Perhaps you heard the news today that tax firm WTAS decided to sprinkle a little coup padre on the dead name of Arthur Andersen to resurrect a zombie of a firm name: “Our issues with Enron were the mistake of a few,” said Mark Vorsatz, WTAS’s chief executive officer, who started the company 12 years […]
If you recall, we wondered out loud last week who might take up the esteemed chair that will soon be missing Joe Echevarria's ass. As we know, current CFO Frank Friedman will at least keep the chair warm until the formal election process is completed. Now, we have a self-nominated contender who has thrown his […]
Not so fast, Ernst & Young. You may be able to rebrand and spout off a bunch of feel good hooey about integrity or whatever silly phrase you're using these days but you're gonna need a bigger rug under which to sweep Lehman, guys: A New York state appeals court on Thursday revived the New […]
LET'S DO THIS THING! pic via the AICPA on Pinterest Don't Mess With Taxes has the usual countdown clock up so you can keep track of just how many days remain in filing season, though we're pretty sure you don't need a clock, maybe just some ticks scratched into the wall like a criminal doing […]
Our friend and ex Crazy Eddie CFO Sam Antar has a new bug up his criminal ass, and it's EY teaming up with the FBI to combat obvious fraud. Check this out from Compliance Week: What do phrases such as "nobody will find out," "grey area,"and "they owe it to me" have in common? According […]
Colin buried this in ANR this morning but I'm pulling it out and tossing it at you all like a zookeeper flings raw meat at his wild tigers ifyoufeelme. Emily Chasan writes in CFO Journal: This year, financial executives say their external auditors are requesting far more documents and details than usual on everything from […]
When it comes to Big 4 bustin', UK regulators have proven the most willing to throw poo at a wall to see what sticks. Specifically, the Queendom's Competition Commission has decided that the Big 4's stranglehold on the FTSE is a little too tight for their liking and have been trying to come up with […]
But just know what you're getting yourself into: “Advancing the interests of the North Korean leadership at the moment would be harder than the IRS,” suggested Matthew Harrington, chief executive officer of public relations powerhouse Edelman U.S. The U.S. prison in Guantanamo could prove a harder sell, said [Grover] Norquist. “It’s just a little less scary […]
Lately, it feels like a lot of you are trying to jump ship, rally against “The Man” or trap a firm into poaching you like a 19-year-old actress catches a predator. Maybe you guys have always been like that and it only feels like it’s happening more often now that we email each other about it but I’m sensing a pattern here.
Anyway, there are a few things you can do (and a couple you absolutely shouldn’t) that can help you on that road. Maybe these are obvious to you; if so, congratulations. Let’s just go over them again anyway, not everyone is as good at this as you.
1. Learn IFRS. Or at least have a baseline knowledge extensive enough to fake it when you have to talk to people who actually care and/or know more than you. What this means is that you can either take a class, some CPE, maybe get a “free” masters on your firm’s dime or read a damn book. Whatever you do, remember that unless you are at an IFRS conference, chances are you don’t have to be an expert on the matter, just knowledgeable enough to appear as though you have some idea what you are talking about. If you have the opportunity to actually work on IFRS financial statements at work, do it. It’ll be an awesome item on your resume.
2. Don’t get a useless degree. “Useless” is, of course, defined by how far you want to go and where. Please take inventory of your personal situation to define “useless degree” for your own circumstances. For some of you, this is a MAcc. For some, it is an MBA from a for-profit. For others, it is a bachelors in philosophy. Whatever it is, avoid it at all costs, even if you can afford it. Get by on your merits and don’t waste your time pursuing education you don’t need. If you’re that bored, find a hobby.
3. Learn how to play the game. You can’t negotiate a better salary if you are spending half the day on the Internet interrogating strangers about their salaries in our comment section. We don’t care either way but if you are trying to elbow your way into a better salary, you may have to actually try to set yourself apart from your slacker colleagues.
4. Pass the CPA exam. Before some troll shows up and asks me why I haven’t done #4, I’m not trying to market myself as a CPA, writing about this and helping actual CPAs have a single “water cooler” to sit around is much more fulfilling. For people who actually want to work in this industry, this one is pretty necessary. If you actually focus on getting it done sooner rather than later, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain later down the road. As for me, I’m sure I’ll be deflecting this same troll 5 years from now when you’re making way more money than I am writing these articles. Feel free to rub it in.
5. Know your enemy. Some of you are vicious, money-grubbing pricks and I really love that about you. If you believe it when partners say “you really have potential” and tossed a few extra back at your recruiting events to “loosen up a bit,” you’re going to have to understand what it is you want and how best to get it. For some of you, more money is enough until you want more money after that. For others, you just want to experience the thrill of being wanted by several firms at once. Whatever your vice, you need to analyze your own strengths and weaknesses before you try to get three firms to bitchfight over who gets to have you. You can’t negotiate if you’re delusional about what you offer to any of them.
(Acting) Ed. note: if you have a question for our team of highly knowledgeable monkeys, email email@example.com and we’ll be happy to make fun of you in front of your peers, superiors and the Internet-at-large, unless it’s a good question, in which case we will do our best to give you awesome information.
I found the advice column on your blog so I thought I would ask you this question:
I recently graduated from a state school in the California State University system as a Philosophy major. My original plan was to go to law school, but I am now thinking I may want to go into accounting instead (due to the terrible job market for lawyers and the 150k debt I’d be faced with). Par ike to work at a Big 4 firm. Is this change possible? I found a “Post-baccalaureate Accounting Certificate” at Portland State University (I’d like to end up in Portland if possible). Does that program have any chance of helping me land a Big 4 job, or does it lack prestige? If you’d like to suggest the best post-bac/master’s program for me you should know that the only math I’ve taken is statistics 1, and I’ve taken micro econ and macro econ, but aside from that I’d be starting from scratch. My undergrad GPA is 3.13, which I believe is a little low for the Big 4. Could I make up for that with a good post-bac certificate GPA, or perhaps a good master’s GPA if that is the route I should go?
Thank you for your help!
Listen, Ambulance-Chaser-cum-Capital-Market-Hero, you need to slow down and do a little more research on the Big 4 before you even attempt this stunt. The Big 4 don’t want some 3.13er who originally picked a different profession and then just kind of stumbled upon accounting as a more “viable” option due to the long-term (or even short) career opportunities. Sorry the law school plan didn’t work out but no allegedly prestigious firm is going to want you with your “certificate” (unless it is one of these) and low GPA. So if I were you and actually attempting this, I would be sure to spin those particular details into as much gold as possible. Don’t lie but don’t be so upfront about it either.
You admit that you’re new here so I won’t rail on you too but hard I will highly recommend you catch up on some advice columns (and especially their comments) we’ve done before. If we can sniff out your “well looks like you’re the only viable option” attitude via email, I can only imagine which method recruiters will use to avoid your emails and talk about you behind your back.
You still have a chance here if (and that’s a huge if) you actually want to do this, get yourself into a real program and not some funky certificate program, you might as well get a degree from some adult college advertised during Maury Povich for as much good as that will do you. And for Christ’s sake, at least try to pull a 3.8.
Fast track the CPA exam if you can but I get the sneaking suspicion that you are one of the candidates who will end up having to take BEC 7 times based on the fact that accounting is not your background and you don’t seem all that excited about the prospect of ticking and tying your good years away for “The Man,” but are instead focused on making a few bucks in an industry that’s still actually hiring because your first choice is a really awful one. In my experience, those who do best on the CPA exam are those who actually want to do it (shocking, I know). The ones who are forcing themselves because of the economy, their parents, their boss, etc are the ones who fail miserably over and over, usually with infuriating 74s. If you managed 4 years of philosophy, you’re probably too right-brained for the CPA anyway.
Big 4 recruiters do hit Portland State but you’re going to have a hell of a time explaining to them what you did with the last four years of your life and convincing them that you’re in it for the long-term and not just to have a job ’til the economy looks better.
We’re not going to do your job for you and recommend “the best” program for you, but nice try. We recommend Google, it’s a pretty helpful career tool. That’s how you found us, right?
I’m not saying it can’t be done but you need to be realistic here. The industry has already reached its quota of useless, mediocre assholes who don’t know which side debits go on. If you’re OK with being an AP clerk or working at a smaller firm I say go for it but with your “credentials,” I wouldn’t count on having to beat off the Big 4 recruiters with a stick any time soon.
The plan approved by the House last night traded $2.4 trillion for both the Senate and House approving a balanced budget amendment, though I’m not quite sure how borrowing more money is going to help us get our financial house in order.
If I were a legislator, I’d suggest avoiding the “Let’s pay the Visa off with the Mastercard” tactic if at all possible but that’s just me.
David Brooks broke down the Republican theatrics into four categories: “Beltway Bandits,” the “Big Government Blowhards,” the “Show Horses,” and the “Permanent Campaigners.” FYI for Caleb’s knowledge, Grover Norquist was the one named as a Beltway Bandit, though in fairness to this town, anyone could be considered that.
“The Democratic offers were slippery, and President Obama didn’t put them in writing. But John Boehner, the House speaker, thought they were serious. The liberal activists thought they were alarmingly serious. I can tell you from my reporting that White House officials took them seriously,” Brooks wrote in the NYT.
“House Republicans are the only ones to put forward and pass a real plan that will create a better environment for private-sector job growth by stopping Washington from spending money it doesn’t have and preventing tax hikes on families and small businesses,” said John Boehner in a statement.
Really? So how is it that this includes an increase in the debt ceiling?
Meanwhile, this is what Ron Paul had to say in a statement:
I have never voted to raise the federal debt limit, and I have no doubt that we face financial collapse and ruin if we continue to grow our debt. We need to make major spending cuts now, in this budget, and we can no longer afford to allow more deficit spending based on promises of future cuts.
“The CCB act would add $2.4 trillion of new debt to our gargantuan $14.4 trillion debt. CCB would also only cut $111 billion from this year’s budget, allowing a deficit of nearly $1.5 trillion. This is far from the Pledge’s call for ‘substantial’ cuts. And, CCB locks us into current levels of overseas welfare, which will continue to endanger America’s security by forcing us to subsidize other wealthy nations.
See, that’s pretty much where I’m at with this. The debt trap is impossible to get out of, anyone who has gotten trapped in a pay day loan can tell you all about that.
That’s exactly where we are. That’s where we’ve been. And where we’ll continue to be unless we get the debt monkey off our back. I’m not as concerned about subsidizing China’s explosive growth as I am about compromising our national security by letting those assholes at the Fed run the show. We owe them more than we owe China.
So Norquist may be a tax troll and I’m fine with that but this Dog and Pony Debt Show has got to stop, it’s old and it’s not doing us any good.
Anyone got a better plan?
Though the following inquiry from what we assume to be a Going Concern reader was addressed to my dearest, most lovely editor, I’m hijacking it because I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time. While the idea of CPAs unionizing seems ridiculous to some, I’m sure more than a few of you have dreamily drooled at the prospect of collective bargaining power while two months in to the most horrendous busy season ever. Is it that silly of an idea?
I am a Big4 Tax Senior and had a question regarding the possibility/benefit of having a union. To my knowledge, one currently does not exist, but why? Entertain me for a second.
If every staff through manager (there ing managers in, so maybe just staff and seniors) were to band together and create a union across all service lines and all of the four firms, what would stop us from getting fair compensation and slightly better hours? If the threat of a strike of 70% of each of the firm’s workforce (who probably actually do 90% of the work on any given engagement) could happen at any time, would the partners really treat their subordinates the way they currently do? Maybe there’s something written somewhere that CPAs can’t join a union?
Imagine if this raise/bonus season were to go poorly, and the union decided that on March 1, 2012…every staff, senior and manager FROM ALL FIRMS would stage a walk out and go on strike until our compensation demands were met. What could the partners do? Could they realistically try to do all the work themselves? Could they really try and replace 60,000 employees (I am guessing on that figure)? Could they try and get all the work done out of India? I HIGHLY DOUBT ANY OF THESE WOULD BE REALISTIC OPTIONS. I can’t imagine the possibility of replacing a dozen auditors overnight with Accountemps personnel in the middle of an audit for a fortune 100 client.
I understand that the possibility of being able to coordinate such a union across all the firms would be next to impossible, but can someone tell me why/how it wouldn’t work assuming it was legal for us to do? Could you post up a poll of those who would be interested?
Wait a second, are you trying to tell us that you don’t feel you are fairly compensated? Are you prepared for the burden of union fees and the inconvenience of having to picket your downtown Big 4 office chanting “Hell no we won’t go!” in business casual should it come down to that?
Why stop at the Big 4? Second-tier capital market servants are just as mistreated as you are (or at least feel that way, and who are we to tell them they don’t get enough engagements to feel burned out?). Think of the collective bargaining power then.
I think part of the reason why anyone you suggest this to might think you’re one tax season away from the funny farm is that CPAs already have a large, powerful trade association which allegedly exists to serve its interests. Granted, the AICPA does more lobbying in Washington than it does to accounting firm partners about easing up on you poor shlubs who have to do all the work, but it’s still a trade association.
In an article about the recent showdown in Wisconsin between teacher unions and Governor Scott Walker, Ann Coulter wrote “the need for a union comes down to this question: Do you have a boss who wants you to work harder for less money? In the private sector, the answer is yes. In the public sector, the answer is a big, fat NO.” Well shit, there’s your answer. We already know how most of you in public accounting feel, no need to elaborate.
Former Congressional candidate and CPA Krystal Ball is all for unions, especially when it comes to balancing the gender inequality that still exists in this country. If criminals in Canada can unionize, why not CPAs? Well for starters, though it may not feel like it, most of you are paid pretty fairly compared to, say, McDonald’s cashiers, Starbucks baristas and Walmart greeters. It may not feel fair based on the service you provide (understandably) but in the big picture, making $50,000 a year fresh out of school in middle America ain’t too bad of a gig. You get vacations, safe work conditions, bonuses, insurance and even free CPA review materials if you’re lucky. I bet OSHA has never seen the inside of a Big 4 office to investigate a fatal Excel accident or random intern decapitation at the coffee machine.
Let’s keep in mind that, if necessary, the Big 4 probably could scrape up a motley crew of Indian and Sri Lankan accountants and reluctant partners to do the work while you’re out front calling Raj a scab. Is what you do all that difficult? Look at the moronic intern in your office… a little training and that guy is going to be doing your job in a few years.
Lastly, there’s the legal issue. With all the money the Big 4 throw at lobbying and keeping some of the country’s best lawyers on payroll, do you really think you stand a chance? Someone has to give you the OK to unionize and I just don’t see the Big 4 lawyer machine slipping up and letting that one through. You really are one busy season away from the funny farm if you believe otherwise.
But I’m 100% behind you guys if you try to go for it anyway. Si se puede!
In May, IASB member Prabhakar Kalavacherla threatened India by telling a conference in Mumbai “to put it in one sentence, we strongly encourage adoption as against convergence,” suggesting that India could totally contribute to the rule-setting if it will just go ahead and adopt IFRS now. That sort of attitude is hilarious and why watching the IFRS “condorsement” plan getting burped up around the world is so much fun. Really? Adopt first, ask questions later?
India isn’t buying it, although looking to the U.S. and Japan for answers isn’t going to help matters either.
The government is planning to introduce additional changes to global accounting standard, IFRS, to make it more palatable for Indian companies, overriding the international opposition to amendments already made. Such a move will extend the eventual migration by Indian companies to the global standard and also insulate local firms from any short-term capital market shocks that may arise due to erosion in valuations.
However, any changes to the Indian version of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) will take time as the government will initially look at some of the revisions being suggested globally, specially by the developed markets of US and Japan, before finalising the road map, secretary, ministry of corporate affairs D K Mittal told ET on Thursday. “We have to see how IFRS will meet our requirements. Our markets are different, our standards are different,” he said.
Quote of the convergence! “Our markets are different, our standards are different.” I’m sorry, maybe I’m confused on how this convergence thing is supposed to work (entirely possible as I’m not an accountant and therefore not required to understand what’s happening here) but couldn’t each country getting IFRS shoved down its throat say the same? That’s why global economies are (read: were) such a beautiful thing; different markets breed different standards, and market participants have the option to say whether or not they find a particular country’s financial standards appealing. With forced adoption of a single arbitrary standard, determined by an entity with questionable self-interest at work, you take away investors’ ability to put their money where their mouth is.
GAAP has obviously failed. The evaporation of capital in the United States over the last 3 years proves it. But the whole Adopt-or-Else plan isn’t necessarily any better either.
In my humble opinion, it just makes the IASB look desperate and India look awesome. For now.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) has introduced the cleverly-named “Fairness in Taxation Act” that would tax millionaires and billionaires at rates that will cause John Boehner to hack up both his lungs.
Despite the futility of the FiTA, these are some tax rates that Tom Bloch can get behind!
The bill would create the following new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires:
• $1-10 million: 45%
• $10-20 million: 46%
• $20-100 million: 47%
• $100 million to $1 billion: 48%
• $1 billion and over: 49%
And Schakowsky obviously has a thing for the Steve Cohens and John Paulsons of the world:
The current top tax bracket begins at $373,000 in income and fails to distinguish between the “well off” and billionaires, such as the top 20 hedge fund managers whose average income last year was over $1 billion, Schakowsky pointed out.
In a test run to see if expenses can get covered at the end of the day, Panera Bread has opened a unique new location in Clayton, MO that combines the benefits of nonprofit status with the fundamental principle of the free market system: let the market determine what an item is worth. But it adds a unique qualifier to the traditional concept of the need determining price: human nature.
The menu is exactly the same as other Panera locations (sick foodies can check that out here if they aren’t familiar with Panera’s offerings) but instead of charging a fixed price for each item, this special little spot will ask only what customers can afford. “Take what you need, leave your fair share,” says the sign at their entrance, just in case one is confused by such a foreign transaction model. No prices? Do we even know how to value items independently any more?
Panera is hopeful that the “Cares Cafe” model will thrive and grow to a series of donation-based stores that rely more on empathy than capitalism. “Hopefully we’ll be able to open them across the country, but our original St. Louis location must succeed first!” tweeted the fine folks behind Panera’s official Twitter account.
Can someone confirm Missouri rules on sales taxes related to the sale of food? And is it a sale if the exchange is really a donation? I’m really confused.
Anyway, not everyone is thrilled about this concept. Though it is obviously well-intentioned, the donation model may not necessarily transfer outside of St Louis. Trends consultant Marian Salzman reality-checked USAToday saying “while young people are very much attuned to helping out and making a difference, if they find themselves sitting next to other customers with whom they don’t feel comfortable, they’re not coming back.” You know, as in the possibility of homeless and otherwise destitute individuals (of which our country has plenty nowadays) lounging around with the nerve to eat a cheap meal.
Hedging against operating losses, this particular location has one slight difference from other Panera stores: its bread (except for sandwich bread) is really day old product from other locations around the St Louis metro. Hey, nothing wrong with getting the most out of inventory with a horrible turnover rate.
In the end, it’s hard to say whether this nonprofit experiment will float but if it does, Panera wants to open two more within six months. Good luck with that.
I know, I had to read it twice. First of all, millionaire accountant?! Second of all, the guy was ancient and probably hasn’t calculated depreciation since 1971. Whatever, he was depreciating some hot assets and I guess that’s all that matters.
Here’s the sitch:
Millionaire UK accountant Peter Rust is being sued by both the wife and the mistress as they apparently both share a piece of his £3.2million [$4.86 million US] property portfolio. What kind of firm did this guy work for amassing a portfolio like that?! Patricia Rust (the 58 year old wife who has stood by his side for 40 years, even through jailtime Peter served for money laundering) and Virginia Madden (the 38 year old mistress who claims dibs on some of his property) are both claiming that part of Rust’s assets are theirs and theirs alone.
The problem is that he didn’t exactly tell his estranged wife that he was going to get some property with the new chick. Oops. The Daily Mail has the scoop:
In a statement provided to the court, Mr Rust said that in 2000 he and his wife agreed to start investing in property – using joint funds – even though they had separated.
“Although we were living apart at this time, Pat agreed I could do this providing she had an equal share in the properties,” he said.
But he added: “But I did not tell Pat that I intended to buy these properties in the joint names of myself and Ginny Madden.”
Listen, dude, you need to read a book on keeping mistresses. Property?! Come on, everyone knows you are supposed to rent them a pad or maybe get taxpayers to pay for it or claim nonprofit status to house the hoes at your “church”, whatever, you don’t actually buy property with her.
Anyway, as if it couldn’t get worse, Madden was paid over the years as “stable girl” with investment income from the properties (and, presumably, action from Mr Rust but there is not IASB guidance on how to classify affairs in the books and records) and claims a 50% share on five homes. Mrs. Rust claims 50% rights to her house and 6 others.
New KPMG Chairman (and US CEO since 2008) John Veihmeyer told the Washington Post about growing up to ascend the public accounting ladder and if that’s something you’re looking to do with your life, be sure to check it out.
Since some of us would rather sip on Molotov cocktails and scratch our eyeballs out with sharpened #2 pencils, we can merely press our faces to the glass to see how public accounting really works. According to J Veihm, it’s something like this: once you’re jumped in, there’s no getting out.
One of the very best pieces of mentoring advice I ever received was to “view a challenge as an opportunity” and then “take it on and do it better than anybody else.” I recall one specific moment, when KPMG’s leadership asked me to consider accepting a particular position that, at the time, I thought would be something of a roadblock to achieving one of the goals I had set for my career in public accounting. I shared my concerns with a trusted colleague, who I have long considered to be my professional mentor, and his response has stayed with me over the course of my 33 years with KPMG. He said, “look at this challenge as an opportunity, accept it, and then do it better than anybody before you ever has.” I took his advice, and he was right. In hindsight, the experience I gained in that role did more to prepare me for the rest of my career than anything else I could have done.
Translating that, if you express concerns about the gang shoving you up the corporate ladder by sending you on your own drive-bys or whathaveyou, one of the higher officers will reassuringly pat you on the shoulder and remind you that there’s one way to go and that’s up. Accept it, there is only one way out (for gang members, that usually means getting shot to death; in public accounting, it might mean a heart attack at 45). Creepy.
KPMG knows all about challenges so it’s probably a good thing that Johnny V was groomed in advance for his duties as KPMG Chair.