AccountingWEB Weekly News Wrap-up - Issue 17

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The AccountingWEB Friday Wrap-Up Newswire - Issue 17 November 12, 1999

In the headlines this week:
1. Centerprise Gets SEC Approval Then Withdraws IPO Bid
2. PWC Signs $1 Billion Outsourcing Deal
3. Roth IRA Conversion Deadline Extended by IRS
4. AICPA Creates New Information Technology Accreditation
5. IRS to Show Leniency Towards Y2K Related Business Snags
6. Finding Clients To Die For
7. Defining the Mission and Market for the CPA profession
8. Permission Marketing - Buzzword for the Next Decade
9. Make a Benefits Inventory - And Take It To The Market
10. Internet Tip: Got A Number, Need A Name

Editor's Note

AccountingWEB is pleased to announce its newest feature, a fully searchable online consultants directory. If you are looking for some assistance in the areas of HR, practice management, sales and marketing or any of a number of other specialty areas, and want to find highly regarded individuals who provide services to the accounting profession, come here to find them. If you are a consultant, and would like to be included in our FREE listing, this is the spot for you too.

If you weren't online on Tuesday for the AccountingWEB Workshop, you missed a great session on Getting The Media To Work for you. Media consultant Scott Cytron provided some good techniques and formats to follow to work with your local media in getting coverage for your firm. For the full transcripts, and to download a sample pitch letter to the media that you can use, come to:

Michael T. Platt
[email protected]

1. Centerprise Gets SEC Approval Then Withdraws IPO Bid

CPA firm consolidator and roll-up-hopeful Centerprise Advisors, LLC did an about face this week, first getting approval from the SEC to begin trading on the market and then withdrawing the IPO at the last minute due to "market conditions." You may recall that Centerprise had lined up eight public accounting firms and three insurance companies -- with annual revenues totalling over $200 million -- with the intent to take the group public. The group ran into some SEC difficulty about six weeks ago, but got the green light from the SEC about two weeks ago to begin gauging investor interest in a possible IPO, which was finally approved for trading to have begun this week. Centerprise CEO Bob Basten expressed ongoing confidence in the roll-up strategy, indicated that the time was not right for the pending IPO, and retreated to explore further options for taking the CPA-consulting operation public.

2. PWC Signs $1 Billion Outsourcing Deal

In what is expected to be the largest accounting outsourcing deal ever, BP Amoco announced this week that it intends to outsource its accounting and back office systems to PricewaterhouseCoopers, in a ten year deal worth over $1 billion. As part of the deal, over 1,200 BP Amoco employees will become employees of PWC's Centre for Excellence, and will provide their talents and skills to a number of clients, not only to BP Amoco. This move is further proof of the trend towards specialization, with organizations focusing on their core businesses and outsourcing everything else where they don't have core competencies. Perhaps there are many smaller corporations looking to do the same . . .

CCH announces a new Internet tool,,to help taxpayers address a little known change in the tax law to determine if they are paying inflated penalties for missed payroll filings. Over 80% of those who have used the service have saved a significant amount, with an average penalty reduction of 40%. Read about this service and contact your local CCH representative for details.

3. Roth IRA Conversion Deadline Extended by IRS

The IRS would like you to know that the conversion deadline for Roth IRAs has been extended beyond the original October 15 deadline. Any taxpayer who mistakenly converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA last year, but later found out they were ineligible for the Roth, now has until December 31, 1999 to change their Roth IRA contributions or conversions back to traditional IRAs.

4. AICPA Creates New Information Technology Accreditation

The AICPA announced this week the creation of a new Information Technology accreditation for CPAs involved with technology planning, implementation and management. The "point system" accreditation will consider a combination of business experience and lifelong learning. Those who do not immediately qualify will be required to take an examination. Dominic Tarantino, Chair of the Institute's National Accreditation Commission, said, "The new IT accreditation is on target with the Institute's efforts to stretch the CPA brand and expand the market's perception of the CPA's expertise. CPAs holding the IT accreditation will be instrumental in fostering the success of this program as they promote the credential to employers and clients."

5. IRS to Show Leniency Towards Y2K Related Business Snags

A "kinder gentler" IRS has announced that it will be flexible with small businesses who miss their employer tax filing deadlines in January due to Y2K problems which they legitimately have tried to fix. The IRS will issue guidance next month that will inform the public on ways of requesting a rollback of penalties for late payments resulting from computer glitches caused by Y2K. Meanwhile, as reported last week, the IRS continues to struggle with its own Y2K compliance issues. Seven more weeks to go and we'll finally see what all the commotion is about . . .

6. Finding Clients To Die For

Intuitively, you know those clients that you enjoy working with. They are energetic, stimulating, profitable and fun to work with. They are your "A" clients. They may not be the biggest, but they are the ones you like to have. If you've never done it before, sit down with a pad and pen, and list out the distinguishing characteristics of your "A" clients. What do their businesses have in common? What do the owners have in common? Just for fun, you can title the page "The Kind of Clients I Would Die For." Let your mind go. Be creative. At the end of the exercise, you will have a desired profile for future clients, and a roadmap for searching out ones you want to work with. There are plenty of clients out there; you just need to find the ones that you want to work with.

AccountingWEB this week welcomes the Association of Accounting Administrators and the Idaho Society of CPAs to our growing list of organizations which are syndicating our daily news on their website. Join these prestigious groups in bringing daily accounting news headlines to your audience. And best of all, the syndication is available at no cost to you! Go to

details and to download the code to add topicality and timeliness to your site.

7. Defining the Mission and Market for the CPA profession

The new 100 person steering Committee for the AICPA met this week to discuss and debate the future. They concluded that the chief challenge for the Institute will be defining the mission and the market for tomorrow's CPA. According to one member of the Steering Committee, the overall Committee Issues that are being examined include: (1) maintaining the CPA Brand of "most trusted business advisor" while at the same time expanding the types of services provided; (2) developing business metrics to measure real-time commerce and provide value to clients, (3) setting accounting standards for accounting that can be applied and used worldwide, and (4) providing education to improve technical skills and case studies to show members how to implement eBusiness principals. For a full report on the meeting, a great summary is provided by InfoTech Partners North America, a member of the Committee:

8. Permission Marketing - Buzzword for the Next Decade

The number of advertising messages hitting you throughout the course of any given day is overwhelming. And much of it is intrusive, hitting you on TV, on billboards, radio, newspapers, even online newswires like this one! The future of advertising and marketing, according to direct marketing guru Seth Godin, is in permission marketing, whereby you grant the advertiser the permission to bring you only those marketing messages that you have an interest in. Let them know your likes and dislikes, and "customized" marketing messages will be filtered through your profile so you see only what is of interest. Sound interesting? (We think so. Which is why AccountingWEB will begin profiling its readers shortly so you will see only those messages that you have granted us permission to show you.) For more on Permission Marketing, see:

$$$Savings Corner Tip: Consider giving employees prepaid calling cards instead of company telephone credit cards. Reason: You will save money by eliminating per-call charges, and eliminate the risk of fraud if a card is stolen or lost. For more $$$Savings Corner tips, go to

9. Make a Benefits Inventory - And Take It To The Market

Blow your own horn and highlight your strengths -- that is the strategy of every successful job candidate. But that should also be the strategy of every successful recruiter trying to attract top talent to his or her firm. Make a complete inventory of the benefits you are providing -- including market value dollar amounts -- so staff and candidates will know what their ENTIRE compensation package is worth. If you pay health benefits, itemize the value. If you have covered parking, itemize the value. When the cost of these benefits is shown, along with the salary and other "visible" compensation, it may just tip the scales in your favor when it comes to recruiting and retaining good staff.

Persuasion Tip: Stand slightly to the side, instead of face-to-face when trying to persuade others. Reason: When standing side by side, people tend to feel more comfortable with others, themselves and their surroundings. Source: Communication Briefings

10. Internet Tip: Got A Number, Need A Name

You may, on occasion, find a need for a "reverse" telephone lookup -- ie. you have a phone number, and want to know the name and address of the person at that number. Try Infospace Reverse Lookup at No reverse lookup system is completely accurate, and the data is updated every few months so if it's a new number you may not be completely successful, but of all the reverse lookup capabilities on the Internet, this one is pretty good.

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
mailto:[email protected].

Give Us A Brief Moment Please To Blow Our Own Horn

This week, AccountingWEB celebrated its 100th day of service in the US. Feedback from you, our readers, has been extremely gratifying, and gives us the motivation to work even harder and even better to get you the news and resources you need to do your jobs better. Our thanks to the many subscribers who have shared their comments with us. Here is a sampling of just a few:

"What you're doing is TOP NOTCH! Keep up the good work!"
Ann Hutchison, Marketing Director - Lewis, Hooper & Dick

"Your site becomes more awesome each day!"
Cindy Moorhead, President - Moorhead Management Service

"I'm very interested in the workshops. I think you're right on track in how we should be delivering training in the future."
Rita Hood, Executive Director - AGN North America

"I have some of my Accounting 1 students well into using the Internet. For my future courses I'll require Internet assignments and AccountingWeb's pages will be on the list!"
Ken Merwin - Wisconsin Technical College Instructor

"The ticker on our website looks great, by the way, we'll do all we can to help you grow and prosper!"
Heather Molinaro, Executive Director - ACPA International


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