October 20, 2018

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Hysterical Client Comments on Yelp, Facebook, Et al. Should Not Go Unanswered

Yelp, like most social platforms, has its pros and cons. It’s great for all kinds of businesses to get their name out there, and not just restaurants. I found my co-working space on Yelp. I found a garage door service company on Yelp. I found a gas fireplace technician on Yelp. Do you need a […]

Join Us for an Exclusive Webinar Featuring Facebook’s Controller

Accountingfly’s Meet The Firms Week is coming to an internet near you from Monday, October 3rd, to Friday, October 7th. There will be five great webinars to check out including Facebook controller Matt Banks who will be presenting “How I Became Controller at Facebook.” Going Concern interviewed Matt earlier this year and now you’ll have […]

You’ll Like This: A Conversation With Facebook Controller Matt Banks

Earlier this month we crowdsourced some questions from you for our interview with Facebook Controller, Matt Banks. As we mentioned then, Matt is responsible for managing all aspects of the company’s North American revenue accounting operations, general ledger and consolidation teams. He is also responsible for helping set global accounting policy and managing the company’s […]

What Career Questions Do You Have for Facebook’s Controller?

In this day and age, few companies have the visibility and prestige of Facebook. Yes, you have to block your Dad’s political rants, but forget all that. Facebook is a technology company working to change the world as we know it. Changing the world involves a lot of numbers that have nothing to do with […]

The California Board of Accountancy Wants You to Facebook Them Your CPA Exam Worries

You're a busy CPA exam candidate with no time to read the Candidate Handbook or use Google to get the answers you seek. What do you do? Get on Facebook and holla at your friendly local Board of Accountancy, natch.     Post by California Board of Accountancy.   This is actually a pretty cool […]

KPMG Is Holding a Live Facebook Chat on Branding Tonight

Personal branding, not the kind cows get with a hot poker on their round steak. Here are the details: How will YOU stand out? Branding yourself is a great way to discover things that make you who you are, develop key messages about your strengths and abilities, create a consistent look and voice, and market […]

There Are Plenty of Good Reasons to Hate Facebook, But Tax Breaks Are Not Among Them

When you write about tax law, you interact with a lot of commenters, most of them of the angry variety. Of course, most people are of the angry variety, so it adds up. But I’ll say this – when it comes to tax law, at least the anger is often justified. It can be very […]

Let’s Imaginate What a ‘Big 4 City’ Would Look Like

It appears its massive, child-like compound isn’t enough as Facebook has announced plans to build a “company town” near its Menlo Park HQ: The social network said this week it is working with a local developer to build a $120 million, 394-unit housing community within walking distance of its offices. Called Anton Menlo, the 630,000 […]

Here’s a Bunch of Folks Really Upset at NASBA

Twitter wasn't the only place to air your expletive-filled grievances on Friday. Even though all CPA exam score release dates are target dates (meaning shit can and does happen and the AICPA makes no promises you'll actually see your score on the date they announce), apparently a few people were upset by the delay in […]

Beta Alpha Psi Recently Got a Crash Course in Free and Fair Use

Per BAP: FYI: We made the Annual Meeting video private until we get a version with standard music. The music on the first version is copyrighted. Thank you for your patience. Here's the video proudly posted on Facebook on August 14th: And then the oopsie news two days later: Yeah, that's only slightly embarrassing. But […]

Scott London Won’t Be Making Flirty Comments on the Facebook Page of Bryan Shaw’s Wife Anytime Soon

It was nearly two weeks ago when we learned that ex-KPMG partner had dabbled in insider trading of several KPMG clients, including two — Herbalife and Skechers — that were audit clients of London's. It set off quite a firestorm, however when the criminal complaint against London came out, we discovered that the manner in which he and his golf buddy/watch guy Bryan Shaw conducted this little conspiracy was not too sophisticated. Phone calls. Meetings in parking lots. Black paper bags filled with cash. The Boss. It's what you might expect from a couple of middle-aged bros who had plenty of laughs together at the 19th hole. 

Recruiting Season: Some Social Media Basics For The New Accountants on the Block

Chances are at some point someone in HR with too much time on their hands is going to Google you. Unless you are a John Smith, it would be wise to be proactive when it comes to your Internet presence, lest your potential new employer dig up your Facebook album called "CANCUN PEED ON MYSELF" […]

Ironically for Some, This Ernst & Young Guide to a ‘Smooth IPO Registration’ Just Came Out Today

Recently, some high profile companies have been going public. Leading up to the big day, all kinds of people get ants in their pants because, contrary to what some of you believe, going public is AWESOME. There are roadshows, CNBC hype, and typically you get to ring a bell. Pretty sweet. Unfortunately, there are all […]

Casey Poking Boehner to Like the Ex-PATRIOT Act

After the world discovered that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin had high-tailed it for Singapore and wasn't interested in being a citizen of the USA, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Ex-PATRIOT act. They did so in order to teach Eddie and other rich, tax-dodging Benedict Arnolds what happens when you bolt […]

Eduardo Saverin’s Spokesman: Don’t Go Believing That My Client Would Leave the U.S. Just to Save $67 Million in Taxes

As was noted last week, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renounced his U.S. citizenship, according to an IRS report. Some people speculated that the cause for this GTFOOTUSA was the savings in federal income tax because, as you may have heard, the Facebook is going public and ES is probably going to do okay when this thing […]

Here Are a Couple of the Tweets That Helped Get the Francesca CFO Fired

Yesterday morning we linked to a little story about Francesca Holdings Corp. CFO Gene Morphis getting fired for "improperly communicat[ing] company information through social media." The Journal picked it up later in the day with details on some of this social media activity that we thought we'd share with you Board meeting.Good numbers=Happy Board. — […]

IRS: Facebook Co-founder Is Gonna Take Off Now

So to speak. Bloomberg reports that Eduardo Saverin has renounced his U.S. citizenship ahead of Facebook's IPO. This has a number of obvious advantages – the lack of Kardashians, Nickelback, and NBA playoffs to name a few. But also, there are the tax advantages to consider, which it appears Saverin may have done: Facebook plans to […]

Let’s Get to Know the Facebook Audit Committee Members

Cripes, this Facebook IPO thing has people going bonkers so we figured digging up a little relevant information for you all was in order. Most of you probably knew that Ernst & Young was the auditor of Zuckerberg's playland but you probably aren't yet clued in to the members of the audit committee that E&Y […]

Fraudbusters Get a Lesson in Internet Stalking

Yesterday I sat in a session at the ACFE Fraud Conference and Exhibit entitled “Effectively Using Social Networks and Social Media in Fraud Examinations” with a few hundred [?] fraudbusters and I got the impression that few people in the room were social media savvy (in the stalk-y sense, anyway). I came to this conclusion after watching most of the hands in the room go up when asked “who thinks social media is a waste of time?” and saw nearly same amount of hands raised when asked “do you have some sort of social network presence?”

Cynthia Hetherington, President of Hetherington Group, described herself as “[A] librarian, a technologist and licensed private investigator. So, I’m a nerd, I’m a geek and I’m a dick,” was the speaker for this particular session and a lot of her talk introduced the crowd to the idea of stalking people on the Internet. She knew her crowd well, as a joke about Laverne & Shirley’s apartment got plenty of laughs, while a quip about Snooki got crickets. This reinforced my suspicion that the idea that of curating information about financial crooks using Facebook and Twitter was new to many in the room.

Now, the majority of people listening may have known it was possible to find partially-nude pics on someone’s Facebook profile or Twitter account (which she demonstrated in one non-Anthony Weiner example) but maybe they hadn’t considered that they could learn a lot of other useful information about someone they were investigating.

In short, Ms. Herrington explained to the biz casual crowd that you can find out a lot of information about a person just by poking around their social media accounts. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you can learn someone’s likes, dislikes, their political leanings, where they’ve lived, who their friends are, etc. and use that information to build a profile, analyze behavior or in some cases, find out where someone maybe hiding.

What does all this mean? Opportunity my friends. If you fancy yourself social media and Internet savvy, you probably have a leg up on many of the vets in the fraud and forensics business when it comes to poking around the Web and finding information on people of interest to you. Sure you may not have their years of investigative expertise, extensive contacts or an aging wardrobe but you may have successfully Web-stalked ex-significant others, crushes and completely random people to learn things that they’ve volunteered into cyberspace. And here you thought your creepy behavior was completely worthless.

Accountant Who Stole From Employer to Fund Lifestyle, Wife’s Boob Job, Should Have Thought Twice Before Bragging About Vacations on Facebook

Stephen Siddell’s dishonesty led to 16 people losing their jobs while he and his wife, Louise Siddell, took luxury foreign holidays. They even posted photographs of their stay in a six bedroom villa in Cyprus on Facebook boasting, “because we’re worth it”. Liverpool Crown Court heard the couple had lock-up garage in Bromborough, which was an “Aladdin’s cave” full of their expensive furniture and designer goods. 24-year-old Louise Siddell had also used their ill-gotten gains to pay for jewellery and breast enhancement. [Wirral Globe]

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.

Robert Half Offers New Rules for the Digital Age

Some business etiquette rules in this day and age are common sense (which we hope most of you have at least a little of): tweet as if your boss is watching, don’t threaten to stab your senior on Facebook (especially if said senior is in your friends list), and don’t leave a miserable trail of bad behavior behind on your company laptop when you leave the company.

For everything else that isn’t so clear, Robert Half offers Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age, tips and tricks for polishing up your online persona. Here are a few sticky etiquette questions and answers to whet your palate:

Can Facebook postings hurt my job search?

A good rule of thumb is to always post prudently: If you don’t want your employer to see it, get rid of it. A recent survey by our firm revealed that 44 percent of executives review the Facebook presence of potential hires. Even if your account is just for fun, keep it in check. To put your Facebook on a privacy lockdown, click on the drop-down “Account” menu in the top right corner and select “Privacy Settings.” Keep in mind that Facebook may change its privacy features at any time, and you might not be aware of the changes when they occur. Always assume that anything you post online may become public.

Should I friend my boss or coworkers?

This is the $64,000 question, and the feelings of those on the receiving end may provide the answer. (See “Thinking About ‘Friending’ Your Boss on Facebook?” on Page 10 of Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age.) If you do connect, utilize privacy settings and different friend lists to control how — and with whom — you share content. Be sensitive to your professional environment: some industries or companies are much more engaged in digital networking than others. If you’re starting a new job, take your cue from others before sending out “friend” requests to your new colleagues.

How responsive should I be to e-mail when I’m on vacation?

It depends on whether you want to have a real vacation. If your “Out of Office” says you’re not checking e-mail on vacation, don’t check and respond to messages. Doing so changes expectations and implies you’re more accessible than you said you’d be. Instead, be considerate to others’ needs while you are out and list a back-up contact in your Out of Office auto response.

We especially like that last one. Remember, being professional isn’t the same as being a bitch, and you are allowed to set reasonable boundaries without giving your partners a stroke while they fume over those damn incorrigible Gen Y kids taking over the office. And if anyone tells you differently, you send them our way and we’ll set them straight.

You can download Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age via Robert Half.

Be Careful What You Tweet, Mary Schapiro Might Be Watching

We’ve considered why your firm might want a social media policy in the past but it’s clear now that it’s not only wise to keep employees in check but to keep the SEC from breathing down everyone’s necks.

Regulation FD (fair disclosure) is meant to prevent selective disclosure by issuers of materialon and insider trading liability in connection with a trader’s “use” or “knowing possession” of material nonpublic information. The rules are designed to promote the full and fair disclosure of information by issuers, and to clarify and enhance existing prohibitions against insider trading.


Without a social media policy, any employee of the company tweeting or blogging about company events could broadly be assumed to be company communications. Whether or not these people are officially representing the company or not is irrelevant; selective disclosure could be as simple as a poorly-timed post about a company secret (i.e. “our awesome new product will be released in two weeks!”) on an employee’s Facebook page, which is public but limited to the employee’s 100 or so family and friends. In theory, an astute friend could take this as a buy signal, knowing X product will cause quite a storm once it hits the market. Welcome to insider trading: social media edition. Notice here that the intention is not what is important but rather the event itself. The SEC doesn’t care if the employee meant to pump up his or her employer’s stock but rather that the employee chose to selectively disclose information not readily available to the public that the employee is privy to to a limited group of people.

How far could the SEC take this?

The SEC’s guidance set forth three considerations to help determine whether information posted on corporate websites is considered “public.”

* Whether a company’s Web site is a recognized channel of distribution;
* Whether information is posted and accessible, and therefore disseminated in a manner calculated to reach investors; and
* Whether information is posted for a reasonable period so that it has been absorbed by investors.

The guidance goes on to clarify that statements made on blogs or other interactive websites are subject to the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws, and companies cannot require investors to waive protections under the federal securities laws as a condition of using such interactive websites.

The only control companies have in this is to have a very clear, intelligent social media policy that either limits or forbids disclosure of non-public information through blogs and social media. This isn’t new (this interpretation was released in August of 2008) but what is new is the rumor that the SEC is beginning to send deficiency letters to registered investment advisers it examines, specifically those who do not have a social media policy in place.

A document request list sent by the SEC to some advisers asks for a broad range of data related to social media use, according to a compliance alert from ACA Compliance Group. Among other things, the SEC is seeking to identify how often advisers use social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, Digg, Redditt, as well as any blogs used by, or subscribed to, by the adviser. They are also looking at communications made by, or received by an adviser on any social media website including among others, blog postings, messages, and/or tweets.

According to the WSJ, an SEC spokesman declined to comment on the deficiency letters. However, an SEC official said at a compliance conference last month that misuse of social media is an issue on their radar in SEC examinations and enforcement. Misuse being defined as investment advisers who fake information on their LinkedIn profiles to buff up their appearance to investors.

Three Ways to Get on the IRS’s Good Side This Tax Season

All this resentment of the IRS has got to stop. It’s counter-productive, cowardly and most of all, annoying. The gang at Boulder, Colorado-based Webroot understands that you shoo away more IRS flies with honey than with vinegar, so they’ve made a simple suggestion: “This tax season get on the IRS’s good side.”

How does one do that, you ask? Well, Webroot has given you three options to show some love:


1. Send a flower to Doug Shulman – Behind that rough exterior, The Commish is a softee. Sign up for this option and a flower will be added to the bouquet and your name included on a card that will accompany warm his bureaucratic heart. You do have the option of donating a flower anonymously if you’re still not sure Dougie is nothing but a taxborg that gets plugged in every evening.

2. Pro-IRS Stamps – Don’t you just love it when you get unique stamps in the mail? Imagine how good you would feel if the stamp had a tattoo heart with your name in the middle of it. I’ll bet the IRS would like it if you used one to mail in your tax return. Those “Forever” stamps are boring anyway.

3. Like the IRS on Facebook – Seriously, people. Is there a better way to show your appreciation? Besides, I’ve seen what some of you ‘Like’ on FB and quite honestly, it’s far more embarrassing than liking the IRS.

Google CFO: We Win, Facebook Wins, Everybody Wins!

Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette on Thursday downplayed the competitive threat from social-networking giant Facebook Inc., arguing that the digital economy will create a “ton of winners.” “Everybody will benefit if the Web is more social,” he said. “It’s not a zero sum game.” [Dow Jones]

Jim Turley Explains Why You Should Work at Ernst & Young Rather Than Facebook

JT spoke to NYU students earlier this week and of course during the Q&A, Diane Brady, a senior editor at Bloomberg threw him a softie, asking if the firm was hiring, to which Diego responded, “we’re always hiring.” This, of course brought the house down (laughs, raucous applause).

Anyway, Brady decided to throw Jim a curve and asked why a young recruit would pick E&Y over Zuckerland.

“Should students ever consider starting at a big firm of yours?” Brady said. “Why not just go out there and make the billions with Facebook? What is the attraction at Ernst & Young?”

Turley responded by saying that most entrepreneurs, despite common misconceptions, are not just out to make money.

“[Entrepreneurs] go out there to find a need,” he said. “At Ernst & Young, you have opportunities to be extraordinarily mobile and move around the world.”

His advice? “First, find something that you love doing,” Turley said. “Second, align with an organization that actually thinks about where the world is going. And lastly, find an organization that wants you to change them as opposed to them to change you.”

See, if you can’t find a need then you need care about being “extraordinarly mobile.” Seems like a fair trade-off, especially since billionaires don’t travel much.

And just curious, how would the members of Ernie’s army like the firm to change? We’re assuming JT goes with the “whatever is good for the goose” mantra. Leave your suggestions below.

Ernst & Young CEO speaks at Stern [WSN]

Accounting News Roundup: Tax Cut Political Football Goes Flat; Google’s Remarkable Tax Planning; Yes, IRS Agents Are Strapped | 10.21.10

Tax Cuts Slide To Back Burner On Campaign Trail [WSJ]
It’s a sign that a decision by Democratic leaders, to put off a vote on extending the tax cuts until after the Nov. 2 elections, may be paying off politically.

“It’s harder to write an ad portraying a vote that hasn’t happened yet,” said Brian Gaston, a former senior aide to House GOP leaders and now a lobbyist at the Glover Park Group.

Google 2.4% Rate Shows How $60 Billion Lost to Tax Loopholes [Bloomberg]
Google y $3.1 billion in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.

Google’s income shifting — involving strategies known to lawyers as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich” — helped reduce its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent, the lowest of the top five U.S. technology companies by market capitalization, according to regulatory filings in six countries.

TUI Travel CFO Quits After Accounting Error [Dow Jones]
In an embarrassing admission, the company said an ongoing audit for the fiscal year ended September 2010 had highlighted the accounting error in the integration of IT systems in its U.K. mainstream business that had accrued over a period of four to five years and which increased its total write-off for 2009 from GBP29 million to GBP117 million.

Chief Executive Peter Long told Dow Jones Newswires that the issue had been identified when it reported its third-quarter results but continued to investigate the matter and “only last night were we able to determine the scale of the problem.”

Banks Clueless on Foreclosure Mess Severity [Jonathan Weil/Bloomberg]
The biggest U.S. mortgage lenders and servicers say they’re putting the foreclosure mess behind them, and that it never was a major problem. The reality is these companies are so big and unmanageable, the people in charge of running them have no way to know if that is true.

One thing that remains unknowable is how many flawed home- mortgage records and foreclosure proceedings are out there waiting to be unearthed. Dozens of federal and state agencies are investigating. It’s anyone’s guess what they might turn up.


NJ man cashes $158G check IRS mistakenly sent him [Asbury Park Press]
He figured no one would notice.

For ‘B-to-B’ Companies, Finding Facebook ‘Friends’ Can Be a Struggle [WSJ]
These days, even small “business-to-business” concerns like Bill.com are experimenting with social media, perceiving the popular online hangouts as low-cost, easy-to-use venues for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. But unlike their consumer-focused counterparts—retailers that sell smartphones, jeans, games and other personal products—so-called B-to-B businesses seem to be having a harder time connecting with their target audience.

Some IRS agents carry guns, too, agents tell UAB accounting student group [Birmingham News]
“My first day on the job, I thought, ‘Why are they carrying guns?'” said Donald Smith, a UAB graduate and special agent with the IRS-Criminal Investigation unit.

Korea wants G20 to delay accounting standard consolidation [Korea Times]
Apparently they have a say in the matter

How Much Time Is Too Much Time to Spend on Social Media?

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.

It’s likely that your employees spend a sizeable percentage of their time using social media. As work/life balance continues to blend into one homogenous string of activities, social media activity is happening in your workplace whether you realize it or not.

But isn’t social media just a big waste of time?

It can be, but lumping all socito the same unproductive bucket is unfair, and also unwise. Social media can be an effective tool for many key business activities – including business development, client retention, and employee retention and recruitment.

Because platforms like Facebook often blend personal and business colleagues, it’s very challenging to set black and white rules when governing the use of social media.


Free reign on social media = Trust

At Chrometa, we take a mostly laissez faire approach to our employees’ use of social media, with no official policies or restriction on what employees are allowed to do. I know this thinking is counterintuitive to what many accounting and consulting firms believe, but I think this boils down to a control issue more than anything else. It’s sort of similar to being told as a child not to get into the cookie jar. If firms set up policies dictating certain actions, employees are more likely to violate these policies if they feel they can get away with it without being noticed.

Each of our employees is encouraged to set up and maintain a presence on “The Big 3” social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Their participation levels, on the other hand, are completely up to them. A couple of our employees really enjoy and benefit, both personally and professionally, from their time on Facebook and Twitter. Ironically, our chief technical officer generally dislikes social media and personally avoids it.

At the core of our free reign is trust. We trust that our employees are 100 percent devoted to the success of our company, mission, and brand. As a result, I have complete trust they will not represent us poorly; to do so would be like representing themselves poorly. This level of trust is only possible if an employee does completely self-identify with his or her job and firm.

How much time is too much time?

I personally have spent too much time on many occasions on the Big 3 and blogs, as well, without achieving what I’d consider a reasonable ROI on my time. Going forward, I know I need to more accurately gauge the amount of time I should spend on each medium.

It’s not completely fair and accurate when people proclaim, “Twitter is a complete waste of time” because they probably just don’t understand what it can do. Twitter can be a drain, but it also can be useful if used properly and marketed to your stakeholders. Like anything, if you spend too much time on Twitter, you can end up wasting a lot of time if you don’t use it wisely.

How-much-time-too-much-time is something everyone must figure out for themselves. I give our employees the leeway to decide how much time is too much. I know they honestly want to be productive and perform their roles to the best of their ability. Because I know this, I find it’s better if they figure out these types of limits and best practices themselves, instead of having them come as edicts from above.

It’s About Time is a series of articles devoted to practice management techniques that focus on efficiency and productivity.

About the Author:
Brett Owens is CEO and cofounder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, CA-based provider of time-tracking software that records activity in real time. Previously marketed to 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 also is blogger and founder at CommodityBullMarket.com and ContraryInvesting.com, as well as a regular contributor to two leading financial media sites, SeekingAlpha.com and BeforeItsNews.com.

Facebook and Twitter Get Used in a Penny Stock Scam

Before we can get into this particular penny stock scam, it would be wise to define the penny stock scam for the uninitiated. It’s a pile-in, financial porn pump and dump. These particular crooks decided to take to Twitter and Facebook to get new fish to buy into their easy to fill 2×1 matrix. Since Twitter is inundated with all level of bizarre MLM bots and pyramid scheme tweet spam, it’s easy to see how an effective a tool it can be in perpetuating financial fraud.


The Manhattan DA’s office says 11 of the 22 participants used Twitter feeds and websites to lure “investors” (read the fine print, people) to buy a bunch of cheap stocks they’d artificially inflated. They made off with $3 million and “investors” lost $7 million.

I use the word “investor” loosely. If you’re getting your stock picks from some spammy Twitterfeed that isn’t even run by a human being (or solely from one who is, so far you aren’t required to register with the SEC to talk about stocks on Twitter) maybe you had it coming. So far we haven’t seen the offending tweets, if you know where to find them let me know.

Penny stock scams are not limited to Twitter and even former SEC lawyers have been convicted of using them to take advantage of gullible “investors.” Like this guy, who brought civil cases against white collar criminals for 15 years in Fort Worth and ended up getting 8 years in federal prison for his pump and dump activities. It’s unclear if he used social media in his crimes but if he came from the SEC, chances are he’s more into porn than Twitter.

Filed under: doing it wrong

Facebook & Twitter used in stock fraud: U.S. prosecutor [Reuters]

Accounting News Roundup: ‘Won’t Somebody Think of the Small Businesses?!?’; Facebook’s New Arbitrary IPO Date; Debunking The ‘Failure’ of Bush Tax Cuts | 09.28.10

Analyzing the Small-Business Tax Hysteria [You’re the Boss/NYT]
“The rhetoric on this subject has become counterproductive. It can’t be helping consumer confidence, and it’s certainly not creating any jobs. In what used to be a running joke on ‘The Simpsons,’ whenever trouble arose, Reverend Lovejoy’s wife would shriek, ‘Won’t somebody please think of the children?!!!’ The emerging counterpart to that cry in our real-life politics seems to be, ‘Won’t somebody please think of the small businesses!’ ”

AOL in Talks to Buy TechCrunch [WSJ]
“A deal would mark a high-profile marriage between the Internet giant and one of Silicon Valley’s most high-profile blogs, which has often been discussed as a possible acquisition target.

It would also be the latest in a series of alliances between content and Internet companies, which are seeking to draw more users and advertisers by pumping out inexpensive articles on popular topics like fashion, news and sports.”

Facebook IPO likely after late 2012: board member [Reuters]
“Facebook, the world’s largest online social network, is likely to go public sometime after late 2012, a board member said, satisfying investors’ appetite for a slice of one of the Internet’s biggest growth stories.

A stock market debut by a company valued in the tens of billions of dollars would be one of the most highly anticipated initial public offerings of the decade.

But Facebook board member, venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel stressed on Monday that will not happen until after late 2012, and would depend on the company hitting certain revenue targets and how its business model develops.”

Auditors Aren’t Forcing Full Repurchase Risk Exposure Disclosure [Re:The Auditors]
Auditors looking the other way for their banking clients. Again.

BlackBerry Maker RIM Enters Tablet Scrum [WSJ]
“RIM Co-Chief Executive Mike Lazaridis on Monday showed the device, dubbed the PlayBook, at a conference for BlackBerry developers in San Francisco. The PlayBook has a seven-inch touch screen and high-definition cameras on the front and back sides, but the device won’t connect directly to cellular networks.

RIM said its tablet won’t go on sale until early next year in the U.S. and the second quarter elsewhere in the world, meaning it will miss the key holiday season. The timing also puts RIM behind iPad competitors from Samsung Electronics Co., Dell Inc. and others.”


IRS won’t be mailing tax forms next year [AP]
They’re saving $10 million a year, presumably on stamps and envelopes.

News Corp. SVP Kevin Halpin named Dow Jones CFO [AP]
Kevin Halpin is taking the reins from Stephen Daintith.

Correlation Proves Causation, David Cay Johnston Edition [Tax Foundation]
“I agree with Johnston that tax cuts are not the correct response to every economic situation, and I do not believe that letting the Bush tax cuts expire would cause an economic armageddon. If the federal government’s proclivity for deficit spending can’t be curbed by reducing tax revenue – the ‘starve-the-beast’ approach – then permanently extending the Bush tax cuts for any and all taxpayers is a worse policy than letting the cuts expire because the country will drive off the fiscal cliff even sooner.”

Accounting News Roundup: How Secure is SaaS?; Highest Marginal Tax Rates by State Under Dem, GOP Plans; Familiar Rich People | 09.23.10

Blockbuster Files for Bankruptcy After Online Rivals Gain [Bloomberg]
“Blockbuster Inc., the world’s biggest movie-rental company, filed for bankruptcy after failing to adapt its storefront model to online technology pioneered by rivals such as Netflix Inc.

The company listed assets of $1.02 billion against debt of $1.46 billion on a Chapter 11 petition filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. The company said it reached a deal with a group of bondholders on a plan of reorganization and secured a $125 million loan to finance operations.”

SaaS security: McAfee’s response [AccMan]
“One question that gets raised time and again: Is SaaS secure? The answer depends on with whom you speak. My take is that any vendor that cannot answer a set of well defined questions is probably not going to meet the minimum requirements for me to recommend a service.

Earlier today I attended a Salesforce.com presentation and among the speakers were Dell, Wells Fargo and McAfee. Both companies are deploying Salesforce and in particular its Chatter service to thousands of users. I put the question to Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce: ‘How do you demonstrate to users that services such as yours are secure without going down technical rat holes?’ ”

Friended for $100 Million [WSJ]
“Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old founder and chief executive of Facebook Inc., plans to announce a donation of up to $100 million to the Newark schools this week, in a bold bid to improve one of the country’s worst performing public school systems.”

Senate Holds Hearing Today on Lessons from the Tax Reform Act of 1986 [TaxProf Blog]
“Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will convene a hearing [today] to examine the lessons from the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and look at ideas for tax reform that will make the code simpler and fairer, while helping American businesses compete in the global economy.”


Top Marginal Effective Tax Rates by State under Rival Tax Plans from Congressional Democrats and Republicans [Tax Foundation]
The big winner is Hawaii with California taking first runner-up.

The Richest People in America [Forbes]
The usual: Gates, Buffett, Ellison, a lot of Sam Walton offspring, a pair of Kochs and Hizzoner.

Five More Facebook Fan Pages For Accountants

Our friends at FINS recently posted some must-fan Facebook pages specifically for accountants and though we agree with their suggestions, we thought it would be prudent to add a few of our own.

Before we get to those, though, let’s talk about the five FINS listed.


1. The Big 4 (all of them, if you’re really really excited to land that dream public accounting gig you’ve always dreamed of… hooRAH!)
2. AICPA
3. Journal of Accountancy
4. CPA Technology Advisor
5. Local CPA Societies

These are all great suggestions but let’s be real about it, a good number of us use our Facebook pages for so much more than professional networking. So how about some real-world suggestions for the accounting folk out there?

1. Vodka. I don’t care if you prefer martinis or homebrew, by fanning vodka you are reiterating your commitment to professionalism in all you do as per the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. Trust us, it’s a lot easier to be ethical and bring in clients when you’ve been on a weekend-long bender and simply don’t care anymore.

2. Accountants do it with double-entry. There’s no need to perpetuate stereotypes of the boring accountant, go ahead and shock your conservative pals by fanning this group to show that you DO, in fact, have a sense of humor and even choose to exercise it every now and then.

3. Accountants are sexy. Well? They are, dammit, especially if you followed our advice and got into the vodka. A couple of those and that mousy chick in the cube next door will be EXTRA sexy.

4. Stuff Accountants Like. Even though SAL has taken a possibly permanent vacay from blogging, reading through past entries is still entertaining if you haven’t read them before. Great for when you’re taking a break between vodka and reconciliation.

5. Going Concern. Listen, FINS, we aren’t offended that you accidentally left us off your list. But don’t expect us to share any of our vodka with you.

Here’s Why Facebook Should Buy ING Direct

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

It was revealed this week that Facebook is valued by its private shareholders at over $33 billion, more than Ebay, Yahoo and Dell. For a private company with little more than a year of revenue this is extraordinary.

When the company goes public it will have a hard job living up to this valuation without a significant increase in revenue streams.

One option may be for it to do a transformational transaction prior to its listing. In this way it could incorporate a pumped up revenue stream into its high IPO valuation. One such deal could be for it to buy ING Direct US, the largest online bank in the country.


Under the terms of the Dutch government bail out, ING has to sell ING Direct in the US and Canada by 2012. They will have no shortage of bidders from the financial world, but could it make sense for a non-bank to actually buy the company? And if so, what about Facebook?

Half a billion people now live their online lives through Facebook. It has huge brand value and customer loyalty. For it to generate revenue streams it needs to do more than just offer up ads and sell games.

To get from being a social network site to a commercial network site it needs to drive business, and one of the biggest impediments to online retail business is payments. By owning a bank-and thus a payment platform–Facebook could make it very easy to transact online.

Clearly there would be lots of legal hurdles for such a deal to happen, not least because regulators do not like non-banks owning banks. More specifically, Facebook has had difficulties in the past respecting people’s privacy.

But by allying the huge number of people on the site with an easy to use payments and banking business, Facebook could revolutionize its business and the way that 500 million conduct personal commercial activities on the web.

It could also learn from the clever people at ING Direct about how to protect customer data. It may be a long shot, but the two companies could complement each other very well.

Why Your Firm Needs a Social Media Policy

If you work for a larger firm, chances are you’ve already got a social media policy that encompasses everything your firm does not want you to do online. For smaller firms and private practices, a social media policy can be the very last thing management considers implementing, assuming you will use your better judgment when conducting yourself online and don’t need the rules laid out. Oftentimes this mentality comes more from management’s unfamiliarity with social media than anything else. If they don’t use Twitter, how can they tell you how to conduct yourself on it?

But your online social life isn’t the same as a cocktail party at which you are representing your firm. Should you be able to say whatever you want on Twitter after hours? Can you post pictures of yourself getting wasted on Facebook?


The line is cut and dry when you are at a firm event or at a client but are you expected to represent your firm even when tweeting on your own time? If your firm does not have a social media policy, the answer is you have no way to know until it’s too late and you’ve pissed off the boss.

For firms, not having a social media policy can open the company up to all sorts of tricky trouble. Without knowing exactly what is expected of them, employees are forced to use their own judgment when it comes to their online behavior. Most are smart enough not to bash the boss in 140 characters or post embarrassing holiday party photos on Facebook but what’s to stop them from starting a blog that management finds offensive or keep them from tweeting about their work life in general? Absolutely nothing.

With hyper-connected Gen Y more than established in the workplace, a social media policy makes even more sense. Very few us get through a day without a Facebook update or a tweet and for some of us, our online persona can be a point of contention with management. Case in point, yours truly and Jr Deputy Accountant. Working in the industry meant that I had to be careful not to needlessly bash firm failures (like PwC and Satyam), lest I ruffle any feathers that could connect my site to my employer. Sometimes a disclaimer is helpful – something along the lines of “my opinion is my own and independent of any personal or professional affiliations” – but without having clear lines drawn between how you behave at work and how you behave on your own time in front of the entire Internet, it can be difficult to know what’s appropriate and what is not.

Last week we gave you some tips to keep your online life safe in the event that you don’t have a social media policy but that doesn’t mean your boss gets a pass. A social media policy is always a good idea and in this day and age there’s no getting around it, it’s necessary.

Accounting News Roundup: EisnerAmper Partner: GM Balance Sheet ‘Stronger’ Ahead of IPO; KPMG Moves on From New Century, Countrywide; No Bookie Needed for Betting on Grades | 08.19.10

GM’s balance sheet draws praise ahead of IPO [MarketWatch]
“Peter Bible, partner-in-charge at accounting firm EisnerAmper LLP, said General Motors is now carrying a much stronger balance sheet than its predecessor, based on the company’s initial public offering filed late Wednesday. ‘Their debt-to-equity ratio looks handsome,’ Bible said in an interview. ‘This thing has gotten restructured quite a bit. GM’s health care liabilities have fallen significantly. As I look at the balance sheet, it is much healthier.’ ”

Move to converge just exported crisis [Re: The Auditors]
KPMG has put two major lawsuits behind them – Countrywide and New Century. One major difference between these two cases was that New Century had a bankruptcy examiner’s report while Countrywide did not.


Judge Denies Online Religious Group’s Bid for Church Status [WSJ]
A virtual “church” gets denied the whole “church” thing.

For the rich, ’tis better to give than wait [Reuters]
“With U.S. taxes almost guaranteed to rise next year, the rich have a rare opportunity to distribute some wealth and preserve their fortunes.

A weak economy has led to razor-thin interest rates and beaten-down valuations, which make giving less costly for and potentially more rewarding to heirs. Moreover, the U.S. government is widely expected to rein in a popular tax-avoidance scheme.

‘This is a golden era for shifting estates and giving assets away,’ said Bill Fleming, a financial planner for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hartford, Connecticut. ‘If you have an estate plan, keep going: Uncle Sam soon will be back in your pocket.’ ”

Wager 101: Students Bet on Their Grades [WSJ]
“The website attracted wagers by 600 students from two colleges last year, said Mr. Gelbart and co-founder Steven Wolf, graduates of Queens College. This month, the site expanded to let students on 36 campuses—including Harvard, Stanford and Brigham Young University—place bets. More than 1,000 new bettors have signed on.

Lisa Lapin, a Stanford University spokeswoman, said school officials were ‘appalled’ when they learned Stanford students could place bets on their grades, adding, ‘the concept of betting on academic performance is contrary to academic development.’

Lance Miller, a finance major at the University of Pennsylvania, says the criticism misses the mark. Mr. Miller, with a GPA of 3.6, won about $80 on two $40 bets that he would earn A’s in business courses.

‘We’re acing classes to make money—isn’t that what they call a win-win?’ said Mr. Miller, 20.”

Facebook’s Places Feature Lets Users Share Their Whereabouts With Friends [Bloomberg]
“Services that help Web users share their whereabouts and find nearby friends could generate as much as $4.1 billion in annual ad sales by 2015, according to Borrell Associates. The features can help marketers more easily target customers — say, by reaching shoppers when they’re close to making a purchase.”

Accounting News Roundup: Big 4 Firms Looking to Cash in on Climate Change; GM Is Back from the Dead; The End of Fan and Fred? | 08.17.10

Barclays in Sanctions Bust [WSJ]
“Barclays PLC agreed to pay $298 million to settle charges by U.S. and New York prosecutors that the U.K. bank altered financial records for more than a decade to hide hundreds of millions of dollars into the U.S. from Cuba, Libya, Iran and other sanctioned countries.

Monday’s settlement agreement of criminal charges is an embarrassment for Barclays, which became a major player on Wall Street by snapping up the collapsed U.S. operations of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008 and has been trying to burnish the U.K. bank’s reputation on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean as a good corporate citizen.”

Cashing in on cleantech [The Guardian]
“While E&Y claims to be the first to set up a practice specifically for cleantech, in recent years PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, KPMG and E&Y have all launched dedicated practices for sustainability and climate change.

Steven Lang, who leads the cleantech division in the UK and Ireland, recently explained the attraction to Business Green: ‘We’ve seen major amounts of capital flowing into clean energy and clean technology and governments increasingly want to use the sector as a driver for international competitiveness.

‘The drivers are there for this to be a major growth area over the next five years.’ ”

GM IPO filing expected Tuesday [Reuters]
It’s like you never left, GM. “General Motors Co has completed the paperwork for an initial public offering, and timing of its filing with the U.S. securities regulators rests with the board of the top U.S. automaker, sources familiar with the process said on Monday.

The initial prospectus, expected to be for $100 million, is likely to be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, two people said, asking not to be named because the preparations for the IPO are private.”


IASB details recruitment process for Tweedie replacement [Accountancy Age]
“In a newly created section of the IASB website, the body has outlined the process it has followed since September 2009, as it searches to replace chairman Sir David Tweedie, who steps down in June 2011.

Among the documents is a letter sent to the European Commissioner’s office on 3 December, 2009, from Sir Bryan Nicholson, who has led the IASB’s recruitment process.”

Woman due in court for pie attack on US Sen. Levin [CT]
“A woman accused of hitting U.S. Sen. Carl Levin in the face with an apple pie during the Armed Services Committee chairman’s constituent meeting in northern Michigan is due in court.

Twenty-two-year-old Ahlam M. Mohsen of Coldwater will be arraigned Tuesday. She is being held without bond after being arrested Monday on a felony charge of stalking, and misdemeanor counts of assault and disorderly conduct”

Apple?

Facebook Partnership Is Proven by $3,000 Check, Lawyer Says [Bloomberg]
“The western New York man suing over claims he owns 84 percent of Facebook Inc. has a copy of a $3,000 cashier’s check his lawyer says is proof of a contract with Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.

The purported 2003 check is made out to Zuckerberg and dated three days before Paul Ceglia claims the two men signed a contract, according to the attorney. That agreement, Ceglia said in court papers, entitles him to control of the world’s biggest social networking website.”

Conference To Debate Future Of Fannie, Freddie [NPR]
Euthanasia seems like a good option here.

Five Ways Not to Lose Your Job Playing Around on the Internet

Accountants are more prevalent in the social mediasphere than you might think; they’ve taken over Twitter, blog regularly and can even be found figuring out how to make Foursquare relevant to business. But since tapping the potential of social media for business is relatively new, not all organizations know exactly how to use the tools, nor do the understand the importance of a good social media policy within their organization. So here are some tips for making the most out of social media without losing your job. We’re sorry we have to even share these but we’ve seen some of you guys out there in the social mediasphere and it appears you need a reminder.


Choose Your 140 Characters Carefully – If you’re on Twitter and are complaining about your job, understand that the entire world can see you. Even if your stream is private, the great Google sees everything. A few months back, Twitter’s internal search allowed private tweets to appear in searches. I’m not sure if this little hole has been patched but if it hasn’t, you don’t want to be a victim of your own public stream of consciousness. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in an e-mail to your boss.

Ask About Your Firm’s Social Media Policy – Though it’s sort of implied in the firm’s overall policy on communications outside of the company, social media is an entirely different avenue and the rules may not be as cut and dry as the GAAP you’re used to. Not all companies will specifically bar you from blogging on your free time and many turn a blind eye to the activity… until you say something they don’t like. Don’t assume that you’re safe if you don’t share your name or location: it’s fairly easy to reveal your identity if you’re sharing details of your life like where you live and what you do. It gets easier if you’re using a blog to rant about work or out obnoxious coworkers. This applies to positive blogs as well; even if you’re doing the industry a service by discussing current events in accounting, some firms would rather you not say anything at all. Be careful with your details and when in doubt, ask about your firm’s social media policy.

Facebook Friends – You’re not friends with him in real life so don’t be friends with your boss on Facebook. Facebook can be a great networking tool if you aren’t sharing photos of your drunken weekend adventures but if you are, better leave your boss or even coworkers off your friends list. Remember also that Facebook privacy settings can be complicated to say the least; even if you have most of your profile set to private, if you haven’t gone in and changed certain settings, mobile uploads and other photo albums can still appear in search results. That means any nosy coworker out to make you look bad could easily stumble upon your page and access things you’ve posted thinking they are invisible to anyone but your friends. I’m all for being cozy with colleagues but be careful when adding people you work with if you, like 99% of us, use your Facebook to rant, brag and occasionally spout off inappropriate things.

Careful when commenting on blogs! – Listen, we love you guys for contributing but sometimes we have to wonder if you’re playing with a full deck. If you’re commenting from and about work, keep the details to a minimum and use the anonymity of the Internet to your advantage! I have Jr Deputy Accountant readers who work for the banks, the Fed or government agencies but that secret stays between them and me – some choose to create a nickname that wouldn’t reveal who they really are and others stick with “anonymous”. However you do it, remember that if your name is George Stein and you work at KPMG, using GSKPMG2010 isn’t fooling anyone. Talking about salaries or griping about the conditions are totally allowed – if not encouraged – but be smart about it and never use your real name unless you work in communications or don’t mind your boss or colleagues seeing your comments. Once again, remember the great Google sees ALL.

Whatever you do, never forget the Internet is forever – You can delete your Myspace account but since the Internet tends to aggregate information, just because you’ve deleted something doesn’t mean it is gone forever. Case in point: when I write a blog post on JDA, it’s picked up and republished by two news aggregators instantly, which means I’m stuck with whatever typo I missed or stupid comment I made, even if I change or delete it on my own site. It is the same with Twitter as many bizarre websites aggregate tweets about a particular subject, some permanently. So you might be able to zap an obvious faux pas the morning after but it could come back to haunt you if it ends up somewhere else.

Accounting News Roundup: 1099 Reporting Is the Latest Political Football; Financial Reporting Overhaul in the Works?; Zynga’s CFO Hire Spurs IPO Talk | 08.02.10

Parties Play Politics With Unpopular Tax Measure [WSJ]
The new 1099 reporting requia bit of belly aching to point of many groups asking for a repeal. Too bad the members of Congress are the ones with the power to actually make something happen:

“The House rejected a bill Friday that would have repealed the provision. The two parties disagreed on how to make up the lost revenue.

‘This foolish policy hammers our business community when we should be supporting their job growth,’ Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska said in the Republicans’ weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. ‘It’s only one example of how the administration’s promise to support small businesses really rings hollow.’

Democrats blamed Republicans for Friday’s failure.

‘Despite all of their rhetoric about the need to eliminate this reporting requirement, Republicans walked away from small businesses when it mattered most,’ said Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.”

FASB Alumnus Trashes GAAP (and IFRS) [The Accounting Onion]
“I suspect that the folks being paid the big bucks to make the tough calls on accounting standards don’t pay a lot of attention to to the likes of Tom Whatshisname, even were I to announce that the sky is falling. But, I don’t take it personally. Over the past 40 years, any PhD not drawing a salary from the Big Four has been viewed with more suspicion than respect by the standard setting establishment.

I mention all of this now, because there is a new voice, whose credibility and qualifications cannot be so easily dismissed. That voice belongs to FASB alumnus David Mosso, who has written an 80-page monograph entitled Early Warning and Quick Response: Accounting in the Twenty-First Century). If you don’t want to believe me, take it from him: GAAP is broken.”

Group formed to overhaul financial reporting [Accountancy Age]
Meanwhile: “A project to overhaul company reporting has been launched by a high level group of accountants, businesses, regulators and market participants.

The International Integrated Reporting Committee will look at the wider concerns about financial reporting, in terms of addressing risk, and presenting a clearer and broader picture of companies’ performance, including governance and environmental issues.”


Goldman Details Its Valuations With AIG [WSJ]
“How did Goldman come up with the mortgage-securities prices it used to extract cash from AIG?”

Before There Can Be An IPO, First Comes A New CFO For Zynga [Tech Crunch]
Dave Wehner comes in from Allen & Co. taking the spot of Mark Vranesh who is becoming Chief Accounting Officer. What does all this mean? First, it gives most MSM outlets a day or two worth of stories about when Zynga will go public but mostly it means the business of Farmville, no matter how you hate it, is serious business.

Facebook Would-Be Owner Says He Owes His Claim to Arrest [Bloomberg]
“Paul Ceglia, who claims in a lawsuit that he owns 84 percent of Facebook Inc., said his case wouldn’t have been possible if state troopers hadn’t come to his house in October to arrest him for fraud.”

Forced Employee Engagement and the Overworked Employee [The Exuberant Accountant]
“In my many interactions with business owners, I have heard some speak of employees as being ‘lucky to still have a job.’ While that may be true, thinking (and acting) in such a manner is very short sighted.”

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn? [AccMan]
Got business model?

Why Would E&Y Download 100 Million Facebook Profiles off BitTorrent?

Good question! In case you didn’t hear, someone – his name is Ron Bowes – created a “crawler” (resident tech expert Nick told us it’s “a bot that has directives and algorithms based on known patterns in a webpage it ‘visits’ a webpage and pull information from selected places in that structure.”) that pulled data on 100 million Facebook profiles.

Since it only pulled the data that was publicly available, you could claim that this is NBD as Nick told us, “[A]ll the crawler did was collect it and put it into a single place, presumably in a format that is searchable and very ordered.”


And Engadget agrees, “There’s nothing illegal about any of this, of course — we put our information out there into the public forum that Facebook is, after all — but there’s still something creepy about the idea of someone torrenting our profile.”

What may be even more creepy is that lots of corporations – including E&Y – are downloading the data.

Nick told us that any corporation could have done this anyway but since someone else did, these companies figured, “why the hell not?” and downloaded the data. But E&Y? Maybe it’s just some back office guy stalking ex-girlfriends, as Gizmodo suggests, or Zitor collecting names for future abductions but it certainly makes you wonder.

So much so, we emailed E&Y spokesman Charlie Perkins to ask him about it (and if nothing else, we may have introduced him to a new website!) but we haven’t heard back and we don’t have our hopes up.

Major Corporations Are Downloading Those 100 Million Facebook Profiles off BitTorrent [Gizmodo]

Accounting News Roundup: Mazars Would Like to See More Competition in the Audit Market; Citi CFO Settles with SEC; Colbert on Tax Cuts | 07.30.10

Auditors don’t know the meaning of ‘competition’ [FT]
In a letter to the Financial Times, David Herbinet, the UK Head of Public Interest Markets for Mazars, takes issue with the notion (he says ‘puzzled’) that there is robust competition in the audit market, “Figures calculated from the most authoritative research available – the Oxera report that first spurred examination of the issue – show that a FTSE 100 auditor can on average expect to remain in place for an eye-watering 48 years and their FTSE 250 counterpart for 36 years. When the research was conducted more than 70 per cent of the FTSE 100 audits had not been subject to tender for at over, 97 per cent of current FTSE 350 audits are held by just four firms. If this represents fierce competition I would not like to see a stagnant market.”

Facebook Said to Put Off IPO Until 2012 to Buy Time for Growth [Bloomberg]
“Facebook Inc. will probably put off its initial public offering until 2012, giving Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg more time to gain users and boost sales, three people familiar with the matter said.

Facebook would benefit from another year of growth absent the added scrutiny that comes with a public listing, instead of holding an IPO in 2011 as investors speculated, said the people, who asked not to be identified because Facebook doesn’t discuss share-sale plans. Still, Zuckerberg, who holds board control, could push for a stock sale at any time, they said.”

U.S. Financial System Still at Risk, Says IMF [WSJ]
Get RIGHT out of town. “The International Monetary Fund says the U.S. financial system is “slowly recovering,” but remains vulnerable to crisis, in part because Congress and the administration have failed to streamline a regulatory system marked by turf battles and overlapping responsibilities.

‘We asked many times why bolder action could not be undertaken,’ said the IMF’s Christopher Towe, who oversaw the agency’s first broad review of the U.S. financial sector.”

SEC Charges Citigroup and Two Executives for Misleading Investors About Exposure to Subprime Mortgage Assets [SEC]
That includes former CFO Gary Crittenden who agreed to pay a $100,000 fine.


Colbert on the Expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts [TaxProf]

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Ownership Society
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

Talking Social Media With the New Jersey Society of CPAs

From the very first day we swapped our totally unprofessional Twitter account for one with less F-words and started finding accountants to follow, we have been constantly impressed with the concentration of accounting folks in social media. But in the constantly-evolving world of Internet communication, there are always a few bright spots that stand out as ahead of the curve, and the New Jersey Society of CPAs’ communications strategy sets itself apart as one such bright spot.

We were able to get a few moments with NJSCPA’s Don Meyer to discuss their strategy, successes and the drive behind their major social media push of the last three years. Operating with three goals in mind – driving member retention through a greater level of engagement for current meorking and learning opportunities for current members; supporting existing membership acquisition programs – the NJSCPA has learned to use the power of blogs and social networking to reach potential, new and long-time Society members as well as CPA exam candidates across the country. Turns out that we got way more insight into the NJSCPA social media brain than we can share here and were terribly impressed by their varying campaigns, daring strategy and dedication to delivering information.


AG: First things first: let’s talk about your social media campaigns. What sort of things are you heavily involved in and why?

DM: We launched our first blog, NJSCPA Exam Cram, about three years ago to help guide student members and exam candidates through the exam process. We’ve been on Facebook for almost two years and have attracted more than 1,800 fans. We developed our page to maintain contact with student members who sometimes change mailing addresses and emails following graduation, but we now find that the page is a valuable source of professional and Society information for members in all age groups. Our LinkedIn group, launched almost two years ago, serves much the same purpose, providing information for our members and a place for them to connect. We jumped into Twitter about a year ago. We currently have more than 700 people following us. Our Twitter page is linked to our news blog, CPA Observation Post. We use those tools to provide daily professional and Society updates, but we also use Twitter and the blog to help NJ accounting firms promote themselves.

AG: Is there anything you’ve tried that hasn’t worked out as well as you’d hoped?

DM: We tried a financial literacy blog, but we couldn’t generate much interest. I think there may be too much competition out there and we couldn’t find the right niche. Our financial literacy Facebook and Twitter pages have not taken off as quickly as we had hoped.

AG: Anything that really surprised you when it comes to social media?

DM: I was not a believer in Twitter before we started using it extensively last year. Now I think it’s my favorite social media site. I think it’s a great tool for disseminating news and information quickly and easily. I’m also surprised how successful our Facebook advertising has been. I was skeptical that anyone on Facebook would click on ads promoting our page, but it’s played a key role in helping us promote our presence.

AG: The NJSCPA Exam Cram blog has been around for awhile (we noticed it quite some time ago) and seems to get a great response. Can you tell us more about how this came about and how you select exam candidates to participate? Do you follow them after they’ve successfully completed the exam?

DM: Many of us involved in the Society’s student outreach programs have never taken the exam, so we felt we needed to get the perspective from aspiring CPAs who had experienced the ups and downs. This way if a student or candidate asked us a non-technical exam question (e.g. in what order should I take each section, how should I study, how do you feel when you fail one part of the exam, etc.) we could refer them to the blog. We started out with one blogger but soon discovered that work and personal commitments would preclude any blogger from posting as often as we would like. So we gradually added more bloggers. At the moment, we have five CPA Exam candidate bloggers and one staff person blogger, Janice Amatucci. We don’t have a set procedure for how we pick our bloggers. We ask student members who have been involved with the Society through one of our various student programs or simply ask for volunteers via email or at events. The first five bloggers all passed the CPA Exam and continue to contribute to the NJSCPA by writing articles, serving as team leaders at student events or attending other Society events. To date, we’ve attracted more than 72,000 pageviews.

You can find the NJSCPA all over the place online here.

Accounting News Roundup: Bush Tax Cuts May Still Have Life; FASB’s ‘Religious War’ Rages; Facebook Might Do an IPO Someday | 07.22.10

Bush Tax Cuts Roil Democrats [WSJ]
“Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) said in an interview Wednesday that Congress shouldn’t allow taxes on the wealthy to rise until the economy is on a sounder footing.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) said through a spokesman that he also supported extending all the expiring tax cuts for now, adding that he wanted to offset the impact on federal deficits as much as possible.

They are the second and third Senate Democrats to come out publicly in recent days in favor of extending all the tax breaks for the time being. Sen. Evan Bayh (D., Ind.) made similar comments last week.”

Madoff’s Ghost Still Haunts SEC [Washington Wire/WSJ]
In testimony earlier in the week, SEC Chair Mary Schapiro told a congressional committee that many of the people that investigated Bernie Madoff – 15 of 20 enforcement attorneys and 19 of 36 examination staffers – have left the Commission. However, that isn’t good enough for Rep. Bill Posey (R – FL).

“Republican Rep. Bill Posey of Florida –- home to many Madoff victims -– said he wants to know if those SEC employees ended up at other regulatory agencies, working for companies they were supposed to regulate, or retired with government pensions.

‘There’s a necessity to know where they went,; said Posey. ‘It’s like letting a pedophile slink out the door or change neighborhoods. We’re dealing with the same type of problem here.’

Schapiro strongly disagreed. ‘These aren’t bad people. In some cases they were people who were very junior and not adequately trained or supervised.’ In other cases, she said, they were pulled from one project to another.”

Despite the proclivities of some SEC employees, we haven’t seen anything warrant that particular label.


FASB in “religious war” to bring in fair value [Accountancy Age]
Lawrence Smith believes in fair value, you might say, in a fanatical sense. The FASB Member was quoted in AA, “Some people have advised us that we shouldn’t say this, but I’ll say it – fair value, to some of us, is almost like a religious war out there and we are trying to deal with that as best we can.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard a FASB member drop the relidge war rhetoric. Marc Siegel used similar language last summer, so there seems to be at least a smidge of seriousness behind .

Plus, at the rate things are going, the debate will soon reach Israel/Palestinian ignorability (word?) levels later this year.

Facebook IPO “when makes sense”, Zuckerberg tells ABC [Reuters]
That is, never.

Trust, but verify [MJS]
Starting now!

People Get More Satisfaction From Filing Their Taxes Online Than Using Facebook

The emphasis isn’t needed but we’ve provided it anyway:

Despite being the most popular website in America, consumers don’t like Facebook, according to the 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business Report, produced in partnership with ForeSee Results. Facebook scored 64 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale, which puts its satisfaction even lower than IRS e-filers. This puts Facebook in the bottom 5% of all measured private sector companies and in the same range as airlines and cable companies, two perennially low-scoring industries with terrible customer satisfaction.

It makes sense, really. If someone is filing their taxes electronically and something goes wrong, he/she is probably able to keep it together long enough to call up the IRS and tell him what the problem is. On the other hand, if Farmville starts acting up on Patrick Byrne (just as an example), we’re guessing the man loses his shit.

Accounting News Roundup: Liberty Tax CEO Hints at Combination with H&R Block; Former NABA President Killed in Skydiving Accident; Sam Antar Has a Question | 07.20.10

Liberty Tax CEO Floats Combining With H&R Block [AP]
John Hewitt, CEO of Liberty Tax, is hinting that maybe he’d like to merge with H&RB, “John Hewitt, founder and CEO of Liberty Tax Service, said Monday he is trying to contact departing board member Thomas Bloch to discuss the potential for combining his privately held company with Kansas City, Mo.-based H&R Block.

‘With my leadership and the name and backing of the Bloch family, we could put a great company going back in the right direction,’ said Hewitt.”

We didn’t say it was a subtle hint.

SEC May Add 800 New Positions as Part Of Reform [Reuters]
At least try to keep the porn enthusiasts out, “The top U.S. securities regulator will need to add about 800 new positions to carry out its part of the massive financial reform legislation, the head of the agency said in testimony to be delivered on Tuesday.

Mary Schapiro, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said the agency is still crunching the numbers on costs and hiring, and expects the upcoming rulewriting task to be ‘logistically challenging and extremely labor intensive.'”

Two 70-somethings, Theodore Wilson and George Flynn, killed after mid-air skydiving collision [NYDN]
Messrs Wilson and Mr Flynn were both experienced jumpers and were having textbook jumps until something went wrong with approximately 100 feet to go. Mr Wilson was born and raised in the Bronx and he was a former president of the National Association of Black Accountants.

Job Hunting Is Often One Step Forward, Two Steps Back [FINS]
A recent study from the University of Minnesota suggests that people on the hunt for a new job are their own worst enemies, “The results won’t be news to anyone who has ever returned from a jog and mauled a chocolate cake or followed up a productive hour of work with some heavy Facebooking.”

In other words, if someone has a good interview, they’re likely to return home and vedge for the rest of the day, feeling good about their prospects, when the best thing would do is to land the next interview with another prospect.


BP Weighs New Way to Kill Gulf Well [WSJ]
“Oil giant BP PLC was Monday considering yet another method to kill its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well amid concerns that the cap it installed last week could be allowing oil and gas to seep out the sides.

Meanwhile, a federal panel investigating the disaster heard that the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig suffered a series of power outages and seized-up computers in the months before it exploded.

BP’s new containment cap has stopped the flow of oil since Thursday, but with the well now sealed at the top, government officials are worried that oil and gas could now be escaping elsewhere.”

Facebook Claimant Must Answer `Where Have You Been?’ to Succeed [Bloomberg]
“Paul Ceglia, the western New York man who says a 2003 contract with Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg entitles him to 84 percent of the company, will have to answer a critical question to pursue his claim, lawyers said.

‘The first thing that comes to mind is, where have you been all this time?’ asked Los Angeles litigator Bryan Freedman, who isn’t involved in the case.”

Answer: Been busy on Facebook.

Nokia Conducting Search for New CEO [WSJ]
Get your résumé in now.

I Have A Question [White Collar Fraud]
If Sam Antar is asking a question, something usually stinks. This time he’s wondering if someone had the NBTY Directors jumped the gun on some stock purchases prior the company’s purchase by the Carlyle Group, “If [CNBC’s David] Faber’s reporting is correct, does ‘early May’ mean before or after Michael Ashner and Peter White bought their NBTY shares?”

Accounting News Roundup: Financial Reform Inches Closer; Small Biz Continues with Bleak Outlook; Kwame Kilpatrick Gets Tax-Funded Counsel in Tax Fraud Case | 07.13.10

Finance Bill Close to Passage in Senate [WSJ]
“Two Senate Republicans said Monday they would support the Obama administration’s financial-overhaul legislation, and Democrats now believe they have the 60 votes needed to push the sweeping bill into law by the end of the week.

Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe of Maine both said they would vote for the measure when Democrats bring it to a vote, which could happen as soon as this week. Democrats and administration officials believe this gives them the necessary backing to overcome a potential filibuster after weeks of uncertainty and unexpected pitfalls.”

Abu Dhabi May Make BP Investment, Crown Prince Says [Bloomberg]
“Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the emirate is considering making an investment in BP Plc.

‘We are still thinking about it,’ he said in an interview in Abu Dhabi today, when asked about potentially buying a stake in the London-based oil producer. ‘We are looking across the board. We have been partners with BP for years.’

BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward said on July 7 that he had a “very good” meeting with the crown prince as analysts said the oil producer may be looking for support from Middle East investors. BP shares have gained 26 percent since the start of July as the company gets closer to containing its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst oil spill in U.S. history.”

Small Businesses Get More Pessimistic [WSJ/Real Time Economics]
“Small businesses continue to feel highly pessimistic about the U.S. economic outlook, according to a report Tuesday that showed a monthly indicator of their sentiment turning weaker in June.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses said its Small Business Optimism Index dropped 3.2 points to 89.0 last month, more than erasing the modest 1.6-point gain it saw in May. The report, which was compiled by NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg, described the decline as ‘a very disappointing outcome.’ ”


Kilpatrick expected to ask for court-appointed counsel for fraud case [WXYZ]
Kwame Kilpatrick needs taxpayers’ help in his tax fraud case, namely paying for a lawyer. Since he cannot afford one, the people of Michigan will be picking up the tab.

Man Claims Ownership of Facebook [WSJ]
Today in wild-ass lawsuits, “A New York judge has issued a temporary restraining order restricting the transfer of Facebook Inc.’s assets, following a suit by a New York man who claims to own an 84% stake in the social-networking company.

Paul D. Ceglia filed a suit in the Supreme Court of New York’s Allegany County on June 30, claiming that a 2003 contract he signed with Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg entitles him to ownership of the company and monetary damages.”

Accounting News Roundup: Grassley Not Sold on Financial Reform Bill; LeBron Was Probably Considering Tax Implications; Target: Your Spreadsheets | 07.09.10

Grassley Airs Concerns As Vote Nears on Financial Bill [WSJ]
“Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley is ‘very concerned’ about a provision in the financial overhaul bill designed to pay for the leaid Thursday, potentially complicating White House efforts to build a filibuster-proof majority to back the measure.

If Mr. Grassley decides to vote against the bill, Democrats would be left with little margin for error when they bring the bill to the Senate floor, which could happen as soon as next week. Mr. Grassley was one of four Republicans to support an earlier version of the bill when it narrowly passed the Senate in May.”

Number of CEOs Stepping Down is on the Rise [FBN]
It’s hard out there for a CEO. Ask Russ Smyth.

State Jock Taxes: Is LeBron Better Off in Miami? [Tax Foundation]
Of course Florida has no income tax, so every game that LBJ plays in Florida he’ll have a tax liability of $0. What about the other 41 games outside of FLA? That’s another story, “True, if James plays in Miami, none of his neighbors will be paying state income tax, but thanks to the jock tax, LeBron will.

While most people who travel in their jobs pay state income tax only to their home state, which is zero in Florida, athletes get special attention. In the NBA, each player’s per-game salary is computed, and whenever a team is on the road, the players must pay whichever tax rate is higher, the home state’s or the away state’s.”


Facebook Often Not a Job Seeker’s Friend [FINS]
If you’re pounding the pavement for a new job out there, it’s pretty much a given that people are looking at your online activity. But just how much and where? Based on the conversation between FINS’ Kyle Stock asked Michael Fertik of ReputationDefender Inc, you’d better drop those loser friends from high school that have appeared on Cops:

Kyle Stock: Can you speak briefly on to what extent companies are checking up on candidates online?

Michael Fertik: They’re absolutely doing it. It’s somewhere around 70% to 80% of hiring managers. . . And not only are they looking online, they are also looking in really remarkable places like virtual worlds and gaming rooms.

KS: To what extent do people realize this is going on?

MF: Somewhere around 70% of employers are considering online information when evaluating a candidate and only 7% of candidates believe they are doing so. There’s a huge gulf of understanding. . . Everybody has been opted in. There’s kind of a willful ignorance about it. That’s changing, but it’s still there.

And the kinds of information being considered are growing very diverse. It’s not just the photo that you published of yourself with a beer or a bong, it’s also content like who your friends are and what they post on your page and what kinds of groups that you link to. There’s kind of an associative picture that they develop of you and then they make decisions about you based on those associations.

Russian Spies Head Home in Swap Echoing Cold War [Bloomberg]
Defendant #4 and the rest of the gang are going home, making your next conference predictably more boring. Or will it???

Internal Auditors Target Spreadsheets [CFO]
“Last month the Institute of Internal Auditors plugged a gap in its guidance for members by issuing recommendations for the auditing of ‘user-developed applications,’ which generally are spreadsheets and databases developed by end users rather than by IT personnel.

User-developed applications, or UDAs, are subject to a high level of data-integrity risk because there may not be adequate controls over validating their output or making changes to them, the IIA points out. There is also confidentiality risk, because a UDA and its data typically are easy to transmit outside the company via e-mail.”

Despite Endless Tweets to the Contrary, Recent Poll Debunks “Accounting Is Boring” Stereotype

Unbeknownst to us (until a little bit ago), Ajilon Finance has declared April as Accountant Appreciation Month and has marked the occasion by encouraging displays of appreciation through the most official of means: Facebook.

And that’s not the all! A recent poll done by Ajilon says that 88% of respondents don’t believe the stereotype that accountants are boring. The same poll found that 84% of the respondents don’t think the profession is boring. These findings contradict a constant Twitter feed so you’ll have to make your own conclusions on the validity of the poll.


In other mind-blowing results from the poll, 98% of those surveyed “recognized that accountants work hard all year round and not only the months during tax season.” The other 2% obviously assume that your 8 month vacation started last Friday.

In other developments, 100% of Big 4 auditors get annoyed when their family, friends, and other non-accountants (like the ones surveyed by Ajilon) ask how their tax season went.

Accountants Can Celebrate: Tax Day is Over & Americans are Seeing the Profession in a New Light [Ajilon Press Release]

Why Aren’t Accountants Getting Fired for Status Updates on Facebook?

A friend of GC recently made mention of the number of people belly aching about busy season in the filterless universe of Facebook. Yes, we realize this is a shock.

Granted, kvetching about your job is a God-given right but at what point is someone just asking to get their ass thrown out? While “experts” are constantly telling you to “be careful about what you post online,” that seems to be overblown because we’re hearing and seeing people hating their jobs out in the open with no discernible repercussions.

God knows there were status updates from E&Y people re: lack of hoops during the Lehman talk.


Case in point, our friend shared this recent status update with us:

“stock options, fraud interviews, preferred equity accounting…my job is sexy.”

Now maybe this isn’t a “get your shit and get the hell out” offense but accountants have proven to be an easily rankled bunch and if the right person were to read this update, there at least might be a frank discussion about this. It’s become obvious that someone at all the major firms is doing nothing but snooping around the Internet, doing nothing but reading employee complaints.

And maybe we’re premature on this issue. Busy season, while winding down, is still going on and warm bodies are still needed, so some gnashing of teeth on FB might be tolerable.

Maybe this is an unwritten rule in the industry that has evolved with the popularity of Facebook. We ignore your rants for all the world to hear, we take pieces of your soul, one busy season at at time.

Accounting News Roundup: Overstock.com Filing 10-K Late; Avoid Tax Related Status Updates on Facebook; IRS Is Getting to Most of Your Calls | 03.17.10

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Try to stay sober-ish at lunch today.

Overstock.com Delays Filing 10-K, Reports Even More GAAP Violations, While Patrick Byrne Hides [White Collar Fraud]
Yesterday marked another SEC deadline that has come and gone, and if you’re one of those teams that has a client filing late, this means that your life is still not yours. Case in point, the KPMG team tasked with turning the ship around at Overstock.com still has some work to do as they filed form 12b-25 yesterday afternoon, notifying the SEC that the 10-K would be a tad late.


“Overstock.com nonchalantly lumped in its latest GAAP violations with other GAAP violations previously disclosed by the company on January 29, rather than separately disclosing them,” writes Sam Antar (emphasis original). Here are the new booboos:

Identification of amounts related to customer refunds and credits not properly included in the Company’s monthly reconciliation of customer refunds and credits to third party statements to determine the completeness and accuracy of returns expense.

The accounting for certain external audit fees on a ratable basis, instead of as incurred.

The recognition of co-branded credit card bounty revenue and promotion expense on an immediate recognition basis, instead of over time.

The late recognition of a reduction in the restructuring accrual for a new sublease and the recognition of interest expense related to the accretion of the restructuring accrual.

The Company reports that the filing will be delayed “until it has completed the restatement process and all procedures necessary,” to get things right. Patrick Byrne is nothing, if not thorough. Oh, and they mentioned that they’ll be reporting material weaknesses in their internal control system but, BUT! that they are still going to report their first annual profit. Shareholders can tepidly rejoice.

IRS Uses Social Networks for Tax Probes [Web CPA]
The IRS has decided that the best way to discover your tax dodging ways is to look for clues in the one place no one can resist being completely and uncomfortably honest: Facebook.

Web CPA reports, “The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released documents uncovered from Freedom of Information Act requests, showing that the IRS as well as the FBI and other government agencies have been using social media sites like Facebook to collect information for investigations.”

Right. We suggest you stop talking about the six-figure 1099 you got that didn’t have any withholding and that you didn’t bother making estimated tax payments. Or roll the dice, lock up your privacy settings and continue with the financial TMI. Your choice.

TIGTA: IRS on Track to Meet Goal of Answering 71% of Taxpayer Phone Calls After a 12-Minute Wait [TaxProf Blog]
The IRS is making good on its promise to ignore less than 30% of the phone calls from taxpayers needing help with their 2009 tax returns. They’re also getting to each caller in less than twelve minutes which is pretty good considering all the shit they’re putting up with these days (planes, packages full of personal items that might be a something, people having seizures, overzealous agents). If you’ve got an extra twelve minutes, call them up and thank them for their service.

Just So You’re Aware: There’s a Facebook Group “Sexy Accountants”

From the group description:

“Basically, we’re Accountants aaaaaand very sexy. Aint no pocket protectors here, we’re all about Montblancs and Prada. All sexy accountant impersonators will be removed.”

Lame? Perhaps. Surprising? Hardly, dude.

What’s even less surprising is that Joseph Stack has waaaaay more members/fans in his FB groups.

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.

A Little Housekeeping

Your cubicle isn’t the only place it’s busy season. We’ve been working hard to make your GoingConcern experience as streamlined as an ez401K, an effort we revealed today with a move to the popular Wordpress platform from our old Movable Type framework, a few design changes, a brand new comment system, and — yes, we admit — even a bit of downtime!

We realize that change can be scary, but we encourage you to tell us what you think in our new, more flexible comment system, which will allow you to sign in with your Twitter, Facebook, or OpenID accounts and make your voice heard loud and clear across the internet. We encourage you to give it a go — and of course sign up to follow GoingConcern on Twitter, become one of our fans on Facebook, or sign up for our e-mail newsletter.

On top of that, the choir of voices harmonizing on GoingConcern will be growing. You’ll be getting more frequent posts from the likes of The JDA and Francine; plus, we’re teaming with the gang at CFOZone for more corporate finance insight and analysis.

We’ll also be looking to interview more of you, dear readers, to hear more about what’s on your mind. If you or someone you know will make a good subject, or if you just want to play editorial director and let us know what we should be covering, just drop us an email at [email protected].

Is Patrick Byrne’s Facebook Friends List Motivated by a Farmville Obsession?

Thumbnail image for farmvillePat.jpgWe haven’t really touched on the Patrick Byrne’s ill-fated attempt to stalk his critics (and all their friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers) mostly because we weren’t on the list and those that were (including Gary Weiss, Sam Antar, Joe Wiesenthal, and Barry Ritholtz) are doing a fine job of pointing out how desperate, shady, and just plain fucking bad this makes Patsy, his head minion at DeepCapture Judd Bagley, and Overstock look.
We only bring it up now because we’d like to point out that it’s worth speculating on the other side of this story. Our contention is that P. Byrne, being of questionable mind and maturity, is OBSESSED with Farmville and it is his personal mission to destroy the Farmvilles of his critics and their FB friends (now who’s movin’ up in Farmville, bitches?).
This agonizing torture method will eventually wear down the haters to the point to where no one will be able to take the man, his doomed-to-fail quest to locate an auditor, and his company seriously and will thus give up their quest of destroying him.
The only other thing we can come up with is that he has an intense hatred of trite status updates and was going to expose everyone for their lack of substantive commentary but we find all his critics to be interesting bloggers, so we tossed that theory.
Grant Thornton and PwC have got to feel pret-tay good about how this all turned out. If you’ve got you own theories or thoughts on this situation, feel free to discuss them here.

Deloitte Is Super Proud of Their Presence on Linked In

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DTa.jpgOh, and they finally released their global revenue numbers.

Deloitte ended the suspense today, issuing their global revenues for fiscal year 2009 and issuing their “annual review”. For the past couple of months, we were speculating about the holdup since they have historically been issued much earlier.


Most of the comments at that time were taking the under on the revenues and they were right, as Deloitte came in at $26.1 billion. This was down 4.9% but the firm kindly reminds everyone that in local currency, there was actually growth of 1%, thankyouverymuch.

This, despite all the charts on Deloitte’s website showing the drop of 4.9%. Jim Quigley, Global CEO, and going with the local currency figures:

“Achieving positive growth in this exceptionally difficult economic environment was the result of close attention to the needs of clients and a strong commitment to professional excellence by our member firm professionals. Despite the tough economy, we remain focused on our vision to be the standard of excellence and will continue to invest in pursuit of this vision”

In addition to JQ’s assessment, an explanation of revenues by functional area continue to refer to growth while the chart shows decreases in revenues when compared to the prior fiscal year:

Consulting was the fastest growing function at 7.3 percent. Reflecting the challenging economy, both audit and tax were relatively flat against the prior year. Financial advisory services decreased by 6.1 percent from the prior year, primarily due to substantially decreased merger and acquisition activity.

On the chart, consulting was shown to only grow 2%, tax decreased by 5.5%, audit by 6.4%, and financial advisory by 13.8%. So, yeah, a little confusing. Not to mention that all of the charts present this information in what appears to be Enron Beezlebub.

Deloitte presents a whole bunch of additional information that is much larger, including how awesome the firm’s social network presence is:

• Over 75,000 members on Linked In
• Over 11,000 fans of their Facebook page
• Over 2,000 followers on their Twitter feed

And since they knew you were wondering, Deloitte uses 2.59 MWh of electricity per person, which amounts to carbon emissions of 1.31 Mt CO2 per person. Again, since this information is in much larger font, we’ll go out on a limb and assume that it positive news.

Seems like the typical spin, so we’ll take it for what it’s worth. Discuss your thoughts on Deloitte’s numbers and what it’s Facebook status might be in the comments.

Facebook Finds a CFO, Hopefully One that is Okay with Awkward Interaction

Facebook Inc. announced today that David Ebersman will be the company’s Chief Financial Officer:

Ebersman, 39, will oversee Facebook’s finance, accounting, investor relations and real estate functions. He will formally start in September, Palo Alto, California-based Facebook said in a statement today.

You’ll note that Ebersman will oversee “investor relations”. It’s probably no coincidence that this is not a task that falls on Mark Zuckerberg who “has been known to have awkward interactions with other humans”:http://valleywag.gawker.com/344440/60-minutes-scoop-zuckerberg-remains-awkward-with-humans.
Thus, another challenge that will face Ebersman in his new position will be actually interacting with his boss. We here at Going Concern predict that awkward encounters with Zuckerberg will definitely be the biggest unforeseen challenge that Ebersman will wrestle with.
The article does not elaborate on whether Ebersman’s status updates on the social networking site are trite observations about the weather, his busy weekend, or a bad day at work.

Facebook Names Former Genentech Manager Ebersman Finance Chief”:http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a1vS1Ub87oSA [Bloomberg]