What do you think of WebTrust, the AICPA's Web assurance program? Have you conducted any engagements? (This question was asked through an email survey of 133 WebTrust providers listed on the program's site at www.cpawebtrust.org)

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We currently have one audit client and a couple more in the pipeline. Our audit client has added much needed value to the client’s business in terms of transaction processing integrity and overall platform security. We have gotten positive feedback from our client regarding their WebTrust audit.

Robert Llewellyn Kilby,
Independent Software Certification
Snellville, Ga.

I do hold a WebTrust license, but have never been able to obtain a client. If I could find one, I would provide services.

Partner Insights

Stuart Ferguson
Stuart H. Ferguson. CPA
Albuquerque, N.M.

We believe that WebTrust is a great idea in search of a market. Many prospects we talk to agree with its principles and the assurances that are provided, yet feel that the absence of a WebTrust seal is not adversely impacting their activities.

Jim Wilkinson
Cayer, Prescott, Clune & Chatellier
Providence, R.I.

We are currently still licensed, but have not done a WebTrust engagement to date. The clients we have approached regarding this service feel it is too expensive for their needs, and feel that consumers have accepted the Internet as a safe place to do business.

Jim Schmidt
Eide Bailly
Eden Prairie, Minn.

WebTrust is a good service that has now been ignored to the point which I do not believe that it will recover. When the issue was first presented, our licensing fees were going to be used to publicize this service to the masses. Most people who have Web sites have never heard about the service. The only advertising that I have seen is the mounds of paperwork that I have been sent. My license will soon expire. It has been an expensive lesson in trusting the AICPA to represent all of its constituents.

Charles Fleming
Gilmore, Gannaway, Andrews, Smith & Co.
Roswell, N.M.

I obtained the licensing for my firm to provide CPA WebTrust services when the program was initially created in 1997. Our efforts to market these services to business owners venturing into e-commerce resulted in zero WebTrust engagements. The businesses we approached were candid with their concerns about the cost/benefit relationship. In 1999, we made the decision to stop "actively" marketing CPA WebTrust. We continue to promote the idea and benefits provided by the CPA WebTrust Seal.

Michael D. Urbanski
Titus, Urbanski & DeMarco
Maumee, Ohio

It seems that the enthusiasm from the small firms has died out. Thanks to Microsoft requiring certificate authorities to have a WebTrust seal for Microsoft to recognize them has been a boon for the big firms. Of the 31 seals that were listed at CPAWebTrust.org, approximately 77 percent of these were from large firms. If it remains the way it is now, however, only the larger firms will benefit from it. What it has done for me is forced me to become more technologically competent. I have passed two MCP tests and am working on more.

J.D. Kish
Kish, Leake & Associates
Englewood, Colo.

We could not sell the package at all. The way it is structured and the cost is too expensive for most companies. Most of them are not doing enough business on the Web. Nobody knows what WebTrust even is. We have had the license since the program’s inception and have never had anything close to an engagement. In four years, we have spent $6,000 to $10,000 and have not seen a nickel from it.

Jeff Sheets
Packer Thomas
Youngstown, Ohio

The new modular approach to the WebTrust program provides the possibility for smaller companies and Web sites to go forward with a WebTrust engagement much more readily than before. In fact, we hope to begin an engagement for the confidentiality seal in a few weeks on a business-to-business Web site. In our opinion, the WebTrust program creates enormous value, not only for the public, but also for our clients.

Susan Huddy
Costello & Huddy
Gaitherburg, Md.

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