November 20, 2018

Aussies

Australian Tax Lawyer Built an AI Tax Research Assistant That Will Never Get Sick of Your Questions

Say hi to Ailira, everyone, aka “Artificially Intelligent Legal Information Resource Assistant.” She’s here to help with all your tax research needs. Well, in Australia, anyway: Ailira, or “Artificially Intelligent Legal Information Resource Assistant” is so clever at tax that her creator believes she could help prompt the end of human tax agents. And within […]

KPMG’s Audit Business Is Back on Life Support

Last night we finally learned KPMG's revenue results for FY 2012 and they were…UGH. Leave it to my former employer to set me up and allow me to make a prediction that was DOOMED to be wrong. For whatever reason, I thought the House of Klynveld could pull off 8% global revenue growth, what with booming […]

Layoffs Watch ’12: Ernst & Young

E&Y Down Under is getting into the act, informing a number of people that their services are no longer needed and the word on the street is that some partners may be next: Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young Australia has retrenched 89 staff amid rumours that partner performance is under review and will […]

KPMG Chair in Australia Doesn’t Fear a Lawsuit Thanks to the Sheer Awesomeness of the Audit Performed

More news from Down Under, as KPMG tries to ward off the litigious spirits related to Leighton Holdings, an international contractor who caught a few people off guard by springing bad news related to some of their projects. Maurice Blackburn, an Aussie law firm, is suing Leighton and their beef is that Leighton didn't disclose […]

PwC Partner Who Blamed Staff for Audit Failure Asks That You Not Misinterpret His Tiny Notes As an Attempt To Bury His Error

If you've been following the Centro shareholder lawsuit against PwC, you know that the partner in charge of the engagement, Stephen Cougle, wasn't exactly jumping at the chance to take responsibility for any of the audit team's shortcomings. If you were to ask Mr. Coulge – and Centro lawyers did – he'd say the person responsible […]

Grant Thornton Bailing Out BDO Down Under

Grant Thornton is officially picking up BDO's Victoria and New South Wales offices in Australia for $50 million, according to reports.  [This] comes after BDO announced last month it had decided to terminate the BDO Victoria and New South Wales offices, citing “unreasonable risks”, following a strategic review of the business taken over the previous […]

It Sounds Like KPMG Is *ThisClose* to Jumping Ernst & Young in Revenues

Not sure how we missed this story but thanks to the random commenter who brought it to our attention. New KPMG Global Chairman Michael Andrew was recently interviewed by The Australian and it sounds like KPMG had a pretty kickass fiscal 2011.

We’re still waiting for the official revenue numbers (I’m guessing they’ll be out next week) but Drew kinda spilled the beans already:

New KPMG global chairman Michael Andrew revealed to The Weekend Australian yesterday that the company had recorded a 10.1 per cent increase in revenue in the past financial year, to $22.7 billion. The numbers are due to be released officially later this month.

“If we had not had the Japanese earthquake, I suspect we would have gone past Ernst & Young. Japan is a good market for us. We had really good growth in the Americas and really good growth in tax,” he said yesterday.

FUCKING JAPAN AND YOUR EPIC NATURAL DISASTER! You just cost one of the premier professional services firms on EARTH the chance to leave a rival in the dust. Since there was enormous death and destruction, I guess everyone at the firm will let this go but they’re trying really hard not to throw out some pro forma numbers just for the sake of argument. ANYWAY, for those of you scoring at home, the $22.7 bil puts the House of Klynveld slightly behind E&Y who racked up $22.9 billion for FY ’11. It will also make for the second straight year of a bumper crop of Omaha Steaks for the employees at the firm.

But despite earthquakes and actual hard numbers, Mike is calling it like he sees it:

“We are basically equal No 3. There is still a big gap to PwC and Deloitte, which have been buying large consulting practices in the systems implementation area.”

In other words, if all things were equal, KPMG would probably be the largest firm. They’re just keeping their heads about it.

KPMG grows to match rival Ernst & Young [The Australian]

Layoff Watch ’11: KPMG Asking for ‘Voluntary Redundancies’ Down Under

From the land that brought you Michael Andrew:

KPMG is to push ahead with a round of voluntary redundancies following a slowdown in merger and acquisition activity. The privately-held firm launched the cost cutting program this week, offering voluntary redundancies and part-time working options for its 5000 Australian-based staff.

[…]”We’re seeing a tough, uncertain, challenging and patchy market,” KPMG’s Australian chief executive officer, Geoff Wilson, said yesterday. But he declined to say how many staff would be affected by the shake-up. “While we’re experiencing year-on-year growth, we’re seeing some softening in that growth. [We are trying to] create flexibility in response to the patchiness we’re seeing in the market,” he said.

Crikey. I guess by “create flexibility” Mr. Wilson means, “Your work-life balance is going to get a whole lot easier.”

KPMG calls for redundancies amid slowdown in mergers [SMH via Francine McKenna]

Let’s Get to Know KPMG’s New International Chairman, Michael Andrew

Yesterday we learned that new KPMG International Chairman Michael Andrew doesn’t think too highly of second-tier accounting firms. Sure, they might have fancy ad campaigns, or offer Starbucks cards for being tattletales but could they audit a global bank? No. Hell no. Rubes. According to Andrew, those firms are “quite lazy” about investing in their businesses which means you couldn’t trust those audits as far as you could throw them.

But perhaps that wasn’t the best introduction for the man replacing Tim Flynn (who is, frankly, irreplaceable). Luckily, in addition to the FT piece we mentioned yesterday, there was also a much longer profile of MA that will give you a better idea of the man who has to fill T Fly’s shoes.


For starters, being the chair of an international accounting behemoth can be a quite the harried job, it’s important that Drew be afforded the quickest transport possible:

Holding court in a hotel at London’s Heathrow airport, Michael Andrew is boasting about how easy it is to get from his desk to the runway back home in Hong Kong. “I basically walk out of the office and they guarantee me to be sitting on the plane in 45 minutes,” he says.

The new chairman of KPMG International is not trying to rub salt into the wounds of harried air travellers in the UK and US. Rather, the 55-year-old Australian is explaining why he recently became the first head of a major global accounting network to be based in Asia.

And since he is based in Asia, this should put everyone on notice that the House of Klynveld isn’t caught up in the old world thinking of being centered in New York or London like other firms:

The bosses of KPMG’s three bigger rivals – PwC, Deloitte and Ernst & Young – are all based in New York or London: “We are trying to say we are a much more globally balanced firm.”

Okay, so PwC had over $29 billion in revenue. And Deloitte’s results were nothing to sneeze at. Even E&Y managed to put up a decent number. But do their respective Chairmen reside in the eastern hemisphere? I think you know the answer.

But just because he is the new Chairman of one of the largest accounting firms on Earth, you might expect that Drew is caught up in the high-flying lifestyle of a rockstar accountant. Sure, he golfs like the rest of you but that shouldn’t give you the wrong idea about Mike:

Mr Andrew’s hobby of racehorse breeding suggests he is more unbuttoned than the stereotypical accountant, even though three of his horses are called Discretion, Tactfully and Chatham House – the latter a reference to the famously off-the-record UK forum. But Mr Andrews himself is certainly willing to make punchy comments.

That’s right. This means stomping through shit. Bossing stable boys around. Firing trainers when necessary. Clearly, he’ll get down in the mud if he has to.

An accountant betting on Asia [FT]

KPMG Chairman Michael Andrew Dares You to Imagine a ‘Lazy’ Second-tier Firm Auditing a Global Bank in This Day and Age

“Can you imagine a second-tier firm auditing a global bank at a time when there is already a lack of confidence in the marketplace?” He added: “They simply don’t have the skills or the market expertise.” He also accused some smaller rivals of being “quite lazy” about investing in their businesses. [FT]

KPMG Partner Who Missed $1.9 Billion Error Having No Problem Blaming Others

Apparently it’s auditor punishment Monday. Or Tuesday, if you’re Down Under:

A lead KPMG auditor who only learnt about a $1.9 billion [about USD $1.88 billion] error in his audit of Allco Finance Group through a report in BusinessDay was benched for nine months by the corporate regulator yesterday.


To be completely fair, it sounds like it may have been a tricky audit:

Christopher Whittingham, a KPMG partner, led a core team of 20 audit staff that signed an unqualified audit report on the notoriously complex accounts for Allco for the year ended June 30, 2007.

Or was it?

The error detected by BusinessDay involved the 2007 accounts classifying $1.9 billion in liabilities owed by Allco as non-current, telling investors they fell due more than a year later. The liabilities were, in fact, current liabilities, meaning they were due within the year. The amount of current liabilities is a significant issue for shareholders when considering whether a company can meet its debts when they fall due.

Whatever the case may be, Mr Whittingham shouldn’t sweat it too much:

[T]he Australian Securities and Investments Commission released an enforceable undertaking with Mr Whittingham, which included a nine-month suspension, a $10,000 fine and 10 hours of professional education.

Well, at least he’s taking responsibility for his mistake and isn’t pointing his finger at anyone else or making excuses, right?

Mr Whittingham said he had relied on managers for aspects of the audit, the error had no bearing on Allco’s collapse and he had reissued its accounts the day after he became aware of the error.

Oh.

Regulator suspends senior KPMG auditor [Sydney Morning Herald]

Earlier:
(UPDATE) PCAOB Gives Ernst & Young Manager the Charlie Rangel Treatment

Some Ernst & Young Employees Got Paid to Look at a Plethora of Porn

Really not sure why or how E&Y landed this gig but work is work.

Police may be called on to investigate reports [New South Wales] [Members of Parliament] or their staff accessed websites containing sexually explicit images of young people.

The findings were contained in an independent report by Ernst & Young, commissioned in September after an unauthorised audit of computer use in the NSW parliament showed “adult” websites had been visited from the offices of some MPs.

The report, tabled in parliament yesterday, says that of the 72 most-used websites on parliamentary computers over a 10-month period, 35 “appear to be adult-related sites”.

Nine contained sexually explicit images of young people, some of whom may be under 16.

Nearly 50% of the most-used sites over a 10 month period? And some that could involve minors (in NSW)! That’s impressive even by SEC standards.