601 posts categorized "Guest Blogger" Feed

You’re the future of accounting. Help shape the CPA exam.

Shutterstock_573010096A major research initiative is underway that will help shape the future of the Uniform CPA Examination® (CPA Exam), and your critical feedback is needed by April 30th. If you work in public accounting, business and industry, academia, or even for yourself, you’ve likely noticed that the accounting profession is rapidly changing.

CPAs face new challenges

Advanced technology is changing how businesses operate — many businesses are more data-driven than ever before. Data analytics is fundamentally changing the way auditors collect and document audit evidence and make decisions. As technological developments continue, auditors must expand their technical knowledge and skills and revise audit planning and testing procedures to perform effective and efficient audits. These changes extend beyond auditing and expand to nearly all parts of the accounting profession.

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Reimagine productivity: Working with intention

Shutterstock_609743105It’s fair to say life has gotten a little crazy. With the uncertainty of the financial markets and the constant barrage of news on coronavirus, we all feel a little overwhelmed. When life and work become overwhelming, it’s easy to go on autopilot.

But when you just go through the motions at work and let the day control you, you do more harm than good. Putting your mind on autopilot eliminates the intrinsic rewards of a job well done, making every assignment feel like a slog. Over the long run, it only demotivates you and makes you resent going to work.

Intentionality is the opposite of living on autopilot. It can alter everything from the way you approach your long-term goals to how you act and operate in your career. Understanding how to use intention effectively can increase what you put into your work, and what you get out of it. And the best part is that the only barrier to living more intentionally resides between your ears.

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10 ways to stay social at a distance

Shutterstock_605728811To limit the spread of COVID-19, we all have to do our part. For the majority of Americans, this means working or schooling from home, limiting all discretionary travel – including social trips – and avoiding groups of 10 or more.

For some, a few days at home may be a welcome break from the daily grind. But if not managed correctly, increased time at home during these stressful, uncertain times can take a toll on your mental and physical health. The American Psychological Association reports that social isolation can lead to poor sleep, poor cardiovascular health and depressive symptoms, as well impairing our ability to focus and manage emotions. While staying home and practicing social distancing are critical to reducing the spread of the virus, it’s also important to take care of your mental health.

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Coronavirus: Prepare your clients and protect your practice

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March 20 update:  Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced via Twitter on March 20 that the deadline to file returns has now been extended to July 15, along with the previous extension to pay. We continue to urge taxpayers who are anticipating refunds to work with their practitioners as they are able, to file as soon as possible.  More information is expected, and we will update you as the details emerge.

 March 18 update: Notice 2020-17, Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic, was released on March 18. The notice provides for an extension of time to pay federal income taxes originally due April 15, 2020 until July 15, 2020. The relief is only applicable to individual tax amounts up to $1,000,000, regardless of filing status or up to $10,000,000 for each consolidated group or for each C corporation that does not join in filing a consolidated return. No extension is provided in the notice for the payment or deposit of any other type of federal tax, or for the filing of any tax return or information return. The AICPA continues to work with Treasury for appropriate relief. Continue to check out the AICPA Coronavirus Resource Center for the latest updates and press releases.

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Reimagine productivity: Self-care moments

Shutterstock_745951657When work gets busy or stressful, the little things we do to make ourselves feel good are often the first activities to fall by the wayside. At a time when every minute at the office feels precious, spending some time enjoying a good meal, taking a walk or listening to music can seem like a frivolous and selfish gesture. As paradoxical as it sounds though, foregoing these small pleasures, which are gestures of self-care, can actually have a negative impact on our work. When you don’t care for yourself, your mood, productivity and quality of work are all likely to suffer. Additionally, you may not show up to work with the desired energy to share with those around you. Regardless of when your “busy” time of year is, it’s important not to lose sight of your needs as a person.

Carving out a little time for self-care every day can be hugely beneficial. To accomplish this feat, you need to understand what self-care is, why it’s important and how to implement it in your daily routine.

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Reimagine productivity: Eat better, work smarter

Shutterstock_262640492The link between nutrition and workplace performance

In his 1825 book The Physiology of Taste, Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin provides a series of aphorisms “to serve as a preamble to his work and a lasting foundation for the science of gastronomy.” The most famous, “Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you what you are,” has even been condensed into a cliché you’ve heard countless times: You are what you eat. Clichés are clichés for a reason, of course. In the case of this one, science has only found more evidence linking nutrition to all aspects of health, including work performance.

During busy season, it’s easy lose track of the fuel you put into your body. You may skip meals entirely or grab whatever’s convenient to just keep plowing ahead. But opting for junk, skipping meals or eating erratically will decrease your efficiency, spoil your mood and hamper the quality of work. Instead, be mindful of what you eat, when you eat it and build nutrition into your day to ensure your brain functions at its best.

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Promoting diversity and inclusion for 50 years and counting

GettyImages-517073375At the National Association of Black Accountants, Inc. (NABA), we are celebrating our 50th anniversary of challenge, achievement, success and survival in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) arena. Our business model continues to mature. We honor and salute our partner, the AICPA, for its dedication to the D&I mission.

By 2045, the United States will be significantly more diverse. The U.S. Census projects that more than 50% of the population will be non-white: 24.6% Hispanic, 13.1% black, 7.9% Asian and 3.8% multiracial. Slightly more than 49% of the population will be white.

Yet corporations still struggle to determine how they can increase diversity in the workforce and define success for their initiatives. I recently discussed D&I in accounting with Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, President & CEO of the American Institute of CPAs. Our conversation covered the D&I business imperative and how firms can move further along on the inclusion maturity model. Below are some highlights.

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Reimagine Productivity: Master your productivity rhythm

Shutterstock_318153713Maximizing your efficiency during the busy season involves planning your day. For many of us, tax season doesn’t leave a moment to spare. Getting the job done requires a consistently high level of performance. Getting the job done, however, cannot come at the expense of accuracy. Productivity and accuracy are necessities that can lead to an increased sense of stress and an inclination to work around the clock. While it may be tempting to put your head down and plow through, it’s far from beneficial for efficiency or quality of work. The best way to be efficient during the busy season isn’t to work until you’re bleary-eyed, but rather to learn your personal rhythm and match your workflow to that rhythm.

The terms “early birds” and “night owls” have seemingly existed for as long as there have been people watching the sun rise and set. Science supports the existence of these two basic categories which are identified by when a person is most likely to sleep and certain behaviors associated with each. However, mastering your personal rhythm requires more effort than simply labelling yourself as a morning or night person. Before you can begin to apply strategies to maximize your productivity cycle, you must know when it starts and ends.

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It’s not too late to resolve to improve

Shutterstock_461317267The first month of the year is over and, for several reasons, I’ve not committed to any goals in 2020. Has that happened to you? I always try to set goals around learning — one for fun and one to enhance my career. Let’s apply that adage, “It’s better late than never.”

The digital revolution has changed my communications profession. Dedication to learning is not optional. It’s mandatory for me to keep up. As a CPA, you are also in a constant race to outpace change. Technological developments fuel workplace changes and challenge you to stay on top of every skill set. To thrive in the digital era, you need to “unlearn” some old routines and develop some new (and unexpected) skills and competencies. Here are four resolutions every CPA should consider this year:

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Two guaranteed ways to thrive this busy season

Shutterstock_1227113197Now that we’ve fully stepped into the new year, busy season is picking up speed. During this period of longer work hours and takeout dinners, it can be challenging to address your own needs when your day-to-day priority is your clients.

This imbalance might not be noticeable at first, but it can have a cumulative effect as the weeks pass by. Instead of being a time when we realize our greatest potential, busy season can leave us feeling stuck and overwhelmed. Does this sound familiar? Before you know it, it’s June and you’ve somehow lost half of the year.

Here’s the thing: If you don’t take time for your wellness, you will take time for your future illness.

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Reimagine Productivity: Mindfulness, emotions and mood

Shutterstock_1017688321Accountancy is a vibrant, dynamic profession that involves more than crunching numbers. And the people we work with are unique and complex. But in any workplace — whether it’s a CPA firm, Hollywood set or football practice field — people have been asked to put aside parts of themselves in order to perform better. “It’s not personal. It’s just business,” the old saying goes.

Increasingly, however, that conventional wisdom is coming under question. Separating ourselves from our work isn’t only difficult; it adds unnecessary stress to an already demanding career.

During busy times, there’s particularly strong pressure to compartmentalize ourselves and our work in order to get everything done. But suppressing emotions during your workday can create pent-up emotions. This affects the energy you generate in the workplace and triggers undue stress and tension in our bodies.

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Life transitions trigger an opportunity for deeper client service

GettyImages-516896270It’s no secret that a phone call can change a life’s trajectory. Two decades ago, I received a call that not only had a deep impact on my family, but also sent me down a career path to help my clients navigate critical life transitions — unexpected and otherwise.

Unexpected events and major life transitions offer a critical opportunity to assist clients.

Over 20 years ago, my mom called and asked if I had talked with my dad that day. He had recently suffered some health issues but was doing well, so I assured her that he was probably out for coffee with friends. The day did not end well. I soon discovered that my dad had passed out while driving due to adjustments in medications and died in a one-car accident. He was only 64.

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12 free tax resources to get your firm ready for 2020

GettyImages-169274514The new year will be here before you know it. To get a head start on tax season, check out these free resources to get your firm in top shape for 2020.

Stock your arsenal of forms, templates and charts:

  • Year-end planning letter for individuals It’s the season. Tell your clients about key steps to take today to build a solid tax and financial planning strategy in the new year.
  • Year-end planning letter for small business Strengthen relationships with your small business clients. Use this letter to tell them about important tax considerations and point out that you can help with strategic tax planning.

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How to make the accounting profession more diverse and inclusive

Shutterstock_229737430An increasing number of ethnic minority students are enrolling in and graduating from accounting programs, according to the AICPA’s 2019 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and The Demand for Public Accounting Recruits report.

The biennial report identifies key trends in U.S. accounting enrollments and graduations. It also tracks hiring of new graduates in the public accounting sector. Published since 1971, Trends provides statistical projections and respondent expectations based upon university responses. The latest report covers the 2017-2018 academic year and firm responses for the 2018 calendar year. It is intended to help the accounting profession — from educators to firms to state associations and the AICPA — tailor programs and outreach efforts.

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How to ride the innovation curve

Shutterstock_1556033876At a time of significant and constant change, how can we ensure that our organizations — and our own careers — are positioned to ride the curve of innovation? My research into the history of accounting has revealed patterns that indicate the best ways to respond to the current environment. If you want to prosper as you move ahead, these are the steps you need to take.

Follow the S curve

Most business people are familiar with the hockey stick curve: A flat, quiet period followed by explosive growth in a service or business. However, the S curve can actually be a better indicator of what will next crest the wave of change.

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Use data analytics to drive your business

Shutterstock_148158431There’s a lot of buzz surrounding data analytics. But what does it actually mean in a company’s day-to-day business? According to the information technology research and advisory company Gartner, data analytics provides a data and insight-centric approach to solving a business problem. The entire organization can use the created insights to drive business decisions. It’s not just about developing a lot of reports, building models or moving data around, but instead it’s about solving business problems to make decisions faster and more effectively.

My company runs amusement parks, water parks and family entertainment centers across the country, with millions of visitors each year. We’re only about five years old and continue to acquire new parks. Some of the considerations we’ve used data analytics to address include:

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6 ways we’re working for our small firm members

IStock_73233617_XXXLARGESupporting your firm is a top priority here at the AICPA. That’s why we travel across the country, speak with practitioners at conferences and events, and gather feedback via email and phone — all to make sure we grasp the pressing issues for firms of your size.

With this knowledge, we develop tools and resources to help your practice run more smoothly. Below are six ways we’re championing you, our small firm members.

1. Navigating tax law changes. We know the past year hasn’t been easy, but we’re here to help. Looking for news, answers to common questions, guides or learning opportunities? You’ll find them and more on our Tax Reform Resource Center.

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Make yourself irreplaceable to clients

Shutterstock_1043390353How can you become a “client whisperer,” who is an irreplaceable part of your clients’ financial lives? By figuring out how a client’s current finances can help become them accomplish their business goals over the short, medium and long term. In my own practice working with small companies, here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

Be a boutique.

Become familiar with all parts of a client’s business, their products or services, their operations and their people. You’ll then be able to offer targeted training and solutions to help them be more productive and profitable. It’s a very rewarding relationship, and it also make you hard to replace.

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Revenue recognition and independence: Something to consider

GettyImages-621032734Implementing the new revenue recognition standard is like climbing a mountain.

It’s a challenge. It has to be addressed since the standard is effective for private companies and many not-for-profits in calendar year 2019. It can be tedious to make sure systems are updated appropriately and staff is trained.

Sometimes your clients may get breathless through this exercise and feel discouraged, so they turn to you. As your clients’ management and accountants climb “Mount 606,” as I like to call it (named after the FASB ASC 606), they look to their CPA firms — you — for help up the summit.

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5 things you need to know about blockchain for insurance

Shutterstock_1034519539The original goal of the first Bitcoin blockchain was to improve the efficiency, transparency and speed with which institutions could conduct financial transactions and trade information. That objective is still front and center today, which is why blockchain is being embraced by the insurance industry.

Here are five key insights into the ongoing impact of blockchain:   

1. The importance of blockchain is clear. A public, private or consortium blockchain enables individuals to store and transmit information to each other in a manner that’s encrypted. It can be a great advantage in helping clients and customers make more informed choices. Today, the significant amounts of time that people spend reconciling and transferring data do not add value for their organizations or their customers, but with blockchain that manual reconciliation and transfer are no longer necessary.

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Cybersecurity best practices for the c-suite

GettyImages-980792054Turn on the news and you’ll see that no organization is too big or too small to be the victim of a cyberattack. It’s vitally important for an organization’s leaders to understand and manage cybersecurity efforts because you can never be totally safe from the risks.

Here are four cybersecurity best practices every organization should follow:

1. Keep your system up to date.

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Getting tech right in a Personal Financial Planning practice

Shutterstock_314913380What’s the right technology for your financial planning practice? In a recent AICPA podcast, I interviewed an expert panel of CPA financial plannersfor advice. Some offer tax compliance and investment management, while others do not. To learn more about their practices, check out this podcast.

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The productivity method more effective than time management

Shutterstock_1208383510What have you done to manage your time and make it stretch as much as possible? Many of us spend extra time at the office, take work home and scramble to keep up with our never-ending to-do lists. But how do you know when you’ve gone from stressed out to burned out?

It can be hard to know, since burnout can sneak up on you. If you’re showing signs of burnout, though, you can recalibrate and focus on managing your energy rather than your time. 

Recognize burnout

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Why did you become an accountant?

Shutterstock_1467409505Today is International Accounting Day, a day started to honor Luca Pacioli — the Father of Accounting and Bookkeeping. On this day, we honor the hard work of accounting and finance professionals around the world. To celebrate, we asked CPAs why they chose the accounting profession. Here’s what they said.

“I went to college knowing one thing — I was going to college. I didn’t know what my major would be, so I started taking classes that I thought sounded interesting. A year and a half in, I signed up for my first accounting class. I jokingly tell people that on day one in my intro to accounting class, I could hear a chorus of angels singing. Suddenly, I’d found my calling — debits and credits were the most genius thing ever. It clicked, it made sense and I loved it! Accounting is the language of business and financial literacy — a valuable life skill. The opportunities I’ve had because I’m a CPA are more than I could have imagined, and I’m very thankful I signed up for that intro to accounting class.”

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Helping your tax clients manage risk

Shutterstock_401845456After another successful busy season, it’s time to take a broader look at your clients’ needs. While tax is one important component of your clients’ financial picture, they need help in other important areas.

They may not be aware that managing risk affects their financial picture. There’s a significant relationship between your clients’ financial well-being and risk management.

Here’s one great example: The greatest potential economic loss for most clients is income loss, either through death or disability. Insurance often best addresses that risk because of the potential magnitude of the loss. If a client dies, beneficiaries inherit the death benefit free of any federal and state income tax, which can be tremendously helpful to those who were depending on the decedent’s income stream. If the policy has a cash value feature such as a universal life insurance policy, the cash value accumulates on a tax-deferred basis. It may be accessed through loans and taxed on a first-in, first-out basis, meaning that any premiums paid on the policy are taken out first and would be tax-free.

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Creating the next generation of CPA leaders

2019 AICPA Leadership Academy group photo (1)There is little doubt that the accounting profession is undergoing major change. New technologies, like blockchain, data analytics and artificial intelligence, are altering how services are provided and redefining the types of services clients need. 

To meet these new demands of capital markets, CPA firms must make sure their employees possess or learn the necessary technology skills. They also need to attract leaders capable of navigating the changing profession, and these leaders will ideally bring fresh talent along with them. That’s where the AICPA’s Leadership Academy comes in.

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Four crucial tips to protect your organization’s data

Shutterstock_378127909The cost of cybercrime is increasing at an alarming rate. By 2021, the estimated damages from cybercrimes will be around $6 trillion, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. What can your firm or organization do to ward off evil cyberthieves? Joel White, CPA, CGMA, and Senior Director of Internal Audit, Risk & Compliance at the Association, offers four simple tips to help your firm or organization beef up its cybersecurity defenses. Here’s a quick recap.

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Is the spookiest item on your calendar a networking party?

Shutterstock_589482413You hear unfamiliar voices in the distance as you walk down a strange corridor to an uncertain fate. Are you entering a haunted house? No, it’s just a networking event!

Halloween is today, but for many people, there are spookier things than ghosts and goblins. If your pulse races when you think about networking, there are several ways to more successfully make important connections.

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The 5 flames that motivate your people

Shutterstock_791792272What motivates your people? And how can you key into their motivators to drive strong performance?

Abraham Maslow, a psychologist who developed a pyramid-shaped hierarchy of needs, was a pioneer in the study of motivation. His pyramid begins with basic needs, such as food and shelter, followed by social needs, creative needs and, ultimately, self-actualization. Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, takes that idea one step further. Writing on how businesses can match people’s motivations, he argues that as humans we are driven by three key motivators:

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What I learned from my clients' tax returns

Shutterstock_747539488If you’re a CPA who has considered a move to financial planning, there are a few strong reasons why you as a tax practitioner are already best positioned to offer Personal Financial Planning (PFP) services. A little over a year ago, I achieved a lifelong dream when I opened my financial planning practice after 28 years as a CPA. Setting off on your own can be daunting, but I knew I was ready, in part because of my extensive tax background. Here’s how I knew:

Tax expertise is the foundation of personal financial planning.

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What were the challenges of the 2019 tax season?

Shutterstock_767539465Do you hear the big sigh of relief? It’s Oct. 18, just three days after we filed the last big group of extended returns for individuals and businesses.

When I started working for a local public accounting firm over 40 years ago, taxpayers had a two-month automatic extension to June 15 for individual returns. We could request an additional two-month extension to Aug. 15. At that point, we could request an additional two-month extension to Oct. 15 if there was a good reason. Can you imagine all that paperwork? With those interim deadlines, we encouraged clients to pull their information together during the summer, and returns were finalized earlier. Although there were always stragglers, today’s compressed workload for Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 was less intense for practitioners.

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Embrace an attitude of gratitude for well-being in your career

Shutterstock_1296335452 “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all of the others.” — Cicero

If someone bumps into you and knocks your full cup of coffee onto your shirt, who’s to blame for the mess? You are. Why? Because you had coffee in your cup.

This story from Thich Nhat Hanh shows that while it may be easy to blame external circumstances for our experiences, it is what we hold in ourselves that we spill out into the world. We all face circumstances that make it easy to hold negative emotions in our cups.

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Developing a resilient staff who’s ready for anything

Shutterstock_125165846Five years ago, could you have predicted the challenges you and your team would face in 2019? And if you had a crystal ball, what challenges would you see approaching over the next five years? The AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) team asked firms of all sizes to predict their top challenges between now and 2024 in the 2019 PCPS Firm Top Issues Survey. They say they’d be most affected by staffing, emerging technologies, competition, changing client needs and the regulatory environment within the next half-decade.

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3 FAQs on the hosting services ethics interpretation

IStock-475647111When I started working in public practice more than 20 years ago, “the cloud” referred to something in the sky, not storing data over the internet. Things have changed. Our profession has and continues to benefit from technological advances like the cloud, and the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct is evolving just as practice is.

The code was written before wide adoption of current technological advances. To keep pace with change, we’ve developed guidance for members who act as custodians of their clients’ information—members who store and maintain their clients’ information for them.

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Millennials are changing our tax practices. Here’s how

MAIN IMAGE Millennial BlogMillennials are everywhere.

As the largest generation of Americans ever, they seem to be changing every aspect of our society. They’re influencing marketing trends, technological advancements, politics, travel, food — there’s little that isn’t affected by this generation’s unique way of doing things.

They are affecting your tax firm too — even if you don’t realize it yet.

Millennial tax clients are few and far between for most of us. Generally, their taxes aren’t yet complex enough to warrant our services. But as this age group acquires wealth, we’ll begin to see more and more of them walking through our doors.

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Father’s Day wisdom: A CPA dad’s advice

Shutterstock_1074903578In 1981, Paul Stahlin, CPA, CGMA, and a former Chair of the AICPA, got his CPA license. Thirty-three years later, his daughter Emily followed in his footsteps by becoming a CPA as well.

The CPA profession of today isn’t the same as the profession of 1981. Technological innovation has created new opportunities for CPAs to provide value and has even changed how CPAs deliver core services. But even throughout all this change, some lessons Paul has learned in his career still ring true today. In honor of Father’s Day, Paul wrote this letter to Emily to share his advice on how she can thrive in her career as a CPA.

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Implementing RPA is easier than you think

Shutterstock_1188695923Robotic process automation (RPA) has advanced quickly in just a few years. In a short amount of time, both the number of RPA providers and the range of capabilities have greatly increased.  So much so, it can be difficult to keep up with all the changes.

This leads to the misconception that RPA is either too complicated, too costly, too technical or simply too difficult, for small or medium-sized businesses to put in place. While these statements may have once been true, that is no longer the case. Today, the wide variety of available options mean RPA is now for everyone. The barriers to entry have dropped so now is the right time to reconsider how automation can help your business.

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5 steps to get started with audit data analytics

GettyImages-629666944If your firm hasn’t started using audit data analytics yet, it’s time to get on board. Audit data analytics (ADAs) are a technique that can help you leverage current technologies and move toward a more data-driven approach to planning or performing an audit.

How? ADAs help you discover and analyze patterns, identify anomalies and extract other useful information from audit data through analysis, modeling and visualization. You can use ADAs to perform a variety of procedures to gather audit evidence.

What that means for you: You can focus more of your time and energy on analyzing your data, understand more of what’s happening at your client’s organization and often analyze an entire population of data instead of just a sample.

Getting started with new techniques and technologies can be overwhelming, especially if you’re comfortable with your traditional method—and you may have concerns about using ADAs while complying with audit standards. However, we have a few resources and tips to show how you can comply with the standards while performing your audits with ADAs. Get started with these five steps.

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Keeping pace in a tax environment that never slows

May 1 blog postTax practitioners are on the frontline of change, and because of that, we’re constantly evolving our businesses. It’s a big ask, and we’re doing a great job keeping up. However, the changes continue to come, and not everything is matching our pace.

The AICPA’s Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs) were last updated almost ten years ago, and in that time, our profession has transformed dramatically. As a result, the current SSTSs don’t reflect today’s practice environment. What do we do when the standards we rely on to do our jobs no longer suit our needs?

We change the standards. Together.

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How you can help reduce red tape for your firm

GettyImages-626953732 (8)Running a CPA firm today has plenty of challenges. As business clients expand their operations at an accelerated pace, CPAs must monitor multi-level tax compliance, international treaties and a host of global accounting and reporting standards. CPAs also stay current on technical standards and find, recruit, train and retain top talent in a competitive economy. We adjust our work models to align with the values of a new workforce, invest heavily in technology and develop new service offerings to meet client needs, all while combating shrinking profit margins. As a profession, we are more than capable of overcoming these challenges.

Of all these challenges, there is one that can be simplified: CPAs’ and CPA firms’ ability to seamlessly cross state lines to provide services to clients.

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Settling disputes: A job for artificial intelligence

Shutterstock_1104230930If you have siblings, you’ll remember the need for a third party to referee the most important of childhood disputes. Whether you were calling ‘shotgun’, fighting over the television remote or reluctantly sharing the last chocolate chip cookie, an adult often had to step in. Consider this one of the oldest versions of conflict-resolution training.

I know we’ve been telling you that most human skills are future-proofed and safe from automation, but there are some exceptions. Soon parents, caretakers, camp counselors, managers and judges alike may be able to retire their gavels and hand over decision-making duties to artificial intelligence bots. That’s right. In recent years, new tools supported by artificial intelligence are being used to mediate select legal, insurance and even personal matters. Innovations like Kids Court (an Alexa skill) and Smartsettle ONE are already doing the work. In time, similar tools may be adopted to mediate workplace squabbles. I don’t know about you, but that leaves me with some questions.

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Top considerations when building a business out of your home

Shutterstock_615508904Whether you’re an Etsy shop owner or a CPA seeing clients out of your home office, there are a variety of things that vary from owning a brick and mortar business. I recently spoke with Kelly Ward, CPA and co-owner of Robinson & Ward, P.C., on The Small Biz Brunch podcast, and she provided the following tips for entrepreneurs looking to build a business out of their home. 

Don’t wait to invest in a trusted adviser

Instead of waiting until you’re drowning in financial problems, Ward recommends seeking out an expert’s advice at the very beginning. For example, it’s a lot easier to prepare for certain tax implications before launching your business, rather than paying a huge tax bill come April. A CPA can help prepare entrepreneurs depending on their situation so there aren’t any surprises – because let’s be honest, there’s nothing worse than getting surprise in the mail from the IRS. 

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Believing in yourself: A CPA’s guide to self-trust

Shutterstock_1181443744The alarm clock beeps annoyingly at 6 a.m., and I lay frozen knowing that the decision I make today will determine how the next chapter of my life plays out. A few months ago, I realized I wasn’t happy with my role at work. Each day, I dreaded getting out of bed and looked forward to the weekend like I’ve been jailed all week. So today, I plan to decide once and for all if I’m going to quit my job and find something new.

But doubts and questions creep into my brain. What if I don’t like my new role? What if I’m not good at anything else? What if no one wants to hire me? I think, that’s it. I’m staying where I’m. It’s stable, and I will learn how to tough it out. I breathe a sigh of relief and contentedly maintain my status quo.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Have you made choices that were based more on what you were trying to avoid than what you could gain? The reality is that most of us use a fear-based decision matrix to choose the option that will cause the least amount of disruption in our lives. It’s not that surprising when you consider how we’re raised — “Don’t touch that stove, or you’ll get burned.” We inherently associate decision-making endeavors with a need to avoid a negative outcome.

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Your stress isn’t just affecting you; it’s hurting business

GettyImages-183219193Did you know that the effect of one mild-to-moderately stressful event can last hours in the body? What if you added to that by the barrage of demanding emails, last-minute deadlines, family obligations and a never-ending list of errands? As you can see here, when combined with other demands, that one stressor can last days, weeks, months and even years in your body.

The longer we hold this pressure inside us, the more we begin to feel its physical and mental effects. It starts with a small unease of the body, such as irritability, constipation, acne, low energy and low libido. When I speak with my fellow cohort of CPAs, I learn it gets much worse. Many colleagues around you are suffering from auto-immune disorders, infertility, diabetes, mild depression, anxiety and so much more that are compounded by stress. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone. Burnout is real and can spread like wildfire.

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Straighten up: Ergonomic tips for spending hours at your desk

Shutterstock_1096655930 - CopyIf you’re sitting at your desk while reading this blog post, it could wind up being a real pain in your neck.

Is your desk setup uncomfortable? Do you have a twinge in your back, neck, wrists or fingers? These aches and pains could be related to the way you’re sitting or the positioning of your office furniture.

Since it’s busy season, you’re spending some quality time (likely 60+ hours a week) at your desk. Why not make sure your setup is ergonomically sound? You can do this without difficulty. The investment will be well worth it, not only for your health but also for your overall well-being.

The goal is to create an environment where your body is in a neutral position that doesn’t cause added tension — you have enough mental strain as it is right now. And in case you were wondering, flopping down on your sofa with a laptop doesn’t qualify as ‘ergonomic.’ But below are some tips that are.

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Let your humanity disrupt your technology use, not the other way around

Shutterstock_675630538Ping! Behold: the sound of the first morning email. Unfortunately, that undeniable sign of the work day starting is the exact kind of wakeup call you needed. I wouldn’t say rolling out of bed at 7AM is the easiest thing after a late-night session of mindless scrolling, but hey, you spent the entire previous day responding to emails and fixing that PowerPoint pitch for your client. You deserve a little tech-fueled R&R. “Alexa, play ‘Island in the Sun’”

Your life is complex, and technology has been there for you, simplifying it every step of the way, right? It helps you get up for work, it helps you do your work, it helps you socialize and plan. What’s not to love? So, you mosey on to the bathroom mirror, eyes still glued to the screen, stumbling with exhaustion, and there it is. There’s that embarrassing weekly notification: “You average 8h 46m of screen time a day!” (I don’t know if Android users get these, so if not, here’s a glimpse of the dark side).

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Flip or flop: Construction industry revenue recognition issues

GettyImages-133910674This blog was updated as of 11/27/2019

Many people enjoy watching DIY shows where homes in disrepair are transformed from shabby to chic in less than an hour. If only the real world worked the same as DIY TV. Firms would be able to get clients implementing revenue recognition during advertisement breaks for hardware stores and home decor

Sadly, that’s not the case. Now that we’re in 2019, the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) new revenue standard is no longer an event on the distant horizon for nonpublic entities. It’s now front and center. The new revenue standard is applicable to all industries, however some are expected to be more significantly affected than others. One of these industries is construction.

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Financial tips for female entrepreneurs

Shutterstock_416503771As the host of The Small Biz Brunch podcast, I’ve interviewed some amazing entrepreneurs and CPAs who are changing the world. When I reflect on episodes I’ve recorded over the past six months, some of my favorite have been about women disrupting their industries and paving the way for future generations. And while it’s important to celebrate female entrepreneurs throughout the year, Women’s History Month provides a timely platform for important conversations. 

I recently chatted with Lindsay Stevenson, CPA, CGMA, founder of Origin Evolution and Rachel McGirt, co-founder of Healthy Girls Save the World, a program for middle school girls that promotes “healthy bodies, healthy minds and healthy relationships.” We discussed financial challenges specific to female entrepreneurs (for example, how to get funding), and ways to overcome them. Here are the top two tips Stevenson and McGirt provided. 

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4 ways to take charge and own your career

Shutterstock_1121928752For many professionals, it’s a challenge to maintain work and life balance, but one trailblazing CPA was able to break the mold. By creating opportunities for herself, she opened new paths for other professionals, especially women, to follow.

When Katy Hollister, CPA, chief strategy officer for Deloitte’s Global Tax and Legal practice, approached what might have been an immovable barrier at work, she was able to change the course of her career —and key policies of her organization, too.

It’s a story from many years ago with a timeless lesson. In 1990, Hollister was a manager at Deloitte Tax, LLP for about six years and was pregnant with her first child. She was concerned about balancing parenthood and her existing responsibilities. At that time, the firm, like much of the profession and the business world, had no women’s initiatives or formal programs for working mothers. When Hollister asked her office’s managing partner about a part-time schedule once her child was born, he pointed out that the firm didn’t have part-time options. “I said, ‘How about if we try it?’”

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Preparing for the future: 4 female thought leaders share insight

Shutterstock_1294838686Disruption is no longer a theory. It’s not an imaginary future with a “TBA” label waiting to be updated. You’ve seen the bots with your own eyes, so you know this isn’t a tall tale by a weirdo neighbor sitting on their front porch with antennas attached to an aluminum hat. The decreased need for traditional skills like memorizing and number-crunching, complemented by thinning attention spans indicate a radical change in work style. We are in the thick of the age of disruption. The Go Beyond Disruption podcast, your personal cheat code to beating the bots, celebrates Women’s History Month by chatting with female guest experts in technology and human intelligence.

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