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Accounting News Roundup: Auditor Shopping, Certifications and Tax Deferrals | 01.10.17

Auditor shopping 1Malaysia Development Berhad has gone through a number of auditors, including KPMG, EY and most recently Deloitte. The latter resigned last July in the midst of allegations against 1MDB for corruption and money laundering. With that level of stench on it (along with cycling through 3 of the Big 4), there's no wonder […]

IMA Survey Shows Men Make More Than Women and Certifications Matter

The Institute of Management Accountants salary survey came out yesterday, and you should check it out if you're into that sort of thing. Quickly while we're on the topic of salary, consider this your friendly reminder that the Going Concern Compensation Survey is still open and it would be great if you can take a […]

woman in a field

Here’s How to Study For the CPA Exam and Still Salvage a Decent Summer

I dunno about you but I’ve been in a real funk since at least October. Maybe it’s just a seasonal thing, maybe I need professional help idk, but either way, summer really surprised me. It was like one day temperatures were cooling and leaves were falling, the next I woke up from yet another nap […]

open accounting jobs

Escaping the Dungeon: The Hottest Accounting Jobs for Q2 2019

A lot of us at Going Concern would’ve rather been chained up in the dungeon with Tyrion Lannister instead watching last weekend’s “Game of Thrones” finale. But we’d prefer just about anything over being trapped in the figurative dungeon of boring, thankless accounting jobs. Here’s something that’s more omg-so-awesome “Breaking Bad” finale than fade-to-black “Sopranos” […]

Compensation Watch ’19: Credentialed Accountants vs. Non-credentialed Accountants

In its annual salary survey, the Institute of Management Accountants always includes a section comparing compensation for accountants who are either CPAs, CMAs (Certified Management Accountants), or both with accountants who hold neither credential. And every year the IMA finds that credentialed accountants make more money than those without a CPA or CMA. Makes sense. […]

Answer for KPMG BACKGROUND CHECK

> they probably won’t care to verify.   This is horrible advice.  I’ll get to that in a second. I’m new to KPMG… started 6 months ago.   I found the hiring process to be curious at best. KPMG was the first job I’ve ever had that didn’t require a pre-employment drug screen… just electronically singing a form […]

retro computer

Here Are Some Tips on Having a Less Crappy CPA Exam Experience at Prometric From a (Probably Legit) Prometric Employee

A short while back, one brave soul (ThrowAway20112348) presented themselves as a Prometric employee on Reddit and shared some insight, tips, and rules for U.S. testing centers. The universe thanks you, friend to CPA exam candidates. Now, I’d like to share the love by recapping their message from the great testing center beyond. In their […]

Chocolate santas

REG Changes Are Coming Right After Santa; Here’s What CPA Exam Candidates Need to Know

Do you remember December 2017? You know, back when “The Last Jedi” premiered (RIP, Carrie Fisher) and BTS was blowing up Twitter (“Mic Drop”)? Yeah, me neither. But one important event happened in December 2017: the signing of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) into law. This new tax law was last year’s early Christmas present […]

How Are Public Accounting Salaries Stacking Up for 2019?

It’s the end of August, which means Starbucks is already slinging pumpkin spice lattes, Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers are now on the shelves of your favorite bottle shop, the college football season is about to kick off, and Robert Half and Accounting Principals have released their latest salary guides for accounting and finance professionals. Both […]

hot accounting jobs

Escaping the Dungeon: The Hottest Accounting Jobs for Q3 2018

We know a lot of you are in the dungeon. You’re working at one of the Big 4 or another public accounting firm, chained to your desk for 60 to 80 hours a week, performing menial tasks for clients you’ve never met and never will meet. Your creativity is stifled; your input ignored. But it […]

Government Auditors Say the Institute of Internal Auditors Is Making a ‘Big Mistake’ By Phasing Out the CGAP Credential

The Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) is one of three specialty certifications that are being phased out by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)—and several government auditors who hold the CGAP aren’t very happy about it. “I’m disappointed but not surprised by the IIA’s short-sighted decision to phase out new applications to the CGAP,” Chris […]

Big 4 CMA

Does the Big 4 Value the CMA Certification?

When talking about certifications prized by the Big 4, everyone sounds like a broken record: the CPA, the CPA, the CPA, and just to mix it up, sometimes they mention THE CPA. Is there any other certification that Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst and Young (EY), and KPMG find appealing? What about the CMA, another one […]

Accounting News Roundup: Mischievous Non-GAAP Reporting; More Bad News for KPMG South Africa; Theranos Losers | 05.04.18

SEC chief accountant warns against mischief in non-GAAP reporting [AT] On a panel at Baruch College’s Financial Reporting Conference, SEC Chief Accountant Wesley Bricker mentioned that there can be a “mischievous quality to non-GAAP reporting,” and now I can only imagine CFOs with toothy grins and little top hats. Also notable were comments from Kyle […]

ernst & young report ashley madison

Accounting News Roundup: EY Partner Accuses Firm of Blowing Off Assault Complaint | 04.19.18

Ernst & Young partner accuses firm of brushing off assault complaint [Reuters] Not too good, EY: In a complaint alleging discrimination and retaliation filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Jessica Casucci, a partner in Ernst & Young’s New York office, accused fellow partner John Martinkat of sexually assaulting her in front of two […]

non-cpa controllers

Non-CPA Controllers Offer Perspective on Choosing a Certification

Three years ago, Anne Bronchetti, CMA, had an accounting intern from a local university who had never heard of the Certified Management Accountant designation until she told him about it. “He knew he wanted to pursue a career in accounting but wasn’t at all sure what path to follow or where he should focus,” said […]

controllers no cpa

No CPA, No Problem: Why Some Controllers Opted for Other Professional Credentials

Joel Konts was told over and over again during college that if he didn’t sit for the CPA exam and work for a public accounting firm after he graduated, he wouldn’t have the best of luck making a career in accounting. “I also knew that if I didn’t go for my master’s degree right after […]

deloitte cyberattack

Accounting News Roundup: Sanctions for Former Deloitte Brazil Execs and #Envelopegate: The Aftermath | 03.30.17

Deloitte Brazil Back in December, Deloitte’s Brazil affiliate paid a record $8 million fine and settled charges with the PCAOB over some bad audits and the cover-up of those bad audits. Yesterday, the PCAOB announced sanctions for two former Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Auditores Independentes (aka Deloitte Brazil) executives who wouldn’t cooperate with the Board’s investigation: […]

accountants resume

Accountants’ Résumés Are the Worst

My name is John, I’m a recruiter and I have a résumé problem. I see lots of résumés from accountants. Less than a third are presentable. When the perfect candidate has a résumé that fails, I get cranky and I call to suggest a fix. Hiring managers don’t do that. Where to start? Résumé experts […]

How to Prepare an Exit From Public Accounting Into a Government Position

This is sponsored content brought to you by American University. Let’s face it, sometimes your chosen career path just isn’t what you imagined: The challenge of the job fades, the income doesn’t quite equal the time expended, the sexiness of working for a big firm didn’t last. And sometimes you just hate your job and […]

Accounting News Roundup: Tax Planning for Secretary of State Nominees and FASB Stuff | 01.11.17

Tax planning (for Secretary of State nominees) Richard Rubin of the Wall Street Journal reports that secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson would like to defer the taxes on the $170 million retirement he received from his former employer, ExxonMobil. Normally, the creation of such a trust for Mr. Tillerson’s benefit outside Exxon would create […]

Accounting News Roundup: Deloitte’s Audit Problems, Women in Finance, a COSO Certification | 12.12.16

Deloitte's audit quality problems Francine McKenna chronicles Deloitte's audit problems from the last decade-plus, making special note of one of the Brazil 12, Wanderley Olivetti, who tried to hold Parmalat, the Italian dairy company, accountable in 2002. She writes, "Olivetti rose to the top of Deloitte Brazil because of, or perhaps despite, his apparent demonstration […]

accounting salaries

How to Make More Money in Accounting

This is sponsored content brought to you by Benedictine University. Almost everyone wants to make more money and why not? A bigger paycheck helps with a lot of things — paying off student loans, saving for a down payment on a major purchase, funding a new venture, travel. If you’re a partner at a firm […]

Sponsored: Should You Get a MAcc on Your Way to the CPA?

CPA at the end of your name? Powerful and sexy. MAcc? The verdict is still out. It can be expensive and honestly, accounting firms don’t require a graduate degree to make partner. You might think, “What’s the point?” If you already scored a high paying first job out of undergraduate without a MAcc, is it […]

Sponsored: Why a Bank VP Got Her Master of Accounting Degree (And Why You Should, Too)

Please enjoy this sponsored content from The University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School, an Accountingfly University Partner. To move her career to the next level, Bank of North Carolina’s Vice President of Balance Sheet Strategy returned to school, adding new skills and credentials to her resume.  Are you ready for the next big step […]

Clark Nuber

Meet This Firm: Clark Nuber

Meet This Firm is a series of video interviews featuring the best accounting employers across the United States for high performing accounting professionals and CPAs. Please enjoy this sponsored post courtesy of Clark Nuber, an Accountingfly Firm Partner. Contact Judy Schryver to learn more about firm partnerships. Clark Nuber is an award-winning CPA and consulting […]

BlumShapiro

Meet This Firm: BlumShapiro

Meet This Firm is a series of video interviews featuring the best accounting employers across the United States for high performing accounting professionals and CPAs. Please enjoy this sponsored post courtesy of BlumShapiro, an Accountingfly Firm Partner. Contact Judy Schryver to learn more about firm partnerships. BlumShapiro is the largest regional accounting, tax and business […]

Risk Consulting – EY vs. KPMG

Will graduate in May, need help choosing between two offers: EY – RAP (Risk Advisory Program) – $61k salary, $3k signing bonus KPMG – Risk Consulting, Internal Audit – $65.5k salary, $5k signing bonus I think that KPMG also offers better benefits in terms of PTO and additional certifications, but the money is the main […]

5 Ways Accountants Can Protect Themselves from the Accountapocalypse

In an earlier post, I listed what types of firms and accountants are vulnerable to the Accountapocalypse. Since then, I’ve received a number of tweets, LinkedIn messages and hate mail (thanks guys) centred around this:

LinkedIn Faux Pas

I was recently chatting with an old client contact and the discussion turned to the stupid ways which people give the wrong impression on LinkedIn. These were the major things we've seen and agree that they make people look like idiots online: 1. Long self-aggrandizing summaries: usually the people that did this were assholes anyways, […]

Soon-to-be IT Auditor unsure of future

Hey everybody, I am starting at Deloitte (midwest region) in August as an IT Auditor and am super stoked! However, I am a little concerned about my future career path after reading (probably far too many) discussions here. I have no current interest in sticking with IT audit beyond my Big 4 stint and I […]

Accounting News Roundup: CFOs Make Career Moves; Tokin’ on a Business Trip; Accounting Firms That Cold Call | 06.15.15

CFO Departures Often Involve Career Moves: Study [CFOJ]According to Audit Analytics, out of 290 CFO departures that disclosed a reason, 90 were due to "another opportunity" and 29 were "[to] pursue other interests." Twitter CFO’s Ascent Creates New Power Center [WSJ]Legg Mason's Bill Miller offers a ringing endorsement: "He’s one of the adults in the […]

Returning to Big 4?

Hey all,   Got a quick question for you Big 4 vets and beyond:   My dilemma is this:   I've previously worked 1.5 years in the big 4 and have the stripes on my back to prove it. Not a whole lot of time right? Yeah, I know.. but I recognized that all of […]

There’s No Stopping the Growth of Accounting Master’s Programs

Let’s crunch these numbers a bit.

How Many Letters After Your Name Is Too Many?

Full disclosure:  I am a CPA and CGMA, and am considering the CITP. That being said, how many letters are too many?  How many of your certifications are you putting on your communications?  Does your firm have a policy on this?   I just got an email from a person, and this was his signature […]

Accounting News Roundup: Dark Arts of Ladder Climbers; Reminder: IFRS Not Happening in U.S.; Gender Bias Suit Against KPMG Granted Collective Action | 07.09.14

In Deal to Cut Corporate Taxes, Shareholders Pay the Price [DealBook]Medtronic shareholders, to be specific: "The Internal Revenue Service will treat the acquisition as if Medtronic shareholders had sold their shares. Under I.R.S. rules, when a company moves abroad in a tax inversion, the buyer’s shareholders must pay capital gains if they will hold 50 […]

Accounting News Roundup: E.U. Investigating Fancy International Tax Planning; Bain Sues EY; Section 179 Getting Kicked Around | 06.11.14

Bank of America Mortgage Settlement Is Said to Be Deadlocked [DealBook]The DoJ was not amused by BoA's most recent offer: "The talks stalled on Monday after the bank’s latest offer — more than $12 billion to resolve state and federal investigations into its sale of mortgage investments that later imploded — fell far short of […]

Recruiters Left Scratching Their Heads at the Fact No One Will Take Their Calls

It's probably not all that far from base to assume Glassdoor hopes no matter how content you are in your current position, you're cruising their website looking for your next big opportunity. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that they suggest you take recruiters' calls even if you are happy at your job: You […]

The AICPA Voiced “Deep Concerns” About the IRS’ Voluntary Tax Preparer Proposal

It isn't often the AICPA throws out serious words like "deep concerns," yet they just did in regards to the IRS' proposed voluntary tax preparer program. Those deep concerns are the program itself, how quick the IRS is trying to get it in place and the confusion that might result from stupid taxpayers thinking "regulated" […]

Who Needs a CFO When You Have an Ex-KPMGer Running the Show?

Colin already got to this L&L Energy LOLery in ANR but in case you missed it, here's just a teaser from the SEC: The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleges that L&L Energy Inc., which has all of its operations in China and Taiwan, created the false appearance that the company had a professional management team in […]

Should An IT Auditor Take The CPA Exam?

I'm at IT Auditor who serves external audit clients at a "Big-4 Firm". This question is with regard to certifications/licenses: I will be wrapping up my CIA cert. next week as I am taking the final section. If you're wondering why an IT Auditor is pursuing the CIA – simple, I served as an Operational […]

Accounting Career Conundrums: The Path to Becoming an International Accountant of Mystery

This week, a newb discovers GC and solicits career advice. Which is pretty much every day around these parts. If you just happened to Google the right combination of words to land in our lap and need career advice, first please look around a little to see if your question has already been asked. Then, […]

Going Concern’s Adventures in Consulting Series: Part 2 – WTF Should I Do Now?

“I lie every second of the day. My whole life is a sham.” – George Costanza Make sure to catch up on part 1 of this series if you haven’t already because we are diving right into each of these poor bastards’ unique, yet perhaps, all too familiar situations and you need to keep up.  […]

Here’s a Fancy Picture About Projected Accountant Salaries for 2014

Thanks, Becker and Robert Half!   The fine print: * Example only.** Large public accounting firms/companies = $250 million + in sales. Salary does not reflect overtime or bonuses which may represent significant portions of compensation for some positions.*** CPAs may earn up to 10% over peers without professional designations.**** Advanced degrees or professional certifications […]

The Definitive Guide to Accounting as a Second Career

Over the past few years, accounting has become a popular choice for a second career by many people who realized that their first had them going nowhere. Deciding to change careers when you’ve been out of school for a number of years takes guts. For starters, it’s a confession of sorts. You’re more or less […]

accounting second career

The Definitive Guide to Accounting as a Second Career

Over the past few years, accounting has become a popular choice for a second career by many people who realized that their first had them going nowhere. Deciding to change careers when you’ve been out of school for a number of years takes guts. For starters, it’s a confession of sorts. You’re more or less […]

Why Aren’t Big 4 Firms Aggressively Marketing Their CPA Exam Policies?

While the firms are busy trampling each other to recruit top talent with a salary/benefit/work-life balance pissing contest, many of them are missing one important component to their seduction strategy: CPA exam incentives. We already know some firms pay for materials, give you time off to study, and offer cash incentives for passing the exam […]

The Accountant’s Definitive Guide to LinkedIn

The business savvy social network LinkedIn can actually help you land a better job than the one you call home right now. I’m sure some of you have actually used it to help you find a job, in which case I hope you share your triumphs with the rest of us.

The Accountant’s Definitive Guide to Building a Successful Résumé

With recruiting season in full swing, it’s time to dust off your résumé and revamp it. If you are a staff member, chances are your résumé still lists you as being in college. That needs to change. Everything you need to know to put together a successful résumé can be found here. It’s important to remember […]

Study: Competing Forensic Accounting Bodies Pretty Much Hate Each Other; Regulation Needed

The continued prevalence of fraudulent activity in business will undoubtedly lead many of you to a career in forensic accounting and/or fraud examination. Because of the nature of their work, you might be under the impression that the organizations in this little corner of the sandbox would be above reproach and bickering over petty differences […]

Is Getting a CITP Worth It?

Sometimes, your career troubles are so massive that you can no longer afford to buy a few rounds of drinks to convince your buddies to listen to you complain for the fifteenth night in a row. That's when you man (or woman) up, open up an email and let GC steer you in the right […]

Get Your CGMA Designation Before the Turd Gets Cold

I refuse to become a CGMA. If you are a CGMA, I will pretend to not judge you if we meet in person. But I will be judging you in my heart. The Chartered Global Management Accountant designation has been available since January 31, and the AICPA has been promoting the hell out of it. […]

Comp Watch ’12: Credentialed Accountants vs. Non-credentialed Accountants

Have you struggled to pass a certification exam? Is your reaction to colleagues that place various three-lettered credentials behind their name on their résumés a resounding "Meh"? Not too hung up on money? Great! You won't be bothered by this at all: The average reported salary of IMA members surveyed was $109,001 in 2011, down […]

ANR: Groupon Welcomes “Accounting Types” to Its Board; IRS Snoops Around Chesapeake CEO’s Perk; More False Tax Returns in Tampa | 05.01.12

Schultz and Efrusy to Leave Groupon Board; “Accounting Types” Joining [AllThingsD]Daniel Henry, CFO of American Express, and Deloitte Vice Chairman Robert Bass will replace Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz and Accel Partners’ Kevin Efrusy respectively.  Taxes and Employment [Economix]Since the beginning of the economic crisis, Republicans have insisted that tax cuts and only tax cuts are the […]

This Guy Thinks Your Degree Is Useless As Long As You Got a High Score on the CPA Exam

In a recent article titled "The Dark Side of a Divided White America," The Fiscal Times chatted with Charles Murray, W. H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of books that include Losing Ground and What It Means to Be a Libertarian. Murray apparently upset a few folks with his earlier […]

Three Tips to Help Make Studying for the CPA Exam While Working Less Awful

Ed. note: This post is by Jeff Jardine, CMA®, CPA, PMP, Senior Consultant, Deloitte & Touche LLP and is republished from AccountingWEB.

During my summer internship at an accounting firm I noticed each night as I was heading out the door with my managers that two of our team members stayed behind and continued working.

I admired but internally questioned their dedication. After the pattern ensued for several days, I asked one of the individuals why she felt the need to stay behind every day when we had already reached our daily milestones. She explained that she was preparing to take portions of the CPA exam, and that there was no other available time besides weekends to study. I wished her well (she did eventually pass).

Her actions/dedication left an indelible impression on me, and as I entered my senior year in college I rearranged my class and personal schedules to allow myself time to study for the CPA exam so that I could take the test prior to beginning full-time employment.

Pursuing this and other certifications has made a positive impact on my career. I thus offer three tips for how to effectively study for professional accounting certifications while working:

Tip 1: Get Certified Prior to Starting Your Job
If I could pass along one piece of advice to young professionals considering an employer-required certification it would be this: If you have time between graduating college and beginning work, put 100 percent of your efforts into completing that certification prior to starting your job. Yes, it makes for a miserable summer wherein your best friends are exam prep instructors (Peter Olinto, anyone?), but in the end this method is the much preferred alternative to studying after a long day of work for months on end.

What should you do, however, if you have no such break between college and full-time work, or you are studying for an additional certification later in your career while working full-time? I fell into this latter category while working toward the CMA, which I had known since college that I wanted to take as soon as things settled down after beginning work at an accounting firm.

Tip 2: Gain Buy-in from Your Employer
After examining my schedule, I determined the most favorable times to study for and schedule the various sections of the CMA exam. Then, I spoke with my teams at work to gain their buy-in (my managers were fully supportive), and I scheduled my exams well in advance while keeping in mind client demands and team requirements. Saturdays always fill up first at testing centers, so schedule as far in advance as you can.

Tip 3: Build Studying Time Into Your Daily Schedule
Additionally, I took a day off from work prior to each exam date to have adequate time to study – though I didn’t plan on studying everything on that one day or just on Saturdays. I knew that I needed to study – at least a little bit – every day to most thoroughly prepare for the exam.

After considering my daily schedule, it was clear that the time I had the most control over was early in the morning. I decided to wake up an hour earlier each day for the three to four weeks prior to the exam to review material and churn through practice questions (which I believe is one of the most effective methods to prepare for these exams). Then on Saturdays I studied longer and more in-depth.

I took Sundays off from studying to allow things to settle in my mind while spending a day with my family. In the end, my efforts paid off. I passed each section and after finishing the experience requirement, I was a CMA.

Survey: CPA Combined with CMA Will Put More Money in Your Pocket

This survey was done by the Institute of Management Accountants, so of course the AICPA would encourage you to wait for the CGMA to get a dual certification but if you just can’t wait, then the CMA should work fine.

IMA’s Annual Salary Survey explores salary trends of accounting and finance professionals and reveals that certain industries are faring better than others. Public accounting ranked first in terms of average salary, at $125,488, and second in average total compensation, at $153,395, both in 2010 and 2009. The survey was mailed to respondents last December, and the results have just been released this month.

“The CMAs in this year’s study make a little more than the CPAs,” said Dennis Whitney, senior vice president of certification at the Institute of Certified Management Accountants. “For the younger professionals, it’s a little more per year. The number does seem to go up as you get older, but generally it’s a couple of thousand dollars. But the thing that’s the most dramatic is that people with both the CPA and the CMA fare the best.”

For those with both certifications, the difference can be not only $27,000, but $35,700.

“Dual certification is definitely worthwhile,” said Whitney. “It broadens your competencies. You have not only the financial accounting and auditing skills, but also the financial planning, analysis, and control skills and decision-making, which are very important today.”

Certified Accountants Earn $27,000 More [AT]
Earlier:
The Path to CFO: Is the CMA Credential Just as Important as the CPA?

Mike Mayo Is of the Opinion That Citigroup ‘May Have Violated Sarbanes-Oxley’

Last week we heard from a number of people on the topic of Citigroup’s internal controls that while it didn’t sound like they were quite up to snuff, KPMG was somehow cool with it and Vikram Pandit signed his name to it, saying that everything was hunky dory.

Now along with bloggers and journalists, the scourge of Citigroup, CLSA analyst Mike Mayo, has decided to get into the act:

Citigroup may have violated Sarbanes-Oxley with its 2007 10-K submission, in our opinion. The new information relates to letters from regulators that were only revealed earlier this year as part of the FCIC archive. We believe these letters between Citi and the Fed, Citi and the OCC, and the OCC with internal staff, imply that Citi should have known about internal control shortfalls for the year 2007 and was directly told about them by the OCC only eight days before the 10-K was signed. Also, Citi reported large unexpected losses with less than two months left in the year. Thus, the lingering question in our mind is why Citi signed off on its 2007 10-K as having effective controls in light of such problems. This information is still relevant today because it reflects on the magnitude of the risk shortfalls and what we feel is the higher-than-perceived task of turning them around.

That’s from Mayo’s update on the bank, dated today, and along with the “opinion” on a Sarbanes-Oxley violation, he has a few questions:

To what extent was the audit committee and board at Citi aware of the concerns voiced by various regulators at the time, and who gave the advice to sign the 10-K? To what extent has Citi’s board examined the issue since the release of letters from the FCIC? Has the SEC and DOJ looked into this matter?

We bolded that portion since it might – just might – be referring to KPMG and the apparent disregard everyone had for the letter sent to Citigroup from the OCC. Of course, not everyone always agrees with Mayo, namely Dick Bové who has gave HofK the thumbs up although it was obvious that he’d never heard of the firm. Bové hasn’t weighed in on this particular report but it’s only Monday.

Anyway, Citigroup remains steadfast in their thoughts on the matter, telling The Street’s Lauren Tara LaCapra that the “certifications were entirely appropriate,” although things increasingly seem to be pointing to the possibility that wasn’t the case. A message left for Marianne Carlton, a KPMG spokeswoman, hasn’t been returned.

Another Future Big 4 Associate Wants Advice on How to Best Ruin Their Life Prior to Starting Work

Welcome to the cancel-your-holiday-in-Libya edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, another Fall 2011 Big 4 associate would like to nail down a certification in addition to the CPA before starting work. Can I keep my head from exploding long enough to formulate a coherent response?

Caught in a ethical jam at work? Need a shredding service-provider that also has a knack of taking care of “problems”? Want to challenge your firm’s dress code but need an objective opinion? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll make like Anna Wintour.

Back to our overachiever du jour:

Caleb,

I am about to pass the CPA exam and have 8 months until I begin at one of the “Big Four” firms in Florida. I am excited to start at the firm as it was my first choice however, I am not certain I will be in public accounting for the long run (like most people). My question is, being uncertain about my career path, what other certification should I obtain before I start in 8 months?

I have considered the CISA, CFE, CMA, CFA, Six Sigma but, I am not sure as I am not certain of my long term path. I want something that will give me an edge if I leave the firm and/or switch careers.

What certification would you recommend?

Any suggestions are helpful.

Dear Overachiever Du Jour,

After murdering the remainder of Stranahan’s in the house, I’m better prepared to answer your query.

I appreciate your ambition and we definitely think that obtaining additional certifications is a good idea for those that move on from public accounting but I fail to see how this benefits you now before you have an inkling of what kind of career you want. HOWEVER, I’m here to help sort you out as best I can, so I’ve put aside my judgments for two.

Based on your “considerations” listed, you seem to have a case of accounting certification ADHD which is fine but there’s no clear pattern as to what your interests are. I’m not going to recommend you do something just because it may be a hot area (forensics) or in-demand (information systems) but I am going to recommend you rank these certifications based on your level interest. Want to eventually be a CFO? Then go for the CMA. Want to pile up the financial reporting bodies? Get the CFE. You get the point. The important thing is to pursue a certification you find interesting rather than one that will just puts a few letters behind your name that may (but probably not) impress someone.

But really, do you want to spend the summer prior to starting work studying for a test? Get the band back together, take a trip, something.

And Now…We Try to Keep Three Prospective Accountants From Freaking Out About Not Having Jobs

Welcome to the Lindsay-Lohan-prison-jumpsuit-fitting edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, we’ve received a flurry of emails from Big 4 hopefuls who can’t land interviews and are FREAKING OUT. Are they doomed to the breadline and/or parents’ basement or can their CPA firm dreams still come true?

Are you working for the devil this busy season? Are you looking for a summer activity that doesn’t involve three letters? Need an excuse for not passing the CPA exam that will pass the mustard with the Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll try to come up with something better than, “The dog barks whenever Peter Olinto is on screen and I can’t concentrate.”

Now, then. Today is a little bit different in the ol’ advice column. And since everyone out there seems TOO BUSY to engage in any busy season chicanery and tell us about it, this thing will be a tad lengthy. In the last week, we’ve received three emails from people who are borderline having panic attacks because they can’t land interviews. Obviously, this is a problem worth these pages but if you think we’re writing three columns on the same damn thing, you’re all a bunch of mental cases. And for those of you thinking that this sounds like you, don’t even try giving us the “well, this doesn’t address my specific situation,” story. Sure, everyone is special but not so special that you need the delicate intricacies addressed. [BREATHE]

All right. Let’s do this, shall we?

Here’s a portion of email #1:

I interned at PwC with an internal position during Summer 2008 and I did audit with them in Spring 2009. I wasn’t given an offer for full-time employment and I have been looking for a job since. I tried recruiting with Ernst and Young last year and they kept saying they did not have any positions and then last summer they hired another candidate from my school with whom I graduated. Just about everyone I’ve graduated with has a position at an accounting firm. I’ve applied nearly everywhere (other big 4, mid-tier, local acct firms, industry, and even Craigslist). I can’t help but start to take it personally. Career services at my school doesn’t seem too interested in helping me…in fact one of the counselors actually was a recruiter at PwC when I worked there and she just recently left a voicemail that we should stop talking. I have one professor that still keeps in touch. I knew I wasn’t going to get an audit position even though I still applied but I’ve even been turned down for staff accountant positions. Last September I passed all four sections of the CPA exam. I’ve been told that I’m either “over-qualified” or I don’t have enough years of experience.

That should be enough but if we suffered through them, then you are too. An excerpt from email #2:

I have been to numerous career fairs since then and I’ve made significant contacts with some big 4 recruiters and other regional firms. But after sending my carefully prepared résumé by mail and continuous attempts to get some information about an interview, I‘ve been always getting the usual “we are looking at other candidates and wish you the best” reply or none at all. The only significant feedback I received was from a regional firm that was really interested, but was drawn back when I told them my college GPA. I take full responsibilities for my shortcomings in college, but I have invested the needed time and effort in doing what EVERYONE IN THE WORLD TOLD ME TO DO, which is passing the CPA exam. I have also gained significant and progressive experience at my current workplace, but I still have not even gotten an interview! I am 25 and I feel time is running out for me. I’m even thinking of getting other certifications like the CFE or ACCA (Association of certified chartered accountants), to make me a more desirable candidate.

Sick of it yet? Here’s a bit from #3:

I’m in my last semester and will have my 150 hours at the end of this spring. I am also preparing the the CPA exam (have started Becker, taking my first section, AUD, at the end of February). As a student in these times, I have never been able to find an accounting internship or any part time accounting work as all of my job inquiries wind up unanswered. It’s not for lack of trying, but my GPA isn’t spectacular (3.2) and my résumé is average. At the college job fair a few weeks ago, I put in resumes with all big 4 and all mid tier firms and was NOT INVITED TO A SINGLE INTERVIEW. I became an accounting major because I thought there were jobs available to qualified students. I have an accounting and finance degree, 150 hours and will have the CPA under my belt in a few months…what the hell am I missing. Am I really not qualified to become a slave to the Firms?

Good Lord. Let’s see if I can do this without LOSING IT.

For starters, we’re making the assumption all three of you are socially capable individuals. If you’ve noticed people responding to your typical conversation with “That’s awkward,” or “You’ll be hearing from my lawyer,” then we suggest engaging a life coach or some other professional that can help you with your awkward tendencies. Secondly, all three of you need to stop freaking out. Sure, you’ve got responsibilities and school loans and whatnot but thank your lucky stars you’re not a lawyer. You have a good educational skill set, a job market that is thawing out and your debt is probably under six figures. CALM DOWN.

Now. If the Big 4 isn’t interested in what you have to offer, you have to get over it. Somewhere in your gray matter, you knew striking out with all of them was a possibility. Now that it has become a reality, you need to move on. If you’ve managed to do that and say you’ve gone to Grant Thornton, BDO, Rothstein Kass and McGladrey and you’ve been denied there too. And maybe you’ve gone to regionals like Moss Adams, BKD, Clifton Gunderson, Plante & Moran, WeiserMazars, Dixon Hughes Goodman et al. [ugh] At this point, it’s natural for frustration to start creeping up on you. But if you want to work in public accounting, you can’t get discouraged. Next thing you should do is to knock on all the doors in your geographic location. The Vault 50 is a good place to start. Firms from every part of the country are on the list and you can specifics on them over at the Vault website. Pound the pavement, people.

If that doesn’t work, then we suggest calling some reputable recruiters in your area to find out if they have any entry-level positions at CPA firms. Keep things cool, don’t act desperate and put your best qualities forward. The recruiters should be able to help you polish your résumé if needed and find you an interview or two. IF ALL THAT FAILS and you simply need a job, look for an in-house accounting job to get your career started. Just because you don’t start in public accounting doesn’t mean you’re doomed to work a dull job and have a lackluster career. And who knows, you might – gasp – like the work.

Any words of encouragement from the peanut gallery? I need a drink.

Should an Overachieving Auditor Ruin His Summer By Studying for the Certified Internal Auditor Exam?

Welcome to the I’ve-never-been-so-disappointed-with-commercials-in-my-life edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a future Big 4 auditor is thisclose to finishing up the CPA and is worried that his summer won’t be sufficiently ruined without an exam to study for. Is hitting the books for a Certified Internal Auditor badge the answer?

Need career advice? Need a myth about your firm debunked? Is your job driving you mad to the point of considering a terrorist act? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll keep your face off a most-wanted list.

Back to our glutton for punishment:

Dear Caleb,

I keep going back and forth on whether or not to go for another certification. This month I’m studying for, and taking, the last section of the CPA exam. I’m starting an auditing gig at a Big 4 firm this Fall. With no CPA exam to ruin my life this summer, I’ve considered ruining it by studying for a new exam, specifically the CIA.

I’ll have the required work experience for the certification as of June 2011, so my first set of biz cards would be able to read “Indentured Servant, CIA” right out of the gate, with it being updated to “Indentured Servant, CPA, CIA” in 2012, just in time for the world to end.

The CIA exam is cheaper than the CPA and probably easier at this point. Plus, everyone would think I worked for the CIA. Should I take the exams, or get a life that will be ripped away from me in a few months?

Best,
Indentured Servant

Dear Indentured Servant,

I think a more appropriate pseudonym for you might be “Auditing Overachiever” or “Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” OR “Prefers Books About Auditing as Opposed to Interacting with Humans, Even Those Who Might Want to Have Sex with Me.” NEVERTHELESS, I’m here to help.

Your letter is a little confusing but I’ll try to piece things together. Your job starts in the fall but you’ll have enough work experience (24 months) to obtain a CIA in June so that can only mean that you’ve been an auditor for awhile. It also means this new Big 4 gig is fresh start for you in some way, shape or form since you’ll effectively be a new hire. Making those assumptions, I’m not really sure what the CIA will do for you as a Big 4 auditor. Yes, having a extra credential is nice but it likely won’t mean squat to your co-workers, partners or clients and it won’t make you any extra money. Plus, as far as I can tell, the superficial motivation behind this endeavor – paraphrasing your words – is A) “I want to ruin my summer” B) “it’s cheaper than the CPA” C) “people will think I’m a spy.”

My response to these is A) What’s wrong with you? B) How is spending more money “cheaper”? C) No, they won’t.

See why I’m confused? The underlying motivation – if i can put you on the couch for a sec – is that you’re worried about being bored. Are you completely incapable of enjoying a summer if it doesn’t involve being indoors with your nose in a book? Take a vacation, take a staycation or do nothing but study for an exam that will get you an obscure certification? In my opinion, there’s extremely limited upside to the CIA at this point in your career so do yourself a favor, finish your CPA and give the certifications a rest for awhile. They’ll always be there for when the disappointment of the world NOT ending in 2012 gets you down.

In other words – get a life, dude.

Big 4 Manager Needs Help Determining If He Is Underpaid

Welcome to the squelch-the-tryptophan-withdrawals-with-cyber-Monday edition of Accounting Career Conundrums. In today’s edition, a Big 4 manager is pret-tay sure he is underpaid. How can he broach the subject with a partner without causing major blowback?

Need career advice? Want gift ideas that will score some points with a boss in your life? Wondering where you can find an old PwC backpack? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll sniff out a deal or a homeless person.

Back to our short-changed manager:

I was wondering if you could provide advice in how to determine if I am being underpaid and if I am how to go about asking for an increase? I am a 1st year Manager for a Big 4 firm in Kansas City. I have been with the same firm/office my entire career sans a 2 year secondment I completed in Dublin just in August. In addition, to having my CPA license I also hold the CFE certification and the CFA charter.

My feelings for asking for a raise are based on the additional certifications and knowing that my salary as a 1st year Manager is less than what 3rd year Sr. Associates were making in my office 2 plus years ago. I know the economy has changed during the subsequent 2 years but still feel like I am not fairly compensated. What advice do you propose? I am nervous about sharing my thoughts with my Partner as I am afraid of a potential backlash. Thanks in advance.

Dear Alphabet Soup,

Think you’re underpaid, huh? Seems to be theme around here. However, your situation is more unique than most so we’ll make a run at this.

First thing we noticed about your situation is that you’re a M1 which means you were recently promoted, which also mean you should have just received a better-than average raise. And we’re more than a little skeptical about your assertion that a SA3 is making more than you. That would have to mean that SAs are getting insanely good raises while you – the newly promoted manager – got an abysmal one; it seems unlikely. If this in fact the case, then you’ve had a serious string of bad luck.

As for determining whether or not you are underpaid, we suggest you speak to a professional recruiter in KC to find out whether or not your credentials and international experience or currently undervalued. If the recruiter takes a look at your résumé and starts drooling, you’ll know that he/she can earn a fat commission placing you somewhere else. If they shrug and say, “Look friend, you’re doing pretty well. But let me tell you about this great opportunity…” then your salary is probably fair.

When it comes to talking to a partner about this, be sure you’re speaking to someone you trust and just be honest. Make your case with facts. Don’t go speculating about what a SA3 is making because that turns the conversation to something that is out of your control. Highlight your credentials, international experience and why they bring value to the firm and your partner.

They’ve heard the “I’m underpaid” sob story a million times. You’ve got to prove to them that your case is an exception to the run-of-the-mill bellyaching.

The Path to CFO: Is the CMA Credential Just as Important as the CPA?

Many of you soldiering in public accounting have aspirations of one day achieving the pinnacle of many a numbers junkie’s career – Chief Financial Officer. You may think that becoming a CFO will mean hobnobbing with other C-suiters, first-class flights and access to exclusive swing joints but in all likelihood, it will consist of long hours, political maneuvering and maybe burning a few bridges.

While there are many paths to ascending to such a heralded position, one has to wonder if the skill set obtained in public accounting will really prepare you for all the demands and headaches that will inevitably come with a CFO position.

Because so many accounting grads get their start in public accounting, one ofobtaining the CPA credential. There’s no question that obtaining your CPA is a must for anyone that intends on spending a significant portion of their career in public accounting and little debate about the advantage of having those three letters on your résumé when you start looking outside public.

Tthe timing of that move may determine what kind of path you have ahead of you in order to land that coveted CFO gig. If you manage to stick out life in public until partner or in some cases the director or senior manager level the path is more clear. You may jump right into it immediately or you assume a position that reports to the current CFO and be groomed to assume the big chair at the appropriate time.

But what if you’re just starting your career and you’re fed up with public already? Or what if you’ve gotten laid off and you took a job in private. Are your dreams crushed at this point? What’s a wannabe CFO to do?

Speaking with John Kogan, CEO of Proformative, an online resource for finance, accounting and treasury professionals, obtaining the Certified Management Accountant credential is something that often gets overlooked.


“It’s the Rodney Dangerfield of finance certifications,” John told GC, “it doesn’t get enough respect.” The argument for today’s CFOs to have a CPA are being made and statistics have shown that more and more CFOs are, in fact, CPAs. The most recent data we can find shows that in 2009, 45% of Fortune 1000 CFOs were CPAs, up from 29% in 2003.

However, the viewpoint of “Warren Miller” in the comments of Francine McKenna’s guest post at FEI Blog on the subject, is that accountants usually make terrible CFOs:

[A]ccountants tend to make lousy CFOs because (a) they see everything as an accounting problem, (b) their ignorance of finance AND of human nature (where incentives are concerned) can be breathtaking, (c) they look backwards, and (d) they are conflict-avoiders. If accountants wanted to deal with the ambiguity of the future, they’d have never become bean-counters.

In addition, most accountants LOVE “rules.” They avoid conflict by hiding behind rules. They are go-along/get-along people. I’m fond of saying this: “If accountants had been running our country in 1776, we’d still be working for the King.”

So if the gamut of accountants are ignorant about finance matters, does the CMA provide a bridge to closing that knowledge gap? John Kogan thinks so, “The CMA designation wants to be the ‘CPA’ for finance professionals,” he said, “but it’s so far from being that.”

When you look at the two sections of the CMA exam on the Institute of Management Accountant’s website, you certainly get the impression that the CMA could be the “CPA for finance professionals” based on the curriculum:

PART I – Financial Planning, Performance and Control
• Planning, budgeting, and forecasting
• Performance management
• Cost management
• Internal controls
• Professional ethics

PART II – Financial Decision Making
• Financial statement analysis
• Corporate finance
• Decision analysis and risk management
• Investment decisions
• Professional ethics

So why isn’t the CMA a more coveted credential? John Kogan claims it’s due to poor marketing on the IMA’s part, “The CMA [credential] has similar requirements, not identical but similar, and they don’t enjoy the reputation of the CPA,” John said. “The CMA is getting its butt kicked because it doesn’t market itself well.”

You can easily make the argument that the AICPA has the distinct advantage of partnering with the Big 4 – firms that’s primary purpose is to serve as CPAs – on marketing and promotional efforts while the IMA has no apparent equivalent.

That being said, our recent conversation with IMA Chair Sandra Richtermeyer shed some light on the careers that are available for accountants moving into a financial role that the CMA designation complements well. She was of the notion that the CMA is simply not about cost accounting and John Kogan agrees, “I think anyone who knows anything about [the CMA] knows that the [designation] is broader than that, it’s just that very few people know what the heck it’s about,” he said. “Without a doubt, the skills that the IMA are teaching and certifying are corporate finance skills.”

If you consider yourself to be on the path to CFO Rockstar, maybe you have the CPA locked up but what’s next? Having the CPA credential may make you an attractive candidate on paper but it’s won’t guarantee success with the wide range of knowledge that CFOs need. So, while it may not hold a candle to the CPA in terms of prestige, the skills and knowledge that fall under the CMA are essential for any successful CFO.

Job of the Week: SAS 70 Solutions Needs Senior Auditors

SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. is conducting a national search for Senior Auditors, with specific focus in California, Illinois and Texas.

Select qualifications include 2 to 5 years of Big 4 experience and currently holds or is pursuing any of the following certifications: CPA,
CISA, CISSP, PCI QSA and/or CIA.


Company: SAS 70 Solutions, Inc.

Title: Audit Senior

Location: National search with specifirnia, Illinois and Texas

Compensation: Competitive

Position Type: Permanent

Position Type: Full Time

COMPANY DESCRIPTION

SAS 70 Solutions was the first ever CPA firm founded for the purposes of performing SAS 70 audits. It is now the largest non-Big 4 provider of such services in the world. Over time, the company’s services have expanded to include other attestation services, such as SSAE 16 and AT 101 examinations, AUP reviews, and Trust Services certifications. The company also performs PCI DSS validations and ISO 27002 compliance assessments.

The company’s personnel are almost exclusively the alumni of the “Big 4” / Tier 1 global accounting firms. SAS 70 Solutions’ clients are located throughout the United States, and include a significant number of publicly traded and Fortune 1000 companies, as well as privately held organizations of all sizes.

SAS 70 Solutions builds on the best of what the “Big 4” firms have to offer, such as the ability to offer high quality professionals to our clients. It also eliminates the parts of the job that personnel tend to dislike about their “Big 4” experience, including time reporting, chargeability goals, small and arbitrary bonus amounts, sales pressure, and the practice of using inexperience associates to provide the bulk of professional services.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Because SAS 70 Solutions does not employ inexperienced associates, senior auditors provide the majority of all “hands-on” activities with oversight from an audit manager and shareholder. Activities include standard project execution and report preparation activities. Senior auditors report to audit managers, which rotate based on client assignment. Audit managers generally handle project planning and interaction with the client prior to an engagement. Client engagements typically last less than three weeks, which allows senior auditors the opportunity to work on many projects over the course of each year.

DESIRED QUALIFICAITONS

• Bachelor’s Degree in accounting, finance or other related topics
• Between two to five years of related experience within professional services in financial auditing, operational auditing, information systems auditing, internal auditing, information security consulting and/or risk consulting
• Achieved the “senior” auditor/consultant level at a “Big 4” firm
• Currently holds any of the following certifications – CPA, CISA, CISSP, PCI QSA and/or CIA
• Willingness to pursue relevant professional certifications (e.g. CPA, CISA, CIA, CISSP, PCI QSA, etc.)
• Demonstrated entrepreneurial abilities, client focus, industry savvy, and the ability to work independently or as part of a collaborative team
• Advanced written and verbal communication skills
• Strong analytical and interpersonal characteristics
• Ability to operate in a dynamic environment
• Demonstrated consistency in values, principles, and work ethic

BENEFITS

• Competitive salary
• Quarterly performance bonus, which has historically averaged in excess of $20,000 per annum
• The opportunity to work with other highly skilled personnel on a constant basis
• No time reporting!
• No financial audit support work!
• No chargeability goals, sales goals or managed fee goals!
• Monday morning through Thursday evening considered “standard travel”, with little or no travel scheduled on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays
• Travel bonuses for any non-standard travel (e.g., overnight flights and/or Friday, Saturday or Sunday travel)
• Confirmed client schedule and related travel that extends months into the future and rarely changes within 30 days of an engagement
• Twenty-five (25) days of personal time off
• Immediately vested annualized employer 401(k) matching of 6% of the employee’s base salary
• Employer paid (or subsidized) health, vision and dental insurance
•Employee directed health savings account

TRAVEL

Out-of-town travel is estimated at 50%, or more, and is heavily dependent on the candidate’s location. Candidates must be available to travel and work in excess of standard hours when necessary.

Questions or Resumes may be submitted to careers@sas70solutions.com

For further information about SAS 70 Solutions, Inc., visit http://www.sas70solutions.com. SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. typically does not pay relocation expenses for employment candidates. Non-US citizens will not be considered. SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer (EOE) and strongly supports diversity in the workplace.

Job of the Week: SAS 70 Solutions Needs Senior Auditors

SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. is conducting a national search for Senior Auditors, with specific focus in California, Illinois and Texas.

Select qualifications include 2 to 5 years of Big 4 experience and currently holds or is pursuing any of the following certifications: CPA,
CISA, CISSP, PCI QSA and/or CIA.


Company: SAS 70 Solutions, Inc.

Title: Audit Senior

Location: National search with specifirnia, Illinois and Texas

Compensation: Competitive

Position Type: Permanent

Position Type: Full Time

COMPANY DESCRIPTION

SAS 70 Solutions was the first ever CPA firm founded for the purposes of performing SAS 70 audits. It is now the largest non-Big 4 provider of such services in the world. Over time, the company’s services have expanded to include other attestation services, such as SSAE 16 and AT 101 examinations, AUP reviews, and Trust Services certifications. The company also performs PCI DSS validations and ISO 27002 compliance assessments.

The company’s personnel are almost exclusively the alumni of the “Big 4” / Tier 1 global accounting firms. SAS 70 Solutions’ clients are located throughout the United States, and include a significant number of publicly traded and Fortune 1000 companies, as well as privately held organizations of all sizes.

SAS 70 Solutions builds on the best of what the “Big 4” firms have to offer, such as the ability to offer high quality professionals to our clients. It also eliminates the parts of the job that personnel tend to dislike about their “Big 4” experience, including time reporting, chargeability goals, small and arbitrary bonus amounts, sales pressure, and the practice of using inexperience associates to provide the bulk of professional services.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Because SAS 70 Solutions does not employ inexperienced associates, senior auditors provide the majority of all “hands-on” activities with oversight from an audit manager and shareholder. Activities include standard project execution and report preparation activities. Senior auditors report to audit managers, which rotate based on client assignment. Audit managers generally handle project planning and interaction with the client prior to an engagement. Client engagements typically last less than three weeks, which allows senior auditors the opportunity to work on many projects over the course of each year.

DESIRED QUALIFICAITONS

• Bachelor’s Degree in accounting, finance or other related topics
• Between two to five years of related experience within professional services in financial auditing, operational auditing, information systems auditing, internal auditing, information security consulting and/or risk consulting
• Achieved the “senior” auditor/consultant level at a “Big 4” firm
• Currently holds any of the following certifications – CPA, CISA, CISSP, PCI QSA and/or CIA
• Willingness to pursue relevant professional certifications (e.g. CPA, CISA, CIA, CISSP, PCI QSA, etc.)
• Demonstrated entrepreneurial abilities, client focus, industry savvy, and the ability to work independently or as part of a collaborative team
• Advanced written and verbal communication skills
• Strong analytical and interpersonal characteristics
• Ability to operate in a dynamic environment
• Demonstrated consistency in values, principles, and work ethic

BENEFITS

• Competitive salary
• Quarterly performance bonus, which has historically averaged in excess of $20,000 per annum
• The opportunity to work with other highly skilled personnel on a constant basis
• No time reporting!
• No financial audit support work!
• No chargeability goals, sales goals or managed fee goals!
• Monday morning through Thursday evening considered “standard travel”, with little or no travel scheduled on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays
• Travel bonuses for any non-standard travel (e.g., overnight flights and/or Friday, Saturday or Sunday travel)
• Confirmed client schedule and related travel that extends months into the future and rarely changes within 30 days of an engagement
• Twenty-five (25) days of personal time off
• Immediately vested annualized employer 401(k) matching of 6% of the employee’s base salary
• Employer paid (or subsidized) health, vision and dental insurance
•Employee directed health savings account

TRAVEL

Out-of-town travel is estimated at 50%, or more, and is heavily dependent on the candidate’s location. Candidates must be available to travel and work in excess of standard hours when necessary.

Questions or Resumes may be submitted to careers@sas70solutions.com

For further information about SAS 70 Solutions, Inc., visit http://www.sas70solutions.com. SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. typically does not pay relocation expenses for employment candidates. Non-US citizens will not be considered. SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer (EOE) and strongly supports diversity in the workplace.

Job of the Week: SAS 70 Solutions Needs Senior Auditors

SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. is conducting a national search for Senior Auditors, with specific focus in California, Illinois and Texas.

Select qualifications include 2 to 5 years of Big 4 experience and currently holds or is pursuing any of the following certifications: CPA,
CISA, CISSP, PCI QSA and/or CIA.


Company: SAS 70 Solutions, Inc.

Title: Audit Senior

Location: National search with specifirnia, Illinois and Texas

Compensation: Competitive

Position Type: Permanent

Position Type: Full Time

COMPANY DESCRIPTION

SAS 70 Solutions was the first ever CPA firm founded for the purposes of performing SAS 70 audits. It is now the largest non-Big 4 provider of such services in the world. Over time, the company’s services have expanded to include other attestation services, such as SSAE 16 and AT 101 examinations, AUP reviews, and Trust Services certifications. The company also performs PCI DSS validations and ISO 27002 compliance assessments.

The company’s personnel are almost exclusively the alumni of the “Big 4” / Tier 1 global accounting firms. SAS 70 Solutions’ clients are located throughout the United States, and include a significant number of publicly traded and Fortune 1000 companies, as well as privately held organizations of all sizes.

SAS 70 Solutions builds on the best of what the “Big 4” firms have to offer, such as the ability to offer high quality professionals to our clients. It also eliminates the parts of the job that personnel tend to dislike about their “Big 4” experience, including time reporting, chargeability goals, small and arbitrary bonus amounts, sales pressure, and the practice of using inexperience associates to provide the bulk of professional services.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Because SAS 70 Solutions does not employ inexperienced associates, senior auditors provide the majority of all “hands-on” activities with oversight from an audit manager and shareholder. Activities include standard project execution and report preparation activities. Senior auditors report to audit managers, which rotate based on client assignment. Audit managers generally handle project planning and interaction with the client prior to an engagement. Client engagements typically last less than three weeks, which allows senior auditors the opportunity to work on many projects over the course of each year.

DESIRED QUALIFICAITONS

• Bachelor’s Degree in accounting, finance or other related topics
• Between two to five years of related experience within professional services in financial auditing, operational auditing, information systems auditing, internal auditing, information security consulting and/or risk consulting
• Achieved the “senior” auditor/consultant level at a “Big 4” firm
• Currently holds any of the following certifications – CPA, CISA, CISSP, PCI QSA and/or CIA
• Willingness to pursue relevant professional certifications (e.g. CPA, CISA, CIA, CISSP, PCI QSA, etc.)
• Demonstrated entrepreneurial abilities, client focus, industry savvy, and the ability to work independently or as part of a collaborative team
• Advanced written and verbal communication skills
• Strong analytical and interpersonal characteristics
• Ability to operate in a dynamic environment
• Demonstrated consistency in values, principles, and work ethic

BENEFITS

• Competitive salary
• Quarterly performance bonus, which has historically averaged in excess of $20,000 per annum
• The opportunity to work with other highly skilled personnel on a constant basis
• No time reporting!
• No financial audit support work!
• No chargeability goals, sales goals or managed fee goals!
• Monday morning through Thursday evening considered “standard travel”, with little or no travel scheduled on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays
• Travel bonuses for any non-standard travel (e.g., overnight flights and/or Friday, Saturday or Sunday travel)
• Confirmed client schedule and related travel that extends months into the future and rarely changes within 30 days of an engagement
• Twenty-five (25) days of personal time off
• Immediately vested annualized employer 401(k) matching of 6% of the employee’s base salary
• Employer paid (or subsidized) health, vision and dental insurance
•Employee directed health savings account

TRAVEL

Out-of-town travel is estimated at 50%, or more, and is heavily dependent on the candidate’s location. Candidates must be available to travel and work in excess of standard hours when necessary.

Questions or Resumes may be submitted to careers@sas70solutions.com

For further information about SAS 70 Solutions, Inc., visit http://www.sas70solutions.com. SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. typically does not pay relocation expenses for employment candidates. Non-US citizens will not be considered. SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer (EOE) and strongly supports diversity in the workplace.

Job of the Week: SAS 70 Solutions Needs Senior Auditors

SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. is conducting a national search for Senior Auditors, with specific focus in California, Illinois and Texas.

Select qualifications include 2 to 5 years of Big 4 experience and currently holds or is pursuing any of the following certifications: CPA,
CISA, CISSP, PCI QSA and/or CIA.


Company: SAS 70 Solutions, Inc.

Title: Audit Senior

Location: National search with specifirnia, Illinois and Texas

Compensation: Competitive

Position Type: Permanent

Position Type: Full Time

COMPANY DESCRIPTION

SAS 70 Solutions was the first ever CPA firm founded for the purposes of performing SAS 70 audits. It is now the largest non-Big 4 provider of such services in the world. Over time, the company’s services have expanded to include other attestation services, such as SSAE 16 and AT 101 examinations, AUP reviews, and Trust Services certifications. The company also performs PCI DSS validations and ISO 27002 compliance assessments.

The company’s personnel are almost exclusively the alumni of the “Big 4” / Tier 1 global accounting firms. SAS 70 Solutions’ clients are located throughout the United States, and include a significant number of publicly traded and Fortune 1000 companies, as well as privately held organizations of all sizes.

SAS 70 Solutions builds on the best of what the “Big 4” firms have to offer, such as the ability to offer high quality professionals to our clients. It also eliminates the parts of the job that personnel tend to dislike about their “Big 4” experience, including time reporting, chargeability goals, small and arbitrary bonus amounts, sales pressure, and the practice of using inexperience associates to provide the bulk of professional services.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Because SAS 70 Solutions does not employ inexperienced associates, senior auditors provide the majority of all “hands-on” activities with oversight from an audit manager and shareholder. Activities include standard project execution and report preparation activities. Senior auditors report to audit managers, which rotate based on client assignment. Audit managers generally handle project planning and interaction with the client prior to an engagement. Client engagements typically last less than three weeks, which allows senior auditors the opportunity to work on many projects over the course of each year.

DESIRED QUALIFICAITONS

• Bachelor’s Degree in accounting, finance or other related topics
• Between two to five years of related experience within professional services in financial auditing, operational auditing, information systems auditing, internal auditing, information security consulting and/or risk consulting
• Achieved the “senior” auditor/consultant level at a “Big 4” firm
• Currently holds any of the following certifications – CPA, CISA, CISSP, PCI QSA and/or CIA
• Willingness to pursue relevant professional certifications (e.g. CPA, CISA, CIA, CISSP, PCI QSA, etc.)
• Demonstrated entrepreneurial abilities, client focus, industry savvy, and the ability to work independently or as part of a collaborative team
• Advanced written and verbal communication skills
• Strong analytical and interpersonal characteristics
• Ability to operate in a dynamic environment
• Demonstrated consistency in values, principles, and work ethic

BENEFITS

• Competitive salary
• Quarterly performance bonus, which has historically averaged in excess of $20,000 per annum
• The opportunity to work with other highly skilled personnel on a constant basis
• No time reporting!
• No financial audit support work!
• No chargeability goals, sales goals or managed fee goals!
• Monday morning through Thursday evening considered “standard travel”, with little or no travel scheduled on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays
• Travel bonuses for any non-standard travel (e.g., overnight flights and/or Friday, Saturday or Sunday travel)
• Confirmed client schedule and related travel that extends months into the future and rarely changes within 30 days of an engagement
• Twenty-five (25) days of personal time off
• Immediately vested annualized employer 401(k) matching of 6% of the employee’s base salary
• Employer paid (or subsidized) health, vision and dental insurance
•Employee directed health savings account

TRAVEL

Out-of-town travel is estimated at 50%, or more, and is heavily dependent on the candidate’s location. Candidates must be available to travel and work in excess of standard hours when necessary.

Questions or Resumes may be submitted to careers@sas70solutions.com

For further information about SAS 70 Solutions, Inc., visit http://www.sas70solutions.com. SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. typically does not pay relocation expenses for employment candidates. Non-US citizens will not be considered. SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer (EOE) and strongly supports diversity in the workplace.

Job of the Week: SAS 70 Solutions Needs Senior Auditors

SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. is conducting a national search for Senior Auditors, with specific focus in California, Illinois and Texas.

Select qualifications include 2 to 5 years of Big 4 experience and currently holds or is pursuing any of the following certifications: CPA,
CISA, CISSP, PCI QSA and/or CIA.


Company: SAS 70 Solutions, Inc.

Title: Audit Senior

Location: National search with specifirnia, Illinois and Texas

Compensation: Competitive

Position Type: Permanent

Position Type: Full Time

COMPANY DESCRIPTION

SAS 70 Solutions was the first ever CPA firm founded for the purposes of performing SAS 70 audits. It is now the largest non-Big 4 provider of such services in the world. Over time, the company’s services have expanded to include other attestation services, such as SSAE 16 and AT 101 examinations, AUP reviews, and Trust Services certifications. The company also performs PCI DSS validations and ISO 27002 compliance assessments.

The company’s personnel are almost exclusively the alumni of the “Big 4” / Tier 1 global accounting firms. SAS 70 Solutions’ clients are located throughout the United States, and include a significant number of publicly traded and Fortune 1000 companies, as well as privately held organizations of all sizes.

SAS 70 Solutions builds on the best of what the “Big 4” firms have to offer, such as the ability to offer high quality professionals to our clients. It also eliminates the parts of the job that personnel tend to dislike about their “Big 4” experience, including time reporting, chargeability goals, small and arbitrary bonus amounts, sales pressure, and the practice of using inexperience associates to provide the bulk of professional services.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Because SAS 70 Solutions does not employ inexperienced associates, senior auditors provide the majority of all “hands-on” activities with oversight from an audit manager and shareholder. Activities include standard project execution and report preparation activities. Senior auditors report to audit managers, which rotate based on client assignment. Audit managers generally handle project planning and interaction with the client prior to an engagement. Client engagements typically last less than three weeks, which allows senior auditors the opportunity to work on many projects over the course of each year.

DESIRED QUALIFICAITONS

• Bachelor’s Degree in accounting, finance or other related topics
• Between two to five years of related experience within professional services in financial auditing, operational auditing, information systems auditing, internal auditing, information security consulting and/or risk consulting
• Achieved the “senior” auditor/consultant level at a “Big 4” firm
• Currently holds any of the following certifications – CPA, CISA, CISSP, PCI QSA and/or CIA
• Willingness to pursue relevant professional certifications (e.g. CPA, CISA, CIA, CISSP, PCI QSA, etc.)
• Demonstrated entrepreneurial abilities, client focus, industry savvy, and the ability to work independently or as part of a collaborative team
• Advanced written and verbal communication skills
• Strong analytical and interpersonal characteristics
• Ability to operate in a dynamic environment
• Demonstrated consistency in values, principles, and work ethic

BENEFITS

• Competitive salary
• Quarterly performance bonus, which has historically averaged in excess of $20,000 per annum
• The opportunity to work with other highly skilled personnel on a constant basis
• No time reporting!
• No financial audit support work!
• No chargeability goals, sales goals or managed fee goals!
• Monday morning through Thursday evening considered “standard travel”, with little or no travel scheduled on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays
• Travel bonuses for any non-standard travel (e.g., overnight flights and/or Friday, Saturday or Sunday travel)
• Confirmed client schedule and related travel that extends months into the future and rarely changes within 30 days of an engagement
• Twenty-five (25) days of personal time off
• Immediately vested annualized employer 401(k) matching of 6% of the employee’s base salary
• Employer paid (or subsidized) health, vision and dental insurance
•Employee directed health savings account

TRAVEL

Out-of-town travel is estimated at 50%, or more, and is heavily dependent on the candidate’s location. Candidates must be available to travel and work in excess of standard hours when necessary.

Questions or Resumes may be submitted to careers@sas70solutions.com

For further information about SAS 70 Solutions, Inc., visit http://www.sas70solutions.com. SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. typically does not pay relocation expenses for employment candidates. Non-US citizens will not be considered. SAS 70 Solutions, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer (EOE) and strongly supports diversity in the workplace.

Job of the Day: AllianceBernstein Needs a Senior Auditor

AllianceBernstein is looking for an experienced auditor to join its internal department in New York.

Ideal candidates have a minimum of five years experience with exposure to alternative investment products. Advanced degree or certifications are preferred.


Company: AllianceBernstein

Title: Senior Audit Associate

Location: New York

Description: We are seeking a seeking a Senior Audit Associate with strong business and/or audit experience in Alternative Investments to join our Internal Audit Department. This position is an opportunity for experienced professionals to join a dynamic team to deliver value added audit services.

Responsibilities: Assist Audit Management in carrying out the annual audit plan; Assess the accuracy and adequacy of financial information and the Company’s internal control structure; Assist Audit Management in accomplishing certain administrative tasks; Supervise and work with junior auditors; Through continuous monitoring, keep current as to the development of relevant industry, regulatory and corporate matters that may affect the Internal Audit Department’s audit scope.

Skills: Our ideal candidate will have 5 to 10 years of broad capital markets experience with an emphasis in alternative investment products and services. College degree required. Advanced degree and/or certification preferred. Candidates should have demonstrated leadership capability, strong team work capabilities, solid written and oral communication skills and excellent, analytical skills. Candidates must have the ability to interact with all levels of management; Knowledge of the buy-side investment management business is a plus. Prior audit experience is preferred, but not required. Candidates should demonstrate a firm grasp and good working knowledge of the suite of Alternative Investment products and services including: Hedge Funds – direct investments and Fund of Hedge Funds.

See the entire description over at the GC Career Center and visit the main page for all your job search needs.

So You’re a CPA Thinking About Law School

We try to encourage you to think about your careers here at GC every once in awhile; present you with some options or ideas that maybe you haven’t considered before. We’ve covered several credentials out there that you can obtain and we’ve also touched on the pros and cons of the PhD.

But this time we’re going to get really crazy and give you the lowdown on an idea that we know many of you have had (including your humble editor) and that is the consideration of going to – gasp – law school.

For whatever insane reason, you can’t shake the idea of committing three years of your life and borrowing tens of thousands of dollars to live on PB&J, ramen noodles and frozen pizzas. Oh and of course there’s studying, tests and everything else that comes with returning to school.

But think about the benefits; you’ve got the CPA and if you were to get the JD, maybe you’ll top it off with an LLM and it’ll be smartest thing you’ve ever done. Think about the money! The prestige! The hot lawyers that you will bed and wed! It will all be worth it, right?


Well, maybe? If you spend even a little bit of time reading our sister site Above the Law, you might get the impression that the last thing you should ever do is go to law school. There’s an ncertain job market out there. You may end up with a huge debt load that can take a lifetime to pay back. And we’ve been told by a fair amount of our lawyers simply, “It’s just not worth it.”

Considering all that, we wanted to get some first-hand perspective, so we put the feelers out to a few CPAs turned lawyers to get an idea of their experience so those of you considering law school can make a more informed decision.

We spoke to three CPAs turned attorneys, Eric Gullotta who has his own practice in Sonoma, CA, Steve Farrar of Smith Moore Leatherwood in Greenville, SC and Timothy Gagnon who has in own practice in Needham, MA.

Messrs Gullotta and Gagnon both specialize in estate planning and taxation while Mr Farrar is a litigator who defends lawyers and accountants in malpractice lawsuits.

The three men agreed that their decision to go back to law school was worth it but that the process is certainly a challenge, “It was a tough three years. Probably the hardest thing is getting re-oriented with being a student after being out for awhile,” Mr Gagnon said.

Motivation and Benefits
Gullotta and Gagnon both believe that the biggest benefit that they’ve enjoyed by obtaining the law degree is that clients recognize the value that a background of a CPA can add to providing legal services. “The amount of respect and trust that clients put in you when you are both a lawyer and a CPA is really unbelievable,” Mr Gullotta told GC. “Being able to see the tax effects of legal transactions is really amazing and you can really bring value to your clients when you are able to negotiate or structure deals with tax effects in mind.”

Steve Farrar had a very different thought process before he returned to school. He went back because he was interested in being a trial lawyer, “I went back to law school with the intent to try cases,” he told us. While he was interviewing, most firms wanted him to consider working in a more transactional capacity but he found a firm that was willing to let him work in litigation and it turned out to be a perfect fit, “I’ve been ecstatic. While you might hear stories about people being burned out, I enjoy every minute of it.” And the biggest benefit for him? “This is going to sound hokie when I say it but I enjoy the theatrical chess match of going to trial.”

Back to School
But before getting to all the benefits of CPA/lawyer superstardom, there is the little matter of going to law school. While many lawyers we’ve talked to have said that the law school you attend is everything, it really depends on what you’re looking to accomplish with the degree. As Eric Gullotta told us, “it’s important to know what you what to do. If you want to work in [a large city], you’ll have to go to a reputable law school. If you want to practice locally, hang the shingle out, then you can go to slightly less prestigious school that is more practical for your situation.”

And being a CPA could possibly put you at an advantage when applying to law schools, “The interesting thing is that because you have experience and have a CPA, it can help you get into some of the better law schools,” Tim Gagnon said. “They’re looking to diversify their class, age, experience and you could bring something that diversifies the class that they can’t get out of somebody that just got out of undergrad.”

Drawbacks
But there’s got to be drawbacks right? Besides all the lawyer jokes, Steve Farrar mentioned losing flexibility in his schedule, “The best way I can explain it is that I have multiple busy seasons but I never know when they’re coming.” For Tim Gagnon, it sheer volume of continuing to keep up-to-date on the changing rules, “It’s hard enough to keep up on one but you put the two together and you really have a lot of information to cover.”

Oh, and then there’s the practical (and possibly more important) stuff, “Higher malpractice insurance,” according to Eric Gullotta.

So, are your aspirations for law school a good idea? Hard to say. Knowing what you want to do with the degree seems to be the key to making a decision. If you are thinking that a law degree will be the solution to your self-perceived lackluster career to date, you could find yourself very disappointed.

However, if this is a career that you truly want then it sounds like there isn’t any shortage of success stories. Choose wisely.

How the ACFE is Promoting CFE Awareness

After Caleb forced me to write a few posts on Credentials for Accountants meant specifically for those of you who still do not know what you want to be when you grow up, I managed to bumble one so badly I was contacted by Scott Grossfeld, CFE CPA and Cttp://www.acfe.com/”>Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. See, it appears I made a typical media mistake in using fraud and forensics as interchangeable fields within the industry and Scott felt compelled to speak up.

This wasn’t exactly wrong (I was being lazy actually) but as CEO of the ACFE, he’s got a responsibility to make sure the media represent the field of fraud examination correctly, especially when it comes to giving forensic accountants credit for what he and his fellow CFEs do out there. Thankfully, we had a nice little chat and cleared up that little point.


Additionally, Scott promised us access to recent salary survey information available shortly that will give us a better idea of what CFEs make. For now, he told us that the data confirms a 22% pay premium for individuals with the CFE compared to individuals in the same position without the CFE. We liked this approach and wish more organizations would take an active role in monitoring and engaging in the conversation, as Scott was obviously doing by reading our series on credentials.

Along the way, however, I discovered that the ACFE is also on top of things by promoting the credential, interacting with their audience and reaching potential new members through new avenues like blogging and social media. The ACFE is excited to be launching a new social media campaign shortly that we can only hope rivals that of the AICPA’s total social media genius (except for that whole Feed the Pig thing, which still creeps us out but is brilliant and weird enough to get a pass).

The strategy of having a CFE on staff is akin to carrying insurance on your home or car, and diversifying a company’s staff can mean the difference between a lawsuit and a slap on the wrist thanks to our favorite unnecessary accounting legislation of all time, Sarbanes-Oxley. “If you look at the CFE, originally the idea behind it was that we had accountants who really didn’t know how to investigate and investigators who don’t know accounting so we were able to bring those two together,” he said. “If you look now, Enron was the big thing that really changed perspective… here’s a big financial risk but you could lose your company if you’re not careful (with SOX) and I think that really raised awareness. Before that fraud work was sort of like insurance, you knew you needed it but you couldn’t always justify it.”

But CFEs do justify their price from a prevention standpoint, assuming fraud to be a risk all companies are exposed to. “5 – 7% of the company’s revenue is lost to fraud, that’s where the fraud examiner pays for themselves,” he told us.

But how does the ACFE promote the usefulness of a 20 year old credential like the CFE? By getting to the kids when they’re still undecided, of course.

“It used to be that the CFE was a secondary credential. [Promoting the credential is the goal of] the higher education partnership we provide to educators. We have 300 colleges and universities in that program. Now it’s part of the discussion; risk is on the radar in terms of what companies are looking for. What we typically see is fraud being an elective type class though there are a few schools that specialize in fraud and or forensics.”

The ACFE also promotes its mission by encouraging those interested in pursuing a career in fraud-fighting to join the organization as a student member for something like $20 a year. Student Associate membership is open to undergraduate students enrolled in 9 semester hours (or equivalent), or graduate students enrolled in 6 semester hours (or equivalent) in an accredited college or university. We agree with this approach, as surrounding yourself with like-minded folks gives you a chance to expose yourself to those already on your desired path. There’s plenty of opportunity for mentorship, commiserating and gaining insight into what the credential actually means for your career.

All in all we approve of what the ACFE is doing and look forward to seeing whatever else they have up their sleeve unfold in the months and years ahead. Let’s face it, they’re pretty much guaranteed a job forever. We like.

Credentials for Accountants – Your Wheelbarrow Barrel Needs Tech Tools

Over the last couple months, GC has been profiling various accounting-related credentials. CPA, CFP, CMA, CIA, CFE, CVA, CFA… it’s a veritable alphabet soup of designations and employers are more and more likely to ask for a second helping these days. And you might want to pick up an MBA while you’re at it too. Y’know, in your spare time. In Canada, you can go ahead an//www.cga-canada.org/en-ca/Pages/default.aspx”>CGA, CA, and CBV to the mix as well.

Another day, another designation for yet another self-regulating body.

We’ve all heard of “grades inflation.” Well, in my view, we’re currently subject to “credentials inflation” at a rate that would make a Banana Republic cringe. In contrast, Zimbabwe Ben would likely nod in approval.


Beyond credentials though, there’s another critical piece in the employment puzzle that you would be well advised to consider as you venture into the field. Tools.

What are an accountant’s tools?

I’m not talking about the wheel barrel you’ll need to cart all those credentials to your job interview. I’m talking about the business software that more and more employers want pre-installed on their prospective employees.

At the entry level, it tends to be more of a ‘nice to have’ than a ‘must have’. But more and more, your progressive career path is affected by the type of tools you learn early in your career. There’s just no way to separate accounting and finance from the technology that facilitates accounting and finance work.

In the small business space, this is less of an issue. One small business accounting package is much like another. The “canned” reports (built in) will largely suffice, point and click. Just get yourself a healthy functional skill level with MS Excel and you’re ready to go.

Moving up into the enterprise, it’s a different story. The difference between having experience with Quickbooks versus SAP is akin to the difference between a degree from Eastern Michigan University and Princeton.

Think about that when you are venturing out into the job market for the first time. What are your aspirations? Where do you want your career to take you?

It’s difficult to blame employers for this predilection. Enterprise software is complex, subject to cryptic reporting languages, and training is expensive. The expertise is seldom institutionalized within the enterprise instead residing in the head’s of one or two key people. The “gurus.” Sometimes the expertise just walks right out the front door. It’s just way, way easier for everyone when “the new guy” can hit the ground running.

We may see this sad reality change in time.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, is a key person leading the charge for change. He is an out-spoken advocate of the “consumerization” of enterprise software. In Benioff’s view, enterprise software should be as easy to use as Facebook and we’re seeing this manifest with every iteration of the Salesforce.com platform.

Unfortunately, Salesforce is the exception rather than the rule and the incumbent systems are deeply rooted in business. The technology “stack” as it’s called is built up over time and choices of enterprise systems are traditionally big, capex decisions. Change is rarely proactive and technology is normally kept well beyond the end of its useful life.

The complex enterprise systems will continue to be persistent for sometime to come. So be prepared to factor this into your career calculations. When you’re out there looking for work, ask the question of prospective employers. What systems do you use? Then, research that system to figure out its prevalence in the market: Are they using some niche software product built upon an ancient architecture? Is it a proprietary system that you’ll never see again? Is it a “legacy system”? Is it vertical specific?

Don’t underestimate the importance of these questions. No one has the bandwidth to learn all the tools currently offered. Examine your career aspirations carefully within the context of these technology tools because it can be difficult to backpedal. The tools you learn have just as much bearing on your career as the credentials you chose.

And inflation is a fact of life.

Geoff Devereux as been active in Vancouver’s technology start-up community for the past 5 years. Prior to getting lured into tech start-ups, Geoff worked in various fields including a 5 year stint in a tax accounting firm. You can see more of his posts for GC here.

Will a CMA or CFM Get You Some Kind of CPA Exam “Credit”?

The short answer is no. The medium answer is hell no and the long answer is the rest of this post but first, let’s address the reader question, shall we?

Will any of the sections passed for the CMA and/or CFM count against the requirements for the CPA examination? In other words, can I avoid taking certain sections of the CPA examination because I have passed the CMA and CFM?


ALL candidates have to pass all four parts of the exam and for the lucky ones, there’s even a fifth part to worry about called ethics but that’s not all of you so we won’t get into that. There is no credit given for life experience, other letters after your name, certifications, and/or letters from your Mom attesting to your good moral character. You don’t get extra credit for making your written communications 15 paragraphs long, nor do you get a bonus for having the prettiest scribbles on your scratch paper. Nothing. Sorry kid but them’s the breaks.

CMAs are not automatically eligible to sit for the CPA exam simply because they are CMAs however required coursework for both credentials are similar so if you are eligible to pursue one, you may be eligible to pursue the other without additional education. This career track is best accomplished by getting an MBA or Masters in accounting, not completing your Bachelor’s and simply picking up a few extra units to fulfill the CPA’s 150 hour requirement.

If you are into it, check out some recent IMA numbers on salary potential for CMAs and CPAs. So while you won’t be able to get out of any of the usual CPA exam gruntwork, it still might be worth it to pursue anyway. And bonus, you might just be able to count your CPE units twice for both designations.

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor . You can see more of her posts here and all posts on the CPA Exam here.

Job of the Day: Citi Needs an Audit Manager

Citi is looking for an internal audit manager to join its Audit and Risk Review group in Baltimore, Maryland.

The position requires a minimum of eight years experience with an advanced degree and certifications (e.g. CPA, CISA, CISSP) preferred.


Company: Citi

Title: Audit Manager

Location: Baltimore, MD

Description/Responsibilities: Audit and Risk Review (ARR) is a global organization of 600+ professionals covering Citigroup’s global businesses. Citigroup’s internal audit division provides independent assessments of the company’s risk and control environment. Our findings and recommendations influence business management processes worldwide and senior management decision making around the world.

Work with team to ensure all aspects of reviews and business monitoring activities are executed in accordance with ARR standards and government regulatory statutes and recommending appropriate interventions where needed. Qualified individuals have the ability to effectively communicate and develop relationships with all levels of management and with peers. Demonstrated ability to plan and provide leadership for audits or projects.

Qualifications/Skills: Must have a strong knowledge in the following areas: data retrieval and general information systems controls, financial analysis and regulatory compliance. Strong analytical skills. Require experience with Word, Excel, Access, ACL, Cognos, SAS, Oracle, Unix and HTML. Generally has 8+ years of relevant experience. Advanced degree or appropriate certification (e.g. CPA, CISA, CISSP) is preferred.

See the entire description over at the GC Career Center and visit the main page for all your job search needs.

Credentials for Accountants: Certified Valuation Analyst

Need help deciding what you want to be when you grow up? Check out the rest of our posts on credentials for accountants.

The CVA isn’t like other certifications in that if you’re going for one, you’re probably trying to add to your arsenal of professional credentials and have a few days to spare for the intensive training.

What’s it take?
This is directly from the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts (NACVA):

The Business Valuation Certification and Training Center’s compact five-day intermediate level curriculum is comprehensive and substantive, providing value from beginning to end. A good understanding of accounting, taxes, economics, finance, and a basic understanding of business valuation fundamentals are prerequisites. The BVTC’s primary goal is to provide you with information that will serve as a solid foundation for your professional valuation endeavors, whether or not you plan to pursue a designation.

The five-hour CVA exam is administered in a rotating yearly schedule in 13 U.S. cities (twice yearly in Chicago) following the five-day training.

The NACVA is a NASBA-recognized CPE provider, meaning the training and certification can satisfy CPE requirements for CPAs. State boards have the final say on what counts for CPE purposes so check with yours if you are interested in completing this program to satisfy CPE requirements. The NACVA has trained 15,000 CVAs since its inception in 1990 and its members are subject to the same sort of ethical standards as CPAs.

The entire program – not counting the exams and any study materials – runs about $3,555 (by comparison, the CPA exam costs around $1000 – $1500 just to sit, excluding CPA review fees or retakes) and the exam itself is $595.

Who would want a CVA?
Tax professionals, for one, but also M&A consultants, investment professionals, financial analysts, financial officers and of course accountants interested in valuation and providing this service to their clients.

Why would you want a CVA?
Businesses need to be valued for all sorts of reasons. Mergers and acquisitions make up a large part of this but the CVA also comes in handy for estate taxes, employee stock ownership plans, divorce, and partner break-ups. This makes it an always-in-demand credential in a constantly-evolving marketplace.

Compensation
Salary is impacted according to one’s position or other credentials. For example, a CFO with a CVA can expect to make a median salary of $125,000 according to PayScale. On the other side of the spectrum, a senior tax accountant with a CVA weighs in at an average of $60,000. But we knew tax was a thankless gig to begin with, didn’t we?

Since CVAs can also unravel bankruptcies and liquidations, the career options may be just about endless moving forward. Better start saving your pennies for that 5-day excursion.

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor . You can see more of her posts for GC here.

Accounting News Roundup: Tipsters Expose Fraud More Often Than Most Controls; What if the PCAOB Is Unconstitutional?; BDO Could Question Forensic Accountant’s Credibility | 06.01.10

Something Wicked This Way Comes [CFO]
A recent Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) study discovered that “[o]f the top eight controls ranked by effectiveness, only one — surprise audits, which cut fraud losses by 51% — is part of the traditional accounting-based control structure. Financial-statement review, internal audits, and Sarbanes-Oxley-mandated certifications by CEOs and CFOs all ranked below the nonaccounting controls in terms of effectiveness in preventing fraud.”

Controls have no match for good old human conscience, “tips expose fraud three times as often as do management reviews, internal audits, or account reconciliations.”


The problem however, is that employees may not be getting the training about how to report fraud if they know it’s happening, “an unsupportive corporate culture and poor employee training leave potential whistle-blowers unsure of whom to talk to.” Plus the baddies are doing their best to dissuade them, as Sam Antar told CFO, “[They] don’t go down without a fight, they don’t fight fairly, and they are going to intimidate whistle-blowers — that’s the nature of their game.”

Accounting for Crisis [Portfolio.com]
Gary Weiss writes over at Portfolio about the impending decision in Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB and he’s not impressed with the FEF’s argument, “claiming that the board would give our Founding Fathers heart attacks because its members are appointed by the Securities and Exchange Commission and not the president and can’t be removed except for cause.”

That despite the PCAOB’s lack of fireworks in its daily activities, “The PCAOB has not exactly rocked our world—and obviously its existence did nothing to keep Lehman from its Repo 105 book-cooking scheme. But getting rid of it, particularly on specious Constitutional grounds, would be a blow to the cause of more accurate financial statements.”

The odds say that the SCOTUS will affirm the lower court’s decision but just in case, Gary agrees with Interim PCAOB Chairman Dan Goelzer that Congress needs to act fast if the Court surprises us and reverses the decision.

Clifton Gunderson buys Stockton Bates [Philadelphia Business Journal]
Philadelphia-based Stockton Bates will join Clifton Gunderson’s 1,900 employees and 300 partners effective today. Stockton has 32 employees between three offices in Philadelphia, Lancaster, PA and Haddonfield, NJ.

BDO Seidman fights claims brought by fraudster Lew Freeman [South Florida Business Journal]
Convicted forensic accountant Lewis Freeman testified in the case of ES Bankest and BDO. So it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Freeman’s conviction could call his credibility as a witness into question as well as the Bankest bankruptcy proceedings, where Freeman acted as the court-appointed receiver.

Credentials for Accountants: Certified Internal Auditor

This is the fourth in our series on certifications for accountants. Previously, we’ve covered the CFP, CMA, and CFE so if you’re not sure what you want to be when you grow up, be sure to check those out.

So, what’s the CIA all about?


Education Requirement
CIA candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree. Unlike the CPA exam, which often requires certain coursework or a minimum master’s level education in accounting, the CIA certification has no such requirements. The CIA exam is administered year-round by the Institute of Internal Auditors.

Professional Requirements
Those interested in pursuing a CIA designation must have at least 24 months (2 years) professional experience in internal auditing or its equivalent. Equivalent experience would be in the areas audit/assessment disciplines, including external auditing, quality assurance, compliance, and internal control. Candidates with a master’s degree can substitute their degree for one year of experience. Candidates may sit for the CIA exam before satisfying the experience requirement but will not be certified until meeting this requirement.

Career Options
Certified Internal Auditors can be in public or private industry and experience a diverse workload checking controls, planning the audit process for their company, testing, and compiling reports. Internal auditors may also give feedback on management policies and procedures based on their findings.

Compensation and Other Benefits
CIAs can expect to make a median yearly salary of $55k freshly certified and around $100k with 20 years of experience, making it a cozy career choice for auditors (Payscale). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, growth in auditing and accounting positions is expected to rise 18% between 2006 and 2016, which gives CIAs a certain level of job security not seen in other industries. Equally important, executive responsibility attached to Sarbanes-Oxley means CIAs are that much more critical to an organization by isolating incidents of fraud or waste.

Obviously, CIAs are not in it for the money but for fraud-fighters who love information systems, technology and auditing, the CIA is a safe, always-in-need designation worth looking into!

Job of the Day: Jefferson Wells Needs a Tax Fund Accountant

Jefferson Wells is looking for tax fund accountants to join its New York office. The position will have a number of responsibilities including preparation of corporate and partnership returns including those for hedge funds, private equity funds, real estate funds and investment advisors.

The position requires a minimum of nine years experience, including multi-national tax experience and a broad understanding of technical tax issues. CPA or EA certifications are preferred.


Company: Jefferson Wells

Title: Tax Fund Accountant

Compensation: 80,000-150,000

Location: New York, NY

Responsibilities: Prepare tax returns for S corporations, C corporations, and partnerships; Preparation of accounting records, and financial statements and tax returns for several investment partnerships; Reviewing and preparing yearly tax filings for Hedge Fund, Private Equity Funds, Real Estate Funds, and Funds’ general partners and investment managers; Performing security analysis and calculating various Fund tax adjustments; Preparation of Tax Form 1065 income tax returns and related K-1s and supporting schedules; prior experience with form 1120; Recording all accounting transactions of the fund and ensuring all investments are booked accurately; Preparation of limited partner capital calls and capital distributions; Researching tax treatment of complex financial instruments and corporate actions of Funds.

Qualifications/Skills: Experience with CorpTax software is required; Bachelor’s degree in relevant subject area required (accounting, auditing, information technology, sciences, taxation, finance etc.); Minimum nine years applicable experience in tax required (federal, state and local or international tax); Experience with multi-national corporate taxation preferred; Broad understanding of tax technical areas and a strong familiarity of FAS 109 preferred; CPA, MST, Enrolled Agent (EA) or Project Management (PMI) certifications preferred.

See the entire description over at the GC Career Center and visit the main page for all your job search needs.

Just Because Cloud Companies Pay For a SAS 70 Doesn’t Make It Any Less Legit, Does It?

Confession: not 100% sure on the hype surrounding SaaS, cloud computing, living in the cloud and whatever but apparently it’s the next big thing (if it’s not already) and might make our lives just one notch short of Jetsons flying car awesome.

Ask guys like Geoff, he’ll tell you all about it. I buy it and I don’t even need to use it, have heard amazing things, and have even evangelized it once or twice.

But it’s your data so instead of jumping on the SaaS/Cloud bandwagon without asking what happens to it once you do, it might be wise to check out the SAS 70 certification and the strange relationship that legitimizes it.


Complying with the AICPA lends a certain bit of credibility to vendors who want to show how tight their control systems are so auditors can rely on them, right?

Perhaps not, says Jay Heiser via Gartner in “Analyzing the Risk Dimensions of Cloud and SaaS Computing,” who is concerned by a sense of deja vu between the faulty systems that collapsed throughout the financial crisis and cloud computing. In an extremely risk-adverse environment, a bit of caution is due before jumping head first into the unknown.

Or you can just trust the shiny marketing materials and forget that it’s your data.

Now back to cloud computing and SAS 70. Okay, let me get this straight: So the cloud companies pay accounting firms for SAS 70 certifications just as the financial organizations paid Moody’s for an investment-grade rating?

“Yes, if you see someone who claims to be SAS 70, they have paid an accounting firm. Not only have they paid an accounting firm to go do the test, but they’ve told the accounting firm what processes need to be tested,” Heiser says.

And that’s different from an audit client paying an auditor how?

In a financial crisis corollary, Big 4 opinions are fetching less these days than they used to. Cloud computing marketers don’t really get what they are pushing but cloud provider clients certainly should understand what this means for the shift to life in the cloud.

Better start updating those marketing materials.

How Cloud Computing Security Resembles the Financial Meltdown [Datamation]

Credentials for Accountants: Certified Management Accountant

Last week we kicked off our certification series by looking at the CFE for those of you interested in becoming numbers sleuths that also have the figurative iron-clad stones that Sam Antar insists are imperative for any CFE.

This week we look at the Certified Management Accountant (“CMA”) credential and while it’s probably not as sexy as the CFE, a lot of you may want to consider the CMA if you see yourself spending a good portion of your career working as an in-house accountant or finance pro.


The credential is administered by the Institute of Management Accountants whose website states that “85% owork inside organizations, where expertise in decision support, planning, and control over value-adding operations are crucial elements of operational success,” and boasts 60,000 members worldwide.

Here’s the rundown on the CMA:

Education Requirement
You can meet the education requirement by verifying that you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or that you have a professional qualification, such as a CPA (here’s a partial list of global certifications that qualify).

Professional Requirements
The professional requirement for the CMA is two continuous years of experience in management accounting or financial management. This can be completed prior to the application or within two years of passing the CMA exam. The website states that, “Qualifying experience consists of positions requiring judgments regularly made employing the principles of management accounting and financial management.”

There is a long list of experience that will satisfy this requirement including financial analysis, budget preparation, management information system analysis, financial management, management accounting, auditing in government, finance or industry, management consulting, auditing in public accounting, research, teaching or consulting related to management accounting or financial management.

CMA Exam
The CMA Exam is currently transitioning from a four-part format to a two-part format. The two-part format rolls out on May 1st but testing of the four-part format will be available through December 31, 2010. The new format will focus on financial planning, analysis, control, and decision support. The two four hour exams consist of 100 multiple choice questions and two 30 minute essay questions.

Part 1 breaks down like this:
Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting (30%)
Performance Management (25%)
Cost Management (25%)
Internal Controls (15%)
Professional Ethics (5%)

And Part 2:
Financial Statement Analysis (25%)
Corporate Finance (25%)
Decision Analysis and Risk Management (25%)
Investment Decisions (20%)
Professional Ethics (5%)

There’s a lot of information on the new exam format including fees, testing windows, and more that can be seen here.

After certification, you are required to complete 30 hours of CPE annually, of which, 2 hours are required to be in ethics.

Career Options
Many CMAs work in budgeting, financial planning, cost accounting, performance evaluation, asset management and other various capacities. The work often times result in internal reports that will help management make prudent decisions rather than just taking wild stabs at running their respective companies. So it goes without saying that this is important stuff.

For those of you still working in the public realm, you can get benefits out of a CMA too. Our favorite Exuberant Accountant, Scott Heintzelman, has a CMA and he told us that it helps him better understand the needs of his manufacturing clients, “I had a bunch of clients in the manufacturing space and many of the controllers were CMA’s. I thought taking the time to get this certification would give me more creditability with this group…it helped me gain more manufacturing clients as they saw me as one of them, not just a CPA.”

Compensation and Other Benefits
According to the IMA’s most recent survey, CMAs earn 24-31% more than their non-certified colleagues. Those surveyed that have both a CMA and a CPA have even higher salaries. Now, we know what that you’re hung up on money but there are some other advantages too.

According to Scott, “Partners then had this belief [then] that the CMA was a brutal test (and it was). So a year later I started the process and actually was fortunate to pass the entire test on the first attempt. I had also passed the CPA exam on the first attempt a year earlier and so my partners suddenly thought I was some super smart young accountant and many believed I was ‘fast tracked’ to partner. I believe I just worked my butt off to learn that stuff, but none the less several of my partners looked at me differently. A very key moment in my young career.”

Fuld: Ernst & Young “Supported” Lehman’s Repo 105 Treatment

Dick Fuld has a big date with the House Financial Services Committee tomorrow and he’s going to say that he knew absolutely nada about Repo 105 until that nasty little report came out last month.


Fuld will also state that Repo 105 complied with GAAP and that Ernst & Young “reviewed that policy and supported the firm’s approaf the relevant rule, FAS 140.” Further, E&Y was “auditing our financial statements and reviewing our quarterly and annual SEC filings. Each year, E&Y issued formal opinions that Lehman’s audited financial statements were fairly presented in accordance with GAAP, and they were.”

Presumably E&Y will be okay with this since they’re standing by their audits of LEH so we’re sure no one at 5 Times Square will be interested in tomorrow’s testimony.

Full testimony, via Deal Journal:

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Bachus, and Members of the House Committee on Financial Services, you have invited me here today to address a number of public policy issues raised by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy report filed by the Examiner.

Since September of 2008, I have given much thought to the financial crisis and the perfect storm of events that forced Lehman into bankruptcy. Everyone’s focus is now on how to prevent another crisis. The key is how regulation and governance should be deployed going forward to better protect the financial markets and the entire system.

The idea of a “super regulator” that monitors the financial markets for systemic risk, I believe, is a good one. To be successful in today’s challenging environment, this new regulator should have actual experience and a true understanding of the business of financial institutions, the capital markets and risk management and must be given the resources sufficient to accomplish its important mission.

My view is that the new regulator also should have access, on a real-time basis, to all information and data regarding transactions, assets and liabilities, as well as current and future commitments. In addition, we should put in place established and effective methods of communication between the regulator and the firms being regulated, all of whom should be guided by clear standards for capital requirements, liquidity and other risk management metrics. The job of the new regulator can only be done, in my opinion, with the creation and utilization of a master mark-to-market capability that determines valuations and capital haircuts on all assets, commitments, loans and structures. In short, to have a fair and orderly market, I believe we need a single set of transparent rules for all of the participants.

You have asked specifically about the role of the SEC and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Beginning in March of 2008, the SEC and the Fed conducted regular, at times daily, oversight of Lehman. SEC and Fed officials were physically present in our offices monitoring our daily activities. The SEC and the Fed saw what we saw, in real time, as they reviewed our liquidity, funding, capital, risk management and mark-to-market processes. The SEC and the Fed were privy to everything as it was happening. I am not aware that any data was ever withheld from them, or that either of them ever asked for any information that
was not promptly provided. After an extended investigation into Lehman’s bankruptcy, the Examiner recently published a lengthy report stating his views.

Despite popular and press misconceptions about Lehman’s valuations of mortgage and real estate assets, liquidity, and risk management, the Examiner found no breach of duty by anyone at Lehman with respect to any of these.

Speaking of asset valuations, the world still is being told that Lehman had a huge capital hole. It did not. The Examiner concluded that Lehman’s valuations were reasonable, with a net immaterial variation of between $500 million and $2.0 billion. Using the Examiner’s analysis, as of August 31, 2008 Lehman therefore had a remaining equity base of at least $26 billion. That conclusion is totally inconsistent with the capital hole arguments that were used by many to undermine Lehman’s bid for support on that fateful weekend of September 12, 2008.

The Examiner did take issue, though, with Lehman’s “Repo 105” sale transactions. As to that, I believe that the Examiner’s report distorted the relevant facts, and the press, in turn, distorted the Examiner’s report. The result is that Lehman and its people have been unfairly vilified.

Let me start by saying that I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of hearing anything about Repo 105 transactions while I was CEO of Lehman. Nor do I have any recollection of seeing documents that related to Repo 105 transactions. The first time I recall ever hearing the term “Repo 105” was a year after the bankruptcy filing, in connection with questions raised by the Examiner.

My knowledge, therefore, about Lehman’s Repo 105 transactions, and what I will say about them today, is based upon my understanding of what I have recently learned.

As CEO, I oversaw a global organization of more than 28,000 people with hundreds of business lines and products and with operations in more than forty countries spread over five continents. My responsibility as the CEO was to create an infrastructure of people, systems and processes, all designed to ensure that the firm’s business was properly conducted in compliance with the applicable standards, rules and regulations.

There has been a lot of misinformation about Repo 105. Among the worst were the completely erroneous reports on the front pages of major newspapers claiming that Lehman used Repo 105 transactions to remove toxic assets from its balance sheet. That simply was not true. According to the Examiner, virtually all of the Repo 105 transactions involved highly liquid investment grade securities, most of them government securities. Some of the newspapers that got it wrong were fair-minded enough to print a correction.

Another piece of misinformation was that Repo 105 transactions were used to hide Lehman’s assets. That also was not true. Repo 105 transactions were sales, as mandated by the accounting rule, FAS 140.

Another misperception was that the Repo 105 transactions contributed to Lehman’s bankruptcy. That was not true either. Lehman was forced into bankruptcy amid one of the most turbulent periods in our economic history, which culminated in a catastrophic crisis of confidence and a run on the bank. That crisis almost brought down a large number of other financial institutions, but those institutions were saved because of government support in the form of additional capital and fundamental changes to the rules and regulations governing banks and investment banks.

The Examiner himself acknowledged that the Repo 105 transactions were not inherently improper and that Lehman vetted those transactions with its outside auditor. He also does not dispute that Lehman appropriately accounted for those transactions as required by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

I have recently learned that, in 2000, the Financial Accounting Standards Board published detailed accounting rules for transactions of this very type, described them and dictated how they should be accounted for. In 2001, Lehman adopted a written accounting policy for Repo 105 transactions that incorporated those accounting rules. E&Y, the firm’s independent outside auditor, reviewed that policy and supported the firm’s approach and application of the relevant rule, FAS 140.

As I now understand it, because Lehman’s Repo 105 transactions met the FAS 140 requirements, that accounting rule mandated that those transactions be accounted for as a sale. That was exactly what I believe Lehman did. Lehman should not be criticized for complying with the applicable accounting standards.

In other words, those transactions were modeled on FAS 140. The accounting authorities wrote the rule that expressly provided for those transactions and how they should be accounted for. To the best of my knowledge, Lehman followed those rules and requirements.

My job as the CEO was also to put in place a robust process to ensure that Lehman complied with all of its obligations to make accurate public disclosures. I had hundreds of people in the internal audit, finance, risk management and legal functions to ensure that we did, in fact, comply with all of our obligations.

Part of that process was E&Y’s role in auditing our financial statements and reviewing our quarterly and annual SEC filings. Each year, E&Y issued formal opinions that Lehman’s audited financial statements were fairly presented in accordance with GAAP, and they were.

We also had in place a rigorous certification process that was carried out in advance of every annual and quarterly SEC filing. That bottom-up process involved hundreds of people who had first-hand knowledge of the firm’s day-to-day business and the responsibility to review for accuracy and compliance the firm’s SEC disclosures before they were filed.

Before we made any annual or quarterly filing, the key people who were involved in this process signed certifications confirming that, to their knowledge, the filing did not contain any untrue statement of a material fact or any material omission and that it fairly presented Lehman’s financial position.

Our certification process culminated, every quarter, with a mandatory, allhands, in-person meeting, which was chaired by Lehman’s Chief Legal Officer. In addition to me, that meeting was attended by the firm’s President, Chief Financial Officer, Financial Controller, Executive Committee members, business heads, the principal internal audit, finance and risk managers, legal counsel and our outside auditors.

After we had reviewed the draft annual or quarterly filing in detail, the Chief Legal Officer and I would each ask everyone present to speak up if there was anything in the document that caused them concern, or if anything had been omitted that they thought should be included. Attendees were also told that they should speak separately with the Chief Legal Officer if they had an issue that they did not want to raise at the meeting. To my knowledge, no one ever, at any of those meetings, raised any issue about Repo 105 transactions.

I relied on this certification process because it showed that those with granular knowledge believed the SEC filings were complete and accurate. I never signed an SEC filing unless it was first approved by the Chief Legal Officer. Mr. Chairman, I thank you for allowing me to speak on these issues and I will be pleased to answer any questions this Committee may have.

Credentials for Accountants: Certified Fraud Examiner

Now that busy season has come and gone (that is, for most of you) you may be thinking about what you’re going to spend you summer doing. Of course you should relax and use some of your accrued vacay that’s been thrown at you but you also me wondering what the next step in your career might be. For those of that haven’t yet gotten your CPA, we recommend getting on that ASAP, especially if you’re working in the public domain.

For the rest of you, some options include obtaining another certification that may assist you for your current role or prepare you for a position that you may have interest in for the future. We’ll examine maer the next several weeks to give you an idea of what the requirements are, what the benefits of the certification might be (yes, including salary) and some career options.


Since forensic accounting is somewhat fresh in our minds, we’ll kick off this series with the CFE designation. It is administered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (“ACFE”), the “world’s largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education,” according to the ACFE website. The website states that Association more than 50,000 members and it requires 20 hours of CPE every 12 months.

Steps to Obtaining a CFE
1) Be an Associate member of the ACFE in good standing – You can apply for membership here.

2) Submit the CFE Exam application with proof of education and professional recommendations – The ACFE requires three professional recommendations (form here). See the education and professional requirements below.

3) Pass the CFE Exam – After your application and supporting documentation is processed, then you must pass the exam (application here). It consists of five hundred objective and True/False questions administered via a computerized exam that has a $150 fee. The exam covers four areas: Fraud Prevention and Deterrence; Financial Transactions; Fraud Investigation; Legal Elements of Fraud. The CFE has a ton of resources to help with the exam including a prep course that has a money back guarantee.

4) Gain final approval from the certification committee and become a CFE – Assuming you’re not living a double life, this should be the easy part.

Education Requirements
The CFE requires a Bachelors Degree (or equivalent) and you may substitute two years of fraud-related work experience for one year of academic study.

Professional Requirements
Two years of work experience in one of the following fields will meet the professional requirements:
1) Accounting and Auditing – Anyone with experience ” or the detection and deterrence of fraud by evaluating accounting systems for weaknesses, designing internal controls, determining the degree of organizational fraud risk, interpreting financial data for unusual trends, and following up on fraud indicators.”

2) Criminology and Sociology – Do you know the criminal mind?

3) Fraud Investigation -If you’ve investigated fraud as a part of law enforcement or in the private sector (including insurance or internal investigations for other types of businesses).

4) Loss Prevention – This includes security consultants and directors but not your time working security as a mall cop.

5) Law – Candidates that have worked in a legal capacity including lawyers, fraud litigators and anyone working in an anti-fraud capacity.

Career Options
The two largest groups in the ACFE’s most recent compensation guide were fraud examiners and internal auditors. All of the Big 4 have forensic groups, internal auditors are increasingly become a more important part of the corporate structure and of course, the Federal government (including the SEC) is looking for fraud experts.

The other option, of course, is develop services that aren’t already offered by your firm. Scott Heintzelman, Partner at McKonly & Asbury (aka The Exuberant Accountant) and a CFE told us that it was a way for him to get involved in a new new practice area, “Our firm was getting involved in more cases and I wanted to be a part of this exciting niche. I also saw it as a way to add value to all my clients, by using the best practices on the prevention side.”

Compensation and Other Benefits
The most recent compensation information for “anti-fraud” professionals that we found was produced by the ACFE and it surveyed over 3,000 anti-fraud professionals. Of those, 64% had obtained their CFE and 36% had not. The median salary of those with the CFE certification was $90,300; those that did not have a CFE certification was $74,111.

And depending on the job function, the certification may have an effect on compensation. For example, the median salary for someone with “controller” as their primary job function was $104,500 while a non-CFE’s median salary was $106,000. On the other hand, a respondent whose primary job function was “Internal Auditor” that had a CFE certification had a median salary of $92,000 while a non-CFE “Internal Auditor” had a median salary of $77,800.

Some non-monetary benefits that Scott shared with us is that it definitely raised his profile among the partners at his firm, “As a younger accountant in our firm, my partners clearly saw it as me making myself more valuable to them and my clients. I was the first in my firm and this was a clear distinction.”

Ultimately, work experience and subsequent training will do the most good for those interested in fraud prevention as mentioned by both Sam Antar and Tracy Coenen in our recent post on forensic accounting. The appropriate mindset that includes “investigative intuition,” “[thinking] like a scumbag,” and “double iron clad balls.” Sam insists that these personality traits and characteristics are the most crucial to any successful forensic accountant but he didn’t dismiss the certification altogether saying, “[The] CFE designation is like chicken soup. It can’t hurt.”

So for anyone that thinks that they have the personality and fortitude to make a run in forensics, the CFE can serve as tool to demonstrate your interest. God knows there’s plenty of work out there.

Jobs of the Day: Barrier Advisors Needs Associates and Analysts

Barrier Advisors, Inc. has positions at both the Associate and Analyst level to join its Restructuring & Investment Banking Group in Dallas, Texas. These positions will provide financial and accounting consulting services in corporate restructuring, M&A and other areas.

The Associate positions require 3 to 4 years experience with CPA, CFA, CIRA or Series 7 a plus. Analysts require 1 to 2 years experience and certifications are also a plus.


Company: Barrier Advisors, Inc.

Title: Associate or Analyst

Location: Dallas

Description: Provide financial and accounting related consulting and advisory services primarily in the areas of Corporate Restructuring and Mergers and Acquisitions. This practice provides services primarily in the following areas: Creditor and Debtor Advisory, Mergers and Acquisitions, Performance Improvement, Wind-Down and Liquidation.

Responsibilities: Apply business, accounting, finance and analytical skills to various client situations and practice disciplines (e.g., financial modeling, ratio and comparable company analysis, review/analysis of financial statements and projections, assessing business plans, claims, conducting due diligence on balance sheet and profit and loss statement items, etc.); Prepare complex cash flow projections and worksheets to model business processes and/or actual or hypothetical transactions; Work to ensure a quality product, as well as delivery of all work within established timeframes; Prepare draft written analyses and other reports for third parties, as necessary, on the project scope, findings and/or results of activities; Prepare PowerPoint presentations and quantitative exhibits for third parties, as necessary, on the project scope, findings and/or results of activities; Research and organize information to facilitate effective data access and analysis.

Qualifications: Proficiency with PC environment and related software, including Microsoft Office applications (a very strong emphasis on Excel and PowerPoint); Familiarity with web-based financial research resources for corporate information, SEC filings, competitive data, etc; Thorough knowledge of corporate finance and accounting principles and terminology; General knowledge of corporate bankruptcy process and procedure;

Associate Education/Experience: Bachelor’s Degree in accounting, finance or business administration is required, MBA preferred. If not a business degree, then subsequent business training can suffice; 3-4 years of Investment Banking, Consulting, Private Equity or Public Accounting is desired; Certifications such as CPA, CFA, CIRA, Series 7, etc. are not mandatory, but will be considered.

Analyst Education/Experience: Bachelor’s Degree in accounting, finance or business administration is required. If not a business degree, then subsequent business training can suffice; 1-2 years of Investment Banking, Consulting, Private Equity or Public Accounting is strongly desired; Certifications such as CPA, CFA, CIRA, Series 7, etc. are not mandatory, but will be considered.

See the entire description over at the GC Career Center and visit the main page for all your job search needs.

Job of the Day: BlackRock Needs an IT Internal Audit Manager

BlackRock is looking for an experienced auditor who has is familiar with testing of SAS 70 and Sarbanes-Oxley technology controls.

The position requires 9 years experience with Big 4 firm and professional certifications (e.g. CPA, CISA). The position also requires approximately 20% travel.

Check out the details for this position, based in New York, after the jump.


Company: BlackRock

Title: IT Internal Audit Manager

Location: New York, NY

Experience Required: 9 years

Description: The candidate will supervise one to two staff and will work closely with other internal auditors in executing the global integrated internal audit plan. The candidate will report to the Director of Internal Audit IT, who reports to the Global Head of Internal Audit. BlackRock’s internal audit group is comprised of approximately 40 professionals based principally in New York, San Francisco and London, with additional personnel in Edinburgh, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Responsibilities: More than 9 years experience in the fields of information technology audit, information security and technology risk management; Strong experience auditing operating systems, databases, networks, and technology operations; Experience working within a risk based internal audit function executing audit planning, fieldwork and report writing; A good understanding of information technology, technology risks and emerging technologies; A good understanding of information technology best practice disciplines and frameworks such as CoBIT, ITIL and COSO; Experience managing small teams of skilled professionals and building strong trusted relationships with senior IT and business management.

Qualifications: Experience of auditing Unix, Linux, Sybase, Oracle, MSSQL and Windows; Experience working in a global financial services firm, and a good understanding of the asset management industry and regulatory environment; A “Big 4” background and experience of SAS70 and SOX technology controls testing; Experience working in a non-audit role such as information security or technology operations; Professional certifications such as: CPA, CISA, CISM, CISSP, GSNA, CGEIT, CRISC; Additional technical knowledge, e.g. attack and penetration techniques, security configuration audit tools and techniques, development tools and languages, data modeling and data management techniques.

See the entire description over at the GC Career Center and visit the main page for all your job search needs.

Job of the Day: Dell Needs an Audit Consultant

The description, qualifications and desired experience all sound familiar for an internal audit position but we’ll refrain from coming right out and calling it that.

Dell needs someone for this position that has at least four years of audit experience with CPA, CMA, CIA and APICS all highly desirable.

Get more details on this position in Austin, TX after the jump.


Recruiter: Dell

Title: Audit Consultant

Location: Austin, TX

Minimum experience
: 4 years

Description: The consultant candidate will responsible for executing audit scopes formulated to evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of activities/economic drivers that create enterprise market value. Specifically the consultant will test whether an Risk Management framework exists and is functioning effectively for each selected auditable entity.

Responsibilities: Audit against a set of defined control objectives; meet project schedules; interview appropriate personnel and document results; perform appropriate testing; understand root causes, risks and opportunities of individual areas; synthesize ideas within the project team; write portions of published reports; track the status of action items; perform evaluations relative to management assertions based on accounting information arising from business activities; utilize independent judgment and initiative in the recognition and resolution of problems and discrepancies; provide guidance to the Business on matters pertaining to internal controls and process improvements; carry out ad-hoc investigations

Qualifications: A bachelor’s degree is required, MBA is a plus; four+ years of finance experience with a combination of the following would be preferred: Project management; Business controls; Audit experience
CPA, CMA, CIA and APICS certifications are all desirable; Language skills are a plus

See the entire description over at the GC Career Center and visit the main page for all your job search needs.

Are Three Letters Enough for You?

Thumbnail image for BelushiCollege_CPA.jpgBack when we did our initial survey of you — our brilliant readers — we asked you to share with us the certifications that you boast behind your name.
As you well know, the mother of all certifications for accountants is the CPA. You hear about it in your college courses until graduation and the accounting firms put you under the gun to knock it out so you can make manager witho��������������������this coveted status, Adrienne gives you the latest in CPA exam fodder every week in her >75 column.
After dominating the CPA, your careers mosey along and eventually you may consider obtaining another certification. The motivation for more of the alphabet are many but most likely you’ll want to hold yourself out compared to your slacker co-workers or maybe you’re just obsessed with the notion of having as many letter combinations behind your name as possible.
Some of the more common certifications include:
Certified Management Accountant (CMA) – Implemented by the Institute of Management Accountants, the IMA states “As many as 85% of accountants today work inside organizations, where expertise in decision support, planning, and control over value-adding operations are crucial elements of operational success.”
Certified Financial Manager (CFM) – A complement to the CMA, the CFM can be obtained by taking one additional exam in addition to the portions under CMA.
Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) – The sexiest certification going. As long as you can keep from soiling yourself.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Among other requirements, a three part, 10-hour exam is administered three times a year for this certification.
Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) – The Institute of Internal Auditors issues this global certification that “demonstrate their comprehensive competence and professionalism in the internal auditing field.”
Certified Information Systems Auditors (CISA) – Sponsored by the ISACA, this is another global certification for information systems, audit, control, and security professionals.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) – Issued by the CFA Institute. Check out the requirements here.
Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) – Issued by the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts, this certification involves a five day training program and a 40–60 hour exam.
Although the thought of studying and testing for another certification may make you nauseous, it’s worth considering if you’re looking to make yourself a smidge more noticeable than your competition counterparts. Vote in our poll and discuss any thoughts or experiences in the comments.

Robert Half’s Salary Guide Doesn’t Have Many Surprises

Robert Half has issued its salary guide for 2010 and we wouldn’t say that’s its chock full of good news. It follows the Ajilon salary guide that came out a couple of weeks ago and it seems to present a lot of the same sobering conclusions.
Salaries will be virtually flat, according to Bob’s guide, increasing approximately 0.5% for next year. However, there are some areas that seem to have better prospects than others including:


Tax accountants
Financial analysts
Senior and staff accountants
Business analysts
Along with these positions, the guide states that employers are seeking professionals with certifications, broad experience, and expertise in technology or compliance.
RH also has a “Public Accounting Outlook” in the guide and it does not paint a pretty picture:

Compensation packages in public accounting have seen notable changes. Salary levels have moderated, with declines reported in some areas. Additionally, instances of large signing bonuses and raises are far less common and typically reserved for premier performers.

The silver lining is, again, for tax professionals but since more companies are trying to do tax work in house, public firms are now competing directly with their corporate clients for the talent. It also indicates that some smaller firms have done some hiring and our earlier post on considering a smaller firm elicited some comments in favor of choosing that route.
Overall, with the significant change in the political environment, the job market for accountants seems to be trending towards positions centered around compliance and rule changes and the competition will likely be fierce. You can request a copy of the salary guide by going here.
For those of you currently on the job search, discuss the salary trends that you are seeing in the current market. Good luck to everyone that is currently on the hunt.

Ex-Deloitte Analyst Is the New Wunderkind at the SEC

Thumbnail image for gun_awkward.jpgWunderkind is a little premature but we’re hopeful! Awhile back we encouraged you to help the ailing Securities and Exchange Commission get its act together. We had really no expectation that anyone would take us seriously.
On Friday, the Commission announced that 29-year old Adam Storch would be the new Chief Operating Officer of the enforcement division. Storch joined the SEC on October 13th to assume the newly created position.


It’s pretty obvious that Storch craves letters behind his name as he has “certifications in accounting, fraud examination and auditing” according to Bloomberg. JDA isn’t impressed:

As a 28 year old myself let me tell you, this is beyond disheartening. We should not be in charge of anything, much less our nation’s regulatory enforcement. We are a generation of self-centered, lazy morons (yeah I said it) and sure there are a few exceptions but for the most part, no one my age will do anything unless they get a pat on the head and a “good boy” gold star just for pissing in the toilet instead of on the floor.

The biggest headline grabber (aside from urination accuracy) is that Storch is an ex-Goldman employee which is all fine and dandy for conspiratorial purposes but he is also an ex-Uncle Dangler where he was a, GASP, “senior analyst”. He’s definitely kicking himself for missing out on 100% free preventive healthcare.
The ‘Berg doesn’t have many other details on the Enforcement Division’s new fearless leader, so we invite any details on Mr. Storch for those that worked with him. Boxers or briefs? Boozehound or teetotaler? Does he get to carry a gun at the Commission? Since he’s in “enforcement” he’s got to be packing, especially as the COO. Khuzami probably has to take off the trigger locks for him though. Good luck man.
SEC Names Goldman’s Storch as Enforcement Unit Operations Chief [Bloomberg]