July 19, 2018

Irony

Even a State Board of CPAs Isn’t Immune From Weak Internal Controls

Anyone hoping for a heavy dose of irony to start their week is going to enjoy this next story. Earlier this month, a tipster pointed us to a press release from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor who found issues with the internal controls at the Louisiana State Board of CPAs, "the entity responsible for licensing and […]

CPAs Admit That They’re Not Good Business People

Here's something interesting (hilarious, even) from the Indiana CPA Society's Center of Excellence: CPAs lack a bunch of important skills and they're completely aware of it. The Society conducted a survey of over 600 CPAs across 30 states and found that the profession that constantly goes on about being "trusted advisors" to businesses and entrepreneurs, […]

Citing Lotus Notus, Ernst & Young Instructs Employees to Not Upgrade to Blackberry 10

Most large accounting firms have some kind of "News" section included on their internal web sites. Headlines like "Partner Joe Quoted in Today's Wall Street Journal" and "United Way Honors Firm for Being a Strategic Partner for 20 Years" and other shallow announcements are typical. Most partners and employees couldn't care less about these things but […]

PCAOB Officially Proposes That Audit Firms Name Names

For some time now, the PCAOB has been talking about making audit partners famous (at least to investors that are paying attention) in ways that they aren’t too thrilled about. Earlier today the Board issued a proposal for comment that will do just that.

The proposed amendments would:

• require registered public accounting firms to disclose the name of the engagement partner in the audit report,
• amend the Board’s Annual Report Form to require registered firms to disclosgagement partner for each audit report already required to be reported on the form, and
•require disclosure in the audit report of other accounting firms and certain other participants that took part in the audit.

So if you can consider yourself an astute observer of auditing policy and regs, they’d love to hear your thoughts. However, it would be greatly appreciated if you didn’t take your cues from the FASB letters and kept things constructive.

All of the Board Members made statements, including PCAOB Chairman Jim Doty (full statement on page 2) who sees this latest proposal as good sense:

I fail to see why shareholders in BNP Paribas, listed on the Euronext Paris exchange, should be able to see the name of the engagement partner in the audit report, but shareholders in Citigroup, listed on the New York Stock Exchange should not. Indeed, the names of engagement partners for some European companies that are listed on the NYSE are disclosed in U.S. filings. Why are shareholders in France Telecom to be favored over shareholders in AT&T?

And then there’s Steven Harris’s statement (in full on page 3). Harris, who is known to speak frankly about auditors, finds the proposal okay enough but would really like to see the audit partners’ John Hancocks:

While I support an identification of the engagement partner, I continue to strongly support, and would have preferred, a requirement for the engagement partner to actually sign his or her name on the audit report. My views, which I stated when the Board last publicly discussed the issue in July 2009, have not changed. Very fundamentally, I believe that nothing focuses the mind quite like putting one’s individual signature on a document.

And for good measure, he threw in this:

Many find it ironic that auditing firms in the United States, whose business is providing assurance about the transparency provided by others, resist publicly providing their own financial statements. There is no apparent reason that the auditing firms that act as gatekeepers to our securities markets should not be as transparent to investors as the companies they audit.

If you agree with Mr. Harris and happen to have a copy of your firm’s financial statements, feel free to pass it along. Or if you’d rather not wait to make your thoughts known on the Board’s proposals, you may drop them in the comments below.

Doty Statement on Transparency Proposal

Harris Statement 10-11-11

Study: Analysts Just as Illiterate as Investors When Reading Financial Reports

Convoluted corporate financial reports are just as unreadable for professional stock analysts as they are for the average investor, according to a new study.

The study, published in the current issue of the American Accounting Association journal Accounting Review, tested the readability of tens of thousands of company filings over 12 years and found that analysts’ earnings forecasts for firms with less readable reports “have greater dispersion, are less accurate, and are associated with greater overall analyst uncertainty.” Ironically, however, the syntactic and linguistic complexity of these reports generated greater demand from investors for analysts’ commentary and greater reliance on their forecasts. [AT]

Deloitte Bankrolls Center for Ethical Leadership at Notre Dame

John Veihmeyer can’t be pleased by this.

The Notre Dame/Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership will focus on advancing ethical leadership in business, including research, thought leadership and the dissemination of ethics-related content to the business community in the United State and around the world, the university announced Monday.

The center is being established with a major gift from Deloitte LLP, a private professional services company, according to the university. The amount of the gift was not disclosed.

Presumably portions of the curriculum will educate students on how to piece together your spouse’s new hobby with insider trading activity.

Notre Dame starts business ethics center [SBT]

Heir to H&R Block Fortune Is Ready to Pay Higher Taxes

Tom Bloch is so ready in fact that he wants his to go up first.

“Congress will have no choice, in my opinion, but to raise taxes sooner rather than later.

“I also believe that the rich are significantly under-taxed compared to the middle class. That’s why I suggest that raising taxes on the very wealthiest taxpayers must be the first step toward restoring equity in our income tax system and ensuring the financial security of our children’s future.”

US taxes are too low, should be raised: H&R Block heir [PhillyDeals]

Grad Assistants May Starve After University of Illinois ‘Payroll Glitch’ Results in Back Taxes Owed

The irony being that UI is consistently one of the top accounting programs in the country. The Champaign News-Gazette has the scoop:

The University of Illinois failed to withhold taxes for hundreds of graduate assistants over seven years, resulting in thousands of dollars in back taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service. The payroll “glitch” also means some graduate assistants will go without pay for the next few months to cover taxes owed on their tuition and service fee waivers. About 280 graduate assistants will be taxed for part of their 2011 tuition waivers starting this month, and 17 who owe more than their next few paychecks will get no pay for three months, officials said.

Seven years. Hopefully some of the grad assistants have some money saved but it sounds like more than a few of them will be having a helluva time with this. The Graduate Employees’ Organization director of communication, Natalie Uhl gets serious:

“For some of them, they have absolutely no way to pay rent next month, no way to buy food,” she said. Some students are planning to drop out of school, Uhl said. “They’ll essentially be paying to work for the school,” she said. “They’ll be receiving no money for the work that they do.”

Jesus. That’s worse than working for minimum wage at an accounting firm! The University, for their whole role in this, is saying “my bad” but rationalizes the lack of paying the GAs by keeping things no nonsense. This is the IRS we’re talking about, after all. They’ve got guns!

“We feel bad about the inconvenience. We understand that the additional withholding may create a hardship, and it’s unfortunate. We’re required by the law to take the withholding,” [UI spokesman Thomas Hardy] said.

UI didn’t withhold taxes for hundreds of grad assistants [CNG]

Accountants Aren’t Saving Any Personal Finance Savvy for Themselves

This is the risk to providing excellent client service to anyone and everyone; you forget to keep any of that wisdom for yourself.

A support group says it has received a record number of calls from accountants in personal debt over the past few months.

The Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA) for UK chartered accountants says that it has seen a sharp rise in calls from accountants with debt problems over the past few months.

CABA said that it has received its highest ever number of calls from accountants asking for help in dealing with personal debt – and expects the problem to worsen over the next few months.

Kath Haines, chief executive of CABA, said: “The number of calls that we are receiving about debt is probably at a record high and we believe that this will grow quite substantially during early 2011.

Accountants racking up record level of personal debt [Accountancy Age]