621 posts categorized "Guest Blogger" Feed

Why CPAs should care about RPA

Shutterstock_1287129859Big data. The Fourth Industrial Revolution. You’ve heard it before — automation will change how we work. While exciting, the prospect of mastering new technology — or even the lingo — can seem overwhelming at times. What does automation really mean, and how will it affect your career specifically?

Whether you’re new to the profession, own your own company or work within the finance function of a business, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants is here to empower you with the knowledge you need to stay relevant. Our resources make it easy to learn about some of the hottest technology, like automation, data analytics and cybersecurity.

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Community has a new look. But we’re still connected.

Shutterstock_1044017923At the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, we have a responsibility to our members and the accounting profession. A key component of this responsibility is ensuring that we provide informed and robust intelligence across a range of topics. In collaboration with our partner EY Seren, we’re researching the human impact of the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the profession, its practitioners and the wider community.

The content in the report — Human Signals: New patterns of behavior and the accounting profession — aims to empower readers and provide guidance on how to navigate a highly unpredictable future.

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Networking in a new world

Shutterstock_1726119376Amid continued business uncertainty the COVID-19 pandemic caused, CPAs have successfully moved their professional lives to a virtual environment. But while they may have learned that it’s possible to conduct business interactions online, maintaining personal connections with clients, referral sources and other key contacts can be more challenging. Virtual networking can be done, though, if you follow these tips.

Focus on the personal

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8 things to know about the audit evidence standard

GettyImages-956306692As we were finalizing Statement on Auditing Standards No. 142, COVID-19 arrived and caused major disruptions to the country’s economy, including changing the ways auditors were working. Automated tools and techniques — like conducting remote observation using cameras or drones — became necessary to perform certain audit procedures, such as observing the physical count of inventory. These and other automated tools and techniques are referenced in the guidance accompanying the audit evidence standard that was issued last month. After practitioners’ experiences over the past several months, these techniques likely will feel more familiar today than they did several months ago.

Before you dive in to read the standard, we’d like to highlight some key changes; the standard:

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Pandemic teleworking causes state tax withholding issues

IStock_85468875_XXXLARGEA half-century ago, tax withholding was one of the simpler issues for taxpayers and practitioners. A more mobile society makes state tax withholding more complicated today given the ease of conducting cross-jurisdictional business and the increase in teleworking or remote work arrangements.

Meanwhile, the web of inconsistent state and local income tax and withholding rules affect employees and employers. As the AICPA testified, the myriad state income tax withholding laws and varying de minimis exceptions make compliance difficult and time-consuming.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, more employees are teleworking, and state income tax withholding is a larger burden on employers.

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Key risks when auditing a not-for-profit during the pandemic

GettyImages-182392061 (2)While COVID-19 has cast a cloud of uncertainty over not-for-profit organizations, there is one fact we can all hang our hats on: How we audit a not-for-profit now should look completely different than it did a year ago, a month ago, or even a few weeks ago.

As auditors, we’ve been fortunate to work in a stable environment for some time. The pandemic, however, has pulled the rug out from underneath all of us – and that includes our clients. Not-for-profits are not exempt, and COVID-19 has affected each one in drastically different ways.

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July 15 Filing Date — Not to Move

Shutterstock_1682999677What's called a difficult decision is a difficult decision because either way you go, there are penalties.

-Elia Kazan

To advocate effectively on our members’ behalf and deliver the right resources, the AICPA periodically conducts member surveys to gather opinions on various subjects. As we navigate through this ongoing filing season, the AICPA Tax Executive Committee asked Tax Section members for their concerns and opinions regarding the July 15 deadline. The Tax Executive Committee has been carefully considering a decision regarding July 15 since, well, April 15. If you read July 15 filing date — To move or not to move, you know the heart of the matter was whether to move the deadline. We now have an answer — don’t move the July 15 due date. As famous ‘50s and ‘60s Hollywood director Elia Kazan infers above, our decision was complicated and multi-faceted. There were many issues to consider.

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Turn challenges of sheltering in place into opportunities

Shutterstock_489814966This pandemic has rocked our world and the digital accelerator was pushed to the floorboard. We’re not going back to business as usual before COVID-19, and this presents opportunities for women to propel our profession forward with expanded influence and leadership.

Relationship building

During this time, we’ve been invited into one another’s home and experienced one another’s personal daily lives. We’ve seen a host of previously unknown aspects of personal lives — each other’s homes, favorite T-shirts and PJs, and children and pets via Zoom bombs.

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3 estate planning conversations to have now

GettyImages-681886373The coronavirus pandemic has encouraged people with existing estate plans to consider reviewing and modifying them, and people without plans to develop them. Regardless of your client’s situation, there are worthwhile conversations about estate planning to be had.

As a CPA, you have a strong relationship with your clients and a comprehensive understanding of their finances. Because of this, you provide great value, and when partnered with an attorney, you form a solid team. You bring your expertise on the financial structure and they bring their knowledge of the legal system.

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Future-proofing the tax system with small businesses in mind

Shutterstock_302007509Life has quickly changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The responses from Congress, the Department of Treasury, IRS and Federal Reserve have been wide ranging. The coronavirus has caused tremendous upheaval for small businesses and their employees. Technology, the economic environment and new ways of working are being pushed to new phases, requiring new tactics.

COVID-19 has highlighted elements in the U.S. tax system that create barriers for small businesses. In a May 7th comment letter to Congress, AICPA identified a dozen of these barriers that Congress needs to address to future-proof our tax system and bring it into the 21st century. This post highlights three of the barriers small businesses frequently encounter:

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Preparing accounting students for a changing profession

GettyImages-635957998We are in an unprecedented time of change for the accounting academic community. I’ve seen a fire lit beneath educators the likes of which I’ve never seen before as it relates to evolving their classrooms and curricula. Accounting programs have had to quickly make changes, like adapting to full-time remote learning almost overnight in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as longer-term changes to ensure programs are preparing the next generation of accountants for the realities of a rapidly evolving business environment.

Research conducted by the AICPA found that public accounting firms are hiring fewer new accounting graduates. Instead, they’re hiring more non-accounting graduates who possess different skill sets, particularly those related to technology. Practitioners are increasingly advising schools that accounting curricula need to help students gain a better understanding of technology and its applications within the profession.

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3 retirement questions your clients are asking amid COVID-19

Shutterstock_1694685292There are a lot of unknowns related to the COVID-19 crisis. Your clients may be feeling stressed and even uncertain about their financial future, and are likely asking questions:

  • When will things stabilize?
  • When will the market volatility be behind us?
  • How will my retirement goals be impacted by everything going on?

Although no one has all the answers, as a CPA financial planner, you have a strong relationship with your clients, vast knowledge of tax and planning strategies and you offer objective advice that is in your clients’ best interest.

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Bouncing back: How to recoup after a busy season

Shutterstock_93776323When this extended busy season ends, we’ll notice summer days feeling warmer and brighter. When crossing that proverbial finish line, I acknowledge freedom that leaves me feeling spacious, accomplished and abundant. Busy seasons (especially this one) can be hard, but we all come out a little stronger, wiser and more learned each year.

Once you feel this freedom, do you ever feel a little confused about what to do with this free time? Before you rebound to the nearest couch for a Netflix marathon, restore your body, mind and soul. 

I’m no Dave Brubeck, but today’s post includes my rendition of “Take 5.” I invite you to explore my Take 5 Method to come alive again. You dedicate a lot of time, energy and knowledge to your work. After the busy season, give yourself permission to be selfish during this transition time and prioritize what brings you back to YOU.

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More than a sense: 5 innate tools to reduce stress

Shutterstock_534310210When life is busy, it’s easy to neglect our well-being. We may think, “I don’t have time” or “I’m too tired,” but what’s more important than health? We can’t give our best to anything or anyone if we don’t make time for self-care.

Simple truth: The more you invest in yourself, the more your body and mind will give back to your work, your relationships and beyond.

According to Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medicinal practices, a primary component of health that is often overlooked is how we treat our five senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch. In a standard work day, most of us are misusing or abusing our senses; this can exacerbate our stress levels, especially when the body and mind are fatigued. If we learn to use our five senses, we uncover steadiness and energy boosts.

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COVID-19 creates 11 new state tax issues

Shutterstock_55579699This is the most unusual tax season on the books -- April 15 came and went and yet tax season isn’t over. Over the past several weeks, we’ve heard from members about state and local tax filing, payment and administrative issues. We’ve shared 11 recommendations with the state CPA societies and encouraged them to consider these with their state and local tax authorities.

A recap on the past couple of months 

As you know, over the past two months, the AICPA® has been busy advocating on your behalf and working with Congress. We successfully urged Treasury and the IRS to provide immediate filing and payment relief, along with broader relief for all returns. This led to a delay in federal filings and payments until July 15 for returns due from April 1 to July 15. Our teams continue to advocate and monitor the situation, and we will keep you informed as developments arise.

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Reimagine productivity: Tips and tricks

Shutterstock_793129432Over the previous articles in this series, we’ve covered big-picture wellness topics that can help you decrease stress, perform better at work, and find more satisfaction in your career. Allowing yourself to be emotional at work, eating healthy, going about your day with intention are behaviors that will benefit you today and for years to come.

Along with these vital concepts, it’s nice to have some hard-and-fast tips for getting a little more done without having to burn the midnight oil. You can call them life hacks, productivity tricks, efficiency systems, or whatever else you’d like. I like to think of them as performance optimizers. And when you’re in the throes of busy season, you need all the optimization you can get.

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Remain the best advocate for clients amid scaled-back IRS operations

GettyImages-836660424COVID-19 has altered how businesses, governments and agencies operate around the world. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is no different. The IRS recently announced it has scaled back some of its operations.

To protect employees and taxpayers, agents are now working remotely and only holding teleconferences. Scheduled meetings are still likely to take place on their scheduled date virtually, and agents are requesting teleconferences with taxpayers to work their cases.

However, scaled-back operations and staff working remotely doesn’t mean the IRS is unavailable to you.

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6 things your clients must know today for a better tomorrow

GettyImages-1097998980The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created different day-to-day challenges than a few weeks ago. Just last month, you were probably discussing business expansion or future growth opportunities with clients and now you’re talking about how to stay afloat during uncertain times.

Practically overnight, your clients’ needs have changed completely. Some of your client questions might even go beyond what you have been accustomed to addressing.

Here are some ways to help center your client communications to focus all parties on building a brighter and stable future.

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Clients and CPAs can benefit from a 100% forgivable loan

Shutterstock_551991082As companies struggle with the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses — the backbone of the economy — have the power to pave a path toward economic recovery. They can do that, in part, by keeping their staff employed or by rehiring them if already laid off or furloughed.

New legislation has given them the power to do that.

CPAs can reap many benefits for helping clients apply for newly available loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a joint effort by the Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide small businesses with $349 billion in forgivable loans for keeping or rehiring employees and to cover certain other expenses.

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3 reasons it’s time to embrace virtual learning

Shutterstock_1635991822The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made an impact worldwide like generations of us have never seen. From how we buy groceries, the ways we socialize, school our children and work, our current normal is often virtual.

Suddenly, you’re working from home in your sweatpants (admit it) and holding meetings via videoconferencing. You might feel uncomfortable with the technology you’re now forced to use. The good news is you’re learning on the job. When life gets back to normal, many of you will have picked up a new technology skill or two that you’ll continue to use for work or even in your personal life.

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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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