Accounting News Roundup: KPMG’s Helpers and Valeant’s New Chief Accounting Officer | 07.11.16

KPMG, Watson

Awhile back we learned that KPMG was partnering with IBM's Watson as part of the firm's effort to MAKE AUDITING GREAT AGAIN. It all sounds pretty cool until you read articles like this one from Australian Financial Review where KPMG executives are saying things like this:

"No-one knows exactly what the audit of the future will look like, but you can be sure it will involve two things – bright human beings and cognitive technology," said Duncan McLennan, the firm's national managing partner of audit.

"Cognitive enables greater collaboration between humans and systems – so while  it's a game-changer for audit in terms of depth of analysis, it will still require insights from talented people. We're being helped, not replaced."

Maybe I'm paranoid, but that doesn't sound too reassuring. The helpers are just helpers until the helpers learn more than you and then they replace you!

One of the big selling points of AI is that it can learn things really fast. What happens when the cognitive technology realizes that the bright human beings aren't so bright? "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't audit that, Dave."  

Chris Hooper wrote about augmented intelligence just last week so you have to wonder if, someday, keeping the bright human beings up to speed will require a little Watson implementation.

I'm officially freaking myself out. 

Valeant's chief accounting officer

After a whopping two weeks on the job, Valeant Pharmaceuticals' controller got a title change:

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International disclosed in a Form 8-K that it has appointed Sam Eldessouky as chief accounting officer, effective as of June 15. He assumed this role from Robert Rosiello, who will continue to serve as senior vice president and chief financial officer.

Eldessouky has served as senior vice president and controller since May 31, when he joined the company from Tyco International, a global provider of security, fire detection and suppression and life safety products and services.

I'm not really hip to the latest in corporate hierarchy, titles and whatnot, so I imagine that chief accounting officer and controller are pretty much the same role, except one of them comes with a larger salary, bonus, etc. Whether this is a promotion or not is irrelevant as it is unequivocally a job at Valeant and I can't think of many people who want that right now.

IRS phone scams

These IRS phone scam people do not rest on their laurels. They're always innovating, looking for new ways to deceive more people. It's this kind of progressive thinking that is sorely needed in the accounting profession. Except for the whole ripping people off part.

Anyway, here's the latest twist in IRS phone scams:

Fraudsters claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service ring up college students and demand payment for something they call the “Federal Student Tax.” It’s a variation on a common scam that tries to convince victims that they’re in trouble with the government.

“These scams and schemes continue to evolve nationwide, and now they’re trying to trick students,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement issued at the end of May. “Taxpayers should remain vigilant and not fall prey to these aggressive calls demanding immediate payment of a tax supposedly owed.”

It's somewhat hard to believe that college students — people who grew up getting answers from Google rather than their parents — would fall for a con like this. On the other hand, when most college students hear that they owe someone money, they instinctively go to their parents first and not to Google. Someone in the IRS Phone Scam, Inc.'s R&D really did their homework on this one.

Previously, on Going Concern…

I wrote about a KPMG partner who got wrapped up in an insider trading scheme. And in Open Items, someone has an interview with a city government

In other news:

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