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Survey: CFOs Digging Deep Into Bag of Tricks to Attract Talent

In an unexpected revelation, an Accountemps survey found that CFOs plan to offer more money and better benefits to attract professionals with "in-demand skills." Of the 2,100 finance chiefs surveyed, 46% are improving benefits and 45% are boosting compensation. In an earlier survey, Accountemps found that CFOs are on the lookout for professionals with "[g]eneral […]

BREAKING: Incompetent Tax Advisers May Get Fired

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

Romney Tax Returns to Be Released By October 15th Advisor Says, To Which We Respond, “Duh”

Ed Gillespie, "a senior Romney advisor," provides precisely zero insight as to the timing of when his boss's tax returns will see the light of day:  "Look, October 15 is the deadline for the IRS on an extension. We have said as soon as they're ready we're going to release them. And I believe they'll […]

Report Goes Out on a Limb, Suggests That Democrats Will Use Study Findings to Their Advantage in Tax Cut Debate

From Reuters: Letting tax rates for the wealthy rise will not put a short-term damper on the economic recovery, according to a report by the non-partisan research arm of the U.S. Congress. The study by the Congressional Research Service is likely to be used by Democrats in the looming battle over whether to extend tax cuts […]

BREAKING: Balancing Work, Life Is Stressful

According to an intrepid survey by Accountemps that investigated what stresses out CFOs, balancing work and life responsibilities was listed as the biggest drag. This beat out office politics, keeping up with accounting and finance regulations, higher workloads, and a "challenging commute." Maybe all these men and women wouldn't be so stressed if more of them […]

BREAKING: Multinational Corporations Engage in Complex Planning Strategies to Avoid Taxes

Who knew?  U.S. companies with offshore operations could be saving billions of dollars by utilizing apparently legal tax maneuvers, according to a new study. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in a report released Monday, found that companies around the world are using a sometimes complex series of moves to take advantage of differences in […]

BREAKING: Stress Affects Accountants’ Mental Health

Yep! And apparently there’s new evidence “suggesting” as much:

The Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association is logging rising numbers of calls from professionals who appear to be developing mental health issues, or believe they are at risk of doing so. Interim operations team manager Helena Coxshall said the evidence is not conclusive as the helpline does not offer medical diagnosis, but highlighted rising numbers of calls in the second half of 2011. “These are coming from people who feel that they are heading towards a potential breakdown and we also see it from people who call us regarding other issues, but appear to be showing symptoms of mental illness of which they may be unaware,” she continued.

So take care out there, masters of the double-entry system. The last thing we want to see is any of you cracking up.

Accountants’ mental health ‘hit by stress’ [Accountancy Age]

Department of Justice Would Treat Goldman Sachs Slightly Better Than Arthur Andersen

That is, the DOJ wouldn’t indict Goldman on criminal charges like they did Andersen. Which, you may recall, didn’t turn out so well for A^2.

DealBook reports the musings of Sanford Bernstein analyst Brad Hintz:

If an alleged violation is identified during a Goldman investigation, we expect a reasoned response from the Justice Department. In a worst case environment, we would expect a “too big to fail” bank such as Goldman to be offered a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, pay a significant fine and submit to a Federal monitor in lieu of a criminal charge. Consequently, we do not believe that Goldman investors face an “Arthur Andersen” risk.

No ‘Arthur Andersen’ Risk to Goldman, Analyst Says [DealBook]

BREAKING: Big 4 Firms Compete for Talent

For those not previously aware:

A talent war is among the top concerns for both the accounting profession and their corporate clients, says Jim Henry, managing partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in San Francisco. Even as the nation struggles with persistently high unemployment, those with the right skills and credentials are in demand. “We’re seeing a hot market for those with the relevant skills,” said Henry. “It’s a sign of the economy improving over the last 18 months.”

Since this is a BizJournal publication we hit the paywall but can presume that Diego discussed PwC’s successful competitive poaching campaign (which included picking up James Draper in San Fran).

Accounting firms battle to attract the best talent [SFBJ]

Who Would Have Guessed That Texas CPAs Would Oppose the Elimination of Oil and Gas Tax Breaks?

Next thing you know you’ll hear about CPAs in Iowa (with the exception of one with whom we’re acquainted) opposing the repeal of ethanol credits.

The Texas Society of CPAs’ Federal Tax Policy Committee addressed the issue in its “Analysis of Legislative Proposals to Repeal Certain Tax Treatments of Domestic Oil and Gas Exploration and Development”.The committee agrees that reducing the deficit is of utmost importance, but said that any effort to cut tax incentives for oil companies and raising taxes on oil and gas exploration and development should be weighed against its potential to exacerbate the current underemployment issue, and the need for a secure source of energy.

As noted in the analysis, the committee said it believes repealing tax benefits and allowances for the industry could adversely impact the state’s oil and gas industry, and the economies of Texas and the U.S.

Texas CPAs Oppose Elimination of Oil and Gas Tax Breaks [AT]

BREAKING: Republicans Don’t Like President Obama’s Tax Proposals

[K]ey Republicans have not responded positively to signals that President Obama will push for some tax increases in his deficit-reduction plan to be laid out this week. David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser, indicated Sunday that the president would reiterate his call to raise taxes on households making $250,000 and above and also signal a desire to look at other provisions in the tax code that wealthier taxpayers use to their advantage. In his fiscal 2012 budget, released in February, the president called for allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for income above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples at the end of next year. That statement came roughly two months after a compromise with congressional Republicans had extended current tax rates for the richest taxpayers for two years. [The Hill]

BREAKING: Tax Season Leads to Poor Work/Life Balance for Accountants

This newsflash is brought to you by OfficeMax’s National “Tax it To Me” survey:

For busy accountants responsible for filing taxes on behalf of the approximately 82 million out of 228 million American adults who opt to use professional services, tax season is perhaps even more emotionally wrought. A busy plate often leads to a poor work/life balance, botched sleep schedules, poor eating habits, and problems in personal relationships.

And if you can believe that, the survey also found that taxpayers blame procrastination of filing their returns on nervousness, confusion and laziness (among other things). Now remove your hand from your forehead and get back to work.

[via The Hill]

BREAKING: Accountants Work Long Hours, Get Stressed During Tax Season

Not only that but another shocking revelation is that they use caffeine to help them pull through this tough stretch.

They work 60-hour weeks this time of year, relying on pots of strong coffee and late-night dinners to help them calculate an endless swirl of numbers. Accountants are working feverishly to meet the deadline to file their clients’ tax returns this year even though they have extra time to do so.

Also, this just in – things get stressful because taxes are complicated:

The late nights can get intense, according to Carolyn Dolci, a tax partner in the Hackensack office of EisnerAmper. “It is busier than last year, partly because of the complexity of the tax code,” she said.

If you’re experiencing this phenomenon in your office, tell us your story in the comments below. Things will remain fluid for a few more weeks; we’ll keep you updated with any developments.

Accountants burning the candles at both ends [Star-Ledger]

BREAKING: Some Banks Are Uncooperative with Auditor Requests

From the mailbag:

Just thought I’d share some developments from the audit world. Some financial institutions which respond to our audit requests are adding disclaimers such as the following:

“…The recipient acknowledges that [the respondent] does not represent and warrant that the information is complete and accurate. The recipient further acknowledges that the information may not disclose the entire relationship between the customer and [the respondent]…”

Basically, this is making the confirmation process entirely pointless as banks are saying that even if they sign and respond to a confirmation, they aren’t guaranteeing that their response actually means that the balance is accurate. They are also doing this in the fine print attached to a lot of confirmations so it wasn’t entirely obvious until some people started actually reading that fine print. This is causing issues as we can no longer rely on these confirmations for our audit procedures if they contain such a disclaimer.

PwC Report Shocker: Consumers Who Pirate Video Are ‘Enticed by Free Content’

If you can believe that.

[A]ccording to a report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), those lessons don’t relate well to a generation of broadband mobile users who still prefer to go searching for free content rather than pay even the smallest price.

“Many consumers who say they commit online piracy are enticed by free content” despite having access to “an astonishing variety of movies videos and television shows–on multiple platforms–faster than ever before,” the report concludes.

The report’s key findings are topped by the fact that 81 percent of surveyed consumers say they will continue pirating video despite concerns about computer viruses, the legality of their actions and inferior quality/fidelity of the content. It also reported a crossover effect in that “40 percent of those who report pirating content via traditional methods said they will probably also pirate on mobile devices within the next six months.”

PwC: Video pirates “enticed by free content” [FierceCable]
The speed of life [PwC]

PwC Survey: Working People to Death Might Cause Them to Quit Their Jobs

Shocking survey results out of PwC today as the firm announced that overworking staff increases turnover at law firms. If you can believe that.

There is a “strong correlation” between staff turnover and chargeable hours at law firms, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Numbers released as part of their annual survey of the sector show that the top ten law firms have average turnover rates of 17-18%.
According to the accountancy firm, reducing turnover to less than 10% can reduce costs by £32,000 per equity partner.

In semi-ironic and related news, a bunch of bitter Big 4 employees finally decided over the Thanksgiving holiday that they would be leaving their respective firms because they are sick of the hours.

Ford CFO: Having Ready Access to Cash Is a Decent Business Practice

FYI for any budding CFOs out there:

Having liquidity is key to any business and it is important to build it before any crisis, said Ford Motor Co.’s (F) chief financial officer Thursday.

“We have to assume that when you really need liquidity, it won’t be there,” said Lewis Booth, speaking at Treasury & Risk’s 15th annual Alexander Hamilton Awards ceremony in New York City.


After those insightful comments, Booth gushed about how the company that Hank built was doing.

“We expect our automotive cash to be about equal to our debt by year-end 2010, earlier than expected,” Booth said, adding “this has been a magic year.”

Just a CFO walking the talk (almost anyway).

Grant Thornton CFO Survey Reminds Everyone That the Job Market Still Sucks

But don’t just take the CFOs word for it, Stephen Chipman is hearing the same thing from the dynamic companies that GT is rubbing elbows with these days:

In a national survey of U.S. Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and senior comptrollers conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, only 29% plan to increase hiring in the next six months, while 21% plan to decrease hiring.

A vast majority (79%) believe that the U.S. economy will not recover until the second half of 2011 or later, and more than half (59%) are concerned with a double-dip recession.

“These findings are consistent with what we have been hearing from our dynamic-organization clients,” said Grant Thornton LLP CEO Stephen Chipman. “Indecision stemming from a weak economy and the unknown impact of governmental tax policy and new regulation on business and individuals is causing paralysis, particularly as it relates to major business decisions, including expansion, expenditures and hiring.”

In related economic shitshow news, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are probably going to need more bailout cash. As you were.

Meet Hans Hoogervorst, Your Next IASB Chairman


This is the man that is going to make one high-quality set of global accounting standards a reality.

Related: The Wall St. Journal discovers that global accounting rules have been politicized. WHO KNEW?!?

The non-accountant at the IASB [FT Alphaville]
The Politicization of Global Accounting [WJS]

Time Warner CFO Gives Shocking Assessment of the Print Ad Market

In case you haven’t been paying attention for the past, say, 5-10 years:

Time Warner Inc. (TWX) Chief Financial Officer John Martin said Thursday that the television advertising market is “really strong,” while the print advertising market is “okay–but not really robust.”


Not to worry though, there are no signs that things are getting worse.

Meanwhile, he said the company’s publishing arm, Time Inc.–which he called “the most secularly challenged part of our company”–faces difficult comparisons in the second half of this year, though he added that he didn’t see any slowdown ahead.

The magazine business was pummeled by the recent economic downturn at a time when it was already declining due to the rise of digital media.

Time Warner CFO: TV Ad Market `Really Strong,’ Print Less So [Dow Jones]