Accountants Optimistic on Economy, Business Prospects and Job Growth

According to a new survey released by Right Networks, accounting professionals feel confident about the prospects for increased business growth and stability throughout the profession and the economy as a whole. The Right Networks cloud impact survey polled more than 350 CPA firms, accounting professionals and small businesses about their confidence in the economy, their business prospects and the impact of cloud technology on their business operations.

Cloud Technology Critical to Optimism for Future

  • 75% of the respondents using cloud storage and application technology indicated they are “very confident” about the future of accounting and their respective role in the industry.
  • 40% identified as willing to embrace technology as “early adopters” and are committed to investing in state-of-the-art technology and applications, including the cloud, to deliver the highest level of service and value to clients.

Technology Allows for More Time with Clients

  • Over 63% were motivated to upgrade technology to either automate administrative tasks and increase productivity and efficiency, or institute more flexible and responsive solutions for clients who increasingly expect an “always available” approach.
  • Moreover, the cloud-based solutions are allowing accountants to work on the aspects of the industry they enjoy the most. Allowed to choose more than one answer, 67% of respondents indicated they like building relationships with clients, followed by advising on clients’ business strategy, for example, forecasting, risk management (35%) and engaging new business and winning clients (33%).

Cloud Users Feel More Prepared for Future Economic Conditions

  • More than half of the respondents pointed to accounting software when asked to name the most important innovation in the industry.
  • Asked to rate their confidence level in the economy compared to March 2017, 61% of the respondents identified as “moderately confident” while another 32 respondents were “very confident” in the economic outlook.

“The findings in this survey help highlight the ever-present need in this industry for evolving technology,” says Rachel Krug, director of product marketing at Right Networks. “We are happy to see such a promising outlook for the future, based on the accounting professionals and CPA firms surveyed.”

For more details, read the Right Networks survey here.

Afterburner Webinar: Flawlessly Improve your Sales Execution Strategy

An upcoming Oct. 12 webinar will be hosted by Afterburner’s David “Finch” Guenthner and Will Frattini of ZoomInfo, who specializes in helping his customers create more conversations with their target audiences.

Afterburner’s Flawless Execution Model helps clients combat complexity in a shared planning and execution model that’s time-tested and proven to break down the barriers that large, diverse teams face – and accelerate results. The webinar will also look deeper into the debriefing process, presenting helpful tools and techniques.

Afterburner Webinar: How to Connect Strategy to Execution

David “Finch” Guenthner

David “Finch” Guenthner

In this webinar, Afterburner Inc. consultant David “Finch” Guenthner will discuss how to connect Inspired Alignment to Disciplined Execution so that your assignment planning time is not wasted. Incorporating both can help your organization achieve “mission success.”

This year’s PRIME Symposium will host Finch and Afterburner Inc. team member, Jen “Steel” Wade.

Finch, a former F-16 pilot, provides consulting services to Fortune 500 companies across the globe. He will be attending INSIDE Public Accounting’s PRIME Symposium where he will facilitate a workshop discussing a portion of Afterburner’s Debriefing model.

Click here to view another recent Afterburner Inc. Webinar: Debriefing, The Final Step to Agility.

Join INSIDE Public Accounting and Afterburner Inc. team members,  David “Finch” Guenthner and Jen “Steel” Wade, at the 2017 PRIME Symposium.

Accounting for Corporate Culture

According to a Robert Half Management Resources survey, 51% of CFOs said they play at least some role in shaping corporate culture. Executives reported taking several steps, including using their firm’s values to guide their actions and helping develop the organization’s mission and define the desired environment.

CFOs who reported being somewhat or very involved also were asked, “How are you involved in shaping your company’s corporate culture?” Their responses:

  • 83% use company principles and values to guide actions
  • 79% contribute to the development of the company’s mission
  • 78% collaborate with other executives to define the desired culture
  • 76% speak regularly with employees about the culture
  • 72% contribute to training and onboarding programs

“CFOs enjoy vast influence throughout their organizations – more than many people probably realize. Proper financial reporting and management set a model for the firm’s business, ethics and corporate culture,” says Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “Financial executives looking to advance must go beyond leading the finance function and show an ability to foster a positive corporate culture. Start by setting the right example and grow your involvement from there, including working with employees to define what is best for the firm.”

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.

This year’s PRIME Symposium will host Finch and Afterburner Inc. team member, Jen “Steel” Wade.

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.

Click here to view another Afterburner Webinar: How to Connect Strategy to Execution.

Join INSIDE Public Accounting and Afterburner Inc. team members,  David “Finch” Guenthner and Jen “Steel” Wade, at the 2017 PRIME Symposium.

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.

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

CFOs Mixed on Allowing Workers to Earn CPE Credits During Business Hours

Employers want financial employees who are well informed on the latest regulations, business trends and best practices. but they are not always willing to let their teams pursue continuing professional education (CPE) opportunities on company time, according to a new survey from recruitment firm Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

The survey reports that only 26% of CFOs allow all employees to fulfill CPE requirements, which come from NASBA, while at work; another 24% say it depends on the employee. Half of firms rarely or never let any staff take classes during business hours.

“Businesses do themselves a disservice by prohibiting employees from taking CPE courses during company time,” says Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald. “Webinars, seminars and online courses, some as short as 10 minutes, allow professionals to earn the needed credits and help their employers by staying on the cutting edge of industry trends.”

McDonald added investing time in staff members’ ongoing education offers lasting benefits. “The better informed your employees are, the fewer technical, compliance and ethical mistakes they’re likely to make,” he says. “Moreover, a generous training program that includes allowing staff to obtain continuing education during work hours shows support for professional development and is a powerful recruitment and retention tool.”

Robert Half Finance & Accounting offers four tips for requesting to earn CPE credits during the workday:

  1. Be your own best advocate. Build a business case for how the company will benefit from the skills you acquire.
  2. Start small. If your boss frowns on continuing education during work hours, choose sessions that can be scheduled during your lunch hour.
  3. Emphasize the big picture. Let your boss know how CPE classes will enable you to bridge a gap in your department’s knowledge base.
  4. Evaluate different options. While some CPE courses are online and others in-person, offerings from providers, including professional organizations, are evolving.

Global Corporate Ethical Behavior Improves, Challenges Remain

More than half (52.4%) of C-suite and other executives say global corporate ethical behavior has improved since the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in July 2002, according to a recent Deloitte poll. Yet only 41.3% of executives say their organizations’ global ethics cultures are strong.

“As we’ve seen for decades, no organization is immune to unethical behavior,” says Don Fancher, partner at New York-based Deloitte. “But, the field of ethics compliance is evolving, as professionals’ skillsets, technologies to help hone and monitor programs, and multi-jurisdictional regulator coordination all improve. Now is a great time for global organizations to take a hard look at modernizing their ethical compliance programs – particularly for those relying heavily on employees to report misconduct.”

Less than one-third (32.5%) of executives polled are highly confident their organizations’ employees will report unethical behavior. Executives say the biggest challenges to employees complying with global ethics programs include inconsistency of clear, concise and frequent ethics program communications and training for all employees (28.5%); lacking incentives and repercussions around ethical and unethical behavior, respectively (16%); varied ethical postures of third parties with whom employees regularly interact (14.8%); and, differing ethical standards for various employee groups (12.5%).

“Whether they need to monitor internal, external or both aspects of culture risk, we see leading companies leverage technology to modernize their compliance programs,” says Carey Oven, Deloitte partner. “Some use cognitive solutions to identify anomalous employee behaviors. Others use advanced analytics to identify third-party patterns. The learnings from culture risk detection systems can help enhance the information leadership teams use to make decisions around ethics compliance policies and procedures.”

Questions to ask of your global ethics program include:

  • Do all leaders support the program? Strong ethics programs are organization-wide with ongoing, full C-suite and board attention, as opposed to being managed by the general counsel or chief compliance officer alone.
  • Is the whistleblower hotline or speak-up line evolving? The level, frequency and type of reports via whistleblower communication channels can be telling. Testing can help discern reasonable levels of reporting and false positives, so that uncharacteristic reports are quickly identified and investigated.
  • Are employees surveyed to gauge ethics culture? By surveying employees about ethical standards and behaviors on an annual basis – as well as in exit interviews – organizations can make better informed updates to standards language, employee training and communications.
  • Is third-party due diligence conducted annually at minimum? Personnel changes, financial strain and other factors can change cultures quickly.