accountant imageI recently posed the following question to small-firm CPAs: If you become disabled or die tomorrow, what would happen to your accounting practice? If you haven’t planned for this possibility, the answer probably isn’t going to be pretty. A few days later, the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants published an article in The Trusted Professional imploring small-firm CPAs to take action and implement a practice continuation agreement (PCA) to protect their clients, their practices and their families. The reason this issue is getting increased attention is because the profession is aging and far too few small-firm CPAs have a plan in place. Despite the fact that PCAs have been the subject of numerous publications and articles for more than 20 years, PCAs continue to be “a well-kept secret,” with as few as 6 percent of solo practitioners having a PCA in place.
Continue Reading If a Tree Falls … Who Will be Listening?

I often speak to groups of professionals on how to avoid errors and omissions claims. When I started making such presentations more than 30 years ago, I would hold up a piece of notebook paper and explain that it was a professional’s “best friend” when it comes to avoiding future problems. A memo of a conversation with a client detailing and confirming the services that can (or can’t) be delivered and the realistic outcomes that can (or can’t) result from those services may provide the best defense when a client complains. This is only true to a point. Sometimes, written communications provide a client with ammunition for a claim of negligence.

tax form calculator imageIn a recent Wilson Elser Client Alert, “A Trap for the Unwary Advertiser ,” Tom Manisero (Partner-White Plains) discusses a practice that can trip up accountants looking to use their current client list as a starting point for their advertising. While your clients undoubtedly can be fertile ground for expanding your practice, you have to be careful not to violate the Treasury Regulations implemented in connection with IRC § 7216, which protects confidential information obtained from 1040 clients.
Continue Reading Sidestepping The Advertising Trap

tablet imageAs part of my blog training, I was asked to review my social media presence in general and in particular my LinkedIn account. My profile, admittedly, had not been reviewed in some time, so I updated my bio and skills section.

This made me think about “puffing,” which I learned about in my Contracts class in law school. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is something we experience daily in sales transactions and advertising. Puffing is the exaggeration of the positives of a service or product or anything else someone is looking to sell. Any advertisement that includes superlatives – such as “greatest,” or “best” – or statements that are clearly not intended as factual representations are not generally actionable if you buy the “product” and find it to be lacking. Consumers dealing with a salesperson should expect some level of “puffing.”

Continue Reading Social Media: Putting Your Best Foot Forward or in Your Mouth

accounting-gavelEarlier this year, the New York Times reported that the SEC was “bringin’ sexy back” to accounting investigations. That’s probably not good news for those auditing public companies.

In 2002, “accounting scandals” became a household phrase as the accounting frauds at Enron, WorldCom and others came to light. Although accounting fraud was nothing new, the public and political reactions to these scandals led to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the formation of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), as well as a significant increase in the number of SEC investigations.

Continue Reading Accounting Fraud Never Sleeps—and the SEC Plans to Prove It.