Afterburner Webinar: Debriefing, The Final Step to Agility

This video, part of the Flawless Execution Webinar Series by Afterburner, explores the importance of debriefing after a major project. The video maintains that it is a critical team building exercise that identifies the team’s successes and its breakdowns so that the information can be used in the future.

The video teaches the viewer how to conduct a structured debrief that will save time and advance similar processes. This improves communication, and therefore reduces frustrations, across the board by sharing lessons learned in the process of start to the end goal so they might be repeatable.

It also explores the “Execution Gap,” which is the difference between expected results and actual achievements. Using this lens, it views success from multiple points of view to gain a fuller understanding of what was accomplished. Doing this can streamline and improve your future processes, moving toward where you want to be.

Deloitte Launches Dynamic Modeling and Visualization Tool for Tax Reform Advisory Services

New York-based Deloitte (FY16 net revenue of $17.5 billion) launches a new service that leverages Tax Reform Navigator, a web-based solution that uses actual and projected financial data to provide a holistic view of how potential tax reform proposals are likely to impact a company.

Terri LaRae, partner and national leader of tax reform advisory services, says “Companies that prepare now may be better positioned to act advantageously if and when tax reform is enacted. We created Tax Reform Navigator to enhance Deloitte’s tax reform advisory services and give companies the confidence to make informed decisions during uncertain times.”

The tool can account for a number of variables and be customized to explore a range of scenarios when creating an integrated plan with domestic and international tax considerations. Along with the tax advisory services, some of the scenarios upon which the tool provides insight include:

  • Impact on existing attributes
  • Acquisitive organizations
  • Supply chains
  • Debt-intensive industries
  • Multinational organizations

The Tax Reform Navigator compares company data side by side and measures the potential impact of proposals in the House GOP blueprint, President Trump’s tax plan and the Tax Reform Act of 2014 (introduced but not voted on). Deloitte works with clients to design and generate reports that communicate tax reform planning progress to C-level executives, boards and other stakeholders to help inform business decisions and other efforts.

“Effective tax reform planning requires companies to explore different approaches and evaluate likely outcomes relative to their specific businesses,” LaRae adds. “The feedback we have received from clients has been positive. We plan to expand the tool’s features in the next month to include additional tax forecasting capabilities and visualize state-level tax implications.”

White Paper: Discover the 5 Stages of Cyber Security Maturity

British Telecommunications and New York-based KPMG (FY16 gross revenue of $8.6 billion) have developed a white paper that describes cybercrime as a journey. Once you know where you and your company are on that journey, you can take the appropriate steps to get to where you need to be, the firms contend. The white paper provides practical steps to manage cyber risks.

Each chapter is dedicated to one stage in the journey and lays out step-by-step recommendations, along with questions to ask to get to the next stage.

The cyber journey stages:

  1. Denial: Thinking it won’t happen to us
  2. Worry: Obtaining as much security as possible
  3. False confidence: We are ready
  4. Hard lessons: Learning there’s no absolute security
  5. True leadership: We must work together

By focusing on innovation, you can maintain a sustainable risk position against the evolving threat landscape, the white paper says.

Zacks Investment Research Upgrades CBIZ to “Strong-Buy”

Cleveland-based CBIZ (FY16 net revenue of $661 million) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating. The firm currently has a $17 target price on the business services provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research’s price objective points to a potential upside of 14.48% from the stock’s current price.

CBIZ last announced its quarterly earnings results on Aug. 3, reporting $0.20 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.18 by $0.02. The company had revenue of $211 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $207.42 million. CBIZ had a net margin of 5.54% and a return on equity of 9.59%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 7.1% compared to the same quarter last year.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company.

  • First Manhattan Co. boosted its position in shares of CBIZ by 4.2% in the first quarter, now owning 2,884,455 shares of stock worth $32.3 million.
  • P2 Capital Partners LLC upped its position in shares of CBIZ by 67.6% in the first quarter. They now own 2,361,073 shares of stock worth $32 million.
  • Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its stake in CBIZ by 6.9% in the first quarter. They now own 2,194,818 shares stock valued at $29.74 million.
  • State Street Corp boosted its stake in CBIZ by 12.0% in the fourth quarter. Now owning 896,848 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $12.3 million.
  • Norges Bank bought a new stake in CBIZ during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $10 million.
  • 84.97% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Sarbanes Oxley Whistleblower Protection Law at 15 Years

Fifteen years after Congress enacted Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), internal whistleblowers continue to be the best source of fraud detection, but corporate whistleblowers are still suffering retaliation. A survey performed by the Ethics Resource Center found that nearly half of employees observe misconduct each year, and one in five employees who reports misconduct perceives retaliation for doing so.

The National Law Review, through Zuckerman Law, has released a free guide to the SOX whistleblower protection law: “Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Protection: Robust Protection for Corporate Whistleblowers.” It summarizes SOX whistleblower protections and offers tips for corporate whistleblowers.

The goal of the guide is to provide corporate whistleblowers with the knowledge to effectively combat whistleblower retaliation, avoid the pitfalls that can weaken a SOX whistleblower case and formulate an effective strategy to obtain the maximum recovery.

The guide addresses:

  • Whistleblowers protected by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • Elements of a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim
  • Protected whistleblowing
  • Knowledge of protected conduct
  • Prohibited whistleblower retaliation
  • Proving SOX whistleblower retaliation (causation)
  • Employer affirmative defense
  • Damages
  • Litigating SOX whistleblower claims

CEO Outlook Shows How Innovation Comes of Age

According to KPMG’s 2017 CEO Outlook, 57% of U.S.-based CEOs revealed they lack sufficient processes to sense disruption in their respective markets. From startups and new competitors to emerging technologies to shifts in political, regulatory and economic conditions, companies without methods of sensing disruption may find themselves at significant risk.

“It’s encouraging that 72% of executives said they are actively disrupting the sector in which they operate, but in order to be successful, they need processes and capabilities that allow them to separate relevant weak signals from market noise,” says Mike Nolan, vice chair of KPMG’s innovation and enterprise solutions. “With a broader view of potential disruption, companies can develop sound strategies and make smarter investments to achieve both short and long term goals.”

Just under half of U.S. business leaders (43%) are confident that America’s economy will grow over the next three years and 37% anticipate growth for their respective companies. However, almost all (95%) believe that the level of top line growth will be less than 5% over the next three years.

“To meet investor expectations, it becomes even more important for companies to innovate. The hard part is balancing how much investment is necessary to succeed; too much innovation can starve a company’s core strategy, while too little can erode competitive advantage,” says Nolan.

According to the study, 6o% view technological disruption as more of an opportunity than a threat. In response, CEOs are placing a significant investment emphasis on emerging technologies areas such as data and analytics (61%), and artificial intelligence (58%) over the next three years.

As a core component of many important decisions made by leaders, the emphasis of increased spending on data and analytics focuses on ensuring data integrity. Nearly half of leaders (48%) expressed concern about data quality. As a result, one-third of CEOs revealed an inability to base business decisions on their data until they invest in improving its quality.

What has improved among CEOs is their confidence in integrating cognitive technologies, such as artificial intelligence. This year, 61% of leaders expressed concern over implementing cognitive technology, compared to 85% last year. The rapid advancement of the technology, its ability to augment employee productivity and improve quality of work has lead businesses to warm up to leveraging these new technologies.

For companies unsure of how to invest in innovation, leaders have options. They can determine whether to build a product or service from the ground up, buy a company with the product, technology or business model needed to increase speed to market, or ally with a proven entity whose complementary capabilities can increase value.

“Leaders have to ask themselves, ‘Are we making these investments to address a short-term gain, such as a reaction to a recent move made by a competitor?’ Or should we make this investment because it will help drive our longer-term business transformation?'” says John Farrell, national MP, KPMG’s innovation and enterprise solutions.

At a time when experimentation is expected, leaders must find ways to transform their ideas into reality without overburdening operations. Companies of all sizes can learn from startups by forming a business case supported by small “seed” investments before launching a full-scale product or service that focuses on enhancing customer experience and market value.

“This approach helps companies gain real-time insights so they can evaluate whether their innovation efforts should be accelerated, reinvented, or discontinued,” says Nolan. “With naturally competing interests and priorities, leaders need the resolve to manage these decisions to effectively execute their vision for success.”

Instagram is Tipping Off India’s Taxman

According to an article in Bloomberg, India’s government will begin amassing virtual information collected not just from traditional sources like banks but also from social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, as it looks to match residents’ spending patterns with income declarations. Officials will be able to spot those who pay too little tax without raiding offices and homes as they currently do.

While India’s economy is among the fastest-growing in the world, there is a disconnect with its revenue. This not only bloats the budget deficit, but it also triggers anxiety about overzealous tax sleuths. To combat this, Project Insight, built over seven years at a cost of about $156 million, will complement the world’s largest biometric identity database and India’s tax overhaul, Bloomberg reported.

“Data analytics is the way forward for tax administrations across the world,” says Amit Maheshwari, MP at New Delhibased Ashok Maheshwary and Associates. “This will also put an end to harassment by tax officials as there will be no public interface. Perceived randomness in scrutiny will come to an end.”

The project has three major phases:

  1. All existing data, including credit card spends, property and stock investments, cash purchases and deposits, will be migrated to the new system and a central team will send postal or email blasts to prod residents to file tax declarations. There will not be any physical interaction.
  2. Data analytics will mine, clean and process the information. Individual spending profiles will be created and inquiries will be more targeted. This phase is planned on being rolled out by December.
  3. Advanced systems will be used to predict future defaults and flag risks (live around May 2018).

AWSCPA to Join AICPA

The American Woman’s Society of CPAs (AWSCPA), a professional organization representing women CPAs, has agreed to support an memorandum of understanding with the AICPA. The following is an excerpted letter from the AWSCPA:

The AWSCPA national board is pleased to announce that we have received and unanimously accepted a memorandum of understanding with the AICPA that will further the goal of supporting women in the profession.

For the first time since our inception, AWSCPA has the opportunity to showcase our strengths on a larger platform. The AICPA can provide the women of our organization the resources, knowledge and skills. This provides an opportunity for our members to connect with a vast community of professional women in all realms of the accounting world as mentors, role models and friends.

In exchange for assignment of the AWSCPA intellectual property (logo, name, etc.) AICPA will:

  • Create a new task force for AWSCPA under women’s initiatives executive committee
  • Provide discounted introductory AICPA membership dues for AWSCPA members who are not currently AICPA members
  • Develop communities and programming for women members of the AICPA, including former AWSCPA members, as the women’s initiatives executive committee deems appropriate

Tech Solutions Company Urges Preventative Care to Combat Cybercrime

The hyper-connected and data-driven business landscape creates an attractive target for hackers to infiltrate. Connected devices, cloud computing, Big Data, mobile technologies and remote working practices are digital trends open to being exploited by hackers who are becoming smarter and more sophisticated.

“In the rapidly evolving business landscape, it’s not a matter of if a business will be targeted, but when. Business leaders need to be well versed in both the opportunities and threats of the new digital business landscape. Technology has changed our lives: We can access emails from our phone, we can work remotely on the cloud from home, all of which have been enabled by technology, which continues to pervade every aspect of our daily lives. Bearing this in mind, it makes it increasingly important for businesses to protect systems, networks and data from threats,” says Tony Trama, director of security solutions at Micro Strategies.

According to EY’s 19th Global Information Security Survey 2016-17, only 22% of 1,735 respondents, who are global executives, information security managers and IT leaders, fully consider information security in their strategy and planning.

But despite concerns around the frequency of attacks, many U.S. businesses are not taking measures to protect sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, intellectual property or trade secrets, leaving them compromised. According to EY’s survey, 89% fail to evaluate the financial impact of every data breach and 49% had no idea what financial damage it caused. Global ransomware damage costs are predicted to exceed $5 billion in 2017, which has significantly increased from $325 million in 2015. And looking even further into the future, overall cybercrime damage costs are estimated to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021 (statistics according to Cyber Security Ventures’ Ransomware Damage Report).

“Prevention is better than the cure, so business leaders need to ensure they optimize their security programs to manage risk rather than simply focusing on compliance. They need to realize there are no magic bullets when it comes to protecting against advanced threats, that they need to identify and protect their critical assets, and of course, that they’ll need to up their game when it comes to protecting cloud and mobile. Good governance and practices should be in place to detect and respond to issues in advance to minimize the reputational and financial impact of these incidents. Businesses and governments are still reeling from recently publicized attacks, proving that having a robust security program and an educated workforce are key to minimizing the threat surface,” says Trama.

Warren Buffett’s 10 Commandments for Running a Successful Business

Lawrence A. Cunningham has pulled together what he calls Warren Buffett’s “10 commandments,” in an article for the National Association of Corporate Directors’ summer edition of NACD Directorship. They are:

  1. Selecting the right CEO comes before all other tasks.
    Above all, recruiting, overseeing and, when necessary, replacing the chief executive officer is the board’s most important job. If they secure an outstanding CEO, they will face few of the problems directors otherwise address.
  2. You should discuss a CEO without him/her.
    A board’s outside directors should form a set of performance standards and regularly evaluate the CEO without him/her being present.
  3. Act as if you work for a single absentee owner.
    All directors should act as if there is a single absentee owner and do everything reasonably possible to advance that owner’s long-term interest. Corporate leaders should think in terms of years, not quarters; they must not rationalize continued subpar performance by perpetual pleas for shareholder patience. To that end, it is desirable for directors to buy and hold personal stakes in the companies they serve so that they truly walk in the shoes of owners.
  4. Be fair, swift, decisive – and prepared to fire people.
    If the CEO’s performance consistently falls short of the standards set by the outside directors, then the board must replace the CEO. The same goes for all other senior managers they oversee.
  5. If you perceive a problem, speak up about it.
    Directors who perceive a managerial or governance problem should alert other directors to the issue. If enough are persuaded, action can be taken to resolve the problem.
  6. If no one is listening, reach out to the absentee owner: shareholders.
    When a director remains in the minority and the problem is severe, reaching out to the shareholders is warranted.
  7. Sometimes a leader has to be impolite.
    Even high-quality directors can fail because of what Buffett calls “boardroom atmosphere.” Raising certain topics, such as questioning the wisdom of an acquisition or CEO succession, are seen by some boards as impolite as belching at dinner. Try adjusting the social atmosphere of the room. How to do so, of course, depends on the corporate culture and personalities involved.
  8. Don’t let an outside consultant decide compensation.
    “Directors should not serve on compensation committees unless they are themselves capable of negotiating on behalf of owners,” Buffett says. In other words, this task should not be delegated to consultants. In the negotiations, directors must make one point non-negotiable: all forms of compensation, especially equity-based, must be treated as an expense for accounting purposes.
  9. There is only one way to avoid audit issues: pry.
    The audit committee occupies a central role in today’s financial reporting ecosystem, yet directors cannot conduct the audit and sometimes feel overwhelmed. Buffett’s advice is to focus on what is possible, which is simply getting the auditors to candidly divulge what they know
  10. When it comes time to choose your own replacement, use the above commandments.
    Those who are skilled managerial recruiters and overseers are owner-oriented, engaged, articulate, communicative and astute. Basic habits such as diligence, preparation and attendance are also essential.