Welcome back to the second in our series of interviews with Gusto partners who just so happen to be doing some pretty cool things out there in the exciting world of accounting. In case you missed the last one, we introduced you to Bruce Phillips of Aprio Cloud, all while extolling the virtues of payroll […]
If you asked small business owners what it’s like to process payroll (or onboard employees, or set up insurance, or, well you get the hint), you would probably hear it described as “dull,” “time-consuming,” and “a big pain in the butt.” But what if payroll was actually “awesome,” “easy,” and “quick?” Shocking concept, we know. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Exposure Drafts appears every other Wednesday-ish. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 email@example.com.
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.
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 […]
“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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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.
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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?
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.
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 […]
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?
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 […]
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 […]
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 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 […]
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, […]
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]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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?
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, […]
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.
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 […]
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
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
We here at GC received the following email in our inboxes this Moanday morning:
Finally!!! See below 🙂
Direct Pay makes managing your expenses easier
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.
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]
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.”
From the mailbag:
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?
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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]
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.
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:
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]
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!”
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.
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.