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  • 07/05/2022 3:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    July 04, 2022

    by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis

    Steven Puetzer/Getty Images

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    This is a challenging time for managers. Alongside their day-to-day roles, many are facing a never-ending cycle of reskilling and recruiting on their teams. The need to reskill isn’t new, with the OECD estimating that 1.1 billion jobs are liable to be radically transformed by technology in the next decade. However, managers are now being asked to close the skills gap at the same time as they’re responding to pandemic-prompted resignations.

    According to Gartner, the pace of employee turnover is forecast to be 50–75% higher than companies have experienced previously, and the issue is compounded by it taking 18% longer to fill roles than pre-pandemic. Increasingly squeezed managers are spending time they don’t have searching for new recruits in an expensive and competitive market. Unless efforts are refocused on retention, managers will be unable to drive performance and affect change. Leaders need to take action to enable their managers to keep their talent while still being able to deliver on results.

    From Constrained Careers to Retention Reimagined

    Although managers are undoubtedly navigating dynamic market conditions, one of the primary reasons why people look to leave remains the same: a lack of career progression. That same Gartner report found that 65% of employees are now reconsidering the role of work in their lives; however, only one-third are open to internal opportunities providing part of the solution.

    Limited awareness of roles and a perceived lack of support from managers means that for many, it has become easier to leave and grow than squiggle — that is, change roles and develop in different directions — and stay.

    Even the most supportive managers face a tough choice in response to this challenge. Investing time and effort in their employees’ career development is often at odds with the metrics they’re measured against. Research from Mercer finds that eight out of 10 companies focus on individual goals whereas just five out of 10 work toward the goals of the broader business unit. Managers who optimize for individual performance are likely to become more territorial about their talent. By keeping the “best” people on their team, they achieve the best outcomes. However, this is often to the detriment of individuals’ career development and the organization’s ability to access its own talent. The unfortunate outcome is that the people managers most want to retain feel constrained and become more likely to leave, risking the performance metrics they were so keen to protect in the first place.

    The solution to the career development conflict this creates lies in taking a fresh look at how retention is managed. Managers need help with three things. First, they need help shifting the focus of career conversations from promotion to progression and developing in different directions. Second, they need help creating a culture and structure that supports career experiments. Finally, managers need to be rewarded not for retaining people on their teams but retaining people (and their potential) across the entire organization.

    The following three solutions enable managers to support people in growing beyond their teams and increase the chance that top talent will choose to stick around.

    Solution 1: Focus career conversations on progression, not promotion.

    Career conversations today are often rushed, low quality, or even skipped in favor of day-to-day responsibilities. However, career conversations are one of what Gartner refers to as the “moments that matter” if managers want to retain people. The purpose of a high-quality career conversation should be two-fold: to give employees the permission to be curious about where their career could take them and the practical support to make progress.

    Strength spotting

    Individuals often struggle to see their strengths, which makes it even more challenging to figure out how those strengths could be applied across different roles and parts of an organization. Career conversations give managers the chance to not only share strengths-based feedback (“I see you at your best when…”) but also to discuss how those strengths might be useful in other teams. They can help employees spot the value in not only what they’re delivering but how they make work happen. For example, there are few teams that wouldn’t benefit from a brilliant problem solver or creative collaborator. Helping employees go beyond being aware of their strengths to understanding how those strengths could be applied in different situations is often the first step in increasing an individual’s confidence to start exploring career possibilities within an organization.

    Creating connections

    Managers play an important role in prompting employees to have curious career conversations. These conversations are not about applying for a job but instead getting a window into someone else’s world. It can be a daunting task for individuals to approach people for informal chats, especially those senior to them. Managers typically have a wider range of relationships across an organization and are therefore in a good position to make connections and direct introductions to new people. When individuals are actively encouraged to explore internal opportunities outside their direct team, it reduces the concern that looking elsewhere for future possibilities will impact the outcome of their annual performance review.

    Solution 2: Make career experiments easy.

    Applying for new internal roles can feel like a formal and drawn-out process. An alternative approach is for managers to work together to create career experiments across an organization. These experiments encourage employees to try out new experiences and opportunities in a way that feels safe, and even fun. Though some experiments inevitably work better than others, even the commitment to experimentation signals to employees that the company is invested in finding ways to support people to “squiggle and stay.”

    Borrowed brilliance

    Moving to a new team and department creates a lot of uncertainty and unknowns for employees. Managers can reduce this risk for individuals by finding ways to share talent that involves dipping a toe in the water rather than jumping straight into the deep end. This might look like two people doing a job swap one day a week for six months. Or it could be managers identifying “borrowed brilliance” roles where people are temporarily borrowed for a set amount of time for a specific project. It might even be as simple as a two-week “squiggly safari,” where an employee has a two-week “holiday” from their day job to learn more about different parts of the organization. Everyone wins with these types of experiments: Employees find their way out of siloes and expand their networks and managers benefit from a broader range of talent.

    Skills marketplace

    Many organizations are reconsidering how they structure for skill sharing. Rather than being identified through their job titles, employees are instead profiled by their talents. These talents form part of a “skills marketplace” that allows managers to profile projects based on the expertise they require and match it with the experience available within the business. This approach also enables organizations to more accurately and proactively assess where they might have skills gaps. Beyond just projects, this approach could lead to whole roles being deconstructed into a set of skills that could be divided out between a group of people, rather than expecting one person to excel in all areas a role may require.

    Solution 3: Measure managers on people potential, not team performance.

    Where the question was once “how do I keep this person on my team?,” the question now needs to be “how do I keep this person in my organization?” A manager’s role in supporting someone’s career must expand to support people to explore opportunities beyond the boundaries of their existing team. Metrics matter in driving behavior changes, and managers need to be recognized and rewarded for enabling internal mobility.

    Mobility metrics

    Managers need to be measured against a new set of metrics that reflect their focus on the development of organization-wide people potential. These metrics could include the number of career experiments they’ve sponsored within their team and supported for people to explore outside of their team. Metrics might also cover the diversity and development of skills within the team, ideally linked back to data from the skills marketplace, and also the percentage of vacant roles filled internally. These metrics reinforce the need for talent to flow within the organization, to support people’s aspirations for career growth, and to enable the organization to benefit from a more fluid and flexible workforce.

    Empower employees

    Individuals need avenues to share whether they’re able to demonstrate and develop their transferable talents, have frequent conversations about their career, and feel they have permission to explore possibilities. Encouraging and empowering employees to share feedback on their managers’ attitudes and actions on career progression is a vital part of the process. Organizations need to provide the structure and support for this information to flow. This could take the form of feedback training for employees and developing systems that prompt employees to share their perspectives on a manager’s commitment to career growth. Providing the opportunity for employees to nominate managers for recognition and reward could also create visible signals of what success looks like. Managers that are seen to embrace the “squiggle and stay” mindset become magnets for top talent and are showcased as role models to learn from across the organization.

    . . .

    Reimagining retention is not a quick-fix solution to the challenge many organizations and managers are currently facing, but the sooner they start, the sooner their people will see the opportunities to squiggle and stay instead of looking to leave in order to grow.

  • 06/10/2022 10:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    June 9, 2022

    By Neil Amato

    A U.S. accounting firm is not prohibited by a White House executive order regarding U.S. sanctions against Russia from providing tax advisory and preparation services to the U.S. subsidiary of a Russian company in certain scenarios, according to guidance issued Thursday by Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

    On May 8, the United States announced expanded sanctions against Russia in response to the war in Ukraine. Those sanctions prohibited "U.S. persons from providing accounting, trust and corporate formation, and management consulting services to any person in the Russian Federation," according to a White House statement.

    Practitioners had questions about the sanctions' applying to various types of services, including tax-related services, and some clarity has been provided by an update to frequently asked questions (FAQs) posted by OFAC.

    The OFAC FAQs describe several scenarios in which services to a non-Russian subsidiary of a Russian person would not be prohibited. Here is question No. 1059:

    Does the determination made pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14071 on May 8, 2022, "Prohibitions Related to Certain Accounting, Trust and Corporate Formation, and Management Consulting Services" ("the determination"), prohibit U.S. persons from providing services to persons located outside of the Russian Federation that are owned or controlled by persons located in the Russian Federation?

    And the answer:

    No, provided that the provision of services is not an indirect export to a person located in the Russian Federation. For the purposes of this determination, OFAC interprets the "indirect" provision of the prohibited services to include when the benefit of the services is ultimately received by a "person located in the Russian Federation."

    FAQ 1059 goes on to say that OFAC "would not consider to be prohibited the provision of services to a non-Russian company that has a physical presence and operations outside of the Russian Federation, including such a company owned or controlled by persons located in the Russian Federation, provided that the services will not be further exported or reexported to persons located in the Russian Federation."

    Here are two such scenarios from the FAQ that would not be prohibited under the determination:

    • A U.S. accounting firm provides tax advisory and preparation services to the U.S. subsidiary of a Russian company. This U.S. subsidiary has an office and employees in the United States and conducts business in the United States, and the services will not be exported or reexported to the Russian parent company.
    • A U.S. management consulting firm provides strategic business advice to the subsidiary of a Russian company located in a third country. This subsidiary has an office and employees in the third country and conducts business in this third country, and the services will not be reexported to the Russian parent company.

    However, FAQ 1059 says that the following would be prohibited:

    • A U.S. corporate service provider administers a trust established under the laws of a U.S. state, where the trust exists predominantly to hold, sell, or purchase assets on behalf of a settlor, trustor, or beneficiary who is an individual ordinarily resident in Russia. 
    • A U.S. corporate service provider registers a limited liability company in a third country on behalf of an individual ordinarily resident in Russia for the purpose of holding real estate assets, and this company has no other physical presence or operations in the third country. 

    A statement issued May 9 by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the combined voice of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) & The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), expressed support for implementing economic and trade sanctions and other measures in response to the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

    "We will continue to monitor the situation to address any further impacts on the profession. Our primary focus remains on members, students, and staff impacted by this war. We are developing and releasing resources to help our members and the broader accounting and finance profession address the urgent economic challenges stemming from sanctions, supply chain disruption, and other issues."

    In March, the Association announced an indefinite suspension of services in Russia and Belarus.

    Visit the Ukraine-Russia War Resource Center for more information.

  • 06/03/2022 11:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    June 2, 2022

    Hosted by Neil Amato

    On May 24 in New York, the AICPA and CPA.com hosted the inaugural ESG Symposium, bringing together a group of accounting leaders, investors, standard setters, and others to exchange ideas and perspectives on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

    One presenter and a leader in the ESG field is Ami Beers, CPA, CGMA, senior director–Assurance and Advisory Innovation at the AICPA.

    In the episode, Beers explains the reasons for increased focus on ESG, what she took away from the symposium, and what's coming next. She mentions several resources that can be found online. One good place to start is the AICPA's ESG-focused resource page.

    What you'll learn from this episode:

    • More details on what the letters in ESG signify.
    • An overview of the recent ESG Symposium in New York.
    • Why Beers says that "accountants are the right people to be leading in this area."
    • The five drivers of ESG implementation, according to Beers.
    • The reason Beers says "there is a lot to learn" still about ESG topics.

    Play the episode below or read the edited transcript:

    Transcript:                                                            

    Neil Amato: Thanks for coming back for another episode of the Journal of Accountancy podcast. It's the first episode in June, and our focus today is an interview on the topic of ESG. And we'll also have mention of a news topic: the IRS Dirty Dozen tax scams. First, here's a word from our sponsor.

    Amato: Hello and welcome to the Journal of Accountancy podcast. This is Neil Amato. Today's episode is a focus on ESG — that is, environmental, social, and governance — and ESG topics are one of rising importance for CPAs. We'll also be talking about an ESG symposium held recently at the AICPA's New York office.

    That rising importance is the result of both proposed regulations and growing interests from potential clients, as well as growing demand for advisory services. To talk about ESG and the symposium, I'm joined for this segment by Ami Beers. Ami is a CPA and colleague of mine who is senior director–Assurance and Advisory Innovation. Ami, first, I think people understand maybe what the E in ESG stands for and means, but could you tell me more about the S and the G?

    Ami Beers: Sure, and thank you very much for having me today. I agree. I think a lot of people automatically think of E and think of the climate and capturing of carbon emissions and reporting on that information. But E really encompasses other environmental matters that are having an impact on companies' value or business model; so information about water usage and waste and biodiversity and how these impact some industries.

    When we talk a little bit about the S in ESG, which is really becoming increasingly important, especially after the pandemic, these social issues cover people and relationships, so the health and safety of workers, the diversity and equity inclusion within companies, as well as a company's brand or reputation and the policies that they instill, specifically potentially related to, say, child labor laws.

    These are really important issues for employees and customers, but investors are also very interested in these topics. They want to understand how a company manages these social issues and the risks, because these risks have an impact on the company's value.

    Then finally G, governance. Very important to understand that companies have the right structure and policies in place. Some of the topics that fall under this governance pillar, policies related to, say, executive compensation or board composition, or even risk management.

    Amato: Ami, your role at the Association obviously includes a focus on ESG because you know a lot about it, you talk about it, but what is it about that focus area that interests you?

    Beers: Here at the Association, we have been working in sustainability and enhanced business reporting for years. However, recently, ESG issues have become really important, and they've taken a big interest amongst many stakeholders because ESG issues impact a company's long-term value creation, and so that is of interest to investors, boards, employees.

    There are risks and opportunities related to ESG that are imposed on companies. Companies really need to manage these risks and have a strategy to mitigate them, so this falls right into an accountant's sweet spot. Finance and accounting professionals really need to provide the trust in that information.

    As it relates to ESG, some of the things that need to be done is establishing processes and controls and collecting the right data to report on, measuring that data against established standards, using the information for decision-making, and allowing companies to tell their story to stakeholders. This information is reported to external parties, and then, of course, providing the assurance on that information provides that confidence and trust.

    Accountants are the right people to be leading in this area, and that is really what my focus has been on, is really providing the profession the tools to be able to engage in this area and really lead in this area.

    Amato: I mentioned the ESG symposium. It was May 24th in New York. What would you say was the goal of that symposium?

    Beers: Yeah, as I mentioned, we believe that the finance and accounting profession needs to lead in the ESG ecosystem, and so we brought together the top leaders in the ESG space. We looked at people in the investment community, we looked at firm leaders, technologists, CFOs, and really brought them together to really understand the ESG ecosphere and how it would impact the profession.

    The goal was to discuss this accelerating market demand for ESG services, understand the opportunity for the accounting and finance profession, and help lead the way for our Association to support that journey.

    Amato: I mentioned the demand for ESG knowledge or advisory services is growing. There's obviously evidence for that all around. Some people still might think that ESG is not all that important, but why, in your mind, is it something that's here to stay?

    Beers: I think that there are about five key drivers for ESG implementation, and those are first, regulations; movement in the reporting standards, number 2; three is really the investors and the investor demand. Four is companies themselves and their supply chains, and fifth would be your customers and your employees.

    The first is regulation. Obviously, the US is joining a growing list of countries that are mandating disclosure in this area.

    The SEC had announced in its regulatory agenda last year that it would be issuing four different ESG-related rules. The first two were released in March of this year, one on cybersecurity reporting and the other on climate-related disclosure.

    We're expecting two more in the remainder of 2022, which would be one on board diversity and another on human capital management. We're also seeing within the states and at the local level that these organizations are looking to have some level of reporting in this area, both on climate-related issues as well as social issues.

    The second is standards, and where we've been in the past is that reporting on sustainability information has been all over the place with lots of different frameworks and different standards, and what we've been seeing recently is that the major standard setters in the ESG space are coming together.

    The IFRS Foundation had announced in this past November that it was be forming a new standards board called the International Sustainability Standards Board. That standards board will be sitting as a sister organization to the International Accounting Standards Board, which sets financial reporting standards.

    What we're seeing is that sustainability standards setting is becoming really important just at the same level as financial reporting, and that's because investors are very interested in it. Which is my third driver of why ESG is becoming so important. Because investors are demanding that companies start reporting on this information.

    They understand that ESG risks impact the value creation of a company and that it has a real impact over decisions related to capital allocation and investment. They want to understand a company's strategy, risk, and how they're mitigating these risks. They want them to be reporting on the KPIs and metrics and the progress against any commitments companies are making towards ESG policies.

    The fourth area: companies themselves. Companies are making commitments and setting targets regardless of whether they're required to by the SEC or by some other regulator. They're not only setting these targets, but they are setting targets that impact the companies that they do business with, so their supply chains. Specifically when it comes to carbon emissions, companies look at up and down their value chains.

    Scope 3 carbon emissions — really what that means is that your Scope 3, which is any carbon emissions that are indirectly related to or someone else's direct carbon emissions. Some of these companies are asking their suppliers to sign pledges to reduce carbon emissions and to even make commitments on some of the social issues that I talked about before in terms of child safety and child labor laws, and employee health and welfare, and diversity and inclusion.

    That leads me to my fifth driver, and that is customers and employees. That is why these companies are in business. More and more, we're starting to see customers make decisions based on a company's sustainability strategy.

    The younger generations really care about these issues. They will change their purchasing habits for companies that they believe meet their values. They also want to work for companies that align to those values.

    We're looking at this war against talent and how important talent is to a company. Well, so it's really important for companies to be able to attract new talent, to be able to demonstrate that they have strategies in this area.

    Amato: What would you say are some of the key takeaways for you after hearing the group's discussion on May 24th?

    Beers: I think that one of the most important things we heard were that, obviously, the investors are very interested in this information. They want comparable and reliable information. Quality is so important to them. They want to be able to rely on ESG reporting in the same manner that they rely on financial reporting.

    The profession will have a strong voice in helping shape the future of these global ESG standards. We know that CPAs are well positioned to meet marketplace demands. They have the skills, the experience, and the systems to provide assurance and quality services. They have independence, integrity, and competency.

    We already know that firms are starting to build on these services to help their clients with ESG strategy, reporting, and assurance needs. We know corporate finance leaders are beginning their efforts in starting their journeys and starting to gather the information to report on ESG efforts and improve their decision-making and demonstrate that value creation.

    But we also heard that accountants and finance professionals will need to expand their knowledge. They need to get the necessary training that will help them in terms of this new subject area.

    Amato: To you, as a closing thought, what's next regarding ESG?

    Beers: There is a lot to learn. AICPA and CIMA have been developing lots of resources to help upskill our profession for the sea change that is coming. We have many resources on our website that provide education that CPAs in this space will need.

    For example, we've got some educational briefs on understanding ESG, specifically the E, the S, and the G that I talked about earlier on. We actually recently released a paper on carbon accounting.

    We've got additional guidance for the auditors to help them in performing either a separate attestation on sustainability information. Or we also released a practice aid that help auditors deal with ESG risks as they may impact the audit of the financial statements.

    Also, coming soon, we'll be releasing a new course on ESG fundamentals. I suggest please check out our website for these valuable resources that will help you get up to speed.

    Amato: We will link to some of those pertinent resources in the show notes for this episode. Ami, we appreciate you taking the time to be on and sharing your expertise today. Thanks very much.

    Beers: Thank you so much for having me.

    Amato: Again, that was CPA Ami Beers.

  • 05/25/2022 9:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    May 18, 2022

    Patrice Mills, CPA, was sunning herself on a Florida beach when she received an alarming phone call. All of her client files had been seized in a ransomware attack, and cybercriminals were demanding payment to release them. Listen in as Mills recounts this experience and shares best practices for keeping your firm’s data safe.

    PCPS resources mentioned in this episode:

    To learn more about Patrice, please visit https://www.millscpa.com.

    This episode is brought to you by the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS), the home of small firms. To learn more about PCPS, email pcps@aicpa.org and schedule a free webtour.

    Note: If your podcast app does not hyperlink to resources, visit https://aicpasmallfirm.libsyn.com to access show notes with direct links.

  • 05/13/2022 8:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    May 10, 2022

    By Neil Amato

    The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued guidance addressing numerous accounting and financial reporting issues identified during the implementation and application of certain GASB pronouncements or during the due process on other pronouncements.

    The issues covered by GASB Statement No. 99Omnibus 2022, include:

    • Accounting and financial reporting for exchange or exchange-like financial guarantees;
    • Certain derivative instruments that are neither hedging derivative instruments nor investment derivative instruments;
    • Clarification of certain provisions of:
    • Statement No. 34, Basic Financial Statements — and Management's Discussion and Analysis — for State and Local Governments;
    • Statement No. 87, Leases;
    • Statement No. 94, Public-Private and Public-Public Partnership and Availability Payment Arrangements; and
    • Statement No. 96, Subscription-Based Information Technology Arrangements.
    • Replacing the original deadline for using the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) as a benchmark interest rate for hedges of interest rate risk of taxable debt, with a deadline of when LIBOR ceases to be determined by the ICE Benchmark Administration using the methodology in place as of Dec. 31, 2021.
    • Accounting for the distribution of benefits as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
    • Disclosures related to nonmonetary transactions.
    • Pledges of future revenues when resources are not received by the pledging government.
    • Updating certain terminology for consistency with existing authoritative standards.

    The requirements of Statement 99 that relate to the extension of the use of LIBOR, accounting for SNAP distributions, disclosures for nonmonetary transactions, pledges of future revenues by pledging governments, clarifications of certain provisions in Statement 34, and terminology updates are effective upon issuance, GASB said.

    The requirements related to leases, public-public and public-private partnerships, and subscription-based information technology agreements are effective for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2022, and all reporting periods thereafter. The requirements related to financial guarantees and the other requirements related to derivative instruments are effective for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2023, and all reporting periods thereafter.

    Earlier application is encouraged and is permitted by individual topic to the extent that all requirements associated with an individual topic are implemented simultaneously.

  • 05/10/2022 9:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    May 10, 2022

    By Neil Amato

    The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) is seeking input on proposed amendments intended to clarify the application of lessee and lessor discounting requirements.

    The FASAB exposure draft proposes targeted omnibus amendments to Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards (SFFAS) 54, Leases.

    The proposed amendments are also intended to clarify the application of sale-leasebacks guidance to intragovernmental sale-leasebacks and the disclosure requirements applicable to them.

    "These proposals are a continuation of the board's post-issuance research on SFFAS 54," FASAB chair George A. Scott said. "As the effective date nears, the goal has been to facilitate the ongoing leases implementation activities across the federal community through extensive outreach and the efforts of a dedicated task force. Comment letters on this proposal will further support that goal as the board's due process continues following the comment period."

    FASAB requests comments on the ED by July 8. Respondents are encouraged to provide the reasons for their positions and can visit this site to begin the comment process.

  • 04/20/2022 3:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    April 18, 2022

    By Anita Dennis

    After deals dropped dramatically during the pandemic, the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market is hot once again in the accounting profession, according to Terrence E. Putney, partner, Whitman Transition Advisors LLC, which advises CPA firms on M&A issues. Economic uncertainty and discomfort with making decisions based on video meetings caused many to put off dealmaking during the past two years. However, the market has heated up since late last year, given a more stable economy and strong firm profitability. "It's driving M&A to unprecedented levels," he said. "Even during tax season, firms are closing deals."

    For CPAs considering jumping into this active market, Putney and Amber Goering, CPA, CGMA, an owner of Goering and Granatino PA, offer these tips on meeting some of the biggest challenges in buying or selling a firm. Both will participate in a session on small firm acquisition at AICPA & CIMA ENGAGE 22, which will take place June 6–9 in Las Vegas and online.

    • Be prepared for a buyer's market. The market is flooded with owners seeking to retire in the next five years, according to Putney. Many firms have one to five partners, and no one within the firm is ready to take over. "Succession is a huge problem," he said. As a result, there is a greater supply of firms being sold than buyers, which has pushed prices down. That means retiring CPAs may be in line for a surprise. "Sellers are expecting to get 1 times revenues," he said. "Buyers are expecting to pay 0.8 times or less."
    • Avoid pitfalls for inexperienced buyers. Even in this market, there may be hurdles for buyers. For example, many who are new to purchasing a firm may not understand the level of resources required. Firms that are used to operating off their cash flow will have to pull together the necessary capital. For a $2 million acquisition, the buyer might need $500,000 in capital, Putney said.

    Deals may also run aground if all the partners aren't completely behind the idea of acquiring one particular firm or even of making any acquisition at all. "The managing partner may be on board, but others may hesitate," Putney noted. "But time kills all deals," he said, so those who aren't ready to strike may lose out on promising prospects.

    • Make sure cultures are aligned. Goering's 33-person firm has acquired five firms during the last 10 years. She recommended that CPAs seriously consider how well two merged firms will mesh before moving forward with any deals. Buyer firms should investigate critical areas, such as a target firm's approaches to technology and client service, before sealing a deal, because incompatible cultures may cause problems later. Success may also depend on the selling partners and their attitude toward the merger. A merged-in partner who is a cheerleader for the deal can inspire his or her people to embrace change. If someone is unwilling to accept new processes or approaches, however, the employees they bring along are often not motivated to do so either, she said.

    Transparency from the outset may be crucial in ensuring that employees become effective firm members, Goering advised. She has had success in incorporating new people when she meets with them before the merger to answer questions and reassure them about their place in the new firm.

    • Be more flexible about being a good fit for the acquiring firm. Sellers often come to a deal with a wish list, Putney said. For example, they may not be willing to move their office, adapt their operations to new processes, or accept that some employees may not be hired by the buying firm. "All of those requirements eliminate a percentage of the buyer market," he said. "They drive down value because you're less likely to find an interested buyer."

    In particular, sellers should remember that it's all about talent. A decade ago, M&A was driven by a desire to acquire clients, Putney said. Today, because of the talent shortage, buyers may no longer be interested in a firm if the owner plans on immediate retirement. The buyer may be gaining new clients but may also need to depend on the seller's help in serving them. As a result, willingness to remain with the new firm through and beyond the transition period may be a competitive advantage for a seller firm.

  • 04/15/2022 10:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    April 14, 2022 04:13 PM

    By News staff

    Citing the disruptive blizzard that has blanketed much of North Dakota in snow, Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus put a waiver on all income tax penalties and interest through after Monday, April 25.

    flag_capitol1.jpg

    The state flag flying in front of the North Dakota Capitol violently flaps in the wind during a blizzard on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

    BISMARCK — North Dakota Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus announced Thursday, April 14, that tax filers will have an extra week to return and pay their state income taxes.

    Citing the disruptive blizzard that has blanketed much of the state in snow, Kroshus put a waiver on all income tax penalties and interest through after Monday, April 25.

    "Given the magnitude of the storm, the waiver is appropriate and will hopefully provide a level of relief to some as the state slowly digs out," Kroshus said in a news release.

    The waiver only applies to the state income tax deadline, and filers must still send in their federal income tax returns by Monday, April 18, or request an extension to avoid penalties.

    Kroshus' office will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 18 to help residents file their individual income tax returns before the end of the Tax Day deadline. The office's individual income tax staff is reachable at 701-328-1247.

  • 04/12/2022 9:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    April 11, 2022

    Ted Knutson

    The Internal Revenue Service was plagued by taxpayer service problems last year including refund delays, scant online refund information, and a decline in in person service, the Government Accountability Office asserted in a new report.

    The refund delays were blamed on an unprecedented volume of returns requiring manual review with similar tax credit errors and the IRS suspended and reviewed 35 million returns with errors primarily due to new or modified tax credits.

    The errors, which can be made by both taxpayers and the IRS, increased from the COVID-19 legislation, according to the study, since the new provisions of the tax law are new to IRS, paid preparers, and taxpayers, and can make the overall returns process more complicated.

    “As a result, millions of taxpayers experienced long delays in receiving refunds,” the authors of the GAO report said.

    At the end of the 2021 tax filing season in December, IRS still had about 10.5 million returns to process.

    GAO faulted the IRS for not estimating how long it would take to resolve the backlog of mail correspondence from taxpayers.

    “Providing such estimates periodically, and communicating this information to taxpayers and stakeholders, will better set taxpayer expectations for a response as well as potentially reduce further calls or correspondence follow up from taxpayers,” the study asserted.

    The correspondence inventory the IRS expects at the end of the 2022 fiscal year exceeding 10 million, is more than five times the volume of correspondence as of the end of fiscal year 2019 and more than three times the inventory as of the end of fiscal year 2020.

    The decline in in-person services, GAO noted started in 2015 before offices were closed as a result of the pandemic as the agency has stressed alternative choices for service.

    In 2015 the agency served 5.5 million taxpayers in person. That number declined to 700,000 during 2020 with decline primarily due to its shift from walk-in service to appointment-only service.

    “Developing and communicating a plan for how it will provide in-person service to taxpayers will better position IRS as it considers expanding and changing other service options, such as virtual service.

    The IRS has said it intends to more broadly implement video conference appointments for taxpayers so that they can work with an IRS specialist using a computer, tablet, or mobile phone from the taxpayer’s home.

    To lessen the problems, the report by the investigative arm of Congress recommended IRS find out the causes for the taxpayer errors on returns, modernize its online “Where's My Refund” application; address its backlog of correspondence; and assess its in-person service model.

    “While 2021 was a trying year for IRS, it can address its persistent challenges to better serve taxpayers and manage future difficulties,” GAO said.

  • 03/09/2022 9:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    March 2, 2022

    AICPA Insights

    The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license matters. The proof presents itself every day in the ethical, informed and trustworthy work CPAs do. Through their invaluable work, licensed CPAs bring confidence, experience, accuracy and honesty to an, often, uncertain financial world.

    The CPA license signals to the public an accounting professional’s commitment to excellence and integrity in a complex, highly regulated, and constantly changing business world. The CPA license is much more than permission to work in a highly specialized field. It matters to the public, businesses and the broader financial world because of the tremendous substance and commitments that stand behind it.

    When businesses and individuals hire a CPA, they know that they are hiring a well-qualified professional. With accounting, auditing, tax and technology at the core, the CPA licensure process prepares accountants to work in at least one of three disciplines: tax compliance and planning; business analysis and reporting; or information systems and controls.

    Licensure also reflects reliability. A CPA enters a social contract with the public as a professional who has met exhaustive requirements, and practices with financial integrity, whether for an individual, company, governmental body or non-profit enterprise.

    In their learning and public practice, an individual who seeks to become a CPA must submit to what is known as “integrity of the rigor.” In other words, CPAs must prove in multiple, concrete ways over time that they are qualified to meet the highest standards and uphold a code of conduct; state laws and regulations; and those from federal regulators, such as the PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board) and IRS (Internal Revenue Service).

    These four pillars stand behind every CPA license:

    Education - Accounting students learn the fundamentals of the profession in college, completing 150 semester hours of education for licensure. To maintain their license, CPAs must also complete continuing professional education.
    Experience - Candidates must also meet an experience requirement before a license can be obtained. Experience can be gained through several avenues including public accounting, industry, and government.
    Examination - Passing the CPA Exam provides evidence that an accountant is qualified to practice at the highest level of the profession. The Uniform CPA Examination is the same exam for every CPA candidate in all 55 licensing jurisdictions in the United States.
    Ethics - In daily practice, CPAs comply with a code of ethics, including the AICPA® (American Institute of CPAs®) Code of Professional Conduct, which reinforces a career-long commitment to integrity, objectivity, due care and competence.

    Moreover, every CPA reinforces and revisits these pillars as they build their experience and further develop sound judgment; take continuing CPA education courses; and work overtime to abide by the regulations and laws that guide their work and promote public confidence.

    In the business world, CPA licensure matters as only CPAs can perform what is known as the attest function — an independent review of a company’s opinion financial statement. This important level of assurance positions the CPA as a trusted adviser.

    All of this taken confirms the CPA profession’s dedication to creating a system where licensure represents a true gold standard in training, practice, ethics, and career-long development. The CPA profession has decades of commitment to meeting and maintaining its contract with the public, creating a finely tuned, nuanced system to define and uphold best practices. This work constantly evolves as the nature of business, accounting, tax and capital markets change. Just as they have over generations, licensed CPAs monitor and adhere to the laws, rules and standards that guide them.

    This, combined with keeping in place time-tested pillars that build rigor and promote public confidence, mean that accounting professionals who commit to upholding the highest standards of ethics, skill, independence, judgment and professional development proudly carry the CPA designation.

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