The Financial Times published an interview with PwC International Chairman Dennis Nally over the weekend and we learn a few interesting things about DN that you probably didn’t know. For starters, he’s very aware that his firm is in a tussle for title of the largest professional services firm ON EARTH, “We’re in a real dog race to continue to sustain our leadership position as the largest professional services network in the world,” he told the FT. Of course this gives us the impression that Denny doesn’t believe that P. Dubs has relinquished the Biggest of the Big 4 title, as some other CEOs have claimed.
And as you might expect, there are various softening questions thrown around, including:
1) Leaders he admires – he wants to meet The Pope because “[Nally] seems impressed by the feat of co-ordination.”
2) Feats of strength – He practiced hot yoga to “strengthen his golf swing” but gave it up because “I found that you had a tendency to over-workout your muscles.”
Despite those little tidbits, Helen Thomas manages to get under Nally’s skin a little when she asks if “auditors should rightly find themselves in the line of fire” when fraud or “disingenuous” accounting occurs:
Mr Nally crosses his arms across his monogrammed shirt, for the first time looking a touch defensive. “There are professional standards out there [and] an audit is not designed under those standards to detect fraud,” he says, pointing out that detecting fraudulent behaviour rests on other indications including a company’s governance, management tone and control systems. “The reasons it has been done that way is because, while we always hear and read about the high-profile fraud, the number of those situations that you actually encounter in practice is very de minimis.
Notice that he doesn’t directly address the “disingenuous” accounting. Examples which might include, say, AIG and Freddie Mac, but rather addressed fraud which is easy to fall back on, since the expectations gap is so blatant (something he has mentioned before).
His statement also appears to indicate that he feels situations like Satyam are immaterial, unless by “de minimis” he intended to mean “rare in occurrence.” But, then again, I suppose semantics are also de minimis.
Josh Stevens of Chicago was done with his corporate audit job. The glamour of cube farm life had lost its allure and lucky for him, a challenge that only an accountant could embrace.
He decided that he would accept the challenge from Internet sensation du jour Groupon to live on coupons for an entire year, “I had done corporate auditing for a year, and I decided I didn’t want to sit in a cubicle every day. I thought I’d go back and get more education, and right as I started working on those applications, this fell in my lap.”
“This” includes traveling all over this great land, living off of coupons but there are a few rules that could make things difficult for Stevens including:
• “Stevens can’t use or even touch money.”
• “He’s allowed only five visits from family and friends, with each visit lasting less than a day.”
• “Strangers, fans and supporters may donate a place to crash for the night, a car ride or plane ticket.”
So how does Josh handle not being able to have his skin touch cold hard cash and more or less being celibate (his girlfriend can’t visit him) for an entire year?
“It’s the logistics. It’s really hard to plan in advance for anything. You don’t know how to get from place to place. You don’t know where you are going to be so it’s hard to plan where you will go and who will give you rides.” Of course his ability to be a “cross between Anthony Bourdain, who is trying new things, and MacGyver, who has to be resourceful,” has proven helpful (e.g. getting manicures) as has his willingness to rely on the kindness of strangers (one couple let him stay with them for two weeks).
However, there was one instance where his adventurous nature backfired, “I kind of overdid it with a yoga class I did in Washington, D.C. I don’t know much about yoga. I think I just overstretched. I was fine that day. And the next day and then a day after that, all of my muscles tensed up, and I struggled with it for a few weeks.”
Despite this setback, Josh is plugging along and we’re rooting for him to win the $100k if completes the challenge. Hopefully he’ll spend some of the winnings on his girlfriend and maybe give yoga another shot.