Lately there’s been a lot of what we in the Fourth Estate like to call “ink,” devoted to the recent phenomena of cell-phone “porting.”
The term refers to mobile phone customers who decide to change carriers offering better plans, now being able to retain their current cell phone numbers.
In theory, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
But as with everything, execution is another matter.
When my wife and I impulsively decided to drop AT&T in favor of Verizon wireless, a sales clerk assured us that in less than 48 hours our numbers would effortlessly be transferred to our shiny new phones.
His suave assurance reminded me of the time a colleague told me about a friend who worked at Belmont Park. It seems this acquaintance knew a jockey’s cousin through a third party and that a certain 15-1 chestnut mare was the oft-promised “sure thing” in the fifth race.
Needless to say, the outcomes of that race and the successful transfer of our cell numbers were eerily similar.
Anyway I digress.
As anyone who has passed Business 101 can tell you, strategies and ideas that often appear pulse-quickening on paper, often wind up as palatable as day-old gum when the subsequent execution mirrors that of a Keystone Cops car chase.
And arguably, nowhere is execution as critical as within the framework of an alliance. And for those of you who’ve been following the profession for somewhat longer than I have, you’ve probably seen ample evidence of alliances that were both matches made in heaven, or fleeting unions that lasted as long as Carmen Electra’s marriages.
Take for example the recent alliance between Big Four firm Ernst & Young and Mitchell & Titus, the country’s largest minority-owned firm — a joint effort to work together on engagements, staff training, marketing, recruiting and diversity efforts.
Mitchell & Titus, which has carved out a reputation for expertise particularly in tax and audit work, gets the leverage of an Ernst & Young to venture into areas which otherwise would be difficult to go it alone. Ernst on the other hand, not only gets a reprieve from its tax shelter problems, but can now offer “other services” on tag-team engagements with M&T performing the audit work.
Although executives from both firms denied that Sarbanes-Oxley was a mitigating factor in formalizing the relationship, the timing is curious especially given the fact that the two had worked together on previous engagements.
Regardless of what expedited this union, the two intend to pursue engagements in areas such as telecom, real estate, nonprofit and government.
Both exhorted the fact that it will be a “campus-to-boardroom” relationship in terms of recruiting and diversity — something that could only improve upon the heavily skewed white male demographics that is the current profession.
It also is a proactive rather than reactive strategy to keep the CPA ranks from winnowing to drought levels.
But as these two firms will quickly find out, if they didn’t already know, the “e” word, if overlooked, can easily undo what once looked so promising on paper.
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