September 20, 2018

Big 4 defense strategies

PwC, Ernst & Young Building Defenses Against Each Other’s Spies, Peeping Toms

Ernst & Young had a nice little buffer zone from the other Big 4 in their London office until PricewaterhouseCoopers decided they’d set up camp next door and now the two firms are strategerizing.

P. Dubs is finishing up the construction on their new digs and the Telegraph reports that “At their closest point the two offices are roughly 10 [meters] apart.” This proximity (not to mention the obnoxious tendency of Big 4 types to be competitive just for the sake of being competitive) has apparently led to rampant paranoia at the two firms about spying.


Getting up in E&Y’s shit seems to be bean counting as usual at PwC, as this latest move more or less correlates with the alleged poaching of 20 E&Y partners in the Middle East.

The Telegraph is insinuating hilarious war-esque undertones, saying, “First blood in the battle has gone to PwC with the installation of blinds that close automatically whenever audio-visual presentation equipment is switched on and an office layout that ensures no computer screens face windows.” The obvious concern being that PwC’s secret “we provide the absolute best client service” plan would be imitated by E&Y, which would mean an all-out war.

However, the real concern should be voyeurs scoping out the office sexcapades. As we’ve mused in the past, the odds of fornication for accountants are slim as it is and work relationships are a convenient option. With this development, some E&Y and PwC minions will be denied the opportunity for office sex. This is not as much of a problem for the exhibitionists at the firm, however, that cross section is likely small.

E&Y is reportedly “evaluating a number of options,” to combat P. Dubs’ tactics, which may or may not include the following:

A) A group mooning that will involve the most portly E&Y employees.

B) Placing inflatable bozos in the windows.

C) Draping the entire building with a photo of Susan Boyle in Beckham’s PwC undies.

D) Your idea.

Blackout curtains beckon as accountancy rivals find themselves too close for comfort [Telegraph]

Accounting News Roundup: CFOs, Staff Are Getting Worn Down by Guidance; Miami Forensic Accountant to Plead Guilty; Big 4 In Pari Delicto Defense Strategy | 03.10.10

A Growing Contagion: Accounting Fatigue Syndrome [CFO Blog]
Anyone getting worn out from all the guidance that is coming from the alphabet soup of regulators? You’re not alone and there appears to be an epidemic, something that CFO Blog has deemed “Accounting Fatigue Syndrome.” The long/short of it is that things are only going to get more complex as FASB and IASB continue to converge their rules and guidance continues to come out of both rule making bodies.

“Like many finance executives, Terry Lillis, CFO of Principal Financial Group, is tired. The constant stream of guidance from regulators and accounting standard-setters — plus the expected inflow of more to come over the next few years — has created “huge accounting fatigue” among his finance staff”


What’s the solution to AFS? How about just getting out of the biz altogether? “While the panelists gave no hope to CFOs who wish the standard-setters would either slow down or cut back on their agenda, they did offer one tip for ending accounting fatigue. ‘If I were a CFO, the first thing I would do is look at my early-retirement provisions,’ quipped J. Edward Grossman, a Crowe Horwath partner.”

High-profile Miami accountant Lew Freeman to plead guilty to fraud [Miami Herald]
A couple of weeks ago we told you about “go-to” forensic accountant turned swindler Lewis Freeman and his legal trouble.

Today he is expected to plead guilty in Miami to embezzling $2.6 million from his clients. Prosecutors have alleged that Freeman, “wrote 162 unauthorized checks to himself totaling about $6 million from the accounts of five failed businesses once under his company’s control, but put back about half of the money.” Freeman has been cooperating with investigators since his arrest but still may face 10 – 20 years in prison.

In Pari Delicto: Are Auditors Equally At Fault In The Big Fraud Cases? [Re: the Auditors]
Francine tackles PwC and KPMG’s defense strategy involving in pari delicto to avoid their roles in fraud cases.

The way I see it, the in pari delicto doctrine is being used like a pair of needle nosed pliers by audit firm defense lawyers to diffuse a bomb – huge liability for some of the biggest frauds in history. The in pari delicto doctrine attempts to pull the auditors’ tails from the fire by excusing any of their guilty acts due to the approval of those acts by potentially equally guilty executives.