Baby candy

Managing the Risk of Fraud and Misconduct: Meeting the Challenges of a Global, Regulated, and Digital Environment

McGraw Hill; $50

Here's a statistic that should have all our fraudulent friends drooling: A recent survey found that the compliance functions at over 90 percent of companies were less than 10 years old - and at over 80 percent of companies, they were under five years old. This makes them practically infants, and we all know that the candy taken from infants is the sweetest and most delicious of all candies, as well as the easiest to steal.

With compliance thus relatively immature, it's easy to see that businesses need help strengthening their candy defense systems. Managing the Risk of Fraud and Misconduct offers both a history of recent developments in the field, including the many regulatory requirements, and a comprehensive plan for developing a robust approach to deterring, detecting and preventing fraud, and to assessing both a company's vulnerabilities and the success of its anti-fraud measures. Written by two partners from KPMG, it stresses the need to build a culture of ethics and integrity, and offers valuable and up-to-the-minute advice on protecting your sweets. Until its lessons kick in, though, we and our fellow criminals will continue to find rich pickings in the baby carriage.

 

The way we steal now

A Guide to Forensic Accounting Investigation, 2nd Ed.

Wiley; $140 (with AccountingToday.com discount)

Speaking of fraud - as we almost always are - it's important for those on both sides of the law to stay current with the latest developments in the field. But while fraudsters have to troll unpleasant places like boiler rooms, country-club prisons and corporate boardrooms to learn the latest scams, the white hats get to stay comfortably at home and read books like the second edition of A Guide to Forensic Accounting Investigation and learn how to detect and prevent them. With new coverage on the latest auditing standards, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act rules, options fraud, and fraud in China, it's a handy refresher course for those dedicated to uncovering and defeating the innovative and hard-won strategies of the ever-inventive corporate thief.

 

The Roth report

Roth Revolution: Pay Taxes Once and Never Again

Morgan James Publishing; $19.95

There's an old story that English newspapers around the turn of the last century kept the headline "Trouble in the Balkans" typeset and ready to go at all times, as wars in the region were so common. Our version of that is to keep "Uncertainty abounds over tax legislation" permanently ready to go. One story that it applies to is the current confusion over recent changes regarding Roth IRA conversions and recharacterizations, and whether they're worth it. Roth Revolution aims to clear up all the misconceptions and answer the important questions on the subject. While the author is clearly a fan of Roth conversions, he also presents a lucid explanation of the rules, and sets them in the context of a larger tax-minimizing retirement strategy. All in all, a useful reference for planners and their clients.

 

Value for investors

Accounting for Value

Columbia Business School Publishing; $44.95

Don't make the mistake of assuming, as we did, that Accounting for Value is about fair value accounting (though it does touch on it). Rather, it's about accounting for value in investments: teaching the investor how to use accounting to determine if a company's stock is worth buying. It is, of course, a useful approach, but one that has eluded the investor on Main Street, for whom even the basics of accounting are either frightening or yawn-inducing. With a philosophy firmly based in Benjamin Graham's school of value investing, the book breaks through the fear and boredom to equip investors with the accounting tools they need to support smarter investing decisions, and along the way makes some interesting suggestions for improving accounting standards.

 

More value for investors

The Triumph of Value Investing: Smart Money Tactics for the Postrecession Era

Portfolio (Penguin); $25.95

For those who read the previous item and thought, "I already know about accounting, but I could use a refresher on value investing," look no further: The Triumph of Value Investing is a concise re-examination of the investing philosophy that animates, among other, uber-investor Warren Buffett (who is interviewed in the book). It goes beyond just explaining value investing, though, to show not just how it has weathered the recent storms in the market, but to show how it can be applied to the new challenges and opportunities that face investors, in areas such as globalization, new industries and investment vehicles, increased volatility, and the post-recession environment.

 

Status: Owing

Getting Paid Using Social Media: Using Social Media in Collections

Never Dunn Publishing; $16.95

Sure, social media are a way to build and maintain friendships and create vibrant, life-affirming communities, but they also do useful things, like help you get paid. Getting Paid Using Social Media, the latest in expert Michelle Dunn's ever-growing library of collections advice, goes into all the different ways you can use Facebook, Twitter and the like to track down deadbeats, improve your due diligence on potential clients, and facilitate payment from debtors. Perhaps as important, the book goes into all the different ways you can't (or shouldn't) use social media: Never tweet about a client's debt, for instance, or reveal financial details online to shame them, and be extremely careful about contacting them using the communications functions built into the various social media. Next up: how to find your creditors' virtual kneecaps.

 

Don't forget globalization

IRS Form 5471: Information Return for U.S. Persons with Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations

Lorman Education Services; $175.20 (with AccountingToday.com discount)

We haven't mentioned it in the last five minutes, so we thought we'd remind you that more and more companies are operating internationally. It offers them new markets and new sources of profit, and you a chance to remind them that if they own a foreign subsidiary, they'll need to file a Form 5471 with the IRS (which has, apparently, forgotten that it's the Internal Revenue Service, not the International Revenue Service). Properly preparing the form is crucial, as the IRS often uses them as a starting point for audits, and this recorded audio conference and accompanying manual show you how to get it right, and also how to document your planning to make it audit-proof.

 

Soft skills

Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization

Amacom Books; $21.95

Up until very recently, those who offer professional services have focused too much on the "professional," and not enough on the "service." Technical proficiency, of course, is a must, but more and more these days accounting firms are realizing that client service is about much more than just knowing your regs. While many books about client service end up focused on the retail experience, Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit offers lessons that are immediately applicable to any business, and can help you both attract and retain clients. It's all about the soft skills that firms are looking to inculcate in their staff: the importance of language, listening skills, anticipating client needs, and accountability.

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