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Friday Footnotes: Accounting AI Explodes; SOX Compliance Sux; KPMG Gets on a List | 6.17.22

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The 2022 Client Advisory Services (CAS) Benchmark Survey is now open for participation [] Participation in the CAS Benchmark Survey provides an opportunity for you to work on your business – first, by reviewing the data about your practice in preparation to take the survey, and later, when you can review your practice’s data compared to other CAS practices and CAS top performers.

VCs Target AI Accounting Startups as Companies Look to Control Spending in Uncertain Economy [Wall Street Journal] It’s finally happening! Let the robot takeover commence! World-wide, startups making AI-powered accounting software amassed $233.3 million in venture capital between January and the end of March, surpassing the $210.2 million in funding for all of 2021, according to research provider PitchBook Data Inc. By contrast, funding declined over the first quarter for startups building AI-enabled tools in areas like media and entertainment, processor design and autonomous vehicles, among dozens of other software categories, said Brendan Burke, PitchBook’s senior analyst for emerging technology.

Addressing continued rise in Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance costs [Journal of Accountancy] Technology tools have the potential to stem the tide of rising costs and time spent complying with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), but current conditions faced by companies may be slowing the rate of progress. Protiviti polled 562 company representatives — half of whom are CFOs — and found that 53% reported an increase in SOX compliance hours, the same percentage that reported an increase in 2021. Twenty-one percent did report a decrease in SOX hours, an uptick from 18% one year ago.

Hot (pun intended) on Reddit today:

NASBA, AICPA, Prometric Expand International CPA Examination Testing Locations [NASBA] NASBA, AICPA, and Prometric announce qualified Uniform CPA Examination candidates applying to participating jurisdictions will have the option of testing at any international location where the CPA Exam is currently offered. This is effective as of June 2, 2022. Testing eligibility for qualified international CPA Exam candidates was previously determined through jurisdictions participating in the international administration of the CPA Exam and limited to sites based on a candidate’s residency and citizenship. Before June 2, 2022, as an example, a candidate residing in Japan could test in Japan or the United States, but not test in India or Brazil. Now, that candidate may test in each of those locations.

While accounting technology is moving fast, some firms are still moving slow:

New Deloitte report: LGBT+ inclusion efforts yield positive impacts in workplace, yet challenges persist [PR Newswire] Many organizations are prioritizing LGBT+ inclusion, creating an overall positive impact in the workplace, according to nearly 80% of respondents in the latest Deloitte report, “LGBT+ Inclusion @ Work: A Global Outlook”, released today. The research reveals that more than 70% of LGBT+ employees are more inclined to stay with their current employer because of its approach to LGBT+ inclusion and many cited visible allyship and the availability of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as key enablers of an inclusive culture. Yet despite these efforts, 42% of all respondents reported experiencing non-inclusive behaviors at work.

Growing EY Initiative Promotes Workplace Neurodiversity [Bloomberg Tax] “You have a lot of very capable people who communicate differently, who may approach work differently, and therefore they’re not getting the jobs and are not able to retain the jobs, but they’re very capable in performing,” said University of Southern California adjunct associate professor Theresa Haskins, who has done research on employment for adults with autism.

KPMG Ranks #6 on Fortune’s 2022 Best Large Workplaces in New York [Fortune] How many Omaha Steaks did this person get in exchange for saying this? “KPMG has gone above and beyond my expectations of a Big 4 accounting firm because of their attention they give their employees. KPMG genuinely keeps people engaged through opportunities, communities, and moments of appreciation. Each individual I’ve met has made an effort to get to know me and my story, and not just my professional story. I’ve been given the opportunity to connect and engage with others with similar interests, while expanding my own horizons and trying new things.”

PWC Survey: Business leaders mistakenly think their customers “highly trust” them [Axios] 87% of business leaders “think customers highly trust their companies,” but only 30% of consumers actually do, according to a new survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Recent price spikes have had a deleterious effect on people’s trust in companies — in part because companies aren’t doing a good job overall of explaining their pricing decisions, PwC U.S. chairman Tim Ryan tells Axios. “It calls for a different way of thinking … around transparency,” Ryan says.

FRC chair promises new boardroom audit rules for UK companies [Financial Times] The UK accounting regulator’s new chair has warned that the government’s decision to drop extra oversight rules for company boards to tackle audit failure was a “missed opportunity”. Sir Jan du Plessis, in his first public speech since becoming chair of the Financial Reporting Council in February, pledged to hold company directors to account with his own version of the Sarbanes-Oxley-style proposals that were dropped by British ministers.

UK accounting firms must prepare for crypto “tidal wave” [AccountancyAge] Accounting firms in the UK must take heed of the direction of travel towards cryptocurrencies and digital assets to remain competitive, according to Joe David, founder and managing director at Nephos Group. “Because crypto is becoming more mainstream, accountants are getting more questions about it and realising that this isn’t an area you can just pick up and put back down. “It’s a tidal wave that’s going to hit a lot of firms if they’re not paying attention.”

FASB Seeks Comments On Grants, Reschedules NPO Webcast [The Nonprofit Times] The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued an Invitation to Comment (ITC), on its “Accounting for Government Grants by Business Entities: Potential Incorporation of IAS 20, Accounting for Government Grants and Disclosure of Government Assistance, into Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.” FASB also rescheduled its upcoming webcast that will provide a semi-annual update on its standard-setting activities pertaining to private companies and nonprofit organizations.

ICAN to attract youths to accounting profession [Punch Ng] Meanwhile in Nigeria…sound familiar? The new Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Mowe & District Society, Mr. Omoniyi Osunsanya, has said the district will attract youths in secondary schools, tertiary institutions, and graduates to the accounting profession. “We will partner with tuition providers to recruit secondary school students into the Accounting Technicians Scheme West Africa programme as well as students and graduates of tertiary institutions into the path of the professional examination, leading to them becoming chartered accountants,” he said.