Has Warren Buffett run out of long-run? The stars aligned and Warren Buffett issued an annual shareholder letter that was forced to include an embarrassing charge for significant losses on Berkshire Hathaway’s investment in Kraft Heinz. Buffett’s letter was a rant against GAAP, and a 180 degree turn from his typical long-term focus. I was in New York […]
Wouldn’t it be nice if investors and other interested parties could look up new Deloitte US CEO Cathy Engelbert in a public and easily accessible registry and find out about all the audit clients where she has been a lead partner or a Quality Control partner? Has she ever been named in a lawsuit or been sanctioned? Let’s hope not.
You have to go outside of the US to see a trial of a Big Four audit firm to know what I’m talking about. Australia’s Centro case against PwC or Canada’s Nortel case where Deloitte partners testified recently tell you everything you need to know about why the Big Four will settle every time. Rather than have a jury and the public hear and see the pathetic state of the audit profession, its inability to stop executives who want to cheat, and its unwillingness to acknowledge liability as a firm when it screws up, the firms will reach into their seemingly bottomless pockets and pay up.
I was the first to report on December 6 the irony of Deloitte having been selected by, of all banks, JP Morgan Chase. The high likelihood of a conflict between the bank and the audit firm, and possibly the individual Deloitte partners assigned to the JP Morgan Chase review, should have been obvious to anyone at the OCC. It turns out I was right.
Thank goodness for the plaintiffs’ bar and class action lawsuits. And state attorneys general. Without them, there’d be very little justice yet – or compensation – for any of the mortgage-related fraud perpetrated during the real estate bubble.
Not so long ago, Dennis Howlett and I went public with a bet:
Which Big 4 audit firm is the next to fail?
Dennis believes that I’m betting on PwC as next to fail. I don’t honestly remember committing to that, but I’m willing to go with it for the sake of argument. This is in spite of the fact that the other Big 4 have plenty to worry about and the next tier firms are in no way ready for prime time.
Every once and a while someone asks me, “fm, how do you keep up with all the news, the stories? How do you know all this stuff?” Well…Although I have been accused of conceit, presumption, being “too smart,” being too quick to draw conclusions, painting a whole firm black on very little basis, precociousness, general […]
It’s been an interesting few days. I’ve finally stopped receiving poison pen letters from PwC apologists because of my doubts about their bandwith and qualifications for the TARP work. All last week I pondered the implications of the Deloitte insider trading scandal before events overtook me and I finally had to post something more than […]
Prentice: It’s a fascinating theory, sir, and cleverly put together. Does it tie in with known facts?Rance: That need not cause us undue anxiety. Civilizations have been founded and maintained on theories which refused to obey fact.“What The Butler Saw”Joe Orton, 1969 Kerviel’s lawyers question Société Générale accountants PARIS: Jérôme Kerviel, blamed by Société Générale […]
Update: Chicago’s John “Dr. J.” Najarian co-founder of OptionMONSTER on the need for transparency when the assets bought by the US government are eventually sold. On YouTube. Part 2 from Jon Najarian is here. I have been updating this information throughout the weekend as other banks failed and other deals have been done. A […]
A post about the layoffs in Deloitte last August/September became a collection of not only spontaneous and real-time updates on the ongoing cuts at that firm and others but a great repository of insight about firm structure, the business model, audit vs. advisory and a host of other topics. Take a look.
As I have said before, in particular with regard to the layoffs at PwC in February that have continued since, the Big 4 do not like to talk about cuts. They have a habit of reducing staff surgically, in a thousand little cuts, across practices, geographies, offices, so that each person thinks they are unique. Those cut are often made to feel inferior and a failure, as most often the cuts are characterized as performance related and a result of forced ranking techniques. I also see the survivor rationalization too – when survivors dis’ those cut by saying they just “couldn’t make it in the Big 4” or they were “dead wood.” Helps cut down on ongoing morale problems when the remaining staff feel more secure, safe, because they think they are superior.
Ms. Harrington made it clear on the phone, and in her statement, that the vast majority of cuts were based on the negative economic reality the firm is facing. What’s frustrating to professionals, both those cut and those left behind, is why the firms are not better at planning and forecasting.