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AICPA initiatives for members: an update.

Are you aware of the many AICPA initiatives to help members succeed in their professional lives? From new resources and tools to advocacy efforts that benefit members and the public, here are some recent efforts on members' behalf.

Addressing Small Firm Issues

Information, tools or resources for many of the initiatives briefly discussed below can be found at www.aicpa.org/pcps.

* Staffing is a critical issue for CPA firms. To shed light on the attitudes and expectations of the most promising young professionals, PCPS released "The PCPS Top Talent Study: Gaining a Strategic Advantage in Recruiting and Retention" This brochure discussed the results of the landmark PCPS Top Talent Study, helping small firms glean practical recruitment and retention advice. It is available at www.cpa2biz.com. An article in the Nov. 2006 Journal of Accountancy also summarized the results and offered insights on what firms can learn from them.

* Where can practitioners turn to learn how their firms and their management decisions compare with other practices? The 2006 PCPS/TSCPA National Management of an Accounting Practice Survey gathered detailed benchmarking information on the state of CPA firms and practice management trends. In addition, "The State of CPA Firms Today: An Analysis of the 2006 PCPS/TSCPA National Management of an Accounting Practice Survey" offered PCPS members a concise summary of this study.

* To help CPAs strengthen their practices, PCPS launched a series of highly popular online Practice Management Forums for its members covering such issues as profitability, succession, strategic planning and marketing. They feature nationally known speakers leading live PowerPoint presentations and answering participants' questions. More forums are planned after the end of busy season.

* Seasonality Success, Winning Strategies for Profitable Firms, a new quarterly electronic newsletter for PCPS members, contains practical tips that help practitioners achieve profitable busy seasons. It concentrates on four key practice management areas: Positioning, Client Strategies, People, and Systems and Processes.

* PCPS Firm Size Network Groups, which expanded last fall, offer PCPS members the opportunity to discuss with their peers the goals, challenges and concerns unique to firms of the same size. Meetings take place twice a year. Each group sets its own agenda and chooses its own meeting locations. To learn more, go to www.aicpa.org/pcps and click on "Community."

Serving the Public Interest

* Through its 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy effort, the AICPA positions the profession as a leader in helping Americans improve their understanding of finances for every stage of life. Feed the Pig [TM], launched in Oct. 2006, is a national campaign targeting "career builders" those aged 25-34. Produced by the AICPA with the Ad Council, the award-winning campaign demonstrates how to increase savings and reduce spending to help build financial security. Public service announcements were developed for radio, print, television and multimedia venues. For more information, go to www.feedthepig.org. Separately, a new study commissioned by the AICPA revealed that young Americans face an uncertain financial future unless they change how they manage their money.

FEEDTHEPIG.ORG

* To make it easier for CPAs to serve clients and the capital markets, the AICPA Special Committee on Mobility was created to address inconsistent state rules that do not protect the public interest but do make it more difficult for CPAs to practice across state lines. The special committee identifies problem areas and offers resources to states that want to modify their own accountancy laws or regulations.

* Smaller public companies are better able to implement more effective internal control systems and comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, thanks to Internal Control over Financial Reporting--Guidance for Smaller Public Companies, a new report issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO). The AICPA is a member of COSO, a voluntary private-sector organization dedicated to improving the quality of financial reporting through business ethics, effective internal control and corporate governance. Go to www.coso.org/Publications/SB_Executive_Summary.pdf.

* The Institute takes its public service mission seriously. That commitment was recognized when the Internal Revenue Service presented the AICPA with an award "in recognition of outstanding partnership" in conjunction with efforts seeking volunteers to help prepare tax returns for disaster victims affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita in 2005. The Institute also received a certificate of appreciation from the Service for its "outstanding team effort in delivering products, services and education" to small business and selfemployed taxpayers.

* Risk identification and management, business continuity and social and political risk considerations are critical issues for companies. To help our members address them, the AICPA Business, Industry and Government Team offered a series of free Infocasts on the issues featuring the authors of Management Accounting Guidelines developed in collaboration with CMA Canada and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Archives of the presentations are available at www.aicpa.org/fmcenter.

* Management sets a corporation's culture. To see how critical management's view of corporate ethics is, a new video, "Fraud and the Tone at the Top," examines the connection between fraud and management actions and attitudes in an organization. It features Joe Wells, CEO of the Association for Certified Fraud Examiners; AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon; and a former MCI/WorldCom employee arrested and imprisoned for money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice. It can be found at www.aicpa.org/antifraud; click on "Resources"

* Anecdotal evidence suggests financial statement users may not consistently understand the intended communications contained in the auditor's report. To promote greater comprehension of a user's understanding of the nature of a financial statement audit or the level of assurance that can be derived from an audit, the AICPA, the American Accounting Association and the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board have joined forces to launch a research initiative that will provide a better understanding of users' perceptions of an unqualified auditor's report.

Providing Professional Tools and Guidance

* Creating practical guidance is one way to help members address standards overload concerns. A free practice guide on FASB Interpretation No. 48, Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes, helps members make sense of a new pronouncement that will have a significant impact on GAAP clients. It can be found at www.aicpa.org/fin48guide. In addition, a Web cast that was part of the AICPA SEC Quarterly Update Series further clarified the standard. Go to www.cpa2biz.com.

* In another effort to assist CPAs in implementing an important new standard, the AICPA provided numerous resources related to Statement on Auditing Standards No. 112, Communicating Internal Control Related Matters Identified in an Audit. Understanding SAS No. 112 and Evaluating Control Deficiencies--Audit Risk Alert can be found at www.cpa2biz.com. In addition, a special PCPS online Practice Management Forum, "Understanding SAS 112," presented by Chuck Landes, AICPA vice president, professional standards and services, took place in Jan. Other useful tools are being created as well.

* Many resources have been developed to help members understand and implement the new risk assessment suite of auditing standards, a set of eight statements on auditing standards issued by the AICPA Auditing Standards Board to further enhance audit quality. Related resources include a new self-study course, as well as an audit risk alert and an audit and accounting guide. For more information and to order, visit www.cpa2biz.com/risk.

* Ethics matters sometimes can be complex but are a hallmark of the CPA profession. To clarify key ethics issues for members, the Professional Ethics Executive Committee adopted guidance on how the provision of forensic accounting services and tax compliance services would affect a member's independence. The guidance can be found at www.aicpa.org/download/ethics/Revisions_to_Interpretation_101-3.pdf.

* Consistent, high-quality performance is essential in all services offered by CPAs. To establish standards in an increasingly important practice niche, a revised exposure draft of a proposed Statement on Standards for Valuation Services, Valuation of a Business, Business Ownership Interest, Security, or Intangible Asset, was issued. More information is available from www.aicpa.org/bvfls.

* The Pension Protection Act of 2006 is the most comprehensive pension reform legislation since 1974. To assist members in obtaining a general understanding of key provisions of the pension act, the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center has prepared a summary that can be found at www.aicpa.org/EBPAQC.

* Members can now receive discounts on two important business tools. The AICPA and Research In Motion together with eAccess have teamed up to bring AICPA members the best available BlackBerry pricing and support services. In addition, discounted offerings from Prism eSolutions, the leading provider of business continuity planning resources, include state-of-the-art tools to help them evaluate and implement business continuity planning in their own businesses and for their clients. Go to www.cpa2biz.com/elite.

* The Emerging Partner Training Forum, presented in collaboration with PCPS and NorthStar Conferences, was a sold-out two-day seminar that taught promising CPAs what makes a CPA firm leader successful. Featuring presentations by renowned speakers, it also provided excellent networking opportunities for participants.

* Career planning can be difficult for busy CPAs, but Take Charge of Your Career, a five-step guide created by the Business, Industry and Government team, offers tips and tools to ease the process. Used in conjunction with the AICPA Competency Self-Assessment Tool (www.cpa2biz.com/CAT), it can help current and aspiring CPAs get a sense of how to maintain their core competencies and recognize when new ones should be learned. Obtain the brochure from www.aicpa.org/CPACareerPath.

* As part of its continuing program to position CPAs as thought leaders in management accounting, the AICPA joined with the American Accounting Association's Management Accounting Section to research non-financial performance measures. The AICPA is funding three projects for a total of $55,000.

* As a service to members, the Alternative Investments Task Force crafted guidance to auditors of investor entities on how the auditor may obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to conclude that the financial statements are free of material misstatement. It was created by the Audit Issues Task Force of the Auditing Standards Board in response to the increased risk of misstatement inherent with these investments that do not have a readily determinable market value. For more information, go to www.aicpa.org/Professional+Resources /Accounting+and+Auditing/Audit+and+Attest+Standards/Pra ctice+Aids+and+Tools/alternative_investments.htm.

* The Institute is dedicated to providing members with timely news and practical information in the most user-friendly formats. To achieve that goal, the Journal of Accountancy underwent a redesign that improved both its look and content. Highlights include a new cover that alerts readers to major articles and columns, as well as improved spacing and column widths, type and graphics for enhanced navigation and readability. In addition, the magazine now runs interviews with key people outside the profession, including high-level Washington leaders, regulators and other noted business figures. Also new are two columns: Last Word, a closer look at some intriguing, inspiring and imaginative CPAs; and Top Line, which includes noteworthy business trends, ideas, surveys and news items.

* The AICPA's ongoing media relations efforts keep the national and business press informed about the Institute's wide-ranging initiatives and the outstanding work of CPAs. Since Aug., the AICPA was quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including national and regional publications, radio and television programs and Web sites, in addition to business and accounting trades. The Feed the Pig campaign alone garnered more than 106 million media impressions since its launch in late Oct 2006.

Initiatives in the Members' Interest

* Recruitment and retention are the lifeblood of the profession. To address the needs of young professionals, the Institute launched the Young CPA Network to inspire the profession's future leaders. The Network includes a monthly enewsletter, The Edge, as well as a dedicated Web site (www.aicpa.org/YoungCPANetwork).

* The AICPA, as a member of the International Federation of Accountants, has collaborated with other member organizations to develop a new resource: IFACnet--A KnowledgeNet for Accountants in Business (www.IFACnet.com). This new global resource will provide one-stop access to leading-edge articles, good-practice guidance, and tools and techniques for accountants employed in commerce, industry, the public sector, education and not-for-profits.

* Many American CPAs work in foreign countries and many accountants in other countries can benefit from the resources offered here. AICPA members on assignment overseas in England & Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Hong Kong are eligible to receive counterpart institute benefits as part of the GAA Passport to Member Service program. Such benefits include attendance at education programs, electronic newsletters, Technical Hotline and library services at local member rates from the eight accounting institutes in countries represented in the Global Accounting Alliance. Visitors to the U.S. who are members of these institutes in the GAA are eligible to receive similar AICPA member benefits. Details and contact information for the other institutes are available at www.aicpa.org/gaa.

* The award-winning Start Here. Go Places. student recruitment campaign received another acknowledgement of its effectiveness when Start Here magazine won a gold and silver award at the 2006 Ozzie Awards, which recognize excellence in editorial content and magazine design throughout the publishing industry. For more information about the campaign, visit www.StartHereGoPlaces.com.

* The AICPA Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey helps to establish CPAs as thought leaders in business and on the national economy. The Business, Industry and Government Team has made a number of enhancements to the survey for 2007. Conducted on a semi-annual basis since 2004, the survey now will be conducted quarterly, and a new opinion question will allow participants to comment on economic prospects for their states. In addition, data ranges have been added for responses about anticipated growth, spending, financing and workforce changes to provide more meaningful data.

Advocating Legislative/Regulatory Positions

* The AICPA scored important wins with two legislative efforts to benefit members. As a result, CPAs are now exempt from the initial and annual privacy notification requirements under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The AICPA also was successful in opposing a provision in Head Start legislation that required audit firm rotation.

* Congress was not able last year to reach agreement on a final estate tax bill, but the estate tax bill passed by the House of Representatives incorporated many of the principles the AICPA has suggested for a number of years. Workload compression, combating attempts to mandate audit firm rotation for required government audits and concerns over patenting tax strategies remain high legislative priorities for the 110th Congress.

* As it did in 2005, the AICPA questioned the practical utility in publishing tax return preparation cost estimates with the 2006 Form 1040 instructions, and recommended against including them. In response to these concerns, the Internal Revenue Service has enhanced its explanation in the instructions of how the figures were developed.

* At the urging of the AICPA's Tax Section, the IRS has confirmed it will again be permissible this filing season to report summary information on Schedule D if the details are provided on an attached schedule. The AICPA successfully advocated against required reporting changes that it believed would have been onerous and burdensome for both tax practitioners and taxpayers.
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Publication:CPA Letter
Date:Feb 1, 2007
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