Good job

Hey Look, BDO Had a Pretty Decent Year

Jack Weisbaum's final year as the most interesting accounting CEO in the world will go down in the book as a good one. The firm announced $618 million in revenues for fiscal year 2012. That's an increase of 8%. Each line of business saw increases with consulting coming in 36% higher than last year, tax […]

KPMG Remembers 9/11

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and memorials were held all over the country. Thousands of KPMG employees volunteered at over 200 non-profits to mark that tragic day including over 100 at PS 161 in New York and 70 at the wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Nothing more really needs to be said other than kudos to KPMG for their “Service of Remembrance.” Drop your own remembrances in the comments and if your firm marked the 10th anniversary in some way (aside from t-minus 4 days until the corporate tax filing deadline), let us know below or email us. [KPMG]

Vast Improvement in Volunteer-prepared Tax Returns Proves That the TIGTA’s Nagging Pays Off

Last year the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration came down pretty hard on volunteer tax preparers, noting that 41% of the returns contained errors. As is the IG’s wont, they scolded the IRS to improve this shameless display by volunteers and made some suggestions to help them suck less.

And it worked! Ninety percent of the tax returns prepared by volunteers were accurate thus earning praise from the IG:

Ninety percent of the 39 tax returns volunteers prepared for TIGTA auditors were prepared correctly, a sharp increase from the 59 percent accuracy rate reported by TIGTA in its 2009 review. TIGTA attributed the improvement to an increase in volunteers’ use of the IRS’s Intake/Interview and Quality Review Sheet (Form 13614-C), improved training, and enhanced oversight. Only 5 percent of the 39 tax returns were prepared without use of the Form 13164-C, versus 33 percent in TIGTA’s 2008 Filing Season review, and 22 percent in its 2009 Filing Season review.

“This report is a positive indication of the good work that the IRS is doing for America’s taxpayers,” stated J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “I commend the IRS on the progress it has made in helping volunteers accurately fulfill the very important task they assumed.”

This isn’t the first time that the TIGTA has managed to give the IRS credit for doing a decent job. Last month J. Russell George managed to give tepid kudos to the Service for providing satisfactory service at assistance centers but also reminded everyone that a mind-numbingly complex government bureaucracy can always get better. They’re blowing off the deaf and mute, after all.

(UPDATE) Dick Bové: The KPMG Citi Team Is ‘An Exceptional Acceptable Group of Auditors’

And you know he’s not messin’ because that’s what he told Charlie Gasparino and God knows you best not lie to the Fox Business Network’s ace reporter. Sure Bové didn’t actually say “KPMG” (hell, he’s probably never heard the name) but he’s giving credit to auditors which is about as unheard of as Tiger Woods using Trojans with hookers.

Bové may have mentioned some other things about Mike Mayo, Citi, Deferred Tax Assets so on and so forth but we’re sure you’re not worried about that.


Btw, if you need to get caught up on just who Dick Bové is, go here. Courtesy of FBN:

On Citi’s apparent cold shoulder towards analyst Mike Mayo:
“It’s totally wrong. Mike Mayo is a brilliant analyst. He’s been in this business for a long period of time and does a superb job of following the industry. To say he can’t come in and speak to the company in my view is absolutely and totally incorrect.”

On whether Mike Mayo’s accusations against Citigroup’s risk management lapses are accurate:
“Absolutely. In September of 2008, Citigroup was effectively bankrupt. The reason why it was bankrupt was the reason that Mike cites. It was that the risk management procedures had completely broken down and it was not effectively managing its portfolio. Mike is right on that comment.”

On why we should believe Citi on its accounting reports:
“We don’t have to take Citigroup’s answer to Mike Mayo. We can take a look at the fact that this company is audited by an exceptional group of auditors. They are regulated by a large number of bank regulators…and they actually are being audited for their tax issues right now by the IRS. All three of these groups agree with the public statements of Citigroup concerning DTAs.”

“What is the basis for saying that these three groups which have seen the numbers don’t know what they are talking about, whereas people that have not seen the numbers, do know what they are talking about.”

On whether Citi has been given a clean bill of health by the SEC, IRS and the Fed:
“We do have an audited financial statement which is not questioning the DTAs. We do have bank regulators who could have memorandums of understating with Citigroup if they believed there was a problem. Citi is estimated to earn by Mike Mayo $9 billion this year. Next year he estimates the company to show a 33 percent increase in earnings to $12 billion. If there is a DTA problem, why is there a belief that the company can jump its earnings by 33 percent from 2010 to 2011?”

We’ve been assured by the wonderful people at Fox that we will have video of this momentous (and perhaps unprecedented) occasion just as soon as it’s available.

UPDATE: AS WE SUSPECTED! Not only was the initial report mis-transcribed, check out Dick’s reaction to Gasparino’s question, “It’s KPMG I believe, correct?” around the 2:37 mark:

Pretty obvious that the dude has never heard of KPMG in his life.

KPMG Is Overachieving in the Green Department

Klynveldians may remember back in 2008 that the firm embarked on a divine green mission to reduce waste, its carbon footprint, so on and so forth.

Well, the firm announced today that not only has it achieved its goals in two years instead of three but it also exceeded the percent reduction goal of 25% with a 26% reduction in its carbon footprint.

Formation of Living Green Teams to harness the passion of KPMG’s employees and partners in local offices nationwide. – See a Living Green Team member at right.

Recycling of every laptop, monitor and printer, for both reuse and disposal of toxic materials – This is good considering all the layoffs that KPMG did from 2007-2009, there was probably a lot of laptops sitting around just collecting dust.

In all quasi-seriousness, it’s good to see the firm taking steps to put the green back in green eyeshade. Now if we could get everyone to bike or walk to work, we’d really have something. Discuss your impressions with KPMG’s treehuggery below.

NEW YORK, Jul. 21 /CSRwire/ – KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm, today announced it achieved a 26 percent reduction in its carbon footprint from 2007 through 2009, exceeding the firm’s stated three-year commitment of a 25 percent reduction in just two years.

In 2008, KPMG embarked on an ambitious environmental program in the United States called “Living Green” to support the firm’s commitment to reduce the amount of waste it generates, the volume of natural resources it consumes, and to reduce its carbon footprint. When it was announced, KPMG’s Living Green program targeted a 25 percent reduction in the U.S. firm’s overall carbon footprint by 2010.

The firm’s 26 percent reduction from 2007 through 2009 is based on the results of a recent analysis by KPMG’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services group that shows KPMG reduced its carbon footprint by 20 percent between 2008 and 2009, and 7 percent between 2007 and 2008.

“Living Green at KPMG has helped us better understand the need to adapt to climate change and invest in sustainable, eco-friendly business initiatives,” says Steve Clemente, KPMG principal and leader of the Living Green program. “Thanks to the commitment of our firm and the support of our 20,000 plus people nationwide, we are helping change the environment in which we live and work for the better.”

During the course of its Living Green program, the U.S. firm has reduced its electricity consumption by 9 percent and reduced paper consumption by 33 percent, while having increased the percentage of recycled paper used by 85 percent.

“KPMG’s successful carbon reductions represent the kind of corporate leadership we need at this time of environmental and economic crisis,” says Matt Petersen, president and CEO of Global Green USA, a national environmental non-profit organization dedicated to implementing solutions to global climate change. “KPMG is establishing – and beating ahead of time – reduction goals that save money and resources while reducing the carbon pollution that causes global warming.”

In achieving these results, KPMG is identifying leading practices and establishing new programs and processes at both the local office and national levels. They include:

• Formation of Living Green Teams to harness the passion of KPMG’s employees and partners in local offices nationwide. These teams implement the Living Green program at a grassroots level, driving innovation and making a difference through initiatives such as local specialized recycling programs, engagement with city-wide environmental programs, and hosting volunteer events with organizations dedicated to sustainability during KPMG’s annual Living Green week which is held each year in conjunction with Earth Day.

• Completion of a KPMG data technology center that uses multiple sources of electrical power, but features gas micro-turbines as its centerpiece. The natural gas-powered units provide exceptional energy efficiency, helping generate more than 70 percent of the power needed to run the facility and produce ultra-low carbon dioxide and particulate emissions.

• Recycling of every laptop, monitor and printer, for both reuse and disposal of toxic materials, while implementing server virtualization, which involves using one computer server to do the work of many. Server virtualization has prevented the emission of over 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

• In 2009, KPMG’s new Nashville office became the first firm office to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), followed by offices in San Diego and Orange County, California. Recently, firm offices in Boston and Charlotte received gold-level LEED certification.

“Being a responsible corporate citizen is a key driver of KPMG’s business, affecting our relationships with clients, shaping the experiences of our people, and inspiring us to be a positive force in our communities,” says Kathy Hannan, KPMG national managing partner, diversity and corporate social responsibility.

Reminder: Extended Haiti Donation Deadline for 2009 Tax Returns Is This Sunday

Despite many arguments that the extension was bad legislation, it cruised through Congress and was quickly signed by the POTUS and now the window is closing fast.

For those of you that are able to itemize deductions and you’re looking for a little extra deduction for ’09, the countdown is at t-minus two days.

If you are considering a last minute donation, A) what the hell have you been waiting for? B) you’re in a bit of luck because the deadline has a little bit of wiggle room, as Kay Bell tell us, “If you charge your donations to a credit card before the end of February, that counts even if you don’t get or pay the your credit card bill until next month or later.”


For those of you that don’t trust machines and are cutting a check, you best drop it soon if you want it to hit your ’09 return, “don’t send a check dated Feb. 28 on March 15 and claim it…if a tax examiner looks at your statement and sees the check didn’t clear until the last half of March, your deduction will probably be disallowed.”

Oh and it’s cash only. Your clothes that were originally meant for your garage sale this Spring are generous but not eligible for the extension.

On a related note, part of Stephen Chipman’s blog post from this week announced that Grant Thornton had raised approximately $140,000 that will be split between the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Thumbs up GT.

2009 Haiti donation deadline Feb. 28
[DMWT]

Wake Forest Students’ CPA Exam Domination Is Explained

Last week we briefly mentioned Wake Forest’s announcement that their graduates had achieved the highest average scores on the CPA exam for the fifth year in a row. Wondering how such dominance could be made possible we decided to get ��������������������ate Professor Dr. Yvonne Hinson to find out.


The two main points that is primarily responsible for WFU students’ success on the CPA exam that Dr. Hinson impressed upon us were the ambition of the students and the curriculum that they go through. “We bring in very good students through our screening process and the students create an extremely competitive atmosphere,” Dr. Hinson told us. To compliment these go-getters, the faculty is always thinking ahead as to how to make the curriculum as challenging and relevant as possible.

Here are a few questions we asked Dr. Hinson about the success at Wake Forest:

What helps Wake Forest accounting students be so successful on the CPA Exam especially since these scores are for students without advanced degrees?

I believe that this relates to multiple things including:

1) Innovative curriculum that constantly changes. We teach the basics but try to always stay abreast of the emerging trends in the industry an incorporate those throughout our program where we decide they are relevant and ongoing. An example is out IFRS integration last year which was a full curriculum integration. We received a grant from PwC to complete this.

2) Faculty that are incredibly tied to the profession

3) Small class sizes and a lot of interaction between faculty and students. You can NOT hide in our classes!

4) Strong, motivated students.

5) We use Becker CPA review but the sections are handled my subject matter experts rather than all sections of Becker supervised by one or two people. Our faculty actually teach the Becker review.

Does the faculty make a point of communicating the importance of the exam?

Not really – there is the usual marketing around the results but the students tend to be very competitive and really drive a lot of that themselves. We do stress the importance of trying to get it out of the way before you begin work rather than trying to work busy season hours while also studying for the exam.

What is the biggest key that you (and your fellow faculty members) tell your students with re: to the exam?
Get it out of the way!! You do not want to be taking it while working if possible. We offer the review in May and June in an intensive session so that this is all they are concentrating on at that time.

Do most students take review courses in preparation for the exam?
Yes – Becker

What steps is the University taking to prepare students for IFRS and its eventual inclusion on the exam?
We have already integrated it throughout our undergraduate and graduate curriculum. We feel that the issue has nothing to do with where the U.S. is in respect to IFRS but rather that our students go our and operate in a global environment and are exposed to IFRS issues soon after graduation. Therefore, we have fiduciary duty to the students and to the profession to expose them to IFRS in their program.

Speaking of current topics, we also asked about Wake Forest implementing forensics into it’s curriculum, Dr. Hinson was quick to note, “Forensic accounting is also implemented in curriculum here, as this is another important area we recognized that our students would need exposure to.” Dr. Hinson mentioned Dr. George Aldhizer who she told us is “not on the leading edge but the bleeding edge of forensic accounting.” Indeed, Dr. Aldhizer’s most recent publication was “Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Errors: A Ticking Time Bomb that Must Be Defused” for the Journal of Government and Financial Management. We’d say you can’t get more current than that.

One additional interesting thing we learned is that Wake Forest also offers a “Transaction Services Track” as part of its Master of Science in Accountancy that prepares many students for a career in in the advisory practices of the large firms.

So not only is the University taking a progressive approach to the CPA exam, they are preparing students for their careers in public accounting by offering a wide curriculum that will serve them in various areas of the firms. We applaud them in their effort and hope more schools take their lead.

Congratulations to Wake Forest on their five-peat (?) and the continued success of their students and faculty.

Deloitte’s Ad Nails the Olympic Spirit

Every two years we go through the same ritual. Jingoistic flag waving, the non-stop talking head of Bob Costas, and a hyped-up athlete (Lindsey Vonn is this year’s model). Add a bunch of schmaltzy, sappy, million-dollar commercials.

Welcome to the Olympics folks, originally intended to celebrate pure (amateur) athleticism, and now unabashedly worshiping pure consumerism. The Olympics games party like it’s 1998. The commercials are out of step with the somber mood of the age, depicting faked optimism. The feel-good machine of Madison Avenue did not take a break even on the day that the Georgian luge racer died.

Perhaps that is why the commercial from Deloitte stands out among the cacophony of hyperbole for its sobriety and clarity. The commercial is straightforward and engaging: using imaginative line drawing to represent Olympics sports, it depicts the pure thrill of competing in the games. Delivering its message through titles only, it avoids embellishment with its almost haiku-like script: “combine perfect movement through time and space, with the heart and drive of a champion, and you are golden”. Simple, clever, to the point:


The spot does not try to draw a direct comparison between Deloitte and the athletes. The connection is implied, cleverly, by using the Deloitte “green dot” from its logo as the “athletes” in the spot. Brilliant. And of course the spot is made more effective because it is relevant to the games. Mark this commercial on the credit side of the ledger.

Bravo Deloitte.

Avi Dan is President & CEO of Avidan Strategies, a New York based consultancy specialized in advising professional service companies on marketing and business development. Mr. Dan was previously a board member with two leading advertising agencies and managed another.

The Government Accountability Office Does a Great Job, Says the Government Accountability Office

We don’t envy anyone working at the GAO. Telling Congress how badly they spend money and then telling the whole world about it (even though no one listens) sounds like a pretty thankless job.

So the fact that the GAO gave itself an “A” on its performance review shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Who else was going to the give them the performance review? Plus if you’re regularly known as the “Taxpayer’s Best Friend” then we think you can be trusted with the honor system.

In fiscal year 2009, GAO met or exceeded all of its performance targets by, for example, identifying $43 billion in financial benefits–a return of $80 for every dollar GAO spent–and over 1,300 improvements in laws and government programs and operations. The rate at which GAO’s recommendations were implemented by federal agencies or the Congress was 80 percent, and over two-thirds of the products issued contained recommendations. During fiscal year 2009, the GAO met or exceeded all of its performance targets and made recommendations that resulted in “over 1,300 improvements in laws and government programs and operations.

To be perfectly honest, that does sound pretty damn impressive. Trying to make any sense of the ins and outs of the federal government isn’t something that we would wish upon our worst enemy.

If you’re still skeptical of the GAO stellarness, you’ll be happy to know that it was recently ranked #2 in the best places to work in the federal government. Now before you dismiss this silver medal, this isn’t some hack job put out by Fortune; this is something that is only issued every two years, by the Partnership for Public Service. We’re not saying that it would be difficult to rank so high on such a list but it’s got to be worth something.

Summary of GAO’s Performance and Financial Information Fiscal Year 2009 [GAO.gov]
Best_Places_to_Work_2009

Tracking Charitable Donations? Now There’s a CPA-Developed App for That

In more non-iPad, Apple-related news, we learned earlier this week about iDonatedIt, an iPhone app developed by BMG CPAs in Lincoln, Nebraska. The app is designed to track all non-cash charitable contributions whether it be clothes, furniture or family members (okay maybe not the last one). This will allow you to track all of our donations to Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. rather than receiving that crappy receipt they give you that has nothing on it.

Being interested in all things accountant-ish, we got in touch with BMG to find out how this bit of ingenuity came about.

We spoke with Todd Blome, a partner at BMG who came up with the idea and he told us that as soon as he got an iPhone he was thinking of ideas for apps that would be useful for his clients. Since Todd is the tech-savvy partner at BMG, (he heads up their IT consulting services) he started kicking around ideas right away and eventually landed on the idea for iDonatedIt.


Todd told us that the development was fairly simple and that there were only two test versions prior to releasing the app.

“So far we’ve 100% positive feedback on iDonatedIt,” Todd told us, “We’re definitely looking for suggestions for improvements or add-ons.” The one idea that has been floated to Todd was adding a tax savings tool to the app so that a user could determine how much tax savings would be created by the donations. “That will probably be in version two,” he told us.

iDonatedIt retails for $2.99 at the app store and as Todd noted, “a donation of one item pays for the app.” A version for the Droid is currently in the works as well.

Todd and the rest of of his team at BMG are kicking around a few more ideas for apps but he said they want to make sure iDonatedIt is working as good as possible before committing to another project. Check out the demonstration below and jump over the firm’s website or follow them on Twitter to give them your feedback.

Busy Season 2010: Generous Accountant Thinks About Others; Arranges Gathering

Because busy season is in full swing, we’ve been discussing motivation a fair amount this week. The latest pick-me-up came way of Houston from someone that decided to take matters into their own hands:

So I know everyone is busy, busy, busy, but I was given a free Happy Hour at Howl at the Moon and wanted to share it with all of you!

What: Happy Hour event

Where: Howl at the Moon (midtown)

When: February 5th, 2010

Time: 9pm – 12 am

Hope to see ya there! It should be a good way to brush off all the stress that busy season has brought!

Happy auditing,


Having never come across such generosity in our own professional experience, we tracked down this noble soul to find out the dealio. Well for starters, our hero reminded us that it’s difficult for the firms to arrange shindigs this time of year so our savior just decided to make it happen.

Plus, people haven’t been able to get together and share their Busy Season 2010 war stories and lament on the days and weeks to come. This is the perfect opportunity to get together and do just that. Also, they told us that you’re all so awesome and you deserve a break.

Gosh, this might be the feel good story of the season. Enjoy Houston!

KPMG Haiti Relief Effort Details

We finally nailed down some specifics from a trusted source on KPMG’s efforts to assist with Haiti relief.

The Americas Region (U.S., Canada, Central and South America, and Israel) have contributed $300,000 to the efforts so far, with a total goal of $500,000. These are the combined contributions of the both the firm and its employees. The International firm has pledged $500,000.

All contributions are going to UNICEF and Save the Children.

If you’ve got updates on your firm’s efforts or if you would like to notify us of what your firm is doing to assist the efforts in Haiti, email us at tips@goingconcern.com

Earlier:
We Knew Accounting Firms Were Helping Haiti

Yele Haiti Names RSM McGladrey as New Accountants

Thumbnail image for alg_singer_wyclef-jean.jpgAre you paying attention Fortune? After last week’s controversy around the finances of Yele Haiti, RSM McGladrey has been appointed to administer the donations pledged to Wyclef Jean’s foundation.

Yele Haiti has also retained Grant Thornton, who filed the three years of tax returns for the foundation just last August.


All the hubbub was over the foundation less than timely filing of its tax returns and paying expenses on the behalf WJ’s production company.
Not filing tax returns is one thing but there is some debate over whether the payment of expenses is actually anything to worked up over:

John Colombo, a University of Illinois law professor specializing in tax-exempt organizations, said tax laws permit such fees.
“If you told me the organization raised $1 million and it all went to him, then I would have some issues,” Colombo said. “Paying him an arm’s length salary for services he actually performed just isn’t a problem.”
But Alvin Brown, a tax lawyer who runs the site IRSTaxAttorney.com, said such transactions were “scary” and “could be viewed as fraud.”

“Viewed as fraud” isn’t the same as “is a fraud” but we after the last week, Yele Haiti has heard worse.
Wyclef’s Haiti Charity Gets New Accountants [AP]
Earlier:
We Knew Accounting Firms Were Helping Haiti

(UPDATE 2) We Knew Accounting Firms Were Helping Haiti

Thumbnail image for thumbs up2.jpgWe just had to ask. In response to our post from this morning we’ve received several emails about what firms have done so far in the response to the devastation that was caused by the earthquake in Haiti:
Deloitte – The firm contributed $100,000 to the Red Cross and Deloitte professionals are encouraged to donate to either the Red Cross/International Response Fund (immediate disaster assistance) or to the United Way Worldwide Disaster Fund are for long-term relief efforts. Donations will be earmarked for Earthquake Recovery.
Moss Adams – The Firm is matching 100% of employee contributions up to $100,000. As of today, partner and employee contributions amounted to $30,000 and the firm is matching these contributions with $30,000 donations to both the Red Cross and World Vision.
Ernst & Young – The Firm has created the “Ernst & Young Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund” and donated to $100,000 to get things started. All the funds donated by the firm and its professionals will go directly to Save the Children, Doctors without Borders, and Partners in Health.
BDO – Jeremy Newman posted today on his blog about the firm’s efforts, including the office in The British Virgin Islands.
Grant Thornton – The firm is matching employee contributions up to $50,000. The funds will be donated to the Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
McKonly & Asbury – Scott Heintzelman — The Exuberant Accountant — along with his fellow partners and employees are working with Hope International to raise funds for the relief efforts. A spokesperson for the firm told GC that the firm is expecting to raise several thousands dollars.
Crowe Horwath – Matching employee contributions up to $50,000. All funds are going to the Red Cross and UNICEF.
Keep us updated with your firm’s efforts and we’ll continue to post them.