In this Update: Dealing with Clients, COVID-19 Support; Standards Update; Reminder
Life continues to change. With the announcements of the province opening, we will slowly move into a “new normal”. I recently read that phrase is in competition for being the highest used phrase of the year – right up there with “flattening the curve”. It will be interesting to watch in the coming months what the new normal entails and how we adapt. Working remotely, social distancing, conducting client meetings, delivering training will all evolve as we settle in. In the meantime, the focus is, and always will be, the client and how we work with them in completing engagements and providing support. This month’s update includes information on things to think about as we move into our new normal. Read on…
5 Steps for Advising Clients
There is so much information to weed through these days, emergency funding options, new working environments, government guidelines, the list goes on. After dealing with the immediacy of your own operations, supporting clients is most likely one of your top priorities. An article from the Journal of Accountancy explores five strategies to navigate advisory, and sometimes difficult, conversations with your clients to help them cope. If there is ever a time when clients needed your guidance, expertise and care, it is now. The strategies are straightforward and may give you useful ideas to help manage through this time.
Areas of Focus Due to COVID-19
Global developments relating to the current situation have impacted the work of auditors. Uncertainty and unpredictability may create risks of material misstatement that are new or heightened. Auditors have to adjust how they obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence on which to base the audit opinion amid the many challenges they are facing. IFAC has published an Alert that highlights many of the items that auditors need to focus on in a clear and concise manner. The publication refers to ISAs but Canadian auditing standards (CAS) are substantially the same so this is particularly good tool to help you assess risk and document your conclusions.
COVID-19 and Going Concern Impacts
Even though business may now be able to open, COVID-19 related event may cause a deterioration in an entity’s operating results and financial position, affecting its ability to continue as a going concern. An article from CPA Canada provides guidance on learning how to address the challenges that arise from these conditions. Whether the engagement is an audit or a review the issues are the same and must be considered.
Coping with Standards Changes
There have been some delays in the effective date for some US GAAP and IFRS standards. However, for all my research, I have seen no discussion on delays for any Canadian standards. That means throughout all this we still must be cognizant of upcoming new standards. Nothing is imminent but throughout this time we cannot forget about the future. It is a challenge to keep up. The Journal of Accountancy has tips on how to “stay the course” and deliver high quality engagements.
CPA Canada’s COVID-19 information page CPA CANADA COVID RESOURCE PAGE is a good resource for guidance on financial reporting and other issues. FRAS Canada also has an information page FRAS CANADA COVID RESOURCE PAGE although this one is a little more IFRS focussed.
I promise there will come a day when we are not talking about the pandemic and flattening the curve (although in my case, I am eating so much baking I feel like I am “fattening the curve”). In the meantime, whatever challenges you face, remember that I am here as a resource as needed. Feel free to reach out at any time. Take care and stay healthy.
Kirsten S. Albo, FCPA, FCA
In this Update: CSRS 4200; Dealing with Clients; Questioning Techniques; Growing your Practice
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…
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Kirsten S. Albo, FCPA, FCA
In this Update: Managing Fee Pressures; Better Client Meetings; Learning Mindfulness
The start of a new year brings many things to think about. I am excited to head into 2019 and have spent the last month thinking about what I hope to accomplish over the upcoming year. With the ever changing standards, working with clients, dealing with staff, there is never a shortage of things to think about. The last few updates have been very focused on standards and while I plan to keep you updated over the coming months as things evolve, this month I thought I would pass on a few tips about managing client relationships, including fee discussions – topics that are always top of mind for those in public practice. Read on…
Three Ways to Effectively Manage Fee Pressure
As you head into busy season, the focus can sometimes be “just get the work done” but it is important to not to lose sight of fee discussions with your clients – earlier rather than later. Pressure to lower fees has consistently appeared as one of the top challenges facing small to mid-sized practices (SMPs). Members of the IFAC SMP Committee discussed fee pressures with practitioners from around the world who in turn shared their experiences, tips and best practices.
Communicating Value and Quality with Price
Another good article on addressing fee pressures. Clients often seek a better price, even when they are deeply interested in the services offered. This presents a great dilemma on which the Chairman of IFAC SMP Committee addresses. Key tips are provided to use when setting fee levels and engaging in price discussions with clients.
Five Tips for Better Client Meetings
With the ever-changing standards (including the new auditor’s report) 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 and ensuring these 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”.
Why Accountants Need to Learn Mindfulness
With the upcoming busy season, it is easy to get caught up in doing the work and letting other things slip away. I enjoyed reading this article highlighting the ability of mindfulness is essential for time management, productivity and the development of the soft skills needed to succeed. The AICPA CPA Insider reminds us that as accountants we learn technology and technical skills but do not necessarily take the same amount of time improving how we communicate, how we collaborate and how we deliver our services. To grow as an advisor, we need to dedicate as much time to soft skills as we do to technical skills.
A few final short snappers. Today is the reporting deadline for CPD requirements. Don’t forget to submit your hours. As well, as you head into the next few months, remember to issue the correct auditor’s report – and ensure the wording is correct if it is the new report you are issuing. And finally, anytime you encounter an assurance or accounting issue, remember I am here to assist you as needed. But most importantly, try and stay warm!! The weather has to break soon.
Kirsten S. Albo, FCPA, FCA