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Memo to the accounting market research team
To: Fieldwork Team Lead CC: Fieldwork Research Team From: Lab Executive Management Committee Recent Adverse Events Associated with the Accounting Application Market Research Study It has been brought to our attention that members of our team attempted to conduct research which led to negative publicity for our client and incidentally brought to light certain flaws in the design of the project. The project is halted until further reviews are completed. The Fieldwork Team Lead will be asked to receive approval from the Lab Executive Management Committee prior to resumption of the project. A thorough reevaluation of the research protocols to be employed will be expected, which should include independent research through selection of a random sample of industry participants of a statistically valid testing size that will allow for a more scientific and impartial assessment of market trends which avoids placing undue reliance on unreliable or biased entities. In the future, reading the about...
Hilariously Bad Sports Reporting
Absolutely nothing to do with accounting here, unless you consider the temporary failure to count the number of players on the field. This should make you feel better next time you completely fail at anything. Just think back to this sports report. Thanks Videosift. Oh, and I know the video spills right off the edge of the screen - I was going to fix it, but the Editorial Board declared it looked "awesome."
Can I replace the standard checkmark tick marks with stick-men and other fanciful drawings?
Short answer: depends on your manager. I very much like using the new 3D images in Office 2007 to make my workpapers look a bit more interesting, but I only use them when I know they're going to be appreciated, otherwise it's just standard yellow boxes and red check marks. Good tick marks are easy to draw, and are easily distinguishable from each other. These random thoughts came to mind after reading about Jim Carroll and how he did just that as a young CA student a few decades ago. He realized that being creative and a Chartered Accountant doesn't at all mean dealing with contradiction, and he went on to become a popular speaker on futurism and even writes a regular column in CA Magazine . Oddly enough I didn't think to wander onto his website until just now despite reading about his adventure in creating an app for simplifying that task. Go there , and you'll have a chance to listen to him speak is pretty captivating - and there's a introductory video on his...
What do I do if I find a glaring error in an audit by a Canadian CA firm?
Sometimes you read things online and wonder, "gee, what if someone in charge of this enforcing The Rules found out what's going on?" Would some audit firm get in a mess of trouble if things weren't being done properly? Consider this quote from a lively AuditLand discussion board : " Having worked for Big 4 firms for almost four years, I feel that Big 4 firms often lack ethics. We learn about ethics in different courses in University. I feel that none of the ethics I learned is being applied in the workplace. Generally speaking, managers do not perform all the Audit procedures in gathering evidence. For example, we take data given to us without validating them. The managers don’t offer its workers any directions or help. When I was in my third month at the firm, I went to audit the inventory of a computer hardware warehouse with another auditor. We had no idea what we were doing. We simply made up numbers that we thought made sense and we left. We compiled those numbers...
New guide: how to successfully wait in line at a Polish deli
I really do wish the following tutorial was not necessary, but recent events have showed me that our education system has clearly failed us. Now that there is an influx of people with absolutely zero life skills arriving in my neighbourhood, I have, as usual, found it thrust upon my shoulders to deliver a new guide on How to Survive Life. Long-time readers will recall this site's brief master class on business travel . The only thing it lacked to be considered the peer of workplace training was an introductory " You should be able to " Goals section, and a instructions at the conclusion regarding how to get your Continuing Professional Education credits. The new and improved courses delivered by A Counting School address those concerns. How to successfully wait in line at a Polish deli Upon completion of this course, you should able to: know how to stand in line to be served in a Polish deli, and not look like a cursed fool. Lesson one: arrival. Upon arrival, gauge the line...
Hope for 2009's unsuccessful UFE writers
Every December, about a quarter or a fifth of the UFE writers from the previous September get the bad news - despite their best efforts, they didn't pass the exam. It sucks, but there's no reason to give up. Much advice will then flow forth, and one of the most repeated points - "figure out what went wrong" - will mean more than just asking yourself, "what happened during the three days of the exam?" Equally important, if not moreso, if figuring out what happened before the exam. Speaking very broadly, you have two groups - the people who studied the "right way", and people who studied the "wrong way." Figuring out which group you 'belong' to can help you debrief what went wrong. I'm not really sure what they're trying to warn you about doing with that cable car. If you studied the "right way" - with a study buddy marking your cases, following a well-planned schedule up to the exam, avoiding spending too much or...
Shocker: CA firm lays off staff immediately after the 2009 UFE
My dear readers have reported experiencing something horrible: layoffs immediately after the UFE! Although it's one thing to decide, "we have too many young staff, let's tell some of them not to come into the office on Monday", saying, "well, let's get it over with quickly and call them to the office immedately after they have finished their 13 hour exam." Seriously - calling someone in on a Thursday afternoon to tell them they're being let go? Is that someone's idea of a sick joke? It's marginally better than doing it before the exam itself - that's a cardinal sin which I decry even more loudly, since it throws people off their game for preparing for the exam - but you would think that firms would realize that, "hey, we're doing campus recruiting right now." What does that mean? It means that students across Canada and in other parts of the world are currently applying to work for accounting firms. If students find out that...
Getting mauled by a lion: surely there's an allegory about Big 4 life
Thanks Videosift, you always brighten my day. I'll let you come up with your own story for how this compares to the adventure in AuditLand so many young people go through, hopefully with less claw marks. I nominate Neil to give it a first shot, considering he's now technically in the allegorical doctor's office stage of the video. It's been ages since I posted a video here just for fun, so let's do two while we're at it. This hits the " Learning from Mistakes " category: avoid walking behind horses, especially if you're an idiot.
What did the Livent fraud teach us about IT audits, frauds, and financial audits in general?
Livent was a Canadian theatre company which imploded in a massive accounting scandal in the 1990's which we learned about in university as a case study in how not to do several things on an audit. The people involved are heading off to prison , at the end of a lengthy and drawn out legal proceeding, but that's okay because I only now noticed this article in Canadian Business shed some light on the IT side of things . During one audit in 1996, computer experts from Deloitte & Touche – the accounting firm that audited Livent’s financial statements – spent at least 28 hours evaluating the company’s information systems, but failed to detect the changes, the court heard. Any inquiries from the auditors about changes were referred to Eckstein, Cheong said. A Deloitte report on Livent’s computer systems, however, noted the company’s lack of data security and warned: “The lack of sufficient logical security may result in unauthorized access to programs or data.” What this article doesn't...
Hiring high school students to run audits and treating your staff like... prostitutes?
Tick Marks has an article that's hard to believe - someone hired high school students to work on his audits . His name happened to be Michael Moore, but the guy punished by the SEC wasn't that Moore. Not a big surprise. I've found the grave of Michael Moore in Victoria. No, not that Moore either. Then comes the story which made our jaws drop just a bit when shared with friends: " Accountant ‘treated like a prostitute’ sues City firm for £40 million. " The article states that, while working for PwC, the accountant claimed to be on the receiving end of racist and sexist comments, and she's suing for damages. There's a curious claim in the article that she "claims that the discrimination prevented her becoming a PwC partner earning at least £500,000 a year plus bonuses." I presume that this was phrased more delicately, in the sense that "she could have one day become a partner, had she not been subject to this treatment." Being 31 years old...
Going to Kitchener for food, fun, and sometimes audits
The summer of road trip adventures and weddings continues - a week ago sending ACS to a wedding in Waterloo, with a stop on the way at Kitchener's Golden Hearth Baking Company . I've been out there many times for audits, but this weekend had nothing to do with auditing anyone, unless witnessing people get married is a form of auditing. Damnit, this work nevers escapes me. Oh well, at least we make it fun. And delicious, as I explain below. Although the wedding was a fun way to fill up on said deliciousness, it only lasted one night, so I loaded up on some of the wonderful baked goods for Sunday by stopping there on the way. Read a little about them, courtesy of their own website : "They have been at it ever since. The bakery makes everything from scratch including the croissants. They use only the finest quality local and organic ingredients. They do not use preservatives or artificial ingredients. They bake the old fashioned way with butter, fresh milled flour, farm eggs...
Corcoran usually annoys me, but daft union leaders are worse
Subtle strike commentary? Perhaps I disagree with Post columnist Terence Corcoran when I read much of his work - so much so that I tend to avoid buying or reading the Post to avoid getting a nasty case of "I can't believe you said that, do you have life?" And yet, I can now forgive the last 100 times he's annoyed me after his spot on front page editorial piece in yesterday's Post : While the Mayor goes down in the media and with the public, union leaders chug relatively unscathed through their ritual assaults on taxpayers, good sense and rationality. Mark Ferguson, head of Toronto Local 416 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents garbage and other outside workers, turned up in a weekend Toronto Star profile as soft-hearted New Wave mystic. He reads works by the Dalai Lama and allegedly seeks to avoid confrontation in favour of fairness. What Mr. Ferguson also reads, however, is the same old union class-warfare texts that have animated union power...
Telus shows why it's good to have friendly and helpful staff
Last week I wrote about a little billing fiasco on my last bill - the week was so busy I didn't end up calling back until today to find out if there was a solution. There in fact was - Telus' IT guys did a good job of quickly repairing the issue which made incoming messages look like they were outgoing if they were from a certain website . I vowed to try and milk this inconvenience for free perks, but the staff I dealt with were friendly and even sympathetic - talking about how they understand this is annoying. As a result, not only did I not feel much in the way of annoyance, I forgot about my grand plan to win additional perks. I still might have remembered to ask if this started to turn into a hassle, but I was quickly transferred from the initial calltaker to an even wiser member of the team who quickly tracked down the correct incident ticket, made sure I would get the correct credit applied to my next bill, and apologized again for their gaffe. So there you have it - anecdotal...
Brace yourself for big bills Telus customers: incoming Twitter messages are being tracked as outgoing.
If you're a Telus customer using twitter to get SMS updates, and you don't have an unlimited text messaging plan, get ready for a potentially nasty bill. Although the USA has enjoyed this feature since the dawn of time , for the past few months Canadians weren't able to receive updates from twitter on their cell phones until the Canadian cell phone companies and Twitter sorted things out amongst themselves. Last month Telus caught up to the other major players and reintroduced incoming messages, which was wonderful. There's just one catch - someone screwed up on the code in Telus' billing software, and it started reading incoming messages from twitter as outgoing messages. Ironically I know the people who were behind the unvandalized original version of this ad campaign. Read this painful account on HowardForums if you want to see what happens when you're the first person to get hit by the billing issue . Thank goodness I wasn't the first person to report this...
Eating hours is not cool, and yet a former Big Four partner claims it's all the rage
IwanttobeaCA has a very interesting interview with a retired KPMG partner which features many candid comments on the nature of the Chartered Accountant designation and how things have changed over the years in the profession. It also includes some smart tips for students trying to get hired - talk to the junior staff at recruiting events instead of trying to impress the big shots in attendance. With a small mob of people crowding around the top representatives, they're unlikely to remember you in particular, but the younger people from the firm you're interested in working for not only may have a better chance of remembering you, but you're more likely to make a positive connection with them. And the recruiting teams do ask those younger staff to identify who were the standout candidates. There's one aspect of the interview which I found absolutely troubling, though. It was the nonchalant attitude towards "eating hours". You ate time to meet budgets. And now you're...
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