With the sound of the drums echoing off the walls of the surrounding buildings, it feels as if it could be an impromptu street performance – but it's not. This is tax collecting Bangalore-style. Fed up with companies refusing to pay their tax bills, the city has gone one better than merely sending out reminder letters. Instead it […]
Yes, the PCAOB got a lousy deal by putting Jim Doty's name on the Memo of Understanding with China's Securities Regulatory Commission and Ministry of Finance, but Professor Paul Gillis writes in the Wall Street Journal that the Chinese don't have any room to talk, either: Without inspections, investors can't trust Chinese audits. Investors in Chinese […]
More than 8,000 French households' tax bills topped 100 percent of their income last year, the business newspaper Les Echos reported on Saturday, citing Finance Ministry data. The newspaper said that the exceptionally high level of taxation was due to a one-off levy last year on 2011 incomes for households with assets of more than 1.3 […]
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 […]
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 […]
According to a Financial Times article posted today, KPMG UK's former head John Griffith-Jones — who is now a regulator for the UK's Financial Conduct Authority — dropped a bomb at a posh lunch for accountants in London recently. Griffith-Jones verbalized what many of us already know and have been saying for years. FT says […]
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 […]
This morning we learned that the ICAEW gave up, refusing to go along with the lie that the IASB has been telling itself all this time — "They'll call. They'll realize that they've been wasting their time with U.S. GAAP all this time and they'll call." Those chartered accountants in England and Wales simply […]
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 […]
Up until this point, Ernst & Young has seemed perfectly content to see how this Sino-Forest situation (some have called it a "Ponzi scheme") would play out, standing quietly by their audit opinions without so much as a peep*. Canadian regulators, possibly impatient with the radio silence, have decided that they'll open things up, as the Ontario Securities […]
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 […]
The firm regrets to inform five percent of their employees, including "a limited number of partners," that they will soon have a lot of free time on their hands: Mazars could make up to 5% of its workforce redundant, as it begins a consultation process across the firm. Accountancy Age has learned staff were informed this week […]
Right now, many accounting students are giving serious thought to their futures. Right this very minute, in fact, a few are gnawing their already bloody fingernails waiting for a Going Concern blogger to tell them what to do with their lives. They can't trust their parents and friends so it's only natural that they ask […]
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 […]
Exactly one week after the House of Klynveld planted the flag in Myanmar, their chief nemesis has followed suit: Professional services group PricewaterhouseCoopers opened a Myanmar office Tuesday, becoming the second of the Big Four global accountancy firms to set up shop in the long-isolated country since it launched democratic and economic reforms last year. The […]
It's really a shame that there are so many countries that don't have a Big 4 member firm to call their own. However, with so many opportunities to provide exemplary professional services across the globe, firms must make tough decisions about where they would like to build a prosperous local firm while maintaining the image […]
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 […]
Try as you might, this will top everything you've done to be a deplorable member of the accounting brethren: [A]n accountant in Singapore refused to be associated with her mother even after her death all because of the S$2,000 [about $1,600 USD] in funeral expenses. The accountant, in her 30s, did not show up after learning […]
Reuters reports that a banking unit within Standard Chartered Bank hid more than $250 billion of transactions "by scheming with Iran" that is in violation of U.S. anti-mony laundering laws. Of course, this multitude of transactions couldn't simply have two conspirators, and the order issued by New York's Department of Financial Services fingers Deloitte: [Standard […]
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: […]
Two questions: 1) Isn't this pretty representative of local governments everywhere? and 2) When did PwC start auditing humans for competency? An audit by PriceWaterhouseCoopers has revealed that 92 percent of the City Council of Nairobi workforce is incompetent. The appraisal commissioned in 2010 has recommended that the council trims its large and inefficient workforce. Town Clerk […]
Great news, folks, I have the brand new 2011 NASBA Candidate Performance book in my hands as of yesterday and have to tell you, I'm pretty excited about this new and improved version. It's substantially thicker than the last version (size does matter and don't let anyone tell you otherwise), which means it's packed with […]
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 […]
Twenty-three year-old New Zealand race car driver and accountant Ant Pedersen called his big weekend win "chaotic and cool" but it apparently was not cool enough to convince him to ditch accounting. That, my friends, is dedication. Pedersen managed to win the feature race at Hampton Downs at the weekend. But despite the win it […]
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 […]
For all those interested, NASBA is scheduled to release International Qualification Examination results today. What the hell is that, you say? Glad you asked! From NASBA: IQEX is used to examine the professional competence, from a United States perspective, of accountants from foreign bodies, determined by the U.S. International Qualifications Appraisal Board to have education, examination […]
Isn't it nice know that someone, just like YOU, outside the U.S. has also been anxiously awaiting their score from their third attempt at passing BEC? If you're an international candidate and are unfamiliar with these posts, this serves as your sounding board. For example, did you feel like you just wasted the last few […]
We like to cover the international scene as much as we can but it can be tough sometimes when NO ONE EMAILS US. If you’ve got some from north or the border, south of the equator or across an ocean, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll spice things up around here with some international flair.
I only bring it up because this morning a Canadian reader informed us that today is a big day up north.
I’ve noticed the content on GC is nearly entirely CPA-focused, even though there’s plenty of readers from north of the border! I realise this is likely partially due to the fact that Canadian readers aren’t helping contribute enough. In an effort to help spread the love, I provide the following:
As a bit of background to our system, Canadian Chartered Accountants (CAs) must pass a single national final exam called the Uniform Evaluation (UFE). The UFE is a three-day national exam held once a year in September. The results are then released nearly three months later, usually on the first Friday of December (today!). It’s generally tradition for all the writers (and those that support them) to head out to the bar the night before to help ease the anxiety of checking the results in the morning, which leads to a lot of cheerful new CAs with hangovers today. This tough day of work at my firm (and many others) consists of champagne breakfast with colleagues, lunch with the partners and the office heading back to the bar by 3pm.
Congratulations to all the new CAs!
Scores are officially released at 12 pm so if you’re waiting to enjoy some Mimosas until you get the official word, that’s your choice but either way, you can use this post as a thread for your pre-noon-newly-minted-CA-partying purposes.
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]
Once in awhile, management and their auditors don’t see eye to eye on things. If semi-well adjusted adults are involved, usually cooler heads prevail and differences are sorted out. On the other hand, if there are egomaniacs or individuals of Irish descent involved, then things can sometimes go badly. Not badly in the physical sense, mind you. Badly in the sense that auditors usually get fired. When that happens it usually raises eyebrows of investors and people start asking all sorts of questions. Luckily, footnote disclosures usually detail the dispute and everyone moves on. That’s precisely what didn’t happen at Olympus:
In May 2009, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, the then president of the camera-maker and medical equipment firm, announced that the contract for its then auditor, KPMG, had ended and that another global accounting firm, Ernst & Young, would take over. Kikukawa made no mention of any row with KPMG, although Japanese disclosure rules require companies to notify investors of “any matters concerning the opinions” of an outgoing auditor. In a confidential internal document, Kikukawa wrote to executives in the United States and Europe, revealing that there had been a disagreement with KPMG which he did not plan to disclose to the stock market. “The release to be published today says that the reason of this termination is due simply to expiry of accounting auditors’ terms of office,” Kikukawa said in the letter dated May 25, 2009, which was written in English.
You may have recently heard that Olympus is in a bit of situation. They up and fired their new CEO after he was on the job for two weeks because he was asking a few too many questions. You see, Michael Woodford was of the opinion that the $687 million advisory fee the company was paying for to a firm assisting them with a purchase the company in the UK was a tad steep and wouldn’t keep [yapping motion with hands]. Mr. Kikukawa – who has a reputation as an ‘emperor‘ – didn’t care for that, so he and the Board of Directors told Woodford that his services were no longer needed, chalking it up to Woodford being a little too British.
Fast-forward to today’s news – The accounting issue in question – goodwill impairment – was related to the company, Gyrus Group Plc., Olympus purchased back in 2009. And who do you suppose gave Reuters the memo outlining the whole we’re-firing-KPMG-because-they-disagree-with-us-and-we’re-not-telling-anyone-about-it thing?
The confidential letter was given to Reuters by former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford who was ousted after just two weeks in the job on October 14 for what he says was his persistent questioning over the Gyrus advisory fee and other odd-looking acquisitions. Woodford says the letter was addressed to him in his role as head of Olympus Europe at the time and to Mark Gumz, then head of Olympus Corp America.
Apparently this is no big whoop as long as it’s not material and “the numbers add up” says an accounting professor who has ties to Olympus. Oh! In that case, I guess everyone should just move along.
From the land that brought you Michael Andrew:
KPMG is to push ahead with a round of voluntary redundancies following a slowdown in merger and acquisition activity. The privately-held firm launched the cost cutting program this week, offering voluntary redundancies and part-time working options for its 5000 Australian-based staff.
[…]”We’re seeing a tough, uncertain, challenging and patchy market,” KPMG’s Australian chief executive officer, Geoff Wilson, said yesterday. But he declined to say how many staff would be affected by the shake-up. “While we’re experiencing year-on-year growth, we’re seeing some softening in that growth. [We are trying to] create flexibility in response to the patchiness we’re seeing in the market,” he said.
Crikey. I guess by “create flexibility” Mr. Wilson means, “Your work-life balance is going to get a whole lot easier.”
The request, sources said, is seen as a direct response to the move by the U.S. regulators in the case of scandal-hit Longtop Financial Technologies Ltd, and to ensure that firms do not succumb to pressure to hand over documents to regulators outside of China. Last month the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asked an American court to enforce a subpoena it sent to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu’s China practice for documents from its audit of Longtop.Two sources from the audit industry told Reuters that the Ministry of Finance and China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) met last week with the so-called ‘Big Four’ audit firms — KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and Deloitte — along with two smaller firms. The firms were requested by the government to conduct an urgent review of all audits they had done on U.S.-listed Chinese firms in 2010 along with work on U.S. initial public offerings by Chinese companies. [Reuters]
I know this will cause a lot of Brazilians to get excited but please try to exercise some self-control.
Yes, it’s true, the CPA exam is coming to South America and since the AICPA and NASBA will start administering the CPA exam in February 2012, they’ll be in fine shape for 2014 and 2016:
Testing in Brazil will be open to citizens and long-term residents of Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia. U.S. citizens living abroad are eligible to test at any location.
The international administration of the exam, which will be offered in English, is the same as the U.S. exam administered by the AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric in the United States. Licensure requirements for international candidates are the same as for U.S. CPA candidates. Along with passing the Uniform CPA Examination, international candidates must meet educational and experience requirements as mandated by U.S. state boards of accountancy.
If any of our Brazilian friends have a head start on panicking over this, I suggest you start with our coverage to calm down. See you in 2012.
KPMG is offering $40,800 per year. They claim they will pay over time if you work over 40 hours per week.
PwC is offering $40,800 per year with a 0-15% bonus based on performance.
EY is offering $40,500 per year. No mentions of overtime.
This is for the Toronto offices and these figures are all in Canadian Dollars, which comes out to slightly below $40k USD but with the possibility of overtime, obviously the haul could be a lot more. If you’ve heard different numbers (or any Deloitte numbers at all) for these firms, get in touch or discuss below.
While the world is filled with torment, class warfare, famine, racism, war and uprising, those darn kids at the IASB are still concerned with one thing and one thing only. That one thing, obviously, is the U.S. adoption of IFRS.
Anyone else get the feeling Hans and Co. are getting a tad impatient with our heel dragging?
Piggybacking off the post Caleb was too lazy to write himself yesterday, we hear IASB chairman Hans Hoogervorst said in a Boston speech yesterday that adopting IFRS would offer U.S. public companies “the same financial reporting language for both internal management reporting and external financial reporting on a worldwide consolidated basis.” Where this is a benefit for us is entirely unclear to me, but that’s why I’m not chairman of the IASB.
Ol’ Hansy also promised that the U.S. would still play a pivotal role in shaping global accounting rules if we go ahead and trust them and adopt outright now. It is unclear whether that was a threat or not, as it is also unclear if he really thinks we’re that dumb.
This is the IASB chair’s first American speech, and in it he also said that the SEC can serve as a sort of emergency switch should the IASB decide to implement a rule that just won’t work in U.S. markets. “Such endorsement mechanisms provide an important ‘circuit breaker’ if the IASB produced a standard with fundamental problems for the United States,” he told the conference.
“So there is absolutely no danger of importing different enforcement standards from abroad into the United States,” he said. You hear that, kids? Absolutely no danger. Well crap, why haven’t we adopted these fabulous standards already then? It can’t possibly fail, the IASB told us it’s all good!
Can you guys imagine what would happen if this were to go down in the good old USA?
According to China Daily, answers to China’s national accounting exam (similar to the CPA exam in that it’s an exam professional accountants take to work in accounting, duh) were leaked over the Internet last week and some are concerned that this unfortunate turn of events might erode trust in the exam and – worse – the profession. As if China’s sketchy accounting practices didn’t already achieve as much.
Answers were posted to an Internet forum just before the 2011 Chinese National Uniform CPA Examination was to be taken on September 17 and 18.
Here in America, CPA review providers are given retired CPA exam questions to distribute to their students but are not allowed to share actual exam content. Not like they’d know what’s on the exam anyway – many major review course providers haven’t taken the CPA exam in 10, 15 or even 20 years. Back in those days, they’d hand out copies of old exams to study. Like actual exams. Since the CPA review crew is a close-knit bunch of OGs, it’s highly unlikely that any one of them would risk their close relationship with the AICPA to hand out exam questions to needy students.
In China, a former writer of architect exam questions was sentenced to 18 months in prison for leaking state secrets after he was caught giving his students copies of exam questions during tutorials. Different world, eh?
Anyway, according to the few Chinese media reports we’ve seen, five audit multiple choice questions and answers were posted to the Internet and the Chinese CPA exam folks are understandably in a tizzy over this. To put it in perspective, their audit section consists 47 questions worth a total of 105 points, and candidates must answer at least 60 correct to pass. So really? Five questions?
That’s not all. Apparently some candidates received texts asking if they might be interested in, er, peeking at the upcoming exams’ content.
“I began to receive at least five text messages a day selling exam questions a month before the exam took place. All of them claimed they could provide genuine questions and answers. They also promised a full refund if the questions were not genuine,” 28 year-old Zhu Hua told China Daily. “I wonder how they got my number in the first place, because I only provided my contact information when I registered for the exam.”
Was this an inside job?
The Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA) has sworn to conduct an investigation into the leaks and to prosecute anyone found to have leaked this information to the full extent of the law. Prepare for hangings, people, this is serious shit.
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]
In Northern Ireland, anyway. Yes, if you’re moseying around Belfast and catch your spouse in an intimate embrace with someone who isn’t you, your heart may be broken but that doesn’t mean you’re going to divorce their cheating ass. Why, you ask? Well, you see, celebrities, being the model global citizens that they are, seem understand that marriage doesn’t really mean that you can’t have sex with other people, even if you haven’t expressed a desire to do so and regular Joes and Janes are starting to think that should be their attitude as well.
The UK Press Association reports, “one of the reasons for the shift may be the growing number of high profile celebrities that have publicly accepted their partner being unfaithful, according to consultancy and accountancy firm Grant Thornton, which carried out the matrimonial survey.” Yes Grant Thornton, fresh off their new ad campaign, is finding time to weigh in on marriage trends, although they readily admit they’re really just taking a stab at this:
Sally Longworth, partner at Grant Thornton’s Forensic and Investigations services practice, said: “The shift in the reasons for divorce is difficult to explain, although one potential influence could be the rise in the number of celebrities that are very publicly accepting their spouse’s infidelities.
Seems that GT is hard up for work in N.I.
Forgive me for suggesting this to (alleged) financial professionals but perhaps if they treated their current talent like, well, talent as opposed to third-rate street whores, they might not have this problem. One need look no further than the comment section on any of our salary posts to find warranted discontent, anger, frustration and threats of exodus.
The Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor was developed by Robert Half International and is based on surveys conducted by independent research firms. The study, focusing on hiring difficulties, retention concerns and business confidence, includes responses from more than 6,000 financial leaders across 19 countries.
Here are the key findings:
• Two-thirds, 67 percent, of financial leaders reported at least some level of recruiting difficulty. Approximately one out of five (19 percent) respondents said it is very challenging to find skilled accounting and finance professionals today.
• Retention concerns are rising. Globally, 56 percent of executives said they are either very or somewhat concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the year ahead. This is an 11-point jump from the 2010 survey.
• In the United States, 43 percent of executives cited worries about keeping their best people. This is up from 28 percent in 2010.
• Eighty-nine percent of respondents reported being at least somewhat confident in their organization’s growth prospects for the coming year.
More disturbing, retention issues seem to be a globally pervasive issue. More than half of executives, 56 percent, said they are very or somewhat concerned about losing valued employees to other opportunities in the coming year. This compares to 45 percent who cited retention concerns in the 2010 survey.
In some countries, the results were much higher. The number of executives worried about keeping key employees is up 16 points in Singapore, for example; 91 percent of respondents there said they see retention as an issue. In Hong Kong and Brazil, 88 percent and 85 percent of financial leaders, respectively, noted retention concerns.
What this means, of course, is that if any of you are desperate for work and somewhat decent at your jobs, you might want to look into tapping these markets. Despite what the IASB may like you to think, U.S. GAAP isn’t dead and knowledge of it is still a marketable skill, though a decent command of international standards will obviously benefit you more going forward.
Or turn your keepers’ fears into a tool to be leveraged and get yourselves raised up to at least second-rate street whore. Stranger things have happened.
According to a new survey by leading finance and accounting recruiter Robert Half, 79 percent of New Zealand finance and accounting professionals rank work-life balance as a number one priority in the workplace. Of those, 86 percent of women rank work-life #1, versus 72 percent of men.
Based on a survey of 426 finance, accounting and banking professionals and hiring managers across New Zealand, the Robert Half Financial Employment Report provides invaluable insights into the hiring intentions, staff retention rates and business confidence of organizations for the second half of 2011.
Two thirds of those surveyed (77 percent) valued “working in an enjoyable environment,” while slightly fewer (69 percent) ranked having a manager they can respect and learn from in the top three benefits most valued to them in the workplace.
Other important benefits were working for a stable company (58 percent) and job security (47 percent).
Only 28 percent of respondents cared about working for a socially responsible company (you don’t say!) while a mere 38 percent valued a short commuting distance and just 40 percent valued access to technology as important in the workplace.
Interestingly, 84% of hiring managers said that they find it challenging to find skilled finance, accounting and banking professionals. The functional area in which they are experiencing the most difficulty in finding skilled staff is accounting which has increased by 22% year on year. To help attract and retain staff, hiring managers indicated they are offering or planning to offer perks such as flexible hours/telecommuting (46%), subsidized training (52%) and additional bonus/loyalty leave (41%).
Now, back to that elusive “work-life” balance. Nearly two thirds (62%) of New Zealand professionals stay connected to work or do work-related tasks when they are on holiday. Nearly two thirds (61%) of New Zealand hiring managers expect their employees to be available to some degree while on annual leave or out of office hours. About half are only expected to be available in the case of an emergency (49%). Of the employers that expect their staff to be available when they are out of the office, over three quarters (79%) expect their senior managers to be ‘on call’, while 60% expect this of their middle management team.
Read the rest of The Robert Half Financial Employment Report here if you’re into surveys.