The Home Stretch

Here we go! It’s the home stretch of the semester, and of your time as an undergraduate at Providence College.

First and foremost, I appreciate your feedback about our final two lessons. Apparently, tax shelters and Libor and entrepreneurship and the PC financial statements are all popular topics. Also, a final session at McPhail’s is (unsurprisingly) especially popular as well.

But the option of holding a session outdoors? Not a single person expressed any interest in it!

So let’s plan to discuss tax shelters and Libor when we meet in our customary Ryan Center room this Monday, April 24th. We’ll then shift to McPhail’s for our final session on Monday, May 1st, when we’ll discuss entrepreneurship and the PC financial statements.

As an advance reading assignment for this week, please read a Bloomberg News article about the Libor scandal. Free (and identical) versions of it are posted online by the publications Investment News and Financial Advisor, although each publication wrote a different title for the article.

In addition, please keep in mind that our quiz will cover the following COSO Enterprise Risk Management illustrations that we discussed in class last week:

Exhibit 2.5 Illustrative Risk-Related Culture Survey
Exhibit 3.1 Setting Strategic Objectives
Exhibit 3.5 Forming Risk Appetite
Exhibit 3.7 Risk Appetite, Return, and Capital at Risk
Exhibit 4.1 Identifying Events
Exhibit 4.6 Process Flow Analysis
Exhibit 4.7 Leading Risk Indicators and Escalation Triggers
Exhibit 4.10 Illustrative Event Identification Mechanisms
Exhibit 4.11 Linking Factors and Potential Events to Objectives
Exhibit 5.1 Inherent Risk Assessment
Exhibit 5.2 Inherent and Residual Risk Assessment
Exhibit 5.4 Impact Risk Ranking of Hazardous Materials Release
Exhibit 5.5 Risk Assessment for New Systems Implementation
Exhibit 5.11 Comparison of Inventory Losses
Exhibit 5.13 Heat Map
Exhibit 5.14 Risk Map of Mean Values for Likelihood and Impact
Exhibit 5.15 Risk Map Showing Variability for Likelihood and Impact
Exhibit 6.1 Illustrative Risk Responses by Response Type
Exhibit 8.2 Information Flows Within Enterprise Risk Management
Exhibit 8.11 Dashboard Reporting
Exhibit 10.1 Organizational Approaches

Finally, here are a couple of reminders. If you have not yet scheduled a time to meet with me and receive your Project 2 feedback, we still have time slots available on Thursday afternoon the 27th, Tuesday afternoon the 2nd, and Thursday afternoon the 4th. Please let me know what is convenient for you.

And please remember to bring your two PCSB graduating senior surveys to class on Monday. Our colleagues in PCSB Administration will appreciate your feedback very much!

Second Project Submission

Our second term project submission is due this week! Please upload your revisions to your first project and your new content no later than Thursday morning at 8:00 am.

As you know, because of the Easter holiday, we are meeting on Wednesday instead of Monday this week. We’ll dedicate the entire class to reviewing the COSO text of Enterprise Risk Management and other relevant material.

The advance reading assignment will cover the brief Executive Summary of the COSO text. Our eleventh quiz of the semester will only cover this advance reading assignment.

The Executive Summary is included in the 246 sheet PDF file that is described in our syllabus as a required text. The Summary is also available for download at no cost from the COSO web site.

See you on Wednesday! And until then … Happy Easter.  🙂

Risk Management

This week, we’ll begin our month-long discussion of risk management principles and practices. We’ll also welcome our final pair of guest speakers to our classroom to help us address this topic.

As we did in last week’s posting, let’s run through a weekly game plan for the remainder of the semester


No later than 8:00 AM on this morning, April 10th, please click on the Student Feedback link of our Accounting Department’s blog and answer the question about John Thornton’s presentation with a 100 word essay. It represents the ninth quiz of the semester.

Later this day, at our customary class time and in our customary classroom, we’ll welcome Nick Denice and Noel Giglio to discuss their professional responsibilities in a risk management context. You can find information about them in the PDF file entitled Risk Management Guests in our online Documents – Handouts folder.

Our advance reading assignments for this class are the concluding chapters 17 through 20 of the handbook. However, our tenth quiz of the semester will only cover the three Risk Management chapters of the handbook, i.e. chapters 17 through 19.

We’ll also establish the submission deadline for Project 2 during this class session. It will likely occur on the Thursday morning after the Easter break.


Reminder: Because of the Easter holiday schedule, we are meeting on Wednesday instead of Monday this week.

We’ll dedicate this entire class to reviewing the COSO text of Enterprise Risk Management and other relevant material.

The advance reading assignment will cover the brief Executive Summary of the standards. Our eleventh quiz of the semester will only cover this advance reading assignment.

Project 2 will be due this week, likely on Thursday morning. Please click on the Project 2 link on our blog’s home page for detailed instructions about this submission.


Our students will select the content and the venue of these sessions. We’ll also complete our final quiz, prepare various surveys, and schedule individual feedback conversations about our second project submissions.


Your third and final term project submission will be due this week, along with all extra credit work.

And then comes Graduation … 🙂

The Final Month

Can you believe that we’ve reached the final month of your undergraduate time at Providence College? There are only five more weeks, and thus five more meetings, remaining for our course.

So let’s modify our customary blog practices. In this single posting, we’ll review our game plan for all of our remaining classes.


John Thornton, our guest speaker, will join us (along with the students in Steve Perreault’s class sections) in Moore Hall II for a special conversation about ethics and the business world. Please complete a few tasks in advance of this session.

First, as I mentioned in last week’s posting, you’ll need to sign up for our Accounting Department’s blog via the email subscription app. That’ll only take a minute or two of your time.

Second, please watch Simon and Garfunkel’s rendition of Richard Cory, and read the lyrics that are posted on the YouTube page under the video screen. You’ll need to click on the Show More link to access them.

Third, please keep up with our handbook readings by completing the Investment Value part of our handbook (i.e. Part VI, chapters 14 to 16). However, this content will not be quizzed this week.

So what will our quiz entail? No later than Monday, April 10th at 8:00 AM, please click on the Student Feedback link of our Accounting Department’s blog and answer the question with a 100 word essay. It will represent the ninth quiz of the semester.

By the way, because this quiz will serve as a vehicle for providing us with your feedback, we won’t use our customary online feedback form for this session.

Fourth, I’d like to ask each of you to meet me (individually) for a ten minute conversation about your term project submission. Ideally, we’ll chat in my office later this week. If necessary, though, a Skype or FaceTime or Hangouts call (or even a phone call) could suffice.


We’ll discuss the discipline of Risk Management during this class session. As an advance reading assignment, please finish the concluding chapters of our handbook.

Our tenth quiz of the semester will only cover the three Risk Management chapters of the handbook, i.e. chapters 17 through 19. Please don’t worry about any other material when you prepare for the quiz.

By this time, we’ll also be ready to discuss a due date for the second term project submission. Let’s tentatively plan to establish this deadline for the week after Easter. We could then schedule another round of individual conversations the following week, which is the next-to-last week of the semester.


Reminder: Because of the Easter holiday schedule, we are meeting on Wednesday instead of Monday this week.

As you may recall, the only reading content in our curriculum that might require a purchase (if you are unable to obtain it by some other means) is the COSO set of Enterprise Risk Management standards. We’ll dedicate this entire class to reviewing that text and other relevant material.

The advance reading assignment will cover the brief Executive Summary of the standards. Our eleventh quiz of the semester will only cover this advance reading assignment; please don’t worry about any other material when you prepare for it.

The second submission will likely be due this week. You will need to add Cost and Revenue content to the Business Model and Volume content of your first submission. However, you will not need to add any Investment Value (including financial statements) or Risk Management content to your second submission.


These are the final two accounting class sessions that you’ll ever complete as undergraduates at Providence College. So how shall we celebrate them?

As a parting gift, I usually invite my capstone students to select the content and the venue that interests them most. Sometimes students wish to talk about fairly advanced content, like my own forensic accounting work in fields like Libor manipulation and interest rate swaps. Or sometimes it’s “kick back and relax” stories about what students can expect in their initial on-the-job years as accounting professionals.

I’ve also held these classes everywhere from the Smith Center Lawn to McPhail’s. And by the way, with our classes beginning after 4:00 pm, the bar at McPhail’s would be open during our class time!

Of course, we’ll also address some final academic and administrative tasks. For instance, we’ll complete our twelfth and final quiz. The College will ask you to prepare an exit survey, and we’ll distribute our customary course surveys too. We’ll also need to schedule individual conversations about the second round of term project submissions.


Your third and final term project submission will be due this week, along with all extra credit work.

Then, after that … see you at Graduation!  🙂

First Project Submission

It’s here! As we discussed in class last week, the first project submission of the semester is due shortly. The submission deadline is Wednesday, March 29th at 8:00 am via upload to a personal online folder.

What personal online folder? We’ll select a cloud-based service in class on Monday! Most likely, we’ll use Google Drive, or perhaps the Box service that we utilize to prepare the lists of URL links that we click on during class sessions.

As I mentioned in my previous weekly posting, our advance reading assignments for the next few weeks are very straight-forward. Please read the Revenue part of our handbook (i.e. Part V, chapters 11 to 13) for our March 27th class, our Investment Value part (i.e. Part VI, chapters 14 to 16) for our April 3rd class, and our Risk Management and Conclusion parts (i.e. Parts VII and VIII, chapters 17 to 20) for our April 10th class.

We’ll also assign a viewing of Simon & Garfunkel’s music video version of Richard Cory in advance of our April 3rd class. The lyrics to the song (which we’ll ask you to read before our session) are listed below the video screen; they can be seen by clicking on the Show More link.

I have one more (very simple) requirement to share with you. Please sign up for our Accounting Department blog! We will utilize it as an online resource for our special guest presentation on April 3rd.

As is the case with our own course blog, the sign-up process is easy. Just go to and use our The Accounting Friars via Email app to enter your PC email address. You’ll also need to go to your email inbox and click on the link in a confirmation message to complete the sign-up activity.

If you have any questions about the project submission or the blog sign-up process, please don’t hesitate to ask me. The submission is a brief one (i.e. 500 words) and the sign-up process is a simple one, so they shouldn’t prove to be very onerous.


First and foremost, I hope that you enjoyed a delightful St. Patrick’s Day! Next up … the Easter Break. 🙂

But before we arrive at Easter, we’ll enjoy a few more weeks of the semester. And our advance reading assignments will be fairly straight-forward.

In advance of this week’s class on March 20th, please read the Cost part of our handbook. It is Part IV, and it encompasses chapters 8 through 10. In advance of our class on March 27th, please read the Revenue part; it is Part V, and it encompasses chapters 11 through 13.

What’s next? In advance of our class on April 3rd, please read the Investment Value part; it is Part VI, and it encompasses chapters 14 through 16. And in advance of our class on April 10th, please read the Risk Management and (very brief) Conclusion parts; they are Parts VII and VIII, and they encompass chapters 17 through 20.

I’ll also ask you to watch a very brief video clip to prepare for our guest speaker’s visit on April 3rd. I’ll include the URL link to that video in next week’s blog posting, along with detailed instructions regarding our extra credit assignment.

In addition, I’ll invite you to propose an alternative extra credit assignment (to your own liking!) in next week’s blog posting. Even if you already have your own alternative in mind, though, it’ll be helpful for you to review my assignment first, as a way of understanding my expectations.

Well, I guess that takes care of our reading assignments! Which brings us to our next topic: our initial term project submission. By the time we meet this Monday evening, I’ll create a web page on our blog with detailed expectations and due dates. And, of course, we’ll review it together near the end of our class session.

Finally, it’s the time of year to post midterm grades. As you probably know, I need to upload them to CyberFriar by this Wednesday evening.

Your grade will reflect a simple average of your quiz scores, including all of the quizzes through this Monday evening’s exam. Please keep in mind that it will not include any extra credit work or “make-up for missed quizzes” work, so if you intend to complete such work, your mid-term grade might be somewhat lower than expected.

If that means that you might experience some “blow-back” from a tuition reimbursement program, a parent, or any one else, please let me know. Although such incidents are unusual, they do occur from time to time … and I’d be delighted to speak to any one to explain the situation.

Volume (Conclusion)

For those of you who are sitting on a beach in the sun right now … it’s currently snowing in Providence! And the weather forecasters are speculating that a snowstorm might strike southern New England on Tuesday next week.

But hey, at least for the moment, I hope that you’re enjoying Spring Break. I understand that many of you might be traveling back to campus shortly before class, so we’ll keep this week’s advance reading assignment to a minimum.

Please go to our blog’s home page at and look for the Menu links. You’ll find one entitled 2. Volume.

Click on that link, and then click on the first of three links that appear on our Box web page. It’s entitled 1. Estimating Supply Capacity With Process Flow Analysis, and it’ll take you to a brief article that appeared in OR Manager entitled OR Logistics: Learning From FedEx.

By the way, “OR” stands for Operating Room. While our federal government representatives debate the Affordable Care Act, we’ll discuss this relevant article about hospital operating rooms. It’ll be our only advance reading assignment for the week.

Of course, it may also be helpful to give the three Volume chapters of our handbook a quick skim before you arrive in class. You’ve already read them, though, so we won’t ask any questions about them on our quiz.

Instead, the quiz will only cover what we discussed during the class session prior to the Break, as well as the OR Manager advance reading assignment. Perhaps you’ll be able to enjoy the Magazine article on your airplane ride back from your Break!

Slowing Down A Bit

Now this was an unexpected twist! After dedicating last week’s class session to the balanced scorecard and to linear regression analysis, we might’ve expected the data on our little feedback cards to shift noticeably. Namely, the “learned something new” metric might’ve dropped significantly and the “lesson was easy” metric might’ve soared.

So what actually happened? The “learned something new” metric only dropped a tiny bit. The “lesson was easy” metric actually declined significantly. And there were other small but unexpected blips in the metrics and comments. So what do we do now?

Let’s panic!

Well, okay … let’s not. But given that we’re about to head off to Spring Break any way, it couldn’t hurt to take a deep breath and slow down a bit.

So instead of wrapping up the trio of Business Model chapters of our handbook and then proceeding through the Volume chapters this week, let’s just focus on wrapping up (and really nailing down) the Business Model chapters. We’ll take one more walk through the two chapters from last week, and we’ll review the flexible budgeting chapter too. Most importantly, we’ll ensure that we all understand how these analyses contribute to our integrated reporting term project.

Our only advance reading assignment, in advance of our class session, will be a blog posting entitled Super Bowl Ads: The Tail That Wags The Dog? To access the posting, go to our blog’s home page at and click on the Project 1 link. You’ll find the same page of reading materials that we utilized at length in class last week.

Scroll down to Link 5: Assessing Preliminary Profitability. Its subtitle is Flexible Budgets: Super Bowl Ads. Just click on that link and you’ll find our reading assignment.

Most importantly, if you’re concerned about the content of last week’s lesson, please don’t worry. Once we meet this week, I’m sure that it’ll make perfect sense to you.

Business Model and Volume

Hello, capstone students! First and foremost, here’s a reminder that your term project topics are due via email tomorrow (i.e. Saturday, February 18th) at 8:00 am. If I haven’t yet heard from you, I look forward to learning your choice!

By now, of course, you undoubtedly know that we will not meet in class this Monday. But don’t despair! We’ll meet on Tuesday instead. 🙂

In advance of Tuesday’s session, please skim the first four chapters (i.e. Parts I and II) of our business planning handbook, i.e. the chapters that you first read in advance of last week’s class. Then proceed to read the next three chapters (i.e. Part III) of our handbook.

By the time that you finish these seven chapters, you’ll have completed the Parts of the handbook that address an Introduction, the Business Model, and Volume Estimation. We’ll discuss these three components of the business planning process in class on Tuesday.

These chapters will provide us with sufficient knowledge to quantify the operational Inputs, Activities, Outputs, and Outcomes factors of our Integrated Reporting “Octopus” framework. Although it’s possible that we’ll be able to discuss the framework on Tuesday, it’s more likely that we’ll run short of time to do so.

In that event, we’ll simply schedule that conversation for the following Monday, and will continue on to the handbook’s chapters on cost estimation at that time. For this week, though, let’s focus on covering the first seven chapters of the text.

P.S. If you didn’t bookmark our Library’s direct link to our handbook last week, I’ve added a link to the Link Menu on our blog’s home page.

Term Projects

Did you enjoy our two week journey through the world of the blue frog? Now that we’ve dedicated a little time to a case-based discussion, it’s time to turn our attention to a different set of real world cases … our term projects!

But first I have an administrative request to share with you. Our Accountancy Department has developed a very brief one-page survey, and we’d like to ask you to spend five minutes or so on it. You can find the survey on this web page; it consists of eleven multiple choice and “fill in the blank” questions.

Please complete this survey no later than Tuesday, February 14th at 8:00 am. I’ll explain it further when we meet in class on Monday.

And what else shall we do on Monday? Although last week’s pair of discussions in our two sections covered the same material, the open-ended portions of the conversations addressed different issues. So we’ll spend a little time reviewing the conversations and ensuring that each class section is fully briefed on what we covered in the other section.

Then we’ll dedicate some time to your term project ideas. Before you arrive in class, please spend some time selecting a tentative idea for a project. It can focus on any current or proposed organizational entity, product, or service, as long as its mission involves an outcome that is more altruistic than simply earning money.

During our class session on Monday, please be prepared to describe your topic in a one-minute conversation from your desk. Afterwards, please give your choice a little more thought, and then communicate your topic to me via email no later than Saturday, February 18th at 8:00 am.

Finally, please click on this link, type in your credentials if you are off-campus, and go to a handbook entitled Business Planning and Entrepreneurship: An Accounting Approach. You’ll see that it is an e-book that is available via our Providence College library. It summarizes most of the content that you will need to include in your term project; we will refer to it during the semester.

In advance of our class session on Monday, please read the first four chapters (i.e. Parts I and II) of the handbook. Don’t worry; although you’ll need to read 32 pages, they are very, very brief pages!

After we complete these activities, you should have a fairly clear expectation of our term project. Nevertheless, we’ll dedicate more time throughout the semester to developing the details of our assignment.

But this week, we’ll simply focus on our topic selections. It may only be a small step, but it’s an obvious place to start!

Role Play: The Blue Frog

And now for something completely different! It’s time to shift from a traditional classroom discussion of the Blue Frog case to a more interactive and experiential approach to learning.

As you know, there are four phases in our Blue Frog case: (1) valuation, (2) sustainability, (3) controls and risk, and (4) ethics and morality. And there are several characters in the case as well, including John Aqua, John Formica, Jacques Pluie, Matt Rooney, and members of the royal family of the nation of Vastaria.

Well, those are the human characters of the case. Of course, there are also the frogs!

As you also know, accounting professionals cannot simply rely on documentation to glean information that is relevant to a decision. They must interview client representatives and other individuals, while remaining mindful that people always discuss information from their own subjective points of view.

So we’re going to role play our way through the case in the classroom this week. We’ll welcome a Manager from the Boston office of PwC to provide feedback and suggestions through this experience.

To prepare for our class on Monday, please review the same material about the Blue Frog case that was assigned a week ago. In addition, to provide a contemporary perspective about the issue of payments to government officials, please read a Washington Post editorial that was published about such payments just yesterday.

While you read the editorial, please keep in mind that the author clearly possesses a subjective point of view. You should thus apply a reasonable amount of critical skepticism to the content, while simultaneously remaining open-minded about the potential truthfulness of his claims.

Is that easy to accomplish? Of course not! It’s a tricky balancing act, one that we’ll continue to practice throughout our role playing exercise this week.

Save The Blue Frog

Hello, capstone students! It was a pleasure to meet all of you last Monday. I hope you enjoyed our review of the Integrated Reporting <IR> framework, as well as the Valuing Your Talent (VyT) framework.

This week, we’ll begin our discussion of the Blue Frog by using the two frameworks to develop a set of business analyses for the firm in the case. In essence, we’ll practice the very skills that you’ll use to complete your term projects later this semester.

To prepare for class on Monday, please read the following content of the Blue Frog case: (a) the home web page and the four web pages entitled Valuation, Sustainability, Controls & Risk, and Ethics & Morality, (b) the 8 page PDF file of Client Information, and (c) the Client Spreadsheet. You do not need to read any of the other information on the web site.

Incidentally, we are using the “Blog” on that web site as a course blog for my current Civ Colloquium course. You certainly don’t need to review it, though you’re welcome to do so if you’re curious about that particular course.

In addition, please keep in mind that we’ll take our initial weekly closed book quiz during the first ten minutes of class on Monday. It’ll cover the two frameworks that we discussed last week, as well as the advance reading assignment for Monday.

Finally, I have a requirement to share with you. It might sound like a strange one in a College where many faculty members forbid electronic devices in the classroom, but I’d like to require you to bring an electronic device to class.

That’s because it’s virtually impossible for the entire class to see detailed text and numbers on the (relatively) small screen on the side of the room. This week, because we need to review a spreadsheet, I ask that you bring a device that can open and modify spreadsheet files. You’re welcome to share a device with a classmate, as long as you check with that classmate in advance of class.

Also on Monday, we’ll discuss the term project in some detail. During the ensuing week, I’ll ask you to think about your preference for a term project topic. I’ll then ask you to make a preliminary, non-binding choice of a topic the following week.

As you can see, we are beginning to raise the proverbial bar on the level of complexity of our course activities. Please don’t worry, though … I’m confident that we’ll master it together!


If you are reading this message, you have found our course blog page. Welcome to the capstone course in accountancy!

We’ll use this blog to coordinate our learning activities. Please remember to return here every week.