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Friday Footnotes: Are Accounting Students Prepared?; New CPE Rules; Blockchain Blah Blah Blah | 12.20.19

Regarding CPA Exam Performance and the Accounting Curriculum [The CPA Journal] A letter to the editor from a professor at Iona College reads: “In the end, I think too much emphasis is placed on pass rates and average scores, rather than the simple question of whether the students pass the exam in a reasonable period. The data that exists on pass rates and average scores is useful, but not determinative. Students who wait until they are fully prepared and confident before taking sections of the exam run the risk of extending the amount of time it takes to complete all sections.”

Adaptive learning self-study enabled in new CPE provider rules [Journal of Accountancy] Rules for continuing professional education providers for CPAs have been changed to accommodate adaptive learning self-study programs and address other issues. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the AICPA announced that they have approved revisions to the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs and the NASBA Fields of Study document.

How this startup by ex-KPMG exec is providing payments solution to credit-starved merchants [YourStory] Today, we are living in a society driven by technology, which in turn is transforming the business and customers. But for 47-year-old Jaijit Bhattacharya, tech-led societal transformation has been the proverbial Gordian Knot. Jaijit always believed that the financially abundant have access to systems, processes, and technology that a majority of the population does not have access to.

Ex-WorldCom CEO released from prison early [Compliance Week] Former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers was granted early release from prison due to deteriorating health. Ebbers had served 13 years of a 25-year sentence for participating in one of the biggest accounting frauds in U.S. history.

The Need for New Skill Sets at CPA Firms is on the Rise [AccountingWeb] “Companies are being expected to report on things they never had before, things that are not on a traditional financial statement. How we touch these as a profession has become critically important,” said Melancon. “We have to unlearn what we know and relearn with the audit and standards. Tax compliance and planning, business reporting and analytics and information systems and controls will all be necessary as core learning for CPAs.”

Purdue Pharma Can Use EY as Auditor Despite Objection from U.S. [Bloomberg Law] U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert D. Drain cleared the way for Purdue Pharmato hire Ernst & Young as its financial statement auditor at a hearing Thursday, overruling an objection from the U.S. Trustee. The U.S. Trustee objected to the hire because EY also provides services to other businesses owned by the Sackler family, which owns Purdue, arguing that that relationship could skew the auditor’s incentives.

Blockchain snuck up on us [Accounting Today] Did it really tho?

The Beginning of the End of Tax Secrecy [Wall Street Journal] This week, Royal Dutch Shell voluntarily published its revenue, profit, taxes and other business details in each of 98 countries. The disclosure aligns with a drive by the energy company, which often attracts criticism from environmental activists, to present itself as forward-thinking, transparent and socially-minded. That didn’t stop the information feeding a predictable host of headlines in the U.K., where the company is partly based, that it didn’t pay taxes in the country (because of losses carried forward and tax refunds). In the U.S., Shell accrued $137 million of tax—a rate of 8%.