Fair and unfair

Fair Value Accounting Fraud: New Global Risks & Detection Techniques

Wiley; $65

We don't know why banks and financial institutions are so upset by fair value accounting - with the constant revaluing of assets and the murkiness of some values, particularly of Level 2 and 3 assets, it seems to us to present many wonderful opportunities for fraud. Fair Value Accounting Fraud isn't quite as excited about the possibilities as we are, but it does agree that they exist, and are significant. Based on a lucid explanation of the complexities of fair value accounting and its applications (including how they differ between U.S. and international standards), the book details the many areas of potential fraud, from business combinations, controls and disclosure, to asset and liability fraud schemes, and also shows how to detect when fair value fraud is going on. If banks would just give it a read, we think they'd be more comfortable - one way or the other.


Don't ask us

How Did That Happen? Holding People Accountable in a Positive, Principled Way

Portfolio (Penguin Group); $26.95

Repeat after us:

1. It was like that when we got here.

2. You'll have to ask our supervisor.

3. It's company policy.

4. It's the way we've always done it.

5. We were just following orders.

We guarantee these phrases will protect you against most of the modern mania for accountability - unless, that is, your questioner has read How Did That Happen? The book explains a series of tools and processes for creating a more accountable, responsible workplace based on clearly communicating expectations. And because much of the authors' methodology is based on real-life experience, they also show how to salvage the situation when expectations go unmet. Full of case studies, practical models, step-by-step instructions and self-assessments, the book will go a long way toward making your office a place where people know what they're supposed to do, and actually do it. On the other hand, if you never read it, that horrible nightmare need never come to pass.


Rum was easy

No Boundaries: How to Use Time and Labor Management Technology to Win the Race for Profits and Productivity

Wiley; $45

Workforce tools have come a long way since the Royal Navy used rum and the cat-o-nine-tails to enhance productivity, but while all the new workforce and human capital management technologies offer unprecedented opportunities for improving a business, they can be a little overwhelming. No Boundaries aims to demystify the field, and show how you and your clients can make the most of it to enhance your performance. The data these technologies provide can manage your current processes more efficiently, and offer insights into developing new and better processes. While much of the book's focus is on the more industrial applications of workforce management, it does offer useful information for professional services firms, and presents a whole new realm of consulting and advisory services you can offer your clients. They already know how to serve their own rum, after all.


Still telling us so

Financial Reckoning Day Fallout: Surviving Today's Global Depression

Wiley, $27.95

The reason "I told you so" is such a short phrase is because no one wants to hear it, much less read an entire book about whatever it was you told us that we didn't listen to and are now paying the price for. It might be worth making an exception, though, for Financial Reckoning Day Fallout, which is the second edition of a book from six years ago that predicted much of the current economic mess we're in, from the burst housing bubble and massive unemployment to collapsing financial institutions. There isn't much self-congratulation in the follow-up, though, however well-earned it might be; instead, the authors focus on looking ahead, and re-teaching us all the lessons we failed to learn before. They offer explanations of how we got where we are, and how to know where we're going - and, most important, how to prepare for it in ways that will make readers better investors, no matter what the future holds. Think of it as a chance to not be told "I told you so" in another six years.


Mouse schemes

The Power of Strategic Commitment: Achieving Extraordinary Results Through Total Alignment and Engagement

Amacom Books; $27.95

The best-laid schemes of mice and men aft gang agley largely because both mice and men are lazy, averse to change, and unwilling to commit. If more mouse-holes had a copy of The Power of Strategic Commitment, mice would probably run the world, and cats everywhere would live in terror. The book is all about getting "buy-in" - making sure your team is ready and willing to execute your strategy. It offers techniques for measuring buy-in, tailoring commitment strategies for each individual employee, creating commitment-inspiring rewards systems, and maintaining the high levels of commitment you'll need to carry out whatever it is you want to carry out. While the book intends its lessons to make committing to commitment easier, it doesn't gloss over the fact that it requires enormous effort. But then, if it didn't, cats would long since have been eradicated from the face of the earth.


Not enough lighthouses

The Connectors: How the World's Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life

Wiley; $22.95

With the economic downturn restricting job opportunities in the lighthouse-keeping and hermit industries, misanthropes everywhere are making the disheartening discovery that no matter what business you go into, you're probably going to have to deal with people. The Connectors rubs salt in this wound by pointing out that the most successful people in any business are usually precisely those who've developed the social skills we've spent so much time neglecting. The book offers hope, however, with tips and techniques to help even the most charisma-challenged among us develop some of the skills that seem to come naturally to salesmen and demagogues. Fortunately, the book makes it clear that you don't have to like people to forge strong business relationships - though you do have to pay attention to them, and think carefully about your interactions with them.


Also in print

Three Feet from Gold: Turn Your Obstacles into Opportunities offers entrepreneurs and small-business owners advice from 35 successful businesspeople on how they were inspired to succeed despite the many obstacles in their path. Written in the form of a fable, the book stresses the importance of never giving up, taking its title from the story of one R.U. Darby, a miner who gave up on his claim during the California Gold Rush, only to see the man who bought the claim strike it rich after digging only three extra feet.


Send your software, hardware, service and book items to Daniel Hood at daniel.hood@sourcemedia.com.

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