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Auto Supplies, a Condescending Partner and Chick-fil-A: An Inventory Count Horror Story

What is the worst inventory observation you’ve ever done? My coworker once counted grain and had to scale the enormous storage vat and look down into it. That wouldn’t work for me. I harbor a pathological fear of falling into one of those things, suffocating among the wheat shafts, and winding up ground into a box of breakfast cereal. (I had a damaged childhood, okay?)

Future Ernst & Young Intern Wants to Know How to Land on a Prestigious Engagement

Welcome to the slightly-less-mad-Friday edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a future E&Y intern only wants to work on the sexiest tech clients that the House of Turley has to offer. How can one ensure that he/she lands only on the clients worth bragging to their peers? Let’s find out!

Caught in a busy season love-triangle (audit-cleaning crew-admin)? Not sure if your auditor is being honest with you? Upset over a rival’s shady moves? Email us at [email protected]Dear Going Concern,

I am a future 2011 Assurance Intern for EY. Do you suggest emailing my contacts in the firm regarding preferences as to industry and clients? They know from my interviews that I prefer tech clients, but is it wise to go into greater detail? I don’t want to seem entitled, but I also don’t want to get stuck on some crappy client because everyone else voiced their preferences and got spots at Apple, Google, Facebook, etc. Suggestions on how to voice such opinions would be welcome also.

– Future Staff 1


Dear FS1,

I like it when someone knows exactly what they want but I feel that you need some perspective. Let me start by answering your question directly. I don’t see anything wrong with voicing your interests in the clients you mentioned to your contacts at E&Y, especially if those contacts work on those engagements. If none of the people that you met during the recruiting process serve those clients, attempt to get in touch with someone via the contacts you did make. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” or “the hooker won’t land the john in the Mercedes across the street if they don’t yell at him” certainly applies here.

Now for that perspective I mentioned – Apple, Google, Facebook are all sexy names and are obviously prestigious clients but let me be clear, these engagements’ allure is extremely deceiving. When I was a resident in the House of Klynveld, I worked on one of the most prestigious private equity clients the firm had. I landed a spot on this team because this is exactly what I wanted at the time, I spoke up and with some luck, I got what I asked for. It was great experience and I worked with a lot of talented people but the majority of the time, I wouldn’t say it was a pleasant experience. The hours were long, there were lots of political games and it was a GIANT rumor mill. Now if you think you can thrive in such an environment, then I say go for it but in my experience it wears on most people. I would expect the teams you mentioned would be a similar experience.

However, as an intern, I’d expect that you’ll be mostly on the fringes of most of the negative aspects of working on such a team because the firm wants you to think it’s a great place to work and managers and partners on those clients want you to think it’s a great engagement. And because you want a full-time job someday, you’re going to do your best to impress the wrinkled pants off these people. If you accomplish that feat, they will want you back on their team. The problem is that once you’re on that team, it may be very difficult to get off that team when you discover that it is Hell on Earth. Now maybe you’ll get mentored by one of those I’m-working-my-ass-off-for-very-little-gratitude-because-I-want-to-get-ahead-in-this-firm types and you’ll really like it. But if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then learn as much about the team while you are an intern to determine if you want to work on it or a similar client in the future. Talk to the A2s and SA1s (sorry A1s, you’re still clueless) to get their perspective but make sure it’s the people that will level with you about what life is really like on that engagement. HINT: If you get a rah-rah speech about the “experience on such a great client” you’re not getting an honest take.

So make your client desires known to get a taste of the life on a sexy client but once you land there, be sure to take a look around to see what life (or a pathetic version of it) will be really like if you’re still there in the future. Good luck.

Thankless Audit Client: Tui Travel Edition

Tui Travel is “an international leisure travel group” (which is fancy-speak for a travel agent) out of the UK. KPMG has been audited the books for awhile but this year they found a booboo that resulted in a £117 million write off. At the time the company copped to the error, although you don’t get the impression they were grateful.


From today’s report in the Guardian:

Just two months ago, Tui chief executive Peter Long said: “KPMG identified some system weaknesses and ledgers that had not been reconciled … Yes, they identified some of these control weaknesses which had then manifested themselves into the issues subsequently identified through a detailed investigation.”

Nothing unusual really, these things happen, clients usually grin and bear it but not our “international leisure travel group.”

KPMG said its relationship with “certain [Tui Travel] directors became increasingly strained” following “extensive discussions with the directors”. Among the areas where KPMG had raised concerns, the letter added, were the implications arising from the restated accounts and “their disclosure and accounting treatment in the financial statements”. Relations had reached such a low ebb, KPMG concluded, that “we are not confident that in the future we could carry out an audit of the company to the appropriate standard, but others may be able to do so.”

So it kinda sounds like their annoyance with the whole thing slowly boiled over into flat-out bitterness, leading to some increasingly unpleasant conversations. Sure, the directors in question would start out acting cool about it, “You know [chuckling], you really didn’t do us any favors there.” But eventually it became, “Boy, you’ve really outdone yourself, this time.” And finally, “For crissakes! You couldn’t leave it alone, couldja? [extremely patient KPMG partner explaining on the other end] What?!? [increasingly steamed, drumming fingers] We don’t care if it’s your job; we don’t like being embarrassed. [Pause, eyeroll] Stewards of generally accepted accounting principles?!? What does that even mean? [brief pause] Whatever, you can plan on us being uncooperative going forward.”

Or something like that.

Tui drops KPMG after it found £117m hole in accounts [Guardian]