Deloitte v. PwC

Deloitte Is the Biggest Accounting Firm in the World Again (No Thanks to Its Audit Business)

If you recall, Chez Salzberg put up a good number, $32.4 billion in global revenues to be precise. PwC, as we mentioned this morning, came in at $32.1 billion so yes, that puts Deloitte on top of the Big 4 heap again after it's one-year wonder back in FY10.  In such a tight race, every […]

Deloitte Will Take Small Victories Over PwC When It Can Get Them

One can safely assume that Deloitte is still smarting from its one-and-done year as the biggest of the Big 4 accounting firms. One year as the top dog probably only whetted their appetite to leapfrog PwC again. The firm's fiscal year ends on Thursday, but there appears to be signs of hope that a comeback is […]

PwC, Deloitte Enjoying Their Booming Advisory Businesses, Thankyouverymuch

This morning we linked to a Reuters report about the horse race between Deloitte and PwC for the biggest of the Big 4. It reports virtually nothing new that we haven’t discussed here already including Deloitte jumping P. Dubs last year by a whopping $9 million (thanks mostly to keeping their consulting business in house), the hiring sprees, the acquisitions, and oh! the audit business sucks:

With audit revenues leveling off in developed markets, the firms have been making a push in growing countries such as China and India and plowing ahead with investments in consulting, where business is growing after a recessionary slump.[…] The big four are expected to report their fiscal 2011 revenues in coming weeks and any significant growth will likely once again be in the consulting area, said Jonathan Hamilton, managing editor of Accounting News Report. “The audit business, while certainly the staple of all these firms, is a slow-growth business,” Hamilton added.

In other words, the consulting advisory business is hot and audit is not. And what causes some people to fly off the handle is how the firms have sold everyone on the idea that they can still miraculously be the bastion of good business principles ethics. Well, maybe not everyone:

More worries loom from stepped-up regulatory scrutiny. As consulting revenues grow, complaints are surfacing again that firms will be tempted to go easy on audit clients for the sake of winning or keeping a consulting job — a charge the audit firms deny.

Last week, European Union lawmakers approved a report that calls for barring auditors from providing audit and non-audit services to the same client. The report is nonbinding but could shape a draft law in the works.

PwC and Deloitte both said there was no conflict of interest in the consulting services they provide. Much of their consulting is done for companies they do not audit and they follow regulators’ standards and companies’ own restrictions on the kind of consulting they do for audit clients.

The report doesn’t mention many things that have cropped up (some recent, some not so much) including the nearly 500 reprimands Deloitte had in 2009, the rash of insider trading, or PwC’s incestuous Satyam scandal but talking points are also used to address those issues. These firms didn’t get to where they are without figuring out how to play the media game.

One thing is for sure – the firms are going to depend on their consulting/advisory businesses for growth until someone banishes audit firms from offering any other services at all. And God knows what that will take.

In close race for No 1, Deloitte, PwC grow apace [Reuters]

Comp Watch ’11: PwC Partners Making Deloitte Counterparts Look Like Peasants

The FT reports that the average partner in the UK took home £763,000, up 1% from last year. Ian Powell, the Chairman of the UK firm, took home £3.7 million. The average take home at P. Dubs puts Deloitte partners to shame who only managed to scrape together an average of £758,000, down from £873,000. What does the mean for the partners in the States? Probably nothing but it could indicate that Deloitte’s reign as the biggest of the Big 4 could be a one year wonder. [FT]

Bonus Watch ’11: Deloitte Gives Up PowerPoint Presentations After Stellar Going Concern Reporting UPDATE: Audit Practice Didn’t Get the Memo

This just in from the Deloitte FAS comp call that is apparently going down circa now:

7% AIP pool. No slides with details b/c it ends up on GC. Talking about PwC right now.


What, exactly, is being said about P. Dubs is not immediately known but I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that they’re obviously vulnerable in the Tampa market but actually it’s more like simple trash talk, according to our source:

[PwC] made draconian cuts during the recession. They are making up for it now. They suck, D&T rules. [FAS CEO] David Williams is stressing total comp., not just base salary throughout the call. Base comp is targeted at 50% of the comp survey range.

[PS -] He loves to use the word “granular” as much as possible.

Unrelated sidenote: David Williams’ favorite hobby, according to his firm profile, is yoga.

Of course you’re on the call and have other details you wish to share, you can elaborate below.

Earlier:
Comp Watch ‘11: Deloitte’s New Structure Is Taking Shape

UPDATE:
A little comparison for AIP and merit increases for the opiners appears on the following pages.

Comp Watch ’11: Deloitte’s New Structure Is Taking Shape

A couple of weeks ago, we heard that Deloitte was considering a similar compensation structure as PwC. This would result in Senior Associates making approximately 1.5x their starting salaries in three years, managers making 2x their starting salary and so on and so forth. At the time, it didn’t strike me as surprising that Deloitte would get all monkey-see-monkey-do on its employees simply because the Green Dot is a far more conservative firm than P. Dubs. While the structure at PwC was welcome with largely positive reviews, the Deloitte version was received less warmly.

Today, we have a little bit of an update for you – with slides! – on hure is progressing. From our tipster:

I’m surprised there was no article about this yet. Tuesday we all had a compensation call which went into great detail how raises and bonuses were handled. Here are some slides you might be interested in. It appears PwC scared them and they are copying. These numbers are still not official yet as they “are working out the numbers”…


Here’s a slide from the presentation on Deloitte’s total compensation earnings multiplier that our tipster sent over:

And here’s PwC’s:

So they’re pretty darn close, with Senior Associates doing slightly better at P. Dubs but Senior Managers faring slightly better at Deloitte, thus it ends up as a wash. Granted, the Deloitte slides only present information for AERS Advisory professionals (sorry audit and tax peeps) but it would seem odd if they opted to only change the structure for one group.

Other items worth noting include the 500 promotions for this year and the 3-5% bonus that accompanies the bump.

The pictures on the following pages show merit increases based on ranking (1 to 5 scale) for Consultants, Senior Consultants and AIP – Senior Consultants.


Presumably, in the bad years some high performers may see a paltry raise of around 4% but in the good years, it will push 16%, depending on metrics listed:


And even more impressive for Seniors, with highest performers receiving a merit increase of ~20%:


What’s interesting to note here is that Deloitte claims to have awarded bonuses to 95% of “eligible professionals.” So if I understand that correctly, 5% of those people ranked 3 or higher didn’t get a bonus. It may also get you a little weak in the knees if the AIP pool is already larger than last year’s “highest ever” pool:

Lots to digest and discuss here, so let it rip.

Comp Watch ’11: Rumors of Deloitte Adopting New Raise Structure à la PwC

This just in:

I’m hearing rumblings that Deloitte might be the next in line to adopt a PwC-esque transparent raise structure. I don’t have the exact information, but I’ve heard something about making 1.5x your current salary in 3 years.

As you may remember, PwC announced “exciting changes” to their compensation structure back in May that involved three major parts: 1) Transparency 2) Earning Potential and 3) Milestone Awards. The multiple of 1.5x increase in three years is included in the roughly what PwC laid out in their “Total Rewards” document.

This seems to be a pretty typical move from Deloitte, who is notoriously conservative relative to its autumnally-hued rival. I’m sure if this plan is carried out, they’ll attempt to add in their own quirks to differentiate themselves but I’d be surprised if amounted to anything significant. If you hear any more rumors, contrary or supporting of this latest news, get in touch.

PwC’s Dennis Nally Reminds Everyone That Audits Aren’t Designed to Detect Fraud, Wants to Meet the Pope, Isn’t Interested in Joining You for Hot Yoga

The Financial Times published an interview with PwC International Chairman Dennis Nally over the weekend and we learn a few interesting things about DN that you probably didn’t know. For starters, he’s very aware that his firm is in a tussle for title of the largest professional services firm ON EARTH, “We’re in a real dog race to continue to sustain our leadership position as the largest professional services network in the world,” he told the FT. Of course this gives us the impression that Denny doesn’t believe that P. Dubs has relinquished the Biggest of the Big 4 title, as some other CEOs have claimed.

And as you might expect, there are various softening questions thrown around, including:

1) Leaders he admires – he wants to meet The Pope because “[Nally] seems impressed by the feat of co-ordination.”

2) Feats of strength – He practiced hot yoga to “strengthen his golf swing” but gave it up because “I found that you had a tendency to over-workout your muscles.”

Despite those little tidbits, Helen Thomas manages to get under Nally’s skin a little when she asks if “auditors should rightly find themselves in the line of fire” when fraud or “disingenuous” accounting occurs:

Mr Nally crosses his arms across his monogrammed shirt, for the first time looking a touch defensive. “There are professional standards out there [and] an audit is not designed under those standards to detect fraud,” he says, pointing out that detecting fraudulent behaviour rests on other indications including a company’s governance, management tone and control systems. “The reasons it has been done that way is because, while we always hear and read about the high-profile fraud, the number of those situations that you actually encounter in practice is very de minimis.

Notice that he doesn’t directly address the “disingenuous” accounting. Examples which might include, say, AIG and Freddie Mac, but rather addressed fraud which is easy to fall back on, since the expectations gap is so blatant (something he has mentioned before).

His statement also appears to indicate that he feels situations like Satyam are immaterial, unless by “de minimis” he intended to mean “rare in occurrence.” But, then again, I suppose semantics are also de minimis.

The man who would be biggest [FT]

Comp Watch ’11: Happy New Year’s Eve Deloitte!

It’s the final day of fiscal 2011 in GreenDotville and it seems fitting that we have a little comp discussion:

Word is coming out of the senior manager meeting last week that raises and bonuses are going to be “very good” this year. Of course, those are just rumors, and that’s what the firm said in 2009 when comp increases averaged less than 1% across the board. Other than the mid-year salary bump last fall, there have been no raises, bonuses, or any other incentives to keep slaving away since last summer.

As you may know, Deloitte moved to a decentralized audit planning approach this year, causing hundreds (if not thousands) of additional hours to be added to each engagement. With a shortage of seniors and managers as it is, it’s been close to a breaking point for everyone in the audit function. And, of course, it’s an internal mandate, so unlike the glut of work that came as a result of SOX, Uncle-D is unable to recover any of those costs from clients. Senior management is aware of the problem (Steve VanArsdell said it was the worst busy season he’s ever seen in his 36-year career), but as yet no solutions have been offered other than to say that “year 2” of the new approach should be easier.

Interestingly, the Ivory Tower here at D&T has been suspiciously quiet regarding comp and other issues. Consensus among the employees is that they’re panicked and haven’t yet figured out how to dig out of the hole that they dug for themselves over the past few years. They’ve moved up the timetable on the compensation and rating process by a couple of weeks, which means that we’ll be getting our raise and bonus information in early August instead of mid-August this year (to which, most employees have responded with, “BFD”). To most of us working here, it feels like it’s all going to be too little, too late to win back the loyalty of the current workforce here at Uncle D.

But hey, I hear PwC is hiring!

Our tipster sounds pretty glum for a NYE celebration, so if you can cheer him up with contrary rumors, please do so. Of course, you can always corroborate his suspicions if that’s what you’re hearing as well. And don’t forget to drop all your new leaders a good luck email. Everyone deserves a little thumbs-up on the first day in a new job.

Comp Watch ’11: Deloitte Auditor Has PwC Bonus Envy

From the mailbag:

Caleb,

I am reading about PWC getting some spring love in the form of a bonus, and other firms already openly discussing compensation with their employees. Apparently Big D missed that memo.

Everybody at Deloitte had a terrible busy season, that is no secret. We changed our audit methodology, and then in December the powers that be decided to do some last minute tweaking, aka destroy any hope of a bearable busy season. I am a senior working out of Boston and have been pretty busy since October. To reward my hard work Deloitte has given me absolutely nothing. There was no post audit dinner, no monetary reward, not even a free cup of coffee. I did however (and so did everyone else in Boston) receive emails from every executive partner in the NE thanking us for all our hard work, reminding us how much money we made the firm, and telling us to reward ourselves by taking some time off. Apparently being rewarded now means using our own PTO to take a day off. I have had to work both firm holidays up to now (one in January and one in April for the Boston Marathon), so I am not sure when they think we can reward ourselves by using the PTO we already earned. Usually engagement teams hand out “Applause Awards” to their people for hard work, and maybe I am just on a few teams with Ebenezer Scrooge Partners, but I think it is crazy that either Deloitte, or the Boston Office, or one of my engagement partners couldn’t scratch together a few dollars as a thank you for the long hours.

Partners and HR continue to wonder why people leave, but we are continually asked to do more and more and never rewarded for it. With the other firms opening up the piggy banks already, what are the chances that Deloitte follows suit? They missed the mark last year on the compensation, and everyone suffered as a result with the crush of seniors headed for the door. As a result they ended up giving a mid-year raise just to stem the bleeding. Are partners too busy looking to next year or playing golf at their fancy country clubs to remember the little people?

Of course our writer is referring to the PwC bonuses we wrote about on Monday. Don’t know if this is a Deloitte problem or a Boston Deloitte problem but it sounds like Green Dots in Beantown are wicked pissed. How’s your office faring? Tell us below or email us.

Did Ohio State Dump Deloitte for PwC Over Colors?

Sounds like CFO Geoff Chatas and state auditor Dave Yost wanted to figure a way around a 15-year limit but it was to no avail, “Ohio State CFO Geoff Chatas said Yost discussed with him the possibility of letting Ohio State be the first to stick with the same audit firm, but the school opted to put the contract out for bid.”

A likely story. If you ask me, this has everything to do with the fact that Deloitte’s main color is blue while PwC has opted for slightly more appropriate hues.

PwC to follow Deloitte as Ohio State audit firm [CBF]

Deloitte Partner Encourages Brethren to Take Back Their Firm

As previously discussed, making partner at a Big 4 firm is no small feat. It takes years of work, some political savvy and luck. When you finally get a seat at the big table, you discover that everything leading up to that point was simply the beginning. Now that you’re calling the shots, you have big responsibility, be willing to resist temptation, and try to keep employees happy. Not an easy task but that’s why they get paid the big bucks, right?

But forget all that. Partners, as we know, are owners. They have an equity stake in their firm and have a say in how the firm should be run. Or do they have that say? One Deloitte partner, a twenty year veteran of the firm, reached out to us recently to express their concern about the upcoming election of new leadership at the Green Dot:

I’m an audit partner with Deloitte. Don’t want to bore you with the fact that I love the firm, and I am a die-hard D&Ter. But, all firms have their faults, right? Even Deloitte. While we tout and sell “Good Governance” strategies – our own governance process is severely BROKEN.

What many may not know is that Deloitte has an election year happening in 2011. Yes – Sharon Allen is off to retirement [Ed. note: PARTY! – Oh sorry, this is serious], and so is Jim Quigley. No tears for them…they have very rich retirement packages that will keep them wealthy for decades to come.

We’ve already been through our “Nominating Committee” process, where all the partners are able to be interviewed by committee members and submit nominations of individuals that they would like to see in different leadership roles. The elected individuals are the Chairman, the CEO, and a CEO “Alternate.” The CEO “Alternate” is there in the event that the CEO elect is also elected as the Global CEO (which will typically happen).

We’ll jump in here to make a quick point: our tipster reiterated to us that (s)he loves Deloitte and the motivation for reaching out to us is due to his/her commitment to the firm. (S)he even admitted that reaching out to GC seemed odd but clarified it to us this way, “It is akin to someone that loves their country and wants to improve upon it because we know we have the right to speak out and improve our country. Right now, our election process at Deloitte is broken.”

ANYWAY:

The thing that angers many partners – but few voice this concern – is that the Nominating Committee Process and the “election” of the Firm’s leadership is a farce. The “independent” Committee comes up with their recommended candidates after hearing the soundings of the partners. I should add that Committee is selected by the Board and Management. There is no “election” to approve the Committee. Then the Committee comes to a conclusion on ONE set of recommended candidates, and the Board approves that recommendation (shocking). Then, the partners get to vote “YES or NO” on the “slate” of candidates that is advanced. This “election” occurs in late February/early March. The leaders must be installed in June. So what if the partners said NO? What would the leadership team do then?? Guess what – they don’t care! Because they know the partners always say YES! It is so painful. And nobody is willing to challenge this process. Because – you have three camps of partners. (1) the camp that doesn’t care and never will because it “doesn’t affect my daily life; (2) the camp that is so rich in the number of units they have, they wouldn’t upset the apple cart because they make too much money to want to risk it even though they know it is wrong, and (3) the younger partners who fear retribution of having their “heads cut off” for speaking up.

Jumping in again – we spoke to a former Deloitte partner, who confirmed the broad details of the process and also the widely-held notion that the election process is a “farce.” This former partner also confirmed this is a feeling held by many partners, especially the freshly minted ones. In addition to the fear of retribution, he said that younger partners also feel apathetic, being of the mindset that the “nominating committee won’t listen to me” and they are being given “lip service” by leadership. Further, for many young partners, simply joining this exclusive club is exciting enough that few pay attention and, oh yeah, they have TONS of work to do. As for the “gray-haired partners,” our source confirmed their attitudes as well, saying that there would be little motivation to speak up when they are “riding out their careers” or have a lot vested with the firm already.

Getting back:

The thing is that these leaders represent our firm, manage our firm, and control our collective destinies. They also rig the elections. And they then tout, continuously, the importance of the “Sense of Partnership.” The truth is that Deloitte is not run like a partnership. Yes, the partners have capital at risk, we are owners of the “Firm.” But, we are not appropriately represented. We lack a true collective voice. We keep quiet for the “good of the Firm.” And, we are now going to embark on a new “BOLD LEADERSHIP” move that is being done to passify all the various interests of our firm (Consulting, Audit and Tax). The thing is – we don’t attempt to have our partners select the BEST leaders – but simply the leaders that a select few believe fit a set of criteria that are BEST for us ignorant partners. It’s a bit like the government telling us what is good for us.

It angers me. And, I wish that I could wake up every Deloitte partner and have them realize this. But – if I did this – I’d likely be fired. So, I’m sending this to you to see if you can help WAKE up our Partners!! They should VOTE NO to the nominating committees recommended leaders. We need to take back our firm, much like the American voters took back our country.

[Signed,]
An anonymous Deloitte partner who cares deeply about our Firm and our culture.

Our “anonymous Deloitte partner” speculated that 75% of partners share his/her feelings on this. What’s been the catalyst to all this frustration? Well, the former Deloitte partner we spoke to said that it’s a partly the nature of the governance process itself but it has been made worse by how leadership handled layoffs and the economic crisis during 2008-2009. As you may remember, Deloitte leadership admitted that the May ’09 layoffs were handled poorly last spring, however, morale amongst partners remains extremely low.

Just to add a few more things from the “anonymous Deloitte partner” – when we asked about the details of the nominating process, the response we received was that while it was a “cordial” and that the partners that serve on the committee feel as though they are doing “God’s work,” but ultimately it is a “falsehood.” The former Deloitte partner confirmed this, who told us he had a friend who served on the nominating committee who joked with him about flying around the country, “listening to crap,” throughout the exercise.

When we asked about the firm’s leadership considering a more democratic process (i.e. partners are nominated by vote), that doesn’t appear to be on the table because another firm does it that way, “In situations where our CEO has been asked about the process, Barry Salzberg stated that our firm doesn’t want a divisive culture where certain partners get their feelings hurt in a race for the CEO spot or other positions. ‘That’s not part of our culture. That is what PwC does, and we don’t want to do that.’ ”

Stepping back from all this (we realize it’s a lot), if we were a run-of-the-mill Deloitte partner, it be pretty difficult to see this as an equitable process. As we said at the outset, being a partner means having a say in how the business is run. Granted, when you’re talking about a firm as large as Deloitte, there has to be centralized leadership but wouldn’t you want a direct voice in determining who that leadership is and not simply up or down on a list of names handed to you? It sounds like a lot of partners at Deloitte are feeling shut out of this process. Maybe some don’t care but many new and aspiring partners probably do (Millennial attitude and all) and this lack of true representation will certainly make some think twice about their long-term careers with the firm.

Unfounded Rumor of the Afternoon: PwC Courting Deloitte Employees in Chicago, New York

From the mailbag by way of a Deloittian in Rahmville:

[O]ur PPD (Principal, Partner, Direct) group has received word that PWC is going to send recruiting letters to every [Financial Services Industry] senior in the Chicago and New York offices. Apparently the letter states PWC is willing to offer $15,000 more than what Deloitte is paying.

The PPD group had a meeting with all of the FSI managers in Chicago yesterday regarding this situation. On top of that, all Seniors in FSI received a meeting request today from the PPD group. The meeting is schedule for Monday morning and according to the managers, the topic of dicussion is going to be these letters. Now I can’t speak for anyone in New York but in Chicago the PPD group is not taking this lightly. Word as it that one of our senior ranking partners actually called over to PWC. Again this is all a rumor, I have not seen one of these letter but apparently one of our partners said he/she has.

If you happen across this letter, do share it with us.

Earlier:
Experienced Recruiting Amongst The Big 4 Gets Aggressive

Passionate Public Accountant Wants to Know If He Has What It Takes to Join PwC or Deloitte

Today’s edition of “Accounting Career Couch” brings us an experienced and passionate auditor who has been out out public accounting for spell, getting ready to back in the game. He’s looking at PwC or Deloitte but is worried that his non-Big 4 background will hold him back.

Have a question about your career? Concerned that your CEO may be making debatable statements and want to disavow yourself from the comments? Are you a CFO that’s going through auditors like Don Draper goes through dames and n? Shoot us an email at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll dispense some wisdom.

Back to our passionate public accountant:

I worked for 6 years at a national top ten firm (Non Big 4, Non Grant Thornton, Non Mcgladrey, Non BDO). I have a lot of passion for public accounting, and really loved the work. Last April I feel victim to the downsizing present at our firm and was let go. I just made manager the year before, and reviews were very solid, I transferred to the Mergers and Acquisitions group from Audit and we all know what happened to that group. 80% of our group was terminated and we were not allowed the option to transfer back to audit.

I have been working contract work for the past year and a half, and am looking re-enter public accounting. I am looking at PWC and Deloitte as they are hiring for audit positions but am concerned that I might not fit in and my skill set won’t be advanced enough to adapt to their methodology.

I have managed audits of companies which range from 10 million to a 1 billion, both public and private. I am also concerned that the culture might be too cut throat and a new person would be thrown to the wolves. My firm was sophisticated in terms of our documentation but not as technical as I imagine the big four would be given a lot of our clients were private.

Any thoughts from your readers here?

“Passion” and “public accounting” are not words that often collide in the same sentence, so we obviously have a special breed on our hands here. Let’s do our best, shall we?

Your experience sounds pretty solid. A top ten firm will provide good experience and while methodologies at the Big 4 firms are more rigorous, your background should be good enough that you’ll be able to adjust accordingly. Also, your M&A experience is something that many Big 4 auditors won’t have, so that’s also an advantage.

You’re shooting for PwC and Deloitte, which many will argue are the top dogs. Personally, we think you’re capable of making in there but not with your current attitude. You sound like you’re selling your experience short just because it wasn’t with a Big 4 firm. If you have managed audits of the size you claim and have the M&A experience both of these firms will give you a serious look. Big 4 firms have plenty of private clients that your experience would be perfect for.

As for your concern about the cutthroat environment, we feel it’s a little overboard. Will it be competitive? Yes. Will there be unscrupulous people that will step over their own grandmother to get ahead? Of course. But do you know of any company that doesn’t have people like this? It really depends on the market you’re in; if you’re in NYC, Chicago, L.A. San Fran, etc. things will drastically more cutthroat than if you’re in Oklahoma City or Portland. If you’ve navigated politics and assholes before, you can do it again.

Regardless, when you meet with the firms talk up your experience, passion and your accomplishments without being self-deprecating. Learning a new methodology and culture isn’t like learning Mandarin. New jobs always mean adjustments and if you’re determined and ambitious, there’s no reason you can’t kick ass inside either PwC or Deloitte.