11 posts categorized "Michael Ramos" Feed

Windows on Washington

Distorted-politicsA few weeks ago I talked about the jitters many business owners and families are feeling in regards to the current U.S. economic situation. Now, more than ever, businesses are looking to their CPAs to help them make sense of this increasingly complex world. At the AICPA, we want to do everything we can to help you succeed in this environment.

We asked you to describe the angst you are observing in your practice. We received dozens of comments via the blog post and social media channels. Overwhelmingly, members said that Congressional action—or in many cases, inaction—is the primary source of uncertainty and anxiety for clients and in their companies.

Right or wrong, it is clear that we live in a time when the Federal government is quite active. Think about it: TARP, the auto-industry bailout, Dodd-Frank, healthcare reform, American Tax Reform Act—and the list continues to grow. There will assuredly be more “cliffs” to come this year: surpassing the debt ceiling, a possible downgrade in US credit ratings, sequestration, and another continuing resolution(s) to fund the Federal government.

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Name that Angst

Fiscal cliff name badgeAfter a nice holiday break relaxing with friends and family, it’s now time to get back to the real world. Re-entry is always a drag, but coming back this year to the crescendo of anxiety surrounding the fiscal cliff made it that much more difficult.

I’ve spent the last two days meeting some of our AICPA course instructors and asking them about their practices and their clients, and one message came through loud and clear. Clients are concerned. And they’re turning to their CPAs for guidance.

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How the Clarified Auditing Standards Will Affect You

The Clarified Auditing Standards are now in effect. You may have heard that “these aren’t substantive changes,” but this isn’t the case. Some of the changes included in the new standards will affect every auditor. Based on inquiries we’ve received during recent AICPA webinars on the Clarified Auditing Standards, participants have identified four areas of change that may require more attention.

One substantive change is to the auditor’s report. Headings and specific language for each section are now required within the report. Adding headings and the correct language to an auditor’s report, while affecting every audit, is not difficult to do. The challenge is making sure that it gets done. If a staff person takes last year’s report and changes only the dates, and the firm issues that report without headings and revised wording, then the firm has issued a deficient report. While it may require a little extra work, these headings provide auditors a clear understanding of what additional information is needed and where to place it in a report.

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Catch Them When You Can

Catch me if you can frank abagnaleIt seems that the corporate world is rife with fraud these days, and as CPAs on the financial front lines, it’s up to us to protect the public from these crimes.

Just last week prosecutors in the high-profile fraud case against former Nortel executives gave closing arguments, telling a Toronto courtroom three former Nortel executives knowingly breached accounting rules to manipulate financial records and reap millions in bonuses, keeping the now-insolvent tech firm's investors and the public in the dark.

You think it won’t happen to you.

Many years ago, as a first year staff auditor, I was assigned to the audit team of a not-for-profit organization. One of my areas was cash, but after going over budget by many hours, I still couldn’t get the general ledger balance to reconcile to the bank statements. I was convinced that I just didn’t know how to do a proper bank reconciliation, but if they just gave me some more time, I would figure it out.

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The Role of the CPA in a Crowdfunding Future

CrowdfundingIn 2010, many sectors of the U.S. economy began to improve from the Great Recession—however, small businesses lagged behind, largely as a result of having trouble raising the capital they needed in a still tenuous financial recovery.

This led to the advent of a concept called crowdfunding. Crowdfunding—inspired by crowdsourcing—describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.

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My Takeaway from The Supreme Court’s Health Care Decision

Supreme-courtI started in this profession 30 years ago this month.  As an auditor, one of the things I’ve always liked is that we are in the unique position of being paid for our opinion. Not just any opinion, mind you, but a reasoned, objective opinion based on the evidence we gather and the application of professional judgment.

A lot has changed in the world of communications in those 30 years. There seems to be an increasing emphasis on making the provocative statement to draw attention, increase readers or Twitter followers. In spite of this irreversible trend, I have held fast to the now quaint notion that there will always be a place in the business world for sound, independent analysis and advice.

The most striking thing about the Supreme Court’s decision was not the decision itself, but the media debacle in reporting it. 

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Moments of Obligation: A Call for CPAs to Join the Financial Conversation

US budget 2013I’ve always been attracted to the “serving the public interest” element of our profession. As an auditor I didn’t see myself so much as a policeman enforcing the rules, but rather as the surrogate for the investors and creditors who had limited access to information about a company’s finances and operations. I knew that these nameless, faceless third parties trusted me and that no matter what, I could not break that trust, for it was the cornerstone of the profession.

“Moments of obligation” are those moments or events when you feel yourself pulled down a path that leads you to work that will benefit others. At various points in my career, I’ve made more conscious decisions about pursuing paths to give back to the community. Of course, thousands of CPAs make decisions every day to contribute their skills, experiences and—perhaps most importantly—their credibility to efforts aimed to benefit the public good.

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5 More Steps to Get Ahead in Your Career

Since so many of you were interested in Friday's post, 6 Steps to Get Ahead in Your Career, I decided that I should share some other career strategies also adapted from a recent presentation by author and career coach Donald Asher. 

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6 Steps to Get Ahead in Your Career

What’s the difference between a CPA's salary of $45,000 and $90,000 per year? Skillset. The difference between someone's salary being $90,000 and $200,000 per year, however, is not a difference in skillset, but a difference in how they manage their careers. Here are some steps—adapted from a recent presentation from author and career coach Donald Asher—which you can take to advance your career.

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Creating a Professional Development Plan

Do you have a current professional development plan in place or are you typically rushing to earn CPE credits before your license renewal deadline?

The best way to ensure you are making the most of continuing education is through professional development planning, an often-overlooked and under-practiced activity. As a professional, consider integrating a professional development plan into all stages of your career planning. As CPAs, once we earn our license, we commit to lifelong learning. Many of us have the first few years of our professional development courses mapped out for us, but ultimately each of us are responsible for determining what we need to learn and for managing our own CPE activity. We must take part in webinars, conferences, or course work to meet these mandatory CPE requirements. However, beyond the requisite credit hours, what we focus on and learn is entirely up to us.

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Make the Most of Your Professional Development

CPA career development

Lifelong learning is critical to an accounting career. Forty hours per year may not be adequate to keep you abreast of all the changes in the standard setting landscape or provide enough information to fully understand the impact of pending tax legislation—but continuing education can be an integral part of that process.

Continuing professional development enables you to build upon your knowledge and further develop skills in areas related to your professional practice. Over the course of a 40-year career, continuing professional development can make a huge difference in your skill set...if it is the right kind of education.

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