auditing and accounting

Where Is Technology Taking Auditing and Accounting?

Technology is paving the way for the newest developments in auditing and accounting. It seems as soon as one cutting-edge concept is developed another one is already emerging. This type of advancement has not been seen in the industry in decades.

The Professionals Weigh In

The entire sector is interested in learning more about how technology influences the financial reporting industry. There is much to learn from professionals such as Ryan Teeter, Clinical Assistant Professor of Accounting Information Systems at the University of Pittsburg. His background in technology and accounting is the ideal vantage point to learn from.

Teeter says that many advances are due to hobby projects that are started by auditors. From there, it grows into a more complex system that is used throughout a bigger portion of the workplace or the industry as a whole. The most popular systems created are those that streamline and automate routine tasks.

Benefits of Automation

Not only does automation add an extra layer of value to the audit, but it has other advantages as well. Teeter says, “It also means that they’re helping reduce their workflow and their workforce because a lot of the routine tasks can be done by a computer as opposed to a staff accountant.”

There is always the concern that automation may lead to the need for fewer people. However, while automating some of the tasks could be beneficial and time-saving, there is still a need for human judgment and decision-making. The technology may be able to get the analytics, but there will still be a need for people to evaluate it.

Overview of Technology in Auditing and Accounting

We see technology become a helpful asset in auditing and accounting. It can be used to streamline some of the processes without totally disregarding the need for accountants and auditors. Technology should be considered a tool and not a replacement for the professional. However, it will be critical for professionals to learn and adapt to new technologies as they become more and more incorporated in the financial sector.  

For more audit related news, check out Current AICPA Guidelines on Prior Period Audits

Background Check Show to Employers

What Does a Background Check Show Employers?

Many of today’s employers choose to run a background check of potential employees before they offer them a position. These checks are generally conducted to ensure that everything that you put on your resume is correct, and to identify potential red flags about your history before you become a trusted member of their team.

What comes up on a background check can vary based on the amount of information a company is seeking. There are a few things to keep in mind that may come up in a background check.

Your Credit History

Most high level financial and accounting positions require a financial background check. Employers who are entrusting employees with managing income or budgets need to be assured that those employees can handle themselves financially. Financial background checks generally don’t list financial crimes of applicants. Financial crimes will most likely show up on the criminal background check. Instead, a financial background check assess a person’s financial responsibilities.

Generally, when an employer uses the term financial background check, they are referring to a credit history check. Employers will receive information such as highest credit extended, all credit lines, monthly payments, past due amounts, and percentage of credit still available. Additionally, civil suits, judgments, bankruptcies, collection accounts, and tax liens will be included in the credit history.

Employment History

Potential employers can also check to make sure that your employment history was accurate. This can include the dates of employment, what your roles and responsibilities were, and also references from previous supervisors. This means that it is important to keep your resume updated with current contact information for your references and that you should never lie or embellish about past employment.

Criminal Record

Employers will often check your criminal record as well. Criminal records can include driving infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies that are on your record. Some of the available information, or how old the information can be, will vary by state.

Google and Social Media

Many prospective candidates overlook employers looking them up and finding their social media accounts. This means that it is important to keep a professional appearance, even when it comes to your private social media accounts.

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Making Competitive Job Offers

Making a Competitive Job Offer

In this tight job market, it can be difficult to find skilled candidates. This can make it tempting to offer too much when you do find a candidate that meets your requirements. With that in mind we have compiled a few tips that will help you attract the right candidate with a job offer that is amicable for both you and the candidate.

Act Quickly

Today’s best job candidates don’t just put in a single application. Instead, they are diversifying themselves and shopping for the best fit. If you aren’t on top of your hiring game, your perfect candidate maybe be swept up before you even finish interviewing them. That being said, don’t delay. Respond quickly with a competitive job offer when you see a candidate with the skills that are important to you.

Listen to Their Needs

Getting a person into a new position shouldn’t be your only goal. Many job seekers are looking for a real career and a place that they can make a difference for a long time. Make sure that you find out what they want in a position and point out the ways that your business can make this happen. If you have attractive training and promotion potential, make sure to let them know about the opportunities.

Discuss Your Involvement

Making a personal connection and investment in a new hire and the position can be attractive for prospective employees. They want to know that you take an active part in developing them and their career. Detail the ways that you will help to coach and mentor this position.

Make Team Introductions

It is important that a potential employee can see how they fit into your organization. Team introductions can help build immediate relationships with a candidate and help them visualize who they will be working with.

Make a Competitive Job Offer

All of the legwork won’t mean anything if you are drastically under market value or not offering a benefits package. Detail all of the benefits of this position and don’t leave anything undiscussed. Sometimes the small things can end up being the difference in where a great employee decides to go.

Partner-up with a staffing firm. 

A top rated accounting and finance staffing agency knows the ins-and-outs of the accounting and finance candidate market.  They will have a database of job seekers, including those who you won’t have access to by checking the job boards.

Click Here for more hiring strategies to land your best employees.

Questions to Ask New Employees

Questions to Ask New Employees

In order to create a steep learning curve, make sure your new employees are orienting to their new surroundings and have a firm grasp of what their responsibilities are. Staying engaged with your new employees will help them to be efficient and productive.  Here are some questions that you should be asking your new employees during their employee orientation process.

Going Well Or…?

You should be looking for a few things in this answer. The first is to make sure that you are hearing the things that your employee enjoys. Additionally, you can see if the things that are going well match with your employee’s talents and with your expectations of the position. Questions about things that are happening well can also help to frame a larger conversation in a positive and constructive light.

Is This Position What You Had Expected?

It is okay if your employee didn’t expect certain things. Sometimes these variations can be positive, and you may even realize that you are covering areas that you hadn’t even thought this position was capable of. Additionally, this offers a non-confrontational avenue for the employee to bring up any issues that they are having in a constructive manner.

Do You Have Enough Time to Complete Your Work?

In the beginning of any new employment, you should expect and allow for additional time to learn tasks. Ensuring that you don’t overload an employee as soon as they start can help smooth the transition and allow them to give you some of their best work without adding additional pressure.

You may also find that if the employee has too much downtime that you can start to increase their workload, as long as their work has been satisfactory so far.

Are There Any New Employee Challenges I Can Help You With?

It is important to make sure to guide a new employee and give them the resources they need when they first start a position. Offering to help with specific challenges can improve your working relationship and offer your employee an avenue for help if they need it in the future too.

As new employees start a position, it is important to increase your communication and build a solid work foundation. These questions can help get you there.

For more new hire tips check out, Creating a Successful New Hire Orientation Program

job interview questions

Questions to Ask in Every Job Interview

While many people assume that a job interview is all about answering questions, you should also be prepared to ask a few questions of your own. Think of the interview as a two-way street. Not only does the hiring manager need to determine if you are right for them. You need to determine if they are your perfect fit, too. Doing so will ensure that the position is right for you and that you will be happy in the new role. Here are a few questions to ask in every job interview.

What Does the Day-to-Day Look Like?

You want to be sure that you have a clear understanding of what you are expected to accomplish every day. The happiness that you feel for your job often comes down to the joy that you get from the tasks that you do every single day. Make sure that the position includes tasks that you enjoy doing regularly.

How is Success Measured?

People view and evaluate success differently. Ensure that you have a clear understanding of how success is defined and measured. This is a great time to discuss evaluations and rewards programs that the company offers.

What Do You Like About Working Here?

Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer what they appreciate most about working for the company. This will give you some insight into the moral and culture. You’ll also be able to identify better if this is the type of place that you want to work. Happiness on the job matters and you want to be sure that you’re surrounded by content people at work.

What Are the Opportunities for Development?

You don’t (and likely shouldn’t) ask about promotion potential during the interview process, but you should absolutely ask about how the company encourages employee development. You should learn about training, conferences, or other programs that encourage employees to grow whether it be in their position or on to other roles in the company.

What Are the Company’s Values?

A company’s values should align with your own. OF course, every company has their idea of what a successful vision looks like. Make sure the values of the company are what you will be excited to work for on a daily basis.

For more job interview tips, check out Talking About Weaknesses During an Interview.

business email etiquette

Business Email Etiquette

Nothing says true professional quite like a quality business email. That being said, knowing proper business email etiquette is essential to a quality business email. It’s important to understand that the emails that you send between your colleagues and superiors are a reflection of your professional communication skills. In order to ensure that your message is clear and that you maintain a professional interaction, you should take some time to ensure that you understand proper business email etiquette.

Subject Lines

Never leave the subject line blank. This section allows the reader to quickly identify what your email is about so they can classify it properly. Avoid general subject lines such as “Hello” as this does not offer the reader any valuable information. Simply generalize the body of the email by providing a quick subject line that is a few words long.

Include an Introduction

Over time, you may be tempted to get more casual with your colleagues. However, you should always include a proper introduction in your emails. If you are conducting your first email exchange with an individual, make sure that you address them by their name and include your title and first and last name. This helps people understand your role within the company and will help people connect your name with your position.

Proper Salutation

Make sure that you greet people professionally. Avoid terms like “hey” or “what’s up?”. Instead, focus on more professional greetings such as “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” as this is more appropriate when interacting professionally.

Sarcasm is Bad Business Email Etiquette

Remember that the content of your email will lack tone or body language. This means that you should avoid sarcasm or any jokes that may be taken the wrong way. Instead, make sure your language is friendly but direct. You don’t want to chance offending someone or causing confusion.

Remember to Proofread

You want to be sure to scan your email before you send it. Make sure that you are sending the document to the right person and that you’ve avoided grammatical and spelling errors. Most emails include a spell-check feature so make sure that you use that before you hit send. Doing so will ensure that you sound competent and professional.  

For more tips, check out Habits Practiced by Highly Successful People

aicpa

Current AICPA Guidelines on Prior-Period Audits

As a way to enhance education, the AICPA has updated the Technical Question and Answer (TQA) with responses to questions dating back from July 2018. The questions stem from the Technical Hotline as well as other platforms where questions have been asked.

While these questions and answers are not from a source of authority, they do provide general guidance. Keep in mind the contents of the updated TQA have not been acted upon by the senior committee officials of the AICPA.

What is the New AICPA Guideline?

AICPA recently revised the TQA to include information about guidance regarding audits and reporting on a business prior-period financial statement. Specifically, the TQA indicates that auditors should use the standards and forms that are in place during the time in which the audit is performed. The one exception to that will be if there are other standards put in place that offer other specific guidance.

Previous auditing standards are considered outdated, and therefore the current auditing standards should take their place. When the audit is performed, only the current guidelines should be considered. This would ensure that audits are streamlined and the same processes will be taking place across the board.

Updates Come at a Good Time

New auditing standards will influence financial statement periods after December 2020. This guideline will ensure that previous financial statements are handled appropriately.

Of note, not only does this new guideline impact auditor reporting, but also financial statement audits as well as employee benefit plants.

Overview

While there are no strict regulations requiring this guideline, it is still a beneficial source of information. This could help streamline the process and bring some clarity to how audits are handled now as well as into the future. For more information, individuals can refer to the AICPA Technical Questions and Answers.  

Click here for information about DLC’s Accounting and Finance Consulting services.

pcaob article

New Changes to PCAOB and What They Mean

The 2019 Staff Inspections Outlook published by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board indicates that there are some interesting changes on the horizon. Of particular interest is that the PCAOB will allow audit committee chairs of companies who may be audited to participate in discussions with inspection staff.

While the PCAOB’s intent is to provide a more thorough explanation of the audit, and perhaps create more transparency, the reality may be a bit more complex than that. Companies should take into account the potential impacts of the discussions between the audit committee chairs and the inspection staff.

Potential PCAOB Issues

The major concern is that the PCAOB will gain insight into the audit committee process as well as the audit committee obtaining information about PCAOB processes. Some lawyers indicate that a dialogue between the two entities is likely only appropriate if the audit is complete and there were no issues found.

If there are issues found, then having that dialogue occur could potentially cast either party in a negative light. It could potentially influence enforcement activity.

The reality is that while the PCAOB may only have the authority to act against auditors, it is also their practice to share results of the audit with a variety of government agencies who can enforce actions against the issuer.

Options Moving Forward

In order to avoid unexpected interactions with the PCAOB, an issuer should require a timely letter that not only explains the intention of their investigations. Additionally, in the event that discussions between the audit committee and the inspection staff take place, the company should have an attorney on hand.

Specifically, only the attorney should have interaction with the PCAOB so that those discussions stay within a certain boundary. 

Overview

It’s common for the PCAOB to make updates and changes in regards to the specifics of their processes. While there may not be any ill intent behind said changes, it’s important for companies to consider the bigger picture when participating in certain discussions with the PCAOB. An attorney will simply ensure that those discussions are kept within a certain scope and that there are no long-term ramifications that could influence the company long-term.  

Click here to learn more about DLC’s services.

thinking out of the box

Learning to Think Outside the Box

We have all heard the expression, “think outside the box.” However, when it comes to putting that idea into play, most of us struggle to think creatively about the issues that we’ve continued to face day in and day out. So how can we teach ourselves to think outside of the box and find creative solutions to our everyday issues?

Learn Outside of the Box

We often rely on our experiences and knowledge to get through some of our most difficult issues. The rationality of relying on successful past procedures to get us through the future can make sense for “in the box” thinking, but it generally is not revolutionary. If you can increase your knowledge base to include other nonconventional strategies for problem-solving, it makes it easier to identify pathways to success through new routes.

Ask for New Approaches

This doesn’t simply mean that you can ask a colleague for an answer. Instead, look to rephrase the entire problem. If you can come up with innovative ways to identify the issues, it can make innovative solutions more apparent.

Change Your Venue

If you consistently meet in the same conference room and people are surrounded by the same things, it’s easy to see that the same ideas may follow. Try to schedule your next meeting somewhere new. You can completely change the environment and look for something outdoors, a different building, or just a different room. If none of these is possible, you can also look to change the décor of the room or add some ambient sound or background music to the same room. These changes to otherwise comfortable surroundings can help participants think differently about the problems they face.

Ask Different People

If the problem you are facing has only been discussed among the same group of people and you continue to hit the same wall, try to change the entire audience. There is generally no problem with cutting out the upper-level management and letting some other members of the organization take a fresh look. This exercise can also help tap into unrecognized talent within your organization for future projects too.

If you are struggling with getting fresh and innovative perspectives from your traditional problems, these tactics are sure to break out some new insight into your business future.  

For more tips, check out these Habits of Remarkably Effective People

performance reviews

Are Performance Reviews Necessary?

There is a lot of discussion about whether or not performance reviews are necessary. While it’s true that a company can function without them, there is certainly a benefit for the company and the employee if you make performance reviews a regular part of your organization.

Performance Reviews Help Identify Strengths

Quality employees are hard to find. Sometimes, it takes development to get an employee to the place that they need to be. That is when performance reviews come in. This process is all about identifying strengths and weaknesses so that employees have an opportunity to grow. The time investment in helping a current employee develop is much more efficient than firing and hiring someone new.

Creates a Transparent Rewards System

Performance reviews make it easier to establish a rewards system that everybody can learn and follow. You can clearly outline the types of rewards that correlate with certain achievements. Not only does this give something for employees to work toward, but it keeps the process simple to follow for both the employee and the employer.

Improves Communication

Performance reviews are a great communication tool. This allows employees and their leadership to discuss any issues and work through problems at a much lower level. The system that you put in place should encourage discussion which will improve working conditions overall.

Performance Reviews Help Set Goals

Goals are a driving force for employees. Identifying weaknesses shouldn’t be a negative thing. Instead, it should be an opportunity for employees to establish a goal for themselves and then make the moves necessary to achieve that goal.

Streamlines Processes

There is a lot of valuable information on performance reviews. It allows supervisors the opportunity to learn more about their employees and identify pain points that they may have. Having that feedback to refer back to can help alleviate problems in the future and could assist in creating policies and procedures that would be beneficial to the entire team.

Overview

Performance reviews can help a company communicate effectively with employees, establish goals, and understand what employees need in order to thrive. The information is invaluable, and if the process is conducted properly, it could be a huge time saver.

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