SOFTWARE, HARDWARE & SUPPLIES BEYOND CHECKLISTS
Checklists are fine, as far as they go, but we've found that with a little effort and application, it's easy to skip or "miss" any number of items on a checklist. CPA Service Group's new Disclosure and Reporting Manager goes online to remedy this for firm engagements like audits -- and then goes well beyond. Firms answer the DRM checklist questions, which include all AICPA-approved reporting and disclosure checklists, and when they're done, the DRM produces an engagement letter, a complete disclosure checklist, financial statements, and management representation and comment letters. With the ability to create your own library of answers and disclosures, the DRM creates firm-wide document and process standards, and streamlines the audit engagement process.
www.cpaservicegroup.com or (888) 231-8880
Given that everyone loves getting paid, you'd think that everyone would love accountants who handle payroll. With a few exceptions, this is rarely the case. One of those exceptions is payroll services provider Paychex, which has created an online resource center for accountants. The site, powered by BNA and CCH, includes news feeds, a searchable database of frequently asked questions, downloadable payroll and employment forms, interactive human resources and personnel forms, comprehensive state compliance resources, and over 150 financial calculators. Those who love payroll-preparing accountants may be few in number, but they're rich in gifts.
"Quarantine" comes from the Italian for 40, which was the number of days ships suspected of carrying dangerous diseases had to wait in the harbor of Venice before they could land. Iophase Inc.'s new Advanced Email Scrubbing 2.0 doesn't hold spam for that long, but it does quarantine suspect e-mails and send the recipients a list once a day, so they can retrieve the ones they want. The system also gives administrators more control, and includes an enhanced Web interface and the ability to add new domains via a control panel.
www.iophase.com or (866) 469-9346
Among the factors currently gumming up the economy is lenders' uncertainty about risk -- where it ended up, who's exposed, and the levels of risk in the various clever financial vehicles that were meant to minimize risk in the first place. Doing its part to clear up this uncertainty is Daylight Forensic & Advisory, which has developed a proprietary solution for assessing risk in mortgage-backed securities. The software will let financial institutions evaluate the loans that underlie the securities, and determine the risk of default, non-performance and fraud.
We hardly need to tell you that Staples sells office supplies, but it's nice to know that they're thinking about tax preparers in this stressful time: They've gone out of their way to assemble a number of tools that will be particularly useful as April 15 looms. Their 10-sheet Micro-cut Shredder, for instance, shreds everything up to credit cards and small paper clips for under $200, while the Vision Elite Rollerball pen (at $25.99 a dozen) features special fadeproof and water-resistant ink to combat fraud. If only they stocked experienced staff ... .
WORLD OF WORRIES
Remember when business executives only had to worry about business? Now, besides all their business concerns, they have to worry about geopolitics (terrorism, China), meteorology (floods and global warming) and even biology (avian flu). As The Sentinel CEO makes clear, the universe of risk confronting business leaders has expanded -- or at least their perception of that universe has. Written by former Deloitte global CEO William Parrett, the book brings together the expertise of a wide range of executives to explore all the new things clamoring to keep you up at night, from physical and technological security to the image of U.S. companies abroad, as well as "imagining the unimaginable" -- preparing yourself for all the new worries we haven't uncovered yet.
John Wiley & Sons; $29.95
SAS 112 GUIDE
It's nice to know that when regulators issue standards to tell you what to do, there are companies like PPC to tell you how to do what the regulators tell you to do. PPC's Guide to Internal Control Communications will lead you through the occasionally confusing rules of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 112, on evaluating and communicating internal control deficiencies in audits of non-public companies. Available in print and on CD-ROM, the guide will help auditors handle internal control deficiencies, and the preparation of critical communications regarding them.
DID YOU KNOW ... ?
While it's true that those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, we here at New Products just find historical trivia fascinating -- and 100 Years of NASBA, published in conjunction with the organization's 100th annual meeting, is full of good cocktail party tidbits (assuming, that is, that you're having drinks with people who actually know what the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy is). How about the fact that it didn't even get that name until 1967? (It used to be the Association of CPA Examiners.) It held its first meeting in Atlantic City, N.J., in 1908, and only hired its first full-time employee in 1972. In between all this fodder for Trivial Pursuit: Accountants Edition, of course, you can also learn a great deal about NASBA's growing and ever-more-important role in helping regulate the profession -- but we're not suggesting you bring that up over drinks.
THE MANUAL MANUAL
Once again, Steven Bragg is responsible for a thick tome of great value to corporate accountants. This time, it's the fifth edition of Accounting Policies and Procedures Manual, which, despite its title, is actually a manual for creating a number of manuals that no decent accounting department should be without, from the crucial general accounting and corporate policies manuals, down to ones on document management, forms, purchasing cards and more. While many say they can't afford the time to make and continually update these kinds of written documents, Bragg maintains that you can't afford not to, if you want your accounting system to run properly.
John Wiley & Sons; $150
NO NEED TO CLEAR THE FIELD
We've always thought that scoring a touchdown in football would be easier without all those other people in the way -- and the "playing field" analogy led us to wonder if success in the financial markets would be easier without all those annoying brokers, analysts, issuers and regulators cluttering up the place. Unfortunately, the very players who are in your way at one point are the ones you have to deal with at another, so rather than eliminate them, you have to learn their game: their biases, hidden influences, blind spots and the like. Full of Bull, by a veteran Wall Street investment analyst, not only shows you their playbooks, but shows you how to do your own research and evaluate stocks for your own purposes, rather than analysts'.
Financial Times Press; $25.99
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