CPA Profession in the News Feed

CPA Profession in the News

The AICPA and the CPA profession as a whole receive significant ‘ink’ each year, ranging from daily newspapers with large circulations to niche blogs with a few hundred readers. To help you keep track of it all, CPA Profession in the News is a short wrap-up highlighting a few interesting and informative articles about the CPA profession.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

In the News: AICPA Survey Finds Businesses Increasing Hiring and Spending in Coming Year

EOS 1 14The AICPA recently released the results of the first quarter Economic Outlook Survey, which found business executives reporting a more favorable view on hiring and business expansion in the coming year. One of the motivating factors of this is an increased optimism about the U.S. economy as a whole.

Fox Business coverage of the survey, which polls CEOs, CFOs, controllers and other CPAs who hold executive and senior management accounting roles in U.S. companies, noted that just under half of respondents (49 percent) are feeling optimistic or very optimistic about the U.S. economy. Only 38 percent of executives felt equally positive last quarter.

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In the News: The State of Accounting Jobs

We-are-hiringI don’t really recall my mindset when applying to college (it’s been more than five 15 years), but I can confidently say I should have spent more time thinking about my future employment prospects. Planning ahead would have allowed me to spend less time in college worrying that it would be difficult to find a job related to my major.

Luckily for high school students interested in accounting and college students planning to become CPAs, the job-related news about the profession lately has been very positive.

According to data from a survey conducted in November 2013 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 61% of accounting majors from the class of 2013 had received at least one job offer – the third highest percentage of any major.

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In the News: CPAs Providing Financial Guidance for 2014

New-year-resolution

In a recent post I detailed a number of articles highlighting tax tips provided by AICPA staff and members that individuals can use to save themselves money when they file their 2013 returns.

As the calendar flips to 2014 (the year of the polar vortex), AICPA members and staff have been providing guidance on how to ‘recover’ from holiday spending, save more in 2014, and outlining tax changes that may impact consumers.

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In the News: Year-End Tax Moves for Businesses and Individuals

TaxesAs the calendar turns to December, AICPA experts have been speaking to reporters to educate the public about tax moves they can make before the end of the year. A number of these tips involve tax breaks that will either expire, or whose futures are uncertain and the steps that businesses, individuals and homeowners can take now to save themselves money when they file their 2013 return.

Businesses

Jeffrey Porter, chairman of the AICPA’s tax executive committee, spoke to CFO.com about corporate tax provisions which are set to expire after 2013.

According to Porter, one of the most important of the temporary tax provisions set to expire after 2013 is the 50 percent bonus depreciation, which was enacted as part of economic-stimulus legislation.

“Let’s say you’re a CFO, and you know you need to purchase a million-dollar piece of equipment. If you purchase it before the end of the year, you can get a $600,000 write-off in the first year,” says Porter.

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In the News: Award Winning Achievements

The AICPA held the fall meeting of its governing Council last week. The big news out of the meeting in L.A. was, of course, Bill Balhoff being named the AICPA’s 101st Chairman. In addition to Bill being named chairman, which is the highest AICPA volunteer position, a number of AICPA members were honored at the Council meeting for their contributions to the profession and the Institute.

Medal of Honor

Bob Graham, former U.S. Senator and former Florida Governor, was awarded the AICPA Medal of Honor, which recognizes an individual whose work has had a significant impact on the profession. The medal of honor is the highest AICPA award for a non-CPA.

“Senator Graham has served as an ambassador between the CPA profession and the American public, helping the AICPA Board chart the Institute’s course and the profession’s growth with the needs of all citizens in mind,” said Richard Caturano, CPA, CGMA, AICPA Chairman of the Board of Directors (2012-2013).

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In the News: AICPA to Congress: Consolidate Small Business Retirement Plans

The AICPA is gearing up for our Fall Meeting of Council, which begins Oct. 20 in Los Angeles. Be sure to follow @AICPA_JofA and @AICPANews on Twitter and subscribe to the AICPA’s Press Center RSS feed to keep up with all the news and information coming out of the meeting.

In the meantime, I’ve highlighted a few recent accounting articles in the news that you may missed over the last week.

US-capitolAccounting Today covered the recent written testimony that the AICPA submitted for the record of the House Small Business Committee’s hearing on retirement savings for small employers. In the testimony Jeffrey A. Porter, AICPA Tax Executive Committee chairman, suggested several ways to simplify the complexity of the retirement planning universe.

“When a small business grows and begins to explore options for establishing a retirement plan, the alternatives, and the various rules, can become overwhelming,” he wrote in his testimony.

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In the News: CPAs Predict Uptick in Hiring

AICPA Economic Outlook SurveyIt is--and has been--a tough time to look for a job in the United States (unless, of course, you are an accounting graduate). However, there may be some hope on the horizon for the legions of unemployed.

Business executives--while still expressing caution--continue to raise their expectations for hiring in the coming year. That’s according to the third quarter AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, a survey of 1,228 CEOs, CFOs, controllers and other CPAs in U.S. companies who hold executive and senior management accounting roles.

The CPA Outlook Index—a comprehensive gauge of executive sentiment within the survey—remained unchanged from last quarter at 69 points. The index is a composite of nine, equally weighted survey measures set on a scale of 0 to 100, with 50 considered neutral and greater numbers signifying positive sentiment.

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Half of U.S. Adults Fail ‘Health Insurance 101’

Healthcare-questionsI dislike going to the doctor – who doesn’t? However, in recent years I’ve found that I dislike the confusion I feel when I attempt to understand the vagaries of my healthcare provider’s policies even more. While understanding the policies can be frustrating, not understanding the basic terms of health insurance plans can lead to bad decision making and wasted dollars. And, unfortunately, a recent AICPA survey found that many Americans don’t understand these basic terms.

The telephone survey, conducted late last month for the AICPA by Harris Interactive, found that more than half, 51 percent of respondents, could not accurately identify at least one of three common health insurance terms: premium, deductible and copay.

A third, 34 percent, thought a premium was an expense at the time of receiving medical service or a prescription; more than a quarter, 27 percent, thought a copay was the cost of obtaining insurance; and 12 percent did not know a deductible is the money one pays before an insurance company makes payments.

“Half of Americans would fail health insurance 101,” said Ernie Almonte, CPA, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission.

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In the News: AICPA Conference Focuses on Developing Female Leaders

Leadership-compassA recent AccountingWEB article by Deanna White highlighted the steps the AICPA is taking to develop more female leaders in the accounting profession.

"If you look at people coming up in the ranks over the last thirty years, 50 percent of the people in the profession are women but only 19 percent of leadership in the accounting and finance professions right now is female," says Mary L. Bennett, chair of the AICPA Women's Initiatives Executive Committee and founder of MLBennett Consulting LLC.

Bennett said that there is a perception that more female leadership in the accounting profession is an issue that will take care of itself - but that's not the case.

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In the News: New Hot Spot for Young CPAs

Young CPA NetworkI’m writing this blog post from the AICPA’s E.D.G.E Conference in Austin, Texas. E.D.G.E. is an opportunity for CPAs to gain management and leadership skills, while networking with leaders of the profession and discussing emerging issues. And since the conference is aimed at CPAs and practitioners with 5-15 years of experience, I’ve had an opportunity to speak to a number of younger AICPA members about the opportunities and challenges they’ve faced in their careers. My colleague and friend Heather O’Connor has posted a couple of great live blogs  from the conference and there are a lot of tweets on the #AICPA_EDGE hashtag you can check out to get a better sense of the content in the sessions.

Conferences are a great place to meet likeminded CPAs, learn about the issues facing the profession and help navigate the next steps in one’s career. Can’t make it to a conference this year? No worries, the AICPA has announced the launch of the Young CPA Network Community to help young CPAs enjoy many of the benefits of conference attendance from the comfort of their laptop or mobile device – like networking and career development.

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In the News: Learning to Lead

Derek-jeterThroughout my career in communications, I’ve sought out every opportunity to develop the skills that will hopefully help me become an effective leader in the future. Almost all of the dedicated and successful professionals I know - in every field - have done the same. Some people, like Derek Jeter and Winston Churchill, are viewed as being great natural leaders – the kind of individuals who can motivate and bring out the best in the people around them. But the vast majority of individuals – even successful leaders - have needed a little guidance along the way to develop and refine the qualities that may eventually allow them to help steer their organizations to great heights.

To help develop the future leaders of the accounting profession, the AICPA recently announced the 2013 Leadership Academy class. This group of 38 rising stars will attend the 5th annual Leadership Academy, held in Durham, N.C. this fall. The five day program will be an opportunity for participants to learn leadership theory and strategic planning techniques, while developing tools for handling complex management challenges.

As a recent article in Accounting Today notes, CPA leaders, including AICPA Chairman Richard Caturano, CPA, CGMA, and Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, the Institute’s president and CEO will engage the participants, all under the age of 36, and discuss the issues currently facing the accounting profession.

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In the News: Tax Breaks on Home Sales

Home-saleJust yesterday, The National Association of Realtors announced that its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 6.7 percent to 112.3, the highest level since December 2006.

With many people considering placing their home on the market, a timely Wall Street Journal article examined the taxes and tax breaks available when selling a home. According to Melissa Labant, director of taxation at the AICPA, these rules can be complicated and people often misunderstand or don’t take full advantage of the benefits available.

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In the News: Paying for a Summer Studying Abroad

Graduation-abroadAs a recent – and I use the word recent liberally – college graduate, one of my few regrets is that I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to spend a summer studying abroad. I generally excuse this away because I had my hands full juggling my course work and extracurricular activities and was always eager to return to my native New York. If I was being honest with myself, the real reason was that I could never seem to navigate the financial and administrative aspects of applying to take classes overseas during the summer.

For those of you who are still in school and seeking to broaden your horizons, Michael Eisenberg, a Los Angeles-based CPA/PFS, recently spoke to U.S. News & World Report to educate their audience on how to pay for short study-abroad trips.

The article encourages students to look for scholarships and aid to pay for the parts of a short-term educational trip not eligible for 529 plan funding.

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In the News: 4 Helpful Quotes from CPAs

Cpa-quote (3)I read so many great quotes from CPAs every day and have such a limited space to summarize them on the blog– it can get to be a bit frustrating.  As I began drafting my bi-weekly ‘In the News’ post, I decided to switch things up this week.

I present to you four helpful quotes from CPAs. Hey – everyone can use a little help now and then.

As Kelli Grant reports in MarketWatch, going to summer camp may be a rite of passage for children, but for parents, it seems more like an initiation into the woes of tuition payments.

What parents might not know is that camp expenses can translate into a tax break.

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In the News: Americans are Feeling the Effects of Money Stress

Money-stressFor many Americans money stress brought on by lighter paychecks this year is affecting more than their wallets — it’s taking a toll on their waistlines, friendships and the amount of sleep they get. That’s according to results of a new survey fielded for the American Institute of CPAs by Harris Interactive in recognition of National Financial Capability Month.

The telephone survey, conducted between March 14 and March 17, asked 1,011 U.S. adults to name all the ways financial stress is affecting their lives. Of those who rate their financial stress “very” or “somewhat high,” almost half, 47 percent, said they are sleeping less; 43 percent said they have less patience with friends or are seeing them less often and 31 percent are eating more junk food or gaining weight.

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In the News: You Missed the Deadline to File Taxes, Now What?

Blackboard-deadlineAs I’ve mentioned previously on this very blog, I am a procrastinator by nature. My ‘to do’ list from January of this year is littered with winter-related items (two prime examples are ‘purchase warmer jacket’ and ‘book ski trip for President’s Day weekend’) that I simply didn’t get around to. In those instances, I can shake my head, let out a self-pitying sigh and put it off until next year… But if you missed the April 15 deadline to file either your federal income tax return or an extension, you don’t have the luxury of simply waiting until next year – the time to act is now.

Melissa Labant, AICPA director of tax advocacy, speaking to the New York Times Bucks Blog, advised taxpayers to file as soon as possible and to avoid falling into the trap of thinking ‘oh, the deadline passed so there’s no rush now.’

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In the News: Using Tax Refunds Wisely

Mailbox-tax-returnDo you see your neighbor waiting by the mailbox for their tax refund? Chances are it’s not so they can use it on a fancy vacation or a new spring wardrobe.

This year, workers are most likely to save their refund or use the money for day-to-day expenses, according to a recent survey conducted for the AICPA by Harris Interactive for National Financial Capability Month. And that refund money is substantial. An AccountingWEB article on the survey results states that through March 22, the average refund this tax season is $2,827. That’s trending slightly lower than this time last year, when the average individual refund was $2,860.

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In the News: You Got Tax Questions? We Got Answers!

Tax-questionIt’s been more than a month since my (legendary?) first post of this tax season and there has been a ton of recent media coverage. In my second tax season post, I’ll share a few articles for those of you who haven’t filed yet. In addition, I promise to throw in some good information for people who have their refunds already and are just rubbernecking.

Once again this year, members of the AICPA are using their expertise to answer one daily tax question from USA TODAY readers and help the public understand how to approach some common filing issues.

Thus far, readers have asked questions regarding the requirements for claiming adult children as dependents and how to handle the tax implications of rolling over an IRA.

Readers can submit their questions to taxadvice@usatoday.com through April 15.

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In the News: CPAs' Optimism on U.S. Economy Increases, Despite Sequester

Sequester ChartConfession time: I am not a Nobel Prize-winning economist. In fact, I dropped Microeconomics my freshman year in college after one class and I never looked back. So when I read that the Dow hit an all-time high this week I wasn’t sure what to think about how the sequester would impact businesses and the economy overall. And since I like to understand what’s going on, all of this confusion made me sad.

Luckily for me, the AICPA just released the results of our Q1 Economic Outlook Survey, which polls members who serve as CEOs, CFOs and controllers as well as other CPAs in U.S. companies who hold executive positions on their views on the economy moving forward.  And this quarter, the ‘survey within a survey’ focused specifically on the potential impact of the sequester on their companies’ business.

As Ruth Mantell reports in MarketWatch, according to the survey results, only 11 percent of the CPAs surveyed believe the massive spending cuts in the sequester will have a “significant” impact on their companies’ business. Thirty percent responded that there would be a “slight” impact from the sequester, with an additional 30 percent reporting that the impact on their business would be “minimal.”

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In the News: For the Love of Money

Money talkThose wilted flowers and almost empty boxes of chocolates can only mean one thing: Valentine’s Day was last week. According to some estimates, as many as 200,000 couples across the United States choose this date to become engaged. Congrats to all the lovebirds out there!

But before these happy couples tie the knot, they’ll need to make sure they’re on the same page when it comes to their finances – otherwise, problems will likely arise. 

A timely Chicago Tribune article on this topic cited an AICPA survey showing that 27 percent of couples married or living together said money issues were likely to lead to an argument. In fact, money issues are more likely to cause an argument than topics on children, chores or work.

Tracy Stewart of the AICPA’s National Financial Literacy Commission stresses that a primary reason behind these types of arguments is a lack of communication.

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In the News: After the Super Bowl, Tax Season Kicks Off

KickoffThe IRS has been accepting tax returns electronically and by mail since Jan. 30, but this Monday marked the official start of tax season, which is defined, for my purposes, as the day after the Super Bowl.

That means that for the next few months, as CPAs around the country are working with their clients to ensure that their returns are submitted correctly and on time, reporters and bloggers will be looking to provide their audiences with articles about all things tax. Therefore, I will be highlighting some more tax content of interest in my bi-weekly ‘in the news’ post. The circle of life, if you will.

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AICPA Scholarships Provide More than $350,000 to Top Accounting Students

The fine folks at U.S. News and World Report have recently released their Top 100 Jobs for 2013 report and ‘accountant’ came in as the third best business job and number 36 of all jobs.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but with the profession’s modest 4.2% unemployment rate, and a median salary of more than $62,000, there is a lot to like about a career in accounting.

Rebecca Mahler, manager of career research at the AICPA, stressed to U.S. News and World Report how important it is for aspiring accountants to become certified. "It's really the gold star on the resume," she said. "It's an invaluable credential, and you get a 10 to 15 percent higher salary."

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CPAs to Federal Government: Reduce the Debt

Money-on-fireMost Americans greeted the news that the “fiscal cliff” had been averted with a mix of relief that a worst case scenario had been averted and frustration with the seemingly endless process. What has been lost on some casual observers is that, as a result of the deal, the U.S. deficit will actually increase an additional $4 trillion dollars in the next decade, according to the Centralized Budget Office.

Earlier this week, the AICPA released the results of a survey* asking members questions regarding the economic sustainability of the United States. The survey found that the vast majority are calling on the federal government to demonstrate more fiscal responsibility. In fact, seven in ten U.S. CPAs are concerned that both individuals and families will be severely affected if policy makers are unable to reduce the federal debt.

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4 Articles That Made CPAs Smile in 2012

Young-manI initially chose to write a feel-good year-end reflection because that’s what all the cool, popular bloggers on the internet do. And I want to be cool and popular, too. But as I started going back through all the news from 2012, I quickly realized that it was an extremely eventful year, even by the lofty standards established by previous years (I’m looking at you, 2002!). That said, an on-the-go CPA could surely be forgiven if they were too busy to notice the top* four articles, which gave us a reason to smile during the course of the year.

As noted right here on AICPA Insights in March, a survey from Careerbliss.com found that being an accountant is the eighth happiest job in America. Employees were asked to rate 10 factors that affect workplace happiness, including one's relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks and control over the work one does on a daily basis.

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CPAs Outlook on U.S. Economy Drops for Third Straight Quarter

CPAOI 4qDespite the traditional festive mood of the holidays and consumer confidence at a 6-month high, CPAs in business and industry are not impressed.

In fact, CPA financial executives reported their dimmest view of prospects for the U.S. economy since 2011 in the results of the AICPA’s fourth quarter Economic Outlook Survey. Why so sad? The main reasons cited for increased pessimism are the threat of the looming fiscal cliff, combined with concerns over future sales and profitability.

While optimism has declined over the past three quarters, the fourth quarter survey did not include any silver lining as every major measure of economic expectations fell, both quarter over quarter and year over year. 

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In the News: AICPA Financial Literacy Survey Featured on the Today Show

Yesterday, Al Roker and Jean Chatzky of the Today Show discussed the issue of kids and allowance, citing the results of AICPA’s recent survey with Harris Interactive on the subject.

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In the News: CGMAs Can Bridge the Gap in Human Capital Management

CGMA logoDavid McCann at CFO.com spoke with Arleen Thomas, CPA, CGMA, AICPA SVP of management accounting, about a recent talent management survey for Chartered Global Management Accountants conducted jointly between the AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The report found that 43 percent of the CEOs, CFOs and human resource directors surveyed said their companies have missed financial goals in the past 18 months because of inadequacies in human capital management. Almost the same number, 40 percent, indicated that such shortcomings—which could include insufficient systems, processes or management information—have hindered their ability to innovate. “We believe that talent and the human dimension drive business growth and companies haven’t focused enough on that,” said Thomas. “Too many companies look at talent in terms of what they have to do to comply with labor laws and regulations, rather than understanding that it can be a competitive differential.”

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In the News: Executives Pessimism Towards Economy Erodes Confidence in Own Organizations

CPA Outlook IndexWith the announcement yesterday that the Federal Reserve is launching a third quantitative easing in an attempt to generate momentum for the stalling recovery, the economy—and unemployment—are back in the spotlight.

The AICPA’s 3rd quarter Economic Outlook Survey results were released last week, which provided insights into the direction of the economy from 1,365 qualified CPAs who hold leadership positions, such as chief financial officer or controller, in their companies. Their gloom was reflected in last week’s jobs report, which showed the labor market continuing to stagnate and served as one of the reasons behind the Fed’s actions yesterday.

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In the News: Making Allowance a Teachable Moment

360 Degrees of Financial LiteracyWhen I reflect upon my childhood, I fondly recall my elementary school days at P.S. 116 in Manhattan. Despite enjoying school, my favorite time of the year was when I would proudly present my parents with my final report card of the school year. The reasons for this were two-fold: like most kids, I always looked forward to my summer vacation, and I knew that if I got good grades my parents would reward me with a gift of my choice (usually a Nintendo game).

As I turns out, I wasn’t the only kid being compensated for doing well in school. According to a recently released AICPA survey on how parents treat the subject of money with their children, 48 percent of parents say that they pay their kids for getting good grades. As CNN Money noted, the survey showed that the going rate for an ‘A’ is $16.60, which makes me think my parents were getting off easy back in the day.

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In the News: Accounting Student Paul Wright Wins Medal of Inspiration Award

PaulThe AICPA recently announced Paul Wright, a student at Western Washington University, as this year’s winner of the Beta Alpha Psi’s Medal of Inspiration Award. Danielle Lee of Accounting Tomorrow reports that the AICPA-sponsored award, which includes a $5,000 cash stipend, honors a student who has experienced extreme hardships in his or her life and demonstrated an unusually high level of success in face of this adversity. Wright was born with arthrogryposis, a disability which includes stiff joints and missing muscle, requiring multiple surgeries before he turned 16. AccountingWEB noted that, despite his disability, Wright enrolled in Western Washington University, declared an accounting major and last April joined Beta Alpha Psi, an honorary organization for financial information students and professionals. He has worked with the university’s disability resource center and local BAP chapter to stream meetings to students who couldn’t attend. “A key lesson I learned while growing up is that true strength comes from the heart,” said Wright. “I know that I work harder for everything and that makes me feel even prouder of my accomplishments.”

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In the News: Pathways Commission Releases Report on Future of Accounting Education

Pathways CommissionBoth Accounting Today and Inside Higher Education covered the release of a new report from the Pathways Commission on Accounting Higher Education. The Commission, put into place in 2010 and co-sponsored the by the AICPA and the AAA, was tasked with studying the future structure of higher education related to accounting and developing recommendations to engage and maintain the strongest possible academic community in accounting. Their report summarizes two years of collective effort by more than 50 individuals representing a diverse array of stakeholders in the accounting profession.

The report presents seven main recommendations and provides ideas on implementation efforts. The recommendations range from attracting a more diverse population of students to the profession to reforming accounting education so that teaching is respected and rewarded. Additionally, the commission recommended establishing an implementation process to address their suggestions by creating a continuous, sustainable process.

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In the News: Accounting Firms Regain 87% of Jobs Lost During the Recession

This week’s ‘In the News’ post comes from the AICPA and CPA/SEA Interchange conference in St. Louis. I’ve been learning a lot at the sessions and having a good time networking with my colleagues at the state societies and sharing ideas and information. There has been a lot going on in the profession recently and I’ve been trying my best to stay on top of it all. I’ve highlighted a few of the more interesting articles I’ve seen in the past week and shared them with you below. If you see something that you think was particularly important, send me an email or let me know in the comments section.

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In the News: Preparing for the CPA Exam is Now Easier

The AICPA has recently taken steps to make preparing for the Uniform CPA Exam easier for international students and candidates on the go with two exciting new developments.

Recently, the AICPA announced it had expanded its website, ThisWaytoCPA.com to students overseas who may now register and create profiles.

The website, designed to educate college students and CPA-exam candidates about the path to becoming a CPA, now contains information to help international students understand the process of registering for the CPA exam and becoming a U.S. CPA while living overseas.

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In the News: Leave that Savings Alone

A Bankrate.com article titled “Four Ways to Avoid Dipping Into Your Savings Account” quoted Kelley Long, a Chicago CPA, personal finance coach, and member of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. In the article, Long provides prudent advice on how to keep the money currently in your savings account right where it is. She suggests savers don't get an ATM card or sign-up for Internet account access - because it provides the user with hassle free access to their savings. For more savings tips, please visit 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy, a free program of the nation’s CPAs to help American’s understand their personal finances through every life stage.

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In the News: U.S. Economy Takes Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

CPA Outlook IndexIn the midst of continued uncertainty, the nation – and by extension, news coverage - has been increasingly focused on the economy. Yesterday, the AICPA released the results of the second quarter Economic Outlook Survey, which showed that CPA business executives who hold leadership positions, such as chief financial officer or controller, in their companies, had grown more pessimistic about the U.S. economy, compared with last quarter.

The survey results were covered in the Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics Blog, which noted that the CPA outlook index slipped to 67 this quarter from 69 in the first quarter. A reading above 50 indicates a generally positive outlook with increasing activity. The index has ranged between 60 and 70 for the past two years.

“What we're seeing is the same ‘two steps forward, one step back’ cycle we encountered last year,” said Arleen R. Thomas, CPA, CGMA, the AICPA’s senior vice president for management accounting. “There's no question survey takers have grown more pessimistic about the U.S. economy, and, with expectations muted for profit, revenue and employment growth, there appear to be few catalysts to change that view.”

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In the News: Private Company Standards are Coming

BarryspeechThe big accounting news this week was the Financial Accounting Foundation’s Wednesday announcement that it was creating a body to set differences in U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, where appropriate, for privately held companies. The private company standards set by the new Private Company Council might make it easier for the roughly 28 million privately held companies in the United States to follow certain accounting standards.

The AICPA announced its support for the Private Company Council on Wednesday shortly after the news broke.

Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, president and CEO of the AICPA, spoke about the developments in a video to members.

“With the news announced today by the FAF, we recognize and appreciate that the FAF has taken solid steps in the right direction regarding the Private Company Council. The AICPA is encouraged by this approach and awaits more of the details of the FAF decision.  We look forward to continuing to work together to effect meaningful changes in U.S. GAAP for private companies and the users of their financial statements,” said Melancon,

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AICPA Tells Congress to Keep Oversight of Investment Advisers with SEC

As the AICPA gears up for our 125th Anniversary next week, here’s a wrap up of a few interesting accounting topics recently making the news. You can follow @AICPANews on Twitter to stay on top of all the latest official AICPA news as well as articles impacting the profession.

Barry MelanconCFO.com wrote that the AICPA raised concerns over the Investment Adviser Oversight Act of 2012 and urged Congress to keep oversight of investment advisers with the SEC. Introduced in the House of Representatives on April 25, the bill would transfer oversight of investment advisers from the SEC to a self-regulatory organization."Many of our members work for a firm that is registered as, or affiliated with, a registered investment adviser," Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, AICPA president and CEO, said in a statement. The AICPA's stance is that the system proposed under the bill would cost advisers much more in fees than current SEC oversight would.

On January 19, 2011, the SEC issued a staff report that found the current SEC-registered investment-adviser examination program faces hefty capacity and funding challenges. Three options were proposed to offset these challenges.  One would be to impose "user fees" on SEC-registered investment advisers to fund oversight. A second would authorize one or more SROs to examine investment advisers, with oversight from the SEC. A third choice would be to authorize the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a leading broker-dealer SRO, to examine dual registrants for compliance with the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. All three options require congressional action. "We believe that the SEC's core mission to protect investors requires adequate regulation of the investment advisory profession. The SEC remains the proper regulatory body to protect the public's best interest." Melancon said, "Providing the SEC with resources to properly enforce their rules is the best solution for investors and the public."

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4 Tips to Stay in the Loop on your Finances

The loopI recently read a blog post that talked about ‘the loop,’ which is essentially the browsing cycle we go through on the internet. This caused me to reflect upon my own habits on the web when I’m home relaxing in front of the computer. I found out that I have a regular routine of scanning the news, checking for any new sports information, seeing what my friends had for breakfast on social media and ensuring any emails are responded to promptly. I do this two or three times on an average night and as many as a dozen times on the weekends (please don’t judge me).

However, I’ve recently made it a point to expand the loop at least once daily to include checking my bank account and recent credit card spending, as well as my 401(k) and investment portfolio. Because as Jordan Amin, CPA, chair of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission puts it, “the first rule of personal finance is be informed.”

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In the News: Tax Tips for Procrastinators

IRS tax Form 1040I’m a procrastinator by nature. I can’t help it. I wait until the last possible second to do things - even important things that I know I need to do, like file my taxes. Many of you reading this may be in the same boat as me, staring at the calendar and wondering how it’s possible you still haven’t gotten around to filing yet.

I hear you, and I also hear the clock ticking as it counts down to the April 17 deadline.

As luck would have it the AICPA has helpfully compiled the 10 Top Last Minute Tax Tips to help get us through the process as painlessly as possible. In fact, one of the most helpful last minute tax tips for me was the news that I can have my CPA e-file for me. So this year, even though I waited until the last minute I won’t have to sprint up the steps of the Post Office just to make the deadline, as I have in years past.

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In the News: Accounting named one of the Happiest Jobs in America

We’ve got a lot of big things on the horizon at the AICPA: April Financial Literacy Month (we’ll be releasing survey results on the financial state of Americans) and in mid-May, we’ll be celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the AICPA at our Spring Council meeting in Washington D.C.

Barry Melancon, CPA, Testifying in front of CongressWhich is not to say that we’ve haven’t been busy lately! Just in the last week we released the results of our CGMA Global Economic Forecast and Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, president and CEO of the AICPA, testified before the House Capital Markets Subcommittee Accounting and Auditing Oversight Hearing. Melancon told members of the subcommittee that AICPA supports a strong, balanced and independent regulatory structure that protects investors but does not restrict the flow of capital.

During busy season and year-round, you can keep abreast of all the most important AICPA news by subscribing to the Media Relations RSS feed or following @AICPANews on Twitter. On to news of note from the last few days.

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In the News: Optimism on U.S. Economy hits Post-Recession High

CPA Outlook Index

The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Report covered yesterday’s release of the AICPA’s Economic Outlook Survey results, noting that 14 percent of those surveyed plan to hire this quarter – up from 10 percent in Q4. The AICPA Economic Outlook Survey polls chief financial officers, controllers and other CPAs in executive and senior management roles about their thoughts involving the economy and their hiring plans in the next year. The Triangle Business Journal cited the rise of the CPA Outlook Index,  a composite of nine indicators, which measured a 69, a post-recession high (see the chart to the left) that matches the index score from the first quarter a year ago. The Raleigh News & Observer, noted that the CPA respondents’ views are seen as a leading economic indicator because they oversee corporate finances and help devise strategy. Carol Scott, CPA, CGMA, AICPA vice president for business, industry and government, was quoted by WRAL.com in their article on the survey. Scott said "optimists now outnumber pessimists on the U.S. economy by an almost 2-to-1 margin, which is a striking change from six months ago." The results of the survey will be discussed on a webcast 2012 Economy: Real Recovery or Roller Coaster Ride?, scheduled from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. ET on March 22. The webcast has free CPE for the first 2,000 AICPA Members who register.

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In the News: Clients Increasingly Turn to CPAs for Financial Planning

Financial planning consultation

While economic uncertainty persists and conflicting economic indicators make predicting the progress of the recovery tough, stocks have been on the rise since late 2011. With the Dow crossing the 13,000 threshold earlier this week, many investors may be considering a return to the market. Before making any important financial decision, it’s essential to develop a plan that addresses the specific situation and ensures alignment with one’s goals for the future. As a number of recent news articles below demonstrate, individuals are increasingly turning to their CPA for help making investment decisions and planning their financial future, and the AICPA is ensuring that CPAs have the tools they need to best advise their clients.

Investment News reports that, as a result of increased demand from their clients, more CPAs than ever before are offering financial planning services. CPAs, who are trusted advisors to their clients, may have an advantage on other investment professionals. “We're in a natural position of trust with clients to expand into financial planning,” said Lyle Benson, CPA/PFS, of the executive committee of the AICPA's Personal Financial Planning section. The economic conditions in the U.S. have only added to the perception that CPAs are one of the best options for financial planning, and the AICPA is ensuring that members who wish to expand their financial planning services have the resources they need. “With the uncertain times, our members are seeing a lot more demand from clients for financial planning services,” said Andrea Millar, CPA/PFS, senior technical manager of the AICPA’s Personal Financial Planning section. “In recent years, we've expanded our efforts to help them add that to their practices.”

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In the News: Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer from the AICPA

1040 formsEach year the news media seems to begin their coverage of tax season a little earlier than the year before. The Media Relations team at the AICPA works year-round to educate reporters and provide accurate and actionable information for filers. This helps ensure that during tax season the public understands the value of a CPA as a tax preparer who can help them navigate the complicated and constantly changing IRS rules. With two months until the deadline to file most 2011 returns, I present to you, dear readers, some recent articles quoting AICPA staff and volunteer leadership on tax season issues.

Eileen Connelly of the Associated Press spoke to Melissa Labant, CPA of the AICPA’s Tax team for an article on how filers can find a tax preparer who they can trust. Labant suggests that, if you're expecting to claim a lot of business-related expenses, ask colleagues from work or professional organizations if they know a CPA who focuses on your industry. And along the same lines, if you own a small business, it’s crucial to ensure that the CPA has experience with small businesses. If they’ve worked with small businesses in your industry, that’s even better.

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In the News: Accounting Graduates Earn 20% More than Average

multi ethnic graduation studentsThe National Association of Colleges and Employers recently released the findings of their latest Job Outlook survey, which contained good news for current accounting students as well as recent accounting graduates. According to the survey, accounting majors who graduated in 2011 earned an average starting salary of $50,500, up 3.7 percent from the previous year and roughly 20 percent more than the average starting salary of all graduates. This increase isn’t an anomaly, according to Andrea Koncz of NACE, who told FINS.com that "entry-level accounting and finance jobs tend to see steady growth from year to year."

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In the News: Easy Steps to Save $1,000

Mackey McNeillDo you happen to be one of the many people who has resolved to make saving money a priority this year? Do you also find yourself in the category of those who feel they cannot even save $25 a week?  If so, Mackey McNeill, CPA/PFS, a former member of the AICPA’s National Financial Literacy Commission, has offered some actionable tips to help you painlessly save $1,000 this year in an article appearing on depositaccounts.com.

McNeill suggests finding your largest discretionary expense and challenging yourself to spend 5% less. For example, if you spend $400 a month at the grocery store, make it your goal to reduce that figure to $380. The 5% challenge works because it doesn’t feel like a huge sacrifice, but $20 over the course of a month translates to a cool $240 a year (full disclosure: I was a math minor).

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In the News: Big Tax Changes to Come in 2012

1040 tax formsThe Wall Street Journal recently spoke to Melissa Labant of the AICPA’s tax team about tips for taxpayers as they wait to see if Washington addresses major tax questions in 2012; a number of major tax cuts are set to expire at year's end. Labant noted that several changes for this tax year could pose traps for those who are unaware.  Among the changes is the elimination of the charitable IRA donation, which expired at the end of 2011. IRA owners 70½ or older were previously able to donate up to $100,000 of assets per year to a tax-exempt charity. Individuals were able to use this donation as part of their required IRA payout, if they hadn't taken one. Adding to the confusion, many experts expect Congress to reinstate the law at some point in 2012. "If you want an IRA donation to be all or part of your required withdrawal, wait for Congress to act," advised Labant.

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In the News: Saving Money is Top New Year’s Resolution

Hello and Happy New Year to my Insightful readers! I hope the holiday season was full of joy and left you rested, relaxed and most importantly, ready to tackle the year ahead.

The AICPA will be launching a number of exciting initiatives this year and I’m looking forward to getting the news out and continuing to share interesting articles about the profession that you may not have caught. As always, if you happen to see something that makes you stop and say ‘this is important news CPAs should really be aware of it’ – please send it my way and I’ll consider it for inclusion.

Every January many Americans resolve to make beneficial changes to their life. They may decide to start exercising, to spend more quality time with family and friends or to, finally once and for all, get organized. A recent survey conducted by the AICPA and Ad Council has found that, for young adults, saving money in 2012 is at the top of their priority list. The survey was released to coincide with the launch of a new PSA on behalf of the national Feed the Pig financial literacy campaign, which helps 25- to 34-year-olds take control of their finances and make saving a priority. 

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In the News: Year-end Tax Planning, Changes to Offshore Accounts

FATCA FBAR comparison 2012A December 10 Wall Street Journal article titled What’s Next for Offshore Accounts detailed new rules affecting 2011 tax returns. These rules will require taxpayers with assets held offshore to make extensive disclosures to the Internal Revenue Service or risk harsh penalties. The article included a table (click to expand) provided by AICPA indicating which accounts and assets should be disclosed on the new Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, and/or on Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). 

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In the News: AICPA Provides Minority Accounting Scholarships, IFRS Decision Delayed

Theresa YeboahDeanna White of AccountingWEB recently spoke to Theresa Yeboah, a Georgia State University student who was awarded the scholarship three consecutive years, about the impact the AICPA’s Minority Accounting Scholarship has had on her education, as well as her plans for the future. "I have benefited tremendously from the scholarship," said Yeboah. "The scholarship helped me to pay for school and my expenses so I did not have to work so much and could focus my attention on my studies and activities, like Beta Alpha Psi. It gave me more time to devote to my dream of becoming a CPA."  This fall, Yeboah was one of 78accounting students from 36 states across the country awarded the AICPA Scholarship for Minority Students. Recipients are selected based on academic achievement, a demonstration of leadership and volunteerism, and an overall commitment to becoming a CPA. The 2012-13 Minority Scholarship application deadline is April 1, 2012.

 

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In the News: Financial Literacy, Social Media

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving holiday and has safely emerged from their tryptophan induced coma. It’s been a busy few weeks for AICPA and the profession, with lots of interesting news coming out. I’m particularly thankful (see what I did there?) to be able to spotlight a couple of my colleagues on the Communications Team who were mentioned in the media recently.

WLIFE award LogoMelora Heavey, AICPA senior manager – communications (and AICPA Insights blogger) spoke to Fox Business about some of the ways that companies are taking steps to develop a more financially literate workforce – which serves to benefit both the employees and the organization itself. “Companies are trying to manage insurance costs, and having a workforce that has a thorough knowledge of their benefits and options help them to do this,” says Heavey. How prevalent are these programs? A study by the Society of Human Resource Management found that 30% of organizations surveyed  offered one-on-one financial/investment advice, 24% offered in-group or classroom advice and 22% offered online advice. Companies interested in implementing financial education programs for their own employees can find free resources at wlife.org, the website for the Workplace Leaders in Financial Education Awards, a program co-sponsored by the AICPA and SHRM.

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