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Audit Team Struggles to Come Up with Ironic Halloween Costume

From the mailbag:

Hey Caleb and Adrienne,

Question: my audit team and I are looking for a cool costume idea for Halloween. Since everyone rejected my idea of dressing as “Sox”, we’re at a loss. I’d love to go for some irony element (no one liked my idea of being Occupy protesters and not showing up for work). I think it would be fun to do a play on a scandal, fall out or another sexy accounting story, but I just can’t figure out how to make a reverse merger costume. Do your twisted, ironic minds have any ideas?

-Should probably go back to work, now

Dear SPGBTWN,


Perhaps you missed our story from last month but sorry to say, you’ve got a tall order ahead of you. That writer wanted an idea for “Accounting Police” and the best I could come up with was this:

Simply dress up as police officer and walk around the whole night counting things, not unlike The Count (in fact, I suggest you do the laugh). “What the hell are you supposed to be?” some dope will say. You’ll respond, “A counting police.”

And because you’ve got a whole team of auditors trying to get creative (not your strong suit) it’s even a bigger challenge. I suppose you could go as “whistleblowers” but that will most definitely include a blowing a whistle which will likely get you quickly ejected from any party. Another option is go as Mort Mort Feingold (maybe a sexy version?) and have the rest of your friends dress up as various, dimwitted celebrities.

Of course you could really nerd it up and play on “footnotes,” or even “audit trail.” Then again, if you want to go the “sexy” route, I suggest you go with “double-entry accounting.” How sexy you make it is up to you.

Any other ideas, gang? This is a tough one.

How to Code Those Unbillable Hours: A Guide

With a lot of new blood coming in soon, there will inevitably be some questions about what to do with that unbillable time. Despite the temptation to tell your newbies to simply dump those wasted hours into “Administrative Time” (aka thumb twiddling, staring into space) your managers and partners will no doubt demand a more thorough explanation. And since none of you are immune to periods of boredom and/or general screwing around, you’re likely in need of something that will help you track things more accurately.

Fortunately, a friend of GC has forwarded us a useful list of charge codes that may just be the thing you need.

Code Description
5316 Useless Meeting
5317 Obstructing Communications at Meeting
5318 Trying to Sound Knowleting
5319 Waiting for Break
5320 Waiting for Lunch
5321 Waiting for End of Day
5322 Vicious Verbal Attacks Directed at Coworker
5323 Vicious Verbal Attacks Directed at Coworker While Coworker is Not Present
5393 Covering for Incompetence of Coworker Friend
5400 Trying to Explain Concept to Coworker Who is Not Interested in Learning
5401 Trying to Explain Concept to Coworker Who is Stupid
5402 Trying to Explain Concept to Coworker Who Hates You
5481 Buying Snack
5482 Eating Snack
5500 Filling Out Timesheet
5501 Inventing Timesheet Entries
5502 Waiting for Something to Happen
5503 Scratching Yourself
5504 Sleeping
5510 Feeling Bored
5511 Feeling Horny
5600 Complaining About Lousy Job
5601 Complaining About Low Pay
5602 Complaining About Long Hours
5603 Complaining About Coworker (See Codes #5322 & #5323)
5604 Complaining About Boss
5605 Complaining About Personal Problems
5640 Miscellaneous Unproductive Complaining
5701 Not Actually Present At Job
5702 Suffering from Eight-Hour Flu
6102 Ordering Out
6103 Waiting for Food Delivery to Arrive
6104 Taking It Easy While Digesting Food
6200 Using Company Resources for Personal Profit
6201 Stealing Company Goods
6202 Making Excuses After Accidentally Destroying Company Goods
6203 Using Company Phone to Make Long-Distance Personal Calls
6204 Using Company Phone to Make Long-Distance Personal Calls to Sell Stolen Company Goods
6205 Hiding from Boss
6206 Gossip
6207 Planning a Social Event (e.g. vacation, wedding, etc.)
6210 Feeling Sorry For Yourself
6211 Updating Resume
6212 Faxing Resume to Another Employer/Headhunter
6213 Out of Office on Interview
6221 Pretending to Work While Boss Is Watching
6222 Pretending to Enjoy Your Job
6223 Pretending You Like Coworker
6224 Pretending You Like Important People When in Reality They are Jerks
6238 Miscellaneous Unproductive Fantasizing
6350 Playing Pranks on the New Guy/Girl
6601 Running your own Business on Company Time (See Code #6603)
6602 Complaining
6603 Writing a Book on Company Time
6611 Staring Into Space
6612 Staring At Computer Screen
6615 Transcendental Meditation
6969 Beating off in Broom Closet
7281 Extended Visit to the Bathroom (at least 10 minutes)
7400 Talking With Divorce Lawyer on Phone
7401 Talking With Plumber on Phone
7402 Talking With Dentist on Phone
7403 Talking With Doctor on Phone
7404 Talking With Masseuse on Phone
7405 Talking With House Painter on Phone
7406 Talking With Personal Therapist on Phone
7419 Talking With Miscellaneous Paid Professional on Phone
7425 Talking With Mistress/Boy-Toy on Phone
7931 Asking Coworker to Aid You in an Illicit Activity
8000 Recreational Drug Use
8001 Non-recreational Drug Use
8002 Liquid Lunch
8100 Reading e-mail
8102 Laughing while reading e-mail

As you can see, this a fairly extensive list with exception of the glaring omission of “Reading Going Concern.” However, you can simply drop that on the end as code 8103. If there are other important activities missing, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Since being precise as possible with your non-billable time is important, please resist the urge to dump all your unbillable time into 5601 and 5602. And if this format doesn’t conform to your firm’s own, kindly forward the list to whomever is in charge of assigning new charge codes so they can be implemented ASAP.

Just So You’re Aware: There Is a Zombie Accountant Video Game

And it has been described as “epic.”


Giving promotions to the white shirt and red tie wearing undead who can’t help but devour their co-workers for their own good? Sounds like a pretty realistic game.

Get to wasting some billable hours on the demo or full version by going to the Zombie Accountant page on Xbox’s website. And if you’re one of the few people that has a Windows phone, you can play it on the go.

You’re welcome.

How To Explain Why Fantasy Football Is Always on Your Computer

Back with another edition of “Accountants’ Questions: ANSWERED!” – a reader needs advice on the age-old question (for about a decade or so) of explaining why fantasy football is always on your laptop.

Caught in an accounting career conundrum? Looking for some atypical icebreakers for your next firm event? Want advice on how break free from the unwelcome massage that creepy co-worker always tries to give you? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll dish it out.

Back to our gridiron geek:

How do I explain why fantasy football is always up on my laptop?


Many cube dwellers have had the unenviable experience of explaining why an imaginary roster of players is constantly on their laptop screens. The temptation to always have it available at a moment’s notice is completely understandable since at the drop of a hat someone’s penis (allegedly!) can end up on the web and his backup is instantly becomes a hot commodity.

For many of you vets out there, years of experience has afforded you to develop your own techniques, so please share your best methods. As for some general advice, there are some key things to remember/consider:

1. Include a manager/partner in your league – That will allow you invoke “team building” and “rapport.”

2. Key Shortcuts are your friend – Two words: Alt-tab. You don’t have to explain anything if you’re fast enough.

3. Cite research – Studies show that time on the web boosts productivity. Explain to your taskmaster that you’re simply saving time by keeping the Fantasy screen available at all times. Further explain that the amount of time that you actually spend looking at it is miniscule compared to the spreadsheet for that analytic.

4. You’re human – If you find yourself schelping for a fantasy-hating superior, simply point to everything you’ve accomplished in the past hour/day/week and you’re simply taking a break. What are you, a robot?

The most important thing to remember is to have other tabs in your browser with things that are, at the very least semi-related to work. This way, you don’t have to explain yourself every time someone pops in. Keep a relevant section of the tax code open. Or a SFAS that is currently giving you fits (even if it isn’t). Or a substantive article from this fine publication.

Just because you have an imaginary football roster available at all times, doesn’t mean that you also aren’t struggling through a mind bending financial reporting issue or keeping abreast of the haps in the industry.

Oh, and for the love of God, keep your cool and play like it’s NBD. “Oh, that? Yeah. I’ve been sitting on this trade and this stupid person in my league was bothering me about it. Just trying to get them off my back.” There’s nothing worse than someone stammering for an awkward answer to an awkward question.

Again, we’re sure there are many advanced techniques out there, so we invite you to share yours below.

How Much Time Is Too Much Time to Spend on Social Media?

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight–everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

It’s likely that your employees spend a sizeable percentage of their time using social media. As work/life balance continues to blend into one homogenous string of activities, social media activity is happening in your workplace whether you realize it or not.

But isn’t social media just a big waste of time?

It can be, but lumping all socito the same unproductive bucket is unfair, and also unwise. Social media can be an effective tool for many key business activities – including business development, client retention, and employee retention and recruitment.

Because platforms like Facebook often blend personal and business colleagues, it’s very challenging to set black and white rules when governing the use of social media.


Free reign on social media = Trust

At Chrometa, we take a mostly laissez faire approach to our employees’ use of social media, with no official policies or restriction on what employees are allowed to do. I know this thinking is counterintuitive to what many accounting and consulting firms believe, but I think this boils down to a control issue more than anything else. It’s sort of similar to being told as a child not to get into the cookie jar. If firms set up policies dictating certain actions, employees are more likely to violate these policies if they feel they can get away with it without being noticed.

Each of our employees is encouraged to set up and maintain a presence on “The Big 3” social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Their participation levels, on the other hand, are completely up to them. A couple of our employees really enjoy and benefit, both personally and professionally, from their time on Facebook and Twitter. Ironically, our chief technical officer generally dislikes social media and personally avoids it.

At the core of our free reign is trust. We trust that our employees are 100 percent devoted to the success of our company, mission, and brand. As a result, I have complete trust they will not represent us poorly; to do so would be like representing themselves poorly. This level of trust is only possible if an employee does completely self-identify with his or her job and firm.

How much time is too much time?

I personally have spent too much time on many occasions on the Big 3 and blogs, as well, without achieving what I’d consider a reasonable ROI on my time. Going forward, I know I need to more accurately gauge the amount of time I should spend on each medium.

It’s not completely fair and accurate when people proclaim, “Twitter is a complete waste of time” because they probably just don’t understand what it can do. Twitter can be a drain, but it also can be useful if used properly and marketed to your stakeholders. Like anything, if you spend too much time on Twitter, you can end up wasting a lot of time if you don’t use it wisely.

How-much-time-too-much-time is something everyone must figure out for themselves. I give our employees the leeway to decide how much time is too much. I know they honestly want to be productive and perform their roles to the best of their ability. Because I know this, I find it’s better if they figure out these types of limits and best practices themselves, instead of having them come as edicts from above.

It’s About Time is a series of articles devoted to practice management techniques that focus on efficiency and productivity.

About the Author:
Brett Owens is CEO and cofounder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, CA-based provider of time-tracking software that records activity in real time. Previously marketed to the legal community, Chrometa is branching out to accounting prospects. Gains include the ability to discover previously undocumented billable time, saving time on billing reconciliation, and improving personal productivity. Owens also is blogger and founder at CommodityBullMarket.com and ContraryInvesting.com, as well as a regular contributor to two leading financial media sites, SeekingAlpha.com and BeforeItsNews.com.

Everyone at Deloitte Worked for Free Today

As you may or may not be aware, it’s Deloitte’s 11th Annual Impact Day today:

“Deloitte is providing hundreds of nonprofit leaders from across the country with valuable counsel to help them deal with common business challenges, at no cost.”

That’s right friends, no one is – gasp – billing time! It’s a 100% green dot free-for-all across this great land.


However, we did speak to one source at the firm who told us that they haven’t participated in Impact Day in 3 years, “everyone leaves me alone so I can get something done,” so despite the message at Deloitte HQ that “no one is available to take your call,” and what you’re reading on Twitter, we know some people are working.

Obviously that’s lame but the real question is how many Green Dots called in sick and are currently getting blitzed watching the World Cup? And keeping an eye on their fantasy teams? AND maniacally laughing while watching Barry Salzberg live Tweet the whole day?

Deloitte’s World Cup Fantasy League Will Ensure That No One Gets Any Work Done for a Month

Deloitte is officially the first Big 4 firm to succumb to their World Cup fever. Understanding that a large portion of its 160,000-ish employees will be completely unproductive for the next month, rather than take reactionary measures, D has instead decided to encourage participation the Deloitte World Cup Fantasy League.


Don’t worry if you happen to work at a less cool firm that would never encourage such egregious behavior, anyone can play in Deloitte’s World Cup Fantasy League, so some KPMG folk can enjoy a little international competition and sport denim twice a week.

PLUS! You could throw some of your hard-earned money around based on PricewaterhouseCoopers picking Brazil as the favorite but Deloitte would rather you spend your precious chargeability obsessing over the hottest player about to go cold in order to win a replica of the World Cup trophy.

And if that’s not worth your time then maybe you aren’t capable of being pleased by anything. Except for perhaps more images of football stars with their shirts off.

[h/t The Big Four Blog]

(UPDATE) Let’s Take a Closer Look at This SEC Accountant’s Porn Activity

Since we’ve been out of the number crunching biz on a day to day basis, our reaction to the 16,000 attempts by an SEC accountant to access porn was simply, “Holy shit, that’s a lot.”


Thankfully, we still have plenty of friends that still burn up the 10-key calcs and we got a drop from one of them a little while ago:

I did [a] calc on that accountant that viewed porn sites up to 16,000 in one month. He was averaging 725x per day (including weekends). That is impressive. I don’t think I can hit 725 times in a year (and I don’t even have a girlfriend), let alone one month.

The best part of this whole ordeal is that it’s now becoming a political football and hyperbole that even makes us scoff.

UPDATE: Our stupid friend is obviously rusty on the calc (they’re no longer in public accounting) and we’ve been re-informed by said friend that 725x is based on 22 workdays (i.e. not including weekends).

Even more importantly, how many accountants out there double-checked this pre-update calc and then failed to get all self-righteous about it?

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the bar has been raised in the wasting time department. Granted this accountant was wasting everyone’s tax dollars while those of you in public accounting are wasting your clients’ dollars but these porn surfing numbers are no doubt a challenge worth accepting. Go forth.

The Latest Challenge for KPMG Employees

Team, KPMG has submitted a challenge to its employees in the Florida/Carolinas/Puerto Rico neck of the woods, and we felt compelled to include the rest of you, just for the sake of expanding the brain pool:

Name the Business Unit Contest
January 22, 2010
How do you describe the most scenic business unit in the nation? From the mountains and outer banks of Carolina to the Everglades and beaches of Florida and the rain forests and blue waters of Puerto Rico, we have it all!
As the former FBU and CBU business units come together, we thought it would be fun to invite each of you to participate in a contest to name the new BU. In addition to bragging rights, a prize will be awarded to the person who submits the winning name.
Remember…be creative and have fun!
Send your ideas to US-FBU CSS COMM Leadership Mailbox by Friday, January 29, 2010. A prestigious selection committee will make the final selection and the winner will be announced by Friday, February 5, 2010.

Lost of questions here: 1) It’s busy season; between reading this fine publicaion, trying to get laid, and wallowing in disappointment, who has time to come up with name for the FlorinasRico business unit? 2) Who’s on the prestigious selection committee and how did they get this cushy gig? 3) Does Phil Mickelson figure into this prize in any way, shape or form? 4) If yes, will Tim Flynn be caddying for you, Phil or both?
You’ve only got until Friday to submit ideas, so we suggest you get on this ASAP.

The GC Metaphor Challenge

Yesterday we shared with you at least one person’s opinion about how quitting the Big 4 is a little like leaving Ike Turner. If that name doesn’t mean anything to you, insert Jon Gosselin. Get it now?
As accurate as that may be (and certainly not a laughing matter), we can’t help but think there are other metaphors that you’ve heard that you might want to share here.
Of course there’s the proverbial pimp/whore relationship but that’s played. Get the team together and come up with something good. We’ve got E&Y tchotchkes to give away as prizes (don’t let that dissuade you E&Y peeps, we’ll come up with something).
We’ll give you a couple of options to work with:
1. Working in the Big 4 is like…
2. Leaving the Big 4 is like…
Annnd go.

Your Nominations for ‘Accountants of the Decade’ Are Now Being Accepted

andyfastow2.jpgFriends, you may not be aware of it but the current decade is closing fast. This means several things, a few of which are worth mentioning here: 1) Many of you will embark on this new decade inching ever closer to your first mid-life crisis 2) Many of you will enter a new decade and still not have your CPA despite posing as one for the last 3 – 5 years. 3) Ubiquitous “[insert anything here] of the decade” lists.
Now you may also be aware how we here at GC feel about lists. Not typically a fan. However, considering the historical significance of the end of the ‘0Xs (what the hell is this decade called?) and the fact that we don’t feel like working too hard today, we will now request your nominations for the “Accountants of the Decade”.
We’re looking for those CFOs, CPAs, etc. etc. that defined the decade for you, for better for worse. One possible nom is the man you see pictured here, the oddly stunning yet diabolical Andy Fastow. If you’re not familiar with AF, then please slap yourself.
A few things: 1) No obscure nominations. Your Intermediate Accounting Prof who was constantly eating star mints and wore warmup pants to class doesn’t count. Celebrity CPA Review instructors, on the other hand, are acceptable. 2) CFOs in form but not in substance are acceptable (e.g. Erin Callan). 3) Don’t blow this off. It’s important.
So fire away, and feel free to make an argument. If you’ve got a favorite picture with your nomination, kindly pass it along and we’ll include it if we end up putting this to a vote. We’ve got less than three weeks until the ball drops so get on it.