Pizza Parties Boost Morale

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Blake Oliver: [00:00:04] So how is it that Tingo, a firm with the firm that claimed to have $6 billion in assets, was getting audited by a firm with one CPA.

David Leary: [00:00:18] Coming to you weekly from the OnPay Recording Studio.

Blake Oliver: [00:00:23] Tell everybody. And welcome to the accounting podcast by Jake Oliver.

David Leary: [00:00:26] And I'm Dave Murray. It's the season, right, Blake. We are like in the thick of busy season.

Blake Oliver: [00:00:31] It is as we record March 29th.

David Leary: [00:00:34] Now you and I personally are not we do not run firms. But good news for those of you still running firms. This is like really important news. Pizza party still boosts morale at accounting firms, according to Thomson Reuters.

Blake Oliver: [00:00:49] You're kidding me?

David Leary: [00:00:50] Not kidding.

Blake Oliver: [00:00:53] What is this?

David Leary: [00:00:54] So Thomson Reuters had a blog post that came out this week. It's titled The Home Stretch Strategies and Insights for Today's Tax Professionals as their busy season concludes. Okay, the article starts. They first they plug, you know, their 2023 state of the tax professional report. So it links off to a survey or a PDF somewhere. And then they have a section called Tips and Tricks for Surviving the Busy Tax season. And the very first bullet, I kid you not, says making simple gestures like impromptu ice cream, social or pizza parties not only boost morale but also reinforce teams cohesion, understanding that time is a precious commodity, a 30 minute ice cream social in the afternoon, or a one hour pizza party at which everyone gathers and does not talk about work, will be a welcome respite. Umma. I'm going to go through all four bullets. The second bullet I feel is Okayish regular feel. I'm checking in with staff to talk about their well-being can make a significant difference in morale. And importantly importantly, this is the problem I have with it. Importantly, reminding everyone that they're almost over the surge in work that comes this time of the year and helps maintain perspective and motivation. So to frame, yeah, we're really busy right now and this is the way we run the accounting industry. But don't worry, it'll end soon. Like like that. That's what they're telling us to you. Tell you to tell your staff. All right. We'll do the last two bullets, encouraging staff members and management to get some exercise. There are plenty of studies that show positive effects of a physical worker. Note A workout can be as simple as a walk, preferably outside. And studies also show the benefits on sunlight, on physical and mental health. Yoga and breathing exercises are also helpful. So my guess is for a lot of people, they're going please dark and leaving when it's all right. So how are they getting this sunlight? They talk about our last one. Were we help with a little promoting our work. However, finding some each day can be a stress reliever. So pizza parties.

Blake Oliver: [00:03:03] Well some in there. But yeah, I mean who this shit is this out anyway I want to highlight a that my feed because I do a search for anything again related Trump take it to like a mafia account golf writer who signed up with him says who signed she. So if you follow the movement, you may have about aware that, uh, by another former president, Donald Trump, that's recently celebrated me what I two golf championships at his own club, the Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach for you. And he shared his excitement like this social bubble. And he always wore white championships that are at his clubs. He go never were not at his club. Rick Reilly, an author who has written a book about Trump's golfing habits titled Commander in Cheat How Trump, How Golf Explains Trump, has expressed skepticism about Trump's golfing victories, and according to Riley, Trump has never won a championship at a golf course that he doesn't own and operate, and he has never finished in the top half at tournaments with rules, judges and cameras. Riley alleges that Trump uses a turbocharged golf cart to get ahead of competitors and potentially cheat, and he has been quoted saying that Trump cheats like a mafia intent to win.

David Leary: [00:04:13] So he has it. You get golf course so he can catch up and then move his I.

Blake Oliver: [00:04:17] Don't ever yeah, he goes ahead of everyone else and then you do. Nobody sees what things to. What do you got next on your list?

David Leary: [00:04:25] Do you want do you want to stay on Trump for a quick second? Why not? He he took truth. Social public. Right?

Blake Oliver: [00:04:31] Oh, yeah. Yeah. We got to talk about that through a Spac.

David Leary: [00:04:34] Yeah. And I'm going to pull up the article because I forgot to did the firm of his who who stopped being his accountant. I believe it was Mazars. Mazars. So in 2022. Right. Mazars stopped being his accountant. So I'm wondering, like, who did the Spac for him?

Blake Oliver: [00:04:50] Oh. Who audited the spec? Yeah, we could find this out in the filing. I actually went in.

David Leary: [00:04:55] No, I tried to find it. I did a little Google searching, and plus, there's just too many stories on Trump all the time. So it's really hard to, like, find stories, but. I was not able to find specifically who did the firm on that one.

Blake Oliver: [00:05:08] Yeah. So what's crazy about this whole Trump, uh, Spac thing is, like, the valuation is insane. Um, I don't know what the current price is right now, but I tweeted, let's see. This was March 25th, so a few days ago before it started trading. There was Charlie, the Wall Street Journal, and here's the quote to use social will have a value of roughly 6.8 million when it begins to collect a staggering value for a company that had about 5 billion in sales and tens of millions of dollars in losses since its launch in early 21. So the firm Reddit, valued at about nine us in following its recent public offering at Broadway more than $800 million in sales last year. So two sites go public. Reddit $800 here. Sales about 9 billion to bad Luckin ten TikTok else the news, right? And you've got Truth Social. With 5 million in sales valued at $6.8 billion.

David Leary: [00:06:17] Well, and previously the market value is in really need because after day one it was up 16%, moving the market to 7.8. That's a billion more. Not that Trump's ownership 4.6 billion.

Blake Oliver: [00:06:28] It's insane. So I guess another kidding me argument that we'd be stock prices have become disconnected from underlying sales thanks to one used meme stock trend. Right chance people are simply away voters approval says by buying a stocks like. It has nothing to do with the underlying financials.

David Leary: [00:06:51] And but based on what we talked about, companies that have been SPACs, they're all in trouble. So like some party, you'd want to short this just based on it being the Spac. But he has Trump has such a loyal following, it's going to buoy the the price up. It's going to be like a meme stock.

Blake Oliver: [00:07:05] Right. So you can't short it because it's too risky to short it because you have no idea what people are going to do. It's not logical, right? It has nothing to do with the financials. So we got to talk about Grant Thornton. Grant Thornton got acquired by private equity. Uh, well, not I mean, they got a major stake, a controlling stake. So New Mountain Capital LLC is acquiring a majority stake in Grant Thornton LLP, one of the largest accounting firms in the country. They are ranked number seven on Accounting Today's 2024 list of the top 100 firms by revenue. The transaction is expected to close in Q2. Grant Thornton is going to switch to an alternative practice structure where they separate the attest services the audit into a CPA firm that's licensed, and everything else goes into an LLC, which offers business advisory and non attest services. This is a big trend in accounting. We saw the same private equity firm, New Mountain Capital, do this with Citrin Cooperman in 2021. And of course the question is what's going to happen to Grant Thornton. Is this going to turbocharge it? The argument in favor of this sort of investment is that private equity can invest in modernizing technology, modernizing the firm in a way a partnership doesn't, because in a partnership, all the profits tend to get sucked out to the partners and distributed.

Blake Oliver: [00:08:30] And there's very little incentive for partners to invest into the firm when you get a more corporate structure with private equity now, the corporate overlords can make those investments. But the other argument on the on the other side is, well, all these profits in a partnership structure, theoretically, you know, flow to the partners in a private equity firm isn't just doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. Right? So those profits that they now have, let's say they have half got to go somewhere else. So what that means is that there's less profits to distribute to partners. So partner compensation is going to have to decline, at least for the junior partners in the long run. Right. The money's got to go. The investors got to get their money. So selling the equity in the firm to a private equity firm essentially is is selling future partner comp.

David Leary: [00:09:22] And the part that the keyword that I caught on was when you said, um, they had a they didn't say a controlling share. If you read the first headline again, go back.

Blake Oliver: [00:09:30] Well, they say in the headline it says major stake, but it's a controlling stake, a controlling stake.

David Leary: [00:09:36] So that's where my brain I got stuck on that as you were talking the controlling stake. Well majority complications, the majority stake like like the partners now are going to have less control. Like how does that work? How does anything get done if you have a controlling stake over here, but you still have all these partners over here on your other hand, I mean.

Blake Oliver: [00:09:54] The partners have a have have shares now in this new entity. It's like a corporate structure. So if the PE firm has a majority stake, I don't know how the governance is all set up, but I would assume that private equity would not take a majority stake without also being able to control what happens.

David Leary: [00:10:13] So the partners have agreed to comply.

Blake Oliver: [00:10:16] Yeah. They've basically given up control, okay, to private equity in exchange for their equity I mean exchange for cash, right.

David Leary: [00:10:24] And future equity for future partners. Yeah.

Blake Oliver: [00:10:26] So they so basically if you're a manager a director now and you're hoping to make partner, this is is this a good thing for you. I don't think you would necessarily want to become a partner anymore. There's there's less benefit to you unless the D.A. effective that it increases the value of the firm and everybody wins. Right. Which is the hope. Yeah. We'll see. What's next?

David Leary: [00:10:50] We could talk about. We haven't talked about it. I can poop fraud. If you'd like to talk about that.

Blake Oliver: [00:10:55] She knows we're still going.

David Leary: [00:10:56] If it's going well cause of it. Just give you the kind of the the big key here. And then we can dive into some of the details. But 18.8% of all Covid fraud has happened in South Florida.

Blake Oliver: [00:11:10] How much?

David Leary: [00:11:11] 18.8% of all the Covid fraud is in South Florida. This is where this has occurred at and I wasn't really gonna cover a different article. So Kelly Phillips Erb and her Forbes column this week reported that Covid related fraud totaled $9 billion. Right. And so to put that kind of in in perspective, the CARES act that was passed in 2020 was $2.2 trillion, right? Um, and this created tax credits and distributed cash for the IRC peop the Ido loans. Right. All that was was done. But since then the IRS criminal investigation. So this is IRS criminal investigations has investigated 1644 Covid related tax in modern leaks cases totaling about 8.9 billion. So $9 billion more or less. But then I saw this other article that was in the Miami Herald, which was amazing. Lambos jewels. How easy money from Uncle Sam made Miami a feast for PGP fraudsters. And I'll quote from the article. So in reference to the PGP criminals, quote unquote loaded up on Lamborghinis, Porsches, Teslas and Bentleys and stocked their jewelry boxes with diamond and gold studded necklaces, bracelets and watches. So, and as of February 2023, the FBI and federal prosecutors have 3200 nationwide cases and South Florida have 250 individuals. But the individuals in South Florida have totaled up to 1.7 billion in fraud. So if you take the 9 billion from Kelly's article and you take 1.7 billion, that's how I come up with the 18.8%. Ah. Got it. Um, I'm going to share my screen while I'm doing.

Blake Oliver: [00:12:53] Maybe these are just the stupid fraudsters who get caught because they spend their money on lambos and gold chains.

David Leary: [00:12:59] And that's some of it.

Blake Oliver: [00:13:01] This is a small percentage of all the PGP fraud that's estimated to be out there. Right? Because I remember the last time we checked in on this, the number of cases was a few hundred.

David Leary: [00:13:13] They've doubled in the last year, the number of cases they've brought now.

Blake Oliver: [00:13:17] Right. But it's still a tiny fraction of all of the potential PGP fraud that's out there. So unless Congress extends the statute of limitations for all this stuff, there's a lot of people are going to get away with it.

David Leary: [00:13:29] And what was great about this article in the Miami Herald is they include lots of photos, some evidence that's been vetted in a speech against Andre La Porte. And things like his $30,000 CEO necklace or I'm sorry, $130,000 CEO necklace. I'll scroll down in here. Ceo necklace yes, he has this beautiful necklace that has CEO on it and toxic in Miami Vice. Yeah. And there's this company named Miami Intent.

Blake Oliver: [00:13:58] And it's all like diamond studded. It's unbelievable.

David Leary: [00:14:01] And even his, uh, Instagram posts. So he had this Instagram post where he's in front of it looks like maybe a white Porsche. I'm not positive. You know, I don't own any of these cars. And what he posted. Keep your eyes on the prize like an encouraging post for others to write. Make some money. Yeah, and the really the best part about this is what really comes back to for accountants. I'm going to flip tabs here. Everybody can see this. He started offering this as a service to other clients.

Blake Oliver: [00:14:30] Pgp fraud as a service as.

David Leary: [00:14:32] A service. So he he has this beautiful color coded spreadsheet where he has the client's business names, all their emails. If you look at the emails, there's not one email with a domain name of a business, right? It's just Yahoo's and Gmail's, etc. they all applied for the exact same same amount of PGP preapproval $189,990. And then he tracks like this is better than most accounting firms when it comes to tracking documents from clients. He he has notes on the missing documents they still need. He tracks whether or not they're pending or approved with their status is it's all color coded in a spreadsheet. So this is all evidence in court. And this even has a picture of a check. So he would get a $35,000 kickback when these people get their check for 190,000.

Blake Oliver: [00:15:16] Oh man.

David Leary: [00:15:17] And so what's for me I'm wondering, because isn't South Beach also in Miami, the hotbed for, uh, I must say, COVID. I meant to say, uh, crypto.

Blake Oliver: [00:15:27] Yeah. Yeah.

David Leary: [00:15:28] So so is Miami in general. So what is this? Is it the South Beach beach lifestyle that creates, like this pressure to get rich quick? Is it or is it just a place like, hey, when you make a lot of money, you can easily buy a Lamborghini, like in Tucson. If we had a COVID fraud. Blake, I could not buy a Lamborghini very easily in Tucson.

Blake Oliver: [00:15:47] I don't know, I have no idea if this is correct, but I always heard that, uh, I heard that the reason people go to Florida criminals go to Florida is because. Your primary residence, it's very difficult to see somebody's primary residence. So like no matter how many judgments are against you, you can you can buy some big ass home in Florida and live in it.

David Leary: [00:16:07] They can never take it from.

Blake Oliver: [00:16:08] They can never take.

David Leary: [00:16:08] You have that at the end. You serve your time, you do whatever you want. And you still.

Blake Oliver: [00:16:12] But I don't know if that's true. If there's any Florida CPAs or accountants out there who want to educate us on why all the criminals go to Florida, let us know. David, I have a football question for you. Yes. San Francisco 40 niners docked 2025. Fifth round draft pick for accounting error. This was on Fox Sports. They've been penalized by the NFL. The San Francisco 40 Niners have been penalized by the NFL due to a payroll accounting error that led to incorrect reporting of player compensation for the 2022 season. And as a result of this error, they're going to lose a pick in the draft. What did you I.

David Leary: [00:16:48] Had this this was in my feed 200 times last week and I went I almost brought it to the show, but I can't find the accounting error mistake. So I passing us a another putting account in the for in your headline is good, especially if don't you catch David and Blake's account. We will find the article. Don't you easily trail I with the. I think they have they start to spend a year players too. It's basically the salary okay is your last are always being with contracts on meddle in not not skirt it but creative. I will hit that total. I think they are going to skirt it.

Blake Oliver: [00:17:29] And well. So to be clear, the 40 niners say that they didn't attempt to deceive the league. It was just a mistake.

David Leary: [00:17:35] Yeah. And that's what that's the part I don't get I can't there's I don't see the payroll mistake or what it was. I didn't see that in any of these articles. And mostly because the same article is just published everywhere. Right. And I couldn't find any information on what. That's why I never brought it to the show. I don't know what the payroll error is. I think it was them just trying to let's a little extra total payroll going past the limit they're limited on.

Blake Oliver: [00:17:57] Yeah. So all I see here is that in the 2022 league year, the team misreported player compensation from that season. So they summed it up wrong. They they I mean it can be complicated I imagine right. Figuring out what was the total comp for your players for the season.

David Leary: [00:18:13] Yeah, well, it's cost accounting, right? That's the difference. This is I don't think a payroll tax here happened. I don't think an accounting error happened. I think a cost accounting error happened. Right. And people will creatively do cost accounting however they need to do to hit the numbers. They need to hit right.

Blake Oliver: [00:18:29] Well, jumping back to fraud, our favorite fraudster of all time, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried. Affectionately known as Scam Bankman-Fried has been sentenced to 25 years. In prison here. That's a lot. If I had onboard in a sophisticated show, I'm buying applause clears, you know, looking sort of thing. The latest, um, we amazing lot. It's one of the largest, the longest sentences and for for somebody convicted. Uh, the search chart here in the Wall Street Journal that show our, like, the duration of prison sentences, comparing the prison sentences of different purchasers. Bernie Madoff, the famous, uh, Ponzi scheme guy. 150 years in jail. He died in jail, right? Uh, Sam Bankman-Fried got 25 years and Bernard Ebbers of Worldcom 25 years difference. Uh, because I don't know how you say his name. King Kozlowski of Tyco International. He got up to 25 years. Um, Jeffrey Skilling of Enron only got 14. You in the end do uh, it was rather odd. It think Holmes she only got 11 years for Theranos. Right. So I'm happy with this outings. I think that Sam Bankman-Fried should spend most of his life, or at least the, the, his or one in prison as a beastie for stealing. What was it, $11 billion from investors and you and.

David Leary: [00:20:00] Prosecutors were going for over 100 years in prison? Yeah, that's what they're shooting for. I think I saw that, uh, his legal team was arguing media must be 4 to 6 years. And one of the arguments, which I thought was the most ridiculous, most about going to get their money back, um, it should be a less vicious sentence. And I was about this, like. Like I'm going to kidnap your kid. And just keep your kid for like six years and then give it back. Actually, I shouldn't be sentenced because Blake got his kid back. That's.

Blake Oliver: [00:20:28] I like your argument, David. Yeah, he he owes $11 billion, so we'll see if he, uh, is able to repay that. His lawyers plan to appeal. So we'll see what happens on appeal. You know, maybe they'll get a sympathetic judge. He is very charismatic, so that can always work to his benefit.

David Leary: [00:20:52] I have an article and it's a little video I can play, but it's a bigger thing I want to get your take on because it's been in my brain. I've been chewing on it for a week or so here, and I'd love to get our listeners feedback. Either people that are in the chat now, or maybe if listeners listen and they send us emails about this.

Blake Oliver: [00:21:10] Before you get to that, I want to thank all of our live stream viewers for joining us today. It's a little light, I assume, due to the pressure of busy season, but boring accountant is here with four cups of coffee. I've got mine. This is number two for me. Boring. Accountant. Welcome. Pizza as always. Anyone got any pizza with them? Uh, as we were speaking about earlier in the episode. Um, it's it's really effective, you know, pizza parties. That's how you motivate your staff. Trevor Ballard loves the podcast. Welcome, Trevor. Great to have you with us live. And, uh, if any of you have any stories that you want us to talk about or any opinions on anything that we're talking about, let us know. I'm sure we've got some auditors in the audience. You all have opinions, right? It's your job to have an opinion. So let us know what you think. David, back to you.

David Leary: [00:21:56] So, Larry Fink, are you familiar with Larry Fink?

Blake Oliver: [00:21:59] Isn't he, like, the, uh, hustler guy?

David Leary: [00:22:01] Oh, no. That's, uh, similar name. That's a good point. I don't think that's the same last name, though. But Larry Fink is the CEO of Blackrock, which is a gigantic investment.

Blake Oliver: [00:22:12] Very different, very different organization.

David Leary: [00:22:15] Yeah, very different levels of rich as well. Right? Yeah. I think that the hustler guy was pretty rich, but this is insane. Rich, right. So in here this is my letter. He says that was Larry.

Blake Oliver: [00:22:25] That was Larry Larry Flynt.

David Leary: [00:22:27] Okay. We're corrected by the the chat. So he wrote his annual letter and he says demographics are going to changing, demographics are going to change the retirement systems because, you know, there's so many people retiring in the Wall Street Journal had an article about this, but they have a video, and I just want to play the first minute and 30s of this video. Okay.

WSJ Clip: [00:22:50] You're looking at a chart of the US population, and these are the baby boomers this year. A record number of them will reach traditional retirement age by 2030. They'll all be 65 or older. This is creating a fiscal problem because fewer taxable workers means less money for Social Security.

WSJ Clip: [00:23:06] If Congress does nothing, we're going to hit a major crisis.

WSJ Clip: [00:23:09] Here's how this demographic shift threatens the future of one of the country's most important government programs, and what can be done to fix it. Baby boomers, or those born between 1946 and 1964, have been propping up the US economy for decades.

WSJ Clip: [00:23:24] Their mere numbers contributed for a long time to rapid economic growth. And because every worker contributed Social security, that made Social Security look very healthy.

WSJ Clip: [00:23:33] But as boomers started exiting the workforce in 2008, the number of retirees grew rapidly.

WSJ Clip: [00:23:39] Not only do you have more retirees collecting benefits from more years, you have fewer young people entering the workforce because birth rates were lower for their parents generation. And that creates a squeeze on both directions. Higher expenses for models, retirees living longer, lower payroll tax revenue from fewer people entering the labor force because of those declining birth rates.

WSJ Clip: [00:24:00] This puts a lot of pressure on Social Security. And without policy change, projections show the trust funds will be depleted in 2034.

WSJ Clip: [00:24:08] There's a misconception out there that when the Social Security Trust Fund is exhausted, the system is somehow bankrupt and there's no money. Social security is an integral part of the federal government, and as long as the federal government is not bankrupt, Social Security is not bankrupt.

David Leary: [00:24:21] So we'll pause it right there in that statement. As long as the federal government is not bankrupt, Social Security is not bankrupt. Right. And this is I've been chewing on this in my head a little bit because I did discussion with another accountant, and I think he's going to do a webinar on our platform, um, soon. And. Just like interest rates were so low for so long, they had no place to go but up. And when you look at the government debt, you look at the Social Security situation, you know, ten years from now, and I'm going to want to get Social Security here and 12, 15 years I'm getting you know, I'm head that that down that path. And. It's very clear that the money's not there. The income is not there. So historically speaking, we pay a very low percentage of taxes in the grand scheme of history of this country. We're paying a very low amount of taxes. So my question is do taxes have no place to go but up, like we are going to see massive tax increases over the next 25 years?

Blake Oliver: [00:25:22] Yes. That's my that's my take. Um, taxes will have to go up to pay for the retirement benefits of boomers. And guess what? You know who votes. Retired people. And what are they going to vote for? Something that benefits themselves. So this is why I'm putting my money in Roth's. Because I'll pay the tax now. Because I know I'm going to be in a higher bracket.

David Leary: [00:25:51] Ye no matter what. Just because.

Blake Oliver: [00:25:52] I mean, that's just my bet. I'm betting on that. Yeah.

David Leary: [00:25:56] Yeah. It's not because you might have higher income. You could have even lower income. But you'll still be paying more, more taxes in the future just because the.

Blake Oliver: [00:26:03] Fewer workers you know. And also like think about what the impact I might have on society, where we have turbo charged workers who are 5 to 10 times more productive, and we're talking in the upper middle class, right, knowledge workers. So you're going to have knowledge workers who are way more productive. They'll get paid a lot more, but they will also be displacing other people. Um, we might even reach a situation with AI quickly where a lot of people are simply unemployable, because I can do their jobs better than they can for for a lot of jobs. And so will those people end up on some sort of like social assistance welfare? Well, we have like a, a welfare state where we've got a lot of people who are just collecting a paycheck because there are no jobs for them. I really think that's a realistic possibility with AI. And who's going to fund that? It's going to be the super productive, high earning workers who are left. So our taxes will go up. You know, I think my effective tax rate is, uh, last time I checked was like 25%. You know. Yeah. When, you know, whenever you do your tax return, you get that sort of like ballpark number. I mean, most places in the world, like, you know, other other, uh, you know, first world countries, it can be closer to 50%. So I think that's where we're going to head. I'm not saying it's a good thing. I'm just saying that's like the realistic way. I don't see any other way it could go. Yeah.

David Leary: [00:27:29] So I'm wondering about how our listeners are dealing with this with their clients. What are they telling their clients? Do they agree that this is the case that's coming? Um, I do think, though, you and I, over the next two, three years, this will be one of the biggest stories we talk about. Um, raising taxes, drastic tax increases. Obviously, it'll be big fights in politics. Right.

Blake Oliver: [00:27:47] But yeah. So pay your taxes now. I mean, it'll probably be higher later. Uh, of course, nobody can predict the future, but. I think you've made a good case for it. I want to follow up on a story that we talked about. In a previous episode. Tingo. Does that ring a bell? David.

David Leary: [00:28:10] Yeah, there's a bat on it. They had like $200,000 in their balance sheet, or they had $50 million of cash on a balance sheet, but they only had 20,000 in the bank. Like something like that is ringing a bell.

Blake Oliver: [00:28:19] Yes. The numbers are not quite right, but you got it in terms of the, uh, the just percentages. Uh, Tingo Group is a Nigerian company that was at the center of a massive fraud scheme. The founder, uh, mbuzi Banire, also known as Dozie, uh Mbabazi, he orchestrated the fraudulent activities and. On their Fiscal year 2022 form 10-K filing with the SEC. They reported a cash balance of 461.7 million 462 million, call it. They actually had less than $50 in their bank account, completely fabricated, $461 million. And we talked about it on the show because. Deloitte in Israel. I think it was Deloitte audited these financials and signed off on them. And so, uh, you know, and ridiculous up because of audit failure I just saw. And I'm bringing this up because I heard a story in Accounting Today. There's another firm invested in this. And here's the head, the kind of PC bars Colorado for degrees and associates from doing audits. And it's because. Of a of an audit of tingo. The firm has been fined $65,000 and has been barred from audits. Their registration with the PCAOB has been revoked. What did Umms and associates do right? So they think that he'll tingo and thus different year you'll never get like why would what year was.

Blake Oliver: [00:30:05] It's my fiscal year 2021 audit. And so this was the year for tint court. I'll never let an Pcob says the grease and his firm failed to respond to warning signs that tengos financial statements materially missed should billions of dollars of legal and tens and millions of dollars of that here. Compensation expense for the company then had to go through multiple restatements of its 2021 financial statements, the Pcob found that grease and his firm failed to evaluate Tango's basis for accounting for a significant business combination as an acquisition, as opposed to a reverse acquisition, even though they saw public filings and emails from Tingo management referring to the combination as a, quote, reverse acquisition, unquote and reverse merger, the fur and grease failed to appropriately respond to these and other red flags, warning that Tinga erroneously accounted for the combination. Here's the big number. Tingo restated his 2021 financial statements to correct the error, leading to the removal of approximately 3.6 billion in goodwill from its previously reported total assets of 6.5 billion, a reduction of 56% in assets on the balance sheet.

David Leary: [00:31:15] I'm sure I'm following this entire story correctly. Two separate audits by two separate accounting firms. Both missed the fraud here.

Blake Oliver: [00:31:25] Yeah. I mean, and just completely failed to do any thing say should have done when it came to the issues that they were completely aware of. Like tango booked the Aqua back backwards for. It was a reverse merger and they booked it as a re acquisition phase. This is basically like this is 130. M&a. So I was curious. Who is Greece and Associates. I mean, we know Deloitte, but who is Greece and Associates? And here's their website Greece and It's kind of one of these like templated websites says accounting and advisory. Oh let me start again. It says accounting advisory and compliance. Greece and Associates LLC is a full service accounting firm dedicated to solving your business needs. Right. That was written by ChatGPT. It sounds like or just a really bad marketer. And I'm curious, like, who is this firm? Here's the founder and partner blaze these blazes. And it appears that. Like he's the only guy on the website one CPA.

David Leary: [00:32:36] Did you tell me, um, me to let you in? Yeah.

Blake Oliver: [00:32:40] He's the only guy on LinkedIn. So. How is the. That tingo. A firm with the firm that claimed to have $6 billion in assets, was getting audited by a firm with one CPA. In. Keep in Denver, Colorado.

David Leary: [00:33:03] Epa had a lot of iron tools. These really efficient. He's able to do the whole job himself.

Blake Oliver: [00:33:08] Or maybe he's collecting a nice hefty audit fee. And is incapable of actually doing a real audit. And I wonder how many of these firms are out there, right? I mean, I could just set up shop, right? David, I'm a CPA. Maybe I should just go, you know, set up a CPA firm and start doing audits of multi-billion dollar companies. How is it that this is possible? And this is what I talk about when I say like audit has been commoditized. I mean, if you can go as like tingo, if you can go and just find a random CPA in Denver, Colorado for your Nigerian or your US entity, for your Nigerian company or whatever, and, and get the audit done. I mean, have investors trust anyone?

David Leary: [00:33:57] And that's what my brain is. The investor type decision is our nobody cares about financing. They don't make decisions from far as you can on the financials. It's been to some extent they're highlighting the brand like has been accountant signed off on the fact they don't really care which is have the same way getting the last citation reports by the crypto guys and and they look at our crypto reserves, the crypto assets. Right. They're just they're just they're, they're exploiting the accounting brand. And that's basically what happened with this guy unless there's foolery going on. But it's really they're probably just it was cheap. And they get to they get to the CPA side audit.

Blake Oliver: [00:34:32] Yeah. So this is the bigger problem in the accounting you mention when it comes to audit integrity and the fact that we have a seat you on there for hours can just go find any CPA to give them, give them an audit report and doesn't get discovered until years later because that's how long it takes for this stuff to get found out. If I article it wasn't it wasn't the auditors that figured out for the shod. Right. They're just in the next collector and and and audit for shoddy terrible finding. I wonder if there's any work would you know so. What's the penalty? $65,000. Fine. I wonder if he collected more than that for this audit. Like it doesn't seem like a very hefty fine. And guess what? Greece can petition to come back and do audits after one year.

David Leary: [00:35:23] I did see an the All About the PC out this Friday. I don't have it first show, but it's something I will try here more along a the next coming weeks. Apparently they've introduced a producing show. Making items responsible for was done actual fraud we don't know. And so in companies in being the arguably financially responsible for finding that. But obviously all the firms are pushing back. No firms want this to go through. So we'll have to I'll try to find that story and bring it in the next couple weeks when there's a little bit more concreteness around it. But so like PCAOB is trying to fight the good fight, but they can't win, right. Well there's too much industry push.

Blake Oliver: [00:36:01] The fines are inconsequential cost to doing business level fines I mean record pcob issues record fines of like $11 million. I mean this is a multi hundred billions of dollar tree, right? Yeah. So and just in looking at the one case, it's like I mean seriously if I wanted to I could just set up an audit firm, buy enough insurance and do crappy audits and probably make a lot of money and never get caught. The only time I'm going to get caught, moose, is, you know, when I, uh, when there's a big fraud like this, if Tingo hadn't turned get, you would be just completely made up and fraudulent. Any of the greedy part have had a job action against him and Michael. I know people talk about pay per view, but I'm sure there's ways to find a really peer reviewer to your firm and you'll just go under the radar forever. It sounds like a great deal. Ussing average. Let's talk about the working hours in. And it's busy work, so it's a great time to talk about how people are overworked. And we actually have some data on this. The For Transparency stat newsletter come out our friend over just read for Dominic created some award on IMO's based follow the data that is if you're not familiar for transparency. It's a where you can submit information, compensation, an accountant and get access to a data set with like 14,000 other data points for people who have submitted. Salary is already known. So it's crowd told compensation information crew, and you can find out, you know, if you're getting paid in or not and use IL gas to negotiate hikes, which is what Dominic did are was actually in account. And that's why he set up the match. Right.

David Leary: [00:37:44] And are there won awards of of 30 who's doing things well or awards for like the working offenders. And it's like a mockery of an it's.

Blake Oliver: [00:37:52] Mostly the firms that are doing. But there's also some dishonorable mentions in here. Okay. Um, so best hours by service line. So in first place industry account for reported having the lowest must average weekly hours worked an average response of 33 hours per week. So the number one will be in industry. But people are working more than 40 hours for five second place, which audit back third place for on RTÉ. And these are all the 43 to 44 hours a week. Dishonorable mentions go to Audit and Tax with 40.2 and 41.6 worked for weekly hours respectively. Now this okay average hours abroad. What low year? So if you're in a small practice like tax. You know, I would expect it to be in the 50s or 60s for certain parts of the year and then drop down if this is the average. Best hours by level. Uh, the interns take first place with 42 hours. The staff takes second place with 56 hours. The seniors take third place with 47.4 hours. And get this. Equity partners reported over 50 hours per week on average. How does this make any sense? Right. Part the. The higher up you go in the firm, the more hours you work. Could this be part of the problem with convincing people to stay in accounting? You would think that the longer you stick around, the better off you'd be. I mean, you make more money, right? But you're also working more hours, so it doesn't really add up. Best hours by ferm. All right. First place Wipfli with 43.3 hours per week. Second place Grant Thornton with 44.7 and third place with Eide Bailly. Third place is Eide Bailly with 45.2 hours. So the winners, the top three firms still have average hours over 40 per week. Not a single firm had 40 or fewer hours per week. And work life balance being very important to younger generations. I wonder, you know, is there room for a firm that says you can work 35 hours a week?

David Leary: [00:40:03] She's liking the recruiting power from that message of like, look, we're actually and we had an average of these like nine hours a week first. You're bound to have an easier recruiting job.

Blake Oliver: [00:40:14] I wonder? Um, job satisfaction is kind of sad, actually. I'm going to go from bottom to top this time, so. Internal audit ranked the lowest in job satisfaction with a 6.3 out of ten. Turbotax ranked in the middle of the pack with a 6.7 out of ten. Industry accounting takes third place with 6.8, consulting takes second place with 6.9, and Fpna takes first place with an average satisfaction rating of 7.2 out of ten. The first place winner gets a seven out of ten in satisfaction. That's not good. I would expect the first place winner to be like a nine or a ten. But I don't know. Maybe that's just impossible in accounting. So I asked. I asked Dominello. What were the terms? The terms of hours. And he didn't worth to me. Let's see what he seven point. You actually asked this firms I said what are the work at firm. And so I asked one. So um at worst the worst out 40s by term were the CBI's, which is those pain utility. Right. So the CBI's had 49.4 hours. Per week on and get back and CLA was ted worst with 40.5. David the worst of the big for eight hours upon hours with 47.1 and the hours was Deloitte at 36. And CBI's also had the worst job satisfaction, so that does not bode well for these private equity investments. If you ask me. Fascinating. Job satisfaction is so low. But, I mean, it makes sense, right? People are leaving the profession. They wouldn't be leaving if they were happy in their jobs. And I wonder if the ours has something to do with it. I know, like I never.

David Leary: [00:42:05] Know until somebody has a year of working less hours, we'll never know.

Blake Oliver: [00:42:09] So, like, think about this. Like, just look at PwC 47 hours on average, right? So that's basically like an extra day of work per week. You're working six days a week. I wouldn't be happy if I had to work six days a week every week. And if it's busy season is more, then you're talking like six days a week, plus overtime every day. That's not going to make people happy. So the question is, how do we as a profession build firms where people don't have to work more than 40 hours a week on average? It should be possible. You just have to reduce the number of hours by 20% in every firm. If a firm just raised it by 20% and 20% of its clients were to do this. But there's something about the business model, I think that. Disincentivizes that it's the hourly model, I think. Otherwise firms would do it right. It doesn't make any sense to me. Boring accountant says accountants leave the industry due to workplace culture creating emotional, social, physical and mental trauma. Traumatic experiences are hard to forget and go get over. Yeah.

David Leary: [00:43:20] More pizza parties.

Blake Oliver: [00:43:23] You know, pizza parties are not measured in here. Um. It's funny, like the higher up you go. Oh, no. Job satisfaction by level. That's interesting too. So interns have the highest job satisfaction at 7.4. Income partners are second place with seven. Third place is tied between managers and equity partners with 6.7. So if you're an equity partner, you have lower job satisfaction than an intern or an income partner. It's better to be an income partner than to be an equity partner. Oh, and for those of our listeners that don't know the difference, an income partner is somebody who gets the title of partner but doesn't get any equity in the firm. And to no one's surprise, seniors are reported the lowest job satisfaction with just under a 6.5. It's because they're the, the, the true, uh, middle managers in the sense that they have to manage staff, the work of staff, and they have like zero authority. And all the work gets dumped on them because they're the ones who actually know what they're doing. Uh, the most satisfied firms I'd. Bailey, Moss. Adams. Plante. Moran. So I thought that was really cool. Um, we'll have the link to those, uh, to this post. Trevor says there needs to be incentive bonuses, and this would address the high hours I averaged close to 50 hours a week for busy season in audit. I have a simple solution that I proposed in the last episode, which is that we should just stop exempting accountants from overtime so firms would pay if they worked their staff more, which would give them a financial incentive not to overwork their staff. That's not going to be popular with the firms, though, because they. Every hour you work over 40 is basically free labor for them.

David Leary: [00:45:07] Yeah, yeah. And if you pay overtime, where's that money coming from? Partner com partners.

Blake Oliver: [00:45:13] It's coming from the partner profit and it's coming from the private equity. Profits. So actually I would expect that as firms get acquired by private equity, ours will actually go up. Because if you are only interested in making more money, that's the best way you can make more money.

David Leary: [00:45:29] And historically speaking, I think private equity is known for just squeezing that diamond and getting that last drop of blood. Right. Yeah. Probably correct on that.

Blake Oliver: [00:45:37] Yeah.

David Leary: [00:45:38] Do you want to talk? I have a story I want to get your feedback on. If you want a problem, solve a Reddit post about, uh, ChatGPT. Or you've set me up a podcast sometime this week about how a company wants to get rid of all mid-bosses. Like getting rid of all bosses. I don't know which direction do you want to go?

Blake Oliver: [00:45:57] Well, let's save the let's save the bear story for next week, because I kind of want a deep dive on it. Okay. To tease that we'll talk about it. We have to now do it. Um, the bear CEO, the CEO of bear maker of. They make Advil, aspirin.

David Leary: [00:46:12] I can't remember aspirin, but then they, uh, aspirin, farming chemicals. There are big, huge, big, huge company in Germany.

Blake Oliver: [00:46:18] Yeah. And, um, the CEO basically is eliminating middle management in terms of, uh, how they make stuff happen, which is fascinating for a big company like that. So we'll talk about it. He wants to get rid of the corporate hierarchy, but, uh, let's let's do this Reddit post. I'll put it on the screen here. Why don't you read? I'll let you read it. Oh, you want.

David Leary: [00:46:35] Me to let you read it out loud? So that way you can process it because I want to get your suggestion, like how would you solve this problem? So this is a Reddit post from nine days ago.

Blake Oliver: [00:46:46] Is it worth me creating this GPT again? When custom GPT came out, I had one that I loaded all my QuickBooks PDF reports onto. I'd basically talk with my numbers. Best example I'd ask who are my top 25 customers and it would give me them one day. It randomly became unusable. Can't even give me my top five without it being totally wrong. I'd like to make this GPT again, but after trying 3 to 4 times, I don't want to waste that time again lol. Should I create my reports GPT now or is it still broke? Or has it improved and will it work again? Um, well, I've been making a bunch of custom. Go ahead. David. Yeah.

David Leary: [00:47:23] So I was gonna say, I remember at ten, 11 months ago when this started coming to market, everybody was doing this, upload some reports, ask these questions, and people were playing games. And it was experiments, right? Yeah, yeah. With the very first probably ChatGPT 2 or 3 when it was barely coming to market. But since then I know a lot of stuff's been added. So if you look at the scenario versus what the GPT have feature sets now, how would you respond to this?

Blake Oliver: [00:47:49] Um, I mean, I all of my custom GPT are working and have not broken. So I think there was the the original custom GPT builder, like they've changed it. So yeah, I but then one now works great and you can even create. Gpt assistance custom GPT is essentially if you have a access to the API in chat, GPT and you can you can automate the creation of these assistants for different sets of financial statements through QuickBooks and Zapier. And like, you can do some incredible stuff. I haven't specifically tried it with financial statements, but, um, yeah, or you can just build it with the team's plan. Just create a custom GPT, upload some financials and ask questions. This was something that Jason Stats, you know, hypothesized that you could do for your clients is every month you create a custom GPT for them, you upload their financial statements, and then they can talk with the GPT about their financials, and you send them the link to do it. Um.

David Leary: [00:48:49] So the GPT is now. So I have this concept of a custom GPT where I upload my data to. But then I have basically an assistant, which is really like a preprogramed.

Blake Oliver: [00:49:01] The assistant is the custom DPT. The assistant is the same as the custom.

David Leary: [00:49:05] Same thing. They just call.

Blake Oliver: [00:49:06] It. It's just different. They call it different things depending on whether you're in the platform or if you're in the, you know, the public facing chat tool.

David Leary: [00:49:13] So you put your data into that custom GPT. Yeah.

Blake Oliver: [00:49:16] You upload the PDFs and then the GPT is like when you ask questions, it's going to the PDFs first, not to the internet.

David Leary: [00:49:22] So on the sake of clients, you're going to want to send a separate, separate one for each client. Or the numbers will get probably very confused, very separate.

Blake Oliver: [00:49:28] A different one for every client and every month. But also I wouldn't do this. I don't think it's actually like a good plan. Um. Because the problem is clients don't know what questions to ask. So you give them a chatbot that lets them ask questions about their financials. They're not going to do it because they don't even know what to ask. So the best thing is for you to use this as a tool when you meet with the client. And then if they have questions, or you can help them come up with the questions, and then you can ask the questions to the GPT to chat GPT and get the answers real quick. And you seem like a genius. Like, don't put the software in between you and the customer. Use the software to make yourself look like a genius to the client.

David Leary: [00:50:07] And use it to save time. So before the meeting, hurry up and pull this up. Hey, what are the three highlights I should talk about this month? Yeah. My client have it pull that those three bullets for you and run to the meeting.

Blake Oliver: [00:50:17] Yeah. What are the most important things that I need to know based on this set of financial statements? And it might not even be right, but it gives you a starting point. And then you can look at the financial.

David Leary: [00:50:25] The client doesn't know.

Blake Oliver: [00:50:26] Yeah, the client doesn't know. Well, and actually I would say this is one of the most frustrating things. When I met with clients when I was a manager, going over their financials is clients would have a question. And in the meeting, it was impossible for me to answer their question right then and there because I would have to go and do some research. But if I could use a chat bot to ask the question, I could review the answer real quick and then maybe give them the answer right then and there, rather than saying, I'll go do some research and get back to you, that saves a lot of time. Then there's no need for a second meeting, perhaps. I mean, you could you could even upload the entire GL to one of these, depending on how many transactions there are. So then if a client like let's say you're going through finance with a client like this common common situation for me was advertising and promotion is way up this month. Okay. What's the follow up question, David?

David Leary: [00:51:18] How did it get higher? Right.

Blake Oliver: [00:51:20] What did we spend? And if you can't drill down right then in the meeting, you've got to go back and do the research. Well, if you upload the GL and the financials to a custom GPT, you can ask that question right in the meeting. Like why would what were the give me the detail of the advertising? I mean, you could do that in QuickBooks, right? You could just drill down into the transactions. Yeah, but this might even be way faster.

David Leary: [00:51:47] Do you want to talk on some app news? I know we got about seven minutes left. What's next?

Blake Oliver: [00:51:51] We have one minute left because we got to go to a meeting. David.

David Leary: [00:51:53] One minute. Yeah, I have a story that's going to take 10s.

Blake Oliver: [00:51:55] Go for it.

David Leary: [00:51:56] Uh, a lot of people use Microsoft Teams and an upcoming Windows 11 update. The two teams products because there's teams, personal and teams for business, it's going to become one product. Which is a miracle because that's the most annoying thing in the world. You're always in the wrong teams. It doesn't work. You can't. So.

Blake Oliver: [00:52:14] Good to know for one. Well, David, it's always a person's chatting with you about any at the intersection of technology. And if you want to send us a bit the email or memo you give at the accounting at earmarked to send an email to the accounts at earmarked, we always appreciate aging reviews. You can go on back podcasts. Leave us a Richie. It's really helpful based. We read those on the signals. Um, and you can earn free content for listening to this episode. Go to earmarking app and find the call. It goes live with about a week after episodes. Air image. So just be patient. If you're watching going live, go wait a few. If it was right, go to the app Store and you can take a quick earn one free CPE and you can earn one free CPE every single week. Couple. It's also a great way just to discover great accounting, podcasts and content, even if you don't have a requirement. So go check out earmarked app more used to have to download a mobile app. And now we're on the web too, so even easier what? We'll see you all next week. Thanks for joining us. Hope you have a game in its end to busy season, if that's what you're in by David by.

Creators and Guests

David Leary
David Leary
President and Founder, Sombrero Apps Company
Pizza Parties Boost Morale
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