Ready or Waiting?
International Accounting/Financial Reporting Standards Guide (CCH; $235); Reporting with U.S. GAAP (CCH; $345 in print or on CD; $415 for both); Guide to International Financial Reporting Standards (Center for Audit Quality; free)
World domination by IFRS seemed imminent, until it wasn't. Now it's in limbo - though a recent Deloitte survey showed that close to 90 percent of financial executives think mandatory conversion is likely. If you're working with any of that 90 percent, you might want to take a look at CCH's mammoth International Accounting/Financial Reporting Standards Guide. Besides expert analysis of international financial reporting, it also offers useful insight into the current in-between state of reporting, and the proposed changes.
If you're not sure you want to join the 90 percent, you might take a look at the Center for Audit Quality's new Guide to International Financial Reporting Standards, which aims to inform readers about the debate over the adoption of IFRS - detailing both the challenges and the opportunities. The guide is free, and available online at www.thecaq.org/publication/guidetoifrs.pdf.
Of course, whatever the 90 percent may say about the likelihood of IFRS, GAAP is still here, and all spiffed up after the completion of the Financial Accounting Standards Board's new Codification project. CCH has released the 2010 edition of its CCH GAAP Guide, with a pre- and post-Codification dual reference system, as well as analysis, practice pointers, and plenty of insight into this classic set of accounting standards. With GAAP potentially on the way out, e-Bay enthusiasts might want to pick up a copy just for its potential value as a collector's item.
Drip, Drip, Drip
Cost Recovery: Turning Your Accounts Payable Department into a Profit Center
Hear that sound? That's money leaking away, all the time, day and night. Your clients' companies are like leaky sieves, letting money drain away through carelessness, fraud, human error and pure accident. Cost Recovery aims to plug those leaks with, well, cost recovery: essentially, an audit of business processes in different areas to identify signs of waste. The book explains some of the techniques that professional cost recovery experts use and details some of their basic tools, as well as the most common recovery opportunities in areas like accounts payable, advertising agency audits, unclaimed property, health benefits auditing and (gulp!) audit firm benchmarking. It also offers plenty of case studies of businesses that have saved bundles, and makes the important point that discovering which processes have gone wrong allows you not just to fix them, but to make them better. It's full of good advice for your clients; you, of course, have none of these types of problems at your firm.
Tax and Wealth Strategies for Family Businesses
Our preferred strategy for family businesses is to fire all the family members and bring in professionals, but as that often makes Thanksgiving uncomfortable, you might want to turn to CCH's Tax and Wealth Strategies for Family Businesses. At the very least, it's far more specific than firing everybody with the same last name, offering a "one-stop" reference for advisors to the owners of closely held businesses. With updated tax information, investment strategies for the current economy, and information on Social Security and Medicare, it should prove invaluable in advising those who refuse to realize that the family unit isn't the same thing as a business unit.
Don't Muddle through
Winning in Turbulence (Memo to the CEO series)
Harvard Business Press; $18
The temptation to hunker down, weather the storm and generally muddle through the current downturn may be strong - after all, it worked for the British during WWII. On the other hand, England emerged from the war to find itself shorn of its empire and a decidedly second-rank player. If it had been a company, someone would have acquired it. The point, as explained in Winning in Turbulence, the latest of Harvard Business Press' wonderfully brief Memos to the CEO, is that you have to stay on your toes during periods of upheaval, and use them to re-invent your company. The book offers ways to assess a company's strengths, challenges and opportunities, develop an action plan for moving forward, and prepare for bold moves that will guarantee you world domination after the downturn.
A Lesson in Time
CPA Charles Larson's Time is perhaps the best example we've ever seen of a book itself exemplifying its own message. That message is that time isn't the right way to value professional services; client perception of value is. Given that the book is almost half blank pages, with most of the rest given over to short, almost koan-like comments, one might be tempted to say that $14.95 seems awfully steep; but if the koans (and Larson's foreword and afterward, describing the need for accounting firms to get away from "selling hours") help your firm move to a new, more profitable billing paradigm, then it will seem cheap at the price.
Yes, Miss Othmar?
Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone
Amacom Books; $24.95
Most methods of management communication - speeches, presentations, memos, pep talks, harangues, rants and employee reviews - fail to take into account what we here at New Products call "the Peanuts Effect:" When bosses talk, employees most often hear nothing more than the "Mwah mwah mwah" trombone sound that Charlie Brown and his gang hear when their teachers talk. Just Listen takes the counterintuitive position that talking isn't the way to get your point across - listening is. Until the people you want to reach feel like you understand their concerns, they can't deal with your concerns. While there's certainly a touchy-feely aspect to the discussion, there's far more in the way of useful and applicable techniques and strategies for everything from getting teams to work together, to handling narcissistic clients (or is that a redundancy?), and getting your message across to even the most impenetrable people.
Get Your Grades up
Who's Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan
Amacom Books; $22.95
In all the excitement of grading your clients A, B and C in order to fire the least profitable and most annoying, it's important to remember that your A clients are probably grading professional services providers like you at the same time, which makes taking care of them more critical than ditching your Cs. While technical skills can't be taken for granted, the soft skills of client care have grown to become crucial as well. Who's Your Gladys? is a primer on the subject; though it talks about "customers," and not "clients," it still offers plenty of useful advice on turning the people who pay your bills into your biggest fans.
Send information on new software, hardware, services and books to Daniel Hood at daniel.hood
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