What are you thankful for?

KPMG Is Thankful for SOX

I was kinda wondering about this myself, but I figured the answer would be no. From Tammy Whitehouse of Compliance Week: KPMG is under fire in the U.K. for diminishing audit performance, particularly in connection with the collapse of British construction firm Carillion. The firm has reportedly advised its partners internally that it would halt all […]

Look, You Guys, You Should Really Be Thankful for Enron’s Bankruptcy

One of the first things I saw this morning in my Twitter feed was this missive from one of the Grumpy Old Accountants, Ed Ketz:


Now, I don’t know Professor Ketz personally, but my highly acute sarcasm detector is going batshit crazy. Less subtly, MACPA Editor Bill Sheridan gives us the timeline of the events that transpired starting with Enron’s filing. Bill gets a little weepy about the whole affair, writing:

Remember how utterly chaotic that time was? News that shook CPAs to the core surfaced almost daily, and the next day brought even worse news.

Okay, I was in college when Enron went bankrupt so I don’t remember things being “chaotic” unless you count the whole “9/11 was less than 3 months ago” thing. What I do remember was an Andersen partner who came to campus for our Accounting Society meeting (BAP didn’t have a chapter at my school) alone and he didn’t really seem to know anything more than what I imagine was being reported in the news and our faculty advisor noticed it too. So for him and his fellow partners, yes, things were probably royally sucking. And yes, things did get worse when Andersen was convicted* of obstruction of justice, surrendered their state licenses and closed up shop.

So maybe all that stuff is bad. Maybe it’s really fucking bad and it causes people to cringe to think about it but even Bill sees the upside:

You could argue that the profession is better off because of it. We took our lumps, rolled with the punches, and emerged on the far side stronger and more trustworthy than ever. “That which doesn’t kill you,” etc., etc. Still, I’m not in any rush to go through something like that again. Are you?

Jesus. Can we quit acting like Enron is still a big deal? Lehman Brothers was the size of ten Enrons. TEN. And Ernst & Young, no matter what happens, looks like idiots and continues to claim that they bear no responsibility and everything is still hunky dory. Andersen got off easy. Enron went bankrupt. The firm got fired. And fired again. And again. Then the firm died. The end. Their partners and employees moved on and everything was cool. I mean seriously, even C.E. Andrews got another job. If Ernst & Young continues on, they’ll have this hanging over them until something worse happens. Enjoy that.

But back to Enron. Thanks to Enron, we got Sarbanes-Oxley. We got The Smartest Guys in the Room. And we got that awesome Heineken ad. If you think about it, lots of you probably got your job thanks to Enron. Which means you probably owe your house, your spouse, your dog and a whole bunch of other shit to Enron too. You should be thanking your lucky stars that Jeff Skilling was such a ballsy mark-to-market wizard.

And yet people choose to remember it as, “That one time where we almost DIED!” And the mainstream press, in its blissful accounting ignorance, loves to dig it up in every article that is remotely accounting related.

I don’t know about you all but I’ve moved on. Enron was this bad thing that happened to the accounting profession but other bad things have happened – far worse things – and other equally bad things will happen. Maybe if people had learned something the last ten years and tried to do things better instead of maintaining the status quo, there wouldn’t be a French guy busting your chops. Here’s to the next 100 years. Thanks, Enron.

*SCOTUS overturned the conviction on a technicality (apparently an important one) but that doesn’t bring the firm back now, does it?

PwC Partners Providing NY Employees a Way to Avoid Travel, Family for Thanksgiving

As the days shorten, leaves fall and men waste hours in front of the talking box, it can only means one thing: The Holidays will soon be upon us. This also means that lots of traveling and family time – two things that can make the holidays a less-than desirable time of year.

Luckily for PwC employees in New York, two partners have opened their hearts and homes (not literally) so that you may avoid those two nuisances entirely:

To the People of the New York Metro Practice:

The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday break provides us with a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the company of family and friends and to reflect on all we have to be thankful for. However, we recognize that some of our people may be far from home (such as our people who are on tour from various other PwC offices) or may just not have somewhere to spend Thanksgiving Day. If you don’t have plans, Tim Ryan, Assurance Leader and Bill Cobourn, Sectors & Markets Leader will host (along with their families), a special Thanksgiving Day meal.

We would like to invite you and your friend, spouse, significant other, or children — and we can all celebrate this special day together. As some of you know, Tim has six children–so there will be fun for both adults and children. This festive meal will be held on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 25) in the afternoon at a Manhattan venue to be announced. To help us plan for this event, please indicate your interest in attending using the link below. If you respond “yes” we will follow up shortly to provide additional details.

Please recognize that if you already have plans for the holiday, you are not being asked to change them.

This unprecedented display of generosity is quite welcome considering past behavior by some partners in other cities but we do have questions:

1. Is there a short list for the “Manhattan venue” and will attendees be allowed to vote on the locale?

2. Will the “kids table” consist of non-partners as well as kids or will all the adults be allowed to sit together regardless of title?

3. What’s the “saying grace” situation? Also, will there be assigned seats or is it going to be like boarding a Southwest flight?

4. Will table manners be of the Judith Martin or Emily Post persuasion?

5. What’s on the menu? Is going to be the typical fare or are we going non-tradish? Is it catered or are Tim and Bill going cheap and making it potluck?

6. Open bar?

7. Are certain topics of conversation off the table? Examples may include but are not exclusive to: A) The new logo B) AIG C) Deloitte’s ascension to #1.

8. Will there be an open call for entertainment or is the pianist from DC going to step up again?

You have to agree that all of the above are important but are we missing anything? If you’ve got more questions, leave them below.

Ernst & Young Is Thankful for Lawyers, Possibly Toblerones

Thumbnail image for madoff-sentenced.jpgJust when we think the Madoff beat has quieted down, we’re reminded that the tentacles of the Ponzi scheme of our lifetime reach far and wide and for that we are thankful.


Not because we enjoy the carnage that has come about from this particular scheme. No, that would be in bad taste. We’re mostly thankful because we’re certain that today, 90% of you will spend the entire day gabbing about turkey-lurkey-do instead of sending us details on your firm’s cost saving initiative du jour, thus making it a slow news day.
So, thank you Berns, for providing us a story on this most non-productive day of the year:

Private and institutional investors who lost money through Access International Advisors LLC’s LuxAlpha Sicav-American Selection are suing UBS and Ernst & Young for “seriously neglecting” their supervisory duties of the fund. A Luxembourg court will decide in hearings that started today whether investors have the right to bring direct claims against the fund’s custodian and auditor.
“These cases are very important,” Pierre Reuter, who represents clients in six of the lawsuits being reviewed over four days of hearings, said by telephone before the hearing. “They could set the course for some 100 pending cases and many more to come.”

Since these are simply “test cases” the plaintiffs will be anxious to see the results, especially since the Swiss are involved. A pallet of Toblerones will certainly find their way to the offering table at some point. Whether UBS allows E&Y to squeeze in on this valuable bargaining chip remains to be seen.
UBS, Ernst & Young Face Test Cases Over Madoff Funds [Bloomberg]