CPAs are increasingly being asked to solve the information technology problems of their clients and prospective clients, according to a new survey by the American Institute of CPAs.

“The tide has really turned this year with the economy and increasing regulations,” said Joel Lanz, co-chairman of the AICPA’s Top Technology Initiatives Task Force. “Clients are coming to CPAs asking them, ‘How do we handle technology risk?’ They expect CPAs to know enough to be able to discuss and manage the issues.”

This year’s AICPA Top Technology Initiatives Survey is the first to ask AICPA members to rank a list of questions heard most often from audit committees, chief financial officers and chief information officers. With a renewed focus on IT-related issues, the survey makes clear that CPAs need to be literate about information technology in order to collaborate effectively with clients and their IT partners.

The top 10 most frequently asked questions are:

1. Are we ensuring that our data and technology resources are protected against hacking, viruses or other compromises?

2. Are we considering or implementing organizational security precautions even though we haven’t had a data breach or loss?

3. Are our current internal controls and IT governance policies and procedures effective?

4. Are we receiving the most relevant and current information from our reporting functions (business intelligence, dashboards, etc.) or are there areas for improvement?

5. Have we implemented sound, appropriate privacy policies and procedures in place within the organization and for our customers?

6. Are we appropriately considering the IT risks associated with the organization in the initial planning of any audit or attest engagement?

7. Are we capturing the appropriate control objectives during the initial planning of any audit or attest engagement to address the IT risks associated with the organization?

8. Should we refresh our core and financial accounting software to leverage technology efficiencies every few years?

9. Can our data remain safe if we utilize cloud computing or Software-as-a-Service?

10. Can we deliver on our service and product promises to our customers if we utilize cloud computing services?

The AICPA also released its annual list of the top 10 technology considerations driving CPAs’ practices today. They include:

1.  Security of data, code and communications

2. Connectivity/wireless access

3. Backup solutions/disaster recovery 

4. Secure electronic collaboration with clients

5. Paperless workflow

6. Laptop security (encryption)

7. Small business software

8. User mobility

9. Tax software

10. Server virtualization and consolidation

The list of the top 10 technology issues typically is released in January, but this year the release was delayed because the selection process changed.

The full survey results are available at www.aicpa.org/TopTech. The AICPA plans to discuss the results of the survey in a webinar on June 23, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. ET. For more information, visit http://www.cpa2biz.com/AST/Main/CPA2BIZ_Primary/Accounting/FinancialReporting/PRDOVR~PC-WBC10074i/PC-WBC10074i.jsp.

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