Taking Your Pulse

By • Sep 20th, 2010 • Category: Food for Thought, Pure Content

Taking Your Pulse

September 20, 2010

Searches during the last twenty-four hours that brought readers to re: The Auditors.

(Note to reader:  Yes, I have recycled this template and put new searches on but left the comments from previous iterations.  I have those searches stored so if anyone is interested in the context for a comment let me know.  I haven’t gone through this exercise since March, so I thought it was interesting to see that the focus, at least from what I see, is off layoffs and on to real issues.  And, boy oh boy, are there lots of them…)

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145 Responses »

  1. IMHO, it looks as though the employment situation is going to get worse before it gets better…

  2. I can tell you that is a big point of coversation amongst the staff in our office. We figured it out based on the calendar of the partner and hr manager next week. There is a lot of lost productivity this week and next from everyone wondering if the work they do is going to matter beyond next Thursday

  3. Are pink slips set to go out on Monday March 16th since most jobs will be wrapped up?

  4. These searches don’t surprise me at all. I’ve been reading the site for a while now and have found myself coming back daily and even multiple times each day to read comments in each of the layoff posts.

    As a first year staff for a Big4, I’m very nervous about the current situation. I’ve had positive performance reviews thus far but fear that the layoffs will be large enough to sacrifice good performers as well. The fact that I haven’t passed the exam yet (though I am working on it) leaves me even more worried…

  5. Poster 3 – I guess no. The public accounting firms like to force people out on Friday afternoons. Some are predicting Thursday, March 12th. With e-filing, the jobs should be in submission phase by then.

  6. I just saw the KPMG tweet. I ‘m really not looking forward to working the rest of the week for fear of the bloodshed. I know I’m not the only one in my office worried about this.

  7. So, it’s official. I heard Deloitte layoffs were starting. A friend of mine was just laid off. I was in the group that was laid off in September. Whoa is public accounting.

  8. KPMG NYC let go of hundreds of auditor and tax accountants on 3-17-2009. New hires and experienced seniors stay. Second and third years kicked to the curb.

  9. KPMG Indy also let a bunch of people go across all practices starting Wednesday and continued into today.

  10. There are a couple people got laid off in our office this week. However, there a a stupid slacker in our office who doesn’t do anything at work but she
    was safe from the layoff just because her dad is a former partner from the firm. In contrast, people who works their butt off at the office was fired.
    SO UNFAIR!!!

  11. Does anyone know when the layoffs at Deloitte will stop. Are they done with them right now or there are still more to happen

  12. I have been caught up in the lay off casualties. Our office is in an uproar – it seems like it has been a lottery system and not based on performance. I as well as colleagues considered to be “superstars” have been let go while other sub par performers remain. Just earlier in the month, KPMG made offers to interns that “proved” themselves performance wise by getting coffee and tying out 10-ks. Brilliant move. It seems unwise in a client-service industry to break apart teams with whom the client is accustom. We were discussing earlier in the month, how there were so many unassigned people in the office – and – if KPMG really cared about “work-life” balance, they would utilize those people and place them on teams that were working 16+ hour days and weekends. I as well as others also noted as interns in 2007, the firm seemed to enjoy blowing money left and right. Closing down amusement parks, wild, extravagant recruiting events, an abundance of useless schwag, etc. Alas, I wish it would have been on my own terms as well as gained more experience; however, I truly think that this will be for the best. That being said – it does not make what is occurring any less BS.

  13. PwC leadership problems? What could they be? hmmm

  14. @13 Anonymous 4:46

    Inquiring minds want to know. Email me…

  15. 13 – too many to count. lets try 1. lying to staff about layoffs then having rolling layoffs every friday until midyear for starters. looks like the PR hit is too much to take?

  16. Well I work for PwC, and my boyfriend worked for Deloitte up until yesterday morning. He didn’t even know it was coming there were no rumours of it in his office- he was booked SOLID through the end of next busy season. It’s absolutely horrible. I’m waiting for PwC to start

  17. So my best friend was working for Deloitte in Boston for the past several years…and was let go without any prior notice earlier this month….but even then they wanted him to tell everyone that he was going out on his own!! The accounting firms want to keep their image no matter what.

    Boston office March layoffs did not impact the 1st years but all levels above.

  18. I was among those impacted by the D&T Boston “realingment”…..looks like there was a lot of ppl out of the door…but I am not sure if the non-operating staff was impacted

  19. Interesting….PWC is offering national trainings over the next two months on “High Impact Difficult Conversations…” Another sign, perhaps.

    I’m new, so they might do this every year as part of the ARC process. Anyone out there know?

  20. when is there another round at d&t in florida perhaps?

  21. @19 anon 1:13p – there might be difficult conversations to follow if they are rolling this nationwide.

    FM – i will send you email soon. Let me just get out of some never ending engagement

  22. The scorecard is a very very stupid thing. All the employees, even the smartest kids have to kiss their reviewers’ ass sooo hard in order not to get a bad score. Living in such a terrified environment, most of the deloitte employees are already mental distorted. It is not about how smart you are, it is all about who you know, and if you kiss the right ass. What a joke!

  23. @ #19 anon

    I think the difficult conversations are going to be telling people who were a 1 or 2 (exceptional/better than expected) that now they are just performing. I mean, I think people are going to get laid off, but I think when they have to tell you you are average and get no bonus or raise – which the email came out one month before the end of the performance year – so people have been working toward a certain expectation and now it’s changed.

  24. I think it would be easy for people to read the statements made here and chalk them up to comments made by “disgruntled employees”. I would like to clarify these statements from a different prospective. I left kpmg on march 6 and started another job on the the 10th. I started looking for work back in December. I had passed the cpa before even starting with the firm, I had good performance ratings, and I had even passed the first level of the cfa in december. Despite any of these “accomplishments” I felt like my job was in danger because I knew layoffs were eventually coming and I wasn’t apart of the “in-crowd”. I started applying for jobs hoping to land one before busy season ended and thankfully I did. We all knew that layoffs would eventually happen, but I’m sure most of us thought it would be the “dead weight” let go. Less than two weeks after I left I had people calling me telling me about the layoffs. I was floored by who was kept and who wasn’t. The job I have taken pays more with less hours (much less), but it is a “career ender” if I stay to long. I have come to this conclusion. Don’t invest in education or certifications. Invest in chapstick and knee pads. For all of you that were let go just remember you are still the “Best of the best”. It is not your fault that the dart hit your picture and not the persons next to you.

  25. @21 – Not sure,speculating right after consensus as we have a lot of people sitting in the office

  26. 25 – Thats normal though at times like this when most have filed.

  27. @24, did you actually let management know you passed CFA Level I? Because, in this environment, I think it paints a target on your back more than it helps you. Look at the partners’ educational backgrounds — the vast majority do not have anything other than a CPA and a bachelor’s from most likely, a very mediocre institution. People don’t exactly move through the ranks when they get their Harvard MBAs at Big 4 partnerships. By branching out and taking the CFA, you just declared audit is not the end-all, be-all of your career aspirations. I highly doubt that it is for most people, but any reason is enough these days to single people out for layoffs. You also have to keep in mind the profession we are in ultimately takes very little to no real world skills. We’re commodities, not brilliant engineers with Ph.Ds.

  28. Jazz is CORRECT….

  29. @27–not necessarily true, a lot of the partners in my office have law degrees.

  30. Are we talking TTT or actually respectable law degrees? But let’s be honest, if you’re a Harvard/Yale Law graduate and you work in a Big 4, you probably failed in life somewhere.

  31. The Big Four will be letting people go (more people go). So will virtually every other large CPA firm. They are losing business – clients are struggling – clients aren’t paying or getting big discounts. If these firms were smart they wouldn’t issue the audit report until the bill was paid in full.

  32. Jazz — stop talking out of the side of your mouth. You have no clue about Partners nor eductation levels. an ITS partner in my office is Harvard law and has a PhD in physics. He also makes 1m plus a year–if this is ‘failed in life somewhere’ you dont know what you are talking about.

    Stop posting in here and go back to studying for your college finals

  33. Our office is losing clients quite a bit, especially in the FAS 109 arena which was a big revenue source for the last few years.

  34. I’ve been gone from D&T about six months – I got out before they gave me the axe. Funny thing was that even tho I was a Sr Mgr I realized that I never wanted to be a partner because of what I was seeing. Partners actively backstabbing each other and trying to steal each others business. Pure panic as partners were ‘fired’. They made too many partners in the flush days of sox and now they need to keep all of them fed by chopping heads to keep expenses low. I didn’t mind being one of the many who were ground into pulp by the partner machine until I realized that someday they might ask me to run the pulp grinding machine. My advice: if you are in, start looking to get out, and if you’re newly out, build on the experience and the knowledge that wherever you end up, you’ll likely live a longer life without the stress.

  35. Chill out, Anonymous. Your partner would can your sycophantic butt without blinking twice if it would protect his bottom line. He’s not your friend. How would I not know what their educational backgrounds are? They all list their backgrounds in their profiles on D Street or whatever. And the top officers’ educational backgrounds for all the firms are readily available for all to see online.

  36. I mostly agree with Jazz.

    The Big 4 has about as much talent as a BigLaw firm. That is, they have 1,000 truly talented, well credentialed people doing work that requires sophisticated analysis and top management skills. You can find these individuals in positions like managing partner and in speciality areas such as Washington National Tax.

    Then, there are 29,000 remaining glorified administrative assistants (all staff) and salesmen (partners) from undistinguished schools, with the CPA examination as their greatest academic accomplishment. Rather unfortunately, I fall into this group.

  37. Just because one shops at Nordstrom does not mean that individual has style. Nor does a degree from a “distinguished” school. It’s often a moniker for someone with low self esteem to rant about how “educated” one is at the expense of putting someone down who may appear more intelligent. True intelligence, skill and talent will rarely even mention academic credentials. Been there, done that. Wharton MBA Class of 03.

  38. But just becos some inoquous, individual –
    1. goes to school to study accounting for 4 years
    2.Passes the CPA exam
    3. joins a firm, works essentially plugging numbers into a silly spreadsheet template called a workpaper or interpreting some obscure rule on how to record accounts payable for 12 yrs

    does NOT mean that person is the next Jack Welch.The point is not about prestigious schools-isn’t Wall Street loAded with HBS,Wharton types?Look how they screwed up.

    The point is that the guys who run Big 4 aRE often inept, narrow minded accounting nerds who have very little STRATEGIC management and big-picture skills-outside this monopoly bubble of Big 4 Audit,most of them are clueless about managing a corporation of 100000’s of employees.

    They know their FASB’S AND TAX LAW, thats it.Unfortunately,they think the know it all..that is the tradgedy.

    Remember,in business those who Can actually DO,those who CANT…well…THEY AUDIT!

  39. You’re being generous. Many Big 4 tax accountants have a questionable knowledge of tax law. What they do know inside and out is a tax form! Now that is a transferable, high level skill if I ever saw one.

  40. Jazz – I agree with your statement concerning the CFA. I entered the CFA program for several reasons, but to be honest I thought, at the time, that obtaining the CFA would distinguish me from my peers in a positive way. In hindsight I see that it probably did put a “bull’s eye” on my back. However, I’m not sure I agree with your statement “..the profession we are in ultimately takes very little to no real world skills. We’re commodities, not brilliant engineers with Ph.Ds.” I learned very useful real world skills during my time with kpmg.

  41. JAZZ – Most of your prior posts would indicate you are speaking out of your Form AS-5.

  42. More layoffs coming in Deloitte Boston in April…will impact audit staff (not first years) thru senior manager.

  43. We are looking for Sr. Accountants (Tax and Audit), Tax Managers, and Audit Managers for the Buffalo, NY area. This is not a big 4 firm but is a mid sized Public Acct. Firm. These positions are from company growth. Please send an email if interested.

    mnortonigi@yahoo.com

  44. Looks like they’ve cut a few in my office [PWC tax] over the last couple of weeks, saying it was performance.

    My co-workers and I are taking it week by week, with the possibility that each Friday will be Black Friday.

  45. @44, what office?

  46. San Jose. By “a few” I mean something like 4-5 people.

    Have heard they may have also cut a few in audit, but don’t have any specifics on that….it’s a big office and I’m not even in touch with tax people on other floors, much less anyone in audit. Think all cuts at this point are under the guise of being “performance based,” but I imagine they will continue that charade to the end. One of my friends expects it to hit any time now.

  47. Most people that I have seen that slam the big 4 are the people that couldn’t survive there. Just because you couldn’t make it or you didn’t want to make it doesn’t mean those that do are not as talented. It is a hard job, especially being an audit partner. There is risk of capital loss that the staff don’t have. The staff don’t even understand it. You are always being questions and challenged internally via concur, PCAOB, SEC, clients, audit committees, etc. It is a brutal job. Given the risk, complexity and BS, they deserve the money. If they were not paid well, why would anyone do the job?

  48. @formerauditor

    “Given the risk, complexity and BS… why would anyone do the job?”
    I ask that question every day. The money, while good by normal standards, is not the most one can make if you’re really smart. Investment banker, partner in big law come to mind. And those jobs have much less litigation risk. So I’ve come to the conclusion that, in many cases, it is sheer lack of imagination.

  49. Agree with fm 100%, formerauditor people who slam the big 4 see the big picture — which is why take all the risk , all the stress and all the pain to make so little. Its like trying to run up hill to get a dollar when you could walk just as far or shorter for 10 dollars. It makes no sense, thats why people rip the big 4. It’s modern indentured servitude at its best.

  50. Remember,in business ………………….those who Can actually DO,those who CANT…well…THEY AUDIT!

    Big 4 Firms are Monopolies really in the non-text book sense-i mean these guys audit 80%+ of all the Global public corporations,it’s not like GE can just fire KPMG,and go to Swartz and co,some 15 person Audit firm around the corner

    I am a formerauditor also ,and being a partner in a BIG 4 FIRM is NOT COMPLEX!!!!

    Any IDIOT who passes the CPA and kisses ass for 12 yrs can become a partner -and there are indeed many idiots out there with the P title.I respect the partner of a small no name firm that actually has to fight for business.Big 4 audit partners are like the people who run your Water and Electric Utilities,they just have the produce and not f**ck up-they are NOT CREATIVE and not smart.

  51. I can see the option of going into investment banking but saying partner in a big law firm is an alternative option? You do realize you need a law degree from a one of the top law schools (or to graduate in the top 5 or so of your class if you go to a lower ranked school), right? That requires you to put yourself around $150K into debt (not counting the opportunity cost of not earning anything for those 3 years). Even if your in a good law school, that’s no guarantee of landing a first year associate job in big law, just ask the countless 3L’s who are up a creek without a paddle this year. Assuming you do make it to a big law firm, you’re odds of becoming a partner are just as long, if not longer, than in an accounting firm. And if you whine and complain about accounting hours being “indentured servitude,” you’ll never make it in big law, the hours are much longer. The most likely outcome is you are completely miserable for 3 – 5 years, get burned out, and then leave for a in-house or gov’t job where you earn a comfortable life, but aren’t raking in dough. That sounds familiar…. oh wait, that’s the same story for most people who go into accounting. And if you don’t make it in big law?

    With investment banking, at least you can go into it out of college and don’t need to go any further into debt, that’s a plus. But if you want to work at a big name investment bank, again, you need to have gone to a top a college or have been a complete superstar at a school that’s still considered great. Whatever you’re working in accounting during busy season though, increase that, now do it 365 days a year. That’s investment banking. In the end, you’ll burning out in 2 – 5 years and take another job. But I do agree if you’re willing to suffer, it puts you in a position to earn more than you would coming out of accounting (and opens up some potentially very interesting jobs in private equity, venture capital, etc).

    Now lets say your a good a student in a large state school with an accounting program. Graduate with an accounting degree and solid grades (between 3.0 and 3.5) and you have a very good shot at a big 4 job. You can come out of school with minimal debt (especially if you’re an in-state student), and enter into a job that has the potential to pay well if your stay to partner (albeit less than i-banking or law) or give you the option to exit into a job after 3 – 5 years that will let you lead a comfortable life. How is that a bad deal for someone in that position? And guess what, despite claiming to hire the best, cream of the crop, etc, Big 4 accounting is packed with people who fit this example. Given that I’d say they’re not doing bad for themselves.

    That same person doesn’t have a shot (or at best is an extremely long shot) at investment banking and unless they nail the LSAT’s they don’t have a good chance at a top 10 law school, limiting their chance to ultimately make it into big law.

  52. @Anonymous 11:59

    Your points are well taken, although I would say a well paying IB job requires an MBA from a top school. Again you have the debt from grad school.
    My point is that someone with above average intelligence can make quite a bit more as a big law partner or an investment banker, for example. But as you said, that requires a little more ambition and some additional investment. More risk, higher investment, bigger payoff. It’s not calculus. Which most accountants do not take. Never mind.

    Your points just make my point. Audit partners (not tax or consulting, a different breed, especially tax who usually get MST/JD) are the type who usually had neither/nor the interest, aptitude in a graduate degree. You are saying lower ambition, looking for a safe, secure, comfortable, predictable, low risk, coast into a pension, based on fitting in, performing routine tasks, and not upsetting the apple cart. Low investment and low risk. Keeping your head down and being a drone, both in school and then on the job.

    It’s no wonder that in these uncertain times audit partners are doing everything to hang on to the “professional” version of a government job.

    PS. Quite a few accounting students are coming out of school with substantial debt because of the requirement to get a masters in order to fulfill the hours requirements for the CPA. That’s one of the biggest complaints I get. Masters in Accounting doesn’t get a proportionately higher starting pay. I try to explain that it’s just not the way the ball bounces. And GPA requirements? Since when did they go down to 3.0 for Big 4? I’ve only heard 3.5-3.75 and above. At least in major markets. Cuts a whole hell of a lot of otherwise good students out of Big 4, just like a law degree from anything other than top school with top grades means no Big Law. Best school, best grades. That strategy for being selected in any “elite” job has not changed in the past 30 years.

    Francine

  53. A few of the Big 4 in one of the major markets, at least as of a couple years ago, only required a 3.0 or 3.25 minimum GPA. I had a GPA around 3.3, worked at one of the Big 4, interviewed at another, and was an alternate to interview at another. The GPA requirements may be higher at a school with a less prestigious accounting program, however.

  54. Minimum is usually a 3.0. DT will take away your offer if you graduate with anything less than that minimum. They were going to give me interviews if I could get my grade up to a 3.0 from 2.9, but I never did. I received an offer from a second tier.

    3.0 however is not very good, they have to really like you OR be a MINORITY – true story, everyone at the min that was hired was an ethnic minority (that i know). I admit some that enter big 4 are very intelligent, many are subpar, some excel at school and lack common sense, many are followers, do good group work but cannot manage and so forth. This is why the firms will not change. Some of the best partners, from what i have heard, left for smaller firms to avoid liability, or they went into industry. The CFO for a student loan corp with 2 billion in portfolios makes 375k and works 36hrs/week with no liability, how is that not tempting. Partners at local firms can average between 250-350k, that is not to shabby either. It used to be that you could move to GT or BDO and bring in similar to big 4, but they are now pushing all partners to bring in public clients, the ones that did not want to have obviously left. The truly talented can make it into an executive management position at a large corporation or become a CFO for a venture startup (given you can sell and raise money).

    Big 4 partners are the mediocre – do you agree? I do not have the experience to say

  55. I don’t think the word “prestige” goes along with anything accounting related, but if you’re an accounting major at a say, a regional state school, then you might not get a chance to interview even if your GPA is stellar. Where offices recruit from also heavily weighs on where the managing partner for the office went to school. Even if it’s a dumpy school, but the MP went there, you can bet they’ll recruit heavily there, which means a lot of mediocre people will slip through the cracks just by maintaining a 3.0-3.3 GPA, which adjusted for institutional grade inflation is like a 2.0 GPA pre-Vietnam era.

    GPAs across majors are also not created equal. This is what I think.

    Math/Science/Engineering 3.3 GPA = Accounting/Finance/Liberal Arts 3.8/3.9 GPA

  56. As of last August [before the downturn kicked in] our minimum was a 3.0. If you were borderline, you could still get a first interview if you had a good reason [for example, if you had to put yourself through school or had a family to support.] GPA was strictly used as a simple way to weed out first-round applicants.

    I’m guessing the bar is somewhat higher now. I helped out with full-time recruiting last fall, and was told that the number of second round applicants was about a third of what it had been the year before. BTW, they sent copies of the resumes for all of us who were helping out, and it looked like the GPAs ranged from 3.2-3.9, but most were at least 3.5. The thing I really noticed was that they all had a lot of experience and extracurriculars.

    I went to one of the weaker schools in the California State system, but my office hires a lot of people out of there, I guess because the students they hire have had a good track record. I don’t know of any partners or senior managers who are alumni.

    I know my firm is covering grad school for a lot of people—requiring them to stay at least 2-3 years or else be stuck with a loan for what are often very expensive programs.

    As far as accounting prestige, one of my professors used to say that accountants were seen as the stepchild of the professions, because they were the only one that only required an undergraduate degree [guess he wasn’t counting teaching as a profession.] He said that was a big motivation behind the 150-hour rule.

  57. FM: Your blog is great. Love your front page stories and analysis, and the “jobs update” links. Thank you!

    FM & 51: Probably just coincidence that I know a few that are the exception to the rule, and could also depend on the timing, era, etc:

    A close friend of mine has been in IB for almost a decade. She’s worked for the big names that have been all over the news, including ones that don’t exist anymore. She didn’t go to a big name undergrad school, a big name grad school, no MBA program, no family or friends connections. But she rose up through the ranks, and was compensated accordingly.

    After you “pay your dues,” where you end up depends on what you learn and specialize in. A big IB moneymaker in the past decade has been mortgage and asset-backed securities. As we’ve all been able to see, it’s also what’s imploded. The few that are still employed by IB in that area are the bare minimum needed to either wind it down, or keep it from crippling the firm further. The other areas, such as private equity and venture capital, are feeling their own squeeze. One of the few employers still hiring out there is the government, to figure out how to untangle this mess.

  58. Those that say being an audit partner is not complex is wrong. They obviously have never done it. It is a tough job.

  59. IN RESPONSE TO

    “# formerauditor on April 1st, 2009 at 7:11 pm:
    … It is a hard job, especially being an audit partner. There is risk of capital loss that the staff don’t have. The staff don’t even understand it….”

    Dont understand the risk fo capital loss – can you explain? if you are offered 200 units @ 1000$/unit – your investment is $200,000…dont you make enough to cover it with the first year earnings or a couple of years at best, and reap for the rest of the years???

  60. Capital loss is irrelevant. Accounting as a profession is about as rewarding as driving into oncoming traffic. My advice do 2 years and GTFO. Partners are only greedy aholes who don’t care about you. You know why? Next year there is some other clueless undergrad JUST LIKE YOU.

  61. @60…Well said, you hit the nail right on the head.

  62. A59, I think the initial unit buy-in is a bit higher, but the premise remains. You’ll be able to cover your investment in a short time. However, I believe there are more buy-ins required at certain time intervals. It’s why a former AA partner I know was rumored to have “lost” 2-3M when they went up in flames. Whatever, he probably made 10M in that timespan anyway.

    @60, “Accounting as a profession is about as rewarding as driving into oncoming traffic.” – LOL.

  63. @62 – thanks I thought so too…

    @former auditor – it appears that you are a partner and seems more worried about your “capital loss”. May I ask who made you a partner and which Big 4 you work for? I will assume its Deloitte!!
    Dumba**!!! You make $ 1Million a year and stand to lose in total $200,000 in buy-in capital and you say you are in Loss position on your personal P/L? Wonder which client’s Audit Report you sign off on!!! Let me guess – AIG? Maybe not – that’s not a Deloitte client – hmm…..maybe you can volunteer an answer yourself…WE would like to know….

  64. FM – the anger over this is palpable. A horrendous decision and to extend it to FY2010 is reprehensible.

    Announcements
    New PTO Carryover Policy and Flexible Schedule Opportunities
    A Message from Jack Taylor, Executive Vice Chair, Operations, and Bruce Pfau, Vice Chair, Human Resources
    7:19 AM ET, April 7, 2009

    Like every business, KPMG is not immune to the impact of the economic downturn. And we have taken decisive actions to enable us to manage the downturn and position ourselves competitively for the future. We would like to thank you for your support and ideas in helping us do this.
    As you know, we have examined ways to reduce every discretionary cost, from restrictions on travel and meetings to delaying the construction of the new training center. In order to align our resources appropriately with the market, we also made the difficult decision to make some targeted workforce reductions, which were completed over the last month. While it is impossible to precisely predict marketplace changes and turnover levels in this volatile environment, we believe that with these actions, combined with the initiatives described below, our current staffing levels are properly aligned with the marketplace opportunities.

    In order to give us the ability to adapt swiftly to the variable demand throughout the next year, we are adopting several initiatives described below that will give us flexibility to better manage our resources in the current financial climate.

    New PTO Carryover Policy
    After a comprehensive review of our benefit programs, we determined that our personal time off (PTO) carryover policy is out of line with the market. So, after careful consideration, we will be phasing in changes to our policy over the next two years as follows:

    Phase I – Effective immediately, the amount of unused time off an employee can carry into the next fiscal year will be reduced from 125 percent to 75 percent of his/her annual accrual. Any unused hours above the 75 percent threshold at the end of the fiscal year will be eliminated. To help transition to this new policy, we will provide a four-month grace period, giving all employees until January 31, 2010, to use any current PTO balances above the 75 percent limit.
    Phase II – Effective in FY 2010, the amount of unused time off an employee can carry into the next fiscal year will be further reduced to 50 percent of his/her annual accrual. Any unused hours above the 50 percent threshold at the end of the fiscal year will be eliminated. As in Phase I, we will provide a four-month grace period, giving all employees until January 31, 2011, to use any current PTO balances above the 50 percent limit.
    Note: The PTO carryover policy in California differs from the rest of the firm, so please visit the Time Off page of the HR Website for information specific to California-based employees.

    Keep in mind, the total number of PTO hours an employee receives each year is not impacted, just the number of unused hours that can be carried over into a new year for future use.

    Reducing PTO carryover will encourage all of our people to actually take the personal time that is earned each year, thereby contributing to work/life balance. In addition, it will provide our practices the flexibility to better manage capacity during this period of economic slowdown without impacting employees’ compensation. Even with this change, our carryover policy—and our PTO program overall—remains extremely competitive in the marketplace, as we know that some of our Big Four competitors do not allow employees to carry any PTO over at all.

    We encourage you to plan ahead and schedule vacations well in advance so you can maximize your PTO usage. We are also directing all resource managers, engagement leaders, People Management Leaders, and performance managers to work with their people in a systematic way to accommodate employees’ PTO usage.

    Firmwide Summer Holiday Schedule
    As part of our effort to increase PTO use, we will be closing the firm for four mandatory PTO days around the summer holidays. The additional days will be as follows:

    Friday, May 22, creating a four-day Memorial Day weekend (Monday, May 25, is already a paid firm holiday).
    Thursday, July 2, and Monday, July 6, creating a five-day July 4 weekend (Friday, July 3, is already a paid firm holiday).
    Friday, September 4, creating a four-day Labor Day weekend (Monday, September 7, is already a paid firm holiday). Please note: some Tax professionals may be provided with alternate arrangements for time off, in light of heavy client commitments during this time of year.
    These mandatory PTO days will provide us all with longer holiday weekends to spend with families and friends; and the fact that the whole firm will be closed will help to ensure that this is real time off, uninterrupted by calls or e-mails. While our records show that the vast majority of employees have enough unused PTO to accommodate these extra days, our policy will allow employees who do not have enough time to sustain a negative PTO balance. (See the Time Off page of the HR Website for additional details.)

    Using PTO to Extend Summer Weekends
    We also encourage you to use your personal time off to make the most of your weekends throughout the summer. While we will not have a formal “summer weekend jumpstart” program this year, all employees are encouraged to use available PTO to leave work early on Fridays or extend summer weekends, as appropriate based on work responsibilities.

    Sabbaticals and Alternate Work Arrangements (AWA)
    Our efforts to manage capacity also provide us with a good opportunity to enhance work/life effectiveness and address our people’s desire for more time off, especially during the summer months. Therefore, effective immediately, we are also adopting a new sabbatical program while redoubling our efforts around our existing AWA program. Employees with either an EP or SP rating may apply to their leadership for the following:

    4- to 12-week sabbaticals. Participating employees will be compensated at 20 percent of their regular salary. They will also have the option to apply available PTO in lieu of reduced pay.
    3- or 4-day workweeks. As per our existing AWA program, participating employees will be paid pro rata compensation.
    Using PTO to change your schedule. As an alternative to going on a formal AWA, employees can use available PTO to create a temporary schedule of regular days off. Employees interested in this option should work directly with their PMLs or performance managers to make sure their schedules align with their client and project responsibilities.
    Maintaining Client Service and Support
    As always, client service is a top priority, so decisions on PTO usage and/or granting sabbatical or AWA requests will be based on each individual’s client and project responsibilities, and therefore it may not be possible to accommodate all requests.

  65. I was just about to post this info. I was laid off just before this announcement (senior associate, KPMG) and likely would have taken the sabbatical to keep my benefits. People are going to be angry about this, and it may cause people to leave. However, I think this is the ultimate goal.

  66. What is SP and EP (in realtion to performance ratings at KPMG related post at 64).

    E is Exceptional
    S is Solid?

    I’m wondering if my firm will do this too. I would jump on it for time off.

    Thanks.

  67. #66

    It is a three level scale for performance reviews.

    NI – Needs Improvement
    SP – Average
    EP – Excellent (Exceeds)

    (Don’t remember the exact terminology.)

    I would love the sabbatical also. 20% salary or use personal time and full benefits. KPMG has done this in the past.

  68. I was laid off in March, but keep in touch with management and discovered that partners were let go today at KPMG. Not sure how many, but the word is around 250 across the US.

  69. KPMG policy — yes this will annoy many. For me in particular the annoyance is that these policies were developed to address audit cycles. In my practice area we are slammed with work and I have no time to take a vacation. I asked for 6 weeks off in April/May and was told no (recognize we do not have a “busy” season). Now they will be forced to give me 8 weeks off. It will be a problem for the firm – and an inconvenience that will interrupt my career. It would be really nice if KPMG realized that not everyone who works here is in audit.

  70. What firm do you work at? J Cohn?

  71. @67 — read the fine print — if you are in CA the policy is vastly different. In CA the PTO accrual goes UP to 175% in FY 09 and then down to 150% in FY 10. Must be a state law involved. Also, the 4 summer PTO days — you can work them with partner approval. If your group is slammed with work — you may not be forced to use PTO at that time. Good news for some.

  72. @Margarittaville — I totally understand the anger.

    The interesting thing is that a few weeks ago there were people all over this site saying how sabbaticals, 4 day work weeks, pay cuts and these things were the way to go. They were so upset over layoffs that they wanted these options. Truth is, that when these options come along, people really want to see the people they do not feel are as valuable to the firm laid off. They would rather not have these across the board impacts on everyone when there are still people they “perceive” as not worth keeping with the firm. Who wants to have their pay and benefits impacted for the sake of people they do not feel pull their weight. That is predictable.

    There are some good things in the new policy — a long period of time off with 20% pay… that isn’t bad for some people with few expenses and a reasonable salary (it need not be a partner or sr manager to be in that boat).

  73. I was also told to today that 250 that KPMG partners were let go …

  74. @70

    No – I am Big 4. Just not KPMG.

  75. […] (This information is based on not only emails, calls, and personal interviews I’ve conducted, many of which are included in the blog posts linked to, but the thousands of comments provided by readers in particular on the posts here, here and here.) […]

  76. Two audit partners down in my office…

  77. PWC is talking about offering sabbaticals now. Same deal as above, 20% of base salary.

  78. In kind of a sneaky move Jefferson Wells, a Milwaukee based business, announced to non management employees last week they are cutting salaries, all paid vacation, sick time and holidays, over 1000 employees are effected. We were all asked to keep this very confidential while the “details were worked out”. These “details will take effect at the end of next week. What a way to treat quality employees!

  79. @78 WOW! I heard things were bad, but not this bad. Hey Jeff Joerres/Owen Sullivan… I’m available to consult. Ha.

  80. It looks like I will be available as well!

  81. Dallas office continuing the stealth layoffs. People are slowing disappearing. They’re trying to place some, but others are getting tossed out. Selection seems random and not performance related.

  82. Phoenix international tax layoffs and attempted placements. Wonder how long they can hold off on the massive layoffs, given the state of the practice.

  83. @82 and others. Please make sure you mention which firm given this is a post that covers all .
    Francine

  84. @fm
    I think breaking up the Deloitte conversation killed the conversations a bit…

  85. Yes, Francine, I was surprised that you closed the previous thread simply because that Johnson guy complained about it. Yes, people did not like SocalPizza’s comments and were being sarcastic about them. But that was not the first time it happened if I remember correctly. Overall, there were a lot of good comments there. TT was making some good comments at the end. Why did we have limit yourselves only to talk about DT layoffs on that thread? If Johnson does not like it, he could go reading the DeliotteNet.

    Seriously, that was great a thread, and people were so involved. I think you set a bad example to close it just because someone did not like the comments or thought they were not relevant. The greatest thing about your blog is that people can say whatever they want about big 4 as long as there is no personal attack. And If there is, you can simply delete it.

  86. I have no interest in stopping the conversation. I was not responding to any specific complaint or request, just my own idea that maybe it was better to start fresh.

    Instead I have received several comments on and off line that this was a mistake.

    No problem. I can reopen., I ‘m glad for comments to be entered in whatever place makes sense for all of you.
    Francine

  87. @Keith

    Which office? I’d like to Tweet this if I can get a little more info. Email me if you prefer. fmckenna@mckennapartners.com

  88. @ Keith, Aren’t you the same guy who was bragging about how they had a 4.0, went to Crowe, and would never work at a Big 4 firm since they have inflated egos? How’d you manage to get an exact layoff number from a firm you apparently detest? Might not be the best info to tweet.

  89. FM , once again thanks for the forum….hate to interrupt the current conversation, but wanted to share a humorous link about Big 4 life from an outsider’s perspective…this guy really hits the nail on its head

    http://www.examiner.com/x-3040-Minneapolis-Life-in-the-Cubicle-Examiner~y2009m3d10-PWC-Deloitte-EY-and-KPMG-Big-4-employees-modern-indentured-servants

  90. The commenter posting as @keith was an impostor. Nothing to see here. Mosey on. Comments have been deleted.

  91. D&T Boston is letting two audit directors go…

  92. Francine, great catch!

    exPdubC, great article. I have always analogized my deloitte days to pimps (partners) and prostitutes (staff). Restated, the prostitutes do all the work (some of which really sucks), while the pimps take home the $$$. Glad to see that others believe the same.

  93. We achieved a 25% reduction in external audit fees with this approach. For those of us who have already left the big 4, I find one of our value adds is to help right size the audit and big four services. Knowing the negotiation tactics and current market price of going out to bid, more value can be obtained for fees rendered. Educating corporate executives and the board on the value equation and the right level of services can generate tremendous value. For example, with the advent of control assurance reports growth of internal audit departments, global corporations with subsidiaries may scale back on the number of independent audits of subsidiaries.

    The increase in oversight by internal audit department and control assurance reports can serve as a counter lever to back off on the assurance provided by independent audits of subsidiaries. Many times subsidiary locations do not have any debt or other stakeholders which require a stand alone audit. For these situations, perhaps a stand alone review report coupled with being subject to the parent corporation audit, control assurance report, and internal audits can provide the necessary assurance. With this approach, the parent company board or CFO could call out specific audit risk areas for the external auditor to cover in depth. With a Parent company materiality being in many cases 10 times the size of subsidiaries, the audit procedures would be cut down on the financial statement audit while company expense on SOX and internal audit departments go up. Many companies make the mistake of simply adding the additional costs of SOX and internal audit departments without rethinking a risk based approach.

    Simply going out to bid in this environment can reduce rate per hour by significant amounts as well as the above. Good luck on negotiations.

  94. I was let go today at PWC San Jose (tax). Not sure if this is part of a major headcount reduction or just normal year-end activity. Have heard that they will be getting rid of the “3”s later this month, of which I was one. I had contacted my coach and asked if I could find out the results of the year end review sooner rather than later as a matter of convenience for me [giving notice to the landlord, etc] so I guess they let me go a little bit early because of that, although supposedly it required a lot of phone calls between HR and various partners..

    Mixed feelings…it’s never any fun to be let go, but I was pretty unhappy there, and they had frozen me out as far as any client work over the last three months. They handled things pretty professionally today, I was grateful for that–no security escort, and the HR person kept a discreet distance while I was getting my stuff out of my desk.

    Felt like I wasn’t really given much of a chance to perform, but oh well, at least it’s over with.

  95. @De Minimis

    I Tweeted earlier PwC cuts in Advisory in Chicago today. Everyone in SAP team on the bench. Looks like they are starting…
    Francine

  96. Layoffs in Detroit DT audit yesterday. Manager through partner. 3 that I worked with let go.

  97. PwC said they were NOT going to do lay-offs. Well they LIED. Plain and simple, RICK STAMM and DENNIS NALLY both LIED.

    It’s happening people, it’s happening. PwC SF Tax cut a handful yesterday. From what I heard from those cut, the firm didn’t even bother trying to conger up some phony performance issue. They simply told those cut, you are not a “good fit” for the firm and had a partner and HR Manager escort them out the door.

    There is only one thing certain in these uncertain times. Stamm and Nally will continue to rake in the dough. I bet Stamm’s son who recently started with the firm will still be there, hmmmmmm I wonder why?

  98. PwC did promise that they would not do lay offs as of FY 09, well that ended July 1, and now its free game

    PwC San Francisco and LA laid off PCS audit staff this week- but used the “bad fit” lingo…….people going now in dribs and drabs under thought that they are “poor performer” when its just kinder to state the economy :-(

    ITs truly rough, when you arein the big 4 you spend your life working there and it becomes your life, you give up everything and then to be told you are still not good enough by the HR people is jsut truly awful.

    The worst, why are there so many HR people at PwC, what do they do but give the cheesy smile and say “your fired”. To get it from HR is disrespectful and the partners should have these conversations, lame.,

  99. Another PwC point- I once saw the statistics, PwC statistically let go the minorities- they are always the poor performers, not being one, I cant go to the EEOC, but truly if you went to them with your case and they were forced to hand over their records, there would be questions as to why the minorities are let go over everyone else

  100. I’m so with @98 about those funny HR characters who slave for their partners, and spew all this double speak/psychobabble – all while keeping a str8 face. How the hell does somebody do that?? Do their masters (er..partners) train them to act this way? I swear when it’s my turn to go, I’m just going to ask for my severance package, pack up, and leave. I’m not gonna bother listening to those comedians explain anything to me. Seriously, after working at the big 4 for some time, what’s there to believe about what these HR and partners tell me anymore?

    Actually, better yet, I may just tender my resignation soon and look at more attractive options outside this circus called the big 4. I mean..2.5 yrs spent, have my CPA already, good reviews. What I got to lose?

  101. Just remember – when times are good companies carry staff that aren’t as talented as they would like. Why — it is harder to hire the most talented people and there are fewer economic reasons to take action. When times are bad — the first to go are those who are lower performers. Eventually, if times stay bad, the more talented folk will also get hit. But as the economy forces partners to make these decisions, they always make the decisions on factors such as “performance” and “fit” with the organization. If the economy stay bad for longer – they focus on the people who can market… because you have to have that first before you have need for the people who can deliver the work. So they get more and more shortsighted – and when they do that it is those who can market that matter most when the economy is poor. I think the HR people simply understand these facts of business and give the spin that works for the situation.

  102. The HR people do not understand the facts- in fact they are so clueless everything they do is from templates, everything, how to have conversations on firing people, how to react in firing someone in the situations, eg “cry” do x, get angry do “y” essentially its all about “state the facts”

    The point is, HR are just admin, typically they are failed auditors, so getting the boot from them is beyond disrespectful! The point is, play it carefully, America is an “at will” employer, you dont have to get severence, normally severence is in exchange of you signing a contract to state that you will not sue the firm. The firms severence is NOT generous, they simply bank on the fact that you are typically in your 20s not that savvy and so wont sue!

    As for the HR folks- well a point for your is- at PwC in San Francisco some HR girl had to lay off lots of the EAs in 2001, then at the end of laying off the people and doing the dirty work, her boss was like “ok now you have no one to manage, heres your pink slip”- didnt feel too sorry for her to be honest- but with the numbers being reduced, yep HR you are an overhead its coming your way too

  103. Maybe it is because I’m older and have more experience working at places with less than ethical management, but I never took the “No layoff” promises seriously.
    Other firms were doing it, and it seemed pretty obvious to me that PWC was going to do the same, especially when they started doing things like changing the ranking system. This is another case where the younger demographic really works in the employer’s favor.

  104. @102 – Trust me friend, the axe has already fell for HR folks. DT’s shared services had experienced cuts over the past several months, and other admin folks had been part of the last couple rounds of layoffs. The HR drones are shaking in their shoes too. They are in no safer position than anyone else.

  105. Anony @ 101 —

    Your point would be a lot easier to accept, if there weren’t so many stories to the contrary to be seen, heard, and read. Why lay off a “poor performer” who just landed a $3.5 million consulting project, the week before it was to start? (Yes, the project was pulled by the client after the person who had the relationship was “separated”.) People with high forecasted utilization and good performance reviews have been RIF’d too many times for me to simply swallow that line about how “the first to go” are the lower performers in tough economic times. That statement is simply not borne out by the facts.

    It’s interesting that PwC redefined its definition of “poor performer” so as to create a reality that supports its RIF decisions. 3s are separated, 2s get to keep their job but no raise and no bonus, while 1s get raises and bonuses. What do you bet the firm has established acceptable ranges for each category? Anyway, redefining the rating system for annual reviews today does little to change the lack of business logic and support for prior year RIF decisions.

    The thing is, the line about “bad fit” may be the closest to the truth. If by “bad fit” one means failure to find a strong partner/patron and failure to put internal firm networking ahead of technical competency and dedication to quality, then I am forced to agree. Those individuals who seek individual rewards and the self-satisfaction of a job well done, while eschewing “group-think” and kool-aid drinking, may actually be a bad fit with the firms’ cultures.

    Which is a big part of the overall problem, as I see it.

    — Tenacious T.

  106. A handful of staff were just let go from the PCS Tax Group @ PwC San Francisco. Individuals were swiftly escorted out the door by H.R. and a Partner. No time for those discharged to pack their belongings, much less say their last goodbyes…

  107. @TT – that is your perception not the perception of the people who made that particular (or those particular) decisions. I have seen many times at many firms where hire/fire, promote/non-promote, etc decisions are made in ways that do not make sense to me. No matter how hard the decision makers work at it – they will never make decisions in these areas that make sense to all their staff or even all their managers. There may be many parts to the stories that you do not know or that you do not see as significant. If said person brought in a $3.5M project that sounds really good… what if all the others being considered brought in projects with higher revenues? What if the cost to achieve those revenues were steep and the profit margin negligible? What if it was a risky client unlikely to pay? What if this individual had falsified some paperwork? What if this person threatened the firm leadership using the $3.5M project as collateral and the leadership called his/her bluff? What ifs can go on forever. The story as you tell it sounds like a poor decision by leadership — but it is by definition your perception and a one-sided view.

    I need not know anecdotal stories. The truth is simple – leadership will make decisions that effect the financial health and sustainability of their firm — that means poor performers go first and poor “fit” go next. After that, they will look ar marketing over technical ability. These ARE and always have been and will be the criteria. What we can argue about until we are blue in the face is how people are evaluated against this scale. And once it comes to judging people (which we all do even if we say we don’t)… it is subjective and perception. You clearly disagree with the leadership of firms you have been with. I felt that way at one company I worked for (not a B4) — seemed like the major criteria for remaining at the firm was that you had to be a good republican. But I have not witnessed that kind of odd decision making elsewhere or at the B4 I have worked for.

    As for group think — every firm of all kinds has a culture… and there will be group think involved in that culture. But there seems to be a lot of room for disagreement and discussion at the B4 I know about. It isn’t perfect — but it isn’t a cult. I agree that the focus on competency and quality is not as strong as I would like it to be. But the measure of competency I hold in my head differs from many — I probably agree with you in those areas. I find many techical incompetents get pretty far along riding the coattails of those that are competent… I mean the real problem solvers and critical thinkers and those that can implement solutions are not rewarded as well. But, this is nothing unique to the B4 and nothing particularly strange.

  108. @102 – you are correct that HR is an admin function. Their training isn’t as accountants and they are not failed accountants… they are trained in HR. Yes, they are trained to deal with difficult situations using techniques some believe to be proven — you call them templates. They are not the problem nor part of the solution. They are the messenger and the people pushing the paperwork around. What matters is the reviews of the managers, directors and partners within your practice — and they should be the people delivering the message. Give the HR person a break — they are just trying to help people through the process… to explain their situation and the choices they need to make (Cobra or not, sign some disclaimer or not). Direct your attention where it matters — HR has nothing to do with the discussion… as you say, they are admin. But they do understand what is going on – and they do understand the criteria of decision making and the situation.

    As for poor severence — on this site I have seen people claim 1 or 2 weeks of severence per year of service. That is huge. I’ve never seen severence more than 2 weeks at any other job (and I have had many). Severence is set by corporate policy and has nothing to do with signing disclaimers. It seems like ADDITIONAL severence is being offered for such disclaimers and promises not to sue. Consider it a law suit settlement up front — what are the odds you’d win such a suit anyway… take the money and start a new path in your life. Unless there is some clear cut law suit you can win, it isn’t worth the effort.

    I do not know if the 20 somethings are being disproportionately hit. But one criteria has often been seniority. This particular criteria is in conflict with another – making cuts that are impactful financially (high salaried people). So the trick is to pay for seniority that is proven experience worth the money. To the extent that the 20 somethings have had less time to prove their experience is appropriate to their pay, they may get hit harder. But there is truth to the fact that the younger folk have more time to recover, and generally have fewer responsibilities (home, children, elderly parents, etc). These factors should not impact the decision making – and generally do not. But the young folk who are unemployed now should be comforted by the fact that they have time to recover and they will recover just fine.

  109. “The thing is, the line about “bad fit” may be the closest to the truth. If by “bad fit” one means failure to find a strong partner/patron and failure to put internal firm networking ahead of technical competency and dedication to quality, then I am forced to agree. Those individuals who seek individual rewards and the self-satisfaction of a job well done, while eschewing “group-think” and kool-aid drinking, may actually be a bad fit with the firms’ cultures.”

    I can relate to that. I was told (and believe, with scorecards to support it) that my performance was not an issue. My lack of brown-nosing, sorry networking, with certain partners, along with raising questions they didn’t always want asked, was likely my downfall. Was PO at the time, but am happier for it now and will never seek to work in the big 4 again if I can avoid it.

  110. Anony @ 107 —

    So, what I hear you saying can best be summed up by this quote:

    “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree philosophically on this one, man.

    — Tenacious T.

  111. @TT – in a way that does sum it up. But I think you and I (@107) would agree on who to hire, fire and promote. I have put together enough of your posts to get the picture and I really think we would agree. My point isn’t about the actual decisions. My point is about the criteria upon which to make the decisions. I think that senior management has the same criteria as you and I would/do — performance, fit (meaning interest level, attitude, aptitude, willingness to work, things like that — fighting with others, not being cooperative, going AWOL these are not a good fit), marketing, technical skills. I think we all might agree on the priority these criteria take (you, me and the partnership). Where we disagree is on the measures of these things… they often have more information too (I know a couple times we had what appeared to be good people let go — they falsified timesheets and resumes and stuff like that), and they hear the stories from all angles (all the managers, many of the staff, and so forth). They perceive the world differently than you and I do. And when they take the information and put it all together against those same criteria – viola, the decision is different. Sometimes they did the right thing, sometimes we actually knew better. But that is the way it’ll be.

    I do not believe it is all malice or favoratism. There is no incentive for them to keep the poor performer over the good one. It is how they measure performer and how you and I do that differs. Note that if I had my way – I would layoff at least half the people in my practice and demote the other half (OK – an exageration — but not a huge one).

  112. @106. Well, for whatever is worth, I guess they afraid you might insert a virus on your workstation or set your w/p on fire or something.

    To be honest, it happened to me too @ BDO too. I wanted to wait for a partner to get off the phone so I could say good bye, but was told to leave. Ironically, that partner was laid off about a hour later =(

  113. It’s funny in a sad way, my “coach” is getting the boot later this summer. Not due to performance, but the firm decided to dissolve his practice area.

  114. I hear Jefferson Wells is also imploding. FM, as a former exec have you heard anything about this?

  115. @De Minimis
    Well, that wouldn’t be a suprise. Especially if it is something in a tough industry. It could be worse, the entire BDO Consulting was thrown overboard, we are talking about 20+ year director with solid experience and every kind of fraud/CPA/CFA/expert witness related certification. I had a friend in E&Y whose boss had a dual CPA/CFA solid exp just brought a house w. pregrant wife and everything…

    gone, nada, toast. Which leave me, who was also laid off later, wondering what good is 2 part of my CPA + 6 month of experience @ BDO mean anything, lol.

  116. What does the fact that your friend just bought a house with a pregnant wife have to do with anything? Those are all decisions he made. Leave sensational reporting for the NY Times. Now back to the layoffs!

  117. Yeah, my coach was a long-time director who had to go through the same situation back when Andersen went down, so I guess he’s used to it by now. Somehow I don’t think he’ll have too much trouble compared to the numerous associates who have gotten the axe.

  118. @116, Friend’s BOSS. well, it was just troublesome, I was hoping the firm would made a temp salary reduction or something before dropped him like a rock.

    @Deminimis I am not exactly sure, he is likely to have a mortage, house, etc. And if he is identified as a master of practice X (for example, something exotic like the transportation industry or gambling industry), then he could be in serious trouble depending on that sector’s performance. That is a huge problem at times if that sector is going through the finance version of a enmma.

    Plus, with wife, kids, community standing, houses, friends, a manager/director would accumlated so much connection w. society severing them all would be tough. As opposed to small associates like me who can just dust myself off, sell my furniture, and head somewhere else.

  119. PwC San Francisco Tax just wacked a few more yesterday and today, including one individual in the PCS group expecting a child any day…

  120. well seems pwc san francisco canning a lot of minorities and i think pregnancy is classed as “disability” this is something that if you could connect the dots and group together, that would be a class action suit easy to win when faced with the facts
    go to the EEOC (government body) to let them know about this so that others can be protected in the future

  121. PwC San Francisco Tax & Audit went hog wild today with the firings/layoffs. The firm that was suppose to not do any firings/layoffs just did. They LIED.

  122. No one should be surprised by that, though. The signs have been obvious that PWC was going to do this for the past six or seven months.

    I think a lot of folks are looking for other positions regardless of whether they survive the cuts. PWC Tax is not going to be a good place to be for a while. I feel sorry for the poor sap that I helped recruit, but maybe he will have better luck now that they have reduced their headcount.

  123. The cuts will keep coming until fee pressure eases and business starts stabilizing. I’d bet all 4 go through another round by the autumn.

  124. Seems like business is picking up… it is definitely picking up for advisory/consulting.

  125. Anony @124 —

    Can you let us know what services are being sold? No need to get specific, general terms are fine.

    Thanks

    — Tenacious T.

  126. @TT – I am not comfortable saying much. I will say that my team was over 100% busy Dec-April, slow in May, moderate in July and is picking back up to what would be a normal load now. I do not see any slacking in that schedule at least through September… and coordinating vacations has become a struggle. Some work is audit support. I have noticed when companies have mergers or been acquired there is more interest in stronger audit procedures.

  127. @126…audit support is not advisory/consulting work – or so I have never heard it defined that way. So your two posts contradict themselves unless you care to provide more information. Advisory services are having a very difficult time seeing pipeline potential come to fruition as budgets and spending are still constrained and cut out in many many areas.

    On another note, FM why no shout out to Going Concern website? Figured you’d do some cross-promotion.

  128. @127

    re: Going Concern Twittered quite a bit in their support yesterday. My first column for them will come out tomorrow. Will have a link and announce on my blog then. :)
    Francine

  129. @127 — specialty practices in Advisory provide assistance to audit teams. I call that supporting the audit team. When audit teams bring in “speacialists” from other practices (sometimes Advisory)… these other practices are supporting audit and charging the audit code. So… you are correct that audit support is audit work and charged to audit engagements. The people doing it may be from other practice areas. The audit support comment was a passing comment that I am seeing an increase in this area (as in clients who have had acquisitions want more work done this year than in past years — not to say they don’t want it cheap or for fewer hours – what they want and what they get may not be the same though)… but the majority of our work is not in support of audit.

    As for not believing the workload — I have some 15-20 engagements ongoing right now and only 6 people to suport them. I am panicing over the next 2 weeks to get enough people to complete the immediate needs. I am going to offices outside my region to get staff to help.

    Believe what you want to believe… but my team is hoping for rest.

  130. re:29
    My guess is that the firms are not planning for any growth and therefore do not plan on hiring any staff to alleviate your problem.
    Unfortunately you will have to work your staff to death and make do.
    I hope for the client’s sake that the quality of the deliverable doesn’t suffer.

  131. @130 — the quality of the work is fine. We have 3 new hires coming on Oct 1. There is no plan hold off on their hires that I am aware of at this time. We had 3 interns join for the summer and they are working plenty. I believe we may also open a position for at least one experienced hire.

    For those wondering about the work — think deep computer skills. The people at my firm with deep computer skills (database, programming, statistics and even advanced Excel and other applications) have a pile of work all around the country.

  132. The 5th largest US firm by revenue dissolved today…and no one cares. Guess that shows how much things revolve around the Big 4.

  133. @32 who dissolved?

  134. @32 – Details/sources please…

  135. I think they are talking about McGladrey and Pullen who just ended their relationship with H&R Block, though I don’t know if I would have used the word ‘dissolved’

    http://www.webcpa.com/news/McGladrey-Pullen-Divorce-Block-51101-1.html

  136. McGladrey’s audit practice is divorcing the tax/advisory side. Looks like a much smaller firm going forward…

  137. EY tax layoffs in Mid Atlantic 8 in McLean, 10 in Philly, some in B-more and Richmond

  138. […] re: The Auditors » Blog Archive » Taking Your Pulse […]

  139. […] re: The Auditors » Blog Archive » Taking Your Pulse […]

  140. PwC US has been recently laying off, or should I say firing, people throughout the practice. I have confirmed reports of over 100 in Advisory and 40 in US IT. This is a conservative number. I was fired last week for bad performance after 10 years with the firm. I had received very good ratings for the previous nine years but this year I received a “less than expected” rating, even though 80% of my feedback forms were “Accomplished” and 20% were “developing”. I did not have one single item in the “needs immediate improvement” category or one “insufficient” rating. My guess is they had been planning this since early this year and told the other partners to make sure certain people receive poor ratings. My employment at PwC was “at will” so I am very disturbed that they would try to justify my dismissal as poor performance when they could just dismiss me without cause. I am not alone – I have spoken to other people that were let go and they are telling a similar story. PwC is trying to keep everything very quiet.

  141. that 2010 will be even worst than 2009. All the public accounting firms are melting down, and those who remain don’t know how to manage the melt down. Leadership is still trying to save face and won’t admit the downward spiral. To keep up with their image, they try to dismiss people for performance failures. The key is to fault someone else so they themselves will not be blamed. Be glad that you are gone.

    Deloitte is quietly cleaning up at the senior levels, after the massive 2009 layoffs. Watch for sudden leadership shifts that they try to spin as anything but the firm sucking wind.

    The catch phrases of the year seem to be “rightsize” and “cost cutting.” Get some cheerleaders and pom poms and it will be the coolest thing since slice bread.

  142. Agree with 141 , PwC Tax SJ just let a bunch of talented people go over the past 2 months while still claiming to be ‘investing in their people’. I have survived the 4 rounds of stealth layoffs they have done over the last year but I am sure more will come. The last round was people who were good but made a lot of money. As always they were couched as ‘performance issues’ even though I know of 2 people who were high rated at arc….the Lies dont stop people. GET OUT NOW! I know I am looking…

  143. looking to hire

  144. what just happened FM? Did you edit an old post with the newest search terms? Why keep the disconnected comments? I see some interesting things in there that I’ll have to ask around about :)

  145. @what the hay
    Hi, Yes, I did. And it’s been a while since I went through this exercise. But I keep the text in a file. The comments reflect several iterations. It’s a running commentary so I was not sure the old search terms are relevant several months afterward but I don’t like to ever get rid of comments. Too confusing?

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