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News from Your Accounting Association

CPAmerica Advantage Using CPAmerica webinars as a training tool CPAmerica provides member firms resources to achieve their goals based on our foundation “Improving through Sharing.” We recently spoke to Frank Monaco, managing partner, and Todd Ruggles, tax manager, from member firm about how their firm uses CPAmerica recorded webinars for the purposes of staff training. We started by asking Monaco to give us some background about what their firm is doing with the webinars since moving into their new facilities in June 2017. He said, “Part of the move included a training room that can hold about 100 associates. What we like to conduct our training in group sessions there. The webinar series that CPAmerica puts on during the year fits really well into that. For example, yesterday we listened to the [Jim Hamill tax] webinar and had approximately 20 of our associates take part. Afterward, we talk about specific issues that impact our clients. This really helps us learn a lot more about the subject matter and we can bring everyone up to speed on what is happening with our clients. We find it helpful to have the webinars and we can all get together and brainstorm and through collaboration and learn more about the subject matter. Many parts of this summer series have

included thoughts and insights on the changes brought forth by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, so the material is not only impactful, but timely."

August 2018 Tech Corner article with Randy Johnston P. 2

Member News P. 3 President's Corner - Alan Deichler P. 4

Ruggles added, “I think as accountants, we generally like to have practical examples. It is easy to get lost in the weeds of tax code. When we can take what we are learning and apply it to actual client situations, it allows everyone to take a step back and see how this can help our current and future clients of the firm.” Since the webinars are also recorded, they provide for additional ways to access the content. Monaco stated, "Sometimes, our people are on the road and they might have missed what we did in our group setting, but they have the ability when they come back in the office to listen to the recorded version from From July 2006 - Former the CPAmerica [sharing library]. If you Executive Vice President, Kathy McDonald, marks 20 years with are off-site, you can just call in on your CPAmerica. See Webinars, continued on page 2

New Member Snapshot: Bell & Company, PA Bell & Company, PA

4504 Burrow Drive North Little Rock, Arkansas 72116 Tel: (501) 753-9700 | Fax: (866) 660-1907

For over 35 years, Bell & Company has provided their clients with a Bell & Company’s team of 35 full-time professionals with over 150 years of combined experience.

Richard L. Bell | Managing Partner | Jennifer L. Bell | Partner | | Partner | Kelly Phillips | Partner | Nell Sterling | Partner | Nell Sterling | Firm Administrator | Jennifer L. Bell | HR Director | Deanna Lovelady | Marketing Director | | IT Network Administrator |


North Little Rock, Ark.


Tech Corner with Randy Johnston

Look to the Future - Protect Your Firm by Being Proactive on AI and Automation We will need to take our firms through a technology transition in the next five years that is unlike anything that has come before. While you may believe that the transition from DOS to Windows, the arrival of the Internet, or the use of cloud technology were big things, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and other emerging technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) will deeply change the practice of public accounting. How can you help keep your firm on the right track? It certainly won’t be done by doing the same old thing, but the risk won’t be mitigated by jumping to new technology too early either. CPAmerica has been managing Innovative Technology calls to investigate emerging technology options as a group. This group leverages the expertise of many for the good of all. However, we each have different technologies we discover, we have different client needs and we have different strategies for our firms. Remember that you are still well-served having a strategic plan and tactical objectives for the firm which are then incorporated into a technology strategic and tactical plan. We still must get day-to-day work done in tax, audit and other core services. Some firms have added a focus in Client Accounting Services, Wealth Management or other high growth areas. Each niche has an opportunity to leverage emerging technology and you should watch for tools that help each practice area. What Are the Top AI and Automation Opportunities? Wherever there are a lot of transactions or data, there is an opportunity to automate. You have already seen the opportunity to reduce the amount of effort needed to use bank or credit card feeds to capture transactional data if you use online accounting software. Some of you are using expense management software to capture transactions and reduce the effort to manage expense reporting. These simple examples leverage the benefits of centralized cloud computing. Over time, computing power has gone from centralized to distributed back to centralized and is preparing to shift back to more distributed capabilities. The new wave of distributed computing is a result of widespread use of mobile computing power and from the reduced cost of graphics processors which can accelerate ML and AI. Recognition capability, commonly referred to as Optical Character Recognition (OCR), has continued to improve, but adding AI, ML and other techniques improve accuracy. Having a local graphics processor can speed up AI and ML. If a document is presented in paper form, the accuracy of translating the image’s numbers and words continues to improve approaching 100 percent. Of course, it is better to capture the data in the original format which means we will download the transactions from a bank or from an accounting software system. Another rule to apply is that if an accountant is keying data, there is a broken process somewhere - your team should not be keying data at any level. We have seen and experienced the first wave of 1040 workpaper automation with tools like CCH Scan, SurePrep and Copanion GruntWorx. While these products are 10 years old, their capabilities See AI and Automation, continued on page 4


Webinars, continued from front page phone. What we like about it is that it gives us a lot of flexibility. Sure we would like to have everyone in the same room, but if a person can’t make it that day or if they are driving in their car and they have a couple of hours, they can listen at the same time.” Putting together the firm’s staff training takes a team. Monaco elaborated, “Training and professional development are noted by many firms as some of the cornerstones of future success. 415 Group has many associates who are involved in the formal and on-the-job training process and are continuously working to improve it. Identifying the right training for the right people at the right time is one of the first steps in that process. Additionally, harnessing the experience of 415 Group professionals is critical.” Ruggles added, “At a size of around 70 people, we have experienced many different transactions – from high-level estate planning to very complex mergers and acquisitions – and being able to share that knowledge amongst all of the people here is very beneficial because we know that even if I have missed something on a tax issue, that Frank or Kathleen Krohn or any one of our great staff may have [caught it]. There is a lot of knowledge and being able to disseminate that among the group is critical.” Ruggles spoke about the challenges involved with staff training. “[The challenge] with all training, with the nature of things chang ing so quickly, is making sure that you have time to take care of your current clients and allocating enough time to be able to look forward and make sure you are ready education-wise. It’s just a balance and a function of time.” Nevertheless, 415 Group knows that being a member of CPAmerica has provided many benefits when it comes to these areas. Monaco stated, “We believe … CPAmerica has helped us in our role of servicing our clients. Everything is better through sharing, right? The tax discussion list and the questions we can ask other [member] firms have been beneficial to us and being able to join the [Crowe LLP] National Tax Office has been very helpful to us, too.” Ruggles added, “Just getting the experience from other CPAmerica firms increases our knowledge base and has really helped our firm get in touch with a lot of important people in the industry.” Monaco noted, “Another important thing is the connection CPAmerica has given us to outside service providers such as Crowe Global for our international tax issues; Crowe LLP’s National Tax Office for domestic issues; and also utilizing Preferred Providers such as Ernst & Morris for cost-segregation studies and the alliantgroup for R&D studies and especially their tax controversy group – I can’t say enough good things about those attorneys.”

This was part one of two of the Webinars as a Training Tool article. Part two will be printed in the next Advantage newsletter.


Member News Colorado-based member firm played host to Summer Leadership Program students

Lakewood, Colo.-based firm, , hosted eight students from local colleges and universities at their annual Summer Leadership Program. The students participated in two full-day sessions on-site where they

Participants and hosts met at Stratagem for the annual Summer Leadership Program

experienced presentations by professional leaders and explored practical exercises to expose them to information and insightful guidance before they embark on their careers. Some of the activities included case studies, a professional panel, career path guidance, mock interviews and oneon-one coaching. The enthusiasm and participation of both the students and members of Stratagem was excellent and the firm looks forward to growing and developing the program in coming years.

McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C. promotes 14 associates , announced recently that the following 14 associates throughout the company have been promoted: Abby Hood was promoted from Supervisor to Manager. Hood joined the firm in 2012 and graduated from Northwest Missouri State University. Alex Langpaul was promoted from staff accountant to senior accountant. Langpaul joined the firm in 2014 and graduated from Grand View College. Allie Fevold was promoted from staff accountant to senior accountant. Fevold joined the firm in 2015 and graduated from Iowa State University. Ashley Mowery was promoted from manager to senior manager. Mowery joined the firm in 2007 and graduated from Simpson College. Ashley Sly was promoted from supervisor to manager. Sly joined the firm in 2013 and graduated from Buena Vista University. Jeff Dick was promoted from senior manager to director. Dick joined the firm in 2010 and graduated from Iowa State University. Jenny Smith was promoted from senior manager to director. Smith joined the firm in 2009 and graduated from Iowa State University. Liz Krause was promoted

from senior accountant to supervisor. Krause joined the firm in 2016 and graduated from Creighton University. Makayla Fagen was promoted from senior accountant to supervisor. Fagen joined the firm in 2017 and graduated from Iowa State University. Michelle Leonard was promoted from supervisor to manager. Leonard joined the firm in 2013 and graduated from Northwest Missouri State University. Mike Jensen was promoted from supervisor to manager. Jensen joined the firm in 2012 and graduated from Iowa State University. Nate Beck was promoted from senior manager to director. Beck joined the firm in 2014 and graduated from Iowa State University. Nick Finkenauer was promoted from senior manager to director. Finkenauer joined the firm in 2012 and graduated from University of Northern Iowa. Rob Poterucha was promoted from senior accountant to supervisor. Poterucha joined the firm in 2017 and graduated from Iowa State University.

THF announces 40 Under 40 honoree, new title sponsor, new hire (THF), a member firm headquartered in Tallahassee, Fla., announced Julian Dozier and his selection as a NACVA 40 Under Forty honoree. The NACVA recognition program honors the nation’s top young financial consulting professionals. This program was designed to give a voice and an opportunity to the next generation of industry mavericks, recognizing their contributions to their profession and their communities, as well as their contributions yet to come. Dozier has more than 12 years and is a director in the Assurance Services Department and is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified in Financial Forensics, and Accredited in Business Valuation. He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants (FICPA), and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. The firm, along with the Florida State University College of Business, and the Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center, also announced Aon as new title sponsor for the eighth annual INCON – Insurance Conference on Financial Reporting. Finally, THF welcomed Justin Marsh to the Assurance Services Department in their Tampa office. Marsh attended the University of South Florida and earned a bachelor’s in accounting.

Washington Post names Thompson Greenspon a 2018 Top Washington, D.C.-area workplace

Member firm , headquartered in Fairfax, Va., has been named one of The Washington Post’s 2018 Top Workplaces in the Washington, D.C. area, an award the firm has received every year since 2014. Selection is based solely on employee feedback gathered through an anonymous third-party survey administered by research partner Energage, LLC, which measured several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection. This year’s 150 honorees include government contractors, law firms, nonprofits, schools, and businesses. “Overwhelmingly, employees of the companies honored on The Post’s Top Workplaces list not only value their workplace’s culture, but they also feel confident in the direction that their companies are going,” said Washington Post Top Workplaces editor Dion Haynes. “The standouts on this list excel because they focus on engaging their greatest asset: their people.”

Hawaii firm, N&K CPAs, announce promotions

Honolulu-based announced various promotions: Recent CPAmerica Next Generation Conference attendees Ian Horie, Sarah Brown and Belinda Mercado were promoted to manager. Horie and Brown were promoted to audit manager and Mercado to tax manager. Also, in the Assurance Services Division - Andrew Tam and Robert Hammonds to associate II, Malia Kagawa and Talon Kishi to senior, and Kris Yamaguchi to senior II. Promoted in the Business & Tax Services Division were Chase Tateyama, Henry Hui and Qi Zhou; each to associate II.

BSC's Kauffman earns her CPA license

Member firm LLP, the Lansdale, Pa.-based accounting and business advisory firm, announced that Brianna Kauffman has met the requirements to become a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania. She passed the written Uniform CPA Examination that tests the candidate’s knowledge in financial accounting, auditing, business environment & concepts, and regulations. She has also completed the required workhour requirements. Kauffman joined the firm in 2017 after graduating from James Madison University earning her master's with a concentration in audit. She earned her bachelor’s from Eastern Mennonite University.


President's Corner: Competing on a global level

Alan Deichler President

I just returned from a Crowe Global board meeting in Beijing. It was a fascinating trip. Crowe Global is in the midst of a major brand change. They are also in competition with RSM for the secondlargest accounting firm in China and their chances are looking good.

During our visit, the Chinese member of Crowe Global, Riuhua CPAs (Riuhua), was an outstanding host and put on a number of banquets. They also hosted a symposium made up of many financial officers of their top clients. Remember, Riuhua is the secondlargest firm in China. It is bigger than three of the Big 4. You can imagine who their clients are. We heard strategies from power plant companies, auto manufacturers, medical companies, chemical companies, and more. When I attend the Crowe Global board meetings, I work to think on a global basis. Many of your best clients require support internationally and we all want to make sure they have the very best support around the world. While I do pretty well thinking globally, I am also rather competitive. Initially in college sports and then for years at IBM, I was up against outstanding competitors. I absolutely hate to lose, but I always had, and st i l l have g reat respect for my compet itors. AI and Automation, continued from page 2

were largely built with manual forms and computing power, not with AI and other advanced techniques. Consider what happens if we can ingest a large amount of data for a tax return or an audit, perhaps even all transactions, to look for irregularities. What happens if all, or at least most, business transactions can be accurately captured and classified? Both functions are happening now with first generation products. The algorithms in use are improving in accuracy as more data is processed and the rules in the algorithms are improved. Mainstream and start-up vendors are beginning to sell these capabilities. So, What Are Some Potential Tools to Use Today?

I always wanted to win because I tried to be better, not because I was rooting against them. There were times during the presentations where my competitiveness might have been getting the best of my global thinking. I have had two rules in writing this column over the last eight-and-a-half years - no religion and no politics. It is not that I do not have either, it is just that this column should not turn into a bully pulpit. Let me share an observation that I understand might border on a political one. I hope you take it as pertaining more to economics and competition on the global corporate level. Chinese businesses are making every effort to compete and replace U.S. businesses around the world. They want the same thing U.S. businesses want and have had since our country devised its post-World War II strategy of global development and influence.

any competition, while we should respect our competition, we need to compete in a proactive manner. I would hope in the coming months, U.S. businesses will embrace this competition and again begin to actively compete globally, with new government policies aligning and supporting this international competition. I am a big supporter of Riuhua and their membership in Crowe Global. They are an outstanding member and one I would want supporting your business needs in China. My ultimate goal is to make sure CPAmerica firms are successful. Be assured, you have access to the very best international support possible for your clients requiring such support.

The Chinese companies in this symposium shared their directions and strategies with each other. While we in the U.S. are implementing various programs and efforts to protect our businesses from both friends and advisories, it is very obvious that the Chinese are looking to leverage our decisions to grow their national businesses worldwide (Google “Belt and Road”). I am very respectful of the Chinese business people. They are extremely capable. As in Multiple publishers are marketing products claiming that they have these problems solved today. While their techniques are beginning to work, don’t expect 100 percent solutions. Examples of products that are working for audit include: Wolters Kluwer Audit Accelerator and TeamMate Analytics, MindBridge is making progress on data ingestion and classification, while new audit tools are being promoted by the competitors of AuditFile, MyWorkPapers and the AICPA’s OnPoint PCR.

Gainesville, FL 32601 (352) 727-4070

Most practical today for Client Accounting Services (CAS) practices are the two offerings from Receipt Bank: Extract and 1Tap which you can obtain via their Orange Select program. Extract is a document gathering tool that interfaces with various products. This is Part 1 of 2 of Randy Johnston's (from NMGI) Tech Corner article on AI and Automation, to be continued in the next issue of the Advantage newsletter

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08 2018 Advantage newsletter  

This issue of the CPAmerica Advantage newsletter contains a two-part article on how member firm 415 Group is using webinars as a training to...

08 2018 Advantage newsletter  

This issue of the CPAmerica Advantage newsletter contains a two-part article on how member firm 415 Group is using webinars as a training to...