the French

Last Year Was a Very Unfortunate One to Be Wealthy and French, Even By French Standards

More than 8,000 French households' tax bills topped 100 percent of their income last year, the business newspaper Les Echos reported on Saturday, citing Finance Ministry data. The newspaper said that the exceptionally high level of taxation was due to a one-off levy last year on 2011 incomes for households with assets of more than 1.3 […]

Audit Reform Goodie Bag to Be Opened Tomorrow

Michel Barnier delayed things for a week – not his choice – but your anxiety should subside tomorrow:

Internal markets commissioner Barnier will present his audit reform proposals to European Parliament tomorrow, one week later than planned. […] Headline proposals include pure audit firms, mandatory joint audit and mandatory rotation, but critics claim the measures would not address Barnier’s proclaimed objectives.

Barnier’s audit reform unveiled tomorrow [Accountancy Age]

Michel Barnier: The Big 4 Audit Model Is a Failure

Okay, those weren’t the EU financial services commissioner’s exact words but you get the sincere impression that he’s had it up to his silver coif with how things are going.

“The crisis highlighted failings in the audit sector,” Barnier said today. “These need to be explored and we need to see what improvements can be made. I believe it is important to approach this discussion in a frank and open manner. No subject should be taboo.”

Right! No subject is off limits. So what will be discussed? Well, for starters this Big 4 thing has to stop. The Telegraph reports, “If one of the Big Four – PricewaterHouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte and Ernst & Young – were to collapse the Paper suggests it could create systemic risk for the financial markets.”

Secondly, the notion of independence and “putting shareholders” first is a sham. ‘Berg reports:

Restrictions on auditor choice may reduce “distortion within the system” caused by auditing firms acting in the interests of their clients rather than shareholders when compiling reports on a companies’ financial health, the commission said in a report outlining possible measures.

[…]

The commission said it’s also considering rules that would force companies to change their auditing firms after a fixed period of time.

Forcing companies to rotate their auditors would “enhance the independence of auditors” and “operate as a catalyst to introduce more dynamism and capacity into the audit market,” the commission said.

Lastly, can a Frenchman get some choice up in this mofo?

The top four accounting firms have a market share of about 90 percent in the majority of EU member states, according to the commission’s report.

“The market appears to be too concentrated in certain segments and deny clients sufficient choice when deciding on their auditors,” the commission said.

Barnier isn’t asking for a full-blown cafeteria but for crissakes, the choices right now are chicken, chicken, and….chicken. Sure, they might have slightly different recipes (e.g. KPMG a little spicy/sweet, PwC is in a cream sauce) but it’s all chicken. And Barnier HATES chicken.

Companies May Lose Right to Pick Auditing Firms Under European Union Plans [Bloomberg]
EU markets chief Barnier plans radical overhaul of audit industry [Telegraph]

Some French Guy Still Trying To Tell the U.S. What to Do Re: IFRS

Look, pal. We get that you’re anxious to slap these sets of accounting rules together like an IKEA ottoman. We also get that you and a certain knight want – nay – need the RW&B to be on board.

But we don’t know who you’re trying to boss here. See, we’re fairly certain you’d be speaking German if it wasn’t for us. Furthermore, in case you haven’t noticed, we like dragging things out until the last possible minute. Or just ignoring things until we have a giant mess on our hands and then we try cleaning up. Why would we treat IFRS any different?


We understand it’s a new century, millennium and you guys have a rough go in the World Cup but you can give it a rest.

We’ll get to IFRS when we’re good and ready and just because today is Bob Herz’s last day at the FASB doesn’t mean you need to get all anxious about it:

The US is due to make a decision about whether fully buy in to international standards in the latter half of next year. There has been speculation that the appointment of a new chairman for the US standard setter, FASB, could determine which way the world’s biggest economy will go on international standards.

In a speech yesterday to a conference organised by European financial think tank EUROFI, Barnier welcomed the involvement of the US in the Basel talks on financial regulation. But he added that the US should not part company with IFRS.

“It’s essential that we adopt the same prudential framework. I say this very simply, we cannot afford to take the risk of divergence in this area. And this is also the case for accounting standards,” he said.

EU chief urges US to buy into IFRS [Accountancy Age]

In Case You Need Another Reason to Hate the French

french flag.jpgWalking around the PwC office in Midtown Manhattan, our blogospondent in the field happened across a couple of young ladies having the picture taken in front of the P Dubya sign out front, proudly posing as if it was their names on the building at 300 Madison.
Said blogospondent approached the young ladies and asked if they worked at the P Dub and they responded in heavily French accents, “yes”. As result of further prying, it was revealed that the ladies do work a lot during “busy times”, sometimes between 50 and 60 hours a week!
This compared to an American tax associate who we spoke to just a couple days before who, in the last fifteen days, had worked 185 hours.
Let’s recap: America – 185 hours in 15 days in the middle of June vs. France – 50-60 hours in one week during the “busy time”.
American vitriol towards the French may now ensue.