PwC sloppiness 55 billion euros error

Eurozone

(Reuters) – The German government tried to deflect responsibility on Monday for a 55-billion euro accounting blunder that has exposed it to charges of ridicule for being inept and hypocritical after its steady criticism of Greek bookkeeping practices.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has summoned executives from the nationalized mortgage bank Hypo Real Estate (HRE) to explain how they made a simple accounting error that ended up raising Germany‘s total debt load by 55 billion euros.

Schaeuble, in the awkward situation of being humiliated by the windfall that will cut Germany’s debt levels, will also demand answers at a Wednesday meeting from the PwC accountancy firm that signed off on the report.

Schaeuble’s spokesman Martin Kotthaus tried to deflect any blame, saying the ministry received a certified statement from auditors that the balance sheets had been checked and approved. He said it was too early to tell exactly who messed up.

“It’s annoying, to put it diplomatically, when corrections of this dimension are necessary,” said Kotthaus, who was grilled at a news conference. “We had a certified audit of the annual accounts for 2010 and it said everything was in order.”

Kotthaus said the bank itself was responsible for its annual report.

The German media nevertheless mocked Schaeuble, saying the 55-billion euro accounting error put Berlin in the same category as the Greek government for failing to report accurate figures. Inaccurate reporting of Greek deficits contributed to the euro zone sovereign debt crisis that has hit Europe hard.

“Incredible but true,” wrote the Rheinische Post newspaper. “The nationalized bank HRE made a staggering 55-billion euro miscalculation. It’s scandalous that bank managers, certified public accountants and government supervisors made an error of this dimension. This kind of sloppiness reminds us of Greece.

via Germany mocked for 55-billion euro bank accounts error | Reuters

Accounting can be door to professional class

Ernst and Young HQ in Munich, Germany

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WASHINGTON, Oct 16 (Reuters) – When Gemma Urquiza interviewed for her job at True Partners, a Chicago tax and consulting firm, she remembers talking about her university honors, her ambitions and her dad’s restaurant.

Urquiza, 25, is the eldest of four children of Mexican immigrants and, like many first-generation Americans, she’s found accounting to be a perfect fit.

Her employer likes her work ethic and multicultural upbringing, as well as her technical mastery and spreadsheet savvy. She likes the variety of the job and its stability.

Accounting has long provided a path for first-generation Americans into the professional classes. Good pay and a focus on numbers makes it an attractive career choice.

Still, recruiting the children of immigrants is complex, say some Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Parents’ opinions are influential and they often don’t know the field, a problem that alternatives like medicine or the law don’t face.

Once on the job, first-generation CPAs can face new challenges like decoding the relationship-driven, sometimes self-promotional American business culture.

As accounting firms rev up recruiting efforts on college campuses this fall, there is rising demand for multicultural candidates like Urquiza to match an increasingly global focus.

“It’s important to have talented accountants that reflect the demographic of a global economy.” Ken Bouyer, Ernst & Young Americas director of inclusiveness recruiting, told Reuters.

Specific figures on first-generation CPAs are hard to come by, but the biggest firms are spending millions of dollars on a diversification push that’s trying to reach minorities in college, high school and even as early as grammar school.

At a time when it is tough for many new graduates to find work, the Big Four accounting firms — PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & YoungKPMG– report they expect to hire more than 30,000 graduates this year.

via Accounting can be door to U.S. professional class | Reuters