CPAmerica’s Social Media – More Than Just a Pretty Face

Our association offers our members a multitude of dues-funded services and one that I’d like to highlight in this blog post is social media.

 

CPAmerica offers our social media content not only to our members, but to the entire online world. This content currently consists of five components – our LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Blog sites (where you are probably reading this article right now).

 

CPAI blog photoThe main reason we continually update and add content to our social media pages is to meet our fundamental aim of “Improving Through Sharing.” This sharing is beneficial to CPAmerica because it increases interest in our association. But do you know what we feel is the most important reason for maintaining our social media presence?

 

The answer: providing useful information to our members.

 

Visiting our Twitter page, twitter.com/cpamericaintl , is a great way to check in and see what your association colleagues are up to. It is so easy to use your mobile device to get updates, as well. When a member firm submits press releases to us, we will more than likely post the information on our Twitter page (Facebook, too). Some examples of our current Tweets detail our upcoming CPAmerica events; link to an article on micromanaging and productivity; and discuss tips for logo design.

 

Our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CPAmerica , can help you market your firm. This page is another outlet where information submitted to us can be posted by our Marketing Department. This can increase the visibility of your firm by helping you reach a larger audience. We also have a LinkedIn page, www.linkedin.com/company/cpamerica-international, where you can connect with our various featured groups.

 

Another site that is well worth visiting is our brand new Google + page. It has a very clean and easy-to-navigate format; it is also the second-largest social networking site in the world (after Facebook) and this editor’s choice for seeing what’s new at CPAmerica: https://plus.google.com/+CpamericaOrg/posts.

 

Our social media is rounded off by our blog page, http://blog.cpamerica.org/, where we share our posts of original content, penned by your association’s staff and experts. Topics in the past have covered everything from event information to in-depth stories on technical accounting issues.

 

Utilizing our various social media outlets can be informative, interesting, and can even help you and your firm by helping you connect to both your peers and the business world as a whole. I hope you help our association by checking out our sites.

 

 

Oscar Molina, Marketing Editor at CPAmerica International. Molina has a background in graphic design and marketing and has previously worked as a field chemist. As the Marketing Editor, he is responsible for content, layout & design, printing and distribution for print and on-line publications directed at the membership of CPAmerica International.

Register for 2014 CPAmerica International Events

CPAmerica International has a variety of great events during 2014. Take a look below and open up those calendars!

August

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Midwest Partners Meeting—August 1

Partners from across the Midwest will be meeting in Cleveland, Ohio on August 1st. At this meeting, partners share best practices and discuss issues that are unique or pressing both regionally and in the profession. Partner facilitated sessions include “Organic Growth”, “Niche Development”, “Building Strength”, and “Leveraging Cooperation and Expertise within the Firm”.

Next Generation Conference—August 14-15

This is a NEW leadership event that is being offered to support firm staff retention, growth and succession planning.  This conference will be open to up and coming leaders within our firms. They will learn about business development, leadership skills, and details of firm management and have the opportunity to network with other member firms.  In addition to a full day of sessions from Sam Allred, Upstream Academy, attendees will learn from Michael Platt of Platt Consulting Group, LLC, Heather Sunderlin of Wall Einhorn & Chernitzer P.C., Alan Deichler of CPAmerica International, and participate in a Q&A session with a panel of well-regarded CPAmerica member firm partners.

Southeast Partners Meeting—August 22

Partners in our Southeast region will get together in Atlanta again this year to discuss best practices and network with colleagues from fellow member firms. This meeting will be held again at the popular Mandarin Oriental. Session titles include “Staff Development and Building Core Strength”, “Recruiting”, “Organic Growth, Part II”, “CPAConnect Success Story”, “The Firm Administrators Role – What it can bring to your firm” and  up close member sharing with a breakout session with a variety of topics.

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2014 Leading Partners Retreat—September 17-19

This premier event will focus on Finding, Growing and Keeping Your Talent featuring informative sessions and notable speakers, including Tom Hood, MACPA, Economist Bill Conerly, Lean Six Sigma blackbelt Chris Liebtag, Kris McMasters, McMasters Consulting, Randy Johnston, NMGI, Kristie Van Leeuwen, People Reader, Steve Knebel of member firm Maxwell, Locke & Ritter, and multiple highly charged member sharing sessions.  This event is being held at the Hilton in downtown Portland, Ore.

2014 Firm Administration Roundtable—September 17-19

This event runs alongside Leading Partners Retreat at the Hilton Portland, and will enjoy a few joint sessions such as Tom Hood, keynote speaker with MACPA speaking on “A New Era in Talent Development & Learning and Preparing for the Shift Change in Accounting”, and Kris McMasters, McMasters Consulting, “Lessons in Leadership”.  There are other popular speakers, including consultant Tamara Loerzel, and always valuable member sharing sessions.  Guests of both meetings will enjoy networking at the special event at Lan Su Chinese Gardens.

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2014 CPAConnect Roundtable—October 22-24

This year’s roundtable will take place in the Windy City, Chicago, Ill.  The chair for the meeting is Ramin Karimi, JBSK CPAS LLP, and the vice chair is Richard Kasperski, Kasperski Owen & Dinan CPAs, LLC.  Since this is the premier event for CPAConnect members, the chair and vice chair have been working with the planning committee to discuss topics for the agenda.  The agenda will focus on topics such as succession planning, sales and technology.

 

 NovemberPerla View of Beach

2014 Tax Conference—November 10-12*

CPAmerica Tax Director, Linda Harding, has worked with meeting chair, Karen Thurman, Frazier & Deeter, LLC and vice chair, Mike Abramson, Frankel Zacharia, LLC, to create a powerful agenda for November’s meeting in Puerto Rico.

Just a few of the speakers on board include Chuck Rettig, SALT expert Jordan Goodman, Sean King, Laura Edgerton, Patricia Moran and Nina Olson of the Office of the National Taxpayer Advocate.  This event will be held at the landmark La Concha Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

* Please note that the date for The Tax Conference has changed.  It was previously scheduled for November 3-5. Please update your calendar.

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International Business Development – December 3-4

This meeting will be held at the Marriott Gateway in Atlanta; just an easy skytram ride away from Hartsfield Jackson Airport.  “Building and Expanding Relationships” will drive this intense day and a half meeting designed to pave the two way street on cross border business between member firms of CPAmerica and Crowe Horwath International.

 

For more information on each event and to register, just click here, or contact Lisa Browne at (352) 727-4160 or email at events@cpamerica.org.

2014 events have come together through the participation in planning from our members.  As a member-driven association, we are always looking for member input to make these events better every year! Please log in to the members’ only website to access the planning call information for each event.

 

Lisa Browne, Events Manager for CPAmerica International. As a part of the Events department, Lisa plans and organizes all of CPAmerica’s conferences and roundtables, including the Partner Meetings, Marketing Roundtable, A&A Conference, Technology Roundtable, Leading Partner’s Retreat, Firm Administration Roundtable and Tax Conference.

Want to sponsor a CPAmerica event?

Doing the Right Thing

I thought you might like to hear a story of honesty and “doing the right thing,” all with a positive ending.

Last October, I was in Rio de Janeiro for the Crowe Horwath International annual meeting with four other managing partners of CPAmerica International firms. I had arranged for a car and driver to pick me up at the airport and take me to my hotel. Of course, I didn’t know the driver, but felt a bit better about a pre-arranged car than just hopping in a cab in an unknown country.

Rio1When traveling internationally, I often will pay with a credit card and eliminate the need to carry cash and to exchange US dollars for local currency. I offered the driver my credit card and he swiped my card. His handheld machine was not functioning properly and after a number of unsuccessful attempts he could not process my payment. I paid in cash, though wondered about all those swipes.

After checking into the hotel and checking my e-mails, I received a note from the credit card company about a foreign transaction and as I suspected, the transaction had been made…plus my cash payment. I thought that was probably the last I would see of that driver, though I knew I had some recourse. I knew it was not going to be easy and it would take a lot of time. I would deal with it later.

It had been a long trip and I decided to lie down prior to my first official function, a dinner later that night. Just as I got to sleep the phone rang. It was the driver, who introduced himself as Idel. He explained that he had just seen how his portable machine had accepted my credit card and he was on his way back to the hotel to return my cash. I was half asleep and not in a position to just run downstairs. Idel said he would leave my cash with the concierge.

I was to meet guests in the lobby before we headed to dinner, so I thought that was a good time to see if Idel had fulfilled his commitment. I was half prepared for no envelope, but to my surprise, the concierge not only handed me the envelope, but explained that Idel was very upset about the chance that he was suspected of any inappropriate deed. I was impressed. Idel had also left his card in the envelope along with my cash.

I called the number and thanked Idel. I asked him if he would like to take me back to the airport in a couple of days when I had a departing flight. He agreed and we set the appointment.

It was interesting that I was a bit early for my return trip, waiting for Idel outside the hotel. I had time, but also had a number of drivers come up and ask if I would like to go to the airport. It was pretty obvious, I would wait for Idel.

 

Alan Deichler is the president of CPAmerica International and oversees the association’s growth and development. Prior to being named CPAmerica president, Deichler was most recently chief marketing officer at talent management software provider HRsmart in Richardson, Texas, where he headed worldwide sales and marketing efforts. Deichler has more than 35 years of corporate experience, having held previous management and executive positions with Capital Formation Counselors, Inc., IBM and Ernst & Young, LLP.

The Perks of Attending Conferences

One of my favorite perks of my job is the traveling that I get to do throughout the year.  I’m fortunate to attend many of the CPAmerica International conferences, regional meetings and member firm orientations. I have developed wonderful relationships with members of the association, which only get stronger by each and every event I attend.

Many of you attend conferences other than CPAmerica facilitated ones, such as AICPA or specific niche- related events.  Since my background is in firm administration, one of the outside conferences that I attend is the Association for Accounting Administrators (AAA) National Practice Management Conference (www.cpaadmin.org). It’s a very large conference packed full of valuable shared information. Professional development is vital for my personal growth and it assists me in my role by helping me learn current trends of the profession, know what firms are dealing with outside of our association, and to know what tricks of the trade may be available to share. I’ve been attending the AAA conference since 2007.  I have relationships I’ve established from my very first conference that I still cherish today.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When you go to a conference where you don’t know anyone, you have to step outside of your comfort zone and force yourself to meet fellow colleagues. That can be tough for a lot of professionals out there. When I am attending a conference where I may or may not know a lot of the people, I like to remind myself of the following helpful tips:

  1. Many of the attendees are in the same boat as I am – they do not know many people at the event.
  2. 100 percent of the attendees are at this conference for the very same reasons that I am. They want to learn, learn and learn!
  3. Vendors are a great gateway to meeting your fellow colleagues.  When in doubt – visit a booth, learn about the product or service that they are offering, and ask if they can point out people that may use that product that you can approach.
  4. Lastly – people like to talk about themselves.  Make contact and be a good listener.

Once, while stepping out of my comfort zone (all those years ago in 2007), I met an individual that is one of the primary reasons I am fortunate enough to work at CPAmerica today.  Moral of the story – you never know what can come out of the relationships that develop by attending professional conferences and events.  Go in with enthusiasm, don’t underestimate the power of being nice, and leave with a huge amount of shared professional knowledge and perhaps a few people that will remain lifelong friends.

 

Joyce Arthur, Senior Member Services Manager at CPAmerica International. Arthur was previously a Firm Administrator and has worked in the accounting profession for over 20 years. In her role within the Member Services team, she is responsible for the sharing calls, orientations, member communications and is a valuable resource for member firms.

Canada’s New Anti-Spam Legislation: What You Need to Know If You Send Commercial Electronic Messages to Canada

InFocus-Spring2014-CASL-header2Much of Canada’s new anti-spam legislation, known as “CASL,” will come into force on July 1, 2014. Despite its name, CASL encompasses much more than spamming mass emails. It is broad-reaching legislation thought to be the most stringent legislation of its type in the world. Although intended to promote e-commerce by deterring spam, identity theft, spyware, viruses, phishing and the like, it may impact individuals or organizations (in Canada and elsewhere) who send emails, texts, social media messages or other forms of commercial electronic messages (“CEMs”) to people and computers in Canada. It also applies to software downloads, including updates to mobile applications and other programs.

You may not consider yourself a “spammer”; however, at the heart of this legislation is the regulation of CEMs. The Canadian Government defines CEMs as “any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity, regardless of whether there is an expectation of profit.” These include common electronic activities such as sending emails, newsletters, invitations, texts, in mail and so on. Failure to comply with CASL may lead to significant consequences and administrative monetary penalties of up to $1 million per violation for individuals and $10 million per violation for corporations. There could be vicarious liability for organizations for acts by their employees or agents and corporate officers. Officers or Directors could also be held personally liable for corporate violations. On July 1, 2017, the private right of action will come into force, which has potential to lead to prosecutions and class action lawsuits.apply-cakemail-050614

There are three basic rules for organizations to follow when sending CEMs to Canada. Organizations must:

  1. Have expressed or implied consent from the recipient. Implied consent may be time limited, and you should understand the various time limitations for different types of communications. And, unlike most privacy laws that permit “opt out consent,” positive, “opt-in consent” is required under CASL. After July 1, 2014, emailing contacts to ask for consent will be considered to be a CEM.
  2. Clearly and simply identify who is sending the CEM or if someone is sending the CEM on another’s behalf.
  3. Provide a way for the recipient to easily unsubscribe from receiving messages in the future and within 10 days of receipt of the unsubscribe message.

Where CASL gets more complex are in the various exceptions to the rules and the range of interpretations to many of the provisions. I have described many of them in my general informational article in our inFocus publication.

Based in Toronto, Crowe Soberman LLP is taking a number of steps to ensure that we are upholding this law, such as requesting express consent from our contacts, providing training to our people and revising processes and policies and so on.

CASL could complicate business processes at your firm. If you think it might, we strongly recommend you get up to speed on CASL immediately to determine how it will affect you; July 1 is not that far away. Awareness is the first step: a good starting place would be the Government of Canada website (www.fightspam.gc.ca). There are many other good resources online including articles about how CASL could impact American organizations with cross-border clients. Spend a little time educating yourself about it; then evaluate what action, if any, makes sense for your firm.

 

Heather MacDonald-Santiago is the Business Development Manager at Crowe Soberman LLP. Heather has over 19 years experience within professional services having worked with lawyers, architects and presently, accountants. In addition to her usual business development and marketing roles, Heather is currently Managing the “CASL Preparedness Committee” at her firm.

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12 Recommendations Made by the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council Subgroups

I must be a true tax geek, because I am very much enjoying my time on the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC)! IRSAC

 

IRSAC is an advisory group to the entire agency and its membership is balanced to include representation from the taxpaying public, tax professional community, small and large businesses, state tax administration, and payroll community.

 

IRSAC’s primary purpose is to provide an organized public forum for senior IRS executives and representatives of the public to discuss relevant tax issues. We meet five times during the year in Washington, D.C., generally with one day devoted to meeting with senior IRS executives and the other day with our subgroups. The fifth meeting in November is devoted to presenting our recommendations regarding various tax issues to the public and the Commissioner of the IRS.

 

IRSAC is divided into four subgroups: Large Business and International (LB&I), Wage and Investment (W&I), Small Business/Self-Employed (SBSE) and Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).  I have served on the OPR subgroup since I was appointed to IRSAC in 2012.

 

Our work each year is confidential until our annual report is released to the public in November.  In 2013, the Subgroups recommended the following:

 

 Office of Professional Responsibility Subgroup

1. Guidance to Practitioners Regarding Professional Obligations

Following up on the recommendation in our 2012 report concerning guidance regarding the obligations of practitioners under Treasury Circular 230, we recommend that the IRS address this guidance as part of a multi-phase project. We also offer a conceptual framework for this guidance at Appendix A. This appendix can be found here. Continue reading

Dr. Tom Ratcliffe, a CPA, a Teacher, a Writer, a Leader, a Mentor, but Most Importantly a Friend

What I want to share in this blog concerns an individual that served many of us as a CPA, a teacher, a leader, a writer, a mentor and perhaps more importantly, a great friend.

Tom Ratcliffe

Dr. Tom Ratcliffe

On Sunday, March 23, 2014, Dr. Tom Ratcliffe unexpectedly passed away.

There is no way to adequately memorialize Tom’s life in a short blog. So I decided to pick my favorite part of Tom’s personality to talk about in this small space: Tom’s teaching methods and the way he used them so that his students could comprehend the subject matter was phenomenal.

There is not much I can recall that happened to me over 20 years ago, but I do recall hearing Tom Ratcliffe speak for the first time over 20 years ago.

If you heard Tom, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you never had the chance to meet him, I am as sorry as I can be for your missed opportunity. You missed an opportunity to meet one of the best to practice, teach, lead, be a mentor and simply be a great friend to everyone that had the good fortune to be around him.

Surely, those of us that knew Tom and were influenced by him form a large group.

There is an expression used from time to time to describe individuals who are just special, unique and contributed to those who they came into contact. It’s “one of those.”
Tom was one of those.

Everyone knew Tom, and Tom knew everybody. Everyone respected Tom, and Tom respected everybody. And most importantly, everyone liked Tom, and Tom liked everyone. Tom was indeed a gift to anyone that had the opportunity to work, learn and share time with him. Continue reading

7 Tips to Make the Most of CPAmerica Webinars

Would you be interested in lowering your personal webinar cost by more than $200?  Would you be interested in attending a webinar by Sam Allred or Allan Koltin?  Learn these seven tips for making the most of CPAmerica webinars. Webinars

Dream Big – Is there a webinar you would sign up for in a heartbeat, that you wish we offered?  Is there a speaker who you would rearrange your schedule to see?  With a quick email to me, we will work on your behalf to make that happen.  Contribute suggestions of what webinars YOU want so emails about webinar offerings will turn into perfectly curated selections.

Fill the Room – If you could lower the cost of attending a webinar from $249 to only $5 would you be interested?  The good news is, you can.  With CPAmerica’s all-you-can-learn style pricing, the webinars cost $249 per computer connection with unlimited CPE processing.  That means, if you have 50 people from your firm join together in the conference room, it would only cost $5 per person to attend.

Invite a Friend – What if you don’t have 50 people at your firm?  If you currently sponsor or are considering sponsoring a CPAConnect firm in your area, webinars are a low-cost way to continue strengthening that mutually beneficial relationship.  Next time your firm is attending a webinar, give your CPAConnect firm a call and see if they would like to participate.  A CPAConnect firm may not be able to justify the cost on their own, but with your large group you’ll be able to offer that value to them at no additional charge and create a low-pressure opportunity to meet with your sponsored firms.

Schedule a Discussion – While the ideas are still fresh and you have everyone gathered, set aside a little more time for discussion. Schedule the conference room an additional 30 minutes after the webinar to take the time to discuss how you want to implement those ideas within your firm.

Utilize the Discounts – If you’re thinking, “I’d love to fill the room, but all of our employees are watching from different cities,” never fear!  Though webinars cost $249 per computer connection, we want to encourage firms with multiple offices to participate.  Thus, we offer $100 off of any additional office location and $170 off if the additional connection is just a single user.

Watch the recording – If you have a remote user or additional office that wants to watch the webinar but doesn’t actually need the CPE credit, then you can skip the additional charge altogether.  The recording is available at no additional cost, so simply log into your webinar catalog and access the recording a couple of days after the live webinar rather than paying for an additional connection.

Ask questions – If you took the time to attend the live webinar, one of the major benefits you’re receiving is the opportunity to ask questions of a live expert.  Take advantage of that time and bring your questions with you, or jot some down during the webinar.  Submit the questions during the webinar so everyone can learn from them, or send them to the instructor afterward if it is a more individualized situation to glean all you can from that expert.

Keep your eyes out for some great webinar series coming up this year on hot A&A topics and SALT.

 

Kaylen Saunders, Member Services Manager for CPAmerica InternationalWith a masters in Curriculum and Instruction and experience as a professional development trainer, Saunders is responsible for scheduling and hosting webinars, administering CPE, maintaining the members-only website, managing preferred provider relationships, and coordinating the CPAConnect Roundtable.

Register Your Staff For Webinars!

 

Are You Preparing The Next Generation?

The next generations of leaders in the accounting profession are nearly through with the first quarter of their careers.  These are the people who will support not only the profession, but corporate America, and who depend on their independent perspectives and help in developing business strategies.NextGen

In this demanding business defined by hours, it is sometimes hard for current leaders to set time aside and share information with their next generation.

It is important to share the upside, as well as the culture of the profession and the way the business operates with people considering the direction of their careers.

CPAmerica will leave the sharing of the upside, at least formally, to the partners back at the firm, but the first ever, Next Generation Conference — in Chicago on August 14th and 15th — will set the foundation for showing this group of accountants the inner workings of their profession.

The two-day session will explore operations and the culture of the profession, metrics that are used to measure success, and the basic business relationship skills required to develop relationships and build trust with prospective clients. Continue reading

Top 3 Tech Issues for CPAs in 2014 and the Benefits of Benchmarking

Regardless of which industry you are in, benchmarking can: help companies gauge how well their processes in place compare against others, identify problem zones, identify areas of strength, and provide members with opportunities to find out what your peers are doing that you are not. Industry benchmarks will vary by geographic region and firm size, but being able to compare statistics against comparable firms, can assist leaders in identifying both risks and opportunities for their firm.

In November of 2013, 72 of our member firms received results for the 2013 Information Technology Benchmarking Report.  Benefits of Benchmarking

This report gave our members the opportunity to learn what the top technology issues, successes, software, etc., that other member firms were experiencing.  The top three takeaways from the survey were as follows: Continue reading