During the course of a normal business day, I receive perhaps 25 to 30 calls, with roughly one-quarter of those from people I actually want to speak to.
Fortunately, I employ a loyal screener known as Caller ID and I've gotten pretty good at recognizing which calls I want to answer and which ones I let harmlessly slide into voicemail.
But two types of calls that occasionally slip though my discerning security system come either from public relations people who all seem to rep the most cutting edge person, or product in the public accounting market, or consultants who "are working on an critical project for a client [read accounting firm] and need such and such information from the Accounting Today archives."
In other words, we do the legwork and they get the fee.
With the former, I just instruct them to send an e-mail which, in the interest of full disclosure, I get a perverse pleasure in deleting.
With the latter, I make them a proposition: If I do the legwork, they give me half their fee. That usually ends any discussion abruptly.
Or, I give them a terse 30-second public service announcement that our publication and its editors don't exist to complete their projects.
But just this once, I'll do some marketing legwork for all you non-Big Four accounting firms. This way you can all avoid overpaying a overrated consultant -- and this profession has made millionaires out of legions of them -- and help build your respective books of businesses on the audit side.
Simply log on to the URL for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board at http://www.pcaobus.org and carefully read the board's latest inspection reports on the Big Four firms.
Within those pages you'll discover egregious examples of audit deficiencies that inspectors from the oversight body unearthed during random audits of Big Four clients.
During the course of the examinations, which actually were conducted in 2004, the PCAOB found regular departures from GAAP, as well as substandard work in audit documentation to support an audit opinion, and even some cases where restatements were required.
The sad irony of this is that the reports weren't much of an improvement from the first round of inspections of Big Four firms conducted a year earlier.
The next step would be to procure a copy of "Who Audits America," pick out a sample of desired audit clients whose size would be compatible with the capabilities of your firm and, well, the next step is up to you. But personally I don't think it would be all that hard to make a case for a new independent accountant or business consultant, judging by what is now a very public record.
But don't think for a moment that I've softened my stance.
I'm still going to screen your calls.
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