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Tag Archives: Accounting

Former Partner Shares Life Lessons from the Rise and Fall of Arthur Andersen

As Firm Marks 100th Year, Executive Recounts the Rewards
of Working at a Company Known for Integrity

By the time he was 30, Larry Katzen made partner at Arthur Andersen, then one of the “Big 8” accounting firms with a reputation for innovation and integrity.

In the ensuing years, the firm continued to soar in stature. With an emphasis on continuing education for employees and meticulous attention to detail, it was one of the most trusted accounting firms in the industry. Katzen enjoyed a fast-paced rise through the ranks, all the while learning, traveling, and parenting quadruplets with his wife and college sweetheart, Susan.

It all came crashing down in 2002 when the company was indicted based on false accusations having to do with the scandals at Enron. With the firm’s survival in question, Katzen moved quickly to encourage employees to carefully complete all remaining assignments.

“Arthur Andersen became fodder for the government’s prosecution of Enron – although it had no role in Enron’s demise,” says Katzen, author of, “And You Thought Accountants Were Boring – My Life Inside Arthur Andersen,” (Larryrkatzen.com), a unique look inside one of the world’s most historically important accounting firms.

Arthur Andersen was eventually vindicated by a 9-0 Supreme Court ruling. By then, however, the damage had been done, creating chaos in the careers of thousands of employees. Arthur Andersen, which marked its 100th anniversary in September, still exists today, albeit in a different incarnation.
“I will never regret my time at the firm; it provided so much for me, including solid life lessons,” says Katzen, who shares some of those.

• Do the right thing. At the end of Katzen’s career, he had to help his employees find new jobs, which was an arduous process. “It was the right thing to do, which is its own reward, but the right actions also tend to have rewarding consequences,” he says. That lesson had taken root during Katzen’s college years at Drake University, when a trusted professor warned him against his plan to cancel a job interview with Arthur Andersen because he’d already received several promising offers. “If I hadn’t done what was right, if I hadn’t followed through on my commitment, my life would have gone down a very different path,” he says.

• Listen to your heart. Although Arthur Andersen gave him the lowest salary offer, Katzen nonetheless felt it was the right place for him. “My personality seemed to blend with their corporate culture,” he says. “So I turned down higher and more attractive offers and went with my heart.” Listening to his heart also helped during his wife’s fragile pregnancy with their quadruplets; if the couple hadn’t approved using an experimental drug, “we probably would not have any children today,” he says.

• Increases in responsibility come with personal sacrifice. Katzen had to uproot his life and family and move to a strange new town. But the short-term pain enabled the family to attain financial security and a better quality of life. “If you want to grow in an organization, success does not come without personal sacrifice,” he says. “In my case, it resulted in four moves – but it was well worth it.”

• Beware of the power of our government. In his first substantive experience in dealing with the IRS, Katzen quickly learned how coercive and powerful the agency can be. No matter how reasonable you may try to be with a government agency like the IRS, there is no guarantee it will respond in kind – and don’t assume that you will get a fair trial, he says. “They have the power and authority to do whatever they want to do. In less than three months, our government put one of the world’s most effective and profitable international accounting firms out of business.”

About Larry Katzen

Larry Katzen worked at Arthur Andersen from 1967 to 2002, quickly rising through the ranks to become a partner at age 30. His new memoir details the government’s unjust persecution of a company known for maintaining the highest standards.

 

 

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How To Make Sure Your Staff Are In It For The Long Haul

tug-of-warThe best businesses have loyal staff that have been there since day one. They know the company like the backs of their hands and no situation or problem is unfamiliar to them. The longer you have worked somewhere the better you know the role and the company and there for the better you do your job. Every employer would love to have staff stick around for years to come but people often become bored and move on. So how can you ensure your staff stick with you through thick and thin?

Set Out  A Clear Career Path

Many companies loose staff because of the lack of progression they offer.  People do become tired of doing the same thing over and over and if there is no opportunity to move forward they will seek opportunity elsewhere. As a business owner you should encourage your staff to apply for promotions and work their way up in the company. In order to keep staff happy and motivated you should set out a clear structure when it comes to moving up the ranks.

Offer Rewards

It can become very tiresome for staff if they work hard and that hard work constantly goes unrecognised. A simple thank you or well done is a good start and goes a long way, but a great way to really keep staff happy and motivated is to offer small rewards for good work.

Consider monthly awards in the form of a title and a small gesture such as a bottle of wine or vouchers, for example ‘employee of the month’. This means your staff will get the recognition they deserve and is an excuse for a fun monthly get together.

Consider Staff Quarterlies

A great way to say thanks is to host an evening of fun once every three months. It is something for staff to really look forward to and is a great way to encourage staff bonding. You don’t have to do anything huge, maybe just put some money behind a bar or book a meal. Tell everyone the date and time and see your staff let their hair down for a night of fun.

Offer Bonuses

At the end of the day your staff are there to earn money, and money does make people happy. A great way to encourage staff to go above and beyond at work is to offer bonuses measured by how well they are doing.

Staff really appreciate being paid on time and the right amount. Mistakes do happen but that can cause great problems when people are expecting money. Ensure these mistakes don’t occur by making use of payroll services to keep staff happy.

Eilidh MacRae works for Trace Payroll who offer payroll services.

 

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What Are The Biggest Factors For Business Success in 2012

 

Keep your business profitable and sustainable throughout 2012 with a free POS software download.

Today’s Challenges

There are a great deal of challenges facing the business world today and in particular those businesses whose primary revenue comes from sales, such as retailers. The costs of running these businesses are forever increasing, and as such, a business’ profitability will be reduced dramatically. Whether it is in the form of increased materials, distribution costs, or minimum wage increases, business owners everywhere have a constant headache in terms of minimising costs.

The biggest way for businesses so remain successful in 2012 is to produce an effective cost reduction plan. Not only will this see them remain financially healthy in the short term but it will also put effective business practices in place, enabling the business to remain strong through another global financial crisis, should one occur in the future.

Software Costs

Significant sums of money are spent by businesses each year on the upgrading and on-going maintenance of point of sale programs. By obtaining a free POS software download program, a business can take huge steps to dramatically reducing the costs associated with this. The beauty of such software is that it is entirely cloud based, so all that is needed is a computer terminal in a business in order to use the software. The only costs associated with a free POS software download come in the support functions. However, given the increased reliability and performance levels that you get with such programs, these costs are unlikely to be colossal. In a world where business leaders are forever fighting cost increases, this is much more favourable than paying for 24/7 support cover for an unreliable software and hardware package. This is before we even get into the additional costs of an engineer visiting your business to resolve the issue if it is something that cannot be resolved remotely.

How It Helps Your Business

In addition to the superb cost savings, a free POS software download can help your business in many ways. It can be a great time saver for the multi-site business manager, as they can simply log on to the cloud at home and view each site’s performance, rather than having to visit each site individually, or rely on communication from all of their managers.

A free POS software download can also drive significantly better employee productivity, as visibility of performance measures is dramatically improved. Other key business levers such as inventory control and stock loss can also be measured accurately.

Posterita provides free point of sale software to retail businesses. Moreover, they offer marketing and business advice to their partners and clients to help their business grow. If you want to find more about their free POS software download it from their website.

 

 

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How to Choose Financial Software

For every business owner, there comes a time when it becomes essential to create a system to handle the financial matters of the business. Whether you, as the owner, are looking for some financial reports on your company or simply adhering to your taxation requirements, maintaining the financial records properly is absolutely essential. Whether your company is growing rapidly or requiring a loan, you need to have your financial back-end in order.

Here’s a look at some things that you need to ensure that your financial software has to make your life simpler.

Simple to Understand

Whether your business is growing or you are simply trying to bring some order into your life, you need to spend as little time as possible maintaining your financial records. Why? Because the more time you are spending on your accounts, the lesser time you are spending doing what you are supposed to be doing – moving your business forward. Sure, you are, in a way, still promoting your business through the financial software but when you are sitting and setting your house in order, you aren’t exactly manning the cash counter or making a sale.

Also, if you are just moving into the world of accounting for the first time, you don’t want the software to discourage you from learning more about maintaining your company’s financial records properly.

A Good Help File

How often have we seen fantastic software go down the drain simply because they don’t have the kind of support and help required to aid their customers. For a business owner who’s taking her/his time away from regular work, this is a major investment of time and money. If the software doesn’t take this into account and create a simple system of getting out of tight spots, whether through telephone help-lines, user manuals or just email-support, then customers might never return to it. Basically, it shouldn’t be easier to switch to another product rather than find a solution to any problem!

Getting Money

If you can, you need to get an accounting system that gives you the advantage of having pre-made provisions for money that you are likely to receive. Whether through sales or just in terms of creating estimates, your company will need every little bit of help it can find in these software. Having provisions about billing and raising invoices will help create a simple process that has a small learning curve and allows you to introduce these elements, into your daily functioning, immediately.

Paying Out

Whether you are looking at paying your employees, handling vendor payments or simply keeping track of the cheques given out, the ideal financial software will help you keep track of all that and more. There are plenty of software that offer a unique understanding of these systems and ensure that you have all that is needed to handle all your expenditures. Some even go a bit further and give you a certain amount of freedom in making payments through the system, by connecting with other websites or gateways. Depending on what your primary need is, you can make your software buying decision.

Other Essentials

Some financial software also have special additional tools that include features which allow you to manage your inventory, handle the time-sheets of clients as well as keep a track on projects and their costs. They not only keep an eye on these things, for you, but also ensure that you get timely reminders to make life simpler.

Whether you are looking for something that takes complete control over your entire financial setup or something that simply takes over a few responsibilities that you need to look into, financial software are extremely important to help your business grown and maintain itself. If you are planning to turn your organization into something special, then dig deep and find the best software for your company because the time you spend in searching for the right tool is a fraction of the time you’ll save later!

ARTHUR COOPER –author

When Arthur decided to take his father’s little mom ‘n’ pop store to the next level, his biggest challenge was managing the growth. Using his background education and work experience as part of a small-business IT support team, Arthur is aware of the problems that business owners face when dealing with day to day workings and is always eager to share his knowledge with curious or interested people.

 

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Striking a Balance in Dealing With Cost Variances

Work in management or around management and at some point in time or another you are sure to hear the term or terms concerning “Analyzing Cost Variances”.  Just what do these terms mean and what are their great potential implications overall to management, their management and leadership decisions and to the long term health of the company or enterprise?

The term ‘Analyzing ( or analysis) of Cost Variances”  refer to the strategies and analytic workups and conclusions  accountants and accounting bean counter types derive when they  encounter a deferring tally or differences  between what might be called the “real” ( on paper or computer spreadsheet) budgeted costs and actual spent costs. The phrase may well be heard from the mouths of, memos and emails of management and upper management to accounting – I (we / the team) wants and answers to the discrepancies and disappearances between the two values. Further management may demand that they want an answer promptly or at the least within a reasonable enough time period to take good corrective action and actions.  Significant differences of this figure or value (accountants have a habit in their “lingo” of referring to these tallied differences as “variances” in either real dollars terms or more innocuous “figures” as if they are simply chits on the table. Yet to a legitimate and astutely run operation all deferring figures and variances should be identified and targeted promptly for full, complete and comprehensive corrective action. Yet its often more than difficult if not impossible to change a direction or even heading of a ship either putting out good speed , or even direction if a ship of great weight of inertia.

In many companies , firms and organizations themselves , it can be said and clearly noted that accountants , and their associated “accounting departments” , with all the plethora today of computers , great and cheap computer power “in the cloud” along with a host of complex and even cryptic algorithms spend so much time identifying variances  and ensuring that they are allocated to the right , specific and correct accounting time period  that for the most part that they never  really get around to telling and explaining to management – both upper and middle management levels – what these variances really mean or indeed what might of caused them.

It can be said that it can be best and the wisest choice not  to assume that the experts in the accounting dept or the specific accountants involved actually know , have a good fix or perhaps even have the smallest inkling and inklings  of the cause of every variance on their books.

It can be said that a wise and experienced strategy by management is to ask , or even insist , on a plain-language explanation or what caused the variances – or at the least some optional and potential reasons or even suspicions of what did cause these discrepancies or variances.  If the “bean counters” can back it up with actual hard data, at least you will have hard to base your decisions on, rather than flying blind.  Other times it may be an amalgam of potential answers without full supporting data.  Its then up to you and the “management team” or teams to come up with a plan of action and a host of decisions with which to implement these policies , plans and procedures fully.

Kirk B. Stephens

Senior principal Ace Employment Services – Winnipeg’s Manitoba  temp service employment service

 

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I’m Sure That You Are Way to Busy to Read This

I just don’t have the time.  There isn’t the bandwidth.  There are not enough hours in the day. The hurrier I go the behinder I get.  Surely these are very common and familiar phrases in your work-a-day world.  To me, only the last one holds any modicum of truth.   Indeed, the more harried you allow yourself to get, the less efficient you become.  How many projects are put off simply because of poor time management?  How many concepts are thought to be staggering simply because of the perception that the project is just too big?

Consider the space shuttle.  Taken at its entirety the project was of such magnitude that nobody alive could possibly have attempted such a thing, yet broken down into its component tasks and properly scheduled it was one of the most successful and satisfying undertakings of modern man.  There is rarely a case to be made for not having “enough time.”

I have seen manager after manager bemoan the rigors of their daily schedule ad infinitum.  Seriously, to the point of spending hours at the coffee machine or behind their desks bitching and moaning about how little time there is in their day.  How many times during the day do we really schedule time to invest in the things that are actually going to SAVE us time in the long run?  In my former life the business development of a major corporate travel management fell to my responsibility.  There are absolutely no end of executive administrators and “C” level managers we ran into that realized there travel program was absolutely out of control (costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours annually) but simply didn’t “have the time” to sit down with us and get it fixed.  Ironically, these same managers and admins somehow “had the time” for their engineers and managers to sit down on their computers and book their own travel, often making mistakes or deliberate misuses of corporate budget that any professional agent would have caught in a heartbeat.  These same engineers and managers also seemed to have the “time” to spend on weekend “teambuilding” retreats, trade shows, and product user group meetings.  It seems to be that “time” is not the issue; rather it is one of priority.

Properly setting your priorities, and holding to the discipline of enforcing your schedule, is of key importance in time management. It reminds me of a friend I had growing up that had to buy all of their groceries at a boutique market because they took credit cards, and the local market did not.  They couldn’t just eat beans and graham crackers for one single month to save enough to pay off the credit card debt and start paying with cash at the market across the street that cost about 2/3 of what the boutique market charged.  Instead of exercising the discipline and “sucking it up” for a small period of time, they continued to pay exorbitant prices for their groceries, and monthly interest charges on their credit cards.

Time is money.  If you don’t take the time to invest in your future, you will not have any savings.  Our next installment will discuss how to invest time wisely on your internet presence:  your website and your social media profiles and sites should be your best “selling” assets.  Have you invested the time to make sure you are taking the maximum advantage of those golden resources?

 

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