Layoffs

Layoff Watch ’19: Outsourcing Dooms Accountants at UPS In Texas

The Dallas Morning News reported today that UPS is eliminating 64 accounting jobs at its facility in Coppell, TX. The reason? Outsourcing, of course. A UPS spokesperson told the newspaper that the package delivery company is outsourcing transactional finance and accounting work in order to let employees “do more strategic work that can make a greater […]

grant thornton compensation 2017

Layoff Watch ’19: Interim CEO Brad Preber Addresses the Grant Thornton Layoff Rumors

It’s Brad Preber’s first day on the job as interim CEO of Grant Thornton after now-former CEO and hero of the wastes Mike McGuire noped on up out of that seat. And boy did he have a shitstorm to deal with first thing. Rumors of Grant Thornton layoffs started swirling earlier this week, and no […]

Some Douchey Deutsche Bank Executives Celebrated Mass Layoff Day In Style

And the winners of the “Asshole of the Month” award are … : Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing says he reprimanded executives for having expensive custom suits tailored the day that mass layoffs hit the troubled bank’s offices in London, New York and Tokyo. Two tailors were photographed coming out of the German bank’s London office on Monday […]

Layoff Watch ’19: Walmart Accountants and Finance Workers In Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Business Journal reported last week on some doom-and-gloom news for Walmart accountants based in the Queen City: Retail giant Walmart Inc. will lay off hundreds in Charlotte starting later this year as it outsources its finance and accounting operations. The retailer filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the N.C. Department of Commerce this […]

Layoff Watch ’19: Accountants Said to Be Among Casualties In Ford Bloodbath

There was some big news coming out of Dearborn, MI, yesterday, as Ford Motor Co. said by August it will have given 7,000 white-collar workers pink slips worldwide, a 10% reduction in its global salaried workforce, as part of a restructuring plan to reduce bureaucracy and increase revenue. And accountants are reportedly among those losing […]

Layoff Watch ’19: United Airlines Is Axing 100 Accounting Jobs in Houston

Not-so-good news today from the Associated Press: United Airlines says it will cut about 100 accounting jobs in Houston in July and shift the work to a contractor. The airline reported the layoffs in a letter this week to the Texas Workforce Commission. It did not identify the contractor that will handle accounting of revenue […]

Layoff Watch ’19: Grant Thornton U.K. to Part Ways with Up to 60 Staffers

Some unlucky folks at Grant Thornton U.K. are taking the hit for the firm’s miserable 2018, which saw GT stop bidding for new audit work at the largest U.K. companies, the CEO not seeking a second four-year term after a partner revolt, revenue dip from £500 million in 2017 to £491 million last year, partners’ average […]

Layoffs Watch: Deloitte Business Tax Services

Here's some not-so-fun news that popped up on Reddit earlier with regard to Deloitte telling some tax people that their services are no longer needed: Couple dozen in Chicago, and many more in the local practice offices. Staff to Senior Manager, no-one is insulated. The OP states further, "Hearing rumors that it will be a […]

Layoffs Watch: Big 4 Texas

Here's one from the mailbag: Big 4 in Houston and Dallas have been laying staff off due to "performance reasons." I wonder if this is going to trickle down to other regions as well given the declining oil market. Good question! Here in Colorado, big names like Anadarko and Encana have shed jobs but there […]

Layoff Watch ’14: ParenteBeard Canned 22 People Last Monday

ParenteBeard, the largest accounting firm based in Philadelphia with nearly 1,000 partners and staff in 19 offices in Pa., N.J., and N.Y., laid off 22 employees on June 2, including 6 from its Philadelphia-South Jersey region, the rest spread around the firm's network of central Pennsylvania, New York and North Jersey offices.  Separately, Albert Miller, […]

Layoffs Watch ’13: Rothstein Kass

It's that time of year when public accounting firms start showing the underperformers the door and we have our first confirmed across the board cut at it has happened at Rothstein Kass. The first we heard of the layoffs was in mid-April when we were informed by an anonymous tip that the firm would be […]

Layoffs Watch ’13: Ernst & Young Advisory

Another one bites the dust (via the tip box): There had been some concern among advisory professionals at EY that there could be a downsizing.  It finally happened to me today at the [redated for privacy] office. Told that I appear to have topped out at Sr 3 and would not be promoted this year […]

Layoffs Watch ’12: KPMG Has Good News and Bad News

With regard to the aforementioned cuts, the good news is that some of you got to keep your jobs. The bad news is many still did not: KPMG lost 275 staff following a restructuring exercise to streamline the business. Earlier this year the firm announced it would reduce its headcount by 3% equal to about 330 […]

Layoffs Watch ’12: Mazars

The firm regrets to inform five percent of their employees, including "a limited number of partners," that they will soon have a lot of free time on their hands: Mazars could make up to 5% of its workforce redundant, as it begins a consultation process across the firm. Accountancy Age has learned staff were informed this week […]

Layoffs Watch ’12: Ernst & Young

E&Y Down Under is getting into the act, informing a number of people that their services are no longer needed and the word on the street is that some partners may be next: Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young Australia has retrenched 89 staff amid rumours that partner performance is under review and will […]

Layoffs and Compensation Watch ’12: KPMG

KPMG has made good on its promise to send over 300 of its UK employees packing, but, reportedly, there's a bit of a surprise for everyone who remains: Some 340 jobs were cut at KPMG following its headcount reduction plan, and a pay freeze has been implemented across KPMG. An internal email to staff said that […]

Layoff Watch ’12: Some Dude’s Friend at KPMG

This just in: KPMG just laid off a friend of mine in Rochester, NY. Sources familiar with the situation say that it's "unfortunate this happened" but claim that the friend was a "good guy" and "hard-working" although he had been "having a tough time lately" and "was talking about quitting anyway." The friend was not […]

Layoffs Watch ’12: KPMG Cuts Have Some People Spooked

Last month we learned that KPMG's UK operation announced its "regrettable" plans to tell 300 of its people to hit the bricks. While there hasn't been any other Big 4 firms in the Queendom, the news out of the House of Klynveld has people concerned: The job cuts announced by KPMG could be the start […]

Layoffs Watch ’12: KPMG

Meanwhile, across the pond, a few hundred Klynveldians will have to find something else to do with their time in the very near future: Staff at the auditor and consultant’s UK arm were told on Thursday that it was conducting a review of several business units after reducing its growth expectations. KPMG said just under […]

(UPDATE) Layoffs Watch ’12: A Lone Wolf in KPMG Forensics

The aforementioned forced rankings appear to still be taking effect. A tipster laments: I just got laid off from KPMG's Forensic practice in Los Angeles [and] there were a few other associates in my group that got laid off as well. Our tipster claims that this is only happening at associate level although the layoffs in […]

Will Ernst & Young FSO Start Forced Rankings Next?

We're getting word things are becoming a little claustrophobic over at Uncle Ernie's house. From the mailbag: In NY – FSO (EY) apparently there are so many high performers at staff 2 that discussions regarding ratings are still ongoing to help normalize the rankings. "Normalize" is never a good word. Animal shelters "normalize" their populations in the […]

Layoffs Watch ’12: Forced Ranking Hitting KPMG Tax Groups

Following up on the news that forced rankings were hitting auditors across the country and rumors that it would be coming to the IT advisory group, the latest word is that various tax groups within the House of Klynveld are also getting into the act: There was definitely chatter in my group (M&A Tax) about […]

Things Are Turning Out Okay for Ex-Olympus CEO, Less So for Current Olympus Employees

Former Olympus CEO Michael "Go ahead and fuck with me, I'm from Liverpool" Woodford took a big risk blowing the whistle on the $1.5 billion accounting fraud at his old employer. In a show of thanks for finding the booboo, the company promptly fired him. A questionable strategy it seems because Mr. Woodford sued Olympus […]

Layoffs Watch ’12: Forced Ranking May Be Hitting KPMG Auditors

Following the news that the IT Advisory group could possibly force some professionals into the underperforming category, I had the following text message exchange yesterday with a source at KPMG that I'll refer to here as Rudy.  Rudy: Did you hear about the layoffs? Me: Nooooo. I just posted about the possible layoffs in ITA […]

Layoffs Watch ’12: KPMG IT Advisory?

A tipster informs us that attrition for the IT advisory group was not as high as expected, which poses a bit of a dilemma: I heard that some of the performance managers are being instructed to give their staff 4 and 5 ratings, as there weren't enough in those buckets. Keeping in mind that turnover […]

(UPDATE) Layoffs Watch ’12: Deloitte

Apparently some IT professionals were recently informed that their services were no longer needed: Deloitte have laid off nearly their entire IT staff in Hermitage, TN over the last few days. Rumor is that they will start outsourcing their software development to save themselves salaries, benefits and retirement of employees…many of whom have been there in excess of […]

Layoff Watch ’12: H&R’s Post-Tax Season Chopping Block

Three hundred fifty preparers and two hundred locations won't be included in any future tax seasons: Kansas City-based H&R Block said the company plans to eliminate 350 positions and close about 200 underperforming offices. The announcement was part of a broad strategic realignment that the company announced Wednesday. H&R Block said the plans were designed to […]

Layoff Watch ’12: KPMG UK Looking to Avoid Awkward Face-to-Face Exchanges, Sobbing

When informing people that, despite their best efforts, they don't have what it takes to be a resident of the House of Klynveld, management has decided that a pre-recorded message will be best in avoiding uncomfortable situations: An email asked 500 of the firm’s management consultants to dial in to a pre-recorded message giving details […]

McGladrey’s Repurchase of McGladrey Results in Unfortunate Consequences for McGladrey Director, Says McGladrey Director’s Farewell Email

More specifically, he was told that his services were no longer needed: Here is the scoop on why I am leaving McGladrey…   Given the recent $600 million transaction that McGladrey completed this fall, there have been some resulting changes – one of which is a significant restructuring.  As a result, I was informed recently […]

Layoff Watch ’11: The IRS Says Tomato

You may have heard some carefully coiffed pols shouting about the need for our government to “cut spending.” If you’re a Republican, this means everything is fair game with the exception of the defense budget. For Dems, it’s entitlements. Since these two sacred cows of the federal budget dare not be touched, all the stuff in between is on the chopping block. One of the easier areas of government for pols to offer up for sacrifice is the Treasury Department, specifically the IRS. Because GOD KNOWS we don’t need “a goon squad 5,000 IRS agents tromping around the country.”

It appears that all the budget thumping has worked and the IRS is looking for volunteers to help move this along:

The Internal Revenue Service has offered buyouts to 5,400 employees as it begins preparing for a likely budget cut of more than 3 percent.

The agency, which had 94,711 workers in fiscal 2010, plans to accept no more than 1,600 buyout applications. A second round of buyouts could follow. The Obama administration has said that as many as 4,000 IRS jobs could be cut over the next year, including some that would reduce tax enforcement and collections.

“This is really focused on trying to deal with the current budget situation and the uncertainty that we’re facing at this point in time,” Beth Tucker, deputy IRS commissioner for operations support, said in an interview today.

IRS officials directed the first round of buyout offers to back-office employees who don’t interact with taxpayers. A potential second set of cuts would affect “a wider range of employees who deal directly with taxpayers in service and enforcement matters,” commissioner Douglas Shulman wrote in a Nov. 4 memo to employees.

First off, putting 4,000 people out of work won’t make for a balanced budget. Secondly, I’m not saying these “buyouts” are actually “layoffs” but if you consider the fact that these “buyouts” include current employees will receive money and not be required to report to their cubicles EVER AGAIN sounds pretty similar to how “layoffs” work. Maybe it’s just me.

IRS Offers Buyouts to 5,400 Employees [Bloomberg]

Layoffs Watch ’11: Deloitte

Sounds like the aforementioned rumored layoffs have begun.

Yes they are occurring and I know as I am one of the individual’s impacted. There was no advance warning. I know one other individual in Philly that was also laid off. We are both in the tax practice. My understanding is that it is nationwide and mostly impacts senior managers.

Keep us updated if cuts are going down at your office.

Layoff Watch ’11: KPMG Asking for ‘Voluntary Redundancies’ Down Under

From the land that brought you Michael Andrew:

KPMG is to push ahead with a round of voluntary redundancies following a slowdown in merger and acquisition activity. The privately-held firm launched the cost cutting program this week, offering voluntary redundancies and part-time working options for its 5000 Australian-based staff.

[…]”We’re seeing a tough, uncertain, challenging and patchy market,” KPMG’s Australian chief executive officer, Geoff Wilson, said yesterday. But he declined to say how many staff would be affected by the shake-up. “While we’re experiencing year-on-year growth, we’re seeing some softening in that growth. [We are trying to] create flexibility in response to the patchiness we’re seeing in the market,” he said.

Crikey. I guess by “create flexibility” Mr. Wilson means, “Your work-life balance is going to get a whole lot easier.”

KPMG calls for redundancies amid slowdown in mergers [SMH via Francine McKenna]

Layoff Watch ’11: Cuts a Comin’ at Deloitte?

From the mailbag:

Heard this from a Director in the firm: Deloitte layoffs coming. Lists are made…cuts coming soon. Said a lot of it has to do with thinning out the ranks (too many people jumping ship because their level is top heavy and promotion nowhere in sight) as well as letting go underperformers.


As you probably noticed, 2011 hasn’t had much in the way of layoff news with the exception of some support staff that were cut at McGladrey, Grant Thornton, and KPMG. That said, this seems like an opportune time to kick a few people to the curb. If you wait until November, well, that just looks bad.

Keep us updated with any news and if you’re in the know, get in touch.

Iowa Businessman Could Really Liven Up Your Accounting Firm’s Firings

If you’ve been in public accounting for a number years, you’ve certainly seen your share of colleagues get shown the door either due to work performance that was not up to par, “a slow down in the marketplace,” or engaging in office antics that are typically frowned upon. This is typically handled in a manner befitting of a professional accountant. That is, a very solemn conversation in a partner’s office with regrets, thanks for service, yada yada yada.

William Ernst (no relation, I’m guessing) is a Bettendorf, Iowa businessman that owns a chain of QC Mart convenience stores, and he was sick of his employees acting up. Fooling around behind the counter, bad language, smoking grass wearing hats. Poor clerking. To help make his point, Mr. Ernst decided to start a little contest and sent a memo to employees laying out the groundrules:

“New Contest – Guess The Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!!!

To win our game, write on a piece of paper the name of the next cashier you believe will be fired. Write their name [the person who will be fired], today’s date, today’s time, and your name. Seal it in an envelope and give it to the manager to put in my envelope.

Here’s how the game will work: We are doubling our secret-shopper efforts, and your store will be visited during the day and at night several times a week. Secret shoppers will be looking for cashiers wearing a hat, talking on a cell phone, not wearing a QC Mart shirt, having someone hanging around/behind the counter, and/or a personal car parked by the pumps after 7 p.m., among other things.

If the name in your envelope has the right answer, you will win $10 CASH. Only one winner per firing unless there are multiple right answers with the exact same name, date, and time. Once we fire the person, we will open all the envelopes, award the prize, and start the contest again.

And no fair picking Mike Miller from (the Rockingham Road store). He was fired at around 11:30 a.m. today for wearing a hat and talking on his cell phone. Good luck!!!!!!!!!!”

Any firms considering cuts in the near to intermediate future, could really do well by this method. Although, since we’re dealing with a workforce that’s a little preoccupied with money, you’ll probably have to up the award to $100.

Firing contest by boss leads employees to quit [DMR]

Layoff Watch ’11: Grant Thornton

Similar to the recent cuts at McGladrey and KPMG, The Purple Rose of Chicago is apparently informing some support professionals that their services are no longer needed:

Layoffs occurring at director levels in the support staff and maybe other areas.

This included a director in communications, another in Knowledge Management and “others are forthcoming.” Email us updated with the latest details if you’re in the know.

Layoff Watch ’11: KPMG

Apparently a few IT support folks in the South were recently told their services were no longer needed:

I have a friend who works in their Tampa office. He said they’ve let go the few IT support people in his office as well as others in other offices in the region. [This occurred] 3 weeks – month ago.

Earlier:
Rumor of the Day: KPMG Freezes Hiring of Support Professionals

(UPDATE) Layoff Watch ’11: McGladrey Causing Some Head Scratching

Hot off the grill from Mickey G’s:

Some people let go at McGladrey. Heard it was like 15 [UPDATE: SEE BELOW] from the corporate marketing department and a few others. Some head scratchers going on. Moved people around including a few changes that have people baffled. People who have no business being promoted promoted.

Earlier in the summer, we heard a rumor about layoffs in the Northern Plains region and at the time our tipster said that the firm “spread[s] the terminations over months instead of doing them all at once,” which has more or less become the norm. ANYWAY, we’re trying to get some more info from tipsters and the firm but in the meantime, drop your knowledge below or get in touch.

UPDATE: A McGladrey spokesperson has informed us that the firm did recently “announce a restructuring of our marketing department to better align with the organizational structure and business objectives outlined by our firms more than a year ago,” adding, “This resulted in the elimination of 11 positions within the marketing organization.”

The head scratching was not specifically addressed. Carry on.

*Dustin Bradford

UPDATE: PwC Decides It Doesn’t Want $1.1 Million in Free Money From Tampa After All

Contributor note: As can happen when assembling posts for a tabloid publication late at night after too many beers and not enough sleep, we bumbled some simple facts on this one. We appreciate an astute reader reaching out to correct us and will spend the remainder of the day in the punishment corner thinking about what we’ve done.

It wasn’t that long ago so all of you should still have PwC’s recent Tampa “scandal” fresh in your minds but in case you need a refresher: 390 PwC employees in Tampa were impacted by a restructuring which left some out of a job and others ih other companies. PwC fired a little under 500 IT people in Tampa (moving those jobs to an outsourcing firm in India) and that pissed everyone off so to be nice, PwC decided to hire 200 new people and build a new $78 million office smack dab in the middle of Tampa (after hiring 487 employees in Florida for FY 2011). Isn’t that sweet? Well yes, it was, but that wasn’t the problem the press had an issue with. It was the fact that PwC was going to get $2 million (give or take a few pennies) in subsidies for doing it.

That didn’t go over very well (understandably) and as of yesterday, PwC had their Tampa lawyer – one Kenneth Tinkler – shoot a quick “oops, our bad” note to the mayor and city council stating they would no longer seek the $1.1 million “in incentive payments already approved by the City and County.”

Not the kind of firm to be accused of bitching out on a big deal like this, PwC will move forward with the plan to build in Tampa’s Westshore and hopes to have its entire Tampa workforce settled in there by 2013.

“I was very surprised to hear that they were turning down the incentives,” said Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern, who apparently exercised professional skepticism during the subsidy approval process. “But I am very glad that they have reiterated their intention to stay here.”

See, what happened was apparently the Tampa/Hillsborough County Economic Development Corporation got the facts wrong PwC fudged the facts a bit when it applied for the money on PwC’s behalf (as is standard), saying it needed the incentives to keep 1,633 jobs in Tampa. At the time, Tampa City Council members and Hillsborough County commissioners didn’t actually know the unnamed financial services firm applying for the incentives was PwC. According to the St. Petersburg Times, a written application made on the firm’s behalf said it had competing offers from South Carolina, India, Singapore and Argentina. But PwC denies that it ever planned on moving any jobs out of the area.  “We never considered moving those 2,000 jobs out of Tampa,” the firm’s Florida market managing partner Mario de Armas told the St. Petersburg Times.

Update: Mario later corrected his earlier statement by telling the St. Petersburg Times “PwC has openly communicated to the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. that when it originally evaluated potential sites for the firm’s new Enterprise Solutions Center, the firm was considering either a short-term lease renewal in the existing building in Tampa or constructing a building in Tampa with a long-term lease commitment. Although we did not contemplate an immediate move of 2,000 jobs out of Tampa, a short-term lease arrangement inherently leaves open the long-term question as to where our Enterprise Solutions Center would be located. Instead, our decision to invest in a new building demonstrates a sustained, long-term commitment to the Tampa area. PwC was forthright and consistent in its communications with Florida’s state and local economic development officials throughout this process, and so now we are very much looking forward to our partnership with the greater Tampa community and to maintaining and potentially increasing our work force in Tampa.”

The entire letter from their lawyer is included here for your reading pleasure:

FInal Tampa Letter 8 3

There Appears to Be Some Fuss About PwC Tapping $2 million in Subsidies Once They Spend $78 million and Hire 200 People

Remember when PwC laid off 500-ish 470 people in the Tampa area last year? The townies weren’t impressed and the local press, including the St. Petersburg Times, was all over the firm about it. At the time, PwC insisted that they would create more jobs in the area to make up for things. Frankly, no one took them seriously and probably chalked it up to “something PR has to say.” So it was a nice surprise to learn that the firm is not only hiring 200 new people but they’re spending $78 million on a “build-to-suit building.”

Typically when these kinds of things happen, the local and state governments like to subsidize a bit of the project and this situation is no different. The firm is reportedly receiving $2 million but a source at PwC, who wants to keep their identity secret because DUH, told me that it’s actually closer to $1.2 million. It consists of approximately $800k and some change from the state of Florida and $1.1 million (yes, I know the math doesn’t work you twerps, so save it, they didn’t have exact numbers) from the city and county, the latter being part of the Premier Business Bonus Program.

Rather than simply say “Thank you, PwC for bestowing your autumnal hues on our otherwise hot, sticky, green and tan town…oh, and the jobs are okay too,” the Tampa Bay Businees Journal is poking around the “$2 million” in subsidies. The focus of the story caused our source to be a little perplexed since, you know, the firm is spending nearly $80 million and hiring 200 people. Not to mention the people that will build the $78 million whathaveyou. Did they think the current PwC employees were going to bring their tool belts and slap together some framing and drywall? Plus, the firm doesn’t get the $2 million $1.2 million unless they spend the $78 million and they hire the 200 people. 197 simply won’t do (I asked).

Does it make up for the 500 layoffs? Maybe not. But a story about subsidies that probably wouldn’t pay for Dennis Nally’s annual travel? There’s far more interesting things going on in Florida. I assure you.

Goldman Sachs CFO: Layoffs Are About the Numbers

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. […] Chief Financial Officer David Viniar said the investment bank could layoff 1,000 employees globally as part of $1.2 billion in cost cuts.

During a conference call with analysts, Viniar said the potential headcount reduction is “as we sit here now and, of course, things can change,” adding that such layoffs would “come over the course of this year.” Viniar said the cuts could be “some senior, some junior people,” but “it’s really more dollar focused than head focused.” [MW]

Can a Tax Senior from a Local Firm Make the Jump to Big 4?

Welcome to the I-still-don’t-know-who-Casey-Anthony-is edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a tax senior was just laid off from his local firm because of a “lack of work.” Can he jump to a regional or a Big 4 firm without any trouble?

Is your latest raise an insult? Need some rumors debunked? Thinking of giving it all up for your dream of creating the world’s best burrito? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll give you the best average advice you’ve ever gotten.

Back to ranks of the funemployed:

Dear Going Concern,

I’m a tax senior and was just laid off from a local accounting firm with about 50 employees due to a “lack of work.” The firm has been losing clients and a lot of the staff has been sitting around lately with nothing to do.

How difficult would it be to move from a small, local firm to a larger, regional one or the Big 4? Thoughts?

Sincerely,

A Loyal Reader

Dear Loyal Reader,

Sorry to hear that you got the axe. That’s never a good feeling. If lots of other staff are sitting around twiddling, they’ll probably be joining you before you know it. But forget about them; you’re thinking about your options which is good, so let’s try and sort this out.

You’re a senior associate, so that’s a plus. Most firms, regardless of size, are hurting for seniors so that puts you in a good spot. You’re also in tax which requires a more specialized knowledge base than audit, so that’s a benefit too. Depending on what kind of clients you have served (I’m guessing individuals and small businesses), your best bet is start with the regional firms in your area. Odds are your experience will match up better with a regional firm, so they’re more likely to take an interest in you.

As for making the jump Big 4, this is a little trickier. I’m not saying it can’t be done, as I made the jump myself but it’s really dependent on your experience. If you’ve mostly prepared run-of-the-mill 1040s, chances are they won’t give you much of a look. On the other hand, if you have a lot of work in a specialized area (e.g. transfer pricing or M&A) on your résumé that will catch their eye.

Bottom line is that if you can find a firm that offers services and has clients that match up your experience, you’ll be a good fit. Good luck.

Layoff Watch ’11: ‘The Bloodbath Is Definitely Over’ for Accounting Profession

Nationally, after three consecutive years of declines, CPA firms “finally” are projecting positive growth between 3% and 4%, said Allan D. Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, a Chicago firm that specializes in the accounting profession. The industry had enjoyed enormous growth and enormous hiring between 2003 and 2007, Mr. Koltin said, but the recession year of 2008 ushered in a dark chapter.

Many firms instituted hiring freezes and made cuts. Most of the 100 largest firms let go of anywhere from 10% to as many as 20% of their accountants, he said. “It probably was the worst bloodbath of layoffs that the accounting profession has had in well over a couple decades,” Mr. Koltin said. “The bloodbath is definitely over. Firms all over the country, Cleveland and everywhere, for the first time are doing serious hiring after a serious drought.” [Crain’s]

Sharon Allen Copes with Travel By Staying Hydrated, Listening to Kenny Chesney

Deloitte’s Sharon Allen recently had a little chat with our friends at FINS as part of their coverage of Women in the Workplace series over the next two weeks. Ms. Allen will be coasting into retirement as her second term as the firm’s Chairman (her preferred term) comes to end.

The Allen interview covers all kinds of fun stuff so let’s get to it, starting with those pesky regulators:

Some of us are still getting comfortable to having the PCAOB sticking their beak into audits:

The public accounting arena has indeed changed a lot. It’s now a regulated profession with oversight that’s provided through the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. We are still, both the regulator and the profession, trying to work through that, with the common objective of improving audit quality. We’re learning how to work within a regulated environment that some years ago we just didn’t live with.


None of the firms chose to be the “Big 4” it just sorta worked out that way:

Just last week, we were talking at our global board meeting about how the profession got narrowed down to this number to begin with. The last reduction wasn’t the choice of the profession with [Arthur] Andersen out of business.

And speaking of four, she’s pretty comfortable with that number:

You have to have concentration of enough business to service the clients properly. If you spread that across eight firms, there just isn’t enough that supports that kind of that activity. In some of the major countries, the additional number of firms make sense, but when you look at it across the world, it doesn’t work. We’re not opposed to the competition; there are next-tier firms that are very good, and we encourage them to be in the mix in terms of proposal opportunities. It’s healthy. But the reality is the concentration will and probably should continue.

Term limits have somewhat led to SA’s retirement but there’s at least one person who’s especially happy about her quitting early:

I’m approaching the end of my second four-year term as chairman. We have a limit of two terms. While I’m not at mandatory retirement age yet, I concluded that it’s a really good time to make this move. I’ve had a fabulous 38-year career. But I’m also very comfortable with the transition leadership and the state of the firm. It’s a good time for me to leave at the top of my game. My husband is looking forward to spending more time with me.

FINS went ahead and asked Allen about the leadership election process, even though they already knew how the process went down.

We have a nomination process that we undertake. We interview through a nominating committee chosen by the board. They interview about 1,300 partners for their input on the type of attributes they’d like to see in the chairman and CEO positions. Then the committee interviews some individuals who match up with those qualities and ultimately proposed the nominated person.

One of the biggest challenges Allen has faced as Chairman was dealing with this clusterfuck of an economy. Luckily for the Green Dots out there, Deloitte management saw this coming and was able to save a bunch of you:

We were a little ahead of the game in anticipating the downturn that allowed us to prepare well for the difficult times to come. We had some reductions in our workforce, but they were not as substantial as they might have been had we not appropriately planned for the downturn.

And as a high-flying executive, there has to be coping mechanisms:

[Julie Steinberg of FINS]: How do you handle all the travel you do?

[Sharon Allen]: I drink a whole lot of water. I’m also fortunate to be able to adjust to time zone changes relatively easily. I work on domestic flights, and I do take my iPod and my computer.

JS: What are you listening to these days on your iPod?

SA: I’m a country music fan.

Chesney just came to mind for some reason (FYI Sharon: I can get you into the sold-out Red Rocks show, so reach out if you’re interested). But maybe she’s more of Toby Keith person, I can’t possibly know not having had the pleasure of seeing what ended up on the cutting-room floor. You’re invited to speculate as to artists (I’m pulling for Willie Nelson myself) and react to anything else you see above.

Deloitte’s Sharon Allen on Big Four Domination, Self-Promotion and the Corporate Lattice [FINS]
Earlier: Deloitte’s Sharon Allen Never Misses Date Night, Discovered Early on That She Wasn’t Meant to be a Car Hop

Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Study: The Idiot Who Accidentally Talks Sh*t on His Client’s Twitter Feed and Causes 20 People to Lose Their Jobs

Important lesson for any Big 4, et al. Twitter captains out there:

A Chrysler contractor who posted an obscene tweet on the Chrysler brand’s official account says he’s sorry his four-letter flub has cost 20 people their jobs.

Scott Bartosiewicz’s Twitter posting from last week read: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the (hash)motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive.” It was meant to appear on his personal account, but Bartosiewicz mistakenly sent it to the Chrysler brand’s feed while he was stuck in traffic on Interstate 696.

The error resulted in the 28-year-old Ferndale resident’s dismissal and contributed to Chrysler’s decision not to renew its contract with Bartosiewicz’s employer, New Media Strategies, a Virginia-based marketing firm that now is putting about 20 local employees out of work.

It’ll be a miracle if this guy sees this year’s Final Four.

Man fired over obscene Chrysler tweet apologizes [AJC]

Layoff Watch ’11: PwC Discontinuing Global Best Practices Unit

Last week we were tipped about layoffs that were communicated to PwC’s Global Best Practices (“GBP”) unit on January 13th. The GBP was purchased from Andersen back in the early Aughts and became a part of PwC’s Knowledge Services Organization which was developed as a part of Internal Firm Services.

Global Best Practices, as the name indicates, developed “best practices” that were either for sale to third parties or was used by PwC professionals to share with their clients.

Our source, a former Knowledge Services Organization employee gave us the initial scoop:

[I]t’s somewhere between 27 and 42 people, depending on how you do the math – there are some contractors. Most of the staff is based in Tampa, as part of the KSO. They have a month, then a package. Some are still in Chicago, where the GBP staff used to be based – the moved them all to Tampa about five years ago when PwC started up the whole Knowledge Services Organization plan.

Subscriptions to the site are way down and apparently the cost-benefit analysis didn’t justify keeping the employees, even though many of them had been around for many years.

We checked with a source within PwC who clarified/solidified some of the tip: simply put, the GBP product is being discontinued and it will affect 24 total jobs, sixteen in Tampa and eight in Chicago. As our original tipster mentioned, there are some outside contractors that aren’t included in those numbers. The separation date for those affected is February 25th and employees are being paid through the 28th. From there, a severance will be provided, depending on the individual’s position and tenure with the firm. All employees that are affected are being encouraged to apply for other jobs inside the firm.

This is second instance of layoffs by PwC in the Tampa area, following the 470 cuts announced last July. Many of those layoffs – 280 to be exact – were effective December 31st. We’ll keep you updated with any further details.

More Layoff Watch:
Layoff Watch ‘11: KPMG Cuts IT Support Staff

Layoff Watch ’11: KPMG Cuts IT Support Staff

Fyi- I’m forced to write this on my mobile so anyone that notes typos can piss off.

Anyhoo, for whatever reason, the KPMG beat is awfully hot today. This latest scoop we have is the unfortunate news that layoffs have reared their ugly head in Monty:

Caleb,

No chatter on the ~200 layoffs at KPMG IT support staff in Montvale this past Friday whose positions went to IBM outsourcing?

Oddly enough, we did hear about this just yesterday and hadn’t had the time to check it out. Now that we’ve been spurred into action, this confirms the original tip we received about the IT staff and that the work was going to IBM. This is the first news we received about the staff in Montvale, the original news we received was with regard to the New York office, a staff of approximately 17, we were told.

These in-house IT layoffs feel oddly familiar to the cuts made by PwC late last summer, who also planned to outsource those positions. P. Dubs also stated that they would offer some professionals other opportunities within the firm and would be creating a number of new jobs in the Tampa area, where those cuts occurred. So far there hasn’t been any indication that KPMG was doing something similar.

A message with KPMG spokesman Dan Ginsburg’s office was not immediately returned. We’ll keep you updated with any further details.

The CFO That Was ‘Exhausted’ From Defending Obama Lost Her Job

Remember? She was thisclose to living on franks and beans.


And now she’s even closer to the mystery meat reality because she has been laid off by the nonprofit for whom she worked:

Velma Hart, the chief financial officer for Am Vets, a veteran services organization based in Maryland, said Monday in an interview with CNBC that she was laid off as part of the nonprofit’s effort to cut expenses.

“I want to focus on the positive and be optimistic,” said Hart, who lives in Upper Marlboro, Md. “And assume that somehow things will work out, that there’s an opportunity out there with Velma’s name on it that’s right around the corner.”

A positive outlook, we like this gal. We’re sure you’ll be back to the corner office in no time. One word of advice though when you’re in the hot dog aisle – Hebrew National is not kosher, not matter what the package says.

Velma Hart Laid Off: Woman Who Told Obama Of Financial Fears Loses Her Job [HuffPo via DI]

(UPDATE) Layoff Watch ’10: Checking on PwC in Florida

~ Update includes clarification of the number of layoffs.

Remember those 500 layoffs that PwC announced in July? Jeff Harrington of the St. Petersburg Times reports, “According to a state-required layoff notice filed Friday, 280 jobs will be phased out by Dec. 31.”

According to the report, many layoffs occurred immediately:

PwC said another 150 positions have already been cut since July, with half of those displaced workers finding other jobs through PwC or a third-party vendor it is using, India-based Tata Consulting Services. The other half left voluntarily after finding other jobs outside the company.

That leaves 70 unaccounted for at this time and we’re trying to determine when these are happening. It’s our understanding that the 150 is a bit of squishy number so that may make up part of the difference but it remains a mystery (as Big 4 layoffs tend to be). SEE UPDATE BELOW.

As for the 200 positions tax and accounting that the firm said it is adding, the Times reports that they’ve added 30 positions so far since “last summer.”

If you’re in the know about the layoffs in Florida (or anywhere else for that matter) get in touch with us at tips@goingconcern.com and we’ll keep you updated as we hear more.

About 280 PricewaterhouseCoopers workers in Tampa get pink slips [St. Petersburg Times]

UPDATE – October 19, 2010: A source at PwC has informed GC that the number of layoffs is actually 470, a figure that was determined a few months subsequent to the July announcement of 500 cuts. Employees that comprise 280 cuts mentioned in the Times article were notified by letter that their last day would be December 31st. The source confirmed that half of the 150 employees cited in the article did obtain internal jobs with the firm or Tata Consulting Services while the other half resigned or found positions outside the firm.

Our source said that the remaining 40 IT cuts are being made in offices around the country and that the employees were notified in July. The exact timing of these cuts was not immediately known. We’ll keep you updated.

Layoff Watch ’10: KB Home Offers Denver Accounting Department a Free Trip

To Phoenix. If you’re not interested, well that’s probably TFB.

In a cost-cutting move, builder KB Home (KBH) said Thursday it is consolidating its two accounting and administrative services centers into one Phoenix office.

The Los-Angeles based builder said it will move the Denver operation to Arizona during the next few months. The Phoenix office will manage accounting-related operations for its 30 markets nationwide.

The builder, one of the nation’s largest, did not say how much money will be saved.

Some of the 66 affected Denver-based employees will be offered positions in Phoenix.

KB Home Consolidates Accounting Centers [Dow Jones]

Layoff Watch ’10: Rothstein Kass Making Pre-Labor Day Cuts

From the mailbag:

Thought you’d be interested in hearing that today RK had a few last minute “transitions” or as most know them “lay offs”, these happened in the FS practice in New Jersey about 6 weeks after the official “transition date” in which upper management stated that the “transitions” were over for the year and everyone was safe and could get back to work and not worry. Today we lost 1 supervisor, 1 pending manager and 1 manager all having started their careers home grown at the firm.

Performance reasons were quoted but no one seemed to have a clue it was coming and a pretty big bummer day. Rumor has it that it’s not yet over as some others were not in the office today, doesn’t help the extremely negative morale issue going on at this firm with doom and gloom expectations of raises coming post labor day.

Would love to see some more RK news hit the site from time to time if you get it, not really sure where the firm is heading, up or down and would be great to see what others think??? FS practice is getting demolished in NY and NJ appears to be getting more antsy with every move that management makes.

A voicemail and email to Rothstein Kass spokesman Robert Solomon were not immediately returned.

If you’ve got more info on cuts or other news at RK, get in touch.

Accounting News Roundup: Deloitte Poised to Be the Biggest of the Big 4; A Guide to Avoiding Layoffs; Forensic Accountant Testifies That Stanford Skimmed Funds | 08.26.10

~ Sorry about the downtime yesterday. Our best people are on it like ConEd.

Deloitte to be world’s biggest accountant as partners sweep up £590m [Telegraph]
“According to Mr Connolly, when Deloitte publishes its global results in October the firm is set to reveal it has overtaken PriceWaterhouseCoopers to become the biggest of the “Big Four” accountancy houses globally.

However, Mr Connolly, who is set to retire in 2011, predicted the current financial year could prove even more successful despite describing future growth in the wider economy as ‘low and slow.’ ‘We have alrin the first quarter of this year, so I expect we shall return to double-digit growth. The M&A market has started to get much busier and our tax business is growing well again. Changes in regulation also mean good business for us.’ ”

Investors Gain New Clout [WSJ]
“In a decision years in the making, the SEC voted 3-2 in favor of the “proxy access” rule, which requires companies to include the names of all board nominees, even those not backed by the company, directly on the standard corporate ballots distributed before shareholder annual meetings. To win the right to nominate, an investor or group of investors must own at least 3% of a company’s stock and have held the shares for a minimum of three years.

Currently, shareholders who want to oust board members must foot the bill for mailing separate ballots, as well as wage a separate campaign to woo shareholder support. Both are too costly and time-consuming for most. Now, the targeted companies will essentially be footing the bill for the dissidents, including them in the official proxy materials. The new rule will be in place in time for the 2011 annual meeting season next spring.”

Celgene names new chief financial officer [Reuters]
Jacqualyn Fouse will replace David Gryska effective Sept. 27

Herz Resigns As FASB Chair [The Summa]
Professor David Albrecht’s take on Roberto Herz’s decision to step down.

3Par Accepts Dell’s Increased Takeover Offer [Bloomberg]
“Dell Inc. said 3Par Inc. has accepted its increased offer of $24.30 per share in cash, or about $1.6 billion, net of 3Par’s cash.”


Dodging the Ax: How to Avoid Layoffs [FINS]
“As professionals working in financial-services witness the ax drop around their companies, many are living in fear that they could be included in the next round of layoffs. However, there are measures you can take right away to help safeguard your position and make you seem indispensable to management.”

Stanford Used Skimmed $1.6 Billion For Loans To Start-Ups, Witness Says [Bloomberg]
“The $1.6 billion that indicted financier R. Allen Stanford is accused of skimming from the funds of his investors was actually loaned by his Antiguan bank to start-up entities and other businesses he controlled, a fraud examiner testified.

Forensic accountant Alan Westheimer testified before a U.S. judge in Houston today that Stanford Financial Group Cos. comptroller Mark Kuhrt and chief accountant Gilbert Lopez told him they believed the borrowing should have been publicly disclosed.

‘The funds were being passed through as inter-company loans to the entities that were the recipients of the shareholder loans,’ Westheimer said. ‘Within a short period, usually six months, Mr. Stanford would assume those loans and the recipient companies transferred those balances to their underlying capital.’ ”

Accountant Convinces David and Victoria Beckham That They Don’t Need Seven Gardeners

The Beckhams were concerned that “ordinary people were tightening their belts,” so what did they do? They fired a bunch of ordinary people! All it took was a shrewd accountant to tell them, “You’re pouring money down the drain.”


The fun-killing accountant is then quoted by a source in The Sun that employing 50 people around the word isn’t necessary, ” ‘You CAN afford to employ all of these people. But why the hell DO you?’ ”

Vic took it to heart, so she cut 14 people off the payroll. This included a housekeeper that worked for them for eight years who was replaced by “two ‘cost efficient’ foreign staff,” so things aren’t completely falling apart.

As for the gardening, they’re down to one and now that poor bastard has to double as a chauffeur. Can you imagine the hell that must be having that guy track muddy shoes into the car? The horror.

People Are Still Talking About Those PwC Layoffs

Remember those PwC layoffs in Tampa a week or so back? Right. Anyway, the St. Petersburg Times decided to poke around this story a little bit more and discovered some things that most of you have known for awhile: there are two very different sides to large accounting firms and PwC is no exception.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has cultivated an image as one of corporate America’s upper-tier workplaces. Competitive pay. Great benefits. A perennial on Fortune’s list of Best Places to Work.

Human resources experts with the company have preached to clients about effectively managing workers and using layoffs as thes of crisis.

However, interviews with a half-dozen current and former Pricewaterhouse employees support a different picture of a financial evolution within the company in recent years. The accounting and professional services giant, known as PwC, has quietly and methodically slashed hundreds if not thousands of well-paying jobs, offshoring many functions to cheaper labor overseas.

A perennial on the Fortune list! It’s impressive to see the MSM catch on to the Big 4 M.O. so quickly. Anyway, the article goes on to explain that the accounting firms aren’t like regular corporations because, as we know, the “shareholders” are the partners of the firm:

Pricewaterhouse and the other top global accounting firms “make a lot of money, and they’ve had an increase in revenue for many years,” said Christopher Ames, president and CEO of the Ames Research Group, which analyzes financial data of the world’s largest professional services firms.

“These firms work differently than a publicly traded company. In the firms, the shareholders are the firm and there’s not that many of them. From the partners’ perspective, they want to keep that money … and they’ve done pretty well.”

Not only do the partners do well, St. Pete’s reveals a couple of other things we all know and that is 1) that getting a firm to admit that layoffs have even occurred is nothing short of water into wine and 2) the process and numbers involved are a complete mystery:

Confirmation of the latest layoffs was unusual. Many cuts happen below the radar. PwC has not filed any WARN layoff notices with the state this year for any cuts, including the latest one.

Consultant Francine McKenna, a former PwC employee who tracks the Big Four audit firms in her award-winning blog, re: TheAuditors, was shocked the company even confirmed the layoffs publicly. “They just don’t issue press releases,” said McKenna, who broke news of a previous PwC layoff in November.

Several PwC veterans said that is partly due to the process. A mass layoff is not typical; cuts come in small groups. Workers receive messages to “touch base” with a partner, a telltale sign they are about to lose their jobs. The total numbers are also murky, workers say, because a percentage of dismissed employees are offered either lateral jobs or lesser-paying jobs to stay with the firm.

Remember the November layoffs? If you don’t, it got ugly. The PwC loyalists got their claws out on that one.

PricewaterhouseCoopers spokesman Jon Stoner is quoted throughout but it’s mostly bites from the firm’s previous statement and he stonewalls reporter Jeff Harrington on any meaningful details.

For readers of this here fine publication, none of these tactics are new but Harrington dug up all the right dirt which is refreshing. He includes a quote from a former employee that probably sums it up for a lot of you, “It used to be a great place to work. They took care of their workers. “[Now,] it’s a company of bean counters, and all they care about is saving a few pennies.”

For PricewaterhouseCoopers, layoffs pad bottom line [St. Petersburg Times]

Layoff Watch ’10: PricewaterhouseCoopers Cuts 500 in Internal IT

Bay News 9 out of Tampa reports that PwC is cutting 500 jobs in its IT practice and quotes firm spokesman Jon Stoner:

“PWC is making these changes as part of a thoughtful, strategic plan that will allow the firm to best serve its clients,” he said. “The firm is one of the largest private employers and recruiters in the U.S. and as we make these changes, we are simultaneously increasing the number of jobs in other areas of the U.S. firm. All impacted employees will be encouraged to apply for other open positions at PWC.”


The report says that the 500 cuts is out 1,100 total, the majority of which were in Tampa. People got the word on Thursday afternoon including, “They haven’t been notified of any sort of severance package, but the company felt it was important to give the workers a heads-up and the time until the end of the year to apply for other open positions.”

Our contributor Francine McKenna writes that not only is this “an unprecedented press release” (an accurate statement if we’ve ever heard one) but that the number of layoffs is rumored to be closer to 800, “The additional 300 professionals are those who will not be offered an opportunity to apply for jobs with the rumored outsourced services provider, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).”

This is latest major move by PwC in Florida market. Back in March we reported on PwC closing their tax practice in the nearby Orlando office. According to the email we obtained, the practice closed on May 3rd.

If you’ve been affected by the layoffs in Tampa or know more details around these cuts, get in touch and discuss these developments in the comments.

PricewaterhouseCoopers cuts 500 jobs in Tampa [Bay News 9]
PricewaterhouseCoopers Cuts Hundreds of Internal IT Professionals [Re: The Auditors]

RSM McGladrey Can Explain the Disappointing Year

H&R Block announced its earnings for fiscal 2010 yesterday which included the details for the fka RSM McGladrey. The company’s press release basically says that times are tough but RSM had some good reasons for that.


For starters, the small tiff with M&P sort of put a damper on things and a nasty goodwill write-off:

RSM McGladrey reported fiscal 2010 pretax income of $58.7 million, down nearly 39 percent from $96.1 million in the prior year. Revenues declined 4.2 percent to $860.3 million, primarily due to the impact of the overall weak economic environment, which continues to pressure billable rates and hours within the industry. Profitability was negatively impacted by costs associated with previously resolved arbitration proceedings involving McGladrey & Pullen and other costs of litigation totaling $14.5 million in the aggregate, as well as a $15.0 million goodwill impairment charge at our capital markets business unit.

A 39% drop in profits could explain the nationwide layoffs at McGladrey that we reported on earlier this month. It’s a good thing they didn’t have the ginormous golf cake in this year’s numbers, otherwise the results would have been worse.

But if you ignore all that, things were essentially flat and everyone knows that flat is the new up!

Excluding these charges, pretax income would have been approximately $88 million and pretax margin for the segment would have been 10.3 percent, essentially flat with the prior year. The shortfall in revenues was partially mitigated by cost reduction efforts throughout the year. These efforts included headcount reductions to reflect lower client demand, as well as other non-client facing cost reduction initiatives.

OH! There’s the layoffs and they’re citing “lower client demand.” Thoughts on that, anyone?

H&R Block Reports Fiscal 2010 Financial Results [Market Wire]

Layoff Watch ’10: McGladrey Makes Nationwide Cuts

Over the past month, we have heard lots about layoffs at RSM McGladrey/McGladrey & Pullen but we didn’t have much for details.

Frankly, we still don’t know a lot but we’ll go with what we’ve got. So far we know about reductions in the New York, Chicago, Quad Cities, Florida and Seattle offices and everything we’ve been told indicates that they are occurring elsewhere.


First the Emerald City:

I was ample. There is a new geographic restructuring going on. Instead of multiple “economic units” there will be only three regions. Many HRs and CFOs from different offices are losing their jobs. Consulting people talk about 100 positions that will be eliminated across the country. 10 people were let go from Seattle Economic Unit which includes Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia offices. We were informed about the reorganization somewhere around 04/12 and laid off at the end of the month. I think everybody received severance.

We’re not that familiar with past cuts in the RSM/M&P world but the big cuts in consulting seem to trail the Big 4’s by a year or two, although if some of these smaller clients are giving into the Big 4 lowballing then perhaps this is the natural progression.

Meanwhile:

Their Florida Private Club operations group closed the Club IT Consulting Group and layed off the staff. Some of the staff have been part of the firm for more than 20 years and were profitable.

Chicago just layed off the Operations Consulting Staff yesterday, [approximately] 10 people. This group was left to dangle in the wind, sink or swim on their own without marketing or sales assistance or access to the firm’s client-base Naturally it failed.

This firm’s actual layoff numbers are always reported low because they chase people out prior to layoffs in an attempt to camouflage the numbers. Their tactics to accomplish this include poor performance evaluations for staff, unreasonable margin requirements, constant peer pressure meetings regarding performance and head to head comparisons. This creates a dysfunctional relationship between groups and actually motivates groups within their own company to compete with one and other. Only so much people can take and then they leave. Just what the firm wanted.

Considering the economy in Florida, the demise of RSM’s private club operations in that corner of the over-leveraged world wouldn’t come as much of surprise. That being said, you might expect that veterans of the firm would be accommodated somehow with other internal opportunities.

As far as the “chasing” this is Jack Welch’s magical forced ranking method that the Big 4 has accepted like its own creation.

We reached out to both RSM’s corporate spokeswoman and their general counsel, both of whom have not responded to our request for comment. We also contacted an H&R Block spokesman to see if they could elaborate on these layoffs from the parent company level but again, our requests have gone unanswered. H&RB had their own layoffs last month however, there is no indication at this point whether cuts at H&RB would have anything to do with those at RSM/M&P.

We’re still accumulating details on these cuts, so get in touch with us about details on your office or discuss below. And don’t be shy, we know you McGladrey types been hesitant to call on us in the past.

Memo to CFOs: Layoffs, Frozen Salaries Don’t Always Save the Most Money

Layoffs, pay freezes, pay cuts. Pretty simple cost cutting solutions for CFOs who’ve got tight budgets. Unfortunately, the slash and burn tactics for personnel may have been better applied in another area – inventory.

A recent survey performed by Greenwich Associates of midsized and small company “financial decision-makers” found that, in particular, midsized companies ($10 million to $500 million in revenue) that reduced their inventory, on average, saved 30% more ($520k inventory vs. $400 layoffs).

While that’s great news, the unfortunate part is that only 17% of the companies survey bothered with that particular cost saving strategy while 47% of those survey used “staffing reductions.”


The survey also found that while 37% of used pay freezes to reduced costs with an averaged savings of $245,000. Crunching the numbers, that’s nearly 53% less savings than the inventory reduction savings.

Of course, not all companies have inventory in the dusty-stacks-of-pallets-in-a-warehouse sense. This is especially true of the professional services/financial services area where, unfortunately, the staff are sometimes considered to be inventory.

Lesson from the Downturn: Cut Inventory, Not People [CFO]

Layoff Watch ’10: H&R Block Cutting 400 Positions, Closing 400 Locations

Has the risk of violence become too much?

No, it’s actually quite a bit more boring than that – cost savings. The company states that it will decrease its operating expenses $140-$150 million by 2012. CEO Russ Smyth was quoted in the Kansas City Star that “There aren’t as many people who need their taxes done when there are a lot fewer W-2s going out,” referring to the higher unemployment rate in the company’s customer base.

HRB’s headquarters in Kansas City will cut 165 of the 400 jobs lost.


The timing of this announcement is interesting because we’ve heard a few rumors (but virtually no details) about layoffs at RSM McGladrey, an HRB subsidiary, but they aren’t as forthcoming with the press releases and aren’t returning our calls. If you have any details about layoffs at RSM or its on-again off-again affiliate, McGladrey & Pullen, get in touch with us.

Full HRB press release:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) today announced a broad strategic realignment of its field and corporate support organization. Overall, the company expects these changes to decrease annual operating expenses by $140 – $150 million per year by the end of fiscal year 2012.

Russ Smyth, president and chief executive officer of H&R Block, said, “We operate in a challenging and competitive environment, and to be successful we must find new ways to provide better value to our clients. This requires that we narrow our focus and invest in a few key initiatives that will have the greatest impact on attracting and retaining clients in our retail and digital channels, while eliminating other activities and their related costs.”

Approximately 400 positions are being eliminated throughout the organization as part of the measure. The company also has closed approximately 400 under-performing tax offices out of its network of 11,000 retail tax locations.

“Changes like these are never easy and we appreciate the hard work and loyalty of the affected associates,” Smyth said.

“However, these steps are necessary to improve our business performance and better serve our clients.”

H&R Block expects to incur a pre-tax charge for severance-related costs of approximately $28 million, most of which will be incurred in the fiscal quarter ending July 31, 2010.

Compensation Watch ’10: GT Reassures Merit Increases, Jury Out on Bonuses

On Friday, Grant Thornton had a firm wide call to discuss several things including layoffs, compensation, and grab-bag questions.

Headcount Reductions – Steve-o believes that the worst is over and that “restructuring efforts are substantially behind us.” If there happens to be additional “headcount transitions” it will be to refine operations or part of the no He went on to say that the people that are GTers now will, “in very large part,” remain GTers. So can we assume the action in Cleveland and Chicago was the last of it?


Compensation: GT seems is making big push towards a “pay for performance” model for its employees which means compensation adjustments will focus on top performers (“5s” in GT world) and market based adjustments (i.e. keeping up the Joneses) won’t be happening. SC cited a downward trend of salaries in the accounting profession based on a survey that GT does with Mercer (sounds convenient) for the phasing out of market adjustments. He said there might be some exceptions to this.

The size of the merit adjustments have not yet been determined because it all depends on how well 1) GT performs through the end of the year and 2) individual performance. Chip said that enough people were belly aching about the old adjustment system that a change was warranted. This will be implemented slightly for this fiscal year (can’t get all Darwin about it 3/4 of the way through the fiscal year) and will be the main methods for next year and going forward.

Bonuses: SC cleared this whole issue up saying that it has not been determined if bonuses will be paid this year. It all depends no the firm’s performance in the final quarter of the fiscal year. He did say that he’s pre-tay, pre-tay, pre-tay optimistic about the firm “being in a position to pay bonuses” but they’re still crunching the numbers so there’s no telling if it will be a mini-windfall, pocket change, or a set of steak knives.

Not to worry though, as the top performers will certainly get something if everything goes well at the firm overall.

This “new” focus on pay for performance seems kind of familiar since all the firms assign rankings to employees (with their own bizarro methodologies) and are paid accordingly. It makes you wonder if those that fall in the meaty part of the GT curve will get such a small adjustment that it will be another twist on the forced ranking trend amongst accounting firms.

Steve-o then shared his general optimism about the direction of the economy and what it means for the firm, a few recent client wins, yada yada yada. He also updated everyone with some very vague details on the firm’s new strategy “Unleashing Our Potential” that will be rolling out in the next fiscal year. Basically all non-partners will have the chance to drop their $0.02 on this strategeroy very soon but other than that we couldn’t tell if the new strategy involved a lunar landing or full-scale assault on financial reporting fraud.

Last but perhaps most importantly, Steve-o admitted to enjoying the Masters very much, however he was quite clear that he was less than thrilled to see KPMG on Phil’s lid. We’re sure it’s nothing personal against Phil but those may be fightin’ words directed straight at Johnny V.

Layoff and Exodus Watch ’10: Grant Thornton Chicago and New York Seeing Movement

Two weeks ago, we heard that Grant Thornton’s Cleveland office started their layoffs a little earlier than what on might expect that was followed by an emergency meeting that the content of which is still a mystery.

Now we’ve received word on Chicago and New York who are rumored to be having layoffs and some quitters respectively.


From a Chipman Blog Reader:

I work in audit at Grant Thornton and have heard through the grapevine that offices are trying to keep staff. With the job market improving, it seems like other offices are looking to see if staff/seniors voluntary leave before making any final decisions pre-promotion day. Chicago has let go a partner and 2 senior managers in the audit practice and rumors are swirling of a few staff reductions, which seems crazy given that the current A1 class and the incoming class are so small. For other offices, national is working to roll out a benefit plan practice similar to what Chicago has to help keep staff busy during the summer months but it looks like this is not moving quickly enough….[T]he GT wire is that NY saw 10+ individuals put in their notice recently.

We left messages with both the Chicago and New York offices, neither of which have been returned.

An accountant close to the situation indicated that the partner and senior manager layoffs are part of those mentioned by Stephen Chipman back in January.

At that time, SC said that many of those partners and senior managers were already being notified, so since these most recent cuts knew that this day was coming, it was awfully generous of them to stay on for this busy season (we’re guessing there was money involved).

As far as the the staff situation in Chicago is concerned, cuts at the staff level do seem crazy if the classes are small. Meanwhile, although some attrition in New York was probably expected, at this point, it’s not clear whether 10+ leaving in mid-April is a lot or a little. Keep us updated.

What Was the Emergency Meeting at Grant Thornton’s Cleveland Office All About?

After Grant Thornton sprung into layoffs ahead of everyone else (based on what we’ve heard anyway) on Tuesday, the Cleveland audit practice leader apparently arranged an impromptu sit-down to discuss some things, among them, the headcount.


From an accountant close to the situation:

They let go of an A2 on Tuesday also. The audit practice leader then called an emergency audit dept meeting referring to us as “inventory” and that they were “managing the pipeline.”

We left another message with GT Cleveland to see if we could get a copy of the minutes or something but no one is calling us back.

Regardless, we get the “inventory” analogy but in this case, the inventory happens to have rent/mortgage and possibly a cocker spaniel or other human beings to feed. But seriously, we still get the analogy.

Taking it a step forward, was the “inventory” all that was discussed? Something else could have come up, say Stephen Chipman’s blog? Speculating about the whereabouts of Gabriel Azedo? Arguing over Indians tickets for Monday? Any other ideas? Discuss or let us know.

Deloitte Admits to Handling Layoffs ‘Poorly’

That “All-Hands” meeting we told you about on Monday sounds like it was a real snoozer, however, a source who was there did share two interesting details:

The guys in charge basically told us the following:

– They handled the [May 2009] “headcount adjustment” poorly. It was a necessary action; but more communication was necessary to keep people informed.
– Deloitte is better poised to grow over the next few years as compared to their competitors (we saw projections, but no comparisons…)

That took about 1.5 hours.

Since this was an “all-hands” we’re assuming tax people were there? If so, the ones still trudging towards the 15th (one week!) had to be suffering borderline panic attacks. Or maybe it was a brief oasis? Either way it’s unfortunate that nothing came up about increase in comp. Maybe Deloitte is the one firm that is saving it as a big surprise. If the cat gets let out of the bag on comp, get in touch with us.

Layoff Watch ’10: Grant Thornton’s Cleveland Office Starts Early

From Casa de Chipman:

A manager, a senior III, and senior II were quietly let go yesterday. In addition, the conference rooms are booked for today. I have not heard from other offices, but the Cleveland office appears to be kicking off the race early.


Seems early but our source indicated that these were audit professionals and we’re sure each office has their own method to the madness. Layoffs as this level were also not mentioned by Stephen Chipman during his firm-wide call back in January, although many have indicated that they would be happening regardless.

We left a message with the Cleveland office’s HR but so far we haven’t heard back and GT’s national PR has not responded to our email. If you’ve got an unexpected meeting coming up or have more details, get on the horn.

What Can Big 4 Accountants Expect Come Compensation/Firings Time?

Now that we’ve covered the natural and expected attrition of the Big 4 firms this time of year, let’s talk about what to expect if and when the post-busy season ax falls again. Per a reader’s request:

“Something similar to the salaries thread, except let the people tell us what $ package they were offered upon being “laid – off”, and how that was calculated (i.e. 1 weeks pay for every year of service? PTO paid out? 1 month severance pay?). I think this would be of interest to many folk out there who are about to be let go, as they can get a rough idea of what to expect and plan accordingly.”


I don’t expect the firings to be very widespread, but rather focused on small, top-heavy sectors (random, baseless examples – state and local tax in St. Louis, followed by IT advisory services in Atlanta). The reason for this is because the firms should be accounting for many to jump ship between April and Labor Day. Those up for promotion (“It’s coming this year, we promise!”) will bail in July/August once promo’s are announced.

For those of you only sticking it out to earn the manager title this summer before you leave, my advice is to start looking now. Inform your recruiters that the title is a mere formality and they will tailor their job hunts accordingly.

So. Let’s kick the weekend off with some wild speculation:

Potential Cuts:

• Federal tax groups
• Small offices and practices that have recently lost several small clients or one large client (e.g. PwC Orlando tax)
• Further cuts “when deemed necessary” before new hires begin in the fall

Safe zones:

• Hedge fund audits
• M&A advisory (based on KPMG whispers)
• IT advisory

Were you let go in the past two years? Share your severance packages in the comments so everyone can better gauge what to expect.

Most Top Ten Accounting Firms Saw Lower Revenues, Headcount for 2009

Accounting Today put out their annual Top 100 Firms list late last week and while it focuses on the practices in United States it give us a little bit of room to speculate about who the real contenders are for the Global Six whathaveyou.

The ranking is based on net revenues from U.S. operations but it includes a lot data on each firm including # of offices, partners, total employees, and fee split.

Deloitte runs away with this list in three of the major categories – revenues, number of partners and total employees. The Casa de Salzberg had U.S. revenue of over $10.7 billion which was greater than #2 E&Y by over $3 billion.


Here are the top 10 firms along with their revenues, number of offices, number of partners and total employees

1. Deloitte – $10.7 billion; 102; 2,968; 42,367

2. Ernst & Young – $7.6 billion; 80; 2,500; 25,600

3. PricewaterhouseCoopers – $7.4 billion; 76; 2,235; 31,681

4. KPMG – $5 billion; 88; 1,847; 22,960

5. RSM McGladrey/McGladrey & Pullen – $1.5 billion; 93; 751; 7,755

6. Grant Thornton – $1.1 billion; 37; 535; 5,414

7. BDO – $620 million; 37; 273; 2,712

8. CBIZ/Mayer Hoffman McCann – $601 million; 180; 465; 4,580

9. Crowe Horwath – $508 million; 25; 240; 2,428

10. BKD – $393 million; 31; 258; 1,891

Some other interesting information from the list includes:

Declining Revenues – Revenues for all firms dropped with the exception of CBIZ/Mayer Hoffman McCann, Crowe Horwath and BKD. KPMG had the largest drop of nearly 11%.

Big 4 Dominate – The non-Big 4 firms’ combined revenue (approx. $4.7 billion) is still less than KPMG (smallest of the Big 4).

Personnel Changes – E&Y had a percentage increase in partners of 8.7% while total employees dropped nearly 6%. CBIZ/MHM saw a 32% increase in partners while total employees decreased over 12%. Only PwC and Crowe Horwath saw net increases in the number of partners and total employees.

Audit Heavy Firms – According to the list, PwC (52%), BDO (60%), Crowe Horwath (65%), and BKD (52%) all receive at least 50% of their revenues from audit fees.

So the whole Global Six thing, as much as we like to making a BFD out of it, is a non-issue. All the firms have global connections whether it’s through their own cooperative or through an international network so to cut it off at six seems a little clique-y. We’ll flip through the AT100 for any more interesting factoids but in the meantime feel to embellish any of the information presented here.

Top 100 Firms 2010 digital edition [Free registration for Digital Edition]

KPMG’s Layoffs in Advisory May Have Made Room for Some Auditors

Happy Hangover Thursday, folks. Hopefully the green food coloring washed off easily this morning.

I was out networking with my Irish brothers last night in midtown New York, quite a few blocks north of my normal after-work locale. Second Avenue bars full of cold beer and burned out white collars, St. Patty’s Day was a welcomed Wednesday relief for those in busy season. The day was over, the night was turning late and, for once, shop talk was put on the back burner. That is, until I heard the phrase “Uncle Peat” used as the object of affection bitterness for a toast.

Obviously, I couldn’t resist.


DWB: “Are you guys auditors?”

Auditor 1: “Yeah, over at KPMG. Hopefully not for long, though.”

DWB: “Nice, nice. Moving on to better things?”

Auditor 2: “Hopefully.”

Auditor 1: “Not soon enough.”

A round of drinks later (toast to Uncle Peat not included) and these Irish-for-the-day gentlemen filled me in about an email circulating around KPMG’s NYC audit practice regarding a temporary rotation into the Transaction Services (TS) practice. TS specializes in mergers & acquisitions work and was — most likely — hit steeply by the rounds of the falling guillotine back in 2008 and 2009.

How does a practice that was hemorrhaging money and resources a year ago now have business blowing through the door at such a fierce rate? If you read anything beyond the usual busy season distractions, it’d come as no surprise to you that the markets are slowly picking up. But service firms typically lag in response, both on the positive (Woo-hoo, new business!) and negative (Sorry, this isn’t about you – this is about the numbers) sides of the equation. Nonetheless, Uncle Peat’s auditors should be leaping at this opportunity. A rotation out of audit can be refreshing, even in the quieter months of summer.

Did KPMG’s advisory shake up and realignment pay off? Is the firm’s leadership blowing smoke to perk up the down-trodden auditors currently drowning in busy season? Was a picture of a giant carrot on a string used in the email? If you received this email, I’d love to read the text. Last night’s informants promised to send it over, but they probably called in with emergency doctor “appointments” this morning.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Shutting Down Orlando Tax Practice

Yesterday, PwC tax professionals got word that the firm is discontinuing tax operations from its Orlando office effective May 3, 2010.

Mario de Armas, the South Florida managing partner, explained that lack of business, “Orlando-based tax clients has declined, and we have been forced to import tax hours from other offices to keep our people busy,” and staffing challenges, “We have also faced a continued challenge around staff development in a primarily compliance environment,” lead to the closure of the practice.


The email states “We are committed to assisting each impacted individual with this transition,” although no details were given. The email also states that there will be no other Florida practices will be shut down, “To be clear, we have no plans to close any other practice areas in any of our Florida offices.” Emails to Mr de Armas and Jorge Gross, the Florida Tax leader were not returned. An email to PwC’s national press relations was also not returned.

This practice closure follows recent office closures by both Grant Thornton and Ernst & Young (“virtual” closure) in Greensboro, NC and E&Y closing its Manchester, NH office last fall.

If you will be affected by this closure, get in touch with us and we’ll continue to update you as we learn more.

Florida Colleagues:

We are constantly evaluating our client service delivery to ensure that our clients receive the best service possible and that our people are being offered opportunities for development and advancement. Over the past few years, revenue from Orlando-based tax clients has declined, and we have been forced to import tax hours from other offices to keep our people busy. A limited number of corporations are headquartered in Orlando, and while many of those corporations have been retained as audit clients, fewer have been tax clients. We have also faced a continued challenge around staff development in a primarily compliance environment, and more compliance work will be performed at the centralized Tax delivery center over time. As a result, the Firm has concluded that we will no longer have tax professionals located in the Orlando office effective May 3, 2010.

Knowing that we will be asked about this decision in the marketplace, it is important that we have a clear message to the market. From a strategy perspective, we believe that our distinctive footprint across the state of Florida makes us uniquely positioned to service our Orlando clients from our other offices, following the One Market concept.

This has been a difficult decision, and one that was reluctantly made after considering many factors. Our Tax professionals in Orlando have served our clients well. They have contributed in many ways to our market, and their efforts are valued and greatly appreciated. We are committed to assisting each impacted individual with this transition.

To be clear, we have no plans to close any other practice areas in any of our Florida offices. Please contact me or Jorge Gross, our Florida Tax Leader, with any questions you may have.

Thank you,

Mario

FEI Survey: Half of CFOs Don’t Plan to Replace Laid Off Positions

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

This is not the news you hear when there is talk of “recovery.”

Plus, it’s bad news for President Obama. The morning after our leader joined the rest of Americans and finally acknowledged that jobs are the most important issue facing the country, chief financial officers signaled they don’t expect the employment picture to improve anytime soon.

Sure, 62 percent of the 371 corporate CFOs who participated in the latest quarterly survey conducted by Financial Executives International (FEI) and Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business said they do not plan any layoffs for this year. Big deal. Most companies have already gotten around to this cost-cutting measure. In fact, 77 percent of those surveyed said they already cut rank and file during the economic downturn.


More significantly, nearly half of the CFOs that previously laid off people said they do not plan to replace those positions. Rather, they figure to deploy other strategies to increase production or output. For example, they plan to reinstate overtime for existing employees, turn to outside consultants, hire part-time employees, and/or make current part-time employees full time before rehiring new full-time employees.

Just 44 percent of the total surveyed said they anticipate an increase in hiring at their companies. On the other hand, about one-quarter of the finance execs expect to cut back on hiring. Not too encouraging, huh?

What’s more, non-cash payments seem to be high on the list of anticipated cutbacks. For example, executive perks were cited more than any other area for potential cutbacks (37.2 percent). Benefits in general ranked third (31.5 percent).

“As far as the new normal is concerned, efficiency is the name of the game,” Marie Hollein, CEO and President, Financial Executives International, said in a press release.

CFOs may become more confident later in the year, however. Virtually half of the respondents to the survey said they believe indicators such as bond yields, mortgage interest rates, U.S. unemployment rate and rising GDP will collectively improve and result in the start of a recovery in the U.S. economy in the second half of this year. Another 22 percent don’t expect these conditions to materialize until the first half of 2011.

In general, however, CFOs indicated they were more optimistic about the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter survey than they were three months earlier.

They are also more optimistic about their own company’s financial prospects than they were in the third-quarter survey.

More Grant Thornton Details: Declining Revenues, Raises in 2010, and Stephen Chipman Will Be Blogging

stephen chipman.jpgWe stumbled across the playback of the all-personnel call that went out to Grant Thornton professionals last Friday and we decided to give it a listen. It was about as snoozerific as we expected but we did come away with some additional information to share with you
Stephen Chipman, GT’s new CEO in the States spent about 40 minutes explaining the good the bad and the ugly at G to the T and here are some highlights:

• 81% of those survey and Grant Thornton are proud to work there. High? Low? Completely made up? Does this consider the Sue Sachdeva effect?

• Chip is going to be focusing on various new forms of communication including his own blog. This makes him the second CEO to do so, following Newman over at BDO. We hope, for your sake, that Chip won’t moderate the comments. We insist that you notify us of this as soon as it goes live.


• The new CEO got pretty somber when he described the prospects for GT’s revenue in FY 2010, stating revenues for core services were declining 11% year over year. Global Six…slipping…away.

• Because of this decline, it was decided that layoffs at the senior manager and partner level would occur (many have been notified already) along with those in the “internal client services function”.

• Despite the bad news, Steve-o did his best Bob Moritz, and made it clear: “We will be giving pay raises this summer.” He did qualify that this would be based on 1) the performance of the firm and 2) individual performance.

So that’s the long/short. Like we said, dude went on for 40 minutes and we didn’t have the thing transcribed to give it to you verbatim. If you happened to be one of the unfortunate senior managers, partners or support professionals that aren’t making the “next stage of the journey” get in touch with us about your experience.

For those that remain on team GT, discuss the big guy’s big promise of raises, the blog, revenue issues, etc.

Layoff Watch ’10: More Details on Ernst & Young

Thumbnail image for ey8ball.jpgWe have some additional details to share with you to supplement last Friday’s post on E&Y’s New Year layoffs.
While we were surprised at the timing, a source has indicated to us that IT Risk and Assurance layoffs have occurred at the firm each January since 2008. This is due to a serious drop off in utilization in the new year after high utilization in the fall months with the exception of especially in the audit heavy ITRA practices.
In regards to the audit practice, we spoke to another source over the weekend that told us that layoffs would not occur until after busy season but assured us that they are being planned.
Finally, in response to one comment asking about severance details, we were informed that the severance for those let go is a week’s pay for each year of service with a minimum of 4 weeks pay. This seems to be fairly standard (with a few variations) amongst the Big 4.
We’ve received word on some positions cut but we’re still awaiting further details so if you have any information or can provide more insight discuss below or get in touch and we’ll update them here.
UPDATE: A source has indicated that three IT Advisory managers in FSO in New York were included in the cuts.

Layoff Watch ’10: Grant Thornton January Edition

We’ve confirmed that an all-personnel call went out at Grant Thornton today warning everyone at the firm about upcoming layoffs.
One of our sources told us that the audit practice leader stated that it would primarily be cuts at the senior manager and partner level and that they are to take place “immediately”. Our source indicated that non-client serving personnel would also be affected.
Another source told us that there would be restructuring at the partner level which could be coming down from the new senior leadership team that the firm announced yesterday.
We are still trying to obtain details about the timing and number of professionals that may be affected. A Grant Thornton spokesperson has yet to return our email seeking comment. If you’ve got more details to share about the call discuss below or if you prefer to send us the details, get in touch.
Earlier coverage of Grant Thornton Layoffs:
Layoff Watch ’09: Grant Thornton December Edition
Layoff Watch ’09: Grant Thornton Update
Layoff Watch ’09: Grant Thornton

Layoff Watch ’10: Ernst & Young January Edition

Confused doesn’t even begin to describe what were feeling. We are hearing tons of rumors about layoffs in the Ernstiverse this week.

We’ve heard rumors from Denver to the East-Central (fka North-Central) and New York FSO. This includes both client serving professionals and support staff. We have already confirmed that two admins were let go earlier this week in New York.

The timing is especially strange since, you know, it’s January and in some offices the mandatory hours have already rolled out. Even if it were only support staff being let go, the timing is still unheard of. Why wait until January to let people go when having cuts in November? Maybe it’s just us but if we had survived that November cut, we would have thought that our job would be safe until at least the spring.
And since the roundtables seem to be SOP you wouldn’t think they would be anything to worry about but they definitely have people talking and wondering what will go down.

So far, Ernst & Young has not responded to our request for comment.
If you hear anything about your office get in touch in with us and discuss in the comments.

What Happens When the “Numbers” People Can’t Count?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for accountant.jpgThere was some quiet chatter here at GC about Ernst & Young’s closure of its Greensboro, NC office this past December, right around the Merry Happy holidays. Thanks Ernie.
This is nothing new. Smaller offices have been getting shut down for years. Years. Years.
You’ll probably find this to be a shocker but your feelings are not the main problem facing the firms due to the combination of recent closings and endless rounds of cuts. The problem is – it’s the theme of any busy season – firms finding themselves short staffed.
Many readers have commented that engagements are understaffed heading into the cold winter months. Albeit this is typically the unofficial “norm,” but slashed fees are only compounding the problem this year. The troubles of ’09 will be used as firm scapegoats for 2010. Move along, kids. Nothing more to see here.
Serious trouble is brewing for at least one Big 4 firm, however. A source confirmed that their Big 4 Beast is outsourcing work in the Carolinas to smaller regional firms because they are so understaffed:

The combination of layoffs a year ago and people leaving now that the market is turning around is causing the firm to hire outside help just to get through busy season.


Ummm. How did this happen? Is this firm (or any other firm for that matter) initiating rotations from staff “heavy” areas like Chicago and New York to cover the lapses in smaller areas like Buffalo or Greensboro? If so spread the winter cheer, because that sounds downright awful.
The public accountant’s mind is a simple one with regards to job searching:
Picture 1.png

The middle area is commonly referred to as “run through a venti latte on the client and debate.”

The market is moving ever so steadily from red to green. This time is now, and no one, not even leadership, is denying that. Firm leaders have been talking, talking and talking some more about the upswing of 2010. If they are handing out the Kool-aid, doesn’t SOMEONE take a moment to think, “Hey guys, should we really have cut so much staff six months ago?”
Someone, somewhere underestimated staff needs or overestimated staff loyalty. Or both. So now, cutting into the already razor thin fees will be the misguided expense of hiring outside help just to get by. The situation is only going to get worse in the coming months; money is starting to move, financial firms are beginning to reinvest, and jobs are going to be created and filled by your colleagues.
How can a firm’s leadership whose fundamental – and societal stereotyped – sole function is numbers be so off the mark? This is elementary, is it not?

More Details on the Year That Was at Crowe Horwath

Thumbnail image for Crowe_Horwath_2c_lo.jpgLast month we had a couple of posts on the year that was in Crowe Horwath layoffs. After learning about three rounds of layoffs and a CH exodus, we figured we had exhausted the details on 2009 for Crowe.
Not so! The latest on CH is that, like everyone else, the firm is gearing up for busy season desperately shortstaffed despite the end of their “Alternative Staffing Program”.
We’ve also learned that there were pay freezes across the board at CH last year. This included a couple of instances where newly promoted managers had their pay frozen despite being told “substantial changes in duties would be exempt from pay freeze.”
Right now our sources aren’t sure what to expect from CH in 2010 as communication from their leadership has been minimal. So all in all, it doesn’t sound like Crowe is all that different from the Big 4 despite claiming to be “a unique alternative” to them. Good luck to all the professionals at the firm in 2010 and keep us updated with all the happenings during your busy season.

Layoff Watch ’09: Catching up with Crowe Horwath

Thumbnail image for Crowe_Horwath_2c_lo.jpgEarlier this month we told you about layoffs that went down at Crowe Horwath in late November.
We’ve now received additional details that indicate that Crowe has had several rounds of layoffs this past year that started with non-client serving personnel late in 2008 and culminating with the November round.
Our source told us that the second round occurred in spring of this year and at that time, firm leadership communicated that no further layoffs would be necessary. Apparently things didn’t goes as plan as a third round occurred in July that consisted of professionals in the risk consulting practice and many in the Financial Institutions practice that were not chargeable were asked to take sabbaticals. This report of “sabbaticals” is consistent with our report earlier from a source that indicated that “there was a lot of forced time off during the summer.”


It sounds as though Crowe has consistently notified their employees about the layoffs, although our sources have indicated that details (i.e. number of professionals) are always scarce for “morale purposes.” One could assume that since anything after the spring round was not supposed to happen, morale was probably all but wiped out anyway.
The second and third rounds were rumored to be in the nabe of 150 each and our source told us that the third round included many “Executives, Senior Managers, and Managers over 40.” and that “Agreeing to not sue Crowe for age discrimination was part of the Severance Package.” So if you’re 40+ at Crowe it sounds like your best years are behind you or maybe you’re just too damn expensive?
Middle-aged dismissal rumors notwithstanding, Crowe has seen its own exodus, which seems to be the natural progression of things when layoffs reach bodily function regularity.
Crowe Horwath has not responded to our repeated requests for comment.
If you’ve been involved in any of these layoffs at Crowe, or have additional details discuss below, or email us and we’ll continue to keep you updated.

Layoff Watch ’09: Grant Thornton December Edition

We come with news this afternoon about more layoffs at G to the T that are rumored to have gone down earlier this month.
This latest information we have involves two managers and two senior managers in the Los Angeles office were shown the door around the first of the month. Our source has indicated that the breakdown was three in the audit practice and one in tax. These latest cuts would be in addition to the original ten that we reported on last month for LA.
If you have more information on these layoffs or have details on a different GT office, get in touch with us or discuss in the comments.
Earlier: Layoff Watch ’09: Grant Thornton

Layoff Watch ’09: Deloitte

We received word late yesterday about two audit senior mangers in the Tampa office being shown the door yesterday. This makes us wonder if more professionals in the senior manager “parking lot” will take this is as a sign to either move on or will hold out hoping to eventually get a seat at the big table.
There doesn’t seem to be any kind of uniform method to the Deloitte’s cuts so if they’ve recently gone down at your office, let us know.

Rumor Mill: Ernst & Young Layoffs Move on to the Advisory Practice

We’re hearing more about layoffs in E&Y’s North Central offices today. The chatter is that cuts are now hitting advisory professionals in Detroit, Toledo, and Cincinnati. Our source indicated that it was 2 – 3 professionals in each office which puts the total number of layoffs in the region over 30 since this latest round started last month.
Rumor also has it that the Columbus office — home of dollar beer night — could also get into the axe swinging but we’re scant on details at this point.
These cuts in the advisory practice would be the first we have heard of since the dozen layoffs (that we confirmed) in the Pacific-Northwest.
Continue to keep us updated with the specifics.
Earlier: (UPDATE) Layoff Watch ’09: Update on Ernst & Young

Rumor Mill: The Latest E&Y Columbus Details Include $1 Beers

We continue to receive details about the layoffs at E&Y’s Columbus office. The first bit of information is that one of the unlucky few — a recently promoted SA — was given one day to consider taking a transfer to another office. According to our source, the client the SA was serving caught wind of the dismissal and the client’s reaction convinced TPTB to let the SA stay on an additional week to finish his/her work.
Our source also indicated that new manager training was going on at the time and “those [managers] with potentially the best chance to speak on the behalf of those to be axed were all in sunny Florida oblivious to the proceedings.”
Oh and the dollar beers thing. As you may remember, the layoffs occurred the day before the office’s holiday get-down. The rumor is that the festivities had a tab in the nabe of $1,200, which included $1 beers.
This causes us to wonder a few things: A) No open bar? B) Beast or Natty Light? and C) we realize Columbus is a college town but $1 beers? Were there penny pitchers and $3 Jager shots too?
For reasons that escape us, we’re completely enamored with details that continue to emerge from this. Continue to keep us updated.
Earlier:
E&Y Columbus Layoffs Update
Layoff Watch ’09: Update on Ernst & Young’s November Round

Layoff Watch ’09: Crowe Horwath

Thumbnail image for Crowe_Horwath_2c_lo.jpgWe just received word that Crowe’s CEO, Chuck Allen left a firm-wide voicemail announcing that the firm was having layoffs.
According to our tip, CH had “a lot of forced time off during the summer” and that “Oakbrook assurance has seen some movement.” Also, our source indicated that “Firm isn’t announcing specifics besides that its happening.”
So far, our calls and emails to Crowe Horwath have gone unreturned. We’ll update you with any comment or further information they may provide. If you have details on Crowe Horwath layoffs from any office, send the details to tips@goingconcern.com and discuss in the comments.

E&Y Columbus Layoffs Update

Just a little more context on the latest E&Y layoffs that we reported on this morning.
A new source has indicated to us the cuts were absolutely based on utilization:

The staff confirmed that no counselor was addressed.
The staff confirmed that no personnel with whom the individual worked within the past 6-8 months was consulted, including manager and above.
The staff confirmed that no performance reviews since April 2009 were referenced.
You better have a strong anchor client that keeps you going year round, and good luck if you lose them. So much for people.

We don’t feel further comment is necessary but if you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments.

Layoff Watch ’09: Update on Ernst & Young’s November Round

It’s been a couple of weeks since we last heard any details from last month’s layoffs at E&Y, so we just assumed this particular story had run its course.
Well now, we have received word of (and confirmed) layoffs in the Columbus, Ohio office. One source indicates it was 2 – 3 staff and possibly one manager in the assurance practice. This would put the number of layoffs in the North Central region in the nabe of 25. Our source indicated that it seemed that Columbus had been spared for the round last month, so this may be their attempt to catch up.
Annnnnnd it’s our understanding that the cuts happened the day before the holiday party in Columbus. So there’s that.
If you have additional details, continue to pass them along and continue to keep us updated on any layoffs you hear for your office.

Layoff Watch ’09: Grant Thornton Update

We’ve finally got a few details to share with you on last week’s layoffs at Grant Thornton.
According to a tip we received, ten professionals in Southern California were laid off, nine in the audit practice and one in the advisory practice. If you’ve got more details on these cuts on GT, get in touch with us and discuss in the comments.

Rumor Mill: KPMG L.A. Layoffs, Maybe Dallas?

We’ve received multiple reports of layoffs that occurred last week in the audit practice of the Los Angeles office.
The numbers have been described as “a few” and the news has been “hush hush” making us wonder if these cuts were some unfinished business from either the August and September rounds.
There also have been rumors about additional layoffs in Dallas tax but we don’t have any more details than that.
If you’ve got any details for these layoffs or details for other cities, get in touch and discuss in the comments.

Reports of Ernst & Young Layoffs Still Trickling In

We thought E&Y layoffs had finally quieted down but unfortunately late yesterday we learned of an additional ten cuts in the tax practice of the North Central region including Cincinnati, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.
These cuts in Cincy and the ‘Burgh are on top of the initial cuts we reported but this is the first tip we’ve received about layoffs in Detroit. Jump back to the main thread for the latest discussion and continue to keep us informed with details.

Ernst & Young Severance Negotiable?

Everything is negotiable, amiright? We heard that staff in one North Central office were given one month of severance but at least one person made a big enough stink that they ended up with three months. Personally, we thought the Big 4 was pretty inflexible on this point but hey, if it’s true, nice work.
Jump over to the main thread to check the latest discussion and if there are still details to be reported, get in touch.

GC Weekend: Update on Ernst & Young Layoffs

We received more details late yesterday on the E&Y layoffs. The latest cities reporting layoffs are now Minneapolis and Milwaukee.
We also learned that there were approximately ten layoffs in the tax practice last month in the Chicago office. These were all at the associate and senior associate level.
Check back to the original thread for the latest and continue to keep us updated.

Ernst & Young Layoffs Update, Friday Edition

We’ve updated the E&Y layoff thread to include the latest reports. Check the latest and send details to our tips line if your office is missing or have details to add.
Good luck to everyone that got laid off this week.

Layoff Watch ’09: Grant Thornton

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Grant-thornton-logo.JPGThere’s a lot of chatter about layoffs at Grant Thornton this week but we’re scant on details. So far, we’ve heard there were cuts in New York, Dallas and possibly the Southeast region.
And just for the hell of it, we called up GT to see if they could tell us anything. Unfortunately we just got voicemail but we’ll update you if they get back to us (they might, don’t be so pessimistic).
If you have more details, get in touch and ask around to your peoples that work in the House of Nusbaum to find out what’s going down.

Ernst & Young Layoffs: The Latest

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ey_bandaids.jpgFrom a reliable source on the west coast we have learned that the advisory practice of E&Y was feeling left out and has decided to get into the act.
Twelve advisory professionals — we’re speculating that it was all staff at this point — were laid off today in the Pacific-Northwest Region. The only confirmed city that we have so far is San Jose. Emails were sent out last night and meetings with partners were held this morning. For an added personal touch, our understanding is that the staff met with partners that they were not previously acquainted.
Our calls to E&Y have gone unreturned. An E&Y spokesperson declined to comment.
Jump back to this post for all the details on this round of E&Y layoffs and get in touch with details for your city, practice, and severance.

Are We Experiencing a Big 4 Exodus?

Thumbnail image for Moving on.jpgMaybe! Nevermind people leaving involuntarily for a second.
We’re hearing from many that people are heading for the exits en masse and it’s getting the bigwigs’ attention. According to one reader:
“[A]pparently its got higher ups here a bit worried. It was an agenda [point] for a [recent manager] meeting. Just wondering how it was elsewhere. ”
Of course, this leads to many, many, many teams finding themselves short-staffed. We just heard that the New York office of one Big 4 firm has been contacting other offices aggressively recruiting audit personnel for huge advisory engagements. This has been received with a resounding “GET BENT” since those offices desperately need the people for their local audit engagements.
It can be easily argued that the reason people are bolting is because of the pay freeze trend or since no one’s job seems to be safe, people are simply taking matters into their own hands.
So discuss in the comments what you’re seeing, hearing, and speculating about regarding people leaving your firm. This may be an office by office phenomenon so we’ll put out to you to give us the details for your office, your team, your firm in general.

E&Y Layoff Update

Jump back to our post from yesterday to read the latest on this week’s cuts at E&Y.

(UPDATE) Layoff Watch ’09: Update on Ernst & Young

In addition to the layoffs we reported on yesterday in Chicago and Dallas, we now have reports of cuts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Irvine. Our source on the left coast speculates that the current round can’t be too large in scope since everyone is already stretched thin.
So far it’s been in assurance only and we’re scant on details for severance so get in touch if you find yourself with some extra time on your hands or you have details on the numbers in your office.
UPDATE, Wednesday Nov 11th: Our sources are now reporting layoffs in the tax practice including the tax managing partner for the Phoenix office, and an executive director in Denver. We also have reports on tax layoffs in the Southern California offices. Per our source:

• Los Angeles: 4 that I know of. At least 1 Senior, 1 Staff
• Irvine: 4 that I know of. At least 1 staff
• San Diego: 4 that I know of. 3 Senior managers, 1 Senior.

Senior managers are reportedly receiving three months pay and A2’s are receiving one month for severance. Continue to keep us updated.
UPDATE 2, Thursday, November 12th: Twelve advisory professionals in the Pacific-Northwest region.
UPDATE 3, Friday, November 13th: Charlotte office dismissed three audit SA1’s. In the North Central region: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Cleveland offices all laid off three SAs. Twenty total layoffs reported between Pittsburgh (at least three), Cincinnati (at least three), Cleveland (3), and Detroit.
UPDATE 4: Saturday, November 14th: ~5-6 audit professionals in Minneapolis and ~1-2 audit in Milwaukee.
Chicago: In addition to the ~20 layoffs we originally reported there were ~2-3 in support roles were let go.

Rumor Mill: PwC Is Pretty Sure That No One in Assurance or Tax Will Be Laid Off

moritz_becks.jpgBob Moritz, the U.S. Chairman, is trying to calm everyone down, as an email has been sent to the troops letting them know that it’s unlikely that there will be layoffs in the Assurance or Tax practices. We haven’t been able to track down a copy of the email yet but that’s the gist.
While this is good news, we would be more comforable if the email would have read something like:
“We’re absolutely, 100% sure that no one in Assurance and Tax will be laid off like we just did in Advisory. Write it down. No one. Not even you, guy that dicks around in the cubicle by the window so that he can see everyone approaching. Your utilization is in the crapper but it’s cool. You’re safe.”
Or he simply could have just added the photo to the email so everyone would feel better. Nothing says, “trust me” like a fresh pair of P. Dubs tighty-whities, amiright?

Layoff Watch ’09: Ernst & Young

We’ve received tips that layoffs have recently occurred in both the Chicago and Dallas offices of E&Y. The reports out of Chicago were that layoffs occurred on Friday and over the weekend.
Our source told us that the Friday layoffs were seniors in the Retail and Consumer Products industry group and weekend layoffs were across as well as other industry groups. Altogether approximately 20 professionals.
We have fewer details on the Dallas layoffs except that they were a couple of managers from the asset management group in the audit practice. The small number leads us to speculate that these were performance related, similar to the cuts we reported in August.
There have been several rumors circulating about layoffs occurring this week at E&Y and other firms as well so if you have more details on the Chicago or Dallas layoffs or know of cuts in your office, send us the details to our tips line.

Layoff Watch: Update on PwC November ’09 Edition

We’ve confirmed that the layoffs have started.
The first casualty that we know of was out of the Boston office and worked in Forensic services. No severance details as of yet. Kindly update us with your office, service line and severance details.

Rumor Mill: ‘Meeting with Partner’ Requests Going Out at PwC

Maybe it’s just an informational sit-down for the new P. Dubs tighty-whities that you’re all going to be expected to wear but our contributor, Francine McKenna had this ominous tweet:
Picture 1.png
Apparently someone else may have an itchy trigger finger. According to the comments over at RTA the emails have gone out to an office on the east coast but nothing more specific than that.
Keep us updated if you get a notice or if you know someone who gets a notice, or you know someone who knows someone, etc.

Layoff Watch: PwC November ’09 Edition

Thumbnail image for becks.jpgWe’re not going to say that the pending endorsement of Becks’ undies has anything to do with it but that guy doesn’t come cheap.

Our contributor, Francine McKenna, is reporting on her blog that PwC Advisory cuts will be going down next week:

I’ve just received word: There was a PwC Advisory partners emergency conference call tonight announcing upcoming involuntary staff reductions.
(This time the source is impeccable.)

New US Advisory Leader, Dana McIlwain laid out the bad news: The time has come to cut. Average utilization is hovering at 69%. Cash collections are millions short. Campus recruiting for Advisory has been stopped cold. Business sucks and then there’s the 800+ BearingPoint folks to absorb.

On November 11th the rank and file partners, fortified after training and coaching by HR via a webcast in the next few days, will chop 300+ professionals from PwC Advisory, at all levels, all geographies, all practices. Most have already seen the writing on the wall via forced ranking.

Well, crap. We’re not talking Lotus Notes developers this time around. If the guillotine does indeed drop next week, it probably won’t come as a surprise with the less-than exciting revenue numbers and the rumors that the firm was phoning in no raises for fiscal year 2010.

Oh and then after whoring themselves out for AHIP, P. Dubs turned around and folded like a cheap lawn chair. That probably won’t win you clients.

We’ll keep our ear to the ground on this but in the meantime, let us know if you’ve got more details on these rumored layoffs or if you get an unexpected email much earlier than next Wednesday. It’s been known to happen.
Veteran’s Day In PwC Advisory: Say Auf Wiedersehen [Re: The Auditors]

Earlier: PwC’s Re-thinking of the Bell Curve Ranking

Also: Ratings, Raises, and Promotions: Forced Ranking in the Big 4

Mavericks Need Not Apply at Ernst & Young

sarah-palin.jpgFINS has a short chat with E&Y’s Director of Experienced Recruiting, Maureen Kelleher, discussing, well, jobs at E&Y.
Highlights that you might enjoy find interesting:
Getting ahead: “It’s about being a team player — to take leadership responsibility but to not be a maverick.”
Salaries: “We’re staying the course, as it were. We have extremely competitive salaries. We reward for performance. Granted, our firm is not immune to the economy, so the proportion of all that is probably not as great as it has been in the past.”
Layoffs: “We’ve been watching our costs, and that’s about as much as I’ll say about that.”
“Staying the course” may simply be another way of saying, “It’s fair“. Also, the “watching costs” response? We feel Ms. Kelleher could have answered better here but maybe Big 4 rhetoric isn’t our strong suit.
Check out the whole interview over at FINS, and feel free to discuss your non-mavericky firm in the comments.
Maureen Kelleher: Ernst & Young [FINS]