What Does a CPA Do?

According to PICPA website analytics, the question “what does a CPA do” ranks third in driving web100304725 traffic to www.picpa.org. Since January 2014, nearly 5,000 people typed “what does a cpa do” into Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines before finding their way to our site. And this page, our answer to that question, ranks 15th among all PICPA page views. So what does a CPA do?

To the general public, CPAs do taxes. But you and I know there is much more. Continue reading

Practitioners Associated with Form 5500: Have You Met Your Peer Review Requirements?

The AICPA is working on an initiative to make sure that all firms associated with certain Form 5500 filings that are required to have a peer review have gone through with the peer review and that the scope of the review was correct. So, if your firm has been associated with filing certain Form 5500s, you need to consider whether your firm is in compliance.


If your firm has been associated with filing certain Form 5500s, you need to consider whether your firm is in compliance.

If your firm rendered an independent auditor’s report on an ERISA plan, even if a disclaimer of an opinion was issued, your firm is required to have a system review. If your firm previously had an engagement review only, the firm will need to have a system review completed.

Firms that have already had a system review need to verify that the scope of the peer review was appropriate. Continue reading

How Will the SEC’s Change in Leadership Affect the CPA Community?

Santarelli, Philip

Philip Santarelli, CPA, chief risk officer at ParenteBeard in Philadelphia

- By Guest Blogger, Philip Santarelli, CPA

Mary Jo White was sworn in as the 31st chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about a year ago. Now that she’s had some time to settle into her new role, the CPA community is debating how the SEC’s leadership change will affect the profession.

Broken Window Strategy
White, who’s professional background has mostly been in prosecution, has said that she’ll adopt a “broken window strategy” with respect to enforcement. Under this strategy, auditors will be viewed as official gatekeepers; as such, they can expect more scrutiny from the SEC when things go wrong for a registrant.

Big Data Analysis
The SEC has brought on a new economist to analyze the tremendous amount of data they’ve encountered from public companies’ XBRL (extensible business reporting language) filings. This economist is developing data analysis models for financial statements to identify potential fraudulent activities or red flags on earnings management. It’s still to be determined if this sort of data analysis push will weed out fraudsters.

Changing the Game with Incentives
When the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act became effective in 2010, whistleblowing increased since those who assisted in catching a fraudster were offered incentives of up to 30 percent of the fines. Although the act excludes auditors from earning these incentives, there are  exceptions, such as situations of imminent harm to investors, evidence of destruction of evidence by the registrant, or if the auditor believes that the firm itself was enabling fraudulent acts. How this provision will affect the actions of auditors has yet to be seen; and how these actions will interact with our professional duty of confidentiality and our duty to the firms where we work has not been settled.

How Will the SEC’s New Direction Affect CPAs
Watch More from Philip on PICPA TV 


PICPA member Philip Santarelli, CPA, is chief risk officer at ParenteBeard in Philadelphia. He oversees the firm’s audit and accounting practice, risk management, quality assurance, and technical resources and capabilities. He also serves on the PCAOB’s standing advisory group, the Center for Audit Quality’s professional practice executive committee and smaller firm task force, and the AICPA’s financial reporting executive committee.

CPAs and Legislators Resolve to Improve Financial Literacy in Pa.

The statistics are startling. Pennsylvania received a D grade in its efforts to produce financially literate high school graduates. Pennsylvania ranks third in the United States with the amount of student debt per graduate ($31,675 in 2012). The PICPA and state Rep. John Maher, a CPA and PICPA member, want to fix those numbers. Maher To mark our ongoing efforts, the House passed Resolution 756 on April 9, 2014, which recognizes the need for better financial literacy among Pennsylvania’s citizens, both young and old. Maher has been sponsoring similar resolutions addressing this issue for nine years.

The Pennsylvania Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy hosted a financial literacy expo and press conference in conjunction with the resolution. Maher was in attendance, as were Rep. Mark Longietti, co-sponsor of House Bill 1839 (a bill that would require a capstone course in personal finance for high school graduation); Hilary Hunt, president of the Pennsylvania Jump$tart Coalition; Patricia A. Hasson, president of Clarifi; Rebecca Doumaux, president of Junior Achievement of Central Pennsylvania; Mary Rosenkrans, chair of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Economic Education and Personal Financial Literacy Education; and Dr. Carol Johnson, superintendent of Central Dauphin School District. They all came together to highlight the need for financial literacy programs across the state. Mike Colgan, PICPA’s CEO, also joined the press conference to demonstrate PICPA’s commitment to the cause. Continue reading

PNC Park or Citizens Bank Park?

For baseball fans, it doesn’t get much better than that anticipated first pitch (especially after the grueling winter we’ve had) and the ensuing six months of box score watching. For a few days (maybe a few weeks) all teams are actually in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs. If you’re lucky, maybe your team’s success will last until the All Star Game, or better yet into September. The former commissioner of Major League Baseball, A. Bartlett Giamatti, who died just days after imposing a lifetime ban from baseball on Pete Rose, put the game and what it means to many in this context:

It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the skies are all twilight, when you need in most, it goes…And summer [is] gone.”

The beginning of baseball season is also the timeIMG_1575 I like to renew a few longstanding debates with friends and foes alike. Which baseball park is better, PNC Park in Pittsburgh or Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia? Both are the envy of most other host cities in the country, with a few exceptions. How about best hitter? DiMaggio, Williams, or Musial? Home run hitter? Ruth, Aaron, or Bonds? Third base? Schmidty or Brooks?
Continue reading

A Revolution in CPE Is Coming: Is the 50-Minute CPE Hour Dead?

I have talked to PICPA members, students, and educators over the past several years regarding the current state of accounting education and the need for change. The AICPA’s CPA Horizons 2025 Report and The Pathways Commission address the issue of future learning for both the professional and undergraduate levels. The PICPA has taken notice and is acting. tech learningOur CPE products, for example, have evolved from a traditional slate of seminars to now include webinars, webcasts, and on-demand CPE. We are embracing these changes to meet the needs of our members as they strive to provide value to their clients and employers. Continue reading

When Work Knocks You Off Your Fitness Routine, Small Steps Can Get You Going Again

Healthy Choices

Taking baby steps is an important tool for success. Whether it’s meeting financial or fitness goals, starting with options in smaller doses leads to success, and as you succeed you gain confidence.

In 2004, I wrote an article that was published in our very own Pennsylvania CPA Journal and was titled “How to be a ‘FIT CPA’.” I re-read the article recently to see if it would still apply, and ten years later, it sure does. Obesity rates are still increasing and people still struggle with getting control over their eating and exercise habits.

About a month ago, PICPA member, Dave Capitano posted a blog about “The Top Three Habits Every Accountant Should Practice.” His suggestions on sleep, hydration, and staying focused are right on point with the intention of taking care of ourselves.

I know it’s busy season, and your intention of taking care of you, may have slipped a little, or maybe a lot. What can you do to get back on track? Continue reading