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Readers write to say the Big Four have an unfair advantage when it comes to recruiting, and that the treatment of American Indians is unfair, period.
CFO Staff, CFO Magazine
December 1, 2007
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I applaud the Big Four accounting firms for their approach to recruiting, and CFO magazine for its coverage, but let's not forget that firms both large and small are all vying for access to candidates ("Lights, Camera, Audits!" Topline, November). Which begs the question: Is their approach truly original or do they merely have deeper pockets? The middle market has also been hard at work exploring new and innovative ways to attract candidates. For example, in August, Aronson & Co. launched the "Show Us Your Future" video-submission contest geared toward college accounting and finance majors entering the job market. To win the grand prize — a student-to-professional makeover now worth more than $5,000 — entrants are asked to submit a three-minute video that creatively demonstrates where they see themselves after graduation. The video entries will be posted on YouTube.com and streamed to the contest Website, www.showusyourfuture.com, where people can watch all of the videos, rate them, and add comments.
So, while your article does a great job of informing readers about how the 500-pound gorilla is addressing the problem of recruiting, I think it would have been a more interesting read if the reporter had addressed how the rest of the pack is also competing for access.
In "Lights, Camera, Audits!" Dan Black, Ernst & Young's director of campus recruiting for the Americas, says, "Accounting can seem dry and boring."
Accounting is interesting, but more from a theoretical and research point of view. Actual public practice and its hypercompetitiveness and poor compensation for starting employees (relative to industry) are extremely unattractive. Exorbitant overtime does not need to exist, because work organization can always be restructured. Similarly, the management motto of "work hard, play hard" is outdated. A healthier approach is "work moderate, live moderate." Those previous, negative examples are reasons why public accounting firms cannot — and should not — have it easy when recruiting.
Until they change the audit labor process to be more humane, and compensate fairly for the labor that provides the skills that earn income for partners and managers, public accounting firms will suffer recruitment pains.
Broken Treaties, Broken Promises
"The Long Trail" (October) was an excellent article. A couple of points to make: first, the Department of Interior — through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) — took on the trustee relationship without a system to provide trust accounting, including timely reconciliations. Its system was set up for budgeting, which leads to the spending of money. That's a role the department should never have taken on, and it needs to be changed. What's more, most of these relationships came via a treaty — not an Indian war — and are a federal responsibility.
The real damage to American Indians, though, comes before the money is even collected and deposited. The royalties, leases, and property sales negotiated by the BIA have been below market prices for 180 years. If you sell a Native American asset for $10 that is actually worth $100, and deposit the $10 (which you lose track of anyway), there is still another $90 that is never collected and never reported. That's the real tragedy.
The story of Indian trusts is all about the termination of Native American land, money, records, and treaties. No matter how many BIAs, OSTs, or OHTAs they create, the federal government will always be unable and unwilling to perform trust reform.
Each fiscal year, the government misspends millions of dollars in trust reform to keep from repaying billions more. To do this, they hire highly educated, highly paid bureaucrats. But these bureaucrats have no heart for the people they have vowed to serve and protect. It's a modern-day version of the corrupt Indian agent.
The citizens of this country should be outraged over the way money is being spent to cover up this federal mismanagement, and all American Tribes need to come together to demand justice.
The government's actions in this case are unconscionable. The fact is, the federal government cannot define its role as Indian trustee, so how can it fix the trust system? The goal of the federal government seems to be to terminate Indian rights by any means: war, religion, rations, assimilation — and now, accounting.
Thomas M. Wabnum
Prairie Band Potawatomi (former PBP Tribal Council member)
Individual Indian Money account holder
Bureau of Indian Affairs/Office of the Special Trustee (retired)
I read "The Long Trail" with great interest. The subject concerns me directly as an American Indian, a Comanche, and as a United States veteran who fought in Vietnam.
I firmly believe the Historical Trust Accounting is just another example of how the United States is reneging on its promises to all American Indians. The accounting being used to determine how much is owed Indians is laughable. Paper trails are all well and good, but how does someone take into account the broken treaties and the promises of keeping our hunting grounds for us in perpetuity? How do you take into account how much land was stolen from us, or how many bison were killed simply to force us onto reservations?
The Interior Department claims the amount owed will be in the millions. We as Nations know it is really in the billions. Certainly, if we were allowed to perform the accounting, the amount would be a great deal larger.
The trust issue is a problem we have dealt with for years — and will deal with for years to come. I sincerely want a fair settlement. But given the long history of mistreatment of Tribes, I have serious doubts that will happen.
Joe Foster Jones
President & CFO
When Did We Lose Control?
While outsourcing is nothing new to our country, it's becoming clear that with economic globalization we have lost control over our products ("Chinese Checking," September). Chinese toy manufacturers have grown over the past 25 years and have been allowed to use their own materials to cut costs even further. Consequently, this makes quality control even more difficult.
Many U.S. companies may have on-site employees to monitor quality control, but how well are they able to keep up with the ever-changing safety standards in place here? My guess is that the lag time from admitting there's a problem to the government's intervention and policy implementation is too long for the average consumer.
The quickest solution is not going to come from these new government policies (although in the long run, they are critical), but rather the consumers. It always comes back to supply and demand.
Simi Valley, California