March 2020 Update

March 31, 2020 / Monthly Newsletter

In this Update:  COVID-19 Support; Financial Reporting; Testing Inventory; Beneficial Ownership

Greetings,

Wow, the world has changed so much in the past month as we now try to figure out the new normal in these uncertain times. As I read through all the email updates, notices and social media posts, I was almost overwhelmed as there is so much information out there. While there are many changes – in how we work, how we interact with clients, extended deadlines – ironically, it is still business “as usual” for many as the work still needs to get done. This month’s topics focus on resources I believe will be helpful in addressing some of the issues you may be facing in getting that work done.  Read on…

CPA Canada COVID-19 Resource Support

CPA Canada is committed to adapting and providing timely and relevant information to their members. They are trying to limit emails being sent out and rather are updating their website for relevant topics. They now have a CPA Canada has a COVID-19 resource page listing resources available to help respond to the challenges that now face us. The resources vary in their nature and their source and include publications from accounting firms, lawyers and lenders. Topics covered include crisis response strategies, cash flow management, corporate governance and protecting employees and work remote arrangements. There are many publications in the list that may be of interest to your firm directly or to your clients. 

ACCESS CPA CANADA RESOURCE PAGE HERE

In response to the fact the majority of inquiries from members relate to tax issues, CPA Canada is offering a tax-focused webinar on April 3, 2020 that will address many of the recent announcements by the Federal Government. Topics will include enhanced wage subsidy and GST deferral among other topics. A great resource to more fully understand the current environment so you can in turn advise your clients.   

REGISTER FOR WEBINAR HERE

Financial Statement Disclosure Considerations

Over the past week I have had many practitioners phone me to discuss financial statement disclosures for their clients. While I don’t expect to see wide-sweeping generic disclosures, I believe financial statement disclosures may be required for specific circumstances. Companies might scale back operations, have supply chain impacted, lose customers or shut down altogether in reaction to the uncertain times. Such matters as the going concern presumption, valuation of goodwill, impairment of assets, banking covenant requirements, onerous contract provisions and valuation of inventory are significant and require the use of professional judgement on the impact on the financial statements. Many of the larger firms have published articles on financial statement disclosures and after reading most of them, I feel that Deloitte’s is the most comprehensive and informative.   While the article is IFRS related, there are many matters that may also be relevant for those companies using ASPE or ASNPO. Use this as the starting point to think about the specific disclosures needed for your clients. And consult where needed.

READ FINANCIAL STATEMENT DISCLOSURES UPDATE HERE

Testing Inventory Without a Site Visit

The current situation has made inventory testing a huge challenge for auditors, particularly for client entities with a March 31 year end. An article published by the Journal of Accountancy provides guidance on alternative procedures when one can’t attend an inventory count. A cautionary note, the article refers to standards in the US but many of the issues raised consistent with Canadian accounting standards for ASPE and ASNPO.  Please feel free to reach out to discuss this issue further as you consider your auditing requirements related to inventory for your clients.

READ ARTICLE HERE

Beneficial Ownership Rules

In the line of business as usual, one change that may slip through the cracks is changes to the Canadian Business Corporations Act mandating the collection of beneficial ownership information, which came into effect in June 2019. The requirement is to track and record individuals who have significant control of the corporation. “Significant” has been deemed to be 25 % or more of the voting rights or 25% or more of the fair market value of shares. While this is a federal requirement, many provinces have taken steps to also make these changes. Manitoba enacted their rules which become effective April 8, 2020 with other provinces following suit.  CPA Canada has written a good article on how CPAs can assist clients in meeting this requirement including building awareness, advising and sharing expertise. It is a worthwhile read to help your clients be prepared and meet the requirement which has a stiff penalty if not met. I have not heard of any delays or changes to this requirement. 

READ ARTICLE HERE


You will note that I did not include any links on “tips on working from home” as these types of articles are plentiful. Nor did I include any articles on recent announcements from the government on such things as the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit or the enhanced wage subsidy (other than the link to the Webinar) as these articles are also abundant and it is important to go to the source that is most applicable to your clients. I believe that many small owner-managed companies will be relying on their accountants to help them understand or apply for these programs. It is a time when professionals are needed more than ever – I guess that is why the provincial government has stated that accountants are critical service providers and may remain open. Please feel free to reach out any time, I am here to assist you as you assist your clients. 

Best Regards,
Kirsten S. Albo, FCPA, FCA
President


February 2020 Update

February 28, 2020 / Monthly Newsletter

In this Update:  CSRS 4200; Dealing with Clients; Questioning Techniques; Growing your Practice

Greetings,

Happy leap day!! Another busy month has just passed by. We continue to move forward with the eventual implementation of new approved standards; CSRS 4200, CAS 540 and the recently approved CAS 315 will keep us busy for the mid- to long-term.  In the meantime, there are short-term actions that can be taken to help us get ready for the coming changes to come. This month’s topics relate to actions that can be taken to help us be more prepared. Read on…

CSRS 4200

As previously reported to you, the new standard on CSRS 4200 was recently approved. CPA Canada has released several publications to support in understanding and implementation of the new handbook section. The most recent of these is the Practitioner Alert helps to understand the changes and how those changes will impact your performance of compilation engagements. Along with this, they issued two other publications to help you in your discussions with clients and third parties. I have started discussions with some firms on ideas on implementation plans; while as the standards are not effective until periods ending on or after December 14, 2021, there are several actions you can take now to be prepared.

READ PRACTITIONERS ALERT HERE                                

READ CLIENT BRIEFING HERE

READ THIRD PARTY BRIEFING HERE

Better Meetings

With the ever-changing standards and the requirement to have in-depth discussions with your clients, it is important that you hold meetings to provide value and gain information and not just hold a meeting for the sake of meeting. Boomer Consulting has five tips for holding better client meetings. They recognize with CPA firms becoming trusted business advisors, it’s important to ensure that client meetings are operating at an optimal level. They state: “You want to make sure that your team and your client understand what the purpose of each meeting is and ensure that everyone is on the same page before and after the meeting takes place”.

READ TIPS HERE

Good Questioning Techniques

Technical knowledge is not the only thing to focus on during these busy months. Soft skills can be just as important and questioning techniques top the list as we work with our clients. With the new standards coming, there are many discussions to hold with your clients. Strong questioning skills help you gather more quality information, help you learn about the business, helps other learn, helps build better relationships and helps to manage problems and people effectively. With that in mind, I thought you might find the article Good Questioning Techniques is an interesting read and may be passed onto your staff to help them develop and learn.  

READ GOOD QUESTIONING TECHNIQUES HERE 

10 Steps for Getting Practice Growth Right

I often hear from firms that they want to grow and expand their client base. When a firm is poised for growth, expansion can help attract new business, offer strong career paths, help you remain relevant to client and enhance the firm’s value. Managing growth isn’t always easy, however, as you confront the challenge of scaling your practice effectively. A noteworthy article from the Journal of Accountancy has tips from experienced CPAs on how to navigate a period of growth and is worth the read.  

READ ARTICLE HERE


This is going to be an exciting but busy year. I am now a member of the Audit and Assurance Standards Board (AASB) recently formed Audit of Less Complex Entities Advisory Group which provides guidance and advice to the AASB on the direction of Canadian Auditing Standards in the context of the challenges that small- to mid-sized practitioners face when auditing these types of companies. I look forward to hearing your views which in turn I can pass onto the Advisory Group. I will also pass on any updates back to you that I can during the course of this project. In the meantime, if you have any questions on this project, implementation of CSRS 4200 or any other topics, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am here to help save you time and provide peace of mind. 

Best Regards,
Kirsten S. Albo, FCPA, FCA
President


Special Release: CSRS 4200 In the Handbook!! (and clarification on the effective date)

February 3, 2020 / Special Update

Greetings,

The new Handbook Section CSRS 4200 Compilation Engagements was released on the weekend and is now officially in the Handbook. First and foremost, a point of clarity – the section is effective for periods on or after December 14, 2021, that is effective for fiscal years ending December 31, 2021. I had a typo in my January update. My apologies and thanks to the eagle eyes that pointed this out.

CPA Canada summarized some of the key features, designed to respond to stakeholder input and public interest issues as follows:

  • A scope that sets out which services are compilation engagements. Today, practitioners find it difficult to distinguish a bookkeeping service from a compilation engagement. The new standard clarifies that a bookkeeping service may result in system-generated financial information. Such information is excluded from the scope of the standard if no communication is included or attached to it.
  • Specific engagement acceptance considerations that apply when the compiled financial information is intended to be used by a third party. Currently, practitioners are unclear about whether it is appropriate to accept or continue a compilation engagement when there is a third-party user.
  • Specific required work effort and documentation. The lack of explicit guidance in this area could be a reason for the existing variability in practice.
  • A requirement that compiled financial information includes a note describing the basis of accounting that was applied. Today, users generally lack an understanding of how the compiled financial information was prepared.
  • A new compilation engagement report that is more informative and insightful than the current Notice to Reader. Users are unclear as to the extent of work performed by the practitioner and have asked for greater transparency about those responsibilities.

Even though the standard is not effective for some time, there are a number of activities you can undertake already to be prepared. These include:

  • Read the actual standard and the Basis for Conclusion (both in Knotia).  
  • Read CPA publications and other material issued as these help promote awareness, understanding and effective implementation (two links below of material already issued).
  • Consider how the standard impacts your current engagements.
  • Design an implementation plan – there are certain requirements that may make sense to start implementing in this current year so everything does not hit all at once when effective.
  • Talk to your clients.

Below are links to guidance and information to help you get started. 


Please feel free to reach out at any time for support on implementing the new standards. 

Best Regards,
Kirsten S. Albo, FCPA, FCA
President


January 2020 Update

January 31, 2020 / Monthly Newsletter

In this Update:  Assessing RMM; Mandatorily Redeemable Shares; Audit Estimates; Professional Judgement; Compilation Engagements

Greetings,

Happy New Year!! I know it is a bit late to be saying that but for many, I have not had the chance to wish you all the best in the new year before now. I am very excited about the upcoming year. There are a lot of impending changes that will make it challenging but what is life without a bit of excitement. Read on…

CAS 315 (Revised) Identifying and Assessing RMM Approved in Canada

CAS 315 (Revised) was recently approved at the December 2, 2019 meeting of the AASB. There were no changes from the same International Standard that was approved earlier in the year. CAS 315 will be effective for audits of financial statements for periods beginning on or after December 15, 2021 (that is, effective for fiscal years ending December 31, 2022). The Handbook section itself will be released in the Handbook in May 2020. There will be application material, webinars and other tools released over the next few months to assist with application of the new requirements; I will keep you updated on these sessions as they become available.  Of course, I am available to assist in training and implementation. 

READ PROJECT UPDATE HERE

Section 3856 Retractable or Mandatorily Redeemable Shares (ROMRS) now Effective

The new standard on ROMRS (Section 3856) came into effect on January 1,2020. This standard not only applies to shares issued after January 1, 2020 also to shares issued before then. This means the new standard could be a big deal for your private companies as shares previously classified as equity may now need to be classified as liabilities which may put a company offside on its banking covenants. CPA Canada published an ASPE briefing which provides guidance on the new standard and transition issues. Make sure your clients start talking to banks now if necessary to ensure there are no surprises when the year end statements are issued.

READ BRIEFING HERE

CAS 540 (Revised) Audit Estimates

While you are talking to clients, you may also want to think about the revised auditing standard for estimates. This standard is effective for periods beginning on or after December 15, 2019 (that is, effective for fiscal years ending December 31, 2020) however, depending on the nature of your client’s estimates, it may be helpful to be proactive and think about the impact of the changes in this standard. CPA Canada has published a client briefing document that will help you in your discussions with your clients.  This should be an area of focus in training courses for your staff over the upcoming year.

READ BRIEFING HERE

Time to Reinforce Professional Judgment

All of the upcoming changes reminds us that professional judgement is an underlying concept in our daily work. We are often called upon to exercise professional judgment and professional skepticism which may not always be easy. An interesting article from IFAC provides a 6 elements as to how judgment can be evaluated along with an illustration of each action. It is an excellent read and provides food for thought. 

READ ARTICLE HERE

CSRS 4200 Canadian Standard on Related Services

As previously communicated the new standard on compilation engagements was approved in October 2019 and is effective for compiled financial information for periods ending on or after December 14, 2021 (that is, effective for fiscal years ending December 31, 2022). The actual standard will be released in the Handbook in February 2020. I will send out a special update upon release along with links to any application guidance.  In the meantime, nothing new to report.


All the best in the new year. Don’t forget that today is the CPD Reporting Deadline. A reminder to those I have worked with over the year is that the training time and discussion on standards is all verifiable hours. I look forward to the upcoming year and working with you to implement all  upcoming changes, perform efficient and effective engagements and grow your practices. Please feel free to reach out at any time as I am here to assist as needed. 

Best Regards,
Kirsten S. Albo, FCPA, FCA
President


December 2019 Update

December 28, 2019 / Monthly Newsletter

In this Update:  10 Great TED Talks on Leadership; Think Like Steve Jobs and Galileo; Succession Planning

Greetings,

The final update of the year. It is amazing to think how quickly 2019 has passed by. There were many standard changes over the past year and there will be many more in 2020. For the next few days however I am not focussed on standards but rather, on family and friends. I hope that you are able to spend quality time with friends, family and other loved ones over the holidays, I know I will be. With that in mind, this month’s update items are very light reads on interesting topics that apply to not only business but everyday life. Read on…

10 Great TED Talks on Leadership

It is not always about the standards. In our business, the soft skills are as, or often more, important than the technical skills. As influential leaders and the extent to which we have to interact with staff, clients and even family and friends, means it is important to understand how we can motivate others. Top leaders often talk about “growing others” and how their actions can inspire and develop their teams. Leaders share these thoughts and provide insights you can use to improve your leadership skills.

READ ARTICLE HERE

Five Ways to Think Like Galileo and Steve Jobs

We must incorporate professional skepticism into our engagements, not only because the standards say we have to but also to ensure we are asking the right questions, challenging our assumptions and arriving at the right conclusions. A thought-provoking article from Psychology today discusses the difference between cynics and skeptics and provides tips on how to develop habits of thinking that challenge what appear to be reliable facts.  Be like Galileo and Steve Jobs and test assumptions over human activity leading to greater understanding, innovation and creativity. 

READ ARTICLE HERE

Succession Planning

I am facilitating a Practitioner Forum Session on the topic of Succession Planning on January 15, 2020. Practitioners are engaged in running practices and servicing clients typically with the focus on immediate upcoming events. However, circumstances may require succession planning to move up the priority list. This may be the result of scheduled events such as retirement or due to unexpected events such as an illness.  Planning and preparation will help you move through both these types of events. This session will assist you succession planning transition, emergency preparedness, working with colleagues and requirements under the Code of Conduct. Think today about tomorrow. Please join me for this informative and interactive session.

REGISTER HERE


I am very excited about the upcoming year with all the changes yet to come. 2020 will be a busy year, in the meantime, I want to take this moment to which you all safe and happy holidays. I look forward to working with you in to help save you time and provide you peace of mind. Happy New Year.

Best Regards,
Kirsten S. Albo, FCPA, FCA
President


November 2019 Update

December 4, 2019 / Monthly Newsletter

In this Update:  Retractable or Mandatorily Redeemable Shares; ASPE Resources; Practice Inspection Report; Pricing Client Engagements

Greetings,

We are headed into the last month of the year and there are a number of things to think about to get ready for the new year. The more prepared we are, the smoother the work flow which allows us to concentrate on our clients which is always the priority. New accounting standards, upcoming changes in assurance standards and general quality matters all make preparation even more important. The topics below will help you be prepared for the coming months. Read on…

Retractable or Mandatorily Redeemable Shares Issued in a Tax Planning Arrangement

These amendments have been around for awhile but are finally in effect for the upcoming year. Amendments to Section 3856 Financial Instruments provide new conditions in order for retractable or mandatorily redeemable shares issued in a tax planning arrangement to be classified as equity as well as some changes to measurement, presentation and disclosure requirements. The amendments are effective for fiscal years beginning on or after January 1, 2020, that is the upcoming year. Not only do you have to think about new shares issued, there are several transition issues that you will have to address in financial statements. Make sure you spend the time to understand the amendments. The resource tool on this topic from CPA Canada along with the handbook section itself, will help you do that.

READ BRIEFING HERE

ASPE Resource Summary

Speaking of resource tools, CPA Canada publishes many resources and tools on a variety of topics throughout the year, all with the objective to assist practitioners. A recent publication is a summary of all ASPE guidance issued over the past year. It is a great publication to have on hand when you are dealing with specific issues. Topics include financial reporting alerts and ASPE briefings that provide implementation guidance on new and/or amendments to ASPE standards. In the document, there are hot links to the relevant resource so very easy to access. It also includes links to free webinars and other ASPE resources. Keep this publication on hand and access when needed.

READ ASPE RESOURCE GUIDANCE TOOL HERE

Focus on Practice Inspection Report

The provincial bodies are the governing bodies of our self-regulating profession; they promote the highest standards of integrity and expertise to their members. Practice Inspections are a key component of the overall regulatory process. CPA Manitoba’s annual report, Focus on Practice Inspections was released this past October and is very similar to the reports issued in other provinces. The report provides a summary of findings in each of the areas of financial statement presentation, audit engagements, review engagements, special reports and quality control. Detailed common deficiencies are included in Appendix 3. The report also includes other matters for consideration in Appendices 1 and 2. The report is worth the read as it highlights key things to think about in the upcoming year. You may even want share this report with staff so they understand common deficiencies and are then able to address these in your client files. If you need to get ready for an upcoming practice inspection or implement an action plan in response to one, reach out for assistance. I can help you through the process.

READ REPORT HERE

How to Price Client Engagements and Increase Firm Profits

With all the upcoming changes, it can be a challenge on how to price engagements. Fees are important and discussions on such are not always easy but we cannot lose sight of the fact that while assisting our clients is of upmost priority, we should be paid fairly for the work that we do. A fantastic article from IFAC covers approaches to fee increases and value pricing.  Included in the article strategies for increasing fees and provides food for thought on value pricing.

READ ARTICLE HERE


As we move into the last month of the year, please feel to reach out at any time to help you be prepared for the upcoming year. As one other year-end reminder, check on your CPD hours as December 31, is coming quicker than we think. Reporting deadlines are January 31, 2020. I am delivering in-house PD courses to several firms over the next few weeks but have some availability left in my schedule before the end of the year if needed. Over the coming months I will continue to keep you updated on new standards, including the recently approved CSRS 4200, as more details become known.  There are so much to think about but I am always here to help provide you peace of mind and save you time.  

Best Regards,
Kirsten S. Albo, FCPA,FCA
President