Change: Brother, Do You Have The Stomach For It?

Getting things together this morning in preparation for a couple of days of quiet and solitude at the lake.

I expect that the lake is frozen over now, but in the summer it’s full of fish and there are no powerboats.
Just the place for me and Rosie Rott to hang out and think.
I have quite a lot of writing to do and some mechanical tasks related to the new blog format to work through. We’re hoping for a soft launch late next week, with plenty of time for you to add your thoughts and suggestions for features you’d like to see.
There are some great things planned for the new year as I branch out a little bit and see where the wind takes me.  The visit from my Buddhist friend Kenny, if it taught me one thing, it taught me this:
Plan well, start down the path, but don’t hold on too tight.  God and the winds may have other things in mind.  Wisdom, flexibility, and resiliency will serve you well.

Kicking off the new year, on January 6, 2009, I’ll participate with a star-studded lineup of litigation lawyers on a panel to review of the most important developments in securities litigation in 2008, and take a look ahead to 2009. Go here to learn more and to register.
This free webcast is scheduled for 2 pm Eastern, is the first of many to come on the new “Securities Litigation and Enforcement Channel” hosted by Bruce Carton.

The webcast will feature several of the leading bloggers in the securities litigation and SEC enforcement world — Walter Olson (Point of Law; Overlawyered), Kevin LaCroix (The D&O Diary); Tom Gorman (SEC Actions), and Bruce Carton (Securities Docket). And me.

I’ve been talking quite a bit to Tom Hood over at Maryland CPA Society, hosts of the CPA Success blog.  They are quite the active consultants, trainers and communicators.  Tom and Bill Sheridan are major Twitterers and their efforts in the social media realm are putting Maryland CPAs on the cutting edge of business strategy, professional services and staffing issues.  I hope to be a part of some new courses and new initiatives they’re planning.  Stay tuned.
Recent links to this blog by Yves Smith at naked capitalism bring traffic and respect, both of which are much appreciated.  If you’re not already following the lead of the smartest woman in finance, you’re missing out.  Recent links to re: The Auditors are herehere, here and here.
I continue to receive enormous support from my partners in the efforts to bring attention and awareness of the role of the audit industry in the capitalist system from Dennis Howlett, Richard Murphy, and Edith Orenstein. I’m always surprised and pleased when they find my thoughts worthy of comment and I constantly learn from each one of them.
I’ve been thinking about the blog, where it has been and where it’s going, as part of setting up the new site.  I feel very good about the influence it has had on the discourse and in the contribution it has made to raising awareness amongst all stakeholders of the role of the Big 4 firms.
I’ve especially enjoyed the conversations I’ve had, on and off line, with readers.  Not all of them were shiny and happy, but I learn from each one. Each one also refines my perspective, not only regarding the content and tone of the blog but on the meaning and purpose of the profession.
Every post is my favorite that day, but I’d like to share with you, over the next few days, a select few that I believe have had the most influence on the conversation about the business of the Big 4 firms and on my thinking about them.
I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing and talking to you about them.
Countrywide and Risk Management – All The Best Intentions:  One of the first posts to discus what we know now was the coming financial crisis, although I had been writing about the banks all the prior year.
Updates Galore -Société Générale, Risk, and Control:  One of the first posts where I felt like I was reporting original material for a very dynamic, fascinating story.  We now know that this was only the tip of the iceberg in examples of banks out of control.  Ironically, SocGen seems to have weathered the storm well and is now thriving, in stark contrast to many of the other large banks in both Europe and the US.
LAUSD – Still Cleaning Up Deloitte’s Debacle:  The first in a series of stories about Deloitte, the rest of the firms and their ERP practices.  Many more IT failure stories about Deloitte were to come.  This was also the first blog post to capture the attention of ZDNet and Michael Krigsman who writes their IT Failures column.  We’ve developed a great collaborative relationship, one that has resulted in many shared links, Tweets, and another quote just yesterday.  Thanks Michael.
Why The Big 4 Deserve Blame and Don’t Deserve TARP (Especially PwC): The fist time I wrote about the debacle that is PwC/AIG was June of 2007.  That’s why it irks me to no end to listen to anyone, least of which PwC, act like this train wreck just happened yesterday.    I am sure there will be more AIG stories to come and they will involve PwC.  In fact, you can bet on it.  I’ll be writing about PwC and AIG until PwC either resigns, gets fired or gets indicted.
PwC Advisory Services Layoff: This post was was turning point for the blog.  It not only gave me my highest traffic day ever, even to this day, but it taught me a few lessons about the interactive nature of the tools and my responsibilities to readers.  It was not enough anymore to report what I’ve heard.  Even though, at that point, I had few resources available to verify rumors other than trust in the informants and my own instincts, readers had by then come to expect more.  Fair or not, I can no longer report rumors, unless highly caveatted or checked out to the best of my abilities.
My abilities have expanded.  I now have contact with three of the Big 4 for a corporate communications professionals and I believe that all three would answer and email or a call if I made it.  I now have no excuse.  Take a look at my explanation, and apology of sorts.
When a similar situation arose later in the year with Deloitte, I was able to break the story early with more confidence and get a statement from their communications director after they had issued a press release. When KPMG had reductions, they preemptively issued a press release and I spoke to their communications director and obtained additional information.
Questioning Cox – Mission Accomplished: Once I got over my shyness, I decided to venture out and do some original reporting at conferences and events in New York and Washington DC.  I had experimented a little prior, at the Compliance Week Conference in June of 2007 and at the PCAOB Standing Advisory Committee Meeting.  But I was largely still anonymous.  Stilettos or not, no one knew who I was and didn’t know what had hit them when the posts came out.  But this was a little different.  I took on the SEC’s Chris Cox before most of you could see he was just a caretaker and stooge for business, including the business of the Big 4.
More tomorrow…
Have a safe and happy new year.
2 replies
  1. Congrats
    Congrats says:

    Truly, you have come a long way. Kudos for providing an outlet for the myriad oppressed but cowardly Big 4employees.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Is “Congrats” the way it’s spelled on your driver’s license? Then don’t call me a coward.

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