So, not sure if you guys saw this recent Entrepreneur piece by Gene Marks (a former senior manager at KPMG, btw) but if you aren't familiar, lets take a few important bits from it before we do anything to figure out where ole Gene stands. Like this:
Not many people know this about me, but I'm a Certified Public Accountant. I keep up the certification, but that doesn't mean I'm a very good CPA. For me, if the numbers are close, that's good enough, which is not exactly the sign of good CPA. Lucky for the profession, I haven't practiced accounting in years.
Yeah, he said that. There are some things you are never supposed to admit out loud and that is certainly one of them. I'm sure the state board of accountancy protecting the integrity of the profession by allowing this guy to continue to hold a license is thrilled he's admitted he doesn't give a shit if the numbers add up right. Practicing or not, he still holds a license and there's still a minimal expectation that licensed professionals will at least keep such truths to themselves, if NOT FEEL THAT WAY about the profession they are licensed to practice.
He goes on to basically say every small practioner might be a nice guy but is probably just as lazy as Gene is and at the end of the day, all the town CPA gives a shit about is your money; as in getting it, not actually helping you make more of it. According to Gene, this is evidenced by the small town CPA's crappy office "over a Chinese restaurant" because if your CPA were really a "business guy," he'd be meeting you at his plush office on Park Avenue. Clearly, Gene is projecting his own shortcomings as a CPA on every small-town CPA in the country. Gene has already established he's not a good CPA so we're going to let this one fly but if he knew what he was talking about, he'd know that guy with a crappy office that smells like dim sum might have a musty office but I am willing to bet he also has a much fatter bank balance than Mr Marks, who would have blown his billable hours on some stupid, pointless glass prison on Park Avenue if he had his way.
You got all that, Gene? You might just be bitter no one trusts you as a CPA for business advice because you don't bother to get the numbers right and would advise clients to waste their money on big stupid offices. But my favorite part of the whole thing is how he writes this:
Feel free to ask your CPA for business advice, but take it with a grain of salt. Just because he can count money doesn't mean he knows how to make money. Have other advisors for that.
...and then you find out he owns a consulting firm. NOW I get it! Oh, and it's worth pointing out here that if you go to the Marks Group "contact us" page, the listed address leads not to a Park Avenue office but, uh, a mailbox company. Maybe that's why Gene has a case of office envy, even a tiny office above a Chinese restaurant is still bigger than a mailbox.
Anyhoo, Bill Sheridan wrote a retort for the Maryland Association of CPAs that is slightly less offensive (toward Gene, anyway) than what I have written:
The profession doesn't need people like you, Gene Marks, for whom "close enough" apparently are words to live by.
Lucky for us, we have a profession full of leaders who know that the ways in which Gene Marks and his kind have cut corners and skated by for the past few decades simply don't cut it anymore. They know the world is changing, and they're making sure the profession changes even faster. They're ditching the stereotypes and taking the profession in new directions. They're killing the billable hour and pricing based on value. They're using social technologies to compete with the big boys and change the definition of "small firm." They're letting technology handle the data-management side of the job and focusing instead on data interpretation.
SNAP! He told you, son! Wait, there's more:
Here's the problem with Marks' argument: He assumes the profession won't ever change. He's wrong. It's changing before our eyes. Forward-thinking CPAs have redefined "change" as "opportunity," and they've taken the profession in an entirely new direction as a result. It's hard to see that if you're stuck in the past.
Marks is right about one thing, though. If your CPA is Gene Marks, you definitely shouldn't take business advice from him.
Now, we're not arguing that every CPA should also be a business advisor. But we are saying that maybe Gene feels like he has no business telling businesses how to run their business but that doesn't mean his ineptitude is at all some built-in bug intrinsic to being a CPA. Heck, I don't work out of a Park Avenue office and even I know that.
So, Gene, sorry your self-loathing has gotten the best of you but please, don't project your shortcomings on every individual who happens to share your credential. It's small-minded, rude and, frankly, reflects poorly on you, not the countless CPAs out there who can add and do give a shit about their clients.
In an unexpected revelation, an Accountemps survey found that CFOs plan to offer more money and better benefits to attract professionals with "in-demand skills." Of the 2,100 finance chiefs surveyed, 46% are improving benefits and 45% are boosting compensation. In an earlier survey, Accountemps found that CFOs are on the lookout for professionals with "[g]eneral business knowledge and IT expertise" but they'd settle for anyone that can open Excel without any trouble. [CGMA]
Accounting News Roundup: Time for Auditors to Focus on Fraud?' A New Tax Shelter; The Real Cost of the Government Shutdown | 10.09.13
Many in G.O.P. Offer Theory: Default Wouldn’t Be That Bad [NYT]
"We always have enough money to pay our debt service,” said [Senator Richard] Burr [R-NC], who pointed to a stream of tax revenue flowing into the Treasury as he shrugged off fears of a cascading financial crisis. “You’ve had the federal government out of work for close to two weeks; that’s about $24 billion a month. Every month, you have enough saved in salaries alone that you’re covering three-fifths, four-fifths of the total debt service, about $35 billion a month. That’s manageable for some time.”
Accountants Should Focus on Detecting Fraud, Experts Say [R&CJ]
While hard to believe, some CPAs believe detecting fraud still isn’t one of their core responsibilities, said Brian Fox, a certified fraud examiner and the founder and president of Confirmation.com, a cloud-based audit security tool used to prevent confirmation fraud. “For a long time we said finding fraud wasn’t our responsibility. Our responsibility was to find material errors in statements,” Mr. Fox said. “We’ve got great technology today, we don’t need to be paid to add up numbers. The public is relying on us to make sure accounting standards are being applied correctly and that management’s estimates are fairly stated and there is no fraud. They view us as the public’s watchdog.” Most auditors are not prepared to search for and identify the signs of financial fraud, and this lack of preparation is even more pronounced among staff and senior auditors, where the majority of the detailed audit work and client conversations take place, Mr. Fox said, adding this shows resistance remains as to whether this should be the responsibility of the accountant/auditor. “It’s also a bit of a legacy issue in not training our folks on ways to find fraud,” he said. “We cover some of that material but if you ask people in the public who rely on our audited statements they say it is our responsibility to find fraud. But the CPA exam, less than 1% focuses on fraud, it’s somewhat surprising, somewhat of a misalignment.”
New Corporate Tax Shelter: A Merger Abroad [DealBook]
Executives at a California chip maker, Applied Materials, highlighted a number of advantages in announcing a merger recently with a smaller Japanese rival, but an important one was barely mentioned: lower taxes. The merged company will save millions of dollars a year by moving — not to one side of the Pacific or the other, but by reincorporating in the Netherlands. From New York to Silicon Valley, more and more large American corporations are reducing their tax bill by buying a foreign company and effectively renouncing their United States citizenship. “It’s almost like the holy grail,” said Andrew M. Short, a partner in the tax department of Paul Hastings, which advises a number of American corporations on deals. “We spend all of our time working for multinationals, thinking about how we’re going to expand their business internationally and keep the taxation of those activities offshore,” he added.
Baker Tilly announces Tenon office mergers [Accountacy Age]
Baker Tilly has announced the areas in which it will merge the offices of RSM Tenon with its own. The firm plans to integrate the RSM Tenon offices in six regions: London, Milton Keynes, Basingstoke, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Stoke, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Fervent Battle Continues Over Same-Sex Marriage [Forbes]
Including the Kansas Department of Revenue's announcement that gay couples must continue to file separate state tax returns.
Big Ten tops all conferences in producing CFOs [JofA]
An actual study was conducted.
House members forced to reuse gym towels [The Hill]
Members don’t only have to pick up their towels — they have to reuse them for their showers, because there is no more laundering service. Lawmakers, including some who live in their offices during visits to Washington and use the gym’s showers to clean up, say they need the gym to stay open. “This job is very stressful and if you don't have a place to vent, you are going to go crazy and that's why I've used it all these years,” said Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who has used the facility since 1973. [...] Members on Tuesday argued the gym isn’t some fancy club, even if it is hard to be a member. It costs members a $250 annual fee and is similar to a YMCA, said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.). It contains cardio machines, a weight area, a swimming pool and a basketball court. “The gym is just a room, there are machines but there are no trainers,” Duncan added.
Capital One is looking for a Financial Audit Director for their commercial bank in New York. [GCJ]
Obama Looks to Pressure GOP on Budget [WSJ]
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this Investor Alert to warn investors about fraudulent solicitations using correspondence claiming to be from SEC staff and Commissioners (including phony letters using the SEC seal and purporting to be signed by Commissioner Daniel Gallagher). [SEC]
Oregon likely to try again on sales tax [WaPo]
Nelly to government: Don't tax me during shutdown "Because, you know, paying taxes is supposed to pay for the government, which in turn is not working. So if they're not working, I shouldn't have to pay taxes. And me being in the upper echelon of the tax bracket, feel that the money I could be saving over these next couple of days could be very vital to my survival." [USAT]Online sales tax would hurt minorities, women, says media council [The Hill] Joe Kristan has one-week-to-go reminders for all the tax pros out there. [Tax Update] Tax Reform Is on Furlough [Clint Stretch/Tax Analysts] Man Fakes Violent Kidnapping for Some Guilt-Free Time Away from Wife [Gawker]
They managed to round up a lot of their (and their competitors') clients though!
According to a new study by BDO USA, LLP, one of the nation’s leading accounting and consulting organizations, less than one-third (27%) of public company board members believe the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board's (PCAOB) proposed changes to the annual auditor's report will actually improve the usefulness of the report. Conversely, almost half (45%) of the directors say the changes will not improve the auditor's report, while more than a quarter (28%) aren't sure. [...] "Clearly, corporate board members aren't sold on the usefulness of the PCAOB's proposal to require external auditors to include much more detailed information in the annual auditor's report that accompanies a business's financial statements. However, when you make changes to something that has been done the same way for more than 70 years, there is bound to be some pushback," said Lee Graul, a Partner in the Corporate Governance Practice of BDO USA.
In other news, the Washington Redskins managed to not lose in their bye week, in all material respects.
Here's an interesting development in the wage and hour disputes between public accounting firms and their unlicensed staff. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently found that "class action waivers" included in offer letters to new associates are enforceable. What does that mean exactly? The case Sutherland v. Ernst & Young provides the background:“Alyssa” worked as an audit employee responsible for training and “low-level clerical work” for Ernst & Young, LLP in New York from September 2008 through December 2009 at a fixed salary of $55,000 per year. Upon accepting the job, Alyssa signed an offer letter stating that any “dispute … arising between myself and the firm will be submitted first to mediation and, if mediation is unsuccessful, then to binding arbitration.” In other words, there was an explicit process laid out in the offer letter that explained how disputes between the firm and an employee are dealt with: Step 1: Get someone impartial involved to help resolve the differences because, let's be adults about this.
Step 2: Get someone impartial involved who will make a decision because people don't want to be adults about this. Pretty standard. But then there's this: An attachment described the firm’s alternative dispute resolution program, which provided that “neither the firm nor an employee will be able to sue in court in connection with a covered dispute,” and “covered disputes pertaining to different [employees] will be heard in separate proceedings.” Okay, so this is the part where the firm said, "Hey, if you have a problem with us, fine. But we're not going to let you drag other people who claim to have the same problem into this mess." By signing this offer letter, Alyssa gave up the right to rally a bunch of people to her cause. Be that as it may, Alyssa argued that going solo was not an option: After a year on the job, Alyssa filed a lawsuit claiming she was misclassified as exempt and seeking $1,867 in unpaid overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York labor law. She also sought class certification for other clerical employees. Alyssa argued that she could not “effectively vindicate” her rights in individual arbitration because the cost would far exceed her potential recovery, with estimated attorneys’ fees of $160,000, personal costs of $6,000, and expert testimony fees of $25,000. The district court agreed with this argument based on the Second Circuit's rulings in In re American Express Merchants’ Litigation (Amex I-III)1 and said that the waiver prevented Alyssa from rightfully pursuing the claim. EY didn't like this and appealed, naturally. That's when the Second Circuit overturned the district court's decision citing a recent SCOTUS case: “Amex I and the subsequent decisions that followed in our Circuit are no longer good law in light of the [U.S.] Supreme Court’s recent decision in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant.” In Italian Colors, the Supreme Court held that “the fact that it is not worth the expense involved in proving a statutory remedy does not constitute the elimination of the right to pursue that remedy,” and reminded lower courts to “rigorously enforce arbitration agreements according to their terms.”
That last part is tough but what SCOTUS said, and what the Second is applying to Sutherland, is that it doesn't matter if Alyssa can't "effectively vindicate" that "the cost would far exceed her potential recovery" because an agreement is an agreement and therefore, the terms should be enforced.
On the one hand, the decision seems logical and it just goes to show how meticulously crafted those offer letters are. On the other, this does not look good for the plaintiff in this case and will hold a lot of repercussions in any future claims.
In short: read those offer letters closely. None of the terms are likely to be a dealbreaker for you, but it's best to be aware of the conditions that come with your employment.
1 Go here for some good background but the gist is "the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held [...] that an arbitration clause is void if individual arbitration would make it financially unfeasible for a plaintiff to vindicate federal statutory rights."
Accounting Student Whose Awkward Email Made the Rounds at Big 4 Firms Makes Fitting Retaliatory Video
Though it is never our intention, there have been a few times when news published on Going Concern has a life-shattering effect for some people. You know, like that weirdo who was filming coworkers in the bathroom stall next to him and young people stressing about retirement. Heck, even I suffer consequences from being associated with this website every single day.
But in the case of the awkward, if hopeful, young man who reached out to former Big 4 pro after an event to get advice on love in the Big 4, lemons certainly made lemonade. Maybe not a job offer but perhaps he should consider combing [shameless plug] GC Jobs and look for a firm that hasn't been forwarded his email yet.
If you missed the post on Friday and don't feel like clicking over, here's an abridged version:
We met at an event, I was the one with a zit that looked like a cold sore. Just wondering, is a relationship in Big 4 out of the question? I love bitches and bitches love money.
Thanks! [redacted] Sent from my iPhone
Anyway, the email writer was undeterred by the impact this innocent -- if awkward -- email had on his career that hasn't even started yet. Someone just give this poor guy a job already, the email wasn't that bad. Certainly we've seen worse over the years.
Here's his video response to the person who made his email whip around the firms faster than pretzels disappearing at Deloitte University.
Have you recently thought to yourself, "Man, this Going Concern team is a sharp bunch. I wonder if they can advise me on my disaster of a job/career/life." Yes! We! Can! Will it be good advice? That's debatable. Still beats asking your narcissistic friends, though. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of career suicide prevention counselors will get right on it.
- Better than average pay
- The job outlook is good
- It provides you with a flexible skill set
Who doesn’t love options?
The good news about choosing accounting as a second career is that it gives you a lot of choices. The list of jobs that accountants can have is endless: auditors, tax professionals, consultants, managerial, cost, financial, analysts of all kinds, etc. Public companies, private companies, small, large, and everything in between. Any good business will need an accountant; someone has to count the money, after all. But there are so many ways to count (i.e. account) for it; that’s why accountants enjoy near full employment. Good with numbers?
Right! The counting/accounting. For those who haven’t picked up on it, we’ll explain -- there are lots of numbers in accounting. I know; you're floored. If you aren’t a fan, then I suggest you stop reading here, click on the ‘X’ in corner of your screen, and see yourself out. No judgment. We’ll wait. … Okay, now that we’ve completed weed-out, round one, we need to proceed with weed-out round two. Click over to the next page. Wait, you don’t mean, long division? Liking numbers in a math kind of way is not the same thing as liking numbers in an accounting kind of way. Every accountant I have ever known has a calculator on their desk. Lots of accountants suck at math. Lots of accountants got into accounting because they suck at math. If you are good at math, by all means, study math, become an engineer, invent some stuff. The world needs you. Now, if you mathletes will excuse us… Great. For those still here, let’s move on. Liking numbers is essential for a career in accounting; reading balance sheets, income statements (aka P/Ls), cash flow statements, 1040s, 1065s, 1120s, ledgers, journal entries, SPREADSHEETS THAT EXTEND INTO INFINITY, internal reports that have made-up names; you’ll have to make sense of all of them. “No problem,” you might say, “I’m up for the challenge. Accounting is the language of business and I want to speak it. Just so long as I don’t have to talk to anyone else.” It’s time for weed-out, round three. "What we have here is a failure to communicate." Communicating with your co-workers, clients, regulators, and anyone else that you may come across during your career as an accountant may be the most crucial skill you’ll need. And lots of young accountants start their careers with severe lack of effective communications skills, particularly writing skills. “But I’m getting into accounting because I don’t write good!” you might say. Uh huh. One of the biggest cliches in the accounting world today is the importance of communication. “Anyone looking to build a successful career in accounting needs to excel in written and verbal communication,” says random accountant five years ago or influential leader in the accounting profession six months ago. I’ve spoken to professors in some of the top programs across the country and what they keep hearing from accounting firm recruiters, year after year, is that candidates lack the communication skills necessary to excel. What does all this mean for you, the non-traditional accounting student, the person taking another lap on the career track? It’s an opportunity, naturally. If you have real-world experience of any kind -- in a business setting or otherwise -- you have real-world communication experience. You’ve probably had to drop what you’re doing to put out five-alarm fires without starting more of them all while massaging egos and not hurting feelings. Sometimes this is done over email, sometimes over the phone, but it’s not the type of skill you learn in a college classroom. One annoying trait among fresh-faced recruits is their tendency to show off their smarts. They try to do this by writing long, elaborate emails that explain things in excruciating detail. If you’ve had ANY job that relies on email to a significant degree, you know that NO ONE has time for that. If you don’t get what I’m driving at, then here’s the only post on email you’ll ever need to read. Here’s a quick list of some other attributes that you see in a lot of successful accountants, according to people who talk about these things:
- Tech aptitude
EY reports 2013 global revenues of US$25.8 billion [EY]
"This represents 7.7% growth over the previous financial year in local-currency terms, EY’s fastest growth since 2008. Revenues grew 5.8% in US dollar terms. All EY’s service lines and geographies continued to grow revenues and headcount despite uneven market conditions in many parts of the world." And here's a nice info graphic:
Ernst & Young Revenue Grows 5.8% [WSJ]
Ernst's growth trend held up relatively well compared with other major accounting firms that recently reported slowing growth. Last week, PricewaterhouseCoopers said its revenue was up 4% from the previous year when foreign-exchange rates are held constant—lower than the previous year's growth of 8%. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu said in September that its fiscal 2013 revenue had grown 3.5% in U.S. dollars, below the previous year's 8.6% growth.
Shutdown Costs at $1.6 Billion With $160 Million Each Day [Bloomberg]
The shutdown cost $1.6 billion last week in lost economic output, according to IHS Inc. (IHS), a Lexington, Massachusetts-based global market-research firm. As the showdown enters its eighth day, the office closures are now draining an average of $160 million each workday from the $15.7 trillion economy.
SEC Looking into Accounting at ACS [Reuters]
Xerox Corp said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating certain accounting practices at Affiliated Computer Services, which it bought in 2010 for $5.5 billion. The investigation is focused on whether revenue from some ACS equipment resale deals should have been presented on a net rather than gross basis, primarily before the acquisition, Xerox said in a regulatory filing. Xerox moved into business services with its purchase of ACS, the company's biggest deal in its 106-year history. The company now gets more than half of its revenue from services.
New Bill Would Ensure All Pints of Beer Are Really 16-Ounces [TIME]
Twitter's shady accounting [Fortune]
"It's like the employees are working for free."
Jury Clears PwC Of Giving Bad Advice To Skype Investor [Law360]
A California jury on Monday rejected an accounting malpractice suit against PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC, finding it did not give Skype Ltd. founding board member Mark Dyne bad advice that resulted in him having to pay $1.4 million in taxes when eBay Inc. bought Skype.
Federal gasoline tax celebrates 20 years without an increase [DMWT]
Sex Toy Company Offers Pleasurable Relief From The Government Shutdown [HP]
Vibrators.com is giving away as many as 200 sex toys daily to government employees during the shutdown. The promotion, which began last Friday, started slow, with 400 vibrators given away over the course of the weekend. On Monday, Vibrators.com turned up the speed, filling out orders of their daily stock of 200 toys before noon.
Gay people in Kansas will not be married filing jointly any time soon [AP]
If you care, you can track how much the government owes us for the shutdown [Fast Company]
A snazzy, redesigned $100 bill hits the streets tomorrow after a long, long, long delay and here's what you need to know about it [USA Today]
If the United States defaults, it will be bigger than Lehman, apparently. But hey, at least EY won't get in trouble this time [Bloomberg]
This piece on Millennials and their workplace challenges -- with quotes from EY's Dan Black -- has been taking up a Firefox tab on my machine for like a week, better late than never to post it here so I can free up a fifteenth Facebook tab in its place [USA Today]
Some people are wondering how a school accountant allegedly stuffed embezzled money into her bra for, like, 14 years and no one noticed [LA Times]
Allen Stanford may not be the only one who has to pay for his Ponzi scheme, but the Supreme Court hasn't figured that part out yet [Reuters]
(UPDATE/CORRECTION) Two Ernst & Young Employees Seek Financial Backing for Their Non-flammable Cooking Headwear Business
See update/correction below.
I don't watch much TV, so it's no accident that I missed Shark Tank on Friday. Apparently it's a show where people pitch their ideas to Mark Cuban and other people that have names and lots of money from building businesses. I feel like this show has been done before but my reality television history is weak.
ANYWAY, at least a few of you watch the show because we've received numerous tips about a couple of EY employees that were on the show on Friday. Their idea?
I'll let Juli Deveau and Ozma Khan take it from here:
Alright, so Cuban & Co. aren't buying this idea, but what about the rest of you? Personally, while we here at Going Concern gladly accept freebies, we don't make a habit of endorsing a particular product.
As for the rest of you, these ladies need an angel investor so they can take this thing from the garage to EY Entrepreneur of the Year and I imagine someone out there is looking for an opportunity. Who's in?
UPDATE/CORRECTION: Shortly after our post went up, a few people told us that neither Juli or Ozma worked at EY but rather were at Deloitte. That struck us as weird, so we asked around and confirmed with two sources within the firm that neither Juli nor Ozma worked at EY! Huh.
Still confused, we were able to get Juli on the phone who explained that Ozma worked for "a very short time" at EY but had moved on to CAA. Juli does work at Deloitte in Los Angeles as a recruiter for the tax practice. When I asked why Ozma would say she worked at EY Juli suggested that the final product, through the magic of television, gives us impression that they both work at EY when in fact there explanation to the panel of sharks was a little more thorough. We can't even rely on television anymore. WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO?
Robert Coplan, one of three former EY partners who were convicted of selling illegal tax shelters that cost the government $2 billion, has had his case rejected by Supreme Court. Coplan's conviction was upheld last November by the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York and he was hoping to challenge one count in front of the big bench "to narrow the scope of the federal law that criminalizes conspiracies to defraud the U.S. government." [Bloomberg]
Accounting News Roundup: Terminating Deloitte 'with a vengeance'; Grant Thornton's 2017 Prediction; Big 4 Advisory Outguns Audit | 10.07.13
Mass. IT project is latest black eye for Deloitte [BG]
From Florida and Pennsylvania to California, multimillion-dollar projects managed by the New York company have come in behind schedule, over budget, and riddled with problems. It is a situation that has been repeated in Massachusetts this summer; Deloitte was two years late and $6 million over budget in delivering a system to manage unemployment claims, and, separately, the Department of Revenue fired the firm for falling behind on a $114 million tax-system overhaul mired in errors. In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, school officials fired Deloitte in 2009, partway through an $84 million contract to overhaul the district’s computer system. After paying Deloitte $30 million and having “virtually nothing” usable they could rescue, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said, the district turned the project over to its in-house technology department, which completed it on time and within the budget. “After much review the best thing to do was terminate Deloitte, and we did with a vengeance,” Carvalho said.
Congress Looks for Elusive Way Out of Government Shutdown [Bloomberg]
Grant Thornton smashes into Big Four’s territory [Independent]
Grant Thornton will double its FTSE 250 audit work by 2017 following hard-hitting reforms by regulators to smash the dominance of the Big Four accountants, the bean-counter’s chief executive has claimed. Scott Barnes said the Competition Commission’s demand that listed firms compete the audit role every five years will help loosen the stranglehold that KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, EY and Deloitte have on the market. [...] Mr Barnes predicted that Grant Thornton will have 15 FTSE 250 clients within three to four years. At present, the Big Four audit more than 90 per cent of the FTSE 250 and their dominance becomes even greater when it comes to FTSE 100 companies.
Big Four bulking up consulting muscle [Crain's]
A decade after the Sarbanes-Oxley Act restricted the advisory work they can do for audit clients, the Big Four are rebuilding lucrative and conflict-prone advisory practices—to the dismay of critics who fault the firms for missing signs of the financial crisis. Advisory revenue (excluding tax) at Deloitte LLP, Ernst & Young LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and KPMG LLP last year surged to $36 billion for their global networks, a rate four times the 3.4 percent gain in audit fees, according to Monadnock Research LLC in Gloucester, Mass. KPMG's audit revenue, the smallest of the Big Four, actually fell.
At the S.E.C., a Question of Home-Court Edge [NYT]
The S.E.C. has many weapons in its arsenal. One that is not so well known is its internal court system, overseen by administrative law judges. This is the place where the S.E.C. brings civil enforcement suits that it has not, for various reasons, filed in federal district courts. Because of a recent change in the law, these tribunals are likely to hear more cases. “Our expectation is that we will be bringing more administrative proceedings given the recent statutory changes,” Mr. Ceresney said last week. “But we evaluate the appropriate forum in each case and make the decision based on the particular facts and circumstances.” [...] But some legal experts say these proceedings suffer from potential bias because the judges operate within the agency bringing them. The possibility of a home-court advantage or a sympathetic adjudicator, critics say, raises questions of fairness, especially for individuals defending themselves in these matters. “If you get caught up in the web of an agency investigation, you’re investigated, prosecuted and judged by agency personnel,” said Ronald J. Riccio, former dean of the Seton Hall Law School and a professor of constitutional law there. “Even if it doesn’t create actual bias, it doesn’t look good.”
City Could Raise Amusement, Cigarette, Liquor And Lease Transaction Taxes [CBS]
Rahm Emanuel is exploring the possibility of raising the city’s tax on amusements, cigarettes, liquor and personal property lease transactions to chip away at a $338.7 million budget shortfall, City Hall sources said Friday. New revenues are needed to close at least part of a gap that will balloon to nearly $1 billion next year without a solution to the city’s pension crisis. Property and sales tax increases have been ruled out. So have increased taxes on natural gas, bottled water, soft drinks and parking, which the mayor has already targeted twice. But, that leaves a host of taxes still on the table.
Boy Boards Plane To Vegas At MSP Without Ticket [AP]
A 9-year-old Minneapolis boy was able to get through security and onto a plane at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport without a ticket, an airport spokesman said Sunday. Security officials screened the boy at airport shortly after 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan said. The boy then boarded Delta Flight 1651, which left for Las Vegas at 11:15 a.m. The flight was not full, Hogan said, and the flight crew became suspicious mid-flight because the boy was not on their list of unattended minors. The crew contacted Las Vegas police, who met them upon landing and transferred the boy to child protection services, Hogan said. Minneapolis Police went to his residence. Parents told officers they “hadn’t seen much of him today.” WCCO contacted the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) Sunday morning, during which a spokesperson said staffing is currently low due to the number of employees furloughed in the wake of the federal government shutdown.
Now that it's October, many of you are getting serious about finding your next job. The best thing to do, we think, to get started on your search is to head over to Going Concern Jobs and see what's listed there.
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Although most hiring professionals surveyed did not believe the economy or their business would be impacted negatively during the year ahead, their cautious hiring plans suggest a fair degree of concern about the future pace of growth in their organizations. While most firms believe a congressional stalemate will not again jeopardize economic growth, a slowdown is viewed as more likely and a cause for adopting more cautious hiring plans. The potential loss of key employees in the next twelve months was reported by 28 percent of respondents, up 1 percent over last quarter's projection but substantially higher than the 19 percent reported in the hiring forecast for the first quarter of this year. When specifically asked what factors were the most important in the loss of key talent, the top two reasons cited were the lack of career advancement (63 percent) and increases in pay or health and retirement benefits (58 percent). Also, when asked to identify the top characteristic they looked for in assessing the qualifications of a potential employee, the top three choices by respondents included the following:
- How well the candidate would fit the work culture of the firm (41 percent).
- The skills and expertise of the potential employee (40 percent).
- The candidate's experience (37 percent).