Clients

Which Audit Firm Got Fired the Most In Q3?

Earlier this month Accounting Today reported the latest data from Audit Analytics on public company audit client gains and losses for the third quarter, with Florida-based CPA firm Assurance Dimensions picking up nine new ones thanks to an acquisition. Among firms you’ll usually see in SEC or PCAOB enforcement orders, Marcum and Deloitte were the […]

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Report: Ambac Was One of the KPMG Clients That Got a Second Peek Thanks to Stolen PCAOB Info

Francine McKenna did some expert sleuthing and reports at MarketWatch that Ambac Financial Group was one of the unnamed issuers in the indictment of former KPMG employees and one former PCAOB inspector. There were enough clues to piece together that “Issuer-2” was Ambac, one of the companies that were allegedly subject to a re-review by […]

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Egad, Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli Was an Insufferable Client

Everyone who works in public accounting experiences a bad client or two. But then again, there are bad clients, and then there are the Martin Shkrelis of the world. It’s really a disservice to the bad clients out there to lump Martin Shkreli in with them. This CNBC report details the testimony of Corey Massella, […]

Irrational Clients – Yours, Mine and Ours

As a serious professional you often come across irrational clients. Behavior that’s obviously wrong makes complete sense to them. Sometimes it’s your own clients who have irrational clients as customers. You need to talk them down off the ledge. Here are a few examples. It’s Not Lying if I Neglect to Tell You Something — […]

Socially Inept Accountant Held Responsible

Here in good ol' US of A, if someone says mean things about you on the internet, you don't call a lawyer to get the offending comment taken down, you threaten them and their entire family with violence! It's the American way. Down Under, things are a bit different. An accountant in Perth sued a […]

Dot VN, Inc. and PLS CPA: A Love Story in One 8-K

Like that miserable couple you know that have been together far too long, here's a, seemingly, dramatic auditor/client interlude, starting with an auditor walking out after years of neglect: On October 13, 2014, the Company was notified by PLS CPA, a Professional Corp. (“PLS”) that the firm resigned as the Company’s independent registered public accounting […]

IRS to Tax Pros: You’re Not Helping

Perhaps you've heard that the IRS is a little shorthanded? You know, that the people they do have are overwhelmed and can't get to the phone as often as they would like? Your suggested work-around is not making things better:      “Each filing season, the e-help desk receives phone calls from taxpayers because their […]

Most CPAs Don’t Get to Send Letters Like This One

Unlike some people, I'll bet Dean Smith sent his tax stuff to his CPA in a timely and orderly fashion.  Coach Smith willed his trust to send a $200 check to each his former players following his passing. #DeanSmith pic.twitter.com/NyiBhU9taQ — Jiimmm Demmpseeeyyy (@ChestPassDemps) March 26, 2015 [via Deadspin]

Let’s All Enjoy This Story of a Rich Guy Who Procrastinated on His Taxes and Missed Out on a $1 Million Refund

Procrastinating clients are the worst. Well, judging by their performance in GCMMBSP, they're actually not; however, I think we can all agree that clients who wait until the last minute to provide you with necessary info deserve nothing less than waterboarding. That's why it's nice to read this Bloomberg article reporting that some CPAs have […]

Marcum Wins and EY Loses the Final Auditor Shuffle of 2013

Accounting Today has shared Audit Analytics data on the Q4 2013 auditor shuffle and of large and national firms, Marcum came out on top with a net gain of five. I'm no mathlete but that's a whole… er… well it's more than EY's -6 net: Big Four firm KPMG and McGladrey followed up with net […]

Accounting Career Conundrums: Is Getting the Boot From the Client a Career Breaker?

There are times in life when we have expertise and wisdom to share. And there other times when we don’t and need to pull in resources to support us. To help out the following worried reader, how about we try out both in this week’s accounting career conundrum?  I'm an S2 at a big4, large-ish […]

KPMG Auditors with Federal Clients Affected By Shutdown Urged to Keep Busy, Take a Little Vacay (But Only as a Last Resort)

As you all know, our government is kaput for the foreseeable future and since all of the Big 4 and many other DC-area firms serve the federal government, it stands to reason that a few of you might not have a lot to do today.    Last night, we were forwarded the text of an […]

HSBC Dumping KPMG for PwC as Auditor

Alright, alright, alright. We knew this was possible. Let's try to keep things civil. HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Europe’s largest bank, appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as auditor, dropping KPMG LLP after more than two decades. PwC will audit the 2015 fiscal year for the lender, subject to approval from shareholders at the bank’s annual meeting in May, […]

Ernst & Young Lost a Lot of Audit Clients Last Quarter

I suppose "a lot" is a relative term, but I think most people would agree that to lose, on average, more than one client per week constitutes "a lot."

BREAKING: Incompetent Tax Advisers May Get Fired

The Wall Street Journal is on it, you guys: Plenty of accountants make errors on tax returns from time to time but most manage to remain on good terms with their affected clients. Make a big mistake or too many, however, and the tax pro can be out of a job. Financial advisers often help […]

There’s No Way Someone at Deloitte Leaked Those Carolina Panthers Financial Statements

Yesterday, Tommy Craggs at Deadspin scooped more sports franchise financial statements, this time those of the Carolina Panthers. As usual, it's great insight into how sports teams are shrewdly run businesses1. Just like any financial statement report, the good stuff is in the notes and Craggs dissects the more interesting points. If you're not up […]

Life After Big 4: What You May Miss and Won’t Miss At All

I Want to be a CA is a Canadian site, obviously, but Big 4 misery is a universal thing that transcends race, sex and geography. In the spirit of busy season, I'm happy to share the following with those of you slaving away dreaming of running off to the circus. "The Accountant" left Big 4 […]

Auditor Musical Chairs: 99¢ Only Stores Splurges on Ernst & Young, Dumps BDO

With a business name like "99¢ Only Stores," no one would blame you if you assumed the company and would try to pinch some pennies on their auditor. It's a commodity service that is just asking to be squeezed, after all. However, sometimes as a public company, you'd like a big name brand on your […]

Batman Auditor Gives Scooby Doo a Run For His Scooby Snacks

I'm starting to think we need a Going Concern Halloween costume contest next year. There's always the old "reverse merger" idea or, failing that if you don't want to scare away the client with innuendo, you could always go as the douchey vending machine. Anyway, as we know Halloween has come and gone but that […]

Someone at Grant Thornton Thought a Client Needed Help Holding Their Balls

After dominating much of 2011, the past year has been bit of a downer for the Purple Rose of Chicago. Last September, Grant Thornton reached its apex when the firm was crowned king of the hill in Vault's 50. Unfortunately, they were shoved off the pile by Ernst & Young less than a year later and things […]

Tax Professionals: Tell Us the Stupid Things Your Clients Are Saying to You This Month

With less than two weeks to go until the tax filing deadline, some people (myself included) are starting to think, "Oh, right! My tax return! I should really get on that." Yes! You and I should! Personally, I just file an extension and forget about it for another month or so. For those people who […]

Ernst & Young Still ‘Flawlessly’ Tabulating Those Emmy Awards Ballots

For the past 23 years, Primetime Emmy® Award winners have remained television’s best-kept secret thanks to the efforts of Ernst & Young LLP, part of the global Ernst & Young organization that is a leader in assurance, tax, transaction, advisory services and strategic growth markets. “We are extremely proud to be continuing what has become a 23-year tradition for Ernst & Young by maintaining the integrity of the Emmy® Awards tabulation process and the accuracy of the results,” said Andy Sale, Ernst & Young LLP, lead partner for the 2011 Emmy® Awards engagement. “The Emmy® Awards have a far-reaching impact on the television industry and it is critical that the balloting and tabulation process be implemented flawlessly.” [E&Y]

Should Accountants Still Provide Excellent Client Service When a Client Shows Up in Their Pajamas?

As we do from time to time around here, we pick up some chatter from our British sister site to see what’s going on in the Old Empire. Today we learn that some Brits have really taken to slobbing around in their pajamas in places not thought appropriate.

Let’s see what’s troubling our accounting brethren across the pond:

Where I live (and as I understand it, nationwide) there is currently a growing backlash against people wearing pajamas in unsuitable circumstances (mostly while picking their kids up from school or while doing their weekly shop), specifically people refusing to serve them or asking them to leave the premises.

Obviously(?) none of us would meet with clients in our pjs as even the most relaxed accountant would at least wear smart casual for a client meeting I’m sure, but what if a new client came to you for their initial meeting in their pjs, would you refuse to act for them?

For the sake of discussion, assume they are fully clothed in bottoms and tops, not in negligie or short nightdresses.

Here in the States, most of us ditch the sweats in public after getting out of college but their are obvious exceptions (like our friend to the right). But it’s not that unusual for your more affluent clients to get more comfortable being comfortable wherever they go. This means ignoring societal norms. Like pants. Or only being sober for a couple hours a day. But forget all that for now; we’re focusing on sleepwear. So, then – if a successful entrepreneur walks into a meeting rocking Winnie the Pooh jammies with the footsies, are you offended? Do you throw him/her out and demand they come back “and act like a professional!” or “after you pull yourself together!” or “when you rejoin society!”?

Or do you keep a seersucker robe or kimono handy in a desk compartment specifically for these scenarios? Discuss.

Should a Big 4 Audit Associate Ditch His Firm for a Client?

Welcome to the I’m-just-sick-about-the-Mad-Men-situation edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a Big 4 associate wants to apply for an analyst position at his client and wants to know if there will be backlash or independence issues that would accompany such a move. What’s in store for our turncoat? Let’s find out!

Have an interesting career dilemma? Need some ideas to cheer up the troops? Looking for some ways to offer some constructive criticism without resorting to veiled insults? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll help you squash any temptation for name-calling.

Meanwhile back at traitor island:

Dear Going Concern,

I’m an Associate at a Big4 looking to do something more exciting. After checking out at my clients website, they seem to have a lot of entry-level analysts positions that interest me.

I was curious as to what your thoughts were about applying to one of your clients, and how my team might react if I get the job before busy season. Also, do I have to worry about independence issues if I’m only an Associate?

Thank you,
Extremely Bored Associate

Dear Extremely Bored Associate,

You think an entry-level analyst position sounds more exciting than Big 4? Your bar for thrills is awfully low, my friend. Never mind that you lack an inner Indiana Jones, I’m here to help you.

For starters, I’m not really sure what you mean by “just before busy season” since it’s March and busy season is all but over. However if you do ditch your team prior to busy season, some will sneer at your timing and then forget about you. And then there are the people that will hate you just on principle. You simply have to accept that as a cost of doing business. As far as independence is concerned, I don’t see any issues since you’re pretty low on pecking order but your firm may have a cooling off period or some other policy that forbids you from taking a position for a certain amount of time, so consider that your homework assignment.

Have said all that, I should tell you that it’s possible that your client may not be interested in offering you a job simply because you worked for the audit team. The argument being that maintaining a good relationship with their audit provider trumps any cog in the wheel so poaching you from their professional services firm is something they simply won’t do. Now are there exceptions? Probably. So the only the way to know is find out; run it up and see what happens. Good luck.

Future Ernst & Young Intern Wants to Know How to Land on a Prestigious Engagement

Welcome to the slightly-less-mad-Friday edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a future E&Y intern only wants to work on the sexiest tech clients that the House of Turley has to offer. How can one ensure that he/she lands only on the clients worth bragging to their peers? Let’s find out!

Caught in a busy season love-triangle (audit-cleaning crew-admin)? Not sure if your auditor is being honest with you? Upset over a rival’s shady moves? Email us at advice@goingconcern.comDear Going Concern,

I am a future 2011 Assurance Intern for EY. Do you suggest emailing my contacts in the firm regarding preferences as to industry and clients? They know from my interviews that I prefer tech clients, but is it wise to go into greater detail? I don’t want to seem entitled, but I also don’t want to get stuck on some crappy client because everyone else voiced their preferences and got spots at Apple, Google, Facebook, etc. Suggestions on how to voice such opinions would be welcome also.

– Future Staff 1


Dear FS1,

I like it when someone knows exactly what they want but I feel that you need some perspective. Let me start by answering your question directly. I don’t see anything wrong with voicing your interests in the clients you mentioned to your contacts at E&Y, especially if those contacts work on those engagements. If none of the people that you met during the recruiting process serve those clients, attempt to get in touch with someone via the contacts you did make. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” or “the hooker won’t land the john in the Mercedes across the street if they don’t yell at him” certainly applies here.

Now for that perspective I mentioned – Apple, Google, Facebook are all sexy names and are obviously prestigious clients but let me be clear, these engagements’ allure is extremely deceiving. When I was a resident in the House of Klynveld, I worked on one of the most prestigious private equity clients the firm had. I landed a spot on this team because this is exactly what I wanted at the time, I spoke up and with some luck, I got what I asked for. It was great experience and I worked with a lot of talented people but the majority of the time, I wouldn’t say it was a pleasant experience. The hours were long, there were lots of political games and it was a GIANT rumor mill. Now if you think you can thrive in such an environment, then I say go for it but in my experience it wears on most people. I would expect the teams you mentioned would be a similar experience.

However, as an intern, I’d expect that you’ll be mostly on the fringes of most of the negative aspects of working on such a team because the firm wants you to think it’s a great place to work and managers and partners on those clients want you to think it’s a great engagement. And because you want a full-time job someday, you’re going to do your best to impress the wrinkled pants off these people. If you accomplish that feat, they will want you back on their team. The problem is that once you’re on that team, it may be very difficult to get off that team when you discover that it is Hell on Earth. Now maybe you’ll get mentored by one of those I’m-working-my-ass-off-for-very-little-gratitude-because-I-want-to-get-ahead-in-this-firm types and you’ll really like it. But if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then learn as much about the team while you are an intern to determine if you want to work on it or a similar client in the future. Talk to the A2s and SA1s (sorry A1s, you’re still clueless) to get their perspective but make sure it’s the people that will level with you about what life is really like on that engagement. HINT: If you get a rah-rah speech about the “experience on such a great client” you’re not getting an honest take.

So make your client desires known to get a taste of the life on a sexy client but once you land there, be sure to take a look around to see what life (or a pathetic version of it) will be really like if you’re still there in the future. Good luck.

How CPAs Keep the Holiday Season Productive

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

The holidays: a nice, quiet time of year to enjoy with friends and family, while methodically preparing for the upcoming year and a busy tax season. The only problem is very few of us can afford to take off six weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year, let alone reduce our contact with customers and clients.

We interviewed a number of CPA firm leaders, from sole prs at large firms, to get their take, advice, and best practices on how to best spend time during the holiday season, while effectively planning for the upcoming year.


Communicate and get face time with clients

The welcome lack of immediate deadlines and calm before the tax season storm provides a great opportunity to get in touch with your clients.

“Every year I tell my clients that the holiday season coincides with the upcoming tax season, and that it’s a good time to get in touch and see where things are financially,” said Mark Eiger, CPA, a New Jersey-based accountant. “One thing you don’t want after Christmas is an April 15th surprise!”

Gail Rosen, CPA, recommends an e-mail communication.

“During my downtime, I like to use the software package Constant Contact to send e-mail updates to clients, contacts, and friends. For example, one update every tax practitioner should consider sending this year is a reminder to their clients that they only have until December 31 to do a Roth conversion without income limits and with the option of spreading the income over two years for tax purposes,” Rosen said.

“The last issue you want is clients who are upset that you haven’t informed them of all their options – and the deadline now has passed. I find that when I send this e-mail update, many people reply back. This exchange creates business opportunities I otherwise would not have had,” she said.

Michael Cecere, a partner at Gray, Gray & Gray LLP, hits the road to get some face time with his clients.

“The holidays can actually be a pretty intense time period with a lot of face-to-face meetings,” Cecere said. “It’s a bittersweet time because we’re busy now, and busy after!”

Stay aggressive on business development

‘Tis a great season to be focused on marketing and networking, recommended James Guarino, a partner at Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, LLP. “This time of the year, we’re always meeting with clients and networking with our contacts, getting out into the public, and letting people know that we’re available if and when we’re needed.”

Cecere agrees. “The business development element never stops – it can’t take a back seat. We continue to attend networking events, conferences, seminars, and set up meetings. In addition, more companies are back to hosting holiday parties, so we’re becoming busier attending our clients’ parties.”

Self-improvement, continuing education

Most accountants agreed that the relative calm of the holiday season provides a good opportunity for conducting evaluations, performance reviews, and catching up on continuing education.

“We’re continually educating our staff, so at the end of the year, we conduct a lot of in-house training,” Guarino said. “We want to familiarize them with the software and tax systems they’ll use during the upcoming tax season.”

His firm, and others we spoke with, also dedicates a significant portion of time during November and December to evaluations and performance reviews.

Review of tax law

Guarino’s team also makes it a point to review current-year tax law and proposed tax law. “Clients want to know how to improve their tax situation – both for current and future years,” he said.

Steven J. Elliott, tax director at Schwartz & Company, LLP, does the same, saving “time for major tax planning opportunities for both business and individual clients in order to best advise them about year-end tax payments and other planning items, such as minimum IRA/retirement distributions, Roth IRAs, stock trading activity, and more.”

Recharge your batteries

Historically, the holiday season was a time to enjoy with loved ones, and generally chill out a bit; but that’s easier said than done in 2010.

“It’s tougher to disconnect now than ever before,” said Cecere. “Times have changed now that we’re plugged into e-mail 24/7. It’s a never-ending cycle because you’re always connected; the higher up the ladder you go, the greater pressure you’re under to respond quickly.”

Guarino’s firm makes it a top priority to remove as many obstacles as it can to enable employees to recharge their batteries. From October 15 until the beginning of December, they make it a point to take time off to reenergize.

Elliott agrees with this strategy. “Best of all, it’s a time when more family time/vacation can take place in and around the special projects. We need this time to recharge the batteries for the next busy season. And, although it is usually a quieter time, there is always something to do!”

How do you handle customer and client activity during the holidays, and what does your firm do to renew and energize its employees? Send me a note and I’ll tweet your responses on the Chrometa blog.

About the author:
Brett Owens is CEO and co-founder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, CA-based provider of time-management software that accurately records and reports back how you spend your time. Previously marketed to only the legal community, Chrometa is branching out to accounting prospects. Gains include the ability to discover previously undocumented billable time, saving time on billing reconciliation and improving personal productivity. Owens is also a blogger and founder at ContraryInvesting.com, as well as a regular contributor to two leading financial media sites, SeekingAlpha.com and Minyanville.

What Investment Bank Clients Are Really Saying: “KPMG are stupid”

Auditors – if you have ever suspected that your IB client contacts aren’t convinced of your intelligence, then your intuition is serving you well.

This also helps put the whole AIG/GS/PwC situation into a hilarious context.

[source]

Earning the Right to Say, “You can trust me. I’m your CPA.”

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight–everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

“That was strange,” I thought as I hung up the phone. I’d just spent the last thirty minutes on the phone with a client talking about, of all things, which B-school his daughter should attend and what major concentrations she should consider.

This didn’t fit my view of accounting as it did not involve auditing transactions or pushing numbers around on a spreadsheet. They didn’t teag in undergraduate school. Yet, some 25 years after receiving a diploma with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting and some 22 years after earning the right to call myself a CPA, here I was being asked to advise a client on a very personal matter not even remotely related to accounting.

How did this happen? In a word – trust. Over the years, I had earned the trust of this client on enough accounting, financial, and tax related matters that he now trusted my advice on such matters as where his daughter should attend college. As I let that sink in, I was blown away by the realization that trust leads to influence.


Because CPAs usually are very active in their communities, they have a very well-developed network of contacts and referrals. And because CPA’s are trusted, when they refer a client to somebody in their referral network, more likely than not, that client will end up working with that referral.

A colleague of mine – also a CPA – related the story of sitting with a client who recently had sold his business and had in excess of $100 million to invest. The client had never seen this much cash and was unsure what to do. The CPA recommended the client talk to a wealth management specialist and the client agreed. After the wealth manager had explained his core values and approach to investing, the client turned to his CPA and asked for his thoughts. The CPA responded that he was a believer and that all his personal and retirement savings were invested with this wealth manager. The client turned to the wealth manager and said, “If it’s good enough for him (the CPA) then its good enough for me. How do I get started?”

Do you think that afternoon the wealth manager was really glad to have the CPA as a referral source? I’ll guarantee it. The endorsement from the CPA and the client’s trust of that endorsement not only gained the wealth manager a substantial client – it also greatly shortened what would normally be a very lengthy sales process.

Whenever I see a public opinion poll about most trusted professions, the CPA always is at or near the top. There are several reasons why CPAs are viewed so favorably. CPAs are viewed as having a great deal of competence, able to remain unbiased, able to constrain emotion from affecting decisions, and possess an aura of independence and fiduciary responsibility – meaning we generally treat our clients affairs as we would treat our own.

One area where sound, practical advice is indispensible is finance. Against this backdrop of favorable opinion and opportunity, when a CPA delivers a valuable financial service and honors his word, trust is developed in spades.

During August of this year I read an article written by a business owner about the relationship with his CPA. The owner wrote that his CPA is the benchmark he uses to measure all other consultants. He goes on to explain his CPA has three attributes he appreciates as a valuable resource. Those attributes are knowledge, experience, and what he terms the “we” factor. That is, his CPA considers himself part of the team.

When the CPA makes a recommendation, such as getting rid of non-performing assets, adjusting personal lifestyles, or finding another service provider for payroll, legal services, software, investment advice, leasing agents, business brokers, or banking relationships, this business owner is going to follow that advice. He has no reason not to follow it.

In many client relationships, the CPA is counted on to be a trusted business advisor, to be available when the entrepreneur needs advice, to be the quarterback of the team of professionals who help to guide the company. Through contacts with other professionals and other clients, the CPA can be an excellent source of information when a business is unsure of the path to follow or when it needs services it has not used previously.

When a client trusts his CPA enough to entrust decisions affecting his own children – such as where to go to college and what to major in or how to invest $100 million of new found wealth – how much more do you think that client is going to trust his CPA on decisions that affect normal day-to-day business operations?

For those of you reading this article who might be potential referral sources, the ones I trust most with my client’s are the ones who put the needs of others ahead of themselves. If I receive any indication that a service provider is the least bit self-serving, they are never going to see a client through my referral… and they might even receive a negative review if overly unworthy of trust.

In this regard, actions speak louder than words. Show me that you are worthy of my trust and my client’s trust through many small actions over time. Show me the consistency of your character and that you understand putting the needs of others first is the most certain way to experience personal success. Tell me the truth, not what you think I want to hear. The world is full of yes people. We need more people willing to say what they think. If you are truthful, authentic, and trustworthy in your dealings with others, then you probably are somebody I will feel comfortable referring to a client and there is a 95 percent probability you’ll gain a new client or customer.

With a few exceptions, the CPA profession has done a good job of caring for and nurturing public trust. As a result, when public surveys are done, CPAs are viewed at or near the top of all professions in terms of honesty and trustworthiness. This trust creates influence and that influence is powerful. As such, trust has to be a highly regarded and protected asset.

Our words carry weight. As professionals and trusted advisors our words carry substantial weight. Futures can be and are changed by the words we speak. We have the ability to elevate dreams and ideas – or crush them – with the power of our words. So we must choose them carefully and make sure the substance of our thoughts and words rise to the level of fiduciary care we are sworn to uphold.

Accounting News Roundup: BP’s Ugly 2nd Quarter; Bernanke Backs Extending Some Tax Cuts; Back-to-school Sales Tax Holidays | 07.27.10

BP replaces CEO and posts $17 billion quarterly loss [Reuters]
“Oil giant BP Plc launched a plan to repair its battered image in the United States on Tuesday, ditching itsxecutive and promising to slim down by trebling an asset sale target to $30 billion.

However, the company, the target of public anger over its Gulf of Mexico oil spill, tempted further ire by denying it needed cultural change and offsetting the costs of the spill, including expected fines, against its taxes.

The tax move will cost the U.S. taxpayer almost $10 billion.”

Northern Rock CFO Banned And Fined GBP320,000 Over Bad Loans [Dow Jones]
“David Jones, the former chief financial officer of Northern Rock PLC, was Tuesday fined GBP320,000 and barred from working in finance after the Financial Services Authority found he misled investors about the bank’s bad loans in the lead-up to the bank’s eventual collapse.

Jones most recently was CFO at Northern Rock Asset Management PLC, the “bad bank” of the nationalized lender after a restructuring of its operations. He left the company in April because of the FSA investigation, a week after two former colleagues were fined and banned for their roles in making the bank’s 2006 bad-loan figures appear better than they were.”

Where will those next gen clients come from? [AccMan]
And what will ask of their professional service providers? Right now, Gen X and Millenials don’t compromise much of the client base but that will change quickly when Baby Boomers start retiring en masse. What these new business owners will ask of their service providers is not quite clear. Similar to the demands currently placed on employers, service providers will have to be flexible and innovative.

Bernanke Says Tax-Cut Extension Maintains Stimulus [Bloomberg]
“Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said extending at least some of the tax cuts set to expire this year would help strengthen a U.S. economy still in need of stimulus and urged offsetting the move with increased revenue or lower spending.

‘In the short term I would believe that we ought to maintain a reasonable degree of fiscal support, stimulus for the economy,’ Bernanke said yesterday under questioning from the House Financial Services Committee’s senior Republican. ‘There are many ways to do that. This is one way.’ ”


Accounting firm Kaufman Rossin & Co. settles case for $9.6M [Miami Herald]
Kaufman Rossin was the auditor of the two Palm Beach funds that invested over a billion dollars with convicted Ponzi Schemer Tom Petters.

And in case you forgot, convicted forensic accountant and suit lover Lew Freeman was the Chief Restructuring Officer for the Palm Beach funds. Quite the cesspool.

How Low Self-Esteem Can Cost You The Job [Forbes]
Are you a low talker? No one is suggesting that you don’t know what you’re talking about but the perception could be that you don’t and in turn, It could be affecting your career.

Lords to probe audit market [Accountancy Age]
“A recent report from the FRC and FSA criticised the role of auditors during the crisis saying they had failed to tackle management bias.

The Lords investigation will look at basic questions such as wether Big Four dominance increases the price of audit and whether the market needs to be opened up.”

Oracle’s Ellison: Pay King [WSJ]
$1.84 billion over the last ten years is not too shabby.

Sales tax holidays 2010 [Don’t Mess with Taxes]
Kay Bell has a rundown of the sixteen states that are having sales tax holidays right before the kids go back to school.

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.”

Walking the Opportunistic Line – What Should the Big 4 Do About India?

The developing issues in India have been covered by Going Concern on a fairly regular basis, so I suppose I should take a crack at the subject as well.

It can be very easy scroll past the articles on India, but I advise you not to; after all, as one of the BRIC countries (do your homework), there is an absolute necessity for the Big 4 to position their resources here. And no, I’m not referring to outsourcing.


Based on February research, the Gold Men are bold to state the following:

While it’s clear that BRICs nations tightened their financial conditions when the financial crisis hit at the end of 2008, they rapidly eased back afterwards. Chinese and Indian financial conditions have eased substantially post-crisis, they’re now looser than pre-crisis even. Brazilian conditions also remain very stimulative compared to its past decade. Only Russia looks tight and unstimulative historically.

Sounds like a cash cow, doesn’t it? The BRIC development has long been looked at as the next fat cow for accounting firms to feed off of; closing the gap between the SOX hey days and the inevitable eventual IFRS transition. A fundamental issue is how the firms chase after business in these emerging markets. Push too hard and get burned. Tip toe through the daises and be passed by your three bullish cousins. Either way, on the table at all times is the branding image of each firm.

No one wants a Satyam situation on their hands, because even though no one knows what Satyam actually does, PwC’s global image is at stake because of this situation. Think about ripple effects. The potential client that is ignorant of the situation and whose thought process is “I think PwC is in some kind of trouble in India” is a more volatile problem than a client that, you know, reads the paper every day. Protecting the welfare of client relationships, but seeds and established, is absolute priority in situations like this.

With the exception of those few public sponsorships, the Big 4 don’t spend much time in the presses. And you know what? The big wigs like it that way. After all, we’re all accountants, forced to work in broom closets and wet basements for long hours and GREAT financial gain.

So the quieter the better, because we all know how it turned out for the last one to steal the spotlight.

CPAs Friending Potential Clients? Only Time Will Tell

Earlier this week I caught a link from @CPA_Trendlines about the “next generation” accounting firm. The article spotlighted Blumer & Associates, a second-generation firm in South Carolina trying to find its niche in tomorrow’s market. With an eyebrow raised, I continued reading:

Blumer’s “new management” theories, for example, mean a ruthlessly honest kind of client focus, including three essential hallmarks:

• a sharply defined niche focus,
• a “clean” client list and
• innovation “to create new services as awareness of client needs grows.”

Sure, this theory is great if your firm consists of fewer people than most Big 4 engagement teams, but I nonetheless nod in recognition and approval to the idea of change. It would be hard, however, to apply these thought practices to today’s large firms.


Just for kicks:

Niche focus – You mean spreading thin across every crevice of market opportunity, right?

Clean client listOops. Oops again.

Innovation – Slow moving giants are just that. Slow.

Lost in the article’s comments was commentary from management consultant Rita Keller commending Blumer’s challenge to the “one size fits all” approach: “[T]he next generation of leaders will create organizations that are more nimble and open to continual change and new ideas. They will not get new clients at a Chamber networking event, they’ll get them from Facebook and from blogging. They will keep in touch with referral sources on-line, not at lunch.”

Don’t scoff; this might very well be true. The long-term advantages of networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are nothing more than “what-if” conversation bits better suited for the Twitterverse and blogs like this place. But think about it – Millennial’s are connected to hundreds if not thousands of people on Facebook.

These networks started in high school or college and will only grow organically as their careers expand and evolve. Friends and colleagues will move on from public accounting, and their new careers will be accessible via newsfeeds and status updates. Facebooking stalking will have a new (and potentially profitable) purpose.

Will shaking hands on the back nine be replaced by wall posts? Probably not, but the Rolodex is becoming irrelevant right in front of our eyes. Why pick up the phone when a brief Facebook message or direct message Tweet will suffice? Boomers can object all they want, but person-to-person interaction is well on its way out of fashion.

Just don’t go poking that potential client; at least not right away.

Dita von Teese’s Accountant Understands Why She Has to Spend $70k on a Dress

Last month we mentioned that while we enjoy her genius, we wouldn’t want to be of Lady Gaga’s accountant. She definitely falls into the “clients that make you want to jump out the window” bucket.

Likewise, if we had our choice of clients, we wouldn’t be chasing down burlesque artists that marry rock stars, in this case, Dita von Teese. Not because we don’t enjoy burlesque artists and the rock stars they love, quite the contrary actually; it’s just seems that the headaches associated with such a client would be more trouble than it would be worth.


Surprisingly, DVT takes money quite seriously and is not as slipshod as you might expect.

I refuse to go to the hair salon and have a $300 hair dye job – I do it myself at home with an $8 dye kit… I’ve always been a saver…I saved at least 15[%] of everything I earned and invested it in mutual funds

Jesus, talk about sensible. However there is this glimmer:

I think nothing of spending $8,000 on a corset for my show. My accountant once said he couldn’t understand how I spent $70,000 on a single dress but then he came to my show and saw how lavish it was and told me afterwards that now he understood.

Those are work related expenses though; count us unimpressed. We’re expecting Gaga-esque negligent wasting of money. Like seriously getting carried away.

I bought [a Jaguar] one night on eBay for $35,000 when I’d had too much champagne.

Yes. That’s the best she can offer. Plus, there’s this:

I pay my [credit card] balances off every month.”

More sensible behavior. Doesn’t sound like she’d be that bad of a client at all. Hell, she probably even keeps all her receipts. L. Gaga’s accountant might consider asking her for some advice.

Dita von Teese: ‘I spent $70,000 on a single dress for my show’ [Telegraph]

Your Client Dumps You Because…

Sometimes the reason for your firm getting the boot is pretty obvious and other times it isn’t. Fortunately for you, Tom Hood over at CPA Success lists the top seven reasons that your clients drop you like a sack of rocks and it sounds like the “It’s not you, it’s me” routine:

1. My accountant (CPA) doesn’t treat me right (two-thirds of the responses).
2. CPAs ignore their clients.
3. CPAs fail to cooperate.
4. CPAs let partner contact lapse.
5. CPAs do not keep clients informed.
6. CPAs assume clients are technicians.
7. CPAs use clients as training ground for new staff.

#1 seems a little vague (feel free to elaborate) to us but we’ve definitely seen 2 – 7 in action. We’d go so far to say that #4 and #7 are a little low on the list but that’s just our $0.02. Smaller clients, especially, want just a tiny bit of partner love every once in a while — lunch, bagels, anything! — but sometimes they’re lucky if they get a Christmas card.
Plus there are some clients that hate nothing more than an engagement team that turns over year after year. There’s nothing more annoying than answering the same questions every year by a different 22 year old accountant.
If you’ve got thoughts on, or additions to, the list drop them in the comments and discuss your client dissatisfaction experiences.