Accounting News Roundup: PwC Drones and DRS on the CPA Exam | 05.09.16

PwC drones

You might be thinking that this is referring to the human-shaped things walking around your office, however, this article is referring to a different type of PwC drone:

PwC, the professional services firm, is joining the ranks of companies turning to drones and other new technologies to upgrade their business models.

The group’s Poland division began testing in April last year and is to launch commercial surveyor drones this week. It estimates that the market for drone use in construction and infrastructure alone is worth at least $45bn.

“The breadth of potential applications is so huge,” said Michal Mazur, partner at PwC’s drone-powered solutions division. The company has set up its global drone headquarters in Poland intending to take the principle worldwide.

I suppose drones make sense for those situations when you need some information or evidence that is located in a place too remote or too dangerous for a person to go. But there's another factor, of course:

[T]he cost of a drone inspection of a wind turbine, for example, is roughly half the $1,500 cost of a human doing the same job.

Add "drone operator" to your "skills development" list, I guess?

CPA exam changes

If you're taking the CPA exam this summer and having a panic attack over the new document simulation review, your pals at Becker have you covered:

Becker Professional Education, a global leader in professional education and a part of DeVry Education Group, today announced the launch of document review simulation (DRS) as part of its CPA Exam Review. This new type of task-based simulation, created by the American Institute of CPAs, will begin appearing on some CPA Exams this year.

DRS aims to increase exam authenticity by presenting real-world scenarios newly licensed CPAs might be expected to handle on the job. Each DRS presents a realistic document as well as related source documents such as memos, bank statements and other exhibits that require review.

It's amusing to me that all this time, the CPA exam has been marketed as an assessment of the knowledge a young CPA needs, yet the point of the DRS is to "increase exam authenticity." Perhaps more multiple choice questions will start showing up in the real world?

Non-GAAP worries

Perhaps I'm wrong and fretting over non-GAAP accounting is legitimate, but if so, then it's worth nothing that nearly everyone is making the same argument. Here's a Financial Times column that mentions LinkedIn and Twitter for excluding their stock compensation expense from their non-GAAP pro forma earnings, a classic of the genre. And then it also mentions the Analyst's Accounting Observer study finding that 90% of the S&P 500 use non-GAAP metrics, a new favorite datapoint for the non-GAAP Chicken Littles.

While keeping it real may make for a less inspiring income statement, it does at least proof figures against this sort of unpleasant eventuality. For now investors may be content to play along with companies’ accounting fantasies. Sooner or later, however, it is an indulgence they will come to regret.

I think I'll start worrying when companies stop reporting GAAP numbers alongside the non-GAAP numbers.

In related news: SEC Deputy Chief Accountant Wesley Bricker says "staff will consider potential recommendations to the Commission for rulemaking in this area, but I hope companies will seize this opportunity to review their practices and make any necessary changes."

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