Data on the Joneses

2009-10 Annual Statement Studies and eStatement Studies

RMA and ValuSource. Starts at $465; Valuation Edition, $665.

It would be easier to keep up with the Joneses if they sent you copies of their bank statements and purchasing plans. Companies face a similar problem when comparing themselves to their competition, but while the Joneses are unlikely to go in for transparency, businesses can at least turn to benchmarking data like that provided in the Risk Management Association's 2009-10 Annual Statement Studies, which compiles all sorts of financial information on thousands of private companies. This year's release is available both in book form and in a Web-based version, eStatement Studies, as well as in a Valuation Edition produced with ValuSource that includes high-level executive dashboards, and easy benchmarking and ranking tools. There's also trend data available for the past 10 years, and client comparison worksheets. Now if only they could tell us what those lousy Joneses are up to ... .

Questions, question marks

IFRS Tax Manager

CCH and Grant Thornton

Here's the thing with questions: Some can be answered, and some cannot. For instance, if you want to ask about tax accounting under International Financial Reporting Standards, you can turn to CCH's new IFRS Tax Manager and find the answers. This online resource, created in conjunction with experts from Grant Thornton, includes authoritative texts, interpretive guidance and practice aids, as well as 60 Q&As on important tax rules, with plans to add more of everything as issues and new standards crop up. So if you have questions about, say, transfer pricing under IFRS, you can get answers here. If, on the other hand, you want to ask when all this will apply to your clients - well, you're on your own.

Debt goes on

The Collecting Money Series

Michelle Dunn; www.michelledunn.com

The tragic stories of those who have lost their homes, their jobs, their savings or their businesses in the recent economic unpleasantness are familiar to us all by now, but few have paid attention to the difficulties of those who must somehow collect the money these unfortunates owe. With this in mind, collections expert Michelle Dunn has added a number of new e-books to her Collecting Money Series, starting with Establishing Payment Arrangements, which shows how to work with debtors who can't pay immediately. There's also Effective Collections: A Proactive Approach to Credit Management, for dealing with past-due customers, and avoiding them in the future; Online Collection Techniques, which shows how you can - and can't - use the Internet to get paid; and Understanding and Following the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Learn and leave

The Coaching Connection: A Manager's Guide to Developing Individual Potential in the Context of the Organization

Amacom Books; $29.95

We here at New Products never coach our staff, on the theory that if they knew how to work better, they'd go someplace better to work. (This also explains the shackles.) Accounting firms face a familiar conundrum, as they don't want to see any of the money spent on coaching walk right out the door with the newly improved employee - but they also need to develop leaders, which we don't. The Coaching Connection aims to resolve this dilemma by showing readers how to create a coaching culture that aligns a firm's overall business strategy with the individual coaching needs of its employees. With its focus on "Contextual Coaching," it offers direction on creating the culture, getting buy-in from coaching clients, assessing the success of the coaching, and more.

Mental inflation

Diaminds: Decoding the Mental Habits of Successful Thinkers

Rotman/UTP Publishing; $34.95

When people offer you a penny for your thoughts, it's because that's what they think they're worth. If you want to raise your mental price point, you need to start having much more valuable thoughts - and that, according to Diaminds, means thinking in new ways. Through case studies and interviews, the authors have identified the qualities possessed by the most successful thinkers, and then developed examples and exercises to help you re-engineer your thought processes and apply them to business problems and strategies. The common denominator of this "dialogical mind" or "diamind" seems to be flexibility: for instance, the ability to hold opposing plans, models and courses of action in mind without being paralyzed; the ability to choose among various representations of the world, oneself and others; and the ability to think about how one formulates and solves a problem while also thinking about the problem itself.

Life as lesson

Obstacles Welcome: Turn Adversity to Advantage in Business and Life

Thomas Nelson Inc.; $24.95

Here's why Ralph de la Vega is a success, and we're not: If we had arrived in the U.S. alone at the age of 10, having been forced to leave our families behind in Castro's Cuba, and didn't see them again for four years, we'd never talk about anything else. For de la Vega, however, it's just a starting point - one he relates mainly for the valuable lessons it taught him, and that he applied in a career that thus far has seen him rise to be president of AT&T's wireless operations. Instead of straightforward autobiography, the majority of the book is given over to other lessons or effective business strategies that he's learned, with incidents from his business career that illustrate them, on everything from orchestrating mergers (he helped oversee the combination of AT&T and Cingular in 2005), to operating in disasters and overseas (in post-Hurricane Andrew Florida, and in South America), to the everyday business of building corporate integrity, leading and inspiring employees, and communicating clearly and well.

What went between

The SEC Historical Society Museum and Archive

SEC Historical Society (www.sechistorical.org)

While the recent intense interest in the Great Depression is certainly understandable, a more profitable field of study might be the period of time between then and now, when we recovered from the Depression, and managed for three quarters of a century to stave off another one. That period happens to match exactly the organizational life of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is why we're drawing your attention to the SEC Historical Society Museum and Archive, an independent online repository of fascinating information on the history of financial regulation in the U.S. from the 1930s on. It's got oral histories, and an astonishing archive of documents, papers, speeches, photos and more. There's also a nifty timeline of financial regulation, which offers both historical perspective, and some comfort from the long stretches of time that it chronicles that don't include massive economic collapse.

S corp slip-ups

S Corporations: How to Avoid Common and Often Overlooked Pitfalls

Lorman Education Services; $175.20 (with WebCPA discount code S6094425)

Millions of small-business owners elect S corporation status. As many of them are your clients, it behooves you to be up on the many details that they'll have missed, from properly maintaining earning accounts to making sure all shareholders are eligible. This CD and reference manual teaches you what to look out for.

Also in print

Big Four firm Ernst & Young has released the 25th anniversary edition of its annual Ernst & Young Tax Guide, available both in print and online, which now includes access to a Web site with real-time updates to tax laws. ... The fifth edition of The Guide to Accounting and Finance for Media Publishing Companies has been released; orders can be placed by e-mailing cpa@baysherman.com.

For special deals on books, CPE and more, visit the Bookstore on WebCPA at www.webcpa.com/bookstore.

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