Ed. note: Here’s another question from the mailbag. As is alluded below, some users are still experiencing problems posting to Open Items, so we continue to investigate. In the meantime, if you are unable to publish your post, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Apologies for the inconvenience. Has anyone below the rank of Director in industry […]
Yesterday, the Supreme Court gathered to decide an issue that had drawn the attention of tax advisors and subpar employees the country over: Is severance pay pursuant to an involuntary layoff subject to FICA employment taxes? The answer was a resounding “yes,” a reversal from the rulings previously handed down by the District Court and […]
Everything is negotiable, amiright? We heard that staff in one North Central office were given one month of severance but at least one person made a big enough stink that they ended up with three months. Personally, we thought the Big 4 was pretty inflexible on this point but hey, if it’s true, nice work.
Jump over to the main thread to check the latest discussion and if there are still details to be reported, get in touch.
Since Monday when the SEC announced it had fined KPMG $50 million for not one but two scandals involving auditor misconduct at the firm, I’ve been thinking about which scandal is worse. Is it KPMG audit partners stealing confidential information from rogue PCAOB employees in order to better the firm’s audit inspection scores OR is […]
The Charlotte Business Journal reported last week on some doom-and-gloom news for Walmart accountants based in the Queen City: Retail giant Walmart Inc. will lay off hundreds in Charlotte starting later this year as it outsources its finance and accounting operations. The retailer filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the N.C. Department of Commerce this […]
There was some big news coming out of Dearborn, MI, yesterday, as Ford Motor Co. said by August it will have given 7,000 white-collar workers pink slips worldwide, a 10% reduction in its global salaried workforce, as part of a restructuring plan to reduce bureaucracy and increase revenue. And accountants are reportedly among those losing […]
For weeks on end now your entire existence has revolved around busy season and all the misery that brings. Your significant other hasn’t heard from you in days and even your dog is suspicious of you when you finally arrive home late in the evening, suspecting you might be a burglar. Your best friend is […]
millennials man… just when I think I can’t possibly understand them any less, one of em goes and TOTALLY… confuses me even more! you’re admittedly an intern AT THE COMPANY in question?! yet instead of, I don’t know, asking people who’ve been there a couple years, your best idea is to post on a website? […]
I apologize if this isn’t the correct forum for this, as I traded in my CPA for a JD back when CP3 was underperforming in the NCAA tourney instead of the NBA playoffs (although after last night he might finally be on track for a championship!), so usually spent my time Above the Law, but […]
When my daughters, ages 10 and 8, are asked what they want to be when they grow up, my oldest says a professional basketball player, and my youngest wants to be a chef. Both good choices. No kid in their right mind would say accountant, journalist, or chief financial officer. As children, Bill Brundage had […]
All work and no play makes you a dummy. Ed. note: Going Concern will be off on Monday, observing Labor Day. See you back here on Tuesday. If anything interesting happens between now and then, drop us a line at email@example.com or create a post in Open Items. Workaholism Accounting firms have long had a […]
The black box of auditing A classic complaint about PCAOB inspections is that they don’t add value to the audits they review. Sure, a warm fuzzy feeling might creep into someone’s belly if they know that an auditor is auditing the auditors, but many people want something measurable. For those that fall into that group, […]
Please enjoy this sponsored content from Beech Valley Solutions. You can read more their partnership with Accountingfly here. It’s inevitable. They’re coming for us, but more importantly, they’re coming for you. Your job. Your livelihood. That cute associate for whom you dream about throwing your life away, yes, they’re coming for him or her too. […]
Whistleblower intimidation If you've ever wondered how to NOT handle a whistleblower complaint, let HomeStreet, a Seattle-based bank, show you how it's done: The bank, according to the SEC, made unsupported adjustments to its hedge effectiveness testing to ensure it could continue using favorable accounting treatment. The SEC also alleged that after HomeStreet employees reported […]
New PwC leadership Yesterday we talked a little about Deloitte UK's new partner class. Now we have news of PwC's new team of overlords that was announced by Tim Ryan on LinkedIn: Over the last few weeks, I spent time talking with our partners and staff to understand what they were looking for in this […]
Auditing auditors The PCAOB has been around for slightly more than a decade, and in that time, there's been a lot of grumbling about how the Board approaches its work of auditing auditors. One of those grumbles is that how the Board selects which audits to audit is too focused on the highest risk engagements, […]
LuxLeaks Two former PwC employees turned whistleblowers who leaked thousands of documents that "disclosed that the Luxembourg authorities had helped 340 big firms to minimise their tax payments" go on trial this week: Antoine Deltour and a second man, who is expected to be named in court this week, are charged with carrying out the […]
BDO's Inspection Report One of the big complaints about PCAOB inspection reports is that they aren't timely. Example: BDO's 2014 report just came out yesterday and it's difficult to get too excited about it even though the results are pretty bad. Of 22 audits inspected, 17 had deficiencies with the majority of those (15) related […]
Now that scores are out, this may be relevant to your interests.
Portland's top accountant, Jane Kingston, says city retaliated against her, takes severance instead of suing [The Oregonian] He's been waiting for 20 years, FYI [Twitter] @NASBA I want the scores NOW! Not tomorrow. Not Monday. NOW!!! #releasethescoresalready — Big4Veteran (@Big4Veteran) September 5, 2014 A South Jersey accountant went a little too far to provide exceptional […]
Ed. note: forgive the brief FN or don't, I'm preparing for CPA Day in Maryland this week all while trying to rescue a cat or two from the NYC shelter with Colin MIA in the UK with TPTB leaving me holding this bag all on my own. So here's what you get, if you have […]
U.S. Government Shut Down With No Quick Resolution Seen [Bloomberg]Day one of the first shutdown since 1996 wrapped up with no talks scheduled between the White House and Congress, making it more likely the standoff would merge with the fight over raising the U.S. debt limit later this month to make sure the government can […]
It's that time of year when public accounting firms start showing the underperformers the door and we have our first confirmed across the board cut at it has happened at Rothstein Kass. The first we heard of the layoffs was in mid-April when we were informed by an anonymous tip that the firm would be […]
Argo, tax style: Fake movie made in attempt to hide tax fraud [Don't Mess With Taxes] Jury indicts former Calpers CEO for fraud scheme A non-subscription link to the WSJ story Colin included in this morning's ANR for those of you too lazy to Google the headline to get to the WSJ story without a […]
SEC gets breather on global accounting body [Reuters]The United States has won a three-year stay on its membership of an accounting oversight panel, keeping alive hopes for a single set of global book-keeping rules that will help investors assess companies. Leaders from world's top 20 economies (G20) have repeatedly called on the United States and the […]
As we've mentioned on several occasions here, when the media profiles Big 4 bigwigs, the revelations are far less interesting than, say, a movie star-governor. If touchy subjects are addressed, they are glossed over fairly quickly to move on to charity work, perseverance, or family life. It's like a heart-warming after-school special. Grant Thornton CEO […]
For some capital market servants the number one goal in their careers, the crown jewel, the ultimate feather in the cap, the most memorable notch on the bedpost, is being admitted to the partnership of his/her public accounting firm. It's an accomplishment that takes commitment, perseverance, hard work, dumb luck, brown nosing, corporate politicking, very […]
Anyone remember the poor bastard who was told by NASBA that they lost his entire exam and would have to retake it? Well, he didn't retake it and somehow they managed to track down his missing exam somewhere between Prometric and the AICPA and guess what? He passed! First of all, this candidate was abnormally […]
Yahoo Employees Are 'LIVID' Over Thompson's Resume Scandal [BI]Exhibit A: "This douchebag comes in, brings with him his useless cronies from PayPal (btw, *not* a single good word about his tenure at PayPal from anyone who touched him there), sets up shop with Boston Consulting Group, lays off 2,000 people, but worst of all, gets […]
Sino-Forest Announces Resignation of Auditor [SF]Sino-Forest Corporation ("Sino-Forest" or the "Company") announced today that Ernst & Young LLP ("E&Y") has notified the Company that it has resigned as the Company's auditor effective April 4, 2012. In its resignation letter to the Company, E&Y noted that the Company had not prepared December 31, 2011 consolidated financial […]
Last week the Chicago Tribune got all emotional about the ten-year anniversary of Andersen being indicted with an obstruction of justice charge. A charge that, effectively, destroyed the firm. Oddly, the Trib made it sound like the end of Andersen was some sort of professional services employer apocalypse: The obstruction of justice charges against […]
For once, we have a heartwarming story of a person who set her mind to accomplishing a goal in spite of more than her fair share of adversity and challenge. This should shame all of you C students into at least pretending like you are grateful for what you have, at least until next semester.
Last week, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants announced that Ms. Hefgine G. Fils-Aime, a spring 2011 graduate of the University of South Florida, has been awarded Beta Alpha Psi’s Medal of Inspiration Award. The award, sponsored by the AICPA, is bestowed upon a student who has experienced extreme hardships in his or her life and who has demonstrated an unusually high level of success d y. The award includes a $5,000 cash stipend, which Ms. Fils-Aime plans to use to help continue her education by pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in accountancy at Wake Forest University.
Ms. Fils-Aime’s story is one of overcoming persistent obstacles. In the mid-2000s, her parents sent Fils-Aime and her sister to Florida to live with relatives, fearful that their young daughters were in danger if they remained in Haiti. Then 14-year-old Fils-Amie, a native French and Creole speaker, had to learn English immediately and was enrolled as a junior in high school due to having skipped a grade in Haiti and the differences between the Haitian and American school systems. Fils-Aime graduated high school at age 16 and enrolled in the University of South Florida.
While the other 18 year-olds in the dorms were partying and trying to get her to take that route with them, she chose to remain focused on her education. As if that weren’t challenging enough, her biggest challenge arrived on Jan. 10, 2010, when Haiti was hit with a 7.0 earthquake. It would be days before she knew what happened to her parents and younger brother. Her mother did not survive the earthquake, buried in the rubble of their home when it collapsed. Port-au-Prince was so damaged that she could not fly in to attend her own mother’s funeral. Somehow during all this, she stuck to school and her extra-curricular activities, which included serving as student project support assistant at the Business Systems Reengineering Department, a candidate for Beta Alpha Psi and the Brothers Points coordinator for Alpha Kappa Psi. She attended PwC’s Florida Leadership Adventure in the summer of 2010.
“The winner of this year’s Beta Alpha Psi Medal of Inspiration Award, Hefgine G. Fils-Aime, is a shining example of a person who overcame extreme hardship, and a language barrier in a foreign country, to achieve success,” said Jeannie Patton, AICPA’s vice president of academic and career awareness. “Her dedication, motivation and courage to continue offers inspiration and hope to every one of us who has thought about quitting when the going got tough.”
Fils-Aime was presented the award on Friday at Beta Alpha Psi’s 2011 annual meeting in Denver.
“Hefgine Fils-Aime’s life story is an inspiring one for everyone who is part of Beta Alpha Psi,” said Mary Stone, president, Beta Alpha Psi. “For members, it is a story to remember when life seems overwhelming or unfair. For faculty advisors, forum members, and staff, it is a story to remember when confronted by the media stereotype that today’s students don’t work hard. For all of us, it is reminder that great challenges can be overcome with hard work, perseverance and good humor.”
Fils-Aime graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting with an overall GPA of 3.89 in May of 2011 and received a full-time offer from PwC. She was recognized on the College of Business’ top 25 under 25 and had been active in Beta Alpha Psi, Alpha Kappa Psi and Beta Gamma Sigma.
Current BAP students may vote for either themselves or another BAP student who they feel meets the criteria for this award, which is given out annually. There are two criteria whereby students can win. First, they may have experienced extreme hardships in their lives in pursuing their education, and demonstrated an unusually high level of success in spite of that adversity. Or, second, they may have done something particularly inspirational in the course of their young lives that had tremendous impact on someone else’s life. Either path is acceptable. Students are encouraged to participate in the program, not to bring honor or glory to themselves, but to inspire students to want to affect on the world around them in a positive way.
Subject: And When I Leave Come Together Like Butt Cheeks
You can figure out where this is going to go based on that alone, I’m sure.
Predictably, this email has been making the rounds since it was sent. If the OP was shocked it went viral in public accounting inboxes up until this point, wait until he sees it here. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, including the OP, who isn’t innocent at all but still deserves that. I think.
Guess who just got the fuck outta Dodge?! This guy! How many people had Craig Douchenozzlestein lasting until August 4, 2011 in the YMP pool?
But seriously, it is NOT easy to get out of these contracts. Im pretty sure it would have been easier to escape from Auschwitz th knew from the second week I start here that this wasn’t going to work out. I mean, working past 7pm cuts significantly into my drinking and foundling women time. So therefore, since October 28, 2008 when I was forced to work until 10pm on my fucking 23rd birthday, these wheels have been in motion.
I feel like it is probably appropriate to go over what got me to this point of release, in case anyone wants to take a similar approach and not have to pay back any tuition money and get a severance package.
The first breaking point for EY was during my staff 2 year when I lost an inventory count and the bitch of a senior manager WOULD NOT stop hassling me about it. Dude, I told you I lost it. No matter how many emails or sametimes you sent me, that sheet isn’t coming back. Get over it. Rose cried less when the Titanic sank. Needless to say, he personally wrote my review. Didn’t go over too well during roundtables.
The next “occurrence” happened in February 2009 during busy season. It was a Friday night and I was newly broken up with [the girlfriend] for the 24th time. That Saturday I had to work on [rando client] in the office because we just received their 10K. However, this was a minor inconvenience because 2 buddies from college were in town and I had a kitchen full of liquor waiting for them. During that night at the bars, I hit it off with one of the girls in our party and, as any guy knows, the first lay after a break up is as necessary as oxygen. So we leave to go back to my apartment only to realize I had given my buddy from college my keys so he could get in later. In a crime of passion and lack of forethought, I punched through our glass window to get into the lobby, only to realize the door to my apartment was still locked. Not letting this stop my teenage sex drive, we hopped a 30 minute cab to her place. The next morning I awoke at 11am realizing I should have been at work 2 hours ago. By the time I got to work it was 1pm, I reeked of booze and was bleeding all over the place because of my hand. AND I had forgotten my badge so called the senior manager to come let me in who greeted me with a “what the hell happened to you?” I also found out I had texted my senior the prior night while in the cab saying “Getting laid in West Randombury, Ill be at work ASAP” at 3am. Needless to say, my year end review mentioned something about “unprofessional” and “this is a career, not some part time job”
Those 2 situations resulted in me being held back for my staff 2 year. After that, there was not much anyone could do that would prevent me from doing what I wanted to do. I worked from home, ignored deadlines, and pretty much didn’t give a shit. I even made up some bullshit excuse that I was stuck travelling back from the Kentucky Derby in Pennsylvania during a 3/31 year-end just so I could catch up on the DVR I missed while away for the weekend.
The final straw that broke Camel Craig’s back resulted from a year-end job at the beginning of January. The Manager was a complete bitch and I spent most of my day exchanging texts with a girl I had met the prior weekend at the bar. She did not take kindly to this. But the breaking point for her was definitely when I didn’t show up til 2pm on that Friday because it was my roommates birthday the night before. Everyone knows Roommates birthday=Your Birthday, right?!?! That’s another thing that gets me about this place, everyone is so caught up in work they forget about enjoying life. Shit, life is so short (especially if you are a raging alcoholic) and is way too short to spend stressing over excel sheets all damn day. Every once in a while enjoy it! Take a sick day to go to the beach. Get hammered on your roommates birthday and come in late, have unprotected se…. well, maybe not too much enjoyment. But you get the message!
But I digress, I truly enjoyed my summers with you guys and the shit we got away with. I hope I was able to have a positive effect on your lives in some way, even if it was just “damn, at least Im not as bad as Craig . Did you see him lick the Backer pole last night?!” I hope you all keep in touch and wish you the best down the road.
If you guys are ever in the Random City area, Im always down to meet up. Just no rioting like we did when Joey and Dan were here.
Good luck to you in your future endeavors, “Craig,” you’ll need it.
Please note, we’re pretty sure this guy is a one-off and not at all reflective of the overall quality of his colleagues. Therefore let’s reserve any judgments for Craig and Craig alone. Judge away, my darlings.
Last week we were tipped about layoffs that were communicated to PwC’s Global Best Practices (“GBP”) unit on January 13th. The GBP was purchased from Andersen back in the early Aughts and became a part of PwC’s Knowledge Services Organization which was developed as a part of Internal Firm Services.
Global Best Practices, as the name indicates, developed “best practices” that were either for sale to third parties or was used by PwC professionals to share with their clients.
Our source, a former Knowledge Services Organization employee gave us the initial scoop:
[I]t’s somewhere between 27 and 42 people, depending on how you do the math – there are some contractors. Most of the staff is based in Tampa, as part of the KSO. They have a month, then a package. Some are still in Chicago, where the GBP staff used to be based – the moved them all to Tampa about five years ago when PwC started up the whole Knowledge Services Organization plan.
Subscriptions to the site are way down and apparently the cost-benefit analysis didn’t justify keeping the employees, even though many of them had been around for many years.
We checked with a source within PwC who clarified/solidified some of the tip: simply put, the GBP product is being discontinued and it will affect 24 total jobs, sixteen in Tampa and eight in Chicago. As our original tipster mentioned, there are some outside contractors that aren’t included in those numbers. The separation date for those affected is February 25th and employees are being paid through the 28th. From there, a severance will be provided, depending on the individual’s position and tenure with the firm. All employees that are affected are being encouraged to apply for other jobs inside the firm.
This is second instance of layoffs by PwC in the Tampa area, following the 470 cuts announced last July. Many of those layoffs – 280 to be exact – were effective December 31st. We’ll keep you updated with any further details.
More Layoff Watch:
Layoff Watch ‘11: KPMG Cuts IT Support Staff
When HP announced the stunning resignation of Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Mark Hurd on Friday, it seemingly wanted the world to think it took the moral high road.
In its press release, the company said a probe into possible sexual harassment charges against Hurd and HP by a former contractor to HP found no violation of HP’s sexual harassment policy, “but did find violations of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct.”
So, basically the company and Board were saying that ethics trumps performance, even when it comes to the guy widely credited for turning around the company.
The populists applauded, hoping that some companies have higher standards than, maybe, Wall Street, where the people who brought us the global financial crisis and caused millions of innocent people to lose their jobs also wound up being rewarded with huge bonuses.
However, these hopes were quickly dashed when we learned that poor Mark Hurd-who joins the growing ranks of the unemployed–will walk away with close to $30 million in severance.
So much for taking the high moral ground.
Now, defenders of Hurd’s package say his employment contract calls for this arrangement. It’s that simple. And a contract is a contract. Blah blah blah.
However, the reality is that if he were fired “with cause,” the company could have been off the hook from paying him anything. Hurd would have received zilch. Then their firing for breaching ethics would have had meat.
In most “with cause” cases, all the company needs to cite is an intentional breach of any of the company’s policies.
Of course, Hurd could have contested this decision and sued the company. But, that would have placed the onus on Hurd and enabled HP to take an even firmer ethical stand, which given its size and stature would have sent a loud and emphatic message to the business community.
But, alas, this was not the route HP’s Board wanted to go. In fact, the beginning of its press release announcing Hurd’s departure, says: “Hurd has decided with the Board of Directors to resign his positions effective immediately.”
On its subsequent conference call, the company reportedly said there was a legal settlement.
What does this mean? Either the company did not want Hurd to walk away with nothing. It could also mean it did not have a good case. It could also mean there were other undisclosed issues involved or Hurd might have some dirt on the company if there were a lawsuit and depositions were taken, even if it did not go to trial.
Of course, HP has its free market right to make a deal with Hurd.
However, don’t try to tell us you’re taking the high moral ground.
Peak6 Investments is looking for an experienced accountant to join their team in Chicago as the Assistant Controller.
Qualifications include a Bachelors Degree in Accounting, at least five to seven years of experience with two years in a senior role required, CPA and experience with Dynamics GP are strongly preferred.
Company: Peak6 Investments, LP
Title: Assistant Controller
Location: Chicago, IL
Responsibilities: Perform assigned monthly, quarterly, and annual general ledger closing and reporting processes; Perform journal entries and complex account reconciliations including identification and remediation of all issues in compliance with audit requirements; Assist the Controller in operational and transactional processes impacting the financial statements, including closing/reporting, cash, intercompany expenses and accounts payable; Prepare income statement and balance sheet packages and related comprehensive analysis for variances and trends; Participate in the internal and external audit process; Collaborate with teammates and management to identify, design, and implement process improvements and policies for greater efficiency; Actively participate in improvements to and recommendations for company outsourced systems impacting financial reporting and processes; Communicate with and advise business leaders within your given business unit; Understand and apply regulatory business rules to accounting procedures; Ensure that adequate internal financial controls exist in the business to safeguard company assets and limit risk; Participate in and lead ad hoc projects as needed.
Qualifications/Skills: 5-7+ years of progressive accounting experience with at least 2+ years in a senior role; Bachelor’s degree in Accounting required and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensing strongly preferred; Prior Broker Dealer or similar industry experience preferred; Experience with Dynamics GP software is preferred; Minimum 5 years experience with automated accounting systems in a customer service, high volume, deadline driven production environment is required; Strong analytical ability, including expert level MS Excel skills, and perseverance to solve problems with high attention to detail; Strong month end close experience; Ability to professionally interact with employees and management; Extensive knowledge of general ledgers.
Bay News 9 out of Tampa reports that PwC is cutting 500 jobs in its IT practice and quotes firm spokesman Jon Stoner:
“PWC is making these changes as part of a thoughtful, strategic plan that will allow the firm to best serve its clients,” he said. “The firm is one of the largest private employers and recruiters in the U.S. and as we make these changes, we are simultaneously increasing the number of jobs in other areas of the U.S. firm. All impacted employees will be encouraged to apply for other open positions at PWC.”
The report says that the 500 cuts is out 1,100 total, the majority of which were in Tampa. People got the word on Thursday afternoon including, “They haven’t been notified of any sort of severance package, but the company felt it was important to give the workers a heads-up and the time until the end of the year to apply for other open positions.”
Our contributor Francine McKenna writes that not only is this “an unprecedented press release” (an accurate statement if we’ve ever heard one) but that the number of layoffs is rumored to be closer to 800, “The additional 300 professionals are those who will not be offered an opportunity to apply for jobs with the rumored outsourced services provider, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).”
This is latest major move by PwC in Florida market. Back in March we reported on PwC closing their tax practice in the nearby Orlando office. According to the email we obtained, the practice closed on May 3rd.
If you’ve been affected by the layoffs in Tampa or know more details around these cuts, get in touch and discuss these developments in the comments.
PricewaterhouseCoopers cuts 500 jobs in Tampa [Bay News 9]
PricewaterhouseCoopers Cuts Hundreds of Internal IT Professionals [Re: The Auditors]
Over the past month, we have heard lots about layoffs at RSM McGladrey/McGladrey & Pullen but we didn’t have much for details.
Frankly, we still don’t know a lot but we’ll go with what we’ve got. So far we know about reductions in the New York, Chicago, Quad Cities, Florida and Seattle offices and everything we’ve been told indicates that they are occurring elsewhere.
First the Emerald City:
I was am ple. There is a new geographic restructuring going on. Instead of multiple “economic units” there will be only three regions. Many HRs and CFOs from different offices are losing their jobs. Consulting people talk about 100 positions that will be eliminated across the country. 10 people were let go from Seattle Economic Unit which includes Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia offices. We were informed about the reorganization somewhere around 04/12 and laid off at the end of the month. I think everybody received severance.
We’re not that familiar with past cuts in the RSM/M&P world but the big cuts in consulting seem to trail the Big 4’s by a year or two, although if some of these smaller clients are giving into the Big 4 lowballing then perhaps this is the natural progression.
Their Florida Private Club operations group closed the Club IT Consulting Group and layed off the staff. Some of the staff have been part of the firm for more than 20 years and were profitable.
Chicago just layed off the Operations Consulting Staff yesterday, [approximately] 10 people. This group was left to dangle in the wind, sink or swim on their own without marketing or sales assistance or access to the firm’s client-base Naturally it failed.
This firm’s actual layoff numbers are always reported low because they chase people out prior to layoffs in an attempt to camouflage the numbers. Their tactics to accomplish this include poor performance evaluations for staff, unreasonable margin requirements, constant peer pressure meetings regarding performance and head to head comparisons. This creates a dysfunctional relationship between groups and actually motivates groups within their own company to compete with one and other. Only so much people can take and then they leave. Just what the firm wanted.
Considering the economy in Florida, the demise of RSM’s private club operations in that corner of the over-leveraged world wouldn’t come as much of surprise. That being said, you might expect that veterans of the firm would be accommodated somehow with other internal opportunities.
We reached out to both RSM’s corporate spokeswoman and their general counsel, both of whom have not responded to our request for comment. We also contacted an H&R Block spokesman to see if they could elaborate on these layoffs from the parent company level but again, our requests have gone unanswered. H&RB had their own layoffs last month however, there is no indication at this point whether cuts at H&RB would have anything to do with those at RSM/M&P.
We’re still accumulating details on these cuts, so get in touch with us about details on your office or discuss below. And don’t be shy, we know you McGladrey types been hesitant to call on us in the past.
Has the risk of violence become too much?
No, it’s actually quite a bit more boring than that – cost savings. The company states that it will decrease its operating expenses $140-$150 million by 2012. CEO Russ Smyth was quoted in the Kansas City Star that “There aren’t as many people who need their taxes done when there are a lot fewer W-2s going out,” referring to the higher unemployment rate in the company’s customer base.
HRB’s headquarters in Kansas City will cut 165 of the 400 jobs lost.
The timing of this announcement is interesting because we’ve heard a few rumors (but virtually no details) about layoffs at RSM McGladrey, an HRB subsidiary, but they aren’t as forthcoming with the press releases and aren’t returning our calls. If you have any details about layoffs at RSM or its on-again off-again affiliate, McGladrey & Pullen, get in touch with us.
Full HRB press release:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) today announced a broad strategic realignment of its field and corporate support organization. Overall, the company expects these changes to decrease annual operating expenses by $140 – $150 million per year by the end of fiscal year 2012.
Russ Smyth, president and chief executive officer of H&R Block, said, “We operate in a challenging and competitive environment, and to be successful we must find new ways to provide better value to our clients. This requires that we narrow our focus and invest in a few key initiatives that will have the greatest impact on attracting and retaining clients in our retail and digital channels, while eliminating other activities and their related costs.”
Approximately 400 positions are being eliminated throughout the organization as part of the measure. The company also has closed approximately 400 under-performing tax offices out of its network of 11,000 retail tax locations.
“Changes like these are never easy and we appreciate the hard work and loyalty of the affected associates,” Smyth said.
“However, these steps are necessary to improve our business performance and better serve our clients.”
H&R Block expects to incur a pre-tax charge for severance-related costs of approximately $28 million, most of which will be incurred in the fiscal quarter ending July 31, 2010.
Sen. Sherrod Brown Prods SEC/FASB to Fix Accounting Standards [The Summa]
This is Professor Albrecht’s take on Senator Brown’s amendment SA 3853 to the S. 3217: Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. The Professor is less concerned about this particular attempt at financial accounting legislation, reasoning that the SEC and the FASB have had plenty of opportunities to fix these issues (e.g. repurchase accounting) and have passed them up.
Given the severity of the problems, and the inability of today’s standard setters to gird their loins and solve the problems, is it appropriate for Congress to pass a law directing the SEC and its standard setter to produce a desired outcome? Absolutely. Accounting standard setting is an inherently political process, as I explained in my popular essay, “Economic Consequences and the Political Nature of Accounting Standard Setting.” Because the SEC has passed on its legislative charge to establish accounting standards that adjudicate between competing economic interests, and because the private standard setters follow their own political agendas when preparing accounting standards, it behooves Congress to step in when things get too far out of whack with national priorities. Such is the case here.
In other words, s— or get off the pot, FASB and SEC. The argument is a fine one, however, if legislation of accounting has to force the FASB’s into action, where does it end? When FAS 157 was being decried as the cause of all our problems, Barney Frank called in Bob Herz, scared the living bejeesus out of him, and got the result he wanted. Is that preferable to this situation? That depends. At the very least, the Sherrod Brown method susceptible to the influences of others while the B. Frank method skips the voting and signing stuff altogether (which has proven tricky in the past).
Former H&R Block CFO gets $620,000 cash in severance [KCBJ]
Becky Shulman (no relation to the Commish, as far as we can tell) is getting $620k for walking away from H&RB along with automatic vesting of 148,725 outstanding stock options. There’s no indication that she is eligible for lifetime complimentary tax prep service.
Intuit to buy Medfusion in $91M deal [SV/SJ Business Journal]
Intuit, owner of QuickBooks, Mint.com, Quicken, etc. has now added Medfusion to its stable, expanding its SaaS holdings. The deal is scheduled to close this July, the 4th Quarter of the company’s fiscal year. CEO Brad Smith, from the press release:
“This transaction expands our software-as-a-service offerings with a solution currently used by more than 30,000 healthcare providers, the vast majority of whom are essentially small businesses. The combination of Medfusion’s industry-leading patient-provider communication solutions and Intuit’s expertise in creating innovative solutions that improve the financial lives of small businesses and consumers, will help us create new solutions that make the clinical, administrative and financial side of healthcare easier for everyone.”
Nonprofits doing business with government agencies take note, the days of bloated compensation structures may be over.
Starting July 1st, 1200 nonprofit social service agencies contracted by the state of New Jersey’s Department of Human Services with budgets above $20 million will be subject to a salary cap of $141,000 for its top executives. Executives of NFP agencies with budgets from $10 to $20 million will be limited to salaries and compensation of $126,900; those with budgets of $5 – $10 million will be capped at $119,850 and agencies coming in under $5 million will be limited to $105,750.
The limit would affect at least 30 executives who received compensation packages in excess of what is allowed by the new rules.
The state would save about $5 million by paying less money in CEO salaries, as well as cutting back on travel, education, severance, and vehicle expenses for all nonprofit employees, said Nicole Brossoie, a rep from the state’s Human Services office.
“In light of the state’s fiscal challenges, the department has been exploring cost efficiencies in every part of our budget,” Brossoie said. “The department’s continued goal is to ensure that state dollars are being spent in the most efficient ways.”
While that’s an admirable goal, the proposed changes would also impact organizations that do not feature over-paid executives or frivolous waste of precious funding. One CEO of an NJ nonprofit is worried that her organization may be barred from rewarding staff with cheap gifts (think $5 Starbucks cards) under the new rules – though she is not compensated enough to be impacted by any new restrictions on executive salaries.
State may limit pay for top leaders of New Jersey non-profit social service agencies [Press of Atlantic City]
Now that we’ve covered the natural and expected attrition of the Big 4 firms this time of year, let’s talk about what to expect if and when the post-busy season ax falls again. Per a reader’s request:
“Something similar to the salaries thread, except let the people tell us what $ package they were offered upon being “laid – off”, and how that was calculated (i.e. 1 weeks pay for every year of service? PTO paid out? 1 month severance pay?). I think this would be of interest to many folk out there who are about to be let go, as they can get a rough idea of what to expect and plan accordingly.”
I don’t expect the firings to be very widespread, but rather focused on small, top-heavy sectors (random, baseless examples – state and local tax in St. Louis, followed by IT advisory services in Atlanta). The reason for this is because the firms should be accounting for many to jump ship between April and Labor Day. Those up for promotion (“It’s coming this year, we promise!”) will bail in July/August once promo’s are announced.
For those of you only sticking it out to earn the manager title this summer before you leave, my advice is to start looking now. Inform your recruiters that the title is a mere formality and they will tailor their job hunts accordingly.
So. Let’s kick the weekend off with some wild speculation:
• Federal tax groups
• Small offices and practices that have recently lost several small clients or one large client (e.g. PwC Orlando tax)
• Further cuts “when deemed necessary” before new hires begin in the fall
• Hedge fund audits
• M&A advisory (based on KPMG whispers)
• IT advisory
Were you let go in the past two years? Share your severance packages in the comments so everyone can better gauge what to expect.
Seriously people. For most of you, this isn’t a problem. You gird up your loins, duck your head and bulldoze your way through this time of year just like you’ve done in years past. Busy season sucks. We all know that.
Who in their right mind interviews with the Big 4 et al. and is thinking, “The hours won’t be that bad,” or “I probably won’t have to travel” OR “Big 4 salaries are good enough for me”?
The Big 4 Exodus is something that has been discussed at length here but until we’ve yet to discuss this particular topic.
Yes, the trend of accounting firm layoffs is demoralizing and yes, merit increases were mostly frozen, and there were virtually no bonuses> Hell, you may working your ass off knowing that your staff makes more than you but if you’re working in mid-February, what ton of bricks hits you that causes you to conclude that bailing out on your team is the best option?
All the people we’ve had the pleasure of working with, despite all of them having multiple “F— THIS!” moments, pull it together because they have a job to do. Why the hell didn’t you quit prior to busy season? You really felt like sticking it to everyone?
Fine. Perhaps your desire for sweet, sweet revenge against your senior/manager/partner/firm is more powerful than any shred of integrity you may have but for crissakes, that makes you a very bitter person. More so than the average accountant.
Seriously? It couldn’t wait? There isn’t that much time left in busy season. And besides, if you’re patient, they may pay you to leave.
Contrary to what you’re probably thinking, Plante & Moran is no dark horse. They’ve been on the list for
five twelve straight years and rank ahead of the rest of three of the Big 4 in this year’s list (cue for “who the hell is Plante & Moran?”). They’ve fallen from their peak of 12th back in 2006 but we’re sure the firm can explain.
Plante & Moran – Previously ranked #42. Fortune took the unorthodox approach of using P&M’s layoffs to describe their greatness: “Audit firm laid off employees, but staff members commend the “team pain” approach: enhanced severance pay, outplacement services, pay cuts for partners, and deferred pay hikes for staff.”
Other interesting stats per the snapshot:
• New Jobs (1 year): 10
• % Job Growth (1 year): 1%
• % Voluntary Turnover: 7%
• No. of Job Openings at 1/13/2010: 17
• Most common salaried job: Audit staff with average salary of $65,500
The firm offers onsite child care during busy season but does not have a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation nor does it offer domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples.
We’re not saying the latter two reasons are why they fell from #12 but it might help them jump back into the top 50.
Ernst & Young #44
• Cadbury and Kraft turn sweet on deal – Kraft finally put up a number that wasn’t an insult. [FT]
• Senator Wants Explanation on AIG Severance Deal – Chuck Grassley would like Ken Feinberg to explain why the AIG general counsel got a severance package. Yes, he’s up for re-election. [WSJ]
• Market Concentration of the Big Four Audit Firms: The Feasibility of a Suggested Trade — Divestiture for Liability Limitations – “[I]s there a credible case to incentivize their exchange of market dominance for liability limitations?” [Re:Balance]
• What a Phishing Scam E-mail Looks Like – An exclamation point in an email from the IRS should be your first clue. [Tax Update Blog]
We have some additional details to share with you to supplement last Friday’s post on E&Y’s New Year layoffs.
While we were surprised at the timing, a source has indicated to us that IT Risk and Assurance layoffs have occurred at the firm each January since 2008. This is due to a serious drop off in utilization in the new year after high utilization in the fall months
with the exception of especially in the audit heavy ITRA practices.
In regards to the audit practice, we spoke to another source over the weekend that told us that layoffs would not occur until after busy season but assured us that they are being planned.
Finally, in response to one comment asking about severance details, we were informed that the severance for those let go is a week’s pay for each year of service with a minimum of 4 weeks pay. This seems to be fairly standard (with a few variations) amongst the Big 4.
We’ve received word on some positions cut but we’re still awaiting further details so if you have any information or can provide more insight discuss below or get in touch and we’ll update them here.
UPDATE: A source has indicated that three IT Advisory managers in FSO in New York were included in the cuts.
Earlier this month we told you about layoffs that went down at Crowe Horwath in late November.
We’ve now received additional details that indicate that Crowe has had several rounds of layoffs this past year that started with non-client serving personnel late in 2008 and culminating with the November round.
Our source told us that the second round occurred in spring of this year and at that time, firm leadership communicated that no further layoffs would be necessary. Apparently things didn’t goes as plan as a third round occurred in July that consisted of professionals in the risk consulting practice and many in the Financial Institutions practice that were not chargeable were asked to take sabbaticals. This report of “sabbaticals” is consistent with our report earlier from a source that indicated that “there was a lot of forced time off during the summer.”
It sounds as though Crowe has consistently notified their employees about the layoffs, although our sources have indicated that details (i.e. number of professionals) are always scarce for “morale purposes.” One could assume that since anything after the spring round was not supposed to happen, morale was probably all but wiped out anyway.
The second and third rounds were rumored to be in the nabe of 150 each and our source told us that the third round included many “Executives, Senior Managers, and Managers over 40.” and that “Agreeing to not sue Crowe for age discrimination was part of the Severance Package.” So if you’re 40+ at Crowe it sounds like your best years are behind you or maybe you’re just too damn expensive?
Middle-aged dismissal rumors notwithstanding, Crowe has seen its own exodus, which seems to be the natural progression of things when layoffs reach bodily function regularity.
Crowe Horwath has not responded to our repeated requests for comment.
If you’ve been involved in any of these layoffs at Crowe, or have additional details discuss below, or email us and we’ll continue to keep you updated.
From a reliable source on the west coast we have learned that the advisory practice of E&Y was feeling left out and has decided to get into the act.
Twelve advisory professionals — we’re speculating that it was all staff at this point — were laid off today in the Pacific-Northwest Region. The only confirmed city that we have so far is San Jose. Emails were sent out last night and meetings with partners were held this morning. For an added personal touch, our understanding is that the staff met with partners that they were not previously acquainted.
Our calls to E&Y have gone unreturned. An E&Y spokesperson declined to comment.
Jump back to this post for all the details on this round of E&Y layoffs and get in touch with details for your city, practice, and severance.
In addition to the layoffs we reported on yesterday in Chicago and Dallas, we now have reports of cuts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Irvine. Our source on the left coast speculates that the current round can’t be too large in scope since everyone is already stretched thin.
So far it’s been in assurance only and we’re scant on details for severance so get in touch if you find yourself with some extra time on your hands or you have details on the numbers in your office.
UPDATE, Wednesday Nov 11th: Our sources are now reporting layoffs in the tax practice including the tax managing partner for the Phoenix office, and an executive director in Denver. We also have reports on tax layoffs in the Southern California offices. Per our source:
• Los Angeles: 4 that I know of. At least 1 Senior, 1 Staff
• Irvine: 4 that I know of. At least 1 staff
• San Diego: 4 that I know of. 3 Senior managers, 1 Senior.
Senior managers are reportedly receiving three months pay and A2’s are receiving one month for severance. Continue to keep us updated.
UPDATE 2, Thursday, November 12th: Twelve advisory professionals in the Pacific-Northwest region.
UPDATE 3, Friday, November 13th: Charlotte office dismissed three audit SA1’s. In the North Central region:
Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Cleveland offices all laid off three SAs. Twenty total layoffs reported between Pittsburgh (at least three), Cincinnati (at least three), Cleveland (3), and Detroit.
UPDATE 4: Saturday, November 14th: ~5-6 audit professionals in Minneapolis and ~1-2 audit in Milwaukee.
Chicago: In addition to the ~20 layoffs we originally reported there were ~2-3 in support roles were let go.
We’ve confirmed that the layoffs have started.
The first casualty that we know of was out of the Boston office and worked in Forensic services. No severance details as of yet. Kindly update us with your office, service line and severance details.
Fortunately for you tax people anyway. It was a rough week for a lot of you out there. Luckily, in our selfless nature, we’ll kindly remind you to check out the GC Careers Center for your next career move.
Hopefully, we’ve found someone their next job, because we’re sure some of your severance is blown already:
Details, after the jump
Company: John Hancock
Title: Senior Accountant – Investment Tax Accounting
Description/Responsibilities: Manulife’s US Taxation Department within the Corporate Division is responsible for the tax compliance and financial reporting for Manulife’s operations within the US tax jurisdiction. Maintaining timely and accurate tax basis inventory of U.S. jurisdiction investments to support financial reporting and IRS audit work.
Assisting in the implementation of appropriate process improvements and technology solutions for the ongoing tax accounting and controls to support tax return preparation and financial reporting.
Assisting in analyses of investment tax positions taken and proposed to support ongoing valuation allowance analysis and tax planning initiatives.
Experience/Skills Required: Minimum Bachelors degree in accounting required, experience with tax accounting for investments preferred.
CPA or M.S.T. or M.S.A. would be preferred but not required. 3-5 years’ experience with: life insurance company financial reporting for NAIC and U.S. GAAP, experience with Canadian GAAP is a plus.
Must have expertise in Federal and State taxation laws as well as a strong knowledge of accounting for investments.
See the full description at the GC Career Center and if this position doesn’t get you amped, go to the main page and find something that does. We can’t do everything.
The Chicago office is the first to report having the sit-downs. Five professionals in one of the specialty tax practices at all levels except partner. We’ve seen several comments from people that have received emails but we haven’t received any confirmation and we’re still waiting to hear back from KPMG.
If you have severance details, number let go, or other information, send to firstname.lastname@example.org or discuss in the comments.
We’re slowly getting details on PwC layoffs that occurred a few weeks ago that were part of the newly stripped down performance rating that we talked about last week.
More, after the jump
I was one of the employees involved in these so called layoffs out of the Boston office. I can say that these staff cuts are coming at a time in which PwC, specifically it’s advisory services, has seen a dip in it’s numbers concerning profit…The lay off that I received came as a big surprise to me. For one I did not recieve a single negative reveiew throughout the entire performance year. I was actually on track for promotion and was reccommended by numerous individuals to be promoted to senior associate…From what I have heard, these staff cuts have been happening at all levels and all lines of service.
What’s not clear is how each office determines the timing of the layoff. We haven’t gotten any indication that there is one big whacking day or if it’s staggered among offices to keep on the DL. The one thing that seems clear is that PwC whackings come with little or no warning as performance ratings seem to magically change for the worst.
This seems to be all occurring while Denny Nally was spreading good cheer this Spring. Via an email we received from a reader:
While I am realistic about the challenges ahead, I continue to see the glass as half full and, based on the picture we have right now, I am committed to moving forward with our people strategy. That means, even though in some markets and in some practice areas we may have excess capacity, we will continue to manage our cost structure and explore all available options before we consider reductions to our staff.
Not exactly sure what “all available options” includes but it sounds like those have been exhausted because “reductions” are certainly occurring and all indications have been that everything remains “performance related” and that all levels are affected.
If you’ve got details on your PwC office’s latest layoffs shoot us some details, including numbers, city, practice, and severance.
Four weeks severance, termination date of September 1st, not performance related. Cities reporting bodies include: New York, Hartford, Dallas, Kansas City, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Cleveland. We’ve heard all levels have taken a hit, although it varies by city. We haven’t gotten any confirmation of partners being bought out at this point.
West coast cities have yet to confirm victims since last night’s comments.
If you’ve got final numbers on your office or any other details we didn’t discuss here, shoot us an email: email@example.com.
KPMG representatives had no comment.
UPDATE 4:11 pm: San Fran reports at least seven victims, six of which are SA’s.
UPDATE 2, 6:16 pm: San Fran updated to nine total, eight SA’s. Other cities reporting layoffs: Boston, Houston, and Louisville.
We’re going to briefly remind you about the hammer that is going to drop on some unlucky Klynveldians tomorrow.
So far it sounds like there has been blood shed in Dallas, Indianapolis, and New York but no details on severance and it sounds like only second year associates have gotten shown the door so far.
If you’re one of the KPMG casualties, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and give us the gory details: severance, number laid off, lunging across the desk, did the partner you met with wear an executioner’s mask? Tell us everything.