Some of you seemed less than enthused when we shared an AccountingWEB piece on the AICPA’s new “Clearly Pretty Awesome” campaign two weeks ago so I’m here to get a good hoo-RAH out of you in the hopes that you, our brilliant, bitter and oftentimes inappropriate Going Concern readers, might have 2 or 3 cents to add.
Here’s the deal, the AICPA is giving away cash and prizes (to be used strictly for educational purposes, that is) for whomever (between ages 15 – 19) can come up with the best made-up job title using those all important three letters: C P A. Since the efforts of both the Obama administration and Ben Bernanke seem to be useless in creating jobs, perhaps high schoolers can boast a better success rate in creating new jobs. Sorry, Certified Public Asshole is already taken and frankly, kind of played out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have similar ideas for made-up jobs, though whether or not anyone actually becomes a Chief Private Asshat remains to be seen.
The obvious inspiration behind the campaign is to plant the seed of public accounting in young little future beancounters’ brains when they are still pliable and easily influenced. After all, it’s easier to get them now, as opposed to later on down the road when they’re bitter and pissed off, overworked and saddled with a family and a career. While we admire the AICPA’s efforts in painting the profession in as cool a light as possible given the circumstances, we don’t quite see the point in rewarding whomever makes up “city park accordionist”.
Instead, here’s what I propose: take your high school student to work day for CPAs. Cops do it, why can’t we? Invite high school students to go on a ride-along to the client and hell, while they’re there why not have them partake in such exciting awesomeness as inventory counts? It will look great on their résumés when the job market looks up in 3 – 7 years!
Or better, encourage students to become forensic accountants by taking them to a real prison to follow a day in the life of Jeff Skilling complete with orange uniform and over-aggressive cellmate. That kills two birds with one stone as the impressionable youngsters could also get a great lesson in sexual harassment from a tattooed dude named Spike and save themselves an employee training or two down the road. Perfect!
So, go on then, what do you think CPA could stand for?
I’m not saying you’ll pass, I’m teaching you how to prepare in a week and maybe eke by. You already spent the money, you might as well give it a shot.
Let me be clear: I don’t advocate this. It’s important to give yourself time to study. BEC should take between 64 and 80 hours to prepare for. There are 168 hours in a week – work = 128 (our friend with a week to study for BEC – who requests to remain anonymous – is in tax so he has about 110) – sleeping 6 hours a night = 86 so if you don’t waste any waking hours commuting or eating, you can do it. You shouldn’t.
If nothing else, you’ll know what to expect on the exam in the next window. If you don’t study at all, try to retain what you can when you sit for this exam that you’re not ready for. Even though the AICPA BoE switches questions up from window to window and your next exam will be a little different, just go and pay attention.
There is a small chance you can pass. Do you know nothing about variance analysis? Clueless on economics? Your chances at passing will be smaller though I won’t pretend to have actual figures on that. The better your foundation, the easier it will be for you to fudge your way through it in a week. If you’re going into it blind, you’re probably not going to do well so focus on what came up on the exam.
Using the example above (or whatever your work/sleep/live schedule is), focus your attention on doing as many MCQ as possible. Even if you don’t understand them, sometimes working through them will make things click. You can try a cram course but your brain learns in layers so you can’t approach this like a final you didn’t study for. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, that’s just what I know.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to plan better next time. Don’t pay for all 4 parts with one NTS unless you have a huge block of time to take exam after exam. Got it?
Despite your best efforts to resist the new FASB codification as the source for all things GAAP, the FASB is not disheartened. Herz and Co. are cognizant of the desire of many accountants to have reference books on shelves in their offices in order to maintain their double-entry wonk image. In order to feed this natural inclination, the FASB is now offering the codification in a four volume set for the low, low price of $195.
Call us skeptical but this particular attempt by the FASB to get more people on board with the whole codification thing is doomed. DOOMED, we tell you. If they really want to get accountants to buy this stuff it will require a marketing campaign the likes of which Ronco and the Shamwow guy have never seen.
FASB Offers Codification in Four-Volume Set [Compliance Week]
Our friends across the pond have put it out there that as it stands, an audit report is an audit report is an audit report. Regardless of the firm doing the work, the end product is the same and the Professional Oversight Board (POB) wants audit firms to produce, “more quantitative data to better equip investors and companies with the tools needed to scrutinise their auditors.”
It’s long been popular to call an auditor’s product a “commodity” and this appears to be the Brits’ attempt to dispel that notion. The talk of asking auditors to somehow quantify quality has already garnered support in the investing community in the UK:
Michael McKersie, assistant director capital markets at the [Association of British Insurers], said he would welcome more comparative information. “The relative lack of hard quantitative reporting data on the audit firms and global networks has been… a concern. Comparability is really important and we have, in the past, seen no n-comparability [sic] here as a problem.”
Fine idea, although there’s not a single indication of how the quality could be measured and the director of auditing at the POB even admits that ‘The challenge is how can auditors demonstrate quality and those that use their services assess it.’
This whole idea of “comparability” came up because of a POB inspection of showed, “some firms were rewarding staff for attracting business at the expense of promoting audit quality.” So the answer to this problem — from the POB’s point of view — is to slap together a “rate this audit from 1 to 10” system and the firm with the highest score has the best audits?
Audit firms will always claim that their work is of the highest quality regardless of the circumstances but now regulators want them to put that in some quantifiable form. And because we like to keep the pace with our friends in the UK, it probably won’t be long before an ambitious bureaucrat Stateside (e.g. new PCAOB Chairman) will insist on a similar approach.
If there’s any wonky auditors out there that have some ideas how this could be done, we’re all ears but for now we’re firmly in the skeptical camp.
Clients blind on audit quality [Accountancy Age]
Also see: You mean the Big 4 aren’t transparent? [Tax Research UK/Richard Murphy]
Not feeling hot about your career lately? Needing some love from TPTB? Apparently one E&Y office is taking a stab at a solution. Not a Starbucks card. Not a year’s subscription to the jelly-of-the-month club. And sorry, Christmaskah is still cancelled. No, this is a completely arbitrary way to win your love.
According to a tip we received, in the Dallas office, all positions that are manager and above are now known as “executives”. As if you didn’t need another reason to stick around until making manager.
Despite the much needed kick-start this may give to the psyche of managers, won’t this cause confusion among the staff?
Manager, director, partner. Simple. If everyone is considered an “executive” the whole hierarchy might become meaningless. And if there’s no hierarchy, we very well may have chaos.
The other problem is that some people take their title very SERIOUSLY. Ever called a “senior manager” a “manager” by mistake? You haven’t known the wrath of an unmerciful, passive-aggressive God if you haven’t. Now if you accidently forget that someone is also an “executive”…Watch out.
It’s not entirely clear if this is a firmwide thing so run it by Steve-o tonight or discuss your feelings on this latest attempt to rally the troops (some of you anyway) in the comments.
The town-hall meeting format is getting out of control. It’s been in the political arena for some time now and it seems to fit in fine. But with Ben Bernanke is taking monetary policy directly to the people, apparently now anyone thinks they can just hit the road and talk about complex issues with the common folk.
So when IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman announced that the Service is diving into the populace to get their take on the Commission and give their ideas, comments, and suggestions.
What we’re picturing is a Ricky Bobby-type standing up and having a conversation with Doug Shulman that might go like this:
Ricky Bobby: Why do taxes suck?
Doug Shulman: Taxes are an important part of our system. They pay for things like roads, schools, fire fighters, and police officers. The Vice-President even said that paying taxes is Patriotic.
RB: You know what I think is patriotic?
DS: What, sir?
DS: Are there any other questions?
RB: Oh, wait, I’ve got another question. I heard about an IRS agent that threatened to kill some guys that came to his house. Uh, is that true?
DS: I did see that in the news.
RB: Do you know that guy?
RB: Okay, no, wait. No, okay, I’m done. Thank you. Thanks you, Jesus.
You got questions for the IRS? We’ll have our own little town-hall right here to get things warmed up for the main event on Thursday in DC.
IRS Asks Public for Ideas on Tax Preparer Standards [Web CPA]