Other stuff

Feature length cartoon up – discussion of bank reconciliations and offering count in a local church

Some short scenes have been combined into a 9 minute cartoon along with an intro and extro. The first of several feature-length cartoons is available on my other blog, Once Upon Internal Control. This one discusses some creative internal controls over cash and a few ideas on how to maintain security over the offering until it is counted by the count team. More to follow!

Cartoon can be found at:

Once Upon Internal Control – part 1

Compensation grid for PwC

Going Concern is a blog that’s worth reading everyday. Would be worthwhile to include it in your RSS reader. The site covers the Big 4 world from a staffer’s perspective. Lots of juicy news from the trenches. Lot’s of great accounting news.

Today’s scoop is an excel spreadsheet that lists the PwC compensation structure from new staff level through year 14 director and new partner. Includes base pay and bonus.

Hiring trends strong for new accounting graduates

Don’t know how to interpret this. You can figure for yourself what it means for your practice.

Looks like the prospects for new accounting grads is good.

CPATrendlines, in their article, Number of Accounting Grads Hits New High, reports:

Newly minted accountants have some of the brightest job prospects in the nation, with nearly 90 percent of accounting firms forecasting the same or increased hiring of graduates this year compared with 2010, and nearly three quarters, 71 percent, of the largest firms anticipating more hiring – an indicator of a rebounding economy.

Overall data on CPA firms by size including revenue and number of professionals

Stat data from the AICPA lists information for CPA firms sorted by size: big 4, top 100, large (21-75), medium (11-20), small (2-10), and sole practitioners. Table includes number of firms in each category, total revenue for that sector, number of professional staff in each category. This is 2009 data.

We’re All Small Firms Now, from CPATrendlines; data from AICPA.

A few tidbits of interest to me:

Essentials of Internal Control – article for Bank of the West newsletter

I wrote an article for Bank of the West called Essentials of Internal Control.  It discusses one superb internal control you should be using for cash, explains that trust is not an internal control, and offers a creative idea to improve control over cash.

A one sentence summary of internal control is at the end of this paragraph:

CPAs can talk for hours about internal control. Can the concepts in all those long presentations be made a little simpler to grasp? Let’s try to boil down all those internal control ideas to one sentence. Ready? Internal controls are the procedures you put in place so that one person cannot do something wrong and hide having done so.

The three key ideas discussed:

  • The bookkeeper should not sign checks
  • Trust is NOT an internal control
  • Review unopened bank statement by someone outside of accounting

Please read the full article.

My article was included in this newsletter.

Visualization of data – a challenge for accountants

Accountants can easily see patterns in numbers. When I look at a financial statement, say when I’m preparing a proposal for a potential client, I can study the report and in a short time get a good understanding of what is happening in the organization. That’s the goal of financials, isn’t it? To explain what happened.

Accountants and other financial types can look at a column of numbers and easily see the story. 

Here is the challenge: How do we, as accountants, help other people see the story that is so obvious to us?  How does anyone that works with a large volume of data help ourselves and others see the story?

That is what visualization of data is about.

Upping the ante on smart phones tracking your location

(duplicate of post on my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

So bad things could possibly happen if someone gains access to the tracking data on your phone. How could someone get access to the file where that data is stored?

I attended the Christian Leadership Alliance conference in Dallas last week. Learned lots of new stuff and had fun visiting with lots of colleagues. Picked up info on location tracking that I wanted to mention.  Steve Hewitt of Christian Computing Magazine provided some information, which I will so identify.

Here are a few ways to get access to the location tracking data:

A few downsides to smart phones tracking your location – Worried yet?

(duplicate of post at my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

What could be the problem with your phone keeping track of your location and sending that to Apple or Google?

What if someone hacks the Apple or Google site?  Or hacks your phone?  Or merely gains physical access to your phone for a few minutes to grab the file that has the tracking data?

“I’m not breaking the law” I hear your say.  Fine.  Let’s consider a few other scenarios.

Time to start paying attention to privacy issues?

(duplicate copy of post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

Might be time for all of us to pay more attention to privacy issues on the technology we use. This has not been a good week in terms of privacy developments.

Using an iPhone or phone in the Android family? Did you know your location is being tracked regularly and reported back to Apple and Google?

Late last week or early this week (didn’t keep a link to the first article I saw) the first reports surfaced of the Michigan State police extracting everything from people’s cell phone during routine traffic stops for analysis on the spot.  Obviously the data could be stored and thus subject to later perusal. One of many articles here.

Okay, that’s not so good, but it gets worse.

Early this week, reports surfaced that iPhones constantly record the user’s location in an unencrypted file that is transmitted back to Apple. That file is also available to anyone who might gain physical access to your phone (see previous comment re: Michigan State police), hack your phone, or hack the Apple site. 

Cross-reference that file to a map and you can see a visual of every location you have been during the time the tracking has been running, perhaps a year. See article by Brian X. Chen, iPhone Tracks Your Every Move, and There’s a Map for That.  His article has a map that he created from his phone.

Next step in the bad news.

Today’s article from the Wall Street Journal, Apple, Google Collect User Data,  claims that both Apple and Google phones are reporting that tracking data back to them. The purpose is to accumulate data on hotspots so they can draw better maps for location-based services.  Since each phone has a unique ID, the data that comes in clearly can link you to the locations.

Glenn Reynolds has a great article discussing why all of this is troubling from a legal and practical perspective:  Smartphone Searches Not So Smart—Analysis.

He is quite concerned that what the Michigan State police are doing, and just about any other police agency could easily do, looks like a fishing expedition –  just looking around to see if there is something that might be illegal.  Few people can stand up to that kind of unlimited legal browsing.

My friend John Bredehoft has a post providing some background and asking the perceptive question Which do you fear more – business Big Brother, or government Big Brother?

“But I’m not committing any felonies or misdemeanors” I hear you say.

“I have nothing to hide” is the next thought you have. 

I’ll throw out a few ideas on why you should care in my next post.