Deloitte’s Sharon Allen recently had a little chat with our friends at FINS as part of their coverage of Women in the Workplace series over the next two weeks. Ms. Allen will be coasting into retirement as her second term as the firm’s Chairman (her preferred term) comes to end.
The Allen interview covers all kinds of fun stuff so let’s get to it, starting with those pesky regulators:
Some of us are still getting comfortable to having the PCAOB sticking their beak into audits:
The public accounting arena has indeed changed a lot. It’s now a regulated profession with oversight that’s provided through the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. We are still, both the regulator and the profession, trying to work through that, with the common objective of improving audit quality. We’re learning how to work within a regulated environment that some years ago we just didn’t live with.
None of the firms chose to be the “Big 4” it just sorta worked out that way:
Just last week, we were talking at our global board meeting about how the profession got narrowed down to this number to begin with. The last reduction wasn’t the choice of the profession with [Arthur] Andersen out of business.
And speaking of four, she’s pretty comfortable with that number:
You have to have concentration of enough business to service the clients properly. If you spread that across eight firms, there just isn’t enough that supports that kind of that activity. In some of the major countries, the additional number of firms make sense, but when you look at it across the world, it doesn’t work. We’re not opposed to the competition; there are next-tier firms that are very good, and we encourage them to be in the mix in terms of proposal opportunities. It’s healthy. But the reality is the concentration will and probably should continue.
Term limits have somewhat led to SA’s retirement but there’s at least one person who’s especially happy about her quitting early:
I’m approaching the end of my second four-year term as chairman. We have a limit of two terms. While I’m not at mandatory retirement age yet, I concluded that it’s a really good time to make this move. I’ve had a fabulous 38-year career. But I’m also very comfortable with the transition leadership and the state of the firm. It’s a good time for me to leave at the top of my game. My husband is looking forward to spending more time with me.
FINS went ahead and asked Allen about the leadership election process, even though they already knew how the process went down.
We have a nomination process that we undertake. We interview through a nominating committee chosen by the board. They interview about 1,300 partners for their input on the type of attributes they’d like to see in the chairman and CEO positions. Then the committee interviews some individuals who match up with those qualities and ultimately proposed the nominated person.
One of the biggest challenges Allen has faced as Chairman was dealing with this clusterfuck of an economy. Luckily for the Green Dots out there, Deloitte management saw this coming and was able to save a bunch of you:
We were a little ahead of the game in anticipating the downturn that allowed us to prepare well for the difficult times to come. We had some reductions in our workforce, but they were not as substantial as they might have been had we not appropriately planned for the downturn.
And as a high-flying executive, there has to be coping mechanisms:
[Julie Steinberg of FINS]: How do you handle all the travel you do?
[Sharon Allen]: I drink a whole lot of water. I’m also fortunate to be able to adjust to time zone changes relatively easily. I work on domestic flights, and I do take my iPod and my computer.
JS: What are you listening to these days on your iPod?
SA: I’m a country music fan.
Chesney just came to mind for some reason (FYI Sharon: I can get you into the sold-out Red Rocks show, so reach out if you’re interested). But maybe she’s more of Toby Keith person, I can’t possibly know not having had the pleasure of seeing what ended up on the cutting-room floor. You’re invited to speculate as to artists (I’m pulling for Willie Nelson myself) and react to anything else you see above.
Deloitte’s Sharon Allen on Big Four Domination, Self-Promotion and the Corporate Lattice [FINS]
Earlier: Deloitte’s Sharon Allen Never Misses Date Night, Discovered Early on That She Wasn’t Meant to be a Car Hop
Last week we were tipped about layoffs that were communicated to PwC’s Global Best Practices (“GBP”) unit on January 13th. The GBP was purchased from Andersen back in the early Aughts and became a part of PwC’s Knowledge Services Organization which was developed as a part of Internal Firm Services.
Global Best Practices, as the name indicates, developed “best practices” that were either for sale to third parties or was used by PwC professionals to share with their clients.
Our source, a former Knowledge Services Organization employee gave us the initial scoop:
[I]t’s somewhere between 27 and 42 people, depending on how you do the math – there are some contractors. Most of the staff is based in Tampa, as part of the KSO. They have a month, then a package. Some are still in Chicago, where the GBP staff used to be based – the moved them all to Tampa about five years ago when PwC started up the whole Knowledge Services Organization plan.
Subscriptions to the site are way down and apparently the cost-benefit analysis didn’t justify keeping the employees, even though many of them had been around for many years.
We checked with a source within PwC who clarified/solidified some of the tip: simply put, the GBP product is being discontinued and it will affect 24 total jobs, sixteen in Tampa and eight in Chicago. As our original tipster mentioned, there are some outside contractors that aren’t included in those numbers. The separation date for those affected is February 25th and employees are being paid through the 28th. From there, a severance will be provided, depending on the individual’s position and tenure with the firm. All employees that are affected are being encouraged to apply for other jobs inside the firm.
This is second instance of layoffs by PwC in the Tampa area, following the 470 cuts announced last July. Many of those layoffs – 280 to be exact – were effective December 31st. We’ll keep you updated with any further details.
More Layoff Watch:
Layoff Watch ‘11: KPMG Cuts IT Support Staff
Fyi- I’m forced to write this on my mobile so anyone that notes typos can piss off.
Anyhoo, for whatever reason, the KPMG beat is awfully hot today. This latest scoop we have is the unfortunate news that layoffs have reared their ugly head in Monty:
No chatter on the ~200 layoffs at KPMG IT support staff in Montvale this past Friday whose positions went to IBM outsourcing?
Oddly enough, we did hear about this just yesterday and hadn’t had the time to check it out. Now that we’ve been spurred into action, this confirms the original tip we received about the IT staff and that the work was going to IBM. This is the first news we received about the staff in Montvale, the original news we received was with regard to the New York office, a staff of approximately 17, we were told.
These in-house IT layoffs feel oddly familiar to the cuts made by PwC late last summer, who also planned to outsource those positions. P. Dubs also stated that they would offer some professionals other opportunities within the firm and would be creating a number of new jobs in the Tampa area, where those cuts occurred. So far there hasn’t been any indication that KPMG was doing something similar.
A message with KPMG spokesman Dan Ginsburg’s office was not immediately returned. We’ll keep you updated with any further details.
2010. What a year, amiright? It got off to a bit of a rough start after our facelift but as the year went on, things stayed interesting…most of the time. Anyway, since most of you aren’t getting Jack Squat done this week, let’s take a look back at the year that was.
1. Compensation – Shocking revelation here, we realize but – YES! – it’s true, red about most in 2010. After two years of disappointment, the Big 4 and the aspiring “Bigs” (Grant Thornton, BDO, McGladrey) all returned to merit increases and bonuses this year. PwC shot out of the gate with Ernst & Young keeping pace while KPMG remained steady but slightly behind. Deloitte, lagging behind, made a late charge with the announcement of a mid-year adjustment, which may or may not have set off a rash spreading amongst the other firms to provide bonuses throughout their fiscal year-ends. Was it a successful 2010 on the compensation front? Some say “yes,” some say “no,” but there’s little doubt about what keeps your attention.
2. PwC Email Hottiegate – Unless you were in a coma during the second week of November, you were aware of the email that listed the top 10, errr 13, new female associates that came out of PwC in Ireland. The gents who passed around the list weren’t so concerned with using work email to give the ladies the Letterman treatment and the Irish brass didn’t take too kindly to the “tradition.” This story dominated our pages for a few days and the last we knew, a total of five employees had been suspended, the women weren’t planning on lawsuits and Adrienne gave her point of view (as a member of the fairer sex).
3. Ernst & Young and Lehman Brothers – We were really expecting a slow week leading up to the Christmas holiday but because the force is strong with Andrew Cuomo, our dreams were filled with Jim Turley trying to burn us with Montecristos. It all started in March when the bankruptcy examiner’s report put E&Y right at the center of the failure of Lehman and last week we finally saw Cuomo fire the first shot.
4. PwC Makeover – Change is usually met with wailing and gnashing of teeth and the updated look rolled out by PwC in mid-September was no different. Despite the rants about color schemes and geometry, Bob Moritz assured everyone that the majority of feedback was positive and that he was happy to answer any questions about the change that didn’t relate to autumnal hues and Legos™. As is typical in these situations, the bellyaching has died down and everyone is now distracted by their new iPads.
5. Large firm vs. Small firm – An anonymous reader submitted an essay on the main differences between life in the Big 4 (and aspiring Bigs) life and that of the lives working in the smaller firms. Most have wondered what life would be like in their bizarro public accounting existence and some have actually lived it. There are pros and cons to each but life at the small firm is decidedly different.
6. An auditor’s life:
7. Layoffs – 2010 saw fewer mass layoffs than the past couple of years but that doesn’t mean there weren’t spots of cuts here and there. Most notably were the nationwide cuts at McGladrey as well as the 500 cuts made by PwC in Florida. Grant Thornton was busy slimming down its exposure in smaller markets but layoffs were not always part of the “transition” as practices were often sold or employees were giving the opportunity to transfer. And last but not least, we learned that Deloitte claimed “our bad” on their cuts from May 2009.
8. Getting in trouble on the Internet – Whether you’re trying to win a trip to Whistler for you and your bros or emailing your buddy about putting the moves on a lady, there was plenty of idiotic behavior going on across the Internets. Adrienne laid out how to not behave but humans are creatures of habit and we’re sure there’ll be more exciting idiotic behavior in the coming year.
9. PwC Houston Happy Hour – The team happy hour. Typically a festive event filled with free booze, laughs and the occasional awkward advance. The latter allegedly took form of a partner towards an associate this past summer in PwC’s Houston office that resulted in a odd pick-up line, a sloppy kiss (our vision) and then a knuckle sand. The latest we heard was there were multiple associates approached, the partner-in-question was still with the firm and that the associate(s) involved were shipped off to other engagements. So all is well in H-town. PwC never returned our calls, emails or singing telegrams on this story.
10. Accounting Career Drama – One of the most popular series on GC is the career advice that we throw out here and there. Everything from trying to quit nicely during busy season to defection amongst Big 4 firms to explaining why your fantasy football roster is constantly on your computer screen. We’re here to help you get through the purgatory that is your time on Earth so if you’ve got a problem and want advice, email us at email@example.com.
Too hot for PwC; thinking about law school?; a Big 4 failure in our future?; an accounting degree isn’t a scam like, say, a law degree; articulating the dress code; Ernst & Young manager censured by the PCAOB; how to screw up the CPA exam; Joseph Stack’s (the guy who crashed the plane into the IRS building) manifesto; accounting professor de-pants.
If we missed any of your favorites, feel free to recall your fondest memories on this here site. As we head into the new year, here’s a friendly reminder of how to get in touch with us:
• Like Going Concern on Facebook and leave a message on the board. You’ll have to work hard if you want to friend us.
We couldn’t do it without all your help, so keep it up in the new year so we can have an even more eventful 2011!
Remember? She was thisclose to living on franks and beans.
And now she’s even closer to the mystery meat reality because she has been laid off by the nonprofit for whom she worked:
Velma Hart, the chief financial officer for Am Vets, a veteran services organization based in Maryland, said Monday in an interview with CNBC that she was laid off as part of the nonprofit’s effort to cut expenses.
“I want to focus on the positive and be optimistic,” said Hart, who lives in Upper Marlboro, Md. “And assume that somehow things will work out, that there’s an opportunity out there with Velma’s name on it that’s right around the corner.”
A positive outlook, we like this gal. We’re sure you’ll be back to the corner office in no time. One word of advice though when you’re in the hot dog aisle – Hebrew National is not kosher, not matter what the package says.
~ Update includes clarification of the number of layoffs.
Remember those 500 layoffs that PwC announced in July? Jeff Harrington of the St. Petersburg Times reports, “According to a state-required layoff notice filed Friday, 280 jobs will be phased out by Dec. 31.”
According to the report, many layoffs occurred immediately:
PwC said another 150 positions have already been cut since July, with half of those displaced workers finding other jobs through PwC or a third-party vendor it is using, India-based Tata Consulting Services. The other half left voluntarily after finding other jobs outside the company.
That leaves 70 unaccounted for at this time and we’re trying to determine when these are happening. It’s our understanding that the 150 is a bit of squishy number so that may make up part of the difference but it remains a mystery (as Big 4 layoffs tend to be). SEE UPDATE BELOW.
As for the 200 positions tax and accounting that the firm said it is adding, the Times reports that they’ve added 30 positions so far since “last summer.”
If you’re in the know about the layoffs in Florida (or anywhere else for that matter) get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll keep you updated as we hear more.
About 280 PricewaterhouseCoopers workers in Tampa get pink slips [St. Petersburg Times]
UPDATE – October 19, 2010: A source at PwC has informed GC that the number of layoffs is actually 470, a figure that was determined a few months subsequent to the July announcement of 500 cuts. Employees that comprise 280 cuts mentioned in the Times article were notified by letter that their last day would be December 31st. The source confirmed that half of the 150 employees cited in the article did obtain internal jobs with the firm or Tata Consulting Services while the other half resigned or found positions outside the firm.
Our source said that the remaining 40 IT cuts are being made in offices around the country and that the employees were notified in July. The exact timing of these cuts was not immediately known. We’ll keep you updated.
To Phoenix. If you’re not interested, well that’s probably TFB.
In a cost-cutting move, builder KB Home (KBH) said Thursday it is consolidating its two accounting and administrative services centers into one Phoenix office.
The Los-Angeles based builder said it will move the Denver operation to Arizona during the next few months. The Phoenix office will manage accounting-related operations for its 30 markets nationwide.
The builder, one of the nation’s largest, did not say how much money will be saved.
Some of the 66 affected Denver-based employees will be offered positions in Phoenix.
KB Home Consolidates Accounting Centers [Dow Jones]
From the mailbag:
Thought you’d be interested in hearing that today RK had a few last minute “transitions” or as most know them “lay offs”, these happened in the FS practice in New Jersey about 6 weeks after the official “transition date” in which upper management stated that the “transitions” were over for the year and everyone was safe and could get back to work and not worry. Today we lost 1 supervisor, 1 pending manager and 1 manager all having started their careers home grown at the firm.
Performance reasons were quoted but no one seemed to have a clue it was coming and a pretty big bummer day. Rumor has it that it’s not yet over as some others were not in the office today, doesn’t help the extremely negative morale issue going on at this firm with doom and gloom expectations of raises coming post labor day.
Would love to see some more RK news hit the site from time to time if you get it, not really sure where the firm is heading, up or down and would be great to see what others think??? FS practice is getting demolished in NY and NJ appears to be getting more antsy with every move that management makes.
A voicemail and email to Rothstein Kass spokesman Robert Solomon were not immediately returned.
If you’ve got more info on cuts or other news at RK, get in touch.
~ Sorry about the downtime yesterday. Our best people are on it like ConEd.
Deloitte to be world’s biggest accountant as partners sweep up £590m [Telegraph]
“According to Mr Connolly, when Deloitte publishes its global results in October the firm is set to reveal it has overtaken PriceWaterhouseCoopers to become the biggest of the “Big Four” accountancy houses globally.
However, Mr Connolly, who is set to retire in 2011, predicted the current financial year could prove even more successful despite describing future growth in the wider economy as ‘low and slow.’ ‘We have alr in the first quarter of this year, so I expect we shall return to double-digit growth. The M&A market has started to get much busier and our tax business is growing well again. Changes in regulation also mean good business for us.’ ”
Investors Gain New Clout [WSJ]
“In a decision years in the making, the SEC voted 3-2 in favor of the “proxy access” rule, which requires companies to include the names of all board nominees, even those not backed by the company, directly on the standard corporate ballots distributed before shareholder annual meetings. To win the right to nominate, an investor or group of investors must own at least 3% of a company’s stock and have held the shares for a minimum of three years.
Currently, shareholders who want to oust board members must foot the bill for mailing separate ballots, as well as wage a separate campaign to woo shareholder support. Both are too costly and time-consuming for most. Now, the targeted companies will essentially be footing the bill for the dissidents, including them in the official proxy materials. The new rule will be in place in time for the 2011 annual meeting season next spring.”
Celgene names new chief financial officer [Reuters]
Jacqualyn Fouse will replace David Gryska effective Sept. 27
Herz Resigns As FASB Chair [The Summa]
Professor David Albrecht’s take on Roberto Herz’s decision to step down.
3Par Accepts Dell’s Increased Takeover Offer [Bloomberg]
“Dell Inc. said 3Par Inc. has accepted its increased offer of $24.30 per share in cash, or about $1.6 billion, net of 3Par’s cash.”
Dodging the Ax: How to Avoid Layoffs [FINS]
“As professionals working in financial-services witness the ax drop around their companies, many are living in fear that they could be included in the next round of layoffs. However, there are measures you can take right away to help safeguard your position and make you seem indispensable to management.”
Stanford Used Skimmed $1.6 Billion For Loans To Start-Ups, Witness Says [Bloomberg]
“The $1.6 billion that indicted financier R. Allen Stanford is accused of skimming from the funds of his investors was actually loaned by his Antiguan bank to start-up entities and other businesses he controlled, a fraud examiner testified.
Forensic accountant Alan Westheimer testified before a U.S. judge in Houston today that Stanford Financial Group Cos. comptroller Mark Kuhrt and chief accountant Gilbert Lopez told him they believed the borrowing should have been publicly disclosed.
‘The funds were being passed through as inter-company loans to the entities that were the recipients of the shareholder loans,’ Westheimer said. ‘Within a short period, usually six months, Mr. Stanford would assume those loans and the recipient companies transferred those balances to their underlying capital.’ ”
The Beckhams were concerned that “ordinary people were tightening their belts,” so what did they do? They fired a bunch of ordinary people! All it took was a shrewd accountant to tell them, “You’re pouring money down the drain.”
The fun-killing accountant is then quoted by a source in The Sun that employing 50 people around the word isn’t necessary, ” ‘You CAN afford to employ all of these people. But why the hell DO you?’ ”
Vic took it to heart, so she cut 14 people off the payroll. This included a housekeeper that worked for them for eight years who was replaced by “two ‘cost efficient’ foreign staff,” so things aren’t completely falling apart.
As for the gardening, they’re down to one and now that poor bastard has to double as a chauffeur. Can you imagine the hell that must be having that guy track muddy shoes into the car? The horror.
Remember those PwC layoffs in Tampa a week or so back? Right. Anyway, the St. Petersburg Times decided to poke around this story a little bit more and discovered some things that most of you have known for awhile: there are two very different sides to large accounting firms and PwC is no exception.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has cultivated an image as one of corporate America’s upper-tier workplaces. Competitive pay. Great benefits. A perennial on Fortune’s list of Best Places to Work.
Human resources experts with the company have preached to clients about effectively managing workers and using layoffs as th es of crisis.
However, interviews with a half-dozen current and former Pricewaterhouse employees support a different picture of a financial evolution within the company in recent years. The accounting and professional services giant, known as PwC, has quietly and methodically slashed hundreds if not thousands of well-paying jobs, offshoring many functions to cheaper labor overseas.
A perennial on the Fortune list! It’s impressive to see the MSM catch on to the Big 4 M.O. so quickly. Anyway, the article goes on to explain that the accounting firms aren’t like regular corporations because, as we know, the “shareholders” are the partners of the firm:
Pricewaterhouse and the other top global accounting firms “make a lot of money, and they’ve had an increase in revenue for many years,” said Christopher Ames, president and CEO of the Ames Research Group, which analyzes financial data of the world’s largest professional services firms.
“These firms work differently than a publicly traded company. In the firms, the shareholders are the firm and there’s not that many of them. From the partners’ perspective, they want to keep that money … and they’ve done pretty well.”
Not only do the partners do well, St. Pete’s reveals a couple of other things we all know and that is 1) that getting a firm to admit that layoffs have even occurred is nothing short of water into wine and 2) the process and numbers involved are a complete mystery:
Confirmation of the latest layoffs was unusual. Many cuts happen below the radar. PwC has not filed any WARN layoff notices with the state this year for any cuts, including the latest one.
Consultant Francine McKenna, a former PwC employee who tracks the Big Four audit firms in her award-winning blog, re: TheAuditors, was shocked the company even confirmed the layoffs publicly. “They just don’t issue press releases,” said McKenna, who broke news of a previous PwC layoff in November.
Several PwC veterans said that is partly due to the process. A mass layoff is not typical; cuts come in small groups. Workers receive messages to “touch base” with a partner, a telltale sign they are about to lose their jobs. The total numbers are also murky, workers say, because a percentage of dismissed employees are offered either lateral jobs or lesser-paying jobs to stay with the firm.
Remember the November layoffs? If you don’t, it got ugly. The PwC loyalists got their claws out on that one.
PricewaterhouseCoopers spokesman Jon Stoner is quoted throughout but it’s mostly bites from the firm’s previous statement and he stonewalls reporter Jeff Harrington on any meaningful details.
For readers of this here fine publication, none of these tactics are new but Harrington dug up all the right dirt which is refreshing. He includes a quote from a former employee that probably sums it up for a lot of you, “It used to be a great place to work. They took care of their workers. “[Now,] it’s a company of bean counters, and all they care about is saving a few pennies.”
For PricewaterhouseCoopers, layoffs pad bottom line [St. Petersburg Times]
Bay News 9 out of Tampa reports that PwC is cutting 500 jobs in its IT practice and quotes firm spokesman Jon Stoner:
“PWC is making these changes as part of a thoughtful, strategic plan that will allow the firm to best serve its clients,” he said. “The firm is one of the largest private employers and recruiters in the U.S. and as we make these changes, we are simultaneously increasing the number of jobs in other areas of the U.S. firm. All impacted employees will be encouraged to apply for other open positions at PWC.”
The report says that the 500 cuts is out 1,100 total, the majority of which were in Tampa. People got the word on Thursday afternoon including, “They haven’t been notified of any sort of severance package, but the company felt it was important to give the workers a heads-up and the time until the end of the year to apply for other open positions.”
Our contributor Francine McKenna writes that not only is this “an unprecedented press release” (an accurate statement if we’ve ever heard one) but that the number of layoffs is rumored to be closer to 800, “The additional 300 professionals are those who will not be offered an opportunity to apply for jobs with the rumored outsourced services provider, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).”
This is latest major move by PwC in Florida market. Back in March we reported on PwC closing their tax practice in the nearby Orlando office. According to the email we obtained, the practice closed on May 3rd.
If you’ve been affected by the layoffs in Tampa or know more details around these cuts, get in touch and discuss these developments in the comments.
PricewaterhouseCoopers cuts 500 jobs in Tampa [Bay News 9]
PricewaterhouseCoopers Cuts Hundreds of Internal IT Professionals [Re: The Auditors]
H&R Block announced its earnings for fiscal 2010 yesterday which included the details for the fka RSM McGladrey. The company’s press release basically says that times are tough but RSM had some good reasons for that.
For starters, the small tiff with M&P sort of put a damper on things and a nasty goodwill write-off:
RSM McGladrey reported fiscal 2010 pretax income of $58.7 million, down nearly 39 percent from $96.1 million in the prior year. Revenues declined 4.2 percent to $860.3 million, primarily due to the impact of the overall weak economic environment, which continues to pressure billable rates and hours within the industry. Profitability was negatively impacted by costs associated with previously resolved arbitration proceedings involving McGladrey & Pullen and other costs of litigation totaling $14.5 million in the aggregate, as well as a $15.0 million goodwill impairment charge at our capital markets business unit.
A 39% drop in profits could explain the nationwide layoffs at McGladrey that we reported on earlier this month. It’s a good thing they didn’t have the ginormous golf cake in this year’s numbers, otherwise the results would have been worse.
But if you ignore all that, things were essentially flat and everyone knows that flat is the new up!
Excluding these charges, pretax income would have been approximately $88 million and pretax margin for the segment would have been 10.3 percent, essentially flat with the prior year. The shortfall in revenues was partially mitigated by cost reduction efforts throughout the year. These efforts included headcount reductions to reflect lower client demand, as well as other non-client facing cost reduction initiatives.
OH! There’s the layoffs and they’re citing “lower client demand.” Thoughts on that, anyone?
H&R Block Reports Fiscal 2010 Financial Results [Market Wire]
Over the past month, we have heard lots about layoffs at RSM McGladrey/McGladrey & Pullen but we didn’t have much for details.
Frankly, we still don’t know a lot but we’ll go with what we’ve got. So far we know about reductions in the New York, Chicago, Quad Cities, Florida and Seattle offices and everything we’ve been told indicates that they are occurring elsewhere.
First the Emerald City:
I was am ple. There is a new geographic restructuring going on. Instead of multiple “economic units” there will be only three regions. Many HRs and CFOs from different offices are losing their jobs. Consulting people talk about 100 positions that will be eliminated across the country. 10 people were let go from Seattle Economic Unit which includes Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia offices. We were informed about the reorganization somewhere around 04/12 and laid off at the end of the month. I think everybody received severance.
We’re not that familiar with past cuts in the RSM/M&P world but the big cuts in consulting seem to trail the Big 4’s by a year or two, although if some of these smaller clients are giving into the Big 4 lowballing then perhaps this is the natural progression.
Their Florida Private Club operations group closed the Club IT Consulting Group and layed off the staff. Some of the staff have been part of the firm for more than 20 years and were profitable.
Chicago just layed off the Operations Consulting Staff yesterday, [approximately] 10 people. This group was left to dangle in the wind, sink or swim on their own without marketing or sales assistance or access to the firm’s client-base Naturally it failed.
This firm’s actual layoff numbers are always reported low because they chase people out prior to layoffs in an attempt to camouflage the numbers. Their tactics to accomplish this include poor performance evaluations for staff, unreasonable margin requirements, constant peer pressure meetings regarding performance and head to head comparisons. This creates a dysfunctional relationship between groups and actually motivates groups within their own company to compete with one and other. Only so much people can take and then they leave. Just what the firm wanted.
Considering the economy in Florida, the demise of RSM’s private club operations in that corner of the over-leveraged world wouldn’t come as much of surprise. That being said, you might expect that veterans of the firm would be accommodated somehow with other internal opportunities.
We reached out to both RSM’s corporate spokeswoman and their general counsel, both of whom have not responded to our request for comment. We also contacted an H&R Block spokesman to see if they could elaborate on these layoffs from the parent company level but again, our requests have gone unanswered. H&RB had their own layoffs last month however, there is no indication at this point whether cuts at H&RB would have anything to do with those at RSM/M&P.
We’re still accumulating details on these cuts, so get in touch with us about details on your office or discuss below. And don’t be shy, we know you McGladrey types been hesitant to call on us in the past.
Layoffs, pay freezes, pay cuts. Pretty simple cost cutting solutions for CFOs who’ve got tight budgets. Unfortunately, the slash and burn tactics for personnel may have been better applied in another area – inventory.
A recent survey performed by Greenwich Associates of midsized and small company “financial decision-makers” found that, in particular, midsized companies ($10 million to $500 million in revenue) that reduced their inventory, on average, saved 30% more ($520k inventory vs. $400 layoffs).
While that’s great news, the unfortunate part is that only 17% of the companies survey bothered with that particular cost saving strategy while 47% of those survey used “staffing reductions.”
The survey also found that while 37% of used pay freezes to reduced costs with an averaged savings of $245,000. Crunching the numbers, that’s nearly 53% less savings than the inventory reduction savings.
Of course, not all companies have inventory in the dusty-stacks-of-pallets-in-a-warehouse sense. This is especially true of the professional services/financial services area where, unfortunately, the staff are sometimes considered to be inventory.
Has the risk of violence become too much?
No, it’s actually quite a bit more boring than that – cost savings. The company states that it will decrease its operating expenses $140-$150 million by 2012. CEO Russ Smyth was quoted in the Kansas City Star that “There aren’t as many people who need their taxes done when there are a lot fewer W-2s going out,” referring to the higher unemployment rate in the company’s customer base.
HRB’s headquarters in Kansas City will cut 165 of the 400 jobs lost.
The timing of this announcement is interesting because we’ve heard a few rumors (but virtually no details) about layoffs at RSM McGladrey, an HRB subsidiary, but they aren’t as forthcoming with the press releases and aren’t returning our calls. If you have any details about layoffs at RSM or its on-again off-again affiliate, McGladrey & Pullen, get in touch with us.
Full HRB press release:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) today announced a broad strategic realignment of its field and corporate support organization. Overall, the company expects these changes to decrease annual operating expenses by $140 – $150 million per year by the end of fiscal year 2012.
Russ Smyth, president and chief executive officer of H&R Block, said, “We operate in a challenging and competitive environment, and to be successful we must find new ways to provide better value to our clients. This requires that we narrow our focus and invest in a few key initiatives that will have the greatest impact on attracting and retaining clients in our retail and digital channels, while eliminating other activities and their related costs.”
Approximately 400 positions are being eliminated throughout the organization as part of the measure. The company also has closed approximately 400 under-performing tax offices out of its network of 11,000 retail tax locations.
“Changes like these are never easy and we appreciate the hard work and loyalty of the affected associates,” Smyth said.
“However, these steps are necessary to improve our business performance and better serve our clients.”
H&R Block expects to incur a pre-tax charge for severance-related costs of approximately $28 million, most of which will be incurred in the fiscal quarter ending July 31, 2010.
On Friday, Grant Thornton had a firm wide call to discuss several things including layoffs, compensation, and grab-bag questions.
Headcount Reductions – Steve-o believes that the worst is over and that “restructuring efforts are substantially behind us.” If there happens to be additional “headcount transitions” it will be to refine operations or part of the no He went on to say that the people that are GTers now will, “in very large part,” remain GTers. So can we assume the action in Cleveland and Chicago was the last of it?
Compensation: GT seems is making big push towards a “pay for performance” model for its employees which means compensation adjustments will focus on top performers (“5s” in GT world) and market based adjustments (i.e. keeping up the Joneses) won’t be happening. SC cited a downward trend of salaries in the accounting profession based on a survey that GT does with Mercer (sounds convenient) for the phasing out of market adjustments. He said there might be some exceptions to this.
The size of the merit adjustments have not yet been determined because it all depends on how well 1) GT performs through the end of the year and 2) individual performance. Chip said that enough people were belly aching about the old adjustment system that a change was warranted. This will be implemented slightly for this fiscal year (can’t get all Darwin about it 3/4 of the way through the fiscal year) and will be the main methods for next year and going forward.
Bonuses: SC cleared this whole issue up saying that it has not been determined if bonuses will be paid this year. It all depends no the firm’s performance in the final quarter of the fiscal year. He did say that he’s pre-tay, pre-tay, pre-tay optimistic about the firm “being in a position to pay bonuses” but they’re still crunching the numbers so there’s no telling if it will be a mini-windfall, pocket change, or a set of steak knives.
Not to worry though, as the top performers will certainly get something if everything goes well at the firm overall.
This “new” focus on pay for performance seems kind of familiar since all the firms assign rankings to employees (with their own bizarro methodologies) and are paid accordingly. It makes you wonder if those that fall in the meaty part of the GT curve will get such a small adjustment that it will be another twist on the forced ranking trend amongst accounting firms.
Steve-o then shared his general optimism about the direction of the economy and what it means for the firm, a few recent client wins, yada yada yada. He also updated everyone with some very vague details on the firm’s new strategy “Unleashing Our Potential” that will be rolling out in the next fiscal year. Basically all non-partners will have the chance to drop their $0.02 on this strategeroy very soon but other than that we couldn’t tell if the new strategy involved a lunar landing or full-scale assault on financial reporting fraud.
Last but perhaps most importantly, Steve-o admitted to enjoying the Masters very much, however he was quite clear that he was less than thrilled to see KPMG on Phil’s lid. We’re sure it’s nothing personal against Phil but those may be fightin’ words directed straight at Johnny V.
Two weeks ago, we heard that Grant Thornton’s Cleveland office started their layoffs a little earlier than what on might expect that was followed by an emergency meeting that the content of which is still a mystery.
Now we’ve received word on Chicago and New York who are rumored to be having layoffs and some quitters respectively.
From a Chipman Blog Reader:
I work in audit at Grant Thornton and have heard through the grapevine that offices are trying to keep staff. With the job market improving, it seems like other offices are looking to see if staff/seniors voluntary leave before making any final decisions pre-promotion day. Chicago has let go a partner and 2 senior managers in the audit practice and rumors are swirling of a few staff reductions, which seems crazy given that the current A1 class and the incoming class are so small. For other offices, national is working to roll out a benefit plan practice similar to what Chicago has to help keep staff busy during the summer months but it looks like this is not moving quickly enough….[T]he GT wire is that NY saw 10+ individuals put in their notice recently.
We left messages with both the Chicago and New York offices, neither of which have been returned.
An accountant close to the situation indicated that the partner and senior manager layoffs are part of those mentioned by Stephen Chipman back in January.
At that time, SC said that many of those partners and senior managers were already being notified, so since these most recent cuts knew that this day was coming, it was awfully generous of them to stay on for this busy season (we’re guessing there was money involved).
As far as the the staff situation in Chicago is concerned, cuts at the staff level do seem crazy if the classes are small. Meanwhile, although some attrition in New York was probably expected, at this point, it’s not clear whether 10+ leaving in mid-April is a lot or a little. Keep us updated.
After Grant Thornton sprung into layoffs ahead of everyone else (based on what we’ve heard anyway) on Tuesday, the Cleveland audit practice leader apparently arranged an impromptu sit-down to discuss some things, among them, the headcount.
From an accountant close to the situation:
They let go of an A2 on Tuesday also. The audit practice leader then called an emergency audit dept meeting referring to us as “inventory” and that they were “managing the pipeline.”
We left another message with GT Cleveland to see if we could get a copy of the minutes or something but no one is calling us back.
Regardless, we get the “inventory” analogy but in this case, the inventory happens to have rent/mortgage and possibly a cocker spaniel or other human beings to feed. But seriously, we still get the analogy.
Taking it a step forward, was the “inventory” all that was discussed? Something else could have come up, say Stephen Chipman’s blog? Speculating about the whereabouts of Gabriel Azedo? Arguing over Indians tickets for Monday? Any other ideas? Discuss or let us know.
That “All-Hands” meeting we told you about on Monday sounds like it was a real snoozer, however, a source who was there did share two interesting details:
The guys in charge basically told us the following:
– They handled the [May 2009] “headcount adjustment” poorly. It was a necessary action; but more communication was necessary to keep people informed.
– Deloitte is better poised to grow over the next few years as compared to their competitors (we saw projections, but no comparisons…)
That took about 1.5 hours.
Since this was an “all-hands” we’re assuming tax people were there? If so, the ones still trudging towards the 15th (one week!) had to be suffering borderline panic attacks. Or maybe it was a brief oasis? Either way it’s unfortunate that nothing came up about increase in comp. Maybe Deloitte is the one firm that is saving it as a big surprise. If the cat gets let out of the bag on comp, get in touch with us.
From Casa de Chipman:
A manager, a senior III, and senior II were quietly let go yesterday. In addition, the conference rooms are booked for today. I have not heard from other offices, but the Cleveland office appears to be kicking off the race early.
Seems early but our source indicated that these were audit professionals and we’re sure each office has their own method to the madness. Layoffs as this level were also not mentioned by Stephen Chipman during his firm-wide call back in January, although many have indicated that they would be happening regardless.
We left a message with the Cleveland office’s HR but so far we haven’t heard back and GT’s national PR has not responded to our email. If you’ve got an unexpected meeting coming up or have more details, get on the horn.
Now that we’ve covered the natural and expected attrition of the Big 4 firms this time of year, let’s talk about what to expect if and when the post-busy season ax falls again. Per a reader’s request:
“Something similar to the salaries thread, except let the people tell us what $ package they were offered upon being “laid – off”, and how that was calculated (i.e. 1 weeks pay for every year of service? PTO paid out? 1 month severance pay?). I think this would be of interest to many folk out there who are about to be let go, as they can get a rough idea of what to expect and plan accordingly.”
I don’t expect the firings to be very widespread, but rather focused on small, top-heavy sectors (random, baseless examples – state and local tax in St. Louis, followed by IT advisory services in Atlanta). The reason for this is because the firms should be accounting for many to jump ship between April and Labor Day. Those up for promotion (“It’s coming this year, we promise!”) will bail in July/August once promo’s are announced.
For those of you only sticking it out to earn the manager title this summer before you leave, my advice is to start looking now. Inform your recruiters that the title is a mere formality and they will tailor their job hunts accordingly.
So. Let’s kick the weekend off with some wild speculation:
• Federal tax groups
• Small offices and practices that have recently lost several small clients or one large client (e.g. PwC Orlando tax)
• Further cuts “when deemed necessary” before new hires begin in the fall
• Hedge fund audits
• M&A advisory (based on KPMG whispers)
• IT advisory
Were you let go in the past two years? Share your severance packages in the comments so everyone can better gauge what to expect.
Accounting Today put out their annual Top 100 Firms list late last week and while it focuses on the practices in United States it give us a little bit of room to speculate about who the real contenders are for the Global Six whathaveyou.
The ranking is based on net revenues from U.S. operations but it includes a lot data on each firm including # of offices, partners, total employees, and fee split.
Deloitte runs away with this list in three of the major categories – revenues, number of partners and total employees. The Casa de Salzberg had U.S. revenue of over $10.7 billion which was greater than #2 E&Y by over $3 billion.
Here are the top 10 firms along with their revenues, number of offices, number of partners and total employees
1. Deloitte – $10.7 billion; 102; 2,968; 42,367
2. Ernst & Young – $7.6 billion; 80; 2,500; 25,600
3. PricewaterhouseCoopers – $7.4 billion; 76; 2,235; 31,681
4. KPMG – $5 billion; 88; 1,847; 22,960
5. RSM McGladrey/McGladrey & Pullen – $1.5 billion; 93; 751; 7,755
6. Grant Thornton – $1.1 billion; 37; 535; 5,414
7. BDO – $620 million; 37; 273; 2,712
8. CBIZ/Mayer Hoffman McCann – $601 million; 180; 465; 4,580
9. Crowe Horwath – $508 million; 25; 240; 2,428
10. BKD – $393 million; 31; 258; 1,891
Some other interesting information from the list includes:
• Declining Revenues – Revenues for all firms dropped with the exception of CBIZ/Mayer Hoffman McCann, Crowe Horwath and BKD. KPMG had the largest drop of nearly 11%.
• Big 4 Dominate – The non-Big 4 firms’ combined revenue (approx. $4.7 billion) is still less than KPMG (smallest of the Big 4).
• Personnel Changes – E&Y had a percentage increase in partners of 8.7% while total employees dropped nearly 6%. CBIZ/MHM saw a 32% increase in partners while total employees decreased over 12%. Only PwC and Crowe Horwath saw net increases in the number of partners and total employees.
• Audit Heavy Firms – According to the list, PwC (52%), BDO (60%), Crowe Horwath (65%), and BKD (52%) all receive at least 50% of their revenues from audit fees.
So the whole Global Six thing, as much as we like to making a BFD out of it, is a non-issue. All the firms have global connections whether it’s through their own cooperative or through an international network so to cut it off at six seems a little clique-y. We’ll flip through the AT100 for any more interesting factoids but in the meantime feel to embellish any of the information presented here.
Top 100 Firms 2010 digital edition [Free registration for Digital Edition]
Happy Hangover Thursday, folks. Hopefully the green food coloring washed off easily this morning.
I was out networking with my Irish brothers last night in midtown New York, quite a few blocks north of my normal after-work locale. Second Avenue bars full of cold beer and burned out white collars, St. Patty’s Day was a welcomed Wednesday relief for those in busy season. The day was over, the night was turning late and, for once, shop talk was put on the back burner. That is, until I heard the phrase “Uncle Peat” used as the object of
affection bitterness for a toast.
Obviously, I couldn’t resist.
DWB: “Are you guys auditors?”
Auditor 1: “Yeah, over at KPMG. Hopefully not for long, though.”
DWB: “Nice, nice. Moving on to better things?”
Auditor 2: “Hopefully.”
Auditor 1: “Not soon enough.”
A round of drinks later (toast to Uncle Peat not included) and these Irish-for-the-day gentlemen filled me in about an email circulating around KPMG’s NYC audit practice regarding a temporary rotation into the Transaction Services (TS) practice. TS specializes in mergers & acquisitions work and was — most likely — hit steeply by the rounds of the falling guillotine back in 2008 and 2009.
How does a practice that was hemorrhaging money and resources a year ago now have business blowing through the door at such a fierce rate? If you read anything beyond the usual busy season distractions, it’d come as no surprise to you that the markets are slowly picking up. But service firms typically lag in response, both on the positive (Woo-hoo, new business!) and negative (Sorry, this isn’t about you – this is about the numbers) sides of the equation. Nonetheless, Uncle Peat’s auditors should be leaping at this opportunity. A rotation out of audit can be refreshing, even in the quieter months of summer.
Did KPMG’s advisory shake up and realignment pay off? Is the firm’s leadership blowing smoke to perk up the down-trodden auditors currently drowning in busy season? Was a picture of a giant carrot on a string used in the email? If you received this email, I’d love to read the text. Last night’s informants promised to send it over, but they probably called in with emergency doctor “appointments” this morning.
Yesterday, PwC tax professionals got word that the firm is discontinuing tax operations from its Orlando office effective May 3, 2010.
Mario de Armas, the South Florida managing partner, explained that lack of business, “Orlando-based tax clients has declined, and we have been forced to import tax hours from other offices to keep our people busy,” and staffing challenges, “We have also faced a continued challenge around staff development in a primarily compliance environment,” lead to the closure of the practice.
The email states “We are committed to assisting each impacted individual with this transition,” although no details were given. The email also states that there will be no other Florida practices will be shut down, “To be clear, we have no plans to close any other practice areas in any of our Florida offices.” Emails to Mr de Armas and Jorge Gross, the Florida Tax leader were not returned. An email to PwC’s national press relations was also not returned.
If you will be affected by this closure, get in touch with us and we’ll continue to update you as we learn more.
We are constantly evaluating our client service delivery to ensure that our clients receive the best service possible and that our people are being offered opportunities for development and advancement. Over the past few years, revenue from Orlando-based tax clients has declined, and we have been forced to import tax hours from other offices to keep our people busy. A limited number of corporations are headquartered in Orlando, and while many of those corporations have been retained as audit clients, fewer have been tax clients. We have also faced a continued challenge around staff development in a primarily compliance environment, and more compliance work will be performed at the centralized Tax delivery center over time. As a result, the Firm has concluded that we will no longer have tax professionals located in the Orlando office effective May 3, 2010.
Knowing that we will be asked about this decision in the marketplace, it is important that we have a clear message to the market. From a strategy perspective, we believe that our distinctive footprint across the state of Florida makes us uniquely positioned to service our Orlando clients from our other offices, following the One Market concept.
This has been a difficult decision, and one that was reluctantly made after considering many factors. Our Tax professionals in Orlando have served our clients well. They have contributed in many ways to our market, and their efforts are valued and greatly appreciated. We are committed to assisting each impacted individual with this transition.
To be clear, we have no plans to close any other practice areas in any of our Florida offices. Please contact me or Jorge Gross, our Florida Tax Leader, with any questions you may have.
This is not the news you hear when there is talk of “recovery.”
Plus, it’s bad news for President Obama. The morning after our leader joined the rest of Americans and finally acknowledged that jobs are the most important issue facing the country, chief financial officers signaled they don’t expect the employment picture to improve anytime soon.
Sure, 62 percent of the 371 corporate CFOs who participated in the latest quarterly survey conducted by Financial Executives International (FEI) and Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business said they do not plan any layoffs for this year. Big deal. Most companies have already gotten around to this cost-cutting measure. In fact, 77 percent of those surveyed said they already cut rank and file during the economic downturn.
More significantly, nearly half of the CFOs that previously laid off people said they do not plan to replace those positions. Rather, they figure to deploy other strategies to increase production or output. For example, they plan to reinstate overtime for existing employees, turn to outside consultants, hire part-time employees, and/or make current part-time employees full time before rehiring new full-time employees.
Just 44 percent of the total surveyed said they anticipate an increase in hiring at their companies. On the other hand, about one-quarter of the finance execs expect to cut back on hiring. Not too encouraging, huh?
What’s more, non-cash payments seem to be high on the list of anticipated cutbacks. For example, executive perks were cited more than any other area for potential cutbacks (37.2 percent). Benefits in general ranked third (31.5 percent).
“As far as the new normal is concerned, efficiency is the name of the game,” Marie Hollein, CEO and President, Financial Executives International, said in a press release.
CFOs may become more confident later in the year, however. Virtually half of the respondents to the survey said they believe indicators such as bond yields, mortgage interest rates, U.S. unemployment rate and rising GDP will collectively improve and result in the start of a recovery in the U.S. economy in the second half of this year. Another 22 percent don’t expect these conditions to materialize until the first half of 2011.
In general, however, CFOs indicated they were more optimistic about the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter survey than they were three months earlier.
They are also more optimistic about their own company’s financial prospects than they were in the third-quarter survey.
We stumbled across the playback of the all-personnel call that went out to Grant Thornton professionals last Friday and we decided to give it a listen. It was about as snoozerific as we expected but we did come away with some additional information to share with you
Stephen Chipman, GT’s new CEO in the States spent about 40 minutes explaining the good the bad and the ugly at G to the T and here are some highlights:
• 81% of those survey and Grant Thornton are proud to work there. High? Low? Completely made up? Does this consider the Sue Sachdeva effect?
• Chip is going to be focusing on various new forms of communication including his own blog. This makes him the second CEO to do so, following Newman over at BDO. We hope, for your sake, that Chip won’t moderate the comments. We insist that you notify us of this as soon as it goes live.
• The new CEO got pretty somber when he described the prospects for GT’s revenue in FY 2010, stating revenues for core services were declining 11% year over year. Global Six…slipping…away.
• Because of this decline, it was decided that layoffs at the senior manager and partner level would occur (many have been notified already) along with those in the “internal client services function”.
• Despite the bad news, Steve-o did his best Bob Moritz, and made it clear: “We will be giving pay raises this summer.” He did qualify that this would be based on 1) the performance of the firm and 2) individual performance.
So that’s the long/short. Like we said, dude went on for 40 minutes and we didn’t have the thing transcribed to give it to you verbatim. If you happened to be one of the unfortunate senior managers, partners or support professionals that aren’t making the “next stage of the journey” get in touch with us about your experience.
For those that remain on team GT, discuss the big guy’s big promise of raises, the blog, revenue issues, etc.
We have some additional details to share with you to supplement last Friday’s post on E&Y’s New Year layoffs.
While we were surprised at the timing, a source has indicated to us that IT Risk and Assurance layoffs have occurred at the firm each January since 2008. This is due to a serious drop off in utilization in the new year after high utilization in the fall months
with the exception of especially in the audit heavy ITRA practices.
In regards to the audit practice, we spoke to another source over the weekend that told us that layoffs would not occur until after busy season but assured us that they are being planned.
Finally, in response to one comment asking about severance details, we were informed that the severance for those let go is a week’s pay for each year of service with a minimum of 4 weeks pay. This seems to be fairly standard (with a few variations) amongst the Big 4.
We’ve received word on some positions cut but we’re still awaiting further details so if you have any information or can provide more insight discuss below or get in touch and we’ll update them here.
UPDATE: A source has indicated that three IT Advisory managers in FSO in New York were included in the cuts.
We’ve confirmed that an all-personnel call went out at Grant Thornton today warning everyone at the firm about upcoming layoffs.
One of our sources told us that the audit practice leader stated that it would primarily be cuts at the senior manager and partner level and that they are to take place “immediately”. Our source indicated that non-client serving personnel would also be affected.
Another source told us that there would be restructuring at the partner level which could be coming down from the new senior leadership team that the firm announced yesterday.
We are still trying to obtain details about the
timing and number of professionals that may be affected. A Grant Thornton spokesperson has yet to return our email seeking comment. If you’ve got more details to share about the call discuss below or if you prefer to send us the details, get in touch.
Earlier coverage of Grant Thornton Layoffs:
Layoff Watch ’09: Grant Thornton December Edition
Layoff Watch ’09: Grant Thornton Update
Layoff Watch ’09: Grant Thornton
Confused doesn’t even begin to describe what were feeling. We are hearing tons of rumors about layoffs in the Ernstiverse this week.
We’ve heard rumors from Denver to the East-Central (fka North-Central) and New York FSO. This includes both client serving professionals and support staff. We have already confirmed that two admins were let go earlier this week in New York.
The timing is especially strange since, you know, it’s January and in some offices the mandatory hours have already rolled out. Even if it were only support staff being let go, the timing is still unheard of. Why wait until January to let people go when having cuts in November? Maybe it’s just us but if we had survived that November cut, we would have thought that our job would be safe until at least the spring.
And since the roundtables seem to be SOP you wouldn’t think they would be anything to worry about but they definitely have people talking and wondering what will go down.
So far, Ernst & Young has not responded to our request for comment.
If you hear anything about your office get in touch in with us and discuss in the comments.
There was some quiet chatter here at GC about Ernst & Young’s closure of its Greensboro, NC office this past December, right around the Merry Happy holidays. Thanks Ernie.
This is nothing new. Smaller offices have been getting shut down for years. Years. Years.
You’ll probably find this to be a shocker but your feelings are not the main problem facing the firms due to the combination of recent closings and endless rounds of cuts. The problem is – it’s the theme of any busy season – firms finding themselves short staffed.
Many readers have commented that engagements are understaffed heading into the cold winter months. Albeit this is typically the unofficial “norm,” but slashed fees are only compounding the problem this year. The troubles of ’09 will be used as firm scapegoats for 2010. Move along, kids. Nothing more to see here.
Serious trouble is brewing for at least one Big 4 firm, however. A source confirmed that their Big 4 Beast is outsourcing work in the Carolinas to smaller regional firms because they are so understaffed:
The combination of layoffs a year ago and people leaving now that the market is turning around is causing the firm to hire outside help just to get through busy season.
Ummm. How did this happen? Is this firm (or any other firm for that matter) initiating rotations from staff “heavy” areas like Chicago and New York to cover the lapses in smaller areas like Buffalo or Greensboro? If so spread the winter cheer, because that sounds downright awful.
The public accountant’s mind is a simple one with regards to job searching:
The market is moving ever so steadily from red to green. This time is now, and no one, not even leadership, is denying that. Firm leaders have been talking, talking and talking some more about the upswing of 2010. If they are handing out the Kool-aid, doesn’t SOMEONE take a moment to think, “Hey guys, should we really have cut so much staff six months ago?”
Someone, somewhere underestimated staff needs or overestimated staff loyalty. Or both. So now, cutting into the already razor thin fees will be the misguided expense of hiring outside help just to get by. The situation is only going to get worse in the coming months; money is starting to move, financial firms are beginning to reinvest, and jobs are going to be created and filled by your colleagues.
How can a firm’s leadership whose fundamental – and societal stereotyped – sole function is numbers be so off the mark? This is elementary, is it not?
Last month we had a couple of posts on the year that was in Crowe Horwath layoffs. After learning about three rounds of layoffs and a CH exodus, we figured we had exhausted the details on 2009 for Crowe.
Not so! The latest on CH is that, like everyone else, the firm is gearing up for busy season desperately shortstaffed despite the end of their “Alternative Staffing Program”.
We’ve also learned that there were pay freezes across the board at CH last year. This included a couple of instances where newly promoted managers had their pay frozen despite being told “substantial changes in duties would be exempt from pay freeze.”
Right now our sources aren’t sure what to expect from CH in 2010 as communication from their leadership has been minimal. So all in all, it doesn’t sound like Crowe is all that different from the Big 4 despite claiming to be “a unique alternative” to them. Good luck to all the professionals at the firm in 2010 and keep us updated with all the happenings during your busy season.
Earlier this month we told you about layoffs that went down at Crowe Horwath in late November.
We’ve now received additional details that indicate that Crowe has had several rounds of layoffs this past year that started with non-client serving personnel late in 2008 and culminating with the November round.
Our source told us that the second round occurred in spring of this year and at that time, firm leadership communicated that no further layoffs would be necessary. Apparently things didn’t goes as plan as a third round occurred in July that consisted of professionals in the risk consulting practice and many in the Financial Institutions practice that were not chargeable were asked to take sabbaticals. This report of “sabbaticals” is consistent with our report earlier from a source that indicated that “there was a lot of forced time off during the summer.”
It sounds as though Crowe has consistently notified their employees about the layoffs, although our sources have indicated that details (i.e. number of professionals) are always scarce for “morale purposes.” One could assume that since anything after the spring round was not supposed to happen, morale was probably all but wiped out anyway.
The second and third rounds were rumored to be in the nabe of 150 each and our source told us that the third round included many “Executives, Senior Managers, and Managers over 40.” and that “Agreeing to not sue Crowe for age discrimination was part of the Severance Package.” So if you’re 40+ at Crowe it sounds like your best years are behind you or maybe you’re just too damn expensive?
Middle-aged dismissal rumors notwithstanding, Crowe has seen its own exodus, which seems to be the natural progression of things when layoffs reach bodily function regularity.
Crowe Horwath has not responded to our repeated requests for comment.
If you’ve been involved in any of these layoffs at Crowe, or have additional details discuss below, or email us and we’ll continue to keep you updated.
We come with news this afternoon about more layoffs at G to the T that are rumored to have gone down earlier this month.
This latest information we have involves two managers and two senior managers in the Los Angeles office were shown the door around the first of the month. Our source has indicated that the breakdown was three in the audit practice and one in tax. These latest cuts would be in addition to the original ten that we reported on last month for LA.
If you have more information on these layoffs or have details on a different GT office, get in touch with us or discuss in the comments.
Earlier: Layoff Watch ’09: Grant Thornton
We received word late yesterday about two audit senior mangers in the Tampa office being shown the door yesterday. This makes us wonder if more professionals in the senior manager “parking lot” will take this is as a sign to either move on or will hold out hoping to eventually get a seat at the big table.
There doesn’t seem to be any kind of uniform method to the Deloitte’s cuts so if they’ve recently gone down at your office, let us know.
We’re hearing more about layoffs in E&Y’s North Central offices today. The chatter is that cuts are now hitting advisory professionals in Detroit, Toledo, and Cincinnati. Our source indicated that it was 2 – 3 professionals in each office which puts the total number of layoffs in the region over 30 since this latest round started last month.
Rumor also has it that the Columbus office — home of dollar beer night — could also get into the axe swinging but we’re scant on details at this point.
These cuts in the advisory practice would be the first we have heard of since the dozen layoffs (that we confirmed) in the Pacific-Northwest.
Continue to keep us updated with the specifics.
Earlier: (UPDATE) Layoff Watch ’09: Update on Ernst & Young
We continue to receive details about the layoffs at E&Y’s Columbus office. The first bit of information is that one of the unlucky few — a recently promoted SA — was given one day to consider taking a transfer to another office. According to our source, the client the SA was serving caught wind of the dismissal and the client’s reaction convinced TPTB to let the SA stay on an additional week to finish his/her work.
Our source also indicated that new manager training was going on at the time and “those [managers] with potentially the best chance to speak on the behalf of those to be axed were all in sunny Florida oblivious to the proceedings.”
Oh and the dollar beers thing. As you may remember, the layoffs occurred the day before the office’s holiday get-down. The rumor is that the festivities had a tab in the nabe of $1,200, which included $1 beers.
This causes us to wonder a few things: A) No open bar? B) Beast or Natty Light? and C) we realize Columbus is a college town but $1 beers? Were there penny pitchers and $3 Jager shots too?
For reasons that escape us, we’re completely enamored with details that continue to emerge from this. Continue to keep us updated.
E&Y Columbus Layoffs Update
Layoff Watch ’09: Update on Ernst & Young’s November Round
We just received word that Crowe’s CEO, Chuck Allen left a firm-wide voicemail announcing that the firm was having layoffs.
According to our tip, CH had “a lot of forced time off during the summer” and that “Oakbrook assurance has seen some movement.” Also, our source indicated that “Firm isn’t announcing specifics besides that its happening.”
So far, our calls and emails to Crowe Horwath have gone unreturned. We’ll update you with any comment or further information they may provide. If you have details on Crowe Horwath layoffs from any office, send the details to email@example.com and discuss in the comments.
Just a little more context on the latest E&Y layoffs that we reported on this morning.
A new source has indicated to us the cuts were absolutely based on utilization:
The staff confirmed that no counselor was addressed.
The staff confirmed that no personnel with whom the individual worked within the past 6-8 months was consulted, including manager and above.
The staff confirmed that no performance reviews since April 2009 were referenced.
You better have a strong anchor client that keeps you going year round, and good luck if you lose them. So much for people.
We don’t feel further comment is necessary but if you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments.
It’s been a couple of weeks since we last heard any details from last month’s layoffs at E&Y, so we just assumed this particular story had run its course.
Well now, we have received word of (and confirmed) layoffs in the Columbus, Ohio office. One source indicates it was 2 – 3 staff and possibly one manager in the assurance practice. This would put the number of layoffs in the North Central region in the nabe of 25. Our source indicated that it seemed that Columbus had been spared for the round last month, so this may be their attempt to catch up.
Annnnnnd it’s our understanding that the cuts happened the day before the holiday party in Columbus. So there’s that.
If you have additional details, continue to pass them along and continue to keep us updated on any layoffs you hear for your office.
We’ve finally got a few details to share with you on last week’s layoffs at Grant Thornton.
According to a tip we received, ten professionals in Southern California were laid off, nine in the audit practice and one in the advisory practice. If you’ve got more details on these cuts on GT, get in touch with us and discuss in the comments.
We’ve received multiple reports of layoffs that occurred last week in the audit practice of the Los Angeles office.
The numbers have been described as “a few” and the news has been “hush hush” making us wonder if these cuts were some unfinished business from either the August and September rounds.
There also have been rumors about additional layoffs in Dallas tax but we don’t have any more details than that.
If you’ve got any details for these layoffs or details for other cities, get in touch and discuss in the comments.
We thought E&Y layoffs had finally quieted down but unfortunately late yesterday we learned of an additional ten cuts in the tax practice of the North Central region including Cincinnati, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.
These cuts in Cincy and the ‘Burgh are on top of the initial cuts we reported but this is the first tip we’ve received about layoffs in Detroit. Jump back to the main thread for the latest discussion and continue to keep us informed with details.
Everything is negotiable, amiright? We heard that staff in one North Central office were given one month of severance but at least one person made a big enough stink that they ended up with three months. Personally, we thought the Big 4 was pretty inflexible on this point but hey, if it’s true, nice work.
Jump over to the main thread to check the latest discussion and if there are still details to be reported, get in touch.
We received more details late yesterday on the E&Y layoffs. The latest cities reporting layoffs are now Minneapolis and Milwaukee.
We also learned that there were approximately ten layoffs in the tax practice last month in the Chicago office. These were all at the associate and senior associate level.
Check back to the original thread for the latest and continue to keep us updated.
There’s a lot of chatter about layoffs at Grant Thornton this week but we’re scant on details. So far, we’ve heard there were cuts in New York, Dallas and possibly the Southeast region.
And just for the hell of it, we called up GT to see if they could tell us anything. Unfortunately we just got voicemail but we’ll update you if they get back to us (they might, don’t be so pessimistic).
If you have more details, get in touch and ask around to your peoples that work in the House of Nusbaum to find out what’s going down.
From a reliable source on the west coast we have learned that the advisory practice of E&Y was feeling left out and has decided to get into the act.
Twelve advisory professionals — we’re speculating that it was all staff at this point — were laid off today in the Pacific-Northwest Region. The only confirmed city that we have so far is San Jose. Emails were sent out last night and meetings with partners were held this morning. For an added personal touch, our understanding is that the staff met with partners that they were not previously acquainted.
Our calls to E&Y have gone unreturned. An E&Y spokesperson declined to comment.
Jump back to this post for all the details on this round of E&Y layoffs and get in touch with details for your city, practice, and severance.
Maybe! Nevermind people leaving involuntarily for a second.
We’re hearing from many that people are heading for the exits en masse and it’s getting the bigwigs’ attention. According to one reader:
“[A]pparently its got higher ups here a bit worried. It was an agenda [point] for a [recent manager] meeting. Just wondering how it was elsewhere. ”
Of course, this leads to many, many, many teams finding themselves short-staffed. We just heard that the New York office of one Big 4 firm has been contacting other offices aggressively recruiting audit personnel for huge advisory engagements. This has been received with a resounding “GET BENT” since those offices desperately need the people for their local audit engagements.
It can be easily argued that the reason people are bolting is because of the pay freeze trend or since no one’s job seems to be safe, people are simply taking matters into their own hands.
So discuss in the comments what you’re seeing, hearing, and speculating about regarding people leaving your firm. This may be an office by office phenomenon so we’ll put out to you to give us the details for your office, your team, your firm in general.
In addition to the layoffs we reported on yesterday in Chicago and Dallas, we now have reports of cuts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Irvine. Our source on the left coast speculates that the current round can’t be too large in scope since everyone is already stretched thin.
So far it’s been in assurance only and we’re scant on details for severance so get in touch if you find yourself with some extra time on your hands or you have details on the numbers in your office.
UPDATE, Wednesday Nov 11th: Our sources are now reporting layoffs in the tax practice including the tax managing partner for the Phoenix office, and an executive director in Denver. We also have reports on tax layoffs in the Southern California offices. Per our source:
• Los Angeles: 4 that I know of. At least 1 Senior, 1 Staff
• Irvine: 4 that I know of. At least 1 staff
• San Diego: 4 that I know of. 3 Senior managers, 1 Senior.
Senior managers are reportedly receiving three months pay and A2’s are receiving one month for severance. Continue to keep us updated.
UPDATE 2, Thursday, November 12th: Twelve advisory professionals in the Pacific-Northwest region.
UPDATE 3, Friday, November 13th: Charlotte office dismissed three audit SA1’s. In the North Central region:
Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Cleveland offices all laid off three SAs. Twenty total layoffs reported between Pittsburgh (at least three), Cincinnati (at least three), Cleveland (3), and Detroit.
UPDATE 4: Saturday, November 14th: ~5-6 audit professionals in Minneapolis and ~1-2 audit in Milwaukee.
Chicago: In addition to the ~20 layoffs we originally reported there were ~2-3 in support roles were let go.
Bob Moritz, the U.S. Chairman, is trying to calm everyone down, as an email has been sent to the troops letting them know that it’s unlikely that there will be layoffs in the Assurance or Tax practices. We haven’t been able to track down a copy of the email yet but that’s the gist.
While this is good news, we would be more comforable if the email would have read something like:
“We’re absolutely, 100% sure that no one in Assurance and Tax will be laid off like we just did in Advisory. Write it down. No one. Not even you, guy that dicks around in the cubicle by the window so that he can see everyone approaching. Your utilization is in the crapper but it’s cool. You’re safe.”
Or he simply could have just added the photo to the email so everyone would feel better. Nothing says, “trust me” like a fresh pair of P. Dubs tighty-whities, amiright?
We’ve received tips that layoffs have recently occurred in both the Chicago and Dallas offices of E&Y. The reports out of Chicago were that layoffs occurred on Friday
and over the weekend.
Our source told us that the Friday layoffs were seniors in the Retail and Consumer Products industry group
and weekend layoffs were across as well as other industry groups. Altogether approximately 20 professionals.
We have fewer details on the Dallas layoffs except that they were a couple of managers from the asset management group in the audit practice. The small number leads us to speculate that these were performance related, similar to the cuts we reported in August.
There have been several rumors circulating about layoffs occurring this week at E&Y and other firms as well so if you have more details on the Chicago or Dallas layoffs or know of cuts in your office, send us the details to our tips line.
We’ve confirmed that the layoffs have started.
The first casualty that we know of was out of the Boston office and worked in Forensic services. No severance details as of yet. Kindly update us with your office, service line and severance details.
Maybe it’s just an informational sit-down for the new P. Dubs tighty-whities that you’re all going to be expected to wear but our contributor, Francine McKenna had this ominous tweet:
Apparently someone else may have an itchy trigger finger. According to the comments over at RTA the emails have gone out to an office on the east coast but nothing more specific than that.
Keep us updated if you get a notice or if you know someone who gets a notice, or you know someone who knows someone, etc.
We’re not going to say that the pending endorsement of Becks’ undies has anything to do with it but that guy doesn’t come cheap.
I’ve just received word: There was a PwC Advisory partners emergency conference call tonight announcing upcoming involuntary staff reductions.
(This time the source is impeccable.)
New US Advisory Leader, Dana McIlwain laid out the bad news: The time has come to cut. Average utilization is hovering at 69%. Cash collections are millions short. Campus recruiting for Advisory has been stopped cold. Business sucks and then there’s the 800+ BearingPoint folks to absorb.
On November 11th the rank and file partners, fortified after training and coaching by HR via a webcast in the next few days, will chop 300+ professionals from PwC Advisory, at all levels, all geographies, all practices. Most have already seen the writing on the wall via forced ranking.
Well, crap. We’re not talking Lotus Notes developers this time around. If the guillotine does indeed drop next week, it probably won’t come as a surprise with the less-than exciting revenue numbers and the rumors that the firm was phoning in no raises for fiscal year 2010.
We’ll keep our ear to the ground on this but in the meantime, let us know if you’ve got more details on these rumored layoffs or if you get an unexpected email much earlier than next Wednesday. It’s been known to happen.
Veteran’s Day In PwC Advisory: Say Auf Wiedersehen [Re: The Auditors]
FINS has a short chat with E&Y’s Director of Experienced Recruiting, Maureen Kelleher, discussing, well, jobs at E&Y.
Highlights that you might
enjoy find interesting:
Getting ahead: “It’s about being a team player — to take leadership responsibility but to not be a maverick.”
Salaries: “We’re staying the course, as it were. We have extremely competitive salaries. We reward for performance. Granted, our firm is not immune to the economy, so the proportion of all that is probably not as great as it has been in the past.”
Layoffs: “We’ve been watching our costs, and that’s about as much as I’ll say about that.”
“Staying the course” may simply be another way of saying, “It’s fair“. Also, the “watching costs” response? We feel Ms. Kelleher could have answered better here but maybe Big 4 rhetoric isn’t our strong suit.
Check out the whole interview over at FINS, and feel free to discuss your non-mavericky firm in the comments.
Maureen Kelleher: Ernst & Young [FINS]
It’s been fairly quiet since this past Tuesday’s layoffs but it sounds like lots of cuts occurred in national support services in Montvale, NJ. We also received a tip that the Richmond office let go a few professionals from their Internal Audit Risk & Compliance team which adds to the advisory cuts that were reported last week.
We also got more details on the Chicago office’s layoffs of tax professionals:
In addition to the 5 from ICS there were at least these:
• 4 in Fed Tax (Consumer Markets) – 1 manager, 2 seniors, 1 associate
• 1 in SALT – manager
• 1 in EVS – senior manager
• 3 in Fed Tax (Real Estate) – 1 managing director, 2 seniors
There were lots of rumors of it continuing this week, so continue to keep us updated. The bright side is today is New Year’s Day in the land of Klynveld.
Editor’s note: Francine McKenna is a regular contributor for Going Concern
We’ve gotten reports of recent layoffs of over 100 professionals in the Advisory practice and 40 in U.S. IT. The IT professionals were out of the Tampa office, including some that were Lotus Notes developers. Right. We didn’t know anyone still used Lotus Notes either.
Sources indicate that this was more “forced ranking” layoffs as many were high performers that were dismissed because of suddenly ‘less than expected’ ratings. We’ve covered PwC’s less than clear approach in the past.
PwC has not immediately responded to our requests for comment.
We reached out to Francine McKenna, of Re: The Auditors and she provided this comment:
“PwC is the biggest abuser of the “forced ranking” approach, artificially downgrading folks to make them feel lousy, alone, and uncomfortable discussing or otherwise reacting to getting let go. They refuse to admit they are overstaffed because they would view it as a direct indication of their inability to manage effectively (notice I said manage, not lead).”
If you have more details on these layoffs, send us an email to our tips address and discuss in the comments.
Layoffs of client service support professionals occurring circa now.
UPDATE, 4:28 pm: Rumor is that layoffs will continue through tomorrow. One source informed us that 25% of the Information Security Department in Montvale, NJ was let go. Continue to keep us updated with any developments.
There are several cities where we can confirm layoffs but total numbers are hard to come by and KPMG is not returning our calls/emails at this time. Here are cities that we definitely know got hit:
• Chicago – At least five in Int’l Tax. At least one in financial services tax.
• Denver – Transaction Services
• Kansas City – Six to eight in Tax
• Houston – Transaction Services
• San Fran – Five in Fed Tax
• LA and OC – Several comments report ten to twelve in tax for LA, five for OC
• DC/Tyson’s Corner/McLean – Between five and eight total in tax and advisory.
• Silicon Valley – Thirteen total.
Five to Seven Mostly in Tax, possibly some in EVS and one in Transaction Services.
• Seattle and Portland – Two in Tax for each
• Salt Lake City – Three in Tax
• Detroit – Three to five in Tax
• Jacksonville, FL – Two in Tax
• New York – Three in the transfer pricing specialty group in the tax practice. Three in the real estate practice. According to our source, these were performance performance related.
• Boston – Two in Fed Tax and one in M&A
• Nashville – Two in Tax
• Tampa – Two in Tax, one manager and one SA
We haven’t been able to confirm much out of the New York office, although it sounds as though Transaction Services has had some cuts. If you’ve got new details on any city, let us know.
UPDATE: See updates above. Altogether it appears to be over thirty-five in the west alone. Continue sending us updates.
UPDATE, Thursday, 11:54 am: Information is still crawling in. We heard that the number of nationwide layoffs for Advisory was 50, including 20 in the NY/Boston offices but we’re still waiting on more information. Continue to send tips in and make sure you note which office you’re in. Oh, and apparently the Dallas office needs SA’s in audit.
UPDATE, Friday, 12:30: Still a few tips coming (see updates above) in but it seems the worst (hopefully) is over.
UPDATE, Monday 3:04 pm: Just a couple more updates above for Nashville and Tampa.
Not that Klynveldians need reminded but tomorrow is the rumored next round of layoffs. This time its rumored to be the tax practice and perhaps the advisory practice as well making cuts.
Someone in the Philadelphia office got their call earlier than planned according to a tip we received:
…one associate who received a phone call at 3:00 PM letting her know that her services were no longer needed. She was initially told this would likely happen on the 21st, but for some reason, the powers that be thought it more appropriate to call someone on the 15th
If you’ve got details on your office or if you have received a request for a meeting, let us know and we’ll continue to update you as we hear more.
A little follow-up from our request for the latest on highly anticipated post-September 15th layoffs. Here’s what we’re hearing:
Sources and some comments have indicated that the dates to be wary of are today the 16th, tomorrow the 17th, next Monday the 21st, and next Tuesday the 22nd. The word is that these will be tax and advisory practice cuts only.
KPMG did not immediately respond to our request for comment on these dates. If you have specific information on your anything going down at your office send us the scoop at firstname.lastname@example.org.
…we’ve heard back from sources at all the firms and so far everything is quiet out there regarding the September edition of accounting firm layoffs, however, we’re still checking around.
The bad news of course, is that we’ve got fifteen days left in this month. There are some preliminary rumors out of KPMG in Chicago from last Friday but nothing has been confirmed.
If you have additional information on the Chicago rumors or if you’ve got any information on anything related to what sounds to be the inevitable for several firms, send them to email@example.com.
Frankly, this is getting ridiculous. We got wind of more staff layoffs going down in the Metro audit practice in New York today. Sounds as though emails may have been sent out last night and meetings are being held today.
One explanation we heard was that associates not currently assigned to a client were let go which seems dubious, even for an accounting firm, but we’ll run with it. If you’re one of the unlucky few, or have details on rumors concerning next week, drop us a line or discuss in the comments.
Received word late last night that layoffs went down out west yesterday. According to our source, the breakdown is as follows:
• Two in LA
• Two in Irvine- tax (one staff 1)
• One in San Diego – tax (staff 2)
• A few in Vegas- Audit only
We reached out to an E&Y spokesperson, who declined to comment.
Our source says it was performance based but that particular reason has been a matter of debate for some time. If you’ve got your own theories, discuss in the comments and send us any more details if you’ve got them.
Here’s hoping that Ern isn’t getting warmed up…
True Partners Tax Consulting (TPC), who provides “Intelligent Tax Advice” according to its website, decided that it didn’t seem some of its intelligence. According to a tip we received, the Chicago office decided that it really didn’t need some of its intelligence:
Details, after the jump
[TPC] just cleaned house in Chicago. I can tell you for sure that they laid off at least 20 employees (non-partners), most of whom were mid-level or juniors, and that they just rescinded the vast majority (28 out of 36) of outstanding offers of employment. Apparently, the tax attorneys were hit disproportionately hard. I personally know three University of Illinois College of Law newly minted tax attorneys who were just given the axe before they even started work. I have no idea about the firm’s other offices, but I assume they are undergoing a nation-wide bloodbath.
We’ve reached out to TPC who has not responded to our request for comment.
Since it’s possible that many of you aren’t familiar with TPC, we took the liberty of checking them out. TPC has fourteen offices worldwide, including New York, Chicago, LA, London, Munich, and Paris and they specialize in a wide array of tax and business consulting services.
TPC was also listed 9th on Crain’s Chicago Top 20 Places to Work in the spring. PLUS: “There’s free beer and wine after 5 p.m. and a big-screen TV, Nintendo Wii game system and pingpong table for quick escapes from the daily grind.”
If you keep reading the Crain’s piece, you find out that your abrasive assholey ways will not be tolerated, “True Partners won’t hire anyone who can’t pass the collegiality test and will not keep anyone on board who doesn’t display respect and selflessness toward peers.”
Okay, think we got it. So are we to assume that the 20 let go were all dicks (around 20% of the Chicago office) and the offers were rescinded because it was decided those people couldn’t be trusted to play nice? We’ll start there. Help us out with this one and if you know someone that works at this tax utopia pass it along to them. At very least find out what kind of beer they stock in the fridge.
So we know why the final numbers in a few offices haven’t been reported for last week’s layoffs at KPMG: They’re still happening, circa now. According to somebody within earshot: “I passed someone in the hallway mumbling about getting the ax. I thought they were over; clearly not the case.”
We hear that the timing of these is partially due to the firm sending little auditors to training first and then bringing them back only to say, “Hope you enjoyed yourself, ’cause it was your last.”
This begs the obvious question of why the hell KPMG would go to this expense of sending them down there only to can their asses upon return.
We’d love to hear some wild speculation on the reasoning although based on yesterday’s mention, you’re all numb at this point.
The Radio Station, presumably not wanting to break its stride, is not done handing out bad news. Apparently layoffs have still been occurring as recently as yesterday in Chicago. The total there is now between 30 and 35. Check out the final numbers for other cities in our debrief post and if you have updated numbers please pass them along or discuss in the comments.
We’re slowly getting details on PwC layoffs that occurred a few weeks ago that were part of the newly stripped down performance rating that we talked about last week.
More, after the jump
I was one of the employees involved in these so called layoffs out of the Boston office. I can say that these staff cuts are coming at a time in which PwC, specifically it’s advisory services, has seen a dip in it’s numbers concerning profit…The lay off that I received came as a big surprise to me. For one I did not recieve a single negative reveiew throughout the entire performance year. I was actually on track for promotion and was reccommended by numerous individuals to be promoted to senior associate…From what I have heard, these staff cuts have been happening at all levels and all lines of service.
What’s not clear is how each office determines the timing of the layoff. We haven’t gotten any indication that there is one big whacking day or if it’s staggered among offices to keep on the DL. The one thing that seems clear is that PwC whackings come with little or no warning as performance ratings seem to magically change for the worst.
This seems to be all occurring while Denny Nally was spreading good cheer this Spring. Via an email we received from a reader:
While I am realistic about the challenges ahead, I continue to see the glass as half full and, based on the picture we have right now, I am committed to moving forward with our people strategy. That means, even though in some markets and in some practice areas we may have excess capacity, we will continue to manage our cost structure and explore all available options before we consider reductions to our staff.
Not exactly sure what “all available options” includes but it sounds like those have been exhausted because “reductions” are certainly occurring and all indications have been that everything remains “performance related” and that all levels are affected.
If you’ve got details on your PwC office’s latest layoffs shoot us some details, including numbers, city, practice, and severance.
In the fallout of the last weeks layoffs at KPMG, we’ve received many tips that tell stories of betrayal, shock, bitterness, etc. One particular story that we were tipped about however, tells us a story of sweet, sweet revenge in Palin-country:
Get details on the accountant equivalent to Charles Bronson, after the jump
In May KPMG fired a long time partner in its Anchorage office…In the course of a few months the fired partner convinced many of the offices major clients to request proposals from other firms…The three top revenue clients left for other firms. Two of the clients went to Grant Thornton Seattle where it now appears the fired KPMG partner has landed himself. Did I mention that was 30% of the offices revenue?
We’re not sure which of our readers are able to exert this type of influence over clients to get back at their former employers, so we’ll open it up to all stories of revenge for those of you getting the axe. Nothing is too petty so let’s hear it. Besides, isn’t vengeance part of the American way? We would ask that you keep your revenge tales of Kill Bill proportions to yourselves. Discuss in the comments or shoot us your cold dish at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because some of you are obviously jonesing for it, we’ve got some updated details on this week’s Radio Station bloodbath:
• Dallas Somewhere between 30-40
• Silicon Valley Between 20-30
• Kansas City Five staff – Two associates, three SA’s and three in client service support
Still no final word on New York. Shall we just call it 50?
Akin to talking gun control at the RNC, we’re here to dispense more red meat.
Here are the final numbers that we have for select cities:
Gory details, after the jump
• San Fran –
9 17 total, at least 8 SA’s
• Dallas – 16
• Chicago –
“close to 15“ Between 30-35 50
• NYC – Someone help us out. We know it’s big but we haven’t gotten any specifics
• Louisville – 3, including a 9th year Senior Manager
• LA – 18, 6 associates, 10 SA’s, and two managers.
Why such good details on LA? Here’s a tip we received:
how do I know this so precisely? Because today our office also sent out an email notification of a staff meeting tomorrow to discuss what happened, and the email shows the names of everyone in the audit practice it was sent to. All lay offs were left out of the email. Way to be sensitive KPMG. Within a day, our whole practice knows the names of everyone who was let go. Also, Orange County office had 10 total lay offs in external audit. For a smaller office, that was quite significant.
See yesterday afternoon’s post for additional cities that we didn’t get final numbers for. If you’ve got the details, either post them in the comments or send us the bodycount to email@example.com.
UPDATE, 1:54 pm: Word is that the remaining Klynveldians in San Fran will also have an awkward meeting re: yesterday’s bloodbath. We’d ask you to submit audio/video of the proceedings if possible.
UPDATE, 5:47 pm: Two managers in Oklahoma City down.
UPDATE, August 26, 11:29 am: One lonely SA in Bodymore, Murdaland and two associates in Boise, ID.
Four weeks severance, termination date of September 1st, not performance related. Cities reporting bodies include: New York, Hartford, Dallas, Kansas City, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Cleveland. We’ve heard all levels have taken a hit, although it varies by city. We haven’t gotten any confirmation of partners being bought out at this point.
West coast cities have yet to confirm victims since last night’s comments.
If you’ve got final numbers on your office or any other details we didn’t discuss here, shoot us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
KPMG representatives had no comment.
UPDATE 4:11 pm: San Fran reports at least seven victims, six of which are SA’s.
UPDATE 2, 6:16 pm: San Fran updated to nine total, eight SA’s. Other cities reporting layoffs: Boston, Houston, and Louisville.
Received word last night that a known executioner (and we’re assuming others) at the Dallas office has reserved several conference rooms from 7 am to 3 pm today and that some had already received emails setting up with their meetings last night. Let us know when the shooting starts in your office and drop us any details, including where you’re getting bombed tonight. Go with God (and for the atheists, just go).
We’re going to briefly remind you about the hammer that is going to drop on some unlucky Klynveldians tomorrow.
So far it sounds like there has been blood shed in Dallas, Indianapolis, and New York but no details on severance and it sounds like only second year associates have gotten shown the door so far.
If you’re one of the KPMG casualties, drop us a line at email@example.com and give us the gory details: severance, number laid off, lunging across the desk, did the partner you met with wear an executioner’s mask? Tell us everything.
As if you didn’t need another excuse to go on a three day bender, we received a tip that audit professionals will be getting laid off at the Dallas Radio Station next Tuesday, the 18th. Tax professionals will get their turn in September, most likely after the filing deadline.
Word is that no one level is safe as the cuts will be made at all levels including partners.
did not immediately respond to our request for declined to comment.
If you’ve got more information on the sitch or you’ve heard similar rumors for other offices, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A quick follow-up on the layoffs we mentioned in last week’s firm watch that went down at the PwC Denver office. We heard over the weekend that it was approximately a dozen employees that got the boot and it occurred at all levels including at least one senior manager.
The layoffs, which occurred last month, were deemed to be “performance related” which has been P. Dubs’ consistent story regarding cuts. Similarly, everyone seems to consistently disbelieve that story. If you have more details regarding these layoffs or if there were recent layoffs at your office, let us know at email@example.com.
Over the weekend we received an email that basically confirmed our suspicions that many of you were working over the weekend. Considering the time of year, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that hours are starting to pile up and you’re spending at least one hour a night deciding where you’re ordering take out from.
We received word over the weekend that tax groups at
KPMG PwC all the major firms are working like crazy already in anticipation for the September 15th and October 15th filing deadlines.
There have also been whispers among some in the tax practice at KPMG that layoffs may occur after the deadlines due to large number of idle hands that will be around after the deadlines pass.
Tax associates out there, let’s know what your hours have been, what you’re hearing about post-deadline layoffs, and where you don’t want to get take out from ever again.
Feel free to call bullshit on this because we’ve heard rumors about pay freezes at KPMG (they are getting back to us on this) but according to Forbes, senior accountants rank at #11 for “Hot Jobs Where Pay is Rising” in the recession. The list states median pay at $60,300. Not only that but apparently, there aren’t enough of you senior accountants:
There’s a shortage of senior accountants right now, and the recession has actually provided a chance for them to revive client relationships, believes Mark Koziel, senior manager of firm practice management at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. “As long as there’s small-business America, as long as there’s big-business America, there will still be a need to do auditing and tax returns,” he says.
This strikes us as strange as there have been layoffs at several firms. The need for auditing and is obvious but those of you left are probably doing the work of two or three people.
UPDATE, July 22, 2009: KPMG got back to us re: pay freezes and had no comment
The bean counter bloodbath continues, even at local firms.
Pittsburgh area firm, Alpern Rosenthal cut a dozen staffers late last week citing “performance issues”. The firm is also requesting current employees “to take a week of unpaid vacation by the end of the year, when [they] will determine whether they institute a hiring freeze or adjust profit sharing.”
Pittsburgh-area accounting firms tighten up, cut staff as downturn lingers [Pittsburgh Business Times]
With all the uncertainty out there, for the first time, number crunchers are walking on eggshells, because, you know, if anyone gets the hint that you’re not busy enough, before you realize it you’re turning in your badge and corporate card with $500 of still unexplained expenses on it.
Here at Going Concern, we’re looking out for you, so that’s why we’re going to lay out some indicators for you so you can tell if you are about to get axed or if you should just buckle down and call for take out because your ass isn’t going anywhere.
Here are some common responses to the awkward icebreaker that is common around most offices, “You busy these days?”:
• “Ugh, you know how it is” – You’re safe. Maybe it’s the bags under your eyes, your shirt being on inside out, or maybe you just reek of tequila because you spent the four hours prior to returning to work reliving your days at Tappa Megga Kegga. Unless you plan on going postal at the office, you’re not going anywhere.
• “Oh pretty busy” – Watch yourself and lay low. You’ve got stuff to work on but not enough to keep you at the office past 6 pm. Every once in awhile you’ll stay late and catch up on your Netflix queue in order for it to look like you’re not leaving GASP too early.
• “I’m working on a project for HR” – Dust of the resume. The only reason they’re keeping you around is to bide time until judgment day when the rest of the people are going down with you.
Rumor around the campfire is that some of the firms are billing far fewer hours than are budgeted which could spur some additional cuts so watch out for responses similar to the ones above. The bloodbath may not be over yet.