SOFTWARE, HARDWARE & BOOKS

Tools for tax time

It's beginning to look like tax season is just around the corner all the time, but this time it's for real -- tax season really is coming up, and we can tell it is by the flood of tax-related new products coming our way. We'll round up a few of those here, starting with a new book from Ed Mendlowitz, Managing Your Tax Season (AICPA; $99), which covers every aspect of making sure your firm is a smoothly running machine from January to April 15. ... Intuit, meanwhile, is expanding its CPA Select program, which puts tax pros in contact with potential clients. It's now called Personal Pro, in part to reflect the fact that it now is open to Enrolled Agents, and not just CPAs. Intuit says tax pros can expect to gain as many as 40-50 new clients from the program, and it handles the billing process for you. ... TaxAct has released its 2014 federal software for 1040, 1065, 1120S, 1120 and 1041 returns, and its Preparer's Editions offer tools for organization and year-end planning. Among other things, the Client Manager gives you a central spot for managing client information and returns, and its organizers include 2013 data next to the spaces for 2014 information.

 

Hey hey! They're binding!

Legal & Business Forms

Thomson Reuters

www.thomsonreuters.com

Many people labor under the illusion that legal forms are the sole province of lawyers, but while there are some that shouldn't be entered into without lawyerly advice, there are a whole host of run-of-the-mill forms that your clients can fill out themselves, from simple contracts and lease agreements to promissory notes. And while we wouldn't recommend the Krusty Brand Legal Forms from Krusty the Klown of The Simpsons (whose slogan is the title of this little item), we're pretty sure you can trust the new Legal and Business Forms module for NetClient CS, since it's powered by Thomson Reuters' well-established LegalZoom brand to make a range of forms available through the portal. You pick and choose which forms you want to offer to which clients, and then when the need comes up, you don't need to wait for them to find the forms themselves.

 

Very, very different

The Family Office: Advising the Financial Elite, and Taking the Reins: Insights into the World of Ultra-Wealthy Inheritors

Charter Financial Publishing Network; $150 and $99

Many accountants these days are talking about moving up market, looking at setting up family office services and getting into serving ultra-high-net-worth clients. Before they do, they'd be well-advised to look at these two books from the folks at Flynn Family Office (which we profiled in our October 2014 issue), which combine their long experience in the area with extensive research to paint an in-depth picture of their needs and the intricacies of working with them. The Family Office looks broadly at this fairly narrow segment, while Taking the Reins focuses narrowly on their next generation -- the heirs who will take over their fortunes.

 

Small enough

Epson WorkForce WF-100

Epson America Inc.

www.epson.com/workforce

We thought portable scanners were the only office equipment that was getting so small that they'd soon be implanted directly into your body somewhere, but it turns out that printers are getting mighty small, too. Check out apicture of Epson's new WorkForce WF-100 portable printer if you don't believe us -- they're pretty darned small. And it's got built-in wireless connectivity, Wi-Fi Direct, and a rechargeable battery.

 

Staying in touch

Intacct Collaborate

Intacct

www.intacct.com

Intacct has launched Intacct Collaborate, a collaboration tool built directly into its cloud-based financial system. The tool embeds the SalesForce Chatter enterprise social network tool into Intacct, so that the finance, sales and services teams at businesses can communicate across all finance processes and across devices. And for all those times when the members of those teams disagree on what, exactly, they all agreed on, it captures dialogue and decisions for later reference and air-clearing "I told you so's."

 

Blame Warhol

The Visible Expert: How to Create Industry Stars

The Hinge Research Institute; free for download at www.hingemarketing.com

People seem to have forgotten the important qualifier in Andy Warhol's prediction: Everyone now expects to be famous -- and not just for 15 minutes. While we generally deplore this trend, in the case of professionals looking to expand their business, we can't recommend the pursuit of fame enough. But it's not meaningless celebrity you should chase, as The Visible Expert makes clear, but a position as a recognized thought leader, whether it's solely within your own firm, or all around the world as a global superstar. With research to back up the value of becoming a well-known expert, and useful advice on how to become one, the book qualifies as something of an expert itself.

 

Data displayed

InfoCaptor 2.1

InfoCaptor

www.infocaptor.com

The native habitats of most data are realms largely impenetrable to the human eye, whether it's the bits and bytes on drives, or the disembodied figures whisking about in the depths of the cloud (which is, technically, also bits and bytes on drives, but we're working on a metaphor here, so cut us some slack). The point is that, for people to really get a visual picture of the data, it needs to be captured and displayed outside its native habitat.

With nocturnal animals, we use infrared cameras set up at watering holes, and zoos; with data, we use data visualization tools like InfoCaptor, a cloud-based data viz solution that lives entirely in your browser, with drag-and-drop functionality for easily translating ethereal numbers into something clients and staff can make sense of.

 

Philosophy at work

The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership: Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders

Amacom; $15.95

When the Greeks invented philosophy, it wasn't meant to be an impenetrably jargonated navel-gazing exercise for college students who are too stoned for real majors -- it was meant to teach people how to live, and so it was designed for real people to apply it to real life. With that in mind, The 10 Golden Rules of Leadership has mined the best thinkers of Classical Greece for valuable advice.

 

New and improved!

Barron's has released the sixth edition of its mammoth Accounting Handbook, a handy reference for you and your clients. ... Thomson Reuters has updated its PPC Smart Practice Aids Audit Suite with an internal control evaluation tool that is compliant with COSO's new Internal Control Framework. ... The Center for Audit Quality has released a video on the External Auditor Assessment Tool, which it created with the Audit Committee Collaboration to help audit committees better judge the performance of their service providers. The video is available on the CAQ's YouTube channel; and the tool is available for download at www.auditcommitteecollaboration.org. ... eFileCabinet Inc. has integrated its eFileCabinet Online cloud-based document management system with SalesForce. ... EXL has launched an integrated accounts receivables management solution that includes benchmarking and analysis tools to help users improve their collections systems and processes.

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