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Bramwell’s Lunch Beat: More CFOs Are Letting Employees Work from Home

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Feb 18th 2015
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Deloitte taps Portland resident and Willamette University trustee as global CEO
Big Four firm Deloitte is tapping Portland, Oregon, resident Punit Renjen as the firm’s next global CEO, wrote Malia Spencer of the Portland Business Journal. He will replace the retiring Barry Salzberg, effective June 1. Renjen has been with Deloitte for 28 years and was most recently chairman of the board for Deloitte US. Renjen is expected to continue to be based in Portland. He is also a member of the Deloitte Global Board of Directors and chairman of the Deloitte Foundation. “It is a privilege to be part of an organization that delivers high-quality services and innovative solutions to the best clients, develops the most talented professionals into leaders, and does its part to improve the societies in which we operate,” Renjen said.

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Accountemps survey: Remote work opportunities are rising
A growing number of professionals are heading to the office without ever leaving the house, according to a new Accountemps survey. More than one-third (36 percent) of CFOs said the number of work-from-home and other remote-working opportunities has increased in the past three years, while only 3 percent have seen a decline. Sixty-eight percent of CFOs at companies with more than 1,000 employees see remote work opportunities on the rise – double the percentage of CFOs at companies with 20 to 49 employees (34 percent). Among companies offering remote-working arrangements, higher morale and retention are the primary benefits, according to 35 percent of those polled. Another 28 percent said the best aspect of this perk is increasing productivity by eliminating commute time.

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FASB looks to improve consolidation guidance for legal entities
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) updated an accounting standard on Wednesday that is intended to improve targeted areas of consolidation guidance for legal entities, such as limited partnerships, limited liability corporations, and securitization structures (collateralized debt obligations, collateralized loan obligations, and mortgage-backed security transactions). FASB ASU No. 2015-02, Consolidation (Topic 810): Amendments to the Consolidation Analysis, focuses on the consolidation evaluation for reporting organizations that are required to evaluate whether they should consolidate certain legal entities. The standard update reduces the number of consolidation models from four to two, providing incremental benefits to stakeholders, said FASB Chairman Russell Golden. “For example, specialized guidance for legal entities will be eliminated by removing the indefinite deferral for certain investment funds, and certain money market funds will no longer have to apply the guidance,” he added.

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Caterpillar discloses US investigation into cash transfers
Federal authorities are investigating the movement of cash among Caterpillar Inc.’s US and overseas subsidiaries, the maker of construction and mining equipment said on Tuesday, wrote James R. Hagerty of the Wall Street Journal. The Peoria, Illinois-based company disclosed in a securities filing it had received a grand jury subpoena from the US District Court for Central Illinois on Jan. 8 and was cooperating with the investigation. Caterpillar said the subpoena requested documents and information on matters including undistributed profits of foreign subsidiaries and the movement of cash within the company. It wasn’t clear whether the investigation related to earlier allegations that Caterpillar had reconfigured its European operations to reduce its US taxes. A tax strategy developed by the company in the late 1990s cut US taxes on the company’s lucrative sales of replacement parts for excavators, bulldozers, and other machines outside the United States.

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Gay couples’ tax-season nightmares continue
Ben Steverman of Bloomberg wrote an article about the tax hardships gay couples continue to face in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages. “After decades together, many are filing their first joint tax returns,” he wrote. “In a growing number of states, this is easy: An additional 20 states have legalized same-sex marriage since the beginning of 2014. But in Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, and nine other states, gay couples are still treated as legal strangers. They face extra paperwork, heftier tax-prep fees, and tax questions that puzzle even the experts. Relief could come from the US Supreme Court, which is expected to rule by June whether gays and lesbians have a right to marry. Taxes, however, are due by April 15.”

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The rich benefit the most from tax breaks designed to help people build wealth
The federal government spent $384 billion in 2013 on tax incentives that encourage savings, linked mainly to home ownership and retirement plans. But most of that money went to the rich, wrote Jeanna Smialek of Bloomberg. The highest-earning fifth of US taxpayers got about two-thirds of the tax refunds and exemptions on things like mortgage interest and property taxes in the current US tax code, while the bottom fifth received less than 1 percent, a report by the Urban Institute shows. Households with less income have less to tuck away for a rainy day and often can't afford to buy a home, so they are less able to take advantage of these tax breaks. African Americans and Hispanics, who have lower average incomes, also receive less in asset-building subsidies than whites, the Urban Institute notes.

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Tesco names Allen as chairman to end near four-month search
Tesco PLC appointed John Allan as chairman, ending a near four-month search for a successor to Richard Broadbent as the struggling UK grocery leader seeks to get back on its feet after a tumultuous year, wrote Jillian Ward and Paul Jarvis of Bloomberg. Allan, 66, who will take up the post on March 1, joins Tesco CEO Dave Lewis in seeking to restore stability to the supermarket chain. Tesco has been reeling amid an accounting scandal and a series of profit warnings as the company loses market business to discounters Aldi and Lidl. Allan was chairman of Dixons Retail from 2009 until last year, when the retailer merged with Carphone Warehouse Group PLC to form Dixons Carphone PLC. Broadbent said in October 2014 that he planned to step down. Accounting irregularities that led to a 263 million-pound profit overstatement were “a matter of profound regret,” the outgoing chairman said at the time.

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Noble rejects report questioning accounting as shares drop
Noble Group Ltd.’s shares lost S$640 million ($472 million) in market value on Tuesday after rejecting a report by Iceberg Research questioning the commodity company’s accounting practices, wrote Jonathan Burgos of Bloomberg. “The company completely rejects the allegations,” Noble said in a statement to Singapore Exchange Ltd. on Monday, after the bourse operator queried the share-price move. “All material information to which Iceberg Research refers is in the public domain. There has been no material adverse change since the company last reported.” Noble fell 7.9 percent to S$1.11 at the close, its biggest decline since November 2011. About 63.6 million shares changed hands, 290 percent higher than the three-month daily average, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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France issues arrest warrants for ex-UBS managers
French investigating magistrates have issued arrest warrants for three former Swiss managers at UBS in connection with their investigation into whether the bank helped tax dodgers, wrote Chine Labbe and Joshua Franklin of Reuters. It was unclear if the managers worked in France or elsewhere for the Zurich-based bank. A spokesman for UBS declined to comment. France has been investigating UBS since July on suspicion of helping its wealthy clients avoid tax from 2004 to 2012. Last year, a source close to the matter told Reuters that investigating magistrates had put the potential value of the fine UBS should pay at 4.88 billion euros ($5.57 billion), basing their calculations on a total 12.2 billion euros they claimed was held by UBS on behalf of French individuals.

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AICPA and CIMA launch new website for CGMAs
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) on Tuesday launched a new professional learning and development website for Chartered Global Management Accountants (CGMAs) that will equip them with the competencies required to maintain and improve their employability in today’s challenging business environment. The AICPA/CIMA Competency and Learning website features more than 1,500 articles, publications, videos, webcasts, and self-study courses to support lifelong learning for CGMA designation-holders, helping them to sustain a competitive advantage. The website also provides flexible access to all of its learning resources, allowing CGMAs to discover and develop new competencies when, where, and how they want. CGMAs can easily track and report progress toward their personal, professional, and regulatory goals, allowing them to take control of their career development.

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