I don’t really know why I became so fascinated by ice cream vans,” he said. “I think it was the anticipation of waiting for it to come when I was a kid.” Actually reading that makes his love of waiting for something to happen all that much clearer.
Apparently Accountants are the Most Valued Professional Advisers (According to the Brits)
Keep in mind before we get into this that the Brits are a tad wonky; they use funny words (“fag,” for example, is a cigarette, not a name that’ll get you a beatdown in San Francisco’s Castro District), drive on the wrong side of the road and live in tiny little crackerbox houses. That said, small businesses over there feel their accountants have served their money best.
Well, kind of.
Professional advice website, unbiased.co.uk has today released new research which reveals accountants as the most valued professional adviser when it comes to financial advice. Of the small businesses surveyed, 21% believed that their accountant provides them with the most valuable business advice. 12% of small business owners name friends, while 10% state a member of their family has given them the best advice on their business. One in three (31%) believe their own advice is the most valuable with regards to running their company.
Of the 54% of small business owners who have sought professional advice on their accounting and book keeping needs, 48% say that their accountant has saved them money in the long-term, while 47% state that they had helped them make sense of the complex UK tax system. Over a quarter (28%) say using an accountant has meant they have more time to focus on important business decisions. One in ten (10%) say their accountant has helped them to free up time to spend with their family.
That’s very warm and cozy, isn’t it? Except that 18% more of them prefer “focusing on important business decisions” to hanging out with their family with the time an accountant saves them.
Granted, the company from which the press release comes is “sponsored” by companies like J.P. Morgan Asset Management (others include AEGON, Legal & General, Alliance Trust, Lockton, Aviva, MetLife, AXA Life, Opinium Research, Bright Grey, Prudential, Canada Life Ltd, Royal London 360°, Clerical Medical Investment, Schroders… so how unbiased can it really be?)
PwC’s New Swanky London Location Has Those Left at the Old Dump Mad with Jealousy
P. Dubs’ “More London” or “MoLo” location is reportedly quite the swinging joint but will only house half of the City’s 11,000 employees. Those left back at the frumpy office aren’t really pleased with this development and the FT reports has caused some to catch a case of “office envy”:
The aesthetic appeal [of the MoLo location] is burnished by eco-friendly credentials. PwC is also backing a nearby bistro and wine bar that will emulate Jamie Oliver by training the homeless. The firm’s staff will also be encouraged to use it. The zeitgeistiness of it all is too much for some of those stuck at PwC’s dowdier offices in Embankment Place, near Charing Cross. But relief could be at hand. [Chairman Ian] Powell revealed that the firm is in talks to redevelop the old site to give it a bit more pizzazz.
UK Whitepaper Seeks to Reconcile Mother Nature’s Books
When do you recognize maple syrup, when it is earned (sucked from the tree) or realized (when it goes down your big fat gap)? How much goodwill does a forest have?
The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published its first white paper on the natural environment in 20 years hoping to answer some of these questions. The natural choice: securing the value of nature suggests the UK should set up an independent Natural Capital Committee (sort of like FASB for forests) to advise the government on when, where and how natural assets are being used unsustainably.
This would create “green accounts” which give an idea how the country’s natural assets are being used.
The authors of the paper suggest that economic growth and the natural environment are mutually compatible, implying that “nature’s bank balance” should not be ignored when looking at the country’s overall economic growth.
“Past action has often taken place on too small a scale. We want to promote an ambitious, integrated approach, creating a resilient ecological network across England. We will move from net biodiversity loss to net gain, by supporting healthy, well-functioning ecosystems and coherent ecological networks. We will publish a new Biodiversity Strategy for England, responding to our international commitments and setting a new direction for policy over the next decade,” the paper says, proving that someone obviously read their accounting textbooks before they tried to write a framework for valuing nature’s assets.
[Insert bad money doesn’t grow on trees joke here]
Accountant Reaches New Heights of Stupid Behavior After Drinking and Driving
Where I come from, some of my friends had a saying, “There’s only one way to drive drunk…FAST!” Obviously this is dumb. Forget the fact that drinking and driving is dumb but exceeding the speed limit while drinking and driving is exponentially dumber. Inevitably this type of behavior will get you pulled over, at which point the opportunity for more dumb behavior presents itself. On the one hand you could simply jump out of the car, flee the scene, losing your shirt in the process because it will probably slow you down, only to be tackled, cuffed and babbling the Branded theme song in the back of a police cruiser. Another option would be to literally manifest the phrase “cop-slugging drunk.” And yet another option is to do what Alison Brookes did and opt for a more affectionate approach:
A driver who kissed a cop in a bid to avoid a parking ticket ended up losing her licence – after he smelled booze on her breath. Chartered accountant Alison Brookes, 51, planted the smacker on the police officer’s cheek after he spotted her parked on double yellow lines in Didsbury. But the officer got a whiff of alcohol – and arrested her. Brookes, of Fenwick Drive, Heaton Mersey, admitted drink driving and was banned for 14 months at Manchester Magistrates’ Court. Court chairman Stephen Terry told her: “Perhaps kissing the officer was a bit of a giveaway, but that’s by the by.”
Have you been drinking madam? Accountant failed breath test after she gave traffic cop a kiss on the cheek [MEN]
This Accountant Underwent Counseling for an Addiction to Sausages
Accountants are not without their vices. Whether it be booze, sex, or DVRing every single HBO TV series, we all know someone who can’t quite break the spell of certain pleasures in life after they become addictive. Today in double-entry junkies, we meet David Harding. David loves sausages. He loves them so much that he has eaten at least one a day since the age of five. He loves them so much that he has undergone hypnosis to try and conquer his craving of salty pork links. He loves them so much that he was willing to do a live audition for the “Gluttony” role in Se7en.
Okay, I made that last part up but this accountant LOVES SAUSAGES:
A father-of-three has become the first person in Britain to undergo counselling after developing an unusual addiction to sausages. David Harding, 47, has paid out almost £2,000 in an attempt to beat his bizarre habit, which sees him eat up to 13 bangers per day.
Now if you think this is merely a man who lacks self-control, you’d be wrong. This is obsession, my friends:
He said: ‘I genuinely cannot bear the thought of living without sausages. ‘Drug addicts crave their medicine of choice, and it’s the same for me – except that my drug is a banger.’ Accountant David has eaten at least one sausage per day – in sandwiches, fry-ups or main meals – since the age of five. He spends up to £700 per year on bangers and has even bought a deep chest freezer to store the vast quantities of his favourite McWhinneys Irish pork sausages. David realised he could be an ‘addict’ last year when wife Susan decided to do ‘something different’ for dinner and failed to serve-up his usual fare. He said: ‘I went a bit mad at the thought of it. It threw me completely off-track. It was then that I realised something wasn’t quite right and sought professional help.’
As for these McWhinneys folks, they’re taking this in stride, much like a Philip Morris exec might:
McWhinney’s Sausages MD, Kevin McWhinney, said: ‘We are pleased that this gentleman likes our sausages, but wish him well in his quest to control his habit.’
Help me battle my SAUSAGE ADDICTION! Accountant forced to have counselling to get him off the bangers [Daily Mail via AwebUK]
Should Accountants Still Provide Excellent Client Service When a Client Shows Up in Their Pajamas?
As we do from time to time around here, we pick up some chatter from our British sister site to see what’s going on in the Old Empire. Today we learn that some Brits have really taken to slobbing around in their pajamas in places not thought appropriate.
Let’s see what’s troubling our accounting brethren across the pond:
Where I live (and as I understand it, nationwide) there is currently a growing backlash against people wearing pajamas in unsuitable circumstances (mostly while picking their kids up from school or while doing their weekly shop), specifically people refusing to serve them or asking them to leave the premises.
Obviously(?) none of us would meet with clients in our pjs as even the most relaxed accountant would at least wear smart casual for a client meeting I’m sure, but what if a new client came to you for their initial meeting in their pjs, would you refuse to act for them?
For the sake of discussion, assume they are fully clothed in bottoms and tops, not in negligie or short nightdresses.
Here in the States, most of us ditch the sweats in public after getting out of college but their are obvious exceptions (like our friend to the right). But it’s not that unusual for your more affluent clients to get more comfortable being comfortable wherever they go. This means ignoring societal norms. Like pants. Or only being sober for a couple hours a day. But forget all that for now; we’re focusing on sleepwear. So, then – if a successful entrepreneur walks into a meeting rocking Winnie the Pooh jammies with the footsies, are you offended? Do you throw him/her out and demand they come back “and act like a professional!” or “after you pull yourself together!” or “when you rejoin society!”?
Or do you keep a seersucker robe or kimono handy in a desk compartment specifically for these scenarios? Discuss.
Here’s a Video of a Guy Singing ‘Imagine’ with Accounting-related Lyrics
Accountant Who Stole From Employer to Fund Lifestyle, Wife’s Boob Job, Should Have Thought Twice Before Bragging About Vacations on Facebook
Stephen Siddell’s dishonesty led to 16 people losing their jobs while he and his wife, Louise Siddell, took luxury foreign holidays. They even posted photographs of their stay in a six bedroom villa in Cyprus on Facebook boasting, “because we’re worth it”. Liverpool Crown Court heard the couple had lock-up garage in Bromborough, which was an “Aladdin’s cave” full of their expensive furniture and designer goods. 24-year-old Louise Siddell had also used their ill-gotten gains to pay for jewellery and breast enhancement. [Wirral Globe]
How Are Accountants Dealing with Their Co-workers Who Are Planning for the Rapture?
Today in Brits worry about the strangest things news, an AccountingWEB UK reader has Rapture fever and wonders if anyone else still down here is going to call it quits come Monday.
The Rapture is upon us (according to a man in the US) so, as shown in the Simpsons, I will soon be ‘left below’, as will, I imagine, many of my fellow board users.
Anyone else have a sudden urge not to do any of their accounts/tax backlogs, given the world as we know it won’t exist on Monday?
For starters, there are plenty of men, women, children and family pets (not just “a man in the US”) that believe that the Son of God will be gracing us with his presence this Saturday and judging by what people are paying for one share of LinkedIn stock, the odds have narrowed that it’s going to happen. That said, I overheared the Big Guy himself say that Saturday ain’t the day. The question is, how do you handle the crazy accountants in your office that are planning for the Rapture? Do you:
A) Mock them openly first thing Monday morning.
B) Claim to know who the identity of the Antichrist (it’s me!).
C) Ask politely, that in the event that the person’s significant other happens to be left behind, if you can hit that.
D) Start digging through their drawers for supplies.
E) Convince them to wait it out in a JIT.
F) Your ideas.
Let’s Try to Match Big 4 Firms to Their Statements About the OFT Inquiry
As we mentioned this morning, Britain’s Office of Fair Trading has determined that the Big 4 isn’t playing fair in the audit market and that it’s time everyone sat down (at roundtables, preferably) to sort this thing out. You’d expect the Big 4 to be a little rankled by this, accused of being benefactors in a game played with a stacked deck but actually, they’re quite comfortable with the situation. Accountancy Age got statements from various people at all the firms in the UK but just for fun, let’s try and identify which statement belongs to which firm. NO PEAKING.
A […] spokeswoman said the firm was “happy to co-operate” with the inquiry, outlining its ideas on opening up the marketplace.
She said: “We support increased choice in the audit market to enable audit committees to have a wider range of audit firms to choose among in meeting their audit needs and obtaining a high quality audit.
“To this end, we support a number of measures to increase choice, including reinforcing the audit committee’s role in auditor appointments; publication of independent inspection results for all audit firms that are active in listed company audits; removing Big-Four only restrictive covenants from loan agreements; liberalising audit firm ownership rules; and the creation of a single market for audit services in Europe.”
“We welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the OFT and participate in relevant discussions.
“We welcome all measures that enhance the quality and value of audits and we are supportive of measures that can increase competition and ensure there is – and is seen to be – a level playing field for market participants.”
“We welcome the OFT’s announcement today, in particular to engage all stakeholders in a programme of round tables and bilateral talks. [The firm] plans to play a constructive and active part in these discussions.”
A […] spokesman said the firm “welcomed” the inquiry, but said it believes there was already effective competition and pricing in the UK audit market “and look forward to hearing from the OFT its reasons for believing otherwise”.
“It is important to bring to a head the long-running debate on competition and choice, and we support calls for progressive and practical change within the industry.
“In carrying out its work, it is important that the OFT puts audit quality at the heart of the debate. We support a level playing field for all parties, and market-based – not regulatory – intervention.”
First correct answer in the comments will get GC luggage grips (yes, that’s what they are) and other swag that our publisher will gladly send you along with a recipe for Chicken Kiev.
Big Four welcomes OFT inquiry [Accountancy Age]
Are the Brits Getting Serious About a Big 4 Antitrust Probe?
Now that everyone (well, not everyone) has fully recovered from Royal Wedding 2011, it’s time to get to the bottom of this.
A U.K. House of Lords committee investigating the financial crisis said in a March report that the firms, which audit 99 of the 100 largest U.K. companies, should be probed by the London- based Office of Fair Trading to determine whether their market dominance wrongfully limits choice. The probe could be the most high-profile for the agency since it investigated banks’ equity underwriting practices — an inquiry that closed without any action being taken.
The OFT would help determine whether loan terms unfairly favor Deloitte LLP, Ernst & Young LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and KPMG LLP, said Robert Bell, an antitrust lawyer in London with Speechly Bircham. The agency, which has kept the industry under review since 2002, will make a decision on the probe later this month, said spokeswoman Kasia Reardon.
‘Big Four’ Audit Firms May Face U.K. Antitrust Investigation This Month [Bloomberg]
Single Fat Accountant Also a Bit of a Hypocrite, Watches Royal Wedding
A couple of weeks ago, the Single Fat Accountant was suffering from a serious case of Kate and Willy envy. He had called for a blackout of all the Royal Wedding festivities but because he is A) fat; B) single and C) and accountant, the nuptials went on as planned.
Realizing the futility of the situation, SFA eventually succumbed to the pressure of being of loyal British subject (or maybe a party-pooper of a boss) and turned on the teevee to watch the historic event.
Realizing that he might catch some flak for this flip-flop, our hero felt the need to explain his actions:
I was feeling left out by not watching TV. I felt I was going againt the odds with the large proportion of people. It just felt wrong not to watch the wedding. Though my views in previous blog remain unchanged. I am thinking what this says about me:
• I like to belong rather than be the odd one out
• I am bit of a hypocrite!
• I am not strong enough to be an independent thinker.
• I just wanted to see how Kate looked! She looked great.
Kate did look lovely (and catching glimpses of Pippa was a nice bonus) but I can’t help but feel that SFA is buckling like a cheap belt here. On the other hand, it’s conceivable that our fat, lonely friend may have been thrown out of his country had he not complied. If anyone wants to weigh in – being supportive or sharing their own tale of Royal Wedding fever – feel free to do so now.
Sharon Osbourne Clarifies Latest Tax Problem in Most Sharon Osbourne Way Possible
Via Twitter, natch.
PwC Partner Has Mixed Feelings on the Royal Wedding
As you may have heard, there was a wedding today in London. It just so happened that this little event landed smack-dab in between Easter and May Day which has resulted in a lot of extra time off for our friends across the pond. While the majority of people are using this alignment of holidays to take long vacations or extended benders, a few people still have to get some work done. The good news is that with so many people away you can enjoy elevator music in solitude, whistle in the john and lose the pants behind the desk in one’s office and not feel anxious that someone could walk in at any time.
The bad news, as one PwC partner explained to the Journal, is that the lack of subordinates can sometimes hinder productivity:
“I am being super efficient while everyone is away, but I keep running into the fact that people I need to get a hold of are not here,” said Hemione Hudson, a partner in the banking division of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in London.
PWC’s London offices would normally have more than 2,500 people passing through on a given day, says Ms. Hudson, but this week, there have been far fewer. Many employees took the opportunity to get away after a busy audit season, she says. That’s meant quicker elevators and no lines for coffee, she says.
Among those remaining behind are her boss, PWC Senior Partner, United Kingdom Ian Powell and “many of the executive board.”
Still, “it’s not so great for business’ bottom lines,” Ms. Hudson points out. April has felt like a very short month, even for those working throughout, she says.
Makes you wonder why people feel pressure to work so much, doesn’t it?
Dilemma: Administrator Concerned About Partners Giving Significant Others No-show Jobs
Today in predicaments from across the pond, a concerned employee wonders if a couple of partners who have given their wife and girlfriend no-show jobs are up to some financial shenanigans. Of course this prospecting employee is thinking about approaching said partners about this. What could go wrong?
The partners of the LLP I work for have added their wife and girlfriend to the payroll of the company even though neither said wife or girlfriend actually work here. I believe the reason being is to reduce profit, partner remuneration etc to ultimately reduce the amount of tax paid by the partners at the end of each financial year.
The ‘salaries’ are fairly low (£16,500 [$27k USD] and £13,000 [$21.4k USD] per annum) and Tax and NI etc is processed as normal through PAYE. One of the ladies even has student loan deductions. Periodically each lady will have a large ‘bonus’ of around £15,000. I assume the payments go directly in the wife/girlfriend’s bank accounts.
I’m sure there must be some sort of law against this as it seems, to me, too obvious to be a loophole. Does anyone one know what these laws are and the repercussions should the partners get caught?
I work as an administrator for the company and rely solely on accounting and payroll software and therefore only have very limited knowledge on the subject. I am hoping to approach the partners on the matter so any help/information would be greatly appreciated 🙂
Maybe this “administrator” has too much time on their hands and is simply jumping to conclusions (which we applaud) but then again, a no-show job is a no-show job. They are violating NCAA rules or anything but for the puritanical types this could seem a little sketchy.
Why Would Fourteen Baker Tilly Partners Give Up Equity for Salary?
This one’s a stumper.
Accountancy Age reports that 14 Baker Tilly partners are giving up their equity stakes to go on salary including “international CEO Geoffrey Barnes, head of IT advisory Richard Spooner, and six partners from the London office.” A spokeswoman told AA that this is simply a change in “remuneration” and the fourteen individuals would remain partners and there “would be no change to client services.”
Riddle me this partners out there: why would a person with an equity stake go back to being a senior manager (i.e. in terms of the compensation structure)? Something doesn’t compute there. Since we’re dealing with the international CEO and head IT advisory, maybe there’s some kind of political or solidarity motive here but the Accountancy Age report is skimpy and its editor Gavin Hinks admits that there isn’t much to go on and gets to speculating:
The big question people are asking is what does it mean? Or does it mean anything at all? There are a number of reasons a partner’s status might change. They may simply no longer want the risk of being partner. The firm may believe profits are too diluted and want fewer partners.
I personally don’t buy the first motive. If they were sick of the risk, why not just leave the firm? There are plenty of jobs out there with better compensation packages. Diluted profits is a little more plausible but the international CEO and head of IT advisory? Why would they opt out? Since the partners in question made this decision themselves, it’s unlikely that this was a punitive measure but perhaps BT had a little bit of an internal email scandal, they were given a multiple choice form of punishment and this was the least severe option? I’ve really got nothing better at this point. People with theories that are slightly above the crackpot level are invited to share.
Brits Call Big 4 Auditors ‘Disconcertingly Complacent’ During Financial Crisis
Not exactly what you would call a compliment. And while they were at it, the House of Lords would like the Office of Fair Trading to investigate why the “Big 4” isn’t a “Global 6” or “Universal 8” or “Dirty Dozen” or something similar.
Of course auditors have claimed that did everything they were legally obligated to do and the HoL admits that’s kindasorta true but not really:
Its report said: “We do not accept the defence that bank auditors did all that was required of them. In the light of what we now know, that defence appears disconcertingly complacent.” It added: “It may be that the Big Four carried out their duties properly in the strictly legal sense, but we have to conclude that, in the wider sense, they did not do so.” Bank auditors and regulators had been guilty of a “dereliction of duty” by not sharing more information with each other on an informal basis before the crisis, the committee claimed. Auditors were either “culpably unaware of the mounting dangers” at banks or they were at fault for not sharing any concerns with supervisors, it added. Either way, auditor complacency had been a “significant contributory factor” in the banking meltdown, the committee said.
So in “the wider sense,” auditors best step up their game. Go forth.
Problem of the Day: Non-smoking, Cheapskate, Immature Newbie Is Cramping My Commute
Since everyone’s distracted by brackets and projectile vomiting in the street, I thought I’d pull another “problem” from our Twisted British Sister site:
So a new ‘man’ (18) started last week and I got chatting to him in the car park as he was loitering waiting for the office to open. It turns out he lives vaguely near me and I, in passing, said that if he was ever stuck trying to get to work (e.g. from rain, hail, wind or snow) he should let me know and I could always swing by and fetch him.
I know – an 18 year-old co-worker? Just go with it:
On Monday he asked if I could bring him to work. Being soft I said ok and gave him a lift. Then home. Then Tuesday to work and back. Yesterday he got in and said ‘Oh, I’ve been thinking, I should pay you for these lifts’. Resigned to my fate as being soft and letting him keep getting lifts I consoled myself thinking ‘Oh well, my petrol is £45 a week, at least he will cut my commuting costs’. I gave him a lift home and he said ‘Is this alright for a weeks worth?’ and gave me a pile of shrapnel. I counted it when I got home and it was £7.91.
I can’t smoke with him in the car as he coughs. I don’t like to have music on as I feel obliged to force conversation. He is 18 and therefore annoying to talk to.
I want him out of my car, but he is nice and I am nice, so how do I do it? If I pushed him out on the dual carriage way would the police take a dim view?
Nothing WORSE than a non-smoker and a cheapskate, amiright? Suggestions for this chap are now welcome (if you’re still sober enough to type, that is).
Accountant, Who Avoids Confrontation ‘as a General Rule,’ Guilty of Hitting a Trashman with Her Car
Question for the group: what could have been going on in this woman/accountant’s life that caused her to do the following?
An accountant drove into a bin man ‘in a rage’ after his lorry blocked the road, a court heard. Frances Henshaw, 43, was alleged to have snarled ‘like a rabid dog’ when she got stuck behind the wagon. She was hauled before the courts after bin man Craig Kelly claimed he was hit by her car as she forced her way through a tiny gap. Henshaw was found guilty of driving without due care and attention, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to report an accident.
We’ve come across a fair share of accountants that resemble a rabid dog (i.e. crazy eyes, violent biting, uncontrollable drooling) so that description is certainly believable but she does fall back on the passive nature of a many a beancounter:
She said: “They’d done a few clumps of bins and they’d made no effort to let me past. I felt there should have been an occasion where they acknowledged my presence. “I wasn’t shouting. I never shout at anyone. I avoid confrontation as a general rule. I would have stopped if I had hit someone. It’s just not something that’s in my nature to do, it’s incredulous to me.”
Raging accountant ‘drove her car into bin man who blocked the road’ [MEN]
PwC Partner Says His Lack of Whiteness Stifled His Pay; Sues Firm
Ahhhhh, the race card. Just when you think it’s maxed out, another swipe is attempted.
Dunstan Pedropillai, is a partner in PwC’s London office who early in his career was labeled ‘a rising star’ and a ‘star performer’ is suing the firm because, he claims, he doesn’t fit in with the ‘collegiate club-like corporate culture.’ Simply put – his lack of whiteness and Britishness is holding him back. But things weren’t always this way, it seems. The firm reportedly went out of their way to admit him as a partner a year early in 1997. Everything was going swell until he returned from Japan in 2001 when all of a sudden his non-pale face, seemingly, started affecting his career:
‘The original culture of the firm is an extremely strong collegiate club-like corporate culture which has its roots in Anglo-Saxon male culture, which is the major composition of the firm.’ Of his return from Japan, he said: ‘It was as if they had already formed a view that I was not a ”member of the club” or that in some way my face did not fit. The firm felt they could not put me in front of blue-chip top tier clients – they felt as a non-white I didn’t look right.’
Of course it was entirely possible that Dunstan was slipping a bit:
By 2003 his rating at the firm had dropped to the bottom level available for a partner. In 2004 he received a bad appraisal for dating a colleague, Marina, now his wife, without revealing the seriousness of the relationship to his boss.
So we all know that dipping your pen in the company ink, while potentially tricky (not to mention common), is NBD and Dunstan was ultimately given a pass on this but still wasn’t satisfied and that’s when decided to threaten the firm with a suit. This was received rather coolly by PwC, who reciprocated with their own threat to fire him if he went ahead with the lawsuit slapping. He called P. Dubs bluff (apparently he still has his job) and now PwC is taking the gloves off, saying that Dunstan just started sucking and he should be thanking his lucky stars that he still has a job and his £933,480 salary:
Suzanne McKie, representing PwC, said the firm denied that Mr Pedropillai’s career stalled because of his ethnicity and put it down to his ‘poor people skills’. She said that the poor global economy meant Mr Pedropillai’s unit grew only marginally, and that two of his white peers were made redundant, while another, who had returned from working abroad at the same time as Mr Pedropillai, had been forced to move to Australia because there was no work for him in London. She said the £100,000, or 12 per cent, pay cut received by Mr Pedropillai last year was roughly in line with the eight per cent salary drop received by partners across the board and that he had a low role grade because he refused to accept any negative feedback.
£1million accountant who blames racism for limiting his pay [Daily Mail]
Blog by Wife of PwC Partner (aka Chief Spending Officer) Details Failed Attempts at More Frugal Lifestyle
Times are still tough for many but few take to the blogosphere to share their tales of coupon clipping, pics from staycations and scouring the racks at Filene’s Basement. One person who felt the need to share her frugal efforts with the masses is Lisa Unwin, the “Austerity Mum” and wife of PwC’s head of consulting in the UK, Ashley Unwin. How tough have things been at Casa de Unwin? Well, it all started when the couple purchased a house in East London that reportedly cost ‘squillions,’ and Ms Unwin thought that maybe a more modest life was in order:
Musing on how to cut the cost of family holidays she suggests forgoing private helicopter flights or cancelling that half-term break in the Maldives in favour of returning to your weekend home in the French Alps.
The closest her family comes to the wartime notion of make do and mend is for the husband to have his designer Berluti shoes resoled – at a specialist cobblers on Bond Street, she reveals.
Now that’s sacrifice! However one thing her “Chief Spending Officer” husband wasn’t able to give up are his handmade shirts:
“Not even Prada is good enough any more, can’t recall why,” she reveals.
Then, there’s the ankle-biters:
[H]er two children – nicknamed the “diva-in-waiting” and the “smallest man with the biggest attitude” – have come to believe it is normal “to have a seat that turns into a bed if you’re on a flight for more than three hours”.
For her part, Ms. Unwin was thinking about going back to work (she’s a former Deloitte communications director) but there were conditions:
Claiming she would “love” to go back to work, she bemoans how the cost of childcare makes it impractical. “It would need to be something that I could do between the hours of 10 and two – well, actually 11 and two three days a week to enable me to go the gym,” she concludes.
Sadly, Ash wasn’t so keen on the attention the blog was getting, “Mr Unwin is understood to be acutely embarrassed by the disclosures and she has now agreed to take down the blog.” Lisa is looking for ‘another way to write’ but our guess is a freelance gig with Going Concern is out of the question. Even still, the offer stands Lisa – email us.
Well, sort of.
If you’re thinking something similar to Deloitte’s sprawling campus down in Texas, then you’d be mistaken. The British firm has decided to recruit “school leavers, not university graduates” and will sponsor them to get accounting degrees, reports the FT:
From next year, KPMG will take in 75 school leavers, and then meet the cost of a four-year accountancy degree from Durham university and an accountancy qualification. Trainees on the six-year scheme will start on up to £20,000 a year. In 2012-13, the maximum university tuition fee, now £3,290, will rise to £9,000. At the same time, subsidies are being withdrawn from the sector and rules loosened to allow new entrants into the market and innovation in course design. As a consequence, such schemes could become more attractive to universities.
You could reason that this is a good thing because of the money it will save the students but our concern lies with their university experience. Or, the lack thereof:
KPMG said it could eventually take “in excess of 400” of these trainees a year, more than half its intake. The scheme is therefore expected to replace much of its traditional graduate recruitment. KPMG trainees will not join a conventional degree course. They will, instead, attend special classes to allow them to spend most of their time working at one of the company’s offices.
So, maybe we’re misinterpreting the Queen’s English but that sure sounds like recruits spending their college days sporting business casual, undermining interns/new associates for gofer duties and nothing to do with binge drinking, drug experimentation, gaining the freshman 15 (50?) or sinking themselves into debt. Is nothing sacred?
The UK Invites the PCAOB Over for Tea (and Some Audit Probing)
Convergence may not be that far off after all, here it is 2011 and now we finally have U.S. and U.K. audit harassment agencies working together to share information and polish up that whole bit about protecting investor confidence in capital markets. It may or may not have something to do with the collapse of Lehman Brothers (personally I think the paranoid mistrust in foreign accounting systems – or perhaps just ours – goes back a tad more than that) but soon enough the PCAOB will have an in (after at least one failed attempt) and get a chance to
harass inspect foreign firms. We anticipate that this announcement will bring it with it a fantastic new acronym so we can all keep track of who is who.
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board today entered into a cooperative agreement with the Professional Oversight Board in the United Kingdom to facilitate cooperation in the oversight of auditors and public accounting firms that practice in the two regulators’ respective jurisdictions.
This agreement provides a basis for the resumption of PCAOB inspections of registered accounting firms that are located in the United Kingdom and that audit, or participate in audits, of companies whose securities trade in U.S. markets. The PCAOB previously conducted inspections in the United Kingdom with the POB from 2005 to 2008, but has been blocked from doing so since that time.
Acting PCAOB Chairman Daniel L. Goelzer welcomed the arrangement, which will lay the foundation for the PCAOB and POB to work together to promote public trust in the audit process and investor confidence in capital markets.
The PCAOB can thank the Dodd-Frank WSCRA which amended SOX to permit the PCAOB to share information with foreign audit agencies under certain conditions.
In light of this event, we’re wondering what happens when the two work together sharing “information.” Does it get a brand new acronym that celebrates this new dawn in inter-obnoxious-regulatory-gossiping (IORG) or does it become a hybrid acronym like the Public Professional Company Oversight^2 Board Board or PPCO^2BB? Surely we can do better.
Party at the PCAOB DC office this evening to celebrate, bring your own acronym suggestions and IFRS pocket guide.
The PCAOB Is Finally Invited to Europe’s Financial Statement Party [JDA]
Accountants Aren’t Saving Any Personal Finance Savvy for Themselves
This is the risk to providing excellent client service to anyone and everyone; you forget to keep any of that wisdom for yourself.
A support group says it has received a record number of calls from accountants in personal debt over the past few months.
The Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA) for UK chartered accountants says that it has seen a sharp rise in calls from accountants with debt problems over the past few months.
CABA said that it has received its highest ever number of calls from accountants asking for help in dealing with personal debt – and expects the problem to worsen over the next few months.
Kath Haines, chief executive of CABA, said: “The number of calls that we are receiving about debt is probably at a record high and we believe that this will grow quite substantially during early 2011.
Accountants racking up record level of personal debt [Accountancy Age]
Thankless Audit Client: Tui Travel Edition
Tui Travel is “an international leisure travel group” (which is fancy-speak for a travel agent) out of the UK. KPMG has been audited the books for awhile but this year they found a booboo that resulted in a £117 million write off. At the time the company copped to the error, although you don’t get the impression they were grateful.
From today’s report in the Guardian:
Just two months ago, Tui chief executive Peter Long said: “KPMG identified some system weaknesses and ledgers that had not been reconciled … Yes, they identified some of these control weaknesses which had then manifested themselves into the issues subsequently identified through a detailed investigation.”
Nothing unusual really, these things happen, clients usually grin and bear it but not our “international leisure travel group.”
KPMG said its relationship with “certain [Tui Travel] directors became increasingly strained” following “extensive discussions with the directors”. Among the areas where KPMG had raised concerns, the letter added, were the implications arising from the restated accounts and “their disclosure and accounting treatment in the financial statements”. Relations had reached such a low ebb, KPMG concluded, that “we are not confident that in the future we could carry out an audit of the company to the appropriate standard, but others may be able to do so.”
So it kinda sounds like their annoyance with the whole thing slowly boiled over into flat-out bitterness, leading to some increasingly unpleasant conversations. Sure, the directors in question would start out acting cool about it, “You know [chuckling], you really didn’t do us any favors there.” But eventually it became, “Boy, you’ve really outdone yourself, this time.” And finally, “For crissakes! You couldn’t leave it alone, couldja? [extremely patient KPMG partner explaining on the other end] What?!? [increasingly steamed, drumming fingers] We don’t care if it’s your job; we don’t like being embarrassed. [Pause, eyeroll] Stewards of generally accepted accounting principles?!? What does that even mean? [brief pause] Whatever, you can plan on us being uncooperative going forward.”
Or something like that.
Tui drops KPMG after it found £117m hole in accounts [Guardian]
Can We Get a Recommendation for an International Accounting Group Up in Here?
The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.
A few years ago we were members of Affilica – an international association of accounting and legal firms, who had a global presence, but not in North America. This was a particular concern because we specialise in helping US companies enter the UK market as their entry into Europe, and are seeking an alliance with a group that has a substantial North American membership.
But we are having trouble finding the right group.
Yes – we are members of BritishAmerican Business Inc, and do get referrals from the UK Trade & Industry, and from the UK /US Advisory Network, and from firms of CPA’s in the US who may not have in-house international expertise (Kevin Beare is an Associate member of the MSCPA), but we are growing and can see the mutual benefits of belonging to an international association.
We recently enquired about membership of CPAAI. To our surprise they said that our niche practice was considered too small.
However they were unable to say what size criteria a firm providing complementary services to their members needed to be.
We currently receive referrals from all 4 of the Big 4 firms, because they recognise that our total outsourced accounting and UK payroll service complements their own higher value services. We also get similar referrals from second tier firms. We do not have Chinese walls whereby one Partner does the accounting and tax and another partner does the audit of that work. For true independence and to enable us to act as trusted advisor to our clients we gave up our audit registration.
That is the background to this request.
Have other firms come across these difficulties?
Suggestions and advice regarding other suitable groups to join would be welcome.
The Queen Would Like to Know the Staffing Situation for KPMG’s Banking Clients
If you’re a student of Kylnveldian history – and we know that you are – the fact that KPMG has been auditing the Royal Household’s accounts since before Liz was born doesn’t surprise you. For those of us that weren’t aware of this KPMG fun fact, this is just adds a little more to the blue square mysitque.
Anyway, being the classy gal that she is, Her Majesty showed up last Friday to help mark the opening of the new KPMG building in Canary Wharf. And not only was she thrilled to be there, she surprised KPMG leadership with her affability and interest in the work that non-royals do:
John Griffith Jones said: “She genuinely seemed interested in what we do, especially our charity work and the building’s green credentials. She made a funny comment about Crossrail being delayed and also asked about our role during the crisis.”
Senior partner Eddie Donaldson said the firm was in a “unique position” independently auditing the royal accounts which use public and private money. “The team already see it as a privilege to work on the accounts in the first place and then to meet the Queen was a very special moment in their careers.”
And because she’s concerned about the serious issues out there, Jones was also quoted, “she was very interested to know how many people we had working on the banks.”
The possibility that Queen Elizabeth probably knows more about KPMG than Dick Bové should not be lost on anyone.
Accountant Successfully Uses “I’ll have to answer to the wife” Defense to Avoid Driving Ban
In the Old Empire, if you’re busted driving over 100 mph, you’re supposed to lose your license. Apparently there is an unwritten exception to this rule that says if you’re soon-to-be married and the bride WILL NOT STAND FOR IT, you get a pass.
Exhibit A: Christopher Bidgood, 32 an accountant from “Martham near Great Yarmouth” was stopped after going 110 and “weaving in and out of traffic.” Not the first time he had a run-in over his lead foot:
Bidgood of Martham near Great Yarmouth had faced a driving ban of up to 56 days after he admitted breaking the 70mph limit at 7.47pm on September 3.
Right, then. Bidgood’s attorney, knowing full well that his client is dumber than a sack of hammers, pulled the only card he thought he could play:
Tim Carey, defending, said Bidgood, had already faced the “displeasure” of his bride Amanda due to the risk of a ban ruining their honeymoon.
Describing his client’s behaviour behind the wheel, Mr Carey told the bench: “Sir, he has been a complete idiot – an idiot of the first order.”
But a “hardworking and honest” idiot, according to his co-workers, which may have helped his case as well.
Accounting News Roundup: Brits Investigating Services KPMG Provided BAE Systems; How Many Times Did Harry Reid Vote to Increase Taxes?; PwC Scoffs at ‘Big 5’ Idea | 10.25.10
BofA Finds Foreclosure Document Errors [WSJ]
The Charlotte, N.C., lender discovered errors in 10 to 25 out of the first several hundred foreclosure cases it examined starting last Monday. The problems included improper paperwork, lack of signatures and missing files, said people familiar with the results. In certain cases, information about the property and payment history didn’t match.
KPMG investigated over BAE audit [Accountancy Age]
The investigation by the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) focus British Aerospace/BAE Systems between 1997 and 2007, looking at commissions paid by BAE to subsidiaries, agents or other companies.
Any professional advice, consultancy or tax work provided to BAE by KPMG during that period will also come under the microscope in relation to commission payments. The investigation will focus on commissions connected to three legal entities: Red Diamond Trading; Poseidon Trading Investments; and Novelmight.
Key Tax Breaks at Risk as Panel Looks at Cuts [WSJ]
The tax benefits are hugely popular with the public but they have drawn the panel’s focus, in part because the White House has said these and other breaks cost the government about $1 trillion a year.
At stake, in addition to the mortgage-interest deductions, are child tax credits and the ability of employees to pay their portion of their health-insurance tab with pretax dollars. Commission officials are expected to look at preserving these breaks but at a lower level, according to people familiar with the matter.
Harry Reid Voted to Raise Taxes ‘Only’ 51 Times [TaxProf Blog]
Apparently there was some talk that it was actually in the ballpark of 300.
Reflections on the Basel Committee Principles for Enhancing Corporate Governance [Marks on Governance/IIA]
News you can use.
Business leaders press administration for repeat on tax break [On the Money/The Hill]
The National Association of Manufacturers and other groups argue allowing companies to “repatriate” money earned abroad to the U.S. at a lower tax rate could spur the economy by providing businesses with a burst of cash they could invest in their companies.
“The business community is looking at ways to jumpstart the economic recovery and here is one you could do without increasing the deficit,” Dorothy Coleman, vice president of tax and domestic economic policy for the manufacturers.
PwC slates FRC idea to create Big Five [Accountancy Age]
Paul Woolston, head of public sector assurance at PwC, criticised the Financial Reporting Council’s suggestion the Audit Commission be used to create a fifth player in the audit industry, currently dominated by the Big Four – PwC, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and KPMG.
“It is at least ironic that the FRC has said what it has, in that the Audit Commission itself has operated with a large monopoly,” he said.
“It is odd that the FRC is concerned about any one organisation having the market share.”
SEC Aims to Streamline Complaint Process [WSJ]
The launch is a step in the agency’s efforts to avoid bottlenecks and duplication in the handling of complaints, which traditionally have been fielded by individual SEC offices and filed there. Complicating matters is the variety of forms in which such complaints come—mail, phone calls, emails and interviews.
“This process is going to ensure that it’s all transferred into a structured format so that it can be more easily searched and analyzed,” Robert Khuzami, director of enforcement, said in an interview.
“We will have all of it in one place, searchable, which will do a lot for us in the long run,” he said.
Thus Far under Obama, the Only Individuals Paying Higher Taxes Are Smokers and Tanners, But They May Have Company Soon [Tax Foundation]
Jersey Shore quips go here.
Accounting Student Turned Stripper Not Too Familiar with Independent Contractor vs. Fulltime Employee Issues
The following post is republished from AccountingWEB UK, a source that delivers topical, practical content to accountants and accounting professionals.
Forget Patmore, a former accountancy and finance student is starring this week in what must surely be the employment and tax case of the year.
Lapdancer Nadine Quashie allegedly earned more than £1,000 a night dancing at the Stringfellows (NSFW) club London and is now trying to pursue an unfair dismissal through the Employment Tribunal after being fired in December 2008 following allegations of drug use and dealing.
On behalf of the club, Caspar Glyn argued that the dancer was not entitled to rights under the tribunal as she was self-employed. “To take off your clothes and be paid to do that, it is a curious, unusual situation… which is perhaps in itself unsuited to an employment relationship,” he told the tribunal.
Aiming another blow below the belt, he added that Quashie should be disqualified from having her case heard because she had misrepresented her tax affairs – in spite of having studied accountancy and finance at Thames Valley University for a year.
She took two years off her studies to hold a full-time position as women’s rights officer for the student union, but instead of returning to the course she turned to lapdancing.
She has told the tribunal that conditions at the club effectively meant dancers were employees and she should be entitled to a full tribunal hearing. Like other dancers, she was required to give up 25% in commission, with an additional £85 deducted for nightly fees.
While Stringfellows insisted she was self-employed, Quashie said she did not learn of her self-employed status until another dancer told her of the situation five months after she started working there.
This case has everything for employment and tax advisers, HMRC investigators and retired colonels from Tonbridge. In addition to the lurid claims of private, late night sessions with Peter Stringfellow and his friends, it presents a classic challenge for the badges of employment tests and some messy tax implications for all sides.
Purely hypothectically, how would you advise the participants in such a case? Back at the central London tribunal, meanwhile, judgment in the case has been reserved.
Grant Thornton CEO Admits That He Wasn’t Prepared for the Chicago Winters
Stephen Chipman also says that he misunderestimated the demand for his time. Who could have known?
• The over/under is $2 billion by 2015. Who has action on this?
• Is everyone clear on the “the dynamic organization space”?
• What do we think of Stephen sans spectacles?
• Merger and acquisition strategy? Who is GT going after? SC keeps it vague, per standard operating procedure. Accordingly, we welcome your rampant speculation.
The Bed-in Wasn’t Working
“KPMG stole my shop”
~ Reads William McCarthy’s sign that he holds as he protests outside the KPMG office in Liverpool.