October 17, 2018

Emails

Let’s Play ‘Spot the Cliché!’ Drinking Game with This Email From the AICPA

In an email — presumably — sent out to AICPA members, AICPA President, CEO, and founding member of Hall, Oates & Melancon Barry Melancon wants to remind public accountants what everyone is supposed to be doing here. Namely: providing trustworthy services with objectivity and integrity. You know, all that stuff buried in the Code of […]

Discussion Item: What Do You Do With Your Email When You Quit?

This seems timely since 'tis the season to draft your farewell email and fantasize about 30 different ways to tell your firm to stick it before you subject yourself to just one more busy season. The following discussion item comes from Corporette (by way of ATL): What do you do with your company email after […]

Deloitte Declares Weekends Are Not For Working, Unless You Are Working

All bets are off if you are actually working on the weekend but if you’re sitting at home binge-watching Netflix and trying to recall the names of those tiny humans who call you Mommy or Daddy, Deloitte wants you to put down the “PDA” and focus on the “life” in your “work-life” balance.

Let’s Talk About the Denis Field Tax Shelter Verdict Before We Get Any More Angry Emails

Alright, we have to admit we totally blew reporting this in a timely manner — or rather, I did, because it happened while Colin was off doing whatever it is he does when he isn't working. And someone named Jayne Field (coincidence?) made sure to let us know. In her first email, she sticks to […]

Accounting Student Struggles with Love, Money, Blemish of Unknown Origin

We get some weird emails from time to time, some that are not weird enough to get published, some that are weirdly asking to be mocked and some that are… well… like this. We really aren't sure what's going on here — lacking context and all — but I guess this is some prospective "old" […]

John Veihmeyer Has a Friendly Message To New Associates In the Wake of KPMG’s Insider Trading Scandal

A tipster has sent us this lovely email from the Veihz that basically shows when in a crisis, it's best to face it head on and make sure your new associates do not regret their decision to join your firm. Since they're working for KPMG already, it's probably a good idea to reassure them as […]

To Whom It May Going Concern: “You’re an accountant concerned about being around nerds?”

To Whom It May Going Concern is an infrequent feature of some our favorite messages that come across the wire. If you have something important to tell us, email [email protected] with "To Whom It May Going Concern" in the subject line, @ us on Twitter or just yell really loud and maybe we'll hear you. […]

Apparently, Quite a Few People at Ernst & Young Have Been Fired for ‘Flagrant Disregard’ of the Firm’s Expense Policy

On Monday, we had a very serious discussion about business expense abuse. Who’s committing it? Why are they committing it? Can the fun be stopped? The discussion must have made its way to the hallowed hallways of Ernst & Young because yesterday an email went out to all FSO employees (and subsequently forwarded to us) […]

Blind Item: Which Accounting Firm’s National Tax Leader Got Called Out For the Exodus of Tax Partners?

  Apparently a big shot audit partner has seen one too many of his tax brethren running for the door: Supposedly a high-ranking audit partner at [top ten firm] sent an email to the entire partnership in which he blasts the national tax leader for spending the firm's money on management retreats when he should […]

Confirmed: It Sucks To Be The One Wake Forest Grad Who Failed BEC

Remember my post earlier this week that covered the top five CPA exam schools in the country? I'm sure you do. But do you remember the reference I made to the one person from Wake Forest who failed BEC? Probably not, right? I suspect not a single one of you actually read that line, and […]

Blind Item: Which Accounting Firm Has a Manager Who Recently Scolded a Team of Barnyard Animals?

From the mailbag: “The author is a newly appointed manager and a certified d-bag. His email is serious.”

Hi Guys –

It has come to our attention that there are several people making animal noises around the office. I feel it shouldn’t need to be pointed out that this is not appropriate in the office and can be very uncomfortable/awkward for others. Aside from co-workers, we also have prospects, clients, recruits, etc. walking through the halls on a daily basis. Hearing animal sounds made toward each other does not give a good impression of [a firm who, we are told, is “über-sensitive”] and our abilities to those people. It also does not go unnoticed by partners/senior managers/managers.

Please be mindful of those that could be in your audience. Please see me if you have any concerns or questions.

Thanks,

Okay, team. Lots to discuss here aside from guessing the zoo where these beasts work.

1. I alluded to a noise from a cow, pig, chicken, or maybe even a llama but obviously there is room for other possibilities. Macaws? Beluga whales? Howler monkeys?

2. Are these noises mating calls, expressions of joy, or melancholic song?

3. If our barnyard animals guess is accurate, the firm should ask themselves: why would you hire Goat Boys in the first place?

4. If this some kind of involuntary function, how does one handle this appropriately without running aground of diversity issues?

5. Other thoughts, and obviously guesses to the firm, are welcome at this time.

Hurricane Irene Watch: Deloitte New York Offices Officially Closed, Evacuees Encouraged to Bunk Up with Co-workers If Necessary

If Deloitte employees took the last email concerning preparations for Hurricane Irene seriously, they likely took plenty of work home as it could be a extra-long weekend. However, if you’re a New York employee and thought, “Gosh, I’ve got so much to do, it may take me two trips to get all the work home,” and were saving that second trip for this morning, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise – the office is closed! Now, you might not have thought that the firm needed to announce such a thing but since the City has announced that everyone in Lower Manhattan has to GTFO and that the subway will quit running in T-minus one hour, the firm figured it better play ball.

Hurricane Irene Update

Weekend office closures and travel advisory

To all Northeast professionals:

Due to the impending hurricane that will impact the Northeast region, several Deloitte offices will be closed over the weekend. As of now, we expect to be open for business on Monday and will continue to update you from this mailbox, as needed.

1WFC, 2WFC, and 25 Broadway offices will be closed on Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28 due to a mandatory evacuation order for lower Manhattan. New York City subways and buses will stop running at noon, as will PATH trains and commuter railroads connecting Manhattan to New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, and Connecticut.

Some of you may be asked to evacuate your location or home due to safety concerns. If you are unable to find alternative housing, we will try to match you up with another Deloitte colleague. If you are able to host one of your evacuated colleagues or need emergency housing, please email Northeast Field Operations (subject: NE Evacuation Housing Request) or [redacted] as soon as possible.

Also, please take a moment now to ensure we have your most current personal and emergency contact information by visiting this site on DeloitteNet now.

Visit the following websites for a complete mass transit update:

· MTA
· NJ Transit
· CT Transit
· NJ Path
· SEPTA (Philly) – suspending Sunday only
· MBTA (Boston) – no announcement yet
· CT Transit – no announcement yet

Stay safe,

[redacted]
Northeast Regional Operations Leader

For those of you that were forced to evacuate, hopefully you’ve been able to do so quickly and safely. However, in the unfortunate event that you don’t have a place to go, it’s nice that Deloitte is encouraging its employees to help out their brethren. Our tipster also recognized another possibility:

No word yet on whether they are seeking to keep engagement teams together during the storm so that the client service work can continue.

So, stay productive Green Dotters. But more importantly, stay safe.

Hurricane Irene Watch: PwC Encourages Employees to Prepare to Work By Candlelight

Directly from 300 Madison:

Caleb,

This is a ridiculous email, see below, that we received [Thursday] regarding the hurricane. I work at 300 Madison Ave and thought this was hilarious. Note how we are supposed to buy candles in case the power goes out but we also need to bring our laptops home so we can work from home on Monday. Sorry P Dubb but if I need plywood to protect my apt from hurricane winds, the client should understand why my deliverable is a day or two late.

Also, during the winter we constantly get emails informing us that the office ONLY closes if the governor declares a state of emergency. According to this article, Cuomo already did that but good ol’ [Metro Region Managing Partner] Brendan Dougher hasn’t sent me an email telling me to stay home.

Here’s the communiqué:

Hurricane Irene

Unfortunately it appears that hurricane Irene will make for a challenging weekend for our area and we wanted to share the following information and guidance with you. As always, the firm’s first priority is the safety and well being of its people.

US Security is in regular contact with a private weather service and will track the storm over the weekend and remain in contact with our local team. When you leave the office today and tomorrow, take your laptop with you as you may need to work from home on Monday. Please secure all work-papers and confidential information in a locked drawer, filing cabinet or in the Records Center. Depending on the damage and disruptions from the storm, we may need to adjust our office hours on Monday. Please check your e-mail or voicemail early Monday morning to obtain the latest information on the status of the office.

Actions Required

Update your personal and emergency contact information with your profile on myKcurve; this information is critical for our Crisis Assessment Team who may need to locate you after a disruptive event

Program the Emergency Hotline number [redacted] into your cellular phone and also provide the number to your family and other emergency contacts that may need to inquire about your safety and well being

Respond to any e-mails or voice messages from the Crisis Assessment Team or office contacts attempting to locate you after an event

Check your voice messages. Office announcements and crisis guidance may be shared with you through this medium

Secure all client or confidential information in a locked drawer, filing cabinet, or the Records Center before departing from work

Take your laptop and essential peripherals home with you.

Guidance to Consider at Home

Have candles and/or battery operated lighting readily available; hurricanes typically result in power outages

Have a battery powered radio available to receive weather reports and evacuation advisories

Stock food supplies that do not require cooking

Stock 2-3 days of water; one gallon per person per day

Purchase a First Aid Kit for the appropriate number of members in your home; consider liquid soap that does not require water

Identify a secure location in the home away from windows where you can locate during the storm; consider storing blankets in this area

Have plywood or shutters ready to cover windows

Remove all objects in your yard that are not secured or could be damaged by the wind

Be prepared for flooding and heavy rains

One of the best preparedness items is to stay informed. Follow news reports and read office communications. Many websites also provide comprehensive coverage and are a great resource for all of us. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact [email protected] or call the Emergency Hotline.

So while the rest of Manhattan is bailing itself out by bucket, be sure you’ve taken the necessary precautions to hit the ground running on Monday. And take it easy on the weekend. If the electricity is out, you’ll need plenty of battery to get through the day.

Getting Hacked Happens to the Best of Us?

Recently, I’ve been getting suspicious emails purporting to be from a high-up in my company. I have faith in this person and therefore would assume if (s)he wanted to push hot webcam videos on me, (s)he’d have the decency to text me with the hott linkks instead of using poor grammar in work emails. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw the same emails coming from – gasp! – my own email address. Now I knew it had to be a scam; surely I wouldn’t have to tell myself about some hot new webcam girrllss I’d discovered on an .ru domain, I’d have that shit deliciously bookmarked on my own machine.

Being incredibly careful with my logins, I knew I couldn’t have slipped up and gotten phished. Had I been hacked?

Whenever someone says “I got hacked!” I have to admit I always feel a bit of “blame the victim” is in order. After all, I find it a bit hard to swallow that some hardcore hackers in Russia are all that concerned with your personal Facebook page. To say “I’ve been hacked” implies that some outside source did some work to break through your rock solid security and gain entry, and makes no implication that the user themselves likely opened the door and let the “hacker” in, if unwittingly. More often than not, “I got hacked” means “I unknowingly gave up my password in a phishing scheme” or “I screwed up and clicked an unbelievable posting on Facebook that stole my login info because I never read the permissions I give third party apps.”

It’s been done a million times but for your sake, here are a few tips for staying safe out there in the big scary Internets.

Make sure your contact info is up to date. If an unscrupulous individual ever gains access to your Facebook account, you may be forced to lock it down, in which case you’ll need access to the email address you use to sign in to receive communications from Facebook to get your account back. Make sure you’re using an email you have access to, even if it’s one you don’t use often.

Diversify your passwords. It goes without saying that a good password is one that isn’t found in the dictionary but isn’t so difficult you have to keep it written on a sticky at your desk. Dennis Howlett recommends a LastPass account (via AccountingWEB UK) for harder to remember passwords if you must. Substitute numbers for letters (like “1” instead of “I” or “3” instead of “E”) and throw in some punctuation just to be safe.

If you aren’t sure, don’t click it. Spammers have gotten pretty smart since the days of the “ILOVEYOU” virus (which happens to turn 11 this week) and even the most technologically-adept can fall for their tricks. If you aren’t expecting an attachment, don’t open it. Common attachment scams include spoofed emails from UPS or USPS claiming to contain your tracking number or a package exception – while UPS may send you emails, they’d never send you a zip file (tracking numbers are always included in the body of any UPS communications sent on merchants’ behalf). Be wary!

And if you have been hacked, phished or otherwise compromised, delete any offending posts from your hijacked social media pages and issue an apology. You don’t have to beg for forgiveness, just let everyone know you got compromised and are sorry, it won’t happen again.

In my case, I just got spoofed, which isn’t really my fault at all. That’s where a nice email from the tech support department to the rest of the team comes in handy.

PwC Provides Background, Q&A in Response to Reports on Shanghai Associate’s Death

It’s been just over two weeks since the death of Angela Pan, an audit associate in PwC’s Shanghai office. One report of her death have quoted doctors stating that “Based on her symptoms and her low white blood cell count, it’s reasonable to conclude that overwork led to a weakened immune system, which makes her more vulnerable to infections.” It was also reported she told a friend she was working 18-hour days and about 120 hours a week prior to her sickness and death. However, Shanghaiist (yes, that’s the Gothamist for Shanghai) published a portion of a statement from PwC that stated that Angela died from viral encephalitis not acute cerebral meningitis as had been reported. An internal email from PwC in China found its way into our inbox late last week and it seems to echo the press release and provides other details.

[Ed. note: the second paragraph included HR and press contacts for those needing them so I’ve omitted those here. It did state that the information should only “be communicated verbally.”]

The date on the email was April 20th and the Shanghaiist article is dated April 15th, so whether this communiqué provides additional details, it isn’t entirely clear. The most confusing statement for me in this email is “as a sign of respect to Angela and her family, we have made a decision not to clarify the misreporting in the media at this time.” Seems to me that the respectful thing would be to correct the “misrepresented” facts if they are in fact correct. Of course this is happening in China where we can only assume what qualifies as a “respectful” action might differ from what is respectful in the U.S. Regardless, it’s terribly unfortunate that a young woman’s death had to serve as a reminder for everyone to take a closer look at their own health and behavior, as well as how culture and working environment may cause some to feel pressure to be at work when they shouldn’t.

Blind Item: Which Big 4 CEO Sent This Poorly Timed Email About Working in the Wee Hours of the Morning?

In light of recent events, the following email was forwarded to us with our tipster admitting that intentions were good while the timing was not.

I recently met with a [BIG executive] who formerly served as a Former Big Four partner and [some hotshot internal group (I think)]. Most of the discussion was focused on how we might help [BIG executive’s company] with their global HR transformation. Quite unexpectedly, he began our meeting with a story about a senior manager on our team, [Sally Worksherassoff].

Just a day earlier, he had asked [Sally Worksherassoff] if she could find any information explaining the relevance of Dodd-Frank legislation to Human Resource leaders. When he woke up the next morning, he noticed that [Sally Worksherassoff] had emailed a whitepaper outlining exactly what he needed…at 2:00 am. The timing was critical, as he needed to deliver a presentation to [BIG executive’s company] leaders later in the day. After I left [BIG executive]’s offices, he sent an unprompted note to our project team recounting this story and remarking that “seemingly small things like this can add significant value to [BIG executive’s company].” The subject header of his note: How to “wow” a client.

My takeaway: small things, big difference. It can be easy to get lulled into reserving our extra energy and special effort for those situations, requests, and issues that seem like “big deals”. But as our client pointed out, there are no small things when it comes to delivering an exceptional client experience.

— [Big 4 CEO]

Bob Moritz Is Happy To Address Your FAQs on PwC’s New Logo That Don’t Concern Colors or Shapes

Okay people. By now some of you might be sick of hearing about PwC’s new logo that incorporates the beauty of autumn and your first Atari (look it up, young people). However, based on what we’re seeing in the traffic patterns, many are not, so we’ll truck on with Extreme Makeover: PwC Edition.

As we mentioned earlier this week, at least one person felt compelled to share their feelings on the switcheroo with PwC’s U.S. Chairman Bob Moritz. Whether that particular employee got their questions/concerns addressed is currently unknown, however Bob did address many popular questions in an email to the rank and file.

In his email, Roberto said that he’s perfectly okay with the feedback, even the negative stuff. But he implores that you don’t get hung up on the colors or building blocks because, well, it really has no bearing on anything and it’s silly to get caught up on something like appearances.

By now you’ve likely checked out the new PwC brand. Not surprisingly, I’ve gotten strong feedback from around the firm. Many love it. Some don’t. Few are neutral. With a firm of 30,000 smart people, there are going to be lots of opinions…and that’s okay. I ask that you don’t get caught up in the colors and logo; these changes to our visual identity are simply what we think reflects the evolution that has taken place within our firm as we continue to build a relationship-based, value-driven culture. The most important thing is that each of us understands what we’re doing and why, and can articulate what our brand means to our clients and to one another. And, it’s in line with what we’re doing around the network to create a more consistent brand worldwide. You’re going to hear more about the changes starting October 4, so stay tuned. In the meantime, click on FAQs below to read my responses to some of the feedback I’ve received.

Brand Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Are we changing our name, and when do I use pwc instead of PwC?
A: First, our name is still PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. That’s what we’ll use on formal and legal documents, and it will accompany the new brand in an appropriate manner in external materials. What we will call ourselves in day to day communications, though, is PwC. That’s really just acknowledging what people typically call us, and it’s easier for everybody than typing out our full name. In writing, we will still use PwC (uppercase “P,” lowercase “w,” and uppercase “C.”)

Just jumping in here: PwC appears to be assimilating to the idea that capitalization is irrelevant in this day and age of texts, IM so on and so forth.

Q: What is the timing of the change to the new brand?
A: Although we have kept the details under wraps to help us maximize the impact in the market, this transition has been in the planning stages for some time — and is part of our overall network strategy. The transition began gradually with the PwC network’s global website (pwc.com), which changed on September 20. On October 4, the official brand launch date, there will be a number of highly visible changes here in the US, from building signs to new stationery. Beyond that, though, we expect the transition to take time. Network firms will have the option to change at their own pace. In the US, we are moving faster because we see it as an opportunity to engage in dialogues with our clients and the market about the very real changes we are making in how we build relationships and create value. The changes to our logo, colors, look and feel are symbols of the broader changes being made to the firm and the global network.

In terms of visible changes, we will have most of our building signs replaced by the end of this calendar year. We have been working with our EAs and TAs, Document Production, and Graphic Design to tackle the thousands of printed and electronic documents that will need to be converted, looking first to those with the greatest impact on our interaction with our clients. This process will take time, and we’ll need everyone’s patience and support as we make the changes.

Q: Will we get new business cards?
Yes, all partners and staff (and that includes client service staff, IFS staff and EAs/TAs) will receive business cards, which will provide each of you with a great resource to help you connect with others, build on the relationships you have and help the firm deliver value. More to come on when and how to order business cards following our October 4 launch date.

Whether this affects the pace of greenness at PwC isn’t entirely clear.

Q: With the economy just climbing out of a recession, why are we spending money on this change now?
A: Timing was clearly a consideration. We have set ambitious goals for our network of firms–and we are counting on our brand to work harder for us as we distinguish ourselves from our competitors. There will never be a better time to begin the transition to our new brand, and by starting now, we will be well-positioned as the economy improves.

There will be some costs associated with the change. In the US, they will include the cost of building signage and consumable items such as stationery, business cards and printed materials. Overall, this spend is minimal in relation to our size and is certainly not significant to our annual operating budget. If we treat the brand re-launch as an important opportunity to engage with our clients and each other–to discuss how together we will improve relationships and create value–the money we spend on the launch will be paid back many times over.

Anything not covered above can be asked below but if you must, further comments, questions, concerns about the colors and/or geometry of the logo will not be dismissed.

BREAKING: At Least One PwC Employee Isn’t Sold on the Rebranding

It’s been just over a week since we broke the story on PwC’s rebranding. Now that everyone else has caught up to the story, we’ll share with you some fresh news on the makeover.

Since today marks the first day of u’re warming up to the new team colors. Then again, you may share the feelings of one P. Dubs employee that took the time to email Bob Moritz to chime in on the new look. Apparently (not really sure how these things happen) the email is making the rounds at PwC and it just so happened to find its way into our mail bag:

To be perfectly honest, I’m not a fan of the new branding. In your email you wrote “…we are altering what we believe is an outdated visual identity to better express the kind of vibrant and relationship-based firm we have evolved into.” I find it ironic that you referred to our former visual identity as outdated when our new brand looks like a throwback – a 70s color scheme meets an IT startup.

I completely agree with the comments on the website where the brand is repeatedly referred to as child-like and unprofessional. I feel like the explanation for the symbol is also very complex. The *connectedthinking brand was simple and easy to understand. With the new symbol, everything has a meaning, from the colors to the solid blocks to the transparent blocks. A symbol should be fairly self explanatory – this one requires too much explanation.

I love the fact that the company has been focusing more on changing behaviors and placing a greater emphasis on building relationships. However, I fail to see where a new brand would affect this. Colors and symbols don’t represent PwC, the staff does. In one of the online discussions it was pointed out that following a salary freeze one year and layoffs the following year, it almost seems foolish to spend so much money to “reinvent” ourselves. To quote a wise PwC employee, “A new brand isn’t going to win business, motivated people will.” I find it hard to believe that this new, colorful symbol will be the motivation that people need to help expand our business and improve relationships with clients. A better way to motivate the staff would be more incentives – bonuses, rewards, raises – positive reinforcement. Pavlov was definitely on to something with the concept. Interactive gallery stations complete with iPads to show off the brand? Activities revolving around the launch of this new brand? Is this really the best method of spending funds?

Also disturbing to me is the environmental impact this could have. I can’t imagine that this won’t set back the Firm-wide goal of reducing our carbon footprint. Letterhead, business cards, report covers, envelopes (to name a few paper products) all need to be reprinted. It seems like an incredible waste to discard everything we already have in favor of this new brand (we received an email letting us know that after October 4th we are not to use any of the old paper products). I hope we are at least planting a bunch of trees to help compensate Mother Nature for the amount of paper that will be wasted with this change.

It’s disappointing to feel like we have taken two steps forward and three steps back. I realize that it is what it is, but I felt that I should voice my opinion from down here on the totem pole.

It’s been suggested that October 4th will be the great PwC Shredding Day that will no doubt involve a convoy of Shred-it trucks out 300 Madison (and offices nationwide for that matter) along with employees dropping their old business cards into every fish bowl they can find.

So mark it on your calendars and definitely document the shredding in action or perhaps a bonfire (done safely and in full accordance with the law) and send us the pictures.

Email Reminds KPMG Tax Group That You Best Remain Chargeable in the Summer-Fall Busy Season

As summer creeps to a close, that means one thing for Big 4 tax compliance folks – Busy Season 2.0. In a lot of ways, this time of year can be worse than the late winter/early spring as the drop deadlines approach and your deadbeat clients that never get you what you need on time remind you why they are your deadbeat clients.

It also means the return of mandatory 50+ hour weeks (that’s on the low end). Typically a simple communication from one of the higher-ups in your group should suffice but sometimes a few extra instructions get included. This was the case in an email sent to the troops in KPMG’s Fed Tax Group in the Dallas office yesterday afternoon:

From:

Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2010 2:42 PM

To:

Subject: 2010 Fall Busy Season Hours

The summer-fall busy season is now upon us. Effective immediately through September 15th, all senior associates and associates in the Fed Tax practice should have a minimum of 50 hours of chargeable work per week. If you don’t have work to fill this time, please contact Elizabeth Emerson immediately with your availability and she will work to assign your time to projects. New this year, if you have any unassigned time, the expectation is that you will send a short email to your manager and copy [redacted] on a daily basis with the number of available hours (out of 10) that you have to work on projects. As you are assigned please remember that it is imperative to keep [your timesheet] updated and accurate.

Thanks in advance for all your hard work and efforts during this busy season.

The “short email” probably won’t apply to many SAs but there are probably more than a few A1s and A2s that will find gaps in their day and a quick typing of “I’m unassigned for X hours” today will probably suffice. Annoying? Yes. Necessary? Perhaps. As everyone knows, if you’re not fully chargeable, it could mean the end of your illustrious Big 4 career (and even if you are, that might not save you) and Fed Tax compliance is known a popular group for layoffs come post-October 15th.

But our source interpreted the email this way:

I guess we will have to start asking for permission to check emails and take bathroom breaks, otherwise we will have to “send a short email on a daily basis” explaining why we were unchargeable for 30 minutes a day…

So tax people – how do you read this email? A friendly reminder with a simple request or just one more thing to lump on your pile? Discuss.