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Magazine of the

New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants

M a r c h • A p r i l 2 0 1 2

International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) An IFRS Primer An Interview with IASB Chair Hans Hoogervorst Navigating Between Dual Financials A Large Company’s IFRS Transition

Ed u Sp ca Se ec tio ct ia n io l n


AMERICA’S

BEST

COLLEGES 2011


March • April 2012

Ralph Albert Thomas Executive Director rthomas@njscpa.org

Ellen C. McSherry Associate Executive Director emcsherry@njscpa.org

Don Meyer Director, Communications & Marketing dmeyer@njscpa.org

David Plaskow Managing Editor dplaskow@njscpa.org

Jeanette L. Miller Editorial Assistant jmiller@njscpa.org

Editorial Advisory Board Neil B. Becourtney, CPA David M. Capodanno, CPA Rosemary F. Ervin, CPA Rebecca B. Fitzhugh, CPA Christopher W. Frey, CPA Catherine Z. Horn, CPA Bernard M. Kiely, CPA Marcella LoCastro, CPA Anthony F. Marone, CPA William C. McNamara, CPA Marc D. Mintz, CPA John F. Raspante, CPA Joseph F. Scutellaro, CPA Margaret Van Brunt, CPA

The Warren Group Design / Production / Advertising thewarrengroup.com custompubs@thewarrengroup.com

features

8 An IFRS Primer Learn the ABCs of IFRS, where convergence stands now and what’s holding things up.

12 An Interview with IASB Chair Hans Hoogervorst Get the inside scoop from the man leading the charge for International Financial Reporting Standards convergence.

16 Navigating Between Dual Financials Discover the ins and outs of presenting financial information under GAAP and IFRS due to convergence.

18 AIFRSLarge Company’s Transition Examine how one multinational took a project-management approach to its IFRS transition.

4 Close Up The Many Faces of On-Site Training 6 News Briefs 20 A&A Buzz Changes in Revenue Recognition Under IFRS

28 Tech Center Technology Planning for IFRS 48 Student Outlook Diplomatically Speaking

21 Best Practices The Trend Away from Headhunters

49 Legislative Views Why New Jersey Needs an Appeal Bond Cap

22 Financial Planning Financial Planning for Veterans and Their Families

50 Member Profile Humble Is the Heart

23 Forensic File The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the U.K. Bribery Act 24 Industry Insights Does Outsourcing Work? 25 Small/Sole Practitioner IFRS Opportunities for Small Practitioners

The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants 425 Eagle Rock Avenue Suite 100 Roseland, NJ 07068-1723 973-226-4494 Fax: 973-226-7425 njscpa.org

26 Tax Talk IFRS Tax Implications

Society Pages CPE Offerings and Events, 40 Get Involved, 42 Member Benefits, 44 NJ State Board of Accountancy Report, 46 Classifieds, 47

Education Special Section Partners in NJ Accounting Education, 32-39

New Jersey CPA (ISSN 1534-6692) is published six times per year by the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, 425 Eagle Rock Avenue-Suite 100, Roseland, NJ 07068. Issue No. 32 Copyright © 2012 New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants. Annual membership dues includes $9 for a one-year subscription to New Jersey CPA magazine. Members may not deduct subscription price from dues. Periodicals postage paid at Roseland, NJ, and at additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to New Jersey CPA, 425 Eagle Rock Avenue, Suite 100, Roseland, NJ 07068-1723. The materials and information contained within New Jersey CPA are offered as information only and not as practice, financial, accounting, legal or other professional advice. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the New Jersey Society of CPAs. Publication of an advertisement in New Jersey CPA does not constitute an endorsement of the product or service by the New Jersey Society of CPAs.


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The Many Faces of On-Site Training B Y SHARON DRUCKER , NJ SC PA ON- SI TE TR AI NI NG S P E C I A L I S T

E

ver wonder if your training is keeping pace with your evolving business needs? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Keeping up with the shifting business environment, specifically accounting and attest standards, is one of the top challenges affecting firms, according to a recent survey. Companies and individuals are recognizing that lifelong learning is mandatory, not optional. The New Jersey Society of CPAs On-Site Training program provides customized technical and professional development programs that help groups achieve those lifetime learning goals. Here are just a few ways in which CPA firms and companies in the Garden State are benefitting from these solutions:

Case 1 Need: SES, a global satellite company in Princeton, struggled with training for convergence issues related to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and changes to lease accounting and revenue recognition. Solution: The NJSCPA utilized a recognized IFRS training expert, Dr. Ray Thomson, to help the client assess the potential impact of IFRS on its financial reporting. A customized training program was then designed to build on the level of staff expertise. Result: “The NJSCPA-focused training met our specific needs for domestic and international operations,” said SES Accounting and Reporting Manager Donald Rokose. “It’s important for industry CPAs to stay current on changing standards, especially those that will directly impact financial reporting.”

Case 2 Need: With only weeks before the firm is fully entrenched in tax preparation, partners are concerned that a firm-wide system upgrade to Office 2010 will involve a steep and time-consuming learning curve. Solution: The NJSCPA located a leading technology trainer who could accommodate the firm’s thin timeline and its need for hands-on training by offering a

full day of Saturday group training. Result: “The NJSCPA’s on-site training has been a great resource for our firm,” said Firm Administrator Michael Mariano of Leaf, Saltzman, Manganelli, Pfeil & Tendler, LLP, in Fairfield. “When we had an immediate need for hands-on technology training at a critical time of year, the NJSCPA came through. Participants were fully functional on the new software by Monday morning.”

Case 3 Need: A central Jersey firm found the expanding role of the CPA has mandated greater business development and time management skills that are beyond the responsibilities of yesterday’s CPA. Today’s professionals are challenged with the pursuit of new business opportunities, while retaining the current client base. Solution: A combined leadership/time management training day was designed as a firm-wide initiative to address business development skills, communication, personal vision and energy management. Result: “Greg Conderacci’s leadership training provided our group with a solid foundation,” said Carol Koransky, CPA, M.B.A., Wilkin & Guttenplan. “Attendees, from partner to entry-level staff, were equipped with the necessary tools to explore their leadership strengths and increase productivity.”

Case 4 Need: Mandatory CPE requirements vary among states, making compliance challenging, particularly for large CPA firms. Certain states, like NJ, require live state-specific law and ethics training, while others accept programs from neighboring states. Solution: A Society-provided NJ Law and Ethics instructor delivered live training to multiple locations throughout a major accounting firm. The program was simultaneously delivered and webcasted to all of its offices. In fact, the NJSCPA held more than 110 on-site NJ Law and Ethics programs this past triennial. NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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Result: “Working with the NJSCPA as a NJ Law and Ethics provider was straightforward and seamless,” said the firm’s training coordinator. “The Society has been our go-to source each triennial, making Garden State compliance effortless.” With its many contacts in the CPA profession and reputation for CPE excellence, the NJSCPA is able to match thought leaders with CPA firms and companies to foster an environment of knowledge and innovation. When training is viewed as an investment, rather than a cost, the results are improved job performance, greater competencies and increased confidence. To learn more about the NJSCPA On-Site Training program, contact Sharon Drucker at sdrucker@ njscpa.org or 973-226-4494 x229, or visit njscpa.org/onsite.

2011/12 Board of Trustees EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE President Carole A. Hedinger, CPA President-Elect Thomas F. Roche III, CPA Secretary Lloyd F. George, CPA Treasurer Walter J. Brasch, CPA Immediate Past President Robert S. Marrone, CPA Executive Director Ralph Albert Thomas TRUSTEES Lewis D. Bivona, CPA Jose E. Bombino, CPA Susan Burke, CPA Rebecca B. Fitzhugh, CPA Linda Gibson, CPA Edward I. Guttenplan, CPA Karl A. Halteman, CPA Maryann Holloway, CPA Robert Nanfro, CPA Kenneth Pogrob, CPA Jody Rorick, CPA Mary E. Zago, CPA


NEWS Important New Jersey State Taxation Phone Numbers Alcoholic Beverage Tax

609-588-3932

Automated Tax Information

800-323-4400

Business Paperless Telefiling

877-829-2866

Corporate Liens, Mergers, Withdrawals, Dissolutions

609-292-5323

Customer Service Center

609-292-6400

Director’s Office

609-292-5185

Earned Income Tax Credit

609-292-6400

Homestead Rebate Hotline (Homeowners)

888-238-1233

Homestead Rebate Hotline (Tenants)

888-213-8623

Inheritance Tax

609-292-5033

Local Property Tax

609-292-7974

Motor Fuels Tax Refunds

609-588-3688

New Jersey TaxFax

609-826-4500

Property Tax Reimbursement

800-882-6597

Public Utility Tax

609-584-4337

briefs Tax Preparers Need to File EITC Due Diligence Checklist

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations requiring paid tax return preparers to file Form 8867, Paid Preparer’s Earned Income Credit Checklist, with any federal return claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The checklist was designed to help preparers meet the requirement by obtaining eligibility information from their clients. Preparers have been required to keep copies of the form, or comparable documentation, which is subject to IRS review. Effective January 1, 2012, the regulations require preparers to file Form 8867 with each return claiming the EITC. The regulations also increase the penalty for noncompliance with the due diligence requirement from $100 to $500.

IASB and FASB Issue Common Offsetting Disclosure Requirements

The International Accounting Standards Board and the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued common disclosure requirements that are intended to help investors and other financial statement users to better assess the effect or potential effect of offsetting arrangements on a company’s financial position. Offsetting, otherwise known as netting, is the presentation of assets and liabilities as a single net amount in the statement of financial position (balance sheet). Unlike International Financial Reporting Standards, U.S. generally accepted accounting principles allow companies the option to present net in their balance sheet derivatives that are subject to a legally enforceable netting arrangement with the same party where rights of set-off are only available in the event of default or bankruptcy.

New Jersey by the Numbers 166,200,000 Estimated tax revenue to NJ from establishing sports betting 30,866 Car accidents involving deer in New Jersey last year 3,171 Average cost of a car crash involving a deer 16.8 Gallons of annual beer consumption per New Jerseyan 10 Rank of the Prudential Center as a top grossing arena in the world

NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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Companies and other entities are required to apply the amendments for annual reporting periods beginning on or after January 1, 2013, and interim periods within those annual periods. The required disclosures should be provided retrospectively.

PCAOB Publishes Staff Audit Practice Alert No. 9

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) published Staff Audit Practice Alert No. 9, Assessing and Responding to Risk in the Current Economic Environment, to assist auditors in identifying matters related to the current economic environment that might affect the risk of material misstatements in financial statements and, therefore, require additional audit attention. The alert is organized into four sections: 1) considering the impact of economic conditions on the audit; 2) auditing fair value measurements and estimates; 3) the auditor’s consideration of a company’s ability to continue as a going concern; and 4) auditing financial statement disclosures.

IRS Releases Guidance on Foreign Financial Asset Reporting

IRS Form 8938 (Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets) will be filed by taxpayers to report specified foreign financial assets beginning with tax year 2011. Individuals who may have to file Form 8938 are U.S. citizens and residents, nonresidents who elect to file a joint income tax return and certain nonresidents who live in a U.S. territory. Form 8938 is required when the total value of specified foreign assets exceeds certain thresholds. The thresholds for taxpayers who reside abroad are higher. Instructions for Form 8938 explain the thresholds for reporting, what constitutes a specified foreign financial asset, how to determine the total value of relevant assets, what assets are exempted and what information must be provided. The new Form 8938 filing requirement does not replace or otherwise affect a taxpayer’s obligation to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. Learn more at the FATCA page of irs.gov.


New Jersey CPA Looking for Women of Note

SEC Adopts Net Worth Standard for Accredited Investors

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has amended its rules to exclude the value of a person’s home from net worth calculations used to determine whether an individual may invest in certain unregistered securities offerings. The changes were made to conform the SEC’s definition of an “accredited investor” to the requirements of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Learn more at sec.gov.

New Jersey CPA magazine is excited to announce a special section in its July/ August 2012 issue: “Women of Note.” We’ll be spotlighting those female New Jersey Society of CPAs members who are having a significant impact through career, Society, accounting profession and charitable activities. You can nominate a Society member at njscpa.org/newjerseycpa. Submissions are due by March 30.

“IRS Not Adequately Funded to Serve Taxpayers and Collect Taxes”

Mandatory CPE Requirements

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson gave her annual report to Congress, identifying the combination of the IRS’ expanding workload and declining resources as the most serious problem facing taxpayers.

The following highlights the mandatory CPE requirements for New Jersey (a maximum of 60 credits can be earned via self-study programs): Practice

Period

Total Credit Hours

Minimum Per Year

Specific Requirements

CPAs in public practice 1/1/12 or involved with the 12/31/14 attest function in issuing audit, review or compilation reports

120

20

72 credits in technical subject areas (24 of which must be in accounting and auditing), four in New Jersey Law & Ethics

All other CPAs

120

20

72 credits in technical subject areas, four in New Jersey Law & Ethics

1/1/12 12/31/14

The result, the report says, is inadequate taxpayer service, erosion of taxpayer rights and reduced tax compliance. Olson expressed her continuing concern that the IRS’ expanding use of automated processes to adjust tax liabilities is causing harm to taxpayers and recommended that Congress enact a comprehensive Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Governor Christie Signs GrowNJ Bill

Governor Chris Christie has signed S-3033, legislation creating the GrowNJ Assistance program to provide at least $200 million in incentives to create and retain jobs. The program will encourage business investment and expansion in New Jersey by providing tax credits to companies moving to or growing in the state based on capital investment and job creation or retention.

Final Yellow Book Issued

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued the final 2011 Revision to Government Auditing Standards (the Yellow Book). This update replaces the Internet version that the GAO issued in August. The changes are limited in nature and mainly relate to refining the standards due to the ASB Clarity Standards issued in October. For more information, visit gao.gov/yellowbook.

njscpa.org Spotlight Get Social and Mobile with the NJSCPA As more members are becoming active on various social networking sites and using mobile devices more frequently, the New Jersey Society of CPAs is keeping pace. In addition to njscpa.org, you can obtain information and interact with the NJSCPA in the following ways: • Facebook (njscpa.org/facebook) – “Like” us on Facebook, and get professional and Society updates right in your Facebook News Feed. • Google+ (plus.google.com +NJSCPA) – Add the NJSCPA to your circles on Google+ for news updates, photos and more. • LinkedIn (njscpa.org/linkedin) – Join the NJSCPA group on LinkedIn, and network with hundreds of your fellow members.

• NJSCPA Connect (njscpa.org/connect) – Access the Society’s members-only online community to connect with your fellow members, ask and answer questions, download helpful resource documents and more. • NJSCPA Mobile (njscpa.org/mobile) – Download our mobile app, which includes a searchable member directory, NJSCPA Connect discussions and documents, and more. • NJSCPA Text Alerts (njscpa.org/news) – Stay current on national and local issues impacting the accounting profession by subscribing to our text message alert system. • Twitter (twitter.com/njscpa) – Access a stream of local and national news, in

NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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140 characters or less, by following us on Twitter. The NJSCPA will also be rolling out a mobile version of njscpa.org in the coming months; watch for more information. You can also see a demonstration of everything above at the Accounting, Business & Technology Show, May 16-17, in Secaucus (njscpa.org/abt) and the NJSCPA Convention & Expo, June 6-8, in Atlantic City (njscpa.org/convention). Questions? Contact Rachael Bell, NJSCPA online communications manager, at rbell@ njscpa.org or 973-226-4494 x220.


An IFRS Primer International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is essentially the set of standards created by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). IFRS is a principles-based set of standards rather than a rules-based one. The current IFRS standards are far less detailed – with little industry-specific guidance – than the current U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Since 2003, the IASB and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) have indicated that convergence of their separate standards to one global set of accounting standards is necessary. Convergence hopes to create a one-world approach to facilitate cross-border capital markets.

By Marc Fogarty, CPA EisnerAmper LLP

Recent statistics indicate that more than 120 countries worldwide permit or require the use of IFRS in its public company filings. More than 90 of these countries have fully conformed to IFRS as promulgated by the IASB by including an acknowledgement statement in their respective audit reports. Currently, the U.S. direction rests with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC has also expressed support for one set of global standards. NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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In November 2008, the SEC released a roadmap for determining whether it would ultimately approve IFRS as an acceptable method of accounting for its listed companies. One key milestone in the plan is that the SEC would determine in 2011 (based upon progress reports) whether to proceed with the incorporation of IFRS or not. In November 2011, the SEC issued two staff papers: one geared toward comparing IFRS and GAAP, aside from the current convergence projects, and the other focusing on possible methods of incorporating IFRS into the U.S. system. In December 2011, SEC Chief Accountant James Kroeker spoke at the annual American Institute of CPAs conference indicating that the SEC needed additional time to evaluate its findings. There was no firm date given from the SEC as to when it would make a decision, only that both boards need to ensure that future convergence projects are in the best interest of the registrants. While major projects, such as revenue recognition, leases and financial instruments, have been or will be tackled by the FASB and the IASB with respect to differences, there are still several areas where GAAP and IFRS differ. First, under IFRS the conceptual framework is the highest level for authoritative guidance; as for GAAP, the conceptual framework is not included in the codification and therefore not deemed to be authoritative. Other areas that differ


are the definitions of assets and liabilities – more specifically, the use of the word “probable” in the U.S. definition. While the differences are small, they can give rise to different depictions of companies’ financial performances. Key remaining differences for assets are: • Inventory – IFRS allows the use of impairment reversals, while GAAP does not. Last-in first-out is not an acceptable inventory method under IFRS, while it remains acceptable under GAAP. Inventory is valued at the lower of cost or market for GAAP and the lower of cost or net realizable value for IFRS.

• Intangible Assets – IFRS allows for impairment reversal in certain circumstances; GAAP does not. • Goodwill – Measuring for impairments for IFRS uses a one-step method; GAAP still uses a two-step method. • Property, Plant and Equipment – IFRS allows for impairment reversal of fixed assets; GAAP does not. IFRS also requires companies to view their fixed assets at a more componentized level; GAAP does not. • Deferred Taxes – IFRS requires all deferred tax assets to be classified as noncurrent, whereas GAAP allows the split between current and noncurrent.

See The Good.

At the Community Foundation of New Jersey, we’re focused on helping our donors use their funds to create real impact in their communities and see the good their charitable giving creates. Here are two recent examples of innovative ways our corporate donors are using their CFNJ funds to make a difference: • A Give Back Scholarship Fund. In 2011, a New Jersey family approached the Community Foundation with the goal of doing something charitable to give back to employees of a franchise business they had built. With the help of the Community Foundation they designed a scholarship to benefit the children from franchises across the country. The scholarship provides funding for four years of college. The mother of the first scholarship recipient expressed her gratitude by simply saying, “It saved my family.”

Additionally, under IFRS there is no deferred tax asset set-up if there is a corresponding valuation allowance to offset it. The net deferred tax asset is what is ultimately recognized. Key remaining differences for liabilities are: • Definition – GAAP uses the term “probable,” whereas IFRS uses the term “more likely than not.” On the surface, they appear to be the same thing. However, people do have varying definitions of these when they are applied in everyday situations. • Debt Covenants – If debt covenant

• ShopRite Partners in Caring Fund. Since 1999, the ShopRite Partners in Caring Fund has supported hunger-fighting efforts in New Jersey and throughout the Northeast. To date, ShopRite has donated $24 million to hunger-fighting organizations. A unique feature of the Fund is how it has become part of the ShopRite culture, receiving a variety of support from employees, customers and partners. If your clients are looking to make a difference through charitable giving, we’d like to be of assistance. Please contact Hans Dekker at hdekker@cfnj.org | 973-267-5533.

2012 Year-To-Date (Jan): Grants Issued - $2.1MM | Gifts to Donor Advised Funds - $2.6MM

Follow us:

facebook.com/GivingNJ

twitter.com/GivingNJ

cfnj.tumblr.com

© 2011 Community Foundation of New Jersey

24946_CFNJ_NJCPA_7p375x3p125_Feb6_r8.indd 1

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2/8/12 9:43 AM


Other key differences: • Research and Development Costs – Under IFRS, there is an opportunity to capitalize costs if certain bogeys are met. • Correction of an Error – Under IFRS, the correction of an error is handled in the opening equity of the earliest period presented. Under GAAP, the company would present the prior

period financials where the error first occurred. • Going Concern – Under IFRS, the going concern concept is for a period defined as for the foreseeable future; GAAP is generally 12 months from the balance sheet date or 12 months from the date the financial statements are released. • Interim Reporting – Generally, IFRS views each interim period as a discrete period; GAAP views them as a component of the annual report. • Joint Ventures – GAAP uses the equity method for reporting activity under joint ventures; IFRS further breaks down these arrangements into joint ventures and joint operations. Joint ventures would be under the equity method, and joint operations would be under the proportionate consolidation method.

There are also several administrative items (authoritative board, board funding) that need to be reconciled prior to any IFRS convergence or endorsement in the U.S. The above is not an all-inclusive list of differences, just a sampling of what tasks are ahead as the FASB and the IASB continue to refine their plan. This also shows what financial statement preparers and users need to be aware of. The thought of converging, endorsing or even condorsing is something we all need to think about now and not leave for the last minute. Marc Fogarty, CPA, CFE, is an audit partner at EisnerAmper LLP. He is a member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs Accounting & Auditing Standards Interest Group. Contact him at marc.fogarty@ eisneramper.com or 732-287-1000.

GR WTH It’s what CGMA stands for. Officially, of course, it’s Chartered Global Management Accountant. A new designation representing accomplished professionals that drive and deliver business success, worldwide. Find out more at cgma.org

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Copyright © 2012 American Institute of CPAs. All rights reserved.

violations are not cured before yearend under IFRS, the corresponding liability is classified as current; under GAAP, the company has the ability to obtain a waiver subsequent to yearend, but before the financial statements are issued, in order for the violation to be cured. • Taxes – The concept of “uncertain tax positions” is not a term that is readily defined under IFRS.

1/30/12 11:16 AM


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More importantly, we have used the buying  power of our association to obtain special  discounted rates.   

While we know this program is very valuable,  insurance is not the right answer for everyone.  However, information is your best weapon in the  fight against the high cost of long‐term care and to  determine if Long Term Care Insurance is right for  you. Advanced planning is always the best  approach. To request more information, call today  800‐616‐8759.  Connect with us at: www.awrins.com   NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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An Interview with

IASB Chair Hans Hoogervorst Hans Hoogervorst began his term as chair of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in July 2011. He is a former chair of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, the IOSCO Technical Committee and the Monitoring Board of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation. He has also held a number of positions in the Dutch government and spent three years as a banking officer for the National Bank of Washington in Washington, DC. New Jersey CPA asked Hoogervorst about international accounting convergence:

By David Plaskow NJSCPA Publications Editor

Where should companies be now relative to potential adoption? Companies should be staying current on the IASB and the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB’s) work to improve IFRS and U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and bring about their convergence. IFRS and U.S. GAAP are already aligned in many important areas. So, change is coming for U.S. companies regardless NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) decision. It appears there are currently multiple versions of IFRS, and political influence in the process seems to undermine IFRS’ compatibility goal. So, why shouldn’t U.S. companies just stay with U.S. GAAP, rather than multiple versions of IFRS? Most companies apply the full IFRS. Furthermore, companies in the majority of the G20 countries report using the full IFRS as issued by the IASB. There are always opportunities to improve consistency of application, whether you use IFRS or U.S. GAAP. The SEC recently published a study looking at the application of IFRS by Fortune 500 companies. It concluded that companies generally comply with IFRS, but that many provide insufficient information on accounting policies or compliance with individual standards. The Wall Street Journal pointed to a 2002 SEC study looking into Fortune 500 companies applying U.S. GAAP that reached similar conclusions. There is a need for greater consistency in application. But you can only begin to work on this if everyone is using the same set of accounting standards. If the SEC is at the


IFRS table, it is able to exert its considerable influence over standards of enforcement internationally. IFRS has again raised the issue of “big GAAP” versus “little GAAP,” how smaller, non-public companies will be forced to significantly alter their financial statements in order to get a clean GAAP opinion. Are there any plans to create a carve-out for these companies? For private companies, we’ve already developed the IFRS for small and medium-sized entities (SMEs) that is about a tenth of the size of the full IFRS. More than 80 countries now use it or plan to in the near future, and there is no reason why U.S. companies cannot already apply it. The American Institute of CPAs has endorsed it as an acceptable standard for U.S. private companies. For public companies, we’re well aware that there are many smaller companies that are required to report using the full IFRS. We are looking at ways we can further involve representative groups of such SMEs

to better understand and respond to their concerns. How do you address the concerns of the many smaller private – and even public companies – with one U.S. location that will see little, if any, benefit by transitioning from U.S. GAAP to IFRS? I’m not convinced that small, publicly listed companies will see no benefit. Financial statements are used for a variety of purposes. Many smaller, publicly listed companies in the U.S. will have some form of international dealings – with international suppliers, customers or intermediaries. In the current environment, customers, suppliers and business partners want to understand the resilience of a company’s balance sheet as much as assessing the product to be supplied. You need IFRS to do that internationally. Will the IASB address the specialized needs of U.S. nonprofits? It’s not something that we’ve discussed.

We Go To Work For You.

The SEC estimated that the largest U.S. registrants that adopt IFRS early would incur about $32 million per company in additional costs for their first IFRS-prepared annual reports, and that the average U.S. company would incur costs of between 0.125 and 0.13 percent of revenue. How do you sell that to companies during an economic contraction? Large companies have told us that the cost of implementing the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) projects is well in excess of the incremental cost of full conversion to IFRSs. Companies using U.S. GAAP will need to apply these new MoU standards anyway. Should companies get all the change out of the way in one go and switch to IFRS at the same time, or should they change once to the new MoU standards and a second time if and when the U.S. moves to IFRS? Most U.S. companies I speak with would rather do it once. Keep in mind, the date for transition is likely five to six years away.

Go with the biggest in the industry. We are North America’s leader in marketing accounting and tax practices because we understand the value of your firm, know how to market it and have hundreds of buyers in New Jersey who want a practice. Our biggest concern is you. Our wealth of experience culminates to make sure your comfort level is met, your questions are answered and everything is being done to sell your firm. Give us a call today so that we may go to work for you and produce the results you desire.

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NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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With IFRS being a more judgmental set of standards, how have you seen the dialog between clients and auditors on technical topics that are not always clear cut? Principlebased standards require professional judgment to be applied, whereas detailed rules can lead to more of a tick-box compliance exercise to be followed. The converged standards developed jointly by the IASB and the FASB are principle-based, so this approach is coming to U.S. reporting, whether the SEC moves to IFRS or not. How do you get people on the same page where there is practical application across different cultures and jurisdictions for the same transaction? The IASB works to ensure that views from around the world are considered as part of its standard-setting activities. The board reflects the diverse regions and economies using our standards. The same is true of the IFRS Advisory Council. Our 59 technical staff and 15 members of the IASB come from almost 30 different countries. When developing new standards, our board members and staff travel around the world to understand how IFRS will work at a regional and national level. The IFRS Interpretations Committee also has an important role to play. The SEC recently suggested that an “endorsement” approach might be proposed for U.S. adoption of IFRS. Most jurisdictions follow an endorsement approach, endorsing or incorporating individual IFRS into jurisdictional financial reporting requirements, which are in turn IFRS compliant. This approach provides an important sovereignty circuitbreaker to avoid the IASB directly setting accounting law within the

jurisdiction. There should be a very high hurdle for non-endorsement – the so-called nuclear option. Without such a high hurdle, you run the risk that disaffected special pleading in a jurisdiction could lead to divergences from IFRS that result in emerging national or regional “flavors” of IFRS. The U.S. may never require the adoption of full IFRS for SEC clients but, rather, a convergence of standards that will take place over the course of several years. I’m not convinced that it’s in the best interests of U.S. or international investors for the two boards – after completing the remaining three MoU projects – to spend their time eliminating ever-smaller differences with no guarantee of actually reaching 100-percent converged solutions. We’re at a point of diminishing returns when balanced against the upheaval in the U.S. and internationally from continued changes to accounting standards. If the U.S. doesn’t go full steam ahead for public companies, what are the repercussions? What is Plan B? We would have to see where the SEC ends up before determining how to proceed. What do you see as the most critical areas of focus over the next two years? (1) Complete the remaining convergence projects to the highest possible standard; (2) consult on our future agenda; (3) encourage the rest of the world to come on board; and (4) deepen the sense of buy-in and ownership of the standards by those jurisdictions already using the standards.

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Navigating Between Dual Financials The long-anticipated convergence between International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) is expected to result in a timely and expensive process for reporting entities. There are currently no definitive guidelines for entities expecting to adopt IFRS in the near future, namely Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filers, although some form of dual financials, a reconciliation between GAAP and IFRS, is probable.

By Henrietta Eve MSPC Certified Public Accountants and Advisors, P.C.

Regardless of when IFRS is adopted in the U.S., the convergence project is already having a significant impact on businesses here. With the continuation of the convergence project bringing IFRS and GAAP reporting requirements closer together, the subsequent move toward global reporting under IFRS should have a reduced impact on financial information presentation. However, businesses must not downplay the potential implications of convergence changes. Whether these changes arise from the convergence project, regulation changes, mandatory NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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SEC changes or IFRS adoption by subsidiaries and other related parties, the effects will be significant. Assuming an adoption date of December 31, 2015, an entity would be required to prepare statements of operations, cash flows and shareholders’ equity for their fiscal year-end date and the two prior fiscal years, along with the statement of financial position for the current and prior fiscal year-end, and derive an opening statement of financial position as of January 1, 2013, for internal purposes. IFRS only currently requires one year of comparative data within the financial statements – compared to two years under SEC regulations and no comparative requirement for all other entities. Information required for inclusion within IFRS financial statements may be different from the information required within GAAP financial statements. Entities should plan well ahead of the transition period to ensure all additional information has been obtained, thereby saving both time and money during the dual-reporting period. IFRS accounting policies are often described as guidelines, and a number of alternative treatments may be available for a given transaction or process. The IFRS accounting policies chosen should be introduced as of the first date of the


opening statement of operations. As such, entities should reassess the policies chosen, even where IFRS and GAAP are similar, taking into account the intended future direction of the business and planned transactions. The SEC requires certain information to be reported in the financial statement notes, which is not required under IFRS. Given that it would remain mandatory for public companies to include this information in their financial statements, it may be presented under either GAAP or IFRS. Furthermore, entities may be required to continue preparing financial statements under GAAP to meet contractual obligations, such as financial covenants. This will likely be the case until the underlying contracts are modified to require IFRScompliant financial statements, rather than GAAP financial statements without consideration of any condorsement implications. Some entities may also continue to prepare internal GAAP financial statements, since management may not immediately be able to interpret IFRS financial statements. The consolidation rules are different under GAAP and IFRS. As a result, parent companies may be required to consolidate entities that were not previously consolidated under GAAP and vice versa. In such instances, the new subsidiary entities should be included in or removed from the consolidated financial statements from the date of IFRS adoption. First-time IFRS adoption will require certain presentation differences within the statement of financial position and the statement of operations. International Accounting Standard (IAS) 1, Presentation of Financial Statements, does not stipulate a specific layout, but there is a list of minimum items required. Given that this list is less than the requirements under Regulation S-X, the effect on public companies will be minimal. However, private companies may find that additional line-item disclosures are required. This will likely be somewhat mitigated by the implementation of the new financial statement taxonomy by the FASB and the IASB. Items classified as “extraordinary,” unusual and infrequent transactions

IFRS

under GAAP, must be reclassified because extraordinary items are prohibited under IFRS. IAS 1 requires disclosure of the nature and amount of material items included within the income and expenses. As such, any extraordinary items would remain identifiable. IFRS provides preparers with several alternatives to the GAAP requirements. For example, IAS 2, Inventories, allows the capitalization of design costs within inventories. Other examples include optional capitalization of qualifying development expenditure on intangibles generated for internal use; and a choice of the cost or a revaluation model is allowable for property, plant, equipment and intangible assets. Under IFRS, the last-in first-out (LIFO) method of accounting for inventories is prohibited. Any companies using LIFO must process an adjustment to purchases. The same cost formula must be applied to all inventories similar in nature or use. When subsequently measured, the value of inventory between GAAP and IFRS is only the same when the replacement cost exceeds net realizable value. IFRS subsequently measures inventories at the lower of cost and net realizable value. Impairment reversals are allowed under IFRS, to the extent of the original impairment. This also applies to NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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GAAP

impairment of intangible assets. The classification of refinanced debt or covenant violations could result in required adjustments. GAAP uses the report date, whereas IFRS uses the balance sheet date, as the measure for inclusion in either current or long-term liabilities. There are many additional reconciling issues between GAAP and IFRS financial statements, the least of which being the change in terminology between the standards including “common stock” versus “share capital” and “additional paid-in capital” versus “share premium.” Some of the changes will be straightforward, including the classification of items within the cashflow statement. Others will be more arduous: the treatment of complex financial instruments, including convertible debt, and the calculation of earnings per share. There is a long road ahead in the quest for a truly international accounting framework. However, all of the work will no doubt pay dividends. Henrietta Eve, ACA, is an audit manager with MSPC Certified Public Accountants and Advisors, P.C. She is a member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs. Contact her at heve@mspc-cpa.com.


A Large Company’s IFRS Transition This article gives an overview of how a large European company managed its transition to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). This presentation focuses more on the project management versus the pure technical aspects. Case Introduction

By Remi Forgeas, CPA WeiserMazars LLP

Following a 2002 European Union (EU) regulation, EU-listed companies were required to prepare consolidated financial statements in accordance with IFRS for years beginning on or after January 1, 2005. As such, 2004 was the last year European companies could issue their financial statements under their local accounting standards (e.g., French generally accepted accounting principles [GAAP], German GAAP, etc.). In accordance with IFRS 1, First-Time Adoption of IFRS, they also had to prepare an opening balance sheet under IFRS as of January 1, 2004 (the transition date), and the 2004 financial statements under IFRS, along with a reconciliation to the financial statements issued under local GAAP. Consequently, companies did not have much time to complete the transition project. The case below involved a multibillion-euro European energy NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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company with subsidiaries in various countries.

Project Set-Up The project kick-off was the first quarter of 2004, with the following timeframe: • Q1 2004 – Kick-off and set up the steering committee. • Q2-Q3 2004 – Assess differences and IFRS 1 optional exemptions. • Q4 2004 – Quantify these differences for the opening balance sheet. • Q1 2005 – Quantify these differences for 2004. • Q2-Q4 2005 – Prepare disclosures, review figures and validate with auditors. • Q1 2006 – Issue first financial statements in accordance with IFRS. A steering committee was established to manage the project’s progress and keep top management and other stakeholders, such as the audit committee, informed. The committee mainly included representatives from the finance department, accounting department and the advisory firm. During the project, other key people were added to the committee on an as-needed basis (human resources, internal control and others). The auditors were regularly invited to the committee as observers.


The Initial Assessment The initial assessment phase was led by external consultants because of their ability to provide sufficient and dedicated resources, ensure that its team had IFRS expertise and they offered a fresh view on the operations and accounting consequences. These consultants dedicated several weeks to reviewing the accounting policies and understanding the underlying business through documentation analysis and a series of meetings with a wide range of staff at both headquarters and subsidiaries. This phase lead to an overall assessment which rated the complexity of the issue from A to C – level A being the least complex. For example, lease reconciliation was assessed at level B, not because of the complexity of the standard itself, but due to the difficulty in retrieving data and computing its impact. Revenue recognition was rated at level A, since there were almost no changes compared to local GAAP. This particular phase seemed like a never-ending story due to the fact that significant IFRS standards were adopted during these two years and it was, therefore, important to update this assessment on a regular basis. Another aspect of the assessment that was conducted at a central level was determining optional exemptions (IFRS 1). This effort was conducted during most of the year (optimization of impacts versus the effort to retrieve the information).

Quantifying the Differences Once the assessment was completed, various task forces were established to collect all of the data and documentation and to calculate the impacts of each key difference. Since the statutory financial statements were still under local GAAP, no changes in the systems or internal controls were initiated during this

phase. In effect, the review and change in systems and procedures were started in the second half of 2006. This phase involved both internal resources and consultants. Also, regular meetings were held with auditors to validate the results and ensure documentation was sufficient. Since the initial assessment was updated to reflect new standards, computation had to be performed again on some items.

Preparing Financial Statements Under IFRS 1, the initial IFRS financial statements must include the following: • Comparing 2004 and 2005 statements. • Reconciling the 2004 opening balance sheet. • Reconciling the 2004 financial statements. • Disclosure describing the exemptions adopted. This stream was started once there was sufficient progress in quantifying NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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the differences. Differences were calculated at the level of available information (e.g., usually the subsidiary level). Therefore, it was critical to ensure the proper information consolidation, which was conducted on an Excel master file.

Key Lessons Auditor involvement in the process helped ensure there were no audit issues regarding the final documentation. Also, the fact that the system change did not start before the end of the project helped simplify the process. However, the instability in the standards during this period delayed some decisions. A top-down approach can be effective if there is a strong and fully dedicated team that is able to visit all of the company’s locations. Remi Forgeas, CPA, is a partner at WeiserMazars LLP. He is a member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs. Contact him at remi.forgeas@weisermazars.com or 212-375-6900.


A&A

buzz

Changes in Revenue Recognition Under IFRS B Y JOSEPH C . DIFAL CO, C PA, E I SNE RAM PE R , LLP

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he world’s top accounting standard setters, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), are engaged in a joint project to develop a common revenue standard. An exposure draft issued by these boards in June 2010 outlined a contract-based approach to revenue recognition. The core principle requires an entity to recognize revenue to depict the transfer of goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration it expects to receive in exchange for those goods or services. The exposure outlined a five-step recognize-revenue approach for entities: 1. Identify the contract with the customer. 2. Identify the separate performance obligations in the contract. 3. Determine the transaction price. 4. Allocate the transaction price. 5. Recognize revenue when a performance obligation is satisfied (essentially when control is transferred to the customer). Contracts can be written, oral or implied by an entity’s customary business practices. Revenue guidance would apply to each contract with a customer separately, unless specified criteria are met for combination. Performance obligations are customer promises in a contract to transfer goods or services to the customer. Contracts can contain one or more performance obligations and, if certain criteria are met, entities must account for each obligation separately. The transaction price is the amount of consideration an entity expects to be entitled to in exchange for fulfilling the performance obligations. Entities

need to consider the impact of variable consideration, time value of money, non-cash considerations and any cash or credit consideration given to the customer. In order to allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations, first determine the standalone selling price of each performance obligation, then allocate the transaction price based on each obligation’s relative standalone value. An entity can estimate a standalone selling price if it is unobservable. Finally, recognize a performance obligation transaction price as revenue when the customer obtains control of the deliverable. To determine when a customer obtains that control and a performance obligation is thus satisfied, examine these indicators: • The entity has a present right to payment for the asset. • The customer has legal title to the asset. • The entity has transferred physical possession of the asset. • The customer has the significant risks and rewards of asset ownership. • The customer has accepted the asset. The final step could mean a significant deviation from current practice, so there was no surprise that initial draft solicited nearly 1,000 comment letters. Specifically, respondents raised concerns regarding transfer of control to customers in service contracts and contracts for the continuous transfer of a workin-progress asset to the customer. Many also raised concerns that the exposure may achieve comparability of revenue recognition across different industries at the cost of losing the NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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current comparability in the revenue recognition practices within each industry. In November 2011, the FASB and the IASB issued a revised exposure considering the comments received. Significant updates include: • Adding criteria to help companies determine when a performance obligation is satisfied over time. • Simplifying the criteria for determining whether a good or service is distinct when identifying separate performance obligations. • Eliminating the proposed requirement to adjust the transaction price for collectability, replacing it with a requirement to present an estimate of uncollectible amounts adjacent to revenue. • Removing the proposed requirement to discount the transaction price when the period between payment and transfer of the promised goods or services will be one year or less. • Permitting a company to use a most-likely-amount approach when estimating variable consideration. A final standard is expected to be issued by the end of 2012. In order to provide ample time for entities to implement, both boards have indicated the final standard would be effective no sooner than for annual periods beginning after January 2015. It would also become effective at least one year later for most private companies and not-for-profit organizations. Joseph C. DiFalco, CPA, is a senior manager at EisnerAmper, LLP. He is the president of the New Jersey Society of CPAs Mercer Chapter. Contact him at 732-287-1000 or joseph.difalco@ eisneramper.com.


BEST

practices

The Trend Away from Headhunters B Y RACHEL ANEVS KI, SM O LI N LUPI N & C O. , P. A.

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apable headhunters possess the keen ability to find a specific person or position, at a specific moment in time, for the right price. However, due to the current business cycle, many firms have receded from competitive bidding wars over talented candidates and hardto-fill positions. Years of relationships have been forged between candidates and headhunters driven by mutual interest. Some accountants remain more loyal to their recruiters than to their employers. While the human resources representative/headhunter relationship is historically challenging, it is critical to locate and maintain credible headhunters and build upon those relationships. Headhunters solicit candidates who think emotionally, versus strategically. As human resources continues to move in a strategic direction, it is less likely that headhunters and HR representatives will work together glitch-free. We have sat front and center as major workplace transformations have occurred. The economic rollercoaster allowed organizations to thin their environments. There were years where organizations relied heavily on headhunter relationships to fill empty seats as a first-and-only option. Finding future leaders today is literally a thumb’s reach away thanks to technology, mainly social media. Furthermore, when there were fewer open positions, young accountants stayed in school longer to become CPAs, thus, education prevailed. Headhunter fees were reallocated to leadership development programs to build and retain talent. Rather than compete against one another through the headhunter frenzy, firms are merging at light speed, causing talent to unite and complement each other, essentially reinventing the top 100 firms.

Social Media and Technology Using smart phones and tablets, we can text our immediate needs to a variety of platforms, and in minutes we get results directly from candidates. We can receive notifications when a candidate moves or becomes available just as quickly as headhunters can. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have become the Joe and Susan of Headhunter Inc., without the fees. As organizations become more technology savvy, those who have embraced the virtual employee are less likely to incur turnover, which reduces the need for external assistance.

Education Is Key Organizations can grow organically by providing internship programs and offering entry-level positions. Several years ago, there were far more entry-level accountants coming into the profession averaging 120 credits; deciding whether or not to pursue a master’s degree came after landing a job. Today, there are many applicants who have jump-started their long-term goals by continuing with a five-year program, master’s program or double major and are graduating with the credits needed to sit for the CPA Exam. Many of those same candidates have already sat for the exam and passed. A good number of accounting firms have recognized this trend and put further pressure on existing employees who were reticent in this area. These new candidates understand patience, persistence and loyalty. They are interested in long-term careers and are not job hoppers. These are the game changers who will greatly affect the headhunters’ future.

Born or Trained Leaders Most organizations utilize dollars saved in headhunter fees to train future leaders. Internal programs are designed to deepen accountants’ self-awareness, NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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confidence, technical acumen and business-development approach. Some organizations hire professional coaches to develop individuals, and those who really maximize the opportunity think about key players’ motivations and respond to them specifically. Time will tell if our staffers were born or trained to lead. Nonetheless, this resource reallocation has forged an employee/employer bond, reducing the risk of flight and need of a headhunter’s services.

Succession Planning We’ve seen mega mergers, acquisitions and strategic moves. Who needs a headhunter when talent that would otherwise be hard to find comes in with the merging of two or more like-minded organizations? Successful mergers and acquisitions should lead to long-lasting employee loyalty and growth, as they provide new opportunities. Watch your talent; understand your key employees; make sure they are learning and growing. Become familiar with social media. Hire students out of college who have gone the extra mile. Finally, understand that trends are only temporary. Therefore, maintain close relationships with credible headhunters, those who have visited your workplace, know your business and have a keen understanding of your corporate culture. Rachel Anevski, MAOB, PHR, is the director of human capital at Smolin Lupin & Co., P.A. Contact her at ranevski@ smolin.com.


FINANCIAL

planning

Financial Planning for Veterans and Their Families BY JAIME C AMPBELL, CPA, BARTOLOMEI PUCCIARELLI, LLC

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hen planning for lifetime income and expenses, veterans may qualify for resources unavailable to civilians. Financial planners need to help determine which are available to the dependents of veterans, which are exclusively for veterans with a service-connected disability, which are actionable only upon discharge and which include choices available during the financial planning process later in life. Three key considerations are major life-cycle events, income and insurance.

Major Life-Cycle Events Burial and Memorial – While burial and related costs are part of many financial planning discussions for civilians, eligible veterans and their families have several choices for low-cost or no-cost arrangements. The extent of the benefits depends on whether a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA; va.gov) national cemetery or any other cemetery is selected. Education – Educational benefits generally need to be arranged while the veteran is still on active duty or upon discharge. The GI Bill is part of the vernacular, but there are actually many GI Bills and related programs. Some include a benefit for the veteran’s family as well. However, some programs specify that the veteran’s spouse and dependents may receive education benefits only if the veteran is too injured to go to school, has passed away, is imprisoned or is permanently and totally disabled as a result of a service-connected disability. Home Purchase – The VA guarantees home loans, including refinancing, renovations and major energy-efficient improvements. This benefit also enables qualified veterans to obtain a home with no down payment.

Income Lifetime Income – The two most common lifetime income sources relating to military service are disability compensation and military pension. An actionable item for the financial planner is to open a conversation about the veteran’s disability rating upon which this compensation is based. Advocacy includes information on the potential role of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV; dav.org) in obtaining this rating increase. Disability income is tax free. Retirement for purposes of military pension is defined differently than retirement for civilian purposes. Pension arrangements generally depend on the timing of retirement and length of service. If you are working with an activeduty service member, you may be able to assist your client with the choice of pension program. Current programs are Final Pay, High 36 (the default program) and CSB/REDUX. Each carries different tax implications and different payouts. Temporary Stipends – Some veterans’ educational programs include taxfree monthly stipends for general living expenses, while some stipends are for books, supplies or housing. The vocational rehabilitation stipend – available to qualified disabled veterans – may cover tuition, books and supplies, and may even extend to medical care and include a subsistence stipend that is calculated based on the number of dependents.

Insurance Life Insurance – Service members’ group life insurance, which includes an option for family coverage, is available before discharge; veterans’ group life NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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insurance is available generally upon discharge. Service members typically qualify using a simple underwriting process. Medical Insurance – With a wide array of services, including preventative care, emergency care, surgeries, maternity care, mental health services and pharmaceuticals, the VA medical system may easily save veterans tens of thousands of dollars versus commercially available medical insurance and services. Many services may bear minimal or no cost. Financial planners should also be aware that the VA medical system includes nursing homes.

Advocacy The DAV is an effective advocate. It takes on the daunting paperwork and leverages relationships throughout the VA to achieve disability ratings and secure the aforementioned veterans benefits. Since tax-free disability income varies significantly depending on disability rating, the DAV can be a powerful ally in financial planning. Although each benefit may carry different criteria to qualify a veteran or family member, many of the financial planning considerations discussed are only available when a veteran has been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Jaime Campbell, CPA, M.B.A., CTT, MCT, is with Bartolomei Pucciarelli, LLC. She is a member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs Financial Literacy Committee and treasurer of the Mercer Chapter as well as a member of the NJSCPA Technology and Cooperation with Bankers interest groups. Contact her at jcampbell@bp-cpas.com.


FORENSIC

file

The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the U.K. Bribery Act BY DAVID A. ANDERSON, CPA, CITRINCOOPERMAN

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he United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) makes it a crime for a business or any of its officers, directors, employees, agents or shareholders to bribe a foreign official, foreign political party or candidate for political office for the purpose of influencing a foreign official in order to obtain or retain business. The United Kingdom Bribery Act of 2010 (UKBA), which took effect on July 1, 2011, has been described as “the FCPA on steroids” and takes the FCPA further by giving the U.K. jurisdiction over any commercial organization that conducts operations in the U.K., regardless of where the bribe is paid. This means, for example, that if an agent of a U.S. company with operations in multiple countries, including at least one U.K. country, pays a bribe to a foreign official in any country where it has operations, the U.S. company could be convicted under the UKBA. The UKBA also prohibits facilitation payments and certain entertainment and promotional expenditures which are permitted under the FCPA. Both the FCPA and UKBA present significant risks for companies conducting business internationally. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation have aggressively investigated and prosecuted companies for FCPA violations. In 2010, the top eight FCPA settlements (with either the SEC or DOJ) totaled more than $1.5 billion. In the first half of 2011, the top ten FCPA settlements totaled more than $490 million. As of November 2011, the DOJ had about 150 ongoing investigations and

prosecutions. In several recent rulings, the courts have held that bribery of an official of a state-owned business also constitutes a violation under the FCPA. In addition to the financial settlements, both the SEC and DOJ have also been focusing on prosecuting individuals, including company management. In one recent case, the SEC brought claims against both the CEO and the CFO of a large nutritional/personal care products company for failing to adequately supervise the miscreant employees of a foreign subsidiary. The U.K. Justice Ministry, instead of providing specific written guidance regarding the key provisions of the UKBA and the applicability of the UKBA to non-U.K. companies, decided to let the U.K. courts decide these issues. Recently, the U.K. Justice Ministry brought its first UKBA violation case – for a bribe of approximately $800! So, how does a company minimize this risk? The answer is to put in place an effective and robust FCPA/UKBA compliance program and actively monitor compliance, especially in highrisk locations. Having such a program will minimize the risk of violating the FCPA and UKBA, and it is the only acceptable mitigating factor to reduce the size of financial settlements and penalties if a company is convicted of violating either statute. There are seven key components to an effective FCPA/ UKBA compliance program: • Establish standards and procedures to prevent and detect criminal conduct and ensure compliance with government regulations and industry standards. NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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• Create a culture of compliance led by the company’s senior management. • Use reasonable efforts to exclude known violators from activities that could lead to program violations. • Provide reasonable ongoing communication and training sessions to senior management, employees and third-party agents regarding the standards and procedures of the compliance program. • Monitor, audit and evaluate the effectiveness of the compliance program on a regular basis. • Establish appropriate performance incentives and disciplinary measures which are promoted and enforced consistently within the company to support the compliance program. • Provide appropriate response to possible criminal conduct, and subsequently reassess the compliance program to reduce the risk of the same conduct repeating. Of course, no program can prevent rogue employees or agents from violating the FCPA or UKBA. But, a well-designed and implemented compliance program – with effective communication and training as well as regular monitoring and evaluation – can minimize the risk of a company and/ or its employees violating the FCPA or UKBA. The existence of such a program may also mitigate punishment of the company in the event of violation of either statute. David A. Anderson, CPA, CFE, M.B.A., is a director in CitrinCooperman’s valuation & forensic services group. Contact him at 215-545-4800.


INDUSTRY

insights

Does Outsourcing Work? BY GREGORY LEVINE, CPA, SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

activities in their local time zones. Of course, this is also a disadvantage since local time zones mean few or no hours with accessible agents during U.S. hours.

Why It Won’t Work

B

efore I started working full time, approximately 10 years ago, I never thought about how outsourcing could impact my job in accounting. I only viewed it as a way for companies to hire cheap labor overseas. My thoughts were of workers manufacturing products in far-away places for pennies on the dollar compared to what they would pay U.S. workers. About two and a half years ago, my company announced it was going to outsource a significant portion of its back-office operations to a third-party vendor in India. I didn’t think my group would be impacted because I was a college-educated CPA. However, I was wrong. My group lost a pair of staff accountants who would be replaced by two “agents” in India. Both of these agents had to fly to New Jersey and cross-train for a few months before flying back to India. They were very professional and spoke English fairly well.

Why It Will Work So, back to the original question: Does outsourcing work? The answer really depends on a couple of factors: the type of work outsourced and the skill level and experience of the individuals performing the work. For example, the activities that my group performs range between routine monthly tasks to more detailed accounting-related work. The more routine processes that involve general accounting knowledge – such as monthly account analysis, review of travel and expense reports, general ledger reconciliations and standard routine journal entries – are more easily transitioned to a third-party vendor. It is a good fit because the agents can work on these items without an in-depth knowledge of the company or industry. These routine items can also be performed during off-close cycles when the group is theoretically less busy. Lastly, this type of work allows the agents to perform these

The reason outsourcing may not work is due partly to the type of education and experience of the overseas agents and partly due to the fact that they have no “skin in the game.” The outsourced agents are not company employees and are typically judged based on the number of documented errors during the month. Therefore, growth opportunities (and, thus, incentive to improve performance) are not the same for outsourced employees. Furthermore, there tends to be increased turnover in outsourcing firms, which makes it more difficult to re-train new employees, regardless of how welldocumented a routine task may be. Other accounting activities that require a more analytical approach do not transition well to outsourcing. For example, special projects that may require research, a general understanding of the music industry and have a quick turnaround time are difficult to outsource. This is because there is no manual to read to perform the task. It may also require a more detailed understanding of U.S. generally accepted accounting principles or a greater understanding of the industry that can only be attained through years of work experience. I don’t foresee senior management calling the agents in India at 5pm when they need a special project completed by the next morning. Lastly, the outsourced agents’ jobs are routine and, therefore, they have not gained a complete understanding of what our group actually does. This may be due to the culture of the business relationship with the third-party agent. They are hired to perform a set of defined functions in a timely manner each month. Even with the latest technology to connect us with the overseas agents, it is still often crucial to have staff a few feet away for quick discussions. That experience is difficult to attain working thousands of miles away with weekly Skype calls. In short, outsourcing can work (our group decreased its labor costs by 12 percent), and it will only increase throughout the international community as the demand for less-expensive labor and education levels increase throughout the world. Gregory Levine, CPA, is the associate director of corporate accounting at Sony Music Entertainment. He is a member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs Personal Financial Planning Interest Group. Contact him at greg.levine@sonymusic.com.

NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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SMALL/SOLE

practitioner

IFRS Opportunities for Small Practitioners BY SALVATORE A. COLLEMI, CPA, ROTHSTEIN KASS

T

he U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will likely vote this year on whether to mandate International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) adoption for U.S. issuers as soon as 2016/17. If so, in order to include the required three years of comparative financial information in regulator reporting, many U.S. issuers will have to start recording transactions under IFRS as early as January 1, 2014. Thus, it is essential for U.S. accounting professionals – including small practitioners – to stay ahead of the adoption curve.

Learn IFRS for SMEs – This greatly simplifies the principles used to measure assets, liabilities, income and expenses. IFRS for SMEs also offers privately held companies advantages in accessing capital from foreign sources, comparing financial results with global competition and expanding international trade and alliances. Conversely, privately held companies that delay conversion could have trouble accessing human capital, information technology and infrastructure resources required to make conversion successful. Educate Clients – IFRS experts are in the best position to help companies develop a plan for phased-in conversion and parallel reporting. Clients need help planning and implementing an initial self-assessment that maps out a plan for IFRS adoption. Upgrade Your Knowledge – A variety of training courses and resources are currently available. The American Institute of CPAs launched its IFRS Certificate Program, which is made up of 25 online self-study modules, in early 2011; and the International Accounting Standards Board has developed 35 stand-alone training modules to assist practitioners learning IFRS for SMEs. Expand Your Network – Develop referral relationships with other IFRS professionals who can help your clients implement successful conversions – especially attorneys who will provide legal services ranging from vendor contracts to compensation agreements. Clients will also require information technology specialists, software developers, payroll processers, compensation/benefit specialists and executive recruiters with full IFRS or IFRS for SMEs expertise. Guide Transition Planning – Each client’s conversion blueprint will require a clear timeline, adequate resource allocations and senior management commitment. The parallel reporting period will be critical to success and require careful planning and intricate coordination. Whether you serve as a guide or refer clients to competent consultants, your help will be invaluable, appreciated and potentially lucrative.

Full IFRS or “IFRS Light” U.S. private companies have been able to adopt full IFRS since May 2008. In fact, some private companies have already adopted full IFRS or accounting standards tailored specifically for privately held companies: IFRS for small and medium-sized entities (SMEs). This reflects many of the same principles as full IFRS, but has been streamlined to exclude areas irrelevant to private companies. Considering a shift to full IFRS or IFRS for SMEs offers several advantages: Benefits of One Global Standard – More than 120 jurisdictions around the world permit or require IFRS as the standard for financial reporting. That number is expected to increase to 150 by the end of 2012. Maintaining a single global accounting framework promotes international commerce by increasing transparency for investors, reducing regulatory impediments and facilitating cross-border operations. Access to Talent and Resources – The U.S. may face a drastic shortage of accounting/auditing professionals with IFRS experience in the coming years. Much of the specialized IFRS talent here will be engaged by Global Fortune 500 companies served by large international public accounting firms. From accounting and audit service providers to attorneys, professionals with IFRS expertise will be in short supply. Small and medium-sized public companies can gain an edge by aligning resources now. Transition Complexities and Costs – A typical company will need at least three to five years to make a successful transition, as the changeover will affect virtually every aspect of financial operations and reporting. During this time, parallel financial reporting information (U.S. generally accepted accounting principles and IFRS) will coexist. By some unconfirmed estimates, conversion costs could range from 0.5 to 1 percent of total annual revenues. Thus, expenses must be allocated across several years’ budgets and numerous line items.

By taking proactive steps now, forward-thinking small practitioners can help fill the void for experienced, competent advice that is already emerging. Salvatore A. Collemi, CPA, is a quality control senior manager at Rothstein Kass. He is a member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs, AICPA Board of Examiners Content Committee and AGN International Accounting and Auditing Committee. Contact him at scollemi@rkco.com or 973-577-2266.

What You Should Be Doing Now Here are several specific actions that small practitioners can implement in 2012 to capture new opportunities:

NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

25


TAX

talk

IFRS Tax Implications B Y VINCENT C APODANNO, C PA PARE NT E B E ARD LLC

T

ax professionals must be trained on being able to decipher the pretax differences between International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). They must be versed on IFRS and how it relates to the statutory tax laws of each jurisdiction in which their companies conduct business. IFRS ultimately reinforces the fact that there is one constant in tax laws and that it always changes, which is why companies maintain two sets of records (one for tax purposes and one for financial statements). While converting to IFRS will require various changes to book accounting method treatments, many of these changes will not result in tax accounting method changes. However, certain tax accounting changes may be needed. While a comprehensive analysis of IFRS tax implications is beyond the scope of this article, a few major examples include: • The use of valuing inventory cost utilizing the last-in first-out (LIFO) method that permits companies

to record the inventory that is the most expensive and valuable first. LIFO, a process that is useful in lowering a company’s tax liability, is an acceptable method for both GAAP and tax purposes, but is not allowed under IFRS. A change in tax accounting methods may require Internal Revenue Service consent, which can be obtained by filing Form 3115, Change of Accounting Methods. • IFRS requires and GAAP allows the use of component depreciation. Component depreciation breaks down an asset into its significant parts for the purposes of determining depreciation. Under IFRS, for example, a car would be separated into a multitude of depreciable assets, such as the frame, engine, tires and so on. For tax purposes, a more general approach is taken and the car would be depreciated as one asset. Thus, keeping track of fixed-asset additions and disposals will prove to be more difficult and time consuming. • A difference in the advanced

payment processes between IFRS and GAAP would also be prevalent. GAAP generally does not recognize advance payments as income upon receipt; however, IFRS will require the recognition of these payments as income if no future performance obligations are associated with the advanced payment. The change in payments that occurs within IFRS will coincide with relation to which the payments have been deferred for tax. • IFRS does not specifically address the accounting for uncertain tax positions under its current framework. Currently, there are two acceptable methods by which a company can measure tax positions under IFRS: the expected-value/probability-weightedaverage approach; or the singlebest-outcome/most-likely-outcome approach. IFRS does not support the use of the cumulative probability model. • International Accounting Standards (IAS) 12 mandates the allocation of taxes between periods as determined by the recognition of transactions in

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periods governed by the application of IFRS. The differences in recognition for financial statements and for tax purposes are reconciled through deferred taxes. IAS 12 describes recognition and measurement of deferred taxes using a temporarydifference approach. IFRS recalculation and other computation changes further manifest themselves while dealing with effective tax rates and deferred tax balances. The former is computed based upon the ratio of income tax expense to pretax income, and an IFRS conversion could conceivably change either variable or both. The company needs to perform an evaluation to prepare shareholders, for example, for disclosure of the new effective tax rates under IFRS. Ultimately, there are the tax assets and liabilities that must be recalculated based on the changes in the book basis due to IFRS conversion. The arduous process will require additional resources to formulate the mandatory comparative balance sheets.

Further differences between GAAP and IFRS to consider are deferred tax assets; tax rates and tax-basis concept differences; income tax interim reporting matters; share-based payments; business combinations; revenue recognition principles; property, plant and equipment revaluation; sale and leaseback transitions; and pension

assets and liabilities. Vincent Capodanno, CPA, is a senior manager in the tax department at ParenteBeard LLC. He is a member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs Federal Taxation Interest Group. Contact him at vincent.capodanno@parentebeard.com.

audimation.com NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

27


TECH

center

Technology Planning for IFRS B Y M ICH AEL MCKENNA, ALVAR E Z & M ARSAL B USI NE S S C O N S U LT I N G , L L C

T

he rollout of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) has a near-term impact on U.S. companies, regardless of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision on the method and timing to incorporate IFRS into U.S. reporting. The technology impact is now being broadly felt in the U.S., even though full incorporation, if it even happens, is a few years away. CFOs and CIOs should jointly assess the new technology requirements of IFRS for their organizations. When U.S. companies assess this technology impact, they must consider these aspects: • Other countries’ adoption of IFRS. • Ongoing convergence of U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and IFRS. • Eventual incorporation into U.S. reporting.

Other Countries’ Adoption of IFRS As more countries adopt IFRS, U.S. companies with subsidiaries in those countries may need to adjust their financial and operational systems to accommodate changing financial standards. In the U.S., consolidation and reporting applications must be modified in line with these changes. U.S.-based companies with subsidiaries in Canada dealt with this challenge when Canada adopted IFRS in 2011. With India in the midst of transition and Japan allowing voluntary adoption, the number of U.S. companies impacted is growing.

Ongoing Convergence of GAAP and IFRS Two convergence projects will have the greatest potential technology impact in coming years: leasing and revenue NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

28

recognition. The leasing standard may drive the greatest volume of new software implementations. Many businesses have not implemented asset management and contract management modules within their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. With the requirement that operating leases be valued and reported on the balance sheet, those companies relying on spreadsheet tracking for assets may need to implement something more robust. This might include acquiring and implementing new software, configuring software modules already owned, but not implemented, or reconfiguring existing modules to accommodate the new requirements for valuation of leases. The revenue recognition standard may pose a greater challenge for those impacted. The technology implications of this new standard extend well beyond the financial systems into the sales and order management systems. The new standard will require companies to identify performance obligations which will trigger revenue recognition in their order systems. Many of these triggers are hard-coded within these applications, requiring significant effort to modify. Even if the recognition pattern is unaffected, the data that must be captured to calculate and support audits of revenue will change. Both the revenue recognition and leasing standards significantly expand disclosure requirements. Companies may need to disclose information that is currently not captured, or is not captured in sufficient detail, to support these new requirements.

Eventual Incorporation of IFRS into U.S. Reporting The form and timing of the U.S. incorporation of IFRS is still to be determined. Should the U.S. fully embrace IFRS at some point, companies are asking whether they will need to


implement new ERP systems. The short answer is no. Companies using tier one and two ERP and financial applications should remember that they are used internationally and can already handle IFRS requirements. Companies using simpler financial systems are likely using spreadsheets and other manual processes to support their financial systems. The changes for these smaller companies will likely be more process than technology. However, given the numerous changes needed to the chart of accounts, sales and order management systems for revenue recognition, asset management systems for leasing, costing systems for inventory and reporting systems, companies should consider whether the impact of IFRS is a catalyst to implement a more capable ERP system or financial application. Any company currently dissatisfied with its systems should assess whether to invest in a new solution, rather than expending the effort to modify a less-than-optimal solution. All companies should have their finance and information technology organizations actively consider the potential technology impact of IFRS, for both near-term implications of the revenue recognition and leasing standards, or the longer-term impact of full incorporation. As with SarbanesOxley, skilled information technology and finance resources will be scarce as companies scramble to comply at the same time. Smart companies are proactive, allowing them to better plan and manage resource requirements, minimize costs and reduce the risk of business disruption. Michael McKenna is a senior director at Alvarez & Marsal Business Consulting, LLC. Contact him at michaelmckenna@ alvarezandmarsal.com.

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EDUCATION

Special

Section

Accounting Educators Speak to Managing Partners and Grads BY N O RA LOCKW OO D T O O H E R, T H E WARRE N G R O UP

technology startups and offer their employees quality-oflife perks such as flexible hours, personal time off or fun activities to ease the work grind. Leaf, Saltzman, Manganelli, Pfeil & Tendler, LLP, a 45-member accounting firm with offices in Fairfield and New York, for example, opens an omelet bar for its accountants who have to work on Saturday mornings during tax season. “Another way firms can motivate recent graduates is by being more tech-friendly. Young accountants expect to use computers on the job,” Heaslip added. “Today’s students are definitely a lot more in tune with technology, and they’re eager to use it. Somehow, the firms have got to balance the fact that we’re a traditional profession with the fact that students are looking for something more relevant.”

Internships, On-Campus Visits

Joanne Newfield, CPA, an adjunct accounting professor at Camden County College, stressed the value of internships and training. “What the CPA firms need to do to help the students is be patient with them and really train them,” she said. “As educators, we’re not completely preparing them for their first job. They will understand the theory, but what they’re learning in the textbook is very different from what they experience when they go see a client.” Francis C. Thomas, CPA, a professor of accounting and finance at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Galloway, advised firm partners trying to bridge the generation gap to visit college campuses and talk with accounting students before they graduate. “Actively participate with academic institutions by serving on the school’s advisory boards,” he suggested. “Volunteer to speak in classes, address student organization meetings, invite students to your offices to investigate career opportunities, hire student interns, encourage staff to meet with and mentor students, offer students the opportunity to shadow a professional during a workday and, most importantly, network with faculty.”

K

enneth Heaslip, CPA, an associate professor at Bloomfield College, cringes when he hears some of the job pitches from accounting firm recruiters who visit campus. “When I see firms talking about how hard they work and 70-hour tax-season weeks, they shouldn’t hide it. Every successful person works hard at busy times of the year,” he said. “But there are also times when it’s not busy. Students just don’t want to be working 70-hour weeks year-round.” But some recruiters who visit the Bloomfield campus tout their firms’ grueling work weeks as routine. “When I hear that, I shiver,” said Heaslip, who is chair of the New Jersey Society of CPAs Educators Committee. “Today’s students are not like a lot of the more seasoned accounting partners. They’re a lot more quality-of-life oriented. It used to be you worked for a couple of years, and rewards came later. Students don’t think that way. They want quality of life now.” Smart accounting firms, Heaslip said, take a page from

Curriculum Input Robert Traphagen, CPA, managing partner of the accounting division at Traphagen Financial Group in Oradell, said firms should be providing more input on college accounting courses. “I think the onus is on some of the managing partners to step up and get more involved with college curriculums,” he said. “I believe there would be a mutual benefit to both the

NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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Internships a Recruiting Goldmine Nicole Reilly had an easy transition from the classroom to the office. She started her job as an accountant in WithumSmith+Brown’s New Brunswick office in September 2010, five months after she graduated from The College of New Jersey. Along with other newbie accountants at the firm, she participated in training sessions and orientations. “Being able to talk with other new hires who were going through the same thing as you helped a lot,” Reilly recalled. “The big thing we do is try to get the orientation right,” said William R. Hagaman Jr., CPA, Withum’s managing partner and chief executive. He is among a growing number of accounting firm managing partners trying to leverage the new generation of accountants’ academic skills into workplace successes. Part of the firm’s effort includes an active internship program. The New Brunswick-based accounting and consulting firm has about 20 accounting interns working throughout the year in its 13 offices. During tax season, students from The College of New Jersey work part-time in Withum’s New Brunswick office. The firm ultimately hires 25 to 30 accounting graduates each year. “During tax season, they’re actually working on real-life stuff,” Hagaman explained. “That helps the student get used to it and understand what the culture is like in the firm. And it helps us, quite frankly, identify the star performers. A lot of the time, we make the kids offers there and then.”

“Volunteer to speak in classes, address student organization meetings, invite students to your offices to investigate career opportunities, hire student interns, encourage staff to meet with and mentor students, offer students the opportunity to shadow a professional during a workday and, most importantly, network with faculty.” colleges and to the accounting firms if managing partners were involved in advisory boards related to the curriculum of the colleges, as well as funding the college’s efforts to have the resources available, such as accounting software and platforms, and access to research programs.” Traphagen practices what he preaches, serving on the advisory board for Bergen Community College and speaking frequently with accounting faculty at other colleges and universities in New Jersey. His involvement, he said, enables him to influence the design of accounting courses so that they are “more valuable to the students and the accounting profession.” Margaret Van Brunt, CPA, assistant dean of Rohrer College of Business at Rowan University, said several accounting firm partners serve on the college’s advisory board to “make sure we are providing students with the skills they want to see. There definitely is this linkage and liaison,” she said. Large firms such as Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers have also been generous in providing educational resources, she added, such as webinars on International Financial Reporting Standards and other topical issues in the profession. “But nothing is as valuable as one-on-one interactions between firm partners and students,” Thomas added. “Through active engagement with the academic world, managing partners will obtain first-hand experience of what is being taught in college classrooms, the skills that are possessed by current graduates and add their personal touch to a student’s experience.”

Motivating Millennials

Hagaman said Generation Y accountants are as hardworking as their Baby Boomer counterparts. “But, you do need to motivate them differently. You need to acknowledge their achievements and celebrate their successes. They are looking for feedback and training. They love going to classes. They don’t like diving into something without prior knowledge. That’s why the firm places so much value on internships and training programs.” “The biggest hurdle is the learning curve. A lot of what they teach them in school doesn’t reflect what we do,” Hagaman remarked. “You can do it all you want in school, but there’s nothing like it when you’re actually dealing with clients who send incomplete information.” Since Reilly started working at Withum, she discovered she particularly enjoys nonprofit audit work and Form 990 preparation. She plans to get a master’s degree in nonprofit and governmental accounting. Reilly credits Withum’s supportive atmosphere and comprehensive training for helping her find her professional footing. “Senior accountants at the firm were very understanding in that they did not expect you to know how to do things yet, and they were more than willing to help train you or answer any questions you might have,” Reilly said.

NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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EDUCATION

Special

Business School Education: Then and Now BY PHYLLIS HANLON

W

hen Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, ABV, PFS, partner at WithumSmith+Brown, graduated from Baruch College at the City University of New York in 1963, he felt well-prepared to take on the accounting world. “I had the tools to do my job. My boss didn’t have to teach me the basics,” he says. But that world is a vastly different place today, and business schools have to adjust curricula and programs to meet changing needs. Fifty years ago, coursework covered the fundamentals necessary to launch a career immediately following graduation. “I learned more of the physical process,” Mendlowitz says. With a solid foundation in accounting and control systems, he mastered the flow of business. “The professors gave us a set of books and hypothetical transactions. It was a big project that had to be done during the semester. It was like torture, but it really helped.” Mendlowitz adds, “School programs today are not relevant to what accounting firms need. Some of the material they teach – such as how to write financial statements – will not be used until the person has three or four years of experience. Today, students learn how to plan an audit, but very few graduates start working on this type of project directly out of school. They don’t get a running start out of college. Kids are smarter today, but they need more training. Accounting is more complicated, but the basic principles haven’t changed.” Catherine Horn, CPA, SPHR, human resources manager at Alcatel-Lucent in Murray Hill, traveled a non-traditional path to earn her accounting degree. She finished her last two years at the night school at Rutgers University, graduating in 1980, while working full time as an auditor and credits that dual role for enhancing her education. “I had the context of real-life experience at the same time as the book learning,” she says. One of the most valuable aspects of her education involved a team project in which the students had to run a company. This hands-on approach was a big deal at the time. “There are more team projects in school now, and I have found that now there is a much greater focus on internships. The word rarely came up when

Section

I was in school,” notes Horn. To impart an authentic sense of the workplace, Horn recommends that professors have practical experience beforehand. “I had a professor who was working in corporate America at the same time he was teaching. Those professors had the most impact,” she says. “If all you do is talk about books and theories, you don’t have anything to hang it on. It’s not an effective way to learn.” As an HR professional, Horn has the opportunity to evaluate skills and educational background before hiring an individual. Even though accounting focuses on numbers, she firmly believes having the ability to articulate clearly through speech and the written word will help advance a career. “Students also need to embody the whole professionalism package,” says Horn. “The employee represents the firm you’ve worked hard to build. How well they represent you matters.” Horn also emphasizes the importance of human interaction in the workplace. “The whole concept of ethics and integrity can’t be overplayed,” she says, citing the chaos created in recent years by creative accounting at some large corporations. “You should strive for profitability, but not at the cost of morals. Schools should consider incorporating these values into the curricula.” Marcella (Marcy) LoCastro, CPA, CEO of MLoCastro Consulting LLC in North Caldwell, is in an ideal position to compare past educational experiences with present. She earned her undergraduate degree, as a math major with an accounting minor, from Montclair State University in 1974 and her M.B.A. in accounting and taxation from Fairleigh Dickinson University three years later. LoCastro’s son recently earned his business degree from Villanova University, giving her a first-hand look at the way in which business schools have changed over the years. “While technology was not a significant part of the accounting profession four decades ago, today computer skills have become an integral part of the business world. Some schools do teach software that runs accounting programs, but not nearly enough,” according to LoCastro. “SAP is the leading business software used worldwide. It would be helpful for students to learn those tools they’ll be using for clients.” Mendlowitz agrees, “Adding a QuickBooks course would cover every principle: debits, credits, general ledger, bank statements and others. All the mechanics are there. Students who learn how to use these software programs would understand the flow of transactions.” In addition to the growing presence of technology in the office, more collaborative relationships are taking root in the accounting field. “Executives from big corporations come into the classroom and lecture about real-life experience. The schools bring in someone from a firm who describes what it would be like to work as a tax accountant or an auditor. They talk about career options, and there are many options for CPAs,” LoCastro adds. “The schools also run contests and the judges are from these large corporations. Such relationships help students prepare for the real world and give them a flavor for what’s going on out there.”

NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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Accounting Degrees in New Jersey SCHOOL/WEBSITE

DEGREES OFFERED

LOCATIONS

Atlantic Cape Community College atlantic.edu

A.A.S., Accounting

Mays Landing Atlantic City

Bergen Community College bergen.edu

Accounting, Career A.A.S. Program Accounting, Transfer A.S. Program

Paramus

Berkeley College berkeleycollege.edu

A.A.S., Business Administration/Accounting B.B.A., Accounting B.S., Accounting

Newark, New York City, Woodbridge, Woodland Park

Bloomfield College bloomfield.edu

B.S., Accounting M.A., Accounting

Bloomfield

Brookdale Community College brookdalecc.edu

Accounting Program, A.A.S. Degree

Lincroft

Burlington County College bcc.edu

Accounting, (AS.ACC) Accounting Certificate, (CR.ACC) Accounting Technology, (AAS.ACC)

Caldwell College caldwell.edu

(Please refer to each school’s website for credit requirements.)

SCHOOL/WEBSITE

DEGREES OFFERED

LOCATIONS

Montclair State University montclair.edu

B.S., Accounting Concentration M.B.A., Accounting Concentration M.S., Accounting

Montclair

New Jersey City University njcu.edu

B.S./B.A. M.S. B.S./M.S.

Jersey City

Ocean County College ocean.edu

A.S. in Business Administration and A.A.S. in Business Accounting Certificate of Completion

Toms River

Passaic County Community College pccc.cc.nj.us

A.S., Business Administration: Accounting/ Management/Marketing Career Program A.A.S. Accounting

Paterson

Mount Holly Mount Laurel Pemberton

Ramapo College of New Jersey ramapo.edu

B.S., Accounting

Mahwah

B.S., Accounting B.S./M.S., Accounting

Caldwell

Raritan Valley Community College raritanval.edu

A.A.S. A.A.S., Information Systems

Branchburg

Camden County College camdencc.edu

A.A.S., Accounting

Blackwood, Camden, Cherry Hill

Richard Stockton College stockton.edu

B.S. Business Studies, Accounting Concentration

Galloway

Centenary College centenarycollege.edu

A.A.S. B.A. M.B.A.

Edison, Hackettstown, Parsippany

Rider University rider.edu

Lawrenceville

County College of Morris ccm.edu

A.S. and A.A.S. in Business Administration and Business Career

Randolph

B.S. M.Acc Forensic Accounting (Graduate Level) Forensic Certificate

Accounting, A.S. Accounting Academic Certificate

Millville

Rowan University rowan.edu

B.S. M.B.A.

Glassboro

Cumberland County College cccnj.edu DeVry University devry.edu

A.A.S. B.A., Accounting Specialty Master’s

Cherry Hill North Brunswick Parsippany

Rutgers University rutgers.edu

B.S. M.B.A.

Camden, New Brunswick, Newark

Saint Peter’s College spc.edu

Jersey City

Essex County College essex.edu

A.A.S., Accounting

Newark

B.S., Major in Accounting B.S., Minor in Accounting Certificate Program

Fairleigh Dickinson University fdu.edu

B.S., Accounting B.S./M.S., Accounting

Madison Teaneck

Salem Community College salemcc.edu

A.S. in Business Administration and A.A.S. in Business Administration Only

Carneys Point Township

B.S., Accounting; Partnership with Sussex County Community College for Two-Year Transfers

Lodi Rutherford

Seton Hall University shu.edu

B.S. M.S., Professional Accounting

South Orange

Felician College felician.edu

A.S., Accounting

Newton

Georgian Court University georgian.edu

B.S., Accounting

Lakewood

Sussex County Community College sussex.edu The College of New Jersey tcnj.edu

B.S.

Ewing

Gloucester County College gccnj.edu

Business Administration, A.S. Accounting Career Program

Sewell

Thomas Edison State College tesc.edu

B.S.

Trenton

Hudson County Community College hccc.edu

A.S. and A.A.S., Accounting

Jersey City

Union County College ucc.edu

A.A.S., Accounting

Kean University kean.edu

B.S., Accounting B.S./M.S., Accounting

Union

Cranford, Elizabeth, Plainfield, Scotch Plains

A.A.S., Accounting

Trenton West Windsor

University of Phoenix phoenix.edu

B.A., Accounting Concentration M.S., Accountancy

Online

Mercer County Community College mccc.edu Middlesex County College middlesexcc.edu

A.A.S., Accounting Accounting Certificate of Achievement

Edison

Warren County Community College warren.edu

A.A.S., Accounting Management

Washington

Monmouth University monmouth.edu

B.S./B.A., Accounting Concentration M.B.A., Accounting Concentration FAFE.COA for Bachelor’s or Higher

West Long Branch

William Paterson University of NJ wpunj.edu

B.S. M.B.A.

Wayne

NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

35


EDUCATION

Special

Section

Educating the Next-Generation CPA BY C HRIS TINA P. O’NE IL L , T H E WARRE N G RO U P

N

ew Jersey’s institutions of higher education recognize that there’s no such thing as a textbook CPA. Specific criteria notwithstanding, a fully rounded education, including the liberal arts skills of writing and communicating, is essential to a CPA’s successful launch.

Its diverse student body hails from the tri-state area of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, as well as Delaware. It has a growing contingent of international students, including several students from China. “The faculty, too, is diverse and very involved in scholarship,” Welsh notes, “which enriches the curriculum presented to the students.” Rohrer students participate extensively in the Internal Revenue Serivce-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which provides free tax preparation service for low- to moderate-income individuals, disabled individuals and non-English speakers. The school’s participation is supported and coordinated by Margaret Van Brunt, CPA. Students also have access to supervised internships, coordinated by faculty. Internship grades are a combination of supervisor evaluation and a graded assignment. At the school’s on-campus recruitment office, accounting

Rowan University

Within the Rowan University’s Rohrer College of Business is accounting and finance, the largest department in the business college. It has 10 tenure-track, full-time faculty, teaching 300 undergraduate accounting majors and 150 undergraduates in finance, according to Carol Welsh, CPA, Ed.D., chair of accounting and finance at Rohrer. Its course offerings prepare students for the CPA, Certified Management Accountant or Certified Internal Auditor exams. Upon graduation, students track to the Big Four accounting firms, but also to regional firms, industry and government.

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firms are invited to meet and greet the students. “The recruitment process starts early,” says Welsh. “Freshmen and sophomores pursue internships, while juniors and seniors map out careers. The school’s Accounting Mentorship Program provides students with a perspective from those presently working as accounting professionals.”

Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

The Richard Stockton School of Business has a specialized perspective because of its proximity to Atlantic City. Its faculty focuses on the practice of business, hospitality and tourism management, as well as computer science and information systems, and strives to be a good citizen in its southern New Jersey home of Galloway. “All of our programs are built on the broad base of liberal arts,” says Frank Thomas, CPA, PFS, an associate professor at the business school. “I think that’s the underlying objective of the 150-hour requirement for the CPA exam. Firms want students who can write, make presentations, understand ethical concerns and comprehend international implications.” Richard Stockton currently has about 250 undergraduate accounting majors at the school, which graduated 88 students over the last year. The college maintains a specialized industry focus on hospitality and tourism accounting. Its August 2010 acquisition of the historic 297room Seaview Resort in Galloway Township resulted in expanded space for housing and programs, and a working lab for its tourism and hospitality students, and for hospitality students from Cornell University. “The school attracts many first-generation college students,” Thomas says. “It offers confidence-building programs, such as the annual etiquette dinner, and its casework has a real-world orientation. We have a strong emphasis on teaching and a strong push for scholarly output.” In Thomas’ specialty, tax and investments, it’s more important to know how to find an answer than to memorize material.

The Two-Year Transition For many students, two-year schools are the first step to a professional education. Joanne Newfield, CPA, knows all too well what that’s like. She earned her two-year degree and then her bachelor’s in evening classes at The Wharton Business School. She has been an adjunct professor at Camden Community College for six years, in addition to a full-time post as director of accounting for the Chester Community Charter School. Her career began with an internship for a public accountant, followed by an eight-year stint with a consulting company that she says gave her the perspective from a top-management point of view. She worked for two employers after that, one of them a Harley Davidson franchise. In 2010, after a layoff, she returned to school and is now a student as well as a teacher, in addition to her full-time job at the Chester Community Charter School. Camden County’s two-year business degree offers eight accounting courses, and holders of its associate’s degree can move into clerical accounting jobs, accounts payable or payroll. “Most start with payables,” Newfield says. “Students who want to go into public accounting should start with an internship that grants college credit.” Newfield, a great advocate for training and student internships, employs several former students at her part-time private practice. She also offers student interns the opportunity to go on chosen assignments with her and allows them to interact with the clients – for example, budget-constrained nonprofits that need help preparing their Form 990s – and doesn’t bill those clients for the interns’ time. The interns get client experience, and the client gets economical service. “When an intern asks a question, clients usually love it, especially if they’re getting the knowledge at little or no expense,” Newfield says.

Bloomfield College

Bloomfield College offers core courses, including economics, financial accounting, statistics, business law and management. Last year, the school introduced a master’s degree program. Since its introduction, all accounting students graduate with a general accounting degree, but those who want to further their education and those who want to become CPAs continue in its program. “Bloomfield College’s student body is diversified – collegeage students and adults – and most of the latter work, so all upper-level classes are held at night. Most students attend four nights a week in order to graduate on time. Most of its upper level classes have fewer than 20 students,” notes adjunct faculty member Kenneth Heaslip, CPA. “That really attracts people to our colleges. We get to know them very well.” With so many students already working, Bloomfield doesn’t service a particular employer niche, though Heaslip notes that most alums are in private industry and seek the degree for career advancement. Some students switch over to public accounting after finishing their degree.

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EDUCATION

Special

Section

Practical Programs Give Students an Edge in Competitive Job Market BY M ARGARET LEROU X

Marone recalled a session on business dining as an example of learning a basic, but overlooked, skill. “It sounds so simple, but it astounds me how many people don’t know how to eat properly.” Christine Fessler, CPA, senior accountant at WithumSmith+Brown’s Red Bank office, also a graduate of the Scholar’s Institute, characterized the experience as eye opening. “I used the skills I learned at the business etiquette session on my first job interview over lunch.” Fessler now participates as a chaperone at the Scholars Institute; her firm is a sponsor of the event. From her perspective as a professional, she appreciates the networking opportunities offered through the Institute, as well as the teambuilding exercises.“When you’re in the profession, you’re faced with challenging problems; you’re working late with a variety of different personalities. You draw upon the skills you learned through those team-building exercises.” Fessler noted that her firm’s human resource staff members attend the Institute’s networking event to gather resumes and said the event “definitely opens doors for students.”

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sing the wrong fork during an interview lunch may not sink a promising career, but choosing the right one can help a candidate stand out in a competitive job market. That’s what accounting and finance students learn at a business etiquette seminar, one of the most popular sessions at the Scholars Institute, a New Jersey Society of CPAs program. The Scholars Institute is one of several Society resources that supplement academics with targeted information, practical advice and exposure to potential employers. “We focus on helping students transition from academics to careers in accounting,” said NJSCPA Nextgen Outreach Membership Manager Janice Amatucci. In addition to scholarships, the NJSCPA also provides valuable information about taking the CPA Exam, from basics like requirements and how to fill out the exam application, to its Exam Cram blog. The Society also provides students with leadership opportunities, such as the Pay It Forward program where they hone presentation skills while doing outreach to high school groups. The Scholars Institute is an intensive, two-day program that combines career information with valuable networking opportunities. It includes sessions such as a 10-minute “speed dating” event, where students get one-on-one meetings with up to 12 professionals from different accounting niches. “They need to know there’s so much more to a CPA career than audit and tax,” Amatucci added.

Huge Difference

Carolyn D’Anna, CPA, partner and human resources managing director at J.H. Cohn, and member of the Scholars Institute Advisory Board, said that students grow so significantly in those two days. “It gives them an outlook on what a career in accounting really is like. They learn that they actually do have to work hard to succeed. The experience brings them to a higher level of maturity.” “As the job market becomes more competitive and individuals have a difficult time landing a position, they really need to stand out from the competition,” D’Anna added. “Getting real-life experience through programs offered by the NJSCPA provides that boost.” “It makes a huge difference when we’re assessing job candidates,” D’Anna said. “As a potential employer, we’re always looking to see if students have that something extra – do they have the potential to perpetuate the firm? How do they present themselves? Can we send them out to represent the firm?” D’Anna also stressed the value of the Young CPAs professionals network, another program sponsored by the NJSCPA. “It’s so important to have a group of professionals you can rely on. Professional networks can provide support and resources throughout your career.”

Eye-Opening Experience

Anthony F. Marone Jr., CPA, vice president and controller at Capital Trust, New York, received an NJSCPA scholarship as a student at Rutgers University. “The scholarship was great, but by far the most valuable assistance was the soft skills I learned through the Scholars Institute. At the Institute, students learn the language of adults and of the accounting profession. After participating, I felt so much more prepared.”

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EDUCATION

Special

Section

Dollars for Scholars: Latest Trends in Hiring and Salaries BY C HRIS TINA P. O’NE IL L , T H E WARRE N G RO U P

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he job growth picture for accountants and auditors is bright, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicting that employment is expected to increase by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018. The American Institute of CPAs reports that graduation rates of bachelor's and master's in accounting are at an all-time high since the AICPA began its survey in 1971. Almost 90 percent of all firms the AICPA surveyed expected to hire the same or more accounting graduates in 2011 compared to 2010. And, for the coming year, 71 percent of the largest firms expect to increase their hiring. Hiring of those with bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees rose from 25,488 to 33,321 in the AICPA’s most recent report, 2011 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits. The report measured responses from the 2009/10 academic year. The AICPA notes a 6-percent increase in the hiring of master's of accountancy graduates since its previous survey, directly inverse to a 6-percent decrease in master's of taxation hires over the same time period. The trend is toward candidates with an advanced degree, up to 37 percent from 26 percent, and a decrease in B.A. graduates to 43 percent from 56 percent at the last survey. Minority hiring increased to 25 percent from 22 percent, and hiring by gender has reached 50-50 parity in the most recent survey, whereas it had been weighted more toward females previously. It’s a sign of heightened interest in a particular profession when accredited schools have to start turning away qualified students for specific programs. Thirteen percent of AACSBaccredited institutions each turned away an average of 165 qualified students, up 6 percent over the 134-turnaway average of 2009. This is partially due to a shortage of academically qualified professors, according to the AICPA. Regulatory and economic issues are likely to support the BLS forecast and the AICPA’s educational trends. But accountants have by no means been immune to the effects of the recession. The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) 2010 Salary Survey, published last June, shows that the economic recession has unevenly impacted those already in the job market. Mid-career respondents saw salary increases, while their younger and older colleagues reported flat or decreasing salaries. Survey respondents ages 40-49 saw increases of $5,000 to $10,000 from their 2009 salaries, and those ages 50-59 reported increases of $4,000 to $12,000. But respondents ages 20-39

reported flat salaries or decreases of $4,000 to $6,000, and those older than age 60 lost $5,000 to $10,000. Total compensation figures, which include bonus and profit sharing as well as salary, follow this trend. One group that benefitted last year was women over age 60, but this year, they fell back into equivalence with their counterparts ages 40-59. While they lost $4,000 in salary and $6,000 in total compensation, they fared better than men age 60 and older, who lost $7,000 in salary and $15,000 in total compensation. The IMA reports that the salary gap between men and women has historically been smallest in the younger categories. But it also issued a long-term warning. Fewer women than men hold a professional certification – 64 percent versus 72 percent respectively, and lag 7 percent behind men at all levels except middle management, where both genders hold a 71-percent certification rate. The level of professional certification among men rises with their management level. The IMA reports that the smaller number of women holding certifications is especially marked at the entry/lower levels and warns that if women fall behind men in obtaining certification in the early stages of their careers, they may not be able to close the salary gap between men and women. Currently, the average salary for certification holders is $114,980, up $1,300 from last year. Respondents without any certification report an average salary of $95,823, a statistically significant difference according to the IMA. “Given the time value of money and compounding interest over the span of a person’s career, getting certified early (and often) makes tremendous economic sense,” the IMA states.

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pages

CPE Offerings and Events Upcoming Education Foundation Events Date

Event/Code

Location

CPE Credit

3/19

Loscalzo's Improve Your Accounting and Finance Team’s Effectiveness (E1203033)

Roseland

8/AA

3/20

Loscalzo's Accounts Payable Fraud: Overlooked Schemes and How to Detect and Prevent Them (E1203043)

Roseland

8/AA

3/21

Cooperation with Bankers Breakfast: "Solar Financing Options with a Bank" (E1203050)

Iselin

2/CS

3/26

FASB Review for Industry (E1203083)

Roseland

8/AA

3/27

AICPA's Annual Update for Controllers (E1203093)

Roseland

8/MT

4/23

Corporate Accounting: Hone Your Skills (E1204083)

Roseland

4/MT, 4/AA

4/24

Convergence and Private Company Accounting (E1204093)

Roseland

8/AA

4/26

Multi-State Taxation of Corporations: Theory, Practice and Compliance (E1204103)

Roseland

8/TX

4/27

Introduction to U.S. Taxation of International Transactions (E1204113)

Roseland

8/TX

5/16-17

2012 NJ Accounting, Business & Technology Show (E1205200)

Secaucus

N/A

Upcoming Chapter Events Date

Chapter

Event/Code

Location

CPE Credit

4/19

Atlantic/Cape May

Accounting and Auditing Issues (E1204029)

Somers Point

2/AA

4/19

Passaic County

Federal Tax Update (E1204039)

Paterson

2/TX

4/20

Essex

Professional Presentation Skills/Social Networking (E1204059)

East Hanover

4/CS

4/25

Mercer

Social Networking (E1204079)

West Windsor

2/CS

4/26

Hudson

Yellow Book (E1204019)

Secaucus

2/AA

4/26

Middlesex/Somerset

Acquiring and Keeping Clients/A CPA's Guide to Social Networking (E1204069)

Somerset

4/CS

4/27

Southwest Jersey

Mergers and Acquisitions of Accounting Firms and Malpractice Insurance (E1204049)

Berlin

4/SK

5/1

Bergen

Professional Development (E1205049)

Paramus

4/PD

5/2

Morris/Sussex

Professional Outlook – New Jersey and National Professional Issues Update (E1205139)

Mount Olive

2/SK

5/9

Middlesex/Somerset

Insured Defined Benefit Plans/Long-Term Care Insurance (E1205169)

Somerset

2/CS

5/10

Bergen

Accounting and Auditing Update (E1205059)

Paramus

4/AA

5/10

Passaic County

Bankruptcy – Personal and Corporate (E1205099)

Paterson

2/TX

AA – Accounting & Auditing MC – Multiple Categories PE – Professional Ethics

KEY CS – Consulting Services MT – Management SK – Specialized Knowledge

EC – Economics PD – Personal Development TX – Taxation

njscpa.org/catalog

May/June Coming Attractions Technology

Magazine of the

New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants

M a y • J u n e 2 0 1 2

n n n n

Top Apps for CPAs Evolution of Employee Tech Policies Responding to e-Slander Tech Metrics and ROI

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ADVERTISERS INDEX All advertising for New Jersey CPA magazine is managed by The Warren Group, a Boston-based real estate and financial information publishing company. New Jersey CPA is the only way to reach each of the 15,500 members of the New Jersey Society of CPAs, and 55 percent of readers take action after seeing an advertisement in the magazine – by either purchasing the product, contacting the advertiser, visiting a website or recommending the product or service to a client. For advertising opportunities, contact Advertising Manager George Chateauneuf at custompubs@ thewarrengroup.com.

Accounting Practice Sales accountingpracticesales.com Askin, Weber & Reed, Inc. awrins.com

14

Audimation Services, Inc. audimation.com Bloomfield College bloomfield.edu

27

Columbia Bank columbiabankonline.com Community Foundation of NJ cfnj.org

29

Landy Insurance Agency, Inc. landy.com Lowenstein Sandler PC lowenstein.com

15

Medallion Business Credit medallion.com PNC Bank pnc.com

52

11

2

9

AT LOWENSTEIN SANDLER

DISPUTES AMONG CO-OWNERS OF A BUSINESS RAISE DIFFICULT QUESTIONS: Should I buy out my partner? Should we sell the business? Is my partner stealing from the business? Is my partner breaching his or her fiduciary duties? Can I be fired? What are my rights? Should I sue?

SOMETIMES IT’S MORE THAN JUST BUSINESS. The litigators and transactional attorneys in Lowenstein Sandler’s Business Divorce Group have decades of experience representing clients in business divorce and shareholder disputes. They possess the practical and broad-based knowledge to help clients achieve nonlitigated resolutions of business divorces and obtain court intervention if negotiations fail. Business divorce matters are complex and the stakes are too high to proceed without an experienced advisor. Lowenstein Sandler—The Right Answer

41

Practice leaders: Steven B. Fuerst, Christopher S. Porrino and Nicholas San Filippo – 973 597 2500

5

www.lowenstein.com/businessdivorce

Rutgers 43 pmac.rutgers.edu Sterling National Bank 45 snb.com Whitman Business Advisors LLC whitmanbiz.com

THE BUSINESS DIVORCE GROUP

26

New York Palo Alto Roseland 65 Livingston Avenue Roseland, NJ 07068 © 2009 Lowenstein Sandler PC. In California, Lowenstein Sandler LLP.

NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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Get Involved Technology Forecast: Mostly Cloudy By Paul Natalizio IV, CPA, Paradigm Technology Consulting, LLC

The Young CPAs Food Drive held in the fall led to the collection of more than 85 bags of food for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. “The FoodBank feeds more than 900,000 low-income people in New Jersey,” said New Jersey Society of CPAs Young CPAs Council Chair Sarah Krom, CPA, Sharpe, Kawam, Carmosino & Company LLC. “I’m proud that the NJSCPA is making a difference in our communities.” Here, NJSCPA staff and members show some of the results.

Educators Committee Walks in CPA Exam Candidates’ Shoes

Accounting educators from New Jersey’s colleges and universities experienced a first-hand glimpse of the testing experience of CPA Exam candidates when they received a private tour of the Prometric test center in Clark. Accounting educators were escorted by Michael A. Decker, American Institute of CPAs director, operations and development, examinations team, and Joshua I. Stopek, CPA, AICPA technical manager, research examinations team. The tour party checked in just like the test takers, showing government-issued photo identification. Educators were provided with lockers to store all personal belongings. Behind the scenes, educators observed the actual testers completing the

screening process, which included photos, fingerprints and emptying of pockets. Only locker keys and IDs are permitted in the testing room. “Not only did I gain a special appreciation for the rigors of the testing experience,” commented Margaret Van Brunt, CPA, Rowan University William G. Rohrer College of Business, “I can now tell my students exactly what to expect.” The NJSCPA Educators Committee sponsored the tour following a special session covering the CPA Exam educational requirements, NJSCPA college scholarship program, and critical changes and regulatory matters affecting CPAs and their clients. To join the NJSCPA Educators Committee, visit njscpa.org/getinvolved.

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“‘When are you adopting cloud technology, and how much will you be using the cloud for your business?’ These are the questions that you should be asking about cloud computing,” noted Alan M. Buckwalter, small business IT consultant, Jefric Consulting LLC. Buckwalter instructed members through the NJSCPA Technology Interest Group’s recent webcast, The ABCs of Cloud Computing: Is It Right for You and Your Business? A poll of attendees revealed that nearly 60 percent were already engaged in cloud computing. It’s not surprising, then, that Gartner, Inc., predicts that by 2012, 20 percent of all businesses will own no IT assets. Buckwalter guided participants through the basics, including definitions, benefits and challenges. Here are a few of the highlights: • Businesses can purchase only one server, which saves money and creates efficiency. • The cloud computing infrastructure eliminates a single point of failure, while still enjoying the functionality of a largescale network. • Businesses don’t have to pay for big software packages with capabilities they don’t need; they can subscribe to the services they need and pay for how often they use them. • Get more resources at cloudsleuth.net. To view the complete webinar and download the handouts, join the NJSCPA Technology Interest Group at njscpa.org/ getinvolved.


The Apple iPad 2 – A Real Game-Changer By Marc D. Mintz, CPA Marc Mintz & Associates, LLC Apple’s iPad has single-handedly legitimized a new class of mobile technology, namely tablet devices. For the majority of you

perusing this review, it’s not a matter of if you will purchase a tablet, but when. Touch-screen tablet computer shipments are expected to increase from 17 million in 2010 to 61 million in 2011. With a 70-percent market share, Apple’s iPad 2 is the standard by which all tablets are now measured. The iPad is an elegant electronic gateway

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to the entire world’s digital content with one significant improvement. Hundreds of thousands of applications, or apps, have been published, which make a user’s experience far superior in locating, obtaining, absorbing, managing and analyzing the evergrowing library of Internet content. You probably are interested in an iPad 2 as


SOCIETY

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a personal entertainment and/or productivity tool, but it soon becomes indispensable as to how you grasp information. The device forces you to seek alternatives in helping manage your professional endeavors. Right out of the box, the iPad 2 includes apps to improve your handling of music, photos, movies, videos, books, magazines, games, contacts, notes, calendars and more. Adding leverage to this convenience, Apple’s iCloud software seamlessly transfers your apps and data to all your electronic devices, both MAC and PC. Dramatically improving on the convenience and performance of a laptop computer, the iPad 2 frees you from your desktop and allows you to enjoy the benefits of your apps while sitting on your couch, waiting in the doctor’s office, relaxing at the beach and practically anywhere else. So, why do you need an iPad 2? Because it offers a vastly superior environment for handling email and Internet connectivity than is offered by smart phones. Its crystal-clear graphics, full-size screen, robust performance and amazingly precise touch-screen technology provide an email experience that frequently drives me to delay viewing certain electronic messages until I can view them on the iPad. Opening links

and surfing the web can be frustrating on a four-inch smartphone screen. However, the iPads 2’s 9.7-inch backlit, glossy, widescreen, multi-touch display is a highwater-mark comparison for any electronic device with a liquid crystal display. Interacting with your programs and data with the sophisticated hardware design and the abundance of apps that granularly enable the most unique of applications has undoubtedly made the iPad 2 a game-changer. If you purchase the iPad 2, you will need to decide on (1) the color: literally a black or white decision; (2) the size of the hard disk drive: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, which will depend on your desire to play movies or store other digital content; and (3) the connection: standard Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G. I suggest including the 3G option as it cannot be added after the fact. Even if you don’t immediately purchase a monthly data plan, you maintain the flexibility to add a cell carrier’s service later. Marc D. Mintz, CPA, CITP, is the managing member of Marc Mintz & Associates, LLC, a technology consulting firm that assists businesses with strategic planning and the selection and implementation of information technology

systems. Mintz is currently a member of the NJSCPA Strategic Planning Committee, Technology Interest Group and Editorial Advisory Board of New Jersey CPA magazine. Contact him at marc@ marcmintz.com or 973-808-9040.

Get Involved Now

Junior Achievement (JA) Day – NJSCPA members are needed to present the JA financial literacy and work readiness curriculum at three elementary schools: Hamilton (May 22), Newark (May 23) and Edison (May 30). Be a great role model and show your firm’s commitment to a wonderful cause. Contact Heather Weddle at hweddle@njscpa.org or 973-226-4494 x206. Scholars Institute 2012 – Scholars Institute provides high-achieving accounting and finance students with interactive programming that helps them identify their career goals and gives them the essential tools to reach them. Members are asked to be speakers and firm representatives who can explain accounting specialty areas and more. Contact Janice Amatucci at jamatucci@njscpa.org or 973-226-4494 x209 to find out where you can help.

You May Already Be a Champion! Champion status is yours when all of your company’s New Jersey-based CPAs become members of the New Jersey Society of CPAs. By making this commitment and becoming a 100% Member Champion, your organization receives benefits fit for a champion, including: CPA Candidate Coaching – The Society facilitates in-person instruction with your company’s CPA candidates to help them navigate the CPA Exam application. Education Center Rental Discount – Receive a 20-percent discount on a rental of the NJSCPA education center in Roseland. For more details, visit njscpa.org/rental.

Media Opportunities – Become the Society’s primary resource for press interviews and editorial opportunities. Personal Service – Get a dedicated contact at the Society to call or email with questions or concerns. Professional Development – Receive two free CPE credits for each staff member when your company hosts the Society’s free Business Communications Seminar or Professional Issues Update. Recognition – Get listed on the Society’s website and receive a display certificate as well as electronic and print-ready versions of

the 100% Member Champion icon for your company’s website and publications. Recruitment Resources – Receive membership materials for your company’s recruitment and new-hire packets. Tax Time Treats – Receive treats to keep the energy level up during tax time. To see a current listing of 100% Member Champions, visit njscpa.org/100percent. Become a 100% Member Champion today by contacting Susan Dyer at 973-226-4494 x266 or sdyer@njscpa.org.

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1. International 4. Protest movement that echoes worldwide 9. International health organization 10. His empire spanned the known world of his day 12. “I did it __ way,” Frank Sinatra 13. Center of activity 15. Financial aid criterion 16. Red Cross supply 17. Wander 20. Allied conference site 22. One of the world’s longest rivers 25. Happening! 26. Site of international cooperation outside earth (two words) 30. Impartial 34. Olympic _____ 36. Historic period 37. Sodium symbol 38. Promotion 39. Worldwide financial organization 40. “All the world’s a ____,” Shakespeare

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1. International group of financial chiefs 2. Worldwide layer 3. A feature in religious buildings worldwide 5. See 26 down 6. Peacekeeping organization 7. Internationally famed cellist 8. Part of WWW 11. International form of transport 14. The Magi, i.e. 17. Human, for one 18. Like the universe 19. Expression of hesitation 21. _____ of Nations 23. Universally admired creation 24. __ negotiable 26. His reindeer fly worldwide (see five down) 27. Most of the world’s surface is this 28. His physics law was universally applicable 29. World’s best example of a democracy 31. ___lateral commission 32. Computer memory 33. __ and behold 34. World time zone (abbr.) 35. Compass point

Asset Based Financing Commercial Loans/Lines Commercial Real Estate Deposit Services Equipment Finance Factoring Letters of Credit Payroll Funding

See the answers on njscpa.org/newjerseycpa.

Member FDIC

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2/2/12 11:44 AM


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NJ State Board of Accountancy Report Interim Policy Set for CPA Exam Candidates Newark (November 17)

Albert Thomas cautioned the board on strictly interpreting rules prohibiting instructors’ use of electronic teaching aids as the overall use in accounting education of video, podcasts, etc., will only continue to increase. Peer Review Program – There was some discussion on a few practitioners who had applied for an exemption. Statutes/Rules/Regulations – The board approved the following changes, in bold, to 13:29-1A.3(b)1: “An applicant to take the Certified Public Accountant Examination shall satisfy the following educational requirements: An applicant shall possess a baccalaureate degree, or its equivalent, based upon a curriculum that includes a minimum of [60] 120 semester hours, including at least 24 semester hours in accounting and at least 24 semester hours in business courses (other than accounting courses) …” This is an interim board policy that will need to be officially proposed and adopted in the regulations. Monitoring Profession – The final tally for the previous triennial was 831 Uniform Penalty Letters (UPLs) issued, $4,552,000 in fines assessed and $2,400,000 in net fines.

Committees

Ethics – The committee is creating a standardized review checklist for providers of NJ Law and Ethics courses. Statutes/Rules/Regulations – The committee will revisit the issue of educators receiving CPE for their teaching activities. The committee will take a look at the requirements for bordering states and states of a similar size to New Jersey.

Public

New Jersey Society of CPAs Executive Director Ralph Albert Thomas indicated that the Society is updating its NJ Law and Ethics program to encapsulate the board’s recent changes and will submit it to the board for review. Thomas also suggested that the board take an active role in overseeing providers so as to maintain educational consistency and minimize licensee confusion. Thomas discussed several PTIN issues including (1) sporadic registration problems relating to expiration dates; (2) the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be doing background checks on non-CPA participants; and (3) the IRS had sold the list of PTIN holders, to mostly CPE providers, but has ceased doing so. Thomas mentioned that the IRS had sent 20,000 letters to tax practitioners who prepare Schedules A, C and E highlighting issues the IRS identifies as problematic.

Public

New Jersey Society of CPAs Executive Director Ralph Albert Thomas mentioned the successful town hall meeting held in January. One of the topics covered is the continued increase in the number of mergers within the profession. Thomas discussed a pair of legislative issues that will be front and center this year: (1) appeal bond caps; and (2) the process regarding a licensee who lets his/her licensee lapse for more than five years and the current requirement to retake the CPA Exam. Based on the unacceptable amount of UPLs issued for the previous triennial, Thomas encourages licensees to take the New Jersey Law and Ethics course sooner rather than later during the triennial. Thomas further added that the board should consider an oversight process for the NJ Law and Ethics course to verify the manner and content of course delivery. A licensee who had voluntarily surrendered his license addressed the board, saying that he had received a $3,000 fine. He inquired of the board as to how it sets the fine amounts and does it use any benchmarking compared to other professional boards in New Jersey or other state accounting boards. The board did not indicate any such benchmarking to establish fine amounts.

Newark (January 19) Miscellaneous

Dr. James J. Carroll, CPA, communicated with the board regarding his New Jersey Law and Ethics course proposal from Accounting Educators. He suggested changes to NJ State Board of Accountancy Rule 13:29-6.3 to include pronouncements and regulations from the International Accounting Standards Board or other international agencies for purposes of qualified subject matter for CPE.

Committees

CPE – There was discussion regarding the use of videotaped instruction and the extent of its use in CPE courses taught by an instructor. New Jersey Society of CPAs Executive Director Ralph

NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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CLASSIFIEDS Mergers/Acquisitions

Klatzkin & Company, LLP, an established firm with offices in Mercer County, NJ, and Pennsylvania is looking to acquire or merge-in small firms or sole practitioners in need of succession planning. We offer our clients an extraordinary and individualized level of commitment, a dedicated staff and a broad spectrum of available services. We work with a constantly expanding, diversified client base. Firms seeking growth and stability are encouraged to inquire. Reply to bsnyder@ klatzkin.com.

Heavy tax-oriented CPA who took recent buyout is seeking to purchase a practice in Mercer, Hunterdon or Somerset County. Available immediately. Reply in confidence to cpapractice@verizon.net. We are a well-established CPA firm in Essex County with a diverse client base and wonderful support staff. We have an opportunity for retirement-minded practitioners looking for a merger/succession plan or outright sale of their practice. Practices with $250K to $1 million in business clients are welcome to call 551-655-1600. We can offer your clients the continuity and great service they deserve.

Parsippany, NJ, three-partner CPA firm seeks retiring practitioner to merge/acquire practice ranging from $100K and up. Please contact Carl Gutt, 973-451-0800 x22, or cgutt@dglcpa.com.

Want to sell or merge your accounting practice? Accounting Practice Sales has qualified buyers waiting and financing available to sell your practice quickly and get you the best deal possible. For information regarding our risk-free and confidential services, call Bradley Holmes at 800-397-0249. Buyers see listings and register for free email notifications at accountingpracticesales.com.

The Curchin Group, LLC, a central NJ, Monmouth County firm is seeking to merge-in near-retirement sole practitioners and small firms needing succession planning. Other individuals seeking growth and expansion are welcome to inquire. Initial practice continuation also an option. Reply in confidence to Peter Pfister, CPA, at 732-747-0500 or ppfister@curchin.com.

Monmouth County – Seeking practitioner or firm to share office space and amenities with retirement-minded CPA. Eventual buyout for right firm. File 080511

New Jersey – CPA firm wishes to acquire or merge with progressive, small to mid-sized firms. File 0701

Growing CPA firm with first-class marketing culture in central NJ is looking to expand its practice. Ideal merger candidates are sole practitioners or small firms with established niche focus and strong business development skills and/or in need of a succession plan. Reply in confidence to dcowan@cowangunteski.com.

Pro Bono Camden County Animal Shelter, Blackwood, NJ, seeks a CPA to serve on its board, providing financial oversight and assistance in budgeting and analyzing monthly financial statements. Expected commitment is less than five hours per month. Contact Michelle at 856-625-1043 or board@ccasnj.org.

Goldstein Lieberman & Company LLC, one of the region’s fastest growing CPA firms, wants to expand its practice and is seeking merger/acquisition opportunities in northern NJ and the entire Hudson Valley region, including Westchester. We are looking for firms ranging in size from $300,000 to $5,000,000. To confidentially discuss how our firms may benefit from one another, please contact Phillip Goldstein, CPA, at philg@glcpas.com or 800-839-5767.

Union County Educational Services Foundation, Westfield, NJ, seeks accounting/bookkeeping assistance for 1-2 days a month. Contact Dr. Robert A. Behot at rbehot@ucesc.org.

Real Estate Fairfield office available for rent in prestigious building near Essex County Airport (not affected by flooding). Fully furnished partner’s office in small CPA firm. Includes use of conference room, copier, fax and computer network. Phone and receptionist services available. Option for potential affiliation with experienced CPA. Call Michael at 973-227-0086.

Classified Advertising Replies to ads with file numbers should be sent to: File______________________ New Jersey CPA Classifieds 425 Eagle Rock Avenue, Suite 100 Roseland, NJ 07068-1723 To see additional classified listings or to place an ad, visit njscpa.org/classifieds.

NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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STUDENT

outlook

Diplomatically Speaking B Y M EGAN A. CICCH E TT I , C PA, SAX , M AC Y, F RO M M & C O. , P. C .

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hen I was first asked to participate in the American Institute of CPAs CPA Ambassador Program held at the New Jersey Society of CPAs headquarters in Roseland, I didn’t know what to expect. I was quite nervous, as I was the youngest person in the room surrounded by more experienced CPAs. Who would want to interview me or come to a presentation I was administering? Just as these thoughts tested my nerves, the presenter posed a question: “What do you hope to get out of today’s presentation?” My first thought was “to feel comfortable speaking in front of my peers.” I was mighty relieved to find most, if not all, of the other participants had basically the same goal. We were asked what our strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to public speaking. One of my strengths is recruiting. It’s how I try to do my part to give back to the accounting profession. I speak at high schools and colleges about the CPA profession and taking the CPA Exam. I feel confident when speaking to these individuals because I’m pretty close to the material and realize that I was in their shoes not too long ago. Conversely, one weakness of mine is that I don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of colleagues and other CPA professionals when it comes to discussing topics with which I am unfamiliar. The CPA profession is so diverse, and there are so many bodies of knowledge to be familiar with, that

a question could come up that I simply don’t have the education or experience to answer. This concern was one of the topics discussed during the program. Our presenter assured us that he would give us the tools that we would need to tackle these issues, such as gathering information, preparing speeches, developing talking points, focusing on the crowd, answering tough questions and dealing with social media, to name a few. After we discussed some of the aforementioned tools, we put them to the test. For example, when we discussed executing an effective speech, we each stood up in front of the group and presented our respective topics. The presentations were recorded and then played back in front of the group to reinforce positive techniques and tweak the ones that needed a little work. It’s very educating to see what my audience sees when I present a topic. For example, I noticed that I move my hands a lot and my body sways side to side, which can be very distracting to an audience. We also recorded ourselves answering the interviewer’s questions. Some questions were about subjects that we had a comfort level with, such as accounting; others were about random media events that we may not have been experts on. We were taught to bridge the gap from an issue we don’t want to spend a lot of time on and redirect to a topic that we prefer to discuss. This skill can come in handy for any profession,

not just accountants. No one wants to leave an interview, speech or article and feel that his or her words were taken out of context and that he or she did not get across the intended point. This program and its tools helped us succeed at that. At the beginning of the Ambassador Program, we were told that by the end of the day we would have the tools necessary to answer any question asked, on any topic, every time. At first, I thought this is impossible. In the end, it was very possible. To learn more about the CPA Ambassador Program, contact NJSCPA Communications & Marketing Director Don Meyer at dmeyer@njscpa.org or 973-226-4494 x207. Megan A. Cicchetti, CPA, is with Sax, Macy, Fromm & Co., P.C. She is a member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs Business Valuation Forensic Litigation Services Interest Group and the Student Programs & Scholarships Committee. Contact her at mcicchetti@smf-cpa.com.

Hone Your Speaking Skills at the 2012 NJSCPA Convention

The AICPA CPA Ambassador Program is returning to New Jersey at the 2012 NJSCPA Convention & Expo in Atlantic City in June. Strong communication skills are essential for every professional, and highly developed presentation skills are crucial for career advancement. The AICPA Presentation Skills Training session on Friday, June 8, will help you develop top-notch public speaking skills, enabling you to stand out from your peers. This highly interactive session will instill in you the confidence to deliver your message with credibility, gravitas and accuracy, whether communicating with coworkers or clients. Overcome your fears and brighten your future at the 2012 NJSCPA Convention & Expo. NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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LEGISLATIVE

views

Why New Jersey Needs an Appeal Bond Cap B Y M ARCUS RAYNER, NE W J E RSE Y LAW SU I T R E F O R M A L L I A N C E

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enowned defense attorney Richard A. Roth expects the amount of litigation against accounting professionals to grow significantly in the post-Madoff era now that lawyers are flush with increased governmental regulations and potential causes for action. Even the most diligent CPAs can find themselves on the wrong side of civil litigation. When the unfortunate occurs, New Jersey CPAs have a formidable barrier to justice: the lack of a cap on appeal bonds. When a business is sued in New Jersey, chances are high that a jury will return a hefty award to the plaintiff, oftentimes erroneously. Many larger businesses settle in the hopes of minimizing a suit’s financial impact, regardless of its merit. For businesses that are unwilling or unable to settle, the path toward justice and solvency following a large jury verdict can be nonexistent. New Jersey is among a minority of states that requires defendants to post a bond, or capital, equal to the jury’s entire verdict, plus attorney’s fees, before an appeal can proceed. Several years ago, New Jersey acknowledged that the lack of a cap on appeal bonds could serve as a de facto blockade to economic growth. Removing millions of dollars from the economy, only to confine it to an escrow account, prevents firms from expanding and creating much-needed jobs. A $50 million ceiling on the amount of bond a business was required to put up following an appeal was imposed – but only for the tobacco industry. What New Jersey’s greater business community seeks is the same opportunity at justice that the tobacco industry enjoys: a $50 million cap on the amount a business needs to post as a bond in order to appeal a judgment. CPA firms are uniquely vulnerable to this public policy oversight. Unlike other

business professionals with machinery and material assets, an accounting firm’s greatest asset is often its human capital, which cannot be bonded. With that in mind, the New Jersey Society of CPAs has been working tirelessly with the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance (NJLRA) to enact legislation to create a $50 million bond cap in New Jersey. At a hearing in 2010, Barbara Taylor, General Counsel of BDO Seidman, LLP, a Florida accounting firm with an office in Woodbridge, pleaded with New Jersey lawmakers to adopt a $50 million bond cap. She told how in 2006 a jury in Florida unfairly delivered a $511 million award against BDO and that the firm had a good chance of mounting a successful appeal. Access to the right to appeal, however, is costly. The $511 million award plus two years of interest, a total of $623 million, would have been needed to be posted as bond in order for BDO to appeal. For a company with just $620 million in total revenues in 2009, pursuing justice at this cost was unfeasible. “Posting a full bond, without the benefit of a bond cap, would have been catastrophic to the firm and to our employees and their families,” said Taylor. Fortunately, the Florida legislature had enacted a $50 million cap on NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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appeal bonds in 2006. BDO was able to successfully appeal the judgment and salvage the 2,700-employee company. However, had the suit been filed in New Jersey, this opportunity for justice would have been denied by default. Legislation to extend the $50 million cap on appeal bonds to all companies has stalled in New Jersey for more than two years. It was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 2010/11 session, and Chair Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), a trial lawyer by trade, has resisted the business community’s pleas to allow the committee to vote on the legislation. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), has argued that the Senate Economic Growth Committee, which he chairs, would be a more appropriate panel to consider the measure and vows to renew his push for the cap during the next legislative session. The NJLRA looks forward to continuing to work with the NJSCPA on passing this important legislation. Marcus Rayner is the executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance. For more information about appeal bond cap legislation in New Jersey, contact him at mrayner@njlra.org.


MEMBER

profile

Humble Is the Heart BY DAVID PLASKOW, NJSCPA PUBLIC ATIONS EDITOR

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hildren can often retain much more than we give them credit for. Such was the case for John J. Witkowski, CPA. He grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, with three sisters. “My father left home when I was young, and we grew up very poor. But my mom, Lucille, worked hard to send us to Catholic school,” says Witkowski. That sense of a person’s love and good intentions often being your only possessions would one day resonate from New England to Central America. A football scholarship from Rutgers University gave Witkowski the ticket to a better life. “I started as an engineering major, but I wasn’t fond of the physics and chemistry classes,” notes Witkowski. So, he became an economics major, took some accounting classes and, thanks to one of the football coaches, got an internship at Warren Frazier & Associates in North Brunswick. “My initial accounting class was the first course I really enjoyed. I understood the material and liked the idea of working with people” he adds. After graduating in 1974, Witkowski received a little help from a prominent Rutgers football booster. “He basically told his accounting firm, Lipman, Cestare & Harris, to hire me,” recalls Witkowski. It turned out to be the only job he’s held. He started as a junior accountant doing a little bit of everything. In 1979, Witkowski became a partner, and in 2005 the firm merged with WeiserMazars LLP. Today, Witkowski provides consulting, tax and attest services for family-owned businesses, preparing them for the next generation of family ownership. Witkowski became a CPA in 1977 because “you can’t progress in public accounting without the CPA designation,” and shortly thereafter

became a member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs. “The Society is your link to the political, practical and legal happenings in the profession,” comments Witkowski. “If you run up against any professional issues, the NJSCPA is there to support you.” Witkowski’s wife and three of his four children are CPAs. “We didn’t pressure our kids to become CPAs, they just fell into the profession. But, I would advise young people to at least take some business courses,” says the Colts Neck resident. With his children living in London, Maine, Washington, DC, and Manhattan, Witkowski spends a lot of his leisure time visiting them. But it was one trip that would change the lives of many. About a decade ago, Witkowski’s wife, Susan, and their twins, Kristy and Kelly, went on a church mission trip to the Hogar Raphael Ayau Orphanage in Guatemala City, which reopened in 1997. The group played with the 115 kids at the facility and helped fix up the buildings that date back to the 1800s. The trip was such a success that Mother Ivonne, who runs the orphanage, invited the family back the following year. “My twins said ‘Dad, you have to come with us next year; the children see very few men, let alone family units,’” recalls Witkowski. Begrudgingly, Witkowski went, and he’s gone every May since. “We bring the orphans clothes and medical and school supplies,” says Witkowski. “Through church fundraisers and support from NEW JERSEY CPA • MARCH • APRIL 2012

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WeiserMazars, we raise more than $10,000 annually for the orphanage.” Witkowski’s love of gardening and adeptness at home repairs come in handy at the orphanage. “I paint, do plumbing and electrical work, make roof repairs and so on,” notes Witkowski. “I treat the children like my own. Everything they own can fit in a shoebox. Many of them had never even seen a toilet before arriving at the Hogar.” Witkowski is excited because the first group of children is approaching adulthood. “One girl, Sara, has become our first university student and is studying to become a lawyer. It goes to show that you can make a difference in other peoples’ lives and show them that they can be successful.” Do Witkowski’s humble beginnings play a part in his charitable efforts? “Let’s just say that I’m sensitive to it. I was given opportunities when I was young, and I haven’t forgotten,” says Witkowski. “Everyone should try to leave the world a better place than when they entered it. There are no awards given for being the wealthiest person in the cemetery.”


New Jersey CPA magazine is excited to announce a special section in its July/August 2012 issue: The NJSCPA “Women of Note (WoN).” We will spotlight those female Society CPAs who are significantly impacting the accounting profession. Our selection of the Women of Note will be determined by the candidate’s involvement in: – Career Activities – NJSCPA Volunteer Activities – Accounting Profession Activities – Charitable Activities A nomination form is available at njscpa.org/newjerseycpa. Please complete and send form to dplaskow@njscpa.org. Submissions are due by March 30. Questions? Call 973-226-4494 x228.


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NJCPA March/April 2012  

Magazine of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants - March • April 2012 Issue.

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