September 17, 2019

Rants

Use All Your Vacation Days, Even If It Means Making Less Money

Last week, we linked to this WSJ article about how some companies are getting their employees to take time off by paying them. The mere idea of this is ludicrous, but this is America and if there's one surefire way to get Americans to do something, including use paid time-off that's part of their benefits package, it's […]

Reddit Philosopher Asks “What’s So Great About Big 4 Anyway?”

Actually, the question our philosopher pal posted was a bit more hostile than the question in the headline above. It was more like this: Who the hell told all you kids in school that Big 4 is the only employer you should ever think about? [A public service announcement.] Every single post in this sub […]

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Accounting Degree, No Probl– Actually, Small Problem

Remember Part 1 of this where a few of you asked "what was the point of this post?" Welcome to Part 2, where I explain that very point. Let’s recall a few details from Part 1, as this article is really only relevant to two unique groups of students: Double majors who declared a first […]

Dear IRS, Please Make More Parody Videos

Everybody can shut the hell up because I love the IRS's Star Trek and Gilligan's Island videos. Don't get me wrong. I regularly benefit from the IRS being a convenient whipping-boy and joke-butt, and these videos suck major donk. But that's why I love them … because the IRS took a risk.

Marine Struggling With the Transition From Military Fist Fights To Big 4 Butt-Kissing

This guy on Reddit is a tad upset (not to mention a bit preoccupied with fellatio as it pertains to earning brownie points in public accounting): I hate the corporate accounting world, and small private firms suck too. I don't want to get too into depth. Just a long rant and hoping someone can offer […]

Passing the CPA Exam While Billing Over 2500 Hours in a Year Is Way Harder Than Having a Baby

This may just be one of the greatest rants to come from /r/offmychest/ ever. Here's the deal. This chick is pregnant. And she's sick of everyone telling her what a miracle it is. You know what's a miracle? PASSING THE CPA EXAM, BITCH: -A stranger today told me that having a baby will be my […]

Comp Watch ’12: Ernst & Young

From the mailbag: When are you going to start a compensation discussion for EY? Let me explain how this works – Adrienne and I are not mind readers. We cannot see you maniacally wringing your hands waiting for something to hit the wire so you have a place to bitch when you find out how […]

A Not So Brief Word About the Going Concern Comment Section

Perhaps some of you have noticed that Mommy has had to put a couple of you in time out recently due to off topic, completely out of line and/or totally useless comments. I see how some of you could be upset by this considering we've been pretty lenient up until now but it's gotten completely […]

A Brief Word on the Going Concern Freelancer Search

Alright, you guys know me so I'm not going to mince words here but let's just say the entries we've gotten thus far for the Going Concern freelancer spot have been, well, kinda sad. Dismal. Depressing. Pathetic, even. Do any of you actually read the site? Sure, there are a few gems (you'll be hearing […]

Here’s Audio of Jon Lovitz Bitching About Taxes, President Obama (NSFW)

It's obviously a slow day when a number of media outlets are concerned with what Kevin Smith and Jon Lovitz think about taxes. This audio is NSFW, so use headphones unless someone yelling "fucking asshole," amongst other things at your workplace is considered kosher. [via TaxProf]

Just Blow Up the Tax Code Already

Tax wonk Christopher Bergin has some concerns that if President Obama and Congress don't do something some about our tax system between now and the end of the year, a bomb will go off: If Congress and the President do nothing about our tax system between now and the end of the year, here are just […]

PwC Gender Agenda Blog Would Have You Believe All Women Are Shoe Crazy

Want a laugh? Check out PwC's Gender Agenda blog. Granted, no one's bothered to update it since October so your laughs will be old and crusty but hey, they're accountants, not writers, who expects them to actually update the blog they took the time to create and populate? I don't know about you but I […]

PwC Partners Take Their Appreciation for Employees to the Pages of the Wall Street Journal

A "Senior Associate" who was not impressed with the firm's effort tipped us to an ad in today's Journal. SUBJECT: How the hell have you not done a story on PwC's terrrrrrrrrrrrrible ad in the WSJ????   What are you guys asleep at the switch?    PwC ran shitty ad featuring our new brand in the WSJ.  […]

CEO Finds KPMG Hong Kong Auditors to Be Arrogant, Incompetent, Ignorant, Indifferent OH! And Unprofessional, Can’t Forget Unprofessional

It's not really that odd that someone would sue an auditor for $100 million. It's also not unusual that a company (usually through some PR flak) would publicly rebuke the auditor in a news report or press release. What is unique is a company issuing a press release announcing their lawsuit against their audit firm that […]

Exit Interviews: Speak Your Mind or Let It Go?

Ed. note: Is your career somewhere in between mundane and craptacular? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we'll help you improve your life slightly up from SUCK. GC, I'm a semi-frequent reader (hey I still have to get some work done) so I wasn't sure if this topic was covered, but I just got done reading your recent […]

How To Effectively Ask Going Concern For Advice

Welcome back from the turkey coma, kids, I had to take an extra day just to shake it off but all is well now and we’re totally ready for action, at least until I take half a week off for my birthday in two weeks. Ah, life is good.

Anyway, a desperate plea for advice we received over the weekend got me thinking – I figure it’s about time we set some ground rules for writing us for advice. Why we’ve waited two years to do this is beyond me but I don’t run the show so let’s forget that part.

Caleb was concerned by publishing said letter, I might come off as a judgmental, xenophobic prick (isn’t that the brand I’ve worked so hard to craft? Oh well) so I will refrain from publishing it to maintain some sense of decency and openness to all types and cultures don’t really have an issue with foreigners with poor English comprehension, lost little sheep or clueless accounting students; if I did, I would’ve quit this gig to write a racy sex blog a long time ago. I do, however, have an issue with lazy ass people who expect to be hand-fed the answers by us as if we don’t have anything better to do.


NOW, since you probably think I’m a dick at this point, I need to be clear when I say that I LOVE the advice component of this site. It has turned into an unexpected bright point among the lame Hans Hoogervorst jokes and Caleb’s Grover Norquist obsession, and I’m constantly both delighted and disturbed by the reactions in our comment section. You guys have proven yourselves to be mostly useful, sometimes funny and generally helpful to your fellow capital market servants seeking wisdom, and that part is great. So great that I don’t mind so much that so many of the questions we get tend to be very similar.

Keeping in mind, of course, that though we were all told how special we were when we were little, there are really a limited number of scenarios a young accountant might need help navigating. Low GPA, no Big 4 offers. A couple of offers to consider, no idea which to take. High GPA, low social skills, you get it.

But here’s a tip. We’ve been doing this so long that chances are, we’ve covered a scenario similar to yours. So your first best friend is the search bar. You will find this on the upper right-hand corner of the website just under whatever ad we’re running at that time. Type in whatever you are looking for, “compensation,” “opportunities,” “Caleb’s embarrassing affinity for wearing Brazilian women’s underwear,” whatever. If we’ve written about it, you’ll find it. If we haven’t, you won’t. Try to be vague, so instead of searching for “Caleb’s embarrassing affinity for wearing Brazilian women’s underwear,” try “Brazilian underwear” and you might have better luck.

Your second BFF is our comprehensive, all-encompassing tagging system. You may have noticed by now that both Caleb and I enjoy employing useless, often one-time-use tags just for the sake of continuing whatever joke we cracked ourselves up over when we wrote the post but we do also use tags for easy organization of information. Let’s say you’re interested in KPMG and PwC, guess what? We have a whole tag JUST for KPMG v PwC! Amazing, isn’t it?

Now, you’ve searched the site and gotten a good idea of what others are asking and are ready to write us an email. Awesome! We love emails! But please, let’s go over what is appropriate for an advice email and what isn’t.

Remember, we are NOT professionals, we are writers. In fact, some might call us degenerates. So while we know the game well enough to gently shove your confused ass in the right direction, we cannot evaluate your transcripts, refer you to credentialed programs, take the CPA exam for you, decipher your foreign credits, pretend to be you in a job interview or any matter of issues such as these. We don’t sponsor H-1B Visas, we don’t validate parking and we don’t hold hands unless you’re really, really scared.

In the same vein, we cannot draw out your entire future for you. So writing us asking for advice on how to get started in public accounting and realize your dreams of CPAhood will go unanswered. We’re not freshman career counselors. We’re also not mind readers, so know what you want answered before you write some vague email asking how to live your life when you’re old enough to have figured that out by now. To me, asking such broad questions shows that you’re a drive-by who just stumbled across the site and I’m sorry but I work for pageviews, which means I’m far more likely to coddle someone who proves they spend 5 billable hours a day here over someone who Googled “accounting” and didn’t bother to read any previous posts we’ve written. I have given up week-long benders to crank out this content, it’s offensive to get the sense someone hasn’t taken the time to read any of it before writing us. So don’t do that.

Are we clear? With that said, please keep ’em coming. I love you. Each and every one of you, even the trolls. Fuck, especially the trolls.

Here’s Another Accountant Feeling Sorry For Himself Because He Doesn’t Know What to Do with His Life

Personally, I don’t know I have the energy for this shit today but here’s a sob story we’ve all heard before:

I was born to be a lot of things, but being an accountant isn’t one of them. In my heart of hearts I have always known this, but for some stupid subconscious reason, I have always ignored it.

Why? Well…um…err…I didn’t know what else to do.


Okay, I’ll jump in now – this just pisses me off. Why? Because I have the solution and it’s easy. Quit. Immediately. I don’t give a baker’s fuck if you don’t know what else to do; don’t wait, just quit your job. I spoke with a friend recently who has been with a Big 4 firm for over ten years. This person was in a similar situation as this guy, not sure what to do other than what they were doing right now (i.e. “auditing”). Then they decided that enough was enough. Forget the money. Forget not having a plan. They just up and quit without a plan. I was so thrilled to hear someone finally going with their gut rather than thinking about all the practical bullshit that ties people down. Speaking of, what’s this guy’s excuse?

You might be left asking, “If you hate it so much, then why don’t you just leave?”

I’m the first person to berate myself for sticking with it for so long. It never helped that accounting, and the financial sector for that matter, pays so well and instantaneously blindsides with dollar signs. I was always caught up chasing the next pay cheque, hanging around a few more months for a bonus and salary hike, and holding my breath for my well-deserved promotion.

The result always afforded me the trips overseas, a new car, the latest gadgets, elevation up the clothing-label food chain, gambling in a few shares here and there, and even a deposit on an investment property. Important things in a twenty-something year-old’s life, right?

It sounds like I’m making excuses. Well I am. It’s hard to walk away. But hey, if it pays well and the bills get paid, shouldn’t that be enough? And shouldn’t I just be grateful to even have a job in this economic climate?

First off, you’re using the money as the excuse. Money is a terrible excuse. Sell your car. Sell your investment property. For God sake, pull your money out of the casino that is the world’s financial markets. And the mantra “I should be grateful to have a job in this economy” is the biggest crock. Grateful for a job you hate? That’s like being grateful to be getting laid with a partner that’s lousy in bed and hates your guts. What’s the point? Go find something you want to do and never look back. Life is too short to be wasting it doing something you don’t want to do. This is not Earth-shattering advice but sometimes it bears repeating. Will your life change? You bet your ass it will and it’ll be better for it.

And that’s goes for anybody else. You know who you are. Don’t wait for this year’s busy season to come and go so you can see what the raise will be or to get another bonus. I assure you that you’ll still be miserable. Probably more so. There’s still time to save yourself. You’ll thank me. But you don’t have to.

Are Today’s Accountants Already Occupying Wall Street?

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 aFed 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.

Too much?


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.

Earlier:
Wanted: Accountants for Large Protest; Organizational Skills and Experience with Anything Slightly Resembling a Expense Reimbursement Policy a Plus [GC]

Does Being a Good Golfer Give You a Better Chance at Partner or CFO?

Welcome to the East Coast Earthquake edition of Help! My Accounting Career Is Doomed! In today’s edition, a young auditor is curious how much of an advantage a good golf game will give you on the road to partner/CFO. Not honed soft skills. Not a preternatural talent for Microsoft Excel. A laser-straight drive and wicked short game.

Are you one of those bounders? Looking to come up some ambitious career goals? Skeptical of your co-worker’s charm? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll put together a quick psych profile.

Back to our young duffer:

Konnichiwa,

I am a first year audit employee for a large accounting firm. My question is this; how much does your golf game factor into your ascent to partner, or perhaps ascent to CFO after jumping ship to a private company? Thank you.

Sincerely,

Not Tiger Woods

Dear NTW,

I’ll try to articulate my thoughts on golf as succinctly as possible for you: IT’S STUPID. The clothes are stupid (it’s double stupid that people can wear an outfit to work that also functions as a golf outfit). The rules are stupid. The announcers are stupid. The fact that you even have to ask this question is stupid because it just goes to show how shallow the accounting industry can be. “You’re a scratch handicap? Great! We’ve got some WASPy clients that value someone who knows their way around a double-dog leg par 5.” STUPID.

But back to your question – how much does exceptional short game combined with dazzling iron play factor in putting you on the fast track to partner? Simply put: Zero. Zero times Zero. Zero cubed. ZERO FUCKING INFINITY. On the scale of importance, your golf game ranks far below your ability to actually do something productive and far, far below your personal hygiene. Will it function as a nice ice-breaker with your senior/manager/partner who is also interested in what Davis Love III shot over the weekend? Possibly but will they think, “Ol’ Joe has some game, let’s promote him!”? HELL NO. If that does happen at your firm, then you work for shallow assholes. I’ve seen above-average employees with exceptional golf games get passed over for promotion. I’ve seen above-average employees with exceptional golf games get laid off. IT. DOES. NOT. MATTER. if you can shoot in the 60s on a regular basis. Plus, what the hell are you doing at an accounting firm if you can shoot scores like that?

How golf became one of those things that “makes a difference” is beyond me but it has sure fooled a lot of people. In reality, golf is one of those things that accounting professionals think will give them a leg up on the guy who prefers to practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but in reality that guy is WAY SMARTER than you and, believe it or not, that still counts for something.

McGladrey Employee Not Happy with Firm’s Attempt to Give Everyone a Three-and-a-Quarter Day Weekend

Good morning capital market servants. I know the first day back from an epic holiday weekend is a tough pill to swallow, as many of you couldn’t bear the thought of returning to work today. And because some people like to prolong the agony by taking today off, I’ll do my best to take you back to last Friday. A McGladrey reader dropped this note after I checked out for the day.

The company leaders have recently rolled out this lean working platform [GC coverage here]. They are trying to say work smarter not harder. What most people think lean means though is “do more with less” which is trademark of this company. CE [Andrews] and Joe [Adams] talked on a webcast the other day and they were trying to rile us up. What for? So in the end, they can tell us “despite our great efforts there isn’t money for salary increases”.

CE and Joe and other leaders are all excited about letting the entire firm off at 3 p.m. Friday., July 1 for the weekend holiday WOW! Don’t get too crazy CE and Joe, not 3 p.m. on a Friday? Holy cow!

When Steve Tait was President [of RSM McGladrey] we would get two days off during the Fourth, but under new leadership we get to get off at 3 p.m. on Friday? What a deal. What work-life balance. No wonder we make Working Mothers top 100 each year. Oh and you know what, the firm took away summer hours too…all because they want us to focus on ongoing flexibility…and working lean, which means no one can take time off because departments are too lean.

It’s 3 p.m. now on Friday, and boy I am lucky to be off. Nevermind most employees checked out – officially or unofficially – a few days ago already. I am sure major accounting and tax deals are going down right now on this holiday weekend, but we were fortunate enough to get off at 3 p.m. What a joke!

I think I might get a small putting green cake to celebrate!

Many firms – we’ve confirmed PwC and KPMG – gave their employees last Friday off, which does make for a nice four day weekend. And our tipster is correct, early July is a pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay slow time of year for accounting firms so a 3 pm let-out for a Friday before the grandest, pyrotechnic digit-losing holiday of the year might feel like a slap in the face.

That said, if you’re so bent out of shape about it, why not use some PTO (God forbid!)? You’re completely in control of this situation, friend. You want an extra-long weekend? Make it happen. Expecting accounting firms to just hand you a four-day weekend is a little bitchy and you have no excuse if you have a grip of PTO banked. Don’t make the same mistake come Labor Day.

CPA Exam Quitter Sends Epic Hate Mail to AICPA, NASBA

Note: I am choosing not to spell or grammar check this letter A) because last time Braddock dared to do the same, you guys slaughtered him for being a dick and B) as much as I hate truly awful grammar (a few steps below the typo-filled crap Caleb we writes here), I think the point is sufficiently expressed if you can simply ignore some of the obvious errors. In fewer words: we get it.

The following rant is presented without comment. Please note that its publication here does not constitute an endorsement ssed therein. Caleb took the exam back in the day with stone tablet and cave drawings of journal entries and I, as we all know, have not and will not sit for the CPA exam so neither of us have the experience to draw from here to form an opinion. Over the years, I have heard of issues at Prometric but usually along the lines of minor software failures that did not really impact the candidates’ experiences. I would be curious to get feedback from you all, the dedicated capital market servants, who have had examination snafus seriously impact your momentum.

For this guy, it was enough to get him to quit.

I remind you all here that a lot has changed since 2007. The AICPA and NASBA are getting better at communicating and always looking for ways to improve that process.

May 19, 2011

Subject: Uniform CPA Exam (glitches & bugs in exam software)

To Whom This May Concern,

My name is Matthew Grosso, former C.P.A. exam candidate back in 2007 who had experienced tremendous difficulties with the software that powers the Uniform Certified Public Accountant exam (or “C.P.A. exam”) as well as various communications with NASBA (National State Board of Accountancy). My hardship has been well documented in a section below, titled “Timeline”….however, first, I would like to explain the nature and intent of this letter. In short, this letter is a call to action — a voice if you will — of many frustrated C.P.A candidates who have studied long and hard to attain the prestigious C.P.A designation, but have tragically fallen short because of undocumented barriers to entry into the profession; specifically, “software glitches and bugs” in the C.P.A. testing software package as well communication hurdles with NASBA.

Although I withdrew my candidacy a couple years ago, I continue to read and hear about candidates’ exam hardships (and, I’m not referring to passing difficulties). The fact is, candidates adversely affected by C.P.A. software issues are focused more on passing the exam rather that drafting grievance letters. Moreover, many distressed candidates are uncertain to who exactly they should contact regarding the nature of a testing issue…..is it NASBA, the State Board, the AICPA, Becker Convisor, or the Prometric Testing Center? The C.P.A. is daunting enough on a stand-alone basis, but for a candidate to experience a computer failure and have to blindly navigate a maze of reporting lines, in hope of finding answers to complex questions, is something entirely different. Because candidates are more concerned with “candidacy” and long busy season hours (as they should) and less so with detective work and grievance letters, is in my opinion, the reason difficulties with the software powering the Uniform C.P.A. exam has been grossly understated. Still, even if a handful of grievance letters had indeed made its way upstream to NASBA, The State Board Committee (SBC), The AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE), I’m curious why the C.P.A exam governors failed to address the software glitch/communication issues in an expeditious manner……or have decided to pull the plug on computerized testing altogether? Even if these issues were still in the discovery phase, I would have expected NASBA/AICPA to have contacted current and former candidates regarding the pervasiveness of the issue; the quality control time needed to correct the issue; and more importantly — a remedy.

Given consideration of the facts mentioned above – as a former (unlicensed) candidate, I’m left wondering whether the BOE has specific controls in place to detect issues with the software powering the C.P.A?, If so, whether the controls are working as designed with issues being sufficiently and timely communicated up the reporting hierarchy? I’m certainly aware of the pervasiveness of the exam software issue (and have facts to support it!), but perhaps the BOE isn’t! Perhaps the BOE is aware of the software issue, and has considered the issue to be statistically, De minimus. Even if the later was true, why weren’t candidates (like myself) notified of the shortcomings of the computerized testing approach and the potential for its effect on licensure?

Given my understanding of the imperfections of the Uniform C.P.A. exam and the organizational structure of The AICPA, NASBA and its affiliates, I’m under the impression the COE and its working cabinet has grossly underestimated the frequency of the glitches and bugs in the C.P.A. software – specifically the essay portion. Having made a significant time and financial investment in the program, I firmly believe my experience would have been different had the operational deficiencies in exam software been attended to, and NASBA – Candidate communications (via “NASBA Candidate Care”) fostered stronger ties.

In closing, as a friendly recommendation I would appoint a “Director of Customer Support” to research candidate concerns and help implement corrective action. This appointment would certainly enhance communications inside and outside the organization, thereby protecting the interests of candidates and prevent undue hardships in the C.P.A. community.

Regards,

Matthew M. Grosso

So? Would anyone else care to share their “undue hardship” with the class?

Why Am I the Only Person Under 40 at AICPA Spring Council?

So I’m here in downtown Washington, D.C. for three days of awesomeness that is AICPA Spring Council 2011. While today’s session started just past the asscrack of dawn (breakfast at 7am) and goes through evening, the first day was mostly cocktails and schmoozing, as these events tend to  be.

Here’s my question: where the hell are the young CPAs? Of the attendees, every single state is represented, some more than others. CPAs from across the country have descended upon Washington in their best monkey suit to listen to speakers like George Will and Eleanor Clift, as well as to get an update on the legislative issues that impact the profession. On Tuesday, they’ll be taking to the Hill to bring these issues directly to their Congress(wo)men.

But there is only ONE attendee (from Hawaii) who falls into our age bracket (your humble reporter excluded, of course). ONE.

Listen, I get it. You spent your last college years dealing with this kind of shit, putting on a tie and sucking up to partners and recruiters, all the movers and shakers of the industry. You worried about using the wrong fork at banquets and sat through symbolic awards ceremonies just to appear as though you are passionate about your industry. Now that you actually have a job, what’s the point?

The point is that these issues impact the profession which you will inherit one day. I’ve got nothing against middle-aged men in suits (hell, I’ve been dating one for the last two years) but one day soon, they’ll be retired and it will be up to us to take the reins and move the profession forward. How on Earth are we supposed to do that if we don’t figure out how it is done now?

There are endless opportunities here for mentoring and, better, for young CPAs to have a voice. Yes it’s somewhat symbolic. Yes you will have to wear a tie. Yes it can be stuffy and dull and a bit tedious. Guess what? It’s still important and one day, when all the middle-aged men are living their retirements out on yachts in the middle of the Pacific, you’re going to have to step up and do it anyway.

If you’d like to get involved (it’s not too late to start planning for next year), get in touch with your state society of CPAs for more information. You can find out more about AICPA Governing Council on their website.

You can follow #AICPAGC11 hashtag on Twitter to check out what we’re all up to for the next two days and please, don’t make me yell at you again. I didn’t put this monkey suit on this morning for nothing.

So You Want to Submit Something to Going Concern…

Since Caleb is really bogged down chasing misinformed merger rumors and babysitting his contributor(s), I thought I’d take a moment to set some ground rules for reader contributions. We get that question via e-mail a lot and, as you may notice, very rarely publish reader submissions. Let me tell you why.

First, if you expect us to publish something, how about you start by recognizing the tone of this website? We try our best not to waste our readers’ time with bullshit press releases, fluff pieces, and the usual PR crap that other accounting websites are built around. That is not what we do here and we aren’t going to start now so please, don’t bother. If you can’t take the time to acknowledge the voice of this website and respect the attention span of our readers, we aren’t going to take the time to read the crap you have sent us. If you send us an unsolicited email that looks like it could have gone out to every other accounting website out there, we know you aren’t a fan of the site and have no idea how we roll. Therefore, odds are pretty good that we will ignore your request. You’ve been warned.

Second, this ain’t no motherfucking Wiki. Meaning we are more than happy to publish reader material (still waiting for Bitter Audit Manager’s resignation letter) but beyond the comments, this is not a collaborative venture. Caleb writes, I write, you guys berate us, we adjust future content appropriately… you get the point. We invite you to contribute through criticism, suggestions and, of course, by tipping us to where the news is. And if you have a point to make and want to use this avenue to make it, you are more than welcome to do so, just make sure you come at us correctly. Which brings me to my next point…

It takes a lot of alcohol and therapy to do this day in and day out. Caleb and I try our best to bring you what you want and take our job seriously. If you have a submission, we expect that it fits with the overall attitude of this website. We have stringent quality requirements (Caleb’s rampant typos excluded, of course) related to the tone we work hard to maintain.

Self-deprecating humor earns points with us, as does bitterness, honesty, cleverness and general brilliance. We have no patience for uptight professionalism and anal-retentive seriousness, you can find plenty of that on other accounting websites.

So if you still want to submit something to us to publish, keep these things in mind. Shoot us a note and include your submission but please, save all of us the bother if you can’t respect these simple rules.

‘Satisfied,’ Possibly Deranged PwC Employee Describes Unfamiliar Work Environment

From the mailbag:

Hi Caleb,

I’ve been perusing your website for about 5 months now and I cannot believe the amount of complaining people do and still stick it out in public accounting. If it is that awful, why are you trading away your life for this job? I’m in assurance in New York Metro with PwC and everyone that I work with is pretty pleased with their jobs.

Yeah we work a lot and probably could get paid more working in industry, but for whatever reason public accounting is the career we choose. All my teams have a pretty good time even during busy season. I have yet to work for a manager or partner that I didn’t like, and interestingly enough I’ve had multiple interactions with managers where eriods of time out of their day to chat with me about things unrelated to our current work. I’ve referred a number of college prospective auditors to your website and their response as always been to the effect of, “the articles are interesting, but the comments people leave make this sound like a horrible career choice.” Just wondering if we could get some positive articles and comments going about the good things that come out of working in public accounting!

Sincerely,

A satisfied PwC employee

Okay, so it sounds like a few people are happy with their careers – thankyouverymuch – and are a little put off by the loud bellyaching and articles that aren’t “positive.” I’ll address the latter concern first by simply pointing everyone to a post from February where I presented my answers on the “Career Value of the Big 4 Experience” and wrote the following:

I’m very grateful for my Big 4 experience. It was unimaginably valuable, I met a lot of great people and have no regrets (except for a few brutal hangovers at national training). So, I’ll give it a 5 [that means super-duper satisfied!].

Not to the mention the two to three posts that we dish out a week (despite complaints from some that they’re all the same) giving career advice, that often highlight the benefits of the public accounting path, frequently featuring Big 4 firms. If you find these articles to be “negative” or displeasurable in tone, I can’t help you. Adrienne and I both believe in presenting a straight, no-bullshit style. If you want something that resembles a town hall meeting, then I suggest you go read the latest list from Fortune, Forbes or just look around your office for all the benefits to working at your firm. The marketing people certainly aren’t shy about plastering them everywhere.

As for “getting […] positive comments,” you’ll have to call on your equally satisfied Big 4 brethren to speak a little louder in the comments section. If you and others find the comments on a particular post offensive or misleading, TRY RESPONDING. It’s not our responsibility to convince the happy people to speak up and we’re not going to tell haters to calm down. Everyone has a voice here and if some are louder than others, so be it. There are plenty of constructive discussions happening all over the site so go find those and ignore the noise if it bothers you. If snark and bad words offend you, then perhaps you should avoid the comments altogether. We’re not going to create a “Family Section” of GC just because some people’s ears are burning.

I think it’s great that you enjoy your career at PwC (“deranged” is simply a joke, in case you need briefed). It’s a great firm with plenty of great people and kudos to you for doing what you enjoy. You’re lucky to have figured out what’s important and write, “I cannot believe the amount of complaining people do and still stick it out in public accounting. If it is that awful, why are you trading away your life for this job?” which is the same question I ask of people on a regular basis. Regardless of where people fall on the satisfied scale (I’m a “5,” don’t forget) we’re going to continue covering the industry and the firms like we always have. When a firm does something worthwhile, we will call attention to it, Tweet it or link to it. When something gossipy or juicy comes our way, we’ll do the same. If you don’t like it, you’re free to express your opinion as much and as loudly as you like.

Maybe You’re Too Busy To Pass the CPA Exam Then

Warning: the following is a rant and it’s nearly four years in the making. If you offend easily or think you might recognize yourself in what I’m about to rant on, maybe you should skip this post and come back Friday when I’m back to offering cuddly advice on how to pass the CPA exam. For now, I have a serious bone to pick and can hold my tongue no longer.


As many of you know, I spent my early years on the fringes of the industry in CPA review. I loved my job, mostly because I gobbled up everything I could about the exam and was able to offer that knowledge to others at a critical time in their lives. I loved being able to share in their successes (and failures) and it was a joy to work with some of our students who went out ofize what I’d brought to their experience. We all know it’s hell, and I can’t say my job was any less stressful than the exam experience itself but it was worth it to come to work every day just to hear a heart-felt “thank you” from a candidate who truly appreciated what I’d done to help them get those three all-important letters after their name.

But for every sweet student, I would have to deal with a handful of lazy, unmotivated, over-privileged pricks who expected the exam to pass itself and seemed to blame everyone except themselves when things went wrong. Somehow it was my fault that they spent the last year getting wasted and posting photographic evidence on Facebook, or my fault that they blew off studying to play WoW or [insert lame, overplayed excuse here]. And that’s exactly what they were and will continue to be: excuses. I can tell you that nothing will stand between a CPA exam candidate and their goal of licensure more than excuses. Well, maybe lack of knowledge but that’s a rant for another day.

The worst excuse of all has always been and will always be “I’m too busy.” If you’re too busy to read through the terms and conditions before you shell out a few grand for a review course (or at a minimum, call up with reasonable questions about how things work), you’re probably too busy to take the exam. If you’re too busy to dedicate two hours a day to studying, you’re again likely too busy to take the exam. If you’re too busy to sacrifice 14 hours to exam-taking and 400 hours to studying in 18 months time, you’re definitely too busy to take the exam.

It’s a pathetic excuse when you think about it because who decided to take this thing in the first place? You did and at some point I can only hope it registered in your mind before making said decision that you still have things to do and a limited amount of time to do them. But you chose to do this anyway, right?

My favorite are the parents who also work full-time and complain that they are just too busy. Listen, no one is debating the fact that they have a metric shit ton on their plate but what they seem to forget is that life is all about choices and they chose to start working, get married and have children before passing the exam. So, sorry but it’s not like life is just a random shuffled deck, each candidate getting whichever cards the dealer hands out; we’re all adults here and as such, it’s important that we recognize the impact of the choices we make. The AICPA Board of Examiners didn’t decide to start a family for you, you did.

This exam sucks for everyone and for different reasons. Stop making it suck even for people who aren’t taking it by thinking somehow you are more important than everyone else and therefore entitled to some kind of special treatment because you work 60 hours a week (who chose this line of work again? Please remind me). Somehow hundreds of thousands of equally-busy future CPAs have managed to pass this thing before you and I didn’t hear most of them complaining about how busy they are. Get over yourself or get out of public.

I Am Mad Not Disappointed: A Parting Shot on Changes to the 2011 CPA Exam

On this, the final CPA exam testing day of 2010, I feel compelled to skip the advice column and launch straight into the rant. It’s finally over and here’s hoping you people will stop asking the same five questions about the 2011 exam over and over.


I don’t mean to offend anyone in particular so if you catch a feeling on this, it’s probably because I’m talking directly to you. You know who you are and I respectfully request you knock it the fuck off.

First, the misinformation surrounding the 2011 exam changes absolutely blows my mind. The AICPA announced these changes well in advance of the planned launch of CBT-e and I can’t speak for everyone but know that we here at Going Concern have covered just about every tiny detail of what’s ahead. Regardless, I still get my inbox blown up with the same simple questions, the answers to which may be found with a simple Google search or by checking out our previous posts on the subject. Information is everywhere, you’ve just got to get off your lazy ass and look for it.

I think you guys are forgetting that this is a professional examination and that you are allegedly professionals. Is it reasonable for professionals to work with financial statements being misinformed and confused by simple instructions? No. Is it reasonable for CPA exam candidates to have absolutely no idea what is happening in 2011? HELL NO.

The “OG” CPAs of the paper and pencil days laugh at candidates who have to take the computerized exam and for good reason, you guys can’t even figure out a simple change like CBT-e. People still seem to believe BEC will contain simulations in 2011 and for Christ’s sake, let’s all keep in mind that about 90 – 95% of what is being tested in 2010 will still be tested in 2011. Do you really think the AICPA Board of Examiners is going to trash all those wonderful questions they worked so hard to get? Please.

So while you guys are freaking out over changes that aren’t even going to happen, you could be studying current material and educating yourself on what’s new for next year. I’m shocked that so few of you know that the exam actually changes twice a year, every year anyway and that 2011 is really no different except for the fact that it is a bit larger a change than usual. It sickens me, actually, because I had so much more faith in you guys to go into the exam prepared and informed. Instead I continue to get the same 4 or 5 questions over and over and over and always walk away with the sense that you guys aren’t listening and unless it is handed to you, won’t go looking for the answers you need.

Seriously, knock it off. Now that 2011 is very nearly upon us, I expect ALL OF YOU to get off your asses, get to the Google and do some reading. It’s really not hard, the info is plastered all over the AICPA’s website as well as places like the CPAnet forums and various blogs strewn throughout the blogosphere.

You’re making the profession look bad, you know. How can accountants protect the public interest if they can’t even figure out a simple change to the CPA exam?

Side note: While I’m ranting about the 2011 exam, I should also throw in a few expletives meant specifically for the AICPA Board of Examiners for choosing to do this in the first place. WTF were you thinking?! We don’t even use IFRS and don’t know when we will, why the hell should we be so eager to test it now?!

/end rant

Former Big 4 Employee Has Some Thoughts on the Motivation Behind Becoming a Partner

For many of you in public accounting, the idea of becoming a partner in your firm is either a career aspiration or a thought that borders on lunacy. A few might fall in between those two spectrums but if you ask most people, they’ve got a pretty definitive answer on the “do you want to be a partner?” question.

Awhile back we received a message from a former Big 4 rank and file who had some thoughts on the matter:

When you enter Big 4 as an associate, the assumed goal is to make Partner. This seemed like a great goal at first, kind of like making it to the 12th grade in high school, or getting a degree (or two) from a good college. Or maybe even being voted in as the President of your sorority or fraternity. Take your pick. It’s the culminatied work, dedication, a little luck and a dash of favoritism from the Powers on High. However, the more I worked in B4, and the more I saw the “pyramid” continue to rear its ugly shape, I became appalled that anyone could WANT to be Partner.


We’ll just briefly chime in here to say that equating high school graduation to making partner is a bit of stretch (and we let a lot of things go). We know lots of people that graduated high school that could barely operate velcro sneakers.

Back to the rant:

The obvious reasons why someone would want to make Partner? Money, fame, money, power, money. Let’s be honest, it’s pretty much just for the money. But at the cost of what? More often than not: a tough family life (perhaps divorced, an affair or five, missed family dinners), working on the weekends, hardly seeing your kids due to work (e.g. weekend working, wining and dining clients, etc), and – the part that disturbed me the most – the fact that you are making your money from the “blood, sweat, and tears” of the miserable little minions working til all hours of the day and night for YOUR profit. I honestly don’t think that I could ever, in good conscious, become a partner, knowing the levels of stress I (directly or indirectly) put on my little “worker bees.”

Okay, time to jump in – to insinuate that partners (and aspiring partners) are simply motivated by money is silly. For starters, most partners will never pull down the salaries that the Jim Turleys and T Fly of the world are pulling down. Secondly, there are plenty of people working in public accounting – believe it or not – that really enjoy the auditing/tax/advisory work they do. If this is something an individual is aspiring to do long-term, having some skin in the game (“your profit”) is a worthwhile goal.

As for as personal lives go – more than 50% of human beings that get married end up getting divorced, so that’s weak and most partners (at least in our experience ) are not the lady-killer/man-eaters that you describe.

Continuing on:

Perhaps it is this mentality alone that makes me wholly unfit to ever be a partner or even a C-suite bigwig. Perhaps being a female I see the dog-eat-dog corporate world at a level that is far too emotional and compassionate.

But then again, who knows? Perhaps, hypothetically, by the time I finished the long uphill journey to Partner, clawing my way to the top, I would be so engrossed by the money and power that I wouldn’t have the time or space in my thoughts to think of the “little people” that were making my money-making factory churn. I would be immune to their complaints, responding with, “Stop your whining. We’ve ALL been there before. Just keep putting in your time, and everything will turn out okay.”

“Engrossed by money and power”? Now we’re getting ridiculous. This is public accounting, not an über-competitive hedge fund or the hallowed walls of the U.S. Capitol.

Once you make partner, the struggle is just beginning. Being at the top of the totem pole for an individual team might seem like a powerful spot but it’s anything but. The politics reach a whole new level when you make partner that most of us can’t even imagine. So, while you may think that partners consider staff and managers “little people” many of them probably feel like little people as well. Plus, they have significant (and sometimes grossly unrealistic) expectations placed on them, so any pressure you’re feeling, they’re likely feeling it as well.

Partners are still human and they have to make hard decisions that affect people directly and most of them are consciously aware of this. How each of them handles that responsibility is obviously different but you make them sound like soulless robots and that’s simply not the case.

So what’s the motivation, partners? If our reader is right, then proceed to tell us your stories of fame and fortune (yachts, trips to Monaco, et al.). But if you want to set the record straight then we invite you to level with the haters out there.

Earlier:
The Partner Track: Open Thread

Memo to Media Departments: Here Are Three Ways to Make My Job Easier

I’m not going to name names since that doesn’t seem to go over well but I have a bone to pick and think this is the perfect platform for doing so. In case you aren’t paying attention, I tend to use real-world examples to form my suggestions on what to do (or more often than not what not to do) in social media and this time I need to air a complaint about some industry “professionals” who aren’t playing the game right.

Again, no names so don’t ask and if you’re wondering if I mean you, I probably do.

I’m referring specifically to media def attempts on my part to connect with them and get their news out here on Going Concern and Jr. Deputy Accountant. The JDA blow offs I can almost understand but when I come right with a proposition and offer them a coveted spot among the PwC rebranding whine dump and salary news here on GC and they completely ignore it, I get pissed.

Therefore, helpful sort that I am, I’m offering three ways YOU, accounting industry media person, can make MY job easier:


1. Respond When I write you an email inviting you to participate in an interview, survey, ribbing, etc., a response would be nice either way though I obviously appreciate a “yes” far more than a “are you kidding me?” Regardless of whether or not you would like to participate, the least you can do is respond. I know you’re busy, we’re all busy, no one expects you to answer me 4 minutes after I’ve sent the email but a courtesy response would be awesome. I’m not asking a lot. I’m giving you a chance to participate in something awesome and trust me, I wouldn’t waste my own time so I don’t expect you to waste yours.

2. Don’t be scared I’m not sure what it is or why people seem to perceive my brand as hostile but I’m really not as hostile as it seems if you actually talk to me. It amazes me that some industry professionals think Going Concern is hostile and incendiary as well! Seriously?! We hardly swear and cover accounting news, how threatening can we be? Apparently quite. I can’t speak for Caleb but I’ve been blocked. And ignored. Whatever, it’s not about my ego, it’s about me inviting you to take a seat at our conversation and you running the other direction.

3. Wake up! If you are going to start A) a campaign and/or B) a Twitter account, please expect that I’m going to find it and possibly come ask you questions about it. As a media professional, it’s sort of expected that you’ll be excited to offer me the information I seek so I can share it with our readers or at least be able to point me to some press release that accomplishes the same without you having to talk to me. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with my opinion on Ben Bernanke being a massive douchebag or if you are offended by my liberal use of the F-word on my own turf, this is about the industry. We know for a fact that some industry professionals wish Going Concern would expire and drop off the Internet but let’s be real, it isn’t happening so you’d be smart by embracing it instead of fighting it. Like it or not, we’re the future of the industry. Suck it.

I swear we don’t bite (Caleb might but you’ll have to ask him to be sure) and we’ve proven that we here at Going Concern hold ourselves to an exceptionally high standard of ethical behavior when it comes to sources, interviews and communications with industry professionals. So I don’t know where the fear is coming from but seriously, answer your damn emails.