November 20, 2018

Accounting News Roundup: Reverse Mentoring and GE’s ‘Confusing Accounting’ | 10.16.17

Reverse mentoring

This New York Times article on millennial mentoring programs delves into the “just how perplexed some executives are by the young people in their midst.” Although it’s a little surprising to learn that some of these perplexed executives are pretty young:

Melanie Whelan, 40, the chief executive of SoulCycle, holds monthly meetings with her younger mentor, whom she has credited with helping her get “hip with what the kids are doing these days.”

“It’s like reconnecting with your lost youth,” said David Watson, 38, a managing director at Deutsche Bank who has been mentored by Fernando Hernandez, 29, an engineer in the Wall Street bank’s global markets technology division. He credited Mr. Hernandez with good tips for retaining young employees, like giving them more flexible work-from-home arrangements, and with helping him spot trends in the financial tech industry.

Are 38-year-olds yearning for their lost youth? As a 38-year-old, I find this concerning. Perhaps I’m growing old all wrong. Anyway, companies that haven’t urged older executives to find young buddies have gone a different route:

An entire cottage industry now peddles advice to youth-obsessed executives, with books like “Understanding Millennials” and events like “Millennial Week,” a two-day festival meant to “promote and present ideas reflecting the impact of Generation Y on culture and society.” Millennial consultants now advise companies like Oracle, Estée Lauder and HBO, charging as much as $20,000 per hour to give executives advice on marketing their products to young people. Over all, American organizations spent about $80 million on “generational consulting” last year, according to Source Global Research, a firm that studies the consulting industry.

Boy, do I feel silly. Here we’ve been spouting all this free generational consulting for free when I could hucking it at massive corporations for $20,000 an hour. Starting now, I’ll offer it for the absurdly low price of $5,000 an hour. Get in touch quickly. My time is limited.

Adventures in non-GAAP accounting

“Everyone’s Fed Up With GE’s Confusing Accounting” is this hilarious Bloomberg headline and I can understand why:

Last quarter, General Electric Co. reported earnings of 28 cents a share. Also 13 cents a share, 19 cents a share and 15 cents a share — all at the same time.

The numbers represent profit that includes or excludes certain items, such as pension costs and discontinued operations. While most big U.S. companies release adjusted earnings that deviate from generally accepted accounting principles, GE stands out for the sheer head-scratching complexity of its quarterly reports. It’s one of only 21 S&P 500 companies that release more than one adjusted EPS figure.

I’m no GAAP purist. Non-GAAP numbers can be useful and the idea that they’re misleading and confusing ignores the fact that GAAP can be misleading and confusing. But GE releasing multiple adjusted earnings figures is tedious, even for those who revel in the most arcane accounting treatments possible. FFS, pick one non-GAAP number and go with it! You’re not being asked to choose a favorite child. Although, now that I’ve said that, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that some GE finance executives might favor their creative non-GAAP metrics to their human progeny.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Megan Lewczyk wrote about COSO’s new coat of paint. In Open Items, a Gordian Knot solution for tax reform.

In other news:

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Image: Friesehamburg/Wikimedia Commons

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Accounting News Roundup | 01.21.10

How to find the “best and brightest” [CPA Success]
This may be a better topic for the friendly HR professional but figuring out who these future accounting rock stars are before they show up on their first day is “more art than science”, as Tom Hood notes.
Popular to some old-school thought, GPA does not always indicate who’s going to dominate in the real world and “soft skills” — besides being a terrible term — are in more demand than ever.
Help The The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago Help Haiti [Re: The Auditors]
The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is having a drive today and since Francine’s friend is the CFO, we’ll be glad pass around the news:

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Guillermo Becerra, is the CFO of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. I asked him how I could help him, and the Red Cross, during what must be an incredibly busy time post-Haiti earthquake.


“The Chicagoland community will come together on Thursday, January 21 to give to the American Red Cross as we help the people of Haiti recover from the catastrophic earthquake that devastated their country last week.
The Chicago Helps Haiti media relief drive begins at 5 a.m. and lasts until 11 p.m. Nearly every TV and radio station in our area will be promoting this fundraising effort throughout the day. You can help too, by giving via phone or online, and sharing your thoughts here, on Facebook or Twitter, and by asking others to give.
To give from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. CALL 1 (877) 565-5000 or visit www.chicagoredcross.org/haiti

Plus, we’re guessing that if you give, your 2009 tax return isn’t much of a concern.
If Your Password Is 123456, Just Make It HackMe [NYT]
The Times is concerned that you have a shitty password which puts you at a huge risk of being hacked by someone sitting in their parents’ basement.

Imperva found that nearly 1 percent of the 32 million people it studied had used “123456” as a password. The second-most-popular password was “12345.” Others in the top 20 included “qwerty,” “abc123” and “princess.”

You know who you are, ye with stupid passwords. Also, don’t even think of changing it to “654321” because that drops in at #19.

Accounting News Roundup: Haiti Relief Passes Senate; Accounting Job Surge? CPAs Basically Control People’s Lives | 01.22.10

Senate votes for faster tax breaks for Haiti gifts [WaPo]
As expected, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation yesterday that allows taxpayers to deduct donations made for Haiti relief efforts. You have until the end of February to donate so that it may be included on your 2009 return.

Maybe it’s bad legislation but we’ve been over that.

CPA Jobs Set for Surge. But When? [CPA Trendlines]
That’s the question, isn’t it? Rick Telberg, who has done a great job of tracking the Bureau of Labor Statistics on accountants, points out that while the latest BLS forecasts a 22% increase (279,400 jobs) by 2018, there’s no indication that it’s happening now:

[M]any tax, accounting and finance professionals are still slogging through the Great Recession. The Association for Financial Professionals, for instance, reported that about one in four respondents say their organizations will contract in 2010. At the same time, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of private companies found 43 percent of CEOs and CFOs still budgeting no expansion over the next 12 months to 18 months. The data just seem to reinforce economic uncertainties and a weak outlook.


The BLS is looking past the past the recession for the jump in opportunities but just when the hell will that be? Just because the economy isn’t contracting currently, doesn’t mean it won’t in the future and this “recovery” has been tepid at best.

Theismann to CPAs: You Are the Conscience of America [Web CPA]
Joe Theismann gets it. He knows that without all of you out there in CPA land, your clients don’t stand a chance. They’d be finished. Finished!

“You’re the conscience of America,” Theismann told conference-goers. “You are the survivors in tough times. With accountants, I’m not looking for someone to file taxes and do my financials. I can do that myself online. In your position you can basically control people’s lives.”

So get out there and control somebody’s life. Joe Theismann is expecting it.