Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Time of Day Are You Least Productive?

Survey says late afternoon.

According to a new Accountemps survey of senior managers, late afternoon is the most common time for workers to hit a wall.

The worst times of day include 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., when 37 percent said their employees were least productive. Coming in second was 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., as cited by 28 percent of respondents.

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees.

Managers were asked, "In general, what is the least productive time of day for employees?"

Their responses:

8 a.m. to 10 a.m. 10%

10 a.m. to noon 4%

Noon to 2 p.m. 19%

2 p.m. to 4 p.m. 28%

4 p.m. to 6 p.m. 37%

Don't know 2%

Accountemps also offereds five tips to help professionals avoid the afternoon slump and maximize productivity:

1. Plan ahead. Don't push challenging projects off until the end of the day, when your energy may wane. Use your less-energetic periods to catch up on more routine tasks, such as responding to e-mails and reading industry publications.

2. Get out and smell the roses. If you feel your energy beginning to dip, stretch or take a short walk to recharge. Try eating your meals or holding afternoon meetings outside.

3. Eat well. Remember to make time for lunch and nutritious snacks throughout your workday. Avoid high-carb foods, which can cause you to crash later.

4. Track goals. Keep a to-do list to remain focused, and ensure it's visible on your desk so you can check items off as they're completed. There's nothing more motivating than making progress on your projects.

5. Switch gears. If you're struggling to focus, take a quick break and research something new. Changing tasks can help increase your productivity late in the day.

Friday, August 13, 2010

CPAs Weigh in on Economy: Outlook Not So Good

Pessimists outweighed optimists by a two-to-one margin among CPAs serving as C-suite executives, according to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School’s latest Quarterly Economic Outlook Survey. Here's an overview:
  • Only 21 percent of the survey respondents expressed optimism about economic recovery, a sharp decrease from 40 percent who were optimistic in May and the lowest level since April 2009. Forty percent were pessimistic about the economy, up from 25 percent in the last quarter.
  • Measures of optimism versus pessimism registered a combined 34 percentage-point swing toward a negative outlook, reversing the 28 percentage-point shift toward optimism recorded in the prior quarter when optimists outnumbered pessimists for the first time in two years.
  • Three in four, or 78 percent of respondents believe U.S. business conditions will not return to pre-recession levels until 2012 or later. Seventeen percent said conditions would return to pre-recession levels in 2011, and less than one percent said activity would rebound this year.
  • Twenty-four percent expressed more confidence about the prospects for their own organizations, a decrease from 40 percent who had more confidence in May. CPAs who are pessimistic about their own organizations rose slightly to 21 percent from 20 percent in the prior quarter.
Employment remains a top issue, which the survey touches on, too. As U.S. unemployment holds steady at 9.5 percent, 55 percent of survey respondents do not anticipate their organizations’ employment levels returning to pre-recession levels in the next year, compared with seven percent who anticipate staffing levels returning to normal in the next year. Less than one in ten, 9 percent, reported that their organizations were planning to hire in the immediate future.

Meanwhile, the Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor, released around the same time as the AICPA survey, expands on hiring trends.

According to the Robert Half survey, the most active hiring is expected to take place at the entry and staff levels. Employers reported difficulty finding skilled candidates for specific functional areas. Respondents cited particular challenges filling finance, accounting and operational support positions. Employers are a bit more confident about their ability to retain top talent, however. Forty-five percent of respondents said they are worried about their ability to keep top performers, down from 53 percent in 2009.

The Robert Half survey shows 83 percent of financial leaders said they were either very or somewhat confident in their companies' growth prospects for the next year. The AICPA survey results reveal only 54 percent expect their business to expand in the next 12 months.

The AICPA study focuses on CPAs' economic outlook, and included 1583 qualified respondents. The Robert Half study focuses on financial leaders' perspectives on hiring difficulties, retention concerns and other staffing-related issues, and included more than 6,300 qualified responses from 19 countries.

Monday, August 9, 2010

CPA Day of Service: T-shirt Deadline August 13!

CPA Day of Service is right around the corner — September 24.

At last year's inaugural CPA Day of Service, more than 600 volunteers pitched in to help communities across the state. On September 24, plan to roll up your sleeves for CPA Day of Service 2010!
Take a look at pictures from some of the participants from last year. And be sure to sign up by August 13, this Friday, to get your official, free T-shirt!

Get started today! Here are six easy steps to service:
  1. Select your cause
  2. Contact your charity
  3. Sign up by August 13
  4. Plan your event
  5. Roll up your sleeves on September 24
  6. Send us pictures
If you have any questions, please contact VSCPA Community Relations Coordinator Tracey Zink at tzink@vscpa.com or (804) 612-9427. See you in September!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

CPAs Prepare: 1099 Requirement Still in Place

Despite the profession's best efforts, the expanded Form 1099 reporting requirement for businesses is still in place.

On July 31, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass H.R. 5982, which would have repealed the section of the new health care law that requires businesses to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) any purchase from a vendor of goods or services worth $600 or more during the calendar year.

The reporting requirement is included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and is effective for purchases made in 2012 that will be reported on 1099 forms filed in 2013.

In a recent letter, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) told Congress it would be burdensome and costly for small businesses to compile the data and prepare the Form 1099-MISC information return. Furthermore, the AICPA said the information collected on the 1099 forms would not be very helpful to the IRS in collecting any unpaid taxes that should have been paid by the vendor because it will be difficult to reconcile payments reported on the forms and income reported by the vendor.

Where does this leave you and your clients? What changes will you need to implement in terms of recordkeeping and software? What do you need to communicate to your clients?

Also, the IRS has indicated it plans to exempt from this reporting requirement any business transactions completed via credit or debit card, as such transactions are already reported by the payment processors. While the exemption might provide some administrative relief, could small businesses unable to adapt lose customers who seek vendors that don't require the additional reporting?

Read a recent article from the Journal of Accountancy for more info on this requirement, and share your thoughts, concerns and ideas here at http://www.cpacafe.com/.

American Accounting Association and AICPA Create Pathways Commission to Study the Future of Accounting Higher Education

The American Accounting Association (AAA) and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) just announced they have formed the new Pathways Commission to study possible future paths of higher education for those seeking entry into the accounting profession.

The importance of public, private, governmental and nonprofit accounting information to the functioning of the economy cannot be underestimated, according to the AAA and AICPA. Stakeholders throughout the economy base critical decisions on information provided by the accounting profession.

Bruce Behn, Ergen Professor at the University of Tennessee who is serving as chair of the Pathways Commission, explained that the Commission will be innovative on a couple of fronts.
"First, we plan to seek input from the full spectrum of the accounting community in our deliberations," he said. "We will use a 'supply chain' approach. Members of the supply chains will include individuals and representatives from organizations that impact the various current accounting education pathways. Our goal is to facilitate an open, transparent discussion to be supported by both technology and public discussions. Second, the Commission recognizes the difficulty of sustaining the momentum for change in the dynamic environment of accounting practice and education. The Commission's efforts are structured to continue into the future."

Accounting education is dealing with several issues, including shortages of qualified teachers with accounting doctorates, the need to revise the accounting curricula regularly in light of fast-paced business changes, university budget constraints that threaten to make the cost of education prohibitive, and the need for training in specialized areas to meet the profession's demands.

The Commission will hold its first meeting October 15–17 in Washington, D.C. Read more about the Commission online at http://www.vscpa.com/.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

VSCPA Members Selected to Attend AICPA Leadership Academy

We're feeling proud today! That's because three VSCPA members have been selected among applications nationwide to attend the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) 2010 Leadership Academy October 5–7 in Durham, N.C.

Only 25 young professionals were selected to attend the AICPA’s Leadership Academy program, which was established last year to provide the next generation of CPA leaders with advanced intensive leadership training, access to well-connected professional networks and opportunities to exercise leadership within the profession.

The attendees are all between the ages of 25 and 35 with valid CPA licenses and three or more years of experience in the profession.

Congrats to the three VSCPA members selected to attend:
  • Jaime Lynn Dernar, CPA, controller with FOX Architects LLC in McLean
  • Marc E. Filer, CPA, a senior staff accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers in McLean and chair of the VSCPA Young Professionals Advisory Council
  • Nicole M. McGuire, CPA, a senior auditor with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Washington D.C.

Monday, August 2, 2010

How Optimistic Are CFOs About the Economy?

CFOs are expressing less confidence and a bit more caution, according to the second quarter 2010 "CFO Outlook Survey," released by Financial Executives International (FEI) and Baruch College's Zicklin School of Business.

After rising for four consecutive quarters, the Q2 CFO Optimism Index for the U.S. economy experienced a nearly five point decrease (down from 58.14 to 53.60), and CFOs' outlook for their own companies fell slightly from 69.49 to 67.40.

While confidence is down, and areas such as IPO activity and the rate of capital spending remain slow, CFOs' outlook toward credit is more favorable and various findings demonstrate substantial progress since 2009.

Here are some of the survey findings:

~Regarding healthcare, two thirds (66%) plan to increase the monthly amount that their employees pay for benefits, and more than a third (34%) also plan to decrease the scope of the healthcare package.

~Regarding access to credit, less than one fifth of respondents (17%) feel that it will be more difficult to access credit over the next six months, compared to the 24 percent of CFOs who shared this sentiment when asked in the third quarter of 2009.

~When asked about the potential impact the financial regulatory reform package would have, the most-cited effect was increased banking costs (45%), followed by additional compliance and reporting requirements and costs (39%).

~The majority of CFOs (53%) also predict their taxes will increase. Despite expected tax increases, a large majority of CFOs (78%) remain confident that their business decisions will remain unaffected by the tax outlook.

~CFOs are expecting increases in net earnings (20%), revenue (11%) and hiring and technology spending (both at 7%) over the next 12 months. CFOs will face a number of added expenses over the next 12 months, including new costs related to taxes, financial regulatory reform and healthcare.

Read more at http://www.vscpa.com/.