The 2017 IPA Most Recommended Consultants

We are proud to announce the 2017 IPA Most Recommended Consultants, listed in alphabetical order, and their firms. The full list was highlighted in the October issue of INSIDE Public Accounting.

Each year INSIDE Public Accounting asks firms from across the nation in the IPA Annual Survey and Analysis of Firms to name one consultant, whom they have used during the past year.

Congratulations to this group and IPA thanks this group for their hard work and dedication to the profession.

Click on the consultants names to view their answers a few questions on the state of the accounting industry.

Accountants Advisory Group
Joseph Tarasco

Boomer Consulting Inc.
Gary Boomer

Carl George Advisory
Carl George

ConvergenceCoaching LLC
Jennifer Wilson

Crosley Company
Gale Crosley

Koltin Consulting Group
Allan Koltin

The Rosenberg Associates
Marc Rosenberg

Succession Institute
Bill Reeb

Upstream Academy
Sam Allred, Tim Bartz

Roman Kepczyk

IRS Wants Piece of the Bitcoin Action

The IRS has ruled that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are considered property, not currency, for tax purposes.

That means that consumers should be reporting capital gains if they used bitcoin to make an investment and then cashed out, CNBC reported. Considering the value of the bitcoin has surged this year, it’s not an unlikely scenario.

However, don’t look for a Form 1099 from whatever exchange you traded on. The responsibility to pay taxes on gains lies with the taxpayers.

“If you make a transaction, the onus will be on you to report it,” Samuel Boyd, senior vice president of Capital Asset Management Group, told CNBC. “Those transactions generate either short-term capital gains or losses or long-term capital gains or losses.”

A U.S. District Court in California in November ordered Coinbase, a popular platform for buying and selling cryptocurrencies, to turn over identifying information on 14,000 accounts. The court case stemmed from an IRS finding that for each year from 2013 to 2015, only about 800 taxpayers claimed bitcoin gains. During that time, the cryptocurrency rose dramatically from about $13 to more than $450. One bitcoin is now worth more than $11,000.

The IRS originally asked for information on more than a million accounts. Then the agency narrowed its request, asking only for accounts that conducted bitcoin transactions – either exchanging bitcoin for dollars, or sending or receiving coins from another bitcoin user – worth $20,000 or more.

If you held it for one year or less, it is a considered a short-term gain and is taxed as ordinary income. Depending on your tax bracket for 2017, that could range from a tax rate of 10% to 39.6%. After owning it for more than one year, it is taxed as a long-term gain. Taxable rates on those gains range from 0% to 20%.

“I’ve told clients who own it that it’s up to them to track their cost basis, their holding period and their sale price,” Boyd said. “It might seem innocuous and veiled and like no one will follow up, but records of those transactions are available.”

Fortune reported, “The IRS dispute with Coinbase is likely to be just the opening salvo in a prolonged effort by the federal government to ensure digital currency speculators pay their taxes.”

Ban on the Salary Question Expanding

At an early age, most were taught to avoid talking about numbers of a personal matter: age, weight, salary. Now, increasingly, local and state legislators agree that this extends to potential employers. In numerous places, laws are being passed that ban questions pertaining to salary history.

Supporters of the laws say that they help combat the gender-based wage gap that can too often follow woman from job to job and studies show that this wage gap only widens as they progress in their careers.

Cities and states that have, in some form, banned questions related to previous salary include: California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Orleans, New York City, Oregon, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Puerto Rico.

These bans pose an issue for larger firms with offices in multiple locations with different iterations of the ban. While New Orleans has banned inquires only for city departments and employees of contractors who work for the city, states like Delaware and New York ban all employers from asking about a candidate’s pay history. This means that larger firms will have to decide whether they want to tailor their hiring approach on a location basis or create a model that can be replicated to avoid the question.

“A candidate’s past salary history is not indicative of what they are worth; it’s more about what the market compensates for a particular position,” says Stacey Browning, president of Paycor, in a statement to Forbes. Employers wanting to change their thinking on hiring practices might want to take a more holistic approach. Lydia Frank, vice president of PayScale tells USA Today that organizations should “price the position, not price the person.”

Changing Behavior in Consumer Decision-Making: KPMG Report

Customer behavior and purchase decision-making is growing increasingly complex, driven by multiple factors that include accelerated mass adoption of new technologies and mobility, according to KPMG. A new KPMG report, Me, My Life, My Wallet, introduces a new customer engagement framework that is designed to help businesses understand the forces that influence decision-making and preferences of today’s customers.

“How companies understand their customers and respond to their unmet needs has changed drastically,” says Julio Hernandez, head of KPMG’s Global Customer Center of Excellence and U.S. advisory customer solutions lead partner. “Differentiating your products, services and experiences requires a deep understanding of the trade-offs customers are willing to make, as well as the forces impacting their decision to open and close their wallets.”

The survey found that 57% of U.S. respondents said they would like technology and apps to automatically filter information for them and that the U.S. has the highest media and digital media consumption compared to the rest of the world. U.S. consumers also demonstrate more trust in online reviews.

“Ordering and paying for goods and services on mobile devices is becoming the norm, which is why we’re seeing significant investments by retailers in the mobile consumer experience,” says Mark Larson, national leader of KPMG’s consumer and retail practice. “Companies need to adjust to customers’ increasing dependence on mobile devices and provide frictionless experiences and on-demand services for everything from food to a pet grooming.”

KPMG’s ‘Five Mys’ framework is designed to help strengthen businesses in the race to the customer. The ‘Five Mys’ include:

  • My motivation – characteristics that drive behavior and set our expectations.
  • My attention – ways we direct our attention and focus.
  • My connection – how we connect to information, devices and each other.
  • My watch – how we place a value on time and manage its constraints.
  • My wallet – how the spend and save functions of our wallet change during our lives.

“Making sense of the signals of change is critical to keeping up with your evolving customers.  Finding the right ways to mine and analyze these signals will help companies better predict customers’ changing needs and expectations,” says Colleen Drummond, head of KPMG Innovation Labs and KPMG partner in the U.S.

Click here to access the full report.

Afterburner Webinar: The Secret Weapon of High Performing Ops Teams

A recent webinar was hosted by Afterburner’s David “Finch” Guenthner, a keynote speaker at the 2017 PRIME Symposium, and Milton Bourque from Zachry Construction. They share examples and discuss what makes a high-performing team possible and successful.

David “Finch” Guenthner

David “Finch” Guenthner

The webinar, Operation Debrief: The Secret Weapon of High Performing Ops Teams, discusses how to incorporate a culture of debriefing to achieve success within your organization.

Elements of the webinar include:

  • the keys to improving operational excellence
  • how to drive the importance of disciplined operations
  • why a continuous improvement focused culture accelerates performance

According to Afterburner, organizational excellence is achieved by focusing on leadership development that drives continuous learning, individual engagement and mission-first operations.

Watch the full webinar here.

ACCA Report Outlines Priorities of Young Professionals at Small and Medium Practices

A new report by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Generation Next: Managing Talent in Small and Medium Sized Practices (SMPs), dives deeper into ACCA’s 2016 global survey examining the career aspirations of the younger generation in finance today.

“Our research on young finance professionals globally suggests that this is a generation with ambitions for fast progression and rapid career development,” says Warner Johnston, head of ACCA USA. “These traits place new pressures on SMPs to rethink how they attract, develop and retain young talent.”

From an employer’s perspective, a focus on attraction, engagement and retention should lead to wider changes in how many approach talent-management strategies. Generation Next as a whole is particularly mobile, and that pattern holds for those employed at SMPs: 31% would like to move to their next role in one year, and 64% in two years.

For attracting young finance professionals to SMPs, job security and work life balance are a major factor; 86% agree that job security with an employer is important; 83% agree that work-life balance is a priority; and 71% say that flexible working arrangements are an attraction.

For Generation Next, the key to retention is development: 93% agree that the availability of opportunities to learn and develop skills is key to remaining with an employer.

“Encouragingly, this research shows that the new generation of young finance and accountancy professionals entering the world of SMPs is well-equipped to deal with the changes being driven by globalization and technology,” says Johnston.

Survey Finds Only 11% of Organizations Are Ready for Digital Disruption

According to an AFP MindShift survey, a poll of 279 finance and treasury professionals found that just 11% believe their organization is “fully prepared” or “very prepared” for these new technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain and robotic process automation.

“The benefits of new technology for finance and treasury are clear: increased productivity, reduced costs and better decision-making,” says Jim Kaitz, president and CEO of the Association for Financial Professionals. “However, the challenges are just as clear: lack of control over technology, cybersecurity, company-wide consistency, maintaining employee skills and the potential loss of jobs.”

In addition to the on-site survey, AFP MindShift released a whitepaper, “Emerging Technologies and the Finance Function: Prepare for Disruption.”

“When finance and treasury roles consider applying emerging technologies, such as robotics process automation and AI, to their processes, there are a number of attractive capabilities that can potentially transform the way they operate and enable their business to be more competitive,” says Leslie Chacko, director, Marsh & McLennan Companies Global Risk Center. “However, there are serious challenges and considerations in governance, talent strategy, cyber risk, and more that have to be very carefully considered. That said, ignoring these technologies isn’t an option.”

Deloitte Survey: Cognitive Adoption Resulting in Economic Benefits

The report, “Bullish on the Business Value of Cognitive: 2017 Deloitte State of Cognitive Survey,” released by Deloitte shows that early adopters of artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies are reporting strong opportunities for economic gains and job creation.

“There is a concern that ‘the rise of the machines’ will replace human workers, but we should look at how people and machines can work in collaboration as co-bots,” says Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert. “The ability to leverage new technologies to retool our workforce will ultimately lead to new opportunities to build high value skills for our workers.”

Contrary to public sentiment, 69% of respondents expect minimal to no job loss within the next three years.

“Organizations today that want to create a cognitive advantage should reimagine when, why and how humans and machines work together to achieve better outcomes,” says Ryan Renner, principal, Deloitte Consulting, and Deloitte’s cognitive advantage leader. “Cognitive technologies are disrupting how organizations conduct tasks, make decisions and complete interactions internally; and with their customers. The true value is created by knowing how to apply the technologies most effectively within the context of your business, marketplace, corporate culture and industry.”

Eighty-three percent of respondents report moderate to substantial economic benefits from AI and cognitive technologies. According to the report, organizations that claimed the greatest economic benefits feel that cognitive should be used for transformational change versus incremental improvements.

More than 1 in 3 (37%) companies have invested $5 million or more in AI and cognitive technologies.

  • 73% are exploring mature cognitive technologies such as robotic process automation
  • 70% explore statistical machine learning
  • 49% employ deep learning neural networks

“Cognitive technologies are still maturing, but our study shows that early adopters are experiencing benefits, especially those that have jumped in with both feet,” says Jeff Loucks, executive director Deloitte services, Deloitte center for technology, media and telecommunications. “The more experienced companies are, the more likely they are to see gains. That should provide an incentive for others to get started.”

View the full survey report here.

Cybersecurity Tips from ‘Shark Tank’

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants held a webcast with Robert Herjavec, a leading star of ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ and founder and CEO of the Herjavec Group, a global information security company.

In the recorded webcast, found here, Herjavec gave some tips for cybersecurity for all businesses.

Focus on detection and response. “If you look at some of the recent, large-scale breaches, the blame from consumers and regulators isn’t so much on the fact that you got breached,” Herjavec says. “The blame is, did you have the right systems and controls in place to mitigate that risk and that loss.”

Guard against malware and phishing attacks. It’s common for hackers to impersonate banks in an email and ask for account numbers and personal identification numbers (PINs). “A bank or financial institution will never ask you for your PIN … via email,” Herjavec says. “But if you look at the modern phishing attacks, they look like your bank statements.”

The cloud can provide some protection. Herjavec said the cloud can provide some important security infrastructure. “It doesn’t absolve you of the risk of that data,” says Herjavec. When using the cloud, small businesses still need to understand their own data issues and how to safely connect with their suppliers. Asking cloud providers where and how data will be stored, whether data will be encrypted, whether data you delete will be removed entirely from the cloud, and what the provider’s security procedures entail can lead to a more secure scenario in the cloud.

Protect the core functions. At its core, every business provides some value, whether it’s dry cleaning, whether it’s dog grooming, that core value has to continue to function no matter what the risk is.

View the full webcast here.

Communication is Key for Managing Remote Employees

According a new study by David Maxfield and Joseph Grenny, authors of the bestsellers Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability, communicating and working from different locations via technology is especially challenging for remote workers.

Fifty-two percent of the 1,153 respondents in the study who work remotely feel their colleagues don’t treat them equally. Specifically, remote employees feel that colleagues don’t fight for their priorities, say bad things about them behind their back, and make changes to the project without warning them.

“Our research over the past three decades proves the health and success of any team is determined by the quality of communication between colleagues,” says Maxfield. “Teams that can hold candid and effective dialogue – minus the emotions and politics – experience higher morale and results like better quality, shorter time-to-market, better decision making, etc.”

“When managers model stellar communication, the rest of the team follows suit,” says Grenny. “You can’t overestimate the influence a manager has on his or her team’s ability to engage in dialogue and create a collaborative and healthy culture.”

Grenny and Maxfield say managers who use the following skills to communicate with remote employees is the first step to ensure their teams happier, healthier and more successful.

  • Frequent and Consistent Check-ins. Check-ins can vary from daily to bi-weekly to weekly but should be consistent and entail a standing meeting or scheduled one-on-one.
  • Face-to-Face or Voice-to-Voice. Make a visit to remote employees or schedule a mandatory in-office day once a week, month, quarter or year. If in-person meetings are not possible, at a minimum use video conferencing technology or pick up the phone to ensure colleagues occasionally see one another’s face or hear one another’s voice.
  • Exemplify Stellar Communication Skills. The most successful managers are good listeners, communicate trust and respect, inquire about workload and progress without micromanaging, and err on the side of over-communicating.
  • Explicit Expectations. Managers who are direct with their expectations of both remote and onsite employees have happier teams that can deliver to those expectations.
  • Always Available. Successful managers maintain an open-door policy for both remote and onsite employees – making themselves available across multiple time zones and through multiple means of technology, often tailoring their communication style and medium to each employee.
  • Prioritize Relationships. Good managers go out of their way to form personal bonds with remote employees so the whole team can create personal connections and strengthen relationships.