September 20, 2018

Accounting News Roundup: Massages During Tax Season and Big 4 Collusion | 11.10.17

big-4-italy-grant-thornton-bdo-south-africa

Editor’s note: Accounting News Roundup will be off on Monday, returning Tuesday. Have a great weekend.

Employee retention

“How to lose staff and alienate employees” is this Accounting Today article based on a speech given by Sandra Wiley and it is nearly perfect. Secretive, cultureless firms with only up-or-out career paths are doomed, and rightly so. I also enjoyed this:

“The employee experience is not free sodas, or busy-season masseuses, or nap rooms, or foosball tables. These are not the reasons people stay. Don’t get rid of them, but no one ever said at an exit interview: ‘They took away the Coke machine,’ or ‘They didn’t have massages during tax season,” Wiley said.

See? I said nearly perfect. I’m confident that someone has capped off their list of grievances with: “Massages during tax season might’ve been nice.”

Collusion

Nel frattempo, in Italia:

Italy’s Antitrust authority said on Tuesday that it fined the “big four” accounting firms a total of 23 million euros ($26.61 million) for allegedly conspiring to divvy up large public consultancy contracts, a statement said.

Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst&Young and PWC “colluded” to win contracts worth a total of 66 million euros, the statement said, “nullifying” the bidding process and “neutralising competition from outside the cartel”.

I find it interesting that the Big 4 — in Italy, at least — felt like they had to formally be in cahoots. I figured their size, influence, and resources afforded them a certain implicit understanding that they’d be squeezing out non-Big 4 competitors across the globe. Perhaps corruption in Italy requires an expressed, mutual assimilation of knowledge? I suppose this is an area of firm management where the “international network of private partnerships” doesn’t sync up the local strategies.

Accountants behaving badly

The American Realty Capital Properties saga is starting to wrap up, beginning with the sentencing of the REIT’s former CFO, Brain Block, earlier this week:

Brian Block was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan, following a long hearing in which supporters, including his sister and a former assistant, spoke out emotionally in his defense.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of seven years, after calculating that non-binding federal sentencing guidelines would call for 105 years.

That guidelines calculation was based on the sharp drop in American Realty’s share price after it revealed misstatements in its accounting, which wiped more than $3 billion off the company’s market value.

What the…105 years? Judge Oetken called that “absurd” and said that is shows “how broken the guidelines are.” There is something seriously wrong when a guy faces a century in prison for some dodgy accounting. Don’t take that as permission to engage in some dodgy accounting, committing a crime is still wrong; but a system that could sentence a person for 105 years for junk numbers is also wrong.

Brought to you by Accountingfly

The featured job of the week is a Senior Auditor with Assurance Dimensions in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Grant Hutchinson wrote about choosing between public company and private company employers.

In Open Items, a tax manager wonders what the next step is. A student asks: “[H]ow do I go about applying for a Big 4 internship if they don’t do any campus recruitment at my school?” And a tax accountant is curious if the CFP is worth pursuing.

In other news:

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