5 principles for evolving CPA licensure

GettyImages-171282691What does the CPA of the future look like? Does that person need the same skills and competencies CPA licensure requires today—or should changes be made to expand the pipeline of talent the profession needs for the future?

As technology continues to change the services we perform and the way we deliver them, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the AICPA are exploring whether initial CPA licensure requirements need to change to be more inclusive of those who have expertise in technology and analytics. You may have read about our CPA Evolution initiative in a blog post I wrote in January or a follow-up post I wrote in May sharing what CPAs had to say about evolving licensure.

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3 tips to help your clients with revenue recognition implementation

GettyImages-155160817Summertime is finally here! But before you hit the beach, head to your clients’ offices and make sure they are ready to adopt the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) accounting standard on revenue recognition, issued as FASB ASU 2014-09 with subsequent amendments.

Public companies adopted the new guidance in 2018, and soon private companies will get their turn.  The guidance is effective for private entities in 2019 for annual reporting periods, and in 2020 for interim periods.

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New AICPA Chair focuses on the profession’s leap into the future

William_Reeb_1044In May 2019, Bill Reeb, CPA/CITP, CGMA, assumed the role of Chair of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). He also serves as the Vice Chair of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association). We asked him a few questions to help you get to know him and his vision for the future of the profession.

You can also watch the video of his AICPA inaugural address.

1. Congratulations on becoming the 106th chair of the AICPA! As you look ahead, what do you see as the biggest opportunity for the accounting profession?

The digital era has swept in a blistering pace of change that’s transforming the world around us. The change is not incremental — it’s exponential. And in these rapidly changing times, we find our greatest opportunity.

Our clients and employers need us more than ever to help them navigate increasing uncertainty and complexity. To seize the potential, we must take leaps, not steps. We must race to the horizon of possibility. Go where there has been no footpath before us to follow. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

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5 things you need to know about the new auditor reporting standards

GettyImages-172342448You may have heard that we issued a new auditor reporting standard effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 2020. The standard was designed to enhance the relevance and transparency of the auditor’s report. One key change is that with the new standard, the auditor’s opinion comes first. It’s like opening a box of Cracker Jack at a ball game and seeing the prize right on top. No need to fish through the rest of the good stuff in the box to find it.

The new Statement on Auditing Standards Auditor Reporting and Amendments, Including Amendments Addressing Disclosures in the Audit of Financial Statements, known as SAS No. 134, contains four sections that replace AU-C Sections 700, 705 and 706. There’s also a new section: 701 in the AICPA’s Professional Standards.

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Find value in what you love: One tax CPA’s value pricing story

Shutterstock_200540525In 2006, Dominique Molina, CPA, had a revelation: she was working too much.

It was busy season, and like many nights, she was working late from her home office. As the owner of a successful tax firm in San Diego, she felt a great pressure resting on her shoulders.

In a laser-focused, deadline-driven push to the end, her 3-year-old son put everything in perspective.

“My son came into my office and started to ask me a question,” Molina remembered. “But he stopped himself and said: ‘Never mind. I’ll go ask Dad.’ I was crushed.”

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Demystifying unicorns: How startup valuations really work

Shutterstock_386762398Near daily headlines tout the massive valuations of startup companies and their potential public offerings. Some of these entities are valued well into the tens of billions of dollars. Private market investors continue to pump money into technology-based companies with the hope of cashing in on the next unicorn—rare startups valued at more than $1 billion.

At the same time, many of these companies have yet to produce positive net income, with some reporting growing quarterly losses in the millions of dollars. What’s more, some of these organizations are lacking clearly defined plans for how to pull a profit from their operations.

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Flip the switch on non-conformity with 5 free audit quality resources

IStock_85468875_XXXLARGEYou strive to perform top-notch audits of your clients’ financial statements. You research the company and their industry, meet with the client, gather necessary information and develop and execute a plan. Having resources on hand can streamline the process.

Five years ago, the AICPA formed its Enhancing Audit Quality (EAQ) initiative and changed how we develop resources to help auditors. The EAQ team, working with the Audit and Attest Standards, Peer Review, Engagement and Learning Innovation, Center for Plain English Accounting, and Assurance and Advisory Innovation teams, analyzes data from peer reviews and other sources, identifies where noncompliance with professional standards occurs and develops resources to help firms in those areas.  So far, we’ve focused on: risk assessment, internal control, audit documentation, employee benefit plan audits, peer review, quality control, single audits, SOC engagements and auditing accounting estimates.

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Close any deal with these human intelligence skills

Shutterstock_653243854So, you’ve made it through the first round of interviews for your dream job — or maybe you’ve made an initial pitch to a prospective new client and now it’s time to close the deal. You want the job, and are more than qualified for it. But is that enough?

Think about the Ivy League college application process where most applicants are qualified but only a fraction are selected. In this case, even though you’ve already proven you have experience and the knowledge to knock the job duties out of the park, closing the deal can come as a challenge.

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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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Take a ride with Next Stop: CPA – the official podcast of the CPA Exam

Final Next Stop CPA Podcast LogoDo you remember how it felt when you decided to become a CPA? The promise of those three magic letters can be very exciting, but first, comes with the start of a big life-journey. A journey that entails the preparation for the CPA Exam and the dedication and time commitment necessary to see it through. What’s the best way to study? Is the CPA even right for me? How do I find time to study? Those are just some of the questions that may have crossed your mind back then, and continue to come up with today’s future CPAs.

The AICPA recently launched a new podcast series, Next Stop: CPA, which takes a more informal, conversational, and at times, humorous approach to covering the wide range of topics that are most relevant and important to your Exam candidates. Hosted by AICPA’s Mike Horan and me, Next Stop: CPA releases 1-2 episodes each month that are designed to share valuable insights about the Exam, the profession and related topics.

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What to do when your client gets terrible health news

Ill client blog postNo one knows when a health crisis will strike. We can take steps to mitigate our risks — eat healthy food, exercise more often, quit smoking — but that doesn’t mean we can plan whether we’ll get sick.

But we can plan financially.

Jim Sullivan, CPA/PFS, specializes in working with clients suffering from chronic illnesses. He has seen firsthand the devastating effects of a sudden, serious health crisis and is an expert at care plan funding and recovery. His work, as he described it, allows his clients to focus on addressing the illness without the worry of how to pay for its costs.

Sullivan said that while he prefers to do proactive planning with clients before they get sick, he often starts working with a client just days after they’ve received terrible health news. Regardless of when he first engages with an ill client, his approach is the same: He creates a financial plan from scratch.

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16 free learning opportunities to take advantage of this summer

Shutterstock_633002651It’s summertime. The days are getting longer, the temperature is warming up and your most hectic time of year — workwise — is behind you. Congratulations! Now you can relax, at least a little. Summer is also the perfect time to hone your skills in preparation for fall busy season. We’ve assembled a handful of our favorite free resources to help you brush up on your skills and add a few new ones to your toolbox.

Find your niche

Search for that new service offering you’re passionate about. Once you find it, study up and absorb all there is to know about it. Home in and focus so you can really master it and add it to your suite of services. Here are some ideas to get started:

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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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Workplace benefit advice for the Class of 2019

Shutterstock_573543445Nearly two million students are estimated to graduate with a bachelor’s degree this year. As they enter the job market and evaluate the employment opportunities before them, it’s a good time to remember that the perfect job should be about more than just salary. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) asked young millennials who graduated from college in the last two years or will graduate in the next year about the workplace benefits they find most important. Matt Rosenberg, CPA and member of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, spoke to AICPA Insights about the survey results and shared some insight young job seekers should keep in mind as they evaluate their employment opportunities.

The top three workplace benefits that younger millennials say will help them reach their financial goals are: health insurance, paid time off (PTO), and student loan forgiveness programs. Does that match your experience working with clients?

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How to navigate the digital age

Shutterstock_761152348We know that disruption is upon us. Not later, not soon, but right this instant. We’re already in the digital age and the profession is changing fast and challenging our minds to keep up. However, we still need a bit of help with some aspects of disruption. For example, what skills and mindsets will help us navigate the digital age? We spoke with Jim Bourke, CPA, CITP, CFF, CGMA, and Managing Director of Advisory Services for US-based WithumSmith+Brown, who travels internationally to address these questions among others. He also advises on how to stay ahead of the curve and strategically grow your business during the fourth industrial revolution that is transforming the finance and accounting professions. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: We hear a lot about digital transformation and digital readiness. What has changed in the last couple of years?

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3 steps to reimagining your firm’s culture

Post tax culture blog May 24Paid time off. Affordable health care plans. Employer-sponsored retirement funds. There’s a lot the modern worker evaluates when considering where they’ll spend their 40-plus hours a week. But more and more, potential employees are looking at another variable when choosing where to work: company culture.

According to a 2018 LinkedIn survey, 70 percent of professionals said they wouldn’t work at a leading company with an unhealthy culture.  

This makes sense to Rachel Montañez, a career coach, trainer and speaker who advises and writes on this exact topic. She said a company’s culture is created by the people who work there, and when staff members are stressed, there can be unexpected effects on culture.

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How to stay on track to accomplish your 2019 goals

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It’s time to assess those goals

Remember when 2018 was coming to a close? You were thrilled about the new year ahead. Fully living in the “new year; new me” theme, you made a list of your top goals for 2019. You broke them down into pieces and vowed to tackle them incrementally. You remember!

Well, guess what: It’s almost halftime. With the end of the second quarter creeping up on you, it’s time to assess your progress. Whether your goals are personal or professional, here’s how to recommit to the ones you didn’t complete and celebrate the ones you did.

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How your feedback is shaping and evolving CPA licensure

GettyImages-507831914Back in January, I wrote about the CPA Evolution initiative, a joint project with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to explore integrating technological and analytical expertise into initial CPA licensure requirements.

I was thrilled that so many of you sent me emails with your thoughts on the blog post and the need for “CPA” to evolve with the ever-changing business landscape. Clearly, you all are very passionate about keeping the credential strong and relevant.

A few themes emerged from your feedback. Since your insights are so valuable to this initiative, I wanted to share them with you as NASBA and the AICPA continue our discussion throughout 2019. Here’s what I heard:

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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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Rising to the challenge of a digital era: Reflections from AICPA chair

6a0133f5884316970b01b7c94b352c970b-320wiWhen I stepped into the role of Chair of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) in February 2018, we were — and continue to be — facing an unprecedented pace of change that’s transforming our profession. And I put forward a challenge:

Be early to be on time. Take bold steps and initiate change today so that we will not just be prepared for tomorrow — we will be even stronger than we are today.

You have risen to that challenge. As I’ve spoken with members and leaders across the U.S. and around the world, I’ve been energized and inspired by the progress our profession is making. We’re not just imagining the possibilities. We’re seizing them to create an even stronger tomorrow for ourselves and the next generation.

Here are some of the ways we’re doing it.

Delivering more value

We’re pushing our own boundaries by adopting new technologies, competencies and service areas to become even more indispensable.

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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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Shake off this tax season’s pain points with these perfect pairings

May 8 blogChocolate makes a bitter coffee taste sweeter. A dry wine brings out the flavors of a well-cooked steak. Good pairings make everything better.

The same can be said for the work you do. Pairing solutions with the challenges you face can improve the final result. And this certainly applies to the most recent tax season.

We asked tax practitioners about what they experienced this spring, and in this informal AICPA Tax Section survey, we found out pretty much what we were expecting: It was a demanding one. (You can read more about the survey in this AICPA Tax Section newsletter article.)

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A former FBI agent’s view on the recent Medicare fraud

Shutterstock_424331134Last month news broke about a wide-spread fraud that caused Medicare to lose roughly $1.2 billion. While this case is noteworthy for the huge price tag attached to it and the brazen nature in which seniors were targeted, similar scams are going on across the country that don’t get the same headlines. CPAs can play a role keeping their clients safe from fraud schemes like these by educating them on the importance of keeping their personal information safe and being cautious about who they communicate with — both online and offline.

To better understand how frauds like this work and how people can protect themselves, I spoke with Randal A. Wolverton, CPA/CFF. Wolverton is a member of the AICPA’s FLS Fraud Task Force and is a former FBI agent who specializes in financial crimes. He currently provides financial crime instructional programs to numerous local, state and federal law enforcement entities, various state and federal agencies, businesses and banking institutions and provides articles and insights on preventing fraud on his blog.

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A solid password today keeps the hackers away

Shutterstock_400892836With identify theft becoming one of the world’s fastest growing crimes, days like World Password Day are crucial to raising awareness of online threats. I sat down with Jay Overcash, Director of IT Security Strategy, to talk about how people can protect themselves from hackers.

Why is a day like World Password Day so important?

As more and more of our lives move into the digital realm, we rely on authentication to protect our valuable online data and assets.  Usernames and passwords remain the predominant method for securing online data.  World Password Day is important as it draws attention to the need to adequately protect online data with a strong password.

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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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The audit risk model: your first step in risk assessment

This blog post is the third in a series on risk assessment, a significant audit quality issue. View the first blog post here and the second here.

Rmm

The audit risk model is the foundation of any audit. This might seem like CPA 101, but are you correctly applying it to your engagements?

In doing so, your first consideration is your client’s risks of material misstatement (RMM), which is made up of inherent risk and control risk. As a reminder, inherent risk is the risk of material misstatement assuming no related controls, while control risk is the risk that your client’s controls won’t prevent or detect and correct a material misstatement. So how do you apply this to your audit?

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How small eco-friendly changes can mean big money in your home

April 26 sustainabilityDo you use plastic wrap to keep leftovers fresh? When you spill coffee on the floor, are paper towels your go-to clean up tool?

If you’re like me, you haven’t spent much time thinking about how disposable household products are adding to an Earth-health crisis.  

Americans produce an unsightly amount of trash each year — enough to reach to the moon and back 26 times. The worst part may be that more than 75 percent of this waste is recyclable, and 25.1 million tons of our trash is compostable food waste.

I’m guilty of adding to the problem. I used to throw out old food, plastic bags and shampoo bottles with reckless abandon. This not only caused injury to the environment but put a strain on my household’s budget.

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Master these 3 skills for your next video conference call

Shutterstock_1153859644For lunch meetings, there are nearby restaurants. For quick talking points over coffee, there’s your office Keurig or the coffee shop next-door. For everything else – every other type of meeting – there’s now video conferencing. The increase in work-from-home culture and the need for a more personal alternative to the standard phone call have made way for the perfect alternative: video-conferencing. Although some would see these conferences as an opportunity to be casual, it’s important to keep your professional image intact. The same reason you wouldn’t show up to your in-person business presentation wearing your pajamas might be the same reason you avoid turning on the webcam wearing a robe. To keep the other participants from gossiping about you in the private conference chat box, here are some human intelligence skills you should brush up on for your next on-camera business meeting.

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How to manage clients’ high expectations for retirement

Shutterstock_156509381Mrs. and Mr. Penny are sitting in their CPA financial planner's office. Mrs. Penny, a 66-year-old community college professor, retires at the end of the school year with a modest pension. Mr. Penny, a 67-year-old construction foreman, plans to retire next year.

Neither paid much attention to their retirement savings until about five years ago, when they first engaged their CPA financial planner for tax advice.

“I hear Bora Bora is beautiful in the summers,” Mrs. Penny says to her husband, who nods and mentions taking off for the mountains in Austria after their beach trip.

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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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Why some healthcare companies are betting big on blockchain

Shutterstock_1094018936Quick -- what’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word blockchain? If you said bitcoin or some other type of cryptocurrency, you’re not alone.  Most people associate blockchain with cryptocurrencies, trading, and remittance platforms. But blockchain technology, which serves as a digital ledger for information, is making a name for itself in several other industries. Retail, politics, and finance worlds alike are enthusiastic about the potential of blockchain. And now the healthcare industry is starting to lay some roots. Although it may not be fully ready to implement the technology yet, here are a few ways that healthcare payer and providers plan to use blockchain and thus reasons accountants should be at the forefront of groundbreaking solutions to saving billions in healthcare.”

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What to pack on your after-tax season getaway

MAINYou did it.

After 11 weeks of nose-to-the-grind work, you’ve successfully put another filing season behind you.

Looking back, you undoubtedly see how this year’s season was like no other. A government shutdown, tax transcript changes, new rules — you navigated them all. You’re a champion for your clients, and you deserve some time to rest and recoup.

However, this respite is limited, and you’ll be back to the grind before you know it.

As time is of the essence, here’s a list of the best places to recharge your batteries. And for a little extra help, you’ll find a few packing suggestions to ensure you have what you need when you get there.

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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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Your tax practice could be on the edge of greatness. Push.

Shutterstock_712459222If there’s anything the past year has taught us about tax, it’s that getting too comfortable isn’t an option. Even though comprehensive tax reform doesn’t happen very often, it doesn’t take major revisions to the law to keep you on your toes. Fortunately, you can rely on items like the Tax Practitioner’s Marketing Toolkit to help you make sense of changes and engage your clients.

The past year has made for a busy season you’re probably relieved to see coming to a close. But before you break the snorkel and dive mask out of mothballs, or start browsing for the perfect vacation destination, take a good look back to assess your season while it’s fresh in your mind. How much of your work involved looking ahead for your clients? While helping them with tax planning for the coming year, how often did you run across their broader plans for the future? You might be surprised by how your answer can propel your firm to greatness.

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CPAs play a leading role in financial literacy

Shutterstock_578172628Earlier this year, U.S. consumer debt reached $4 trillion for the first time ever-- with one trillion of that figure consisting of credit card debt alone, also a record high. Debt isn’t inherently bad if you have a plan to pay it off without incurring interest charges. But paying down loans competes with other financial priorities, like saving for retirement and creating an emergency fund. So, it’s no wonder that 40 percent of all Americans can’t cover a $400 financial emergency without borrowing money or selling something. Unfortunately, living paycheck-to-paycheck while struggling to pay off debt and grow their savings account is the reality for many Americans.

 

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The worst busy season advice tax CPAs ever received

Shutterstock_562475698We can all use a little good advice from time to time. Whether it’s from a manager, a parent or a friend, the right guidance at the right time goes a long way.

Unfortunately, we also end up receiving unsolicited bad advice. During busy season, it’s the last thing tax practitioners need to hear, especially when it references how they should be handling their work and long hours.

You’ve probably received some second-rate advice yourself. As you think back on that, here are a few real-life pieces of bad busy season advice anonymous CPAs reported to us.

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How to succeed in business according to female professionals

Shutterstock_488579674How do we encourage women to claim their seat at the table without having to wait for someone to pull it out? Being a woman in the workplace comes with its own set of possibilities and challenges. Yes, your perspective is unique and nuanced, but will it be supported if you’re the only woman in the room? So, how do we ensure female professionals are both heard and respected? In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Go Beyond Disruption podcast featured 13 avant-garde, innovative, and insightful women who provided the answers to these questions. Their answers covered tech and human intelligence topics, ranging from mindset adjustment all the way to cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Kim Drumgo, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, shared her thoughts on what it will take for women to succeed. If you missed any of it, this is me sharing my notes. Here are some tips from trailblazing female professionals about how to succeed in business:

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A tax practitioner’s friendly reminder on ID theft

ID Theft blog postYou knew this busy season would be a tough one. But just like every other season before it, you’ve rocked the challenge. With a little more than two weeks left to go, you’re well on your way to a hard-earned vacation.

At this point, what could go wrong? A lot if you’re not paying attention to the security of your clients’ information. 

I caught up with Minh Graham, CPA, of the AICPA Tax Practice & Ethics team, who shared her insights on the top five identity theft issues you should be considering as you head into the final stretch.

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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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Busy season due diligence comes down to what you don’t know

Shutterstock_753092236I’m a self-professed rule follower. Except for maybe driving five miles over the speed limit on the highway, I sweat to even think about bending the rules. Most CPAs I know feel the same way. We stick to our professional rulebook, focusing on doing our due diligence and complying with each regulation like it’s our personal law. However, it’s not always easy to be a rule follower when you’re in the thick of busy season.

In my opinion, due diligence is all about using common sense, but there are additional due diligence rules — some old and some new — that are important for CPAs to remember during busy season.

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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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The Future of Finance: How to thrive in the digital age

915179274-170667aOver the last year, I’ve hosted roundtables with hundreds of CFOs and finance leaders in cities around the world.  From Johannesburg to London to Boston, finance leaders all sang a similar tune when it came to their greatest pain point: they’re all looking to transform the finance function from a cost center to a value center. They’re keenly aware of the gap that exists between the “old world” of reporting and compliance and the “new world” of guidance and driving the business, and they want to narrow, if not entirely close, this gap.

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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-133910674Many 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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