Armanino Brings Trust-as-a-Service (TaaS) to Blockchain

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino LLP (FY17 net revenue of $242.7 million) has partnered with TrustToken to build a solution that will add transparency and trust to digital assets.

As a global leader in digitizing assets that can be seamlessly and securely exchanged across liquid markets, TrustToken and its TrueUSD® stablecoin cryptocurrency can be monitored via a dashboard hosted by Armanino. The solution connects directly to third-party escrow accounts holding the U.S. dollars that collateralize TrueUSD tokens, and runs its own ETH nodes to ensure accuracy of the outstanding TrueUSD token supply.

“Blockchain technology is all about enabling us to transact in a trustless peer-to-peer way. It’s important to us to build products that further advance this mission,” says Andries Verschelden, PIC of Armanino’s blockchain practice. “Through our dashboard we will create direct transparency into the marketplace and increase trust for all users, thus allowing a wider adaptation of this important product.”

“This sets a new standard not only for stablecoins, but for all tokenized assets in the future,” says Rafael Cosman, co-founder and head of engineering and product at TrustToken. “With real-time confirmation of funds provided by one of the world’s leading accounting firms, traders will know at all times that their tokens are backed by real-world value.”

Continuous attest has long been a goal within the audit profession, and this proprietary, real-time dashboard offering complete transparency regarding how digital assets are backed is a step in this direction, TrustToken says. The firm is developing programmatic approaches for auditing and attesting on underlying assets, whether fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies, precious metals, real estate or debt obligations.

“At Armanino we want to advance the audit function into the digital age. This means relying on technology to increase speed and effectiveness in bringing trust to our community,” says Scott Copeland, PIC of Armanino’s audit practice.

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Baker Tilly Partners with Visual Lease

Chicago-based Baker Tilly (FY18 net revenue of $578.4 million) announces a partnership with leading lease accounting and management software provider, Visual Lease. The enterprise level lease accounting software provides:

  • Flexible, cloud-based lease accounting software
  • Compatibility with all lease types
  • Highly efficient automated lease accounting
  • Ability to import lease data
  • Classification of leases with an automated lease test
  • Automated lease calculations, journal entries and disclosures
  • Easily configurable Excel-based reporting

The new ASC 842 standard on accounting for leases changes the financial reporting obligations of companies that enter into leasing transactions for assets such as real estate, vehicles and equipment.

“This scalable solution offers exceptional value by creating efficiencies for clients who want a user-friendly solution for high-volume lease portfolios,” Jere Shawver, Baker Tilly’s MP of assurance and risk, says. “They need to comply with the new ASC 842 standard, but without this solution they would have to manually account for their leases, driving up their internal costs and reducing available resources to complete high value projects.”

Marc Betesh, CEO of Visual Lease, says, “By implementing the Baker Tilly / Visual Lease solution, companies can quickly comply with the new lease accounting standard through a proven solution that combines a leading lease administration software solution with excellent implementation and consulting support from a top firm in the industry. In the end, Baker Tilly’s clients will have improved financial and operational control over their leases.”

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Richey May Launches Cybersecurity Services to Protect Hedge Funds

Richey May Technology Solutions has developed a comprehensive cybersecurity program, which is designed to assist hedge fund managers in addressing cybersecurity compliance requirements.

Richey May Technology Solution is a division of Englewood, Colo.-based Richey May & Co. (FY17 net revenue of $21.5 million).

The program includes an initial assessment of a fund’s information security and privacy situation. A resulting report highlights risk areas and gaps identified during the assessment, as well as recommendations for addressing and mitigating key risks through training, the use of technology, and changes to policies and procedures.

Nearly 20% of all cyberattacks with confirmed data and financial loss impacted small- and medium-sized financial services companies, with business email compromise being one of the leading methods of attack. That is according to the 2017 Verizon Business Data Breach Report.

Clients also access Richey May Technology Solutions’ team of experienced cybersecurity professionals to help design and implement a comprehensive cybersecurity program. To do so, Richey May leverages an expert team of cybersecurity and governance professionals with decades of experience in financial services, including specialists in the compliance, cyber defense, and information technology fields. Richey May Technology Solutions partners with cybersecurity firms Red Canary, Managed Methods and technology industry leaders Amazon and Microsoft.

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Doeren Mayhew Launches CYBERCLAW

Troy, Mich.-based Doeren Mayhew (FY17 net revenue of $72.6 million) announces that its IT advisory and security group has introduced CYBERCLAW™, a new suite of cybersecurity solutions designed to help protect organizations of all sizes against cybercrime.

Cybercrime is one of the leading risks threatening organizations daily, presenting them with challenges difficult to overcome once they have been exposed, the firm says. CYBERCLAW™ assists organizations in bringing the right level of awareness, detection, remediation and protection to its assets to protect against cybersecurity threats before they occur.

“Being faced with a system or data breach, and the associated financial and reputation costs, is a key area of concern for our clients across all markets and industries,” says Doeren Mayhew’s Managing Shareholder and Chairman Chad Anschuetz. “Through CYBERCLAW™, our credentialed IT professionals can address these growing challenges for clients by providing tailored solutions geared to safeguard data and effectively manage their cybersecurity risks in today’s environment.”

CYBERCLAW™ solutions are offered at four different fee levels. “This tiered approach to evaluate an organization’s cybersecurity risk and exposure provides an opportunity for any organization to choose a solution that best aligns with their goals as they become more cyber-sophisticated,” says Brad Atkin, shareholder and practice leader of the IT advisory and security group.

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Armanino Launches Blockchain Practice

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino LLP (FY17 net revenue of $242.7 million) has announced a new blockchain practice, which will offer a range of services for businesses interested in using the burgeoning technology.

“Blockchain technology and crypto assets have the potential to become a high impact innovation that brings value and security to businesses, and with a growing number of our clients currently in the space, it made sense to assemble a team well-versed in this new technology,” says Andries Verschelden, partner and blockchain practice leader.

The firm describes blockchain a technology that increases trust among customers, vendors and third parties through “transparent, secure and immutable transactions.”

The blockchain practice offers strategy, assurance and systems implementation solutions for businesses, including:

  • Proof of Concept – Assessments for blockchain, including distributed ledgers, permissioned blockchains, hybrid solutions and permission-less blockchains.
  • Design and Implementation – Full vendor selection, functional and technical design, configuration, testing, user training, system integration and ongoing support.
  • Security Review and Monitoring – Assurance on digital assets on the balance sheet, high-volume digital currency transactions, custodial holdings, smart contract and enterprise blockchain environments. Armanino was among the first to complete financial statement audits for clients with high digital asset transaction volumes.
  • Cryptocurrency On-Ramp – Crypto readiness systems review, crypto-specific accounting solution selection and implementation, technical accounting guidance, custody solutions, cold storage controls environment consulting, and digital asset tax strategy and process design.

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IPA Vendor Spotlight On . . . Steve Templeton

Name: Steve Templeton

Companies: Templeton Solutions LLC and Templeton & Company, LLP

Title: Founder and CEO

Accomplishments:

Steve Templeton

Steve Templeton

  • Created industry’s first unitized practice management system to enable firms to manage their business from a single data source.
  • Templeton Solutions named a Top 100 VAR (Value-Added Reseller) for the past two years.
  • Named a “Power Leader” by the South Florida Business Journal for the past six years.
  • Templeton & Company named a Top 300 Accounting Firm by INSIDE Public Accounting for the past four years.

How has the accounting industry changed with the rapid rise in M&A activity?

So much has changed in the industry since I started my career over 40 years ago. The opportunity for firms to expand their client base, lure better talent and grow profits has never been bigger. Whether you are looking to acquire, looking to be acquired or thinking about a succession plan, M&A is on every firm’s strategy roadmap, regardless of size.

You know what hasn’t changed? The technologies most firms are using to manage their practice. Many of the well-known legacy systems are outdated, stale and incompatible with each other. As more companies look to consolidate, the challenge of integrating disparate solutions becomes glaring, driving up costs and creating inefficiencies. CPA firms are longing for the agility and ease of a practice management system that is already unitized, and that doesn’t require all the complex, error-prone integrations. The rapid rise in M&A activity as well as the need to efficiently manage their practice is causing firms to rethink their growth strategies and educate themselves on the new generation of practice management technologies coming to market.

What’s the biggest opportunity for CPA firms that PracticePro 365 can help with?

Two of the biggest challenges facing accounting firms are lack of visibility across their business operations and lack of timely insights. The most common complaint we hear from managing partners and founders operating in this new business landscape is, “I feel like I’m operating in the dark.”

PracticePro 365 consolidates their data, giving them a holistic view of their business – a single source of truth they can leverage to identify changes in revenue and productivity and make smart business decisions, at any given moment. The result is the ability to manage a fully unified firm, ultimately serving their clients better and unleashing more profit.

What need were you trying to fill in the accounting industry with PracticePro 365?

First, PracticePro 365 was developed for our firm.  As we developed functionality on the Microsoft Dynamics platform, it became clear that a client-centric system was the best way to gain incredible insights and efficiencies while enabling a holistic view of client service and relationships. Those instincts were spot on. While other large vendors boast of “integration-ready” practice management systems, our system is unitized on a common platform, so no integration is required. Delivered from the cloud, it is subscription-based, so there is no need to pay for or manage servers or a separate hosting provider. This is unprecedented in the market today.

Thoughts on the future?

We will all continue to face business headwinds, which is why we built PracticePro 365 in the cloud from day one. Scalability, flexibility and uncommon insights are, and continue to be, a priority for us. Our clients need to be able to adapt quickly, to not only survive the constant changing landscape we do business in, but to thrive in it.

To learn more about PracticePro 365, visit www.practicepro365.com.

Deltek and Grant Thornton Form Alliance

Software provider Deltek has formed an alliance with Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY17 net revenue of $1.75 billion).

“The alliance will help both public and private companies of all sizes, including government contractors, to comply with accounting rules, regulations and standards using both technology and expertise,” Grant Thornton announced.

Grant Thornton will provide Deltek’s customers with specialized know-how in systems integration, change management, finance optimization, digital transformation, compliance and business consulting. Deltek clients that service the government can benefit from Grant Thornton’s specialization in government contract compliance – including professional services companies, manufacturers, high-tech services companies and engineering firms.

“Government contractors can now tap into an integrated team that utilizes Deltek’s solutions and applies Grant Thornton’s acumen in transformation, change management and compliance,” says Greg Wallig, OMP of the firm’s Metro D.C.-Arlington, Va., office. “It’s important to have the best solutions and system integrators teamed together to provide clients with the highest-value transformation services.”

Matt Strazza, senior vice president of global sales at Deltek, says, “Grant Thornton understands the unique challenges that government contractors and project-based businesses face when looking to transform their business. As businesses change and grow, they need to adjust their systems and transform to maximize effectiveness. Together, Deltek and Grant Thornton will offer organizations world-class solutions and best practices to solve those issues and maximize the value of their Deltek investments.”

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Deloitte Report Explores AI and Other Technology Trends

Deloitte has released its 10th annual report on technology trends, “Tech Trends 2019: Beyond the Digital Frontier.The report explores how the convergence of new technologies with powerful technological forces is driving disruption across industries. New technologies include advanced networking, serverless computing and intelligent interfaces; and technological forces encompassing digital experiences, cognitive and cloud.

Ten years ago, when smartphones and mobile apps were gaining traction, and technologies like cloud and the Internet of Things were emerging on the scene, Deloitte released its first Tech Trends report. Some companies are only beginning to explore trends discussed in 2010, while others have advanced rapidly along the maturity curve, the Big 4 firm says.

Scott Buchholz

“The report details how organizational leadership can shape ambitions and instill a culture to sense and make sense of what tomorrow may bring. And – importantly – a path to get there from the realities of today,” says Scott Buchholz, managing director and government and public services CTO, Deloitte Consulting LLP

The report begins with a reflection on a decade of disruptive change driven by nine forces: digital experience, analytics, cloud, core modernization, cyber, business of information technology, cognitive, blockchain, and digital reality. The report explores where these forces are headed.

Deloitte’s report also covers six trends:

  • AI-fueled organizations – Leading companies are systematically deploying rapidly maturing technologies – machine learning, natural language processing, RPA and cognitive – not just to every core business process, but into products, services and the future of industries.
  • NoOps in a serverless world – We’ve reached the next stage in the evolution of cloud computing, with technical resources completely abstracted and management tasks increasingly automated. Freed from mundane responsibilities, IT talent can focus on activities that more directly support business outcomes.
  • Connectivity of tomorrow – At both macro and micro levels, technologies like 5G, mesh networks, and edge computing are expanding business’ reach. Advanced networking is driving development of new products and services and is transforming how work gets done.
  • Intelligent interfaces – Today, people interact with technology through ever-more intelligent interfaces that combine the latest in human-centered design techniques with leading-edge technologies such as computer vision, conversational voice, auditory analytics, augmented reality and virtual reality.
  • Beyond Marketing – Experience reimagined  To deliver the highly personalized, contextualized experiences that today’s customers expect, some chief marketing officers are using a new generation of marketing tools and techniques focused on personalized, contextual and dynamic experiences.
  • DevSecOps and the cyber imperative – DevSecOps fundamentally transforms cyber, security, privacy and risk management from being compliance-based activities into essential framing mindsets across the product journey.

The final chapter explores how modern businesses can navigate digital transformation – building a roadmap that incorporates the right technologies, techniques, talent and executive support.

PwC Uses Drone In Audit of U.K. Energy Client

Not only has PwC piloted a drone to cut time from a U.K. audit – a first for the Big 4 firm – it is also helping clients tap the technology to gather data themselves.

The drone, controlled from the ground by PwC, was used to assess coal inventory for the German energy giant RWE in Aberthaw, South Wales, the firm says. At the same time, the firm predicts a “drone economy” will employ 500,000 people by 2030 and is studying drones to eventually help clients extract insights from drone data.

Now, however, recreational drones have proven troublesome for air traffic and are strictly regulated. In the future, PwC predicts that a regulated commercial fleet of about 76,000 drones will be used for a range of different tasks, reports Consultancy.uk. To prepare, the firm has gathered a team of drone experts and set up a global center of excellence to study drones’ potential.

UK Drone company’s QuestUAV’s fixed wing drone, ready to take flight

As a test, PwC used a drone to measure the volume of RWE’s coal reserves to determine value. In 30 minutes the drone captured 300 images, which were used to create a “digital twin” of the coal pile to measure its volume. The value of the coal was then calculated to within 99% accuracy. The traditional method of hand-counting inventory would have taken four hours, the firm asserts.

“While the traditional method remains reliable and will still be used for RWE’s formal year-end financial statements, the drone trial was conducted to explore ways of challenging the traditional method of stock counting,” says audit partner Richard French in a statement. “It was a classic example of new technology challenging the old – and based on our results, the potential is groundbreaking.”

Elaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC, adds, “Sectors with large assets in hard to reach areas are the most obvious starting points for expanding this kind of work further – from mining to agriculture and forestry… In this case, drones have allowed us to trial a more efficient service which has the potential to save both money and time, while allowing us to deliver greater insight too. There is also a clear health and safety benefit to using drones for this type of work, without someone having to climb over the coal pile.”

Trust and Business Insight are More Critical than Ever in the Digital Age, CPA.com CEO Says

Erik Asgeirsson

Technology is transforming all major practice areas within the accounting profession, and CPAs will increasingly adopt a more strategic role in delivering trusted information and insights, the chief executive of CPA.com said.

“Our priority is to help build an ecosystem that allows CPA firms to succeed in delivering both the trust driven by compliance work and insights from emerging advisory services,” says Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com, in a keynote speech at the recent 2018 Digital CPA Conference. “This has been an effective approach with client accounting advisory services, and the same lessons are now being applied to tax, audit and assurance services.”

Asgeirsson went on to speak about how the cloud, artificial intelligence and digitized data are reshaping practice areas:

  • Client accounting advisory services (CAS) – Virtual CFO and controller services are becoming firmly established and firms are embracing best practices. The focus is now on automating data inputs, building scale and deepening advisory insights with high-value business intelligence.
  • Audit and assurance services – “You can’t have cloud auditing, with the power of artificial intelligence-driven efficiency and insight, without cloud accounting.” On the assurance side, CPA.com, AICPA and CaseWare International this year launched OnPoint PCR, a dynamic, smart solution for preparation, compilation and review engagements. In a major commitment to innovation, the AICPA, CPA.com, CaseWare and a consortium of leading CPA firms are collaborating on the development of a Dynamic Audit Solution, elements of which would benefit all audit practices.
  • Tax – Driven by client demand, CPA practices are moving beyond tax compliance to integrated planning services that incorporate retirement and other financial and life planning services.

The AICPA and CPA.com are planning expanded training and curriculum to support the continued extension into advisory services. CPA.com also continues to play a key role in fostering innovation through thought-leading initiatives, such as its executive roundtables – including one at this fall’s World Congress of Accountants in Sydney, Australia – with key accounting technology providers, firm leaders and influencers from within the profession. The company also oversees, in collaboration with the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, a startup accelerator focused on early-stage companies in fintech and educational technology.