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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What near-zero interest rates mean for your wallet

Shutterstock_581002882The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to near-zero in an emergency move Sunday meant to make borrowing as cheap as possible as the U.S. economy feels the economic impact of the spread of the coronavirus (which causes COVID-19). The benchmark U.S. interest rate is in a range of 0% to 0.25%. The Fed also announced it will buy at least $500 billion in Treasury securities and $200 billion in mortgage-backed securities in the coming months as part of a quantitative easing program.

The reduction of interest rates, alongside the announcement of a $700 billion purchasing program, has not calmed investors. All U.S. indices opened sharply down Monday and continued to fall throughout the day, all closing down more than 10%. Though the economic impact of COVID-19 is concerning, the health and well-being of Americans and their families is a top priority. As a part of that well-being, there are steps Americans can consider to protect their financial standing.

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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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Three common challenges (and three solutions!) for women in the profession

IWD picIn honor of International Women's Day—a century-old global event that brings the world together in celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women—we look at challenges women face in the workplace and ways the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the unified voice of the AICPA and CIMA, can help.

Support amidst challenges

1. Find a sponsor. Sponsors can play a significant role in advancing a career. The people they know can become the people you know. They can open doors for you and introduce you to clients. They can advocate on your behalf in meetings and casual conversation and protect you from political dynamics of the workplace.

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Test your knowledge on tax extensions

Shutterstock_145713260March is here, and that means it’s time to talk to your clients about possibly extending their returns. How knowledgeable are you about extensions?

Find out with this short quiz:

#1: True or false: An extension of time to file means that the tax isn’t due until the return is filed.

False.

An extension extends the time to file, but not the time to pay. If an extension is filed but taxes are ultimately owed, there will be interest and penalties charged each month that the balance isn’t paid.

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Fraud is harder on emotions than finances for aging clients

Shutterstock_397734877Financial abuse and fraud that targets elderly clients can do more than devastate their savings and ruin their credit. The AICPA’s recent Personal Financial Planning (PFP) Trends Survey found that falling victim to fraud is much more likely to have an emotional impact on the elderly than a financial one.

Of the many types of fraud or elder abuse CPA financial planners have seen perpetrated on their older clients over the past five years, phone and internet scams top the list. The next most common issue is the inability to say “no” to relatives and identity theft.

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What the emergency Fed rate cut means for your finances

GettyImages-171573445As a result of increasing fears about the impact the coronavirus may have on the U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve announced an emergency cut to the target range for the federal funds rate of 0.5%. The new target rate is now 1% to 1.25%. This reflects the largest rate decrease in more than a decade and the first emergency cut since 2008.

Most Americans are primarily focused on the health and wellbeing of themselves and their loved ones during this time of uncertainty, and rightfully so. But it’s important not to overlook how the Federal Reserve announcement may impact their financial wellbeing.

Neal Stern, CPA, member of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, spoke with AICPA Insights about what the rate cut means for Americans’ finances.

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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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Top 10 questions for tax practitioners

Shutterstock_1517416919Tax season 2020 is now underway.

This means more client interactions. Wonderful! This is why I do what I do!

It also means more client interactions. Sigh. Sometimes it’s hard to juggle my workload and client requests.

As tax season rolls on, so do the client questions. Of course, in business and in life, there are no stupid questions. This is especially true when they come from your clients. But they may not ask what they really need to know.

We polled practicing CPAs to find out what pressing issues and questions their clients have. Along with some fun (read: not real) answers, I’ll give you some tips on how to take the discussion further.

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7 reasons to date a finance professional

Shutterstock_546083497Let’s face it—relationships are hard. No matter how smitten you may be, being with someone takes hard work, hard conversations and hard commitments. Some fish in the sea are softening these blows by choosing partners who compliment—and complement them.

Fortunately, finance professionals are so well-rounded that their skill sets are likely an asset in every relationship. If you’re splashing around in the dating pool, here are seven reasons you should tag a finance professional as your next partner.

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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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Employee or independent contractor: What’s the difference?

Shutterstock_124540003Classifying workers as either employees or independent contractors is important. The correct worker categorization has a profound impact on businesses because it affects not only how workers are paid, but how the government gets paid. Because of the latter reason, this is an issue that will not be going away any time soon. In fact, it’s been thrust into the forefront more than ever due to changing economies, technological revolutions and recent legislative actions.

What’s the difference between the classifications? Why does it matter?

The IRS has long had a voice in the categorization discussion.

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A winning finance group for Super Bowl-bound Chiefs

1912-97838 NFL Superbowl Campaign_1200x1200_Quote AThe National Football League was born in the early years of the 20th century. But 100 years later, the Kansas City Chiefs are using 2020 strategies to meet business goals and thrill their fans. The Chiefs head to the Super Bowl with a winning finance team behind them.

As the Chiefs’ CFO, Dan Crumb, CPA, CGMA, oversees finance, IT & strategy and analytics. Although his team is not on the field, the group touches football on all sides. Its goal is ensure that there is no downtime for the team. It’s up to them to be sure the football side of the operation has all the planning and preparation needed to focus on what they do best.

Having a great team is not only a point of pride, but it’s also critical to our business. “One of the really important elements of being a good management accountant is looking at our products and services and asking, ‘What can we do to make it the best?’ ” Crumb says. “We are fighting for our fans’ discretionary dollars, so we have to give them a reason to come to the stadium. That means first that we want to provide a strong product on the field — a good team that performs well. We also want to offer a great fan experience. We want it to be memorable so that they’ll come back.”

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Foresight is 2020 — Make it your best tax season yet.

Cropped shot of a group of business colleagues meeting in the boardroomAround this time last year, as we glanced in our rearview mirror, tax season was approaching quickly. As the days and weeks went by, it was clear that “objects are closer than they appear!” Along with the normal tax season preparations, many more challenges were afoot. A government shutdown was underway, we were preparing for the first round of returns filed under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, IRS guidance was still being issued on key provisions and we were doing quality control on our tax software.

It’s a new year, a fresh tax season and time for a new outlook. This year, you can proactively use an arsenal of AICPA resources in 2020 to get you and your firm in tip-top shape for the upcoming tax season.

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Our proposal to evolve CPA licensure

GettyImages-959023366It’s that time of year when everyone reflects on the past and looks forward to a positive future with personal and professional planning, and new and fresh ideas. You may have some New Year’s resolutions you’d like to accomplish. I have two: From a personal perspective, I’ll look at my financial and personal health. From a professional perspective, I’ll look at planning and execution around securing the future and value of the profession. On the latter, I’m working on a number of initiatives to advance the value of the profession, including the development of technology-based tools to enhance the efficiency, quality and value of audits. Many of you are already starting busy season and are focused on getting through a mountain of work over the next few months.

Whether we’re plotting our 2020 goals or just focusing on getting to March 30 or April 15, we need to think long term. How do we ensure that the future of our profession is bright and that the CPA maintains its strength and relevance for decades to come?

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Americans start 2020s with financial satisfaction at a record high

Shutterstock_1038717496Americans’ financial well-being roared into the 2020s. For the seventh time in the last two and a half years, the average American’s financial satisfaction hit an all-time high, according to the AICPA’s quarterly Personal Financial Satisfaction index (PFSi). With all these positive records, you may wonder what it means for you.

First, a little background: The PFSi is a quarterly economic indicator that measures the financial standing of the average American. It’s calculated as the difference between two sub-indexes: The Personal Financial Pleasure Index, which measures the growth of assets and opportunities, and the Personal Financial Pain Index, which calculates the loss of assets and opportunities. Most recently, the Pleasure Index (74.9) greatly outweighed the Pain Index (34.7), bringing the Q4 2019 PFSi to a positive reading of 40.2, the highest reading in the index’s 26-year history.

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A new technology solution for data-driven audits

GettyImages-534827625If you’re an auditor, you should be excited about the many opportunities that the digital era creates for your profession. Sue Coffey, CPA, CGMA, Executive Vice President, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants — Public Practice, and Erik Asgeirsson, President and CEO, CPA.com, share how the profession is reimagining the audit and what this means for you.

1. What’s changing in the audit area? What opportunities is technology bringing?

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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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AICPA announces 2020 CPA Exam score release dates

Shutterstock_733268932CPA Exam (Exam) score release timetables for the first and second testing windows of 2020 are available. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) will release scores to candidates and boards of accountancy based upon the target score release dates in the table below. It is important to note that some boards of accountancy require at least one day beyond the published target release date to process and release scores.

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IRS crypto guidance every tax practitioner should know

Shutterstock_732138853The IRS is getting serious about cryptocurrency. This fall, it released three documents that all tax practitioners need to pay attention to ahead of the 2019 filing season: a retroactive revenue ruling, FAQs for reporting cryptocurrency ownership and Form 1040 that asks taxpayers about their financial interest in virtual currency.

Revenue ruling

On Oct. 9, the IRS released an authoritative revenue ruling that specifically addresses situations in which a taxpayer receives auto-generated cryptocurrency. According to the IRS, this type of situation – known as a hard fork and airdrop – always triggers a tax obligation. Thus, because forks and airdrops are often unprompted by the individual who owns cryptocurrency, a taxpayer could receive digital currency against their wishes and still must pay taxes on it.

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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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Reimagining the profession for a vibrant future

Barry Melancon Headshot (1)Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, President and CEO of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and CEO of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association), reflects on the successes of 2019 and the opportunities ahead.

This year, you’ve talked with members about how we need to reimagine the profession. Can you explain more what you mean by “reimagine”?

In today’s marketplace, virtually all companies are reimagining who they are, what they offer and how they deliver services and products. To meet the changing needs of clients and employers, we, as a profession, are also reimagining what it means to protect the public interest and serve as trusted advisers. We are providing clients and companies with new services and embracing new technologies to enhance the quality, efficiency and value of what we do. Together, we’re creating a future that may be dramatically different from the past but will remain a beacon of trust and opportunity for all accounting and finance professionals and everyone we serve.

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Derivatives are back, but are the risks?

Shutterstock_744615220Mortgage-backed securities, credit-default swaps and derivatives were not much more than financial industry jargon until the recession of 2007. When the world economy nearly collapsed—due in part to mismanagement of and poor investment in complex financial instruments—those terms entered the mainstream.

The 2019 survey of business executives reveals that 59% of CPAs have complex financial instruments on their balance sheets. Of those, 28% said they expect complex financial instruments to take an even bigger percentage in the next three years. At the same time, 55% said they are concerned about the valuations of those investment vehicles, and 69% said they expect them to become even more complex, making them harder to value.

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D&I initiatives: A strategic imperative

GettyImages-669854210Ensuring diversity & inclusion remains high on an organization’s agenda is key to long-term success and growth. Because this topic is so important, I have made raising awareness of this initiative my personal goal, and I‘m having conversations like these with key players throughout the accounting and finance profession on tactics they’ve implemented.

Staff is the greatest investment in your firm, and often recruiting, growing and maintaining the best and the brightest talent are critical priorities for firms. It’s also exactly what Michele Meyer-Shipp finds so vital about her role as chief diversity officer at KPMG. No matter how much time and energy firms pour into their recruiting and retention efforts, they will not have access to the full talent pool without committed D&I initiatives.

During a recent LinkedIn Live, I sat down with Michele to discuss observations and advice for firms seeking to strengthen their D&I efforts. Here are the key takeaways from that conversation.

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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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How the Boston Red Sox win with data analytics

Shutterstock_311860862They might not have won the World Series this year, but the Boston Red Sox are definitely winning. As one of the highest-valued Major League Baseball franchises, the organization leverages the power of data analytics to make better business decisions. Tim Zue, the franchise’s Executive Vice President and CFO, recently shared in a Facebook Live interview how he uses technology and data to increase revenue, lower costs and optimize the fan experience. Here’s his advice on how finance leaders can use data analytics to bring greater value to their organizations and customers.

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Boost your career by becoming a better listener

Shutterstock_744297028What did you say?

Listening can seem surprisingly complicated. It’s possible to hear what someone says but not catch every nuance of what they are telling you or their unspoken statements. Improving your listening skills can help you become a better professional. It can make it easier to understand what a colleague or supervisor expects of you or determine what service will add value for a client.

In honor of National Listening Day, here are ways to enhance your ability to be an active listener.

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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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4 financial tips for entrepreneurs

Shutterstock_1499312708It’s National Entrepreneurs’ Day! Take a moment to celebrate your success or the great plans you’ve developed.

Maybe you’ve got a fantastic idea for a business and your confident it’s going to be successful. Or perhaps your company is already up and running, but you constantly wonder whether you’re doing everything you can to ensure your business’ financial success and security — and your own. No matter what stage you’re at in the entrepreneurial journey, you can follow these four steps to make the most of the business you’ve built and the future you’re hoping it will have.

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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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ICYMI: Five things you need to know about cybersecurity

3It's startling that a cyberattack happens every 39 seconds (source: University of Maryland) and one out of every three businesses will experience a cybersecurity breach within the next two years. The average cost of that breach in the U.S.? $8.19M! As protectors of valuable financial and personal data, CPA firms are prime targets for cyberattacks. Considering the major financial risk that organizations face by failing to set up sound cybersecurity measures, we chatted with two of the Association’s experts on the topic. Joel White, CPA, CGMA, Director of Internal Audit, Risk & Compliance and Jay Overcash, Director of IT Security Strategy, answered your top cybersecurity questions.

Here’s what we learned:

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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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5 tips for implementing the leases accounting standard

Shutterstock_1031148421Does your company or client lease assets such as real estate, airplanes or manufacturing equipment? If so, then you may want to keep reading...

In 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued a new financial accounting and reporting standard that requires companies that lease assets (lessees) under operating lease arrangements to recognize those arrangements on their balance sheets. 

You may be wondering “Why a change?” Given the prevalence of leasing in the marketplace, it’s important for users of financial statements to have a complete and understandable portrayal of a company’s commitments to leasing activities.

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