As I see it: What I heard from members at the spring PIUs

August 14, 2012

by Clarke Price, President and CEO

The Society’s Professional Issues Updates (PIUs) are great programs. The 15 PIUs that we held this spring were attended by 2,928 members and the PIUs reached a total of 3,960 individual members in the fall 2011 and spring 2012 combined—that’s 29% of OSCPA’s resident CPA membership.

While the PIUs are an update on the major issues facing the CPA profession and business, sprinkled with a bit of my humor and sarcasm, they provide a unique opportunity to hear what’s keeping our members awake at night. The spring PIUs provided a unique snapshot of what members are thinking:

The political environment is a major concern/interest. In almost every session, the number one issue of interest was the political environment and outlook for the future. Regardless of whether it’s the Ohio General Assembly or Congress, PIU participants are concerned about the effective stalemate that exists in the political process. Issues aren’t moving and there seems to be a chasm that divides legislators and prevents them from talking across the spectrum of political philosophies. With the number of very significant issues that need attention, from extending the current tax cuts to the multitude of tax extenders that require action to the potential impact of sequestration, the inaction in Congress is of particular concern. And every bit as concerning is the lack of progress on critical issues in Ohio like municipal tax reform and ensuring Ohio’s fiscal stability and viability through changes such as reforms to our public pension systems.

OSCPA should continue to oppose proposals to tax accounting services. That’s one very clear message that came out of the PIUs. In the polling that was part of the Spring PIUs, 80% of respondents said OSCPA should continue its opposition to taxing accounting services, 15% responded that times have changed and OSCPA’s steadfast opposition wasn’t the correct position in today’s environment and 5% weren’t sure what the correct position should be. Ohio CPAs recognize the financial hardship the tax would put on our small businesses, and the competitive disadvantage professionals in our state would face. But to be clear, OSCPA’s position has long been that, should a strong case be made, we could support taxing services if the tax was applied to all professional services. However, if there is a single exemption for legal services, medical services or any other service, OSCPA will mobilize all resources to have accounting services excluded from the tax.

CPAs acknowledge the need to plan for the departure of the Boomers, but they aren’t doing anything about it. Time and time again, there was concurrence with the observation that CPA firms aren’t dealing with the reality that Boomer partners or owners are going to depart in record numbers, but there’s precious little planning going on to get ready. For sole practitioners there’s an even more significant issue:  the failure to take steps now to arrange for services to be provided to clients in the event of the practitioner’s death or temporary incapacity. There’s clear recognition of the importance of these issues, but there’s also little action to address them.

Managing through generational differences is a continuing source of interest. Any time I brought up the issue of managing across the generations, or defining generational differences, there was clear interest among the PIU participants. However, I observed a significant difference in comments and audience reactions this spring. Where the automatic reaction in the past was to complain about the differences among the Milennials, this year there was also significant interest in the differences that Boomers bring to the challenge of managing people. In particular, there was interest in the impact of Boomers working past their mid-60s and how that’s blocking advancement opportunities for the generations behind them. And there’s always interest in how to deal with the Boomers as they personify the “grumpy old man/woman” characterization. Having reached that stage myself, I know this is a tough challenge!

Private Company Standards is a major topic of interest. Whether it’s the FAF plan to create a Private Companies Council that will recommend deviations from GAAP for private companies or the AICPA plan to develop guidance under OCBOA, the overwhelming sentiment was that something needs to be done for private companies. While there’s support for change, there’s also angst that it’s taken so long to get to this point and concern about just what the change(s) will mean.

There’s suspicion about the direction of PCAOB and the potential for a cascade of changes to non-public companies. PCAOB’s consideration of changes to the auditor’s reporting model and proposals to mandate audit firm rotation are a source of concern. While PCAOB’s scope only affects public companies and their auditors, there’s clear concern among PIU participants that these changes will cascade down and become the norm. Some PIU participants have a clear distrust of PCAOB’s direction, and the majority have a concern about PCAOB’s motivations and believe “overreach” may be the word of the day. Read July CPA Voice roundtable discussion, What’s next for the audit profession? featuring the opinions of several Ohio CPA audit experts.

Members like the new format of CPA Voice. While changing the format from a standard page size to a tabloid format might not seem significant, going back to a traditional page size is a hit with members. That change hits close to home since the move to a tabloid was my idea, and it was a clear loser with members!

The Professional Issues Updates are one of the most enjoyable things I get to do as OSCPA’s CEO. The opportunity to interact with members and talk about what’s going on is fun and I enjoy putting the program together. My swan song with the PIUs will be this fall. To find the session that’s closest to you, go to the PIU page on OSCPA’s website and get registered. Remember, the PIUs provide 4 CPE credits at no charge and they’re offered EXCLUSIVELY for OSCPA members. The staff and I are already working to make the fall PIUs a hoot. cp


LIVE: Professional Issues Updates in Columbus

August 31, 2010

Follow along on Twitter: #PIU

Thank you to all of the Professional Issues Updates attendees! We closed up the PIU with a 50/50 raffle to benefit the CPA/PAC. Congratulations to Mary Lee Elliott on being the lucky winner!

We’re off to Cincinnati this afternoon to continue the roadshow! View the full PIU schedule!


11:00

Feel like someone’s watching you? You’re right.

A third of employers monitor employees internet use (American Management Association).

Employers using myrid of ways to monitor employees:

  • Physically going undercover
  • Scrutinizing social media use
  • Monitor e-mail and IMs
  • Tapping office phones
  • Watching personal web postings

10:57

The risk inside your copiers

Nearly every digital copier built since 2002 contains a hard drive:

  • Stores image of every document copied, scanned, or emailed by the machine
  • Digital time‐bomb packed with highly‐personal or sensitive data
  • Identity theft “pot of gold”

10:52

AICPA’s Top 10 Technology Issues

Which top ten technology considerations are driving your business or practice today?

  1. Security of data, code & communications / data security & document retention / security threats
  2. Connectivity / wireless access / high speed Internet connections / voice and data
  3. Backup solutions/ disaster recovery/ business continuity
  4. Secure electronic collaboration with clients – client portals
  5. Paperless workflow/ paperless technology/electronic workpapers
  6. Laptop security / encryption
  7. Small business software / Office 2010 / Windows 7
  8. User mobility / mobile computing / mobile devices
  9. Tax software / electronic transmittals of tax forms / modern e‐file
  10. Server virtualization and consolidation

10:49

Social Media

Forrester Research (June 15, 2010): Information Technology staff who use social media
in servicing their organizations:

  • 72% ‐ positive impact on productivity in the front office
  • 70% ‐ makes IT operations more productive
  • 61% ‐ makes the back office more productive
  • 46% ‐ positive influence on marketing
  • 72% ‐ social media helps them get answers to questions
  • 68% ‐ helps find information they need to be successful
  • 62% ‐ lets people know what kind of help is available.
  • positive impact on brand reputation (86%); innovation (80%); customer service (78%).

10:47

CPAs in an aging society:

E‐mail is making you stupid

  • The cult of multitasking would have us believe that compulsive message‐checking is the behavior of an always‐on, hyper‐productive worker.
  • It’s not a sign of a distracted employee who misguidedly believes he can do multiple tasks at one time. People may be able to chew gum & walk at the same time.

Peripheral tasks triggered twice the number of errors and jacked up levels of annoyance

Interrupted test workers: 3% to 27% more time to complete reading, counting or math problems. The harder the interrupted task, the harder to get back on track.

Microsoft study: It takes a worker 15 minutes to refocus after an interruption; 44% of interruptions employees experience from within the company.


10:29

What’s next? They aren’t even out of grade school. But already, people are trying to name the youngest up‐and‐coming generation, and trying to figure out who they might be and how they might be different from their predecessors.

Many call them Generation Z, and will never know a world without the Internet.

Who are they, really?

Emerging picture of Gen Z (for what it’s worth): they’re young ‐ roughly age 12 or younger. Determining who these youngsters are still is very much a work in progress.

This generation will take characteristics already affiliated with Gen Y to a new level: multitasking or comfort level with different races, ethnicities and cultures.


10:23

What’s the next generation in the workplace going to look like?

The next generation of clients:

Millennials & Gen Xers more comfortable with online tools that enable them to do things themselves.

  • Have access to information at their fingertips like no generation before them, they know where to find information with relative ease.
  • Potential increased regulations & tax law complexities could change things, the fact is younger generations are less likely to utilize a professional accountant.

Firms will need to develop innovative strategies that identify and take advantage of new opportunities with a drastically different client base.

This reality only makes younger generations of workers more integral to the long‐term success of a firm.

  • Understand technologies & values that shape mind set of the demographic. In short, they hold the answers to what it will take to transform & sustain a firm. Learn from them and, at the same time, teach them to build lasting.

10:12

IFRS

Certain OR Uncertain?

  • Uncertain state of U.S. adoption of IFRS: could be helping a number of companies (extra time to make the adjustment.)
  • SEC recently ruled that IFRS won’t be incorporated into: U.S. financial standards until 2015 at the earliest (depending on decision next year on whether to go forward with the transition.)
  • SEC Chairman ‐ Mary Schapiro “confident” that the regulator will decide in 2011

IFRS Readiness – Key Messages

  • Familiarity with IFRS has increased since September 2009: Members also expressed a need for more advanced IFRS knowledge
    • 27% said they need increased knowledge in the next year
    • 37% said they need increased knowledge in the next 2 to 3 years
  • Companies have made some progress in moving toward adoption: Delaying implementation while waiting for SEC action
  • Members: Support adoption of IFRS, although more convergence is desired first; Believe a 2015‐2016 adoption would allow time for implementation (if SEC decides in 2011 to require IFRS)
  • About half were aware of IFRS for SMEs: In addition, 47% said they were unsure if they would consider adopting IFRS for SMEs

10:07

Private Company Financial reporting Task Force

  • 30% of private companies release no financial statements to external users
  • 15% GAAP, but depart: many view GAAP (or certain aspects) as overly complex; few view it as the ultimate solution for private company reporting
  • GAAP departures: potential to confuse financial statement readers and dilute perceived quality of GAAP

Blue Ribbon Panel provides recommendations:

  • future of standard setting ‐ private companies
  • including whether separate, standalone
  • accounting standards for private companies are needed.

10:00

OSCPA Chair Pete Margaritis talking to an OSCPA member at today's Professional Issues Updates.


9:55

CPA/PAC 50/50 Raffle

Get your tickets in for the 50/50 Ohio CPA/PAC raffle! 1/$5.00 or 3/$10.00! Visit our Governmental Affairs team at the table in the back of the room!


9:53

Financial Reporting Issues

  • Accounting Standards Executive Committee (AcSEC)
  • Compilation and Review
  • Simplicity
  • Private Company Financial Reporting
  • IFRS
  • Sustainability

9:39

Ohio Budget Crisis

CPAs routinely advise troubled businesses on how to economize & get through tough times. What are the steps that CPAs would recommend to achieve operational economies, but still keep the doors open & the state in business?

Immediate Action Steps

  • Identify cost & management efficiencies & identify & implement additional cost containment measures
  • Suspend for 1 year any Controlling Board expenditures not necessary to maintain essential state programs & services
  • Require state agencies to use modified zero-based budgeting for 2012‐2013 budget
  • Develop a plan to sunset state agencies (implement a 10‐year evaluation process for all agencies)
  • Require paperless technology

9:19

ABO

Don’t ignore anything that comes to you from the Accountancy Board of Ohio!

  • Deadlines are firm and fines are automatic
  • The last thing you want to do is get a letter from the Accountancy Board summoning you to a public hearing for failure to renew or another violation

9:17

CPA Exam

  • New format will allow development of new kinds of simulations.

Some possible future tasks include:

  • Reviewing footnote disclosures.
  • Creating a flowchart from a description.
  • Repairing a flawed flowchart.
  • Simulating a general ledger where drilldown is done and source documents are reviewed.
  • Simulating a “shoebox” scenario where a CPA has to review several different documents to determine what to do with them (for example, tax return preparation).

9:10

Tax Preparer Registration

Concerns:

  • extension of PTIN requirement to non‐signing employees of CPA firms;
  • appropriate title for persons receiving PTIN
  • IRS imposition of “reasonable user fees,”
  • foreign preparers

What’s Behind the PTIN Issue?

The new PTIN standard marks “the creation of a new profession” by maintaining the term “registered tax return preparers” Karen Hawkins, Director, IRS Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) In a speech to the National Society of Accountants

Comparing preparer requirements

CPA Requirements

  • College graduate
  • 150 hours college
  • CPA requirements

IRS requirements

  • High school graduate
  • 18 years old education
  • Uniform CPA exam
  • 120 hours CPE over 3‐year period
  • IRS exam – level unknown
  • 15 hours annual tax education

9:06

Red Flag Rules

FTC delayed enforcement of “Red Flags” rule until December 31, 2010.

Financial institutions & creditors subject to the FTC’s jurisdiction, including CPA firms. Businesses that bill customers for sales or services after services have been performed, even in the normal course of a traditional billing process are
considered a “creditor.” AICPA filed a lawsuit on November 10, 2009, with the intent to provide an exemption for members in public practice


9:01

Financial Reform

The CPA profession successfully advocated on a number of issues, including:

  • protections to maintain FASB’s independence
  • inclusion of a provision to ensure permanent funding for GASB: resisted duplicative regulation by new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for CPAs’ usual and customary activities.

8:50

What’s likely going to happen in Congress in the next year?

  • Health Care Reform
  • Supreme Court
  • Tax Strategy Patents
  • Financial Reform: Financial Planning; Registration of auditors; Private Right of Action
  • Red Flag Rules
  • Comptroller General = CPA – H.R. 4410
  • Tax Issues: PTIN; S Corp

8:46

A unanimous response from the audience at the Columbus PIU thinks that OSCPA should fight a tax on services.


8:42

CPA Mobility Legislation

The ability of a licensee to gain a practice privilege outside of their home state without getting an additional license in another state where they will be serving a client

  • No fee, no notification, no escape

Recent Success:

  • Alaska ‐ 47th state to enact mobility
    June 10, signed by Alaska Governor Sean Parnell
  • New York Senate passed S6307‐B
    June 7, 2010 / 59‐3

8:37

What’s going on that’s affecting the CPA profession?

Around the country: Mobility; Firm Names; Peer Review

In Ohio: General Assembly; Board of Accountancy

In Washington D.C.: The Court; Congress;  The Regulators


8:34

CFOs said strong ethical culture has beneficial effect on business performance in terms of:

  • staff trust, loyalty & motivation
  • more reliable financial reporting
  • improved corporate culture
  • external relationships
  • investors, customers & analysts: perceived a risk to personal & corporate
  • reputations if ethics not a high enough priority

8:31

Fraud summary:

Misconduct at work is down:

  • Fewer employees witnessed misconduct on the job;
  • 56% in 2007 to 49% in 2009

Whistleblowing up:

  • More employees reported misconduct when observed
  • 63% 2009, 58% in 2007

Ethical cultures stronger:

  • Strength of ethical culture in the workplace increased
  • 53% in 2007 to 62% in 2009

Pressure to cut corners lower:

  • Perceived pressure to commit an ethics violation (cut corners, or worse) declined from 10% ‐ 8%

8:28

Is it OK to cheat on your income taxes? A USA Today poll showed the 84% of those surveyed said, “not at all.”

  • 9%: a little
  • 4%: as much as possible
  • 3%: don’t know

8:25

Occupational fraud is a global problem. Most trends in fraud schemes, perpetrator characteristics & anti‐fraud controls are similar regardless of where the fraud occurred.

Fraud reporting mechanisms critical for effective fraud prevention & detection:

  • implement hotlines to receive tips (internal & external)
  • anonymity and confidentiality; report suspicious activity
  • without fear of reprisal.

Organizations tend to over‐rely on audits.

  • External audits ‐ control mechanism most widely used by victims
  • Ranked comparatively poorly in detecting fraud & limiting losses due to fraud

Employee  education is the foundation of preventing and detecting occupational fraud.

  • Staff ‐ top fraud detection method
  • employees must be trained in what constitutes fraud and how to report questionable activity
  • organizations that have anti‐fraud training for employees and managers experience lower fraud losses

Surprise audits are effective, yet underutilized

  • Less than 30% of victim organizations conducted surprise audits; tended to have lower fraud losses & to detect frauds more quickly. Perpetrators only commit fraud if they believe they will not be caught. Threat of surprise audits increases perception that fraud will be detected; strong deterrent

Small businesses ‐ particularly vulnerable to fraud

  • Far fewer controls in place. Should focus control investments on most cost‐effective mechanisms (hotlines & setting an ethical tone) for employees, as well as those most likely to help prevent and detect the specific fraud schemes that pose the greatest risks to their businesses.

Internal controls alone ‐ insufficient to fully prevent occupational fraud

  • Internal controls will not prevent all fraud from occurring, nor will they detect most fraud once it begins.

Fraudsters exhibit behavioral warning signs of their misdeeds.

  • Red flags (living beyond one’s means / exhibiting control issues) – not likely identified by traditional controls.

Given high costs of occupational fraud, effective fraud prevention measures are critical.

  • Organizations should implement a fraud prevention checklist

8:19

The typical organization loses 5% of revenue because of fraud.

About 40% of companies polled …

  • risk for fraud & economic crime had grown in the past year due to the recession.
  • More than two‐thirds: greater risk of fraud due to increased incentives or pressures
  • 18% ‐ more opportunities to commit fraud partially due to reductions in internal finance staff.

Nearly 90% of occupational frauds involve some form of asset misappropriation.

Methods employees use to embezzle organizational assets:

Three categories:

  1. Schemes involving theft of cash receipts
  2. Schemes involving fraudulent disbursements of cash
  3. Other asset misappropriation scheme

8:10

“Most – when confronted with the global forces shaping business assume that their ability to sculpt the future is minimal.” – J. Clarke Price


8:08

Small business and technology trends:

Social, Mobile and Cloud Computing Converge: Individually, these technologies are having a major impact on small business. But the increasing convergence is amplifying their impact; fundamentally changing how business is done.

Location Technology and Services: Near ubiquity of GPS systems in smartphones and cars, consumer & business use of location aware applications will grow dramatically in 2010. Location information on businesses & consumers will become common & merge with online reviews & ratings.

Analytical Tools Lead to Data‐Driven Decisions: Sophisticated yet easy‐touse tools are allowing small businesses to move from “gut level” decision making to evidence‐based management.

Online Training Brings Professional Education to Small Business: Lowcost yet highly professional online training courses & programs provide small business with the ability to improve productivity & employee engagement. Negatively impacted by the recession, small business use of online training will accelerate in 2010.


8:06

Finance Executives Top 10 Risk Hot Spots for 2010
(From the Corporate Executive Board reported in CFO.com)

  1. Strategic change management
  2. Capacity: Risk of both over & understaffing; Timing capital expenditures also a challenge.
  3. Incentive plans: Compensation under extreme scrutiny
  4. Human resources : Layoffs have left many skill gaps & possible holes in compliance structures.
  5. Fraud: Widely thought to pick up in down times, can be easier to commit at companies that are short‐staffed and under pressure
  6. Innovation/R&D: companies that have cut back risk falling behind competitors
  7. Third‐party relationships: care in evaluating third parties
  8. Shared services: exploring new locations for back‐office functions; can affect companies’ control structures and processes
  9. Inflation/Deflation: currency risk ‐ open question for 2010
  10. Tax management: Recession‐scarred states looking to raise funds: new taxes & stricter enforcement of existing tax laws?

8:01

According to a PEW Research Center poll in July 2010, only 30% of those surveyed know who the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is, but 85% know what Twitter is.


7:57

What’s new in the CPA profession? The pace of accounting rule changes is beginning to wear on finance staffs.

“At any one time we’re tracking between 100 and 200 potential regulations that might impact us. It is putting a lot of pressure on the accounting and financial resources of the organization.” Terry Lillis CFO ‐ Principal Financial Group

7:44

Do you use social media? When polled at last years’ PIUs, 59% said yes, and 41% said no. “I expect the number of people using social media to trend upward,” said Clarke Price.


7:41

The Fall Professional Issues Updates is kicking off in Columbus! Peter Margaritis, CPA, MAcc, Chair of the OSCPA Board addresses the audience and discusses the importance of the CPA/PAC.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,476 other followers

%d bloggers like this: