Becoming a Digital CPA Firm – Challenges to Clients

This blog was originally published on the AICPA’s subsidiary, CPA.com website. Maribel is a member of the Advisory Board for CPA.com and the AICPA Digital CPA Conference. As an advisory board member, Maribel helps empower CPAs and businesses for the digital age.


 Becoming a digital CPA firm is an immediate benefit to clients; that’s a no-brainer.  Clients’ systems become more secure and efficient with fewer touch points.  Clients will have real-time access to their data and remote access to data from most digital devices.  In addition, they get to see their financials in a dashboard format that is easy to understand.  You would think that there would be few if any challenges, right?

Clients enjoy predictability from their service providers.  Predictability is a crucial ingredient to the trust equation.  Attempting to change the processes and the way they must now think about the information brings instability, even if the client understands the benefits.  A usual question is, “Why change a system that is working well at this time?”  Timing can be an issue since we usually try to make these changes to coincide with the client’s fiscal year end, but it may not be the most convenient time for the client if they have an important event or vacation planned.

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Happy auditors= good audit

We just finished the financial statement audit of one of our clients. The auditor, with whom we’ve worked for many years, came to see me after he finished filed work to discuss how the audit went and what to expect.  I was surprised by how much he had to say about the credit card and bill payment system we had implemented last year for this client.

The client being audited is a not-for-profit organization that operates in a virtual environment.  They have staff in practically every state and we operate their entire Finance Department.  Last year, we implemented Bill.com for their bills and Expensify for their credit card bills.  There are 13 credit cards, since each program director has one.  In addition, employees can request reimbursement of expenses through Expensify.

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Becoming a Digital CPA Firm – Challenges to Staff

This blog was originally published on the AICPA’s subsidiary, CPA.com website. Maribel is a member of the Advisory Board for CPA.com and the AICPA Digital CPA Conference. As an advisory board member, Maribel helps empower CPAs and businesses for the digital age.


Attending the CPA.com and AICPA’s first Digital CPA Conference at the end of 2012 was a huge “Aha!” moment for me.   For years I knew that technology was advancing rapidly and that the processes we were using to service our clients could be replaced with much more efficient workflows.  During our internal team meetings we discussed increasing the efficiency of our processing of transactions to allow us to focus on being our clients’ advisors.  The Digital CPA Conference provided the context and platforms I thought existed but did not know how to bring together.  We jumped in the digital bandwagon and started the process of becoming a digital CPA firm.  This was over 18 months ago and even though we’ve come a long way, we have encountered several expected and unexpected challenges along the way.

Our first mistake was not being clear and specific about how these changes would affect each staff member. 

Making the decision was never a challenge since I hold the highest level of decision-making in the firm.  However, I needed to quickly get the buy-in from other leaders in the firm – I need a champion to echo my excitement and sense of urgency.  We were off to a good start after attending a two-day workshop that gave us sufficient compelling reasons to move in this direction.  It was on the way back from this workshop that we discussed how this new blueprint for servicing our clients would affect staff members and company culture.  We recognized this was going to be one of our immediate expected challenges.  The unexpected challenge was the blank expressions we faced during our quarterly firm meeting after showing a very detailed power point presentation of the changes we had in mind for the firm.

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5 Steps to Approving a Bank Reconciliation

Reviewing the monthly bank reconciliations is part of a complete set of internal controls for your organization’s financial process and will be an item your auditors will look for.  However, for those of you new to this task or for those who simply want a quick break-down of the process, read on… I will try to simplify it for you in 5 easy steps.

STEP 1

A bank reconciliation report is fundamentally a comparison of your bank account balance according to the bank versus the bank account balance according to your accounting records.  You must therefore request the following three documents to do a proper review:

  1. Bank statement (from the bank) for the corresponding month.
  2. Reconciliation Report for the corresponding month (this is generated from the accounting software).
  3. Balance Sheet or Trial Balance for the corresponding month (also generated from the accounting software). Continue reading “5 Steps to Approving a Bank Reconciliation” »

New Standards of Excellence for Nonprofits

The Standards of Excellence Institute released its enhanced code of ethics and accountability for the nonprofit sector.  See press release

The Maryland Association of Nonprofits, the organization that created the national Institute, hosted a forum on version 2 of their code for seal holders, peer reviewers and licensed consultants.  During the forum, they introduced the process followed, key changes and major additions.  I attended as a peer reviewer and walked away with excitement for the new and enhanced process and standards. Continue reading “New Standards of Excellence for Nonprofits” »

Accountant-Introvert-Blogger

This is the first blog post I write, fulfilling a mission of active blogging that has been encouraged by those in my office and imposed on me by the age of social media.   I wondered though, how can I, accountant-introvert, contribute something meaningful to the social chatter?  Can I train myself to speak to a broad audience with whom there may not be immediate interaction?  Continue reading “Accountant-Introvert-Blogger” »