November 12, 2018

Auditing

Changing the Big Audit Model: Where Might the Regulators Go?

In the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s litigation against PwC over its audits of the failed Colonial Bank in Alabama, Judge Barbara Rothstein has loosed a second blast—her decision of July 2 fixed damages at $625 million for the liability spelled out at length in her decision last December. Appeals will come, making premature any crystal […]

Squar Milner

What Next For the Big 4 in the U.K.? London Is Searching

A drunk, searching on hands and knees under a street lamp, tells the inquiring police, “I’ve lost my keys – over there in the dark alley.” “Then why look here?” they ask, perplexed. “Because the light’s better here.” In the city of London, where the modern audit profession was born in the Victorian era, no […]

auditor fraud pwc colonial fdic

Auditors and Fraud: Where Does Responsibility Lie in the Wake of the FDIC’s Win Against PwC?

In the waning days of 2017, a judge in Alabama found PwC was negligent in its audit of Colonial Bank. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation had sued the firm for failing to detect the fraud at the root of Colonial’s 2009 failure. Although Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein denied other claims brought by FDIC and the […]

kpmg auditors pcaob partners conspiracy

Reminder: KPMG Fired a Bunch of People for Mishandling PCAOB Inspections Details They Weren’t Supposed to Have

KPMG released its global revenue results today and its the standard self-congratulatory Big 4 flimflam that we love to hate around here. The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times both covered the results in earnest; the Journal noted that KPMG’s growth lagged its BIG peers, while the FT mentioned a couple of the firm’s “huge […]

pwc culture

Let’s Wildly Speculate About Why PwC Is Shopping Its Government Services Practice

This Reuters story reports that PwC is looking to sell its government services, perhaps “to pursue the growing business of auditing government agencies.” The story says that Morgan Stanley is running the sale and private equity firms Veritas and Madison Dearborn Partners are two potential buyers. None of the firms mentioned commented for the Reuters […]

sec accountant auditing

Here’s the Only Affirmation Accountants Need

This is from a couple weeks back, but it deserves a mention because it will help those of you currently experiencing a crisis of professional identity. It comes from a speech given by Wesley Bricker, the Chief Accountant of the SEC, and it’s just the kind of thing you need to hear when you’ve recently […]

big-4-punishment

U.K. Audit Regulator Encouraged to Slap Big 4 Wrists Slightly Harder

Despite what you might hear, Big 4 audit firms have it pretty easy when it comes to compliance. Yes, there a ton of rules to follow, but in the event that a firm, one (or several) of its partners and employees run afoul of those rules, the consequences range from a mild rebuke to a […]

accountants auditors data analytics resize

Watering Down Data Analytics for Dumb Accountants

Most accountants, especially CPAs, seem smart on paper. Some even live up to it in person. Others are less, um, fortunate… So, it doesn’t come as a big surprise that even our profession’s own publication called us out for being dumb, or at least naïve when it comes to data analytics: Accountants need to increase […]

auditorproud poem

A Poem for #AuditorProud Day

I am an auditor. I am proud. Say it with me nice and loud. I am an auditor. I am proud. I’m a proud auditor, no exceptions allowed. I audit all day, I audit all night. I am proud to audit with all my might. Sure we screw up now and then: Enron, WordCom, the […]

accounting news kpmg liberty tax

KPMG Settles With SEC Over a Giant Failure of an Audit

KPMG has settled SEC charges for $6.2 million due to a shoddy audit of an oil and gas company. The partner in charge of the job, John Riordan, also settled to charges, agreeing to a $25,000 fine and a suspension to practice before the SEC. He can re-apply in two years. KPMG did not admit […]

PCAOB_MEMBERS

The PCAOB Could Look Very Different, Very Soon

Get a good look, people. Anyone interested in becoming a PCAOB member? It sounds like there’s a bunch of change coming, based on the public statement from new SEC Chairman Jay Clayton: I am very pleased that Chairman [James] Doty has agreed to continue to serve as the Chairman of the PCAOB as we commence […]

audit-firms-women-partners

The Number of Female Audit Partners Is Terrible

A new study shows that women are drastically underrepresented as audit firm partners, averaging only around 16 percent for audit partners with U.S. audit clients. In some cities such as Washington, D.C. and San Jose, California, the percentage of female partners was around 10 percent. Yikes. The Big 4 firms performed a little better than […]

auditing SOX 404 internal controls

NYSE President Not Sure About All This Auditing

Over at the House Committee on Financial Services, some opposition to Sarbanes-Oxley has come up in a hearing called “The Cost of Being a Public Company in Light of Sarbanes-Oxley and the Federalization of Corporate Governance.” The gist of it is this — some people think regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley have made it too difficult to […]

Deloitte’s Brazil Firm Covered Up a Couple of Bad Audits

The big news in the international audit firm world today is an announcement by the PCAOB that Deloitte’s Brazil firm audited badly and then covered up that bad auditing, which is also bad. The whole thing involved a dozen auditors including the Brazil firm’s former Audit Practice Leader, former Risk and Reputation Leader and former […]

PCAOB Unsure About Motives Behind Audit Firms’ Fancy New Thingamajigs

The Big 4 has been attempting to bring sexy back to auditing for awhile now, with leaders talking about innovation this and technology that, data this and 100% testing that. And that's cool, auditing needed the confidence boost, since advisory's been strutting around getting all the attention for the last decade. So yeah, we've noticed […]

“Rise of the Robots” – And They’ll Audit Better, Smarter, Cheaper

“The ‘smarter’ machines get, the more and more jobs they’ll replace. Including mine. And yours.”    — Reader CommentMartin Ford’s prize-winning Rise of the Robots (2015) underlies this three-part look at the prospects that drones, robots and cognitive technology will rapidly displace jobs and careers at all levels of the Big Audit model, and that the […]

The Future Audit Team: Smaller, Nerdier, Expensiver

As auditing changes, naturally, so will the auditors. Technology drives a lot of this change so it stands to reason that people who understand and build technology will become the new auditors. Or, maybe accounting programs will become more technology focused. Either way, recruiting auditors will look very different and sooner than you might think. […]

Tighten Up Privileged Access Now, or Hate Yourself Later

The 2016 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (aka: “DBIR”) is out and it isn’t pretty. Where to start…? Maybe by saying that 2015 heralded over 100,000 information security incidents — including 3,141 data breaches. If those numbers are not staggering enough, it’s more unnerving to realize this is the first time I have heard about […]

Automation to Artificial Intelligence: New Frontiers for Auditors

News flash: Artificial intelligence (AI) and other cognitive technologies are eliminating jobs left and right. Bloomberg reports as many as 5 million jobs by 2020. Oh, calamity. Should auditors be worried? The short answer is no…don’t lose sleep over it. Why? First off, cognitive technologies (even super cool advanced ones) are best with structured tasks […]

Coming Soon-ish: Greener Auditing

Well, maybe. Eventually. Some time in the future. Over at the Harvard Business Review, there's a brief Q&A with Professor Robert Eccles about sustainability accounting standards. It's interesting because, as we've mentioned, sustainability (among other things) could become a big part of the accounting profession's future. We first covered sustainability accounting and reporting in an […]

Auditing’s Future: A Conversation With PwC’s Assurance Transformation Leader Bill Brennan

Auditing is a big deal in the accounting world, especially at Big 4 firms. While consulting and advisory services threaten to eclipse assurance as their chief revenue source, the fact remains that auditing remains the primary revenue stream for three of the Big 4 firms and serves as the foundation for all their reputations. But […]

KPMG’s PCAOB Inspection Report Is Out and It’s Not Good

Oh boy, KPMG's PCAOB inspection report is finally out. Michael Rapoport at the Wall Street Journal has the lowdown:

Reminder: Auditors Can’t Check Their Own Work

A superfecta of PCAOB enforcement orders hit the air yesterday, so let's take a looksee, shall we? Let's start with Turner, Jones and Company, featuring their managing partner Stephen Turner and regular ol' partner Mark Turbyfill. I'll be referring to them collectively as "Turn & Turb" from here on out. Turn & Turb did a […]

Hey Look, McGladrey’s PCAOB Inspection Wasn’t So Good

The PCAOB released its inspection report for the accounting firm soon-to-be-formerly-known-as McGladrey yesterday and it's not the best but it's not the worst, either. Out of 15 audits selected, the inspectors found deficiencies in 7 of them. Most of the issues related to AS No. 5 and AS No. 13. It's all pretty shrug but […]

Florida CPA’s Audits Didn’t Audit Much

This week in incredibly bad auditing, we have Terry L. Johnson of Casselberry, Florida. And if you like devouring stories of grossly deficient audits and Florida men doing ridiculous things, then this should satisfy your appetite. Let me just tell you first that some form of the words "so deficient that they amounted to no […]

Coming This Christmas: A Final Rule on Audit Partner Disclosure

In an Investor Advisory Group meeting held earlier this week, PCAOB Chairman James Doty said he hoped the third version of the Board's partner naming proposal would be finalized "by the end of the year." That should help the IMA fathom such an "insult to the accounting profession." [CW (Sub. req.)]

Apparently PwC Is Not Its (Big) Brothers (Big Sisters) Keeper

Recently, the Department of Justice narced out PwC to the AICPA’s Professional Ethics Division for acts discreditable to the profession.1 The DOJ claims that PwC did not follow the standards and provisions required for federal audits during its 2011 audit of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), and not following audit standards constitutes an […]

Auditors to Get Auditier

Here's someting auditors might not like: more work! In an interview with the Journal of Accountancy, Deloitte & Touche CEO and jargon generator Joe Ucuzoglu suggested that stuff like press releases, presentations, non-GAAP metrics, anything that companies throw in front of investors to gawk at, really, could be fair game for auditors: “Those metrics are […]

Take It Easy, KPMG Didn’t Pass GAAS in Its Audit of FIFA

Everybody leave KPMG the fuck alone. Sure the Department of Justice busted FIFA for taking more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks after KPMG gave them 16 consecutive years of unqualified opinions. But KPMG’s hands are clean. That’s my unqualified opinion.   It’s clear that FIFA was a shitty client full of shitty people. […]

Grant Thornton Has Starring Role in Marine Corps’s Snafu Audit

How's this for a Charlie Foxtrot: the professional services firm known as Grant Thornton (or, if you prefer, Golf Tango) is smack dab in the middle of the Pentagon's messy accounting. Reuters has the whole scoop but the long/short of it is this: last year the Defense Department announced that the Marine Corps "passed" its […]

Now That Auditing Is Joining The 21st Century, What Will It Be Like?

Recently the Washington Post interviewed new Deloitte & Touche CEO Joe Ucuzoglu about how he has always liked numbers and stuff. We don't necessarily recommend that you read it, as that's one of the services we provide around here — reading horrible interviews with Big 4 bigwigs — but there's one topic of discussion mentioned that the opiners […]

Deloitte Gonna Keep Trying Its Best

After a jury ruled in Deloitte’s favor in a lawsuit that could’ve cost them $850 million, the firm said it was “gratified” by the verdict and “committed to conducting audits of the highest quality.” Which is a relief in case you thought the world’s largest professional services firm had been winging it this whole time.  [WSJ]

Oh Boy, Deloitte’s New Audit Chief Promises ‘Innovation’

Joe Ucuzoglu (Uch-uh-zog-loo?) will replace Cathy Engelbert as CEO of Deloitte & Touche, the firm's audit practice. An unremarkable announcement in and of itself, however, Joe U. does say something that is somewhat remarkable:  “Building upon Deloitte's legacy of exceptional service to the capital markets, we will lead the audit profession into the future. The use […]

Everyone Passing the Audit Section of CPA Exam Should Celebrate with Audit Ale

Auditing portion of the CPA exam complete, finally time for the Audit Ale from Listermann Brewing I've been saving pic.twitter.com/B8NDEM7hbP — Joel Weaver (@JoelWeaver10) October 4, 2014 Upon further investigation, we found that the gang at Listermann Brewing in Cincinnati, Ohio had a different idea behind releasing this beer: Audit Ale is a beer with […]

EY Hits 50% Failure Rate on PCAOB Inspection, Gets a Grade of LOL on AS5

Today, the PCAOB released its latest inspection report on the firm formerly known as Ernst & Young. Now, before we get into that, let's get into a little history because everyone loves history, right? EY boasted an impressive failure rate of 35.7% in 2011, which was followed up by an even more impressive failure rate […]

Dennis Nally Would Like Everyone to Remember That Auditing Is Still Important to PwC

They say those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. For accounting firms, it's more like condemned only if the regulators catch on. As we all know, the trend toward combining audit, tax, and consulting services was totes kosher up until the E-word happened, when consultauditors went scattering like cockroaches in the […]

KPMG Was Never Out of the Consulting Business, FYI

As we all know, the period of time circa 2001-2002 were not the best of times for the ol' auditing firms. Accounting scandals were aplenty, Arthur Andersen went down for the dirt nap and Heineken even got a holiday commercial out of it. And of course, we got Sarbanes-Oxley. A big sticking point from those […]

Ernst & Young’s PCAOB Inspection Results Look Even Worse in Chart Form

Last week, we discussed just how bad EY's auditing had gotten from a PCAOB inspection report perspective. And with a failure rate of 48% we can all say, "That sucks, EY," with the utmost confidence.  Yet, nothing in the PCAOB inspection report or anything we wrote last Tuesday sums things quite like this chart from the […]

The Big 4’s Stranglehold on the Audit Market Is Worse Than You Thought

In a speech entitled "Accountability: Protecting Investors, the Public Interest and Prosperity," PCAOB member Jeanette Franzel shares some numbers:   Currently, about 2,360 firms are registered with the PCAOB, including about 915 non-U.S. firms located in 85 jurisdictions.   Not all PCAOB-registered firms regularly issue audit reports for issuers, but we inspect those that do […]

Deal Between PCAOB, Chinese Is a Lose-Lose Situation

Yes, the PCAOB got a lousy deal by putting Jim Doty's name on the Memo of Understanding with China's Securities Regulatory Commission and Ministry of Finance, but Professor Paul Gillis writes in the Wall Street Journal that the Chinese don't have any room to talk, either: Without inspections, investors can't trust Chinese audits. Investors in Chinese […]

PwC Loves CAKE and Other Interesting Things from the Expanded PCAOB Inspection Reports

I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but reading about audit procedures is incredibly dull. It's nearly as dull as actually performing some of these procedures which probably explains why the PCAOB was forced to release Part II for the 2008 and 2009 inspection reports. Luckily, reading about the failure of the most […]

PCAOB Not Satisfied with PwC’s Efforts to Get Better at Auditing

Deba Aubin at Reuters has a great scoop this morning, reporting that the PCAOB "will fault PwC for not promptly addressing quality control problems found during inspections of some of its 2007 and 2008 audits," according to an internal PwC memo dated today and signed by Bob Moritz. [cue]

Compensation Watch: Internal Auditors

Good news for the internal auditors out there — a study by the IIA found that more of you are getting raises; the bad news is they also found that everyone's share is slightly smaller: The number of U.S. organizations awarding raises to their entire internal audit staff increased from 60 percent in 2011 to […]

Here Are Five of the Lowliest Lowlights in Auditing from 2012

You have to admit it — auditing is a rough gig. You're expected to meet expectations of both regulators and clients, all the while, keeping enough employees on hand so the job can actually get done in a reasonable amount of time. Oh! Then there are the investors; they fit in there somewhere (or so […]

Deloitte Will Always Be an Audit Firm at Heart, You Guys

Last week, Deloitte announced that its most recent fiscal year was pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay good. $31.3 billion is nothing to sneeze at and the consulting and financial advisory businesses are leading the charge, as the Economist notes: In fiscal 2012 Deloitte increased its revenues from consulting by 13.5% and from financial advisory by 15%—compared with just […]

A Friendly Reminder for Auditors: Be Skeptical

If you're an opiner who has been suffering from massive memory loss or ignoring your professional purpose, don't fret. Master audit firm lobbyist Cynthia Fornelli has your playabook: “Independence, objectivity and skepticism, I think, are fundamental foundational elements of audit quality,” Fornelli said in an interview at the Accounting Today offices on Friday. Now that […]

“Same As Last Year” and Inept Senior Auditors Are Failures of the Audit Industry

The following was written by a second year staff auditor who wishes to remain nameless. Clearly pounded out in the heat of frustration and perhaps a tad profanity-laden, it exposes a very serious problem that infects all corners of auditing from so-called "expert" auditors on down to brand new staff. Fresh-faced youngsters are often tasked […]

Is Deciding Between Forensic Advisory Work and Auditing Really That Difficult?

Our inquisitor has options. Don't you hate that? If you're stumped on career multiple choice question or need help with picking out something for the gift exchange, email us at [email protected] I was fortunate enough to receive two full time entry-level offers from two Big 4 firms: 1 in Audit and 1 in Forensic Advisory […]

Accounting News Roundup: Will an International Audit Regulator Become a Reality?; GMAC Shopping for a CFO Candidate; FASB Sued for Antitrust Violations | 05.06.10

Audit chief welcomes debate on international regulator [Accountancy Age]
The idea of an international audit regulator is being kicked around in the EU with about as much seriousness as returning to the moon. That is, it’s absolutely something to be discussed but at this point nobody’s firing up the boosters just yet. IFRS has been proved to be, putting it lightly, a challenge but ever since the Lehman Brothers/E&Y fiasco, reform of the auditing business doesn’t seem far behind.

And while the idea is being entertained, the hurdles to an international regulator sound a little familiar:

Ian Powell, senior partner at PwC UK, said the establishment of an international regulator is “worthy of debate” but believes global consensus among nations may prove difficult.

“Most countries think their regulation is good and it is their system which should be applied – that is going to make it difficult to convince them to give up their system,” he said.

“If you talk to virtually any regulator in any country they do want to see more globalisation of regulation, but the big problem is there are certain political issues that are different in different countries.”

GMAC Said to Consider Ex-Citigroup Banker Yastine as Next CFO [Bloomberg Businessweek]
GMAC is hot on the trail for a new CFO after their last one bolted in March shortly after his TARP testimony. The ward of the state is said to be considering Barbara Yastine, who formerly was the CFO at both Credit Suisse’s and Citigroup’s investment banking groups.

FASB Defendant in Suit Alleging Antitrust Violations and Patent Misappropriation [Silicon Economics, Inc. Press Release]
Silicon Economics, Inc. is suing the FASB, alleging “antitrust violations and with willfully attempting to misappropriate patented technology,” according to the San Jose-based company’s press release.

The lawsuit concerns Silicon Economics’ EarningsPower Accounting™ (EPA™) – a patented method developed by the company to improve the accuracy, validity, and usefulness of financial statements. Silicon Economics recommended the merits of EPA to FASB in response to FASB’s request for public comment on the objectives of financial accounting (No. 1260-001, July 6, 2006). FASB claims that its website terms and conditions gave it ownership of Silicon Economics’ technology, even though such terms were not part of FASB’s invitation for public comment or otherwise disclosed to Silicon Economics.

Accounting News Roundup: Improving the External Audit; Another Accounting Firm Bolts Greensboro, NC; AICPA Opposes Nonsigning Tax Preparer Rule | 04.27.10

Weighing the Worth of an External Audit [Compliance Week]
Does the external audit still have value? Some people have questioned that notion. Despite that grave assessment, there are still many that believe that the external audit has value. However, most have no illusions about the challenges before the profession.

Colleen Cunningham has a post up at Compliance Week with her thoughts:

[W]e need a fundamental shift away from the rules and complex accounting standards we currently use in the United States. The move to International Financial Reporting Standards would certainly help. IFRS is based more on principles and concepts, and while some people worry that these are “lesser” standards than U.S. GAAP, I believe that we will see more transparency about choices, options, and assumptions through enhanced disclosure under IFRS…

Perhaps the audit opinion should be less boilerplate to allow the auditors to provide more information and commentary. This could add needed transparency. Unfortunately, the litigious environment in which we operate would make this a risky proposition.

We like these ideas but more information and commentary would mean…more professional judgment! Hopefully the PCAOB would be okay with that idea because the trend seems to be that auditors can’t be trusted to do their jobs.

Dixon Hughes will close GSO site, shift staff to H.P. [Triad Business Journal]
Dixon Hughes is the latest firm to pull up the stakes in Greensboro, North Carolina. What is going on down there?

Jones Soda Announces Change of External Audit Firm [Market Wire]
Organic soda company drops Deloitte. Peterson Sullivan will take it from here.

AICPA Submits Comment Letter on IRS PTIN Proposal [Journal of Accountancy]
The AICAP submitted a letter to the IRS re: the proposed reg that would, among other things, require Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTIN) for tax professionals that don’t sign the returns. T

he AICPA isn’t so thrilled with this idea, and the JofA reports some of their thoughts, “(1) a successful implementation of registration and use of PTINs, along with the imposition of Circular 230 on all preparers should be sufficient to address unethical and/or incompetent tax return preparation and provide tremendous gains to tax administration in general; (2) it may cause confusion among taxpayers about the relative qualifications of tax return preparers; and (3) the additional burdens to the tax preparers and pass through of these costs to the taxpaying public should be considered.”

All About the Audit Section of the CPA Exam

Editor’s note: Since I’m guest editing this week, we decided to do a 5-part feature on – what else – the CPA exam. I’ll be covering tips and tricks for each section and ethics on Friday so check in with us this week for the full breakdown. – JDA

So you’re taking Audit? Great.

Good news: traditionally, Audit tends to have a higher national pass rate than the other sections (only by a half a percentage point or so on average so don’t go getting excited that you can pass this one if you don’t study at all) and doesn’t require nearly as much effort as, say, FAR.

Bad news: chances are you didn’t take Auditing in college unless you’re planning on being an auditor so you have no idea what any of this stuff is about but like the rest of the exam, you don’t need to be an expert, you just need to know enough to get a 75. Yay!


Audit is the most expensive section as it is the longest at 4.5 hours and Prometric charges by the minute. Despite its length, you will still probably run out of time so time management is especially important with AUD. Do not spend more than 2 minutes on each MCQ, you’ve got 90 of them to get through and will need at least 45 minutes for each simulation.

The AICPA BoE has set the following target weights for skills testing:

Communication (10% – 20%)
Research (6% – 16%)
Analysis (12% – 22%)
Judgment (12% – 22%)
Understanding (35% – 45%)

Based on the Content Specification Outlines, Audit covers the following areas:

Planning the engagement (22% – 28%) Determine scope and nature of engagement, Generally Accepted Audit Standards, assessing engagement risk, communications, formulating audit objectives, etc.

Internal controls (12% – 18%) Understanding of business processes and information flows, limitations of internal control, tests of controls and control risk.

Obtain and document information (32% – 38%) Performing planned procedures, audit sampling, substantive tests, contingencies, identifying control deficiencies, attestation engagements.

Review engagement and evaluate information (8% – 12%) Performing analytical procedures, evaluation of audit evidences, work reviews and reasonable assurance.

Prepare communications (12% – 18%) Reports, reports, reports! This section covers all kinds of reports, footnotes, disclosures, as well as required communications based on discovery of illegal acts, errors and fraud, and communications with audit committees.

Studying for AUD should take between 60 and 90 hours depending on what review course you are using and whether or not you have experience in this area. Obviously if you took Auditing in school you will need less time to review some of these areas.

Good luck and see you tomorrow with Regulation!

Are Accounting Firms Getting Cheated by the PCAOB?

You may have forgotten, but last year the PCAOB established some new rules that require its members to file annual reports on Forms 2, 3, and 4 with the Board. These annual reports aren’t the glossy paged marketing tools filled with smiling faces that you may be thinking of, nor do they contain an financial information. They mostly consist of information that the PCAOB wants to know in case a firm changes its address, whether your firm hires shady characters, or finds itself in some serious legal trouble (take note Big 4).


Because all this reporting is a pain in the ass for the Board, a modest charge has been established to “recover the costs of processing and reviewing applications and annual reports,” according to a statement released by the PCAOB.

Now before you get all huffy about it, this is allowed by Michael Oxley’s favorite piece of legislation and now that the Board is getting around to requiring firms to submit the annual reports (inaugurals are due June 30), a fee only seemed appropriate and necessary.

Starting this year, registered firms will be charged the following:

Firms with more than 500 issuer audit clients and more than 10,000 personnel – $100,000

Other firms with more than 200 issuer audit clients and more than 1,000 personnel – $25,000

All other firms – $500

PLUS! The minimum registration fee is being increased to $500 because “The Board believes it is appropriate at this time to raise that fee to $500 to align it more closely with the minimum annual fee.”

In the grand scheme of things, the new annual fee and the increased registration fee aren’t really worth getting too worked up over but does make you wonder if accounting firms are getting the most bang for their buck vis-à-vis the PCAOB.

Oh sure, the annual inspections are a hoot and they’ll nail a shiesty accountant here and there but what about the guidance the Board has been issuing lately?

If the best the Board can do is churn out a reminders about bizarro transactions that belittles auditors (but don’t bother giving any examples) and proposals on how auditors should carry on a conversation, some people might start demanding a little more substance out of their watchdog.

PCAOB Release No. 2010-002 [PCAOB]

CPAs Spanked by SEC for Porn Site Audit

Let it be known that if you are peddling porn and engaged in online pimping, you do not want the SEC on your back.

WebCPA reports that Stephen Corso of Las Vegas and Brian Rabinovitz of Oak Park, CA got the SEC smack down in a Nevada federal court for filing materially false and misleading financial statements from 1999 – 2002 (that’s quite a backlog) and that audit staff – under the boys’ supervision – omitted important info and violated the sanctity of auditor independence during audits of Exotics.com


While the enforcement doesn’t go into specifics, we’re happy to. Exotics.com bills itself as the world’s premiere source for – wait for it – beautiful female adult entertainers. Not to be outdone, Exotics also boasts a veritable cornucopia of escort options including “BDSM & fetish providers, exotic dancers, strippers, sensual and erotic massage specialists, TSTV and other adult entertainment.” It’s that “other that really scares me. Self-billed as the Quicker Pecker Upper (kid you not), the site headline right around the time the SEC brought the heat was “Better than Wives, Girlfriends, and Porn” – and apparently above performing audits according to GAAS?

So, who wants to wildly speculate as to how audit staff violated auditor independence?

Here’s the 2005 release from our friends at the SEC:

[T]he accountants fraudulently participated in audits of Exotics-Nevada’s year-end financial statements and in a review of its quarterly financial statements and failed to conduct those engagements in accordance with GAAS, as required. The Commission also alleges in its complaint that, among other things, the accountants prepared or created many of Exotics-Nevada’s books and records and then audited the financial statements they created. According to the complaint, they also caused their firms to issue false audit reports which, together with the underlying financial statements, were incorporated in Exotics-Nevada’s public filings with the Commission.

Now listen, little auditors, you don’t shit where you live and you don’t audit your own statements. Audit sampling? I could see how it would be hard to resist in this particular instance.

CPAs Disciplined for Porn Site Accounting Fraud [Web CPA]
SEC Complaint

Quote of the Day: Five Words on Big 4 Audits | 03.15.10

“Our whole industry is useless.”

~ Unnamed Big 4 Auditor and GC reader

Who’s Doing an Inventory Today?

Thumbnail image for inventory.jpgIt’s a big day of counting items of all sorts: screwdrivers, unsold Pontiacs, Shiri Zinn Minx vibrators. And unless you’re Count von Count, we’re guessing that you’re not too psyched about it.
We’ve touched on inventories a couple of times in 2009 and now that the mother of all count days is here, we’ll open a thread for those of you poor souls that will be spending all day tagging [insert item].
Whatever your responsibilities are, we hope they won’t get in the way of your NYE plans but unfortch, one reader has already told us about the less than thrilling news they got yesterday:

I just found out I have one on new year’s eve that is three hours away from where I live for another of the firm’s offices and I likely won’t be leaving there until 8:00 pm. And this company’s inventories have historically been “messy”. F My Life.

Nothing like last minute. To top it all off they’ll probably end up counting pig carcasses outside a slaughter house.
So let this story be your jumping off point for our inventory thread. Share your nightmare inventory count stories from auditor tales of yore or what the hell you’re up to today. And don’t leave out the details like condom goodie bags. Have a great count and don’t be ashamed to use your fingers.

Caption Contest Winner: Auditing Is Craptacular

After a tight race, one caption ended up pulling away.
Thumbnail image for crapper.jpg

Upon their arrival to their workstation, the audit team quickly understood the reasoning behind the under-accrual for utilities expense for the months of January through March.

With just over 20% of the vote. If you’ve got audit rooms (or any photos for that matter) that you feel are worthy of a caption contest, send them our way. Thanks for voting.

Apple’s Carbon Accounting Trick

steve-jobs-plush-toy-1.jpgWhat’s next, a FASB for carbon accounting? Should companies be required to report carbon emissions and if so, who is going to audit these statements? After all, data is only as good as the substantive tests that prove its accuracy.
Apple has never been at the top of environmentalists’ list as a green company but for the first time it is now publishing corporate carbon data on its website for all to see.
Continued, after the jump


Business Week:

Apple’s real goal is to change the terms of the debate. Company executives say that most existing green rankings are flawed in several respects. They count the promises companies make about green plans rather than actual achievements. And most focus on the environmental impact of a company’s operations, but exclude that of its products.
Apple argues that broader, more comprehensive figures for carbon emissions should be used–for everything from materials mined for its products to the electricity used to power them–and it’s offering up its own data to make the case. Executives say that consumers’ use of Apple products accounts for 53% of the company’s total 10.2 million tons of carbon emissions annually. That’s more than the 38% that occurs as the products are manufactured in Asia or the 3% that comes from Apple’s own operations. “A lot of companies publish how green their building is, but it doesn’t matter if you’re shipping millions of power-hungry products with toxic chemicals in them,” says CEO Steve Jobs in an interview. “It’s like asking a cigarette company how green their office is.”

Again, I’m skeptical of any self-reported data that doesn’t go through the usual channels like financial statements would. Imagine if a company like Apple was also allowed to slap together some cash flows without the little auditors crawling all over the numbers, “Hey investors! Check us out, we made $52 bazillion this quarter in iPhone sales alone!” Yeah, ok.
I’m not even sure what this carbon argument is all about so I’ll just let this one go. Good job, Apple. I think.

(UPDATE) Is the PCAOB Going the Way of the Dodo?

Dodo_bird.jpgWho knows? Our separation-of-powers principles knowledge is pretty much zilch. However, the PCAOB is currently “doubly insulated from both political pressure and presidential oversight” which some – including the Plaintiff in the case, First Free Enterprise Fund – think is unconstitutional.
The case, First Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, will be argued during the new session of the U.S. Supreme Court on December 7th. Here’s the take of our sister site, ATL, last year when the possibility of the SCOTUS hearing the case first came up.
More, after the jump


We won’t rehash the whole immaculate conception of the PCAOB, as you’re all familiar with that story. First Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, however, could make things interesting: “This case has the potential to undo the SOX accounting and auditing reforms. As such, the result may impact not just the auditing profession, but also every public company as well as the users of financial statements of those companies.”
‘Undo SOX accounting and auditing reforms’? That sounds kinda serious. We won’t go so far as to suggest that you start forgetting everything that you’ve been trying to get your heads around for the past seven years, but there’s at least a possibility that the PCAOB could become extinct. That could be exciting, or it could make you completely f*cking miserable again.
New Court Term May Give Hints to Views on Regulating Business [NYT]
The Supreme Court Term – Significant Cases for Business [SEC Actions via JDA]
Supreme Court Obsessed With Business This Session [Law Review]

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.

Do You See What Happens?

accountant.jpgThe PCAOB was kind enough to issue a couple of examples this week of what happens when you don’t take your role as auditor seriously.
We wouldn’t dream of putting them both in one post so we’ll give you one in the morning to ponder and save the second for later right about the time you’re ready to flip out, so hang in there.
We’ve also done you the courtesy of reading (sort of) both of the orders so that you can remain fully chargeable (not counting the time you take to read this post of course):
Thomas Linden was a partner in the Chicago office of Deloitte and lead engagement partner on Navistar Financial Corporation (NFC). At the 11th hour, prior to filing the fiscal year 2003 10-K, the engagement team realized that assets, revenues, and net profits were overstated by $19.7 million.
Check out the rest, after the jump


Having a typical over-confident management team, NFC had already taken the liberty of announcing the fourth quarter earnings prior to filing the 10-K.
Because Tom Linden was a Big 4 Partner and thus impervious to any challenge he encounterd, he took the following action (all our emphasis):

• Initiated an increase of approximately 50 percent in Deloitte’s planned tolerance for misstatements in NFC’s reported financial results
• Authored, with the assistance of a member of the NFC engagement team, an NFC auditwork paper that inaccurately characterized the reasons for and circumstances surrounding the increase
• Failed to evaluate adequately the risk that NIC’s financial statements were materially misstated due to error or fraud
• Otherwise failed to act with the requisite due professional care and professional skepticism

Okay, so the last two are boring but the first two kinda, sorta give us this impression of what happened:
Dude finds out the numbers are bunk, client isn’t cool with telling their analysts (who NFC told that they had a kick ass quarter) that said numbers are bunk, so Dude up and decides to ABBACADABRA make the tolerance for misstatement 50% higher than it was for the entire audit (read: that’s a lot).
Then, after probably putting the proverbial (or possibly literal) gun to head of the “member of the NFC engagement team”, they wrote a workpaper that supposedly explained why the tolerance was all of sudden 50% higher but the rationale was something to the effect of “because we said so”.
So for all that tomfoolery (snap!), Linden gets fined $75,000 and can’t be associated with a registered accounting firm for two years and which point he can petition to be to be reinstated. Yow-za. To better times, Tom.
ORDER MAKING FINDINGS AND IMPOSING SANCTIONS In the Matter of Thomas J. Linden, CPA, Respondent. [PCAOB]

PCAOB Names Acting Mustache Chair

goelzer.jpgThe PCAOB has announced Daniel Goelzer will be acting Chairman of the Board effective August 1. Goelzer brings an impressive resume with him, not to mention a sheriff-like mustache that will undoubtedly let the accounting firms know that he is not to be trifled with.

Review Comments | 07.22.09

beer.jpgAmazon to Acquire Zappos.com for $847 Million – “Amazon says it is paying for the acquisition with 10 million shares of stock worth approximately $807 million. In addition, Amazon said it will provide Zappos employees with $40 million in cash and restricted stock units.” [Bits/NYT]
UK ‘is losing 52 pubs each week’ – Where will the UK accountants go for lunch? [BBC]
Who needs audit? [Accountancy Age]
Chrysler says dealer legislation could force liquidation – “Chrysler Group could again face the prospect of liquidation if legislation aimed at reversing its decision to terminate contracts with 789 dealers becomes law, a company executive said on Wednesday.” [Reuters]
Goldman Sachs Payments to U.S. Give 23% Return to Taxpayers – LB says “you’re welcome” [Bloomberg]