Technology

Robot Guy

Heads Up Future CPAs, TPTB Are Considering Testing Your Competency in Tech

Although this news is unlikely to affect anyone currently studying for the CPA exam, the potential impact on future accounting majors cannot be ignored. From the Journal of Accountancy: A working group formed by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the AICPA is exploring possible changes to the CPA licensure requirements […]

The Good News Is Robots Won’t Take Your Job, the Bad News Is When They Do They’ll Be Like Interns

We’ve been talking about robots taking your jobs for years now, always coming to the same conclusion that AI won’t make skilled CPAs, auditors, and other higher-level accounting professionals redundant. Phil the bookkeeper who has been doing taxes out of a beauty salon backroom in a podunk strip mall may not be so lucky, but […]

accounting job blockchain consulting

Blockchain Consulting: A Unique New Career Path for Accountants

The hype over blockchain is reaching a fever pitch. According to Juniper Research, two-thirds of the world’s large corporations expect blockchain technology to be integrated into their systems by the end of 2018. Blockchain certainly introduces new financial opportunities. But opinions about the size and scope of those opportunities vary. Software development firm Ignite wrote […]

workplace by facebook accounting

Does Workplace by Facebook Live Up to the Hype for Accountants?

Over the last few months, Facebook has been relentlessly pushing its Workplace by Facebook platform, expanding the app’s feature list while ramping up its marketing. Its most recent PR blitz occurred this past June, as Facebook unveiled the company’s new Workplace for Good program, touting free access to Workplace Premium for nonprofits and educational institutions among […]

We’re One Meltdown Away From a Bunch of Crusty Old CPAs Saying ‘I Told Ya So’ About the Cloud

If you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what a severe outage of Internet-based services might be like, this CFO article cites a report that tried to ballpark it: A cyber incident that takes a top-three cloud-services vendor offline for three to six days would spawn customer financial losses of about $7 billion […]

The IRS Has the Mother of All Nightmare Legacy Systems

Legacy systems are awful — so awful it’s the first thing I wrote about on Going Concern. To refresh your memory, legacy systems are obsolete software/hardware with so much technological baggage that they make you want to run away screaming, but you can’t for one reason or another. The most significant reason, unfortunately, is that […]

levi's cfo robots

Levi’s Finds Artificial Accountants, Ripped Denim More Fashionable Than the Real Thing

Levi’s CFO Harmit Singh told The Wall Street Journal that “We are introducing bots where it makes sense,” and “The idea is not to eliminate jobs. We are going to upskill employees and have them spend more time on analysis.” Yes, yes, the humans will do the really valuable stuff which, by the way, does […]

Accounting Excel 2019

Excel Is Finally Keeping Up With the Joneses

Two years have passed since I wrote a controversial post about ditching Excel. And as fate would have it, no one listened. We are as attached to Excel as ever. Maybe we like dealing with unruly and unresponsive files? But, those rumors about the AICPA integrating Excel into the CPA Exam have finally become a […]

Most U.S. Internal Audit Teams Still Crunching Numbers on Cave Walls Compared to Their European, Asian Counterparts

Even this guy is like, “What are you guys doing?” Read anything online and you’re likely to be told some variation of “The rapid pace of technology is disrupting X.” And since those words appear on the internet, adjacent to stock images of word clouds, or an illuminated light bulb, or a smug nerd with […]

ces accountants tech cropped

Consumer Tech Accountants Need in 2018 and Beyond

Remember The Jetsons maid Rosie? I recall thinking, “Wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a robotic personal assistant to keep me from looking as disheveled as I feel!” never imagining a day when that might exist. I mean, many of us were mesmerized by something as simple as a Giga pet. This is all […]

deloitte cyberattack

Deloitte Tries To Play It Cool After Cyberattack

Deloitte, the biggiest of the Big 4, has joined the ranks of the hacked. This morning, The Guardian reported that the firm was the latest massive organization to have suffered a cyberattack, and that confidential client information was the target. To make matters worse, Deloitte failed to notice the breach for months. And to add […]

phone addiction

Is Endless Work Contributing to Your Smartphone Addiction?

Picture anxiously sitting by the phone (a rotary one for artistic effect) waiting for it to ring. Since the invention of the phone, waiting for an important call is agonizing; but, I’ll argue it used to be simpler. You could walk away. Leave the phone behind and rely on your answering machine to inform you […]

The New Era of Net Neutrality May Suck for Accountants, Pretty Much Everyone

It’s clear that we, humanity, can’t have nice things. We most certainly will make a mess of them. Exhibit A: The Internet We start out with a boundless information superhighway, and then we run amok. While I can think of lots of ways we have spoiled the Internet, the spotlight is on net neutrality this […]

ED - Paperless Office w Pupils

Exposure Drafts: Your Paperless Office Is Slacking

Exposure Drafts appears every other Wednesday-ish. Send suggestions to editor@goingconcern.com.

cpas-technology-disorder

Your Technology Disorder Has a Name

I must know where my phone is at all times. If I misplace it, panic sets in and, luckily, Find my iPhone has come to my rescue in most instances. I do wonder where my beloved Blackberry Tour went in college, though. I never did find it. Go figure that “67% of us worry more […]

Mirai-Botnet-auditing-IoT

Danger Lurking: Mirai and Botnet Are Terms Auditors Should Know

Uh, oh. Forget the Secret Life of Pets. What about the secret life of your video recorder or router? Am I the only one that is reminded of this scene from Brave Little Toaster? Just me. Ok. Internet of Things goes rogue Sure, it is no secret that lots of devices now have a Wi-Fi […]

audit-robot-management-bias

Robot Auditors Won’t Have a Problem Giving Clients Bad News

Here’s something that won’t surprise anyone: A study from the University of Missouri found that auditors defer to information provided by management. In the study, nearly 50 senior auditors from major accounting firms were asked to assess the cost of an explosion at a client’s facility based on memos provided by the company’s finance chief. […]

Australian Tax Lawyer Built an AI Tax Research Assistant That Will Never Get Sick of Your Questions

Say hi to Ailira, everyone, aka “Artificially Intelligent Legal Information Resource Assistant.” She’s here to help with all your tax research needs. Well, in Australia, anyway: Ailira, or “Artificially Intelligent Legal Information Resource Assistant” is so clever at tax that her creator believes she could help prompt the end of human tax agents. And within […]

Drones Set to Disrupt the “Ideas Accounting Firms Won’t Pursue” Niche

In a recent Journal of Accountancy piece, a bunch of people with way too much time on their hands to consider things that will never happen seem to think that drones are the next wave of innovation for accounting firms. Mind you, it was only a few years ago that one Big 4 firm made […]

Goodbye Legacy USB Ports, Hello Dongles

Have you noticed the global shift to USB Type-C yet? Well, the ball is rolling. And, if the product launches at the end of 2016 were any indication, the shift is picking up speed. Now that manufacturers have successfully phased out optical drives, all of your most familiar (legacy) ports are on the chopping block […]

Accounting Firms That Aren’t Paperless Need to Get Their Act Together

Gone are the days of meticulously color-coding client folders, strategically placing sticky flags and paper summation tapes and making perfectly placed tickmarks on each beautiful sheet of paper. Let me just say…I made a gorgeous client binder; it was a thing of beauty. But I can’t help but say, firms that aren’t paperless need to […]

Anyone Not Adding Disclaimers to the Their Text Messages With Clients Is Probably Asking for It

Text messaging is right up there in the realm of great communication inventions. It's so engrained in our lives that we barely even think about it, but if it went away, we'd all be FURIOUS. Sure, it's butchering language and yes, people who text and drive should suffer a public shaming, but until we starting […]

PCAOB Unsure About Motives Behind Audit Firms’ Fancy New Thingamajigs

The Big 4 has been attempting to bring sexy back to auditing for awhile now, with leaders talking about innovation this and technology that, data this and 100% testing that. And that's cool, auditing needed the confidence boost, since advisory's been strutting around getting all the attention for the last decade. So yeah, we've noticed […]

Accounting Firms Should Embrace the Digital Fountain of Youth

When did the AICPA decide that “young” professionals are 22 to 40 (yes, 40) years old? Am I the only one to thinks 40 may be too old for that designation? Imagine if society considered professional athletes “young” if they met the under 40 threshold…   Don’t get me wrong — accounting is one industry […]

Exposure Drafts: Can’t Tell If Accountant…

Exposure Drafts is a satirical look at the eccentricities of the accounting profession brought to you by veteran Going Concern contributor Greg Kyte. Send comments and suggestions to editor@goingconcern.com.

Where Should Accountants Stand on Net Neutrality?

Who doesn’t love getting preferential treatment — even if you have to pay for it? Priority boarding on an airplane? TSA pre-check? Yes, sign me up! Really, any type of express lane is downright delicious.

“Rise of the Robots” – Cognitive Technology Threatens Us All

A reader’s skeptical comment on the second of this series — Part I and Part II — on the ominous messages for the accounting profession in Martin Ford’s prize-winning book of last year, Rise of the Robots was that, "The elephant in the room (is) that automation is nowhere close to being able to make […]

“Rise of the Robots” – And They’ll Audit Better, Smarter, Cheaper

“The ‘smarter’ machines get, the more and more jobs they’ll replace. Including mine. And yours.”    — Reader CommentMartin Ford’s prize-winning Rise of the Robots (2015) underlies this three-part look at the prospects that drones, robots and cognitive technology will rapidly displace jobs and careers at all levels of the Big Audit model, and that the […]

Accountants Are Becoming Hoarders

Does your external hard drive or cloud storage easily transform into the digital equivalent to a garage full of junk? Don’t be ashamed, I’m guilty of it too. And companies know it’s an issue, tempting you with more space for less than a cup of coffee every month. It’s hard to refuse. Remember those disposable […]

A Big Part of the Cloud Business Model Is on the Verge of Breaking

The sky is falling. Or, should I say, the cloud? No, I’m not Chicken Little. You might want to pay attention to this one… The no frill infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) business model is in trouble. Maybe you will agree with me…maybe not… but everyone seems to be looking at infrastructure providers with rose colored glasses. It […]

3 Epic Fails of Backup and Recovery

Auditors — especially seasoned IT auditors — are familiar with the scene of sitting with a nervous backup and recovery analyst once a year for a walkthrough. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing it, here’s the drill: It begins with rapport-building (read: uncomfortable) small talk mixed with a few questions about the overview […]

How Small Accounting Firms Can Stay Relevant

As a firm owner my biggest fear is getting left behind. Well, that and running into the three worst days a business owner will face.

Underwater Datacenters Might Make for Some Tricky Auditor Walkthroughs

Who says we can’t mix electricity and water? Dangerous… sure. But, hey, why not? Microsoft is currently testing an underwater data center and it’s kind of genius. It’s in the “why didn’t I think of that” category. Dubbed Project Natick, this cutting-edge innovation is vying to create an out-of-the-box subsea datacenter that can get dropped […]

The Future Audit Team: Smaller, Nerdier, Expensiver

As auditing changes, naturally, so will the auditors. Technology drives a lot of this change so it stands to reason that people who understand and build technology will become the new auditors. Or, maybe accounting programs will become more technology focused. Either way, recruiting auditors will look very different and sooner than you might think. […]

Augmented Reality for Accounting

A couple weeks ago, Megan said, “It's Time for Accountants to Ditch Dual Monitors” which I read on one of my three screens. While I appreciated the GC wrath being directed at someone else for a change, the conversation missed the bigger picture.

Here’s Why There Won’t Be an Uber for Accounting

You’re probably familiar with Uber by now, unless you live under a rock, or live in the 25% of the country not yet covered by it.

Automation to Artificial Intelligence: New Frontiers for Auditors

News flash: Artificial intelligence (AI) and other cognitive technologies are eliminating jobs left and right. Bloomberg reports as many as 5 million jobs by 2020. Oh, calamity. Should auditors be worried? The short answer is no…don’t lose sleep over it. Why? First off, cognitive technologies (even super cool advanced ones) are best with structured tasks […]

It’s Time for Accountants to Ditch Dual Monitors

Here’s what my first day at a client would typically look like (circa 2012): 1. Carefully navigate through a new parking structure to avoid bumping expensive cars.2. Park.3. Obtain a security badge with an unflattering photo from the front desk.4. Return to car to collect my obnoxiously large (not technically portable) external monitor.5. Saunter into […]

Wait, Are Paper Tax Organizers Still a Thing?

Look, I admit that I’ve been out of the game for awhile, so forgive me if I sound, um, supercilious, but are paper tax organizers still a thing?

Accountants Should Dump Microsoft Excel for Database Software

Rumor has it that the AICPA is finally integrating Microsoft Excel into the CPA exam starting in 2018. I’ll admit my initial reaction is “it’s about time” since the generic spreadsheet I used was archaic. Apparently, almost 70% of the CPAs surveyed by the AICPA agreed. Go figure — we are all Excel-aholics who can’t get through the day without busting out a spreadsheet.

Let’s All Enjoy This ‘Reply All’ Misadventure From the Virginia Society of CPAs Open Forum

How can you best annoy dozens of accountants in the midst of tax season? Well, in the age of the internet, a reply all mishap will do just fine. A tipster sent us a link to Virginia Society of CPAs' Open Forum thread that started innocently enough. An anonymous user posted a question about an […]

Is Our Productivity Obsession Counterproductive?

Don’t let the #productivityhack hype lure you in! It’s busy season and bloggers and app developers are just waiting to entice tired accountants with their claims to speed up your efficiency and change your life. I am convinced our obsession with productivity is simply a ruse for procrastination. Every time I add a “game-changing” new […]

Beware of Bring Your Own Device

I woke up in shock on my first day of freedom after leaving my Big 4 job. I leaned toward my nightstand to check the time on my iPhone. Wait, what?! My phone had been wiped. Panic set in first. When did I last back it up?

Auditors Sing The Legacy System Blues

Ed. note: Today we debut a new contributor to Going Concern. Megan Lewczyk, CPA (pronounced left without the “t” and "chick" like a baby bird) is a Big 4 alumna who decided to venture off the beaten path early in her career. She owns a consulting firm, is an adjunct accounting instructor for a couple […]

Is Technology Making Accountants Dumb and Lazy?

For those of you that have been following me online for a while, you’ll probably know one of the early experiments I ran at Accodex was, “How do I build a firm where I can get a 19-year-old to do the work of a CPA in one-third the time.” With this goal we invested heavily […]

Your Firm’s Website Sucks; How to Help Improve It and Boost Your Career at the Same Time

When you visit most accounting firm websites, you see poorly designed pages that offer no valuable content. They don’t address clients’ needs, they don’t encourage interaction and fail to drive users deeper into the site. Plus, no Game of Thrones recaps. In short, most accounting firm websites suck. And as a staff member, new partner […]

The Accounting Profession’s Murky Future

The accounting profession is in a weird place. Maybe that’s too polite; the profession is in a demonstrably fucked up place. This is obvious to some people, not so obvious to others. I say this as an observer, of course, and not someone who lives in the profession like many of you. But, really, it […]

ICYMI: Review Technology, Get Gift Cards

If you missed the special that our pals at G2 Crowd ran last month, fear not, denizens of Going Concern. They still want insights on all kinds of software. Everything from Xero and QuickBooks to BaseCamp to ZenPayroll to several offerings from Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and more. Over 150 products in all. Just submit a detailed, […]

ICYMI: AICPA Will Squeeze Excel Into the CPA Exam This Decade

The AICPA reports that Excel's ubiquity in the accounting profession caused a bunch of people to suggest, "use of Excel in the CPA Exam to create an authentic user experience." Accordingly, "The AICPA plans to launch a new testing interface utilizing Excel in 2018." If anyone has further concerns or feedback, send a raven. [AICPA]

The IRS Pimped Its Ride But Is Still Driving a Jalopy

When one senator asked how the agency could still be using such old systems when it spends over $2 billion a year on information technology operations, [IRS Commissioner John] Koskinen explained that the money has been going into upgrading its systems, which were customized for the IRS in the 1950s and 1960s. " It's like […]

How To Add Any Website to Your iPhone or Android Home Screen

You guys have been asking us for an app for a long time, and trust us, we've been asking The Powers That Be for the same thing. Unfortunately, our favorite in-house developer who performs miracles for all of us on a daily basis doesn't have the ability to make one at the moment. What he […]

Hasten Your Departure with Pre-Written Microsoft Word Resignation Letters

Are you ready to pull the plug on your current gig, but feel intimidated by that blinking cursor at the top left-hand corner of a Word document? Microsoft Word has you covered with an array of prewritten letters of resignation. Yes, we here at Going Concern are always here to serve you. Microsoft has you […]

IRS Can’t Afford to Upgrade to Windows 7 But Can Afford to Pay Microsoft to Use XP

So, this happened on the Hill today: Koskinen said IRS hasn't been able to upgrade yet to Windows 7 because of funding. — Accounting Today (@AccountingToday) June 20, 2014 According to Engadget, over half of IRS computers are still running Windows XP, and the plan is to upgrade to Windows 7 (which, as we all […]

Ohio CPAs Will Soon Be Able to Take CPE 10 Minutes at a Time

The necessary evil that is CPE can be a bit of a pain in the butt. Unless you're attending several conferences a year or diligent about signing up for and attending our free webinars, it can be difficult to squeeze in an hour of CPE at a time. Worry no more, Ohio CPAs, you will […]

Accountants Love iPhones and Shun Android, Says This

The latest CPA Trendlines survey — which is worth a glance if you're into mobile tech trends within the profession — reveals accountants favor iPhones to Android phones by two to one. More interesting, 10% of respondents say they use neither smartphones nor tablets at work. Yet half of respondents are billing at least 11 […]

A Creepy Dating App Apparently Cruised LinkedIn to Make You Think Your Colleague Wants You

This is, um, awkward. Even folks who make office romances as regular as 10 minutes in the can after the morning coffee might find this creepy. It's creepy. Kash Hill has the story at Forbes: Last month, many people received an email from a dating app called Sway letting them know that a co-worker had […]

Does Your Future of Work Include Wearing Wearables?

Perhaps you've heard the story of a troll young lady who calls herself a social media consultant caught between a punk and a hard place at a San Francisco bar with Google Glass on her face. Perhaps you read Jody Padar's story on Glass and accounting firms. Now we have a piece published on Deloitte's […]

Here’s Why You Don’t Want Excel on Your iPad

When Excel for iPad finally arrived, my first impression was here we go, yet another 1.0 Microsoft product *insert eye roll here*. As you might expect, Excel for iPad only offers a small fraction of the functionality available in the desktop versions of Excel, but I realized it’s unfair to call it a 1.0 product. […]

Why Accountants Can (And Should) Take Over the Business World

We live in a world where everyone is trying to figure out what the hell big data means to them. But really, how much big data is there?

EY Finally Embraces the Disruptive Technology That is Microsoft Outlook

This is the biggest news to come out of EY! since the big rebranding: To:     US Personnel    March 21, 2014 From:  Xxxxx, Xxxxxxx, Americas Administration Leader       Microsoft Outlook deployment begins in the USI’m very pleased to announce that on April 7, 2014 the US firm will begin migrating to Microsoft Outlook, […]

It Is Almost Certain You Will One Day Be Replaced by Machines

The future is scary sometimes. Even scarier, the prospect that you, dear accountants, are more likely to be replaced by machines than firefighters, editors, pilots, and dentists. In fact, the only humans more likely to be replaced by machines than you are telemarketers and I think we can all agree they should have been shipped off to the Island of Unwanted People a long time ago.

PwC Will Probably Be the First Accounting Firm to Replace Interns With Robots

It sounds crazy now but just think, not that long ago we carried around shiny discs with only a dozen songs crammed on each one and would have thought you were nuts if you told us one day, you will have the entire Internet in your pocket and mostly use this technology to post filtered […]

Jason the Hipster CPA Was Using the Cloud Before It Was Cool

Come on, people. It opened for Wilco in '94. Attention accountants everywhere: please stop talking about the cloud. #YesteryearsNews — Jason M. Blumer, CPA (@JasonMBlumer) November 19, 2013

Some Guy Says CPAs Better Adapt or Die, And He’s Right

An interesting piece from Accounting Today tells us that basically this guy says CPAs have to adapt or die: Accountants face irrelevance if they don't keep up with the continuing changes in technology, according to Jon Baron, managing director of Thomson Reuters' Professional Tax & Accounting. In his opening keynote at the company's 33rd Annual […]

Excel Art is a Thing, Apparently

I'm sure many of you consider yourselves more than mere spreadsheet jockeys, rather true spreadsheet artistes, manipulating one of Microsoft's finest products to satisfy your need for domination over data. And that's OK. But unless you have way too much time on your hands, you're never going to get to this level of Excel artistry. […]

God Only Knows Why Most Companies Still Manually Reconcile General Ledger Accounts

A recent report released by Robert Half and the Financial Executives Research Foundation found that "nearly two-thirds of finance departments in US companies and one-half in Canadian companies" are manually still reconciling general ledger accounts.  That seems like a lot! But Roberto Halfo says it's biz as ushe:    "The level of manual reconciliation reported in our survey […]

Has Microsoft Excel Ruined the World?

This isn't a breaking news story or anything but since our Google Alert for "Microsoft Excel" is filed in the same folder as "Lotus Notes," we sort of didn't get right on this story when it came out earlier this month. Thankfully most of you were drinking yourselves into a post-busy season coma and probably […]

(UPDATE) KPMG Has Been Without Email Most of the Day; Yes, Some People Are Freaking Out

We've confirmed with a number of people at KPMG that the firm's email service has been down pretty much all day, with the outage starting somewhere around 11 am ET. We first learned about it just about an hour ago when a tipster sent us a text saying: No post yet about KPMG email being […]

Going Concern March Madness: Busy Season Survival — Food & Beverage vs. Technology, The Elite Eight

This blogging gig sucks. The publisher, Gail, is up my ass about this March Madness thing. Says we have to follow through even though it was Colin's stupid idea. Everyone knows that booze is the only thing you need to survive busy season; not sure why we have to go through all the trouble.

The tech guy, Stonewall, is helping out though, so I guess we'll just try to get through the Elite Eight. 

But seriously, just keep some hooch in your drawer at work like me. If you need anything else — including more than 4 hours of sleep a night — to power through busy season, then I don't want you on my team.

Going Concern March Madness Busy Season Survival: The Sweet Sixteen, Day Two

I'm in Raleigh, North Carolina today visiting students at North Carolina State, so I apologize for the delay in getting to the bottom half of the Sweet Sixteen in GCMM. I know you've shaking with anticipation.

Going Concern March Madness: Busy Season Survival — Food & Beverage vs. Technology

For the last two seasons, Going Concern March Madness pitted accounting firms against each other to decide just which firm was the coolest in this fair land. Sadly, we have decided to end this exercise. It was a good (?) run but has been exhausted for reasons that include: 1) a Rothstein Kass three-peat was not something anyone was prepared to endure and 2) the underlying premise of the bracket was based in fantasy or, dare I say, complete bullshit. Does this mean that Vault's annual prestige ranking has lost all purpose? That's not for me to say.

The IRS Is Wasting Millions on Unused Blackberrys and Aircards Because Of Course It Is

Out of the $11.4 million that the IRS spent on BlackBerrys and Internet aircards in fiscal year 2011, $1.1 million worth of the devices went unused for three months to a year, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. That means that nearly 14,000 aircards and more than 750 BlackBerrys weren’t activated for a […]

Citing Lotus Notus, Ernst & Young Instructs Employees to Not Upgrade to Blackberry 10

Most large accounting firms have some kind of "News" section included on their internal web sites. Headlines like "Partner Joe Quoted in Today's Wall Street Journal" and "United Way Honors Firm for Being a Strategic Partner for 20 Years" and other shallow announcements are typical. Most partners and employees couldn't care less about these things but […]

Everything You Need To Know About Blackberry 10 Because We Know You People Are Out There

Editor's note: Greg Kyte has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Blackberry 10 like Doomsday Preppers waiting for JC to knock on their door. Unlike the preppers, Greg didn't have to stockpile weapons or get into canning. No, he just needed a tent. Check out his journey on YouTube after reading this week's post. Believe it or […]

Don’t Be a Menace to the Cloud While Leveraging Your Dynamic Innovative Disruption While at #DigitalCPA*

For the remainder of the week, I'm in DC covering the 2012 CPA2Biz Digital CPA conference. This 3-day event is the first of its kind offered by CPA2Biz and promised to highlight best practices for adopting cloud and mobile technologies so firms can offer higher value, higher margin services for their clients. Whatever that means. […]

McGladrey Auditors to Resemble Sherpas More Than Ever Before

Being an auditor for a public accounting firm is a tough job. There is extensive travel, complex accounting rules to learn, client expectations to manage, partner egos to massage, and long hours to work. All for very little money and even less gratitude. Fortunately, leaders within these firms try to assist their auditors in various […]

Twitter Absentee Barry Salzberg Preaches the Importance of Social Media

To our knowledge, Dr. Phil hasn't taken up the Deloitte CEO Twitter torch since he replaced Jim Quigley, so you'll excuse us if we take this comment from Salzberg's talk at Brooklyn College as a little disingenuous:  During the meeting, Salzberg advised students on their careers and answered questions about professional advancement, such as how […]

British Stationery Company Theorizes That Some Businesses Prefer Keeping Books on Paper Because They Are “Unaware” of Accounting Software, Other Bullshit Reasons

We all know someone who's a little too resistant to technological advances in accounting and the accounting business. The partner who never uses email. The office manager who insists on going to the post office rather than printing postage off the web. KPMG.   But even the fussiest Luddites have adapted to the various improvements […]

BDO Chief Technology Officer Asks Everyone To Give Up Their God-given Right to Stream NCAA Basketball Tournament Games at Work

A deckhand on Captain Jack's ship sent us a copy of an email that will either be heeded begrudgingly or completely ignored: From: [BDO Chief Technology Officer] To: [Everyone] Subject: March Madness… March Madness means many things to many people.  Basketball, spring and snow in Michigan and APT & taxes here at BDO.  With that […]

Technological Advances Inside Deloitte Have Some People All Excited

We here at GC received the following email in our inboxes this Moanday morning:

Finally!!! See below 🙂

Direct Pay makes managing your expenses easier
Published: 05-Dec-11

With the implementation of Direct Pay, managing your business expenses just got simpler. Direct Pay is the process where Deloitte pays American Express directly, on your behalf, for your business expenses that have been imported into DTE.

There is no change to billing dates, the point rewards program, or the way you enter your expenses.

Direct Pay will begin for U.S. professionals with expense reports dated December 17 (U.S. India professionals are not part of Direct Pay at this time.)

The process is simple:

• Use your American Express corporate card for business expenses
• Import your expenses into DTE
• Deloitte pays American Express for the imported expenses

Professionals will still be responsible for paying American Express directly for any minor non-business corporate card charges, or any American Express business charges that are manually entered into DTE. To help you with this process, there is a new tool in DTE that reconciles your monthly American Express charges to what you have imported.

Sweet Baby Jesus, it doesn’t take much to excite the Green Dots these days, does it? It’s impossible for us to tell whether or not our contributor is a traveling worker bee or the executive assistant of some traveling Big Wig (Joey E!), but it doesn’t really matter because they are SUPER PSYCHED. Is this what it’s come to for us? Forget about holiday bonuses or even some free schwag; filing expense reports just got only slightly marginally sorta kinda maybe better. No word yet on a charge code for the strip joint, errrr “Big Ben’s Steakhouse.” Continue to pay those charges with your excess per diem.

So this got us thinking. What other kinds of techy improvements would improve your lives at work? Some off-the-cuffers:

1. Partner calls sent straight to voicemail.
2. Starbucks, delivered.*
3. The ability to work from home and have a work/life bal…oh wait. Nevermind.

Who is else in a dizzy tizzy about Big D’s technological advancement? Spill your joys below.

*Interns do not count.

Form Letters Generated by Pesky Technology Spurred by BS Deadlines Are to Blame for Herman Cain’s Late Taxes: Spokesman

Godfather of tax gimmicks Herman Cain has a bit of tax trouble in his past, reports the Daily Beast. In 2006, while Herm was undergoing treatment for cancer, taxes due to the state of Georgia were not paid in a timely fashion and this resulted in the GOP hopeful being served with a tax lien. It took a couple of years to sort everything which was probably longer than necessary since it sounds like extensions were filed on time but the campaign is using this non-issue to remind everyone that we need to fix this mess that is controlled by computers and deadlines and things that drive the system:

The Republican’s campaign late Tuesday confirmed the lien, portraying the unpaid taxes as an oversight while Cain was undergoing cancer treatment and the state’s lien as an excessive response that shows the need for tax reform.

“The experience serves as an example of how broken our federal and state bureaucracies are with respect to the collection of revenue,” Cain campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon told The Beast. “The entire process is driven by automated letters generated in response to deadlines.”

Right. Because allowing citizens to file taxes whenever it’s convenient, using hand-written letters delivered by carrier pigeon would be a much better way to administer our tax system.

Cain’s Tax Delinquency [TDB]

CPAs Still Have a Leg Up on Computers, Smartphones Says Leader of CPAs

New AICPA Chairman Greg Anton doesn’t want you to worry; you’re all still very useful.

In his acceptance speech, Anton detailed the many ways technology is changing the profession. Automation has transformed the way financial information is collected, processed and presented, but a CPA’s value continues to lie in his or her ability to solve problems and identify opportunities for clients and employers, he said.

“As CPAs, we can decipher, disseminate and manage knowledge,” said AICPA Chairman Greg Anton. “This is what a computer or smartphone cannot do.”

[via AICPA]

Is PwC the New KPMG?

From the mailbag:

Hi Caleb,

I am considering becoming an experienced hire at PwC, however I have heard some strange things and can’t seem to get a solid angle on them. I have heard that PwC (still) doesn’t let you expense lunches when traveling. I’ve also heard that PwC is still on Windows XP with Office 2003, Lotus Notes email and using Lenovo ThinkPads. Can you please help me confirm or deny these rumors and add some color around them? Also, are there other things at PwC that I should be wary of? Is PwC the new KPMG?

Thanks,

Concerned Potential Recruit


To the best my knowledge, Concerned, I’ll address these one at at time:

1. I have heard that PwC (still) doesn’t let you expense lunches when traveling. – True. PwC does not allow you to expense lunches when traveling, although it’s my understanding that a “business lunch” is reimbursable.

2. I’ve also heard that PwC is still on Windows XP with Office 2003 – Partially true. P. Dubs is on XP but is running Office 2007.

3. Lotus Notes email – True. There were some layoffs of LN developers way back in the fall of ’09 but it’s our understanding that they still run it.

4. Lenovo ThinkPads – True. You were maybe expecting iPads? Those are for bonuses only.

5. Are there other things at PwC that I should be wary of? – I’d start here.

6. Is PwC the new KPMG? – Um, no. Unless you’re consider all the KPMG partners they’ve picked up makes it the “new KPMG.”

Fraudbusters Get a Lesson in Internet Stalking

Yesterday I sat in a session at the ACFE Fraud Conference and Exhibit entitled “Effectively Using Social Networks and Social Media in Fraud Examinations” with a few hundred [?] fraudbusters and I got the impression that few people in the room were social media savvy (in the stalk-y sense, anyway). I came to this conclusion after watching most of the hands in the room go up when asked “who thinks social media is a waste of time?” and saw nearly same amount of hands raised when asked “do you have some sort of social network presence?”

Cynthia Hetherington, President of Hetherington Group, described herself as “[A] librarian, a technologist and licensed private investigator. So, I’m a nerd, I’m a geek and I’m a dick,” was the speaker for this particular session and a lot of her talk introduced the crowd to the idea of stalking people on the Internet. She knew her crowd well, as a joke about Laverne & Shirley’s apartment got plenty of laughs, while a quip about Snooki got crickets. This reinforced my suspicion that the idea that of curating information about financial crooks using Facebook and Twitter was new to many in the room.

Now, the majority of people listening may have known it was possible to find partially-nude pics on someone’s Facebook profile or Twitter account (which she demonstrated in one non-Anthony Weiner example) but maybe they hadn’t considered that they could learn a lot of other useful information about someone they were investigating.

In short, Ms. Herrington explained to the biz casual crowd that you can find out a lot of information about a person just by poking around their social media accounts. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you can learn someone’s likes, dislikes, their political leanings, where they’ve lived, who their friends are, etc. and use that information to build a profile, analyze behavior or in some cases, find out where someone maybe hiding.

What does all this mean? Opportunity my friends. If you fancy yourself social media and Internet savvy, you probably have a leg up on many of the vets in the fraud and forensics business when it comes to poking around the Web and finding information on people of interest to you. Sure you may not have their years of investigative expertise, extensive contacts or an aging wardrobe but you may have successfully Web-stalked ex-significant others, crushes and completely random people to learn things that they’ve volunteered into cyberspace. And here you thought your creepy behavior was completely worthless.

Chase’s New Expense Tracking App Will Cater to the Most Anal-Retentive Bosses

If finicky expense-tracking is going to evolve with the times, there has to be a way to track every dime spent from anywhere and it appears Chase is making an effort toward that goal with its newest offering: Jot.

Hot off the wire:

Jot will provide Ink from Chase customers a variety of mobile benefits, including the ability to:

— Receive text alerts within seconds of making a purchase with their Ink card;

— Immediately tag these purchases to custom categories on a mobile device or online;

— Enable employees to tag their business expenses;

— Immediately view all transactions on their account, including those of their employees, through their mobile device or online;

— Adjust employees’ card spending limits in real-time via a mobile device; and

— Create and download reports into accounting software, including QuickBooks(R) and Excel(R).

“Small business owners are innovative, passionate and hardworking, and Chase’s dedication to partnering with these business owners comes from the belief that this group of entrepreneurs is an integral part of the American economy,” said Richard Quigley, president of Ink from Chase. “Jot was designed with small business owners’ immediate financial needs top of mind. Jot will enhance the finance-savvy business practices of small business owners, allowing for additional time and an improved focus on the passion and sense of accomplishment they have for their businesses.”

Financially-savvy Ink customers who have an iPhone or Android phone can download Jot by visiting the Ink website. Once you’ve got it downloaded you and your employees’ spending will be reined in and you’ll be back agonizing over more important things in no time.

Mobile Expense Tracking, The Easy Way

While we won’t all admit it, many of us are pretty lazy. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, and given the right set of tools, lazy bastards like us can actually spend more time procrastinating and less time worrying about how to blow off whatever it is we’re trying to avoid.

When it comes to expenses, we can all use an easier way, lazy or not. Here are three apps that should help.

Evernote (free) MACPA CEO Tom Hood uses the Evernote iPhone app to snap a pic of his receipts, which he can then send directly to his office for safe-keeping and reimbursement. This means no stuffing random receipts into your pockets hoping they make it back to homebase. You can also use it as a sort of mobile Post-it note and scrapbook, capturing clips from newspaper articles, meeting notes and even business cards.

iXpenseIt This app ($4.99 in the Apple store) can help you track your own personal expenses as well as any you might incur for work. Voted one of the 50 Most Useful iPhone Apps by Laptop Magazine and a Best iPhone App by CNN Money.

ProOnGo Expense (free 30-day trial, pricing varies) goes a step further and even allows you to track your billable hours. It is compatible with iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and even Windows Mobile. Using the GPS feature, you can track your mileage too. The receipt reader feature allows you to put all your receipts into a neat Excel sheet or QuickBooks file.

Just for clarity’s sake, we’re sure you’re aware of this but here are the IRS rules on business expenses for your records. File it!

Getting Hacked Happens to the Best of Us?

Recently, I’ve been getting suspicious emails purporting to be from a high-up in my company. I have faith in this person and therefore would assume if (s)he wanted to push hot webcam videos on me, (s)he’d have the decency to text me with the hott linkks instead of using poor grammar in work emails. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw the same emails coming from – gasp! – my own email address. Now I knew it had to be a scam; surely I wouldn’t have to tell myself about some hot new webcam girrllss I’d discovered on an .ru domain, I’d have that shit deliciously bookmarked on my own machine.

Being incredibly careful with my logins, I knew I couldn’t have slipped up and gotten phished. Had I been hacked?

Whenever someone says “I got hacked!” I have to admit I always feel a bit of “blame the victim” is in order. After all, I find it a bit hard to swallow that some hardcore hackers in Russia are all that concerned with your personal Facebook page. To say “I’ve been hacked” implies that some outside source did some work to break through your rock solid security and gain entry, and makes no implication that the user themselves likely opened the door and let the “hacker” in, if unwittingly. More often than not, “I got hacked” means “I unknowingly gave up my password in a phishing scheme” or “I screwed up and clicked an unbelievable posting on Facebook that stole my login info because I never read the permissions I give third party apps.”

It’s been done a million times but for your sake, here are a few tips for staying safe out there in the big scary Internets.

Make sure your contact info is up to date. If an unscrupulous individual ever gains access to your Facebook account, you may be forced to lock it down, in which case you’ll need access to the email address you use to sign in to receive communications from Facebook to get your account back. Make sure you’re using an email you have access to, even if it’s one you don’t use often.

Diversify your passwords. It goes without saying that a good password is one that isn’t found in the dictionary but isn’t so difficult you have to keep it written on a sticky at your desk. Dennis Howlett recommends a LastPass account (via AccountingWEB UK) for harder to remember passwords if you must. Substitute numbers for letters (like “1” instead of “I” or “3” instead of “E”) and throw in some punctuation just to be safe.

If you aren’t sure, don’t click it. Spammers have gotten pretty smart since the days of the “ILOVEYOU” virus (which happens to turn 11 this week) and even the most technologically-adept can fall for their tricks. If you aren’t expecting an attachment, don’t open it. Common attachment scams include spoofed emails from UPS or USPS claiming to contain your tracking number or a package exception – while UPS may send you emails, they’d never send you a zip file (tracking numbers are always included in the body of any UPS communications sent on merchants’ behalf). Be wary!

And if you have been hacked, phished or otherwise compromised, delete any offending posts from your hijacked social media pages and issue an apology. You don’t have to beg for forgiveness, just let everyone know you got compromised and are sorry, it won’t happen again.

In my case, I just got spoofed, which isn’t really my fault at all. That’s where a nice email from the tech support department to the rest of the team comes in handy.

BlackBerry PlayBook vs iPad 2: Which Would You Rather Have Your Firm Pay For?

Tablets are the new Pocket PC and while we may question the viability of accountants preparing tax returns on iPads, it might be time to take a look at the new BlackBerry PlayBook versus the iPad2 for all things somewhat work-related. Let’s go!


Pros of the PlayBook:
• features: 7″ LCD display, 1024 x 600 screen resolution, 1 GHz dual-core processor, 1 Gb RAM
• runs Flash so you can watch YouTube videos at the client
• works with Android applications so you have 200,000 Android toys at your disposal
• doesn’t run native email so you have a great excuse for ignoring emails (for now you can use the device as a viewer to connect to your BlackBerry smartphone but cannot actually open emails from the PlayBook)

Pros of the iPad 2:
• features: 9.7″ LED display with 1024 × 768 screen resolution at 132ppi, Apple 1GHz A5 Processor, 512 Mb RAM
• looks awesome
• inspires jealously among your friends who work for broke mid-tier firms
• makes you more likely to get robbed using it on the train, helping you get over your awkward social phobia by forcing you to talk to your would-be thief
• doesn’t run Flash so you won’t be tempted to waste precious time watching YouTube videos at the client (unless you’re clever enough to have a decent converter)
•works with thousands more apps than Android/BlackBerry offerings, allowing you a much larger pool of distractions to access from company PP&E

Though this writer must disclaim this entire article by pointing out that she is a BlackBerry fan, it’s worth pointing out that without playing with one, we have to say the PlayBook is definitely disappointing on the surface. Technology ED is nothing to joke about, and this release was definitely a premature splurt on the face of BB nerds everywhere. No native email? That doesn’t even make sense.

The only selling point on the PlayBook for work may be that many of you already carry around company-issued BlackBerry devices, and we all know management is resistant to change. While iPads have been marketed as convenience devices, BlackBerry has somehow retained its reputation as a work device, allowing a bit of an in when it comes to getting management to spring for a handful of these little toys.

As for increased productivity? We haven’t seen any proof from either device that shows putting one in staff hands leads to any greater enthusiasm for work. Until someone comes up with a mind control app, we’ll keep holding out.

As always, let us know in the comments if you wholeheartedly agree with our obviously biased opinion.

Survey: CFOs Find Outdated Technology Slightly Maddening

CFOs admit that if technology is implemented correctly it can be pretty damn swell but over half of those surveyed said the biggest barrier to improving the finance department is “out of date and inflexible” IT systems. Also, nearly three-quarters of respondents said that these systems are also to blame for failing to reach objectives. Not good. How can we possibly solve this problem?

According to KPMG’s Steve Lis, “By adopting a unified approach to technology, CFOs and CIOs can transform their organizations to become more proactive, innovative and flexible.” That’s a pretty interesting thought but another possibility not addressed in KPMG’s press release was: spending money. I know, I know. Pretty crazy concept so it’s probably best to just keep things the way they are. [KPMG]

Before You Quit Your Job, You Should Do a Little Tech Housekeeping

Since apparently accounting is still booming and jobs are everywhere according to CNN, chances are you might be considering walking away from your awesome 70-hour-a-week grudge work for the sweet life of private industry or maybe the lucrative pastures of healthcare. Either way, if you’re going to quit your job, you will probably want to keep your former employer as a reference. The best way to do that is to erase your digital footprint as neatly as possible, just in case a team of nerds will be scoping out your computer and any embarrassing data contained therein post-employment.

Let’s be real, just about everyone uses company PP&E for non-company things; email, Facebook and, if you’re at the SEC, porn. We won’t judge your daytime browsing habits, let’s just get into how to make them go away before your last day.

First, it’s best to start scrubbing your history before you actually let on that you are about to leave. Granted, if you’ve gotten fed up to the point of quitting, it’s likely that no one in your office even realizes how miserable you are and won’t notice when your cube is suddenly devoid of personal items. Regardless, it’s still a good idea to take some of these steps before management is aware you’re running away.

So, you’ve got your final resignation notice saved on your desktop and are ready to send it to your boss. What next?


Erase your web history In Firefox, go to Tools, then Options, and then choose “clear your recent history.” While you’re in there, hit the Security tab and uncheck “remember passwords for sites” which, really, you shouldn’t have turned on at work anyway. Not using Firefox? Here are instructions for deleting your history and cookies in Chrome and Internet Explorer.

Unsubscribe from any newsletters or subscriptions you’ve been getting at work Maybe your firm doesn’t care if you get the Going Concern newsletter but just to be safe, spend some time combing through your work email and unsubscribing from any non-work-related newsletters. This way you can transfer everything to your personal account if you still want to receive it and save yourself some embarrassment when the person your emails are forwarded to after you leave gets your daily Bestiality Hotties email.

Delete any personal files you have on your desktop This could be that annoying photo of you and your boyfriend on vacation, your resignation letter (including the ultra-vulgar first and second drafts) and/or any third-party programs you’ve added to your computer (either with or without management’s permission). You never know how thoroughly IT is going to check out your laptop, so assume they’ll be combing through it and don’t leave anything of yours carelessly lying around. This includes your music collection, no reason to give them free mp3s.

Avoid deleting too much It would be awfully suspicious if you tried to clear out most of your emails and let’s face it, there’s a copy stored on the server anyway if management cares that much. This is about cleaning up after yourself, not looking like a paranoid weirdo. Be diligent but not psychotic.

Empty the recycle bin All of the above are useless if you forget to clean the recycle bin when you’re done.

The Doomsayers at Deloitte Have Come Up With a Crisis Management App

By crisis, we don’t mean 70 hour work-weeks and diversity training in the face of that A1 in your office who likes to wear short skirts and low-cut tops just to mess with you.

In the event of a catastrophic emergency like an earthquake, it’s good to know where your co-workers are if you’ve got to evacuate the building. Deloitte Australia has addressed the issue of safety and keeping tabs on the worker bees with Bamboo™, a Business Continuity Management (BCM) smart phone application (so far released for BlackBerry and iPhone only).

How does it work?


The BlackBerry application uses the device’s unique PIN (anyone addicted to BBM knows what that is) as well as voice, SMS and email to keep the team in communication in the event of an emergency. Emergency plans are readily available with Bamboo, eliminating the need to lug along a huge contingency binder stuffed with exit plans and instructions in a crisis situation.

Bamboo automatically logs all usage on each handset and when there is network access, sends these logs to the Bamboo server. The Bamboo Administrator is able to view all logs, from all users to understand its usage, retrace all steps taken and tailor training based on this usage. This data is also valuable in post-incident reviews and audits.

Don’t try to find it in the app store, Bamboo is an enterprise application and as such is deployed by the Company through enterprise application deployment, supported by the local Deloitte office.

Follow Deloitte’s Australian BCM team at @DeloitteBCM and stay tuned, they assure us they’re working to get the kids in America hooked up with their own BCM team.

Check it out in action below:

CFOs Think Cloud Computing (Whatever That Is) Might Be Important to Future IT Strategy

Asked about their current use of cloud-computing services, a majority of senior finance executives either have no plans to pursue it in the short term, or are doing so very tentatively. Nearly a third admit that they aren’t even sure what “cloud computing” really means. Yet, when asked how cloud computing might affect their company’s approach to IT longer term, almost half say they believe it will enable a significant restructuring of their entire IT strategy. [CFO]

Do You Want Your CPA Filing Tax Returns From an iPad?

Technology is a beautiful thing. It makes our lives easier, including work. It gives us supremacy over our late-to-adopt friends and colleagues who are still stuck with clunky old company laptops. And apparently it makes it easier to lug around several devices than just sit at our desk with one. Somehow this is more convenient, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Check out this revolutionary, wielding his iPad as a weapon in the war against April 15th 18th:

With the 2011 tax season in full swing, accountants and CPAs are searching for ways to save time and service geographically separated clients. A popular solution, QuickBooks hosting, allows for CPAs to securely access QuickBooks and client data remotely from any computer, phone or tablet with an internet connection. Recently, NovelASPect’s client, Scott Sanders, CPA, took QuickBooks hosting to the next level. Scott added his tax software to his QuickBooks hosting account on a NovelASPect virtual server. Using the Citrix receiver, Scott can now access his tax software from anywhere with his iPad. He then paired his iPad with his iPhone via Bluetooth to use the iPhone as a mouse for the iPad.

“Accessing my tax software and QuickBooks via my iPad has been a tremendous time saver,” says Scott Sanders. “Clients can review and sign their tax documents at their location. I can then efile the return with the government and email a copy of the tax return immediately to the client. I also have access to client financial information in Quickbooks anytime / anywhere.”

Quick question: can’t a laptop do the same exact thing?

Remember last June when 114,000 iPad user accounts were exposed by rogue Internet security group Goatse Security? Not to mention the fact that the iPad is not only a target of hacktivists looking to prove a point but also thieves who would love to get their hands on that overpriced toy you insist on playing with on the subway.

Here’s the issue I see with on-the-run tax preparers MacGyvering their iPads to shoot the data off to the client and then to the government from just about anywhere: WiFi is not always secure. We assume Scott Sanders knows a thing or two about protecting sensitive data if he’s knowledgeable enough to figure out how to use his iPhone as a mouse for his iPad (and what’s wrong with using a laptop and a, oh I don’t know, mouse?) but I would not want my tax preparer sending me my 1040 to sign; he can barely wash his grungy white dress shirt separate from his red socks.

I’m all for convenience but there’s a point when the work required to make it safe for all involved parties becomes inconvenient.

Technology at SEC Good Enough for Viewing Porn, Not Reliable Internal Controls

Last year the Government Accountability Office issued a report that called attention to the SEC’s accounting system (or lack thereof). Reuters now reports that the SEC will admit in testimony tomorrow that the material weaknesses in their accounting system are largely due to technology that would make your grandparents laugh.

“These material weaknesses are unacceptable,” the SEC’s top division directors said in prepared testimony that was viewed by Reuters. They added the “root causes” of the problems stem from “years of underinvesting in financial system technologies.”

It should be noted that while the accounting systems were not quite up to snuff for the GAO, the equipment used by employees was sufficient for viewing a metric asston of porn, which we just learned moments ago, was even more widespread than initially thought.

SEC says its accounting problems stem from technology [Reuters]

How to Backup Your Gmail in Five Simple Steps

Note from AG: this is the second in a series of tech-related posts which we are providing by popular demand. Please feel free to let us know what sort of content you’d like to see related to technology and gadgets specifically for accountants so we can make your lives easier. We aren’t mind-readers, so tell us what you want to see here and we’ll send our team of loser interns to fetch it. Double note, “AG blows” is not considered feedback.

How many of you use Gmail exclusively? I have two accounts; one for publishing JDA and ignoring Caleb’s constant Instant Pestering and the other to filter my JDA email and endless email subscriptions. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I woke up one morning to find everything gone and sympathize for anyone who knows what that kind of fear feels like after the Gmail fail that shocked us all earlier this month.

TechCrunch reminds us what went down:

While the initial reports had around .29 percent of Gmail users affected by the bug (about 600,000 users), those estimates were quickly revised to .08 percent (about 150,000 users). And today, those numbers were further revised to .02 percent. This means that only around 40,000 of Gmail’s 200 million (or so) users were affected.

Now, 40,000 pissed off people is still 40,000 pissed off people. But there was even better news out of Google today: all of their data is safe and sound. But it isn’t safe and sound in some remote server attached to the cloud. Instead, it’s safe on back-up data tapes somewhere in an undisclosed location.

Accountants know better than anyone that the cloud can make everyone’s lives easier, keep data secure and allow for freer exchange of information without obnoxious exchange of physical hard drives. They should also, therefore, know that the cloud allows for unforeseen snafus such as what just occurred when 150,000 Gmail users tried to log into their accounts and found nothing there.

Using POP, you can backup your Gmail account just in case. You’ll need a good email client like Outlook or, if you’re ancient like some firms we know (or our friends at the Federal Reserve), you can also elect to use LotusNotes or some other antiquated email client of your choosing.

From the Google folks:

Here’s how to download a copy of every message* in Gmail to an email client:

1. Sign in to Gmail.
2. Click Settings at the top of any Gmail page, and open the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.
3. Select Enable POP for all mail (even mail that’s already been downloaded).
4. Click Save Changes.
5. Open the mail client you’ve configured for Gmail, and check for new messages.

Gmail messages are downloaded in batches, so it may take time for everything to appear in your mail client.

* Messages in Spam and Trash aren’t downloaded unless you move them to your inbox or All Mail.

And now you have a nice copy of every email you’ve sent and received going back as long as your email client can handle. You’ll probably want to save this as a clean copy in your personal folders to keep your personal Gmails from splicing themselves throughout your work email, just in case anyone happens to check what you’re doing during work hours on company PP&E. Even better, do this at home on your own computer so you don’t even have to bother with worrying about anyone scoping your embarrassing forwarded jokes.

Happy Gmailing, people!

Intel’s Thunderbolt Makes FireWire Look Like Your Grandma on the Freeway

Sick of staring at your computer screen watching the data crawl by? Stare no longer, the future of data transfer is here with Intel’s new Thunderbolt™ technology:

From the company with the fastest processors comes the fastest way to get information in and out of your PC and peripheral devices. At 10 Gbps, Thunderbolt™ technology gives you great responsiveness with high-speed data and display transfers in each direction—at the same time. With a single cable, connecting a PC to multiple devices is simple, making it easy to get and see what you want, when you want it. Thunderbolt technology gives you incredible flexibility; high performance expansion is just a cable away for new and novel uses, now and in the future.

Intel boasts that you can transfer a full HD movie in less than 30 seconds or backup an entire year of continuous mp3 playback in around 10 minutes using this technology.

Thunderbolt is bi-directional and allows for daisy-chaining, making that tangle of USB cords hanging off your desk obsolete, as soon as hard drive storage size necessitates lightning-fast data transfer, that is.

New MacBook Pros come equipped with Thunderbolt ports but for the rest of us, it’ll be USB for the foreseeable future until PC technology catches up and new laptops begin shipping with bolts emblazoned on the side.

Just think how many years of SOX-compliant data you can transfer away from prying eyes no sooner than the front desk says “the PCAOB is here!”

Your Company Smartphone Scares the Crap Out of Your Boss

Let’s be honest here, how many of you use your work-issued phone strictly for work? Promise I won’t snitch anyone out. Some of you might even be lucky enough to be able to tweak your wallpaper, add apps and get your significant other on BBM for all day sexting without the pesky messaging data trail.

The AICPA’s 2011 Top Technology Initiatives Survey is out and shows that IT professionals’ biggest business technology concern is not that they could be replaced with robots but the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices in the workplace.

The 22nd Annual AICPA Top Technology Initiative survey, conducted Jan. 13 to Jan. 26, shows control and use of mobile devices was the No. 1 challenge for IT professionals. The finding was based on responses from nearly 1,400 CPAs nationwide specializing in information technology. In addition to mobile devices, the survey signaled future IT issues will revolve around implementation of touch-screen technology, deployment of faster networks and voice recognition technology.

“The surging use of smartphones and tablets means people are doing business, exchanging sensitive data wherever, whenever they want to,” said Ron Box, CPA/CITP, CFF. “The technology is advancing so rapidly that the capabilities for controlling and protecting the information on mobile devices is lagging behind. What was once as simple as losing your phone, could now create an enormous security risk for organizations.”

Remember back in the day when you might, say, accidentally drop your phone in the toilet at the bar and simply have to worry about recouping your contact list? Now our phones hold pictures, banking information and even client information that is oftentimes carelessly stored on unsecured devices that are taken everywhere. IT professionals can’t be expected to manage the network when the network is in your pocket, and when your pocket sometimes happens to be in the bar (you are a professional, after all).

Some of the top issues identified by CPAs in public accounting included data retention, control and use of mobile devices and privacy.

The complete Top Technology Initiatives list as voted on by CPAs, IT professionals, and others responsible for making or influencing technology decisions includes initiatives and emerging technologies that IT decision makers should be aware of over the next 12 – 18 months.

Report: IRS Is Better at Junking Computers From Previous Decades

It appears that the IRS prompted this report from the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration after a previous report stated that improvements were needed in the replacing the Service’s dinosaur technology.

Employees have to be pleased that can now obtain better equipment to do their jobs, although three years to determine how to point out an Apple II or an IBM running DOS does seem like a long time.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has significantly improved its ability to identify and replace aging computers, according to a report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

The IRS purchases new computers to replace aging equipment through its Sustaining Infrastructure Program. A November 2007 TIGTA report recommended several improvements to the IRS’s processes for replacing computer hardware that has reached or surpassed its useful life. TIGTA conducted the review at the IRS’s request.

TIGTA’s new report found that the IRS has implemented a process for identifying, reviewing, prioritizing, and making decisions on funding the replacement of aged computer hardware and is developing the capability to associate information technology problems with the aged hardware that caused the problem. The improved capability could result in as much as $12.3 million in cost savings and $16.4 million in revenue collection increases, according to the report.

“Taxpayers and IRS employees rely heavily on the information technology infrastructure to ensure satisfaction of tax liabilities, quick resolution of issues, and the security of confidential taxpayer information,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “The IRS is to be commended for these improvements,” he added.

Are Carbon Accounting Services the Next Hot Career Path?

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

Although the future of the controversial Cap-and-Trade bill is in limbo, particularly with a new Congress that might not be as anxious to pass the legislation as the previous group of legislators, many companies have already begun measuring and reporting carbon emissions. California andaiting for federal legislation and are initiating their own statewide cap and trade system. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative effort among 10 states in the Northeast, is helping to develop and implement a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Other areas of the country are in various stages of regional carbon trading programs.


According to a recent report in the Fast Company Expert Blog, “An overwhelming majority of Fortune 500 companies now voluntarily measure, manage, and publicly disclose their carbon emissions.” This provides an exciting opportunity for accountants to provide an important service in the growing area of carbon accounting.

A recent article published by the GreenBiz Group, a media company that reports on sustainability, points to a shortage of greenhouse gas (GHG) professionals who can measure, report, and verify emissions. Results of a recent survey of greenhouse gas professionals show that “Most respondents believe GHG auditing has insufficient oversight.”

Gillian Marks, principal at The Climate Advisor, speaking last fall at the American Women’s Society of Certified Public Accountants/American Society of Women Accountants Joint National Conference (JNC) in Nashville, TN, spoke of President Obama’s Executive Order signed in October, 2009, requiring Federal agencies to set a greenhouse gas emission target for the year 2020 with specific energy, water, and waste reduction targets that must be included in the overall plan. The Executive Order requires agencies to measure, manage, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a commitment to leading by example.

Lynne McIntosh, president of Excellerate Energy LLC, joined Marks on the podium at the JNC and emphasized the opportunity for accountants to add carbon accounting services to their practice. She suggested that revenue generated by providing carbon accounting services could reach $7 to $9 billion by 2012.

“Just because carbon cap and trade legislation didn’t make it through the Senate, it doesn’t mean this stuff is dead,” said Paul Baier, vice president of sustainability consulting at Groom Energy, an energy consulting and design firm, in an article that appeared in TheStreet.com.

To assist companies with the mission of measuring carbon usage, a new crop of software programs called enterprise carbon accounting (ECA) is showing “explosive growth” according to market research performed by Groom Energy. Groom maintains a vendor list of software companies providing GHG, Carbon, and ECA software programs – so far there are 75 companies on the list. Groom predicts that the purchases of ECA software will increase 600% over the next year.

Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued guidance requiring public companies to warn investors of risks that climate change could pose to their business.

Accountants have a two-fold purpose with regard to carbon accounting. Not only are the accounting firms setting goals for themselves, but accountants are primed to serve as advisors to clients who are ready to get busy with carbon accounting. Taking sensible steps toward conserving energy is the starting point – an obvious one because it can save a company money. Moving into the field of carbon accounting, where carbon emissions are actually charted and measured is the direction in which we all are headed. Getting ahead start today could position accountants for a lucrative career move.

The Future of Forensic Accounting is Now

Ed. note: Welcome to the first edition of Going Concern’s Guest Blogger series. We’ll be featuring both seasoned and new bloggers to share their views on various accounting topics. If you’re interested in participating, email us your submission to editor@goingconcern.com. Please include “Guest Blogger Submission” in the subject line.

Imagine being able to take tens of thousands of pages of financial data and get it into a database in a matter of hours. Those mounds of paper are quickly turned into something useful to the forensic accountant, without spending hundreds of hours manually inputting the data. Financial data is suddenly transformed and the forensic accountant can quickly map the flow of funaction patterns, create charts and graphs that show entities and transactions of interest, and create customized reports.

Doing things the old way, such a result is only a fantasy. For decades, forensic accountants have spent their time manually sorting documentation, deciding which transactions are important, and doing data entry.

It sounds painful because it is. It takes a long time, there is a high risk of inaccuracy, and there is a great chance that an important transaction will be overlooked.

So if there is technology out there to change all of this (and yes, there is!), why aren’t forensic accountants using it?


The only real answer is that they’re afraid of changing their business model. Most accounting firms charge their clients hourly fees, so they are invested in a business model that is dependent on forensic accountants taking more time to perform work which results in more revenue.

Technology that nearly eliminates the need for teams to spend hundreds of hours analyzing financial documentation is not a welcome addition to the firm; it just causes them to lose money.

Of course, it’s not really true that such advances really cause forensic accountants to lose money. All that needs to happen is firms have to find different ways to bill their clients, rather than simply adding up the time of staff and multiplying by a big number.

In addition to this paradigm shift related to billing clients, technological advances also fundamentally change the way forensic accountants investigate fraud. That makes lots of them (especially the old timers) uneasy. After all, we’ve always done it this way! How can we rely on technology over our own hands and eyes?

Here’s the thing…. those forensic accountants who resist embracing technological changes are going to be left behind. I currently use a proprietary system to complete large forensic accounting engagements, making it possible for me to single-handedly do more investigative work in a few days than a team of 4 or 5 investigators can do in several weeks or months.

This is not a fantasy; it is my reality. And my clients are getting better results much faster, allowing them to plan their litigation strategy much sooner, and ultimately be more successful in finding fraud, defending regulatory actions, and competing in litigation.

Yet I am currently the only forensic accountant in the private sector using this system, or anything like it. The government has been using a similar system for years, and if a client is being investigated by a federal agency in a financial matter, there’s a good chance the government is using the latest technology to aid in their investigation.

The future is not going to wait just because so many forensic accountants don’t want to change how they investigate fraud or earn their money. Those who are unwilling to change are going to be left behind. Those, like me, who want to be on the cutting edge, will make more money and win more interesting engagements that previously may have been too large or complex for me to handle alone.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, CFF is a forensic accountant and fraud investigator with Sequence Inc. in Milwaukee and Chicago. She has conducted hundreds of high-stakes investigations involving financial statement fraud, securities fraud, investment fraud, bankruptcy and receivership, and criminal defense. Tracy is the author of Expert Fraud Investigation: A Step-by-Step Guide and Essentials of Corporate Fraud, and has been qualified as an expert witness in both state and federal courts. She can be reached at tracy@sequenceinc.com or 312.498.3661.