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Hurricane Irene Watch: Deloitte New York Offices Officially Closed, Evacuees Encouraged to Bunk Up with Co-workers If Necessary

If Deloitte employees took the last email concerning preparations for Hurricane Irene seriously, they likely took plenty of work home as it could be a extra-long weekend. However, if you’re a New York employee and thought, “Gosh, I’ve got so much to do, it may take me two trips to get all the work home,” and were saving that second trip for this morning, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise – the office is closed! Now, you might not have thought that the firm needed to announce such a thing but since the City has announced that everyone in Lower Manhattan has to GTFO and that the subway will quit running in T-minus one hour, the firm figured it better play ball.

Hurricane Irene Update

Weekend office closures and travel advisory

To all Northeast professionals:

Due to the impending hurricane that will impact the Northeast region, several Deloitte offices will be closed over the weekend. As of now, we expect to be open for business on Monday and will continue to update you from this mailbox, as needed.

1WFC, 2WFC, and 25 Broadway offices will be closed on Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28 due to a mandatory evacuation order for lower Manhattan. New York City subways and buses will stop running at noon, as will PATH trains and commuter railroads connecting Manhattan to New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, and Connecticut.

Some of you may be asked to evacuate your location or home due to safety concerns. If you are unable to find alternative housing, we will try to match you up with another Deloitte colleague. If you are able to host one of your evacuated colleagues or need emergency housing, please email Northeast Field Operations (subject: NE Evacuation Housing Request) or [redacted] as soon as possible.

Also, please take a moment now to ensure we have your most current personal and emergency contact information by visiting this site on DeloitteNet now.

Visit the following websites for a complete mass transit update:

· NJ Transit
· CT Transit
· NJ Path
· SEPTA (Philly) – suspending Sunday only
· MBTA (Boston) – no announcement yet
· CT Transit – no announcement yet

Stay safe,

Northeast Regional Operations Leader

For those of you that were forced to evacuate, hopefully you’ve been able to do so quickly and safely. However, in the unfortunate event that you don’t have a place to go, it’s nice that Deloitte is encouraging its employees to help out their brethren. Our tipster also recognized another possibility:

No word yet on whether they are seeking to keep engagement teams together during the storm so that the client service work can continue.

So, stay productive Green Dotters. But more importantly, stay safe.

Deloitte’s Walt Disney World Dream Ends: Firm Going “Virtual” in Orlando

Deloitte Disney World joins PwC’s tax practice which took the dirt nap effective May 3rd. The Orlando Business Journal reports that the office will become “virtual,” a term that still has not been defined to our satisfaction.

We called Deloitte Orlando for more information but the employee we spoke to “was not authorized to comment.” We were forwarded to a voicemail box of someone else and we haven’t heard back. According to the report in the OBJ, Deloitte is the third largest firm in the area; according to Deloitte’s website the location has 60 employees.

One source familiar with Deloitte told us that this could possibly be a move by D (and possibly other firms) to “centralize their operations in an effort to cuts costs,” while still maintaing a minimum “physical presence” in a city. Whatever the reasoning the most likely scenario is that no one wants to be within a stone’s throw of a certain resident.

Accounting firms rumored to be paring down area operations [Orlando Business Journal (subscription)]

Accounting News Roundup: Rajaratnam Claims KPMG “Tricked” Him into Illegal Tax Shelter; United, Continental Agree to ‘Merger of Equals’; Some Thoughts on iPad for Accountants | 05.03.10

Galleon’s Rajaratnam Said He Was Duped in Illegal Tax Shelter [Bloomberg Businessweek]
Raj Rajaratnam, who is awaiting trial in an insider trading case set to take place this fall, claimed that he was “tricked into investing in an illegal tax shelter,” that was developed by KPMG and “tax shelter promoter” Diversified Group, according to a lawsuit from 2005.

Rajaratnam and Galleon co-founder Gary Rosenbach won a $5.8 million in an arbitrator’s judgment against Diversified Group and its president in 2009. KPMG was not mentioned in the judgment and neither Rajaratnam’s attorney nor KPMG would comment on the current r if the firm had made a payment to Raj.

Rajaratnam and Rosenbach said they were induced to invest in a shelter called “OPS,” or Option Partnership Strategy, which was developed by KPMG and Diversified as a way to generate fees for the firms.

“The OPS shelter was essentially an illegal basis-shifting scheme which — unbeknownst to plaintiffs — relied upon a disingenuous reading of the federal tax code,” his lawyers wrote in the complaint.

Prosecutors will be interested to know what Rajaratnam said under oath in his suit against KPMG to determine if any of his statements will be useful in their insider trading case.

United, Continental Agree to Combine [WSJ]
United Airlines and Continental Airlines have agreed to combine, in a stock swap valued at $3 billion.

The “merger of equals” would create the world’s largest airline that would control 21% of the total domestic capacity and be 8% larger than Delta Air Lines in terms of miles flown, serving 370 destinations. Assuming the deal does not raise any antitrust concerns and contracts for employees are approved in a timely fashion, the companies plan to complete the transaction in the 4th quarter of this year.

iPad for business – the taste test [ZDNet]
Dennis Howlett tested out an iPad and since some of you have, at the very least, wondered about it for your own professional use, here’s his take on Numbers, a spreadsheet application that he says is “gorgeous to look at” but has several drawbacks:

I found it was possible to create a confusing error formula. Ahem. That will require fixing. While Numbers has masses of functions (see illustration), there is no ability to create Pivot Tables. Those are the accountant’s stand by for reporting and the like. It’s boring but essential stuff. Without Pivot Tables, the iPad won’t get a sniff in the hands of this powerful and influential group. There is an alternative for the future. Some smart developers out there will build reporting applications that can run over the Internet. It is one of the gaping holes in the SaaS/cloud story requiring urgent attention.

Any other thoughts on iPad for accountants? Weigh in.

IIA Proposes New Standards for Internal Auditors [Compliance Week]
The Institute of Internal Auditors is requested comment on proposals for new standards that would include a requirement for internal auditors to provide audit opinions and to additional explanation of the responsibility of internal auditors for the work of contractors.

Grant Thornton closing Triad office, moving operations to Charlotte [Triad Business Journal (subscription required for full article)]
Grant Thornton finally got around to announcing the closure of its Greensboro/Triad office. We reported on the closure back in February. The firm announced that the “vast majority” of its approximately 30 employees would be moving to the firm’s offices in either Charlotte or Raleigh. The TBJ reports National Director of Communications, John Vita’s comments: “We remain committed to the Triad marketplace, however, we believe it can be best served over the long term by attracting the highest quality professionals who wish to work out of our larger offices in Charlotte and Raleigh.”

Accounting News Roundup: ‘Enron’ Opens to Mixed Reviews; Grant Thornton Closes Madison, WI Office; New CFO at Credit Suisse | 04.30.10

With ‘Enron,’ Financial Misdeeds Hit Broadway [DealBook]
“Enron” opened on Tuesday at the Broadhurst Theatre and is receiving mixed reviews. Given the time and subject matter, brief and inadequate descriptions of the accounting techniques involved (e.g. champagne metaphor to explain mark-to-market) were necessary and some didn’t appreciate the patronization:

At the after-party for “Enron,” the most common complaint about the play was the incessant use of metaphors and monologues to explain financial topics. It took up a large amount of time in the show and some audience members felt like they were being “talked down to.”

“I know what mark-to-market accounting is,” said one audience member who did not wish to be identified but did not work in the financial industry. “I felt like they were bashing me over the head with their juvenile explanations.”

Regardless of the “one-dimensional view of this multifaceted accounting technique” and its “lacking of dramatic depth,” “Enron” also has raptors and mice in suits. That, along with choreography using light sabers has led some to call the show “visually stimulating.” If your subject matter includes accounting rules, putting them in an acid trip seems like a good approach.

Grant Thornton to close Madison office [Business Journal of Milwaukee]
Grant Thornton is closing its Madison, WI office, consolidating those operations in Milwaukee. The firm stated “its goal is to retain as many of the Madison office’s 61 employees as possible,” and that it is “committed to assisting all employees during this transition.”

This latest move follows the Grant Thornton office closure in Greensboro, NC that occurred earlier this year.

Credit Suisse Taps Mathers as New C.F.O. [DealBook]
David Mathers is currently the COO and Head of Finance for the investment banking unit at CS. He takes over for Renato Fassbind in October.

Grant Thornton to Close Greensboro, NC Office

We’ve received multiple tips informing us that Grant Thornton’s Greensboro, North Carolina office will be closing in the spring after busy season has ended.

Greensboro has approximately 35 professionals in all three service lines although our sources indicate that many tax professionals were laid off late last year in anticipation of the closure. Greensboro currently functions as a satellite of the Charlotte office which houses the support professionals.

What’s not known at this time is whether the office will become virtual, similar to the setup that Ernst & Young arranged for its Greensboro office other whether it will be an outright closure.

We contacted Grant Thornton for comment and had not heard back from them at the time of this posting.

If you’re familiar with the situation in Greensboro and have more information, get in touch with us. We’ll continue to keep you updated as we learn more.

What Happens When the “Numbers” People Can’t Count?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for accountant.jpgThere 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:
Picture 1.png

The middle area is commonly referred to as “run through a venti latte on the client and debate.”

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?

Rumor Mill: More Ernst & Young Offices to Become “Virtual”?

Thumbnail image for EY Ball of Useless.jpgLast month we told you about the E&Y Greensboro office shutting its doors to become a “virtual office”. All the client-serving professionals (around 60) are now reporting and being serviced out of the Raleigh office.
This followed the closure of the Manchester office that we reported on in October and that became official in November. In this particular case, there was no merging of sites and client service professionals (non-partners) were let go.
The latest speculation is that there are several small offices that are at risk of going virtual as opposed to out-right closing post busy season, using the Greensboro office as the model. Offices that are being serviced by nearby larger offices are of greatest risk as well as small offices that have a dwindling client base.
Although the virtual office seems to be the most warm and fuzzy of the two options, there would certainly be layoffs of support staff and service professionals that weren’t interested in working from an office that was a considerable distance from where they lived.
Whether or not this strategy will be utilized by other Big 4 firms is not clear but this story will continue to develop as busy season progresses. If you hear rumors about your office get in touch with us. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

Rumor Mill: Ernst & Young Closing Greensboro, NC Office

From a source:

Greensboro, NC office is being shut down. Admin staff are being let go. Most client serving have been given the option to transfer to Raleigh or work remotely.

We tried calling the Greensboro office but couldn’t get through to anyone and E&Y’s national PR team hasn’t returned our emails yet. This closing would follow the Manchester office closure that we initially reported on in October. We’re trying to get more details on the closure date, numbers, etc.
In the meantime, if you have more information on this rumored office closing or others get in touch with us and discuss in the comments.
UPDATE, 12/11: Another source has confirmed the closure. We’ve also learned that the Greensboro has in the nabe of 70 – 80 client service professionals. E&Y is still mum. Keep us updated.
Are Other Small Big 4 Offices at Risk of Closure?

Are Other Small Big 4 Offices at Risk of Closure?

closed.jpgEditor’s Note: Francine McKenna is a regular contributor to Going Concern
We came across a report in the Birmingham Business Journal (subscription required for full article) describing the reduction in professionals of the KPMG office there from 63 to 39 after two rounds of layoffs.
While there doesn’t seem to be any indication that the office will be closing, the reduction is significant enough to get us wondering if there hadn’t been talk about pulling the plug altogether.

On that note, we recalled the Manchester, NH closure we reported on last month and we called up the folks in Live Free or Die country to get the latest. While the receptionist was very helpful, the person we were eventually connected to decided that hanging up on us was the best course of action.
Undeterred, we reached out to E&Y’s national PR team and they provided us with the following statement:

After careful consideration and based on our analysis of the market, we have decided to close our Manchester office by the end of November. As part of that process, a number of our people will transfer to the Boston office, and our clients will be served from the Boston office.

Unfortunately, since “a number of our people will transfer to the Boston office” we can only assume that there will be a number of people that will not transfer to Boston.
We reached out to all the Big 4 firms regarding this issue, with E&Y being the only one to respond and they only addressed the Manchester office specifically. Wanting more perspective, we asked our contributor, Francine McKenna, for her thoughts:

Small office closures mirror the fortunes of local economies they operate in, including the limited number of clients some offices have been built on. Often just one/two parters wanting to be closer to home, have Managing Partner title.

There has been a considerable amount of chatter regarding office closures so we decided a thread on the issue was due. Discuss your thoughts/speculation on office closures (including any more details on E&Y Manchester) for your firm in the comments and keep us updated with your tips.

Deloitte Closes Reno Office, Employees Not Totally Munsoned*

Thumbnail image for Reno.jpgDeloitte is closing its Reno office, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. The firm isn’t letting any of the eighteen employees go, rather they will either work from home or at client locations.

Bad news is that we wouldn’t expect the community colleges in the Reno area to get any attention any time soon and if you’re looking to get in on some free donuts, law enforcement is probably your best option.

Deloitte firm closing Reno office [Reno Gazette-Journal]

*We’re not sure this is necessary but whatevs.