If there's one thing all accountants can get excited about, it's being granted the privilege of donning denim at the office. Time was, no accountant in their right mind would show up to the office in jeans for risk of public shaming. These days, things are less strict although there was a near mutiny in […]
Yesterday the IRS released some important dates for the upcoming tax season including the official start date: January 19, 2016. Also worth noting is that for 2016, the most overrated tax deadline of the year is April 18th because the District of Columbia will celebrate Emancipation Day on April 15th. This means auditors will have […]
Because it's our job to pay attention to these things, we heard that Deloitte Global CEO and sayer of the ridiculous Punit Renjen had joined Twitter. And it's true, he's on there alright. Trouble is, as of 4:45ish ET this afternoon, he hasn't tweeted anything. Your inaugural tweet can be nerve-wracking, but it doesn't […]
Since it seems to be a popular topic today, you might be wondering if you, one of the many accountants across this great land, make more than a philosopher. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you do! But it's closer than you might like. The annual mean wage for accountants and auditors is […]
As you may have heard, it's bwacket season and there are many fine tournaments going on that don't exploit the athletic talents of young men and women, not least among them, our own #BusySeasonProblems bracket. For those of you that just can't get enough, we heartily recommend two more: 1) BYU's Tournament Using Accounting Research […]
You guys probably didn't watch Janet Yellen's confirmation hearing yesterday but I did because Janet has long been one of my least favorite Fed characters, since before she returned to Washington to serve as Fed Vice Chair. Frankly, I'm horrified that she'll be running the show over there but that's not important right now. The […]
YES you read that right, COMMAS: We are adding a comma to the calculator on the CPA Exam. The comma is meant for large numbers such as 1,000 and above to make them easier to read. We are also updating the tutorial to reflect a few recent changes to the CPA Exam, and at the same […]
On Tuesday, a bunch of PwC partners and staff in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada attempted to hold the attention of third, fourth, and fifth graders with the topic of personal money management. There were so many P. Dubbers involved in fact, that it set a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for "The Largest Simultaneous Financial […]
Hey, everyone. Colin here. Mind if I pull you away from your spreadsheets for a bit? No, you don't mind. Last Friday we announced that Going Concern Jobs would be gracing the Internet with its presence in the very near future. Of course, before we jump into anything we like to check with you all […]
Ernst & Young has long been known to frustrate employees by blocking a certain Internet radio station, but based on this latest message, now they are risking some employees' safety: EY Boston has blocked Pandora this week. The level of anger is INTENSE. IT people better hide… It's been established that you cannot mess with […]
Career conundrum got you down? Want someone to tell you how to spend your bonus? Need gift ideas for your secret workplace lover? Email us the questions that burn deep in your loins. Do you think that the Big 4 are comparable to the 4 houses in Harry Potter? Deloitte: Griffindor [sic] PWC: Slytherin […]
In the past week, we have received several tips about an Ernst & Young OMP who was recently demoted to a less-BSD position. While that's the reality, we're certain that any internal messaging took quite a different tone with the partner in question ("PIQ") "transitioning to a client facing role" or some other euphemism for […]
Ed. note: this is the second submission from Andrew Roberts as we trudge ever onward in the GC freelancer finals. You've met him before. You are already familiar with how this works and I know you'll do your part by chiming in. What does an accountant think about when there is nothing else to think […]
One of the most important things capital market servants must do in order to get ahead is to craft a professional image. In order to develop the reputation as a trusted resource for your clients, you must look the part. Some of you do this rather well, while some of you…well, not so much. I've […]
Yesterday we broke the news of Mark Weinberger jumping into the big Black and Yellow chair when Jim Turley steps down next year. It's pretty big news for E&Y as JT has been running the show since July 2001. With all his fancy schmancy credentials, there's no question that Mark is up for the job […]
Welcome back from the turkey coma, kids, I had to take an extra day just to shake it off but all is well now and we’re totally ready for action, at least until I take half a week off for my birthday in two weeks. Ah, life is good.
Anyway, a desperate plea for advice we received over the weekend got me thinking – I figure it’s about time we set some ground rules for writing us for advice. Why we’ve waited two years to do this is beyond me but I don’t run the show so let’s forget that part.
Caleb was concerned by publishing said letter, I might come off as a judgmental, xenophobic prick (isn’t that the brand I’ve worked so hard to craft? Oh well) so I will refrain from publishing it to maintain some sense of decency and openness to all types and cultures don’t really have an issue with foreigners with poor English comprehension, lost little sheep or clueless accounting students; if I did, I would’ve quit this gig to write a racy sex blog a long time ago. I do, however, have an issue with lazy ass people who expect to be hand-fed the answers by us as if we don’t have anything better to do.
NOW, since you probably think I’m a dick at this point, I need to be clear when I say that I LOVE the advice component of this site. It has turned into an unexpected bright point among the lame Hans Hoogervorst jokes and Caleb’s Grover Norquist obsession, and I’m constantly both delighted and disturbed by the reactions in our comment section. You guys have proven yourselves to be mostly useful, sometimes funny and generally helpful to your fellow capital market servants seeking wisdom, and that part is great. So great that I don’t mind so much that so many of the questions we get tend to be very similar.
Keeping in mind, of course, that though we were all told how special we were when we were little, there are really a limited number of scenarios a young accountant might need help navigating. Low GPA, no Big 4 offers. A couple of offers to consider, no idea which to take. High GPA, low social skills, you get it.
But here’s a tip. We’ve been doing this so long that chances are, we’ve covered a scenario similar to yours. So your first best friend is the search bar. You will find this on the upper right-hand corner of the website just under whatever ad we’re running at that time. Type in whatever you are looking for, “compensation,” “opportunities,” “Caleb’s embarrassing affinity for wearing Brazilian women’s underwear,” whatever. If we’ve written about it, you’ll find it. If we haven’t, you won’t. Try to be vague, so instead of searching for “Caleb’s embarrassing affinity for wearing Brazilian women’s underwear,” try “Brazilian underwear” and you might have better luck.
Your second BFF is our comprehensive, all-encompassing tagging system. You may have noticed by now that both Caleb and I enjoy employing useless, often one-time-use tags just for the sake of continuing whatever joke we cracked ourselves up over when we wrote the post but we do also use tags for easy organization of information. Let’s say you’re interested in KPMG and PwC, guess what? We have a whole tag JUST for KPMG v PwC! Amazing, isn’t it?
Now, you’ve searched the site and gotten a good idea of what others are asking and are ready to write us an email. Awesome! We love emails! But please, let’s go over what is appropriate for an advice email and what isn’t.
Remember, we are NOT professionals, we are writers. In fact, some might call us degenerates. So while we know the game well enough to gently shove your confused ass in the right direction, we cannot evaluate your transcripts, refer you to credentialed programs, take the CPA exam for you, decipher your foreign credits, pretend to be you in a job interview or any matter of issues such as these. We don’t sponsor H-1B Visas, we don’t validate parking and we don’t hold hands unless you’re really, really scared.
In the same vein, we cannot draw out your entire future for you. So writing us asking for advice on how to get started in public accounting and realize your dreams of CPAhood will go unanswered. We’re not freshman career counselors. We’re also not mind readers, so know what you want answered before you write some vague email asking how to live your life when you’re old enough to have figured that out by now. To me, asking such broad questions shows that you’re a drive-by who just stumbled across the site and I’m sorry but I work for pageviews, which means I’m far more likely to coddle someone who proves they spend 5 billable hours a day here over someone who Googled “accounting” and didn’t bother to read any previous posts we’ve written. I have given up week-long benders to crank out this content, it’s offensive to get the sense someone hasn’t taken the time to read any of it before writing us. So don’t do that.
Are we clear? With that said, please keep ’em coming. I love you. Each and every one of you, even the trolls. Fuck, especially the trolls.
Keep your pants on, folks – we’re talking Post-its, t-shirts, and whatever else you got your grubby hands on at this season’s campus recruiting events.
Career fair season is in full swing and many of you have already met with the firms’ campus recruiting teams, waited in line for hours to shake the sweaty palm of a 1st year associate, attended countless Powerpoint-heavy presentations.
u were bound to receive some goodies to go along with the “work-life is amazing here!” speeches. Professionals, I’m sure you hoarded the highlighters and page flags. Because I am pinned to my desk in Midtown and Caleb is busy eavesdropping on Denver coffee shop regulars, we were not able to travel to campuses this semester but we would still like to be kept up to date on the latest and greatest (and lamest) in campus recruiting schwag. Dig through those “green” bags from the career fair and share the accounting firm lovin’ with us.
What to share:
1. Mail us your extras. If you’ve got some great goodies you want to share with us, email Caleb for his address and put that shit in the mail. As a thank you, he’ll return the favor by sending you Going Concern schwag. Nothing says “too cool for management accounting class” like a Going Concern bumper sticker.
2. Take some pictures. Don’t want to part with that leaky coffee mug from Grant Thornton? Did you win a XXL winter PwC fleece at the University of Miami career fair but want to hold on to it “for when it gets chilly”? Send Caleb (suitable for work) pictures of the gear. Bonus points if the EY teddy bear is taking it to the KPMG stuffed puppy.
3. Tell us a story. Did something ridiculous happen at one of the recruiting events? Partners making out with interns? Intern on intern action? Did someone lose an offer because they had one too many flaming nipple shots?
For those of you worried about your privacy…
Come on now, it’s a moot point by now. It’s no secret that this site would not exist without the anonymous sources, tips, career advice questions, and cutthroat comments that you all provide every day. You make this place bearable, welcoming, helpful, and funny as hell.
Think about some of the stories that Caleb has covered here – PwC’s re-branding strategy, KPMG’s random hiring freeze, McGladery firings. Does he ever blow the top on his sources? Do I ever turn around and call the HR department of every firm who’s professionals reach out to us about looking for jobs? Ummmmm…no. We’re grown ups. We respect your decisions and appreciate it when they are relevant to a story for GC.com. You scratch our backs with tips, and we provide you and the rest of the industry an opportunity to sound off.
Why are we doing this?
We want to keep everyone up to date on how their potential bonus money is being spent on frivolous travel alarm clocks, obviously. That, and we thought it’d be fun – brainless, thoughtless, and not-as-negative-as-every-other-story-in-the-news-today kind of fun. Plus, we know that all recruiting efforts are not created equal. What is handed out in Chicago is not what’s thrown your way in Dallas. Do you really think Greendale Community College see the same hand-outs as Lehigh students? Hell no. Share the stories, share the free schwag lovin’.
Now that it’s September, people start getting anxious about their Halloween costumes. Regardless of the two months of football, a World Series, and God knows how many GOP Presidential candidate debates, many will agonize over just what outfit they will wear for approximately 2-3 hours, knowing full well that vomit could end up on it. These days Halloween costumes, for better or worse, focus on the “sexy.” The sexy Little Bo Peep. The sexy priest. This year, I’m really hoping to see the sexy Angry Birds. Anyway, a reader is stumped on how best to approach a recent light bulb moment she had for this year’s outfit:
I am hoping some creative CPAs who read your blog can help me out. A month ago, during one of my trainings, a partner came in and spoke to us about how we should not be seen by our clients as the “accounting police.” Immediately, a lightbulb went off in my head and I thought “HALLOWEEN COSTUME!”, but I have no idea how to pull this off so people will understand it! Any ideas out there?
So we have “accounting” and “police.” Not exactly a lot to work with here but we’ll throw a few ideas out there to get things rolling:
1. Ask four of your friends to join you and go as the letters P-C-A-O-B. Of course, you won’t actually do anything.
2. Simply dress up as police officer and walk around the whole night counting things, not unlike The Count (in fact, I suggest you do the laugh). “What the hell are you supposed to be?” some dope will say. You’ll respond, “A counting police.”
3. Get another idea.
Your suggestions are now welcome.
From the mailbag:
Does GC have any suggestions of where to get a frame for my brand-new CPA wall certificate? I searched the site, but if you’ve covered this before I must have missed it.
I appreciate the feedback! Thanks!
Perhaps our reader is referring to this post we did back in July where the reader was impatiently waiting for his certificates so he could decorate his cubicle walls.
Obviously we have a completely different issue here but it’s no less important. So let’s throw a few ideas out there:
1. Make like a Son of Nazareth and build the thing yourself.
2. Hand the certificate over to your young son/daughter/niece/nephew along with a box of Crayolas and hope for the best.
3. Two words: Dumpster diving.
4. Your ideas.
This just in:
I had a question regarding when you receive those frameable versions of your CPA certificate. I passed and became licensed Oct. of 2010. The [Connecticut State Board of Accountancy] just sent my SBOA CPA certificate (the fancy frame-able one). But I have seen in other people’s (who have their CPA) offices that they have frameable certificates from their state’s SBOA, AICPA and state society (i.e. CT Society of CPA’s).
When do you get the AICPA and State Society of CPA’s version of the frame-able certificate? I want to hang them up…otherwise what else is earning a CPA good for (other than that whole making a living thing).
Just for grins, I called up the State Society of CPAs in the Constitution State only to leave a voicemail with their membership coordinator. I also emailed the AICPA’s VP of Students, Academics, and Membership, so I’ll let you know if I hear anything.
And since it’s been a number of years since I’ve passed the CPA and my memory isn’t what it used to be, I can’t really speculate as to the length of your wait. If others are more familiar with the timeliness or lack thereof as it relates to your paper trophies, please inform our inquisitor by commenting below. In the meantime, maybe he should just get one of those old Farrah Fawcett posters? Other suggestions would be welcome.
From the mailbag:
Just curious what your thoughts or GC readers’ thoughts are on male facial hair in the public accounting world. Personally, I hate shaving. I shave once a week but am sure to keep a clean line under the chin. (I also dress well and don’t believe that business casual means khakis and a golf shirt.) A friend of mine told me that his manager at his big 4 firm was asked to shave his nicely groomed beard by his partners. Is this normal? Petty? A generation thing?
Let me address your questions one at a time:
1.a. Q: “Is [partners telling managers to tell someone else to do something, like shaving] normal?” A: Yes. Some partners can’t believe they have��������������������general vicinity as the staff, let alone talk to them, so when an awkward conversation needs to be had, a manager often gets the privilege. That said, ambitious managers who want to become partners will often take it upon themselves to inform the beast in question to break out the Bic.
1.b. Q: Is [frowning on facial hair] normal?” A: As a general rule, yes. Some smaller firms are known to be pro-beard but As far as I am aware, the Big 4 state that they allow mustaches and beards if they are kept “neatly trimmed.” However, the reality is that most partners don’t like facial hair. Whether you are growing it for charity, you lost a bet to a broheim or your spouse thinks it’s hot; they don’t give a damn. They want your faces clean shaven.
2. Q: “[Is this] petty?” A: Well, we are talking about the Big 4, now aren’t we? Petty annoyances are part of the deal. In fact, a beard could cost you a promotion if you’re working for the wrong person. That said, I personally don’t think making an issue of facial hair is that petty. The reason being, that despite your well-trimmed beard, it is the exception rather than the rule. I share your hatred of shaving (not to mention your anti-khakis/golf shirt stance) but this is one of those “a few bad apples” situations. Lots of men in the Big 4 are flat-out slobs and if you give them an inch on facial hair, they’ll take a mile. Now, if you happen to have snuck in a well-groomed beard or mustache and kept it that way, you may get a pass but if you’re just letting the 5 o’clock shadow extend an extra day or two and it’s disgustingly obvious, you should get a talking to.
3. Q: “Is this a generational thing?” A: No. There are anti-beard people at various ages who simply equate facial hair with hipsters, hillbillies and the Taliban. I think it’s more of an accounting firm culture thing. So if you’re sporting one, it puts you at odds with TPTB and squarely in the “counter-culture” camp. But on a more practical level, you work in a professional environment for crissakes. For advisory and audit professionals staff who are in client-facing roles earlier than their tax counterparts, partners and managers don’t want you looking like a hobo in front of clients. It doesn’t seem logical to let the gents in tax let themselves go, so the rule applies across the board.
The “beard or no beard” question is now open for debate. Sorry about the gender-specific topic ladies. Your thoughts and unfiltered judgments on the matter are certainly welcome and encouraged.
Yesterday, we shared a story with you that probably caused you to thank your lucky stars that you don’t work in Norway (especially if you’re a woman). In that post, we called back to our old report from January about the secure lavatories at Ernst & Young’s Long Island location in Jericho.
You may have been under the impression that someone within E&Y was responsible for the lockdown, however, thanks to an enterprising E&Y employee, we now know who the keymasters really are:
I don’t work in the Jericho office, but got shipped out there for random clients for most of this summer. The bathrooms are in the common areas shared by all tenants of the building, so the keyed entry to the bathrooms is mandated by the building management, not EY (not that I’d put it past the partners to come up with something like this, though).
Also, while there are keys for each bathroom, there are also entry codes you can use instead. So you can grab one of the communal keys (kinda gross), or remember the terribly difficult four digit code (0001 if I remember correctly).
As a side note, I remember the admin mentioning that the original set of five keys for the men’s room was down to two. I’m wondering why someone would make off with these nasty over-sized germ farms.
Okay, so the missing keys aren’t news but what’s it going to take to get some extras made? And, again, who’s making off with the keys in the first place?
And while it’s good to know that the E&Y brass in Jericho aren’t actually the ones putting the clamp on the johns, would it kill them to spring for some private restrooms that non-E&Yers don’t have access to? It’s one thing to have to schlep to the front desk to get a key every time; it’s entirely another to be sharing a bathroom with the entire building. What is this, Penn Station?
Seriously, how much time and cost would it take to throw in some pots, sinks, urinals and XLERATORs®? It’s a health issue for crissakes.
[caption id="attachment_10643" align="alignright" width="260" caption="Not candy"][/caption]
Listen up people. Since many of you regularly get either your breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, pre-midafternoon snack, afternoon snack, pre-leaving work snack or – during busy season – your dinner out of a vending machine this could be cause for concern.
States are strapped for cash so t��������������������ve you joy is a logical and effective conclusion. Accordingly, sweets, sodas, booze, cigarettes, strippers are all fair game. Some of these are old hat (e.g. booze, cigs) and some are becoming more popular (e.g. candy, soda). Washington state is rolling out its candy tax on June 1, 2010 and as you might have guessed, it’s not nearly as simple as you would think. There are many questions.
First off, candy needs a definition, so Department of Revenue de Washington presents its version:
“Candy” means a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts, or other ingredients or flavorings in the form of bars, drops, or pieces. Candy does not include any preparation containing flour. Candy does not require refrigeration.
OFTLOG. Couldn’t it just boil down to: “Anything handed out on Halloween”? But wait, the questions get better:
Are bags of trail mix containing small amounts of candy subject to sales tax?
No, trail mix is not considered to be candy if it contains only small amounts of chocolate chips or other candy.
Are sweetened breakfast cereals considered candy if they do not list flour as an ingredient?
No. Breakfast cereals are non-taxable food, even if they are sweetened and do not list flour as an ingredient.
What about prepackaged combination packs of candy? I sell bags of mixed candy bars for one, non-itemized price. Some of the bars contain flour, while others meet the definition of candy. Do I collect sales tax on the bags of candy?
The sale of the bags of candy represents a bundled transaction. See RCW 82.08.190 for more information on bundled transactions. Because one of the items in this bundled transaction is subject to sales tax, the entire bundle of products is subject to sales tax. See RCW 82.08.195 for more information.
However, you can exempt the bundled transaction from sales tax if you demonstrate that the purchase price or sales price for the taxable candy is 50% percent or less of the total purchase price or sales price of the bundled food products. See RCW 82.08.190(4) for information about how this 50% exception works.
Are nicotine gum and analgesic gum candy?
They are not candy, but they are subject to sales tax because they are over-the-counter drugs. Over-the-counter drugs refer to any drug sold with a label that identifies the product as a drug and includes either of the following:
A “drug facts” panel; or
A statement of the “active ingredient(s)” with a list of those ingredients contained in the compound, substance, or preparation.
Nicotine gum and analgesic gum (gums containing aspirin) meet the description above and should be treated as taxable over-the-counter drugs unless purchased with a prescription. See RCW 82.08.0281 for more information regarding over-the-counter drugs.
How are products in the baking aisle treated?
Below is information on selected baking aisle products [we’re skipping the table but fact that there is a table to explain the candy/non-candieness of the baking aisle is ridiculous]
Are fruit snacks such as fruit roll-ups and fruit leathers subject to sales tax as candy?
Fruit roll-ups and fruit leathers are subject to sales tax if they contain any sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners and do not contain flour or require refrigeration. The fruit added to such item is not considered a sweetener (fruit is not intended to refer to concentrated fruit juices).
Are sweetened dried fruits candy?
Yes, dried fruits are candy when they are sweetened with natural or artificial sweeteners. This is true whether the product is sold prepackaged or in a bulk bin, by weight. Unsweetened fruits are not candy.
Is halvah candy?
Halvah is a confection usually made from crushed sesame seeds and honey, but in some instances may be made with grain based ingredients. It has been a traditional dessert in India, the Mediterranean, and the Balkans. Halvah that is based on nut butters (or seeds) and contains no flour is candy. Halvah that is flour-based is not candy. You should read the ingredient label if you are unsure.
Are energy bars and protein bars candy?
Energy bars and protein bars that contain no flour and require no refrigeration are taxable as candy. Bars that contain flour or require refrigeration are not candy.
Are cough drops subject to sales tax as candy?
Cough drops are not taxable as candy if they have either:
A “drug facts” panel; or
A statement of the “active ingredient(s)” with a list of those ingredients contained in the compound, substance, or preparation.
In such situation, the cough drops represent over-the-counter drugs. These cough drops are subject to sales tax unless purchased with a prescription. See RCW 82.08.0281 for more information regarding over-the-counter drugs.
Cough drops that do not have either of the above are candy.
Some takeaways: 1) Careful with the trail mix that has lots of M&Ms, it could possibly be taxable 2) Lucky Charms, et al. are safe 3) If anything has the word “gum” in it, it’s up for debate (e.g. Nicotine gum). Strangely enough, condom gum, edible undies, etc. is not mentioned 4) Fruit Roll-ups, energy bars, halvah and cough drops are all in the gray area.
And in case that doesn’t clear it up, there’s an entire spreadsheet that you can refer to (file below) but no, a Kit-Kat bar is not considered candy. Neither is a Milky Way. Got it?
[caption id="attachment_10491" align="alignright" width="260" caption="Is that Five Guys?"][/caption]
We realize that the above statement will likely result in an army of KPMG lawyers threatening this here site with libel and possibly putting every single person associated with GC in mortal danger but the question needed to be asked.
At the Players Championship, the freshly jacketed Phil said the following, “I grew up on In-N-Out. I thought that was the best burger until I had Five Guys. That is hands down the best burger I’ve ever had.”
At first this may seem like an over-eager chubby man enjoying a newfound joy in life. The guy is happily married, so he’s not going to make like Tiger and bang all the Laker Girls or anything. Anyhoo, it turns out that Phil failed to mention that he hearts Five Guys so much (apparently he went there SIX DAYS IN A ROW last week) that he dropped some coin into the franchise.
Fellow duffer Stewart Cink caught wind of Mick’s little endorsement of FG and took it upon himself to let the cat out of the bag:
We don’t watch
a lot of golf but we do know that Phil pulls some decent scratch putting those four squares on his head. And we’ve never heard him say a single word about the kick ass professional services put forth by all you Klynveldians out there.
Of course this doesn’t really mean anything, Phil could have a special place in his heart saved just for KPMG but he’s just not able to verbalize it. That’s probably what it is.
Back again to decipher more of the data that you so graciously shared with us on our salary thread from December.
After noting that average Big 4 salaries and non-Big 4 salaries were essentially even, we now present the average regional salaries for you enjoyment or dismay:
• Mid-Atlantic– $88,831
• Northeast– $72,024
• Southeast– $56,000
• Midwest– $65,124
• Southwest– $73,185
• West – $64,706
Some analysis and the map, after the jump.
Surprisingly the Mid-Atlantic boasted the highest average salary based on the data collected. This was due primarily to two salaries that were reported from “JDs” working in “Washington National Tax.” The Mid-Atlantic average also included an Associate Director that reported a considerably higher salary than the average. If these three salaries are removed, the average salary is $76,254. which may be more in line with your expectations.
Another surprise that we saw was the higher than expected Southwest average salary. Again in this case, a brave Senior Manager in an advisory practice reported a much higher salary than most submitted. When this is removed the Southwest average comes down to $68,134, again, probably closer to what you would expect.
The Northeast, Southeast, and West all seem about right to us although we might have expected the West salaries to be a bit higher but then again we’re going with what we’ve got.
The map below shows how we grouped the states in the respective regions, with a few additional details on the regions.