Performance Ratings

Comp Watch ’11: Performance Ranking Distribution and More Bonus Details for PwC

Earlier this month, PwC announced that they were throwing new labels on their performance review buckets for FY ’12. Those of you that can walk on water will be called “Top Performers,” better-than-average mortals will be “Outstanding Performer,” the meaty part of the curve is “High Performer,” rubes will land in “Needs Improvement” while the you Sling Blade mofos will be “Unsatisfactory.” While your mothers and I both believe that you’re all worthy of “Top Performer” status, P. Dubs doesn’t share our viewpoint. This morning, Assurance Leader Tim Ryan sent an email to all opiners regarding the distribution of the “Relative Perhe email was sent to us by a tipster and it includes this table:


As you can see, more than half of the new associates will be coddled with a “High Performer” ranking their first year in order to keep them on the hook. In year 2, we see a 20% drop distributed over “Top Performer” and “Outstanding Performer.” The table shows that, over time, if you aren’t consistently falling into the TP or OP categories, you won’t be wearing autumnal hues for long. This seems fair, although we all know that understanding how performance evaluations are determined is like trying to understand why Michelle Bachmann attempted to speak Yiddish.

The email also goes on to describe the three bonuses that will be available to assurance professionals: Credential (that’s your CPA), Contribution, and Annual Performance. Here are the details of each:

Credential Bonus
Associates are eligible to receive a Credential Bonus if they pass their primary credential exam, consistent with prior years.

Contribution Award
To provide a consistent approach to timely recognition of exceptional contributions, associates and senior associates are eligible to receive a semi-annual Contribution Award, in December and the spring. This award will recognize contributions that exceed the expectations at each level (e.g., unique client contributions to the team, extraordinary effort, enhanced quality, significant assistance to another practice). Individual awards will be determined through a formalized and consistent semi-annual process. This award is not contingent upon RPR or credential status.

Annual Performance Bonus
• Senior associates through directors/senior managers will be eligible to participate in the Annual Performance Bonus. The allocation of these bonus awards will be based on staff level and relative performance rating.

• The total Annual Performance Bonus pool is based on achieving our quality and financial performance goals. Successful achievement of our goals will result in award ranges as noted in the chart. These ranges will increase if we exceed our goals (as was the case in FY11 when we increased the overall performance pool by 10%) and decrease if we do not achieve our goals.

• An individual’s bonus within the target award range will depend on the total bonus dollars allocated to her/his market or business unit based on quality and financial performance, as well as the individual’s contributions in relation to peers within their performance category.

• It is expected that all staff at the senior associate level and above rated High Performer or above will participate in the Annual Performance Bonus. Please note, staff who have not worked the full year may receive a prorated bonus award based on the bonus ranges.

And the representative tables:

Just a few thoughts:

1. Don’t fuck around when it comes to the CPA Exam.

2. Even though Contribution Awards “will be determined through a formalized and consistent semi-annual process,” I can’t help but interpret this as “a political and opaque determination that we’ll throw together at the last minute.”

3. You’re probably wondering about “quality and financial performance goals” mentioned with the APB. Here’s the scoop on those:

Quality performance goals
• Inspections: Reduce the number and severity of non-compliant audits identified through inspections
• Training: Complete participation in all required training, including passing applicable assessments
• Planning: Improve the timing of planning and phasing of our audit work, including the appropriate use and leverage of our delivery model.

Financial performance goals
• Revenue: Achieve our annual revenue budget, which includes a 4.9% revenue growth target
• Contribution Margin: Achieve our contribution margin budget
• Cash Collections: Achieve our monthly cash collection plan

Achieving our quality and financial performance goals will require both an individual and team effort. Reaching our quality goals will require staff to continue to focus on our compliance with auditing standards, concentration on continuous improvement and enhanced management of all engagements. Meeting our financial performance goals will be dependent upon each staff charging all their time and billing timely for all client services.

Assurance quality and financial performance results will be shared with you on a quarterly basis.

So while the increased transparency is nice, the quality and financial performance will be one of those things where you’ll be told the numbers; you’ll hear the story behind the numbers; the end. You could audit your ass off, ace every diversity, independence, and ethics training but if business is down or flat (looking probable) you’ll simply have to accept it.

Anyway P. Dubbersteins, try to digest this and discuss your ecstasy over the latest details.

PwC Announces New Categories for Distinguished, Typical, Downright Piss Poor Performance

As you may have noticed, PwC has really gone on the offensive when it comes to making changes to their compensation structure. We broke all the details for you earlier this year and one reader even shared a little spreadsheet analysis for anyone who’s into that sort of thing. More recently, we reported the (unconfirmed) details of the new Senior Associate Milestone Award which includes a getaway to the Terreana Resof is swell but there are few new details that we were recently made aware of that we’ll share with you today. First off, performance categories have changed. A tipster passed along the new buckets that you’ll be fighting to get into in FY12 and who will and will not be eligible for bonus comp:

– New performance categories are “top performer,” “outstanding performer,” “high performer,” “needs improvement,” and “unsatisfactory”

– Bonus eligble for high performer or greater. Bonus levels set by Line of Service. Line of Service will provide specific details about the business performance measures, as well as target bonus ranges for staff level and ratings.

So TP/OP/HP is what you’re all shooting for if bonuses are of interest to you. Conventional wisdom would indicate that most of you will probably fall into the unexceptional “high performer” bucket and that still gets you in the money so it’s really just the rubes that are “Needs Improvement” and “Unsatisfactory” that will be bitching about how cruel and unfair life is.

It wasn’t all business, however, Bob Moritz shared his gratitude for all your ass-busting in the past year, the ass-busting going on as we speak and the ass-busting to come:

Your role in our success
Thanks to all your efforts to deliver quality, value and the PwC Experience to our clients and stakeholders, we had a very strong FY11 and we’re off to a very positive FY12. On behalf of all the partners, I want to thank you for your role in our firm’s success.

I recorded a short video to express my appreciation and talk about the continued investments we are making in you and your career success. We began making changes back in May, including introducing new career milestone awards and increasing transparency around compensation, all designed to demonstrate the value of your career at PwC — both financially and developmentally.

Now we are bringing even more clarity to the compensation conversation with enhancements to the Annual Performance Bonus Plan. These include greater predictability in your year-end bonus opportunity and quarterly updates about how your line of service is performing against its annual business targets. Watch my video and visit the Rewards and Recognition microsite to learn more. You will hear more specifics from your line of service in the coming weeks.

These changes are all based on what you’ve said is important to you. And we will continue to listen. Keep in mind, however, that the full value of your PwC career comes directly from what you put into it. The more you take ownership of your career….solicit feedback to improve your performance….utilize your success plan to take advantage of the many opportunities here to enhance your skills and develop your talents, the greater your ability to achieve your goals and grow your career with PwC.

Ultimately, the better you are, the better we do, and the greater our ability to continue to invest in you. Thanks again for your role in our success!

So, P. Dubbersteins – do you feel that there’s “more clarity to the compensation conversation”? It’s definitely clear that most people will still get bonuses, so that’s a good thing but it remains to be seen what actually comes out of all these changes. Discuss.

Compensation and Promotion Watch ’10: Discussions at McGladrey Starting Soon; Forced Ranking in Effect?

[caption id="attachment_13722" align="alignright" width="260" caption="Has she gotten her updated gear yet?"][/caption]

It sounds like the capital market servants at the firms formerly known as RSM McGladrey/McGladrey & Pullen will finding out their good/bad/tremendously underwhelming news about comp and promotions in the coming week(s).

That and it sounds as though Mickey G’s is warming up to the forced ranking system that has been plaguing the Big 4:

Just wanted to pass a bit of info across to you about McGladrey comp discussions. They communicated to us in an email last week that all ratings and promotion decisions are now final and will be communicated to us no later than July 23rd.

Also, I’m based out of the the southeast and they told us that about 25% of people were initially rated 5s (our highest rating) and that they had to downgrade peoples ratings to in line with the 10% to 15% bell curve range. I have this from a direct source of a director inside the “roundtable” meetings or whatever they’re calling them now. Not sure if this is a nationwide occurrence.

We don’t know if the downgrades are standard operating procedure at the firm but one would think that the layoffs at McGladrey that we reported on last month are over. The problem is that if this is following standard forced ranking procedure, it could be setting up experienced professionals for competitive year ahead.

Keep us updated as you learn merit and promotion news and discuss your thoughts on this year’s prospects and the possibility of downgrades.

AIG Adopts Big 4 “Forced Ranking” Method

Good news servants of the capital markets! Remember how we talked last summer about forced ranking and how it’s rampant within the Big 4 performance ranking system? No? Put it right out of your minds? Had occurred to you because you’re delirious from the lack of sleep, poor diet, et al.?

Well as soon as busy season
is over, we’re sure it’ll come back to you; in the meantime, you’ll be happy to know that everyone’s favorite ward of the state, AIG is now joining you in implementing what might be the worst possible method of rewarding its employees.

American International Group Inc. is rolling out a plan to revamp how it doles out annual incentive pay to its employees, as the government-controlled insurance giant moves away from retention bonuses that have proved controversial over the past year.

The new initiative, called a “forced distribution” system, is being pushed by Chief Executive Robert Benmosche. Under the plan, thousands of AIG employees will be ranked on a scale of 1 to 4 based on their performance relative to their peers, and their annual variable compensation, which may include bonuses, will be determined by their rank. Individuals ranked in the top 10% will get far more relative to their peers.

Yes! The 1 to 4 ranking scale. That’s not quite as shrewd as PwC’s 1 to 3 scale and it’s at least simpler than KPMG’s 9 box but AIG employees have every right to be concerned about this arbitrary ranking system.

Warden Robert Benmosche doesn’t care though, there were too many rock stars, “Mr. Benmosche said performance-appraisal systems previously in place at AIG weren’t discriminating enough. In one case, he said, there was a ranking system with four categories, but about half of the people got the highest rating, and half got the second rank. ‘You can’t have 50% in the top,’ he said.” Bobby B also said that AIG is “unlikely to impose a requirement that underperformers leave.” Write that one down.

Our contributor Francine McKenna who has written both here and on her blog about forced ranking told us, “Investors will get contrived ‘performance’ enforced by cutthroat atmosphere that further encourages excessive risk taking.”

In addition, Ravin Jesuthasan a “talent-management” consultant (not involved with AIG’s change) who was quoted in the Journal (our emphasis), ” [Mr. Jesuthasan said] the approach can work in turnaround situations by helping to foster more accountability, but could be risky if not communicated well or “if links to consequences like compensation and employment are not properly thought through.”

Any of that sound familiar?

AIG Plans Revamp on Pay [WSJ]

Review Comments | 12.29.09

Thumbnail image for Joe-Francis.jpg‘Girls Gone Wild’ Founder Sues IRS – The newly crowned Douche of the Decade is in a litigious mood. After threatening to sue Gawker for the prestigious honor he was bestowed, DOTD is now suing the IRS for freezing his assets. Will someone stop to this man douche?[Web CPA]

Bill Would Require Comptroller General to be a CPA – Now there’s an idea. [Web CPA]

Lehman administrators PwC repay $11bn to creditors – Seems like good news. [BBC]

2010: Get Ready for a Tax-a-palooza – “Facing trillions of dollars of expiring Bush-era tax cuts, President Obama and Congress will be forced to make some critical decisions in the new year.” [Tax Vox]

SEC Seeks PAFs: Jan. 13 Deadline – Professional Accounting Fellows. You. [FEI Financial Reporting Blog]

Let’s Talk About the Terrorist Underpants, Shall We? – Yes. Let’s. [DI]

Revealed: How Oscar Nominee Ballots Are Counted – Because we know you were wondering. [The Wrap]

Tax Court Channels Kenny RogersRaj isn’t the only fan. [Tax Update Blog]

Shareholders Win Settlement in Comverse Suit – Deloitte pitched in $275,000. That’s roughly the equivalent to one partner’s Starbucks budget. [Web CPA]

Bouncing Back: Overcoming a Negative Performance Review – Anyone? [FINS]

Tax Accountants to Get Biggest 2010 Raise – Good news already! [TaxProf Blog]

Ernst & Young Performance Ratings Are Super Top Secret…Most of the Time

top secret.jpgOne of the most diabolical of human traits is wanting to know everybody else’s biz-nass. Shoe size, your number, how much money you make, etc.
Trusted friends and colleagues usually will share some of their professional details with you but several people remain prudish with their ratings, merit increases, salaries, etc.
Continued, after the jump


Then there’s your sworn enemies. These people wouldn’t tell you their date of birth if their high-flying, glamorous number crunching lives depended on it. Smug bastards think they’re so special, when YOU KNOW they suck it big time. Wouldn’t you LOVE to know how officially shitty they are at their jobs? We thought so. But dammit, being nosy is really hard work and that information is tough to get.
Well, according to one of our sources, some at E&Y didn’t have to try hard at all:

So about a month ago after the ratings for everyone’s annual review were finalized, someone in HR screwed [up] big time and sent an e-mail out to the entire Banking Capital Market mass e-mail and attached a spread sheet with EVERYONE’S rating. When I mean EVERYONE I mean from Staff 1 through Senior Manager.

We’ll go on record here to say that this was probably an honest mistake but the fallout from this had to be all sorts of awesome. Knowing how that stupid ass first year manager that totally screwed the pooch on your engagement was rated could either end up being the sweet vindication you’ve been waiting for or it could open up a basket of rage not seen since the Old Testament.
Hey, maybe we’ve misunderstood the whole thing. Maybe E&Y is considering some bizarre open door policy when it comes to ratings and this was merely a test. We’d love to see the list, btw, so if you’ve still got it, send it our way.
Feel free to discuss any additional details or your thoughts on your Firm’s ability to KEEP SECRETS in the comments.

PwC’s Re-thinking of the Bell Curve Ranking

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgA tip we received yesterday mentioned that PwC has been progressively narrowing their performance rating scale. P. Dubs originally had the 1 to 5 scale, then moved down to 1 to 4, and now uses 1 to 3.
Obviously, this leaves less room for interpretation of one’s ranking as it compares to the other firms. As far as we know, E&Y and Deloitte both use 1 to 5, and KPMG has the indecipherable 9 box which is somehow combined with a 1 to 5 scale (we think?).
More, after the jump


So let’s talk about this whole mess. You don’t have to be a Elijah Watts recipient to figure out that, at the very least, PwC is making their rankings clear: 1 – you’re well connected; 2 – you’re lucky; 3 – you’re gone. On the one hand, there’s less confusion. On the other, it’s the firm’s way of squeezing people out based on “performance” rather than admitting that they are impervious to the struggling economy.
The rest of the firms are doing the same thing but due to the unwillingness or inability to make their ranking system less mystifying or subject to manipulation, forced ranking will continue. PwC seems to be the first firm to integrate a system that “legitimizes” it.
Discuss in the comments P. Dubya’s move here and why it works/doesn’t work and what the firms should be doing to improve their ranking systems because as it stands right now, it’s total bunk.

Phil Mickelson 9 Box Update

Fill had a less than ideal first round, shooting +2, which is seven shots behind the leader. On the one hand, he’s well on his way to not winning the tournament. On the other, he’s well on his way to not finishing second.
Check our initial rating if you need to get caught up.
So after not considering a hell of a lot, we’ve come up with Fill’s new ranking:
Check out where the Radio Station billboard falls, after the jump


Phil_9box_Fri.jpg
As you can see, Fill has dropped from the relative safety of SP5 to the less than acceptable position in NI7. He teed off at 9:35 EDT so Radio Station employees can waste their entire Friday watching Fill try to step it up.
Discuss the current ranking in the comments and if by chance you’re at the tournament following Fill, let him know that Going Concern (and Tim Flynn) would like to see more out of him today.

Deloitte to Squash Ratings?

Following up on yesterday’s post on KPMG’s slashing of ratings, we checked with a source that gave us the lowdown on the rating system at Deloitte:
“From what I heard, all of the 4s and 5s have already been shown the door. D&T is known to suppress ratings, so I doubt that there will be a lot of 1s or even 2s this year.”
So we asked them to elaborate on “suppress ratings”:
Get the details, after the jump

Your Senior and your manager will give you a rating. Lets say that you are good and they give you a 2. They will need to justify this rating to the entire firm when they have the review meeting (I forget the exact name). Since every Senior thinks that their staff is the shit, a lot of the 2s tend to get pushed down to 3s because if everyone is performing at a higher level, then that is the average. Then, they have a limited number of 2s to fight over…2s get paid more and I think that they get some kind of performance bonus. So they have an incentive to limit the number of 2s given out every year.

Sound familiar to anyone? Discuss.
We’re smack in the middle of performance review time so email us any shady changes, adjustments, throwing people under the bus, etc. going down to tips@goingconcern.com

Rumor of the Day: KPMG Slashing Performance Ratings

Commenter Guest @ 2:39 brought to our attention that the Radio Station is cutting performance ratings circa now. This is a little more salt in the wound after pay freezes were announced slowly leaked. If you’ve had your performance review recently and you got blindsided by a cut rating let us know. Email your tips to tips@goingconcern.com