The new blueprint

CPA Excellence: A Quick Start Guide to Defining and Mastering Vital Skills for Success

The CPA Center of Excellence; $19.95

Defunct Big Five firm Andersen had such a strong vision of what a CPA should be, and such a strong training program for inculcating that in staff, that its employees came to be known as "Androids." That may be a little further than most firms are willing to go, but the fact is that the profession is changing, and what's expected of CPAs is changing radically. Accountants these days need a clear vision of those new expectations, and of the skills needed to meet them. The American Institute of CPAs has laid out a forward-looking set of core competencies that CPAs should have, and CPA Excellence takes those and creates a blueprint for firms to make sure their staff are learning the skills they need to win the future.


Where to start?

QuickBooks improvements

Intuit Inc.

Software vendor Intuit has made a huge number of enhancements both major and minor to many of the products in its QuickBooks stable, in many cases based on suggestions and questions from users. Start with the flagship QuickBooks product, where, among a number of other improvements, users can now enable online payment on recurring invoices; change the payee name on multiple bank transactions at once; exit transaction forms with a stroke of the Esc key; and much more. It's also much easier for users to make and send a portable company file.

In QuickBooks Pro and Premier, there's now an Accountant ToolBox that users of QuickBooks Accountant (that's you) can unlock when visiting your clients. That way, you can work onsite using their versions of QB, but still have access to the tools you're used to from QBA.

In QuickBooks Online, users can now automatically download bank transactions, which are then automatically matched to payees and categories. For QuickBooks Online Accountant, meanwhile, you can now find all your tax and accounting clients in one single list. It also allows unlimited users, so it can scale as your firm grows; helps you manage tasks with task lists; and lets you easily generate a tax return. And last but not least, there are new reporting and field options for the QBO iPhone/iPad app, and a new Mac app for QBO for die-hard Apple fans.


Get it in writing

CPA Firm Partner Retirement/Buyout Plans

Rosenberg Associates/CPA Trendlines; $195

No matter how close your partnership, no matter how many storms it weathers, it can and will fall apart over the details of the partners' retirements. Your best protection is a detailed, comprehensive retirement/buyout plan -- one that dots all the i's and crosses all the t's and leaves no one in any doubt as to who pays what to whom and when and under what circumstances.


On your way out

Tax Planning for Family Wealth Transfers at Death: Analysis with Forms

Thomson Reuters

When it comes to asset transfers, we here at New Products plan are fans of the Viking Plan, in which all transferable assets are incinerated upon the individual's decease (along with the individual), but this is a hard sell nowadays, and is often a cause of dismay to heirs and assigns. If you and your clients choose to undertake a more modern type of planning, Tax Planning for Family Wealth Transfers at Death will prove hugely valuable. Available both in print and as an online product, it covers the wide range of transfer strategies, structures and best practices you can employ on your clients' behalf, is regularly updated to cover the latest developments, and includes forms and over 300 wills, trusts and client explanation letters.


Crickets and credits

Comedy CPE

Greg Kyte

The chirping of crickets in a dead-silent club is every comedian's nightmare - but the pin-drop silence of a rapt audience of CPE-seeking accountants is every session presenter's dream. Comedian/CPA Greg Kyte aims to square that circle with his new Comedy CPE, which combines stand-up with professional education to help audiences stay awake and learning. He held his first session in a comedy club in October, and is available to come make you laugh and learn in person on topics including fraud and ethics.


The next step?


FileThis Inc.

FileThis is the next step in client portals -- a digital mailbox service that uses its connections to thousands of banks, brokers and other financial institutions to automatically check for and gather all sorts of client financial documents, saving you the eternal trouble of calling and e-mailing and begging and pleading. It's got strong security, and a special console to help you manage all your clients' mailboxes.



The Elements of Resume Style: Essential Rules for Writing Resumes and Cover Letters that Work, 2nd Ed.

Amacom Books; $9.95

Leave this puppy lying on your desk in plain sight for a couple of days, and we guarantee you'll get management's attention. The resulting raises and retention bonuses will cover the modest cost of this paperback, but if you're really serious about seeking new employment, the $9.95 will be well spent in helping you craft cover letters and a resume that help you stand out from the crowd ... in a good way.


It gets worse

A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive

Amacom Books; $24.95

If you're not wild about the idea of getting involved with social media for your firm, you're going to hate A World Gone Social -- but you should probably consider giving it a read anyway. It goes beyond most of the advice you're hearing now about setting up a Twitter feed, a Facebook page and a LinkedIn account to explain how all of them together are changing the landscape of business. It's not about marketing, anymore; it's about how you relate to your employees, your clients, your partners and others. The book offers warnings and best practices for navigating this dangerous terrain, with fascinating examples of companies that get it right, and terrifying examples of those that get it wrong.


New and improved!

Tipalti has launched Supplier Portal, which lets accounts payable departments automate payments to suppliers, vendors and others. ... Cougar Mountain Software has released the new version of its CMS Professional nonprofit accounting software. ... AccountingSuite has made a number of enhancements to its cloud-based accounting software. ... Wolters Kluwer, CCH, launched CCH Apportionment Suite to help corporate tax executives determine apportionment, proper sourcing of items and calculation of specific state percentages. ... Sembro Development released Bitcoin Expense Tracker to help users document gains and losses for tax-reporting purposes for the digital currency. ... NewerTech has released a new wireless aluminum keypad that mimics the look and feel of Apple keyboards for Bluetooth-enabled devices.

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