A bright future

Surviving and Thriving in Uncertainty: Creating the Risk Intelligent Enterprise

Wiley; $34.95

The future of risk management looks bright - largely because its past is so dark. As Surviving and Thriving in Uncertainty points out, despite all the talk about risk management over the past decade, businesses still collapse, markets implode, economies go haywire, and fraud and business crime thrive. The book aims to prevent this sort of thing by promoting what it calls "the risk intelligent enterprise" - one that goes beyond merely reacting to risk and trying to be safe, to actively managing risk, so that it can not just survive it, but actually profit from it. To that end, the book describes the 10 fatal flaws in conventional risk management, and offers up 10 skills to correct them; then it goes on to describe the structure of the risk intelligent enterprise and how companies can improve themselves so that their future really is bright.

Fraud through the ages

Fraud in the Markets: Why It Happens and How to Fight It

Wiley; $39.95

We're suckers for a good fraud story, and Fraud in the Markets is full of them. In some ways, in fact, it could be considered the story of fraud, at least in the U.S. financial sector. It starts with a fascinating overview of fraud in the financial markets from the early days of the Republic up until around the 1970s, and then starts tracing in detail the giant tangle of financial, regulatory, cultural and fraudulent innovations that led to the economic disaster of 2007-2008, paying particular attention to the problems with banking and mortgages. Sadly, it also offers strategies for fighting fraud and a roadmap for preventing the kinds of shenanigans that create good fraud stories.

Gen harmony

Generations, Inc.: From Boomers to Linksters - Managing Friction Between Generations at Work

Amacom Books; $16.95

In the interests of inter-generational harmony, we'd like to debunk a few myths about the different age cohorts that currently jostle together in the workplace: Not all Baby Boomers are technologically inept; Generation X is not an evil experiment left over from the Cold War; and Generation Y had no hand in the Kennedy Assassination. Everything else you've heard about these generations, though, is true, and to get them working well together, you need to take account of their different work habits, attitudes, expectations and hairstyles. Generations, Inc. will be a useful aide in this, with in-depth dissections of each generation, so you can know what matters to them, and detailed strategies for managing each of them in the workplace.

Rocket surgery

Guide to Fair Value Under IFRS

Wiley; $110

When rocketry was in its infancy, the aeronautical problems it presented were so fiendish that it became a byword for difficulty. Once we got a handle on rocket science, though, we noticed that brain surgery was pretty complicated too, and started to use that as a byword. While brain surgery hasn't gotten much simpler, we still think it's time for a new standard for esoteric complexity, and we propose fair value standards - as in, "How hard can it be? It's not fair value standards!"

We were driven to these thoughts while perusing Wiley's new Guide to Fair Value Under IFRS, a sizable and very useful reference on the complex valuation requirements of International Financial Reporting Standards. It covers the subject pretty thoroughly, with examples based on actual cases, solutions to special problems in the field, a discussion of the documentation required by auditors, and tips and approaches for preparing proposals and documents for all the steps in the valuation process. Practitioners will undoubtedly find it valuable; we, however, will be turning to Brain Surgery for Dummies.

Velvet gloves

Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down

Harvard Business Review Press; $22

Oh, to be a drill sergeant, or the tyrant of a small country: They don't have to worry about convincing people to accept their ideas - they just proclaim them, and enjoy 99.99 percent approval. The rest of us, though, face the bitter task of getting "buy-in" from the assorted cretins, naysayers and barely literate savages with whom we work. Since the iron hand isn't available, we have to rely on the velvet glove, which is where Buy-In comes in. It starts with a fictional story to demonstrate the many ways in which a good idea can get destroyed, then gives a list of 24 common attacks, along with strategies for defending against them. One of the key elements is to always treat your enemies with respect, no matter how little they deserve it, and to take the high road wherever possible. At the same time, once you've finished saving your idea with the book's strategies, you can reverse-engineer them to destroy other people's ideas.

Other people's mistakes

The Hot Dog Syndrome and Don't Bust the Budget - Toss It!

Granville Publications; $15.95 each

As we've noted before, one of the perks of being the most trusted advisor to businesses is that you get to learn from all their mistakes. Harvey Goldstein, a CPA for over 40 years and chairman of Top 100 Firm SingerLewak, has taken full advantage of that, and returned the favor with two books of advice for businesses and entrepreneurs: The Hot Dog Syndrome and Don't Bust the Budget - Toss It! The first uses the fictional framework of a dissatisfied business owner being guided by the disembodied "Voice" of experience, while the second is a more straightforward collection of tips and strategies for improving a company's financial and planning functions, but both let the reader benefit from the misfortunes of others.


How Companies Win: Profiting from Demand-Driven Business Models No Matter What Business You're In

Harper Business; $26.99

As fun as Whack-a-Mole is, randomly pounding small animals on the head is hardly a business strategy - and yet, in some ways, it's the strategy pursued by all the companies that wait to see what customer needs pop up, and then race to fulfill them. The best companies, on the other hand, get out ahead of customer demand and even create it - bringing the mole to the surface at just the point they're ready to whack it. In Whack-a-Mole, this involves a blindfold, finely honed senses, and a certain amount of Zen meditation; in business, according to How Companies Win, it involves inventive prediction of where markets are moving, based on macro-economic and customer trends, analysis of successes and failures in adjacent categories, and a strong knowledge of your customer base and where the pools of "high-profit" demand are most likely to be. Drawing on success stories from a wide range of businesses, it offers a valuable blueprint for getting to the mole before everyone else.

True tax stories

Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster

Simon & Schuster; $28

Can there be a better episode in history for accountants than the story of Al Capone? It's got guns, booze, broads and back taxes, plus it's the only story we know of whose moral is, "File timely!" Get Capone is a new retelling of Scarface's rise and fall, including information from previously unreleased Internal Revenue Service and prosecutorial files. Fast-paced and exciting, it gives as much attention to Capone's underworld high jinx as to the government campaign to put him behind bars, and the tax charges they used to do it, while also throwing some new light on the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and debunking some Capone-related myths.

Also in print

With its usual speed, CCH has produced a mammoth guide to the recent Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. We'll go out on a limb and say that CCH probably understands the new law better than Congress does, and with their explanations and analysis, you will too.

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