Would you stand for this?

Do you work in an office? Do you sit down at your desk most of the working day?

If you do, then it may be a good idea to ensure you stand up and move around a bit during the day.

Recent research has estimated that 1 in 9 deaths can be blamed on sitting down for at least 6 hours a day.

Let’s pause for a moment as that’s a shocking figure!

In the UK alone that would equate to thousands of people dying every year due to lack of movement and the cost to the National Health Service is estimated at £700 million annually.

Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health estimated that 17% of diabetes, 5% of heart disease and 8% of lung cancer cases could be avoided with less sitting.

Leonie Heron from Queen’s University Belfast was the lead author of the study and said “You need to put your body under a little bit of stress to maintain a healthy heart and whole system”.

She went on to say that “It suggests that it is bad for our health how our working lives are structured for a lot of people. You can attenuate that risk by being more active in your leisure time, but it’s something employers can look at. Maybe they should be providing opportunities for employees to be active during the day, perhaps making sure people move every hour…or providing opportunities during lunch and coffee breaks.”

My guess is that a lot of you do sit down for at least 6 hours a day working at your computer. It’s probably a good idea therefore to remind yourself to get up and move a bit when you can as it will be good for your health.

Unless, that is of course, you’re getting up to walk out of the office to have a cigarette…

Causing a bit of a stink…

There’s no room in the modern workplace for bullying and intimidating work colleagues.

Companies should have anti bullying practices in place and in most countries around the world there are laws to protect people who are being bullied.

The Oxford dictionary defines bullying as seeking to “harm, intimidate, or coerce someone perceived as vulnerable” but in some situations it’s difficult to decide whether or not an activity is actually bullying.

Over in Australia a worker claimed that he was bullied by a colleague who repeatedly broke wind at him.

David Hingst claimed that his ex-colleague Greg Short would “lift his bum and fart” on him up to 6 times a day.

Mr Hingst didn’t take this well and sued his former employer for A$1.8m (nearly £1m).

Now, let’s pause here for a moment and hold our breath.

Bullying in the workplace is clearly wrong but claiming damages of nearly £1 million when somebody breaks wind in front of you does seem a bit steep.

Mr Hingst was adamant though and last year took his case to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

The Court found that there was no bullying.

Mr Hingst didn’t agree with the decision and appealed against it and last week the appeal was heard by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Hingst reportedly told the Australian Associated Press that “I would be sitting with my face to the wall and he would come into the room, which was small and had no windows. He would fart behind me and walk away. He would do this five or six times a day”.

Mr Short, the alleged perpetrator of this “crime” had said that he may “have done it once or twice” but denied doing it with the intention of distressing or harassing Mr Hingst.

Alas for Mr Hingst, the Court of Appeal rejected his appeal and found there was no bullying.

Mr Hingst though isn’t taking this sitting down and reportedly has said that he plans to appeal to the High Court.

How many accountants?

So, how do you think accounting firms are doing when it comes to their fee income?

In today’s uncertain economic times then surely there’s pressure on the fees that accountants can charge. Surely, their fee revenue will be falling?

The answer is the complete opposite.

Each year, the International Accounting Bulletin (IAB) publishes a world ranking of accounting firms on the basis of their fee income. The latest results for 2018 have just been released and they are looking pretty good for the firms.

All of the top 10 firms increased their fee income in 2018 when compared to 2017. The majority saw increases of at least 10%.

The 10 largest firms had 2018 global revenues of:

  1. Deloitte – $43.2bn (up 11% from the previous year).
  2. PwC – $41.28bn (up 10%)
  3. EY – $34.77bn (up 11%)
  4. KPMG – $28.96bn (up 10%)
  5. BDO – $8.99nb (up 11%)
  6. Grant Thornton – $5.44bn (up 9%)
  7. RSM – $5.37bn (up 5%)
  8. Crowe – $4.33bn (up 14%)
  9. Nexia International – $4bn (up 10%)
  10. Baker Tilly International – $3.63bn (up 7%)

Whilst the top 10 firms all saw significant increases, the international associations of accountancy firms also did very well.

These associations are networks of independent accounting firms who operate by way of alliances.

There were 31 associations in the IAB listing and they are pretty significant.

The largest association is Praxity which had a turnover of $5.83 bn. Together, the 31 networks had combined revenue of $196bn.

It’s not just fee income which is impressive. The firms also employ significant numbers of people. All of the Big 4 employ more than 200,000 people with Deloitte being the largest employer with a workforce of 286,000.

Let’s pause for a moment.

286,000.

That’s a huge number of people. Over a quarter of a million people work for Deloitte.

All in all, the accountancy profession around the world seems to be going well.

Click to buy a Tesla…

Most of you have probably bought something on the internet but how many of you have bought a car on the internet?

My guess is not many but things may be about to change.

The Tesla company is renowned for doing things differently. They have led the way in developing electric vehicles with their Models S and X being some of the best electric cars on the road at the moment.

Whilst the Models S and X are great cars, they are pretty expensive. The Model S starts at £72,000 and the Model X at £80,000.

As an alternative to their luxury models, Tesla announced its Model 3 car back in 2016. This was planned to be a more economical version and hoped to bring electric cars to the masses.

They were aiming for a price point of $35,000 but have been finding it difficult to reach that figure. Back in September last year the car was on sale for $50,000 but they have just announced that they have achieved their target and the car will now be sold in the US for $35,000.

They’ve got the price down and a key factor in getting the price down has been restructuring their distribution methods.

They’ve come up with what I think is a pretty innovative way of selling their cars. They are closing their physical showrooms and only selling their cars via the internet.

This is radically different from other car manufacturers.

There are clear advantages – the cost saving of not having physical showrooms and not having to employ staff to work in these showrooms is reported to allow the firm to cut costs by 5%.

What about the disadvantages? Well, an obvious one is whether customers will be willing to buy a car without looking at the car and having a test drive.

Tesla have come up with a nice solution to this problem.

Tesla announced that “We are also making it much easier to try out and return a Tesla, so that a test drive prior to purchase isn’t needed. You can now return a car within 7 days or 1,000 miles for a full refund. Quite literally, you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free.”

I personally think this is a pretty good idea but if you’re currently working for another car company in one of their showrooms, should you start to be worried?

Free ACCA Study Materials

All of us here at ExP are excited. We’re excited for 2 reasons.

First of all, we’ve just gone over 350,000 followers on Facebook and a huge thank you to all of our followers.

In fact, 350,000 thank you’s!

The second reason is that we’ve just released our free ACCA eBooks. These can be downloaded free of charge on the following page:

Free ACCA Study Resources

We hope that all of you that are studying for your ACCA exams find them useful. If you’re not studying ACCA, you’ll find the eBooks useful if you want an overview of some key finance and business topics.

Thanks again for the Facebook follows and best wishes from all of us at ExP.

DR Book £1m; CR Cash £1m

If I asked you how much would you pay for a book on double-entry, I’m guessing most of you wouldn’t be willing to pay £1m.

Whilst accountants the world over know and (sometimes) love double-entry, the most that most people would have paid for a book on double entry would be £20 to £30 when they were studying for their exams.

There’s a book that’s coming up for sale though that is expected to be sold for a lot more.

It’s an extremely rare book written by Luca Pacioli.

Luca Pacioli?

That name probably sounds familiar to many accountants reading this as Luca Pacioli was a Franciscan monk who came up with the concept of double entry back in the 15th century.

The book that’s coming up for sale is called Summa de arithmetica and was printed in Venice in 1494. It contains the first published description of double-entry bookkeeping.

The book is due to be auctioned in June in New York by upmarket Auction house Christie’s and is expected to be sold for between $1m and $1.5m (approx. £0.8m and £1.2m).

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) hold two copies of the book (neither of these are the book that will be auctioned).

If you’re interested in looking at the contents of Summa de arithmetica you can do so courtesy of ICAEW’s “Turning the page library”.

Summa de arithmetica can be viewed here.

Don’t bank on it…

You think they would have known better wouldn’t you?

One was the CEO and the other was their reputation and risk leader and director of independence.

And we’re not talking about any company here. We’re talking about Deloitte Japan.

The SEC has just fined them $2million for breaching independence rules.

Futomichi Amano, the (now former) CEO of Deloitte Japan and his (now former) colleague Yuji Itagaki who was director of independence held bank accounts at one of their banking clients.

It isn’t necessary a problem if auditors have bank accounts at a client but if the amount they have in those accounts is above a pre-determined limit it could impact on their independence.

After all, if you’re an auditor checking the books of a bank and you have a lot of your own money in that bank you may be reluctant to highlight any problems if the bank could go under as a result and you lose your money.

The SEC press release explained “Under the SEC’s rules, accountants are not considered to be independent if they maintain bank accounts with an audit client with balances greater than FDIC or similar depositary insurance limits. According to the SEC’s order, Deloitte Japan knew but failed to adequately disclose that Amano maintained bank account balances with the audit client’s subsidiary bank that compromised his independence.“

It wasn’t just the CEO and director of independence that held bank accounts. The SEC press release continued with

“A subsequent investigation by the firm revealed that 88 other Deloitte Japan employees had financial relationships with the audit client that compromised their independence as well. The SEC’s order also found that Deloitte Japan’s system of quality controls did not provide reasonable assurances that the firm and its auditors were independent from audit clients. For example, the SEC’s order found that Deloitte Japan failed to adequately staff and supervise its Office of Independence and caused certain independence violations by making deposits to partners’ bank accounts that exceeded the deposit insurance limits.”

The outcome was that Deloitte Japan agreed to pay $2 million in monetary sanctions and be censured. Mr Amano and Mr Itagaki agreed to be suspended from appearing and practicing before the SEC as accountants, which includes not participating in the financial reporting or audits of public companies.

More than a coke…

When people think of Coca Cola, they almost certainly will have a red can or bottle with the ubiquitous “Coke Red” in their mind.

Coca Cola as a business though is much more than the coke drink.

Whether it’s organic tea, juices, coconut water, sports drinks, mineral waters, ready-to-drink coffees or protein drinks they’ve got it covered.

They have over 500 brands in their portfolio and the company has done a great job of diversifying into other non-alcoholic drinks. In the UK for example, they purchased Costa (the coffee chain shop) last October for £3.9bn.

They have just released their latest set of financial figures though and the market didn’t react favourably.

The company is quoted on the New York stock exchange and yesterday their share price fell by 8.5%. This was their largest one-day percentage decline for over 10 years.

The company reported their 4th quarter results and revenue had fallen from $7.5bn in the corresponding period last year to $7.1bn.

The company warned that weak overseas sales would hit profits this year. Areas highlighted as performing below expectations were Argentina, Turkey and the Middle East. There were also foreign exchange issues in connection with the strong dollar.

In summary, there were a few issues which spooked the investors a bit yesterday but it’s fair to say that the future looks ok for Coca Cola as their market value is still pretty impressive.

Even after the 8.5% fall the company is valued at $212 billion.

Burning calories and cash

Do you have a bank card and do you go to the gym?

If you do, then watch out if the gym has lockers which are locked using a code on a pin pad.

London accountant, Matthew Spencer, had nearly £10,000 stolen from his bank account and he believes it all happened while he was working out at an upmarket gym in Canary Wharf.

The fraudsters were very clever as it looks like they saw what pin code Matthew used when locking his locker and then when he was out of the changing room used that code to open his locker. Rather than steal his whole wallet though they only stole his HSBC debit card from his wallet.

Having taken his debit card they then correctly assumed that the pin code he’d used on the locker was the same for his debit card.

It was only later that day when Matthew went to buy a tube ticket that he realised his debit card was missing and after checking with the bank found that nearly £10,000 had been spent that day on computers, top restaurants and cash withdrawals.

Unfortunately for Matthew, the bank is refusing to refund the money as the card was used with the pin code. It’s currently being considered by the Financial Ombudsman Service but it’s not looking good for him.

The moral of this unfortunate situation though is that if you do go to the gym and use lockers with a pin code then make sure it is a different code from the one you use on your bank cards.

Something to drone on about…

Years ago, when I was an audit junior, I remember having to attend year-end inventory counts. Given that a lot of clients had 31 December year ends then a number of these inventory counts took place on 1 January which was never conducive to a great New Year’s Eve night out.

Things have moved on though and PwC has just undertaken their first inventory count using a drone.

The drone, which was manufactured and operated by UK drone company QuestUAV, was used to take over 300 images of a coal reserve in Wales owned by the giant German energy company, RWE.

The images were then used to create a “digital twin” on the coal pile in order to measure it’s volume. Impressively, the digital twin enabled the value of the coal to be calculated to within 99%+ accuracy based on the volume measurement.

Richard French, audit partner at PwC, commented:

“Coal stock has a material value on RWE’s balance sheet, so we carry out an annual stock observation and evaluation as part of our audit process. We observe the manual coal count carried out by RWE’s external surveyor, then assess the resulting data which feeds into the financial statements. The traditional stock count method involves climbing over the coal pile and using a two metre GPS tracking pole to measure the area and elevation from the ground at various points. The data is then used to build a contour of the reserves and estimate its volume.

“While the traditional method remains reliable and will still be used for RWE’s formal year-end financial statements, the drone trial was conducted to explore ways of challenging the traditional method of stock counting. It was a classic example of new technology challenging the old – and based on our results, the potential is groundbreaking.”

PwC went on to mention that there were several benefits including:

  • The traditional method of manually traversing the coal pile can take around 4 hours, whereas using a drone it can be done in half an hour – a reduction of 85%;
  • The drone captured c.900 data points per cubic metre, obtaining impressive overall accuracy levels of 2cm. This is compared to c.1,200 readings taken across the whole site using the traditional method, therefore the drone enhances accuracy by providing a true, continuous representation of the coal pile;
  • The preparation for the drone flight requires access to only a limited area of the coal pile and therefore poses less of a health and safety risk, particularly when parts of the coal pile are unstable; and
  • The flight does not interrupt normal operations on the coal pile, e.g. movement of machinery, and therefore is a less disruptive method.

All in all, a great use of technology and for any audit team members who previously had to climb over the coal, the use of a drone is no doubt very welcome news.