AccountingWEB Weekly News Wrap-up - Issue 24

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The AccountingWEB Friday Wrap-Up Newswire - Issue 24January 7, 2000

In the headlines this week:

1. SEC Slams PwC For Auditor-Independence Rule Violations
2. Worldwide Women's Business Conference To Draw 100,000
3. E-Commerce Profit Centers Identified By Clients As The
Biggest Growth Area For CPA Firms In The Next Five Years
4. Can Auditors Be Barred For Failing To Detect Fraud?
5. Free Refund Anticipation Loans Being Tested in California
6. Practical Tips To Prioritize Your Day
7. Thinking About Donating Old PC's? Take The Time To Do It Right
8. Is Employee Leasing A Concept That Can Work For You?
9. Making The Most Of What You Learned In Preparing For Y2K
10.Internet Utility - "Live" Dictionary/Thesaurus For Web Pages

Editor's Note

It's January 2000, and to the dismay of many doomsayers, the world didn't come to an end. And so far, the Y2K bug seems to be a non-event. We're still tracking any software related glitches in our Y2K Bug Collection, but all in all it's business as usual across the accounting profession.

Make a note to join us in the AccountingWEB Workshop Room on Tuesday, January 11 at 4:00pm EST (GMT-5:00 hours) for the first online presentation of the millennium. Steve Sanchez of InfoSolve will offer participants specific suggestions on how to integrate the millions of pieces of raw data in our many databases into useable, valuable information assets. Don't miss this session!

Michael T. Platt
[email protected]

1. SEC Slams PwC For Auditor-Independence Rule Violations

The SEC issued the results of an independent review of PricewaterhouseCoopers this week, and cited the Big 5 firm with over 8,000 incidents violating the auditor independence rules. In four out of five cases, the violations occurred at the partner level, with either the partner or a family member owning stock or mutual funds in companies that the firm audited. While a percentage of the violations stemmed from the merger of Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand, the SEC states that the majority were not a result of the merger, and that they represent systemic breakdowns at PwC. The SEC further reiterated its call for the accounting profession to heed the warning to regulate itself or the government will step in and do it for them.


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This newswire will be read by over 3,500 accounting professionals this week. Worldwide, AccountingWEB is a global community of over 50,000 accountancy professionals. For details of how to reach this audience: contact Ryan Carmen at [email protected] or see the
advertising page for AccountingWEB.

2. Worldwide Women's Business Conference To Draw 100,000

Ernst & Young will be sponsoring an e-business workshop for over 200 of the top women business leaders in the country on April 4, 2000. The workshop will explore the challenges, opportunities and techniques to turn a traditional business into an e-business. The workshop is to be held immediately preceding the Women.future expo -- the largest simulcast women's event ever undertaken -- which is expected to draw over 100,000 business leaders in over 200 locations around the world. If you have women-owned business clients, be sure to look into what's happening at this worldwide expo.

3. E-Commerce Profit Centers Identified By Clients As The Biggest Growth Area For CPA Firms In The Next Five Years

39% of CFOs in over 1400 companies across North America have identified e-commerce consulting as the number one growth area for CPA firms in the next five years. "CPA practices are offering expertise in areas ranging from identifying the potential return on investment of conducting business online to developing the infrastructure for electronic commerce and integrating back-office operations," said Cecil Gregg, executive director of RHI Management Resources. Other growth areas include Financial Systems Consulting (20%), Management Advisory Services (18%), Outsourcing (10%) and International Expansion (8%).

4. Can Auditors Be Barred For Failing To Detect Fraud?

Auditor responsibility to detect fraud has always been a topic of discussion around the profession. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that the SEC is looking to bar two Big 5 CPAs from signing off in the future on any publicly held company audits, and in the process is trying to retroactively apply today's standards to a fraud that occurred over five years ago. A review of the claims against the auditors is worth a few minutes of your time. An administrative law judge is expected to review the case next month.

Client Relations Tip: Have you ever noticed that the client that you made an error on last year is usually the same one you'll make an error on this year? Develop a tracking system for past mistakes -- put the client information in a red folder -- and give it that extra attention to ensure another mistake is not repeated.

5. Free Refund Anticipation Loans Being Tested in California

"Free" seems to be the word this year to get tax return preparation clients' attention. This week's iteration is a free refund anticipation loan program test for H&R Block's California clients. What has traditionally cost taxpayers anywhere from a flat fee of around $20 to a percentage of the loan, H&R Block's California clients will now be able to get a cash loan -- usually within 48 hours of filing -- at no fee at all. The company believes that this effort will go a long way towards attracting and retaining clients.

6. Practical Tips To Prioritize Your Day

All of us are living lives where the list of "top priorities" seems endlessly long. As we start a new year, AccountingWEB would like to share with you six guidelines from organizational expert Lisa Kanarek to help you evaluate your priorities and better prioritize your work so that you can be more productive and reduce some of the stress in your life. Some samples -- Guideline 3: Understanding how postponing a project can affect other projects that others are working on. Guideline 6: Determining if your activity is contributing to productivity, increased sales or income. Follow these six guidelines and you will achieve better focus and accomplish your goals.

7. Thinking About Donating Old PC's? Take The Time To Do It Right

As computer systems get upgraded all over the country, old PCs are piling up, and often, charitable institutions become their new home. But before you give away your PC to a noble cause, recognize the fact that files deleted on your hard drive are only hidden, not deleted, and the data can still be recovered by most off the shelf data recovery programs. So avoid giving away your personal information -- even worse, your clients' personal information -- and reformat the hard drive before giving it to charity. Follow the three-step process outlined in this article to ensure that your data is secure.

8. Is Employee Leasing A Concept That Can Work For You?

For years, large companies have had the advantage of group purchasing power to negotiate better rates on everything from health care premiums to benefits administration fees. A burgeoning $200 billion Professional Employee Organization (PEO) industry is growing at a rate of 30% a year, and serves as the group purchasing muscle that can benefit small organizations too. PEOs also assist with the HR function, assist in the hiring process, consult on employee evaluation systems, keep your firm up-to-date on employment law and sexual harassment issues, and other areas that you simply don't have the time to focus on.

9. Making The Most Of What You Learned In Preparing For Y2K

The show is over. The calendar has turned. You've invested a ton of money to make sure all your systems are compliant. How do you leverage your investment and take advantage of the Y2K lessons learned over the past few years? Technicians, programmers, managers, administrators and consultants have all increased their knowledge of your system tremendously, and your challenge now is to harness that knowledge and use it for continued improvement. KPMG has compiled some ideas on how to make the most of your Y2K investment, both in terms of significant reductions in time to market and the cost of future enterprise-wide IT initiatives, as well as improved effectiveness in future utilization of technology by business units. See what ideas you can tap into to turn the investment to your utmost advantage.

10. Internet Utility - "Live" Dictionary/Thesaurus For Web Pages

Here's an interesting twist: Go to http://www.voycabulary.comand you can link any web page you want to a live dictionary and a thesaurus, allowing you to click on any word on your requested web page and get both a dictionary definition as well as a thesaurus suggestion for the word. Why would you need this? You may not, but it sure could be a useful teaching tool for your kids! Try it out and let us know what you think.

If you know of an Internet tip, or a technology tip that others can benefit from, you are encouraged to send it in to us at [email protected].

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