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18 posts from September 2017

One Easy Way to Enhance Your Strategic Planning

DominoesIdentifying and responding to risk is a challenging job, since new threats are constantly emerging and old ones can change or unexpectedly reappear. When the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) released its comprehensive Enterprise Risk Management: Integrated Framework in 2004, it provided a valuable tool for dealing with organizational threats. In the ensuing years, organizational approaches to risk have advanced and matured, and the nature of risk has steadily evolved.

In response, COSO has released an updated framework to better address the current environment. The new document, Enterprise Risk Management: Integrating with Strategy and Performance, is focused on ensuring that enterprise risk management (ERM) is not simply an agenda item, but something that’s embedded in an organization’s strategic decision making. The new framework is intended to drive changes in setting and implementing organizational strategy in several ways.

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Why I’m #AuditorProud: Auditors Are Protectors

AuditorProud_2017Auditors have always played an important role in society. We validate information that helps citizens understand how towns and school districts manage their tax dollars. We assist small business owners in getting the financing they need to grow. We provide assurance on the information investors use to make decisions on where best to invest for their futures.

And as communities’ needs have grown, so too have the services auditors provide. Below are just three ways auditors have evolved the way they serve the public – and three reasons why I am proud to represent the auditing profession.

Evaluating Risk Management Programs Designed to Protect Sensitive Information

Businesses big and small are faced with cyberattacks every single day. The Equifax breach affected nearly one-third of the US population, while attacks like WannaCry and Petya impacted millions of people worldwide.

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4 Tips for Your New Nonprofit Liquidity Disclosure

ChessAlthough financial professionals serving not-for-profit organizations still have time to prepare for implementation of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB’s) new not-for-profit financial reporting standard, it’s important to consider and discuss the impacts of the new guidance with board members.

In June, we published a blog post answering common questions related to implementing the new liquidity disclosures required under the recently-issued not-for-profit financial reporting standard. This post discusses steps for making that implementation process smooth and effective. 

The new standard requires not-for-profits to provide both qualitative and quantitative information about liquidity and availability of resources as follows:

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Don’t Be a One-Hit Wonder

ConcertSafety in shrimp

The first time I heard What’s Up? by 4 Non Blondes, I was elbow-deep in a bucket of raw shrimp. It was a month before I started high school, and I’d been slaving away all summer fileting fish and peeling shrimp in the sweltering kitchen of a local seaside crab shack. It was a thankless job that left my hands both stinging and stinking.

And I loved it.

There was safety in it, I was good at it, and people left me alone – likely because I spent most of my days covered in mullet guts. Regardless, it was just me, my work, and a tiny portable radio that sat atop a nearby refrigerator, softly coughing out Top 40 drivel. But then, it happened. From amid all the pop fluff arose the anti-pop voice of Linda Perry, the 4 Non Blondes frontwoman. She seamlessly went back and forth from a deep, brooding register to an eerily pleasing meadowlark warble.

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Tax Reform and Fairness – A Necessary Balance

Barry

We are fast approaching what many believe is crunch time for tax reform. There is a renewed push by the White House and Congress to enact tax reform by year’s end. President Trump is urging Congress to “move fast,” while the House and Senate work to identify a process to make it possible.

As the debate intensifies, policy goals will be fleshed out, trial balloons will be floated in the media, and key lawmakers will get down to business in assembling a package of reforms to the tax code that can pass muster in both chambers.

A mainstay of the tax reform discussions is a call for cuts in the corporate tax rate. Since the vast majority of U.S. businesses operate as pass-through businesses, tax reform plans have also applied the benefits of lower tax rates to certain pass-throughs. These pass-throughs, including S corporations and partnerships, don’t pay taxes themselves, but pass their earnings through to their owners who pay taxes at their individual rates.

Some in Washington have suggested that professional services pass-throughs – such as accounting firms – should not be treated like other businesses because of the mistaken belief they don’t help drive the economy. We know that’s not the case.

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8 Reasons to Get Excited About Fall

GourdsNow that I’m almost done drying my tears because summer is over (but I’m keeping a few tissues handy just in case), I’m ready to make a confession: I secretly love fall. Anyone who has met me for more than 10 minutes knows I never miss an opportunity to crow about how summer is the perfect season and how anyone who doesn’t like the beach is hardwired wrong. So I kind of feel like a fraud admitting I really like fall. But there’s just something about it that makes me nostalgic.

Here are eight reasons why fall really is fabulous.

  1. Apple picking and cider donuts

The annual family apple picking trips of my youth are magical in my memories—tractor rides into the orchard, farm stands, the discovery of the world’s greatest cider donuts (no really, I’ve never had a better one). The mere thought of it all gets me wistful. Taking my son for the first time (okay, the second time—the first time he was a month old) brought me great joy. This year we introduced our daughter to the apple picking tradition.

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5 Tips for Powerful Financial Storytelling

MicrophonePublic speaking is hard, there’s no doubt about it. You need to prepare your speech, carefully choosing your words and crafting your story. Then, you need to devote some serious time practicing-- some say up to one hour for every minute of your speech! Finally, you need to fight the butterflies in your stomach to step in front of the crowd, steady your voice, and give your speech.

When it comes to public speaking, accountants face more challenges than the average person. Not only do they need to do all of the above, they also need to translate complex data into easy-to-understand concepts for non-finance professionals.

Financial storytelling takes a lot of work, but it’s a learnable skill. The following are tips from the CGMA research brief, “Six Rules to Delivering a Powerful Financial Presentation.”

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9 Facts That Can Make or Break Your Firm’s Future

Grow your practiceThe rules of engagement for business are changing. Today’s world is complex, evolving, extremely high-tech, and fast. Whether you’re a small, one-person shop or a partner at a large or global firm, you’re probably aware that your most valuable current (and potential) clients are unwittingly converting business as we knew it into business-on-the-fly. And they’re bringing new methods that can also prove beneficial to the CPA.

Our societal landscape is significantly different than it was just a decade ago. There are new faces, new modes of interacting, and technology has inarguably and almost completely taken over. Is there a way to sustain and strengthen your practice in this ever-evolving world? Absolutely. In fact, now is an incredibly opportune time for your firm, especially considering the statistics.

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3 Ways to Help Your Firm Showcase Its Value to Clients

Earlier this month, I spoke on Facebook Live with Heather O’Connor from the Association’s Communications team about opportunities firms and small practices have for showcasing their value as strategic advisers.

Many firms today are seeking quality clients who are compatible with the firm’s service offerings. That might sound like a pretty basic statement, but developing a roster of quality clients is anything but basic. Communicating your firm’s value to potential clients should be foremost in your thoughts. For many, the trick is finding a place to start.

But there is good news. Your firm has opportunities to use professional resources and materials provided by the AICPA and enhanced by the new Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. These tools will define and communicate your value, while also helping you attract high-quality clients you’ll retain well into the future.

The first is our #CPApowered campaign. Now in its third year, #CPApowered capitalizes on the strong partnership between the AICPA, firms and state CPA societies to simultaneously reach broader audiences with the objective of promoting CPAs as the trusted adviser to the small business community. Our national campaign includes paid spots on social media and cable television.  Firms can access these high-quality videos for use on their social media channels or websites free of charge.

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Surviving the Equifax Data Breach

HackedOdds are, you or someone you know were impacted by the Equifax data breach. The breach, which is estimated to have impacted 143 million Americans – nearly half the US population – is considered one of largest data breaches in history. Adding insult to financial injury, Equifax has put the onus on consumers to do their own research about whether or not they need to worry.

But don’t panic just yet—we’ve got steps you can take to help protect yourself. Let’s start with the basics:

What is Equifax? And why do they have my information?

Equifax is one of three major U.S. consumer credit agencies, and if you have ever purchased anything of note, like a car or a house, or rented an apartment, or have had any reason to request a credit report, these agencies have your information.

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Tips on Tackling Revenue Recognition Implementation

Shutterstock_112806709“It has been a massive undertaking.”

“There are seven major differences between the old and new guidance.”

“The standard changed the accounting answer for us in a few areas.”

Those are just a few observations from leaders at Oracle regarding their experience implementing the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s landmark accounting standard, Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606). The new guidance supersedes the current guidance in Accounting Standards Update 605, Revenue Recognition. The standard’s initial effective date was deferred, but now it’s almost here. Organizations that haven’t done so already definitely need to take the necessary steps toward compliance ASAP, and firms should advise their clients, too.

To learn more about Oracle’s successful approach to revenue recognition implementation, AICPA Chairman Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, CPA, CGMA, Global Accounting Strategy Director for the Financial and Professional Services Industries for Oracle America, sat down with two colleagues to discuss the company’s experiences preparing to put the standard to work.    

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Why Pets Make the Best Coworkers

Peaches - Julia MorrissMy dog Peaches, a cuddly beagle mix, is the love of my life. As with most pet owners, I spend a lot of time with my dog and miss her when I’m not at home. The days that I telecommute are often the highlight of my week because I can relish her company all day. Having a dog at home is beneficial in many ways:  I stand up and walk around more often, get outside for fresh air a few times a day and feel less stressed because I can give Peaches regular snuggles.

One of the benefits of being a CPA sole practitioner, or working for a firm that utilizes virtual offices, is that you can often work from home, allowing you to be with your pets all day. Some CPA firms even allow employees to bring their dogs to the office.

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Financial Statement Changes: 5 Steps for Nonprofit Boards

NFP boardAs accounting and finance professionals, we’ve been talking about the coming changes to not-for-profit financial statements for some time now. But many others haven’t heard about the changes, including some not-for-profit board members. Board members are responsible for oversight of the financial reporting process, and as such, they’ll want to take an active role during implementation of the new guidance.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board's (FASB) Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2016-14, Not-for-Profit Entities: Presentation of Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Entities, was issued in August 2016. The standard applies to all not-for-profits and is effective for years beginning after December 15, 2017. Early adoption is permitted.

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The Next Generation: Empowering Future Firm Leaders

Leadership 2“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” –John F. Kennedy

Who represents your future? What’s your professional legacy? How do you know whom to trust with your business when you retire?

Most firm owners know the future of their business relies on the strength of their successors—the individuals most capable of growing and maintaining both client relationships and the service teams within the firm itself. What’s less understood is HOW to identify, nurture and promote the best and brightest candidates in practical terms. What can firm founders and owners do to ensure they’re selecting and preparing the right people to carry on their firms as eventual partners and even owners themselves?

The first task is to recognize the rising stars within your firm. These people are the strongest innovators, always looking for new opportunities to expand client services and grow the business. They’re the ones who naturally lead, and embrace opportunity to build strong teams within their professional circle. And they’re never afraid to assume more responsibility—for not only the daily workings of the firm, but also for the long-term prospects of the business—which includes being personally invested in both client relationships and the firm’s reputation. But once you’ve identified these potential stars, how do you invest in them?

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8 Ways Reading Can Help You Get Ahead at the Office

BookReading is good for your career. Don’t believe me? Think of all the successful people who make reading a priority – Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerburg, to name a few. And they aren’t just reading Facebook updates, emails and tweets. They are committing time to reading actual books.

Why does reading a book matter? The benefits are plentiful and aren’t just limited to reading non-fiction. One important way reading helps your career is by helping you develop empathy. When you connect with a character and begin to understand their feelings and emotions, you are increasing your empathy. You gain valuable exposure to other perspectives, which can help you better relate to your coworkers and clients.

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Are You Overlooking Prospective Clients?

Millennial clientsThere is a huge opportunity that most practitioners are ignoring, or worse, dismissing: an untapped client base.

This population doesn’t fit the profile of the typical client. They aren’t in their early 60s, near retirement and don’t fit the typical client profile. They haven’t worked and earned and leaned on you to help them make it to the retirement “finish line,” where they’ll begin to really enjoy the fruits of their labor. In fact, perhaps to the chagrin or confusion of their baby boomer parents, they’re quite different.

As you may have guessed, I’m talking about millennials. Before you tune out, consider the following:

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Help After a Hurricane: Disaster Resources

Hurricane reliefCPAs are no strangers to helping: it is what they do every day for their clients, the public, small businesses and others. As those affected by recent hurricanes or other disasters begin the arduous process of recovery, there are things the CPA community can do to help those living and working in affected areas—including fellow CPAs—get back on their feet. We’ve compiled a list of resources, articles and more to aid in the recovery from this unfortunate disaster.

AICPA Benevolent Fund

If you are facing financial hardship because of a hurricane or other disaster, you can apply for assistance.

Want to help? You can make a charitable contribution to the fund.

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The Firm of the Future: Building Value by Evolving

Firm of the futureWhen starting an accounting practice, it’s important to think about the long-term value of the firm. True forward thinkers might even ponder what their end game looks like; is their goal to merge with another firm or sell their firm? To be succeeded by a partner or family member? In real-world terms, that means thinking about inventive and even unconventional opportunities to expand services beyond the realm of tax preparation, auditing and advice with the goal of appealing to the broadest possible client base. In a world where insurance companies, stock brokers, banks and even franchises like H&R Block are expanding client services to include planning for retirement, education or even simply, how to manage cash flow to maximize financial security, no firm can afford to neglect these areas of their clients’ lives. Competition is becoming too intense.

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