• What Cheap, Crappy Gift Is Your Firm Handing Out This Holiday Season?

    By | December 15, 2016

    Here's an anonymous tip that came in earlier today:

    EisnerAmper thanked its employees today for an amazing year by giving each employee a choice of……………..a baseball cap, a beanie, or earmuffs.

    So in a nutshell: thank you for helping the firm achieve $320+ million (+8%) in revenue. Heres a gift valued at approximately $10.

    Accounting firms are kind of like that awkward relative that can't quite embrace you in a real hug. They want to show some appreciation and/or love, but it's so unnatural to them that you kinda wish they hadn't made the effort at all.

    Let's take this example — three options for wearing something on your head. Suitable for winter, sure, although the baseball cap is more for eyeshade than warmth. So at the very least, this gift is somewhat useful. That's not to say it's a good gift. Not everyone wants something practical; rather they'd prefer something they like. Obviously, this doesn't mean it has to be an expensive gift. I'll take a $10 Amazon gift card any day of the week and I think most people would too. A baseball cap/beanie/earmuffs falls squarely in the "socks" category of gifts. You turn it over in your hand as if you're looking for a $20 stuffed somewhere only to realize…"This is it?" Of course if it has the firm logo on it, it's going straight in the trash, but it could come in handy. So! Do these headwear qualify as crappy? On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being "Nebraska feedlot" and 10 being "your average porta potty at a music festival," I'll put this at a 4. 

    As for cheapness, let's do some arithmetic based on the facts we know and make a few assumptions.

    EisnerAmper is 18th on Accounting Today's Top 100 firms, based on revenue of $284.5 million with just under 1,300 employees. We'll take our tipster's word that the new revenue number is $320 million and assume (based on nothing whatsoever) that the headcount increased ~15% to around 1,500. Let's also assume that the firm bought 1 item each for each employee for a total of 3, just to be on the safe side. And let's also go with our tipster's estimated value of $10. That's $30 per employee times 1,500 employees, putting the estimated cost around $45k. This excludes the very likely possibility that the firm got a bulk rate on each item. $45,000 is about 0.014% of the firm's revenue. So, yeah, I'd say that's pretty cheap.

    However! It is not cheaper than nothing at all and I'm confident that there are firms out there whose idea of a good gift is this year's EY Tax Guide. But rather than focus on the real Scrooges, let's hear from those of you who have received something (this season or a season past) that was positively crappy, positively cheap or both.

    Image: iStock/SIphotography

    • Pianist

      If a baseball cap is good enough for Phil Mickelson, then it’s good enough for me. Not. 😉

    • Big4Veteran

      “Accounting firms are kind of like that awkward relative that can’t quite embrace you in a real hug. They want to show some appreciation and/or love, but it’s so unnatural to them that you kinda wish they hadn’t made the effort at all.”

      I have a different, and less innocent, theory. I think this is actual psychology that the firms use. They want to show just enough appreciation to be able to check the box, but not so much appreciation as to have the effect of overly-inflating the staffs’ self-worth. When staff think too highly of themselves, they tend to do confident things like ask for more money or get a better job elsewhere.

      • Caleb Newquist

        I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but you are way more cynical than I am. I appreciate you!

        • Big4Veteran

          Thank you. That means a lot coming from someone of your stature in the accounting profession.

          On an individual level, I think that most partners lack interpersonal social skills and have to be coached to say “thank you” to their staff. It comes very hard for them to show appreciation, because they have spent their whole career getting the life beat out of themselves.

          But at the firm level, those fuckers are way more analytical and diabolical. They hire lawyers and marketing people and HR people and behavioral people and psychologists to devise strategies for manipulating the help to the greatest extent possible. For the above example, I can picture a whole room full of grey hairs sitting around the table at the National office thinking of the perfect way to show “appreciation” to the staff during the holidays, but not too much “appreciation”.

          • Adam Hill

            I can envision a decision chart being part of this process, somewhere down the line of sample sizes for internal control testing.

          • cpanum31

            “…lack interpersonal social skills.”
            Been discussed to death.
            Conclusion is usually: Accountants are a self selected group who can’t deal with people so they selected “Accounting” under the false notion that they would only have to deal with numbers and never people.”

            One step away from being sociopaths. Although, I have met many that I thought there was a good chance they had taken that extra step.

            Conclusion: Inability to deal with people leads to an inability to manage the people doing the field work, which leads to audit failures, which leads to firm failures.

            Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year.

        • He isn’t the Veteran for nothing…

    • Angela Duffy

      I wear my EisnerAmper hat when I take advantage of the flex time the firm has given me and while spending my bonus that I just received. To say that’s all we received is unfair and untrue.

      • Midtier Mope

        I’ll bet EinserAmper also has a fun and inclusive firm culture that promotes a rewarding work/life balance. I would also bet they think outside the box, promote synergy, and are led by a visionary team of thought leaders and market makers.

        Enjoy your hat.

        • sludgemonkey

          Eisner just doesn’t have the instinct for growth that causes them to thrust themselves wholly into their clients as Chipman69 would advise they should.

    • iamthelolrus

      PwC associates got the gift of losing our Christmas bonus 🙁

    • SouthernCPA

      In 11 years of public accounting… I have never, not once, received any direct christmas gift of any value. Not even a keychain.

      At our current firm… we have two parties – a really nice party where we can bring a spouse held at a local reception hall or restaurant, and a smaller employee only party on the day before Christmas eve were the office closes at 12, food and drink is brought it, and everyone gets slammed.

      So those are nice. But a gift? nope.

    • Jess

      A stressball.

    • btvk

      Baker Tilly is donating $100k on everyone’s behalf to the charity of our choice in lieu of a gift this year.

      • sludgemonkey

        How do you know they actually did it?

      • cpanum31

        Common PR stunt for companies.
        Photos released of the Partners handing over the check.
        Statement in the “in the name of our ANONYMOUS employees who will not be named or shown in the photograph or be able to confirm in on the CV to get credit when they go to work for someone else, in lieu of anything that would be of value to them.”

        I have seen that PR stunt so many times I am surprised if any employee doesn’t know they are getting taken for a ride.

    • Robert

      Some could say, that these presents are a huge budget expense for the company. I cannot agree with them. Even Samedaypapers.com Review writes that good presents, especially the ones that are earned by the workers, greatly motivate the employees.

    • Leighzies

      A water bottle and a flashlight.

    • C2C

      A holiday office party…