Today's Features

Firm Security Needs an Independent Review

Who needs cybersecurity training? Your whole staff.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Going “paperless” means that all firm files and client data will be digitally stored on the firm’s network, which is almost always accessible to firm personnel via internal workstations and remotely via the internet.

MORE: SURVEY: Digital Audit Confirmations Not the Norm | Training that Works | SURVEY: 61% of Auditors Commonly Use Data Extraction Tools | SURVEY: Firms Divided on eSignatures
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The firm has a fiduciary responsibility to protect this data from anyone not specifically authorized to view it. Proper security is VERY difficult for any internal network administrator to guarantee as few have the experience and have participated in ongoing training to implement security settings optimally the first time.

What’s Ahead for the Smart Home in 2019?

Asian woman using smart refrigeratorLook for more "smart services."

By Rick Richardson

We’re early in the year, so this might be a good time to propose some predictions for tomorrow’s smart home.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK:The New $99 Tax Service for the Masses | RCS: What It Is and Why You Might Want It | Vaporize Invisible Smartphone Filth | 190 Universities Launch 600 Free Online Courses | In Cybersecurity, Why Tokenization Beats Encryption
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Video Kills the Telephone Call. The proliferation of smart speakers has continued unabated nearly since their inception, but recently we’ve seen a new feature taking center stage on these do-it-all devices – video.

Working for a Putz

Invisible businessman saying "blah blah blah blah blah"What is more important to you, how you look or how good the work is?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Early on in my career, I was assigned to work with a manager on a half-dozen
monthly clients.

MORE: Staffers Need to Speak Up with Clients | When Writeups Went Extinct | Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech
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He went with me and worked on the main company while I worked alongside
him on the baby company. The baby company was much smaller and
usually was for a second line the client had. I did the writeup and prepared
the financial and other statements for the current month and year to date.

2019: Three New Trends to Watch

After profitable years, here's where to invest.

By Carl George
The Rosenberg Survey: National Study of CPA Firm Statistics

For the most part, it was a very successful year. Profitability improved enough that allowed partners and employees to share in the increases, and ample allocations were made for investments, primarily in personnel benefits and technology. Growth in net fees ranged generally from 5-9 percent, so many firms are experiencing top- and bottom-line growth.

MORE FROM THE MAP SURVEY: 2019: Why Small Firms Shun Mergers | 2019: Using M&A to Launch Consulting | 2019 Trends: Client Service Changes | Staff Policies Improve, But Not Mentoring
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There are three trends developing that will benefit firms for many years to come:


We Hear But Do We REALLY Listen?

Smiling businessmen listening to young female during interview6 people NOT to be.

By Steven E. Sacks

Do you ever find yourself speaking to someone and notice that they are battling you and their iPhone? A quick glance here, a one- or two-word text response there.

MORE: The Holy Grail: Finding the Right Talent | Battling Staff Turnover | Confronting Leadership: Not Such a Bad Thing | The Damocles Sword of Staff Retention | Does Your Board Know Its Role? | Can We Please Refer to Accounting as a Profession?
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Unfortunately, it is the new normal – whether in business or in our personal lives. Those of us who encountered different forms of technology tools and platforms during the second half of our careers still believe that effective interpersonal communication still counts for something. Of course, in this era of uncivil discourse, speaking over one another has, too, become the new normal.

2019: Why Small Firms Shun Mergers

Leadership and "business-getting skills" emphasized for managers.

By Rita Keller
The Rosenberg Survey: National Study of CPA Firm Statistics

When considering a succession plan that involves merging up, some very well-managed and profitable smaller firms actually feel like they are taking a step backward.

MORE FROM THE MAP SURVEY: 2019: Using M&A to Launch Consulting | 2019: Client Service Moves to Fore | 2019: Shifts in Hiring & Office Space
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They view the larger, acquiring firm as having multiple partners who seem complacent and unwilling to invest in digital tools that will take the firm into the future. Decision-making is way too slow.


Economy Shakes CPA Confidence

CPA Outlook Index (AICPA)

But they expect better for their own firms.

By Kayleigh Padar
CPA Trendlines

Trade wars and interest rate trends are undermining accountants' confidence in the U.S. economy, even as their outlook for their own firms strengthens, according to a new survey of 400 C-level CPAs.

MORE SURVEYS & RESEARCH: Jobs Report: 43,000 New Hires  |  CPA Wealth Advisor Survey  |  Survey: Clients Rush for TCJA Answers  |  Join the Accounting Firm and Operations Technology Survey  |  Mergers vs. Clients: Winners and Losers  |

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Only 57 percent said they were optimistic about the U.S. economy over the next 12 months, down from 69 percent in the previous quarter. CPAs cite trade issues and rising interest rates as the main reasons for their pessimism. READ MORE →

Aligning What We Think with What We Do

Two metal balls balancing at each end of seesawIf you're "behind," then "don’t try to eat the entire elephant in one bite."

By Bill Reeb

Look for disconnects between what you think and do. And when you find yourself taking an action that contradicts the way you have been thinking, take a moment to figure out why there is a disconnect.

MORE: Don’t Be Someone Else’s Rug | Focus on Changing Yourself (Not Everyone Else) | How a Strength Can Become a Weakness | Tenacity and Persistence: Friends or Foes? | Don’t Let Worry Consume You | Guilt vs. Duty | Being Judgmental Is Self-Destructive
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When your actions and thoughts are not in congruence, know that you are setting yourself up to get stuck. Doesn’t it make sense that a major source of dissatisfaction can occur anytime you are thinking one way yet acting another? If we can’t be honest with ourselves, how can we ever expect to know who we really are and what is really important to us?

2 Lessons Clients Taught Me

Older businesswoman pondering, seated by windowWhat our clients can teach us.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Let's discuss Lean Six Sigma as it applies to CPA firms. Let's discuss lean processes and error tracking.

MORE: CPAs Can’t Help You | The Value-Pricing Con Job | No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem | The Agile Accountant | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | The Great Marketing Hoax | The Cure for Commoditization | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | What the Value-Pricers Get Wrong | Four Amusing Millennial Myths | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It. | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions

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You’ve probably heard of Lean Six Sigma. Our manufacturing clients implemented it back in the 1990s.

I’m betting this is the first time you’ve heard of its application to the CPA world.