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11 posts from November 2016

8 Ways to Save Money at Lunchtime

Shutterstock_517810591Lunch prices are getting out of control. For instance, working in midtown Manhattan, it is a challenge to find lunch for $10 or less. That amounts to spending approximately $50 a week or $2,600 a year. Consider how these funds could instead be used to help you reach your intermediate or long-term goals— such as buying a home or saving for retirement.

According to a recent study by research firm NDP Group, the average lunch costs $8.36 nationwide. Because of this, Americans are starting to change their lunchtime habits. In fact, the same study reported that traffic at eateries during lunchtime is down 7% since last year. Below are some tips to help you stick to a lunchtime budget regardless of whether you choose to make lunch, buy it already prepared or join the (shorter) line at the sandwich, salad, and soup place near your office.

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Blast from the Past: Lessons Learned from #AdviceAt25

Advice at 25Look back at your 25-year-old self — what would you tell her or him? Would you share career wisdom? Life advice? What’s the one thing you’d share that could impact a young person? 

Earlier last week, we asked our social media audience what advice they would share with their younger self using the hashtag #AdviceAt25. Here’s what they said:

Naveed Hussain

“Pave your own way, don’t lose yourself trying to be and look like others.”

Lisa Hastings

“Be brave! Hurdle yourself forward and ask for help along the way. Make the ask specific – an introduction, critical feedback – and cast a wide net of people in your circle.”

Dan Griffiths

“Invest even more energy into building a network. It's much like saving for retirement. Small investments made early on can pay huge dividends down the road and it requires huge investments later in your career to make up for a failure to make the small investments when you're just getting started.”

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Text Me Not: Hidden Perils of Modern Communication for CPAs

Woman on iPhoneTweets. Likes. Posts. Not so long ago, those three words were not only unrelated, they had nothing at all to do with communication. But as communication methods and strategies have advanced, the speed of information has approached infinity. As a result, expectations have grown that responses will be similarly fast and, in many cases, extremely concise. There’s an old saying about the kind of person who is incapable of a simple answer: ask them what time it is, and they’ll tell you how the watch works. Today, tolerance for that trait is at an all-time low.

But while pithy responses can be good for personal communication, they might not always be suitable for business. For CPAs in particular, there can be consequences for choosing an inappropriate means of communication with clients on certain matters. Text messaging in particular is fraught with perils. I recently spoke with Gerard Schreiber Jr., CPA, principal at Schreiber & Schreiber in Metairie, LA, to discuss how communicating with clients has changed over the years, especially with regard to texting.

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Six Tips for Valuation Experts in High Stakes Divorces

Man signing divorce papersThe headlines announcing Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s divorce were just the latest in a slew of stories about celebrity splits. In fact, there are more than 800,000 divorces and annulments in the United States each year, according to government statistics. Based on my experience performing valuations in many high-profile divorces, much of the advice I’d offer to my fellow practitioners applies whether you’re working with Brad and Angelina or the divorcing, high-powered owner of a local business. Below are my top tips:

  1. Determine what’s at stake and how location matters. The assets in a divorce will typically include cash, retirement funds or a home. Often, the largest asset at stake is a closely held business. That can be a professional practice – if one or both partners are, say, a lawyer, physician or accountant – or an operating entity, such as a retailer, wholesaler, manufacturing business or a farm. The complexity of the engagement can be affected by the jurisdiction in which the case is being heard and can depend on state law. Be prepared, as the legal environment may produce unexpected complexities.

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Recipe for a Delicious Holiday, AICPA Style

Crumb cakeThanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years. Late fall and early winter are choc-a-bloc with holidays and, thus, opportunities to entertain and cook for friends and family. Some people like to stick with their tried and true holiday recipes year after year. Others are always looking for something new to serve. And if you've been invited somewhere as a guest, you might be looking for just the right thing to bring to a party or holiday gathering.

AICPA staff and affiliates gathered some favorite recipes from aunts, uncles, or in my case, my second grade class in elementary school. We hope this collection of old favorites is helpful—and tasty. And as one colleague suggested, if toiling in the kitchen isn't your thing, you can always make reservations!

Happy Holidays!

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4 Critical Reasons Startups and Smaller Organizations Need Internal Control

Shutterstock_218755333I often hear from practitioners that many of their small business and startup clients lack an adequate and effective system of internal control. In fact, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ recent Report of the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse found that small organizations implemented anti-fraud controls much more sparingly than larger organizations. Additionally, the report found that the median loss incurred by small and large organizations due to fraud was the same, but that the impact on smaller organizations was much greater due to their smaller size. Since small companies such as startups are often hit hardest by fraud, it is critical that they develop adequate anti-fraud controls at their organizations. Outlined below are a few of the many significant benefits of a strong internal control system.

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6 Ways to Ease Audit Workload Compression during Busy Season

Shutterstock_270607559With the start of busy season just around the corner, planning is on most practitioners’ minds. I have recently spoken with many professionals about ways they jumpstart their upcoming audits. Outlined below are some activities to begin now that will make your busy season a little less hectic.  

Ask your clients to fill out background information forms. If there have been changes to their management, ownership structure or board of directors, ask clients to document them before busy season begins. Also, if your client has entered a new market, they should note these changes as well. You can provide your clients with the prior year documentation and transfer information to the new form as soon as it is available.

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Thank a Veteran Today, Help Veterans Year Round

American Flag

It is relatively easy to take time out of your day to acknowledge our veterans—in person or on social media—and say thanks to those who bravely and proudly served our nation. There are some CPAs who have found ways to give even more to our veterans. AICPA Insights recently spoke with former AICPA Chairman Ernie Almonte, CPA, CGMA, who has volunteered extensively with Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, a veteran’s organization in his home state of Rhode Island, about his experiences.

AICPA Insights: Why did you get involved in working with veterans?

Ernie Almonte: I have always been interested in history.  The more I learned about history the more I realized the important role veterans play in our freedom. As a participant of the Marine Corps ROTC program in high school, as a son of a U.S. Marine veteran from the Korean War and a member of a family that has lost relatives and friends in various wars fighting for our freedom, I felt an overwhelming need to give back.

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Top 3 Takeaways on FASB’s New Not-for-Profit Standard


Shutterstock_276224309Are you nervous about implementing the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s new not-for-profit standard? At 270 pages in length, it is understandable that one would find it daunting and would be unsure of where to begin. Even though the standard does not go into effect until 2018 for most not-for-profits, you and your clients need to be thinking about the standard and your implementation plan now.

To start my education, I reviewed this AICPA Insights blog post from FASB member Larry Smith that provides an overview of the new standard. I also recently attended the webcast, “Applying FASB’s New Not-for-Profit Financial Statement Standard,” which was hosted by the AICPA’s Not-for-Profit Section team. I learned some practical tips and received information I can share with my clients.

Here were my top three takeaways from an implementation perspective:

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An Election Like No Other

Election 2016“What do you make of the presidential campaign, Barry?” That’s the question I'm often asked by fellow CPAs and CGMA designation holders.

I have a simple refrain: It is an election like no other. And it may well matter more than any U.S. election before it for one reason. It comes at a time when the country is the most polarized it’s been in modern political history. People on both sides of the ideological spectrum feel distrust and anger at large institutions and government officials. So it’s fair to wonder if the new President and new Congress will choose to build bridges—or burn them. 

Regardless of your own political preferences, the outcome is likely to have a significant bearing on the accounting profession in the U.S. and beyond, our advocacy agenda, and our ability to shape legislation and regulation for at least the next four years.

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5 Essential Controls for Charities during the Holiday Giving Season

Shutterstock_395826034For not-for-profit leaders, strong controls for fraud are especially important during this time of year. The unofficial kickoff of the charitable giving season occurs on Giving Tuesday, which takes place the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday here in the United States. In my state, Minnesota, we have a “Give to the Max Day” to encourage giving to nonprofits and schools before Thanksgiving.  A 2015 Charitable Giving Report produced by Blackbaud noted that of the not-for-profits surveyed, 17% of their contributions were received in December.  

Here are five things small organizations can do to protect themselves and ensure that the influx of contributions received this holiday season support programs, not fraudsters:

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