November 14, 2018

Bright Ideas

If Unlimited Vacation Time Were a Thing, Could You Take It?

Surely you read the story of Virgin going unlimited on vacation. No? Here you go: If the 9-to-5 workweek is a paradigm of the past, then why do so many businesses still cling to outdated vacation policies? That is the question posed by Richard Branson in an excerpt from his new book, The Virgin Way, […]

If Accounting Firms Are Going to Insist That People Work So Much, They Should at Least Educate Them on How to Recognize When Someone Is About to Keel Over

Earlier this week, our friend Elie Mystal wrote a sad post about a young attorney who died at 35 under suspicious circumstances. Adam Maynard was gunning for partner at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and was working very hard right up to the time he died. How hard was he working, you ask? Friends of Maynard […]

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty Has the Perfect Catalyst for Tax Reform

And Doug Shulman will not like it. Or Charlie Rangel. OR Tim Geithner.

The rumored Presidential hopeful simply would like to see the members of Congress pick up a copy of TurboTax from their local OfficeMax™, grab their W-2s and 1099s and crank out their own 1040.

“No help of an accountant, a lawyer or a tax specialist,” he said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“And if they can’t do it, we give them a certification they can go get some help. But I’d like every one of those individuals to have to do their own taxes every year and live with the mindless burdens we put on the American people.”

And before you get all “what’s good for the goose” on TP, he’s got a tax-form anecdote for you:

Pawlenty lamented that he recently filled out a W-9 that had four pages of instructions for a half-page form.

Now, hold it right there. Filling out a W-9 doesn’t exactly qualify as “preparing a tax return.” If you want to dive into the nitty gritty of any of these forms, then we’ll listen to your beef but don’t waste our time with “four pages of instructions for a half-page form.” That’s child’s play.

Pawlenty: No tax help for Congress [Politico via MinnPost]

Deloitte, All Out of Cost-Saving Ideas, Launches Project JARED

Thumbnail image for salzberg-barry.jpgWhen we first received the tip about Project JARED we thought that Big D had struck a deal with Subway in order to help you lose those extra pounds you’ve been carrying around.
Unfortunately, “Project: Jointly Address Reducing Expenses at Deloitte” won’t be getting you sandies on the cheap; rather it’s a solicitiation of your ideas for saving the Firm money. Apparently Deloitte is plumb out and needs some help

This is your chance to help make Deloitte fitter and stronger — by contributing your ideas to Project JARED.
Project JARED was launched in the U.S. earlier this year to enable our organization to ‘shape up’ by building organizational muscle ― devoting maximum resources to our people and market opportunities. Hence, Project JARED: Jointly Address Reducing Expenses at Deloitte.
“Jointly is a key word here,” said Tony Forcum, Deloitte Consulting LLP, who leads Project JARED.
“More than 600 partners, principals and directors have already been involved in detailed discussions and input sessions, generating over 1600 cost-reduction ideas. We are certain that opening up the dialogue to all of our people will generate additional insights. We need transformational ideas if we are to reach our goal of permanently eliminating $750 million of costs by FY12. We have made a good start toward our goal. The team has validated more than $120 million in sustainable cost savings from the changes made in FY09,” he said.


Changes have produced savings and improvements in all kinds of ways ― for example, by using our telesuite facilities to reduce business travel, thus not only saving money but also reducing the time everyone spends away from home: a win-win for all.
The Project JARED team is looking for suggestions from those who know the organization best — its people. If you have often thought: “We could save a lot if only we…” now is the time to share your idea. It could be a day-to-day activity, a fresh approach to leveraging technology, an enhancement to a process, a way to change behavior that saves money―all cost-saving suggestions are welcomed.
Visit the Project JARED site to submit your ideas, learn more about the project and ask questions.

This latest plan struck at least one person as dubious and they asked the question on probably everyone’s mind:

Q: Is this just a fancy way of saying we’re going to be losing more jobs?
A: It is impossible to predict the future, but that is not the focus of the project. The organization is casting a wide net for cost savings, looking at tactical savings (printing on both sides of the paper), operational savings (streamlining the process by which work gets done from inception to completion) and transformational savings (transforming some of the ways we do business). All of the decisions we make about Project JARED will be consistent with our core values, brand and strategy.

So “not the focus of the project” should put your concerns to rest, no? And it looks like your bright idea of printing on both sides of the paper is already taken, so don’t bother submitting that one.
Let’s put our heads together gang and figure out how we can save Deloitte money. Should Barry Salzberg stop getting haircuts? Pull the plug on Deloitte University? Give up on training male employees to better understand their female colleagues?
Nothing is too crazy people. Get on this.

UK Regulators: Let’s Try and Quantify Audit Quality

RG-1031.jpgOur friends across the pond have put it out there that as it stands, an audit report is an audit report is an audit report. Regardless of the firm doing the work, the end product is the same and the Professional Oversight Board (POB) wants audit firms to produce, “more quantitative data to better equip investors and companies with the tools needed to scrutinise their auditors.”


It’s long been popular to call an auditor’s product a “commodity” and this appears to be the Brits’ attempt to dispel that notion. The talk of asking auditors to somehow quantify quality has already garnered support in the investing community in the UK:

Michael McKersie, assistant director capital markets at the [Association of British Insurers], said he would welcome more comparative information. “The relative lack of hard quantitative reporting data on the audit firms and global networks has been… a concern. Comparability is really important and we have, in the past, seen no n-comparability [sic] here as a problem.”

Fine idea, although there’s not a single indication of how the quality could be measured and the director of auditing at the POB even admits that ‘The challenge is how can auditors demonstrate quality and those that use their services assess it.’
This whole idea of “comparability” came up because of a POB inspection of showed, “some firms were rewarding staff for attracting business at the expense of promoting audit quality.” So the answer to this problem — from the POB’s point of view — is to slap together a “rate this audit from 1 to 10” system and the firm with the highest score has the best audits?
Audit firms will always claim that their work is of the highest quality regardless of the circumstances but now regulators want them to put that in some quantifiable form. And because we like to keep the pace with our friends in the UK, it probably won’t be long before an ambitious bureaucrat Stateside (e.g. new PCAOB Chairman) will insist on a similar approach.
If there’s any wonky auditors out there that have some ideas how this could be done, we’re all ears but for now we’re firmly in the skeptical camp.
Clients blind on audit quality [Accountancy Age]
Also see: You mean the Big 4 aren’t transparent? [Tax Research UK/Richard Murphy]