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Candor.  No, I’m not talking about condor, a bird.  I’m talking about clear and unbiased communication.  The Merriam-Webster definition uses the words fairness and honesty.

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Pic credit – Merriam-Webster

Do some corporate communications appear to contain more candor than others?  Yes, based on a proposed metric.  Does this appearance prove their candor?  Those on the outside will never know.  I’ve sometimes heard that the best corporate policy is the appearance of honesty.

Rittenhouse Rankings attempts to measure candor in corporate shareholder letters for a sample of 100 companies selected from the S&P 500.  The sample group “was selected ten years ago based on industry grouping, capitalization size and financial reputations.  Candor is quantified systematically by awarding points for informative, relevant disclosure and deducting points for jargon, confusing statements and clichés.”

Recently, the Rittenhouse Rankings 2012 Candor and Corporate Culture Survey™ was released.  In the release, it is claimed that the ten most candid companies as a group earned a greater return on a stock investment than the ten least candid companies as a group.  The difference in return appears to be large.

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Pic credit – Rittenhouse Rankings

Does candor in the corporate shareholder letter prove anything about honesty in financial statements?  No, it doesn’t.  Form inferences at your own risk.  But the list of ten companies with least candor (as defined by Rittenhouse Rankings) is interesting.  You can find a list of these companies at the right IN RED.  Two or three of these companies have been mentioned in the press for alleged financial reporting difficulties.

I, of course, recommend honesty in all things.

Wouldn’t it be great if all corporate financial statements were honest and free from bias and manipulation?  What a wonderful world it would be.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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I can’t stand it.  Do a Google search on Ernst and Young’s new rebranding effort, and images of naked men are returned.

I now think of porn every time I hear the firm’s name (Ernst & Young) or see its initials (EY).  Trust me, I have no desire to see porn every time I do a Google search on this Big 4 firm.  And I have regular need to perform Google searches on each of the Big 4 (as well as several other accounting firms).

To be perfectly clear:  I don’t want to see pictures of naked men or naked women, soft porn or hard porn, when researching accounting firms.

This was not a problem for me prior to the rebranding, because I always thought of the firm’s full name.  But all of Ernst’s & Young’s recent promotional efforts have been directed toward encouraging all of us to think of them as EY, which is synonymous with naked men.  So in effect, Ernst & Young has created the conditions for me to be aware of and think of porn.  I object!  I would rather imagine young male accountants in traditional business attire.

I am aware of no other reputable business that is encouraging its customers and interested parties to encounter a pornographic linkage.  An Ernst & Young spokesman said that its clients are able to skip over the pornographic images and choose only the bona fide Ernst & Young links.  Yes, but those clients are always going to see porn images upon doing a search for EY.

A few moments ago, I performed a Google images search on EY.  18 of the first 21 images returned contained images of naked men.  Check it out below.

ey_google_images

Come on, EY.  We accountants are better than this.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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aam_logo-smallAlthough I am not a member of the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM), I am a huge fan.  I believe that a course in professional services marketing should be a requirement in every accounting student’s course of study, whether it be at the bachelor or masters level.  Although this course could include social media aspects, an emphasis on the essential concepts of promoting one’s services is essential.

I also think that all business students, including those in accounting, should take a course in social media that focuses on the professional use of social media that includes topics such as branding and networking.

Why is professional services marketing so important?  No accountant can be promoted to manager or partner without the ability to generate new business.  It’s called rainmaking.

AAM is a professional organization formed specifically to enhance the accounting marketing and practice growth profession through education, networking and thought leadership. Founded in 1989, the association has more than 800 members, comprised of marketing professionals, business developers, CPAs, consultants, service providers, educators and students.  It’s president annually is included in the Accounting Today list of Top 100 Most Influential People.

Now for the press release:

katie_tolin

Katie Tolin

[Mount Laurel, New Jersey (July 22, 2013)] – Katie Tolin, director of practice growth at Rea & Associates, Inc. has been elected 2013-2014 president of the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM). Her one-year term began July 1.

Other AAM officers include Kerry Sullivan-Lechner, marketing director at Anderson, ZurMuehlen & Co. P.C., president-elect; Jack Kolmansberger, chief marketing officer at Herbein & Company, Inc., vice president; Art Kuesel, founder, Kuesel Consulting, secretary; and Laura Snyder, manager at Crowe Horwath, treasurer. Erinn Keserica, regional marketing manager at Cherry Bakaert, is immediate past president.

AAM’s officers are joined by eight elected board members-at-large who include: Michael Bowlan, marketing principal, Brown, Smith Wallace, LLC; Alice Grey Harrison, marketing communications manager, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP; Sarah Johnson, chief growth strategist and founder, Inovautus Consulting, LLC; Joe Kovacs, director of marketing, Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman, PC; Kristen Lewis, director of marketing, EisnerAmper LLP; Sara Robertson, marketing manager, GBQ Partners LLC; Brenda Sleeper, director of business development, BizActions; and Rene Stranghoner, central region marketing leader, Grant Thornton LLP.

The AAM board of directors guides the association through programs that assist accounting marketing and practice growth professionals, including meetings, webinars, and other educational events, to generate effective responses to the unique challenges of promoting and selling professional accounting services. The association also assists members by providing networking opportunities, benchmarking research data, and delivering career development guidance.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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Wayne Breitbarth of Power+Formula has an infographic out summarizing the results of the 2013 edition of his annual LinkedIn User Survey.  Both the infographic and the survey are well worth a look.

Why am I passing this along?  I recommend that all accounting and financial services professionals, accounting and business professors, and college students get on LinkedIn and use it to the maximum extent possible.

Click on the following image to view the entire infographic. Don’t forget to expand the image.

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Pic credit – Power+Formula

The complete infographic reveals some interesting details.

84% of LinkedIn users subscribe to a free account (I use a $240/year premium account).

The median sized network has just over 300 first level connections.  The most common range is 500-1000 users.  10% of LI users have a network of at least 1,000 (my network is now 1,100+).

5/8 of LI users open their entire network to view (as do I, it is recommended).

98% of LI users are in at least one discussion group, 60% are in at least 10 (I am in 40).

24% of LI users spend an average of at least one hour per business day on LI (as do I).

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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Two essays on different aspects of leadership have recently been posted on the web.  I think they are relevant to anyone who is (or aspires to be) in a position of influence. Accounting firm CEOs and managers as well as accounting professors should read on.

The two essays are, “How to Think and Act Like a Leader,” by Jack and Suzy Welch on Linked Influencers, and “CEOs Who Are Active On Social Media Boost Employee Morale And Their Company’s Image,” by Cooper Smith on Business Insider.

team-leadershipThe Welch piece has a simple message–shift your focus from self to the team.  They say,

Being a leader changes everything. Before you are a leader, success is all about you. It’s about your performance. Your contributions. It’s about raising your hand, getting called on, and delivering the right answer.

When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. It’s about making the people who work for you smarter, bigger, and bolder. Nothing you do anymore as an individual matters except how you nurture and support your team and help its members increase their self-confidence. Yes, you will get your share of attention from up above—but only inasmuch as your team wins. Put another way: Your success as a leader will come not from what you do but from the reflected glory of your team.

I’ve known several professors who could never make the transition from skillfully presenting material to helping students learn.  This transition is at the heart of the learner-centered approach to college teaching.

Cooper Smith gleans insights from research on CEOs and social media usage.  CEOs who use social media have shifted the focus from themselves to the team.  Employees feel inspired under a CEO who uses social media.  Moreover, Customers and clients consider the company to be more innovative if the CEO uses the latest technology.

This is directly relevant to both accounting firm executives and accounting professors.  I’ve talked with many executives and professors, almost all of whom don’t use social media in their professional lives.  I hear comments such as, “I just don’t think there is anything in it for me,” and “I can’t identify the return on investment in social media.”   They are missing out on a crucial aspect of leadership–shifting the focus from self to team through communication and sharing.

Robert Moritz of PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Stephen Chipman of Grant Thornton are leaders of large CPA firms who have learned this.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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Ernst & Young, now EY, has a ‘sexy boys’ problem.

latimes-ey-sexyboys

Pic credit: LA Times

Ernst & Young on July 1 announced it was rebranding itself as EY.  Lopez writes,

[Ernst & Young, EY] now shares a name with a racy magazine, EY! Magateen. The magazine, which features scantily clad young men, is the work of Luis Venegas, a Spanish creative director known for his flamboyant, sexually charged fashion publications.

A Google image search of “EY” brings up photos of young male models clad in low-cut briefs, right alongside the Ernst & Young logo and some exterior shots of the company’s offices.

What a massive fail!

When I went to images.google.com, one picture returned was that of a naked man.  A hand was covering his private parts, but pubic hair was clearly visible.

I could comment, or I could take the high road.  EY seems to have taken the low one.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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hetl_logoI am a member of the Higher Education Teaching & Learning (HETL) discussion group on LinkedIn.  It has nearly 30,000 members.  There is an associated formal academic group which supports two journals and a series of books.

The international membership of discussion group provides multiple perspectives to interesting topics.  I endorse it, and encourage all accounting professors to join both the discussion group and the organization.

Earlier tonight I received the following announcement from Patrick Blessinger:

Subject: HETL Selects New President for 2013-2104

Please join me in congratulating the new members of the HETL Board of Directors for 2013-2104. The new HETL President is Dr. John Anchan from Canadahttps://www.hetl.org/welcome-message/

Other new board members include Dr. Agata Stachowicz-Stanusch, Poland; Dr. Lesley Diack, UK; Dr. Dorothy Mpabanga, Botswana; Dr. Lorraine Stefani, New Zealand; and Dr. Evon Walters, USA. See https://www.hetl.org/leadership/

Our outgoing President, Dr. Charles Wankel, USA, implemented several new programs while serving as president during the 2012-2013 year. Under Dr. Wankel’s exemplary leadership, HETL created the Liaison group and added over 100 new liaisons from around the world; Dr. Wankel also served as the program co-chair for HETL’s inaugural conference, along with Melody Bowdon; and he co-edited several volumes on increasing student engagement and retentionhttps://www.hetl.org/hetl-books/

Posted By Patrick Blessinger

Congratulations to Charles Wankel for a job very well done as president of HETL. In one of his actions, I was appointed as HETL liaison to the accounting discipline.

Patrick Blessinger and Charles Wankel are true giants of the academic world. We are fortunate to benefit from their leadership in HETL.  I don’t know John Anchan, but I have every confidence he will grow HETL into an even more effective academic organization.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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empty_congress_2013_6_7

Congress in session as it passes ‘No Forced Auditor Rotation’ act.

I just received word that the U.S. House of Representatives (Congress) has passed a bill banning mandatory auditor rotation.  Before you start to think that perhaps Congress has done something great and wonderful, a few words of wisdom should be remembered.  I’m posting some of the more accurate descriptions of Congress penned throughout the centuries:

  • Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself. –Mark Twain
  • You can lead a man to Congress, but you can’t make him think. –Milton Berle
  • We have the power to do any damn fool thing we want to do, and we seem to do it about every ten minutes.” –J. William Fulbright
  • There is no distinctly American criminal class – except Congress.
    –Mark Twain
  • Being elected to Congress is regarded as being sent on a looting raid for one’s friends. –George Will
  • There is more selfishness and less principle among members of Congress than I had any conception of, before I became President of the U.S. –James K. Polk
  • When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators. –P.J. O’Rourke
  • With Congress, every time they make a joke it’s a law, and every time they make a law it’s a joke. –Will Rogers
  • I don’t mind what Congress does, as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses. –Victor Hugo
  • I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a congress. –Peter Stone
  • This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.
    –Will Rogers

My generation uses a rhetorical question whenever we spot something particularly loony, “What were you smoking?”  Well, Congress, what were you smoking when you banned auditor rotation?

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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Should an accountant clean up his or her online network?  Answering this question has been puzzling me since reading Jenn Herman’s blog post “When Was The Last Time You Cleaned Up Your Connections?

Jenn Herman told me she was referring to Twitter and Facebook networks, not to LinkedIn.  She says that with regards to LinkedIn, it is desirable to collect connections.  Is that always true?  Is that true for accountants?

I suspect the answer to my questions is that it is better to be in growth mode with respect to connections and your LinkedIn network.  Here’s why.

Continue Reading »

no-fireworks-3[July 4, Bowling Green, OH] The July 4th holiday used to be known as Independence Day. Ever since I became an accountant, on this day I’ve been celebrating the notion of auditor independence from the corporations for which they are hired to provide an opinion on the financial statements.  Every time a rocket would explode into a flash of color, I’d say, “Hooray for auditor independence!” (OK, I’m a bit weird.) But no more.

This Independence Day, I’m reflecting on the lack of independence between large CPA firms and the corporations that employ them.  And I’m mourning.

More than ever, CPA firms view themselves as a company’s partner.  All of the largest firms are creating huge consulting arms that are to provide billable services to their audit clients.  But problems with audits and opinions have led to world-wide calls for increased regulation of the largest firms.  I guess investors and auditors don’t see it the same way.

This July 4 there is no independence for CPAs.

The auditing profession sees this as a good thing.  I don’t.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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hetl_logoI am a member of Higher Education Teaching & Learning (HETL).  I review for one of its journals, and I’m active on the HETL LinkedIn discussion group.  The discussion group has quickly grown to 30,000 members from its start about four years ago.  I recommend this group for all professors (the only people allowed to join).

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: 2014 HETL CONFERENCE

The International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL) invites you to submit a proposal for a presentation at its 2014 International Conference, to be held in Anchorage, in partnership with the University of Alaska Anchorage, May 31 – June 2, 2014. Please submit your proposal for a presentation before the July 26, 2013 deadline – go to
https://www.hetl.org/2014-anchorage-conference-submission-form/

The conference aims to review the impacts that digital, social and mobile media and networks are having on learning environments in higher education. Both scholarly and practice reports are invited. Participants will be from the gamut of academic disciplines across the arts, sciences, and professions, as well as from other administrative and staff functions delivering and supporting new technologies and approaches to learning.

It’s More Affordable than You May Think

The Anchorage area has many features that you will find interesting, including glaciers, majestic mountains, and a wide diversity of wildlife. The average June temperature is 16C/62F with sunny days. Airfare to Anchorage is more reasonably priced than we anticipated. For example, the conference organizers discovered by checking Kayak.com that roundtrip airfare from New York to Anchorage around the time of the conference might be about $350, from London $1000, and Tokyo $1100. The organizers anticipate that hundreds of rooms at the University of Alaska will be available for well under $100 as well as rooms at partnering hotels in Anchorage.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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leading-the-wayMost of us know LinkedIn, the most popular and best social media platform for accountants.  Yet, not very many accountants, accounting professors, accounting students and accounting aficionados use it well.

Would it help to know that the most influential people in accounting (according to Accounting Today) use LinkedIn and are heavy users?  If they have invested serious amounts of time in it, then perhaps so should you.

I use LinkedIn heavily.  Over the past year, I pretty much have shifted my social media efforts from blogging on The Summa to interacting with accounting types through LinkedIn.  So much so, I might be called Mr. LinkedIn amongst accounting professors.  Oh, I think that blogging is still my raison d’être.  But LinkedIn is le futur. [Perhaps I can be called Professor Social Media}

You remember the Accounting Today list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in accounting? Published in September of each year, it is Accounting Today’s attempt to capture what’s happening in the industry.  Look carefully, and you’ll notice that those savvy in digital era and social technologies get the AT nod as to who should be influential.

80 of the T100 Most Influential People use LinkedIn. 53 use it heavily with 500+ connections.  The other 27 have small networks. That’s the scale in online social networks.  Large networks are >2,500. Medium sized network have at least 500 contacts.

I categorize the Top 100 Most influential people into those who made the list primarily for (1) blogging/media, (2) audit firm leadership, (3) consultants and vendors, (4) regulators, (5) association leadership, and (6) lobbyists.

Here is my tally of the T100 Most Influential People who use LinkedIn.  I provide links to the profiles for the heavy users.  You must be signed into LinkedIn to fully see the profiles.

Bloggers. All four who make the T100 list for blogging are on LinkedIn.  Heavy users are Dave Albrecht (The Summa), Paul Caron (Tax Prof Blog) and Rick Telberg (CPA Trendlines).  Caleb Newquist (Going Concern) also uses LI.

Accounting Firm Leadership.  10/14 who make the T100 list due to their accounting firm leadership are on LinkedIn.  Heavy users are Jason Blumer (Blumer & Associates), Jim Bourke (WithumSmith+Brown) , Stephen Chipman (Grant Thornton) and Jody Padar (New Vision CPA Group).  Small LI network users who make the T100 list are Rick Anderson (Moss Adams), Ken Baggett (Cohn Reznick), Joe Echevaria (Deloitte), Tom Marino (CohnReznick), Kris McMasters (CliftonLarsonAllen) and Robert Moritz (PWC).  Echevaria is barely on LI, with a short profile and a network of zero.  What’s the point?

Consultants & Vendors.  40/41 who make the T100 list because of their service to accounting firms/professionals are on LinkedIn.  Heavy users are August Aquila (Aquila Global Advisor), Ron Baker (VeraSage Institute), Gary Boomer (Boomer Consulting), Jim Boomer (Boomer Consulting), David Cieslak (Arxis Technology), Gale Crosley (Crosley+Co.), Chris Frederiksen (The 2020 Group), Michelle Golden (Golden Practices), Jeff Gramlich (CCH Small Firm Services), Angie Grissom (The Rainmaker Consulting Group), Pascal Houillon (Sage North America), Randy Johnston (K2 Enterprises), Rita Keller (Keller Advisors), Allan Koltin (Koltin Consulting Group), Taylor Macdonald (Intacct), Jeff Pawlow (The Growth Partnership), Kevin Robert (Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting), Marc Rosenberg (The Rosenberg Associates), Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk (BBR Marketing), Rebecca Ryan (Next Generation Consulting), Joel Sinkin (Transition Advisors), Doug  Sleeter (The Sleeter Group), Brad Smith (Intuit), Jennifer Warawa (Sage North America), Troy Waugh (The Rainmaker Companies), Geni Whitehouse (Even a Nerd Can Be Heard), Sandra Wiley (Boomer Consulting), Jennifer Wilson (ConvergenceCoaching), Joe Woodard (Scaling New Heights) and Diane Yetter (Yetter Tax Consulting).  Other LI users are Erik Asgeirsson (CPA2BIZ), Jon Baron (Thomson Reuters Tax and Acct), Chandra Bhansali (AccountantsWorld), Jim Buttonow (New River Innovation), George Farrah (Bloomberg BNA), Zach Nelson (Netsuite), Jay Nisberg (Jay Nisberg and Associates), Brian Peccarelli (Thomson Reuters Tax and Acct), Terry Putney (Transition Advisors), Jill Ward (Intuit).

Regulators.  Only 5/18 who make the T100 list because of their service as regulators of accounting are on LinkedIn.  Heavy users are Orrin Hatch (U.S. Senate) and Mitt Romney (presidential candidate). Other LI users are Karen Hawkins (IRS), Terri Polley (FAF) and Leslie Seidman (FASB).

Professional Associations.  19/20 who make the T100 list because of their leadership in professional associations are on LinkedIn.  Heavy users are Richard Caturano (AICPA), Richard Chambers (IIA), Calvin Harris (NABA), Marie Hollein (FEI), Tom Hood (MACPA), Erinn Keserica (AAM), Mark Koziel (AICPA), Lana Kupferschmid (NCCPAP), Barry Melancon (AICPA), James Metzler (AICPA), Clarke Price (OSCPA), James Ratley (ACFE), Ralph Thomas (NJSCPA) and Jeffrey Thomson (IMA).  Other LI users are JoAnne Barry (NYSSCPA), Parnell Black (NACVA), Loretta Doon (California Society of CPAs), Edward Karl (AICPA) and John Sharbaugh (Texas Society of CPAs).

Lobbyists.  Two of the three who make the T100 list because of their leadership of important lobbying organizations are on LinkedIn.  Neither Ken Bishop (NASBA) or Cindy Fornelli (Center for Audit Quality) are heavy users.

In the world of accounting, influential leader and LinkedIn go hand in hand.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht


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