Survey says…

You’ll Have to Pry Vault’s ‘Most Prestigious Firm’ Title Out of PwC’s Cold, Dead Hands

A little while ago, we told you how PwC locked down the top spot in Vault’s 2020 Accounting 50—the seventh consecutive year the firm has been ranked No. 1.  But believe it or not, this isn’t the longest win streak P. Dubs has going when it comes to Vault’s rankings. Even though the House of […]

PwC Once Again Tops Vault Accounting 50 (2020)

It’s one of our favorite times of the year at GC HQ when our friends at Vault put out their yearly rankings of the top accounting firms in the U.S. in several categories. But for now, we’re going to focus on the overall top 50 ranking. The No. 1 firm in the U.S. for 2020, […]

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The Number of Women Partners in Accounting Firms Is Still Abysmal

Earlier this month, the AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee (WIEC) issued its second CPA Firm Gender Study and its findings are not encouraging. The survey found that partnership on average remains overwhelmingly male. The current survey shows little change from studies done in years past, which have typically found less than one-quarter of the partnership […]

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The 20% of Americans Who Would Get an ‘IRS’ Tattoo to Never Pay Taxes Are Getting Off Too Easy

Americans hate paying taxes. This is not news. Why they hate paying taxes is a bit of a mystery. I reckon it has something to do with wanting to piss the money away themselves rather than have police or schools or national parks. Anyway, a survey by WalletHub found that some Americans are so intent […]

However the Presidential Election Goes, CPAs Probably Not Moving to Canada

Trump? Clinton? Bloomberg (write-in)? Another to be named later? None of the above? However this dumpster fire of a presidential election turns out, an AICPA survey found that CFOs, controllers and "other CPA executives" are chill: About 64% say the election will factor into business planning for the next fiscal year to some extent. Twenty-six […]

Apparently Accountants Are Terrible on the Phone

I'm surprised as anyone to learn that this is an actual thing: Only 24 percent of American consumers are satisfied with the way accounting firms handle their phone calls, according to a new survey. The study of 2,234 people, conducted by audio branding specialist PH Media Group, found standards in the accounting industry fell below […]

A Surprising Number of Accountants Think Accountants Are Incredibly Corrupt

A recent survey of 1,696 global accountants from CareersInAudit.com found that accountant don't think too highly of other accountants: [I]t would appear that the accountancy profession is still not squeaky clean with all its working practices. 20% of respondents believe between 10–20% of those in the profession have helped their clients create a set of […]

Here’s Another Lousy Stat on the Number of Women Partners in Accounting Firms

In case you needed another crummy datapoint to help illustrate the gender disparity at the partner level in the accounting profession, this finding from the AICPA's Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee CPA Firm Gender Survey should do the trick: Many firms have non-equity partner tracks that don’t include ownership in the practice. The WIEC survey found […]

CPAs Admit That They’re Not Good Business People

Here's something interesting (hilarious, even) from the Indiana CPA Society's Center of Excellence: CPAs lack a bunch of important skills and they're completely aware of it. The Society conducted a survey of over 600 CPAs across 30 states and found that the profession that constantly goes on about being "trusted advisors" to businesses and entrepreneurs, […]

Deloitte Survey: Auditors’ Use of Technology Does Not Impress

A Deloitte survey of financial executives, financial statement users and audit committee members found that an overwhelming majority — 84%, 70% and 76% respectively — of these people, "believe auditors should use advanced technologies more extensively in performing an audit." Apparently, 21st century auditing is still a few years off. [WSJ] Image: Gnangarra/WIkimedia Commons

SOX Approaching Teens, Behaving Accordingly: Survey

That is, taking up a lot more of companies' time and money:   Nearly 13 years after the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the money and time spent to comply with its disclosure requirements continue to increase for companies, according to a new survey.   Sixty-seven percent of the 460 audit executives and professionals polled by the […]

Survey Says: Over Half of Small Businesses Don’t Work With an Accountant At All

Here's an interesting discovery from Xero: 53 percent of small businesses they surveyed "say they don’t work with an accountant at all." So not only are all firms the same, they're not crucial to fledgling businesses? Is this an opportunity or a barrier? Go.

PA CPAs Suggest Liquor Stores Be Privatized, Less Enthused About Legal Marijuana

Sixty-nine percent of CPAs suggested privatizing liquor stores as the best measure to close the Keystone State's deficit. Only 27% of them like the idea of legalizing marijuana. Considering the puritanical liquor laws in the state — er, commonwealth — we should accept progress where we can get it. [PICPA]

It Takes Four to Five Weeks to Fill Vacant Finance and Accounting Positions

According to new survey results published today from Robert Half Finance & Accounting, it takes an average of four weeks to fill open staff-level accounting and finance jobs and five weeks for management-level positions. But hiring managers need to move fast not only because it can be challenging to be short-staffed during that stretch, but because top candidates […]

If You Can’t Get a Job, It’s Probably Because You Suck at Interviews

It's really helpful that we have all these survey results to count on otherwise we'd have no idea what the heck is going on. Here's the scoop from CGMA Mag: Job candidates appear to have brushed up on their résumé skills, but they’re still struggling to come off as polished in a job interview. That’s […]

One in Three Accountants Getting a Little on the Side

Get your mind out of the gutter, I mean work. The scoop from CPA Trendlines: If you’re reading this at home, or on your own time, you’re not alone. Today more than one-third of accountants are already moonlighting in “side” practices or home offices – especially during busy season, according to a CPA Trendlines survey […]

According to the Results of This Survey We’ve Been Waiting For, CPA Execs Are Less Optimistic on the Economy

Disappointingly, I snoozed through the alarm I set for 6:59 AM and therefore I completely missed the release of this information I have been waiting anxiously for since they told me to start waiting anxiously for it on Monday. BUT HERE IT IS, the AICPA Economic Outlook Survey: NEW YORK (Dec. 5, 2013) – Business […]

Only 61% of CGMAs Surveyed Think the Second Most Important Person in America After the President is Important

You guys probably didn't watch Janet Yellen's confirmation hearing yesterday but I did because Janet has long been one of my least favorite Fed characters, since before she returned to Washington to serve as Fed Vice Chair. Frankly, I'm horrified that she'll be running the show over there but that's not important right now. The […]

Paternity Leave at Accounting Firms Better Than Getting a Tie for Father’s Day

Sunday is Father's Day, so our friends at Vault have shared the results from their working parent survey that cover the dear ol' dads and accounting firms faired pretty well:  [S]urvey respondents who work in accounting rate their firms highest when it comes to how accommodating they are for working fathers (survey respondents were asked […]

AICPA Attempts to Tie Expired Payroll Tax Cut to Normal American Behavior

Are you irritable? Sleeping less? Impatient with your friends? Putting on weight? Thinking about divorce? Yes? Sorry to hear, you must be going through a stressful time. Oh, wait, are you an American? Yes?! Whew, you're behaving normally then. If you were to read this AICPA press release, you might be inclined to believe that […]

God Only Knows Why Most Companies Still Manually Reconcile General Ledger Accounts

A recent report released by Robert Half and the Financial Executives Research Foundation found that "nearly two-thirds of finance departments in US companies and one-half in Canadian companies" are manually still reconciling general ledger accounts.  That seems like a lot! But Roberto Halfo says it's biz as ushe:    "The level of manual reconciliation reported in our survey […]

According to Obvious PwC Survey, Millennials Want To Barely Work From Home, If At All

If I have to read ONE more of these, I am going to scream. Here's the latest from PwC: A new report released today, PwC's NextGen: A global generational study, reveals that enhancing workplace flexibility and equity between work and home is one of the keys to improving job satisfaction among Millennials. According to the […]

PwC Tops Vault Accounting 50 (2014)

After a couple of interesting teasers on LGBT relations and satisfaction among women, our friends at Vault have unveiled their Accounting 50 ranking today. The results will probably annoy many of you because, yes, PwC topped the three big categories in Vault's 2014 rankings — Overall Ranking, Prestige, and Diversity. 

Vault Survey: Male Big 4 Partners Most Satisfied; Female Senior Associates Least Satisfied

Our friends at Vault will release their Accounting 50 ranking on Monday, but if you simply cannot contain your excitement until that day comes, they've got a little teaser in this post that reveals Big 4 men are happier than Big 4 women. Is this a shock or is it more predictable than a creep […]

Are Some U.S. Companies Preparing to Trim Their Tax Department Fat?

When I first saw this KPMG press release, I figured it was the same old insufferable tripe. I mean, read this shit:  Amid continuing economic and political uncertainty, senior management at US-based multinational companies are relying on their tax departments, now more than ever, to provide guidance and expertise on complicated regulatory and compliance issues, […]

Deloitte Survey Comes to Obvious Conclusion the Entire Internet Has Known Since At Least 2001

You know, it's a great thing we have the Big 4, Robert Half, Accountemps and others to spend their precious time pestering CEOs, CIOs, HR managers, CFOs and average grunts with surveys or else we might never know things we already know, like that business use of social media is on the rise: Deloitte’s fourth […]

Latest CFO Survey Results Reveal a Whole Lot of Information That Will Make You Shrug with Indifference

Take it away, Robert Half!  In the latest survey, 5% of executives said they plan to add personnel and 6% said they expect job cuts in accounting and finance. In other words, everyone's just sitting around like boobs. What else is going on? Finding the right people is hard! Finding qualified talent remains a problem […]

Accounting and Finance Professionals Are Only Slightly Less Optimistic Than They Were Last Quarter

Surveys, we love 'em! The latest Mergis Group Finance and Accounting Employee Confidence Index has come down from its highest level in four years, decreasing 5.2 points to 52.6 in the second quarter of 2012. Fret not, the news is still mostly good. The 184 employed finance and accounting professionals surveyed seem to be mostly […]

Going Concern CPA Review Survey Results Are Here!

First, thanks to everyone who stepped up and not only provided me great answers but a laugh or two within their surveys. It's awesome to know you guys do, in fact, have a sense of humor. A few things: I included the average rankings with each course, after asking each respondent to rank their course from […]

BREAKING: Balancing Work, Life Is Stressful

According to an intrepid survey by Accountemps that investigated what stresses out CFOs, balancing work and life responsibilities was listed as the biggest drag. This beat out office politics, keeping up with accounting and finance regulations, higher workloads, and a "challenging commute." Maybe all these men and women wouldn't be so stressed if more of them […]

Comp Watch ’12: CFOs

As many of you continue striving towards your career goals to occupy the CFO chair, we thought you might like to know a little information on how well that dream job pays. According to a recent Grant Thornton/Financial Executives Research Foundation survey, public company CFOs saw their average base salaries climb from to $286,500 to from […]

Survey: More Than Half of Canadians Are Crazy and/or Lying

A recent survey found that "54 percent of Canadians like preparing to file their taxes," and that "57 percent say their files are organized throughout the year." The results would indicate that our friends to the north are a bit off, pathological liars or maybe it's because they're actually capable of having a sense of humor […]

Those Annoying Recruiter Calls Might Be Slowing Down Next Quarter

In a few weeks, many of you plugging along through busy season will decide to call those incessant recruiters back and test the job market. Last week's report by Robert Half and published in the Journal of Accountancy miiiiight rain on your parade, at least in the short term.  Ninety-one percent of CFOs said they don’t expect […]

Wanted: Accountants With a Sense of Humor

When you think about desired qualities for financial professionals, honesty, intellect and technical knowledge are probably high up there but have you considered the value of a sense of humor? Yeah, me neither. According to this recent Fortune article, however, CFOs interviewed by Accountemps expressed a desire to find professionals equipped to bring the funny […]

Non-U.S. Survey: IFRS Is Getting More Popular

Global Reporting Standards are gaining popularity among investors and finance executives, according to a new report by ACCA. Around 170 senior executives and investors were questioned. More than 40% said international financial reporting standards improve access to capital, while around 25% believe the global standards have lowered capital costs. ACCA chief executive Helen Brand said: “Growing support amongst CFOs and investors for [IFRS] must be considered carefully” by US regulator the SEC as it debates converging US GAAP with international standards. “We believe a positive answer from the SEC would give a tremendous boost to the cause of financial reporting and more importantly the world economy.” [Accountancy Age, Earlier]

AICPA Outlook Survey: This Double-Dip Recession Just May Be Happening

Just in time for President Obama’s jobs conversation to a joint session of Congress, the AICPA has released its latest quarterly economic outlook survey results. Long story short: sentiments aren’t high among financial professionals surveyed.


The outlook for the U.S. economy turned negative in the third quarter for the first time since 2009 as prospects for recovery waned and concerns about a second recession rose, according to the latest AICPA Economic Outlook Survey of Chief Financial Officers, Controllers and CPAs in executive and senior management accounting roles.

The CPA Outlook Index, a broad-based composite index that captures the expectations of CPA financial executives and management accountants, declined 8 points to 58 this quarter, down from 66 in the prior period. The survey, conducted in August, tallied 1,305 qualified responses from CPAs who hold leadership positions, such as chief financial officers or controllers in their companies.

“For the second consecutive quarter, the CPA Outlook Index declined as turbulence in the political and economic environment eroded the sense earlier this year that a recovery was taking hold,” said Carol Scott, AICPA vice president for business, industry and government. “A majority of our CPA members in executive financial roles now fear a second recession may be likely.”

The decline in the CPA Outlook Index was fueled by a sharp drop in sentiment about the U.S. economy.

A whopping 61 percent majority of respondents said they think it is “somewhat likely” or “very likely” the U.S. will fall into a double-dip recession. Only 9 percent of CPAs serving in executive positions expressed optimism about the U.S. economy in the third quarter, down 24 percentage points from 33 percent who were optimistic in the second quarter.

It is reasonable to point out here that though the CPA Outlook Index turned negative this quarter, it is still above the 4-year low of 32 in the first quarter of 2009.

U.S. economy optimism plummeted a whopping 28 points from 53 to 25. Of the major index components, none changed positively quarter-over-quarter for 2011.

While the outlook for respondents’ own organizations is not as rosy as it was earlier this year, it has not dropped as sharply as the outlook for the US economy. Optimists also still outnumber pessimists, with 41% of the CPA decision-makers indicating that they are optimistic about the outlook for their own organizations over the next 12 months, while only 21% are pessimistic. Expectation for expansion also dropped again this quarter but a majority of respondents (53%) still expect to expand at least somewhat in the next 12 months. This is down from 61% who expected expansion last quarter.

Executive summary of the survey results can be found here.

Grant Thornton Survey: Celebrities’ Acceptance of Infidelity Carrying Over to the Plebs

In Northern Ireland, anyway. Yes, if you’re moseying around Belfast and catch your spouse in an intimate embrace with someone who isn’t you, your heart may be broken but that doesn’t mean you’re going to divorce their cheating ass. Why, you ask? Well, you see, celebrities, being the model global citizens that they are, seem understand that marriage doesn’t really mean that you can’t have sex with other people, even if you haven’t expressed a desire to do so and regular Joes and Janes are starting to think that should be their attitude as well.

The UK Press Association reports, “one of the reasons for the shift may be the growing number of high profile celebrities that have publicly accepted their partner being unfaithful, according to consultancy and accountancy firm Grant Thornton, which carried out the matrimonial survey.” Yes Grant Thornton, fresh off their new ad campaign, is finding time to weigh in on marriage trends, although they readily admit they’re really just taking a stab at this:

Sally Longworth, partner at Grant Thornton’s Forensic and Investigations services practice, said: “The shift in the reasons for divorce is difficult to explain, although one potential influence could be the rise in the number of celebrities that are very publicly accepting their spouse’s infidelities.

Seems that GT is hard up for work in N.I.

[via UKPA]

Global Robert Half Study Reveals Financial Executives Are Trippin’ Over Retaining Talent

Forgive me for suggesting this to (alleged) financial professionals but perhaps if they treated their current talent like, well, talent as opposed to third-rate street whores, they might not have this problem. One need look no further than the comment section on any of our salary posts to find warranted discontent, anger, frustration and threats of exodus.

The Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor was developed by Robert Half International and is based on surveys conducted by independent research firms. The study, focusing on hiring difficulties, retention concerns and business confidence, includes responses from more than 6,000 financial leaders across 19 countries.

Here are the key findings:

• Two-thirds, 67 percent, of financial leaders reported at least some level of recruiting difficulty. Approximately one out of five (19 percent) respondents said it is very challenging to find skilled accounting and finance professionals today.

• Retention concerns are rising. Globally, 56 percent of executives said they are either very or somewhat concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the year ahead. This is an 11-point jump from the 2010 survey.

• In the United States, 43 percent of executives cited worries about keeping their best people. This is up from 28 percent in 2010.

• Eighty-nine percent of respondents reported being at least somewhat confident in their organization’s growth prospects for the coming year.

Survey nerds can dig deeper into the research highlights or data tables for more information.

More disturbing, retention issues seem to be a globally pervasive issue. More than half of executives, 56 percent, said they are very or somewhat concerned about losing valued employees to other opportunities in the coming year. This compares to 45 percent who cited retention concerns in the 2010 survey.

In some countries, the results were much higher. The number of executives worried about keeping key employees is up 16 points in Singapore, for example; 91 percent of respondents there said they see retention as an issue. In Hong Kong and Brazil, 88 percent and 85 percent of financial leaders, respectively, noted retention concerns.

What this means, of course, is that if any of you are desperate for work and somewhat decent at your jobs, you might want to look into tapping these markets. Despite what the IASB may like you to think, U.S. GAAP isn’t dead and knowledge of it is still a marketable skill, though a decent command of international standards will obviously benefit you more going forward.

Or turn your keepers’ fears into a tool to be leveraged and get yourselves raised up to at least second-rate street whore. Stranger things have happened.

CPAs Aren’t As Optimistic As They Used to Be on the Economy

Straight from the horse’s mouth, or, in this case, the CPAs:

According to the latest AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, chief financial officers, controllers and CPAs in executive and senior management accounting roles are far less optimistic now about the direction of the U.S. economy than they were in the first quarter of 2011.

The CPA Outlook Index, a broad-based composite index that captures the expectations of CPA financial executives and management accountants, declined three points to 66 this quarter, from 69 in the prior period.

“The flush of optimism we experienced earlier this year has given way to more moderate expectations for the U.S. economy,” said Carol Scott, AICPA vice president for business, industry and government. “While the CPA Outlook Index is still positive relative to the dark days of the recession, our members are concerned about rising energy costs and inflation, health care costs and continuing weakness in demand.”

The pullback in optimism follows an upbeat assessment in the prior quarter and signals the two-year-old U.S. economic recovery has lost momentum, Scott said. The survey shows that expectations for corporate expansion and hiring have moderated and the outlook for revenues and profits declined. Concerns about inflation continued to rise, driven by higher energy costs. The outlook for capital spending remained largely flat with information technology the only sector enjoying improvement.

It’s worth noting that while optimism for the US economy declined sharply this quarter, it is still higher than it was for the 4th quarter of 2010. Slightly more than one quarter of respondents (27%) expressed a pessimistic outlook for the US economy, driven by concerns about unemployment, government debt and rising prices.

Check out the full survey here, Valium not included.

Don’t Worry, There’s Still Plenty of Accounting Fraud Out There

In what might be a lagging indicator of recession-spawned misdeeds, the percentage of reported corporate frauds compared with all other reported incidents increased to 20.3% in the first quarter of 2011, a rise of more than 60 basis points from the previous quarter, according to data from 1,000 organizations worldwide. Of the 30,000 ethics- and compliance-related reports from people at those organizations in the first quarter, more than 6,100 concerned accounting or auditing irregularities, embezzlement, kickbacks, and other forms of fraud. [CFO]

Canadian Accountants Are Less Social Media Savvy, More Concerned About Work-Life Balance

In February, Sage revealed some disturbing results based on a random survey of 500 U.S. members of its Sage Accountants Network. Of them, U.S. respondents were a tad behind the curve when it comes to social media (shocker) and obsessed with finding new clients.

This time around, Sage North America surveyed 200 of its French-Speaking Canadian Sage Accountants Network members and discovered the following:

Among the 947 respondents, the biggest challenge facing their firms was tied at 34 per cent for time management and work-life balance, followed by keeping up with technology at 29 per cent. This was a stark contrast to their American counterparts who reported that their biggest challenge was getting new clients (35%), tax law complexity and changes (22%) and the effect of new regulations and standards on small firms (25%).

In terms of social media, the survey indicates a slower adoption rate among Canadian respondents than their U.S. counterparts with 58 per cent stating that they aren’t using any social media tools in a professional capacity compared to 43 per cent of those in the US. In fact, only 23 per cent of respondents’ firms have a website compared to 37 per cent in the U.S. For those using social media, the survey reveals that the key tools that are being used are LinkedIn (22%) and Facebook (18%).

Although there are numerous Canadian accounting professional association publications, when asked which accounting publications respondents read, 56 per cent stated that they do not read anything compared to only 19 per cent of U.S. respondents.

It’s that last number that is most upsetting. No one is suggesting accountants have to be on top of breaking news but as financial planners, advisers and business minds, it’s sort of important that they at least attempt to keep up with the profession (*ahem*). It’s not like there’s a lot to break all the damn time.

Are Accountants Willing to Trade Salary for a Four-Day Work Week?

Apparently! Our sister from across the pond has gotten over their Royal Wedding hangover to report that two-thirds of “finance professionals” would take less money if they were allowed to skip one day a week:

It seems that finance professionals are getting a taste for a more balanced lifestyle after the recent spate of bank holiday weekends. According to a recent survey, two-thirds of accountants would be happy to give up some of their salary to enjoy a four-day working week.

A survey of 2,882 finance professionals conducted by recruiter Marks Sattin found that 66% of respondents were more attracted by the prospect of a four-day working week and would be willing to sacrifice up to £11,000 a year [about USD $18k] to achieve a better work-life balance.

Only 6% said they are less attracted to a four day week than this time last year, while just over a quarter of respondents said they felt no differently.

Marks Sattin managing director Dave Way commented, “Appetite for a greater work-life balance is a sure indication that people feel more secure in their jobs. Since the recession, people have had to knuckle down and work harder. But as the economy picks up and there is less pressure on employers to make redundancies, people are increasingly prioritising a work-life balance.

Of course what isn’t mentioned is that even with a four-day work week, a number of people would just end up working longer hours on those four days and would spend a portion of their free day checking email and other various work-related activities. In the Big 4 (and the rest of the top 10-20 firms) however, there are people who are completely satisfied with the status quo and others willing to give their lives for the firm, so there’s little chance that you’ll see a big shift in culture. That said, it’s a question worth putting out there – would you take less money to work four days a week? Tell us below.

Latest Poll Suggests That Most People Think Paul Ryan’s Deficit Reduction Plan Is a Lousy Idea

[A McClatchy-Marist] poll reported that roughly two out of three registered voters — 64 percent — would be in favor of increasing taxes on annual income over $250,000. President Obama reiterated in his deficit-reduction speech last week that he favored allowing taxes to rise on families in that income level. Independents favored that plan of action at roughly the same percentage as the country at large, with more than eight in 10 Democrats also behind the idea. A majority of Republicans, 54 percent, opposed it. The poll was conducted both before and after Obama’s Wednesday speech, with support for higher taxes on wealthier Americans picking up afterward. Meanwhile, fully four in five registered voters oppose cutting Medicare and Medicaid. The House GOP’s fiscal 2012 budget, largely crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), makes fundamental long-term changes to both health entitlement programs, converting Medicaid into a block grant and turning Medicare into a type of voucher system. [The Hill, Earlier]

CFOs: We’ll Start Hiring Just as Soon as We Hit Our Unreachable Revenue Goals

Sound good to everyone?

Chief financial officers at large North American companies polled by Deloitte LLP said it would take a 20% surge in revenue before they felt comfortable adding to their payrolls.

The quarterly survey released Thursday found that nearly half of respondents would seriously consider adding employees if revenues rose 20%, but few would be moved by a 5% increase. A 10% bump in revenue would only be a major hiring consideration for 11% of CFOs.

Worse yet, perhaps, actual growth isn’t expected to reach such heights: respondents estimate top line growth at North American companies will be just 8.2% this year. (This is, however, a rosier picture than the fourth quarter when respondents forecast 6.5% for the coming year.)

And don’t bother trying to bait them with tax reform, revisions to the healthcare reform bill or payroll tax incentives because they’re all non-starters.

CFOs: Revenue Surge Needed to Boost Hiring [WSJ]

Survey: CFOs Find Outdated Technology Slightly Maddening

CFOs admit that if technology is implemented correctly it can be pretty damn swell but over half of those surveyed said the biggest barrier to improving the finance department is “out of date and inflexible” IT systems. Also, nearly three-quarters of respondents said that these systems are also to blame for failing to reach objectives. Not good. How can we possibly solve this problem?

According to KPMG’s Steve Lis, “By adopting a unified approach to technology, CFOs and CIOs can transform their organizations to become more proactive, innovative and flexible.” That’s a pretty interesting thought but another possibility not addressed in KPMG’s press release was: spending money. I know, I know. Pretty crazy concept so it’s probably best to just keep things the way they are. [KPMG]

BREAKING: Tax Season Leads to Poor Work/Life Balance for Accountants

This newsflash is brought to you by OfficeMax’s National “Tax it To Me” survey:

For busy accountants responsible for filing taxes on behalf of the approximately 82 million out of 228 million American adults who opt to use professional services, tax season is perhaps even more emotionally wrought. A busy plate often leads to a poor work/life balance, botched sleep schedules, poor eating habits, and problems in personal relationships.

And if you can believe that, the survey also found that taxpayers blame procrastination of filing their returns on nervousness, confusion and laziness (among other things). Now remove your hand from your forehead and get back to work.

[via The Hill]

CFOs Think Cloud Computing (Whatever That Is) Might Be Important to Future IT Strategy

Asked about their current use of cloud-computing services, a majority of senior finance executives either have no plans to pursue it in the short term, or are doing so very tentatively. Nearly a third admit that they aren’t even sure what “cloud computing” really means. Yet, when asked how cloud computing might affect their company’s approach to IT longer term, almost half say they believe it will enable a significant restructuring of their entire IT strategy. [CFO]

Report: Nearly 20% of Financial Statement Users Think the Auditor’s Report Is Worthless

Last December, the PCAOB announced that they were going to kick around some ideas for a new and improved audit model. See, you may have heard about a few financial institutions that, it turned out, weren’t in such great shape. Funny thing – all these companies had clean audit opinions. This got people asking pretty awkward questions out loud like, “Are Auditors Irrelevant?” and making statements such as, “Get rid of [them]” AND “They add no value.”

The PCAOB listened to all this gnashing of teeth for about a year (or maybe their entire existence) and they came to the conclusion that some conversations needed to be had and even some changes might be appropriate. What exactly does that mean? Well, it sounds like we’ll hear some suggetions next Thursday when the next Standing Advisory Group meeting is held but in the meantime, the PCAOB’s Investor Advisory Group was plenty busy today, making several presentations that included some very interesting findings.


The first is “Improving the Auditor’s Report” that was prepared by Joseph Carcello of the University of Tennessee, Norman Harrison of Breeden Capital, Gus Sauter of Vanguard and Ann Yerger of the Council of Institutional Investors. Some items worth noting:

• 45% of respondents believe that the current audit report does not provide valuable information that is integral to understanding financial statements while 23% of respondents believe the current audit report provides valuable information.

18% believe the auditor report is of no use to them at all.

Two selected comments from the report: “The statement feels very binary. Either a qualified opinion or not. Not a lot of incremental information once a company gets an unqualified opinion.” and “The audit report is valuable both because of what it says, i.e., an opinion, and by virtue of what it does not say, i.e., an exception.”

Examples of disclosures that users were asked about: Disclosure of risks (“77% believe auditor should disclose areas with greatest financial statement and audit risk and the audit work performed in those areas”); disclosure of audit hours (“51% believe the auditor should not be required to disclose hours spent on individual financial statement accounts”); materiality thresholds (“56% believe the auditor should disclose quantitative and qualitative materiality thresholds and considerations”); audit partner signature (“44% support requiring the audit partner to personally sign the audit opinion”).

There’s more where this came from so check out the full presentation for some interesting reading. We’ll have more tomorrow.

Chief Audit Executives Like Sarbanes-Oxley…No, They Really Like It

A new survey of more than 300 chief audit executives (CAEs) by Grant Thornton LLP finds that while nearly half believe that the shifting regulatory landscape poses the greatest threat to their company, a vast majority (88%) do not believe that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) should be repealed. Of those that believe SOX should be repealed, the cost of compliance is the main reason for doing so. “Since the passage of SOX, organizations have had to dedicate significant resources to comply with a host of new laws and regulations,” noted Warren Stippich, a Chicago-based partner and Grant Thornton’s national Governance, Risk and Compliance solution leader. “Based on discussions with various CAEs during the survey process, many believe that SOX brings a continued focus by management on financial and governance-related controls. However, CAEs believe that compliance audit processes are now well-defined and are currently exploring ways to contribute value creation to the organization well beyond compliance monitoring and reporting.” [GT]

Nearly One in Four of Your Co-workers Is Not Down with March Madness Pools

Our friends at Vault put together a fun little survey on your gambling habits at work and, no surprise, nearly 75% of you participate in a March Madness pool. What about the remainder? Well, there are the puritanical types who probably leave Bible verses on your desk, “My office is awash in sinners. Some day a real rain will come and these cubicles will be cleansed.” But then there’s the jerks who are simply all business:

“The next time I see [colleagues using work time to focus on office pools], I’m going to put an anonymous note on all the bosses desks to make them aware” warns one respondent. (Presumably they fall into the 22 percent of respondents who disapprove of workplace betting altogether.)

If you know someone who is capable of this level of dickishness, the temptation to violently pinch them with a stapler remover is great, however we’d ask that you refrain from this until they actually make good on their threat. Of course if you impress upon them that there is a valid purpose for studying a bracket, maybe they’ll let it slide.

New Robert Half Survey Reveals CFOs Will Need You to Go Ahead and Come in on Saturday

We’re not very good at math or statistics so perhaps our numbers are off a bit, but how do 89% of CFOs expect their firms to grow in the second quarter of 2011 while 85% also do not expect to add any new full-time accounting and finance professionals? It doesn’t take a mathlete to figure out what that means for those of you lucky enough to work for these CFOs, so you better get to slacking off now before they come down to your cube and kindly inform you you’ll need to go ahead and come in on Saturday.

Robert Half interviewed 1400 CFOs across the country for their Robert Half Financial Hiring Index and here’s what they came up with:

Most (85 percent) chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed for the Robert Half Financial Hiring Index said they expect to make no changes to their current staffing levels during the second quarter of 2011. Seven percent anticipate adding full-time accounting and finance professionals, while another 7 percent plan personnel reductions. The net 0 percent projection is down two points from the first-quarter 2011 forecast.

As businesses navigate the current economy, they remain optimistic about the outlook for their own companies. Eighty-nine percent of CFOs expressed confidence in their firms’ growth potential in the second quarter, up one point from the first-quarter survey.

Looking to relocate? Try the Pacific or Mid-Atlantic regions. Twelve percent of CFOs plan to add full-time accounting and finance professionals and 5 percent foresee cutbacks, a net 7 percent increase.

“Many Pacific-region companies, particularly those in the manufacturing and technology sectors, are rebuilding their teams to meet renewed demand for their products and services,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “In particular, firms are looking for skilled financial analysts to help them control costs and prepare for potential growth.”

In the end, a net 0 hiring projection is a lot better than previous recent surveys which were in the negative however we’d be remiss if we did not point out that the last time the survey showed a net 0 projection was for 3rd quarter 2008. And we all know how that particular period of time went.

What does this mean? New grads who are still waiting around for jobs can keep waiting, and more seasoned professionals who have been out of work for quite some time should probably just give up. Thanks for the great news, RH!

Are Accountants in Denial About North Africa?

From February 9th to 24th, they may have been.

A CPA Outlook Index put together by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the University of North Carolina rose to its highest level since the third quarter of 2007 — before the recession took hold. That was largely due to a big jump in optimism over the U.S. economy, but the 1168 accountants surveyed were also felt better about their own firms and expect stronger sales, profits, spending and hiring. The survey was conducted between Feb. 9 and 24 — a period that captures the resignation of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, growing unrest in Libya and rising energy prices. That offers evidence that, thus far, the tremors in the Middle East and North Africa haven’t seriously unsettled U.S. businesses.

Possibly related – CBS had just suspended Two and a Half Men on February 24th, thus, this survey may not accurately reflect the effect this loss has had on our nation.

Accountants Get More Optimistic [WSJ]

Survey Says: Accountants and Small Businesses are Optimistic About the Future

It must be survey season so since you kids received the last one so well (surely I jest), we humbly present this latest survey of 1,217 Intuit small business and 1,200 Intuit accountant customers between Oct. 15 – 20, 2010. Thanks, Intuit!

The good news is that there really is no good news but that hasn’t put a damper on survey respondents’ view of things to come. It’s sort of exceptional, in our opinion, that 75 – 80% of respondents feel today’s economic climate is just fair or poor but more than that feel optimistic about opportunities in the future.

In a considerable showing of resilience, 65 percent of accounting professionals and 54 percent of small business owners said their companies grew in the last 12 months. Despite this growth, 75 percent of accounting professionals and 80 percent of small business owners rate today’s economic climate as “just fair” or “poor.”

Both groups expressed optimism for the future, with 94 percent of accounting professionals and 87 percent of small business owners seeing opportunities to grow their businesses in today’s economy.

Well if there are going to be new opportunities once things look up, where are they going to come from? According to respondents, news and technology are the key:

77 percent of accounting professionals said “access to industry news and/or trends” is the most important; “investing in new technology” ranked second.

73 percent of small business owners placed “marketing and/or advertising” as the most important; 57 percent said they plan to focus on “expanding their range of offerings.”

Funny, Sage just asked 533 accountants and IT professionals what keeps them up at night and they responded with getting new clients and regulatory compliance. For Intuit’s respondents, however, client retention ranked higher than finding new ones.

When asked what keeps them up at night, 32 percent of accounting professionals said “keeping clients happy.” For 26 percent of small businesses, “paying bills” is their number one concern.

Fine, so what does all this mean?

“Accounting professionals and small business owners are extremely adaptable and flexible individuals,” said Shawn McMorrough, lead research manager of Intuit’s Accounting Professionals Division. “Despite feeling the pinch in this challenging economic environment, they are optimistic and continue to weather the rapidly shifting business environment. Their unrelenting passion for serving their customers helps accounting professionals and small businesses succeed in the face of any challenge the market presents them.”

Should the rest of the world take that as a good sign that things aren’t as bad as Jr Deputy Accountant, Michael Panzner and the Mogambo Guru might make it seem? It looks that way, though the doomsayers are still in business for the foreseeable future. Yay?

Being Twitter Savvy Does Not Keep Accountants Awake at Night

Because we can never get enough surveys, Sage came through with the skinny on what keeps accountants awake at night (no joke). We’re proud to say that alcoholism and Caleb’s typos did not make the list but there’s always next year. Way to go, profession!


Sage surveyed more than 500 of its Sage Accountants Network members across the U.S. in December 2010 to figure out what gets accountants’ knickers in a twist. Results as follows:

Among the 533 respondents, 34% stated that getting new clients tops their list of concerns. 28% cited tax law complexity and changes as an issue; followed by the effect of new regulations and standards on small firms, keeping up with technology, and time management concerns, all at 24%. Work/life balance was cited by 20% of respondents, and keeping up with professional standards was a key concern for 17% of those surveyed. 13% of respondents cited access to affordable healthcare for employees as a worry for their firms.

Perhaps in response to the search for new clients, 83% of firms currently specialize or are planning to specialize in specific vertical business segments. By far, services/consulting was the most popular category for specialization (63% of those surveyed), followed by construction at 43% and retail at 39%. Other popular areas of specialization include working with nonprofits (35%), restaurants (30%), and manufacturing/distribution (29%) clients.

The full survey may be found here.

We found it a bit odd that retaining clients, retaining staff and managing staff came in at 9%, 3% and 2%, respectively. Obviously there is a bit of a work/life balance overlap in there somewhere but because we here at Going Concern know no such thing, we could not bring ourselves to analyze these results further.

It’s the social media section of the survey that shocked us most. Not to say that the results themselves were shocking, exactly, as the shocking part lies in how some of these firms actually manage to make money. What do they use to attract new clients, carrier pigeons and sandwich boards? Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents use their own websites as “social media,” though in our humble opinion the “social” part means using a more conversational form of communication than some .com with your firm name in it. Twenty-eight percent use LinkedIn, 19% are on Facebook and – wait for it – 7% have gotten into Twitter. 7%! A frightening 43% of respondents don’t use social media at all, perhaps explaining why 34% are concerned about getting new clients. They must not be that concerned if they aren’t using social media to put themselves out there.

Know what this says to me if I’m a firm looking to make a killing through social media? Hit Twitter, it’s a no man’s land and you won’t have to elbow out the competition. Really, people? 7%?!

Know what else this also says to me? All my evangelizing about not acting like an ass on Twitter has been in vain; if firms aren’t using it, they probably don’t know how to search for your tweets about getting wasted and wanting to stab the senior for acting like a jackass. So have at it, it’s just you and the MLM bots tweeting out there until these guys get a clue and jump on board.

I think you kids know what to do from here.

Your Company Smartphone Scares the Crap Out of Your Boss

Let’s be honest here, how many of you use your work-issued phone strictly for work? Promise I won’t snitch anyone out. Some of you might even be lucky enough to be able to tweak your wallpaper, add apps and get your significant other on BBM for all day sexting without the pesky messaging data trail.

The AICPA’s 2011 Top Technology Initiatives Survey is out and shows that IT professionals’ biggest business technology concern is not that they could be replaced with robots but the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices in the workplace.

The 22nd Annual AICPA Top Technology Initiative survey, conducted Jan. 13 to Jan. 26, shows control and use of mobile devices was the No. 1 challenge for IT professionals. The finding was based on responses from nearly 1,400 CPAs nationwide specializing in information technology. In addition to mobile devices, the survey signaled future IT issues will revolve around implementation of touch-screen technology, deployment of faster networks and voice recognition technology.

“The surging use of smartphones and tablets means people are doing business, exchanging sensitive data wherever, whenever they want to,” said Ron Box, CPA/CITP, CFF. “The technology is advancing so rapidly that the capabilities for controlling and protecting the information on mobile devices is lagging behind. What was once as simple as losing your phone, could now create an enormous security risk for organizations.”

Remember back in the day when you might, say, accidentally drop your phone in the toilet at the bar and simply have to worry about recouping your contact list? Now our phones hold pictures, banking information and even client information that is oftentimes carelessly stored on unsecured devices that are taken everywhere. IT professionals can’t be expected to manage the network when the network is in your pocket, and when your pocket sometimes happens to be in the bar (you are a professional, after all).

Some of the top issues identified by CPAs in public accounting included data retention, control and use of mobile devices and privacy.

The complete Top Technology Initiatives list as voted on by CPAs, IT professionals, and others responsible for making or influencing technology decisions includes initiatives and emerging technologies that IT decision makers should be aware of over the next 12 – 18 months.

Deloitte: Thanks to the Internet, Americans Are More or Less Obsessed with TV All the Time

One big concern: once Charlie Sheen continues his epic run (does anyone believe that rehab is going to take?) will the masses be able to survive without Two and a Half Men? Personally, I’ll manage but what about all those American Families that depend on this show to complete that void in their lives every week?

In a media environment saturated with new and evolving online entertainment platforms, TV continues to be king. Released today, Deloitte’s fifth edition “State of the Media Democracy” survey reveals that 71 percent of Americans still rate watching TV on any device among their favorite media activities.

The survey results indicate that live viewing on a home TV system continues to be the most common method among individuals for watching their favorite programming, and supporting the notion that traditional television advertising continues to be a viable model. In addition, 86 percent of Americans stated that TV advertising still has the most impact on their buying decisions.

Deloitte’s State of the Media Democracy survey assesses media consumption preferences of nearly 2,000 consumers, ages 14 to 75 years old in the United States, revealing significant trends including the power of TV when supplemented by the Internet, a dramatic rise in smartphone adoption, the steady popularity of print magazines, and the emergence of cloud computing as a potential consumer entertainment storage and access solution.

And guess what? Not only are people watching more TV, they’re talking about it more. But not face-to-face: Americans can’t be bothered with leaving the confines of their homes or take their eyes off their computers long enough to manage human interaction and thanks to social media, they don’t have to!

Deloitte’s survey indicates that the Internet, mobile and social media channels are enhancing the overall television viewer experience, driving people to watch first-run programs and live events during their initial broadcast. The survey also reveals that nearly three-quarters of American consumers are multitasking while watching TV. According to the research, 42 percent are online, 29 percent are talking on cellphones or mobile devices, and 26 percent are sending instant messages or text messages.

Perhaps even more importantly, 61 percent of U.S. consumers now maintain a social networking site, where constant streams of updates and discussion forums have made delaying awareness of live TV outcomes a near impossibility.

“Consumers are not only watching television, they are talking about it, and those conversations are frequently taking place in real-time online and via IM/texting,” said Phil Asmundson, vice chairman and technology, media and telecommunications industry leader, Deloitte LLP. “By embracing the Internet as a platform that encourages audiences to participate in discussions about their favorite programs, television is maintaining its hold on the American public. People want to be part of the real-time conversation and they are embracing both platforms in a complementary fashion.

Because discussing the train wreck that is Sammi and Ronnie in real time is crucial to the human experience. Carry on.

PwC Survey: Working People to Death Might Cause Them to Quit Their Jobs

Shocking survey results out of PwC today as the firm announced that overworking staff increases turnover at law firms. If you can believe that.

There is a “strong correlation” between staff turnover and chargeable hours at law firms, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Numbers released as part of their annual survey of the sector show that the top ten law firms have average turnover rates of 17-18%.
According to the accountancy firm, reducing turnover to less than 10% can reduce costs by £32,000 per equity partner.

In semi-ironic and related news, a bunch of bitter Big 4 employees finally decided over the Thanksgiving holiday that they would be leaving their respective firms because they are sick of the hours.

CFOs: We’ll Adopt IFRS Just as Soon as You Finish Your Little Convergence Exercise

Actually it’s about half of CFOs with that attitude, according to Grant Thornton’s latest survey. They’re ballparking it around 5-7 years while nearly a quarter of the responders think we need to get on this ASAP.

Stephen Chipman, is keeping the faith even though, people aren’t as enthusiastic as he:

“While there is movement toward greater acceptance of International Financial Reporting Standards based on our previous surveys, it is clear that there is still much work to be done in educating the U.S. financial community on the benefits of IFRS,” said Grant Thornton LLP CEO Stephen Chipman.

“We have been, and continue to be, staunch supporters of the ongoing movement toward one set of high-quality, globally accepted accounting standards. As dynamic businesses continue to expand their international footprint, it is increasingly sub-optimal to be using different reporting standards, which sometimes increase costs while decreasing comparability. Just as international business has benefited over the last 30-odd years from the increased shared use of English, so too will global companies reap the benefits of one financial reporting language.”

Deloitte Survey: If Everyone Would Get Passionate About Their Job, This Economic Recovery Would Be a Cinch

Doesn’t it sometimes feel like we’re thisclose to breaking out of the economic doldrums? If we just got a little push we’d be back to the McMansions and mall marathons in no time. What’s holding us back, you ask? Ourselves of course!

It’s your lack of enthusiasm about your very own job that is keeping this country from being great again. Forget about Democrats, Republicans (although, it is fun hating both of them, isn’t it?) or quantitative easing (no one really knows what it means, anyway). You have the power deep inside you to change your attitude about being stuck in a gray cubicle for 12+ hours a day in an office with a bunch of jerks and have only limited access to the bathroom.


Deloitte’s survey gets all Tony Robbins on us without the price tag:

According to the Shift Index, the solution lies in empowering passionate employees, those who feel truly engaged with their work and constantly push the performance envelope, by accelerating institutional innovation and driving corporate growth. However, Deloitte’s 2010 Worker Passion Survey – one of several separate studies that feed into the overall Shift Index report – reveals that only 23 percent of U.S. workers are passionate about their current jobs.

“By squeezing resources tighter in response to the near-term downturn, companies risk losing passionate employees,” said John Hagel, co-chairman, Deloitte Center for the Edge. “These individuals will play a critical role in sustaining the extreme performance improvement required for firms to survive and succeed beyond the recovery. Unfortunately, as the recovery picks up steam, these very employees are likely to be the most at risk for fleeing for better employment platforms.”

Right then! And you know what gets people impassioned? Social media of course! Your constant desire to be networking 24/7 with people that are as excited about [insert] as you are. You don’t need to meet a person in the flesh:

“Passionate workers actively seek like-minded people using digital tools and social media to advance dialogue, learning and collaboration,” said Hagel. “Their urge to connect fuels inter-firm knowledge flows, which often go unrecognized but are a vital part of any organization that wants to be successful in today’s hyper-competitive environment.”

So until you’re ready to get drenched in passion for whatever it is that gets your blood boiling (former Jets sideline reporters don’t count) you’re holding this economy back. Hope you sleep well knowing that.

Do Women In Accounting Get the Shaft When It Comes to Pay?

Ed. note: delirious from a cross-country move this past week, AG mistakenly switched around percentages. This has been corrected and she will be meditating on the matter hoping for forgiveness.

A recent Mergis Group survey reveals 47 percent of women in accounting are less than content with compensation and the always popular with the ladies work-life balance, leaving us scratching our heads wondering who these 47 percent are (we already know plenty of the 53%). If any of you are in that group or know someone who is, please get in touch, we’re desperate to connect with a woman in accounting who actually feels appropriately compensated for her work and redeemed by the challenges of her career while rewarded with a perfect balance of work and family. Seriously. Anybody?

Anyway, the details from the survey if you are still interested:

Women are less satisfied with the progression of their accounting and finance careers than men. Specifically, 60 percent of male workers in accounting and finance consider themselves to be satisfied, as opposed to 47 percent of women.

Women in accounting and finance ranked being challenged (31 percent), compensation (25 percent) and flexibility (15 percent) as the most important factors to satisfaction in their career.

On the other hand, men in accounting and finance ranked compensation (32 percent), being challenged 26 percent) and flexibility (15 percent) as the most important factors to satisfaction in their career.

Mergis breaks down these results further, pointing out that women in accounting and finance are more than generally upset with the challenges and opportunities offered to them. Hey, they don’t say “it’s a man’s world” for nothing.

“Based on the findings of our Women in Finance survey, more than half of the women surveyed are dissatisfied with the progression of their careers and nearly three-quarters believe they face a separate set of professional challenges in comparison to their male counterparts,” stated Patricia Dinunzio, regional managing director of The Mergis Group. “While there are certainly many different viewpoints in how workers in general define career satisfaction and success , it is interesting to note that both men and women are highly likely to recommend the profession to others. One of the greatest take-aways from this survey is that there is a clear need for mentorship programs within the profession. It is our personal and professional responsibility to enable existing and future accounting and finance professionals to achieve their full career potential. Doing so will only contribute to the future development of the profession.”

My 2¢? The profession – and your career – is what you make of it. Mentors don’t just come along and decide to kick down their knowledge, you’ve got to get out there and find one. We don’t need the AICPA to set up play dates with young CPAs and OGs of the industry in order to accomplish this; instead need to take matters into our own hands if we are upset with how things are working out at the moment. In other words, get off your lazy ass and stop expecting everything to be handed to you, go out and get it if you don’t think you have enough of it.

The disparity is greater between generations than the sexes if you ask me but who is asking me?

Full survey results and methodology may be found here. As always, you are welcome to submit your opinion on surveyed subjects in the comments.

Survey: CFOs Wouldn’t Turn Away Some Help with Their Clerical Work

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

If financial executives could get one thing off their plates, it would be administrative tasks, according to a recent survey by Robert Half Management Resources.

More than one-third (38 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said that if they could eliminate one responsibility, it would be basic clerical and administrative work.

“Today’s less extends to all levels of the organization,” Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, said of the survey results.


“At small and mid-size companies, in particular, this often means financial executives have had to take on tasks once handled by others,” McDonald said. “The demands of the current economic environment make it even more essential for senior-level managers to use their time wisely.”

CFOs were asked, “If there was one responsibility you could hand off from your job, what would it be?”

• Basic clerical/administrative – 38%
• Accounting-related – 19%
• Human resources-related – 14%
• Managing – 7%
• Operations-related – 3%
• Interactions with vendors – 1%
• Nothing – 8%
• Other – 10%

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, a provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 795 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

Robert Half Management Resources offers executives six tips for maximizing their time:

1. Set realistic expectations – High standards are a must, but setting impractical goals can cause frustration and waste valuable time. When initiating a project, consider what you would like to achieve if resources and time were unlimited. Then determine what can reasonably be accomplished considering available resources and other priorities.

2. Don’t procrastinate – It’s tempting to postpone less challenging assignments for more exciting initiatives, but it can backfire if projects start to stack up. Procrastination strains working relationships and creates unnecessary stress as everyone strives to catch up.

3. Delegate – Distribute more routine tasks to other staff members. Look for opportunities that allow your top performers to gain visibility and build their expertise and decision-making skills.

4. Keep meetings on track – Distribute a detailed agenda prior to the discussion so everyone is prepared. Meetings should begin and end on time. If information can be easily covered in e-mail or phone, a meeting might not be warranted.

5. Bring in help – If you and your team are overloaded, consider bringing in outside support during peak activity periods or for large-scale initiatives that are finite in nature.

6. Recharge – Financial executives are accustomed to long hours and demanding work, but that doesn’t mean they should sacrifice breaks and vacation. Scheduling time for even a short respite can restore energy and a sense of control.

About Robert Half Management Resources:
Robert Half Management Resources is a provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals to supplement companies’ project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.roberthalfmr.com. Follow Robert Half Management Resources at twitter.com/roberthalfmr for workplace news.

Latest Survey of CFOs Confirms That Surveys of CFOs are Bunk

Less than two weeks ago, we shared with you the latest results from Grant Thornton’s National CFO Survey.

What we learned is what we already knew, which is that the job market sucks and will continue sucking if we are to believe the 516 CFOs surveyed from October 5th to October 15th:

In a national survey of U.S. Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and senior comptrollers conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, only 29% plan to increase hiring in the next six months, while 21% plan to decrease hiring.

Not so good, huh? Well fortunately for all of you looking for a job out there, the GT methodology is severely flawed for two reasons: 1) It included the extra-super-tragic days of October 5th and October 15th when CFOs were feeling especially negative and 2) They survey far too many CFOs.

Had they performed their survey on October 6th through the 14th like FEI and Baruch College and kept cut their population by roughly half (FEI/Baruch interviewed 249 CFOs), they would have discovered that things aren’t really that bad at all:

While CFOs this quarter continue to forecast high unemployment nationwide (on average predicting at least nine percent through October 2011), hiring prospects at their own companies paint a rosier picture. More than half (56%) plan to hire additional employees within the next six months, and overall they anticipate a four percent increase in hiring over the next six months.

So obviously Grant Thornton just needs to tweak their methodology a bit and then we’ll all be on the same page.

Until that happens, feel free to get some of your hapless friends together and start asking CFOs for their broad-based economic outlook. It appears that as long as you have a shell of a methodology and manage to get at least 250 responses, it’s perfectly acceptable to share the findings with everyone and claim that things are turning around.

Grant Thornton CFO Survey Reminds Everyone That the Job Market Still Sucks

But don’t just take the CFOs word for it, Stephen Chipman is hearing the same thing from the dynamic companies that GT is rubbing elbows with these days:

In a national survey of U.S. Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and senior comptrollers conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, only 29% plan to increase hiring in the next six months, while 21% plan to decrease hiring.

A vast majority (79%) believe that the U.S. economy will not recover until the second half of 2011 or later, and more than half (59%) are concerned with a double-dip recession.

“These findings are consistent with what we have been hearing from our dynamic-organization clients,” said Grant Thornton LLP CEO Stephen Chipman. “Indecision stemming from a weak economy and the unknown impact of governmental tax policy and new regulation on business and individuals is causing paralysis, particularly as it relates to major business decisions, including expansion, expenditures and hiring.”

In related economic shitshow news, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are probably going to need more bailout cash. As you were.

KPMG Survey: Execs Anxious About Reporting Undecipherable Explanations for Uncertain Tax Positions

So you take a position on a tax issue. You don’t really know why or how you got there but your CFO says it’s legit. How does he/she know? “Johnson in the tax department told me.”

Does Johnson understand it? Of course not! It’s an uncertain tax position. It’s a shot in the dark at best.

Naturally, the IRS has gotten all nosy about this sort of thing so you have to formulate something that vaguely resembles an explanation that doesn’t read like Bittker & Eustice.

You can’t simply make it a copy and paste job since we’re guessing the IRS wouldn’t appreciate the bloggy approach. But you’ve got to come up with something. Oh, and try to keep it brief.

Almost half of senior executives polled are most concerned about the prospect of providing a concise description of their uncertain tax positions (UTPs) in order to comply with a new, much-discussed Internal Revenue Service disclosure requirement, according to a survey conducted by KPMG’s Tax Governance Institute (TGI).

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since we’re talking about interpreting the INTERNAL REVENUE CODE. But the BSDs out there are worried about explaining why they’re taking a stand on something that don’t understand one iota. Plus, if you’re already pret-tay sure that the IRS is going to call bullshit on you, that warrants an explanation as well [teeth being grit into dust].

According to the survey of 1100 business leaders conducted in early October, 44 percent of respondents said their biggest concern was providing the concise description for a disclosed UTP, defined by the IRS as a federal income tax position for which a taxpayer or related party has recorded a reserve in an audited financial statement (or for which no reserve was recorded because of an expectation to litigate). Other major concerns cited centered on the IRS’s ability to effectively administer the UTP program (20 percent) and on the scope of taxpayers required to file UTPs under the new rule (15 percent).

This could all be avoided if the IRS required companies to use Twitter as a guide for brevity. Just a suggestion.

Executives Anxious About IRS Reporting Requirements for Uncertain Tax Positions Schedule, KPMG Survey Reveals [PR Newswire]

Analyzing the Hiring Outlook for Accountants

Okay, so Roberto Half dropped their quarterly Financial Hiring Index and the message is that things are turning around for accounting and finance peeps looking for jobs out there. Their rationale? It’s the first net positive hiring outlook since the first quarter of 2009. Are we convinced that the ship is turning around? Hardly, dude. Let’s take a look at some of these details to see what’s is going on.


Good news: A net 1% (8% hiring, 7% firing) of CFOs surveyed plan to hire new employees in the last three months of the year. The fact that 84% of the CFOs surveyed don’t plan any hiring isn’t exactly thrilling but considering the last 2, wait 3 (going on 4?) years this, everyone is probably used to seeing even more dismal numbers.

Bad News: The hottest area of the country for hiring is the West South Central – defined as Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas. Bob tells us (via Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of RHI) that a net 6% of CFOs surveyed plan on hiring in Q4. This is due to the “Retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and oil and gas services companies in the region are rebuilding their teams,” sayeth Maximilian. Of course if you cut Texas out of the equation, that amounts to approximately 12 jobs total. If you include Texas, then it’s more like 112. If you were considering moving to TX, those 100 or so jobs will likely be taken by migrants from AR, LA and OK before Halloween.

What is actually promising is that net 5% of CFOs surveyed plan on hiring in the “Pacific” states – Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington (IOW, California). Whether this actually pans out is another matter entirely.

Overall, only three out of nine regions in the survey have net positive results.

The other problem is that the industries that are doing most of the hiring are manufacturing and wholesale sectors. That means the outlook for all you people in financial (includes insurance and real estate), business/professional services and construction is still looking bleak.

So what can we take from all this? Basically that the only certainty at this point is that no one has any idea what’s going on.

CFOs Reveal Fourth-Quarter Hiring Expectations [Robert Half via FINS]

Latest Grant Thornton Business Optimism Index Reaffirms That No One Has Any Idea What Is Going to Happen Next

Complete and utter meltdown to the point where are all fighting over chicken skins and muffin stumps? The next asset bubble to get us back to our mall-hopping weekends? It’s anybody’s guess really.

Grant Thornton LLP’s Business Optimism Index, based on a quarterly survey of U.S. business leaders, decreased significantly to 58.4 in August from a recent high of 67.6 in May. Business leaders are again becoming pessimistic, with only one-third (34%) expecting the U.S. economy to improve in the next six months, down significantly from 63% in May. The hiring outlook has also dimmed; only 38% of business leaders report that their companies will ramp up hiring in the next six months.


So the one thing we can count on is that unemployment will be hovering above 9% until at least the next presidential election. Got it.

Grant Thornton LLP Business Optimism Index drops 10 points [GT]

Deloitte Poll: One-Third of Companies Don’t Have the First Damn Clue About Business Analytics

You can try to blame the Obama Administration’s anti-business policies but you really only have yourself to blame. Get with it people.

Business analytics represents the ability to rapidly harness massive amounts of data for modeling complex situations and predicting potential outcomes and alternatives. This presents enormous potential value for business leaders to make more informed, fact-based and ultimately better business decisions. Yet, in a recent Deloitte webcast poll of more than 1,900 technology executives and business professionals, approximately one-third of the participants either didn’t know if their organization utilized business analytics – or even if they had business analytics capabilities at all.

“Mind-boggling,” said John Lucker, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, leader of its Advanced Analytics and Modeling practice, and one of the webcast presenters. “Organizations have ever more depth and breadth of information readily available within their grasp, and the technology and methods to extract and help synthesize the data are well proven. When you see the low levels of adoption, you have to ask the question, ‘Why aren’t more companies doing it?'”

Deloitte Webcast Poll: One-Third of Organizations Have Limited or No Business Analytics Capabilities [PR Newswire]

Survey: Most People Get Away with Sending Inappropriate Emails

Recent data suggests that most of you sending emails regarding the person most likely to sleep their way to partner, the hot piece of ass that isn’t pulling their weight or a recruit from a certain school that asks less-than flattering questions about your firm, are getting way with passing it along to their friends and/or colleagues.

That being said, it does happen. One in twenty to be precise. Speaking from personal experience, sometimes people are reading your emails, especially if something goes viral within a firm and happens to sneak outside the firm. That’s when TPTB get on the horn and demand that people are held responsible.


Hey, nobody’s perfect right? When my particular reprimand came down, all I could do was laugh and say, “Yep, I did send that. Hell, it’s says “From: Caleb Newquist” right there. It was a bad decision on my part and I understand you have to do what you have to do.” And I moved on. Besides, I wasn’t the only one. It was communicated to me that literally hundreds of people were being reprimanded for forwarding the message so it was largely a damage control project and plenty of people were being told, “Don’t do that again. Ever.”

But for the most part, it sounds like most of your “inappropriate messages” fly beneath the radar, including:

Inappropriate jokes, angry messages sent in the heat of the moment, and scathing email replies forwarded to the wrong people are among some of the email gaffes that have landed office workers in hot water with their employers or clients.

One in five of those questioned said they had sent an inappropriate email in the heat of the moment, while almost a third said they had accidentally hit “reply all” instead of “reply”.

More than one in 10 of the 2,000 people surveyed admitted they had mistakenly sent an email criticising a colleague to the person they were insulting.

So while the Telegraph makes a point to note that 1 out of 20 people have been reprimanded for accidentally saying “God, can you believe the partner’s B.O. today?” in the “heat of the moment” it also shows that 19 people are having a great time sending inappropriate emails and not having any problems at all.

However, if you’ve been caught red-handed sending a dirty joke and/or discussing your booze-fueled business trip that may or may not have involved a party back at the hotel room, and were later asked to explain yourself, we’d love to hear about it below. And of course, send us any and all future inappropriate emails that would be 100% appropriate for these pages.

Not that we’re suggesting that you use your work email in an inappropriate manner. You’re representing your firm after all. Have the common sense to use a different email address.

One in 20 people reprimanded for inappropriate emails [Telegraph]

C-Suite CPAs Remaining Pessimistic on the Economy

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

Following up from our brief mention yesterday, senior level CPAs have turned much more pessimistic about the economy. And somewhat surprisingly, they are partly concerned about deflation.

Just 21 percent of CPAs serving as C-suite executives said they are optimistic about the US economy, way down from 40 percent who were optimistic in May and the lowest level since April 2009, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School’s latest Quarterly Economic Outlook Survey. What’s more, pessimists outnumbered optimists by a two-to-one margin.

Even more worrisome, 78 percent believe US business conditions will not return to pre-recession levels until 2012 or later.

This sentiment seems to parallel a number of recent economic and corporate reports.


Altogether, 40 percent were pessimistic about the economy, up from 25 percent in the last quarter.

“Our survey signals the nascent economic recovery that buoyed expectations last quarter is stalling,” said AICPA Vice President for Business, Industry and Government Carol Scott, in a press release accompanying the survey’s findings.

What are these numbers crunchers worried about? Unemployment and a tight credit market, to name two.

The survey found that CPAs are much less concerned about inflation these days. This is not surprising, given the economy’s lackluster pace, the high unemployment rate and the inability of companies to raise prices.

Interestingly, 20 percent are now concerned their organizations will be impacted by deflation in the next six months.

This is further proof that deflationary fears are not just coming from a fringe group of radical thinkers, but are now entering the mainstream.

One silver lining from the survey: Nearly one-quarter of the survey participants are upbeat about the prospects for their own organizations. Still 55 percent of survey respondents do not anticipate their organizations’ employment levels returning to pre-recession levels in the next year, compared with seven percent who anticipate staffing levels returning to normal in the next year.

Accountants Still Don’t Have the Warm Fuzzies About the Economy

“Uncertainty about the sustainability of the recovery continues to limit planned investment and hiring.”

~ Professor Mark Lang on the results of the AICPA/University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School survey of CPAs in leadership positions.

AFP Survey: Financial Staff Salary Growth Outpaced CFO’s in 2009

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

Salaries of financial executives and their staff continued to outpace national averages in 2009, and raises were also larger than other white-collar professionals. But the pay of lower level finance professionals outpaced those of CFOs and other senior-level types.

Average annual salaries for financial professionals increased by 2.5 percent in 2009 and were 13 percent above the national average, according to the Association for Financial Professionals’ 2010 compensation survey.


But like other workers, CFOs, treasurers and their staff also enjoyed smaller salary growth than what they had been used to. The average salary increase for financial professionals in 2009 was a full percentage point below the average increase reported in 2008. Salaries went up 3.4 percent in 2008 and 4.5 percent in 2007.

But in previous surveys, executives and management-level financial professionals earned the largest salary increases, but that wasn’t the case in 2009. Instead, staff-level financial professionals experienced the highest salary growth, with a 2.7 percent increase on average compared with 2.5 percent for executives and management.

On a more granular level, budget analysts averaged the highest base salary increase within staff professionals, with a 3.4 percent increase. Treasurers saw the highest average increase of all senior executives, with a 3.2 percent boost, and assistant cash managers received the highest average salary increase within the middle management tier, with a 3.8 percent increase, also the highest increase of all positions.

With high losses at banks and the prospect of regulatory changes impacting Wall Street as well as great technological innovation in 2009, financial professionals in the Western half of the US earned the most, although those in the East had earned the most in prior years. Financial executives at technology companies earned the most in 2009.

The latest AFP compensation survey also found that the economy had almost no impact on bonuses of financial professionals. In 2009, 71 percent of organization awarded incentive-based compensation bonuses to financial professionals, down four percentage points from 2008. Incentive pay in 2009 was stable at about 14 percent of base salary.

Deloitte Survey: Once this Ship Turns Around, People Are Going to Start Jumping

Deloitte’s 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey tells us what most of you have been thinking since 2007 (if you haven’t been laid off that is), that you are GTFO of your current job. Everyone is just sitting tight until the economy to turns around.

While that might not exactly be a newsflash, the reasons for the anxious ship jumpers is primarily due to lack of trust and communication from their companies. Deloitte knows a little bit about this since the firm admitted to handling its own communication regarding layoffs “poorly.”

According to Deloitte LLP’s fourth annual Ethics & Workplace Survey, one-third of employed Americans plan to look for a new job when the economy gets better. Of this group of respondents, 48 percent cite a loss of trust in their employer and 46 percent say that a lack of transparent communication from their company’s leadership are their reasons for looking for new employment at the end of the recession. Additionally, 65 percent of Fortune 1000 executives who are concerned employees will be job hunting in the coming months believe trust will be a factor in a potential increase in voluntary turnover.

So. The question of the day is, are you leaving your firm or company as soon as this economy takes off? You have to admit, you could waiting awhile. Of course since it’s compensation season for the major accounting firms, it may not even come to that.

CFO Survey Finds Signs of Life for Accountants in the Bay Area Job Market

In the CFO survey du jour, San Francisco CPA firm Armanino McKenna LLP (“the 37th largest CPA firm in the nation”) says that, as far at the Bay area is concerned, CFOs are looking to hire more accounting staff in the second half of 2010.

More than 40% of those surveyed in the San Fran neck of the woods are planning on it and they aren’t looking for newbies. No, they’re looking for the slightly grizzled, slightly jaded types that are wasting away in their current cube farm. “[T]he most desired new hire is the mid-range accountant, such as an analyst, staff or senior accountant,” sayeth the press release.


As for the rest of the country, things are probably still up in the air but we’ve got to start somewhere.

So if you’re sick of your current city and really want a new job, hoof it out west. If you’re lucky, maybe Adrienne will let you crash at her place. Just try to keep the CPA exam questions to a minimum.

CFOs Predict Increased Accounting Hires in Last Six Months of 2010 [PR Newswire]

Trend of CFOs Transitioning to CEO Likely to Continue As Companies Refocus on Strategy

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

The need for a chief executive to work with boards and communicate with Wall Street has never been greater, and CFOs have experience in both those areas–making them excellent candidates for the top spot in an organization.

Companies are increasingly recognizing the value of this internal asset and promoting their CFOs to CEO, according to executive search firm Russell Reynolds’ Chief Financial Officer Moves North America, Q1 2010.


Currently there are some 50 CEOs in the Fortune 500 who were previously CFOs for the same company. Their numbers recently increased, at least on an interim basis, as Marcel Smits, the CFO at Sara Lee, was promoted to the CEO slot.

CFOs have been promoted to CEO typically in organizations that are heavy on logistics or analytics, says Christopher Langhoff, who specializes in financial officer assignments for Russell Reynolds. He offers the example of Clarence Otis, Jr. at food services firm Darden–which owns and operates restaurants such as the Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

Otis started with the company in 1995 as vice president and treasurer and progressed to CFO. He was appointed CEO in 2004. Similarly, David West joined the Hershey Company in 2001 as vice president of business planning and development and worked his way up to CFO, where he served from 2005-2007. He was promoted to CEO in 2007.

It’s rare, however, to see a move from CFO to CEO in the tech industry, says Langhoff.

The ascension of CFO to CEO is not likely to slow down any time soon. “We have more and more clients that are coming to us asking for a world class CFO that will likely be ready to be CEO in two to three years,” says Langhoff. “That’s a tall order. We looked back and many times prior to the appointment of a CEO, the person had served, on average 16 years at the company.”

The first quarter also showed a continued, robust turnover of CFOs in the middle market. “The lifespan of a CFO can be shorter than an NFL career,” says Langhoff. As for the rest of the year, Langhoff predicts more turnover. Over the past four months, Russell Reynolds reported a dramatic increase in search activity in the United States, Europe and Asia that spans industries.

The spike has been most pronounced within the financial services sector. Companies like Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Neuberger Berman, Kellogg, PepsiCo, Walt Disney, Dow Chemical and CVS/Caremark all named new CFOs.

Says Langhoff: “When Sox was in full gear there was a need for a CFO who was a CPA. Now, companies are looking for a strategic CFO, a business partner. There could be a big shift.”

FERF Survey: Audit Fees Down, Big 4 Still Dominate Public Company Filers

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

It looks like audit fees are stabilizing.

The 150 publicly-held companies responding to a recent survey paid an average of $4.8 million in audit fees in 2009, down 2.4 percent from the total shelled out by these respondents the prior fiscal year.

The 197 privately-held companies responding to the survey paid an average of $291,200, roughly even with the prior year.

Drilling further down, the survey found that total audit fees for 83 large accelerated filers-those with market capitalizations over $700 million–averaged $7.8 million, 3.6 percent less than what they paid the prior year. What’s more, this average of $7.8 million was possibly skewed to the high side this year due to the total audit fees reported by the 19 respondents from companies with more than $25 billion in annual revenues.


On the other hand, the average audit fees paid by the 22 non-accelerated filers were $579,900, 3.3 percent more than what they paid in the prior year.

These are some of the highlights of a newly-released annual report from Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), the research affiliate of Financial Executives International. It stresses that the averages reported in this year’s Audit Fee Survey are not comparable to those reported in the 2009 survey because this year’s respondents are not necessarily the same as last year’s respondents. In fact, FEI stresses that this year’s average was skewed slightly higher due to representation from more companies with revenues of $25 billion or more.

The survey also found that the total number of audit hours averaged 21,458 for all public companies, and-not surprisingly–was directly proportional to both the size of the company and to the number of legal entities comprising the company. Of the 19 respondents from companies with more than $25 billion in annual revenues, the total hours averaged 108,571.

The average hourly audit rate was $218 for all public companies–$186 for nonaccelerated filers and $220 for the large accelerated filers. Surprisingly, the survey found that the lowest hourly rate ($110) and the highest hourly rate ($400) were both reported by large accelerated filers. It said the $110 rate was reported by a large multi-national consumer goods distributor and the $400 rate was reported by a large multi-national financial services firm.

Other interesting findings:

• 88 percent of public company respondents used Big 4 audit firms compared to 36 percent of private companies.

• After the Big 4, Grant Thornton was mentioned by four respondents and BDO and McGladrey were both mentioned once.

• 21 of the 197 private companies plan to switch auditors, compared to only 7 of the 150 public company respondents. Service issues and fees were key reasons for both groups.

• Just 16 of the 150 public companies indicated that their auditors broke out the cost of the Section 404 attestation.