Award-winning author and financial planner Jonathan Pond told a crowd of more than 500 small firm principals and sole practitioners that while the current recession is life-changing for many, conditions will improve despite the media’s best efforts to portray the current climate as “hopeless.”

“I’m sick of what the media is doing,” Pond (pictured) told attendees at the American Institute of CPAs' Practitioners Symposium, here. “It’s amazing that most of the media has no economic training, but yet people will rely on whatever they say.”

Pond, who began his career as an accountant and more recently authored “Safe Money in Tough Times,” said that while the government’s economic stimulus policies have been helpful, the economy is still contracting.

“I don’t know whether the recovery will be V-shaped, U-Shaped or L-shaped, meaning no rebound. But the seeds of inflation are being sown,” he said. “If you had a choice between high unemployment and high inflation, you would choose high unemployment because inflation affects everyone. You hear that unemployment is 9 percent, but have you ever seen or read a story that said 91 percent of America is working?”

He told attendees that, despite the loss of investor confidence, now is a good time to begin a business, as well as invest in their careers.

“I tend to be what I call ‘cautiously pessimistic,’ but we will get through this,” he said. “The only thing certain is death and taxes, but the difference is that death doesn’t get worse when Congress is in session.”

The conference featured session tracks in accounting, marketing, human resources and recruiting, business law and administrative practice, among others. Following Pond, noted technology consultant Randy Johnston of K2 Management Group in Hutchinson, Kan., gave conference-goers an overview of the types of hardware and software that progressive firms should be using.

“Firms should already have in place multiple monitors, handhelds and [Voice over Internet Protocol],” said Johnston. Looking forward, the profession will see a greater move toward Software-as-a-Service, noting that there are now over 200 CPA-centric SaaS applications available on the market. He added that Microsoft will roll out Windows 7 in June or July, and that Office 2010 (aka Office 14) is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2010.

Due to the rise of virtualization, the days of in-house computing and its subsequent expense to smaller firms may be drawing to a close, Johnston predicted. “If you don’t install virtualization, that’s a bad business decision,” he said.

Among the new hardware spotlighted by Johnston were a digital pen; the iPhone 2; Readius, a pocket-sized e-reader with rollable displays; and Gyricon, an electronic re-usable paper technology that uses bichromal beads to display information.

Some common technology practice pitfalls, according to Johnston, include a lack of encryption, engagement binders that were set up incorrectly, a lack of workflow, and paperless procedures that were not well thought out.

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