Blue Jays president touts small firm experience

Baseball is back and it’s always great to welcome the boys of summer back to town after a long, grey winter in Toronto. The Jays are in Cleveland this weekend, but the home opener is on Monday and it’s always an awesome time. I’ve got my ticket!

In the March issue of CA Magazine, Jays president Paul Beeston, FCA graces the cover and is featured in a great profile of his career with the Jays, MLB and Labatt. He also talks about how his CA training has helped him throughout his career.

While his ebullient personality has made him one of the most popular executives in Major League Baseball, it is Beeston’s sober accounting skills that have made him a treasure for his corporate owners at Labatt and more recently Rogers. “I would say [an accounting background] is almost critical. You have to be able to read a P&L. You can’t lose money and be successful.”

He also waxes poetic about a topic that I’ve touched on a number of times over the years: the difference between getting your CA at a smaller firm versus one of the Big Four. Turns out I’m in good company:

An accountant to the end, Beeston looks back fondly at his time with Coopers & Lybrand in London, Ont., where he received his CA in 1971 (then McDonald Currie) and worked in the tax department. Clients were smaller in London, which meant he got to work on up to 50 audits with different clients over the course of a year. “You learned and you did everything — the tax returns, the auditing — you learned what a financial statement was all about, you learned what financing was about,” Beeston says. He contrasts that with a role in a big firm where an accountant might work on just one client for the better part of a year.

Pretty cool that one of the guys responsible for the Jays back-to-back Series wins in the early 90s is a fellow CA (no pun intended). The team is looking pretty strong this year and the minors are stocked for the future. Let’s play ball!


Big Four and Mintz again part of Top GTA Employers list

The Toronto Star has released the 2008 edition of their Greater Toronto’s Top 50 Employers list, and it is no surprise that accounting firms are well represented once again.

All four of the largest accounting firms, the Big Four, made the list, along with a local single office firm, Mintz & Partners.

The reasons why they made the list are similar, with most touting days off to study for the UFE, personal days on top of regular vacation, support for families and volunteering, and matching RSP contributions.

Still no mention of 20% time for personal projects though.


City budget indecipherable to ordinary citizens

Toronto released their budget this week and other than the usual tax hikes for property owners, this interesting post on Eye Daily about the gibberish and jargon of a city budget.

It lists the specialized terms the budget contains to describe its expenditures and revenues, and the list is incomprehensible, even to me, a soon-to-be Chartered Accountant:

  • OMBI
  • COTA
  • Net pressures
  • Revenue tools
  • Adjusted pressure
  • MPMP
  • ABCs
  • Single tier and regional CAOs
  • COLA
  • Assessment growth
  • Social service cost sharing
  • OW COA
  • EMS
  • CM & CFO
  • FY Incremental Outlook
  • Full cost recovery model

It’s a little ridiculous, no? How do they expect ordinary citizens to understand where their property taxes are going, if I can’t even decipher the above?

The link above contains comments on the original post that outline what the terms most likely mean, although no one from the City has come forward with the official definitions.


TransitCamp set to improve the TTC

A group of Toronto bloggers are getting together this weekend for the TTC TransitCamp to brainstorm ways to improve the TTC’s absolutely horrid website.

When I first heard about it a few days ago, my first impulse was to try to get involved. Then I realized, there are probably many more Torontonians with much more to contribute than one who drives every day to random parts of the GTA.

Some got together on January 21 to plan the event, and the group can be seen in this Flickr set. The event has even been dugg! The buzz is building and I can’t wait to hear about the great ideas that are sure to result from this innovative “unconference.”


Toronto becoming more expensive to live

Not through any direct experience of my own, although my landlord did take the opportunity to raise my rent the maximum allowable by law a month ago, but the city has been moving up the ranks of the most expensive on the planet.

Toronto of course ranks first in Canada as the most expensive place to live in the country, but its our international ranking that is more telling. We now rank 47th out of the top 144 cities, moving up from 82nd last year! That’s a 43% change in just a year, and analysts are basing it primarily on the strength of the loonie.

In other Toronto news, today is our annual Pride Parade, the world’s largest, celebrating our gay and lesbian community. I won’t be attending this year though, because the Netherlands is playing Portugal this afternoon! Go oranje!