Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Being Great at Not Doing

In full disclosure, I’m on the treadmill as I’m dictating this column, a byproduct of eating enough over the Thanksgiving weekend to power a commuter train. In a season of giving thanks, I’m thankful beach season is at least six months away. At this point I’m in no danger of Sports Illustrated calling me to appear in their annual swimsuit edition.

Let’s just say that when filling out my pants size for a Christmas wish list, discretion is the better part of valor so I’ve added a size or two for good measure – if you’ll pardon the bad pun.

But on to the topic de jour. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I Robot

Sixteen years ago just as the tech bubble was about to erupt like Mount St. Helens, two software executives from a company in California dropped by my office to demonstrate their latest product, an accounting application that could be accessed remotely via the Internet.

Back then, vendors like those were referred to by the acronym of ISPs – Internet Service Providers – which as most of you know by now the online product movement has evolved to the more updated and colorful nomenclature of “cloud applications.”

I compared that experience to the first time I saw my uncle demonstrate the Bowmar Brain, a hand-held electronic calculator back in 1972, or when I witnessed a crude form of email in the early 1980s.

Today, many CPA firms have eschewed the expense of servers or on-site remote people and opted for the hundreds of available cloud apps, as over the past decade even the traditional accounting software vendors now offer a cloud version of their product lines.

But there’s an emerging trend that’s a bit eye-opening and, from my standpoint, a tinge frightening.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Throwing “The Book” out!

In full disclosure, I’m a statistics junkie.

And always have been.

I think I’m one of the few people other than those who pursue it as a career, who took not one, not two but THREE statistics classes in college.

Whether it be sports, business, professional services or some other arcane arena, I file fact and figures away for future reference, which usually manifests itself in columns such as these or CPE presentations.

Other numericals such as batting averages or yards per pass attempt are best left for backyard barbecues or cocktail parties.

So as you can imagine, I got a minor thrill when the AICPA recently released its quadrennial succession survey, an amalgamation of several hundred slides citing responses from both sole practitioners and multi-owner firms on a variety of succession-related topics.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sometimes it’s the smaller picture

Tired of election coverage?

Join the club.

As someone who has voted in every Presidential election since Ford-Carter in ’76, I’m adamant about not reading or watching anything election-related for the next 48 hours.

That may be easier said than done, because Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton more resembles a five-car pileup on the interstate that you can’t help but rubberneck as opposed to choosing the next four-year occupant of the Oval Office.

But in many cases, the voting public in any big election misses the bigger picture, or more accurately, the smaller picture.

A number of years ago when I was cutting my proverbial teeth at a local newspaper, my wizened editor who so often served as a mentor, pulled me aside one election night and explained that too often the citizenry focuses on the larger elections instead of the ones that affect them the most.

A bit puzzled I asked how so?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Payback is a you-know-what!

Earlier this year I chronicled my adventures with those overseas scammers posing as IRS Agents who claimed I was in danger of arrest for failure to repay back taxes.

As someone who covered the accounting profession for 12 years I was more than familiar with standard IRS collection procedures something our friends in India were obviously not aware of.

Well I’m happy to report, actually, “giddy” is more like it, that the Justice Department has charged some 61 individuals and entities that victimized thousands of people with false IRS claims resulting in millions of dollars in losses. As of now, some 20 have been arrested in the U.S. and another 30 or so and five call centers in India have been charged.