Tag Archives: Accounting

Managerial Overconfidence and Accounting Conservatism — The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance

Small business takeaways, of-interest and need-to-know.

Excerpt:  In our paper, Managerial Overconfidence and Accounting Conservatism, forthcoming at the Journal of Accounting Research, we provide evidence on the relation between CEO overconfidence, an important managerial trait, and the aggressiveness of financial reporting. Building on a growing literature in finance which shows that overconfidence can distort investment, financing, and dividend policies, we demonstrate that firms with overconfident CEOs make more aggressive financial reporting choices than other firms.

Overconfident managers are defined as managers who overestimate future returns from their firms’ investments and systematically overestimate the probability of good performance

Read full article via Managerial Overconfidence and Accounting Conservatism — The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation.

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Top Tips From the Integrated Reporting “Journey”

My comment would have to be “amen”!    Good read with takeaways for all small business.  Accounting and financial reporting

Excerpt:  Corporate reports should be driven by proactive integrated thinking and decision-making rather than compliance requirements – a change from today’s corporate reporting regimes that produce reams of reactive information with limited value, experts said at the conference.

And that’s the essence of the integrated report, whose aim is to provide meaningful, forward-looking information on how a company creates and preserves its value in the short, medium and long term.

Read full article via Top tips from the integrated reporting “journey”.  From CGMA

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21st Century FAO Risks: The Era of Service Chain Management

Recommended read human resources, information technology and accounting management.   Outsourcing.   Frankly, in my opinion, this practice tapering off is a good thing.  What do you think?

Excerpt:  “Once you get beyond, say, payables and receivables,” reports Stan Lepeak, KPMG’s director, global research, management consulting, “most FAO outsourcing becomes extremely complex due to reporting requirements.” What’s more, companies are using outsourcing partners to manage increasingly complex work.

As recently as five to 10 years ago, many outsourcing experts expected FAO to grow and expand in much the same way that ITO and, subsequently, HRO partnerships flourished by A) increasing in number, and B) greatly increasing in magnitude. Some pundits even envisioned a day when the finance and accounting function would be staffed by a few senior experts (in treasury, M&A and a few other strategic activities), while all of the more tactical processes would be farmed out to shops in Bangalore and Dalian.

FAO took a different evolutionary path thanks to business regulations with significant financial reporting components, like Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, as well as the impressive efficiency gains many finance functions achieved – through outsourcing, yes, but also via shared services, process improvements and new automation — during the past 10 years. Leading finance and accounting functions cost as little as 1 percent of revenue today.

Although FAO, HRO and ITO outsourcing to low-cost countries continues, some experts expect it to taper off.

Read full article via 21st Century FAO Risks: The Era of Service Chain Management | Business Finance.

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Disclosures: A Return to Relevance | Accounting Standards and Financial Reporting

An expert opinion of the current status.   Why is the convergence meeting so much difficulty?    Read some of the issues being addressed or perhaps not being addressed well.

Excerpt:  Much has been written and debated about the growing complexity and technical demands of accounting standards, financial reporting, and disclosures. It has gotten to the point where many otherwise capable accountants are not confident that they can apply the new requirements without outside assistance from subject matter experts.

This is happening at a time when, in the financial reporting environment, there has been heightened sensitivity and attention given to accounting and financial reporting. Users of financial statements have also expressed concerns with the volume of information required to be disclosed—it makes it difficult for them to discern what is really relevant and important to an individual company. They can’t adequately decipher what factors really drive the company’s performance.

Read full article via Disclosures: A return to relevance.  From AICPA

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It Is Time To Automate Your Expense Tracking

Guest Post by Helen Hoefele

There are many reasons to carefully track and manage your business expenses. In addition to having an up-to-date readily-available view of your bottom line, it allows you to more easily categorize expenses and identify areas where cuts or adjustments are needed. Aside from the obvious legal requirements around tracking expenses, you could also miss out on being able to quickly quantify potential money-saving tax breaks and deductions. Tracking your business’s expenses doesn’t have to be time consuming. The right expense tracking software can quickly replace any and all of your confusing and time consuming manual efforts with a more streamlined automated experience.

  

Say Goodbye to Spreadsheets
Over time, even the best-designed spreadsheet can become difficult to manage. Have you ever tried scrolling through a massive spreadsheet to make sense of your business data? It’s not easy. The right software can allow you to do away with cumbersome spreadsheets once and for all. Without having to manually sort through poorly categorized data entries, you will see how much easier it is to work with data that is cleanly entered and organized from the point of origin.

Cut Back on Paperwork
To increase the efficiency and productivity of your business, you should do what you can to cut back on the amount of paperwork that is generated. That can be accomplished with by professionally automating, organizing, and digitizing all your hard-copy files. Large stacks of paper can be replaced with secure, backed-up, and neatly organized computer files. You’ll no longer have to dig through boxes of receipts and invoices to match up hard-copies with vague manually captured records.  All supporting documentation can be digitized, labeled, and appropriately linked to their matching entry.

Enjoy Easier Reporting and Auditing
Today’s best expense tracking programs allow you to generate useful summarizing reports quickly and easily. With a spreadsheet, you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get the report you need. With a well-designed automated data tracking program, you can choose from a variety of different pre-built reports or develop customized reports that include information that matters to you. The same is true about audits. You’ll no longer dread them. You’ll have the ability to get the information you need for an audit in seconds.

To run the most profitable and successful business possible, it pays to take full advantage of today’s best technologies. Tracking expenses can be handled more quickly, easily and accurately with good software programs such as a high-quality expense tracking software. If you’re ready to be done with expense tracking spreadsheets once and for all, invest in the right software now.

Citations:  Photo Credit: title=”Excel for Macintosh Screen Shot 1987-88″ by Microsoft Sweden, on Flickr

About Author:  Helen Hoefele is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites.  Follow her @figmentations.  http://www.ghg.com

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PCAOB: Protecting Investors and the Public Interest — The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance

Small business of-interest, need-to-know and news-to-watch.   Article gives you a good background and review of PCAOB, its charter and works in progress.  Good information and insights.  Recommended for leadership and accounting management.

  Excerpt:  Since the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board was created 10 years ago by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the U.S. system of auditor oversight has been fundamentally reformed to better protect investors and the public interest.

In addition to creating the PCAOB, the Act also vested audit committees with expanded oversight of financial reporting and audit processes.

Initially, the Act was seen as an effort to address problems that appeared to be unique to the U.S., but after numerous financial reporting scandals erupted around the world, the U.S. model of audit regulation was adopted in varying forms in many other countries.

Following the recent financial crisis, we find ourselves in an era with new stresses on financial reporting and auditing around the world, and we are once again evaluating how best to protect investors in this environment.

This is what we are working on at the PCAOB. I would like to tell you about a few “hot topics” related to our core mission of protecting investors through audit oversight, including: ….

Read full article via PCAOB: Protecting Investors and the Public Interest — The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation.

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When Choosing an Accountant

Guest Post by Katelyn Markham

With so many different forms of accounting software available, many business owners often fail to realize the many benefits that a professional accountant offers. While the financial software may be good for day-to-day business, an experienced and knowledgeable accountant can provide you with a wealth of information. For example, accountants point out how your business’ financial statements can be used to make better business decisions. Accountants can also help with tax preparation and planning for your retirement. The most important thing is to ensure that you find the right accountant for you and your business. Below is a list of several questions you should consider when choosing an accountant.

Is the Accountant Qualified?
When choosing an accountant, the first thing you want to do is make sure that he or she has the right type of qualification. This qualification varies slightly from country to country; but in the United States, the most common qualifications for accounts include Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Chartered Accountant (CA). If the accountant is a CPA or a CA, then he or she has the right education and is knowledgeable about the financial rules and regulations that apply in the United States. In addition to the right qualifications, you should also make sure that the accountant has experience and ask for several references from previous clients.

What is the Accountants Specialty?
All qualified accountants learn the basics of all area of accounting and financing. However, most accountants choose to specialize in a specific area of accounting, such as taxation or auditing. When choosing the right accountant for your business, the accountant’s specialty should match the types of services you are looking for in an accountant. For example, it would not be wise to choose an accountant, who specializes in tax accounting, if you need an audit done for your business because this is not his or her specialty.

Is the Accountant Compatible with Your Business?
Finally, you want to choose an accountant who is compatible with both you and your business. Finding the right accountant may involve meeting with several different accountants in your area until you find the right one for your business. If as a business owner, you prefer a face-to-face meeting make sure that your accountant will provide that type of service. Also, if you are more laid back and people-friendly, you may not want an accountant who is stiff with a no-nonsense attitude. In the end, you must make sure that the accountant you choose has the right experience, skills and specialty for your business, but most importantly, you must choose an accounting firm that is compatible with you and your business.

Today’s post was provided by Katelyn Markham of WebHelp2Go on behalf of Acton Accounting and Bookkeeping. Katelyn writes full time on a variety of subjects and this month she writes for the Vancouver Accounting team of dedicated professionals.  Www.actonaccountingandbookkeeping.com/

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Best Ways to Stop Your Business from Going into Debt

Guest Post by Nick Anderson

The past few years have seen the development of tough economic and business conditions. Many companies suffered going into debt or they had to terminate their activities altogether. As a business owner, it is your duty to figure out the best strategy that will help your business stay out of debt. Several techniques can be used to achieve the goal. Preliminary planning and sound business practices can help you run your company efficiently and without accumulating debt. Rational spending and good managerial practices will be essential, as well.

Market Research
A great business needs extensive research for a successful start. Stopping your company from going into debt begins with proper planning. You will first have to examine the market, your competition and the monetization potential of your idea. Entering a niche that is already having several competitive, well-established players will make it very difficult for you to begin generating profit rapidly enough. You will also have to find out whether customers are interested in purchasing the products that you have to offer. Finally, examine the costs associated to getting your company started. These include production expenses, staff wages, office and business premise rental, marketing expenses and employee training-related expenditure.

Effective Expenditure Management
Many beginners have a problem dealing with spending in a rational manner. Irrational expenditure is the easiest way for a company to begin accumulating debt. Learn to monitor all financial transactions and to easily figure out the ones that are excessive. Prioritize business expenditure that you cannot go without. Office rentals and staff salaries are two of the expenses that your business needs but these can be rationalized. Having a virtual or a serviced office will decrease office rental significantly. You can rationalize the production process, as well, to minimize the costs and to increase the product’s profitability potential. Marketing expenditure is something else that you should focus on, especially if you are just getting started. Many companies spend irrationally large amounts of money on promotion. Better alternatives are available and they will help you reach a large audience without spending a fortune on it. Internet promotion and viral campaigns are just two examples of effective and cheap advertising.

Be Careful with Loans
To get started, many people take business loans. These provide the financial resources for a great start but the loan is a double-edged sword. You will probably have to get a loan, unless you have managed to save enough money for the successful establishment of the company. Start with a reasonable, manageable loan. Once you see that your business is beginning to grow and evolve, you will be free to take a second loan and plan an expansion. In the beginning, you will have to make some compromises in order to keep the costs limited. Many people start running a home-based business. Expansion is the logical continuation if the company is doing great. A minimal loan will give you some money and prevent you from going into debt before your company has even been established.

Hire the Right Professionals
Accounting and consultancy services are of vital importance for the success of every company. Working with the right professionals is another way to rationalize expenditure and to bring up revenue. Forensic accountants can help you investigate monetary issues and deal with the financial obstacles in your way. Fraud can easily lead your business into debt. Fraud can be committed by a business partner, an employee or a contractor, which will ultimately lead to financial difficulties. Forensic accounting is often called forensic or investigative auditing because these professionals look into legal aspects of the accounting niche. They will be capable of preventing or detecting fraud, acting as expert witnesses in the case of a trial and performing risk assessment. Preventing your business from going into debt is a complex strategy that involves many steps. Proper planning, employee hiring, production process rationalization, marketing and work with the right professionals are all essential for smooth financial operations inside the company. Take your time to do some research and to evaluate your business idea. Managing expenses and knowing which risks taking will also help you evolve and keep your company from accumulating debt.

Nick Anderson is from Forths Forensic Accountant http://www.forthsonline.co.uk which is providing forensic accounting services with different types of quantum disputes. You can follow Nick on twitter @NickNikanderson.

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5 Great Habits for Successful Small Businesses

Guest Post by Emily Coltman

When you’re running a small business, keeping track of “the numbers” can seem either a daunting or a boring task!  But it’s worth persevering with it, because knowing how much profit and how much cash your business is making can be crucial in helping you make the best decisions about your business’s future.

Emily Coltman ACA, Chief Accountant to FreeAgent gives five top financial habits of successful small business owners.

Keep your books up to date
Your records can’t give you useful information if they’re several weeks – or months – out of date.  Wise was the man who said that you can’t drive by looking only through the rear-view mirror!

You need to have up-to-date, real time information in order to know how your business is doing.  Using online accounting software will help you with this up to a point, but you need to do your part by making sure the information you post is timely and accurate.

Set aside some time each week to do your books and make sure that your information is never out of date.

Monitor your profitability – by total and by channel
Do you know how profitable your business is?

Keep an eye not only on overall profit but on the profit and cash that individual projects, products and channels are bringing in.  Are you being too nice to all, or some of, your customers and not charging them enough?  You’ll know when you look at your profit and loss account for particular projects and see that the profit figure is lower than you’d expected.

Make use of ratios and calculations such as profit margin (dividing your profit by your sales, so that you know how much profit you’ve made per pound of sales) to help you track whether you’re making the profit you hoped to.

Know who your slow-paying customers are
Keep track of how quickly your customers are paying you.  There will always be some who take longer than they should!

Could you encourage them to pay any faster, for example by offering different methods of payment such as accepting credit cards, or by offering an early payment discount?

If you have chronic late payers then should they still be customers?

Be careful of having too few customers
Businesses who become dependent on a small number of large customers tend to have cash flow problems, because the customers can use their purchasing power to pay late, and there isn’t much other cash coming in to make up the shortfall.

If your business is in this position, could you increase the number of customers you deal with?

Plan your cash and be prepared for a rainy day
Make sure that you’re not just tracking what is happening now, but that you’ve planned what you expect to happen in the next week, month, year and 2 years.

When do you expect cash to come in?  Could you take your business to a different market?  When will you have enough to do that?

What if your best customer went out of business?  Could your business survive without an injection of cash, or should you negotiate an overdraft facility with the bank now, so that it’s there when you need it?

Keeping on top of  “the numbers”  is a vital part of running a small business to make sure it not only survives but thrives!

Emily Coltman ACA is Chief Accountant to FreeAgent, who provide an award-winning online accounting system designed to meet the needs of freelancers and small businesses. Try it for free at www.freeagent.com

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PwC & Wharton Focus on How CFO’s Can Build Top-Performing Finance Teams

Human resources management accounting and finance teams.

Excerpt:  Top CFOs know they are only as strong as their teams. From treasury to financial planning and analysis, their finance managers have a shared vision of being valued contributors in strategic discussions – adding insight and analysis at critical junctures of decision-making. How can CFOs attract, retain, and motivate finance talent to be much more than number-crunchers?

PwC and faculty at Wharton share insight on how top finance organizations can rise to the challenge.

Read introduction and download full pdf via PwC & Wharton focus on how CFO’s can build top-performing finance teams: PwC.

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Accounting for Revenue Recognition | PwC

How is your understanding of revenue recognition?  In compliance?   Are you ready for the pending changes that are supposed to make this volume(s) topic easier for all to adopt one standard?   Here are some basic small business need-to-know.

Excerpt:  The accounting for revenue recognition is one of the most important and complex challenges facing companies today. Revenue recognition has been and continues to be one of the top accounting and auditing areas of risk. Failure in internal controls over revenue recognition remains one of the most significant causes of material weakness in internal controls over financial reporting.

Many companies offer multiple solutions to their customers’ needs. Those solutions may involve the delivery or performance of multiple products, services, or rights to use assets, and performance may occur at different points in time or over different periods of time. There are many complex rules for recognizing revenue when contracts / arrangements have more than one revenue generating activity. Further, there is increasing complexity of revenue recognition for software; since many products include embedded software, this complexity can apply to a broad range of industries.

While current rules are detailed and rapidly evolving, additional major changes are on the horizon.

Read full article via Accounting for revenue recognition: PwC.

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Corporate Governance, Accounting and Finance: A Review

This is a reprint and review well worth your time but this is not a light read  —  recommended for those charged with the responsibility of deep understanding and forwarding business governance.  It delves into the  detail of why and how-to, history and metrics.

Excerpt:  We review accounting and finance research on corporate governance (CG). In the course of our review, we focus on a particularly vexing issue, namely endogeneity in the relationships between CG and other matters of concern to accounting and finance scholars, and suggest ways to deal with it. Given the advent of large commercial CG databases, we also stress the importance of how CG is measured and in particular, the construction of CG indices, which should be sensitive to local institutional arrangements, and the need to capture both internal and external aspects of governance. The ‘stickiness’ of CG characteristics provides an additional challenge to CG scholars. Better theory is required, for example, to explain whether various CG practices substitute for each other or are complements. While a multidisciplinary approach to developing better theory is never without its difficulties, it could enrich the current body of knowledge in CG. Despite the vastness of the existing CG literature, these issues do suggest a number of avenues for future research.

Read full article  via Corporate governance, accounting and finance: A review – Brown – 2010 – Accounting & Finance – Wiley Online Library.

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PCAOB Adopts New Audit Standard on Communications with Audit Committees — The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance

Small business of-interest, need-to-know and news-to-watch.  Accounting and audit

Excerpt:  Auditing Standard No. 16 is the first standard that the PCAOB has adopted following enactment of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”). Under the JOBS Act, a new PCAOB standard will not apply to audits of “emerging growth companies” (“EGCs”) unless the SEC determines that the application of the standard is “necessary or appropriate in the public interest, after considering the protection of investors and whether the action will promote efficiency, competition, and capital formation.” At its August 15 meeting, the PCAOB expressed its view that the SEC should approve the application of the new standard to EGCs.

Read full article via PCAOB Adopts New Audit Standard on Communications with Audit Committees — The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation.

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Tech Tools for Easy Accounting : AMEX

Interviewee’s prediction of what our future holds  —   I think probably a lot of truth here, but would nevertheless venture that the consumer is going to be steps ahead of the accounting industry in adoption of some of these — the accounting industry is governed by compliance regulations and other strictures that make on-the-fly accounting a bit scary at best.

  Excerpt:  “As I look around at new innovations, new venture capital investments and new successes in the market,” Sleeter says, “I’m becoming more and more convinced that over the next few years there will be significant changes for those of us in the business of accounting software consulting (or teaching), bookkeeping, accounting, or tax preparation,”

Read full article via Tech Tools for Easy Accounting : Money :: American Express OPEN Forum.

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The 5 Faces of Accountancy: Eradicating Myths and Sticking to Facts and Figures!

Guest Post by Joyce Del Rosario

Accountancy tends to be a difficult subject for even the savviest of business owners. This is why most small business owners, solo practitioners and even freelancers choose to hire an accountant to manage their finances, which is undoubtedly a good thing.

But, even if you do have an accountant to deal with pesky things like spreadsheets and progress reports, there are a few aspects of your business that you should be familiar with yourself, and understanding terms like income, expenses, assets, liabilities and equity or net worth is crucial if you want to succeed in any industry.

Too many business professionals choose to bury their head in the sand and leave the vague financial stuff for their accountants to deal with. However, no matter how good your financial advisor is, nothing takes the place of being financially literate yourself.

Here are some of the most common myths about accountancy that may be holding you back from being truly successful.

You have to be good at math to understand accounting
This is by far the most common myth about accounting and it is also the main reason that people tend to shy away from accountancy.

Of course, accountants do use math, but so do most other professions and everyone from an engineer to a salesman must have a grasp on numbers if they want their career to go anywhere.

Accounting is more about analytics and research than algebra, and you don’t have to be a mathematician to understand basic accounting principles.

It does involve some basic math like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and the occasional formula, but you’d be hard pressed to find an accountant who does any of this without a calculator.

The bulk of accounting involves analyzing numbers in order to see what they mean for the current and future financial state of a person or company.

A tax preparer is the same as an accountant
If you think the guy preparing your taxes is the same as an accountant it could have negative repercussions for your business. While most accountants will do taxes as well, most bookkeepers and tax preparers will not maintain your accounts and give you the same financial advice that an accountant could.

Their qualifications are very different from those of an accountant, and confusing the two could cause serious problems down the line. So, just for the record, an accountant is someone who holds a degree in accounting, and nothing else will do when it comes to the future of your business.

Accounting isn’t necessary for small businesses
This is one myth that can have dire consequences for any small business. Many small business owners assume that hiring an accountant is something that only larger companies need to do.

However, thinking you can go without accounting is the same as thinking you don’t need a budget; don’t need to know what your financial state will be like in the future or have no need for any tax advantages.

No matter how small your business is, you need an accountant. You simply cannot run your business properly without knowing the state of your finances or whether or not you will report a loss at the end of the year to reduce your taxes. You also need to know about areas that you are doing poorly in and need to improve in, or your business will continue on a downward spiral.

It’s fine to pay business expenses out-of-pocket
This is a big misconception and can cause you to waste a lot of money. Your business needs its own business bank account and expenses should not be paid out of your own personal account.

Any business expenses that you have paid for from your personal reserve or salary must be noted down accordingly and careful records must be kept. In most cases, any money that you spend out of pocket for your business can be returned to you tax-free.

Without a proper business bank account, you have no way to tell whether or not your business is actually making a profit. All revenues should be paid into the business bank account and all business expenses should be paid from this same account. If you come up short, you can pay out-of-pocket, but you must take care to keep proper records so that you can get that money back.

If you are making a salary, that salary should not be paid into your business account, because it is taxable, which means you may be paying far more on taxes than you should be. Keeping your finances separate can make a huge difference.

You tell how successful your business is without accounting reports
Looks can be deceiving, and just because your business is bustling every single work day does not mean that it is doing well or making a profit. Without accounting reports, you have no way of knowing if your prices are right and whether you need to cut costs in any particular area.

Many business owners think they can focus on the practical side of the business, like keeping customers happy and getting return business, without paying attention to things like costs incurred, waste or loss. But operating in this way means that a potentially successful business can fail before it has even been given a fair chance.

Accounting reports show you where you can save money, which areas are in need of a cleanup and how things can run more efficiently as a whole in order to make the most profit possible.

Author: Joyce Del Rosario is part of the team behind Open Colleges.   It is one of Australia’s pioneer and leading providers of Accounting Courses and Bookkeeping CoursesWhen not working, Joyce enjoys blogging about health and finance.

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