Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Friday, March 20th, 2020

AICPA ENGAGE Conference – Cancelled

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

News from the AICPA about one of their largest conferences:

AICPA and CIMA to Postpone ENGAGE 2020 Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

Accounting and Finance Event to Be Rescheduled Later This Year

NEW YORK (March 19, 2020) – ENGAGE 2020, one of the largest accounting and finance conferences in North America, will be postponed until later this year due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The event is sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

The original date for ENGAGE 2020 was June 7-11 in Las Vegas. Details on the timing and format of the rescheduled event are still being set, as the situation surrounding the outbreak is fluid.

“We want our attendees, staff, and speakers to be safe, so this is the most prudent step to take at this point,” said Clar Rosso, executive vice president for engagement and learning innovation at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the global organization comprised of the AICPA and CIMA.  “We also know that families, small businesses and companies of all sizes will be depending on CPAs and management accountants to help guide them through unexpected financial and economic challenges in the weeks ahead, so we are bearing that in mind, too.”

Given the restrictions on normal activities, the AICPA and CIMA continue to explore ways to support our members in their professional and personal development through expanded digital offerings and other virtual learning opportunities. More information will be available on these enhanced options soon.

ENGAGE 2020 attendees who are already registered and others interested in details about the rescheduled event can sign up for updates on aicpaengage.com. More information about the postponement, refunds, and other policies can be found in a FAQ on the site.

Several other upcoming AICPA conferences will also be postponed, including the AICPA CFO Conference, which will now be held Sept. 16-18 at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, Calif., the AICPA Employee Benefit Plans Conference and the AICPA Not-for-Profit Industry Conference, with the latter two reschedulings still to be determined. Please visit aicpaconferences.com for more information on events in the weeks ahead.

  • During my New York run, I injured my voice badly. I was getting increasingly hoarse, and it finally gave up. The doctor said I had two choices. Either cancel things, or try my luck and perhaps never speak again. That's not much of a choice.
  • Trevor Noah

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

What Firms Are Doing – COVID-19

“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.” — Seneca

I made an inquiry as to what individual CPA firms were doing in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. Thanks to the many firm leaders who replied.

As you can imagine, it is a continuing saga and things are changing daily. As of now, here are some things I learned:

  • From East Coast to West Coast all of the firms are already providing the option for employees to work at home.
  • A small number of “key” people are working in the office to take care of various daily tasks.
  • Of course, all firms are stressing that “if you are sick, stay home!”
  • Firms are on a mission to control cleanliness – Cleaning doorknobs, light switches, copy machine keypads, restrooms, etc. on a daily basis and in some firms several times per day. Many are supplying hand sanitizers at each workstation and other places throughout the office.
  • Firm meetings have been canceled and everyone is being asked not to attend any kind of outside meeting – board meetings, etc.
  • Auditors are working remotely.
  • Tax clients are being asked to drop off their tax info in a special receptacle in the lobby and not interact with the receptionist.
  • All in-person client meetings have been canceled and communication is happening virtually via various options.
  • Firms have banned all firm travel. If local travel is necessary, the firm has requested that the employees drive and not take public transportation.
  • One firm, located in Washington State, is “in the thick of it” and many contingencies have been put into place to help any who are directly exposed. Many of their employees have self-quarantined because of possible exposure and some are awaiting test results because of exposure. Employees in the high-risk category were sent home last week until further notice.
  • Firms are even arranging ways for those in the office to practice social distancing.

These comments come from firms in North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, and several from California.

I was very impressed with the proactiveness of so many firms but I am certainly not surprised. Accounting firms are problem-solving champions!

I live in Ohio and I have been especially impressed with what our state government is doing and communication is a huge part of it.

Right now, communication is critical and firms are continually keeping their people in the loop as to new developments almost on an hourly basis.

This is a huge challenge for public accounting firms and most mentioned that they are awaiting word about extending tax deadlines.

Be sure you are communicating and carrying out your own firm’s plan.

  • Preparedness is the key to success and victory.
  • Douglas MacArthur

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

Important News From The AICPA

Here’s a press release:

AICPA Calls for Tax Relief for Individuals and Businesses Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON, DC, March 11, 2020 – The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) today called for the Treasury Department and the IRS to provide relief to all taxpayers in light of the uncertainty and challenges caused by the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Specifically, we request that Treasury and the IRS consider the following recommendations, which will provide extensive relief to millions of individuals and businesses:

Individuals

  • Broad Relief: Extend certain deadlines falling on or after March 15, 2020 and before October 15, 2020 to give individuals additional time to file and make payments through October 15, 2020.
  • Automatic Extension: Provide an automatic extension to October 15, 2020, without the need to file any forms or request an extension.
  • Penalties & Interest:
    • Waive late payment penalties if at least 70% of an individual’s current tax due is paid by April 15, 2020.
    • Waive interest through October 15, 2020.
  • Other Relief:
    • Waive underpayment penalties for 2020 estimated tax payments if paid by September 15, 2020.
    • Extend the IRA contribution deadline.

Businesses

  • Broad Relief: Extend certain deadlines falling on or after March 15, 2020 and before October 15, 2020, to give businesses additional time to file and make payments through October 15, 2020.
  • Automatic Extension: Provide an automatic extension without the need to file any forms or request an extension.
  • Penalties & Interest: Waive late payment penalties and interest through October 15, 2020.
  • Other Relief: Provide appropriate relief for all businesses and tax-exempt organizations regarding elections and filings (including payroll, excise tax, etc.).

“We are hearing from our members that they and their clients are experiencing great uncertainty about this year’s tax filing season.  Our recommendations will help give taxpayers, large and small, much-needed relief in the midst of this fast-moving emergency situation,” said Edward Karl, AICPA Vice President of Taxation.  “We continue to closely monitor the Coronavirus pandemic and thank the Treasury Department and IRS for their commitment to the welfare of all taxpayers.”

  • Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more easily assess the situation and see the options.
  • Simon Sinek

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

If I Retire What Will I Do?

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Baby Boomer partners in accounting firms are facing a dilemma. The big question is what to do once they retire.

This challenge causes many to simply ignore retirement and just continue working. Many actually have a great fear of retiring. They picture retirement as spending time around the house and irritating their spouse. The spouses fear this, too! You can only play so much golf.

Because they have put in so many long hours at work during the last 35 years, they haven’t developed many hobbies or other interests outside of the CPA profession.

Stop and think about it. Most CPAs nearing retirement have been involved in numerous community and charitable organizations throughout their careers. They have become very interested in, and actually developed a great passion for, some of those organizations. Devoting time to causes you care about can be an opportunity for many productive years ahead.

WalterLynnJr.LR_-1-720x400I have a wonderful example. One of my former clients and a good friend, Walter Lynn merged his successful CPA practice into another firm a few years ago. While he did stay involved for the appropriate amount of time, he began furthering his strong interest in agriculture and ranching into a great passion – soil! Yes, soil and how the health of our country’s soil should be a greater concern to all of us.

He met numerous, high-profile researchers and experts and his involvement continued to grow and keep him busy doing something he thoroughly enjoyed.

Here’s what happened recently:

In response to an overwhelming demand for regenerative agriculture education and consulting services, Understanding Ag, LLC (UA), today announced the appointment of Walter Lynn, Jr. as its Chief Executive Officer.

Read the full press release here. I am so proud of Walter for taking on something that is so much bigger than grinding out his senior years in tax season after tax season. What are you going to do?

  • Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civiliation.
  • Daniel Webster

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Provide Training For Your Leaders – Please!

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Convergence Coaching’s Spring Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP) is open for registration! This year-long program kicks off at the end of May and is designed to take high-potential managers, senior managers, principals, and newer partners to their next level of success in leading others and the firm.

So much is changing. Now is the time to expand your visibility & take on a meaningful role to drive change at your #firm. Learn the skills you need to advance your #role with the @ConvergenceSays TLP. Here is a helpful video –  https://youtu.be/xKP8KeKFMkg

For more detailed information about this valuable program, click here.

The program fills up quickly so don’t wait too long to register.

  • Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

CPAs Can Move On To Other Adventures

“Sooner or later we’ve all got to let go of our past.” – Dan Brown

Many of you may know Tommye Barie, CPA, former Chair of the AICPA.

Here’s a press release from CPA.com about Ms. Barie:

Former AICPA Chair Tommye Barie to Join CPA.com Board

NEW YORK (Jan. 22, 2020) –Tommye E. Barie, CPA, former chair of the American Institute of CPAs, has been named to the board of directors of CPA.com.

Barie has a proven track record of leadership with various organizations. She’s spent her career as a CPA focusing on audit and consulting services for governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations, primarily as a partner with Mauldin & Jenkins LLC, a Top 100 accounting firm based in the Southeast, where she founded the firm’s client advisory services practice.

“Tommye knows how to build an advisory services practice from the ground up and also has over 30 years of experience as an audit and assurance partner,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “Her expertise in both these practice areas brings a great breadth of experience to our board as we advance our Dynamic Audit Solution and client accounting services initiatives.”

As chair of the AICPA from 2014-15, Barie focused on continued relevance for the profession, particularly through the ability to spot trends and new opportunities for growth, such as a deeper application of data analytics and new specializations in technology consulting.

Her thought leadership on culture, strategy and innovation led to Barie being recognized as one of Accounting Today’s 100 most influential people in the accounting profession. Additionally, the Michigan Society of CPAs recognized her with their Outstanding Visionary Award.

Barie currently is executive vice president of leadership development at the Succession Institute, a consulting firm that specializes in strategy, executive development and succession planning.  She is also past chair of the Florida Institute of CPAs, and a current board member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and Stetson University’s board of advisors.

  • The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.
  • Steve Maraboli

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Good Advice For An Actor & Good Advice For An Accountant

“Showing up on time is one of the greatest liberating acts you can give yourself in a movie.” – Tom Hanks

I’m sure, by now, you have probably read about Tom Hank’s acceptance speech for the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award.

He told the story of his first professional job as an intern at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival. He and his fellow interns showed up to rehearsals a little late after doing a little too much partying the previous night. The director wasn’t having it.

“He screamed at us,” said Hanks. “You know what your job is?” the director asked. “You have got to show up on time, and you have to know the text, and you have to have a head full of ideas. Otherwise, I can’t do my job.”

Good advice for an accountant of any age as they strive to build their career in public accounting.

  • Show up on time.
  • Know the text.
  • Have a head full of ideas.

Show up on time – Are others unable to do their work because of you? Are people waiting on you to answer questions so they can continue to efficiently serve the client? If you have an appointment or a scheduled phone call, what does the other person think of you if you keep them waiting?

Know the text – Have you listened and learned? Do you know exactly what you are supposed to do and when? Are you prepared? Do you ask questions so that there are no misunderstandings? When you have questions, do you also suggest solutions?

Have a head full of ideas – Think about how this can move your career forward. Never sink into complacency.  Read, learn and experiment. “It’s the way we have always done it,” is not in your vocabulary.

  • If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great.
  • Tom Hanks

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

Interesting News From the AICPA

“Honesty and integrity are absolutely essential for success in life – all areas of life. The really good news is that anyone can develop both honesty and integrity.” – Zig Ziglar

Here are some announcements & releases shared by the AICPA recently:

At the recent Digital CPA conference, CPA.com announced a partnership with Lukka to offer a crypto-asset solution, LukkaTax. As you know, there is a growing need for firms to understand the crypto-asset category, which was greatly accelerated with the recent IRS notices; this new service offering will provide firms with a virtual currency tax prep tool for growing client needs. Also on the blockchain front, they released their latest report on the 2019 Blockchain Symposium. Here is a link to a PDF for your reference.

They also announced the expansion of the OnPoint A&A Suite to include 3 standalone solutions including OnPoint Collaborate, OnPoint AnalyticsAI, and OnPoint EBP.

  • Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.
  • Thomas Jefferson

Friday, December 13th, 2019

Different Policies For Holiday Closings

“The holidays stress people out so much. I suggest you keep it simple and try to have as much fun as you can.” – Giada De Laurentiis

When holidays fall on a Friday, Monday or mid-week, we often wonder if firms are doing anything more than just the one-day holiday.

When it comes to the December/January holidays – Christmas and New Year’s Day – firms differ on what they offer.

I did a quick survey to see what firms were offering this year for Christmas since it falls on a Wednesday.

  • 18.52% – Close only on December 25th
  • 18.52% – Close 1/2 day on December 24th and all-day December 25th
  • 55.56% – Close all day the 24th and 25th
  • 7.41% – Are closing the entire Christmas week

Most firms are just closing one day for New Year’s Day and allowing people to leave a “little early” on New Year’s Eve.

No matter how much time you get off work, celebrate and have fun with family and friends!

  • Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you’re giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism.
  • Caroline Kennedy

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

My Ramblings About Mergers

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

You have observed it. In the last several years, many mid-size firms have merged-up into the Top 100 (the AICPA calls this group the Major Firms Group).

The firms in the Major Firm Group have also joined forces to form even larger CPA firms. It is an interesting time in the CPA profession. The big get bigger and many firms I have known and admired for years have disappeared.

An interesting statistic from the AICPA, almost 40% of the Major Firms Group from the year 2000, no longer exists.

This week’s announcement about Skoda Minotti joining Marcum brought all this to mind. Read the press release here. Marcum has had phenomenal growth and success under Jeffrey Weiner’s leadership.

So, mid-size firms are disappearing. However, mergers don’t always lead to a happy life once the honeymoon is over. A lot of the big mergers will result in spin-offs and smaller firms will form and thrive.

  • I always say, complacency is the kiss of death.
  • Shari Redstone