September 18, 2018

Big Money

Don’t Sulk Big 4, Things Aren’t That Bad

Sulking.jpgRegardless of what accounting firms may say about their current troubles because of “tough economic conditions”, lots of these “conditions” can be pret-tay good for business.
Reuters reports that several companies, including your favorites, have pulled down more than a fair amount fees related to the “asset protection scheme” that insures risky assets held by Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group.
KPMG (£6.5M), E&Y (£4.3M), and PwC (£4.2M) were the top earners assisting the Brits with their version of the magic money printing machine. Oddly, Deloitte is no where to be found in this article but maybe that’s got something to do with the £59 million they received from RBS. That seems to make up for it.
Stateside, E&Y is pulling down $60 million for its work with the New York Fed on AIG which makes the RBS/Lloyds fees look like a lemonade stand.
Since misery loves company, it might be poor taste for any firm to be excited about the money that is rolling in. So nevermind our tendency to focus on the positive. Go back to feeling sorry for your slumping revenues.
KPMG Earns Most From Bank Asset Plan [Reuters]

Deloitte UK CEO Does All Right For Himself

john connolly.jpgApparently Deloitte was feeling a little left out of the populist outrage because after the news that Big D UK reported shrinking revenues yesterday, today we learn out that John Connolly, Big D CEO across the pond, earned £5.22 million this past year.
Not too shabby even though that’s a little less than his earnings last year of £5.69 million, according to the London Evening Standard.
Big John should probably send some biscuits over to the Royal Bank of Scotland for the payday as RBS paid Deloitte nearly £59 million this past year, up from the £31 million in the year prior. RBS has received billions of bailout funds from the UK government, so some crazy taxpayer wrath headed in the direction of Big D would not be outside the realm of possibility.
Deloitte boss rakes in £5.2m after the bailout of RBS [London Evening Standard]

Legg Mason to Financial Crisis: 100 Years, You.

financial-crisis2.jpgThat’s it. It’s official. Worst. Crisis. Ever. If Legg Mason is your gauge on financial crisises, that is.
And since it is such a momentous occasion, guess what this calls for…wait for it…executive bonuses!
Courtesy of footnoted.org, we learn that Chairman and CEO, Mark Fetting’s received approximately a $3M bonus for “leadership of the company during one of the worst financial crises of the last 100 years, which particularly affected financial services companies”
Footnoted goes on to give us some perspective:

Just to make sure, we did a quick check for the word crisis (or crises) at other financial services companies and didn’t come up with anything that even came close. While the word was used in several other proxies, it wasn’t used in a way to justify a bonus and there were no pronouncements about this being the “worst financial crises”.

Okay, so Legg has some melodramatic types writing their filings. But how about some chicanery?:

Equally interesting is that while the board set Fetting’s bonus at 21% of the bonus pool in June 2008, Legg Mason’s loss of $1.9 billion last year meant that there was no bonus pool. But that didn’t stop the bonus because as the comp committee writes in the proxy the net loss was due to just two items and without those two items, the company “would have had net income, and the plan would have produced a total bonus pool large enough to accommodate the annual incentive awards made. Although the terms of the plan do not explicitly provide for the exclusion of those items, the Committee considered the items to be extraordinary expense.”

Seriously, who’s going to let two measly items stop them from paying executives bonuses out of a bonus pool that didn’t really exist? This is financial wartime people, we will not be denied.

Legg Mason calls it: The worst financial crisis
[footnoted.org]