NewsFlash Jan. 12, 2017

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Accel 2017 is Under Way at the Florida Capitol
Reps. Joe Gruters, CPA; Dan Raulerson, CPA; and Cyndi
Stevenson, CPA (left to right) meet with YCPAs at the
Florida Capitol.

Today, over 20 of the FICPA’s young CPA (YCPA) members are meeting with lobbyists and legislators at the Florida Capitol as part of Accel 2017, the FICPA’s annual leadership forum and Capitol day for YCPAs.

Speakers at today’s event included Reps. Joe Gruters, CPA; Dan Raulerson, CPA; and Cyndi Stevenson, CPA, among other legislators. Also speaking were Justin Thames, FICPA director of governmental affairs, and Jennifer Green and her staff from Liberty Partners.

Tomorrow, attendees will meet at the Governors Club for a presentation by Accel Leadership Forum Coach Dan Griffiths, CPA, CGMA. Griffiths will discuss how YCPAs can capitalize on the profession’s monumental shifts while boosting their careers.

To find out what’s happening at the two-day event, follow the FICPA on Twitter @ficpa and use #ficpaACCEL.


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Security Summit Alert:
New Two-Stage E-mail Scheme Targets Tax Professionals

IRS Newswire

The IRS, state tax agencies and tax industry leaders yesterday warned tax professionals to be alert to an email scam from cybercriminals posing as clients soliciting their services. A new variation of this phishing scheme is targeting accounting and tax preparation firms nationwide. The scheme's objective is to collect sensitive information that will allow fraudsters to prepare fraudulent tax returns.

These latest phishing emails come in typically two stages. The first email is the solicitation, which asks tax professionals questions such as, “I need a preparer to file my taxes.” If the tax professional responds, the cybercriminal sends a second email. This second email typically has either an embedded web address or contains a PDF attachment that has an embedded web address.

In some cases, the phishing emails may appear to come from a legitimate sender or organization (perhaps even a friend or colleague) because they also have been victimized. Fraudsters have taken over their accounts to send phishing emails.

Tax professionals may think they are downloading potential clients’ tax information or accessing a site with potential clients’ tax information. In reality, the cybercriminals are collecting preparers’ email addresses, passwords and possibly other information.

The IRS urges tax professionals and tax-preparation firms to consider creating internal policies or obtaining security experts’ recommendations on addressing unsolicited emails seeking their services.

One tip: Never respond to or click on a link in an unsolicited email or PDF attachment from an unknown sender. As the IRS, states and the tax industry make progress in the fight against identity theft, cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to steal additional client information. Criminals need more data in their effort to impersonate clients and file fraudulent returns to claim refunds, and schemes like this can help in this effort.

Read more at Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself, the Security Summit initiative to increase awareness about the tax-professional community.


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Recommendations to Congress Would Help Taxpayers

AICPA

Allowing S corporations to have nonresident aliens as shareholders and modifying the deadline for estate basis reporting are among the dozens of recommendations the AICPA sent to Congress as part of an annual effort to improve tax administration.

To learn more, members can visit the 2017 Compendium of Tax Legislative Proposals.


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The Top Global Risks for 2017

By Neil Amato
Global CPA Report

The global business environment is riskier than in previous years, but many organizations are not devoting additional time or resources to risk management over the next 12 months, according to a new global survey.

Each of the top ten risks’ perceived impact for 2017 grew compared with the previous year, according to respondents in a survey by consulting firm Protiviti and the North Carolina State University Enterprise Risk Management Initiative.

The survey polled 735 board members and executives – 407 from the U.S. and 328 from other regions – on 30 risks facing their organizations. The top risks, and their rating on a 10-point scale of impact, are:

A year ago, regulatory changes and scrutiny edged out economic conditions on the list of top risks because of a higher percentage of “potential impact” ratings, which is a rating of six or higher on the scale. This year, economic conditions pulled ahead, with 72 percent of respondents saying the economy would have significant impact. Regulation, labelled a significant risk by 66 percent of respondents, also was a top risk in the 2015 survey, and concerns about regulatory requirements are often listed as the top challenge facing U.S. businesses in a quarterly survey of finance executives by the AICPA.

The likelihood that organizations will devote additional resources to risk management has dipped for the second consecutive year, although the decrease was slight. On a 10-point scale, where 1 is “unlikely to make changes” and 10 is “extremely likely to make changes,” the 2017 rating is 6.0, down from 6.2 in 2015 and 6.1 in 2016.

Yet, the ratings went up when executives were asked about the magnitude and severity of risks they expected to face: 6.2 in 2017, compared with 6.1 in 2016 and 6.0 in 2015. That 10-point scale had 1 as “extremely low” and 10 as “extensive.”

The survey said that finding, that the magnitude and severity of risks is rising but possible responses seem to be dropping, could indicate organizations are facing resource constraints or are satisfied with the sufficiency of prior-year investments in risk management.

Risk categories
CFOs and CEOs see a riskier environment relative to other management members, rating each of the 30 risks 4.5 or higher on the survey’s 10-point scale. Chief information officers rated the most risks, 12, as having significant impact. On the other hand, board members rated 18 of 30 risks as having less significant impacts.

Five of the top 10 risks are operational risks; three are strategic risks; and two are macroeconomic in nature.

Related CGMA Magazine content:
What the US Election Could Mean for Global Industry:” Finance leaders offer insight into the opportunities and challenges facing businesses globally after the U.S. election result.

How a Company’s Culture Can Limit Data Breaches:” As companies build up defenses against outside attackers, they may be overlooking a bigger threat: their own workers. Organizations can take these steps to reverse careless data management among employees.

Neil Amato (namato@aicpa.org) is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.


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Federal Taxation Committee Publishes Annual Legislators’ Tax Guide

Members of the FICPA Federal Taxation Committee have published the 2016 Legislators’ Tax Guide. The annual guide is specifically prepared for members of the Florida Legislature and provides them with a useful tool for preparing their tax returns.

The guide covers specific examples and guidelines that may assist legislators with their particular tax situations. It is not intended to cover all tax matters that may relate to a legislator’s tax return. A question-and-answer format is used to provide specific answers to income-tax questions that relate to their unique position as legislators.

Legislators can access the guide on the FICPA website here.


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FCT is in the Mail

Members soon will receive the January/February issue of Florida CPA Today (FCT). This issue includes a cover story on Nonresident Alien Income Tax Compliance. Also included are technical articles titled “IRS Collections Standards: Deflation Inflates Minimum Payments” and “Update on S Corporations.”

Don’t miss the information about Robert Half’s 2017 Salary Guide; FCT’s annual must-have apps list; and the Take Five profile of Mia Thomas, CPA, the FICPA’s director of customized learning.

Thank you for your FICPA membership, and happy reading!

“Thumb” through the online version.


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Tips for Managing Remote Workers

AICPA

It’s easy for remote staff to feel disconnected from the organization, especially if they work in a different region or country. In this AICPA Insights blog post, leaders from Merck, Johnson & Johnson and Bose, among others, share insights on the management skills needed to effectively engage an increasingly remote and diverse workforce.


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How to Tackle Common Finance Interview Questions

By Nigel Armitt, FCMA, CGMA
Global CPA Report

Interview questions are designed to draw out information about how you’ve made a difference in your organization, but it can be difficult to come up with examples when you’re nervous.

To make sure you present your experience and suitability for the role in the best light, preparing and practicing answers before the interview is key. If you’re not trying to come up with the right example for each answer on the spot, you’ll be less nervous.

Over the course of my career, I’ve had a lot of experience in the candidate hot seat, as well as in the role of interviewer. Here are some of the most common questions you’ll come across in a finance interview, along with a framework for preparing your answer to include the detail interviewers are looking for.

  1. Give me some examples of how you applied your finance skills in previous roles. Remember to keep to specific examples, ideally from recent roles. Always use examples that result in improvements to the organization. Bear in mind that a top performing commercial finance team serves its customers (internal and external) and seeks to stay ahead of the competition by adopting the latest technology and systems.

    Outcomes you might want to cover include cost savings delivered or increases in sales income, market share, profitability and cash flow. Any processes, systems or services that improved efficiency or levels of service are worth highlighting.

    Take this opportunity to demonstrate your interpersonal skills – with colleagues as well as external stakeholders, suppliers and organizations with which the company has a commercial or statutory relationship.

  2. Do you have knowledge of the accounting standards relevant to this industry? Do your research before the interview to make sure you are up to date on current standards and are aware of the latest status of any new draft accounting standards or proposed changes – particularly those specific to your sector, such as charity reporting and accounting guidelines.

    Explain briefly whether you have knowledge of accounting standards, generally accepted accounting principles and the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Describe the depth of your knowledge, how it applies to the role and, more importantly, how you stay up to date.

  3. What is your role in the month-end close process? This is a key question, and you must be able to clearly articulate your role and responsibility. Provide detail as to how you go about the close at your current or most recent employer. Give examples of where you have reduced the month-end close, made the process more efficient and improved the accuracy of actual and forecast figures reported. 

    Explain the changes made and how you implemented them, and include the interpersonal skills used to effect the changes within the organization. If there was resistance to change, explain how you overcame it.

  4. Describe a situation where you took the lead on a process or system implementation or were proactive. Hiring managers hope to hire accountants who have implementation experience and have encountered and overcome implementation issues that, unaddressed, would have resulted in delays or even non-implementation of a project.

    Give at least two examples of issues that occurred and how you dealt with them promptly and efficiently. How you handled difficult situations involving staff, such as managers, board members and external stakeholders is particularly relevant.

  5. How hands-on were you? Your response will depend on whether you’ve been working for a small or large firm. Give examples of detailed tasks you’ve delivered. This will demonstrate your experience.

  6. What experience do you have developing business metrics? Keep it brief and give as many examples as you have of recent practical experience. Then you can open the conversation to previous employers’ specific business metrics.

  7. What are your biggest weaknesses? All accountants should be able to give one shortcoming – it’s important to understand what you cannot yet do as well as your strengths. Examples might include, “I’ve never done the monthly close, SEC reporting, or Sarbanes-Oxley on my own, but I’ve supported that process.” Or, “I can be impatient but am learning to handle it better.”

Interview stress tips:

Think of someone you know who always copes well under pressure, and visualize how he or she reacts to stress. Use this as a visual reminder that stress can allow us to access our courage strength. It can change us into our “best self” for any challenge we may face.

Think of the interview as a meeting between two people getting to know each other.

Before the interview, repeat positive phrases like these in your head or out loud to help you feel more confident:

I am going to do my best.
I am prepared.
I can do this.
This job is mine.
I can ace this interview in my sleep.

Nigel Armitt, FCMA, CGMA (nigelarmitt@hotmail.com) is a UK-based author and coach who specializes in helping professionals prepare for interviews.


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Master Key MBA Concepts in Hours, Not Years!

 

 

The FICPA has partnered with The Business Learning Institute to bring you an innovative program, the MBAexpress.

Busy professionals are choosing MBAexpress to learn the key concepts to deal more effectively with today’s rapidly changing and increasingly complex business environment. You’ll learn to recognize how different business processes drive results and identify the effective use of key performance indicators to motivate, measure, evaluate and improve results.

You’ll also learn the key elements and components of a traditional MBA while looking strategically at an organization from a holistic perspective to improve business planning and decision making.

MBAexpress provides business savvy in customizable increments with more than 30 on-demand, one-hour learning modules covering essential focus areas.

Shop Now | Learn More
Ask Us: Member Service Center (800) 342-3197 | (850) 224-2727 | msc@ficpa.org


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The Anticipatory Organization™ Model

The FICPA has partnered with the Business Learning Institute to bring you The Anticipatory Organization model, a powerful online learning system for leaders, emerging leaders, managers, planners and sales teams.

The simplicity of the Anticipatory Organization model enables your organization to get out from under the weight of uncertainty and disruption; understand and apply complex ideas; and engage the future head on.

Daniel Burrus will present skills and methods that can reorient your thinking about the future with The Anticipatory Organization model.

This course is designed for anyone interested in learning how to predict future trends that can impact their personal and professional lives. The Anticipatory Organization is an accelerated learning platform. Each video is fast, short and reinforced. Click below and see how it can help you advance.

Shop Now | Learn More
Ask Us: Member Service Center (800) 342-3197 | (850) 224-2727 | msc@ficpa.org


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Tech Tip
How to Take a Screenshot Using Keyboard Shortcuts

www.groovypost.com

In previous versions of Windows, you can take a screenshot by using the PrtScn key. This option still works in Windows 10, which will take a shot of everything on the screen, copy it to the Clipboard, then allow you to past it into a program such as Microsoft Word.

However, if you have a multiple monitor setup it can be annoying when you just need a specific window or section of your screen. If you don’t care to install third-party software, here’s a look at some different keyboard shortcuts for taking shots in Windows 10 to achieve the results you need.

  • Windows Key + PrtScn: Windows 10 will take a screenshot and save it as a PNG file in the default Pictures folder in File Explorer.
  • Alt + PrtScn: This is a great option if you just want to take a shot of an individual window on your screen. Note: Alt + PrtScn will only copy your shot to the Clipboard so you can paste it into a document or other image editor, such as Microsoft Paint. It doesn’t create a backup copy in the Pictures folder.
  • Windows Key + Volume down: This one is meant for tablets running Windows 10, such as the Microsoft Surface.

Other shortcuts to try

If you can’t get these to work, some laptops and other devices require a modified key combo. For instance, Windows Key + Ctrl + PrtScn is one. Windows Key + Fn + PrtScn is another one that’s required on some devices. Check the manufacturer’s website or manual to find out which one to use.

The snipping tool

Although this isn’t a keyboard shortcut, you might want to take a shot of a specific region of your screen. To do that, enter the Snipping Tool (an often-forgotten tool included since Vista and Windows 7). To access it, hit the Windows Key and type: snipping tool and select the results from the top. Then select New from the menu and drag the cursor over the area of the screen you want to capture. The captured screenshot will appear in the full Snipping Tool program. It has basic editing tools and is a good option for a quick shot if you need one.

To view the article with images, click here.

For more information and to view an archive of previous Tech Tips, please visit us here.

Are there specific topics you’d like us to cover in Tech Tips? Email suggestions to communications@ficpa.org.


Look for the next issue of FICPA NewsFlash Jan. 26, 2017.

Comments or Suggestions?

We are interested in your comments or suggestions. Please email communications@ficpa.org.