From protecting a practice with better engagement letters, to learning how to be a positive disruptor, to learning the lessons of a walk across Spain, here are seven books to help accountants kick off 2018.
YOUR BODY ARMOR
“CPA’s Guide to Effective Engagement Letters”
When it comes to professional liability issues, engagement letters are the equivalent of Kevlar: Wrap yourself in them and lawsuits will bounce right off of you. It’s important to remember, though, that not all lawsuit-proof vests are the same, and there’s plenty extra you can do to protect yourself. Start by reading the updated 12th edition of insurer Camico’s “CPA’s Guide to Effective Engagement Letters,” and finish by doing everything it recommends. It includes actual engagement letters for a wide range of service offerings that you can copy, plenty of case studies, and lots of supplemental materials.
THEY STILL NEED YOU!
“Integrative Advisory Services: Expanding Your Accounting Services Beyond the Cloud”
Wiley; hardcover — $35.15; e-book — $15.99
Technology will, ultimately, replace us all, but for the moment, and in the accounting profession at least, there is still plenty of space for human beings — provided they’re willing to make some adjustments. The trick is to move away from focusing on the things that computers can do well (like fulfilling compliance requirements and producing historical reports) and more on the things that only humans, so far, can do (like building relationships, understanding and prioritizing outcomes, and making complex, interdisciplinary decisions). This book, by well-known thought leader Amy Vetter, offers a good place to start moving into these areas, so you can get there before the computers do.
WE HAVE ONE WORD FOR YOU
“Guide to Audit Data Analytics”
AICPA; paper — $109; e-book — $99; online subscription — $99 ($20 discount for institute members)
“We here at New Products want to say one word to you — just one word. Are you listening? Data. There’s a great future in data. Think about it. Will you think about it?” When they remake “The Graduate” (and you know they will), that’s how they’ll update the iconic “Plastics” conversation; in the meantime, though, it’s actually pretty good advice for accountants, who need to start leveraging the vast amount of data available to them to improve their services and offer more value. For auditors, this new American Institute of CPAs guide is a great place to start, showing you how the latest analytics tools can be brought to bear on a wide range of audit procedures, with step-by-step guidance and illustrative examples.
“Violent Leadership: Be a Force for Change”
Forbes Books; $24.97
While it might sound like the leadership principles of Alex from “A Clockwork Orange,” this book actually comes from an accountant, and uses a very different definition of violence — one that’s more creative, more innovative and more useful in an era of constant change. Written by Wesley Middleton, managing partner of Regional Leader firm Middleton Raines + Zapata, “Violent Leadership” aims to encourage leaders to embrace risk and change in the pursuit of more successful, more entrepreneurial businesses.
GOOD, GOOD, GOOD
“Do Good: Embracing Brand Citizenship to Fuel Both Purpose and Profit”
Amacom Books; $27.95
Accounting firms have long understood that doing good, and being seen to be doing good, is both good for the community and for business — but this has never been more true than it is today, when how good a corporate citizen an organization is can affect not just its reputation, but its ability to attract and retain staff, form partnerships, interact with other companies, reward stakeholders and much, much more. “Do Good” leverages three years of research into brand loyalty, leadership and corporate citizenship to demonstrate the many rewards they offer, and lays out a civics course for businesses. While accountants may be further along in understanding this than many others, the book offers a 21st century refresher — and a valuable resource for clients who may not be as “woke.”
“Nonprofit Finance: A Practical Guide, 2nd Ed.”
We brought the first edition of CPA Sheila Shanker’s dive into the mysterious world of not-for-profit organizations to your attention when it was in its first edition, and thought you ought to know that it’s now in a second edition. If you didn’t check it out then for its useful discussion and real-world examples of the esoterica of NFP finance, do so now! And if you did check it out, note that this new edition includes information on the latest developments and standards.
THE LONG WAY ROUND
“The Camino Way: Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain”
Amacom Books; $21.95
If someone told you that you could become a much more effective leader, but you’d have to spend a month walking across Spain to do it, you might reasonably question whether the experience was worth the expense in time and trouble. But if someone told you that you could learn how to become a much more effective leader by reading a book about someone else who walked across Spain — well, suddenly the cost-benefit analysis becomes much clearer.
So, rather than follow the 500-mile Camino de Santiago across Spain, you can read “The Camino Way” and garner useful lessons on setting goals, living in the moment, working with others, and much more. It has a spiritual tinge that’s unusual in leadership books, but requires no profession of faith — and no walking.