Twitter

Friendly July 4th Reminder: Social Media Meltdowns Can Be Career Limiting Moves

The vast majority of you GCers are American and are probably already on your way to a long weekend of barbeques and fireworks, while yous Canadians are coming off a long weekend of your own. All of you are nursing summer hangovers and the general summer “don’t give a flying ***k” attitude. Know who else […]

If Optimus Prime Were an Accountant on Twitter, Here’s What He Would Tweet

Apparently some guy has come up with the bright idea to tweet as Autobot leader Optimus Prime… if Optimus Prime got his start in accounting. It certainly isn't the best accounting-related Twitter account out there (my vote goes to now silent fake accounting firm @WTF_LLP or the #howshouldweaccount account at @hswafm just because the Tumblr […]

This Is Why the World Needs Fewer Buzzwords

Presumably, there are plenty of mediocre CPA exam candidates who can relate to this one from @lifeatdeloitte: NO. Just no. Also outlawed: burnovation when you're so burned out on "innovating," you start coming up with stupid words synergypped when your synergy is slowly sucked from your soul at some stupid conference dynamattack when you are […]

It Appears Some Ernst & Young Employees Cope with Busy Season by Stress Eating

Maybe 40 Chicken McNuggets is a square meal for some. Or maybe there was a bet involved here. We can't really know the full story, but apparently these were put down the other day:  Lunch time shenanigans, courtesy of 1 of my seniors and a staff…turns out eating 40 chicken nuggets isn't too hard… twitter.com/EYstaff/status… […]

To Whom It May Going Concern: “So Why I Ask Were the GC Bloggers Enjoying a Long Weekend with the Bankers, Teachers, and Government Employees?”

To Whom It May Going Concern is a roundup of our favorite emails, tweets, and other messages. Gotta beef? Are your knickers in a twist? Feel the need to come at us, bro? Email us at tips@goingconcern.com, drop us a line in the tip box, or tweet @ us on Twitter. As a reminder, all messages […]

Recruiting Season: Some Social Media Basics For The New Accountants on the Block

Chances are at some point someone in HR with too much time on their hands is going to Google you. Unless you are a John Smith, it would be wise to be proactive when it comes to your Internet presence, lest your potential new employer dig up your Facebook album called "CANCUN PEED ON MYSELF" […]

The Greatest Out of Context Tweet To Come Out of Big 4 Ever

For anyone familiar with EY's impressive social media efforts (including embarrassing interns by posting photos of them posing with gorillas and pimps at IILC on Facebook), the name Dan Black goes hand-in-hand with engagement. The guy's pretty good at what he does which is probably how he's managed to escape criticism on this website for […]

Twitter Absentee Barry Salzberg Preaches the Importance of Social Media

To our knowledge, Dr. Phil hasn't taken up the Deloitte CEO Twitter torch since he replaced Jim Quigley, so you'll excuse us if we take this comment from Salzberg's talk at Brooklyn College as a little disingenuous:  During the meeting, Salzberg advised students on their careers and answered questions about professional advancement, such as how […]

Here Are a Couple of the Tweets That Helped Get the Francesca CFO Fired

Yesterday morning we linked to a little story about Francesca Holdings Corp. CFO Gene Morphis getting fired for "improperly communicat[ing] company information through social media." The Journal picked it up later in the day with details on some of this social media activity that we thought we'd share with you Board meeting.Good numbers=Happy Board. — […]

Reminder: You Could Win a Kindle Fire If You Follow Going Concern on Twitter

There are precisely two weeks left to enter Going Concern's Twitter promotion. Up to this point, you may have thought that entering the online cluckhouse known as Twitter was an awful idea because "I don't get it," or "Isn't it really just for celebrities?" Well, it's true that you probably don't get it right now, […]

Follow Going Concern on Twitter and You Might – MIGHT! – Win a Kindle Fire

As promised, we're launching a new campaign to get you through the final weeks of busy season and this time we're incorporating everyone's favorite virtual gabfest, Twitter. After experimenting with the Daily Grind eNewsletter for some time, we've decided to focus more on something that won't involve clogging your inbox. Following our Twitter feed is […]

Free Advice for PwC’s Social Media Department

I have some concerns about PwC's social media practices. These concerns go way back, long before they followed and then unfollowed me on Twitter (pfft, I'm used to it) and it appears as though no one on the PwC social media team has had the guts to bring it up so I'm going to go […]

Please Watch Your Language Around Grover Norquist

For starters, “taxes” is an awful word, it pains him to have to utter it so often. Secondly, Rahm Emanuel could really use his mouth washed out with soap.


I’m sorry, have you met my libertarian friend Adrienne Gonzalez? She’d probably agree with you on several issues but you’d have to get comfortable with the colorful language.

[@GroverNorquist]

Grover Norquist Needs His Hands Free When Enforcing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge

You know, in case he needs to shake the crap out of one of your tax-loving grandmothers.


Of course even political operatives aren’t immune to technological pitfalls:

[@DrTempitope via @GroverNorquist]

Grover Norquist Would Like to Take This Opportunity to Remember Steve Jobs

In the most offensive, self-serving way possible.


Jesus, Grover. You went after our grandmothers and we let it slide. But this. This is crossing the line.

[via @GroverNorquist]

Earthquake Causes PCAOB Offices to Be Evacuated

Tweeth John Carney:

Board spokeswoman Colleen Brennan didn’t answer her phone, so we can only assume everyone is still filing back in or just turning this into a nice opportunity to grab the afternoon pick-me-up. If your office was evacuated, tell us below.

UDPATE: she does have email, thank the maker, and she responded to us so we assume everything is hunky dory. We’ll keep you updated with other news.

Grover Norquist Has a Sternly Worded Tweet for Warren Buffett

And just an FYI for GroverThe New York Times has a clarification for you (and many others).

Maybe the typo is GN thumbing his nose at O^3 but if the Times is calling out the entire Twitter universe, it’s conceivable that this is a common error that can even befall the most fastidious bagel counters.

[@GroverNorquist]

Question of the Day: Defunct Firm Edition

From one of the best accounting Twitter…accounts you can follow:

Fraudbusters Get a Lesson in Internet Stalking

Yesterday I sat in a session at the ACFE Fraud Conference and Exhibit entitled “Effectively Using Social Networks and Social Media in Fraud Examinations” with a few hundred [?] fraudbusters and I got the impression that few people in the room were social media savvy (in the stalk-y sense, anyway). I came to this conclusion after watching most of the hands in the room go up when asked “who thinks social media is a waste of time?” and saw nearly same amount of hands raised when asked “do you have some sort of social network presence?”

Cynthia Hetherington, President of Hetherington Group, described herself as “[A] librarian, a technologist and licensed private investigator. So, I’m a nerd, I’m a geek and I’m a dick,” was the speaker for this particular session and a lot of her talk introduced the crowd to the idea of stalking people on the Internet. She knew her crowd well, as a joke about Laverne & Shirley’s apartment got plenty of laughs, while a quip about Snooki got crickets. This reinforced my suspicion that the idea that of curating information about financial crooks using Facebook and Twitter was new to many in the room.

Now, the majority of people listening may have known it was possible to find partially-nude pics on someone’s Facebook profile or Twitter account (which she demonstrated in one non-Anthony Weiner example) but maybe they hadn’t considered that they could learn a lot of other useful information about someone they were investigating.

In short, Ms. Herrington explained to the biz casual crowd that you can find out a lot of information about a person just by poking around their social media accounts. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you can learn someone’s likes, dislikes, their political leanings, where they’ve lived, who their friends are, etc. and use that information to build a profile, analyze behavior or in some cases, find out where someone maybe hiding.

What does all this mean? Opportunity my friends. If you fancy yourself social media and Internet savvy, you probably have a leg up on many of the vets in the fraud and forensics business when it comes to poking around the Web and finding information on people of interest to you. Sure you may not have their years of investigative expertise, extensive contacts or an aging wardrobe but you may have successfully Web-stalked ex-significant others, crushes and completely random people to learn things that they’ve volunteered into cyberspace. And here you thought your creepy behavior was completely worthless.

Will Barry Salzberg Join Twitter?

As we’ve mentioned, it’s the first week of the new (fiscal) year at Deloitte which means people are getting antsy and your new leaders are starting to get acclimated to their new titles, repsonsibilities and whatnot. One of the most important decisions that new global CEO Barry Salzberg will have to make is whether or not he jumps into the Twittersphere. His predecessor, Jim Quigley, has quit Twitter without getting all dramatic about it, saying, “My CEO tenure concludes today. Enjoyed trying Twitter. Thanks for following my updates. Stay connected w/ Deloitte @deloitte. Regards, Jim.”

So now that @DeloitteCEO is no longer in use, it seems to be a shame that the ol’ Salz decided to not to use it as a Twitty pulpit but we realize it’s not for everyone. However, being the charismatic mustachioed man that he is, I think he’d probably be able to get the hang of it pretty quickly. And if he needs some pointers, he can always consult Adrienne’s Twitter case studies.

My only advice is, don’t get too sensitive on us.

Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Study: The Sensitive CEO

Usually Adrienne handles these things but I seem to have started a beef, so here goes. Last Friday, I poked fun at BDO Global CEO Jeremy Newman, after he admitted that regulatory intervention in the UK would b up the audit market,” even though that’s the last thing he wants. “It is a shame it has taken so long and that it will require regulatory intervention,” he writes but then immediately qualifies the statement, “though it is not too late for my colleagues in the Big Four, and others, to act on a voluntary basis to create the environment necessary to allow real competition.”

This overt doublespeak caused me to open my post with this:

Perpetual fusspot and BDO Global CEO Jeremy Newman has not been shy about how unfair he thinks the dominance of the Big 4 is. The majority of his blog posts are tagged “Global Accounting” and several consist of bellyaching about Big 4 this and the Big 4 that. Of course, since the mainstream media has finally picked up on the idea that the concentration of auditors could be a bit of a problem […]

Newman wrote another blog post today starting with “I have never understood Twitter” but then did a Twitter search on himself, “not expecting to find anything” but he eventually landed on my blog post. He blockquoted the excerpt above (and linked!) and then wrote this:

Now call me sensitive, but I do not see myself as a “perpetual fusspot” or “bellyaching”- just someone raising a valid concern and one that has now been recognised by others, including the OFT but also the European Commission, MEPs, the UK’s House of Lords and many others, as being a potential issue. I also don’t think the dominance of the Big 4 is “unfair” – I think it is a risk and not in the public interest. And again this view is shared by others – including those who represent the public interest.

Clearly, Mr Sensitive had never graced this fine publication before but I read most of his blog posts and as I pointed out, lots of posts are tagged “Global Accounting” with titles such as “Big 4 bias – can we ever overcome it?,” “Financial Reporting and Auditing: A time for change?,” “There is a Credible Alternative,” and “Restrictive bank covenants keep the Big Four on top….”

Now maybe I’m way off base here but having so many posts (there are more) attributed to this topic, strikes me as someone who is excessively worried about something (i.e. “fussing“). I’m not suggesting he should start doing Mad Men recaps but there is consistent narrative. Plus, the word “fusspot” is funny. Furthermore, evoking “bias,” “can we overcome” and “credible alternative[s]” inherently speak to an unlevel playing field (i.e. “unfair“). Perhaps I’m too wrapped up in semantics but I think my point has been made.

On the bright side, I’m flattered that Mr Newman was offended enough to write a response of sorts (without naming names, unfortunately) and hopefully he finds some things on GC that are to his liking. Unfortunately he still doesn’t appear to be on Twitter, the catalyst to this whole exchange. I encourage JN to join the fun. Then he’ll be able to keep up on himself.

Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Study: The Humiliated Tax Guru

There’s nothing quite as humiliating as a public fall from grace, especially when you’ve spent your entire net worth on infomercials and bad stripey highlights. For the tax crusader formerly known as The Tax Lady, going quietly into that dark night just wasn’t going to do.

As you can clearly see by her Twitter account, which we have screenshotted for eternal preservation just in case the State of California requires her to take it down, Roni Deutch made a last ditch effort on May 13th to spread word of her press conference last week to just about anyone who would listen. We don’t qualify an “@” as actually listening, but maybe it made her feel better to spam everyone from Consumerist (twice!) to a random “Redneck Zionist” with a link to her video.

Yes, Roni, we saw your video. And we laughed at it. Hard.

In a related note, this is not an endorsement but it appears that @IRSHelpOk is doing it right. Check out the many not-quite-specific-but-pretty-easy-to-figure-out digs at those who don’t obey the rules of their state bar association.

Jim Quigley Reflecting on His Time as Deloitte CEO via Twitter

Davos regular and out-going Deloitte Global CEO Jim Quigley is reflecting on his time in the big chair on Twitter and so far he’s said that “Experience has taught me in a world that seems increasingly focused on sprints, great professional relationships are the work of marathoners,” and “I’ve learned we often allow the urgent to crowd out the important; getting in front is the way we will stay in front.” These are nice thoughts and we’re big on reflection but what do you think Jimbo is really thinking that the Deloitte Twitter filters aren’t letting through?

Luckily, we’ve obtained JQ’s copious Tweet notes, all of which were ultimately denied by Deloitte’s Ministry of Propoganda. Here are some of the denied tweets:

• Really kicking myself after turning down Queen Rania’s offer to buy me a drink at Davos last year. #IDIOT

• Disappointed that I only get 5 months to Tweet under @deloitteceo. Not sure what my new handle will be. Is @deloittekicksass taken?

@JustinBieber how do you get ready for a big show?

• I’m just going to say it: Sharon Allen has awful taste in music.

• Good luck Barry! I guess I don’t have to warn you that this job will make you lose your hair.

Of course, many of you know Jim better than us, so feel free to speak/Tweet on his behalf below.

Be Careful What You Tweet, Mary Schapiro Might Be Watching

We’ve considered why your firm might want a social media policy in the past but it’s clear now that it’s not only wise to keep employees in check but to keep the SEC from breathing down everyone’s necks.

Regulation FD (fair disclosure) is meant to prevent selective disclosure by issuers of materialon and insider trading liability in connection with a trader’s “use” or “knowing possession” of material nonpublic information. The rules are designed to promote the full and fair disclosure of information by issuers, and to clarify and enhance existing prohibitions against insider trading.


Without a social media policy, any employee of the company tweeting or blogging about company events could broadly be assumed to be company communications. Whether or not these people are officially representing the company or not is irrelevant; selective disclosure could be as simple as a poorly-timed post about a company secret (i.e. “our awesome new product will be released in two weeks!”) on an employee’s Facebook page, which is public but limited to the employee’s 100 or so family and friends. In theory, an astute friend could take this as a buy signal, knowing X product will cause quite a storm once it hits the market. Welcome to insider trading: social media edition. Notice here that the intention is not what is important but rather the event itself. The SEC doesn’t care if the employee meant to pump up his or her employer’s stock but rather that the employee chose to selectively disclose information not readily available to the public that the employee is privy to to a limited group of people.

How far could the SEC take this?

The SEC’s guidance set forth three considerations to help determine whether information posted on corporate websites is considered “public.”

* Whether a company’s Web site is a recognized channel of distribution;
* Whether information is posted and accessible, and therefore disseminated in a manner calculated to reach investors; and
* Whether information is posted for a reasonable period so that it has been absorbed by investors.

The guidance goes on to clarify that statements made on blogs or other interactive websites are subject to the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws, and companies cannot require investors to waive protections under the federal securities laws as a condition of using such interactive websites.

The only control companies have in this is to have a very clear, intelligent social media policy that either limits or forbids disclosure of non-public information through blogs and social media. This isn’t new (this interpretation was released in August of 2008) but what is new is the rumor that the SEC is beginning to send deficiency letters to registered investment advisers it examines, specifically those who do not have a social media policy in place.

A document request list sent by the SEC to some advisers asks for a broad range of data related to social media use, according to a compliance alert from ACA Compliance Group. Among other things, the SEC is seeking to identify how often advisers use social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, Digg, Redditt, as well as any blogs used by, or subscribed to, by the adviser. They are also looking at communications made by, or received by an adviser on any social media website including among others, blog postings, messages, and/or tweets.

According to the WSJ, an SEC spokesman declined to comment on the deficiency letters. However, an SEC official said at a compliance conference last month that misuse of social media is an issue on their radar in SEC examinations and enforcement. Misuse being defined as investment advisers who fake information on their LinkedIn profiles to buff up their appearance to investors.

Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Study: The Idiot Who Accidentally Talks Sh*t on His Client’s Twitter Feed and Causes 20 People to Lose Their Jobs

Important lesson for any Big 4, et al. Twitter captains out there:

A Chrysler contractor who posted an obscene tweet on the Chrysler brand’s official account says he’s sorry his four-letter flub has cost 20 people their jobs.

Scott Bartosiewicz’s Twitter posting from last week read: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the (hash)motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive.” It was meant to appear on his personal account, but Bartosiewicz mistakenly sent it to the Chrysler brand’s feed while he was stuck in traffic on Interstate 696.

The error resulted in the 28-year-old Ferndale resident’s dismissal and contributed to Chrysler’s decision not to renew its contract with Bartosiewicz’s employer, New Media Strategies, a Virginia-based marketing firm that now is putting about 20 local employees out of work.

It’ll be a miracle if this guy sees this year’s Final Four.

Man fired over obscene Chrysler tweet apologizes [AJC]

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.

How Not to Study for the CPA Exam (on Twitter)

I’m sorry but I have to remind people for the 1,000th time that things you do on the Internet are public and any old troll (like AG) can just do a quick search and find you doing it.

Case in point, this guy: @CStrunk follows Going Concern on Twitter so we don’t necessarily want to call him out, we simply want to evaluate his study habits, comments and way of life and then feel some sick superiority because we can judge him. Trust us, we do it out of love.

Check out this February 12th tweet:

So I’m at a bar. Being a horrible CPA exam candidate. 🙁


Listen, you guys don’t need to read my column to know that sitting at the bar is not going to help you figure out variance analysis nor GAAP codification. Duh. Maybe you can tape ASCs to the bottom of your shot glass but we are not going to say that you should be studying empty drinks with accounting regs and if you do, well, good luck with the exam.

A day before he was at the bar, he was cleaning out his computer. If you’re studying for the exam, you know exactly what this is like. Scrubbing baseboards, working as many hours as you can, even squeezing out kids just so you can put off opening up that big-ass FAR book (OK maybe that’s pushing it a bit).

He also admits to staying up until midnight or one in the morning studying (or “studying,” which many of you know means 4 minutes of studying and 96 minutes of status updates, “research,” emailing and texting) but since he was up until 1:23 in the morning tweeting, we know that’s not necessarily what he spends his time doing.

We suspect that we don’t have to alert Chris that he has been sternly warned to improve his study habits or give up on this exam and we hope that we won’t have to say it again.

Let’s All Give Jim Quigley a Warm Welcome to Twitter

We knew it was only a matter of time before Jim Quigley rounded up enough interns to run his Twitter account for him and it seems that day has finally come. While we won’t openly admit to hoping he immediately engaged in common Twitter faux pi like tweeting in all caps or speaking to others as if they could hear him without using the all important @, we’ve thoroughly scanned his account and can barely find anything to bag on.

It seems, however, that he’s merely pimping out the World Economic Forum and is really, really excited about it. So excited, in fact, that it’s been all he’s tweeted about in the less than two weeks he’s been sharing with us in 140 characters or less.


What he isn’t tweeting is how much his trip to Davos to hob-nob with the global elite might cost him. We of the working class, ticking and tying set might feel he could just as easily put his finger on the pulse of the economy by sitting down with any number of Deloitte’s 170,000 employees since, last we checked, the economy was people, not rich guys (and gals, it’s the 21st Century) hanging out in Switzerland.

We won’t say we’re disappointed because our standards are really low to begin with but he could have, you know, toned it down a notch.

Just how much does a trip to Davos cost a snazzy Big 4 CEO? Ask Andrew Ross Sorkin: A basic level Davos excursion will run you $71,000 for membership to the organization and ticket alone (that doesn’t include hotels, helicopters or red carpets strewn ahead of you). The “Industry Associate” level, which would get JQ behind the velvet rope to hang with other hot accounting and finance rockstars, runs $156,000. And if, say, Quigs wants to bring a buddy the “Industry Partner” level could run him around $301,000.

Well wait, it’s not fair to say he’s only tweeting about WEF, he did also throw some tweets about chicks in there. You know, for diversity’s sake.

Hey, it beats over-hashtagging I guess.

Earlier:
Deloitte Global CEO Jim Quigley Is Tweeting

Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Study: The Chronic Over-Sharer

Following our previous Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Studies, today we present you with a pretty common tweeter who can be found across any industry, not only our own precious accounting set: the chronic over-sharer.


The chronic over-sharer doesn’t understand that when Twitter asks “what are you doing?” it actually means “what are you doing or interested in that you think might be appropriate to share with the Internet community at large?” This means the over-sharer can mistake Twitter for a translator plugged directly into their own streaming consciousness as well as a diet journal, a livejournal, a teenage journal and a best friend who actually cares to hear what the over-sharer had for breakfast that morning.

The over-sharer doesn’t realize that most people – especially those in our somewhat small accounting niche – don’t care what they ate nor what they think if the thoughts are translated all hours of the day and come out mostly as angry gibberish and inflammatory nonsense. To the over-sharer, losing followers by the handful after each obnoxious tweet doesn’t mean anything, Twitter simply exists as an avenue for their consciousness. Like the audacity of sending out extensive Christmas letters each year to family members you haven’t spoken to in years, it takes a lot of guts to blitz Twitter with personal details while ignoring proper traditions of behavior. Remember, this is the accounting industry we’re talking about. While the over-sharer can be found in any niche, their behavior is especially noticeable in ours as we’re known for being a conservative lot.

No one is suggesting people can’t use Twitter to communicate or flaunt their personalities but there is a line and in our profession it’s important to follow that. You won’t have much luck snagging clients or getting hired if you’re using Twitter to blast coworkers or talk about your personal digestive issues.

Some tweeters get the balance just right, like Francine McKenna and Shane Eloe. See? You can be chatty – even snarky – but please refrain from telling the entire Internet about the consistency of your cat’s puke or about your super obnoxious senior whose head you’d like to chop off. It isn’t cute and you’re forgetting the Internet is forever. That means you might be able to delete the offending tweets once you realize you’ve been acting like an ass on Twitter but the damage to your reputation (or brand) can carry on long after the tweets have been zapped.

Just don’t do it. Keep it professional, people. Lively, conversational and a little personal but professional. Pretend like your boss, colleagues, and all former and future employers have your tweets streaming to their desktops at all hours of the day and remember: no one cares what you ate for lunch unless it’s food porn (SFW) and you happened to eat it with an accounting industry rockstar.

Top Five Resources For CPA Exam Candidates

Since I’m sick of writing about 2011 CPA exam changes and none of you asked any CPA exam questions this week, I’ve decided to be nice and offer you five excellent resources for CPA exam candidates, ranked in no particular order of importance.


CPAnet: The CPAnet forums offer a sense of community, suggestions and that all-too-important sense that you are not alone on your journey. Get tips on passing tricky parts, share your misery or get a kick out of helping other candidates by sharing your knowledge. The forums are a must for any candidate wishing to connect with others on the CPA exam adventure.

Twitter: Connecting with other CPA exam candidates and sources of CPA exam information (like @NASBA) can be incredibly useful. Follow the #CPAexam hashtag for news and views on all things CPA exam.

The AICPA: The AICPA has revamped its website and put together a comprehensive collection of CPA exam information, extensive tutorials and plenty of FAQs for your reading pleasure so you better be using them. Their “Become a CPA” section is jam-packed with useful info for international candidates, students interested in the CPA career path along with salary and career info.

NASBAtools: Access NASBA’s Accounting Licensing Library or use CredentialNet to do all the applying for you so you can focus on taking the exam and not worry about being buried in four pounds of paperwork. You can also find more information on licensure from NASBA’s website here.

Me: Wow, what a narcissist right?! In all seriousness, if you aren’t sending in your CPA exam questions or reading previous columns we’ve done on the exam covering everything from simulations to time management, you aren’t using the resources correctly. I don’t write for my own good, I do it so you guys can be informed and prepared for what’s ahead so do me the favor of not making me feel like I’m writing to a wall.

Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Study: The Narcissist

Following our previous Doing It Wrong case studies featuring the over-hashtagging accounting firm, the excited newbie and the hyperconnected crack tweeter, we humbly present you a criticism of one of our least favorite Twitter users: the self-absorbed narcissist.


You can spot the narcissist from a mile away by looking for keywords such as “I”, “me” and “myself.” The narcissist doesn’t really try to make it appear as though they are interested in others nor do they tend to share useful information, only their own personal triumphs, opinions, activities and musings. To the self-absorbed narcissist, this is really all that matters.

The self-absorbed narcissist is pretty easy to seduce into doing your bidding by expressing even the smallest amount of interest in their indulgent self-congratulations. This can be accomplished by retweeting their latest announcement (retweeting an announcement with lots of “me” and “my” statements will earn you bonus points in the eyes of the narcissist) and doing so might even get you a retweet yourself.

The narcissist may collect followers like nerds collect World of Warcraft gold and, if excessively narcissistic, will likely follow only 1 or 2 people to prove just how awesome and appreciated they are. To the narcissist, this is a sign of their importance and status in the Twitter community, as who needs communication when you have awesome credentials and incredible talent?

How can you avoid becoming the narcissist? Interact! Congratulate others, encourage your cohorts and share useful links that aren’t just things you’ve written or appearances you’ve made in the media.

Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Study: The Hyper-Connected Crack Tweeter

Chances are you know the Hyper-Connected Crack Tweeter and worse, you could possibly be him or her. Tell-tale signs of hyper-connected crack tweeting include constant RTing, endless strings of @s (sometimes to no one in particular) and a nuclear follow cost. If you are unsure of your follow cost, feel free to check here and if you come up nuclear, it may be time to talk about your Twitter habits.


Remember, value is in the eye of the beholder. While it may seem reasonable to the hyper-connected crack tweeter to send out a constant stream of “Thanks for the RT!” notes and 75 #FollowFriday recommendations beginning on Thursday night, if many in your stream are following 100 people or less, you’re basically just cluttering up other folks’ streams and adding very little value while doing so. Because we’re specifically speaking about accounting here, it’s important to point out that many in the profession are new (or newer) to Twitter and therefore likely to be following just a small handful of people. Point being, if you aren’t adding value you’re pretty much just being obnoxious.

Our recommendation is always to look at what others in the profession are doing to get an idea of what is appropriate use of Twitter. We’ve already recommended checking out those on Michelle Golden’s Accounting Awesomeness list for starters but would also point out specific tweeters like MACPA’s Tom Hood, next gen CPA rockstar Jason Blumer and exuberant Scott Heintzelman. What do these people have in common? They all know the importance of interaction without overkill, sharing just enough of their personal views and goings on mixed in with updates on the profession that keep followers informed and engaged. Now that is doing it right.

The hyper-connected crack tweeter makes the mistake of thinking more is better so even more must be even better. Twitter is not a popularity contest and having the most followers does you little good unless you can somehow convert multi-level marketers and pornbots into clients. Since that’s unlikely, the best thing the hyper-connected crack tweeter can do is take a look at why they are tweeting so much and what value they are offering to the Twitter community as a whole.

True value comes from both the connections and the service provided between those connections. For some, hearing what you had for breakfast is an endearing way to feel closer to strangers thousands of miles away who share the same interests and so a bit of that is allowed (keeps people from thinking you’re a tax-obsessed robot without a soul, right?) but sending out 25 #FollowFriday tweets in rapid succession is really just a cry for help and a sign that you need a primer in how to pack the most punch into your tweets without cluttering others’ streams with your nonsense.

Remember people, moderation. I know it’s exciting and it’s tempting to overdo it but let’s all remember that we have a tradition to uphold for the sake of the whole industry and that’s one of calm, collected and not at all easily excited cool.

“Doing It Wrong” Twitter Case Study: The Over-Excited Newbie

Continuing with our series on how not to behave in social media that looks at what certain accounts do wrong without actually naming names, we thought we’d take a quick look at a Twitter user that should be all too familiar to most of you. Heck, you may even be this Twitter user, go ahead and stop me if you feel like you’re looking in a mirror.

The over-excited newbie thinks hashtags are great. So great, in fact, that he or she feels compelled to put them in every tweet. This is normal since we’ve seen this sort of behavior in accounting firms as well and they allegedly have media teams to run social media for them. We’re here to tell you for the last time to settle down and reserve hashtags for pre-determined conversations (like a chat that is easily tracked using a hashtag) or selective topics of conversation but not the entire conversation for the love of sweet baby Google.


The over-excited newbie also makes the mistake of jumping in head first without watching how others handle themselves in the arena. With hundreds – if not thousands – of well-established, accounting-related Twitter feeds already in the wild, it doesn’t make sense not to look to them to learn a thing or two about how the natives operate.

Lists like Michelle Golden’s “Accounting Awesomeness” can give you a direct line to some of accounting’s best, try following them for hints on how to behave before attempting to go out into the scary world of Twitter all by yourself. No one is implying that you should get all cookie-cutter on us but there is something to be said for sticking to the script, especially if you have absolutely no idea what you are doing.

The over-excited newbie tends to have trouble differentiating between streaming consciousness and appropriately answering the question “What’s happening?”, often dropping the most mundane details about what the yardboy wore while raking leaves and mistakenly letting threats towards co-workers seep out.

Signs you may be an over-excited newbie? Comments like “I am going to slit my senior’s throat if he doesn’t start doing some of this work” or “My boss is a fucking moron for giving me a raise after all these months of me showing up late every day” are dead giveaways.

Remember: everyone can see what you are doing on Twitter, even if your stream is “private.” That means vindictive colleagues, obnoxious clients and seniors who don’t appreciate being called raging douchenozzles in front of the entire Internet during an engagement.

So if you are the over-excited newbie, don’t worry, there’s hope for you yet. Try refraining from doing much more tweeting until you understand how Twitter works. For starters, stick to being a casual observer. No one is saying you can’t be opinionated or use the tools, however, you might choose. We have to remember our industry and keep in mind that as protectors of the public we have an obligation to conduct ourselves in a certain way.

Think of Twitter self-censoring like a privacy screen, it’ll keep all your nastiness to yourself. Exactly where it belongs.

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]

“Doing It Wrong” Twitter Case Study: The Robotic, Over-Hashtagging Accounting Firm

Because I’ve learned the error of my ways and will never call anyone out publicly again on social media les faux pas (I pledge, instead, to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, mass e-mail and/or BBM to constantly pester the offender into correcting the violation), I figured it would be better instead to just sort of call them out in a manner obvious to everyone but the offender themselves. No need to say specifically who I am talking about, you can probably figure it out.


Auto Direct Messages – One of the most annoying things about constantly using Twitter is being assaulted by auto DMs. What’s extra annoying about this is knowing that people I respect (who – once again – won’t be named) use them to this day. I think the consensus has been that they are impersonal if not disrespectful as you’re not really showing me a commitment to start a relationship by sending me some robot tweet that only clutters my inbox. Knock it off. We’re all very busy. Say something to me if you have to but there’s no need to spam my inbox with your “personalized” welcome message via DM. This is especially bad if you have misspelled something in your really obnoxious auto DM. Stop it. Seriously.

Hashtag Overkill – Somewhat higher on the annoyance scale, constantly hashtagging everything you write in a completely unpredictable, manic pattern. I’m not sure why #compliance is something people are actually searching for on Twitter often enough to require hashtagging it with every mention but to each his own. I’m talking about constantly and excessively hashtagging everything. We know you’re all about diversity and Accounting’s Top Whatever awards but by hashtagging every other word you are merely showing us that you really don’t know how to use Twitter. We expect better out of global accounting firms. I shouldn’t have to name names, you know who you are and you can stop now. Conservatism states that you will knock it the hell off and pick one or two per tweet moving forward.

One Handle Too Many – Is it necessary to create 40 sub-accounts that cover each of your divisions, specialties, scams and locales? I get that firms are global and that’s the whole point of the Internet but once again you’re taking it way too far and getting too excited about this stuff. One smaller accounting firm tweeting consistently, correctly and with a joke here and there is far more effective in my view than 67 sub-accounts randomly over-hashtagging for different global firm specialties. I’ll name names this time, @mgocpa is a great example of doing it right without an entire staff of media people running the show. Come on Big 87654, you guys can afford to put a few more bucks in Internet marketing if you are going to do it. Read one of those “How to Tweet” e-books maybe.

We sincerely hope our suggestions are appreciated here. If they aren’t implemented, we may be forced to start calling people out again.

How Much Time Is Too Much Time to Spend on Social Media?

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.

It’s likely that your employees spend a sizeable percentage of their time using social media. As work/life balance continues to blend into one homogenous string of activities, social media activity is happening in your workplace whether you realize it or not.

But isn’t social media just a big waste of time?

It can be, but lumping all socito the same unproductive bucket is unfair, and also unwise. Social media can be an effective tool for many key business activities – including business development, client retention, and employee retention and recruitment.

Because platforms like Facebook often blend personal and business colleagues, it’s very challenging to set black and white rules when governing the use of social media.


Free reign on social media = Trust

At Chrometa, we take a mostly laissez faire approach to our employees’ use of social media, with no official policies or restriction on what employees are allowed to do. I know this thinking is counterintuitive to what many accounting and consulting firms believe, but I think this boils down to a control issue more than anything else. It’s sort of similar to being told as a child not to get into the cookie jar. If firms set up policies dictating certain actions, employees are more likely to violate these policies if they feel they can get away with it without being noticed.

Each of our employees is encouraged to set up and maintain a presence on “The Big 3” social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Their participation levels, on the other hand, are completely up to them. A couple of our employees really enjoy and benefit, both personally and professionally, from their time on Facebook and Twitter. Ironically, our chief technical officer generally dislikes social media and personally avoids it.

At the core of our free reign is trust. We trust that our employees are 100 percent devoted to the success of our company, mission, and brand. As a result, I have complete trust they will not represent us poorly; to do so would be like representing themselves poorly. This level of trust is only possible if an employee does completely self-identify with his or her job and firm.

How much time is too much time?

I personally have spent too much time on many occasions on the Big 3 and blogs, as well, without achieving what I’d consider a reasonable ROI on my time. Going forward, I know I need to more accurately gauge the amount of time I should spend on each medium.

It’s not completely fair and accurate when people proclaim, “Twitter is a complete waste of time” because they probably just don’t understand what it can do. Twitter can be a drain, but it also can be useful if used properly and marketed to your stakeholders. Like anything, if you spend too much time on Twitter, you can end up wasting a lot of time if you don’t use it wisely.

How-much-time-too-much-time is something everyone must figure out for themselves. I give our employees the leeway to decide how much time is too much. I know they honestly want to be productive and perform their roles to the best of their ability. Because I know this, I find it’s better if they figure out these types of limits and best practices themselves, instead of having them come as edicts from above.

It’s About Time is a series of articles devoted to practice management techniques that focus on efficiency and productivity.

About the Author:
Brett Owens is CEO and cofounder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, CA-based provider of time-tracking software that records activity in real time. Previously marketed to the legal community, Chrometa is branching out to accounting prospects. Gains include the ability to discover previously undocumented billable time, saving time on billing reconciliation, and improving personal productivity. Owens also is blogger and founder at CommodityBullMarket.com and ContraryInvesting.com, as well as a regular contributor to two leading financial media sites, SeekingAlpha.com and BeforeItsNews.com.

Facebook and Twitter Get Used in a Penny Stock Scam

Before we can get into this particular penny stock scam, it would be wise to define the penny stock scam for the uninitiated. It’s a pile-in, financial porn pump and dump. These particular crooks decided to take to Twitter and Facebook to get new fish to buy into their easy to fill 2×1 matrix. Since Twitter is inundated with all level of bizarre MLM bots and pyramid scheme tweet spam, it’s easy to see how an effective a tool it can be in perpetuating financial fraud.


The Manhattan DA’s office says 11 of the 22 participants used Twitter feeds and websites to lure “investors” (read the fine print, people) to buy a bunch of cheap stocks they’d artificially inflated. They made off with $3 million and “investors” lost $7 million.

I use the word “investor” loosely. If you’re getting your stock picks from some spammy Twitterfeed that isn’t even run by a human being (or solely from one who is, so far you aren’t required to register with the SEC to talk about stocks on Twitter) maybe you had it coming. So far we haven’t seen the offending tweets, if you know where to find them let me know.

Penny stock scams are not limited to Twitter and even former SEC lawyers have been convicted of using them to take advantage of gullible “investors.” Like this guy, who brought civil cases against white collar criminals for 15 years in Fort Worth and ended up getting 8 years in federal prison for his pump and dump activities. It’s unclear if he used social media in his crimes but if he came from the SEC, chances are he’s more into porn than Twitter.

Filed under: doing it wrong

Facebook & Twitter used in stock fraud: U.S. prosecutor [Reuters]

Accounting News Roundup: KPMG’s Hiring Spree in Europe; Herz Gets Nostalgic; Stalemate on Estate Tax Could Benefit States | 10.05.10

KPMG joins Big Four hiring spree [FT]
The FT gives us the scoop on the Radio Station hiring bonanza in Europe (if you’re experienced go here), “KPMG is hiring 8,000 new staff across Europe over the next three years, signalling a recovery in the corporate services industry.

The hiring includes 3,000 staff in Britain, even though the UK government has pledged to cut its consultancy bill amid growing public unease over the billions of pounds spent on professional fees in the past decade.

The recruitment drive will take KPMG’s workforce from 30,0Europe, excluding France and Italy, and from 11,000 to 14,000 in the UK. KPMG also has ambitious hiring plans in France and Italy.

The corporate services industry had been hit by the global downturn, with the Big Four accountancy firms – KPMG, Ernst & Young, PwC and Deloitte – criticised for their role in signing off financial statements stuffed with assets that plummeted in value during the crisis.”

After Eight Years at FASB, Herz Looks Back [CFO]
Q&A with the man himself. Can you guess which accounting pronouncement he’s a big fan of?

Two Accounting Firms To Pay $1.7 Million To Settle CFTC Charges [Dow Jones]
“The charges stemmed from audits of Sentinel that were conducted between 2004 and 2006. The firms, McGladrey & Pullen LLP and Altschuler, Melvoin & Glasser LLP, agreed to pay $400,000 and $800,000, respectively, in restitution to Sentinel’s customers who suffered losses as a result of the Illinois-based futures commission merchant’s bankruptcy.

They were also required to pay civil monetary penalties of $150,000 and $350, 000, respectively, according to an order that was filed Monday. McGladrey & Pullen acquired assets related to Altschuler, Melvoin & Glasser’s audit practice in 2006.”

Ex-SocGen Trader Kerviel Convicted of Trading Fraud [WSJ]
” Paris court sentenced former Société Générale trader Jérôme Kerviel to three years in prison for his role in one of the biggest trading scandals in history, ordering him to repay a whopping €4.9 billion ($6.69 billion) loss suffered by the French bank.”

Investor Feedback Summary May Foretell FASB Retreat [Compliance Week]
“The Financial Accounting Standards Board may be sending up a smoke signal with an unusual missive describing how investors aren’t entirely in love with the board’s proposed new rules on financial instruments.

The board published a nine-page description of its interaction with investors regarding the FASB’s controversial proposal to call for more fair value in accounting for financial instruments. It opens with a reminder that FASB writes accounting rules to assure that financial statements produce information useful to investors, then explains how investors are reacting to the proposal when the board conducts face-to-face meetings with investors.”


State Estate Taxes: Windfall Gold in Expiring Tax Cuts [TaxVox]
States make out pret-tay well if Congress bumbles the estate tax.

U.S. hits AmEx with antitrust suit [WaPo]
“The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it had filed an antitrust suit against American Express for preventing retailers from offering customers discounts for using rival credit cards with lower processing fees.

Federal officials added that they had reached a proposed agreement with Visa and MasterCard over the matter.

The issue of ‘swipe fees’ has long been a thorn in the side of the retailing industry, which complained that it has little power to inform customers of the differences in card costs. In its complaint, the Justice Department estimated that the fees cost merchants $35 billion each year – resulting in higher prices for shoppers.”

LinkedIn and PwC Launch Breakthrough Career Mapping Tool for College Students [PR Newswire]
“LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with more than 80 million members globally, today launches Career Explorer in collaboration with PwC US, one of the largest employers of college graduates in the United States. The new LinkedIn Career Explorer tool provides current college students with unique, data-driven insights to help them build their careers.”

A Shift at the Top of Twitter [DealBook]
“Evan Williams, the co-founder and chief executive of Twitter, is stepping down to lead product strategy at the company, Twitter announced on Monday. Dick Costolo, the chief operating officer, will succeed Mr. Williams.”

How Not to Get Unfollowed on Twitter

The last time I attempted a “How Not to Be a Total Asshat on the Internet” public service message in this arena, I was torn apart for being too harsh so I’ll leave out the specifics and stick to the suggestions. You know who you are.

Keep in mind that what works for some doesn’t work for others and vice versa; we’re specifically talking about how to fit in with the accounting crew, not alienating clients, not come off as too spammy and/or maintain a reasonable professional profile using your Twitter account as a point of contact to your brand. All of you are more than welcome to do whatever you want with your Twitter accounts, the following is meant for professionals or brands.


Actually interact – No one is suggesting you follow every person who follows you or go on some mass following spree to artificially inflate your Internet popularity for appearance’s sake but a good balance of @s with following shows some level of interaction. A lot of firms miss this one and organizations can make the mistake of focusing strictly on their own message and ignoring what others are saying. Don’t do that, jump in and say something.

If the thought ever crosses my mind that you might be a robot, you’re probably not doing it right – You know the one; they have the same not-quite-normal headshot as their avatar and profile shot for every hot social media service available and not a single candid pic of this person “in action.” We don’t suggest drunken Facebook shots to remedy this but it would be nice to confirm that the person behind the account is, in fact, a person with a tweet that doesn’t seem prefabricated or a picture that deviates from the Headshot Series 1. When it’s a little too perfect, it appears suspect. People are less likely to enjoy your message if they are too busy wondering whether or not you’re a machine when reading it.

There is a such thing as TMII’m guilty of this one and it’s because I’m really not trying to masquerade as a total professional. Nor am I representing my company when I’m out there tweeting about the crackheads hitting on me at the gas station or meter maids terrorizing me with parking tickets. For some, interacting goes too far and gets way too personal. If you are attempting to represent or have at all associated yourself with your company, be aware that there is still a such thing as privacy. Even if you are only followed by a handful of people, your tweets reach the entire Internet.

RTs and FFs – And please for the love of Bob Herz don’t thank everyone for every RT, nor be the “all day #FF” guy. If you’re spending half your Friday #FFing everyone, you’re A) making unnecessary noise and B) diluting the value you add by suggesting helpful people to follow. Stick to a handful if you’re going to do it all instead of spewing out half your following list.

Oh and auto DMs? They were never really cool and to me they say that you’re too busy to actually say anything to me and inconsiderate of how cluttered my inbox can get. Sorry if this offends anyone who is in love with their own “brilliant” auto DM but I see them as obnoxious. Add to the conversation, not the noise.

Ernst & Young Staff Twitter Account Shares School Pride, Multiple Sneezes Record

Exciting news gang! Ernst & Young has given an entire Twitter account to its staff! “Sunny” is the current Tweeter. She is a Virginia Tech grad and a multiple sneezer:


The question that remains is that after these eleven sneezes, was Sunny greeted with “God bless you” or “You are sooooooo good lookin’.”? And did she get laid out of it?

How To Get “Monitoring The Conversation” Right

Being an incendiary, I’m used to getting unfollowed, ignored and even blocked (yes @mark_to_market blocked me, Lord knows who else, I stopped caring at 2000) and I’m definitely used to seeing the rats scatter across my stats every time I mention [insert firm or company name here] so it’s obvious to me from my various online interactions that some communications departments are keeping an eye on the conversation.

Since we’re all interested in the accounting side of things, I have to say that I notice more “official-looking” Twitter activity from firms based outside of the US (generally Big 4 coming from the UK or Canada) that leads me to believe most of them are at least keeping an eye on the Google alerts. PwC had the large pair to follow me once, very early on, and probably unfollowed when I started ripping on them for bumbling Satyam. Anyway, someone has to watch what’s being said and a company (or organization) can only choose to engage or not engage.

Engaging, of course, comes in several forms but to vaguely pin down what “engage” means, I’d define it as any activity that alerts others they are listening and/or give a shit.


For Comcast, they swarm Twitter responding to complaints about their crappy service, extortion boxes, and complicated remotes. Not all companies choose to take that route, nor should they be expected to. Protecting or guarding your brand means figuring out how much “engaging” is appropriate as any more or less than is appropriate for your particular organization’s needs will come off as fake, lame or just forced. And no one wants to interact with that.

For Dave and Buster’s, I give them credit for totally engaging me by following me. I’ve been publicly ripping on them for at least a week but I’m not doing it just to be mean, I’d really really like to know what went down with E&Y (welcome to your new gig, KPMG). I’ve never actually been in a D&B and any inquisitive tweets on my part were not returned but so far they haven’t sued me so I guess I’m doing well on that front.

Some agencies choose to completely ignore some of the more “questionable” interaction that isn’t exactly a pissed off customer. They’re already trained to handle that (any social media idiot can teach you how to talk to customers who talk about you in a list of 3 items or more) but they aren’t likely prepared for a fake accounting firm to ask them if newly-single D&B would want to try them out as auditors.

I don’t expect Dave & Buster’s to answer or acknowledge that but following me shows that they are at least aware I’m trying to egg them on and aren’t afraid of my bitch ass. Unlike the fake accounting firm, I’m a voice out there spreading whatever I know about [insert company] to a huge audience. They can’t send me 10,000 free tickets to shut my trap and I’m not exactly making a complaint they can resolve so what can they do? Keep an eye on me?

I admire that tactic. And may leave them alone… I’m more likely to do so if I get a tweet about what happened with E&Y but won’t be holding my breath for that particular @.

Why Your Firm Needs a Social Media Policy

If you work for a larger firm, chances are you’ve already got a social media policy that encompasses everything your firm does not want you to do online. For smaller firms and private practices, a social media policy can be the very last thing management considers implementing, assuming you will use your better judgment when conducting yourself online and don’t need the rules laid out. Oftentimes this mentality comes more from management’s unfamiliarity with social media than anything else. If they don’t use Twitter, how can they tell you how to conduct yourself on it?

But your online social life isn’t the same as a cocktail party at which you are representing your firm. Should you be able to say whatever you want on Twitter after hours? Can you post pictures of yourself getting wasted on Facebook?


The line is cut and dry when you are at a firm event or at a client but are you expected to represent your firm even when tweeting on your own time? If your firm does not have a social media policy, the answer is you have no way to know until it’s too late and you’ve pissed off the boss.

For firms, not having a social media policy can open the company up to all sorts of tricky trouble. Without knowing exactly what is expected of them, employees are forced to use their own judgment when it comes to their online behavior. Most are smart enough not to bash the boss in 140 characters or post embarrassing holiday party photos on Facebook but what’s to stop them from starting a blog that management finds offensive or keep them from tweeting about their work life in general? Absolutely nothing.

With hyper-connected Gen Y more than established in the workplace, a social media policy makes even more sense. Very few us get through a day without a Facebook update or a tweet and for some of us, our online persona can be a point of contention with management. Case in point, yours truly and Jr Deputy Accountant. Working in the industry meant that I had to be careful not to needlessly bash firm failures (like PwC and Satyam), lest I ruffle any feathers that could connect my site to my employer. Sometimes a disclaimer is helpful – something along the lines of “my opinion is my own and independent of any personal or professional affiliations” – but without having clear lines drawn between how you behave at work and how you behave on your own time in front of the entire Internet, it can be difficult to know what’s appropriate and what is not.

Last week we gave you some tips to keep your online life safe in the event that you don’t have a social media policy but that doesn’t mean your boss gets a pass. A social media policy is always a good idea and in this day and age there’s no getting around it, it’s necessary.

Five Ways Not to Lose Your Job Playing Around on the Internet

Accountants are more prevalent in the social mediasphere than you might think; they’ve taken over Twitter, blog regularly and can even be found figuring out how to make Foursquare relevant to business. But since tapping the potential of social media for business is relatively new, not all organizations know exactly how to use the tools, nor do the understand the importance of a good social media policy within their organization. So here are some tips for making the most out of social media without losing your job. We’re sorry we have to even share these but we’ve seen some of you guys out there in the social mediasphere and it appears you need a reminder.


Choose Your 140 Characters Carefully – If you’re on Twitter and are complaining about your job, understand that the entire world can see you. Even if your stream is private, the great Google sees everything. A few months back, Twitter’s internal search allowed private tweets to appear in searches. I’m not sure if this little hole has been patched but if it hasn’t, you don’t want to be a victim of your own public stream of consciousness. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in an e-mail to your boss.

Ask About Your Firm’s Social Media Policy – Though it’s sort of implied in the firm’s overall policy on communications outside of the company, social media is an entirely different avenue and the rules may not be as cut and dry as the GAAP you’re used to. Not all companies will specifically bar you from blogging on your free time and many turn a blind eye to the activity… until you say something they don’t like. Don’t assume that you’re safe if you don’t share your name or location: it’s fairly easy to reveal your identity if you’re sharing details of your life like where you live and what you do. It gets easier if you’re using a blog to rant about work or out obnoxious coworkers. This applies to positive blogs as well; even if you’re doing the industry a service by discussing current events in accounting, some firms would rather you not say anything at all. Be careful with your details and when in doubt, ask about your firm’s social media policy.

Facebook Friends – You’re not friends with him in real life so don’t be friends with your boss on Facebook. Facebook can be a great networking tool if you aren’t sharing photos of your drunken weekend adventures but if you are, better leave your boss or even coworkers off your friends list. Remember also that Facebook privacy settings can be complicated to say the least; even if you have most of your profile set to private, if you haven’t gone in and changed certain settings, mobile uploads and other photo albums can still appear in search results. That means any nosy coworker out to make you look bad could easily stumble upon your page and access things you’ve posted thinking they are invisible to anyone but your friends. I’m all for being cozy with colleagues but be careful when adding people you work with if you, like 99% of us, use your Facebook to rant, brag and occasionally spout off inappropriate things.

Careful when commenting on blogs! – Listen, we love you guys for contributing but sometimes we have to wonder if you’re playing with a full deck. If you’re commenting from and about work, keep the details to a minimum and use the anonymity of the Internet to your advantage! I have Jr Deputy Accountant readers who work for the banks, the Fed or government agencies but that secret stays between them and me – some choose to create a nickname that wouldn’t reveal who they really are and others stick with “anonymous”. However you do it, remember that if your name is George Stein and you work at KPMG, using GSKPMG2010 isn’t fooling anyone. Talking about salaries or griping about the conditions are totally allowed – if not encouraged – but be smart about it and never use your real name unless you work in communications or don’t mind your boss or colleagues seeing your comments. Once again, remember the great Google sees ALL.

Whatever you do, never forget the Internet is forever – You can delete your Myspace account but since the Internet tends to aggregate information, just because you’ve deleted something doesn’t mean it is gone forever. Case in point: when I write a blog post on JDA, it’s picked up and republished by two news aggregators instantly, which means I’m stuck with whatever typo I missed or stupid comment I made, even if I change or delete it on my own site. It is the same with Twitter as many bizarre websites aggregate tweets about a particular subject, some permanently. So you might be able to zap an obvious faux pas the morning after but it could come back to haunt you if it ends up somewhere else.

Wonky Accounting Insight in 140 Characters or Less: The FASB Is Now on Twitter

Technically it’s the Financial Accounting Foundation that has the handle: @FAFNorwalk and it also includes anything the GASB but really the FASB is who we expect to go on the offensive here.


They’ll be able to take on the haters with pithy commentary, give us the latest on their (less) ambitious convergence efforts and maybe, if we’re really, really, really lucky Bob Herz will spin off his own version of @CrankyKaplan. @DisturbedHerz, perhaps?

We have hope.

Fasb Twitter Pr

Accounting News Roundup: Are “Tax-Aware” Juries the Solution to Deductible Punitive Damages?; Financial Fake Twitter Feeds; Deloitte’s Czech Problem | 07.02.10

Damages Control [NYT]
Because BP could end up paying a metric asston in punitive damages over the Deepwater Horizon whathaveyou, the Senate recently approved a repeal of punitive damages awarded in civil disputes being deductible for tax purposes.

The problem is that it probably won’t work, as Gregg Polsky and Dan Markel, two law professors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Florida State University write in an op-ed in today’s Times:

“When plaintiffs and defendants reach a settlement before a trial, which happens in most cases, they aren’t required to specify which parts of the settlement are punitive and which are compensatory; therene number. That allows defendants to disguise the amounts that they would have paid as punitive damages as additional compensatory damages.

And because the measure maintains the deductible status of compensatory damages, nearly all punitive damages will remain, as a practical matter, deductible. This easy circumvention surely explains the meager revenue projections from the measure: $315 million over 10 years.”

The solution, according to Polsky and Markel is to make juries “tax aware” so that they may adjust their findings appropriately, “the prospect of tax-aware jurors would also raise the amounts of settlements before trial — when, again, most cases are actually resolved. This is because the amount of a settlement depends on the amount that a jury is expected to award after a trial. If tax-aware juries became the norm, plaintiffs would push for higher settlements, and thus both settling and non-settling defendants would bear the correct amount of punishment. Under the Senate’s approach, in contrast, only the very few non-settling defendants would bear that punishment.”

Five Fake Finance Twitter Feeds [FINS]
These are far better reasons to be on Twitter than Ashton Kutcher or Kim Kardashian.


Charities fail to communicate in annual reports: Deloitte [Accountancy Age]
Whatever they are communicating, it’s still more informative than a “Transparency Report.”

More cloud accounting benefits [AccMan]
“It is becoming increasingly obvious that clouding computing benefits as they apply to the accounting arena stretch way beyond the ability to save time, effort and cost. As I meet with more customers, I am discovering benefits that only customers can express.”

Apollo Said to Hire PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Donnelly as CFO [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
“[Gene] Donnelly, who starts in his new role today after 29 years at New York-based consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, fills a vacancy left by the departure of Kenneth Vecchione in January, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the hiring wasn’t announced. Barry Giarraputo, the company’s chief accounting officer, had been serving as interim CFO.”

Deloitte answers fraud reports [The Prague Post]
Francine McKenna tweeted about this story yesterday, where Deloitte has been cited by one Czech newspaper as being investigated by Czech anti-corruption police.

“Deloitte has been put on the defensive since the June 28 report in the daily Lidové noviny (LN) that quoted unnamed sources alleging a slush fund used to bribe public officials and fraudulent accounting that gave clients better financial results. Deloitte says the results of an internal review highlighted ‘certain deficiencies in management reporting,’ but considers the results an internal matter and will not make any comments.”

Everyone at Deloitte Worked for Free Today

As you may or may not be aware, it’s Deloitte’s 11th Annual Impact Day today:

“Deloitte is providing hundreds of nonprofit leaders from across the country with valuable counsel to help them deal with common business challenges, at no cost.”

That’s right friends, no one is – gasp – billing time! It’s a 100% green dot free-for-all across this great land.


However, we did speak to one source at the firm who told us that they haven’t participated in Impact Day in 3 years, “everyone leaves me alone so I can get something done,” so despite the message at Deloitte HQ that “no one is available to take your call,” and what you’re reading on Twitter, we know some people are working.

Obviously that’s lame but the real question is how many Green Dots called in sick and are currently getting blitzed watching the World Cup? And keeping an eye on their fantasy teams? AND maniacally laughing while watching Barry Salzberg live Tweet the whole day?

IRS Asked to Crack Down on Church’s ‘Troubling Tweets’

You house of worship types are probably used to hearing politically toned sermons coming from your clergy(wo)man but a nonprofit holy house flat out telling its congregation, “Get out there and vote for [candidate soon-to-be caught up in a lurid sex scandal]!” would be venturing into some tricky waters.

Well, the Americans United for Separation of Church and State seems to have caught wind of a church who ventured. The AU claims that the Oasis Church in Los Angeles was openly supporting its Director of Social Justice’s, Alex Jones-Moreno run for reelection to the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood City Council on its website and on Twitter:


Americans United was not amused by this, sending a complaint to the IRS and putting out a press release:

“Oasis Church’s appeals might have been innovative, but they still violate the law,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Federal law bars churches and other tax-exempt non-profits from electioneering. The IRS should crack down on these troubling tweets.”

We called the IRS in Los Angeles, who was not aware of the story and we were told the usual yarn of “we can’t comment on individual tax cases,” which we were expecting but the IRS PR folks are always nice people and we like a pleasant voice every now and again.

Anyhoo, we did stumble across the IRS Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations, that says the following on page 5 (our bolding):

Churches and religious organizations, like many other charitable organizations, qualify for exemption from federal income tax under IRC section 501(c)(3) and are generally eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. To qualify for tax-exempt status, such an organization must meet the following requirements (covered in greater detail throughout this publication):

• the organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific, or other
charitable purposes,
• net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder,
• no substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation,
the organization may not intervene in political campaigns, and
• the organization’s purposes and activities may not
be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.

Now whether Tweeting = “intervene” we’re not sure but Americans United certainly seems to think so. We’d invite any tax-exempt experts to weigh in.

A message left at Mr Jones-Moreno’s Oasis office was not immediately returned.

Americans United Asks IRS to Investigate Los Angeles Church That ‘Tweeted’ Candidate to Victory [AU]

Today in Accountants Making Bad Decisions: Tweeting That You’re Going to Blow Up an Airport

When an airport is closed due to inclement weather, most people just shrug and realize that there’s nothing they can do about it. Oh sure, there might be a few lunatics who will yell at the ticket agent because they’ve somehow concluded that they have the ability to ring up the Almighty and put in a rush order of clearing skies but most people have the self control to internalize this.


In the case of Paul Chambers, an accountant in the UK, it wasn’t so much a ticket agent but his Twitter followers who heard his frustration. Chamber was understandably concerned that he wasn’t going to get laid due to Robin Hood Airport being closed this past January after a snowstorm. Chambers claimed that he Tweeted the following…

“C—! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your sh– together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”

…out of frustration because he was scheduled to fly to Belfast to meet Crazy Colours, whom he had met on Twitter. Prior to the C U Next Tuesday message, he had Tweeted to Crazy Colours, “I was thinking that if it does I’ve decided that I’m going to resort to terrorism,” presumably referring to another snowstorm that could potentially delay is upcoming travels.

Anyhoo, the Tweet was discovered by a Robin Hood Airport employee who was compelled to report the threat to authorities. Naturally this led to seven hours of questioning, the loss of his job, and a ban from the airport for life (later rescinded).

The judge ruled that the Tweet was ”of a menacing nature in the context of the times in which we live.” Chambers was fined approximately $1,500 and naturally, took to the Twittersphere with his thoughts on the matter:

Accountant used Twitter to threaten to blow up airport [Telegraph]
Briton Convicted for ‘Menacing’ Tweet Against Robin Hood Airport [The Lede/NYT]

Despite Endless Tweets to the Contrary, Recent Poll Debunks “Accounting Is Boring” Stereotype

Unbeknownst to us (until a little bit ago), Ajilon Finance has declared April as Accountant Appreciation Month and has marked the occasion by encouraging displays of appreciation through the most official of means: Facebook.

And that’s not the all! A recent poll done by Ajilon says that 88% of respondents don’t believe the stereotype that accountants are boring. The same poll found that 84% of the respondents don’t think the profession is boring. These findings contradict a constant Twitter feed so you’ll have to make your own conclusions on the validity of the poll.


In other mind-blowing results from the poll, 98% of those surveyed “recognized that accountants work hard all year round and not only the months during tax season.” The other 2% obviously assume that your 8 month vacation started last Friday.

In other developments, 100% of Big 4 auditors get annoyed when their family, friends, and other non-accountants (like the ones surveyed by Ajilon) ask how their tax season went.

Accountants Can Celebrate: Tax Day is Over & Americans are Seeing the Profession in a New Light [Ajilon Press Release]

Is Stephen Chipman Preparing to Embrace Twitter?

We hope! Our speculation is fueled by a line from SC’s most recent post:

“Because I’ve heard it said that brevity is not my strong suit, I will try to explain it in 50 words.”

Whether Steve-o realizes it or not, at 50 words, he still needs to improve his brevity. But it’s a start and we’re hoping that he’ll get eventually embrace Twitter. We’re envisioning pithy Tweets followed by clever hashtags like #GTrocks or #Big4sucks or #isecretlyheartsuesachdeva.


The fact the whole brevity topic came up makes us curious. We only made mention of it once, ages ago, so we’re certain that he isn’t referring to our commentary (which we’re sure he reads religiously).

Anyhoo, Even-Stephen was referring to the difference between the Grant Thornton Senior Leadership Team and the Partnership Board. Disappointing everyone, he ended up using 51 words and 258 characters:

The SLT is the equivalent of executive management, and the Partnership Board is the governing body of the firm. The SLT is appointed by the CEO and approved by the PB. The CEO is appointed by the PB. The SLT reports to the CEO, and the CEO reports to the PB.

That’s followed up by Stephen getting back to his windy ways, describing what every member of the SLT does (you can get the gist from their titles).

So while we’re encouraged by Chip’s effort at getting to the point, he still has some work to do. Just sign up and go for it man. Plus we’d be interested to know who Steve-o would follow. Going Concern is a given but does he go intellectual and follow Taleb and Roubini? Or slum it with the rubes and follow Kim Kardashian, Courtney Love and Kanye?

Stephen, just get on Twitter.

Accounting News Roundup: Koss Sues AMEX for Sachdeva Spending Spree; IRS Worker’s Widow Sues Stack’s Widow; Twitter Feeds for Tax Pros | 02.24.10

Koss sues American Express over Sachdeva purchases [MJS]
Headphone factory Koss is suing American Express (the whistleblower!) for not reporting alleged embezzler extraordinaire Sue Sachdeva sooner.

Koss alleges that AMEX knew about Suze paying her credit card with Koss funds in February 2008 but then did nothing about it until August 2009; a month when SS spent $3.5 million on high end threads.

Sue Sach was finally exposed last December after allegedly making off with $31 million. So more or less, Koss is suing AMEX for $20 million because Koss’ management was far too busy to pay attention to their own company. The good news is that a whistleblower that happens to be corporation gets about as much gratitude as a human whistleblower. Consistency!


IRS worker’s widow sues Texas suicide pilot’s wife [AP via NYDN]
The widow of IRS employee Vernon Hunter is suing Sheryl Stack, widow of Joseph Stack, in order to determine if JS had a life insurance policy or other assets. The suit alleges that Mrs. Stack should have “should have warned others about her husband,” apparently because someone bitching about the IRS regularly flies a plane into a building.

Four Twitter Feeds for Tax Pros [FINS]
FINS put together their top four Twitter feeds for tax professionals yesterday and lo and behold, we ended up on the list! Thanks to FINS for including us but a special thanks goes to people like Terry “Dozer” and wives that shoot at their greedy husbands. They make our jobs easier.

When Will Accounting Firms Fully Embrace Social Media?

Accounting firms seem to be on the fence when it comes to social media. While the Big 4 recruiting teams (and non-Big 4 for that matter) are into it full force, we’re skeptical about the enthusiasm of the firms’ leadership, especially the operational leaders.

To them blogs, Facebook, Twitter et al. is a way to waste time and has nothing to do with producing results. But now that Microsoft has announced that it will be including plug-ins for Outlook (sorry, firms on Lotus Notes), we wonder if the momentum behind social media will prove too much to ignore forever.


There are some signs of acceptance including Stephen Chipman (still needs to make it public)and Jeremy Newman communicating through the blogosphere, the growth of social networking and, as we mentioned, recruiting. Eventually the firms will come around, but when?

Our friendly HR expert, Dan Braddock thinks it won’t be long, “Facebook’s privacy settings are getting sophisticated quickly; someone can make their Facebook page look as professional as a LinkedIn profile.”

And what about friending clients, co-workers and potential recruits? “People are getting more and more comfortable with the idea, so it won’t happen right away but in 3 to 5 years, you’re going to start seeing more of it,” DWB said.

Microsoft’s director of technical accounting called out financial reporting as being pretty much irrelevant. It remains to be seen if firms continue to resist social media while the rest of the world continues to find ways to innovate by utilizing it.

Three Challenges for the New Twitter CFO

The micro-blogging phenom Twitter has faced a lot of doubts about its business plan as its popularity has exploded. The speed that the Company has seen and thus, the demand for monetization, led to the Company announcing the hiring of Ali Rowghani, currently CFO at Pixar, as the Twitter’s first financial chief.

The Company raised $100 million back in September and entered into licensing agreements with both Microsoft and Google to feed real time information into their search engines.

This all sounds good but Mr. Rowghani still has his work cut out for him. Here are three challenges he will face as the first CFO of Twitter:


Help Develop a Sustainable Business Model – So you’ve got this great idea, micro-blogging at 140 characters a pop. Now what? Sure you’ve struck deals with Microsoft and Google but are is there anything else cooking? How do you monetize how professionals use Twitter that doesn’t involve what you just ordered for lunch? Plus, how do address stats like these:

– 72.5% of all users joining during the first five months of 2009.

– 85.3% of all Twitter users post less than one update/day

- 21% of users have never posted a Tweet

– 93.6% of users have less than 100 followers, while 92.4% follow less than 100 people.

– 5% of Twitter users account for 75% of all activity

Control Expenses – Any startup company has to run a tight ship, regardless of their popularity and Twitter is no exception. The company is hiring engineers and other professionals that won’t come cheap (unless they pay them in equity, more on that later) and their headquarters is located in downtown San Francisco where rent doesn’t come cheap. That $100 million will burn up awfully fast if they don’t develop solid revenue streams and don’t keep costs down.

Build a strong infrastructure for the finance and accounting functions – Ultimately the CFO is responsible for the finance and accounting departments for a company. We’ll go out on a limb and say that the founders of Twitter know squat about setting up either, despite their importance within the organization.

Mr. Rowghani will have to get these functions in tip-top, especially if the pressure to take the company public proves too much to bear. Even if the Company manages to resist this route — like Facebook has so far — they still need reliable financial reporting, especially if they decided to do some less than vanilla transactions like equity comp. Additionally, they need people that will be able to lay out good financing options for the development of the Company. Whether that means borrowing money (not the best idea for a startup) or raising it through new investors (private or public) it will take airtight planning and the CFO will oversee all of it.

For the new CFO to succeed he will have address these issues and more as he balances the pressure of a weak economy and cautious investors concerned with guarding their capital.

A Little Housekeeping

Your cubicle isn’t the only place it’s busy season. We’ve been working hard to make your GoingConcern experience as streamlined as an ez401K, an effort we revealed today with a move to the popular Wordpress platform from our old Movable Type framework, a few design changes, a brand new comment system, and — yes, we admit — even a bit of downtime!

We realize that change can be scary, but we encourage you to tell us what you think in our new, more flexible comment system, which will allow you to sign in with your Twitter, Facebook, or OpenID accounts and make your voice heard loud and clear across the internet. We encourage you to give it a go — and of course sign up to follow GoingConcern on Twitter, become one of our fans on Facebook, or sign up for our e-mail newsletter.

On top of that, the choir of voices harmonizing on GoingConcern will be growing. You’ll be getting more frequent posts from the likes of The JDA and Francine; plus, we’re teaming with the gang at CFOZone for more corporate finance insight and analysis.

We’ll also be looking to interview more of you, dear readers, to hear more about what’s on your mind. If you or someone you know will make a good subject, or if you just want to play editorial director and let us know what we should be covering, just drop us an email at tips@goingconcern.com.

Try to Compose Yourselves After Reading This Post

Being accountants, we don’t have too may rock stars among us. Oh sure, maybe Tim Flynn is the cock of the walk at the Radio Station or Barry Salzberg can’t walk around Big D’s office without associates crawling all over each other to touch his clothes but these men pale in comparison to the immortal we are about to present to you.
If you saw this man on the street, his swagger would make your knees week, his impeccable attire would cause you to stare uncontrollably and the sound of his voice might overcome you with so much nervous excitement that you might projectile vomit all over him.
Find out who this man-god is, after the jump


We present you with this:
Tim2.png
Now we realize that the mere thought of Tim Gearty and Bob Herz on a cruise at the same time is probably more than most of you can handle but we had to share with you that the oracle of Becker Review was on Twitter bestowing encouragement and wisdom. All of you out there working to dominate the CPA exam can now rest easy that Tim will always be available in the Twitterverse.
You’re welcome.