Description: It was supposed to be one of the centerpieces of the former Conservative government’s efforts to prove they were the ones to deliver savings and efficiency in the way the public sector delivered services. But now with weeks of stories on how employees have gone without pay cheques or been paid the wrong amount, the bloom is coming off the efficiency rose; the effort to consolidate all government payroll systems appears to be a disaster. Meanwhile, another effort to combine all technology services into Shared Services Canada has been discredited by the resignation of Stats Canada’s chief statistician, citing issues of independence because of the decision to move Stats Can tech to the new super agency.
Date: September 19, 2016
1) Did you or any of your classmates work for the federal government over the summer? Did any of you have any issues with getting paid the right amount on time?
2) Why do you think our efforts to increase efficiency by consolidation sometimes go astray?
3) If you were on the audit team responsible for auditing the Phoenix payroll system, what might be some of the planning considerations you would have?
Description: The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is conducting an investigation into the way Exxon has been accounting for its oil reserves. The SEC – plus a number of state authorities – have been posing questions as to why Exxon has not joined other oil and gas producers in writing down the value of assets in the current prolonged slump in petroleum prices. Exxon has said future cash flow projections mean that no writedowns are necessary.
Date: September 20, 2016
1) What is your view of this story?
2) What are some of the key considerations in accounting for oil reserves?
3) If you were an auditor of an oil company like Exxon, what would be some of the risks you would have to consider in auditing the oil reserves? How would you address those risks?
Description: In our world of hashtags galore, perhaps this one took you by surprise: #AuditorProud. It’s an effort to attract more people to the accounting profession and show the role of the auditor in capital markets. This is the second such #AuditorProud day, sponsored by the Centre for Audit Quality – an organization associated with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and funded by US accounting firms.
Date: September 21, 2016
1) Did you hear about the #AuditorProud day on September 22?
2) Are you interested in pursuing an auditing career? Does an effort like #AuditorProud help you with such a decision?
3) In Chapter One of Wiley’s Auditing: A Practical Approach Making we read about various things that auditors do. When you read about the variety of types of work auditors do, what area do you think you would like to work in the best?
Description: Are the assignments beginning to pile up already? Have you missed a deadline or an important meeting this term? Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the pace and complexity of your university life? Perhaps it’s time for you to read about Emotional Agility: that’s a term developed by Harvard psychologist Susan David and she sees it as a key success factor in the world of work and in your personal life.
Date: September 14, 2016
1) How has student life been so far for you this term? Feeling any need to tame your stress response?
2) What was the most surprising thing you learned from this article?
3) Do you know what type of learner you are? This may help you in taming your student stress. See Kimmel (Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, Sixth Canadian Edition) page XXI for some guidance in answering this question.
Description: They are regulated in most Canadian provinces. But payday loans still have astronomically high rates ranging from 456 percent to 639 percent. Don’t be fooled by the simple phrase of $15 for a $100 loan. When you figure out the math on an annual basis, you can see why Professor Jerry Buckland is calling for government intervention to help consumers.
Date: September 14, 2016
1) As a student have you ever taken on a payday loan? If so, have you calculated the interest rate?
2) On page 79 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making we read about “Your Personal Statement of Financial Position.”If you had a payday loan, where would it show on your personal statement?
3) What might be some alternatives to payday loans if you are facing a temporary cash flow crisis in your personal financial situation?
Description: One downside of the long period of low interest rates is that consumers have been piling on the household debt. With income growth in trouble, debt is growing faster than household income. Canadians now owe almost $1.70 per every $1 coming in. The Bank of Canada is concerned about the impact of these debt levels on the financial stability of the country.
Date: September 15, 2016
1) Do you see the personal household debt issue as a risk to Canadians and the Canadian economy?
2) In the opening vignette for Chapter 8 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making we read about how Canadian Tire manages its credit card receivables. If you were a financial executive at Canadian Tire reading this story, how would you react?
3) How do you think the accounting profession could educate Canadians about the impact of debt on their financial flexibility? Do you see a future career in working with consumers and their personal finances?
Description: For generations schools have competed against other schools in sports, drama, music and other activities. But would you believe Ontario’s four different publicly funded systems are competing each other in an effort to recruit systems from one of their three “competitiors.” Apparently in an area of declining enrollments attracting students to a school may be enough to keep your school from closing.
Date: September 6, 2016; updated September 7, 2016
1) As a student – and a taxpaying citizen – how do you feel about school boards spending public money to compete for students?
2) In the story, Peel Board spokesman Brian Woodland is quoted as saying “The research is basically what our customers are telling us they want.” Did you notice that word ‘customer’? How do you feel about using this word to describe parents and students?
3) How would a school board classify these expenditures for these various activities in its accounts?
Description: Quebec securities market overseer AMF has uncovered an insider trading scheme at Amaya, the company which took over gambling hub Pokerstars in 2014. The insider trading dates back a number of years prior to the Pokerstars purchase. Allegedly, the insiders provided information on planned takeover deals with those making trades paying kickbacks on the profits.
Date: September 7, 2016; updated September 8, 2016
1) What are the ethical issues around insider training?
2) If you were an accountant at AMF, can you think of any procedures you could put in place to prevent or detect this type of insider trading?
3) The first chapter of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, discusses the importance of ethics for accounting. What lessons from this story on Amaya can you tie in with the discussion in Chapter One?
Description: No headphone jack on the new iPhone 7 and wireless earbuds – that seemed to be catching most of the attention with Apple’s latest release of its mega-product. It’s probably not exactly what Apple was hoping consumers would focus on with its latest product launch. But some are saying the iPhone is showing signs of maturity, and there may not be the same ‘wow factor’ of prior versions. Jonathan Sterne of McGill University highlighted the vanishing plug-and-jack system as an example of planned obsolescence.
Date: September 8, 2016
1) Are you an iPhone user? Do you think you will upgrade to the new phone?
2) Have you had any recent experience with disposing of a piece of consumer electronics that was still working? Have you calculated your own personal cost of planned obsolescence?
3) What can accountants do to help quantify the environmental costs of planned obsolescence?
Description: Many of us have heard of the European Commission’s decision that Apple should repay over $14 billion in taxes and interest. The Commission ruled the Irish government’s arrangement with Apple was illegal state aid. This put new attention on the issue of global companies chasing favourable tax rates. Perhaps Austria’s Chancellor captured the feelings of citizens best with his notion that a sausage stand would pay more tax than Starbucks or Amazon.
Date: September 2, 2016
1) Have you followed this Apple tax story?
2) What is your opinion about this case? Do you think that this tax strategy can hurt the Apple brand?
3) How can companies use transfer pricing to reduce their tax bills?