CNN Lies: Accounting Industry Stronger Than Ever, Explosive Even

(h/t my darling Going Concern editor Caleb, you can tweet his ass thank you @going_concern)

I don't know where to start. Lou Dobbs isn't even gone a day and this is what you've got, CNN? Really? Way to interview the CEOs - as if they are an accurate reflection of the industry.

Ask the 12 advisory staff who got laid off in Ernst & Young's Pacific Northwest division yesterday where the accounting industry is headed, or ask the pissed-on auditors "sweeping the leg" across the country how they feel about the industry.

Anyway, this CNN piece disgusts me
. Kevin Voigt, you ought to be ashamed of yourself for writing this. Didn't you check out these CEOs' stories? They're blatantly full of shit, isn't that obvious?

When the power brokers of the business world meet, the accountants are never far behind.

While other industries have downsized through the turmoil of the financial crisis, the "Big Four" accounting firms -- PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, and Ernst & Young -- will end the year with more employees than before the crisis started.

Show me that number, CNN. Please. Right now. Because I deal with unlicensed accountants every single day and I'd have to guess here that 85% of the ones I talk to are unemployed. The Big 4 hardly show up on the Caller ID anymore; and maybe that's just because passing the CPA exam is no longer a priority when you're hanging onto your job for dear life but I don't imagine it's a coincidence.

It is only the mid-level firms that seem to have the cash to put behind their staff, the rest are being plucked off one by one and I get to hear about it every single day. So don't tell me the Big 4 are blowing up, they hardly show up at recruiting events anymore.

Despite a rocky decade that included the Enron scandal -- whose accounting shenanigans also took down Arthur Anderson [sic], then one of the world's largest accounting firms -- and the financial crisis, the accounting industry has emerged stronger than ever before.

"When I called the CEO of one of our very large clients in the U.S. -- it would be inappropriate to tell you who -- there was a time when you would call them and his secretary would say, 'he's very busy, he's tied up in a meeting'," said James Quigley, CEO of Deloitte. "What they say now is, 'he's on the plane right now -- would you like me to patch you through?'"

The CEOs of three of the world's four largest accounting firms talked on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit about the forces shaping the industry and growth through the recession.

For accountants, the Ground Zero event of the past decade was the implosion of Arthur Anderson in 2002 and legislation which required chief executives of companies publicly listed in the U.S. to personally sign-off and verify financial statements. That legislation -- aimed to deter accounting chicanery -- also made accountants more important to multinational firms than ever before.

"Whether it's Enron, WorldCom or some of those other high-profile business failures, it's really put a spotlight on our profession and what we do," said Dennis Nally, global chairman for PWC.

Enron, the crown jewel of accounting? Oh that's precious.

"One thing that differentiates 2002 from now, you could reasonably say the 2002 time period was broadly speaking an accounting scandal," said James Turley, global chairman and CEO for Ernst & Young. "No one is saying in this current period the accounts of banks or commercial businesses were inaccurate; they're simply saying there is an awful lot of volatility that is reflective of mark to market cycle."

Hey, glad to see you made it out of Mumbai in one piece, Jim Turley, but those of us on your industry's frontlines know better. You might be able to get away with this in the MSM to unsuspecting CNN reporters but Jr Deputy Accountant isn't buying it because she's all up in the thick of it and sees a totally different picture.

What a load. Where are my CPAs at? Someone please confirm I am not totally out of my mind, they really said that, didn't they?

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.


Thanks for your insight - spot on!

Here in Nashville I have seen the closing of one mid-size accounting firm, my girlfriend's sister being laid off after seventeen years with a Big-4 firm, and myself competing with non-certified accountants for the same open positions. I will confess I have hung unto the small morsels tossed out by the accounting elite about a growing industry and how the new regulatory environment will only increase the demand for accountants. Today I put less weight on the opinions of experts when it comes to the opportunities in the field of accounting - "carpe diem."

I heard an entrepreneur (@whurley) say "...the opportunities are there, just harder to find..." My feelings are that the field of accounting needs to redefine itself as relevant, useful, and actionable to the "discussion" and business community.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Enough of the crap and lets deal with the "elephant in the room."


Thank *you* for your input, I was worried I was going nuts for a minute there!

The way I look at it, we're not doing ourselves any large favors as an industry by pretending things are better than they are - especially considering that overall, accounting has done quite well all things considered. It could be worse, we could be lawyers, right? If you look at the Vault layoff tracker, you can see what *they* are going through compared to us.

That being said, sticking our heads in the sand doesn't help us in the least, nor do MSM fluff pieces on how great things are in public accounting. I'm outraged the CNN would publish such garbage...

The only way we can grow as an industry is to first identify where we have gone wrong - in an open, honest way - and then make our plan for moving forward. We'll never get there at this rate.

I think people look at Enron as the PR nightmare of the industry instead of looking at it as a chance for us to acknowledge where we went wrong and improve. There's more pushing under the rug than pointing out where the mistakes were made and ensuring they don't happen again.

"Experts"... bah.

But yes, you are right that the opportunities are there. I'm actually happy to see CPAs having to fight instead of getting complacent as they were some years ago - it means that the weak, unethical, and lazy will be weeded out and the qualified, smart, and ethical will thrive. Maybe we needed a bit of a purging. I'm okay with that idea.

Thanks again for the input. :)


Anonymous said...

You are exactly right. The article was disgusting. He bought all of their b.s. And these CEOs have the balls to say that cuts were made only for non performers??? How many out there lost their jobs so the firms could try to protect the CEO and vice chairman high salaries? Why doesn't Jim Turley mention that at EY there have been lay offs every quarter - that's right EVERY quarter - Dec, March, June and again just recently?

So much for real investigatory journalism


Who caught this circling around? there are some of us who know better. Going Concern covered it, it got reactions, some of the accounting heavyweights weighed in on it. What more can we do but keep calling out their bullshit?

At some point, there are too many rats around for people to ignore the smell.