Description: It just doesn’t seem to make sense. Savers say they are being punished when it comes to getting that first mortgage. In the strange world of finance, it appears that home buyers who put down less than 20% of the house value are getting better interest rates than those who have been socking away their cash to provide a large down payment. So the poor savers are earning close to zero while they save their money and then they are apparently getting punished for finally borrowing when they make their purchase. It’s a funny world folks.
Date: March 9; updated March 10, 2017
1) What surprises did you have in reading this article?
2) Were you aware that the taxpayer essentially insures those mortgages with less than a 20% downpayment?
3) Are you planning on buying a home after graduating? What is your savings strategy?
Description: Accounting giant Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) took a big reputational hit at this past weekend’s Academy Awards. Millions saw it unfold on camera as somehow the PWC representatives delivered the wrong envelope for the best picture award. PWC has had a 83 year history of oversight of the awards process. It will be interesting to see how this very public incident impacts its brand.
Date: February 28, 2017
1) Were you watching the Academy Awards? What was your reaction to the envelope mix-up?
2) How do you think this will impact PWC’s reputation?
3) Are you an accounting student applying for work with CPA firms? Would an incident like this impact which firm you decide to choose?
Description: On February 13, 2017, this blog featured a piece called “Every 20 Years or So.” It dealt with auditing firm Deloitte’s appeal of court decision that it pay roughly $85 million in damages related to their involvement in audit of the failed Livent enterprise. Well, if you read that blog post, you may know what I mean when I say I have been talking with my lawyer friend again. He tells me that we can probably expect a number of months will pass before the court provides its decision. It all seems to take a long time for justice to have the final word on accounting and auditing decisions made in 1996 and 1997. In the meantime, you can always watch a video of the hearing at the CPAC website (see the link below).
Date: February 15, 2017
1) Were you familiar with the issues in the Deloitte case? (If not, you can read a brief overview on page 54 of Wiley’s Auditing: A Practical Approach.)
2) How do you think a highly public court case like this impacts upon the professional image of an accounting firm?
3) Based on your reading of the matter, how do you think the Supreme Court might rule?
Description: Janet De Silva is the CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade. She recently offered several key observations about her career path and success. One particular piece of advice that stands out is don’t pretend you are an expert when you take on an overseas assignment.
Date: March 5, 2017
1) As a university student looking forward to entering the workforce, what was your biggest takeaway from this article?
2) Were you encouraged to read that business leaders are saying there is a talent shortage? What are you doing to help fill that need?
3) Do you have an interest in working internationally like Janet De Silva did? What do you think your university education can do to prepare you for that option?
Description: The federal Competition Bureau is suing Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) under allegations of deceptive pricing. Apparently, HBC listed a sleep set with a sale price of $788, noting that the regular price was $1,998. The problem was, HBC hadn’t sold a single unit at the regular price, prompting the Bureau to believe the retailer had misled its customers. HBC intends to argue against the complaint.
Date: February 22, 2017
1) Have you ever seen a situation like this where the sale price appears to be compared with an unrealistic regular price? What did you do?
2) Were you surprised that the Competition Bureau can take action on a case like this?
3) What role might an accountant have in defending HBC against such accusations?
Description: The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is coming; coming for taxes that is. CRA is expanding an audit program to ferret out wealthy individuals and companies that may have been avoiding taxation, particularly through offshore activities. The federal government has directed an additional $444 million over the next five years to help the CRA’s audit efforts. The CRA is hoping to add $400 million in tax revenue from this expanded effort this year, a tidy sum to be added to the typical $13 billion its audit activities generate annually.
Date: February 23, 2017
1) What is your opinion on these tax audits? Do you see it primarily as a revenue generator or more as a deterrent to promote taxpayer compliance?
2) Do you think you would like to try a career as a tax auditor? Why?
3) The article notes that their is some controversy over whether taxpayers who voluntarily disclose their avoidance of taxes should be allowed a second shot at this voluntary disclosure. What do you think?
Description: More than one third of Canadians don’t realize how beneficial it is to make more than the minimum payment on their consumer debt. According to a recent survey by TransUnion, a credit monitoring organization, 39% of Canadians surveyed didn’t realize the financial benefits of paying more than the minimum required by credit card companies or other lenders. Low interest rates have perhaps created a false sense of security in portions of the population.
Date: February 22, 2017
1) What did you learn from reading this article?
2) How are you approaching credit card debt as a university student?
3) Check out the section called “Your Personal Statement of Financial Position” in chapter 2 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making. Do you think as an accounting student that there are principles you are learning in class that can help with your personal finances?
Description: In the news this week, we saw a couple of versions of President Donald Trump’s behaviour. Early in the week, we saw a rather uneventful meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Then, later in the week, we saw a rather unusual news conference with what we might call bullying of the news media. How do you handle Trump-like characters in the work place? Carrie Gallant stresses the importance of preparation and asking the right questions.
Date: February 18, 2017;
1) What did you learn from reading this article?
2) Have you ever had to deal with an unpredictable personality in the workplace? What strategies worked in dealing with these difficult situations?
3) What role do you think group work on your university courses has in helping you prepare for the workplace?
Description: It might be Roll-up the Rim contest time, but Tim Horton’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, is looking for more than free coffee and doughnuts. Restaurant Brands is looking to add to its roster of Burger King and Tim’s through acquisitions. Popeye’s was rumored to be on the take-over list, but talks may have broken off. Perhaps more attractive options are out there.
Date: February 14, 2017; updated February 16, 2017
1) Do you have an interest in working in the mergers and acquisitions business when you graduate? What do you think will be some of the key skills you will require?
2) Are you a roll-up the rim contest winner yet this year? How well do you think this annual contest ranks as a marketing tool?
3) Where can you find discussion of Tim Horton’s in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making? How has Tim’s changed since that vignette?
Description: In a move that challenges rival Air Canada, WestJet has announced it is expanding operations in the Province of Quebec. Westjet is adding over 100 new flights to its roster there, hoping to draw both business and leisure travelers through lower fares. Air Canada is expected to fight back, though low fares will be a challenge in the face of rising fuel prices.
Date: February 13, 2017
1) What is your opinion on Westjet’s expansion in Quebec as a strategic move?
2) If you were a management accountant at Westjet, what might be some of the cost information you would be analyzing to help with this strategic move?
3) What can you learn about Westjet’s approach to its fleet of aircraft in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making?