The Radical CPA and Botkeeper Partner to Bring Bookkeeping Into Future

Jody Padar, principal of New Vision CPA Group of Mount Prospect, Ill., is partnering with Enrico Palmerino and the team at botkeeper, a bookkeeping solution that helps firms expand and modernize their businesses.

Botkeeper is advancing how the bookkeeping industry has been managed by accounting firms. With botkeeper, accounting firms can offload the day-to-day blocking and tackling of bookkeeping (data entry, reconciliations, classifications), allowing accountants to focus on higher-level client advisory services, Padar says in a statement.

Using machine learning that has been exposed to millions of financial transactions, botkeeper is able to fully automate a bookkeeping department without increasing headcount/overhead. With botkeeper, firms see a reduction of human error, superior reporting as well as real-time and 24/7 data entry. Padar contends that White Labeling botkeeper’s services reduces bookkeeping costs by 30% to 50% and allows CPAs to take on 10+ new clients per day.

“Botkeeper has fundamentally changed how a CPA firm of the future, (but really happening today) will operate,” says Padar. “We can scale infinitely and reduce our costs significantly. It is so exciting to me to be able to share this new technology with the accounting profession and truly help radicalize other accounting and bookkeeping firms and change their business models to promote a better firm culture.”

Padar, a prolific speaker and columnist, is author of From Success to Significance: The Radical CPA Guide.

Information on External Auditors on the Rise: Center for Audit Quality

The amount of information available to investors and other stakeholders on audit committee oversight of the external auditor continues to increase, according to the fifth edition of the “Audit Committee Transparency Barometer,” an annual report issued jointly by the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) and Audit Analytics.

“The trends revealed in our report tell a clear success story – over the past five years, audit committees have provided increasingly robust disclosures about their important investor-protection role in overseeing the external audit,” says CAQ Executive Director Cindy Fornelli. “Taking steps to enhance transparency into our extraordinary system of financial reporting, as many audit committees are doing, strengthens both the confidence of investors and their ability to make sound decisions in the capital markets. To build on this progress, the CAQ encourages audit committees to explore additional opportunities for transparency improvements.”

Each year since 2014, the report has measured the robustness of proxy disclosures among companies in the S&P Composite 1500. Findings in this year’s report include:

  • 40% of S&P 500 companies disclose considerations in appointing the audit firm (up from 13% in 2014), compared to 27% of mid-cap companies (up from 10% in 2014) and 19% of small-cap companies (up from 8% in 2014).
  • 46% of S&P 500 companies disclose criteria considered when evaluating the audit firm (up from 8% in 2014), compared to 36% of mid-cap companies (up from 7% in 2014) and 32% of small-cap companies (up from 15% in 2014).
  • 26% of S&P 500 companies disclose that the evaluation of the external auditor is at least an annual event (up from 4% in 2014), compared to 17% of mid-cap companies (up from 3% in 2014) and 12% of small-cap companies (up from 4% in 2014).

Research Says Cybersecurity Most Important Emerging Technology

GlobalData announces that its latest research report, Global Emerging Technology Trends Survey 2018, based on a survey of more than 1,500 companies, states that cybersecurity was considered the most important emerging technology by more than half of respondents.

That puts cybersecurity ahead of cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Ed Thomas, technology thematic analyst at GlobalData, says, “Cybersecurity is an investment priority for enterprises from all industries, highlighting its emergence as a critical business function in today’s digital economy. Any company not investing in cybersecurity runs a higher risk of being hacked and stands to fall behind the competition.”

GlobalData’s report also finds that companies worldwide are growing their emerging technology investments. The survey data suggests that businesses from across the world are planning to make major investments in areas like cybersecurity, AI and IoT.

“Our data demonstrates that the appetite for investment in emerging technologies is not limited to the more mature IT markets of North America and Europe, but is actually global,” says Thomas. “This represents a significant opportunity for technology vendors, as long as they have the capability to secure business in countries that may be outside their traditional marketplace.”

RSM Names National Leader of Blockchain Services

Jay Schulman

Jay Schulman

Chicago-based RSM US LLP (FY18 net revenue of $2.14 billion) announces that Jay Schulman, a principal based out of the firm’s Chicago office, has been named national leader of blockchain and cryptocurrency services for RSM US LLP.

In this role, Schulman is responsible for leading RSM’s efforts to help its clients account for the complex regulatory, tax and trade, auditability, risk and compliance implications related to global transactions and exchanges. He has authored numerous related articles designed to help middle market business leaders anticipate and address the unique issues and challenges facing their businesses and the industries in which they operate.

“At RSM, we understand that the pace of change in today’s increasingly global business environment creates unique challenges and opportunities for business leaders, particularly those in the middle market,” said Jeff Johannesen, chief strategy and innovation officer with RSM US LLP. “While large business leaders typically have the resources to anticipate and address evolving needs, middle market businesses often need the support of a trusted advisor, and that’s particularly true when it comes to major technological advances.”

Schulman says, “Blockchain is now a reality. At RSM, we have a unique understanding of how this and other emerging technologies and evolving regulations will impact the middle market.”

Two CPAs Win Innovation Awards

Two CPA firm leaders – one an early champion of blockchain services, another an advocate of artificial intelligence in the audit process – have been named recipients of CPA.com’s 2018 Innovative Practitioner Award, which recognizes innovation in process, services or technology implementation in public accounting.

The honorees are:

Samantha Bowling

Samantha Bowling

  • Samantha Bowling, partner, Garbelman Winslow of Upper Marlboro, Md. – Bowling is chair of the Maryland Association of CPAs. Bowling and her team of small firm practitioners are successfully integrating artificial intelligence (AI) in auditing for small businesses, nonprofits and local government. Using an external AI platform, the firm has improved the audit process and helped reduce the risk of material misstatements for its clients. As an early adopter, Bowling is providing valuable input to help make the technology more usable for other firms.
  • Jagruti Solanki, senior manager, Atlanta-based Aprio (FY17 net revenue of 85.1 million)Solanki helped launch the firm’s blockchain services group and has been instrumental in developing best practices for accounting and financial reporting related to the digital distributed ledger technology. Among other services, her team helps clients navigate blockchain implications for domestic and international accounting, as well as tax obstacles associated with tokenization, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency. Solanki is being admitted to the partnership next year in recognition of her leadership on initiatives such as blockchain that drive growth and profitability for the firm.
Jagruti Solanki

Jagruti Solanki

“Samantha and Jagruti define what being an innovative practitioner is all about: the ability to assess where the profession is going, incorporate emerging technologies to either imrove an existing service or launch a new one, and then successfully position the practitioner’s firm as a leader in that area,” says Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “Both blockchain and AI stand to make a big impact on the profession and our honorees are both advancing strategies around these technologies for their firm.”

Wipfli Enlists Cybersecurity Partner Program

Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million), a top 20 national accounting and consulting firm, has joined the NormShield partner program to expand its current cybersecurity solutions.

NormShield provides on-demand and standards-based cyber risk scorecards. The enhanced portfolio will provide Wipfli with a powerful tool to improve and reduce the risk associated with its clients’ supply-chain partners, third-party vendor networks and sensitive data.

“Many business leaders understand that cybersecurity is a moving target, and we firmly believe it’s our job to prepare our clients to manage their risk, circumvent potential consequences and protect their bottom line,” says Robert Cedergren, PIC of Wipfli’s risk advisory services practice.

According to a recent study conducted by Ponemon Institute, external cyber risks are some of the most dangerous companies face: The study indicated that more than 56% of companies experienced a third-party breach in 2017 and, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015.

“The NormShield cyber risk scorecard provides an objective, external measure of an organization’s cyber risk posture,” says Mohamoud Jibrell, CEO of NormShield. “We’ve taken a ‘new school’ approach to supply-chain risk monitoring that’s easy to understand and includes online, dynamic risk scorecards with straightforward letter-grades based on defined risk categories. The risks are then prioritized with detailed information on the severity of the risk and through the portal. From there, the NormShield scorecard details how to mitigate and remediate each identified risk.”

Through its relationship with NormShield, Wipfli will leverage the company’s ability to gather data in a non-intrusive way, classify the data into security risk categories, apply advanced algorithms to analyze and convert data into risk intelligence, generate easy-to-understand scorecards and dashboards, and provide detailed remediation steps to secure the networks from outside attack.

EisnerAmper Enhances its Process, Risk and Technology Solutions Practice with CENTRL Technology

New York-based EisnerAmper (FY18 net revenue of $360.7 million) announces that it will partner with CENTRL, a risk and compliance technology company.

EisnerAmper’s Process, Risk and Technology Solutions (PTRS) Group applies leading-edge best practices and current public accounting standards to assess, document and remediate emerging risks across internal audit, regulatory compliance, IT risk and cybersecurity functions.

EisnerAmper will leverage CENTRL’s software solution to bring greater automation to the examination and assessment process across the firm’s IT, risk and cybersecurity, internal audit and regulatory compliance, and digital solution process transformation practices.

Eisner will provide its clients with a more efficient tool for conducting assessments, internal and external interaction, and deeper analytics and dashboards.

“This alliance gives us another powerful tool in our firm’s technology tool belt,” says partner Jerry Ravi. “This will help us empower clients to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of their operations.”

“We’re driven by the belief that the application of technology to risk and compliance will both drive greater efficiency and deliver better risk insights through deeper analytics,” says Sanjeev Dheer, CEO of CENTRL.

Marks Paneth Launches New Cybersecurity Services

New York-based Marks Paneth (FY17 net revenue of $131.4 million) has launched a number of new cybersecurity and risk mitigation services to address clients’ data security issues. Services include incident response, cyber risk assessments, business recovery plans and compliance with payment card industry (PCI) and HIPAA regulations.

“We are passionate about helping our clients succeed and finding ways to keep their businesses moving forward,” says MP Harry Moehringer. “Providing cybersecurity support alongside our other advisory services makes it easier and more accessible for our clients to determine the best way to protect their sensitive data and reduce risks to their business continuity.”

Marks Paneth’s cybersecurity offerings are provided through a strategic alliance with Sylint Group, an internationally recognized cybersecurity and digital data forensics firm and one of only 15 firms in the U.S. accredited by the National Security Agency (NSA). The new suite of services also includes digital forensic, expert witness and private investigation services that aid in uncovering fraud and preparing for potential and pending litigation.

Blockchain Payments Trial Gets 75 New Bank Participants

A major blockchain payments trial launched by JPMorgan, Australia’s ANZ and the Royal Bank of Canada has just gained over 75 new banks as participants, CoinDesk reported.

The three banks set up the project in October 2017, with the intention to slash both the time and costs required for interbank payments using traditional methods.

Called the Interbank Information Network (IIN), the platform is built on Quorum, the ethereum-based blockchain network developed by JPMorgan.

The Financial Times (FT) on Tuesday reported that a large group of major banks – including Societe Generale and Santander – has joined the trial in response to the rising number of rival payments offerings coming to market.

Jason Goldberg, banks analyst at JPMorgan, told the FT that payments is an area in which banks are most threatened by non-bank competition, adding: “Blockchain is a way to keep more of that [business] in-house.”

In particular, the trial seeks to address payments that contain errors or get held up for compliance reasons – problems that can takes weeks to solve with multiple banks being involved across the payments chain.

The effort will now see the banks transact payments to the value of around $14,500 per day over IIN, although that number is expected to increase as new banks join.

Applied Artificial Intelligence Leader Joins Grant Thornton

JT Kostman Ph.D.

JT Kostman, Ph.D., an internationally recognized leader in cognitive computing, applied artificial intelligence and data strategy, has joined Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY17 net revenue of $1.75 billion) as managing director of applied artificial intelligence.

In this new role, Kostman will lead the development and delivery of artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, blockchain, and advanced analytic solutions and services for the firm and Grant Thornton clients. He will be based in the firm’s Iselin, N.J., office.

Kostman is a data scientist, mathematician and psychologist renowned for his expertise in applied artificial intelligence and cognitive computing. He has served as chief data officer and a member of the executive committee for Time Inc., chief data scientist for Samsung, and chief data scientist and big data psychologist for Aptus Insights. In addition to his corporate experience, Kostman has served U.S. intelligence, security and defense agencies, including the CIA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security, as well as President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

“Grant Thornton and I are like-minded in our views on the potential for artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, and robotics to improve operations and create new opportunities,” Kostman said in a statement. “We share a commitment to helping enterprises move past the hype and focus on how they can use these technologies to improve their businesses. It’s all about bottom-line outcomes.”