Archive for the ‘AICPA’ Category

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Please Pay Attention To Security Issues! A Message From Barry Melancon

I received the following press release from the AICPA.  This is very important for firms.

NEW YORK (July 6, 2016) – Cyber crime has emerged as a leading financial and operational risk for all organizations of all sizes in all sectors. “With that in mind, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is taking a multifaceted approach to cybersecurity through the work of the Assurance Services Executive Committee and the Center for Audit Quality. This work will allow CPAs to take a leadership role,” AICPA President and CEO Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA, explains in a new video.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has acknowledged publicly that the accounting profession’s experience with integrating data, reporting and assurance puts CPAs in a unique position to assist organizations as they address their cybersecurity concerns. “But this is not just a public company issue,” said Melancon. “It affects businesses of all types, shapes, and sizes.”

The AICPA is already seeing explosive growth in the need for cybersecurity-related services that build on the foundation for Service Organization Control, or SOC, reports. “This demand is driven by market forces, not a government mandate. And the market is asking us to do more, from both the advisory and assurance perspectives,” Melancon observed.

In response to the cyber challenge, the AICPA is taking action on many fronts:

  • First, the Institute is developing timely tools and education for CPAs to successfully address risk in a number of areas. Simultaneously, various areas of the AICPA are working to help CPAs as they address cybersecurity concerns through services like advisory, assurance, tax and management accounting.
  • Second, the AICPA is looking at how the profession can address cybersecurity as a natural extension of the platform of services CPAs already perform. The Institute is developing new examination engagements for members in public practice that are specific to cybersecurity. One is on an entity’s cybersecurity risk management program; another covers supply chain management for vendors and business partners to assess and manage their cybersecurity risk.
  • Third, the Institute’s advocacy team is closely monitoring cyber-related legislative and regulatory developments in Washington so it can respond appropriately and keep members informed.

“We see numerous roles for CPAs in the battle against cyber crime,” Melancon went on to say. “Within their businesses, CPAs must present their own front line against cyber attacks, implementing controls that help protect data and prevent service disruptions. CPAs in business can use their knowledge of the organization to advise their employers on administering a cybersecurity risk management program and provide the best cyber solutions.  CPAs in pubic practice, or public accounting, can assist their clients in an advisory capacity, as they grapple with cyber concerns and provide assurance when needed.”

For more information, visit the AICPA’s Cybersecurity Resource Center:

http://www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/FRC/AssuranceAdvisoryServices/Pages/cyber-security-resource-center.aspx

 

  • If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Take Them Along

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” – Winston Churchill

Throughout the summer and fall, it is conference season for accounting firms. It is the time when CPA firm leaders attend various types of conferences to obtain CPE credit. While much of the CPE sessions for team members is now obtained online, management of an accounting practice is still learned via attending management conferences and networking with others in the profession.

What I observe is that a firm usually has ONE representative at any such conference that contains a management track. That one person goes back to their firm and does their best to convince others of the trends, changes and challenges the firm is, or will be, facing.

I heard this same story last night as I attended the CPA Firm Management Association opening reception. “It is difficult to convince my partners of what I think we should do after I return from this conference.” “My firm would only send me.” “My managing partner wouldn’t attend with me.” “I was lucky to be able to convince the partners to even just let me attend.”

Managing partners attend their firm association MP sessions but go alone. Please, this year, take one, two or three other partners along. Allow your COO to also attend with you. If it is another conference like CPAFMA’s national practice management conference or AICPA Practitioners’ TECH conference – take others with you and your firm will move forward faster.

Here’s a shining example. My friend, Benito Tagle, attends AICPA PCPS Practitioners’ TECH every year. In recent years, he has included some representatives of his staff. During the conference, they meet and strategize about who will attend the various sessions. They break apart to cover topics and then come together in the evening to discuss what they learned and what the next day will bring.

Below is a picture of Benito and his team going over the next day’s schedule at this year’s PSTech. Guess what? Their firm is making great progress!

IMG_7032

 

  • Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Mom, Manager, Mentor… Maniac?

Lindsay“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou

One of my favorite sessions from PSTech this year was “Mom, Manager, Mentor…Maniac?” by Lindsay Stevenson, CPA.

I so often hear sad… should I say “sob” stories from women in accounting. They, and often rightly so, are challenged by the difficulties facing them as CPAs trying to advance their careers and the important life role of mother and wife.

That’s why Lindsay’s presentation was so refreshing and inspiring. She didn’t mince words about the difficulties but she was so energetic and positive about the fact that women, working in the CPA profession, can succeed in both roles. She provided a lot of good information and strategies that are helpful to finding work/life integration specific to mothers.

Female CPAs, you can do it too – you can succeed in both roles. What you learn as a mom can also apply to your role as manager at your firm.

Join your local women’s initiative groups or the one sponsored by your state CPA society. Continually reach out to other working moms and seek positive, can-do mentors.

Don’t just let things happen to you – blaze your own trail.

 

  • The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
  • Amelia Earhart

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Don’t Address Partner Compensation Before You Get The Firm Right

IMG_2335Monday afternoon, Allan Koltin addressed the topic of partner compensation at the AICPA PCPS PractitionersTech+ Symposium.

His basic message was the fact that you really can’t even address partner compensation until you assess all of the partners and “get the firm right” first.

There are three kinds of partners:

  • Content – This is me, you see what you get, I’m doing a good job at what  I do so leave me alone.
  • Climber – I’m trying to improve myself and I’m continually getting better.
  • Crazy – Usually the managing partners that has a multitude of good ideas and want them all implemented immediately.

Getting the firm “right” is really an alignment issue. It’s about planting seeds for a better tomorrow.

Be sure to assess the strengths of the partners. Determine what the partners are actually doing vs. what they are really good at. You can no longer allow partners to do whatever they want.

The partners, as a group, must be honest with each other about what each partner should be doing and not allowing partners to simply stay in their comfort zones.

  • An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.
  • W. Somerset Maugham

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

AICPA Practitioners Symposium and TECH+ Conference

“Genius is the capacity to retrieve childhood at will.” – Erik Wahl

Again this year, I am very fortunate to be able to speak at this great conference.

IMG_7017The opening keynote on Sunday afternoon was one of the most amazing presentations I have ever experienced (and I have seen a lot of excellent keynotes!). The presentation titled Unthink was by renowned graffiti artist, Erik Wahl.

His presentation (and message) was unique, different and fun. How about your firm….. is it unique, truly different and fun? Or, do you let fear keep you repeating the status quo?

Here’s Wahl’s take on FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real.

He challenged accountants to use their creative skills, to break the mold and to dare to be unique.

I have observed that CPAs always want to follow the leader; do what every other firm is doing. However, I am seeing a lot of change happening.

You are probably familiar with some of the high-profile firms (of all sizes) that are truly becoming digital firms and providing some very non-traditional services in non-traditional ways.

Just recently I met a couple of additional CPA firm owners who are going down this uniqueness road. I met one in the Las Vegas airport on Sunday and one at an OSCPA meeting. They were both females. That is also an interesting observation!

 

  • Most of our inspirations for solutions and creativity come from interactions with others.
  • Erik Wahl

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

The CPA Profession – Random Thoughts

CiMQnxpUYAAOWhzYesterday, I had the honor of being part of a panel at the OSCPA Business Excellence Symposium in Westlake, Ohio.  Katie Tolan, Peter Donato and I discussed “Harnessing Business Growth Potential.” The panel was moderated by Gary Hunt, Senior Content Editor at OSCPA.

Overall, the Symposium was informational and inspirational. What more can you ask for?!

As always, I enjoyed AICPA President and Chief Executive Officer Barry Melancon’s comments and his dialogue with OSCPA President & CEO Scott Wiley.

IMG_6756Here are some bullet point highlights:

  • In this day and age, people don’t trust. They don’t trust government officials, employers, the media, politicians and so on. The CPA owns the trust space. (I urge you to keep this at top of mind as your move through your work day and your career. It is a responsibility and quite an honor.)
  • Audit and tax services, in the future will change dramatically. In the audit area, the national firms are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in big data. How about using drones for inventory observation? How about performing an audit without ever touching the clients “papers” or even visiting their site? How will smaller firms (any firm below the Big 4) keep up? It will take a huge investment.
  • Everyone must evolve. This applies to the AICPA, as well. Their venture with CIMA will enable the AICPA to create a different footprint and help CPAs build a global force and voice that will carry more weight.
  • When asked what accounting students need as they move into the future, Melancon replied, “Students need data analytic skills.”
  • Today we are a profession of CPA-led firms, not CPA firms. Two-thirds of the employees in all firms are non-CPAs. I found this stat to be quite eye-opening. Clients need all kinds of services to help their businesses grow and prosper, not just what a licensed CPA can provide. Many of you are already providing pension administration, M&A consulting, employee benefits, HR consulting, technology services and so on.
  • We are in the global age. Younger people want experience worldwide whether it be studying abroad or working abroad. Big companies want people whose skills can apply worldwide. Even very small firms need people who can interact internationally because their clients have international relationships.
  • If you don't drive your business, you will be driven out of business.
  • B. C. Forbes

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

AICPA Practitioners Symposium & Tech+ Conference

PS16“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” – Oprah Winfrey

It’s that time of year again. Time to register for the PCPS PractTECH+ Conference. This is THE conference where you can select from several tracks and cross-over tracks to gain CPE and to learn about:

  • Technology trends, including the latest on cloud migration
  • Management techniques to help you grow your business and enhance profitability
  • Marketing and sales initiatives to help secure the clientele you want
  • Human resource programming that can help you attract and retain key employees.

If you are a long-time attendee, this year bring a younger partner or team member with you to the conference. With two or more attendees from your firm you will have great momentum when you return to the office.

I will be speaking on why Mentoring Matters.

Mentoring is key in retaining top talent. Today’s new hire was raised in a culture of mentoring and positive reinforcement. Surveys tell us they will be looking to your firm to provide this same focused attention. Everyone benefits from mentoring! Learn what you can do to keep your top performers.

I would love to meet you. Seek me out during the conference – I’ll be mingling at all the receptions.

AICPA PSTech_Conference Speaking badge

  • My mentor said, 'Let's go do it,' not 'You go do it.' How powerful when someone says 'Let's!
  • Jim Rohn

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Details Of The Next Version Of The Uniform CPA Examination

Announcement from the AICPA:

New York (April 4, 2016) – The American Institute of CPAs today presented final details on the next version of the Uniform CPA Examination that will be launched on April 1, 2017.

The next version of the exam is based on a practice analysis, an extensive research project overseen by the AICPA’s Board of Examiners, which included input from key stakeholders across the accounting profession. The result maintains the strong commitment of the profession to protect the public interest. The next exam remains current, relevant, reliable and legally defensible. The exam meets the needs of boards of accountancy by providing reasonable assurance that individuals who pass the exam have the technical knowledge and skills necessary for CPA licensure.

Among the changes to the next version of the CPA Exam:

  • Increased assessment of higher-order cognitive skills that include, but are not limited to, critical thinking, problem solving and analytical ability.
  • Additional task-based simulations (TBSs) will be included on the exam, which are an effective way to assess higher order skills.
  • New exam blueprints containing approximately 600 representative tasks across all four Exam sections will replace the Content Specification Outline (CSO) and Skill Specification Outline (SSO). These blueprints are more robust than the CSO and SSO, identifying content knowledge linked directly to representative tasks performed by newly licensed CPAs.
  • Total CPA Exam testing time will increase from 14 to 16 hours – four sections of four hours each.

The Exam will remain composed of the four existing sections – Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG).

“The next version of the CPA Exam, will continue to help protect the public interest by ensuring that newly licensed CPAs have the skills and knowledge they need to meet the needs of a business environment that is increasingly complex,” said Michael Decker, AICPA vice president of examinations. “On behalf of the AICPA, I’d like to thank all of the key stakeholders for their role in the rigorous process of creating the next version of the CPA Exam. I believe that, as a profession, we have created an exam that is relevant, reliable and current in today’s world.”

To increase candidate convenience, there will be a 10-day extension of the testing window each quarter in the months of March, June, September and December. The 10-day extension will not be available during June 2017, as additional time will be required to analyze exam results and set new passing scores. In addition, administration of the new exam will include a 15-minute standardized break during each section that will not count against a candidate’s testing time. Any combination of passing current Exam sections and passing next Exam sections (within the 18-month window following passing one section) will count toward licensure.

More information on the next version of CPA exam is online athttp://www.aicpa.org/BecomeACPA/CPAExam/nextexam/Pages/next-cpa-exam.aspx.

  • There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
  • General Colin Powell

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

The Value Of Leadership

This week I am so fortunate to be able to spend a couple of days at the AICPA offices in NYC with some of the most progressive minds in CPA firm management.

The New Horizon Group has a long history of serving the CPA profession. I have been a member for nearly 15 years (and was the first female to be invited!). The faces have changed over the years but the content of our discussions still in enriching to all of us. Our goal is to simply help CPAs, in public practice, be the best they can be.

Yesterday, Allan Koltin shared an important trend – In the last decade, he has seen the perceived value of leadership/management in CPA firms go up greatly. Partners really understand that it is a business and are showing much more appreciation for the managing partner and other management leaders. For high performing firms, size doesn’t matter. If they let the CEO truly run the business, they all make more money.

New Horizon Group Members are: Jim Bourke, Sue Coffey, Gale Crosley, Chris Frederiksen, Carl George, Angie Grissom, Rita Keller, Roman Kepczyk, Allan Koltin, Jim Metzler, Marc Rosenberg and Jennifer Wilson.

  • The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.
  • Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Gigantic, Combined Conference For 2017

For a long time, I was a committee member and a a committee chair for the AICPA PractitionersTECH+ Symposium. I have also had the honor of being a featured speaker at the event for many years.

I’ll be in Vegas, June 5-8 this year for the annual event. My presentation will help you understand, document and roll-out an appropriate mentoring program for an accounting firm. I hope to see you there.

But, get ready, the event will take on a whole new personality for NEXT YEAR – 2017. The AICPA is planning to host a combined financial planning and accounting conference in 2017 called AICPA Engage.

The conference will combine five (yes FIVE), of the AICPA conferences into a single, co-located event – June 12-15, 2017 at the MGM Grand in Vegas.

Here’s the line-up:

  • Advanced Estate Planning Conference
  • Advanced Personal Financial Planning Conference
  • Conference on Tax Strategies for High-Income Individuals
  • National Advanced Accounting and Auditing Technical Symposium
  • Practitioners Symposium/TECH+ Conference

You can get more info at aicpaengage.com and read more details at AccountingToday.

Remember to register for this year’s event and be sure to take a younger CPA, or two, with you.

  • To get something done a committee should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent.
  • Robert Copeland