Big 4

KPMG Director Who Must Have Really Loved His Wife Gets Four Years in Prison

Shopping_Bags_woman.jpgThe KPMG Director who rammed about £500,000 expenses back to the firm was sentenced to four years in jail in London today.
Andrew Wetherall, claimed that “when his wife’s previous partner tried to reduce maintenance payments, he was worried her lifestyle would suffer. Her spending sprees came to about £15,000 a month, the court was told. The court heard he was desperate to avoid marital tension or a divorce so made bogus expense claims.”
Four years in jail over marital tension or divorce? This was the dude’s second marriage. That’s about average these days so we’re not sure about his decision making ability.
Is this true love, stupidity, or enjoying a loose expense reimbursement policy at play here? Discuss.
Finance director jailed for fraud [BBC]

What if Everyone Sued Their Employer for Being Made to Feel Like a Prostitute?

prostie2.jpgIn, if first you don’t succeed suing your former employer news, a London Employement Tribunal opened yesterday for a former PwC forensic accountant who is suing P. Dubs for £40 million after the firm was exonerated in a similar suit she brought in 2007.
More, after the jump


Mihaela Popa claims that while she worked at PwC in London, the following allegedly happened:
• She was made to feel like a prostitute
• She was told ‘Eastern European women are whores’
• She was known as ‘Mihaela and porn’
• During the initial swine flu hoopla, she was told ‘this Romanian bird will have a slow death’
• She also claims that some co-workers thought she was a Communist spy
For all this alleged name calling and accused espionage, Ms. Popa is suing PwC for “£40 million in compensation for loss of earnings and hurt feelings”. That tidy sum wasn’t just pulled out of the air, mind you. This is because she “previously claimed that she was given promises she could become a £750,000-a-year partner.”
Since being made to feel like a whore is common at accounting firms many of you have referred to yourselves as such, we’re not sure that “being made to feel like a prostitute” really flies with us.
As for the Communist spy charge, we can’t barely recall a time when this actually mattered, since the Cold War effectively ended 20 years ago.
P. Dubs “strenuously denies the allegations” but we could probably all agree that there are a few bigots working at PwC in London. On the other hand, this could said about any firm, in any city in the world.
Discuss your thoughts on the case, and if you feel more like a whore at your job then Ms. Popa, in the comments.
Accountant claims £40m from PricewaterhouseCoopers [Telegraph via Accountancy Age]

Is KPMG’s Song Writing Team the Same as E&Y’s?

8ball.jpgNo doubt that you remember E&Y’s Grammy-worthy attempt at a theme song/torture method from last week.

We have now discovered that KPMG also thought this was worthy of the firm’s resources. The only problem we find is that the songs sound oddly similar in melody, atrocious use of harmony, etc. This kind of artistic double-agentry between the firms only reaffirms are suspicions about the firms working together in some sort of oligopolic conspiracy of which the purpose is, we haven’t figured out, except maybe to perpetuate the use of Excel.
After the jump, we’ve provided links to both songs here so that you can provide your expert analysis on which firm has the best song. And by best, we obviously mean drives you to agony similar to Alex DeLarge/Beethoven-esque levels. In addition, feel free to provide your favorite lyrics in the comments.

Deloitte Wants to Help You Find a Job. In Another Country

DTa.jpgIf you recently find yourself unemployed and either you were here on a visa or you’ve had enough of the old US of A, Deloitte is here to help you this week. On Wednesday, the big D is providing a 90 minute webcast for its alumni who are looking for work internationally.
Since Deloitte is a big shot accounting firm that is always on top of this whole economic sitch, they’re providing a webcast for you former Green-dots to figure out how to go to another country ’cause your chances of getting a job States-side are pretty much zilch.
Get details, after the jump

As colleagues for life, our alumni are an important part of the Deloitte culture. You have made significant contributions to Deloitte over the years, and in similar fashion we are committed to continually supporting your journey as you increase your personal market value.
Join us on Wednesday, September 16, 12:00 p.m. EDT for expert advice and tips from members of the Deloitte Global Talent Acquisition and Mobility team…Located in London and Amsterdam, our presenters have their thumb on the pulse of the international job search and will examine ways to navigate a marketplace job search outside of the U.S. Topics covered will include:
• What parts of the world are hiring right now
• How to market yourself for international jobs
• How to maximize your chances of getting a job outside the US
• How to prepare yourself for job interviews outside the US
• How to integrate if you do relocate
• How to negotiate an offer outside the US

Nevermind the tricky part about how the hell you get to Johannesburg once you’ve landed the new gig. That’s all on you.

KPMGer Has a Question for the Group

“can i ask why we just hired three people and have one intern for audit and then two of them are going to Rome for trainig [sic]???”
Yes, you can ask. We’ll put it out to the group. Thoughts?

Now That the #1 Spot Is Secure, Deloitte Is Making Some Changes

We’re not sure when Deloitte dropped the hammer on Pandora but the timing of us hearing about it is dubious since the coveted #1 spot on BW’s list is safely in print.
Much like E&Y, we’re curious as to the motivation here. Bandwidth sucking notwithstanding, your morale doesn’t seem to be much of a concern here. Green dots, kindly discuss in comments your theories behind the latest buzz kill. The rest of you (minus E&Y, natch) can share what you’re listening to currently as pure schadenfreude.

Apparently Your Farewell Emails Need Work

farewell-00.pngWith all the bitterness out there, we’re really not sure why this particular person is getting attention.
We surmised yesterday that the Brits seem to take a more active interest in all things bean county but their articulation in farewell emails certainly can’t be superior to yours. After all, you can’t hear the accent when you read.
After the jump, a taste of the bitterness that’s getting lots of attention in the UK:

Today is my last day at PwC. I haven’t sent this to everyone because what would be the point? Why do people send their leaving emails to everyone? We didn’t care about you then and we certainly don’t care about you now.
I still presume hardly any of you knew me, which is good because I’m rubbish at audit, so I wouldn’t have helped your stellar careers.
I’ve also learned how not to decorate an office – green and orange block colour walls with business buzz phrases on. ‘Find your space’, ‘always add value’ etc. Where do these terrible phrases come from? Is there a team of people lurking about in Embankment Place whose only duty is to pump out corporate drivel?
I look forward immensely to never having to attend an event in which Our Beloved Leaders stand up and tell us we’ve massively exceeded budget, so in reward we get no bonuses and instead we get the treat of listening to Coldplay while quotes from the greatest leaders of our times are played across a screen.
I’m also on Facebook but I hate it. I’m sure you’ve got real friends of your own and I’d prefer if you left me alone quite frankly.
If we ever talked (doubtful, I avoided anyone that looked like they might give me some work), add away.
I’ve left some treats in the group area.
Not really.
Bye forever xxx.

PwC accountant’s email is global hit [Telegraph]

Let’s Just Call It an Even 50

More rumors out of KPMG today as the audit practice in New York will be ramping up to 50 hour weeks approaching October. Apparently the extra 32 hours for the entire month that was originally required will not suffice.
This follows a similar request put out to the Klynveldians on the left coast. Unless you’re a football fan or trying to observe religious holidays, this doesn’t strike us as much of a problem.

PwC’s Recruitment of MBA’s is Good News on the Hiring Front, Sort Of (UPDATE)

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgFINS.com has a piece on the Big 4’s recruitment of MBA’s that serves as lukewarm encouragement for those of you have considered the painstaking thought of going back to school.
More, after the jump

PricewaterhouseCoopers is ramping up its hiring of M.B.A.s, with plans to recruit 75 to 100 business-school graduates in 2010. [The Firm] planned to bring on 60 to 90 graduates from master’s degree in business programs in 2009, up from 40 last year…An improving economy and the need to make sense of new regulatory guidelines in the financial sector are what’s driving the trend

As you might expect, the hiring occurs in the advisory practices of the firms while those of you with that went back to get a master’s in accounting will most likely end up in audit or tax practices.

At PWC, most M.B.A. recruits have three to seven years’ experience and fill senior associate posts in its advisory practice. The M.B.A.s that it hires are recruited to work in finance, operations and supply-change management and human-capital management.

The article is less enthusiastic about the other firms, however:

Big Four rival Ernst & Young is hiring about 20 b-school grads into its performance-improvement practice this year, dipping from a peak of 25 in 2007 when it began hiring M.B.A.s…While KPMG does not actively recruit M.B.A.s since its consulting practice spun off in 2002, it does targeted M.B.A. hiring, according to Malana Sanders, a KPMG recruiting director…Deloitte does hire M.B.A.s, though, said Diane Borhani, head of U.S. campus recruiting for Deloitte in Chicago, who declined to provide specifics

So we’re at a loss on how we feel about this. On the one hand, it’s good to see at least one firm ending the slash and burn that’s been going on for the last 12-15 months (even if this is just advisory) but are you ready to go back to eating cup o’ noodles, no keg stands, and more school debt to do it?
Since it sounds like layoffs will occur regularly at the firms and BW says that two-thirds of you leave the firms within five years anyway, going back to school may be in the cards for a lot of you.
For those of you that fall in the 3 – 7 years experience range, discuss what, if any, thoughts you’ve had on going back to school and if would you go with a Big 4 firm. Scary thought, we know.
PricewaterhouseCoopers and Rivals are Recruiting More M.B.A.s [FINS.com]

The Creative Geniuses at E&Y Do It Again


We really have to hand it to some of the creative minds at E&Y. The quality of what they produce is overwhelming. All this and they ban Pandora? We’ll never understand accounting firm reasoning.
Anyhoo, the offbeat clapping is one thing, Zitor is quite another, but now we present you with the following:

Rumor Mill: More KPMG Layoffs

Frankly, this is getting ridiculous. We got wind of more staff layoffs going down in the Metro audit practice in New York today. Sounds as though emails may have been sent out last night and meetings are being held today.
One explanation we heard was that associates not currently assigned to a client were let go which seems dubious, even for an accounting firm, but we’ll run with it. If you’re one of the unlucky few, or have details on rumors concerning next week, drop us a line or discuss in the comments.

Who Knew that E&Y had a Creative Art Department?

Zitor.jpgToday, in how your firm spent your bonus news, we present you with Zitor, an alien who somehow ended up in Uncle Ernie’s shop. Zitor then ended up being assigned a counselee for year-end reviews which is fairly realistic considering his lack of expertise and work experience.

Zitor was apparently designed and plugged into the Ernstiverse to demonstrate how to be completely unprepared for a the year-end review process as a counselor.


What’s odd is that most counselors seem to be using logic from another planet so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that this was based on actual methods used.

Regardless of the genesis of this idea, it probably goes without saying that this had to be complete and utter failure for those of you with maturity levels above the age of 13. Nevermind that no one can decipher how accounting firms determine who the best performers are anyway.

Included with this frivolous attempt to relate to the troops, if you were so inclined, you could submit ideas for the line below from Zitor to end up in the next video for this “Coach from Another Planet”. While that sounds incredibly lame and worthy of our ridicule, we’ve decided to let you take a stab at it instead.

The line has been modified slightly to allow your much more creative suggestions to be submitted in the comments:

At E&Y, we do not give feedback. We give ___________.”

Do your worst.

Uzbekistan Gives KPMG the Boot

two thumbs up.jpegNot sure how we missed this but since it’s still slow out there we’ll kindly inform you that the country of Uzbekistan has had enough of KPMG.
According to Kazakhstan Newsline, “Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Finance has canceled licenses for audit activity on the part of KPMG Ltd.”
Obviously you can see how this would not be good if you wanted to audit anything in Uzbekistan. If any of you are willing to bite the bullet for everyone and get a subscription to this fine source of media so we can know the full story, that’d be great.
Otherwise, just use your imagination about the reason for the Radio Station banishment and discuss in the comments.
Personally, we’re hoping it had something to do with two physically repelling male employees running naked around in a hotel conference room but perhaps that’s a stretch*.
Uzbekistan takes away KPMG’s license [Life of An Auditor via JDA]
*Thanks for pointing out that Borat was from Kazakhstan. They’re neighboring countries, close enough for today.

PwC Isn’t Starving

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgSince flat is the new up or whatever the hell people are saying these days, we’ll go so far to say that PwC continues to kick ass in the UK. Their revenue increased 0.5%, to to £2.25 billion, for the latest fiscal year. Advisory revenues managed to drag the audit and tax business out of the negative as the advisory revenue increased 5% while audit and tax dropped 1% and 4%.
BFD. Standard boilerplate statements accompany these numbers. Tough economy. Challenges. Hard work. Whatever. Partners still seem to be doing ok, as per partner profit was £777,000, although that’s down 3%, according to Accountancy Age.
More, after the jump


Fine but what we’ll kindly remind you of is that the firms in the U.S. don’t have to issue these fancy-schmancy annual reports with all the gory details. If they exist, we’ve never seen one.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the U.S. firms were required to put out thousands of copies of reports with plenty of pictures of happy employees, oh, and squeeze in some financial statements? One more explanation from Dr. Phil or Jimmy Turley about the awesome job you’re all doing wouldn’t hurt either.
Maybe you get enough of that already but isn’t knowing how much potential liability the firm has relevant to everyone that is stakeholder in the firm? Or what is being spent on magic 8 balls? The Brits don’t seem to have any problem putting out there. Just a thought.
PWC_Annual report 2009.pdf

In a Pinch, Deloitte Lets Anyone Sign Off on Audit Reports

DTa.jpgAudit partners are busy people. Regrettably, things get overlooked from time to time. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Pants. There’s just too much to think about sometimes.
One thing that you wouldn’t expect an audit partner to forget is to sign an audit report. Sadly, it appears that this crucial piece of the engagement sneaks by too:
More, after the jump

Deloitte has agreed to pay a £10,000 fine after allowing three members of staff to sign audit reports who were not designated as “responsible individuals”, contrary to audit regulations. Between March 2003 and November 2007 the three employees signed 95 audit reports.

Personally, we’re hoping that interns signed off on these because that would amount to a level of irresponsibility of the utmost hilarity. Speculation aside, Deloitte took this matter very seriously:

“Deloitte prides itself on its rigorous quality procedures and is disappointed that the individuals concerned failed to comply with the explicit policy that only those authorised to sign audit opinions may do so. None of the individuals concerned now work for Deloitte and the firm has implemented further improvements to its processes and controls.”

Rigorous quality procedures that let 95 audit reports sneak by? Short of the partner being on their deathbed, what could have come up that would make it a good idea to have someone else sign the reports? As for “rigorous quality procedures”, these must be on a sliding scale dependent on the number of pints that everyone has at lunch.
Deloitte fined £10,000 over mis-signed audits [Accountancy Age]

Deloitte is Handing Out Giant Foam Fingers Today

green#1.jpgBusinessWeek’s “Best Places to Launch a Career” hits the newsstands today and Deloitte stuffed the ballot box best.

E&Y is the first loser, PwC gets the bronze and KPMG jumped one spot to #4, up from #5 last year. Grant Thornton dropped in at #51.

A few stats that probably help Deloitte land on top include:

• Average pay range being $5k higher than all the other firms

• Highest average signing bonus and 90% of new hires received them

• Highest three year retention rate of 56%

• Lowest drop in entry level hiring

Regardless of who comes out on top in this list, all the firms will be hyping their inclusion while on campus this fall.

We’ll revisit this next week when more of you are actually at work, not hungover, or haven’t already left.
For the rest of you, feel free to discuss the list in the comments, as we’re sure there are opinions out there on this.

Best Places to Launch a Career [BusinessWeek]

Think You’re Bitter?

revenge.jpgSince some of you might not be spending your weekend consuming massive quantities of red meat, and thus, might be a little bent out of shape, we thought we would present a couple of quotes from “farewell emails” provided by readers.
Granted, these have probably made the rounds but we’ve included our favorite passages to demonstrate just how bitter some people are. Hopefully this will result in self-reflection for some of you but for some of you, it may be the sign that you’re beyond help.
Feel better about yourself (or pretty much the same) after the jump


Former PwC, who is obviously concerned about the mass soda consumption:

I would greatly encourage some kind of weight loss challenge to be implemented firm wide. The herd of water buffalo you call your work force is embarassing and a bit gross. When I call a co worker over from 2 cubes down and they are legitmately out of breath when they get to my cube it may be time to knock off 10 or 80 pounds. The company seems to encourage this obesity; each busy season we get a giant package full of pixie sticks, chocolate and assorted sweets. As much as I would enjoy type 2 diabetes, I think I’ll pass.

This particular former Green Dot should seriously consider some Dr. Phil time:

I would like for you to take note that Deloitte’s continuous lying and deceit is not acceptable to me or anyone else. Deloitte has been the biggest Disappointment because they are Deceitful, Demoralizing and De-motivating to their graduates who they should be uplifting as they are the foundation for future leaders of this country…When I started at the DGA I was promised many things, house on the hills and a black convertible to name a few. I was told that all the sacrifices I make during the programme would be worth it in the end. I ask how will it be worth it and when is the end?

iPhones are one thing but if the new recruits are promising black convertibles, for crissakes, please let us know.
These two examples certainly give credence to the notion that on call psychoanalysts for Big 4 employees should be given serious consideration. If you’ve got more examples out there, shoot them our way. We’re here to help as many of you as possible.

Are the Big 4 Driving Away Small Clients?

Ignore.jpgAccountancy Age reports today that smaller firms in the UK are cleaning up at the expense of the Big 4, specifically audit clients. The Four Horsemen are claiming cost pressure but small firms see it a little differently.
More, after the jump

Melissa Bowers, partner with Macclesfield-based firm Harts LLP, points to the Big Four’s practice of using senior partners to ‘seal the deal’ while leaving junior employees to do the grunt work, which has alienated smaller clients. This practice, combined with cost pressure, has driven audit clients into the arms of local firms. She has won work from clients who employed the same auditor for more than a generation…’It is possibly smaller work for them and they are possibly not giving them the same priority and attention.’

There’s no question that the cost pressure is an issue but what small clients really want, like a fat kid wants cookies, is some love from the partner. They’re not interested in a barely sober first year associate doing testwork. Clients want the partner to show up with the corporate card in hand ready to charm the pants off of them.
The other consideration is that clients just don’t care if they’ve got a big name on their audit:

Michael Good, partner at Oxford-based firm Critchleys, said that he believed smaller clients are no longer willing to fork out money for a big brand name firm. ‘They are asking themselves “do we need to pay the premium?” and “what are we getting for the premium?” and they are saying “actually not a lot”,’ he said.
‘Up to £20,000 for a big firm is not a big audit.’

We’d assume that here in the States, the sitch is no different. Small clients want to save money and they want to be someone special not just another contract that a partner has to take the rubber stamp to for the sake of his practice.
Discuss in the comments the trend here in the States. For you Big 4 types, are your smaller clients jumping ship because you’re treating them like the red-headed stepchild? Small firm bean counters are you picking up these clients? Feel free to get ugly about it, since most of you checked out on Monday, it will probably be a slow day.
Smaller firms clean up as recession sees audit clients shun the Big Four [Accountancy Age]

Where are Deloitte’s Revenue Results?

small salzberg.jpgAccountancy Age reports that P. Dubs still retains the most FTSE 100 clients in the UK while KPMG retains the largest amount of clients overall.
BFD, right? Stateside it’s all about the scratch. This begs the question of why the hell we haven’t seen any revenue results out of Deloitte yet. KPMG is too far out and P. Dubs and E&Y will be reporting next month.
But the Big Four Blog points out that Dr. Phil and Co. reported revenue in July last year but here we are approaching Labor Day (or for some, just the weekend) and not a peep.
We’ve contacted Deloitte about this and will update you with their response just as soon as we hear back. In the meantime, feel free to wildly speculate about the delay in the comments and what the fiscal year ’09 number will be. Last year global revenue was $27.4B so we’ll put over/under at $28.6B. Takers?

PwC Better Bring Their ‘A’ Game to This Year’s Oscars

OSCAR_INSIDER_hmed.hmedium.jpgWe’re not sure how long PwC has been counting the votes for the Oscars but we read some news this morning that made us pause with concern.
Apparently the Academy of Arts & Motion Pictures Sciences thought it was a good idea to change the voting rules for the Best Picture category back to the “preferential system” which was last used in 1945.
Our concern lies with the fact that this change in voting method might not mix well with the desire for routine that is forever embedded in the double helix of accountants, specifically auditors.
More, after the jump


The most common set of instructions that an auditor receives, as some of you well know, is “Do what they did last year”. This mantra, if not cast aside for the 2009 Oscars, could quite possibly be responsible for a material misstatement of epic proportions.
It’s far too early to speculate what films could be affected (maybe not) but we are concerned that since the awards are only six months away, the auditors don’t have much time to have at least a half a dozen meetings to discuss the ramifications of this decisions, let alone start planning, GASP, new procedures.
Best Picture voting gets a makeover [Variety]
Academy Makes Big Changes in Best Picture Voting [The Wrap]

Chrysler Auditor Switcheroo Follow-up (UPDATE)

We’ve confirmed with a Chrysler Spokesperson that the new entity emerging from bankruptcy has appointed Deloitte as the external auditors, a role that KPMG held for the entity that remains in bankruptcy:
More, after the jump

[We] can confirm that, as a new company, Chrysler Group LLC has appointed Deloitte as its external auditors. KPMG had previously served this role for the old Chrysler, which remains in bankruptcy. The new company, Chrysler Group LLC became operational on June 10, 2009.

Basically, as some have speculated, this may be a chance for Deloitte to poach the entire KPMG team, which, we have to admit, might not be a bad idea.
KPMG did not immediately respond to our requests for comment. Deloitte got back to us with no comment.
UPDATE: Chrysler got back to us with some additional information including
Why the change in auditors – “Chrysler Group LLC is a new company and, as such, the company has decided to appoint Deloitte as its new external auditors.”
If Deloitte was in the field – “Deloitte has begun initial planning work for the 2009 audit.”
KPMG’s remaining responsibilities – “We cannot address any services KPMG may be performing for OldCarco (the official name of the company that remains in bankruptcy).”
Nothing too surprising here except for the hilarious awesomeness of “OldCarco”.

PwC Basically Says That the Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy is a Trainwreck

trainwreck.jpgIf you find yourself out of work but are willing to endure several sleepless nights across the pond, PwC in the UK may need some help with the administration of Lehman Brothers.
More, after the jump


Reuters, via NYT:

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which is working with over 100 companies, mostly in the UK but also in continental Europe, said on Sunday: “We’re dealing with a large number of entities and therefore the claims could be as much as $100 billion.
“These claims are exceptionally complex and we anticipate a large amount of further work in dealing with (them).”
A significant amount of the claims arose as a result of guarantees issued by the parent company to its subsidiaries, the administrator said.
PwC said it had worked with administrators in other affiliates to understand Lehman’s accounting system so a standard approach to the reconciliation of inter company balances could be agreed.
“If this can be achieved then it should reduce the likelihood of affiliates suing each other in pursuit of amounts that are owed between the different Lehman estates,” it added.

Not sure what kind of expectations Lehman’s creditors have but we’d encourage a cynical outlook.
Lehman Claims Could Reach $100 Billion: PwC [Reuters via NYT]
Lehman Bankruptcy Won’t Be Pretty [JDA]

Rumor of the Day: Deloitte Snagging Chrysler Audit from KPMG?

chrysler1.jpgMaybe figuring that bankruptcy means a fresh start with everything, we received a tip that Chrysler is dumping KPMG for Deloitte as their external auditors:
“it was announced to KPMG Detroit employees late yesterday…via voicemail or conference call”
Could be the reason the Green-dots in Detroit were rumored to be getting raises but WTFK.
Right now we’ve reached out to all three members of this love triangle and only Deloitte has gotten back to us and could not confirm or comment.
If you’re at Radio Station or the D in Detriot and have details on this, let us know. We keep all sources anonymous.

Rumor of the Morning: E&Y SoCal Layoffs

Received word late last night that layoffs went down out west yesterday. According to our source, the breakdown is as follows:
• Two in LA
• Two in Irvine- tax (one staff 1)
• One in San Diego – tax (staff 2)
• A few in Vegas- Audit only
We reached out to an E&Y spokesperson, who declined to comment.
Our source says it was performance based but that particular reason has been a matter of debate for some time. If you’ve got your own theories, discuss in the comments and send us any more details if you’ve got them.
Here’s hoping that Ern isn’t getting warmed up…

More KPMGers Have Their Labor Day Plans Put in Jeopardy

This time it’s San Fran:
See the text after the jump

Dear Senior Managers, Managers, Senior Associates and Associates,
Thank you for your hard work and continued commitment to the firm. As you know, we continue to do everything reasonably possible to achieve our chargeable hour goal for the remaining fiscal year. While we have made progress toward achieving our collective goal, there remains a gap between where we are and what we need to achieve to give ourselves the best chance of meeting our forecast for the month of September.
In order to close this gap, we are increasing the scheduled chargeable time for each senior associate and associate in the month of September to 50 hours per week (average of 10 hours per day). Teams already scheduled at 10 hours per day or more will remain as scheduled. We ask that each engagement team does its best to find meaningful work to fill this additional chargeable time. If seniors and associates are unable to identify meaningful work for themselves or their team, they should contact their engagement partner or manager to discuss ideas for utilizing this time. This increase in chargeable time has been discussed with and is supported by the engagement partners on your accounts.

Any idea what qualifies as “meaningful work”? Discuss in the comments.

Barry Salzberg Has Found Someone That Wants His Job

small salzberg.jpgA ghostwriter Dr. Phil has gone and granted our request for Big 4 CEOs to tread into the blogosphere. He’s managed to find time away from making awkward remarks about diversity and giving faux-advice to the President on healthcare to do a puff piece over at Fortune called “The value of volunteerism”. Basically, he’s talking up Deloitte doing skill-based volunteerism, which we think might involve auditing for free but we’re not exactly sure.
We’ve presented the opening paragraph for your enjoyment:
After the jump

Recently, I was sitting with several dozen inner-city teens, talking with them about college and careers. It was a free-wheeling conversation. I was peppered with questions-including, “How can I get your job?”

Dr. Phil is out there. He’s free-wheeling with inner-city teens. He’s blogging about it. He’s talking up the Big D:

Our company, Deloitte, recently conducted a survey on corporate volunteering…only 16% of companies offer skills-based volunteering as an option for employees. Only one out of six…Given the obvious need out there and also given President Obama’s impassioned call for national service, we’ve gone way beyond surveying about volunteerism. We’ve pledged $50 million in services-that’s right, $50 million worth of our employees’ time

So the message here appears to be, “We’re Deloitte. We’re out here kicking ass at volunteering because the President impassionately called us to. $50 mil worth. THAT’S RIGHT. Why aren’t you?”
Not sure what part Salz has played in all this other than faux-writing about it but if you’ve got some thoughts on his stab at taking credit for other people’s volunteering, in the blogosphere, we’d invite you to share.
Guest Post: The value of volunteerism [Fortune]

Rumor: Deloitte Motor City Edition

mustache-ted-nugent.jpgThe last place we would ever expect to get good news from is Detroit. Not that we don’t love Motown (Eminem, The Nuge) but let’s face it, things are not good up there.
So when we got a tip that raises for Deloitte audit were happening in Detroit, we just couldn’t believe it. Especially after all the talk last week that nothing but disappointment was being handed out.
Maybe it’s just certain audit prodigies getting the love, which was speculated, but that’s why we’re checking with you all. Any specifics, fire away or discuss in the comments.

Gold Star of the Day: Deloitte

DTa.jpgBrace yourselves, we’ve got a positive story about accountants, specifically auditors. Taylor, Bean, & Whitaker, filed bankruptcy on Monday after some strange goings on in the past month between the lender and the purchaser of its loans, Colonial Bank.
More, after the jump


The collapse came, at least partially, due to some very pesky Deloitte auditors who were calling TBW on their shenanigans. Per the WSJ:

Edward Corristan, the Deloitte & Touche LLP partner who headed the audit, was uncomfortable with the way Taylor Bean was accounting for foreclosed properties, according to a court filing and people familiar with the matter…Deloitte believed that employees of Taylor Bean and Colonial “had engaged in potentially inappropriate communications” about accounting for the foreclosed homes, according to a filing by Taylor Bean in connection with its bankruptcy case. With Ginnie Mae’s deadline for filing an audited financial statement approaching, Taylor Bean agreed to hire the law firm Troutman Sanders LLP to investigate Deloitte’s concerns. Meanwhile, Deloitte suspended its audit.

When TBW missed their deadline for filing with Ginnie, they had some explaining to do:

That task fell to Paul R. Allen, a former Fannie Mae executive who had served as chief executive of Taylor Bean since 2003…On July 6, Mr. Allen wrote a letter to Ginnie stating that there were no unresolved issues between Taylor Bean and Deloitte, according to the court filing. The letter hadn’t been reviewed by Mr. Farkas, Deloitte or Taylor Bean’s legal counsel, the filing said…Ginnie then met with Deloitte, learned of its concerns and decided that Mr. Allen’s letter was misleading. On Aug. 4, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees Ginnie and the FHA, suspended Taylor Bean’s authority to make or service FHA-insured loans. HUD said Deloitte had found “certain irregular transactions that raised concerns of fraud.”

Deloitte declined to comment, as it is their policy not to, on client matters. Okay but we’ll say, pret-tay, pret-tay, prety-tay good job Deloitte. Our faith has been restored. For now.
For Lender, a Fast Fall From Audit to Collapse [WSJ]

KPMG Didn’t Hear You Say ‘Uncle’

So we know why the final numbers in a few offices haven’t been reported for last week’s layoffs at KPMG: They’re still happening, circa now. According to somebody within earshot: “I passed someone in the hallway mumbling about getting the ax. I thought they were over; clearly not the case.”
We hear that the timing of these is partially due to the firm sending little auditors to training first and then bringing them back only to say, “Hope you enjoyed yourself, ’cause it was your last.”
This begs the obvious question of why the hell KPMG would go to this expense of sending them down there only to can their asses upon return.
We’d love to hear some wild speculation on the reasoning although based on yesterday’s mention, you’re all numb at this point.

KPMG Arrives at the Paperless Audit Party

office-space-402a-061907.jpgWe’ve received several reports about Klynveldians attending “eAudit” training this summer which marks the firm’s attempt to get break into the “paperless” audit world. Reports have been mixed with some saying that it’s best technology KPMG has invested in but others claiming that it will only run on Vista which may be problematic when Windows 7 rolls out.
Forgetting the technology mumbo-jumbo, it’s been long rumored that KPMG was the last major firm to make the move to a paperless audit. This could have been due to a number of things:
More, after the jump


• Partners that have been around since WWII that can’t even use email put the kibosh on the whole idea
• M-O-N-E-Y
• Accountants, in general, resist the idea of trying a new restaurant so don’t even think about messing with their audit methods
What’s more surprising is that some Radio Station clients have said that they prefer the old school audit. Not exactly sure what is so appealing about young auditors schleping around boxes of binders that weigh a few metric asstons but whatevs.
Our point, dude, is that KPMG has finally caved on this whole “paperless” idea. Since audits aren’t truly paperless we’re not sure what all the fuss is about but KPMGers got an extra week in Florida in the dead of summer out of it. Discuss the firm breaking into the new century in the comments or let us know how terrible your lives will be because of it.

Rumor of the Day: PwC Tax Gets Some Love?

Don’t hold your breath but we just received a tip that new managers in the transfer pricing group got notified last week that they’ll be bumped 5% and get a small bonus. You lucky ducks will be making everyone jealous since you won’t be affected by the soda inflation. If you’ve got more details, you know what to do.

KPMG: We’re Not Done

The Radio Station, presumably not wanting to break its stride, is not done handing out bad news. Apparently layoffs have still been occurring as recently as yesterday in Chicago. The total there is now between 30 and 35. Check out the final numbers for other cities in our debrief post and if you have updated numbers please pass them along or discuss in the comments.

Barry Salzberg isn’t Satisified with Deloitte’s Diversity

small salzberg.jpgAccounting firms get lots of recognition for their diversity, but Barry Salzberg isn’t satisified:
More, after the jump

Deloitte still plans to do aggressive hiring of Asian employees, including in Asia, where Salzberg said the firm was doing more offshore outsourcing of accounting work, especially at a center in Hyderabad, India. The firm also plans to ramp up its recruitment of African American and Latino employees.

What he can’t figure out is why 30% of annual recruits are Asian, but only 20% of the Deloitte workforce is Asian, and only 6% are partners or directors.
He has some ideas though:

“We think there is a cultural issue there with Asians typically being less aggressive, a little bit more reticent to speak up, and when they move to the manager and senior manager ranks, which happen very clearly within the organization, it then appears that their leadership skills are not being demonstrated in the minds of those that are evaluating them,” he said.

We’re not exactly sure if B. Salz is saying that Asians don’t make partner because they are reticent to speak up or if it’s because the people evaluating them have unattainable standards of performance.
One thing is for certain. The trend of bald men in leadership roles remains strong to very strong.
We’re sure you’ve got opinions on this. Like we mentioned, the firms aren’t shy about promoting how diverse they are. So what are you thoughts on diversity at Deloitte? In the Big 4? Discuss in the comments.

Review Comments | 08.24.09

KenLewisNOPEb.jpgBofA Denies It Misled on Merrill Bonuses – In other words, piss off. [WSJ]
Swine Flu May Cause 90,000 U.S. Deaths, Report Says – We’re looking forward to hysterical 24 hour swine flu coverage again. [Bloomberg]
Bureau of Prisons Denies Madoff Has Cancer – Chest hair removal and getting high is definitely accurate though. [DealBook]
Philadelphia Eagles Pass on $10k Tax Credit for Hiring Ex-Convict Michael VickThat explains it. [TaxProf Blog]
IRS Could Target Off-Shore Hedge-Fund Investors Next ‘Expect U.S. investors in off-shore hedge funds in places like the Cayman Islands, who failed to properly report earnings to the IRS, to be the next target of U.S. tax authorities’ [WSJ]

E&Y is Freezing Pay Because it’s Fair

E&Y has officially entered the pay freeze zone, via a voicemail left for employees, according to multiple tips we received. This follows the rumor that was announced a couple of weeks ago.
The following factors led to freeze:
Excuses Reasons and our explanations, after the jump


Fairness – “It’s fair that everyone’s pay is being frozen.”
Market Competition – “Monkey see, monkey do”
Invest in Top Performers – “Top Performers” is subject to interpretation.
Market Pressure – “Our clients are biting the dust or they’re ditching us”
Fiscally Responsibility – “It’s a recession”
One exception to the freeze is that second year associates will get a raise in order to put them at the level of or above the incoming new associates, which is consistent with the earlier rumors. Select cities and practices may receive increases but it doesn’t sound too promising.
Bonuses are being paid to those of you that got promoted and they break down as 5k to SA’s, 6.5k to Managers, 8k to Sr. Managers. Sounds like partners took a pay cut this year so dammit, no belly-aching. Just kidding, go ape. If you have your own interpretation on the reasons given for the freeze, discuss in the comments.

KPMG Needs Everyone’s Help

Whether or not you’ll be working on Labor Day isn’t exactly clear:
More, after the jump

As we approach year end, we need everyone’s help to finish the fiscal year strong. Our goal is to achieve our forecast for the month of September. Based on the hours that are currently projected…we are falling short of that goal.
As a result, we have asked all Client Service Delivery professionals (including partners, senior managers and managers) to increase their chargeable hours in the month of September. With respect to seniors and associates, we are asking each of you to work an additional 32 hours in the month of September. We recognize this may result in overtime hours for some individuals
I encourage you…to make sure all chargeable hours for September are reflected. The amount reflected…will be increased by 32 hours to arrive at your goal. Please work with your managers to determine the best way to utilize this additional time in a productive manner.
We encourage you to delay any non-charge activity until October, assuming there are no required deadlines. This will help maximize our chargeable hours

At least they’re kind enough to “recognize this my result in overtime hours”. Tax associates probably won’t have any problem coming up with the extra hours but as for the rest of you, we’d love to hear your feelings on your extra four days of work in September.
UPDATE, 7:46 am: Our understanding is that this email was sent to audit professionals in the New York Office but judging by the comments, other offices have been put on notice to squeeze in some extra time for September. If you’ve received a similar email for your practice or office, shoot us the details.

PwC Layoffs Continue to Mystify Us

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgWe’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.

PwC Canada Wants Everyone to Know That They Didn’t Audit Bernie Madoff’s Funds

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgWith all the D talk out there re: anything Madoff, and most recently possible hotboxing and manscaping we’d hoped that maybe this whole story had taken a turn towards smut for good. Alas, we find ourselves back to a litigious story, this time it’s P. Dubs of the Canadian variety that are getting their asses sued:
More, after the jump

The Canadian arm of PwC has been named in seven separate lawsuits claiming as much as $2bn in damages for investors who lost almost everything in the largest fraud in history…PwC Canada has been accused of negligence for failing to spot that Fairfield Sentry’s $7.2bn of assets simply did not exist. The firm signed off accounts in 2007 that stated 97.3pc of Fairfield Sentry’s assets were held in short-term US treasury bills – an asset class that should be safer than cash.

PwC, obviously quite aware that a sex scandal wrapped inside a financial scandal may confuse anyone that is both distracted by sex and financially illiterate, issued this statement:

“PwC Canada provided auditing services to the Fairfield Sentry fund, but was not the auditor for Bernard Madoff Investments where the alleged fraud occurred. PwC Canada’s auditing of the fund’s financial statements fully complied with professional standards.”

Now, to some, this may seem unness for P. Dubs to explain that they didn’t audit Bernie’s funds since this never would have gotten past any reputable firm. However, since we now have a sex scandal mixed with the biggest financial scandal ever, involving thousands of duped investors, PwC decided to err on the side of caution.
Madoff victims to sue accountants PwC over feeder fund audits [Telegraph]

PwC Canada Wants Everyone to Know That They Didn’t Audit Bernie Madoff’s Funds

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgWith all the D talk out there re: anything Madoff, and most recently possible hotboxing and manscaping we’d hoped that maybe this whole story had taken a turn towards smut for good. Alas, we find ourselves back to a litigious story, this time it’s P. Dubs of the Canadian variety that are getting their asses sued:
More, after the jump

The Canadian arm of PwC has been named in seven separate lawsuits claiming as much as $2bn in damages for investors who lost almost everything in the largest fraud in history…PwC Canada has been accused of negligence for failing to spot that Fairfield Sentry’s $7.2bn of assets simply did not exist. The firm signed off accounts in 2007 that stated 97.3pc of Fairfield Sentry’s assets were held in short-term US treasury bills – an asset class that should be safer than cash.

PwC, obviously quite aware that a sex scandal wrapped inside a financial scandal may confuse anyone that is both distracted by copulation and financially illiterate, issued this statement:

“PwC Canada provided auditing services to the Fairfield Sentry fund, but was not the auditor for Bernard Madoff Investments where the alleged fraud occurred. PwC Canada’s auditing of the fund’s financial statements fully complied with professional standards.”

Now, to some, this may seem unness for P. Dubs to explain that they didn’t audit Bernie’s funds since this never would have gotten past any reputable firm. However, since we now have a sex scandal mixed with the biggest financial scandal ever, involving thousands of duped investors, PwC decided to err on the side of caution.
Madoff victims to sue accountants PwC over feeder fund audits [Telegraph]

Our Invitation to Big 4 CEO’s to Start Blogging

jnewman.jpgWe’d like to think that we encourage free and open discussion here. Everyone is welcome to join the conversation.
And by everyone, we mean if Dennis Nally, Tim Flynn et al. were to tell us in the comments how we deserved a life sentence of footing the Brooklyn phonebook because of our butchering of the English language, we’d be thrilled. Sadly, this is probably nothing more than a pipe dream.
Jeremy Newman, the CEO of BDO International, is by far the closest to fulfilling this dream. J. New, you’ll be interested to know, has his very own blog.
More, after the jump


Not surprisingly, the blog doesn’t seem to have the class or brilliant readership of other accounting/finance blogs that we know about but we give the dude credit for putting himself out there. Granted, if someone calls him a “hack loser” it probably won’t get published in the comments but you’ve got to start somewhere.
So this is our invitation to the rest of the Big 4 CEO’s and, yes, you too, Grant Thornton, to make the unprecedented leap into the blogosphere. Think of the transparency these firms would have as a result. The need for the annual survey about how these firms are such great places to work would become unnecessary because there would be constant real-time updates based on every decision made.
The best part is that, if GC happens to say something that they find offensive, unfair, blown out of proportion, or just plain obnoxious, then they’ll have the opportunity to talk shit respond directly. Then we can have feuds in the blogosphere that will be significantly more direct than any confrontation that has ever occurred between two people in a Big 4 firm.
Let’s help these guys out as I’m sure this will be a difficult task for them. Leave your suggestions of what your favorite CEO’s blog would be called or what kind of questions you’d like to ask them in the comments

Today in Big 4 Thriftiness

soda machine.jpgOur post from yesterday re: PwC’s concern over your consumption of high fructose corn syrupy beverages has struck a nerve with some.
So, being big believers in striking while the iron is hot, we thought we’d tell you that about a tip we received telling us that KPMG has also recently raised the price of soda in their offices from 50 cents to 75 cents.
Thriftiness continued, after the jump


We also learned that any perks, luncheons, birthday cakes, etc., etc. that do not benefit the entire office have been eliminated. Gourmet coffee machines apparently still remain because the coffee drinkers will not settle for freeze-dried Taster’s Choice.
Bottom line seems to be one of two things: 1) The firms are squeezing pennies until Lincoln’s beard pops off or B) The powers that be are faux-concerned about the reality of you sitting on your asses for 12+ hours a day and are attempting to get you to cut down on the calories.
Discuss your firm’s favorite cost cutting measure, unique revenue ideas, or your plans for losing the Big 4 fifteen in the comments.

Your Daily Fix

bubbles.jpgBecause some of you are obviously jonesing for it, we’ve got some updated details on this week’s Radio Station bloodbath:
Dallas Somewhere between 30-40
Silicon Valley Between 20-30
Kansas City Five staff – Two associates, three SA’s and three in client service support
Still no final word on New York. Shall we just call it 50?

PwC is Thinking About Your Health

penny.jpgIt’s no secret that accounting firms are desperate either to cut costs or to find new sources of revenue.

Today’s wonderfully shrewd example comes courtesy of PwC, who decided that your four or five soda a day habit was a perfect weakness to take advantage of. Apparently the firm increased the price of a can of soda from 30 cents to 60 cents to squeeze out an additional $30,000 in revenue.


Our source informed us that this was a such a brilliant idea that a partner felt compelled to mention it at a firm alumni council dinner. Classy.

It’s entirely possible that PwC is just concerned that too many of you are consuming far too much high fructose corn syrup but our speculation is totally unfounded.

If you’ve got more examples of your firm taxing you on junk food consumption or other redonkulous cost saving measures, discuss in the comments or shoot us the shrewd details to tips@goingconcern.com.

PwC Calls Out KPMG

argument.jpgAwhile back, we mentioned how KPMG didn’t seem so concerned about the appearance of independence. Well now it appears that P. Dubs might be getting a little self-righteous about the whole issue or they’re just bent out of shape that the Radio Station swiped the Rentokil audit by lowballing the proposal:
More, after the jump

KPMG’s arrangement was able to shave 30% from Rentokil’s audit, but it was the manner in which the firm brought about the cost saving that raised eyebrows. Audit guidelines warn against two threats when an external auditor takes on internal audit work. The first threat, known as the self-review threat, warns against the external auditor relying heavily on its own internal audit work. The second threat, known as the management threat, warns against the internal auditors assuming the role of management.

KPMG says it’s totally fine because that’s where the client’s interest was:

KPMG said it was fielding interest from potential clients. ‘Unequivocally we have found interest,’ says Oliver Tant, KPMG’s UK head of audit. ‘We will be discussing it with more people, undoubtedly as will other competitors.’

PwC, at present, seems to be taking the highroad, even though we’re pretty sure they think Rentokil are a bunch of cheapskates:

PwC, would not be drawn on its opinion on the Rentokil audit, citing its policy not to comment on clients, but did say: ‘It is vital that we maintain our independence from – and in no way are seen to act as part of – management infrastructure…Internal audit can often be regarded as acting as part of that infrastructure.’

Typical passive-aggressive accounting rhetoric but it still sounds like P. Dubs is calling bullsh*t on KPMG. Feel free to defend your firm’s position by whatever means necessary (we suggest low blows and name calling) or get on your soap box about independence.
Debate rages on over KPMG’s cut-price Rentokil audit deal [Accountancy Age]

E&Y Isn’t On Board with Anything Delightfully Tacky and Unrefined

Hooters_Logo.pngWould someone kindly tell Ernst & Young to get with the program? This country is falling apart at the seams and there are certain time honored traditions that we’ve all agreed on as TBTF.
So when we find out that the Hooters Casino in Vegas may go bankrupt and that E&Y warned of this back in March, we thought that it was a mistake. Of all the businesses out there, wouldn’t Ernie have the sense to help these poor saps cook the books so they can stay in business?
More, after the jump


Where in the name of God will divorced men and former college football players go to eat mediocre misshapen “wings” that come from, we’re pretty sure, a bird that was created by someone that we envision to be a cross of Doc Brown and Dr. Moreau? Served by women in skimpy, tight-fitting uniforms? IN VEGAS?
See the problem here? E&Y, would you care to explain yourselves?
Hooters Casino may go bust [The Deal]

For the Record

Radio Station NYC finally sent out the email today notifying everyone that the fiesta in Times Square got the kibosh. FTW.

Deloitte Disappointment is Officially Starting

DTa.jpgWe’re starting to receive confirmations of last week’s rumors of the less-than-exciting details re: Deloitte-period raises:
More, after the jump

I’m a senior in Chicago moving into my fifth year, and I’m one of those 2s who got bumped to a 3, got a zero raise and a $1000 bonus. I’m apparently a “3 -plus” as they had “3-minuses” also and those folks did not get bonuses.

Also got a tip that compensation discussions are set to begin in the Northeast for the ERS and Tax practices soon so we recommend watching Leaving Las Vegas or The Reader immediately prior to your meetings to cushion the blow.

KPMG Layoff Debrief

Akin to talking gun control at the RNC, we’re here to dispense more red meat.
Here are the final numbers that we have for select cities:
Gory details, after the jump


San Fran9 17 total, at least 8 SA’s
Dallas – 16
Chicagoclose to 15 Between 30-35 50
NYC – Someone help us out. We know it’s big but we haven’t gotten any specifics
Louisville – 3, including a 9th year Senior Manager
LA – 18, 6 associates, 10 SA’s, and two managers.
Why such good details on LA? Here’s a tip we received:

how do I know this so precisely? Because today our office also sent out an email notification of a staff meeting tomorrow to discuss what happened, and the email shows the names of everyone in the audit practice it was sent to. All lay offs were left out of the email. Way to be sensitive KPMG. Within a day, our whole practice knows the names of everyone who was let go. Also, Orange County office had 10 total lay offs in external audit. For a smaller office, that was quite significant.

See yesterday afternoon’s post for additional cities that we didn’t get final numbers for. If you’ve got the details, either post them in the comments or send us the bodycount to tips@goingconcern.com.
UPDATE, 1:54 pm: Word is that the remaining Klynveldians in San Fran will also have an awkward meeting re: yesterday’s bloodbath. We’d ask you to submit audio/video of the proceedings if possible.
UPDATE, 5:47 pm: Two managers in Oklahoma City down.
UPDATE, August 26, 11:29 am: One lonely SA in Bodymore, Murdaland and two associates in Boise, ID.

Deloitte Settles American Homes Lawsuit

Barry Salzberg.jpgDeloitte becomes the first accounting firm, to our knowledge, to settle a sub-prime lawsuit by burying the hatchet with American Home Mortgage Corporation.
The total settlement was for $37.5 million of which Deloitte’s share was $4.75 million. We’re guessing that Barry Salzberg wasted more money on Rogaine last year.
We should mention that Deloitte and their fellow defendants decided to settle prior to the judge hearing their motions to dismiss the case. We thought this was a little strange so we decided to consult with some experts.
Their take was that the settlement seemed a little premature but made the points that 1) It’s often cheaper to settle early and B) if your company’s name is associated anything “sub-prime” you’re more or less responsible for the whole damn financial crisis.
Another Significant Subprime-Related Securities Lawsuit Settlement [The D&O Diary]

Radio Station Black Tuesday Update

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: tips@goingconcern.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.

KPMG Doomsday Eve?

fired.jpgWe’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 tips@goingconcern.com 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.

Follow up Rumor: Green-dotter Merit Increase Edition

DTa.jpgAfter hearing speculation last week that Green-dotters were getting froze out, we got some potential details on the lucky few of you in the Northeast:
Get the scoop, after the jump

I’ve been told by a reliable source that merit increases will be available for 1s and 2s, but not for the majority of 3s and def not for 4s or 5s. On the AIP (bonus) side of the house, >50% of 3s and all 1s and 2s will get them. Of course, the actual amount will be smaller, I’ve also heard ~2% pool.

So, if you find yourself lucky enough to be on the good side of a particularly well connected senior partner, you might see a bump for all your trouble. Since performance rating cuts are all the rage these days, sources tell us the number of 1 and 2 will be scarce. We’d advise serious ass kissing but at this point you’re probably just getting the jump on next year (if you’re around).

KPMG Decides that Eating Lunch While Traveling for Work is Acceptable

penny.jpgLast week we learned about KPMG’s latest effort to do some belt tightening for the last two months of their fiscal year. These penny pinching plans included, most notably, filling your stockings with coal before winter.
On Thursday of last week a lot of the Kylnveldians, mostly in the Northeast, had not received the gracious and long winded email. Our suspicions at that time were that Tim Flynn and Co. were reconsidering the butchering of time honored tradition of drunken idiocy on company dime.
More, after the jump


Turns out out we were half right. It was noted in the comments and we received several tips that the Radio Station did indeed cave on their grand idea of not letting traveling partners and professionals expense their lunches “since this is a meal that one would buy during the workday regardless of location.”
If we were to guess, this would have been #2 on the list of the new policies that garnered most of your wrath. Well, you must have let them know because the firm then came out with this:

after hearing feedback from many of you about the short-term change to meal reimbursement policy, the firm has decided that for now the existing meal reimbursement policy provides the appropriate level of flexibility and room for judgement when it comes ot managing the cost of meals while traveling….

So FOR NOW your ass better get used to value menus and $5 footlongs because we’re guessing that’s the meaning of “ROOM FOR JUDGMENT“. If there has been more correspondence from up on high about this particular issue send us the details or discuss in the comments. On the other hand, folks in the Northeast, if you’re still in the dark, let us know.
Oh, and Santa Claus is still not coming to town.

KPMG UK’s Sweet New JPM Gig

KPMG_chair.jpgNothing like a good (alleged) fraud story to finish up our week, eh?
Just in case you missed the story, it appears as though KPMG UK will be a tad busy in the near term trying to unravel this little mess. I suppose that’s good news for the kids working those 4 day work weeks across the pond, though the same cannot be said for JPM, who is facing an unlimited fine as a result.
UK’s Daily Mail:
More, after the jump

The FSA has called in a top firm of accountants to examine the bank’s London activities after evidence emerged that JP Morgan had mixed customers’ funds with its own.
Banks are meant to maintain a strict segregation of their own money from that which is held on behalf of clients.
But JP Morgan managers in London discovered last month that client and bank money used for trading futures and options – a way of speculating on movements in currencies, share prices and commodities – had apparently been put into a single pool.

This isn’t the first time regulatory authorities have busted firms for pooling client money and using it to play craps in the market but it is certainly the first time the FSA has gone after a big player like JP Morgan.
JP Morgan claims an “operational error” in their options and futures arm dating as far back as 2002 caused the “mix-up” though we aren’t sure we buy that line. “We identified an operational error that was corrected within 24 hours of its discovery. No clients have lost money as a result of this error and we are cooperating fully with the FSA,” a spokeswoman for the bank said.
Sure, okay. Just because no clients lost any money doesn’t make it legal. It’s now up to KPMG to slog through 7 years of transactions (at JPM’s expense) to see if any clients missed out on interest due as a result. Prelim findings are due to the FSA by the end of August, with a final report expected in September.
Have fun, KPMG UK!

Rumor of the Day: KPMG Layoffs in Dallas Next Week

As if you didn’t need another excuse to go on a three day bender, we received a tip that audit professionals will be getting laid off at the Dallas Radio Station next Tuesday, the 18th. Tax professionals will get their turn in September, most likely after the filing deadline.
Word is that no one level is safe as the cuts will be made at all levels including partners.
KPMG did not immediately respond to our request for declined to comment.
If you’ve got more information on the sitch or you’ve heard similar rumors for other offices, drop us a line at tips@goingconcern.com.

E&Y SoCal Intern Offers: Don’t Spend it All in One Place

It may still be a little early for the citizens of Arnie, especially if you’ve got the Friday morning cocktail flu, but whatevs. We got word that E&Y audit interns have gotten their offers nationwide and Whale’s Vagina San Diego and L.A. are both getting $50k, no bonus. If you got a Masters, you’re getting $52k, no bonus (seems worth it now, eh?). No word on tax or advisory, so if you know these, fill us in.
Last year’s lucky little Ernies got a bonus so at the very least, that makes for a smidge of animosity. For all the love we’ve been giving Ern we haven’t got a lot of specifics on the actual details. Discuss in the comments or drop us the numbers at tips@goingconcern.com

Phil Mickelson 9 Box Update

Fill had a less than ideal first round, shooting +2, which is seven shots behind the leader. On the one hand, he’s well on his way to not winning the tournament. On the other, he’s well on his way to not finishing second.
Check our initial rating if you need to get caught up.
So after not considering a hell of a lot, we’ve come up with Fill’s new ranking:
Check out where the Radio Station billboard falls, after the jump


Phil_9box_Fri.jpg
As you can see, Fill has dropped from the relative safety of SP5 to the less than acceptable position in NI7. He teed off at 9:35 EDT so Radio Station employees can waste their entire Friday watching Fill try to step it up.
Discuss the current ranking in the comments and if by chance you’re at the tournament following Fill, let him know that Going Concern (and Tim Flynn) would like to see more out of him today.

Phil Mickelson Gets 9 Boxed

We’re upping our coverage of Phil Fill Mickelson’s quest to not come in second place at this year’s PGA Championship.
In the spirit of performance review season, we thought we’d see where Phil Fill would fall on the illustrious Radio Station 9 box.
See the initial ranking, after the jump


Phil_9box.jpg
As you can see, Phil Fill is right where he needs to be. We’d like to see him step up his game and shoot for that EP though. Right now we hear that he’s +1 at the turn for his first round. We’ll update you tomorrow morning with his first round results and his updated ranking.
Feel free to approve or disapprove of the current rating and give us your suggestions about where you think Phil Fill should be.

Deloitte is Baiting the New Hires

iphone.jpgOn a day like today, we never thought we’d be telling you about a firm actually spending money but color us surprised.
Deloitte will start issuing iPhones to partners, principals, and directors starting Monday, according to a tip we received and will be available to “eligible personnel on Monday, September 14.”
So the obvious question is who the hell is eligible? The trend seems that senior associates haven’t been getting squat so our money would be on the new hires getting the new toys gadgets business tools in order to write down everyone’s order for take out but we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you SA’s.

Ernst & Young Ups the Ante

8ball.jpg
Guest 46 @7:17
makes a good point and wants everyone to get some perspective on a firm’s priorities. Don’t even think for ONE SECOND that your office is thrifty stingy until they axe a corporate volunteering event because it conflicts with the FSO All Hands Webcast*.
More, after the jump


Uncle Ern would like you to forget about these difficult times by staying within the confines of your cube farm and getting down with a mandatory webcast because there are plenty of people without jobs out there that could volunteer instead.
The Radio Station takes a slight different approach, clearly thinking that if everyone sacrifices one night of open bar to help others, the joy you feel will certainly beat puking and then passing out in the bathroom at some hotel.
So now the debate looms: what firm currently wins the award for the best example of a company channeling its inner-George Costanza: E&Y or the Radio Station? Discuss in the comments and if you’ve got additional examples to bolster the case for/against your firm, please share.
*That’s the word we got from E&Y, so if someone can elaborate on just what the hell that is, that’d be great.

KPMG Takes Phil Mickelson FTW

Phil-Mickelson_Tim Flynn.jpgBecause we’re big fans of shameless promotion, we’re starting our coverage of the quest of the Radio Station’s walking billboard, Phil Mickelson, to win the PGA Championship. He’s teeing off circa now, so drop what you’re doing and get to at TV Radio Station duffer geeks.
Phil won the tournament back in 2005 but gets lots of attention for being a bridesmaid at the U.S. Open five times. Most notably for our purposes, he has not won any majors since he signed with the Radio Station back in early 2008.
No word on where Phil is falling on the 9 box rating system or if his visions of sugar plums have been dashed but if someone could put us in touch with his performance counselor or get us a copy of his contract with KPMG, that would be great.

KPMG Incommunicado?

We’re getting mixed reports on the email going out to Radio Station employees about canceling the one thing to look forward to in the month of December.
We heard the email got sent out to some offices in the West but also that New York hasn’t heard a peep so we’re getting suspicious if the big dogs in NY are reconsidering their Grinchiness.
Let us know whether or not your visions of sugar plums have been dashed or not in the comments.

Rumor of the Morning: No raises for SA’s at Deloitte

Big D is the now officially in the toilet frozen pay camp, as we have received a tip that senior associates in the Northeast region will not receive raises this year. On the less-bleak side, B. Salz and his fellow partners are doling out bonuses out of 2.2% pool which will probably amount to barely enough to pay for one night of your now three day drinking binge.
Rumor is that the disappointing word for associates should come down tomorrow but if you’ve got the scoop for us early or have more details on the cold news let us know at tips@goingconcern.com.

Hey Big 4, How’s Gen Y Working Out for You?

I read an article awhile back in CFO mag about Generation Y, or more specifically how large firms were preparing for this ‘special’ crop of soon-to-be new grads.
I’m not sure ‘panic’ is the appropriate word but let’s just say these kids had partners freaking out; technologically-inclined, lazy, and pre-programmed with a sense of entitlement normally reserved for royalty and Nobel prize winners, you knew something was up with these kids if management was stressing their arrival. The Big 4 went so far as to hold trainings for partners on how to tame this hyped generation as they prepared to descend on the corporate world.
More, after the Jump


Now that the first wave of Gen Yers have successfully penetrated the corporate fortress, we figured it might be a good time to check in and see how that’s working out.
‘Screw our SEC deadlines’ may not be an exact quote but that was the typical Millennial attitude impressed upon us by one of our sources, a 40-something CPA lucky enough to be stashed away in private accounting out on the East Coast. He also called working with Gen Y ‘horrid’ but private accounting can be horrid in and of itself so we won’t credit that fully to the Under 30 crowd.
Gen Y is driven by… Well we haven’t figured out if they are driven at all. All reports are that they think ‘work ethic’ means avoiding checking their Facebook pages on company time, expect the corner office as soon as the ink dries on their offer letter, and have absolutely no grasp on the concept of performance-driven bonuses.
What’s worse, say sources, is they don’t seem fazed in the least by economic turmoil. Though employers using performance above seniority as a lay off gauge naturally look to their poor performers as first in line to get sliced, the Millennials are so dosed on the illusion of their own greatness that they seem absolutely stunned when the pink slips come.
So why would the Big 4 continue the tradition of recruiting new hires from college campuses, blocking out the 35 year olds who understand that just getting up in the morning is not cause for a gold star?
You’ll have to talk to the hiring managers if you want an answer to that. Perhaps it’s that we’ve got them all wrong and the generalization itself is what’s driving the conflict.
In the meantime, we are looking forward to seeing how Gen Y breaks out of the stereotype to impress the pants off of us and inherit the empire. With all that ambition and talent, we’re sincerely hoping they learn to apply that to the Big 4 to shake things up for the better. Hopefully they can also bury the billable hour once and for all while they’re at it. Go, kids, go!

KPMG Europe Makes an Announcement that Won’t Upset Anyone

8ball.jpgIn a demonstration of spreading the wealth or possibly just a strategic international ploy, KPMG Europe is adding seven new nations to its firm.
Regardless of the motivation, it clearly demonstrates that the most positive news that the Scrooge American firm is capable of announcing is that it is ruining everyone’s holiday season prior to the start of football season so you have plenty of time to get over it.
KPMG Europe will add Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Georgia to its stable of bean counters. They join the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands and will increase the Europe revenues to over £4bn which probably could pay for a few parties (but not full bar) in the States.
KPMG Europe spreads wings to take in seven nations [Accountancy Age]

E&Y Appreciates the Little People

E&Y’s Dallas office sure appreciates their new associates because they’ll be the only ones getting pay raises this year. It’s either that or they want to the put them in the position for additional ridicule until the fresh batch of new associates comes on.
According to the tip we received, the announcement was made at the townhall meeting today and this is first office of any firm that we’ve heard of to make an official announcement to employees that pay was being frozen.
Those being promoted to a new level (e.g. SA to Manager) will receive bonuses but no details were given. We’ll update as we learn more.

Ernst & Young Interns Receiving Offers Today?

Guest 6 @ 1:03 informs us that interns may be returning from their little rendezvous with their international counterparts to find out if they made the cut of those receiving full time offers. This is clearly a matter of “win or lose, we still booze”.
So whether you’re a proud new E&Y’er or you dreams of being a CPA-rock star have been blown to smithereens, let us know the details. If you’ve got the scoop on salaries and numbers discuss in the comments or send us tips to tips@goingconcern.com

Follow-up on PwC Layoffs

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgA quick follow-up on the layoffs we mentioned in last week’s firm watch that went down at the PwC Denver office. We heard over the weekend that it was approximately a dozen employees that got the boot and it occurred at all levels including at least one senior manager.
The layoffs, which occurred last month, were deemed to be “performance related” which has been P. Dubs’ consistent story regarding cuts. Similarly, everyone seems to consistently disbelieve that story. If you have more details regarding these layoffs or if there were recent layoffs at your office, let us know at tips@goingconcern.com.

KPMG Cancels Christmas Hanukkah Kwanzaa the Holidays in August

8ball.jpgTo round out the year, KPMG is kindly reminding everyone about the SPEND SMART initiatives implemented this year and with just two months to go in the fiscal year, the Radio Station has decided that some additional belt tightening is necessary.
We understand that the email we received will be sent out by each Office Managing Partner to each individual office. We have not received confirmation that employees have received the email. We are reaching out to KPMG for corong>See the Firm’s statement below.
According to the email obtained by GC, Radio Station’s leadership has decided that all offices will suspend this year’s holiday office parties. Instead offices will host “community service events” between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. We find this commendable that the firm wants to give back in this fashion but we imagine some of you probably would probably still like to get your holiday party drink on.
Some other cost cutting measures for August and September include:
Check out the entire text of the email, after the jump


To: All Partners and Employees
From: ANY OMP
Additional SPEND SMART Initiatives
First, I want to thank everyone in the ANY office for following the many SPEND SMART initiatives that the firm has implemented this year. Your compliance with the firm’s travel and meetings policies, as well as careful management of other costs, has enabled the firm to reduce our expenses by hundreds of millions of dollars.
In spite of some indicators that the economy may have hit its lowest point, businesses everywhere are still feeling the impact of the economic crisis, and that includes our firm. And while there are indications that the economy is at the beginning of a recovery, no one can accurately predict how long that will take.
With that in mind, the Operations Committee has identified some short-term cost management initiatives for travel and meetings that–if implemented immediately–can help us begin FY 2010 in a stronger position. Those measures are outlined below and remain in effect until October 1, unless otherwise noted.
During the next two months, the firm will be reviewing all of our Time and Expense policies to align with our cost structure for FY 2010 and beyond. However, we’ve made one decision now that will impact the way we celebrate the holiday season.
Community Service Event
The end of the calendar year is traditionally the time when KPMG offices hold parties to celebrate the holiday season. A great deal of time and planning go into these events and they are a great opportunity for all of us to get together in a festive atmosphere. However, given the impact of the economy on so many people’s livelihoods, people throughout the firm–at all levels–questioned whether there would be other ways we could create this same sense of community during the holiday season while giving back to those in need. After careful thought and consideration, firm leadership has decided that all KPMG offices will suspend this year’s holiday office parties and instead host a community service event between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
You may recall that last year, in lieu of a holiday gift, the firm donated a full week of meals to families in need through an organization called Feeding America. In total, we donated 1.6 million meals in the communities where we live and work.
This is a tremendous way for all of us to come together to help make a meaningful difference for people in need during the holiday season. You’ll be hearing more about this effort and how you can get involved later this fall.
In the meantime, please do all you can to follow the SPEND SMART guidelines we announced in October and the additional initiatives I’ve outlined below.
Meetings and Travel
· Additional Travel Restrictions – Airfare is one of our largest travel expenses. Currently, our policy provides partners and employees with a choice of airlines when traveling. Until October 1, the travel team will book the lowest cost flight for your destination and travel times, regardless of the airline. We also ask that you continue to limit non-client travel as much as possible, and verify the criticality of all international travel.
· Car Service – Until October 1, car service may only be used when a taxi or one’s own car is not available. We also ask that you use taxis for transportation to and from airports, rather than a car service. If taxi service is not available in your city or area, or the cost of using a taxi exceeds that of using a car service, a car may be used. We will continue to honor our car service policy for employees required to work past 8:00 p.m. during winter and 9:00 p.m. in the summer; however, we expect that during August and September the need for this service will be rare. Click here for information about our transportation policy.
· Meal Reimbursements – During August and September, we are putting the following policies in place regarding meal reimbursements:
Lunch – Lunch for partners and employees while traveling will not be reimbursed since this is a meal that one would buy during the workday regardless of location. We will continue to reimburse lunch meetings with clients.
Non-client Meals – During these two months, the firm will not reimburse non-client meals held outside our offices. Meal expenses for those traveling for internal training or meetings are subject to the expense limits allowed by our meal policy. As always, team leaders should use their judgment when ordering meals for groups working overtime.
Cell Phones, PDAs, and Other
· One Mobile Device per Person – Effective August 1, we will no longer reimburse individuals for both a cell phone and a TreoTM or Blackberry®. People who have both devices have the option of adding phone service to their PDA. If you wish to keep both devices, you will be charged the full price of service for one. In addition, per our existing policy, we will deduct $20 a month from everyone using firm-supplied cell phones or PDAs. We also encourage you to review your current plan to determine whether you need all the features to which you’ve subscribed. To learn more about the various mobile plans available to you, please click here.
· Inter-office Mail: Use Scanning and e-Fax – Going forward, we will be looking at ways we can reduce the cost of handling interoffice mail, including the frequency of delivery. In the meantime, we encourage you to make use of all the technology available within the firm to send documents between offices, including scanning documents that can then be e-mailed to colleagues or clients. When scanners are not available, make use of our e-Fax capabilities. Check with your local OneStopOps group to learn more about these services.
In closing, both the ALL partners and I want to thank all of you for your ongoing support of our SPEND SMART initiatives. Your efforts have made a difference and we continue to welcome suggestions to help our office and the firm run more efficiently.
Even more important, we want to thank you for your high-quality service to our clients. We all know that these are difficult times, but that is why our clients are depending on us to deliver our highest standards of service and professionalism.
Thank you for your continued support.
UPDATE, 5:51 pm EST: We reached out to KPMG regarding the Grinchiness and we were provided with this statement:
“Like businesses everywhere, we’re identifying cost-saving opportunities that will provide the most benefit while still allowing us to provide high quality service to our clients.”

Rumor of the Day: Comp and Bonus Pools at Big 4 Seriously Depleted

We’re not trying to ruin your Friday but at the very least, this might encourage some of you to get your drink on a little earlier than planned.
Rumor received late last night that a Big 4 CEO was asked about compensation and bonuses at some grin n’ grip and he responded that the compensation adjustment and bonus pools for all the Big 4 firms was going to be down 90%.
This fits together nicely with the rumors of freezing and/or cutting pay that have been going around. Okay, now try to get some work done or figure out where you’ll be having that three martini lunch.

Lock up the Booze, E&Y Interns in Orlando

We just picked up one of the few Tweets that has made it through today:
Picture 4.jpg
This type of event will likely lead to many things including international hookups, late night skinny dipping (and probably urinating) in the pool, and widespread drunkenness of epic proportions.
If you’re down in Orlando this weekend for this three day extravaganza, send us your stories of debauchery to tips@goingconcern.com. According to the website, the festivities are at Disney World, so don’t embarass your firm yourself and try to keep the nudity out of the view of children.
International Intern Leadership Conference [EY.com]

Firm Watch: Deloitte

DTa.jpgThe last of the Big 4 Horsemen of the Bean Counter Apocalypse is Big D-period. Catch up on the rest of the usual suspects: Radio Station, P. Dubya, and E&Y to get the gist of this little exercise.
Deloitte’s got a pretty similar list as the rest of the firms but with a couple twists so let’s get down to brass tacks:
Get the details, after the jump


Losing Clients – We’ve heard that firms are low-balling their RFP’s so it’s no surprise that some clients are switching but Deloitte seems to have had worse luck than others. UAL, Heelys (for the kids), Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Washington Mutual have all disappeared from D-period.
Lawsuits – Believe it or not, the Parmalat debacle is not a done deal, as some lawsuits against the US and Internationalfirms are still out there as a judge ruled in January that the agent/agency issue was worth a closer look.
Madoff Exposure – All week we’ve been referring you to the list of Feeder Fund Lawsuits over at D&O Diary. In a small water into wine moment, Deloitte does not appear on the list once. Nice bullet dodge Big D.
Overtime Lawsuits in California – Deloitte is listed as the defendant in three of the cases.
Layoffs, performance reviews, etc. – So, as we saw yesterday, this is where Deloitte’s sitch gets, pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay ugly. Layoffs were reported in both December and March nationwide. The performance stealth cuts are common here too and more may occur. All this is going on while an out-going CEO is talking to the press about how bad things have been in the last five years and the UK CEO is having Scrooge McDuck pool parties.
Miscellaneous – The worst drug dealers in the world used to work for Big D.
So that does it for Deloitte, God bless ’em. And that does it for the Final Big 4. We’ll throw in GT and BDO in for good measure but if you want to throw some more jabs at the big boys, email us at tips@goingconcern.com. You’ve got until around high noon tomorrow before we’ll start coming up with our completely unfair and unscientific ranking.

Firm Watch: KPMG

KPMG_chair.jpgSo after dissecting opining on sliming P. Dubs and E&Y, we’re moving on to KPMG in round three. We’ll dispense with the pleasantries and get right to the list:
New Century Lawsuit – This is the ball buster for KPMG. A $1 billion lawsuit filed back in April that alleges “grossly negligent audits”. This tale also includes a smoking gun quote from an email sent from New Century engagement partner to a specialist, “As far as I am concerned, we are done. The client thinks we are done. All we are going to do is piss everybody off.” We’re not sure if it’s possible to take that out of context.
Check out the rest of the Radio Station’s list, after the jump


Madoff Exposure – Per D&O Diary, the Radio Station is named as a defendant in at least ten lawsuits as a result of auditing the Madoff feeder funds.
Overtime Lawsuits – Listed as a defendant in five lawuits.
Layoffs, Pay Freezes, etc. – Allegedly, the word that pay was being frozen was slowly leaked from the top on down. Layoffs have been pretty steady for the last twelve months including rounds in November and March in the audit and advisory practices. In addition, the ubiquitous trend of performance rating cuts is in full effect, and we just learned that by the this time last year, audit interns had heard yay or nay on receiving a full time offer. That probably makes for some nervous intoxicated co-eds.
Miscellaneous – Phil Mickelson, the Radio Station’s walking billboard, was a bridesmaid at the U.S. Open for a third fourth fifth time.
Done-zo. Anything else you want to see tacked on? Drop us the dirt at tips@goingconcern.com and we’ll get it in for the final tab.

Preliminary Analytics | 08.05.09

DonaldTrumpHair.jpgDonald Trump Faces Bondholder Battle in Bid to Reclaim Casinos – Our advice: Don’t mess with this hair ego man. [Bloomberg]
ADP Says U.S. Companies Decreased Payrolls by 371,000 – The trend of lesser bad news continues. [Bloomberg]
Banks Get Picky In Doling Out Credit Cards – Postal workers rejoice. [WSJ]
Chinese survey finds prostitutes more trusted than officials – More bang for your buck. [The Raw Story via Naked Capitalism]

Deloitte UK CEO Does All Right For Himself

john connolly.jpgApparently Deloitte was feeling a little left out of the populist outrage because after the news that Big D UK reported shrinking revenues yesterday, today we learn out that John Connolly, Big D CEO across the pond, earned £5.22 million this past year.
Not too shabby even though that’s a little less than his earnings last year of £5.69 million, according to the London Evening Standard.
Big John should probably send some biscuits over to the Royal Bank of Scotland for the payday as RBS paid Deloitte nearly £59 million this past year, up from the £31 million in the year prior. RBS has received billions of bailout funds from the UK government, so some crazy taxpayer wrath headed in the direction of Big D would not be outside the realm of possibility.
Deloitte boss rakes in £5.2m after the bailout of RBS [London Evening Standard]

Firm Watch: Ernst & Young

ernst_young.jpgRound two of our Firm Watch this week covers everybody’s favorite resident of Times Square, Ernst & Young. We’ll get started on E&Y’s trubs with the Schein lawsuit where the firm was recently found to be marginally negligent and were ordered to pay a smidge over $10 mil as a result. NBD really, as E&Y probably spends that much money screwing up the spelling of their name on cheesy coffee cups.
The more serious stuff on E&Y, after the jump


Here’s some major stuff that probably keeps some E&Y partners awake at night:
Lehman Brothers – E&Y’s role in the collapse of Lehman Brothers has got little attention in the press, however, suits have already been filed by San Mateo County in California, the City of Long Beach, California and the Southern District of Texas. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to speculate that more suits are likely to be filed.
Madoff Exposure – E&Y also has significant Madoff exposure, as the auditor of several feeder funds. D&O Diary has them listed as defendants in at least ten different lawsuits.
Layoffs – There have lots of reports of layoffs at E&Y in the last month or so, many of which occurred in the tax practices in the Northeast, and many of those getting the axe were supposedly on visas. Real classy. This was a follow-up to layoffs that also went down in February. As if that’s not enough, there were also rumors of layoffs occurring monthly since September ’08 in the Detroit office. Plus, with lots comments about stealth layoffs at all levels, it sounds like it has been a bloodbath at E&Y.
So that seems to be the major stuff, from our view, for E&Y. Again, we want to know what we’re missing. We’re looking for tips and dirt on any of the things we discussed above and everything we didn’t mention. Email us at tips@goingconcern.com and we’ll get all your additional gripes on here.

Deloitte UK Reports Shrinking Revenues

DTa.jpgBig D’s UK revenue was down 2% to £1.93 bil for the latest fiscal year, marking the first time a Big 4 firm has reported declining revenues in six years.
Partners are still doing okay though, as they will receive £601 million. That’s an average of £883,000 per partner. Not too shabby, even though that’s down over 7%.
Leaders within the firm are expecting another rough year ahead for the economy but are still planning for “growth not contraction”. We’re not sure how that fuzzy math will work but whatevs.
Oh, and little D’s, don’t worry, you got a shout-out from John Connolly the UK CEO: “our success will continue to be the product of our exceptionally talented people being relentlessly committed to our clients, to market leading, innovative service and to an obsession with quality”.
Relentlessly committed. Obsession with quality. Sounds like they must have re-instituted the tradition of shipping the criminals lesser performers down under.
Deloitte revenue drops in `extremely tough’ market [Accountancy Age]
Deloitte’s UK revenues shrink 2% [FT.com]

Barry Salzberg’s Imaginary Advice for the President on Healthcare

Barry Salzberg.jpgWe’re not going to debate about healthcare here because after about one-tenth of a nanosecond we’d consider jumping out the window. What we would like to discuss is Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte-period, giving imaginary advice to the President on how to proceed with his strategy in getting support behind his reform efforts.
Check out some real advice, after the jump
Bar lays out his advice for B to the O in classic accountant fashion, ” I would counsel more patience.” and “Measured haste, you might call it. My advice to the president would be to find that balance of urgency and patience.” Haste. Balance. VOMIT. Wouldn’t you like to see one of these stoic Big 4 CEO’s just give completely batsh!t crazy advice on something, JUST ONCE?


Like if Salz advised that Obama’s strategy should consist of hosting Lebowski Fest at the White House. Bowling, white russians, chicks in viking costumes. That’ll get the people behind your plan Bam.
Measured haste. Pfffft. Is it any wonder everyone thinks accountants are boring? Feel free to discuss your favorite Big 4 CEO and all their words of wisdom they’re constantly bestowing upon you.

Subtlety Not a Strong Suit for Some Deloitte Aussies

DTa.jpgRumor out of Deloitte down-under, where, supposedly, some associates got canned because of organizing drug deals on Big D’s premises. Details are pretty scarce but this got us thinking:
More, after the jump


1. They were probably tax associates. They’re an unassuming bunch.
2. Is the pay so bad in Australia that Big D associates are resorting to illegal means of earning supplemental income? Wouldn’t turning tricks be easier?
3. How in God’s holy name did these f’n amateurs get busted? We’re they walking around soliciting potential customers like they were at a Phish concert?
We reached out to a Deloitte spokesperson who said they won’t comment on rumors. If you hear of other extracurricular activities going on at any of the firms, shoot us the scoop at tips@goingconcern.com

KPMG Thinks the Appearance of Independence is Overrated

200px-KPMG.svg.pngThe Radio Station is throwing caution to the wind in the UK, accepting a new arrangement with Rentokil Initial, that brings out the ghosts of accounting scandals past. Under the new agreement, the firm will serve as both the external auditors and take on internal audit work, working alongside the client’s internal audit staff.
Prior to the new agreement with KPMG, Rentokil’s external auditor was PwC and internal audit services were provided by Deloitte.
Last we checked, audit textbooks still state that external auditors are to be independent in fact and appearance but KPMG UK must have got their hands on an edition that was printed in auditor bizarro world.
Rentokil’s KPMG deal raises eyebrows [FT.com]

Firm Watch: PwC

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgThis week we’re putting together a series of posts on the six largest accounting firms to give you an idea what their latest image seems to be based on the latest news and rumors we’ve read or heard about them. At the end of the week we’ll wrap up with a completely unscientific and probably unfair ranking which you will be allowed expected to take exception with.
We’ll start with P. Dubs because they seem to have had the uncanny ability to attract bad news lately:
Get the gory details, after the jump


Satyam Fraud in India – $1b fraud, two auditors rotting in jail, Satyam throwing the Firm under the bus every chance it gets. This is the story that will definitely not go away.
Discrimination Suit in London – GBP 40 million lawsuit, including alleged sexual harassment. P. Dubs is saying the lawsuit is “without merit” but at the very least there are a number of bigots working there.
• Rumors of PwC interns working 60 hour weeks in the New York office. Might as well give them an idea of what they’re in for, right?
• Chosen to take a suicide mission contract in Somalia to monitor the incoming aid
Wage and hour lawsuits in California – Listed as defendant in three cases
Huron Consulting Restatement – P. Dubs isn’t mentioned in this debacle. YET.
Madoff exposure – listed as a defendant in over a dozen lawsuits.
As for layoffs, we haven’t heard much lately. There was a rumor that the PwC Denver office had let some associates go in the past few weeks but we don’t have any more details than that. Layoffs that have occurred in the past year at PwC we’re rumored to be of the stealth variety and not related to the recession which nobody really believes.
So, that does it for P. Dubya for now. What are we missing? Whatever office you work out of, send us the latest scoop on layoffs, performance reviews, promotions, pay raises, bonuses, juicy gossip, scandalous stories, etc. to tips@goingconcern.com and we’ll update the posts appropriately throughout the week.

UK Court Decides it Will Leave the Major Lawsuits to the Americans

Big 4 firms dodge a bullet in the UK as the highest court dismissed a negligence lawsuit against an accounting firm that failed to detect fraud that brought down a trading company. The ruling will significantly limit the firms’ liability in cases “where a determined criminal drives a company to financial ruin”.
Doesn’t make sense to us, since if you can’t make auditors accountable, who the hell is accountable? Hey, whatevs, we’re sure the Big 4 and other accounting firms won’t be celebrating long anyway, since a ruling like this won’t happen in the States, which is where the serious money gets handed over.
Auditors win ruling over Madoff-style frauds [FT.com]

Deloitte to Squash Ratings?

Following up on yesterday’s post on KPMG’s slashing of ratings, we checked with a source that gave us the lowdown on the rating system at Deloitte:
“From what I heard, all of the 4s and 5s have already been shown the door. D&T is known to suppress ratings, so I doubt that there will be a lot of 1s or even 2s this year.”
So we asked them to elaborate on “suppress ratings”:
Get the details, after the jump

Your Senior and your manager will give you a rating. Lets say that you are good and they give you a 2. They will need to justify this rating to the entire firm when they have the review meeting (I forget the exact name). Since every Senior thinks that their staff is the shit, a lot of the 2s tend to get pushed down to 3s because if everyone is performing at a higher level, then that is the average. Then, they have a limited number of 2s to fight over…2s get paid more and I think that they get some kind of performance bonus. So they have an incentive to limit the number of 2s given out every year.

Sound familiar to anyone? Discuss.
We’re smack in the middle of performance review time so email us any shady changes, adjustments, throwing people under the bus, etc. going down to tips@goingconcern.com

California Overtime Lawsuits Update

This is our initial coverage of the overtime lawsuits against some of the major accounting firms doing business in California. For those of you not up to speed, these suits were filed by non-licensed associates who believe they were misclassified under California law as exempt professionals and are due overtime and other benefits due to non-exempt employees.

The suits are all in various stages but the key case that may determine how the other cases will proceed is Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Campbell is currently awaiting argument before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The primary issue before the court has to do with whether or not, under the professional exemption, an associate is required to be licensed by the state of California in order to qualify for exempt status. Counsel for Campbell essentially argues that only licensed or certified accountants can qualify for exempt status in California while PwC argues that uncertified accountants who can qualify as “learned professionals” are exempt employees and thus not eligible for overtime pay.


The U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of California granted summary judgment on liability in favor of Plaintiff Campbell and ruled that attest associates must have a license in order to be exempt. The court further held that they may not qualify for exempt status under the “learned professional” section of the exemption. However because the trial court felt it was a close question, it certified the matter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for interlocutory appeal.

According to Bill Kershaw, of Kershaw, Cutter, Ratinoff LLP, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, the ruling in this matter could have significant repercussions for other remaining wage and overtime lawsuits. Mr. Kershaw believes that if 9th Circuit does rule in the favor of the plaintiffs, then the likelihood of the case resolving itself prior to trial would substantially increase.

If the court of appeals rules that learned professionals can be defined as exempt, PwC (and likely the other defendant accounting firms) will center their argument back in the trial court on the appeals court’s ruling that unlicensed accountants are indeed “learned professionals.”

We contacted Dave Nestor, Head of Communications for PwC in the U.S. and he provided us with the Firm’s statement:

PwC believes that its attest associates are professionals who spend the majority of their time engaged in challenging work requiring the use of their intellectual abilities, judgment and discretion. Based on these and other factors, PwC’s attest associates are properly considered exempt under applicable law, and are therefore appropriately compensated.

We’ve provided a list below of all the cases against accounting firms currently in the courts in California for your information. Check the list for your firm and please remember that it is your right to participate in any of the class action lawsuits if you meet the criteria set forth in the case. Even if you are still employed by the firm being sued, they cannot retaliate against you.
Likewise, you can participate in the case on behalf of the defendants if you are approached and choose to do so. You also have the right to not participate at all if you so choose.

If you receive any correspondence from your firm regarding the overtime and wage lawsuits, please let us know using tips@goingconcern.com. We’ll always keep you anonymous.

We’ll be covering this story as it progresses and continue to check back here for periodic updates.

List of OT Accounting Cases.pdf

Rumor of the Day: KPMG Slashing Performance Ratings

Commenter Guest @ 2:39 brought to our attention that the Radio Station is cutting performance ratings circa now. This is a little more salt in the wound after pay freezes were announced slowly leaked. If you’ve had your performance review recently and you got blindsided by a cut rating let us know. Email your tips to tips@goingconcern.com

Does The Times (UK Edition) Have a Hot Crush on PwC?

iStock_000006666248XSmall.jpgThe Times Online put out its “Top 100 Graduate Employers” list today and P. Dubya tops this list for the fifth year in a row. We congratulate P. Dubs on this momentous achievement but can’t help but wonder about such a dominating performance by a Big 4 firm.
More details, after the jump


The first thing we notice on the list is that the TOP THREE (PwC, Deloitte, KPMG) are Big 4 firms. These four came in the exact same order on last year’s list. The red-headed step child of the Big 4 is apparently E&Y who comes in at #11.
Accenture came in at #4 and Goldman Sachs sneaks in at #10 but JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, IBM, and Google all fall outside the top 20. Other notables include McKinsey & Company at #48 and Grant Thornton at #97 (that’s eight spots behind the Transport of London, btw).
So what we’re wondering is how the Big 4 can dominate this list while in States they seem to be all over the map (highest on Fortune’s list was E&Y at #51) . Are the firms in the UK allowing employees to crush three or four pints at lunch and thus making work infinitely more tolerable?
UK readers, let us know why you’ve seemingly got it so good across the pond. As for my fellow Americans, what do you think is going on over there that we’re all missing out on? We’ve never seen The Queen in her damned undies, so maybe that’s it? Anyone done any rotations and have first hand knowledge of the awesomeness that is the Big 4 life in the UK? We’re thinking there’s got to be some reasons…
The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers [List]
Top 100 graduate employers: No 1 – PricewaterhouseCoopers [Times Online]

UAL Dumps Deloitte for Ernst & Young

DTa.jpgDeloitte has gotten dumped by UAL, the parent company of United Airlines, for E&Y. The change will be effective after D-Period finishes the 2009 fiscal year-end audit engagement. This continues the trend of heartbreak for Deloitte, who was kicked to the curb by Heelys over fees.
UAL claims that it doesn’t have any disagreements with Deloitte which we don’t really believe. They have to disagree on something. White Sox vs. Cubs fans at the very least.
More after the jump


Also, changing your auditor isn’t like changing your underwear (well, it might be hard for some). We’ve got the feeling some top brass at UAL were sick of shacking up with Deloitte. However, the article also states that UAL cited the mandatory rotation of the lead partner, “firms often choose to seek bids for audit work in anticipation of that rotation.” Okay, going out to bid to tease the other firms is one thing but actually opting for a change is quite another.
We’re guessing there’s more to this story, so if you’ve got some inside dirt on this latest break up, let us know at tips@goingconcern.com.
UAL hires E&Y to replace Deloitte as accountant [Reuters]

PwC’s New Investigation Will Invite Terrible Bovine Jokes

cattle.jpgPwC has investigators all up in their grills again as another audit is going to be subject to an investigation. This time a sub-prime lender in the UK, Cattles.
Cattles is blaming the whole shitshow on a “breakdown in internal controls”, which has been the standard PR sound bite since before Enron.

The Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB), which regulates the profession, announced the inquiry on Thursday.The board, part of the Financial Reporting Council, said it would examine the conduct of PwC and its individual auditors concerning the preparation of financial statements of Cattles and Welcome Financial Services, its subsidiary, for the year ended December 31 2007 and for the six months ended June 30 2008.

According to one analyst referenced in FT Alphaville, Cattles was letting loans go 240 days delinquent before taking any impairment charges. Apparently PwC was okay with that practice.
And since the AADB is going to be looking at “individual auditor conduct”, what are they going to discover? Besides the partner and manager’s daily fat-cat lunches, obv. We invite your thoughts.
We’ve also got the feeling that this might be the type of engagement where you could include a high-def photo of the manager dry-humping the partner’s leg (wearing a leash and spiked collar, natch) as part of the audit workpapers and it would get signed off on anyway. But, like we said, it’s just a feeling.
UK watchdog opens probe into PwC audit of Cattles [Reuters]
Regulator probes PwC over Cattles audit [FT.com]

Ernst & Young Found to be ‘Marginally Negligent’ in Superior Bank Case, Will Pay Plaintiff $10M

Color us surprised:

A Broward County jury on Wednesday dealt a small blow to Ernst & Young in a negligence and fraud lawsuit, deciding that the accounting giant was only marginally negligent for a local businessman’s losses in connection with the demise of Superior Bank in 2001.

UPDATE, 7:00 pm EST, E&Y Statement: We believe we should have prevailed and will seek appropriate relief from the courts.
Ernst & Young to pay $10M in Superior Bank lawsuit [Triangle Business Journal]

Big 4 Firms Will Probably Have to Cut Some Checks

Since BDO International Global Coordination was able to dodge the bullet in the Banco Espirito case, litigation against the Big 4 has been pretty quiet. Oh sure, you could bring up Schein v. E&Y but the money at stake isn’t that big and Schein is claiming Oliver Stone-type conspiracy theory so we’re hesitant to get too worked up about it.
However, if you’re craving bean counter courtroom drama it won’t be long until you’re up to your ass in Jack McCoy-types screaming about how crooked accountants are.
According to research firm, Audit Analytics, there are eight firms at risk for potential lawsuits related to King Ponzi alone along with six other potential lawsuits related to the financial clusterfuck.
Audit Analytics also was kind enough to pull together some data on who’s winning the race to pay out the most settlement. The top 50 malpractice suits against the Big 4 since 1999 break down like this, per Compliance Week:
1. E&Y – $1.92 billion
2. KPMG – $1.42 billion
3. PwC – $1.27 billion
4. Deloitte – $1.24 billion
Don’t expect the trend of the firms handing over asstons of cash to end anytime soon as settling these cases out of court seems to be best way for the firms to extend their seemingly shortening lives.

Promotion Watch: KPMG

Forgive us for being a little behind on this, we’re still twisting arms out there:
On July 15th, the Radio Station announced the promotion of 874 new Senior Managers and Managers. This compares to 1,228 that got the bump last year.
Some might say that there were less people up for promotion this year, hence the drop. Others might say “that’s because I got the axe and now live on government cheese”.
Click on the image below for a full-size view of the announcement (please note the crookedness as a sign of authenticity). Anyway, congrats to all the new taskmasters managers at KPMG!
kmpg_memo.gif

Center for Audit Quality Continues to Be Made Up of Firms Doing Bad Audits

Per Web CPA, the Center of Audit Quality has re-elected the four members of its governing board:

Ernst & Young chairman and CEO James Turley has been unanimously re-elected to serve a second term as chair of the governing board. Michele Hooper, co-founder of The Directors’ Council, and AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon will extend their service as co-vice chairs. Harvard business administration professor Lynn Paine has been re-elected as a public board member.

BFD, right? Perhaps but it’s worth noting that the rest of the board is also primarily made up of representatives from large firms:

Crowe Horwath CEO Charles M. Allen, former SEC Commissioner Harvey J. Goldschmid, PricewaterhouseCoopers Chairman Robert E. Moritz (who replaced Dennis M. Nally on the CAQ board), Grant Thornton CEO Edward E. Nusbaum, Deloitte CEO Barry Salzberg, McGladrey & Pullen managing partner David R. Scudder, KPMG CEO John B. Veihmeyer (who replaced Timothy P. Flynn on the CAQ board) and BDO Seidman CEO Jack Weisbaum

In case you’re not counting, all Big 4 firms are represented along with BDO and Grant Thornton. That’s all well and dandy and I’m sure these guys could at least audit their way out of a paper bag but has it occurred to anyone that all these “representatives of the industry” work for firms that continue to have problems with AUDIT FAILURE?
The list is long of pending litigation but the firms don’t really seem to mind because they’ll claim TBTF. They have the AICPA set out this nice little group, focused on “audit quality” in order to put out press releases about the “work” they’re doing, meanwhile, audits still keep blowing up. Yeah, I guess re-electing the same people will be fine.
CAQ Governing Board Re-elected [Web CPA]

Our Speculation About the Motivation Behind Deloitte’s Most Recent Survey

heelys.jpgBig accounting firms like doing surveys. We’ve often thought about the motivation behind the constant surveys and further wonder if firms ever josh the numbers around out of a personal vendetta against its rivals, enemies, former clients, etc.
Deloitte’s survey that states that American consumers are planning on spending less this back-to-school season causes us to speculate as to why the Big D would do such a survey? It’s a nice little press release we suppose. Shows that the firm is plugged into the current state of the economy, etc., etc. But then we got to thinking about how Heelys, the obnoxious shoes with wheels, recently dumped Deloitte because their fees were too high in favor of Grant Thornton.
Far be it from us to speculate about the temperament of a Big 4 accounting firm when it has business swiped away by a second-tier firm but isn’t it possible that Deloitte is bitter about the whole sitch? Isn’t it possible that Deloitte is merely putting out this survey as a way to scare consumers out of spending money on back-to-school junk like Heelys?
Back-to-School Shoppers Plan to Spend Less, Save More [Bloomberg]

Ernst & Young Is Here to Help (For a Small Fee)!

ernst_young.jpgWe thought that Ernst & Young was advising the New York Fed on the winding down of AIG out of the goodness of their hearts but it turns out it’s actually about the money.
E&Y could make as much as $60 million advising the New York Fed, which is 50% more than the initial agreement, according to Bloomberg. The NYF is also reimbursing E&Y for expenses, up to 10% of the professional fees. This occurs after the parties had initially said $40 million would be the cap but $60 mil is it, we swear, no more.
And because E&Y is solid like that, the firm is billing out partners and directors at discounted rates ($775/hour). I mean, ’cause, let’s face it, this thing’s a mess and E&Y is going to be working hard, working late, working weekends.
Ernst & Young’s Maximum Pay for AIG Advice Swells [Bloomberg]