Happy Year of the SOX! (I mean Ox)

Chinese New Year is approaching, and the new year is the year of the Ox, which is quite appropriate for accountants trudging through busy season.  As for myself, I was born in an "Ox" year, so I figured I should see what it means. Through some googling, I found the following:

  • "Oxes are known for diligence, dependability, strength, and determination" - I love flattery, go on...
  • "They are strongly patriotic, have ideals and ambitions for life, and attach importance to family and work" - Right again!
  • "Have great patience and a desire to make progress; achieve their goals by consistent effort; they are not influenced much by others but persist in doing things according to their ideals and capabilities" - How do you know me so well?
  • "Before taking any action, oxes will have a definite plan with detailed steps" - With a detailed spreadsheet, of course
  • "Oxes are weakest in their communication skills, are not good at communicating with others, and even think it is not worthwhile to exchange ideas with others" - err, I mean, I think I write eloquent blog posts
  • "They are stubborn and stick to their ways" - This just sounds like a not-nice way to say I stick to my ideals...look who’s not good at communicating now!

As for the “Year of the SOX”, that was 19 years ago.  When the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed in 2002, as a result of the Enron/Worldcom/Tyco fiascos, I was just finishing my junior year of high school.  I wish I had some kind of cool story where I could say “it was at that point I knew I needed to become a forensic accountant, in order to protect investors and keep corporate executives honest…”, but I really didn’t have a clue about what it actually meant until my junior year of college.

In college I just knew I liked forensic accounting because I was into solving puzzles.  Plus, I hated tax, and after 5 weeks of an audit internship (where I ticked-and-tied the hell out of some 10-K’s) I contemplated changing my major to finance.  In hindsight, I'd say things worked out pretty well for me.

So how accurate are these Chinese Zodiac signs anyways?  Let's check out the sign are some famous fraudsters:

  • Former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow - Ox! “They are not influenced much by others but persist in doing things according to their ideals and capabilities”.  I guess if your ideals are based on greed, then being a greedy ox is a terrible combination.
  • Former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers - Snake.  “Snakes tend to act according to their own judgments while remaining private and reticent. They are determined to accomplish their goals and hate to fail.”  Even if it means cheating.
  • Former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski - Dog. “Since Dogs are not keen on seeking money and power, they feel less stressed and tense at work and in their home lives.”  You may have gotten this one wrong, Zodiac...
  • Former Investment Adviser Bernie Madoff - Tiger.  “With stubborn personalities and tough judgment, Tigers work actively and express themselves boldly, doing things in a high-handed manner. They are authoritative and never go back on what they have said.”  So about those promised 18% annual returns…

To everyone celebrating Chinese New Year this weekend, "gong hei fat choy", and "gong xi fa cai".  I recently learned this means "wishing you great happiness and prosperity," or as comedian Ronny Chieng puts it, "HOPE YOU GET RICH."  If you do plan to get rich this year, just do it ethically so you don't end up like the four fraudsters above.