As we've discussed, Occupy Wall Street has had a bit of trouble with tracking their finances. Donations initially were collected in "a large cooking pot covered in cardboard and duct tape" but as methods became more sophisticated; "donation buckets" and "a yellow messenger bag" were also utilized. Expenses are numerous, including but exclusive to meals, bail, and […]
You may have noticed that the media coverage of Occupy Wall Street has died down quite a bit in recent weeks. With many Americans going into food-induced comas in late November and with the twilight of the football season fast approaching, several of our fellow citizens simply quit giving a shit every time someone got […]
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As you know, a number of people in Lower Manhattan have spent the last two months Occupying Wall Street by way of camping out in Zuccotti Park. While September and October proved to be unseasonably warm, thus allowing Occupiers to exercise their 1st Amendment rights in relative comfort, November has brought cooler temps which has caused some relative discomfort among the campers. Oh, and Mayor Bloomberg was sorta sick of the mess and had everyone’s tents forcibly removed.
While many protesters have had to seek less squalid accommodations, other supporters of the movement have been able to find quarters that are more suitable for their tastes. This includes Deloitte associate Brad Spitzer who has been traveling to New York from California for work and has taken the opportunity to get his occupy on. And while he’s enthusiastic about the cause, Spitzer isn’t exactly down for park living:
“Tents are not for me,” he confessed, when confronted in the sleek black lobby of the Washington Street hotel where sources described him as a “repeat” guest.
Spitzer, 24, an associate at financial-services giant Deloitte, which netted $29 billion in revenue last year, admitted he joined the protest at Zuccotti Park several times.
“I’m staying here for work,” said Spitzer, dressed down in a company T-shirt and holding a backpack and his suitcase. “I do finance, but I support it still.”
You guys understand. There are just certain comforts that a Green Dot employee gets accustomed to – a soft mattress, a hot shower, room service – no matter how good of a drum circle you find.
This just in:
Zuccotti Park Evacuation
As a result of the evacuation of protestors in Zuccotti Park early this morning, there will be limited access into 1 and 2 WFC until further notice.
Currently, the walkway bridge that connects 1 and 2 WFC will be closed. All building tenants must present identification to gain access. For visitors, the name of the tenant and person visiting will need to be provided to building security.
Access restrictions are subject to change, as information and updates from building management are changing rapidly.
We appreciate your cooperation and will continue to keep you informed through this mailbox. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to reach out to myself [redacted email] or [redacted].
[Guy who gets to deal with these sorts of things]
Area Operations Manager
Deloitte Services LP
Earlier Adrienne mentioned that many of you, while not literally Occupying Wall Street, are taking it to the man by shuffling to and from your cube farms every day, only to go through the motions filled to the brim with spite. Despite this silent protest that consists of wrinkled slacks, scuffed shoes and pizza with meat on it, there is still a tremendous demand for some good accountants downtown.
Yesterday, we did OWS a favor by hanging a wanted sign in the proverbial window. So far the group’s chief treasurer is 21 year-old Victoria Sobel who is depending on everything from “a large cooking pot covered in cardboard and duct tape” to “a yellow messenger bag” and the occasional Good Samaritan CPA who has already told Ms Sobel that she needs to do some “delegating.” However, if you think these basic methodologies will serve the protesters well and that it sounds like they’ve got things under control, you may want to reconsider. Brooklyn Ink talked to one of the “unofficial” accountants, Peter Dutro, who made it sound like the finance committee isn’t as robust as they might need:
The Ink: How much have you received overall so far?
Dutro: We have a little over $100,000.
The Ink: And where does the money go?
Dutro: Food is our biggest expense. We spend roughly $1,000 every day.
The Ink: Are there any plans for the future and what you will do with the money?
Dutro: There is a lot of thinking about long-term sustainability in the minds of a lot of people. We haven’t made any decisions. We are trying to figure out a way to have a body that deals with financial decisions.
Looking for a leadership opportunity? This could be your chance.
Meet OWS’s (Unofficial) Brooklyn Accountant [Brooklyn Ink]
Caleb and I had a talk last night and it made me think about this whole Occupy Wall Street thing. More importantly, it made me think about what I am and am not doing to support it. I haven’t been to a rally, even to take pictures (last time I tried to do that, I was the only one out in front of the Federal Reserve Board at 6 in the morning except for the lone Fed cop patrolling the perimeter).
I get that people are pissed off. I’m pissed off too. I’ve been pissed off, don’t tell me about being pissed off. I was lugging around a Fed sign made on top of “Ron Paul ’08” acrylic three years ago, you don’t have to tell me about being pissed off. (Here I am in 2009 on SF Citizen in a “Bernanke 00%” t-shirt at an anti-Iraq war rally)
And I get that for some people, all there is to do is go downtown with a drum and some poorly-written signs on cardboard ripped from your mom’s Costco packages in the recycle bin. That’s totally fine, everyone has their own way of sticking it to the man.
For a lot of Going Concern readers, sticking it to the man means showing up every day in business casual pretending to give a fuck about COSO but actually knowing that it’s all a lie. They work you to the bone until you leave or submit and get promoted to manager. Partner if you’re lucky. Run on that hamster wheel, here have this bonus, keep going and one day you can beat your own subordinates into submission. Go, go, go… Many of you get that this is bullshit but keep showing up every day anyway, and to me, you are your own special kind of protester. Same as last year, motherfucker, it’s the ultimate form of rebellion.
Point being, everyone has their own way of screwing the establishment. Francine does it railing against the Big 4. Bill Sheridan and Tom Hood do it at the MACPA with professionalism. Tom Selling does it by riling up fellow academics. Professor Dave Albrecht does it by being seen in public canoodling with known incendiaries like yours truly.
I do it by ripping on the IASB as often as I am allowed to, infiltrating the Hill to sniff out what’s the latest in CPA lobbying efforts and getting in as many F bombs as I can on the dry subject of accounting. That’s all I can do. I can’t abandon my day job to hang out in Manhattan eating vegan paninis. I can make and distribute offensive Bernanke fridge magnets.
I completely understand why people are attracted to Occupy Wall Street; the part I’m struggling with is why so many of the 99 Percenters seem obsessed with this thing called “fairness” that does not, in fact, exist. Is it fair that any of us have to drag our asses to work every day and do what we do? Is it fair that Becker costs $3,000 and doesn’t pass the CPA exam for you? Is it fair that many of you are drowning in student loan debt and seemingly forced to get Master’s degrees just to work in your field? Is it fair that Caleb gets listed in all the accounting publications and I’m stuck as the sidekick hack who always manages to piss people off? This world is unfair, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I have to write about accounting every day of my life, it’s un-fucking-fair, we get it.
In my view (for whatever that is worth, which is probably not more than our company pays me to write this post), the ultimate rebellion is assimilating and infiltrating the establishment to enact real change from the inside. Are partners scared as shit of this website? Yes. If they’re threatening you with termination if you even dare to write us for advice, we’re doing something right. And I didn’t even have to not shave my armpits to accomplish that (but Caleb probably shaved his).
Are any of you going to independently revolutionize the accounting industry? Probably not. But collectively, you have scared the pants off of lazy ass recruiters and partners across this country who thought you didn’t have it in you. They read us because they feel like they have to or else they’ll lose touch with what you guys are thinking, and it scares the living shit out of them. In my mind, that’s a far more effective message to send the The Establishment, whoever the hell they are.
I fully support the fundamental sentiment of Occupy Wall Street but much prefer fulfilling my incendiary duties here trying to get accounting kids riled up and questioning why they put up with the shit they do. Working mothers in public accounting should be allowed to have children. Interns should be allowed to ask questions (even dumb ones). Auditors should be expected to question last year’s logic. It’s not complicated but it’s important work that a lot of you do, and I hope that you get that.
It is not your fault that we’re here. Many of you just followed the rules.
Thanks for letting me be a part of that. Beats standing around with a fucking sign, that’s for sure.
As you may have heard, there is a number of mighty upset people occupying various streets around the country. By reading some of the signs being held by these occupants, it’s obvious they’re peeved about a number of things. With such a wide range of gripes, the crowds have gotten quite large and since many people sympathize with the protestors, lots of donations are being made by those passing by, usually in the form of cash. This, as any accountant worth their salt knows, can be problematic, as evidenced by this video:
As the protests have grown, so have the donations. And since protests aren’t exactly bastions of internal controls, the problem of tracking the money coming in and being spent has become quite a chore. That chore has fallen on one person named Victoria Sobel who is functioning as Occupy Wall Street’s “chief treasurer.”
There’s no indication that Victoria is an accountant and, oddly enough, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of ready accountants amongst the occupiers, so the methods currently being used aren’t exactly robust. They started housing collections using “a large cooking pot covered in cardboard and duct tape” and gradually moved towards high-tech tools such as “donation buckets” and “a yellow messenger bag.” Despite these improvements, this system still needs some work Fortunately for Ms. Sobel, a person with some relevant experience recently turned up:
Then the first consultant, a certified public accountant sympathetic to the cause, came to help. Jo Ann Fleming […], who besides her accounting work has a radio show called Flash Talks Cash, sat down in a red tailgating chair next to three activists volunteering on the Occupy Wall Street finance committee.
Fleming heard a rundown of how the operation is working so far: Most of the money comes in through two donation buckets stationed at the ends of the park, where a steady throng of tourists and commuters is always passing by.
Teams of volunteers are split up into working groups for areas like food, sanitation and medical supplies, then spend the money on communal goods. Anyone who wants to be reimbursed for expenses has to get approval from a finance committee member before making a purchase. If it’s less than $100, they’ll sign out some cash, with orders to return with the goods and the receipt. If it’s more than $100, the purchase is supposed to be approved at a town meeting.
Once again, a CPA to the rescue! But since Ms. Fleming can’t quit her day job, she gave the best advice she could to the team on the ground:
After some probing, accountant Fleming determined the group needs to come up with a clear policy on how to get reimbursed for expenses. She suggested more frequent collection of the donation buckets, to avoid the temptation of dipping hands in—“cash is very troublesome.” And she urged them to create a spreadsheet tracking how much was received and paid.
More frequent collections. Clear, common sense policies. Spreadsheets. All excellent suggestions. But perhaps most importantly, Ms. Fleming recognizes when someone is doing the job of three people and is on the brink of cracking up (an important instinct in today’s accounting firms) so she gave Victoria some advice.
She turned to Sobel: “One woman can’t run the show. You’re exhausted; I can hear it in your voice. You need to delegate. You’re going to get burned out.”
Any double-entry experts that have some time on their hands and want to help the cause need to get downtown ASAP.