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You Can Add ‘Hospital Staff’ to the List of Positions That Can Do the Job of a Deloitte Auditor

A hospital in Winnipeg is suing Deloitte after an ATM scam went undiscovered for over ten years. Luckily some vigilant RN, janitor or cafeteria worker (it’s not clear from the article) noticed something amiss and alerted the proper authorities.

Police arrested a long-time hospital employee last year after she allegedly skimmed $1.5 million from automated teller machine (ATM) deposits between 2000 and 2010.

According to a lawsuit filed last week, the fraud was uncovered by hospital staff, not the auditor. The lawsuit accuses Deloitte & Touche of preparing financial statements not in accordance with “generally accepted accounting principles” and “materially misleading” the hospital about its financial position.

“MHC says that D & T owed it a duty in contract and owed it a duty of care not to act negligently or make negligent misrepresentations to MHC and to ensure that cash and liquid assets as reported in the financial statements were not materially misstated.”

According to the lawsuit, a former finance clerk deposited Worker’s Compensation Board cheques into the hospital operated ATM, understated the amount and pocketed the difference.

All this trouble and no one was even taken hostage. Not good, Green Dot.

Misericordia Health Centre files suit against auditor [Winnipeg Sun]

Mary Schapiro Wants Accountants to Get Better at Their Jobs

Did you work hard this past busy season? Did you toil away for hours and hours to provide exemplary client service? Did you take one for the team when that creeper client contact wanted to dance at the end-of-the-year party? Great. Well done, good and faithful capital market servant. But guess who still isn’t satisfied? The SEC Chair, Mary Schapiro. Why? Well, it’s becuase you’re still not meeting investors expectations and the SEC is hearing about it. Everyone is demanding the best and you’re simply not cutting it right now.

“At the SEC, we have heard from investors that they are not as confident as they could be, and they have areas in which we all could expect more from accountants, from accounting standards, from regulators and from those who provide assurance through the audit process,” she said. “I believe that, when your customer asks for more, especially after the challenges of recent years, you need to listen.”

So maybe this is what KPMG is talking about when they say things are going to the next level?

SEC’s Schapiro Says Investors Expect More from Accountants [AT]

Deloitte Poll: One-Third of Companies Don’t Have the First Damn Clue About Business Analytics

You can try to blame the Obama Administration’s anti-business policies but you really only have yourself to blame. Get with it people.

Business analytics represents the ability to rapidly harness massive amounts of data for modeling complex situations and predicting potential outcomes and alternatives. This presents enormous potential value for business leaders to make more informed, fact-based and ultimately better business decisions. Yet, in a recent Deloitte webcast poll of more than 1,900 technology executives and business professionals, approximately one-third of the participants either didn’t know if their organization utilized business analytics – or even if they had business analytics capabilities at all.

“Mind-boggling,” said John Lucker, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, leader of its Advanced Analytics and Modeling practice, and one of the webcast presenters. “Organizations have ever more depth and breadth of information readily available within their grasp, and the technology and methods to extract and help synthesize the data are well proven. When you see the low levels of adoption, you have to ask the question, ‘Why aren’t more companies doing it?'”

Deloitte Webcast Poll: One-Third of Organizations Have Limited or No Business Analytics Capabilities [PR Newswire]

For Those of You Not Already Walking on Water

resolutions.jpgMany of you have promised promised promised to stick with your resolutions this year and we think that’s admirable. Personally, we think you’re all fine the way you are but we understand that lots of you are perfectionists.
Whether it’s more appropriate use of work email or actually billing the hours you work, you’ve probably got some resolutions in mind. If we’ve nailed yours below, pull the lever or if you’ve got other ideas on how you’re going to be more kick-ass in 2010, share in the comments.

A Note to the SEC

Web CPA, October 30, 2009:

Kroeker reiterated earlier statements that he and SEC Chair Mary Schapiro had made, indicating the SEC was turning its attention this fall to the proposed IFRS roadmap. When asked about the date, Kroeker said, “There will be follow-up on the roadmap this fall.” Asked to define the word “fall,” he noted that the season ends on Dec. 21.

Fall ended at 12:47 pm EST today. Anyone seen this map?

The IRS Is Taking Your Personal Information Seriously, Starting NOW.

Thumbnail image for IRS_logo-thumb-150x140.jpgSometimes we wonder if the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) ever gets tired of telling the IRS that they are doing a lousy job at pretty much everything.
The latest finger wagging from the TIGTA in the Services’ direction has to do with following protocols for processing taxpayer requests for tax returns or transcripts:

Forty-three percent of taxpayer requests for copies of tax returns or transcripts were processed incorrectly or not in accordance with IRS guidelines…
The errors occurred because IRS employees did not always follow guidelines, or because the guidelines were unclear, inconsistent or insufficient in protecting taxpayer information. Existing guidelines allow IRS employees to process taxpayer requests for tax returns or transcripts without an accurate or complete Social Security number and to send copies of returns and transcripts to an address other than that provided to the IRS on tax returns.

Jesus, that’s reassuring. Naturally, the TIGTA is concerned about the American Taxpayer:

“Taxpayers have a right to expect that the IRS will take every measure to protect their tax return information from inappropriate disclosure,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement. “The protection of personally identifiable information is a responsibility that the IRS must take more seriously.”

First: judging by the IRS’ track record, they really don’t take anything too seriously, except, perhaps, anything to do with UBS.
Second: Taxpayers have rights? Since when? We’ve been bailing out banks and car companies and you’re concerned about our right to have our tax return information protected? That’s rich. We’ve all been violated to the point of numbness, J. Russell George. Next time, we’d prefer if you said, “The American Taxpayer can expect more of less from the IRS for the foreseeable future. We are in a constant quagmire over here. Please bear with us.”
Honesty. Consider it.
Tax Return Transcripts Expose Personal Information [Web CPA]

Auditors, You’re Just Going to Have Start Finding Fraud, Okay?

overwhelmed.jpgBecause that’s your job, right? The PCAOB is giving consideration to new auditing standards that would presume that certain related party transactions would constitute a fraud risk.
This just serves as another example of auditors’ responsibility for discovering fraud reaching a ridiculously unrealistic level.

According to Web CPA, “Although such standards have been in the talking stage at the PCAOB for at least five years, there is fresh interest in this area now because related-party fraud has been a factor in a number of recent corporate financial scandals.”
Classic reactive measures being employed by the Board here. No sense in developing any kind of standard until after something happens. The Board hasn’t really been doing a bang-up job on much of anything but no matter, the effectiveness of a government regulator is not the issue here.
Auditors, you’re being duped. That’s unacceptable and according to some, the procedures you currently perform over related party transactions just won’t do any more:

But some officials at the PCAOB as well as members of the accounting profession have suggested that these standards may not be sufficient. At least part of the problem involves what some have described as widespread related-party transaction fraud slipping under the radar screen of auditors.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, the PCAOB simply is not satisfied with your ability to follow the current rules, auditors. Accordingly, the PCAOB will make more rules for you to follow until they are proven inadequate and then more rules will be written and on and on. You get the idea. It’ll be routine before you know it, if it isn’t already.
PCAOB Mulls New Related-Party Standards [Web CPA]
Also see: Fair Value, Audit Committes, Related Parties Highlights Of Day 2, PCAOB SAG Meeting [FEI Financial Reporting Blog]

Grant Thornton Survey: Financial Statements Are Still Too Complex for the Average Shmo Investor

dumb-and-dumber3.jpgThat’s right! Way too complicated. GT’s survey states that 73% of the finance bigwigs surveyed believe financial statements are too complex for the average investor to understand. That’s bad because even more respondents (82%) said that financial statements should “be prepared to meet the needs of the average investor”.
Strangely, this survey’s respondents, “CFOs and senior comptrollers”, are directly responsible for the still-too-confusing financial statements. Unless, of course, everyone that responded to this survey already has easy-to-understand financials and thus, is thinking, “NMFP”.
Also, average investor is not explicitly defined which doesn’t help us put the survey in context. So we’ll put it out there that if “average investor” is anything remotely similar to the “average American”, the solution to this whole problem may be to get Fisher-Price and reality TV producers involved.
Nearly three-quarters of senior financial executives say financial statements too complex for investors [Press Release]

Auditors, The PCAOB Still Doesn’t Think Too Highly of the Job You’re Doing

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Chuck_Liddell_001.jpgThe PCAOB is considering telling auditors how to do their jobs issuing guidance on communication with audit committees and a new auditing standard on related parties, according to Compliance Week. Not to worry though, they’re going to ask the bigwigs on the Standing Advisory Group for their $0.02:

The PCAOB also plans to bounce some ideas off the advisory group for a new standard to govern how auditor should communicate with audit committees, in part to establish some new guidance regarding communication about management judgments and estimates. According to a briefing paper provided to SAG members, PCAOB is looking for ideas on how to get past boilerplate dialogue to achieve more effective, robust communications between auditors and audit committees.

Auditors? Boilerplate dialogue? Is the PCAOB questioning your ability to ask substantive questions? For shame. Obviously Peekatboobs will be able to develop much better, non-boilerplate questions than you and then you’ll be required to ask those questions of the audit committee. That’ll get the job done.
Likewise, auditors, you’ve simply dropped the ball on related parties since, “financial relationships with related parties have proved important in recent corporate scandals, and the board’s inspection and enforcement actions suggest some auditors aren’t skeptical enough when evaluating such relationships and transactions.”
The infinite wisdom of the PCAOB is clearly on display here. Auditors, it’s going to become necessary that your skepticism is going to reach a physical level or at least the threat of such. Your skepticism in words and on paper is simply not getting the job done.
You’ll have to get Chuck Liddell to beat some people down or simply laying heat out on the conference table during discussions to get your point across, otherwise, clients are going to just keep taking advantage of you.
This will be the plan until the next financial crisis of course when the PCAOB will assess that the questions and methods developed now turn out to be boilerplate and ineffective and it’ll be back to the drawing board again. Don’t get too comfortable.
PCAOB Considers Rules on Communication, Related Parties [Compliance Week]