Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale, Joyeux Noël,Vrolijk Kerstfeest, 良いお年をお迎えください, God Jul

Reprinted from 2008.
Greetings of the season, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and all the best for the new year from re: The Auditors.

I am enjoying a lull in festivities with my family and thought I would write a note to thank all the readers and others who have so kindly and generously supported me during this past year.
It has been a long year, a difficult year for many, but a very personally and professionally rewarding one for me.  Traffic on the blog has quadrupled and each month I see a new high. Unfortunately, this means there is still so much to write about and so much that has not changed for the better.
I’m often asked why I rarely write anything positive about the audit industry. There is a method to my madness. I have learned that to gain and sustain an audience, one must remain focused. The more single minded and consistent that focus, the more likely it is that readers will return to you again and again for news and information on that topic.
I also feel there is plenty of positive, promotional one-sided news about the Big 4 audit firms coming from the firms themselves, their public relations efforts, their industry organization the Center for Audit Quality, and from the journalists who simply repeat their press releases. There was a need for more in depth coverage of the Big 4 audit firms as a business, as an industry, and I have tried to fill that need.
I am grateful this year for all of the wonderful people I have met via comments, email, in person, at TweetUps, conferences such as Compliance Week and FEI, and at US Chamber of Commerce events. I plan to do a lot more original reporting, live from conferences and events, and bring the story home to you via the blog.
My hope is to live-Tweet a Congressional hearing on the role of the Big 4 auditors in the credit crisis and/or the Madoff scandal. [2012 note:  That still hasn’t happened because the audit firms have still not been called to testify. Even Ernst & Young hasn’t had to answer for Lehman.]
I took my parents to Christmas Day mass this morning. The church was not as full or as festive as I remember it as a child. It’s the church I attended as child and as a young adult. I was baptized there, made my First Communion, was Confirmed, and was married there. I have also attended many other weddings and more funerals than I care to recall in that church.
Our family has a designated pew, an engraved brass plate affixed to the end with our name. But gathering there, to recite the mass, follow the ritual, and perhaps visit with old friends, felt quite anachronistic today.  The families were parented by couples my age or younger.  The old folks are now the parents of my friends. Many more people than in the past were sitting alone. Is it still necessary to gather in a physical building in order to have community or to worship? I’m sure the building and the parish costs much to maintain and will struggle for a share of the parishioners’ budgets as a result of the economic downturn. I’m not saying churches, synagogues, mosques and other gathering places for religious worship are not worthwhile. Of course they have strong, critical roles in building and sustaining communities as well as being sacred spaces.
I’m only contrasting my experience, especially over the last year with such a place. I have made friends, found support, received and gave advice, told and listened to stories, and followed rituals both in person and electronically without the need of a building or costly infrastructure. I have plans to broaden my own reach and communicate on many more levels with those interested in the same things as I am. I hope to connect you, feed your curiosity, and nourish your hunger for information useful in taking control of your career and your life.  And I hope to make you smile while doing it, knowingly and with pleasure.
I hope to talk with and potentially meet many more of you in 2009.
Thanks again for reading.

4 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Ive loved the cutting edge journalism over the last year- I hope traffic continues to increase until the audit profession is cleaned up!

    I am finally thinking the PCAOB should close and instead a new government department should be created to audit the PUBLIC companies. The rules that an audit firm has to adhere to when auditing a government body are much more stringent than when auditing a public company- I never considered the impact this has on independence until now- and truly your column appears to be the only one questioning the impartiality of the audit firms when having to keep clients.

    Heres to 2009, I hope that the system is cleared up by 2010 and you dont have a need to blog- sadly I know lifes not like that!

    Happy holidays

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Hi Fran – I really hope that you can reflect over the holiday season how bitter your blog has become over the last few months. Fewer posts, shorter posts and focus on the real issues not just blowing everything up to be the fault of those Big 4 bad boys. That way you may start to regain the interest and following of the masses and not just the disenfranchised.

    Coming from Chicago and being a good catholic girl surprised you missed out on Wesolych Swiat!

    Best wishes for 09

  3. Francine McKenna
    Francine McKenna says:


    How could I forget Wesolych Swiat? Not sure why you care so much, but please identify yourself someday and we can discuss it all over some zimne piwo. Happy New Year!

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