Nothing new to report on the recent data breach at Moss Adams, but here’s some MA news we missed last month during our holiday lull: They got a guy from PwC. Jason Emmons is now a partner at Moss Adams, and according to his LinkedIn profile, he’s been providing services to customers in a professional […]
Hope everyone is having a good start to 2020. We’re s-l-o-w-l-y easing our way back to normalcy at GC HQ and catching up on things we missed during the past week. Like Moss Adams disclosing a data breach, in which names and Social Security numbers of clients were exposed. How many clients were affected? We […]
Not the Moss Adams guy in the Santa suit. He gets a pass. The guy on the bottom left showing off the red puffer vest he just bought on sale at Old Navy for $12. Dude, what happened? What made him think, “Look at everyone in their Christmas sweaters. I need to get in this […]
More than two dozen of Moss Adams’s finest got a Golden Ticket from the accounting firm’s very own Willy Wonka, Chairman and CEO Chris Schmidt, on Oct. 1. While we’re not sure if the new partner class of 2019 is the largest in the firm’s 106-year history, it is the biggest since 2014: 2018: 21 […]
When it comes to new partner promotions, Going Concern has never given much love to Moss Adams. But that ends today! Earlier this month, the top 15 firm, based in Seattle, gave 21 men and women keys to the partnership. This year’s class is rather large by Moss Adams standards: 2018: 21 2017: 14 2016: […]
I mentioned the Vault Accounting 50 yesterday, and even though we don’t pore over the listings like we used to, there’s still one part of them that we haven’t tired of yet: bitter 1-star reviews of accounting firms. So yes, I dug through the 1-star reviews of a few dozen accounting firms for an hour […]
Can someone please explain what's going on with this oddly-shaped voodoo doll that is Adam Moss? "Adam Moss is taking an afternoon coffee break! Happy Friday everyone!" Adam Moss is creeping me out, don't let him near my coffee.
Moss Adams' amazing week started with creative hair art and wrapped up thusly: Above, we have partners in the Bellingham office dressed — obviously — as the Duck Dynasty cast. The office made a donation to the United Way for each costume worn by staff, and Moss Adams reports 80% of the office participated. We'd […]
There are no words, people. NONE.
As you may or may not remember, the largest Ponzi Scheme in the state of Washington was perpetrated by a man named Frederick Darren Berg. His company, Meridian Group, bilked investors out of $150 million or so and now the bankruptcy trustee for the company is trying to recover some of those funds. One of […]
Call me crazy but if this is meant to show how flexible the firm is, maybe they shouldn't have mentioned that it was the one nice day Seattle has seen in 15 years and that it happened to be a weekend at that. Now had this been a Tuesday and Colin got to pull out […]
Gonzaga University is relevant for about ten days a year or so. I suppose since the new Pope is Jesuit that might change things, but I doubt it. I have nothing personal against the University or the people that go there; one of my favorite people from my hometown went to law school there and […]
Hahahahaha. No, of course not. HOWEVER, Moss Adams is getting close to usurping one of the Big 4 in number of CalCPA members and that may give some people the impression that a regional firm is making waves in California. A reader sent us the following: According to CalCPA and some number crunching, as of […]
After naming a new Boss of Moss one week ago today, we just learned that thirteen new mini-Mosses will be admitted to the partnership effective October 1. I'll dispense with the platitude quotes and get right to the names: Tracy Paglia, Stockton, CA Jessica Cluzeau, Los Angeles, CA Francis Tam, Los Angeles, CAMark Woodward, Los […]
Well, technically you'll have to wait until 2013, but, barring any unforeseen events, Chris Schmidt will be the next Chairman and CEO of Moss Adams and he's legit excited about it. "I'm honored and excited to have the opportunity to help lead Moss Adams forward into its second century," Schmidt said. "I hope to continue to build […]
Anyone remember Frederick Darren Berg? He's a guy who had a thing – nay, a passion – for charter buses. It just so happens that he also was running Washington's largest ever Ponzi scheme to finance his passion. Moss Adams (who Berg says is not at fault) was the auditor for FDB's Meridian funds – […]
Back in the spring, any chances of a GranMA merger that originally cropped up back in January were put to rest. This was after an impassioned denial by Moss Adams CEO Rick Anderson to his fellow partners.
And maybe all the GranMA talk was just that- talk. But what’s not talk is that Moss is moving into the midwest combination with Overland Park, Kansas-based Warinner, Gesinger & Associates LLC (“WGA”).
WGA focuses on telecommunications clients, which will allow MA to expand its own telecom practice outside the west. WGA principals Bill Warinner and Jarret Rea will join Moss Adams as partners, and Andrew Denzer will join as a director. You want quotes from the particulars? You got it!
“We look forward to helping our clients further strengthen their financial operations,” Warinner said. “This is a challenging time for the telecom industry and we are excited to deepen our telecom practice. In addition, Moss Adams provides a full spectrum of telecom and value-added services that our clients will enjoy.”
For Moss Adams, the combination demonstrates the firm’s commitment to strengthening its telecom offerings and to growing the Moss Adams team. According to Rick Betts, chair of the Moss Adams telecom practice, “Moss Adams is focused on providing premier client service. A strong Moss Adams presence in the Midwest means our telecom clients have more resources at their fingertips.”
So sorry GT, Moss Adams has moved on, officially. Hope you have too.
It’s spring, which means change is in the air; flowers are blooming, the air is warm, animals are frisky, all that crap. And perhaps because it is such a refreshing time of year, Moss Adams has rolled out a refreshed image, updating their colors, adding a tagl website a new look and feel. The firm officially rolled out its new and improved look today and Moss Adams CEO Rick Anderson was kind enough to speak to us about it.
Going Concern: So why the face lift (or does this simply qualify as Botox injections)? Is it because the firm is getting up in there in age and it’s not feeling as desirable as it once did?
Rick Anderson: As you know, a brand is an intangible asset with economic value that requires management to help it appreciate. The last refresh we did was in 2006-2007 and much has changed since then. The current updates to our colors, our tagline, and our graphic elements represent the energy and thought leadership we put into every relationship and engagement.
GC: The changes appear to be more subtle than, say, another firm that comes to mind – was that a conscious choice? Was anyone involved in the creative process dropping ideas that revolved around Legos or October foliage?
RA: Our creative team presented several options ranging from a small tweak to a full scale rebrand. Because Moss Adams is built on such a solid foundation, we decided that our vision, mission, and values would remain intact. And so would our logo, as we wanted easy recognition of our brand and we wanted to preserve the equity already built. So we are calling our new look and feel a “refresh” instead of a rebrand because it continues to focus on many of our historical strengths.
GC: Okay, sounds like simply “ma” could have been on the table. Moving on… The new tagline is “Acumen. Agility. Answers.” Do these merits have special meaning for MA or did they happen upon someone flipping through the A section of the dictionary?
RA: We created the tagline to reinforce important aspects of our brand that our clients called out in our client satisfaction survey. “Acumen. Agility. Answers.” is a simple, benefit-driven tagline that conveys three important attributes of the service we provide our clients: Acumen – Keen insight we deliver; Agility – Our ability to respond quickly; Answers – Correct and valuable responses to questions and problems.
GC: So the clients are the wordsmiths. Got it. What’s the feedback been so far? Are you expecting excitement at first followed by some sort of Charlie Sheen-esque backlash?
RA: We have been rolling out the new sales and marketing materials for the past few months, initially internally and then externally, and the response is favorable. People like the refreshed look. The new website just launched and focuses more heavily on valuable resources for our visitors. It is a bit early to gauge our metrics on that.
GC: In other words: WINNING! That’s wonderful. What other new and exciting things can we expect to see from MA this year? Office openings? More work-life balance initiatives? A new dancing partner?
RA: We are off to a good start to 2011. Our annual firm leadership meeting is in a few weeks and our focus will continue to be on taking care of our existing clients and personnel while continuing to focus on growth to provide more opportunities for our people and more resources for our clients. We are seeing some positive signs and are looking forward to a good 2011.
That’s because a source close to GT has told us “the deal with Moss Adams is dead.”
As for the why, our source told us, “The feedback from the Moss Adams board was that the MA partnership would not adequately support the merger.” Whether or not that’s true doesn’t take away from the fact that MA squeezed by GT in the GC Coolest Accounting Firm bracket and, thus, no MA partner worth their salt would want to join forces with GT and have to decipher hand-written notes from Stephen Chipman.
Despite this setback, that doesn’t mean GT isn’t on the prowl but we’ve got no idea who they might have their eye on, so we’d invite you to speculate on who that might be and get in touch if you know anything.
Well, we’ve finally reached the championship match-up and it’s a battle of the coasts. , NJ-based Rothstein Kass will take on Seattle-based Moss Adams for what will no doubt be the crowning achievement for either firm’s busy season. Moss Adams disposed of their rumored dancing partner Grant Thornton while Rothstein dismantled McGladrey. Rehash over; let’s get to the bracket.
Will Rothstein be the ultimate Cinderella? Will Moss spoil the ball? Will Reznick Group mount a firm-wide attack on MA just out of spite? WTFK? But vote so we can wrap this up. If I have to look at another bracket in next 365 days it will be too soon. Poll is open until FRIDAY at 11:59 PT.
Now that we’ve reached the Final 4 without any Big 4 firms (all bounced in the first round), some of you may have lost interest in Going Concern March Madness: Coolest Accounting Firm. Well, that would make you a loser and anyway, we must press on! Face it, you’ll go for anything to distract you from the fact that you’re stuck inside whispering sweet nothings to Microsoft Excel while spring is slowly emerging outside. And it’s a pretty compelling Final Four anyway. Let’s take a look shall we?
So you’ll notice that we have the very interesting match-up between Moss Adams and Grant Thornton, the two firms that have subject of merger rumors (unfounded!) since January. Obviously the winner here will enjoy the upper hand in any future negotiations between the two firms, so anyone from either firm wishing to upset the leverage here would be wise to take a page from the Reznick Group strategy book.
Speaking of Reznick, we briefly mentioned the fact that their first round magic was nowhere to be found in round two. A tipster filled us in as to why:
I think the higher-ups were embarrassed by the public calling out and subsequent mockery in the comments, not a single other email went out about it – reminders about the competition or the beatdown they suffered at the hands of the commenters 🙂 Serious loss of billable hours that day too, everyone kept checking the site all day long for more comments, emailing and IMing each other about it.
So make a mental note – if your firm’s leadership has a thin skin and isn’t down with wasting a number of billable hours, the Reznick strategy may not be the way to go after all.
Moving on to the second match-up we have the perennial dark horse Rothstein Kass against McGladrey. Rothstein continues their hot streak in GCMMTCAF after their impressive performance in this year’s Vault rankings and McGladrey is…well, we’re pretty surprised to see McGladrey in the semi-finals, to be honest. Perhaps there are sweet incentives being offered internally but right now we haven’t been made aware of any such temptations. Anyway, McG has quietly made a run, so it makes for a decent showdown.
All right, enough with pleasantries. Let’s get to the voting. Polls close tomorrow night at 11:59 PT.
First up – GranMA
Cinderella vs. Mickey G’s.
The two highest remaining seeds – Grant Thornton and BDO – are looking defeat square in the face right now to their respective opponents – Crowe Horwath and Rothstein Kass. First round comeback kid Reznick Group is currently getting worked by Moss Adams which makes should make us all wonder what happened to the teamwork we saw in the first round. Perhaps they’re a one-trick pony?
Finally, in the least talked about match-up, Mickey G’s and Dennis Rader’s favorite firm (ideas for something better are welcome) look like they’ll be taking it down to the wire. There’s just over thirteen hours left to vote, so get the word out sooner rather than later (sorry Clifton Gunderson).
Remember those GT/Moss Adams rumors from back in January? At the time, our post sent both firms calling for plumbers but we still mangaged to get a copy of an email from Moss Adams CEO Rick Anderson that denied the rumor in an email to the firm’s partners. Everything has been quiet since then mostly because…well, it’s busy season. Granted, firm leaders like Stephen Chipman and Rick Anderson aren’t thigh-deep in spreadsheets like most of you so the fact it’s entirely plausible that while you’re all distracted, TPTB have been courting each other.
We received this brief note from a tipster yesterday:
Rumor is [Grant Thornton] [is] about to announce big west coast deal.
Our source originally speculated that a tax/valuation/consulting boutique was the target because of an old Andersen connection but then told us that the latest word from the west coast is that Moss Adams is back in the picture. In our original post, we went over the reasons for and against the GranMoss merger and frankly it still could go either way (we’re leaning “no” at this point). That said, Grant Thornton has been on a buying spree, most recently picking up some attest services from the LECG Corp. fire sale, so a merger of some kind wouldn’t be a surprise but WHO?? We’re listening to any and all well-founded or crackpot theories.
Moss Adams has declined to comment on the rumor thus far and Grant Thornton did not return an email requesting comment.
UPDATE: This just in from a Grant Thornton tipster:
While I have no actual basis for substantiating this, we have a Moss Adams wireless signal in our office in the central region. There is no Moss Adams office in our building, or even out state, its been there since about January when the rumors first popped up. I just thought it was interesting. I have no insight into any of this, I’m just a lowly peon staff…
Perhaps there’s an explanation for this but I’m no expert on the wireless signals and whatnot so I’ll leave it to you to reason this out.
Allegedly! Admittedly, we’re a little behind on this one but you know how it is. Anyway, your Ponzi scheme du jour comes by way of the great Northwest, where Frederick Darren Berg, who seems to have some sort of charter bus fetish, is being prosecuted for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in Washington.
When he was at the University of Oregon in the 80s, Berg allegedly helped himself to his fraternity’s cash to fund a “charter bus venture” and then pleaded guilty to a check-kiting scheme with another bus company a few years later. After those nickel and dime failures, Fred was done messing and decided to really do this:
The 48-year-old founder and chief executive officer of Meridian Group is accused of defrauding hundreds of more than $100 million invested in his Seattle company’s mortgage funds between 2003 and 2010.
Prosecutors allege Berg spent tens of millions on a ritzy lifestyle, including a posh Mercer Island mansion, two yachts and two jets.
But investigators say Berg diverted a bigger chunk, estimated at $45 million, to create a luxury bus line that served tour groups and sports teams, including the Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.
And we all know what happened to mortgage funds, don’t we? Okay, then. So your next question probably is, “how did the auditors miss this one?” Well!
Berg used some simple stratagems to mislead auditors at Moss Adams, a large Seattle-based firm, which produced audits for a trio of Meridian funds for three years.
The standard procedure is to send out confirmation letters to a random sample of mortgage borrowers and compare what they say they’ve paid with what the lender’s records say.
But Moss Adams didn’t notice most of the confirmations it sent out were going to post-office boxes and coming back with the same handwriting, said [bankruptcy trustee Mark] Calvert.
Berg had rented more than 20 P.O. boxes and had the mail forwarded to another address in Seattle. He was replying to the auditors’ queries himself, according to the indictment.
[Cringe] Oops. To be fair, auditors can’t be expected to be hand-writing experts…can they? Mr. Calvert seems to think so and told the Seattle Times that he plans on suing Moss Adams and Deloitte for their roles. Oh, right! How do they fit in? To wit:
Berg also hired Deloitte Financial Advisory Services to do a “valuation report” on funds V through VII, meant just for Meridian management. Meridian, however, used it to reassure investors, touting Deloitte’s conclusion “the sample mortgage pool appears to be of higher quality and better performance” than comparable loan portfolios.
But Calvert said Deloitte’s supposedly random sampling “was not completed as outlined” in its agreement with Meridian. He declined to be more specific.
Moss Adams and Deloitte would not comment on their work for Meridian.
This week we learned that Dixon Hughes and Goodman & Co. would be wedded in CPA firm bliss on March 1st. We’ve also seen a couple of smaller mergers announced this week in the tri-state area: Rosen Seymour Shapss Martin & Company LLP and Kahn, Hoffman & Hochman, LLP formed Kahn Hoffman & Hochman and Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC and ERE, LLP.
But e heard a rumor that trumps all of these:
The new rumor is that Grant Thornton and Moss Adams are merging. I have it on good authority (an industry consultant and the MP of a California firm).
Okay, so not exactly rock solid but intriguing enough for us to ask around. So far, Grant Thornton spokeswoman Kristi Grgeta has not returned our emails or voicemails and Moss Adams has declined to comment at this time. We’re poking around with other sources but still waiting to hear back.
So for now, let’s just go with the hypothetical. If GT and Moss were to combine, it would make them the 5th largest firm in the U.S., narrowly edging out McGladrey, with about $1.5 billion in revenues, going by Accounting Today’s most recent figures. Currently they are 6th (GT) and 11th (MA) on the AT100 list and 6th (MA) and 23rd (GT) on Vault’s flagship ranking. Their combined forces would have nearly 800 partners and over 7,100 total employees, if you assume no layoffs.
While all that might serve Stephen Chipman’s desire more dynamic clients (and perhaps more blogging fodder?), it would certainly require a few more hand-written notes. Not only that but GT already has a presence in every major market that Moss Adams does unless they’re looking to mine the Eugene, Oregon market for LOSERS and have reconsidered their divestment in Albuquerque. Also culturally, this seems like a strange fit as GT strikes us as pretty buttoned-down while Moss Adams is more laid back but maybe we’ve got that wrong. You tell us.
Regardless, Grant Thornton has voiced interest in merger possibilities and picked up Huron Consulting’s Disputes & Investigations practice last year, so who knows!? Both firms just closed the books on 2010 and maybe they’re laying some groundwork?
So, what do the GT and MA people make of this? Hell, anyone can chime in, we’re just finding this particular rumor pret-tay interesting. Some things make sense and some don’t, so we’ll leave it to you to hash out. And of course, if any of this sounds familiar because, you know, you heard something in a meeting about this very topic, email us. We’ll update you with anything we hear.
U.S., BP Near Deal on Fund [WSJ]
“The Obama administration and BP PLC are close to a deal to use future revenues from the oil giant’s Gulf of Mexico operations to guarantee its $20 billion cleanup and compensation fund, a move that would give both sides an incentive to continue production in the Gulf, scene of the U.S.’s worst-ever offshore oil spill.
The Justice Department and BP said Monday they had completed talks to establish the fund, which is designed to cover damage claims from residents and businesses hurt by the spill and clean-up efforts by state and local governments. BP paid $3 billion into the fund ahead of sch Hurd, Deloitte and Tone At The Top [Re: The Auditors]
“The auditors serve the role of independent watchdog, guardian of shareholders interests in the capital markets . Their relationship to management should be adversarial – not friendly, cozy and comfortable. They are hired and fired by the Board, also supposedly independent. Given the way auditors are compensated, directly by the companies they judge, they have a difficult job. Their regulators guard those guardians and are supposed to make sure they do it.
So how does a Vice Chairman, one of those guardians, “dupe” his fellow partners and professional colleagues more than three hundred times, as Deloitte’s lawsuit against him alleged?
Deloitte has a culture of non-compliance.”
Oracle Chief Faults H.P. Board for Forcing Hurd Out [NYT]
Meanwhile, Larry Ellison wrote an email to the Times, “The H.P. board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago. That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them.”
Moss Adams Partner Bob Bunting Helps Create Reporting Standards for Corporate Sustainability [Moss Adams]
“Bob Bunting, chairman of the Moss Adams LLP International Services Group and president of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), has been appointed to the steering committee for the newly formed International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC). The Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) announced the formation of the IIRC today.
‘In addition to the annual reports publicly listed companies are required to file, an increasing number of companies are voluntarily producing corporate social responsibility or sustainability reports,’ Bunting said. ‘It’s an honor to be tapped for this role and to contribute input to developing a single standard for these reports. It’s a natural extension of the work I’ve been involved with at IFAC to help drive adoption of a single set of global standards for accounting, auditing, and professional ethics. It’s also a pleasure to be working alongside so many thought leaders in the world of standards setting and corporate sustainability.’ ”
Small business optimism sags in July [Reuters]
“Small business owners became more downbeat in July as expectations of weaker economic growth in the second half of the year reinforced a reluctance to hire, according to a survey published on Tuesday.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said its optimism index fell 0.9 point to 88.1 in July.
‘Virtually all of the decline was due to weaker expectations for business conditions six months from now,’ said William Dunkleberg, the group’s chief economist.”
SEC Charges Seattle-Area Company and Former CFO With Phony Accounting of Infomercial Sales [SEC]
When did the SEC start putting photos up of the Regional Directors?
The SEC alleges that Karl Redekopp, the former CFO of International Commercial Television Inc. (ICTV), turned millions of dollars of quarterly losses into profits by falsely accounting for ICTV’s sales of the Derma Wand, a skin care appliance that purports to reduce wrinkles and improve skin appearance. Redekopp fraudulently recognized revenue before the Home Shopping Network had actually sold or delivered the product to viewers. He also improperly recognized revenue before a free trial period offered by the company had expired, and failed to reverse revenue from products that had been returned. Redekopp’s misconduct caused the company to falsely report millions of dollars in excess revenue in 2007 and 2008.
” ‘Redekopp violated fundamental principles of accounting to fraudulently boost ICTV’s bottom line and conceal its true financial health from investors,’ said Marc J. Fagel, Director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office. ‘Unfortunately, ICTV’s auditors turned a blind eye to the company’s financial irregularities and failed to fulfill their role in investor protection.’ ”
Accounting PACs spread the wealth [Web CPA]
“Political fundraisers in the accounting profession began shifting their largesse toward congressional Democrats after they won control over both the House and the Senate four years ago.
But now with Tea Party activists screaming for the heads of incumbents and Republican candidates showing strength across the country, is the accounting profession resurrecting its overwhelming partisan support for the GOP in time for the mid-term elections?”
Flight Attendant at JFK Pulls Emergency Chute, Flies Coop [NBC New York]
Steve Slater was hit in the head by some luggage, was cursed at by the passenger who refused to apologize for it and Slater then proceeded to flip out. He cursed at all the passengers over the PA system on JetBlue Flight 1052, grabbed two beers and slid down the emergency chute after inflating it.
He was later arrested at his home in Queens, “Police sources said that when authorities found Slater he seemed to be in the midst having sexual relations.”
GT follows up with the news of its disposal of its Honolulu office last month, the closure of its Madison, WI location in April and Greensboro, NC earlier this year with this latest sale of its Albuquerque, New Mexico digs.
According to the Moss Adams press release Chipman & Co. wanted out of the Land of Enchantment after “evaluating its strategic direction”:
ALBUQUERQUE, N. Mex. (June 24, 2010)—Moss Adams LLP and Grant Thornton LLP announce the planned acquisition of Grant Thornton’s Albuquerque practice by Moss Adams on July 31, 2010. In evaluating its strategic direction, Grant Thornton senior leadership determined it will exit the New Mexico market.
Kim Nunley, the Grant Thornton office managing partner, will join Moss Adams as a partner along with many of the client service staff and employees. Wayne Brown, Moss Adams Albuquerque office managing partner, will continue to provide local leadership. He said, “I have known and respected Kim for many years and look forward to working closely with her. She is highly regarded within the profession and the Albuquerque community.”
This acquisition demonstrates Moss Adams commitment to the Southwest and overall firm growth. According to Chris Schmidt, Moss Adams president, “Moss Adams is focused on growth and the Grant Thornton practice blends well with our Albuquerque industry group specialization in areas such as financial institutions, credit unions, employee benefit plans, technology/life sciences, and manufacturing companies.”
Moss Adams is the largest accounting and consulting firm in New Mexico and the 11th largest firm in the United States. With more than 1,700 employees and 230 partners, the firm serves its clients from 21 offices in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Our email to a Grant Thornton spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) will continue to be more prevalent in the accounting landscape. Regardless of the SEC’s strategy of procrastination, it is the opinion of many that it’s a matter of “when” the standards will ultimately be adopted by public companies in the United States, not “if.”
There are many questi have related to this important issue. Accordingly, we’re opening a dialogue with experts of all opinions about IFRS so that you may be better prepared for this monumental development in financial reporting.
Bob Bunting is the President of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). Mr Bunting is former Chairman of the AICPA Board of Directors and the former Chairman and CEO of Moss Adams, serving in that role from 1982 to 2004. He currently serves as the lead partner for Moss Adams’ International Services Group.
Do you support the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards in the United States? Please explain why or why not.
We definitely support the ultimate adoption of IFRS for publicly listed companies in the United States. Our principal trading partners, including Europe, Canada, China, India, Brazil, and Mexico, have already either adopted IFRS or are well on their way to a mandatory adoption date. Most U.S. public companies have at least some exposure to foreign markets and will have to grapple with IFRS even if it’s not the U.S. standard. The cost of conversion to IFRS in the United States will pale in comparison to the long-term costs of dealing with a dominant world standard (IFRS) for out-of-country reporting and having to maintain U.S. GAAP systems and reports for U.S.-only reporting.
What’s the most common argument you hear against IFRS?
There are a number of myths associated with IFRS. One is that it’s a “foreign” standard. In fact, the United States has been a dominant force in the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) from its inception, and the convergence process between the IASB and the U.S. FASB has profoundly affected the shape and direction of IFRS for many years. Another complaint is that IFRS might not be “robust” enough for the U.S. market. This comes in part from the fact that IFRS is principles-based and U.S. GAAP is rules-based. Codified U.S. GAAP runs approximately 17,000 pages of text because of its rules orientation, whereas IFRS runs fewer than 3,000 pages. Since the FASB and IASB have been on a path to converging the two standards for more than six years, it’s hard to argue that one standard is more robust than the other.
If I’m a client that is skeptical of IFRS how do you convince me that A) it’s the best thing for my company from a financial reporting perspective and B) it’s the best thing for my company from a cost perspective?
IFRS may not be the best near-term option for a purely domestic U.S.-based company. However, companies with substantial international footprints have found that the cost of operating under two standards is far greater than operating under one. This cost will seem increasingly burdensome if the United States becomes the only country in the world not using IFRS.
Does it make a difference if the United States follows one set of rules and the rest of the world follows another set of rules?
It could make a huge difference, as the U.S. banking industry discovered in the early stages of the financial crisis. A good illustration of this is the debate over fair value. Multinational companies compete for capital globally. If U.S. and international standards require different approaches to fair value, it’s highly likely that either U.S. companies or their foreign competitors may find that their respective financial performance looks better or worse under one set of standards than the other. Companies reporting under the more attractive standard may report better results. In extreme cases those results could be the difference between apparent success and technical violation of lending covenants or even bankruptcy.
It’s a big challenge for accounting professionals to keep up with the rules that they currently follow. Is it reasonable to expect them to prepare for a switch to standards that will drastically change their methods?
We recognize that many accountants might be tempted to make this argument. However, as capital, trade, and even small companies become more global, an ever-larger portion of the accounting profession has been forced to learn at least two standards (IFRS and U.S. GAAP). This large and growing portion of the accounting workforce recognizes that one standard is a lot easier to keep up with than two. As IFRS grows in its dominance—and make no mistake, it’s overwhelmingly the dominant standard—U.S. accountants run the risk of having their skills marginalized and their job prospects limited by their desire to avoid change.
Only a small number of colleges and universities are implementing international rules and standards in their curriculum. How will higher ed catch up?
I visit with many U.S. accounting professors in my role as president of IFAC. Virtually all that I have met with are introducing IFRS content in their accounting curriculum. Most seem to accept that IFRS is an eventual certainty, and they would love to have better guidance from the regulators so that they can plan for transition better. Additionally, financial reporting is only one part of an accounting education. Integrating IFRS into a curriculum should involve three or four classes out of dozens that accounting students are required to take.
How would you respond to the argument that the only people that will benefit from the conversion to IFRS are the partners in large public accounting firms?
While adoption of IFRS in the United States will create new revenues for some accounting firms, they won’t be the principal beneficiaries. I’m pretty sure that the SEC commissioners did not confirm the IFRS road map to enrich accountants of any stripe. IFRS adoption is ultimately necessary to keep U.S. businesses competitive in the global contest for capital and investors. U.S.-based multinational companies have been strong supporters of IFRS adoption as a means of reducing their financial reporting costs and ensuring a level playing field with their foreign competitors. This ultimately benefits U.S. investors, and this is whom the SEC commissioners are charged with protecting.
The SEC remains cautious with regard to IFRS. What is your reaction to their recent announcement?
The SEC is charged with protecting U.S. investor interests. They’ve expressed concern about the lack of investor input during the comment period following the original publication of the road map. They’ve committed to gathering further input from investors as part of the new work plan. The fact that the commissioners recommitted to the road map, with some changes, suggests that they think adoption of IFRS is more likely than not to be in investors’ best interests. It seems prudent to be cautious and seek more input, but we doubt that the outcome of this process will do much to change the commissioners’ decision.
Following up from last week, we had the opportunity to speak with one of the lead partners of Moss Adams’ new Santa Clara office, Derek Dowsett.
Mr. Dowsett is the Regional Leader of the firms Technology & Life Science Practice for Moss Adams. He has been with MA for twelve years, being admitted to the partnership in 2006 and previously spent six years with at a Big 4 firm.
With the opening of the Santa Clara office, MA will have approximately 100 professionals working in the Bay area, according to Mr. Dowsett. Because of their close proximity, all the Bay area offices work cross-functionally to provide professional services to serve client needs as they arise:
“We utilize the resources from all of our offices which allows us to provide clients with a fully integrated client service team with the technical and industry knowledge most applicable. For example, I may draw on our international tax expertise from our San Francisco office if one of our clients needs help with an international tax issue or from our transaction services team should a client need help with financial due diligence related to a potential acquisition. Similarly, I help other offices throughout the firm with client issues within the technology and life science industries.”
The balances of services that the office provides will be break down “pretty close to 50/50, perhaps a little heavier on the assurance side” said Mr. Dowsett. MA also provides Advisory and Transaction Services to its clients in the Bay area.
In addition to the client service, Mr. Dowsett said that recruiting for the Bay area will be performed as a joint effort amongst the MA offices, with focus on the schools in the surrounding area. Their efforts will be focused at Santa Clara University, UC Santa Barbara, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with possible future expansion to additional schools.
Congratulations and good luck to Moss Adams on their newest location and thanks to Derek Dowsett for taking the time to talk to us. If your firm wants to get in touch with us about any news, send any correspondence to our general mailbox: email@example.com.
Moss Adams dusted off the freakishly giant scissors yesterday, as the firm opened a Santa Clara office, according to the San Jose Business Journal.
This is positive news seeing how office closures (and rumors of others) seem to be more prevalent than offices opening.
Rick Anderson, the Seattle-based company’s chairman an ms has “long served clients in the area and it makes sense to have a physical presence in the local market. Moss Adams is a firm that is growing and expanding to meet client and market demand.”
We couldn’t tell you if Rick was actually on hand for the festivities,
we’ve been unable to run anyone down and so far there isn’t a press release on the firm’s website. So if you’re in the know, get in touch or discuss in the comments.
Moss Adams opens Santa Clara office [SJBJ]
UPDATE: We’ve just heard back from a MA spokesperson who will be forwarding us the release. We’ll give you the additional particulars when we have them.
UPDATE 2: You can see the entire press release after the jump.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Seattle, Washington – December 1, 2009) – Moss Adams LLP, the nation’s 11th largest accounting and consulting firm, is expanding its existing service in the Silicon Valley with the opening of its fifth northern California office in Santa Clara on December 1, 2009.
With expertise in an array of industries–including technology, life sciences, and manufacturing and distribution–Moss Adams’ teams serve companies ranging from venture-backed start-ups to fully mature public companies, delivering solutions to complex financial and business challenges. In addition to providing assurance and tax compliance services for domestic and international operations, the office will offer a full suite of consulting services, including tax, mergers and acquisitions due diligence, valuations, and internal control consulting.
Rick Anderson, Chairman and CEO, states “We have long served clients in the area and it makes sense to have a physical presence in the local market. Moss Adams is a firm that is growing and expanding to meet client and market demand.”
According to Derek Dowsett, one of the lead partners transferring to the new office and the regional leader of the Firm’s Technology and Life Sciences Practice, “I look forward to expanding our presence in the region as one of the team members based in the new office. Many of our current technology and life science clients are located in Silicon Valley and a local office will increase our availability to them and allow us to get more involved in the community.”
About Moss Adams LLP
Moss Adams LLP (www.mossadams.com) provides accounting, tax, and consulting services to public and private middle-market enterprises in many different industries. Founded in 1913 and headquartered in Seattle, Washington Moss Adams has 21 locations in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Moss Adams is the 11th largest accounting and consulting firm in the United States, and the largest headquartered in the West. Its staff of over 1,800 includes more than 240 partners. Moss Adams is also a founding member of Praxity, a global alliance of accounting firms. This alliance is an association of independent firms in the major markets of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.
It’s pretty much a given that all “serious” accounting firms have “values” that they pitch to their rank and file and other interested parties.
Rumor has it that Moss Adams has recently changed the ‘A’ in their PILLAR of values from “Accountability” to “A Balanced Life”. This may or may not be a completely arbitrary change but it does put the firm out there as a work/life horn-blower.
While we applaud the attempt of accounting firms to provide a balanced life, it is certainly a debatable reality. Besides, shouldn’t a public accounting firm be accountable before it provides a balanced life? Many will make the argument that if you don’t want to work overtime for very little gratitude you should GTFO of public accounting. Can’t say we disagree.
While the thought of accounting firms having actual values is nice, sometimes brutal honesty would be really refreshing. One would think that smaller firms would have the luxury of leveling with their employees about what the culture is like.
However, judging by the switcheroo by MA, they like to do the work/life song and dance just like the big boys.
If anyone from the Moss Adams family would care to chime in on the latest switch in values, please do so. Also, for those of you at the other smaller-ish firms, let us know about your firm’s open commitment to balanced life (or lack thereof). If you work at a big firm, just complain away about your work/life balance.
It appears that Overland Storage’s audit committee was pissed off enough about a second consecutive going concern audit opinion that they just up and fired PwC last week.
San Diego-based Overland filed the 8-K, notifying the Commission of the dismissal, on October 16th which also named Moss Adams as the new auditors. At the request of Overland, PwC sent a two sentence letter to the SEC stating that they “agree with the statements concerning our Firm in such Form 8-K.”
The Register states that Overland was all bent out of shape because PwC didn’t explain why they issued the going concern opinions:
While even accountants are entitled to a view about the state of the struggling business, Overland was upset because PwC didn’t actually identify any specific factor in the accounts that led them to that conclusion.
Presumably PwC was expressing a view based on such business events as Overland avoiding running out of cash by factoring arrangements, repeated staff headcount reductions, Nasdaq delisting, declining revenues and losses. Overland’s thinking is that, if so, it shouldn’t have.
The most recent 10-K has all the gory details and as The Register pointed out, Overland didn’t think all those negative things really matter, so obviously, firing the auditors was the next logical step. Moss Adams will get the esteemed pleasure of holding Overland’s hand to the bitter, tragic end.
How about some good news to end your week? Well, that is, if you’re a newly minted partner at the 11th largest CPA firm and the largest firm with HQ on the Left Coast:
Moss Adams announces the admission of six individuals to the partnership in September and two managing directors. The firm currently has 250 partners, 52 of which are women or 21%. These figures emphasize the firm’s growth and continued acceleration of Forum_W, the firm’s effort to support efforts to attract, develop, retain and advance women.
All very impressive, and we congratulate the new partners on putting their asses on the line. ‘Global Eleven Accounting Firm’ doesn’t quite have the cachet we’re looking for. Maybe ‘Elite Eleven’*? Whatever, but we’re sure Moss Adams wants included in some sort of moniker. Leave your suggestions in the comments. Or start drinking. Whatevs.
*Read Moss Adams marketing people: You’ll never get to ‘Global’ anything until you get a logo out there that we can use for an image. Put it on Wikipedia for crying out loud. Crowe Horwath has an image. Get with it.
Things that could be perceived as bad:
• Your auditor is putting a going concern paragraph in your audit opinion.
• You agree with your auditors when they tell you that you have a material weakness in internal controls.
• It’s August 5th and you haven’t filed your 10-K..
Along with everything listed above, Venture Financial Group entered into an agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco that lists a bunch of stuff that Venture can’t do. Plus they get to report to Fed-SanFran every quarter how they’re doing such a good job at not doing anything they’re not supposed to.
More, after the jump
Apparently all this was more excitement than Moss Adams could stand because they’re kicking Venture to the curb after the 2008 agreements are finished. The firm broke the news to Venture on July 24th and the SEC got the filing just last week.
Accounting firms being the dumper and not the dumpee is usually a good sign of damaged goods. Best of luck to Venture Bank in its quest to find new auditors.
Firm bows out of Venture audit [The News Tribune via Jr. Deputy Accountant]