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  • 30 May 2024 08:00 | Katharina Rottenbacher (Administrator)

    The accounting, auditing, and tax advisory professions are undergoing a profound transformation driven by
    artificial intelligence (AI). AI can revolutionize how accountants, auditors, and financial advisors work, making
    them more efficient, effective, and accurate.

    On 5 June 2024 (9-10.30 am, Paris time), Valtteri Kujala is offering a free training session on the topic. The webinar is aimed at all IECnet members and their employees. The session helps you understand AI without any prior
    requirements.

    Please register here: Registration form

    AI Hour IECnet June 2024.pdf

  • 22 Apr 2024 10:00 | Katharina Rottenbacher (Administrator)

    As another tax season unfolds, chartered accountants and tax advisors find themselves amidst a whirlwind of deadlines, client demands, and technological hurdles. While this time of year is undoubtedly busy, it's also a period of immense opportunity for professionals to showcase their expertise and assist clients in navigating the complexities of tax compliance.

    Thing is, current tax season happens to be the best time to think about next tax season!

    Accountants that have outlived enough tax seasons know that we all face the same common challenges during this critical period. Going towards its end, It might be a good idea to have a look at those mostly recurring challenges, see what’s changed, what did not, and how we can do better next time.

    COMMON CHALLENGES:

    • HR Management: One of the foremost challenges during tax season is effectively managing human resources. The influx of work requires careful allocation of tasks, ensuring that each team member is working efficiently and effectively to meet deadlines. Despite best efforts to allocate tasks and client files with relative equality (a couple of factors into play here!), some team members will still be living in what seems sometimes like a chaotic circus, while others have quite a nice walk in the park. Identifying and acknowledging, for each team member, those superpowers and kryptonite is a though one. Let’s not forget that maintaining staff morale and managing fatigue become crucial aspects of HR management during this intense period, making it delicate, for the team manager, to know when to push and when to cut some slack
    • Delays and Bottlenecks: Despite meticulous planning, workflow and process optimization, delays and bottlenecks are almost inevitable during tax season. Whether it’s waiting on a clients to provide necessary documentation or encountering unexpected technical issues, these delays can disrupt the general workflow and increase stress levels for both accountants and clients alike. A real pain point, especially if the delegation structure is not fine-tuned yet, or when the workload/ressource ratio is at a maximum
    • Technological Hurdles: While technology has undoubtedly streamlined many aspects of the accounting profession, it also presents its own set of challenges during tax season. From software glitches to cybersecurity concerns, ensuring that technology remains a reliable tool rather than a hindrance requires constant vigilance and adaptation. Constant IT support is required
    •  Client Demands and Expectations:  “Just this last invoice, please? It's just a tiny change, okay? C’mon it can’t be that complicated to re-edit the FS?”

    Sure, in a world where accuracy and compliance is not a priority… 

    Meeting client demands while maintaining quality and accuracy is a delicate balancing act during tax season. Clients often expect quick turnaround times without compromising on the thoroughness of the work. Managing these expectations effectively is essential for building and maintaining strong client relationships…and mental stability!

     TIPS & TRICKS:

    •  START EARLY AND PLAN STRATEGICALLY: Begin preparations well in advance of the tax season to mitigate last-minute rushes and reduce stress levels. Develop a comprehensive plan that outlines key milestones, deadlines, and resource allocations to ensure a smooth workflow throughout the season. Start by listing the major pain points of last season, and address those individually, when you can. It can be a redundant process to eliminate, a task to automate or a team member to train. Try and do it while you still can!
    •  UTILIZE TECHNOLOGY WISELY: Leverage technology to automate repetitive tasks, streamline processes, and enhance communication with clients. Most common use case consists of clients’ data collection, indexing, and pre-accounting processing cloud applications. But not only. Additional tech elements can be activated to increase collaborative work, or simply further automate mail responses. Off course, attention should be not to implement too big a change in the tech stack, right at the heart of the season. As good as it gets, tech will always require the team to be trained for it a little while ahead, to avoid spending precious prod time troubleshooting basic issues.

    Extra attention point: Investment in robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard sensitive client data and minimize the risk of cyber threats has now become a priority. Setting up automatic backup plans and regular IT updates are today a no-brainer.

    •  Communicate Proactively with Clients: Foster open and transparent communication with clients throughout the tax season. Set clear and realistic expectations regarding timelines, deliverables, and the information required from their end to expedite the process and minimize delays. For some practices, a centralized service for client’ data collection works best while in others, portfolio managers will be more efficient individually. Get a feel of the best practices by asking fellow professionals.
    •  “Teamwork make the dream work”: While hierarchy is essential for vision and direction, during tax season, and for the magic to happen, some “walls” ought to fall for the team to work closely together at all levels. Nothing beats a complex workflow than to separate it into micro-processes, that each team member can takes on. As such, whether the team operates on a “client-based” or “process-based” structure, breaking it all down to bits and parts will make it easier for everyone to achieve or to help others achieve, as a team, the two main goals at stake: compliance and accuracy

    Not forget to recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance during tax season. Encourage team members to take regular breaks, prioritize their well-being, and seek support when needed to prevent burnout

    FUTURE EXPECTATIONS:

    Looking ahead, it is evident that our work, as accountants and tax advisors will continue to evolve, before and after each tax season, in response to technological advancements, regulatory changes, and shifting clients and team members’ expectations. Most important is to acknowledge the multiple challenges it presents, but also the unique opportunity it offers to do better each time, as there is no better time for accountants to demonstrate their expertise, strengthen client relationships, and drive business growth.

    Until then, see you after the end of tax season!

    Redouane Stoti (Audigroup, Morocco)

    April 2024

  • 14 Mar 2024 09:00 | Katharina Rottenbacher (Administrator)
    The International Accounting Bulletin (IAB) has published its 2024 World Survey and we are pleased to share that IECnet is ranked 26th in the global rankings based on revenue and headcount. Globally, we have recorded a revenue of US$230.4 million (up by 12.4% from prior year) and a headcount of 2,873 (up by 3% from prior year). A summary of IAB’s World Survey most important points:

    International Accounting trends unveiled in IAB's World Survey

    The International Accounting Bulletin (IAB) recently unveiled its annual World Survey, a comprehensive examination and ranking of organizations spanning 38 countries worldwide. This survey is made possible through the collaborative efforts of the industry, emphasizing support, transparency, and cooperation.

    Survey Overview: A total of 50 organizations, comprising 32 networks and 18 associations, participated in the survey. Collectively, these entities reported a combined fee income of $307.2 billion, reflecting a slight increase from the previous year's $283.1 billion. The survey also highlighted a growing workforce, with 2.4 million people represented, up from 2.2 million in the previous year.

    Audit & Assurance Landscape: The crucial role of auditors in maintaining trust in economies takes center stage in the survey. Growing attention is given to conflicts of interest in the accounting profession, prompting the implementation of conflict check systems in mid-tier organizations. Upholding ethical behavior, investing in quality and ethics, and adherence to the IESBA Code of Ethics are emphasized.

    Notably, larger audit networks face conflict challenges, creating opportunities for mid-tier firms. The demand for assurance services is expanding to include non-financial information, particularly sustainability reporting, with a heightened focus on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) information. The introduction of ESG legislation, such as the CSRD in Europe and California Climate Disclosure rules, presents a significant opportunity for audit firms.

    Audit & Assurance Initiatives: Several initiatives are underway, including the establishment of a Global Quality Working Group to address conflict checking. Some organizations opt for specialist audit teams, while others focus on significant ESG assignments globally, aligning with the new California Climate Disclosure Bills. Organizations are keen on building sector experiences and enhancing services related to sustainability reporting, further strengthening Quality Management Systems.

    Advisory Services in a Changing Landscape: In response to inflationary impacts on the supply chain and technological advancements, there is a growing need for risk advisory services. Advisory services are in high demand due to increasing regulatory complexities and the necessity for strategic guidance in a rapidly changing business environment.

    Globally, a shift from audit to advisory is observed, especially in North America, with a focus on ESG assurance and increased involvement in digital consulting. Europe and North America prioritize sustainability and ESG issues, creating specialized niches for advisory services. Western Europe experiences a rise in interest in ESG assurance and M&A activities, driven by digital transformation as a primary catalyst for cross-border deals.

    Tax Trends and Initiatives: The survey highlights a growing trend of increased demand for tax services and a reduction in the need for audit services. Post-pandemic, governments are raising taxes to alleviate debt, leading to heightened demand for tax advisory services amid political uncertainty.

    Initiatives in the tax domain include significant investments in developing tax platforms, enhancing global portals, and embracing technology to navigate global regulations. Tax Transformation Groups aim to automate tax processes, reduce compliance costs, and invest in global software platforms, aligning with the evolving landscape of virtual transactions and legislation preventing jurisdiction shopping.

    Recruitment, Retention, and Training Challenges: Globally, recruitment and retention challenges impact audit quality and limit the expansion of audit services. Firms are transitioning from audit to advisory services due to concerns about profitability, staff shortages, and regulatory burdens. Organizations actively work to build capabilities, create positive people experiences, and establish clear career paths.

    Initiatives include investments in globally uniform training, support for audit teams, and offshoring parts of the audit to overcome staff shortages.

    Private Equity Dynamics: The private equity sector, holding over $2.5 trillion in cash reserves, emerges as a growth accelerator in 2024. Private equity shows active interest in accounting firms, particularly in Asia Pacific. Increases in consolidation and external investors reflect the capital-heavy nature of Professional Services, offering an alternative to traditional business expansion funding.

    Tech Stack Investment, AI/Gen AI, and Collaboration: Collaboration is deemed essential, involving the sharing of knowledge, best practices, and experiences within organizations. Open communication policies facilitate the development of common applications, training, and shared experiences, optimizing resource utilization and ensuring consistent service quality.

    The transition to cloud-based AI audit software enhances efficiency, reconciling data to multiple standards and aligning audit evidence with working papers. Despite being in early stages, Artificial Intelligence is increasingly integrated into various business areas, expected to witness significant market growth. Technology investments focus on cybersecurity, dashboards for business insights, exception reporting, and the adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), especially in Client Advisory Services. Tech investment is also growing to support ESG reporting in response to potential SEC requirements and new California laws on greenhouse gas emissions disclosure.

  • 28 Feb 2024 08:00 | Katharina Rottenbacher (Administrator)
    CPA Global Tax is a full-service Certified Public Accounting firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, specializing in international tax matters. They offer personalized accounting and tax services to clients in the United States and globally, focusing on tailored insights and guidance. With expertise in international tax laws, they assist businesses in reducing taxes and enhancing profits. As a member of IECnet, their global network enables them to provide comprehensive assistance on cross-border tax issues. The firm is led by Pallav Acharya, member of the IECnet Board and its North American Representative, who worked with IECnet’s other member firm REDW before.

    Vincent Domon, IECnet Chairman: “I express my support for CPA Global Tax and look forward to a successful collaboration with Pallav, a valued Board member and friend. Wishing Pallav well in this new endeavor and trusting in its success.”

    Steve Cogan, Managing Principal of REDW, adds: “REDW supports Pallav having his own membership. We look forward to continuing to work with Pallav and IECnet.”

    For more information about CPA Global Tax & Accounting PLLC and its services, please visit https://www.cpaglobaltax.com/

     Contact: Pallav Acharya  pallava@cpaglobaltax.com

    Office: 14362 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. Suite 1000-101, Scottsdale, AZ 85260, USA

  • 16 Feb 2024 11:00 | Katharina Rottenbacher (Administrator)

    Lexan & Associates CPA, one of the firms of certified public accountants in Kenya, operates as a collaborative and nimble firm. Engaging with consultants abroad, they establish a unique presence in neighboring countries through sustainable partnerships that provide essential support during audit assignments. Notably, the firm's footprint extends to the hub of Eastern and Horn of Africa, in particular, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia.

    Their mission centers on becoming the "go-to" firm, delivering exceptional professional accounting and advisory services while prioritizing client success and continuous team development. At Lexan, the core values emphasize honesty, professionalism, integrity, and respect, with a commitment to recognizing and rewarding team members who consistently demonstrate excellence across all aspects of the organization.

    “We are delighted to welcome Lexan & Associates to IECnet,” said Vincent Domon, IECnet Chairman. “We are confident that our new member firm in Kenya will be an invaluable asset for us and our clients, and we look forward to partnering with them to provide the best possible services for our clients.”

    For more information about Lexan & Associates CPA and its services, please visit https://lexancpa.com/

    Contact Person 1: Godfrey Kamau  godfrey@lexancpa.com
    Contact Person 2: Alexander Njeru anjeru@lexancpa.com
    Office: 3rd Floor, AACC Building, Waiaki Way (Opposite Safaricom), Nairobi, Kenya

  • 14 Feb 2024 11:00 | Katharina Rottenbacher (Administrator)
    Specialization emerges as an intriguing avenue for accounting/audit firms, both in emerging and developing markets, offering profitable opportunities, yet significant challenges. Following is a brief overview of the advantages and opportunities on one hand, and the obstacles and limitations on the other, that come with specialization for accounting professionals.

     ADVANTAGES AND OPPORTUNITIES OF SPECIALIZATION:

    •  Market Differentiation: Specialization allows accounting/audit practices, as with any service provider, to stand out by highlighting specific skills, offering significant differentiation in an increasingly competitive market. This is particularly relevant in emerging markets, where the accounting profession can be is subject to unfair practices (price dumping, illegal pratices..), when it comes to “classic” missions (bookkeeping, monthly assistance, etc.).
    •  Enhanced Credibility: market recognition of any specialized service will enhance the credibility of the firms, demonstrating a commitment to excellence and expertise in a particular area. This can take the form of certificates issued by authorities to professionals who have completed specific training, or simply reference letters obtained by clients in a particular sector.
    •  Increased Profitability: In niche markets, with less fierce competition, accountants can offer higher value-added specialized services. Optimized team performance, and specific know-how naturally allows for better margins, even by employing more "senior" profiles.
    •  Response to sector-specific needs: Specialization allows for a more precise response to the specific needs of a sector, an industry or a client-type, by offering services tailored to their specific issues. Sector-oriented service can be developed withing a practice for tourism and hospitality specialists, for example, renewable energy, construction, or for healthcare professionals, leading to a

     OBSTACLES AND LIMITATIONS TO SPECIALIZATION:

    •  Market Size and Economic Diversity: In small markets, economic diversity can limit specialization opportunities, making some areas less viable or insufficiently structured to benefit from specialized service. This is even more relevant when services are delivered while heavily relying on technology tools, leaving only little room for specialization added-value.
    •  Underdeveloped Recognition Process: The lack of recognition can be a significant obstacle, as firms wishing to focus on a particular niche may risk not being able to highlight the added value offered, resulting in longer delays in implementing specialization, while s
    •  Resource Constraints: Firms wishing to specialize will have the burden to invest in training, specialized technologies, and partnerships that might be necessary for successful specialization. This can however be compensated by a progressive specialization that comes along gradually with “organic” market recognition.
    •  Seasonality Risks and Economic Sensitivity: Some specialization areas may be exposed to seasonality risks or heavily depend on specific economic conditions, increasing vulnerability to economic fluctuations. This can particularly happen for specialized audit firms that, in the event of a new legal provision concerning entreprise-specific audit treshholds, would see its turnover drop, due to less demand.

     RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACCOUNTING PROFESSIONALS:

    •  Pre-Evaluation: Before embarking on specialization, it is crucial for any firm to conduct a thorough evaluation of the risks & opportunities attached to going niche. This should take into account market size, diversity, relying on technology, as well as potential extra cost of staff.
    •  Strategic Investment and ROI: To ensure successful specialization, firms must budget sufficient strategic investments, including recruitment, training, and acquisition/transformation of necessary technological tools, while estimating the Return on Investment and associated feasibility.
    •  Partnerships: Collaboration across firms, with recognized experts, or with other stakeholders can expand the reach and capabilities of the firm to specialize prudently, offering a holistic approach to meet the specific needs of the target clientele.
    •  Clear Communication: Transparent communication about the fields of specialization, their advantages, and the benefit for clients is essential to inform the market. It serves to establish trust and legitimacy, and consolidate the firm’s specialization strategy.

    Redouane Stoti (Audigroup/Morokko)

    February 2024

  • 5 Feb 2024 09:00 | Katharina Rottenbacher (Administrator)

    IFAC Nominating Committee is actively seeking dedicated volunteer leaders to contribute to the IFAC Board, Nominating Committee, Education Panel, and Advisory Groups (SMP, PAIB, and PAO Development). The IFAC Call for Nominations for 2025 released details the available roles, goals for diversity, and the qualifications needed for each group.

    Particular attention is to be drawn on the vacancies on the International Panel for Accountancy Education (IPAE) – these are open for nominations from the Forum of Firms, including the IPAE Chair position.  For the IPAE, the Nominating Committee is looking to fill up to eight vacancies, including the Chair vacancy. The targeted regions emphasized in the Call include Latin America-Caribbean, Asia, Europe and Africa-Middle. Female candidates are also strongly encouraged.

    Please refer to the attached IPAE extract from the Call for more information – IFAC is asking for applications to be submitted online by 7th February 2024.

  • 5 Feb 2024 09:00 | Katharina Rottenbacher (Administrator)

    Some members are already planning a longer stay in Mauritius before or after the AGM in October. The AGM will take place from 9-13 October 2024 at the beautiful Tamassa in Bel Ombre. 


  • 2 Jan 2024 09:00 | Katharina Rottenbacher (Administrator)

    ALPHA AUDITORS, established in December 2022 by partners Mr. Timotheos Vlachopoulos and Mr. Dimitrios Plastaras, specializes in auditing and tax consultancy. The firm, comprising ten employees alongside the partners, is dedicated to upholding high operational standards. With extensive experience dating back to 2000, both partners and additional staff, including former collaborators from BDO Greece, contribute valuable expertise to the company.

    As a growing firm, Alpha Auditors focuses on audit, advisory, and tax services, serving private and public companies across diverse sectors of the Greek economy. Members of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Greece (SOEL), Registered with the Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board (HAASOB).

    The decision to join IECnet reflects ALPHA AUDITORS' commitment to operational excellence and an interest in the network's regular internal quality assurance reviews. This move aligns with the firm's objective of providing top-quality audit services. Through participation in the network's internal quality reviews, ALPHA AUDITORS aims to ensure continuous improvement and uphold high standards for its clients.

    IECnet Chairman Vincent Domon is delighted with the new member. "We have been looking for a suitable member in Greece for a long time and are very happy to have found such a committed company in Alpha Auditors. We are looking forward to the exchange and cooperation!”

    For more information about ALPHA AUDITORS and its services, please visit https://alpha-auditors.gr/


    Contact Person 1: Timotheos Vlachopoulos  tvlachopoulos@alpha-auditors.gr

    Contact Person 2: Dimitrios Plastaras  dplastaras@alpha-auditors.gr

    Office: 23, Vassileos Irakliou Str, 546 24 Thessaloniki, Greece


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