One in Three Audits Fail, PCAOB Chief Auditor Says

January 24, 2014, 3:12 PM ET

One in Three Audits Fail, PCAOB Chief Auditor Says

EMILY CHASAN

Senior Editor

More than one in three audits inspected by the U.S. government’s audit watchdog were so deficient the auditors shouldn’t have signed off, an official said this week.

While the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board inspects audits where is suspects problems, the high failure rate is raising questions about whether auditors are getting adequate training and oversight to provide high quality audits for investors.

“When we look at an audit, the rate of failure has been in a range of around 35 to 40%,” Martin Baumann, chief auditor of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board said on Thursday in comments to a New York State Society of CPAs conference.  In those cases, the watchdog said it found that auditors did not have sufficient evidence to support their opinions.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the underlying corporate financial statements are incorrect, but the audit failures could start to undermine investor confidence, Mr. Baumann said. “Investors are relying on the audit,” he said.

The board is working on creating audit quality indicators so that firms could potentially measure their performance against a common standard in the future, Mr. Baumann said. It expects to issue a concept release on the indicators in the first quarter.

The PCAOB has found five common trouble spots for auditors: complex “fair value” measurements for hard-to-price financial instruments, management’s estimates, revenue recognition policies, internal controls, and relying too heavily on the use of data prepared by the company being audited.

“In many cases [auditors were] just taking the report that management prepared and using that as evidence without getting behind what that’s all about,” Mr. Baumann said.

The board’s inspections are the finding problems — at both large and small audit firms — stemmed from ineffective supervision, ineffective quality reviews and monitoring, a lack of professional skepticism, and inappropriate tone at the top of the audit firm.

“Most industries have some way in which they monitor the quality of their products,” Mr. Baumann said.

 

Italy launches big privatisation push

January 26, 2014 6:03 pm

Italy launches big privatisation push

By Guy Dinmore in Rome and Rachel Sanderson in Milan

Italy’s coalition government has embarked on what it calls its largest privatisation programme since the late 1990s with a plan to raise €12bn, but questions are already being raised over the value of state-owned companies to be put on the block and why only minority stakes are to be sold.

“We want to hurry up and take advantage of this market window,” Fabrizio Pagani, senior economic adviser to prime minister Enrico Letta, told the Financial Times on Sunday, confirming that the four sales would be made through initial public offerings.

Details of the privatisation programme were outlined after a cabinet meeting late on Friday, with Mr Letta saying proceeds would allow Italy to reduce its crippling public debt of over €2tn for the first time in six years.

The government intends to retain controlling stakes by selling 40 per cent of postal services operator Poste Italiane and 49 per cent of air traffic controller Enav.

Separately, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), a Treasury-controlled funding vehicle which manages the postal savings deposits taken by Poste Italiane and also operates a strategic investment fund, plans to sell stakes in Fincantieri, Europe’s largest shipbuilding group, and Sace, an export credit agency.

Also to go are the government’s four per cent holding in energy group Eni; a 13 per cent stake inSTMicroelectronics, a semiconductor manufacturer which is partially owned by the French government; Grandi Stazioni which manages Italy’s largest railway stations, and CDP holdings in Snam and Terra, operators of the gas and electricity grids.

“This is the largest privatisation programme since the 1990s, when Italy prepared to enter the euro,” Mr Pagani said.

However the sell-off, pushed by the European Commission, depends on a period of political stability to see the legislation through parliament. Mr Letta’s nine-month-old coalition aims to stay in office until 2015 but has to navigate the danger of snap general elections this May if Matteo Renzi, leader of Mr Letta’s Democratic party and aspiring prime minister, fails to make progress with his agenda of sweeping institutional reforms.

The government’s intention to retain majorities in key companies, such as Poste Italiane, may help placate trade unions and leftwing parties but has raised questions over the validity of the process.

“When the government keeps control of the company and shares it with the unions, leaving an old bureaucrat to run the company, I don’t call this a privatisation,” commented Francesco Giavazzi, economics professor at Milan’s Bocconi university.

“It is a bit of a wishy washy process of privatisation as the state has said it only plans to sell minority stakes,” said a senior banker, saying sales of energy group Eni and utility Enel – not on the agenda – would be more appealing.

Bankers were also sceptical about the sale of Enav because of the parlous state of the Italian airline industry and political sensitivities.

Fabrizio Saccomanni, finance minister, said the 40 per cent stake in Poste Italiane could raise from €4bn to €4.8bn, while the partial sale of Enav could yield €1bn. The government has previously set a total target of €12bn for its privatisation programme.

The sale of Poste Italiane, which employs 144,000 workers, is the most controversial, with the government aiming for an IPO by as early as July. Leftwing trade unions have already voiced objections. Susanna Camusso, leader of the CGIL federation, has warned that past lessons taught that privatisations were “not the way to help the economy”.

The more moderate CISL union has welcomed the planned sale, which the government says will make shares available to employees and could leave unions with representation on the board. Mr Pagani said shares could be offered to workers at a discount “to get the support of employees and unions”.

Poste Italiane’s privatisation has been on the agenda of successive governments. The group reported a net profit of €1bn in 2012 on revenues of €24bn, with €19bn coming from its financial and insurance services. Massimo Sarmi, the chief executive, who is lobbying to keep his post after the sale, has said the group would be sold as a whole, rather than broken up.

Bankers remain sceptical that Poste Italiane will be ready to float this year, given its close relationship with the state. This was highlighted last year when, under pressure from the government, Mr Sarmi agreed to acquire a 19.5 per cent stake in Alitalia in a recapitalisation that saved the privately owned airline from bankruptcy.

Fincantieri is expected to be first off the block. Banks launched their pitches to manage the IPO last week. Mr Pagani said part of the proceeds would be reinvested in the shipbuilder while the CDP could make a special dividend to the Treasury that would also go towards debt reduction.

 

First HSBC Halts Large Withdrawals, Now Lloyds ATMs Stop Working; Furious Backlash Forces HSBC To Scrap Large Cash Withdrawal Limit

First HSBC Halts Large Withdrawals, Now Lloyds ATMs Stop Working

Tyler Durden on 01/26/2014 14:43 -0500

Update: things are back to normal – Lloyds will gladly accept your deposits again:

First HSBC bungles up an attempt at pseudo-capital controls by explaining that large cash withdrawals need a justification, and are limited in order “to protect our customers” (from what – their money?), which will likely result in even faster deposit withdrawals, and now another major UK bank – Lloyds/TSB – has admitted it are experiencing cash separation anxiety manifesting itself in ATMs failing to work and a difficult in paying using debit cards. Sky reports that customers of Lloyds and TSB, as well as those with Halifax, have reported difficulties paying for goods in shops and getting money out of ATMs.

All three banks are under the Lloyds Banking Group which said: “We are aware that some customers are unable to use their debit cards either to make purchases or to withdraw money from ATMs. “We are working hard to resolve this as swiftly as possible and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Further from SkyNews, TSB, which operates as a separate business within the group, issued a statement saying: “We are aware that some TSB customers are unable to use their debit cards either to make purchases or to withdraw money from ATMs. “This has impacted all Lloyds Banking Group brands. We are working hard to resolve this and unreservedly apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

TSB chief executive Paul Pester said in a tweet: “My apologies to TSB customers having problems with their cards. I’m working hard with my team now to try to fix the problems.”

Clients were not happy:

On the microblogging site, one TSB customer Nicky Kate said: “Really embarrassed to get my card declined while out shopping, never had any problems with lloyds then they changed my account.”

Hannah Smith: “I am a TSB customer with a Lloyds card still (like everyone else). And I’ve been embarrassed three times today re: card declined.”

Another customer Julia Abbott said: “Lloyds bank atm and card service down. 20 mins on hold to be told this. Nothing even on website. Shoddy lloyds. … shoddy.”

Helen Needham said: “#lloyds bank having problems with there card service… Can’t pay for anything or get money out!”

Another Twitter user wrote: “This problem is also affecting Halifax debit cards as I found out trying to pay for lunch with my wife!”

And Jane Lucy Jones tweeted Halifax, saying: “Why can’t I get any money out of any cashpoints, what is going on?

What is going on is known as a “glitch” for now, and perhaps as “preemptive planning” depending on who you ask. Sure, in a few months in may be called a bail-in (see Cyprus), but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

 

Furious Backlash Forces HSBC To Scrap Large Cash Withdrawal Limit

Tyler Durden on 01/26/2014 13:23 -0500
Following the quiet update that HSBC had decided to withhold large cash withdrawals from some if its clients – demanding to know the purpose of the withdrawal before handing over the customers’ money – it appears the anger among the over 60 thousand readers who found out about HSBC’s implied capital shortfall just on this website, has forced HSBC’s hands.

The bank issued a statement (below) this morning defending their actions – it’s for your own good – but rescinding the decision – “following feedback, we are immediately updating guidance to our customer facing staff to reiterate that it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals.” After all the last thing the bank, which over the past few years has been implicated in aiding an abetting terrorists and laundering pretty much anything, wants is an implied capital shortfall to become an all too explicit one.

Via HSBC – Statement On Large Cash Withdrawals

25 Jan 2014

As a responsible bank we ask our customers about the purpose of large cash withdrawals when they are unusual and out of keeping with the normal running of their account. Since last November, in some instances we may have also asked these customers to show us evidence of what the cash is required for. The reason being we have an obligation to protect our customers, and to minimise the opportunity for financial crime. Large cash transactions have inherent security issues and leave customers with very little protection should things go wrong, by asking customers the right questions, we can explore whether an alternative payment method might be safer and more convenient for them.

However, following feedback, we are immediately updating guidance to our customer facing staff to reiterate that it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals, and on its own, failure to show evidence is not a reason to refuse a withdrawal. We apologise to any customer who has been given incorrect information and inconvenienced.

Indeed, as one HSBC customer exclaimed, “you shouldn’t have to explain to your bank why you want that money. It’s not theirs, it’s yours.”

Banish ‘inequality’ from the economist’s lexicon; True equality may not not even be possible in death – Mozart was buried in a paupers’ grave

January 23, 2014 12:58 pm

Banish ‘inequality’ from the economist’s lexicon

By Samuel Brittan

True equality may not not even be possible in death – Mozart was buried in a paupers’ grave

An American philosopher, CL Stevenson, coined the term “persuasive definition” for attempts to smuggle in contentious views in the guise of defining terms. An example would be defining democracy in terms of universal franchise. We now have a danger, not so much of persuasive definitions as of persuasive abstract nouns, the one most in vogue being “inequality”.

This has become a cliché subject in the social sciences. The assumption being smuggled in is that equality is a normal state of affairs, departures from which have to be justified.

In fact this type of discussion actually harms those whom it is intended to benefit. For once it is realised that true equality is possible only in the grave (and maybe not even there – Mozart was buried in a paupers’ cemetery) it is all too easy to divert attention from genuinely disturbing changes in the distribution of income and wealth.

Debating points against egalitarians are not hard to find. Whose income is meant to be equalised, the individual citizen or the family? Are those with limited capacity for satisfaction – whether for physical or psychological reasons – to be given more or less than the average?

Non-egalitarians used to make great play with sums purporting to show how little the average citizen – or even those at the bottom of the income and wealth distribution – would gain if the better-off were deprived of their excess earnings or wealth. This led to the charge that egalitarians were motivated by jealousy and envy. More positively it was said that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. An unemployed labourer in the west has access to all manner of services, from television to modern medical treatments, unavailable to King Edward VII.

This line of defence is no longer available. Some estimates suggest, for instance, that there has been no rise in average US real wages since 1970. In the UK there has been similar stagnation or worse. Even in relatively egalitarian Scandinavian countries there has been a squeeze on real earnings.

One can speculate forever on the forces behind these trends. One of the plausible candidates is the impact of new technology, which has put the squeeze on a mass of workers, white-collar as well as manual. But I doubt if this would have been enough without the impact of globalisation, which has brought billions of poorer workers from Asia into competition with their brethren in Europe and North America. Some academics say that there has been an increase in inequality inside certain countries offset by greater equality between them. But that is only to redescribe the problem.

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Many of the remedies advanced by the left would only make things worse. And the right are inclined to copy them. For instance, in Britain we have had the strange spectacle of a conservative chancellor, who is not on the progressive wing of his party, urging a rise in the minimum wage. A medical acquaintance of mine, with no pretensions to economic expertise, immediately saw through this ploy. If earnings rose, more tax would be gathered. Even if many of those immediately affected were below the tax threshold, an increase at the bottom might raise the whole earning structure in nominal terms and thus benefit the exchequer.

There was a time when rightwing academics were quick to point out that an increase in the cost of labour would put more people out of work. In any case, tackling the problem by pushing up wages would increase costs and make matters worse. This could be offset by devaluations. But what would then become of the inflation targets on which governments have set such store? And would real wages benefit? A devaluation is normally regarded as a way of cutting real wages by the back door.

Many of the other suggestions for easing the pressure on the mass of wage-earners belong to the list of worthy policies that have been espoused by most governments since the end of the second world war, if not even earlier. Some of them echo the less successful aspects of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, an example being the rebuilding of union strength.

I would look at much simpler ideas. Inequality on most conventional measures would be reduced if tax thresholds affecting the poor were raised and selected social security benefits increased. Whether the cash for these changes should come from more taxes on the middle and upper ranges or be paid out of budget deficits ought to depend on the economic conjuncture, a simple piece of economics that George Osborne, UK chancellor, refuses to understand.

How far one can use fiscal measures to distribute income and wealth more evenly depends in part on the geographical scale of the action. A government of a small or medium-sized country acting on its own does risk losing entrepreneurs to foreign lands where taxes are lower; but the more countries act in concert the less likely these bolt-holes are to be used.

 

A Lawyer and Partner, and Also Bankrupt; For the last 40 years, all firms had to do was answer the phone from clients and lease more office space. That run is over

The rising economic pressures on non-equity law firm partners

BY KENNETH ANDERSON

January 25 at 3:10 pm

New York Times business page columnist James B. Stewart has a profile in today’s paper, “A Lawyer and Partner, And Also Bankrupt,” recounting how a Manhattan partner at the now-gone Dewey & LeBoeuf law firm, Gregory M. Owens, gradually slid into personal bankruptcy on December 31, 2013.  It’s a candid profile, filled with many personal details of an upper middle class professional in financial distress, on the one hand, and offering a dismaying assessment of the structural economic pressures on the highly compensated senior lawyers at many of the large New York and other big city law firms in the United States, on the other.  Although Owens filed for bankruptcy, he is in fact employed – no longer as an equity partner, however, but as a non-equity “service” partner, at White & Case. That’s the firm to which his mentor (the equity partner rainmaker who had brought about the M&A deals on which Owens had done much of the detailed, technical work) departed before Dewey & Leboeuf collapsed.

The article contains a lot of personal financial information – salary, alimony and child support, rent, etc.  I suppose one could spend a lot of time picking over the details and primly lecturing Owens on what he should have done differently, how he’s misspending his money, or why someone who made $356,000 in 2013 should scarcely be a pity project in the Times.  But that’s too vulture-ish for me, and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking, “There, but for the grace of God …” — more so, in that though the article doesn’t exactly say, it’s hard not to think that financial and professional turmoil had something to do with the breakup of Owens’ marriage.

But Stewart wrote the column, presumably, and Owens revealed his personal and financial situation, in an effort to explain something that goes beyond one individual’s story — the article aims to illuminate structural economic issues that have emerged in the last few years in large-firm, high-end law practice.  These lawyer positions were long understood to be a haven in a heartless world for certain smart, technically skilled, professionals, once they achieved a certain level of seniority — but a haven  no longer.  Indiana University law professor William Henderson, who has certainly done as much as any academic to try and understand the business models of the legal profession and law schools, takes this as a cautionary tale of the many new uncertainties in big firm law practice compared to earlier decades:

“In almost any other context, $375,000 would be a lot of money,” said William Henderson, a professor at the Indiana University School of Law and a director of the Center on the Global Legal Profession. “But anyone who doesn’t have clients is in a precarious position. For the last 40 years, all firms had to do was answer the phone from clients and lease more office space. That run is over. The forest has been depleted, as we say, and firms are competing for market share. Law firms are in a period of consolidation and, initially, it’s going to take place at the service partner level. There’s too much capacity.” He added that law firm associates and summer associates had also suffered significant cuts, which has culled the ranks of future partners.

Professor Henderson goes on to talk in the article about the implications for law schools, which are seeing rapid fall-off in LSAT takers and applications to schools.  As he has said in many venues, the pressures on Big-Law business models are not cyclical and merely an overhang of the 2008 recession; the shifts are structural and the returns are simply not, and won’t be, what they were.  Although some would contest that big law firm practice is undergoing a genuinely structural shift, I think it is pretty widely accepted in the legal marketplace.  But significantly lower returns even to big firm, high end law practice eventually has to have an impact on law school business models, to the extent that they have priced themselves to students on the basis of certain expectations (themselves likely always unrealistic) about the returns to lawyers from legal education

 

A Lawyer and Partner, and Also Bankrupt

JAN. 24, 2014

By JAMES B. STEWART

Anyone who wonders why law school applications are plunging and there’s widespread malaise in many big law firms might consider the case of Gregory M. Owens.

The silver-haired, distinguished-looking Mr. Owens would seem the embodiment of a successful Wall Street lawyer. A graduate of Denison University and Vanderbilt Law School, Mr. Owens moved to New York City and was named a partner at the then old-line law firm of Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood, and after a merger, at Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Today, Mr. Owens, 55, is a partner at an even more eminent global law firm, White & Case. A partnership there or any of the major firms collectively known as “Big Law” was long regarded as the brass ring of the profession, a virtual guarantee of lifelong prosperity and job security.

But on New Year’s Eve, Mr. Owens filed for personal bankruptcy.

According to his petition, he had $400 in his checking account and $400 in savings. He lives in a rental apartment at 151st Street and Broadway. He owns clothing he estimated was worth $900 and his only jewelry is a Concord watch, which he described as “broken.”

Mr. Owens is an extreme but vivid illustration of the economic factors roiling the legal profession, although his straits are in some ways unique to his personal situation.

The bulk of his potential liabilities stem from claims related to the collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012. Even stripping those away, his financial circumstances seem dire. Legal fees from a divorce depleted his savings and resulted in a settlement under which he pays his former wife a steep $10,517 a month in alimony and support for their 11-year-old son.

But in other ways, Mr. Owens’s situation is all too emblematic of pressures facing many partners at big law firms. After Dewey & LeBoeuf collapsed, Mr. Owens seemingly landed on his feet as a partner at White & Case. But he was a full equity partner at Dewey, Ballantine and Dewey & LeBoeuf. At White & Case, he was demoted to nonequity or “service” partner — a practice now so widespread it has a name, “de-equitization.”

Nonequity partners like Mr. Owens are not really partners, but employees, since they do not share the risks and rewards of the firm’s practice. Service partners typically have no clients they can claim as their own and depend on rainmakers to feed them. In Mr. Owens’s case, his mentor and protector has long been Morton A. Pierce, a noted mergers and acquisitions specialist and prodigious rainmaker whom Mr. Owens followed from the former Reid & Priest to Dewey, Ballantine to Dewey & LeBoeuf and then to White & Case.

“It’s sad to hear about this fellow, but he’s not alone in being in jeopardy,” said Thomas S. Clay, an expert on law firm management and a principal at the consulting firm Altman Weil, which advises many large law firms. “For the past 40 years, you could just be a partner in a firm, do good work, coast, keep your nose clean, and you’d have a very nice career. That’s gone.”

Mr. Clay noted that there was a looming glut of service partners at major firms. At the end of 2012, he said, 84 percent of the largest 200 law firms, as ranked by the trade publication American Lawyer, had a class of nonequity or service partners, 20 percent more than in 2000. And the number of nonequity partners has swelled because firms have been reluctant to confront the reality that, in many cases, “they’re not economically viable,” Mr. Clay said.

Scott A. Westfahl, professor of practice and director of executive education at Harvard Law School, agreed that service partners faced mounting pressures. “Service partners need a deep expertise that’s hard to find anywhere else,” he said. “Even then, when demand changes, and your specialty is no longer hot, you’re in trouble. There’s no job security.” He added that even full equity partners were feeling similar pressures as clients demanded more accountability. “Partners are being de-equitized,” he said, as Mr. Owens was. “That’s a trend.”

Mr. Owens specializes in financing and debt structuring in mergers and acquisitions, a relatively narrow expertise where demand rises and falls with the volume of merger and acquisition deals that his mentors generate. Former colleagues (none of whom would speak for attribution) uniformly described him as a highly competent lawyer in his specialty and, as several put it, “a lovely person” who relishes spending time with his son. But he does not seem to be the kind of alpha male — or female — who can generate revenue, bring in clients and are generally prized by large law firms.

At Dewey & LeBoeuf, Mr. Owens’s name was perennially among a group of partners who were not making enough revenue to cover their salaries and overhead, according to two former partners at the firm. But each time, the powerful Mr. Pierce, then the firm’s vice chairman, protected Mr. Owens, they said.

“He was very good at what he knew,” a former Dewey & LeBoeuf partner said. “But he wasn’t built to adapt. To make it as a law firm partner today, you have to periodically reinvent yourself.”

As partners were leaving Dewey & LeBoeuf in droves as it neared bankruptcy in 2012, Mr. Pierce went to White & Case. Mr. Owens followed, but this time as a salaried lawyer, not an equity partner, even though he has the title of partner.

A spokesman for White & Case said Mr. Owens and Mr. Pierce had no comment. Neither did the firm.

Mr. Owens has been well paid by most standards, but not compared with top partners at major firms, who make in the millions. (Mr. Pierce was guaranteed $8 million a year at Dewey & LeBoeuf.) When Mr. Owens first became a partner at Dewey, Ballantine, he made about $250,000, in line with other new partners. At Dewey & LeBoeuf, his income peaked at over $500,000 during the flush years before the financial crisis. In 2012, he made $351,000, and last year, while at White & Case, he made $356,500. He listed his current monthly income as $31,500, or $375,000 a year. And he has just over $1 million in retirement accounts that are protected from creditors in bankruptcy.

How far does $375,000 a year go in New York City? Strip out estimated income taxes ($7,500 a month), domestic support ($10,517), insurance ($2,311), a mandatory contribution to his retirement plan ($5,900), and routine expenses for rent ($2,460 a month) transportation ($550) and food ($650) and Mr. Owens estimated that he was running a small monthly deficit of $52, according to his bankruptcy petition. He has gone back to court to get some relief from his divorce settlement, so far without any success.

In his petition, Mr. Owens said he didn’t expect things to get any better in 2014.

And they could get worse. The most recent deal on White & Case’s website in which Mr. Owens played a role was the relatively modest $392 million acquisition of the women’s clothing retailer Talbots by Sycamore Partners, in which Mr. Owens (working with Mr. Pierce) represented Talbots. That deal was announced in May 2012. The White & Case spokesman did not provide any examples of more recent deals.

“In almost any other context, $375,000 would be a lot of money,” said William Henderson, a professor at the Indiana University School of Law and a director of the Center on the Global Legal Profession. “But anyone who doesn’t have clients is in a precarious position. For the last 40 years, all firms had to do was answer the phone from clients and lease more office space. That run is over. The forest has been depleted, as we say, and firms are competing for market share. Law firms are in a period of consolidation and, initially, it’s going to take place at the service partner level. There’s too much capacity.” He added that law firm associates and summer associates had also suffered significant cuts, which has culled the ranks of future partners.

All this “has had a huge effect on law school enrollment,” Professor Henderson said.

Mr. Clay, the consultant, said many firms had been slow to confront the reality that successful service partners were probably going to need to work more hours than rainmakers, not fewer, to justify their mid- to high-six-figure salaries. Many of them “seem to have felt they had a sinecure,” Mr. Clay said. “They’re well paid, didn’t have to work too hard, they had a nice office, prestige. It’s a nice life. That’s O.K., except it’s not the kind of professional life that will do much for a firm. These nonequity positions were never meant to be a safe place to rest and not work as hard as everyone else.”

And these lawyers may have to give up the pretense that they’re law firm partners. In his bankruptcy petition, Mr. Owens describes himself as a “contract attorney,” which has the virtue of candor.

“From a prestige standpoint, being called a partner is something that’s very important to people,” Mr. Westfahl observed. “Lawyers tend to be very competitive, and like all people, titles and status matter. But to the outside world, where people think all partners are equal, it’s deceptive. And inside the firm, everyone knows the real pecking order. When people see that partners are treated disparately, it causes unnecessary dissonance and personal frustration.”

 

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