Compensation Watch ’10: GT Reassures Merit Increases, Jury Out on Bonuses

On Friday, Grant Thornton had a firm wide call to discuss several things including layoffs, compensation, and grab-bag questions.

Headcount Reductions – Steve-o believes that the worst is over and that “restructuring efforts are substantially behind us.” If there happens to be additional “headcount transitions” it will be to refine operations or part of the no He went on to say that the people that are GTers now will, “in very large part,” remain GTers. So can we assume the action in Cleveland and Chicago was the last of it?


Compensation: GT seems is making big push towards a “pay for performance” model for its employees which means compensation adjustments will focus on top performers (“5s” in GT world) and market based adjustments (i.e. keeping up the Joneses) won’t be happening. SC cited a downward trend of salaries in the accounting profession based on a survey that GT does with Mercer (sounds convenient) for the phasing out of market adjustments. He said there might be some exceptions to this.

The size of the merit adjustments have not yet been determined because it all depends on how well 1) GT performs through the end of the year and 2) individual performance. Chip said that enough people were belly aching about the old adjustment system that a change was warranted. This will be implemented slightly for this fiscal year (can’t get all Darwin about it 3/4 of the way through the fiscal year) and will be the main methods for next year and going forward.

Bonuses: SC cleared this whole issue up saying that it has not been determined if bonuses will be paid this year. It all depends no the firm’s performance in the final quarter of the fiscal year. He did say that he’s pre-tay, pre-tay, pre-tay optimistic about the firm “being in a position to pay bonuses” but they’re still crunching the numbers so there’s no telling if it will be a mini-windfall, pocket change, or a set of steak knives.

Not to worry though, as the top performers will certainly get something if everything goes well at the firm overall.

This “new” focus on pay for performance seems kind of familiar since all the firms assign rankings to employees (with their own bizarro methodologies) and are paid accordingly. It makes you wonder if those that fall in the meaty part of the GT curve will get such a small adjustment that it will be another twist on the forced ranking trend amongst accounting firms.

Steve-o then shared his general optimism about the direction of the economy and what it means for the firm, a few recent client wins, yada yada yada. He also updated everyone with some very vague details on the firm’s new strategy “Unleashing Our Potential” that will be rolling out in the next fiscal year. Basically all non-partners will have the chance to drop their $0.02 on this strategeroy very soon but other than that we couldn’t tell if the new strategy involved a lunar landing or full-scale assault on financial reporting fraud.

Last but perhaps most importantly, Steve-o admitted to enjoying the Masters very much, however he was quite clear that he was less than thrilled to see KPMG on Phil’s lid. We’re sure it’s nothing personal against Phil but those may be fightin’ words directed straight at Johnny V.

On Friday, Grant Thornton had a firm wide call to discuss several things including layoffs, compensation, and grab-bag questions.

Headcount Reductions – Steve-o believes that the worst is over and that “restructuring efforts are substantially behind us.” If there happens to be additional “headcount transitions” it will be to refine operations or part of the normal business cycle. He went on to say that the people that are GTers now will, “in very large part,” remain GTers. So can we assume the action in Cleveland and Chicago was the last of it?


Compensation: GT seems is making big push towards a “pay for performance” model for its employees which means compensation adjustments will focus on top performers (“5s” in GT world) and market based adjustments (i.e. keeping up the Joneses) won’t be happening. SC cited a downward trend of salaries in the accounting profession based on a survey that GT does with Mercer (sounds convenient) for the phasing out of market adjustments. He said there might be some exceptions to this.

The size of the merit adjustments have not yet been determined because it all depends on how well 1) GT performs through the end of the year and 2) individual performance. Chip said that enough people were belly aching about the old adjustment system that a change was warranted. This will be implemented slightly for this fiscal year (can’t get all Darwin about it 3/4 of the way through the fiscal year) and will be the main methods for next year and going forward.

Bonuses: SC cleared this whole issue up saying that it has not been determined if bonuses will be paid this year. It all depends no the firm’s performance in the final quarter of the fiscal year. He did say that he’s pre-tay, pre-tay, pre-tay optimistic about the firm “being in a position to pay bonuses” but they’re still crunching the numbers so there’s no telling if it will be a mini-windfall, pocket change, or a set of steak knives.

Not to worry though, as the top performers will certainly get something if everything goes well at the firm overall.

This “new” focus on pay for performance seems kind of familiar since all the firms assign rankings to employees (with their own bizarro methodologies) and are paid accordingly. It makes you wonder if those that fall in the meaty part of the GT curve will get such a small adjustment that it will be another twist on the forced ranking trend amongst accounting firms.

Steve-o then shared his general optimism about the direction of the economy and what it means for the firm, a few recent client wins, yada yada yada. He also updated everyone with some very vague details on the firm’s new strategy “Unleashing Our Potential” that will be rolling out in the next fiscal year. Basically all non-partners will have the chance to drop their $0.02 on this strategeroy very soon but other than that we couldn’t tell if the new strategy involved a lunar landing or full-scale assault on financial reporting fraud.

Last but perhaps most importantly, Steve-o admitted to enjoying the Masters very much, however he was quite clear that he was less than thrilled to see KPMG on Phil’s lid. We’re sure it’s nothing personal against Phil but those may be fightin’ words directed straight at Johnny V.

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