The Launch of a Canadian Accountant Referral Service and Directory – CPALocate.ca – A New Way to Connect with Potential Clients

CPALocate.ca announced the launch of a Canadian accountant referral service and directory. Consumers and businesses are often looking for specialized accountants, i.e. Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA), who can help either their families or businesses in a variety of situations based on their expertise. This directory allows consumers to locate or to request assistance from specialized CPAs in their city who meet certain skills or experience.

Having worked in small and mid-sized accounting firms, the founders know that this portal serves as a compliment not for only users in locating CPA’s but also for small and mid-sized accounting firms in advertising their services in a cost-effective manner. The founders of CPALocate.ca suggest that they have had to personally make numerous referrals to friends, family members and clients for different accountants, who specialize in unique niches. The need for the platform exists as many financial professionals have different skills or experience, which enables them to add value in different niches.

This directory allows CPA’s to advertise on a new medium, which is built for financial accounting professionals to connect with users in their local city or across Canada. This medium is created to connect the user and CPA, while easily leveraging the social media efforts of the accountant or the accounting firm to gain exposure on the CPALocate Platform. Furthermore, CPALocate’s proprietary artificial intelligence technology will assist the CPA’s to market their brand or their firm’s brand to potential clients or users.

CPALocate.ca, currently, is focusing its efforts on Canadian CPA’s but the team plans to expand the product offering to the U.S. by the end of the year.

For more information about CPALocate.ca, please visit the CPALocate.ca website at https://www.cpalocate.ca/

CPA.com and CaseWare Launch Solution for Preparation, Compilation and Review Engagements

CPA.com and CaseWare International Inc. announced the commercial launch of OnPoint PCR, a smart, cloud-based solution that transforms how CPA firms conduct preparation, compilation and review engagements.

By integrating content and methodology into a leading technology platform, OnPoint PCR offers a unique opportunity for firms to enhance engagement quality and be more productive. The solution – a collaboration of CPA.com, CaseWare and the AICPA – offers a guided, smart process for practitioners, from drafting a customized engagement letter and report (where applicable) to documenting specific procedures, all designed to streamline engagements.

Today, more than 19,000 U.S. firms perform preparation, compilation and review engagements as their highest level of service.

“With OnPoint PCR, we can really help firms drive efficiency and add client value,” says Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “The platform helps practitioners optimize engagements for each client, and these features will become even more powerful as OnPoint’s artificial intelligence capabilities evolve.”

OnPoint’s features include:

  • Guided engagements – The smart, interactive process eliminates unnecessary steps and facilitates compliance with standards
  • Integrated data – Simplifies data management and the import of client data, and reduces redundant data entry
  • Robust cloud platform – Real-time updates to data and built-in collaboration tools that eliminate the need for external programs, such as less-secure email

“A solution that includes intelligent checklists informed by AICPA technical guidance will help practitioners focus on adherence to standards and the firm’s quality control process,” says Susan Coffey, the AICPA’s executive vice president of public practice. “CPAs still must exercise professional judgment, and OnPoint supports proper documentation and promotes consistency and quality in engagements.”

Deloitte Blockchain Leader Leaves to Build Ethereum Supply Chain

Eric Piscini

Eric Piscini

Eric Piscini, who helped turn Deloitte’s global blockchain practice into a $50 million operation, left the company earlier this year, Forbes reported.

Piscini, who is credited with growing the firm’s blockchain team from three people in 2012 to 1,200, has joined Citizens Reserve, which is raising $150 million to move the world’s fragmented supply chain networks to two blockchains.

Citizens Reserve, a Los Gatos, Calif.-based startup, is creating a software bridge that connects the public Ethereum blockchain to a permissioned blockchain called Quorum, which was originally designed by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

“It is this combination of the public blockchain infrastructure that powers the $66 billion Ethereum cryptocurrency, with a private solution designed to help JPMorgan and others comply with regulatory restrictions, that Piscini thinks is primed to make supply chain the next big industry to be disrupted by the technology,” Forbes reported.

“We are building the Ethereum of supply chain,” Piscini told Forbes. Piscini has helped grow the company from eight employees when he was brought on board to 18 employees today.

Citizens Reserve is a shared database designed to be used by every level of a supply chain including suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Read more.

Crowe Appoints Chief Data Science Officer

Justin Bass

Justin Bass

As part of its continued investment in technology and data, Chicago-based Crowe LLP (FY17 net revenue of $809.5 million) recently named Justin Bass to be the firm’s first chief data science officer. In this role, Bass will lead the new data science business unit, which includes more than 20 data scientists.

While the chief data science officer role is common at technology firms, it’s not standard at accounting and consulting firms. “I’m excited for this opportunity and the commitment from Crowe to push forward into this area,” says Bass, who joined Crowe in 2015 as the firm’s only data scientist. “With a team of world-class data scientists, we’ve already set the groundwork and incorporated machine learning into a few solutions in a very short amount of time.”

Bass has extensive experience applying advanced analytic, automation and machine learning techniques to a variety of industries. In his new role, he will continue his focus on adding machine learning capabilities to various Crowe platforms, guiding business leaders on the capabilities of machine learning and structuring a machine learning team capable of working on all projects throughout the firm.

“This is part of the evolution of our innovation strategy, as we look for ways to further tap into the power of data,” says Derek Bang, chief strategy and innovation officer. “The ability to capture and harness the power of data helps our clients manage complex processes more effectively.”

Private Equity Firm Acquires Sageworks

The private equity firm Accel-KKR in Menlo Park, Calif., has agreed to buy Sageworks, a financial services software firm in Raleigh, N.C., that provides financial software and information to more than 1,200 U.S. banks and credit unions.

The software firm’s first product, Profit Cents, was based on a proprietary artificial intelligence system and originally designed to convert financial numbers into plain language for business owners in 1998.

Sageworks’ offerings have since expanded into lending, credit risk and portfolio risk solutions to financial institutions as well as financial analysis and valuation applications to accounting firms and private companies.

“We are pleased with the purchase by Accel-KKR, a leading firm that has vast experience in our specific industry,” says Brian Hamilton, founder of Sageworks. “The purchase will allow Sageworks to have an even bigger footprint in the financial industry and to help more people, which is what we are all about.”

Park Durrett, managing director at Accel-KKR, says, “Companies like Sageworks are essential partners to financial services institutions that are both under pressure to grow but also comply with a constantly changing regulatory environment.”

Rootworks Announces Launch of Member-Centric Online Platform Rootworks Grow

Rootworks, a member-based education organization for accounting firms, has launch an online platform for its 500 member firms called Grow.

Grow will be part of the Rootworks website and will allow firms to manage aspects of their membership and connect to the Rootworks team and other member firms.

The Grow Platform is divided into three sections: Learn, Plan and Community. Learn gives users events, online learning, one-on-one coaching and vendor information. Plan includes management tools to help firm leaders work on their firms, including the Rootworks GPA Tool. Community connects the Rootworks community members to interact and exchange ideas.

Grow also offers access to Rootworks’ marketing communications resources library and marketing education support.

“Our team worked very hard over the past few months to offer our members a radically improved online experience, and that’s exactly what we delivered this week,” says Rootworks CEO Darren Root. “We were laser focused on building a platform that fully supports firm leaders as they work on their businesses. Grow is a one-of-a-kind solution in that respect.”

4 Unexpected Ways Blockchain Will Transform Our World

Andi Simon

Andi Simon

By Andi Simon

Maybe you know all there is to know about blockchain technology.

Maybe you know nothing.

Either way, in the near future blockchain could change how you do business in numerous ways, from energy use to booking a hotel.

“Right now, if people think about blockchain at all they probably only think of its connection to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and DigiByte,” says Andi Simon, a corporate anthropologist. “But the blockchain technology is really what people should be excited about.”

Blockchain was introduced in 2009 to serve as a database that could track and keep secure large volumes of transactions in the cryptocurrency world. Once data is recorded, it can’t be changed without the approval of most network participants.

“This process supposedly creates a fraud-proof system and essentially authenticates the information that’s exchanged,” Simon says.

That’s why it has potential to be used in numerous ways, she says, such as:

  • Government services and economic development. Any communities wondering how they can take advantage of blockchain in a big way could look to Zug, Switzerland, for advice. The city of 30,000 has become a leader in accepting cryptocurrency and encouraging blockchain startups to call Zug home, Simon says. Two years ago, Zug became the first place in the world to accept cryptocurrencies for some public services, and residents can get blockchain-based digital identities.
  • Energy. Solar energy and blockchain aren’t the strange bedfellows you might imagine. Simon points to Brooklyn, N.Y., where a project called Brooklyn Microgrid created a peer-to-peer energy-trading system that is built on blockchain. Essentially, neighbors purchase power generated by their neighbors’ solar panels, allowing them to bypass utilities companies. Blockchain technology validates and records the transactions.
  • Tourism. The tourism industry could be disrupted in a number of ways as blockchain begins to allow travelers to take greater control over all their travel planning. As an example, Simon says Dubai, which seeks to become an entirely blockchain city, is making moves to become a leader in blockchain tourism. Dubai Tourism recently announced a blockchain-enabled marketplace to connect potential customers directly to hotels and tourism operators.
  • Financial Services. Banks and financial institutions could become superfluous as more people begin to use blockchain technology to send digital assets securely. “From the customer’s standpoint, that could mean an end to excessive interest rates and middleman fees as people make transactions directly,” Simon says. “People might not need banks for such things as making loans or providing credit.”

“Business owners don’t need to worry about incorporating blockchain platforms right away,” she says. “But they do need to be aware of what’s happening out there so they are prepared for how technology could change their businesses in the future.”

About Andi Simon Ph.D.

Andi Simon, award-winning author of On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights, is a corporate anthropologist and trained practitioner in Blue Ocean Strategy® (www.simonassociates.net). She is the founder and CEO of Simon Associates Management Consultants, designed over a decade ago to help companies use the tools of anthropology to better adapt to changing times. Simon also is a public speaker and an Innovation Games® facilitator and trainer. She served as a tenured professor of anthropology and American studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey, and was a visiting professor teaching entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. Simon has appeared on “Good Morning America” and has been featured in the Washington Post, Business Week, Inc., Entrepreneur, the Los Angeles Times and Forbes, and on Bloomberg Radio.

WithumSmith+Brown SOC Team Authors and Presents Inaugural AICPA SOC for Cybersecurity Certification

When the AICPA hosted its flagship System and Organization Controls (SOC) for Cybersecurity Certification course this past week, members of Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown’s (FY17 net revenue of $175.4 million) SOC for Cybersecurity Services Group served as lead instructors for the curriculum. This first-of-its-kind program also was authored by the professionals from the advisory, tax and audit firm. In total, seven Withum professionals also are among the first CPAs nationwide to earn the AICPA’s SOC for Cybersecurity digital badge.

A market-driven, flexible and voluntary reporting framework, SOC helps organizations communicate their cybersecurity risk management program initiatives as well as effectiveness of controls.

Withum’s certified SOC for Cybersecurity team members includes Tony Chapman, partner and SOC practice leader; Anurag Sharma, principal; Scott Mahoney, senior manager; Jim Bourke, partner, director of advisory practice; Stephanie Fitzgerald, SOC senior manager; Anupam Goradia, SOC senior manager; and Andrea Fernandez, SOC staff auditor. These certifications have earned Withum the distinction of having more AICPA-authorized SOC specialists, to perform peer reviews on SOC engagements, than any other CPA firm nationwide.

“As a leader in SOC and cybersecurity and information security services, Withum has once again distinguished itself – this time as it relates to the new cybersecurity risk management reporting framework,” says Chapman. “Our firm is among the first and has the highest concentration of fully designated SOC professionals authorized to provide peer reviews.”

AICPA has retained Withum to write, present live and record on-demand viewings of the first SOC for Cybersecurity Certificate training course for SOC professionals. Three of Withum’s professionals, Chapman, Sharma and Mahoney, served as course authors and presenters. Topics addressed in the AICPA-sponsored course offer an overview of the cyberthreat landscape and terminology, various SOC services, components of a cybersecurity risk management program, utilization of criteria to assess an entity’s controls, key steps for performing the cyber risk-management examination and factors to consider while forming the opinion and preparing the practitioner’s report.

SOC for Cybersecurity is a new entity-wide cybersecurity audit that allows organizations to report on their cybersecurity management programs to internal and external stakeholders with credibility. For clients whose cybersecurity risk management programs are mature, an independent third-party firm can perform a comprehensive examination to assess cybersecurity risk management programs.

Raich Ende Malter & Co. Launches ThinkLab for Blockchain Accounting

New York-based Raich Ende Malter & Co. LLP (FY16 net revenue of $47.1 million) announced the launch of REM ThinkLab, an effort to provide thought leadership on blockchain accounting. As cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum gain ground in global commerce, an understanding of blockchain, the digital ledger technology used to record cryptocurrency transactions, is essential for the accounting profession. To aid clients and colleagues in parsing this new tech, REM ThinkLab will publish periodic whitepapers, as well as thought pieces on The REM CycleRaich Ende Malter’s tax blog.

REM ThinkLab is helmed by Arthur DaPonte and Tyler Russell, who have co-authored a blockchain whitepaper, an illustrated blog post, and a comprehensive glossary of blockchain technology terms for newcomers. They are currently developing a CPE course on the topic.

DaPonte and Russell are confident that blockchain is ultimately a source of new business for accountants. “As industries harness the power of blockchain to become more efficient and effective in their operations, CPAs and auditors will play an integral role in providing the public with the assurance that these processes will require,” says DaPonte.

“At this point, everyone has heard of blockchain and how it will revolutionize the accounting industry, but with REM ThinkLab, we are actively examining the blockchain process and its applications. As always, Raich Ende Malter is looking to the future and embracing new technology,” says Cornelius Kilbane Jr., PIC REM’s New York City office.

1st Global and eMoney Partner to Offer CPA Financial Advisors Cutting-edge Financial Planning Platform

1st Global, an independent wealth management partner to CPA firms, based in Dallas has partnered with eMoney Advisor, a leading provider of scalable wealth management technology, to offer affiliated CPA firms an industry-leading financial planning solution that allows them to efficiently track client behavior, benchmark performance against personalized goals and pinpoint opportunities for growth with firm-level analytics.

“1st Global’s new partnership with eMoney expands our integrated technology platform and is a huge value-add for our advisors,” says David Knoch, President of 1st Global. “This state-of-the-art technology will enhance the client experience and enable our affiliated CPA firms to better attract and retain their financial planning clients, as well as engage with them more deeply.”

eMoney’s industry-leading technology offers advisors a real-time, on-demand financial experience that strengthens relationships by focusing on the client’s financial goals, rather than market movement. The way advisors engage with their clients and the way clients engage with their finances has changed, and eMoney’s technology keeps advisors at the forefront of digital trends.

In addition, 1st Global’s customized version of the eMoney system has been enhanced to incorporate 1st Global’s capital market assumptions and investment models and to provide access to compliance-approved account aggregation functionality and digital document storage.

“Advisors’ jobs are more challenging than ever before, which is why we want to help them simplify their business processes so they can spend more time on what matters – understanding their clients’ goals and building relationships with them,” says Stephen Langlois, Head of Business Development at eMoney. “We’re confident that our technology will help 1st Global advisors achieve greater efficiency, scale, competitive edge and growth in their businesses, while delivering the tech-enabled experience that their clients are used to receiving in most aspects of their lives.”