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February 2015 Article Archives

AAA's HR Fly-In and PCPS's Human Capital Forum Join Forces

Published on February 27, 2015 by Ann White, AAAPM, AAA Director of Education

The Association for Accounting Administration's HR Fly-In and PCPS's Human Capital Forum have collaborated for the first time to offer Culture and People Matter Most: Strategies to Attract, Engage and Retain Your Firm’s Most Valuable Asset. This Forum & Fly-In will take place immediately following the Practitioners Symposium and Tech + Conference and AAA National Practice Management/AAM Summit Conference on June 10-11, featuring one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as named by Accounting Today, Jennifer Wilson of ConvergenceCoaching.

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Roots of Success - A Gold Mine of Information

Published on February 27, 2015 by Ann White, AAAPM, AAA Director of Education

I realize there has been a lot of communication about the upcoming “Roots of Success” conference scheduled for June and of course there are lots of moving parts to put together our normal conference.  One of this magnitude is exciting to be a part of not only from the planning perspective but I am very much looking forward to attending.

This will be one of the most unique and fully integrated conferences you, your managing partner, HR Director, marketing lead and/or IT lead will have the opportunity to attend.  As we all know so very well, partner retreats typically result in initiatives that typically affect one or more of these areas and with this conference, you will have the opportunity to understand what other firms are doing, hear what industry leaders consider to be key points so that when you hear, “can you . . .”  you are ahead of the curve!

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Conducting Your Busy Season Symphony

Published on February 27, 2015 by Larry Sheftel, CAO, AGH, LLC

It’s February which means it’s that time of year again. You know, the season that shall not be named for fear of a real-life reenactment of something from the Walking Dead.  

The truth is busy season is hard.

Busy season is hard mentally, physically, and emotionally for your staff who give up their weekends and work extended hours to guarantee client satisfaction. Busy season is also hard for the administrative teams that are doing everything they can to support the staff.

There is of course another – often forgotten and overlooked – truth that also revolves around busy season, which is that busy season, is the time to build relationships and pursue opportunities.

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Chapter Chatter Busy Season Edition

Published on February 27, 2015 by Misty Cable, AAAPM, Gilliam & Associates

Our first Chapter Huddle of my term was a big success with over fourteen Chapter Leaders participating in our 20-minute call on “Partnering”.  We discussed how to effectively partner with local and state societies for meetings to develop and foster relationships and worthwhile meetings.  The group also discussed ways to partner with each other, especially during busy season.  A key take away was to keep the lines of communication and networking open even during tax season.  Meeting via conference call for even 30 minutes can give one another that much needed perspective when dealing with the issues we all face.   Put these dates on your calendar for our upcoming huddles and be sure to send me topic ideas:

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2015 Communications Findings from Paperless Benchmark Survey

Published on February 26, 2015 by Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP, AAAPM, Xcentric

The AAA’s 2015 Paperless Benchmark Survey is targeted towards identifying digital best practices and in that light includes questions on technology trends supporting paperless technologies. This year’s survey pointed to some surprising findings under the communications topic which administrators should be aware of as they could impact decisions in the year ahead. Below we discuss the five communications questions from the survey:

1. Unified Messaging on the Decline? Unified messaging entails delivering all communications including voicemail, faxes, and email into one application (primarily Outlook) so that we as end users only have to go to one resource to access them and IT can backup everything in one “communication bucket.” The 2013 survey found that 66% of responding firms had implemented unified messaging whereas the number declined to 62% of respondents for 2015. This is most likely due to different firms responding between the two surveys as our consulting with firms has found that as they upgrade their phone systems to digital means, there is actually more opportunity to integrate voice messaging with Outlook. We also see firm’s implementing digital fax systems that are part of their digital copiers or using digital cloud services such as eFax or Nextiva. We see the key takeaway from this question being, that the majority of firms have implemented unified messaging so for those firms that have not, the technology is stable and the time is now!

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BDO Alliance USA Announces Leadership Changes

Published on February 17, 2015 by Wayne Berson, CEO, BDO USA LLP

BDO USA LLP's CEO, Wayne Berson recently announced that the future leadership of the BDO Alliance USA is transitioning from retiring partner and Alliance Executive Director Mike O’Hare to Alliance Team Partner Michael Horwitz. Michael will assume the title of Executive Director of the BDO Alliance USA on July 1, and will focus especially in the areas of Alliance program innovation, as well as Alliance Firm recruitment and retention. Michael will report directly to BDO USA’s COO, Steve Ferrara, with the transition of leadership effective upon Mike’s retirement at the end of June, 2015.

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Flexibility is Key in Retaining High Performing Employees

Published on February 16, 2015 by Kositzka, Wicks and Company

KWC faces the same challenge as many firms in the accounting industry today: recruiting and then retaining quality employees. Younger employees have changing expectations with regards to workplace flexibility including the ability to maintain a work/life balance and sometimes even the ability to work remotely. Several years ago the principals of KWC realized that the best way to keep high caliber employees was to provide a more flexible workplace, which has helped the firm retain employees who have begun new families or who have spouses either relocated by the military or relocated by family commitments. Fostering this flexible workplace culture has become an integral part of the firm’s continued success.

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Fraudulent Transfer Scams Plaguing CPAs & Advisors

Published on February 16, 2015 by Stephen Vono, Partner & COO, NAPLIA

Be very wary of emails requesting transfers of funds from hacked accounts. We've recently seen two phishing scams that have resulted in fraudulent client fund transfers. While the amounts are typically not large (under $50,000), in both cases there were multiple transfers. The losses are different but the claims are essentially identical. Each of our insureds received an email requesting transfer of funds, and in both cases the email requested that monies be wire transferred from their accounts to a Wells Fargo account. These fraudulent emails included significant identifiable personal details and signatures on faked transfer forms. Signatures were verified against signatures from other valid transfers and determined to be authentic -- so they thought. In one case the bank asked for a phone number to verify the transfer as the transfer form was slightly hard to read (red flag). An email was sent to the hacked account requesting a cell number to verify the transfer. In an email response the sender asked if they could call the bank to verify, and this was allowed as the caller had the correct banking information, social security number and other personal identifying information details to convince the bank to move forward and transfer the funds. Both of our insureds' clients have been asked to be made whole, and we are in the process of determining the liability associated with each claim. With one of these claims, the bank clearly has some liability as it did not follow proper protocol and allowed a deviation of standards by accepting a “call in” as opposed to the “bank calling out.” (Side note: both of these clients are longstanding, very profitable accounts, and our insureds are trying to mitigate damages to maintain the relationship.) OK, now that you have read the claim summary what’s next? Your office needs to take steps to reduce your liability while protecting and safeguarding your clients’ bank accounts. Here are several steps that you should incorporate into your due diligence internal controls:

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NPMC Early Early Bird Deadline Extended

Published on February 09, 2015

Apparently there was a mix up with the National Practice Management Conference brochures and many of our AAA members may have received the Association for Accounting Marketers version of the conference brochure in error.  We have been notified by the AICPA that they are aware of this issue and will be mailing the AAA membership the AAA brochure immediately.  As a result, the early early bird registration deadline has been extended until March 13 (originally it was February 13) for those waiting on the printed version of the brochure. If you would like to see the digital version, click here. You may register for the Conference now by clicking here.

For AAAPMs, you will find a discounted rate.  Be sure to indicate you are an AAAPM under Registration Type to secure the discount.  If you get to the end and don't see the discount applied, email AAA and we'll be sure you receive a credit.

Organizing a conference of this magnitude is a learning process, we apologize for any inconvenience.  The conference itself is full of quality programs and presenters – one that you cannot afford to miss!  Watch your mail and email for updates and additional information.