October 20, 2019

That’s awkward

KPMG Is Spreading the Love With This Kuddling Kampaign

Thank you to the understandably skeptical individual who provided the following via the tip box: I received this informative health postcard in my work mailbox this morning.  No word yet on whether they will provide a cuddle partner for me.  HR must be looking for job security as I'm pretty sure cuddling in the audit […]

PwC Sustainability Partner Blames His Dull Job for Not Rocking “Green” Shoes

If you’re a sustainability professional, people might make the assumption that you are a tree hugger. A green weenie. A dirty hippie. A person who has as much need for a pair of wing tips or business appropriate pumps as a fully loaded H2. Well you can put those suspicions to bed my friends.

Above is PUMA CEO Jochen Zeitz along with a couple of guys from environmental consulting firm Trucost and PwC sustainability partner Alan McGill. As you can see, Mr. Zeitz and the Trucost boys opted for some “green” sneakers to go with their Brooks Brothers. Mr. McGill, on the other hand, is in the standard issue Allen Edmonds. The reason for not getting on board with the hip skids? He’s lame:

The firm’s sustainability partner jokingly suggested his job was too dull to warrant a jazzy pair of sneakers.

Sceptic Tank reports that a PwC spokeswoman clarified the meaning of “dull” to be “PwC can’t be seen to be promoting their clients products in any way.” Which probably also explains why McGill wore a tie as well. Can’t be too careful about these things.

PwC and the fashion faux pas [The Sceptic Tank]

Blind Item: Which Accounting Firm Has a Manager Who Recently Scolded a Team of Barnyard Animals?

From the mailbag: “The author is a newly appointed manager and a certified d-bag. His email is serious.”

Hi Guys –

It has come to our attention that there are several people making animal noises around the office. I feel it shouldn’t need to be pointed out that this is not appropriate in the office and can be very uncomfortable/awkward for others. Aside from co-workers, we also have prospects, clients, recruits, etc. walking through the halls on a daily basis. Hearing animal sounds made toward each other does not give a good impression of [a firm who, we are told, is “über-sensitive”] and our abilities to those people. It also does not go unnoticed by partners/senior managers/managers.

Please be mindful of those that could be in your audience. Please see me if you have any concerns or questions.

Thanks,

Okay, team. Lots to discuss here aside from guessing the zoo where these beasts work.

1. I alluded to a noise from a cow, pig, chicken, or maybe even a llama but obviously there is room for other possibilities. Macaws? Beluga whales? Howler monkeys?

2. Are these noises mating calls, expressions of joy, or melancholic song?

3. If our barnyard animals guess is accurate, the firm should ask themselves: why would you hire Goat Boys in the first place?

4. If this some kind of involuntary function, how does one handle this appropriately without running aground of diversity issues?

5. Other thoughts, and obviously guesses to the firm, are welcome at this time.

Is This PwC Auditor Your Next American Idol?

Everyone calm down. Steve Beguhn (we’ve finally confirmed the correct spelling) has a long way to go. But dude can sing. And he’s pretty funny.

The only problem I foresee is that I’ll have to start watching the show. For those of you on Facebook (i.e. everyone) you can ‘Like’ Steve here.

What do you guys think of Steve’s chances? Leave your well wishes or your best Simon Cowell critique in the comments.

UPDATE: Just a few particulars on Steve – he’s a Senior Associate in Milwaukee, has been with PwC since Fall of ’07 and interned prior to joining the firm full time. Oh, and he’s not in the office today, so if you’re around Steve, email me.

All Those Frazer Frost Christmas Cards Will Go to Waste Now

Last Friday, we linked to a Reuters article that told the story of Chinese clean-tech firm Rino International Corp. admitting that their books weren’t exactly in tip-top shape.

In fact, Rino has some hella-fraud going on, as the CEO is quoted, “[T]here might be problems with 20-40 percent of [customer contracts],” according to a letter from the company’s auditor Frazer Frost. As is the natural progression of these matters, an 8-K was filed informing anyone who cares to know that restatements are happening and that previously issued numbers are more or less worthless.


Then came the news from Financial Investigator’s Roddy Boyd, that Frazer Frost – the offspring of a merger between Moore Stephens Wurth Frazer and Torbet and Frost PLLC – was not really Frazer Frost:

One day shy of the one year anniversary date, the accountancy is scrapping a “trial merger” and is splitting back into Frost LLP of Little Rock, Ark. and Raleigh, N.C. and Moore Stephens, which is headquartered in Brea, Ca.

“Trial merger” kinda sounds like a two accounting/finance types hooking up for the first time. It’s nothing major, just testing the motion in the ocean. But if you go by the Accounting Today article from last year, there doesn’t appear to be anything “trial” about it.

Anyway, Boyd reports that Frost managing partner Dan Peregrin told him that a ‘culture clash’ led to the break up and that, “There is a lot of [issues] right now in [Chinese reverse mortgage] practice area and we just felt it would be smarter to wish them luck and stick to our practice areas.”

Right. The old, “it’s not you, it’s me” routine. But there’s more! Over at Citron Research, it’s not entirely clear just what is going on:

If you call Frost today in Arkansas, they answer “Frost & Co” and say they’re no longer associated with Frazer. Citron spoke to managing partner Dan Peregrin and twice he told us that the two firms have gone their own way. ….but if you call Frazer, they answer “Frazer Frost” and in a brief conversation with Susan Woo, the RINO auditor, she told Citron that Frazer Frost is still an operating entity.

Really? If you go to the Frazer Frost website, you see a homepage with no content in the about us section.

Which is quite true. This is all very strange/sad/pathetic because everyone else seems to be aware of the situation. It’s like Frazer doesn’t know they’ve been dumped and are just going along like everything is find and dandy.

Could someone let them down gently?

News From Auditorville [Financial Investigator/Roddy Boyd]
Dude! Where’s My Auditor?? The Curious Case of Frazer Frost [Citro Research]

(UPDATE) Apparently You Can Also Be Too Hot to Work at PwC

~ Update includes statement from PricewaterhouseCoopers spokesman

By now you’ve probably heard about Debrahlee Lorenzana, who was claiming that being an über-hottie caused her to get fired from her job at Citi.

The Big 4, having its share of hotties, now is facing allegations of its own discriminatory behavior. We were sent the following email that has been making the rounds at PwC about a young associate who was shown the door last Friday. Bravely, the author of the email included her name and phone number, which we’ve redacted:

I have been following the story about the banker in NYC who was fired for her “appearance”. I was just fired today [June 11th] froerhouseCoopers. I am a graduate of Lehigh University, I have been with the firm since September 2009. I would like to think I am competent enough to hold a job – I recently studied 8 hours for a CPA exam and passed. A test that I have watched my peers struggle with – studying for months and failing multiple times. I have 3 of 4 CPA exams completed, and I am 3-3 in my testing.

Anyway, I was placed on an engagement with an all-male team and one female partner. I was given a poor review on this engagement, however, my work received glowing reviews. On all my other teams I have gotten feedback that I am a pleasure to work with, intelligent, hard-working etc.etc. Per my performance review, they noted that the reason I performed below expectation was because I had a negative attitude with my team and the other piece of feedback I received, from this female partner, is that I was dressed inappropriately because I didn’t wear tights with my skirts in the winter. This is during a time we lived out of a hotel, working from 9am-4am, 7 days a week, and the last thing on anyone’s mind is clothes. I am a 22 year old girl, and I definitely do not “look the part” of an accountant. While on my team with all males, I received constant harassment about how I should “sleep with the senior manager (who was very disliked) to make him cooler” or “you have to go talk to the client cause you are hot”. My mentor from the firm was on my team as well, and every day would comment on my appearance, such as, “Did you lose weight? You look good” or “Your legs look fabulous today”. I was also told that my senior on the team was “in-love with me” and that I should “hook-up with him”. During this period I had a boyfriend whom I expressed my deep deep frustration on this with. Since my employment at the firm, I have been constantly harassed by the partner who hired me. I received such e-mails as, “I am home alone in my hot tub, you should come” or text messages like “So what color underwear are you wearing?” which, I kept my mouth shut about. Keep in mind this individual is married, with kids. Eventually I went to HR when I received my performance review because obviously there was a major disconnect. Of course, they “fully investigated” with the team of all males, and today I was told that I was fired, for under-performance. I was denied a copy of my performance reviews (which as our review policy goes – are given back to each individual at the firm). I inquired as to whether HR had spoken to other individuals I had worked with, and they told me “it was irrelevant” and that my review was contingent only upon “this one engagement (as referred to above)”. Bear in mind that I have worked on 5 other clients since September 2009, and these reviews were thrown to the wayside.

I have been following the story in the news about the woman banker fired in NYC, and have received multiple comments from my co-workers such as, “I can see them doing this to you” or “this is probably why the female partner doesn’t like you – cause you are hot”. Obviously, there seems to be an underlying theme here.

I graduated with a 3.4 from Lehigh, majoring in Accounting and minoring in writing. I got a 1410 on my SAT’s, a near perfect split of 710 Verbal and 700 Math. Throughout my life, the one thing I was sure of was my ability to compete intelligence-wise with my peers, and often exceed far above. So you can understand my extreme confusion and frustration that I could be capable of under-performing, at a firm, where there is documented proof on paper I perform well above my peer group.

So I come to you, whomever may be concerned, as this is an issue I am bringing to light and will hire an attorney for. I was wrongfully terminated – without a fair reason. I have saved all of my work performed while at PwC to provide as evidence of comparison with my peers. If this type of story strikes interest with anyone over at the NYT, I am more than happy to share more information. Like they say, Big Fours are “slave-drivers”, and yet again, they perpetuate this image.

I can be reached by telephone at [redacted]. I live in Stamford, CT and worked on clients from NYC to NJ to CT. Thank you for taking the time to read this – I am a bit flustered still from today’s events, but find no better way to vent than by writing.

SO! That’s a lot to digest. Being a fan of fantastic gams (who isn’t, amiright?) is one thing but verbalizing it in the middle of internal controls testwork is entirely another. That being said, a text requesting the hue of undies is whole other level of awkward.

Our calls, emails, telegrams, and messages by carrier pigeon to PwC have not been returned.

UDPATE: PwC spokesman Jon Stoner provided us with the following statement:

As a matter of policy and practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers is fully committed to maintaining a workplace free of sexual harassment. We take any complaints about sexual harassment seriously, and investigate any such claim thoroughly and confidentially. That is exactly what we did in this case, and we did not find any basis to the allegations.

Just to Clear It Up: Grant Thornton Is an Accounting Firm Not a Law Firm

We stumbled upon this letter recently that appears to indicate that there was some confusion between the Grant Thornton Atlanta office and a Judge in Florida about what kind of services GT provides.

GT Atlanta


So it appears Mr Bowles has a little bit of responsibility here since he admits, “I did not submit a written request to appear as an other qualified representative in the form specified in [rule] which would have triggered a specific determination by you about my qualifications to go forward.” The lengthy explanation that follows kinda sorta indicates that maybe, he feels like this was his bad that the mistake got made. If you disagree and would like to blame the judge, fire away.

That being said, we figured that GT had enough of a reputation as an accounting firm to be recognized as such with little or no investigation. Apparently that is not the case. We left messages with both Judge Holified and Mr Bowles to get an explanation but so far neither of them have returned our calls.

KPMG Got Fired by North American Savings Bank After Six Months on the Job

Technically, if you count the days (based on the 8-K) it’s less than six months.

The reason? Without getting too wonky, it appears NASB wasn’t thrilled that KPMG challenged their valuation method of a real estate investment, Central Platte Holdings, LLC.

Klynveld had been engaged to audit the September 30, 2010 financial statements of NASB but things managed to get confrontational right off the bat as KPMG raised questions about the Company’s valuation methodology of Central Platte in its first quarter review.


This must have made NASB a little uncomfortable since KPMG’s methods might not paint as rosy as a picture and could have resulted in a restatement. Per the 8-K, “KPMG also informed the Company that if the investment was determined to be impaired, evidence existed which indicated that such impairment may have occurred in a prior period.”

Obviously the mere idea of a restatement was completely unacceptable for NASB but when KPMG requested that the Company engagement a third party appraisal, they really freaked. Either the bank didn’t want to pay for said third party’s services, or they were worried that the appraisal would show that Central Platte wasn’t worth squat.

More from the 8-K filing:

At KPMG’s request, management estimated the fair value of the investment in Central Platte. After reviewing management’s estimate of fair value, KPMG requested the Company obtain an independent third party appraisal of the fair value of the investment. KPMG did not complete their review of the fair value of the investment in Central Platte prior to their dismissal.

While the Company continues to evaluate whether it should change its accounting method in measuring impairment of the investment in preparing the financial statements for the quarter ended December 31, 2009, the Company disagrees with KPMG that its method of evaluating potential impairment of the investment in such period or in any prior
periods was in error.

For those of you unfamiliar with SEC filing lingo, the statement “the Company continues to evaluate whether it should change its accounting method,” actually means “We’re not changing shit.” Luckily, NASB knew that it can rely on their old auditors to give the thumbs up to their preferred method so they ran back (weeping and arms flailing no doubt) to BKD.

Maybe KPMG’s Kansas City office needed business but something tells us they’re better off.

Real estate dispute leads NASB Financial to switch auditors [KC Star]
8-K [SEC.gov]

Elvis Fails to Make Ernst & Young Singalong Less Awkward


Any thoughts on this? The swaying needs work, that’s for sure.

[Source]

1099s Are All Evidence We Need to Conclude That Tiger Paid for Sex

tiger_woods2.jpgBy now, we’re sure you’ve heard that Madam Michelle Braun has claimed that Tiger Woods not only paid $60k for sex but that both Holly Sampson and Jamie Jungers, two of T. Dubs [insert most recent number here] mistresses, were prosties for her.
It doesn’t sound like Tiger got down with either of the them while they were hooking for Braun (it was just regular throwing money around type stuff) but the Post does quote Braun about TW being a big fan of the ‘girl-on-girl’ action and ‘booze and sex bender[s].’
ANNNNNND they’ve got 1099s for both Sampson and Jungers. So does anyone doubt that the greatest golfer the world has ever known is basically the same as Eliot Spitzer? We’re sure convinced!
Seriously, if a madam goes to the trouble of filling out 1099s for non-employee compensation, we’ve got no reason to disbelieve anything she says.
You may now return to your regularly non-accounting related Tiger Woods coverage.
Woods ‘bought’ cathouse gals [NYP]
jungers_sampson_1099.pdf
Also see: Lesson Learned: Even Madams Pay Their Taxes [Tax Girl]

Web CPA: McGladrey & Pullen Partners Vote to Go Back to H&R Block, RSM McGladrey

gulbis3.jpgWell, sons and daughter of McGladrey, the reconciliation is done. Your feuding parental firms will be engaging in some awkward corporate make-up sex:

An arbitration ruling, which was handed down Nov. 24, favors H&R Block and RSM, enforcing the restrictive labor covenants involving employees of the two firms.

About 650 McGladrey partners began meeting in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday and voted Thursday to approve the agreement after the M&P board, including managing partner Dave Scudder, had earlier approved the deal.


The whole thing has been pretty ugly as far as we can tell and according to Allan Koltin, CEO of PDI Global, a consultancy firm that advised both firms, M&P didn’t have any choice but to go back:

The enforcement of some of the terms of the original agreement by the arbitrator seems to have forced M&P’s hand. “Once the arbitration ruling came out and McGladrey & Pullen found they were prohibited from providing tax services for a couple of years, that was the end right there,” said Koltin. “There was no way they could be independent as an audit-only firm and compete effectively without also providing tax services.”

The original non-solicitation agreement said that M&P could not provide services such as tax preparation for between 18 and 24 months if it terminated the agreement, effectively limiting the firm to audit services. “Once they saw the writing on the wall, it became obvious that the two sides were going to come together,” said Koltin.

So this appears to be awkward. Did M&P think this through or even read the non-solicitation agreement before they told H&RB/RSM to drop dead? Did they legitimately think they could get by just offering the audit services for two years?
While we were rooting for the firms to make nice, there may be some of you that are less enthusiastic about the House of McGladrey being all under one roof again. We’d like to hear from the troops on the ground about this whole thing. Feel free to get in touch or just put it out there in the comments.

McGladrey & Pullen Partners Vote to Reconcile with Block [Web CPA]

UPDATE: The full press release can be seen here.

Your Words Say, ‘I want this job’ but Your Body Language Says, ‘I’m really interested in my shoes’

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for BelushiCollege.jpgIt’s our understanding that there are still interviews to go before offers are made so we thought we’d discuss some not so good things to do while you’re sitting across from your interrogator.
U.S. News & World Report lists 15 ways to annoy your interviewer and we’ll expand on a few to get the ball rolling:
Knee jiggling or finger drumming – Performing the Wipe Out drum solo is typically frowned upon in any social setting. Double thumbs down during an interview.
Playing with your pen – No one is impressed by your David Letterman-esque flipping technique.
Checking your cellphone – Um, yeah.
Nail biting; Sniffling; Picking at, rubbing, or scratching any part of your body – Bodily functions, while a fact of life, should be controlled as much as possible. If you think you’re going to explode, just internalize and try to keep your eyes from watering.
Smiling too much (or not smiling at all) – On the one hand, permagrin is totally acceptable if you’re planning to engage in a Seth Rogen marathon. Not so if you’re trying to get a job. If you’re totally incapable of smiling, this is also not good. Your mortician face will not go well around the office.
This is just a starting point. Since your life experiences are far more interesting, kindly discuss your strangest encounters as an interviewer or an interviewee. Since we’ve already discussed the words that are actually coming out of your mouth, we’ll ask that you stick with non-verbal faux-pas.