Our friends at the Sage Accountants Network published a survey today on how small businesses use accounting services. Click on the graphic below to see a full size version of the infographic included with the release.
The text of the release follows:
TheSage Accountants Usage Study, which looked at how small businesses use accountant services, found that the majority of small businesses that utilize the services of an outside accountant (74% in U.S. and 68% in Canada) do so, in part, because of the complexity of regulations and tax code. This survey was conducted among 373 small businesses in the U.S. and 300 in Canada.
This is not the first time a Sage survey has shown these as key issues for small businesses. The Sage Small Business Sentiment Survey from February 2012 showed that 49 percent of small businesses felt high taxes were one of their top three issues that would hinder growth, while 43 percent of small businesses surveyed said too many regulations would hinder growth.
Watch the video for more information on these and other survey findings.
A similar survey in November 2012 found that 67 percent of small businesses were most concerned about taxes, and 48 percent were most concerned about regulations. In that same month, the Sage Canadian Small Business Financial Literacy Survey found that 34 percent of small business owners felt that dealing with taxes was a management weakness.
Ever-changing tax codes and increased complexity of regulations show no signs of letting up with many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act going into effect in 2014 in the U.S. To manage this and other regulatory changes, partnering with an outside accountant to help stay compliant should be a priority for small businesses in 2013 and beyond.
Many small businesses recognize the value of an outside accountant, especially when it comes to preparing corporate taxes and being compliant: Seventy-four percent of U.S. and 80 percent of Canadian small businesses receive corporate tax services from their outside accountant, and 52 percent of U.S. and 53 percent of Canadian use their outside accountant for business tax compliance. Sixty-two percent of U.S. small businesses actively utilize the services of an outside accountant (up from 60% last year), and 82 percent of Canadian small business owners utilize an outside accountant (up from 61% last year).
Jennifer Warawa, Sage VP of partner programs and channel sales, shares these and other findings from the survey and the importance of using an outside accountant as a business consultant in this video.
More Information For more findings from this study:
About Sage Sage is a leading global supplier of business management software and services for small and midsized businesses. The Sage Group plc, formed in 1981, was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and now employs more than 13,500 people and supports more than 6 million customers worldwide. For more information about Sage in North America, please visit the company website at NA.Sage.com. Follow Sage North America on Facebook, Facebook.com/SageNorthAmerica, and Twitter, Twitter.com/SageNAmerica.
You’ve heard about the security issues at a number of organizations in the last few weeks. Thankfully, there haven’t been any breaches at software companies who serve professional accountants (except maybe for Evernote – although I don’t know that I would put HIPAA or taxpayer data in that service). One of the important things that is coming out of this is that major software vendors like Evernote and Google are planning to implement a security approach called “Two Factor Authentication”. While I won’t go into much detail on how it works (although there’s a good Wikipedia article here), the basics are as follows:
Security tokens, like the RSA SecurID above, have a formula which generates a new six digit code every minute that is used as a one time password.
There are three basic ways to validate someone’s identity
Something they know (username, password, PIN, etc.)
Something they have (cell phone, RSA token, USB key, etc.)
Something they are (biometric identification like fingerprinting, face identification, or iris scans).
Historically, we’ve used only one factor of authentication – a username and password – to access most online systems. While this is adequate for some information types, the sophistication of phishing attacks and other techniques used by the “bad guys” requires a more sophisticated approach to security. Two factor authentication normally requires users to validate their credentials to two servers – one which controls the username and password, and a second which validates that they have a particular device or item through a one time password.
I’ve used a number of two factor authentication devices in my career, including:
SmartCards, along with the readers built into my HP Enterprise laptops.
Fingerprint scanners on laptops
All of the devices worked well, and I still use some of them to authenticate to many services.
One important point is that the use of factors other than passwords (something you know) is not a panacea. Use of any of the items listed above in lieu of a password doesn’t accomplish anything. The real benefit comes from using these tools in ADDITION to a username and a password. Even if a person with bad intent knew your username and password, they would be screened out by the second factor, whether it is biometrics (fingerprint, iris, or face) or a device you have (token, cell phone, smart card, USB key). Just like high security installations have more than one layer of security, you want the same layers of security verifying that you are really you online.
The ugly reality of the accounting profession is that a significant breach would undermine the confidence that others have in the profession, and could send us back to the ‘90s with some technologies used in business today. It’s hard enough to be a small business in our economy without having to deal with concerns about security of data.
It’s time for two factor authentication with online services, people. Ask your vendors about their support for it, and look for opportunities to protect your data with these types of authentication regimes. It’s time for this technology – we can’t wait for some practitioner to lose their house over an online information breach to deal with this significant issue.
Software publisher BigTime Software, Inc. announced the launch of a new Time & Billing application targeted at small accounting firms with fewer than twenty users this morning. The new application, Big Time Express, allows users to track time quickly from mobile devices or using a desktop widget in Windows 7. The product is designed with a simplified user interface, and offers tight integration with Intuit’s QuickBooks business management software.
The release also reports that Big Time Express has a redesigned user interface which puts everything at the user’s fingertips. Brian Saunders, Founder and CEO of BigTime Software, Inc. reports that the company has “radically changed the way the user interacts with the system. We (BigTime) made major improvements to the menus, stripped the main navigation across the top of the page, and implemented a few other alterations that give the user easier access to major functionality and frees up space so user data gets some much-needed breathing room.”
Saunders continued, “The goal of this version was threefold: simplicity, speed, reliability. Our smaller users told us that the attributes they most wanted in a time-tracking app were super-fast set-up, reliable data syncs and timesheets that allow them to input their time and get out in just a few minutes at the end of the day. That’s exactly what Express does.”
The Express app is designed for smaller, entrepreneurial firms with fewer than 20 users who to easily add users as their firm grows. Firms with more than 20 users can use one of the Company’s pro-level applications, BigTime Plus and BigTime Premium. All three plans offer a 30 day risk-free trial, unlimited projects, and integration with QuickBooks. (A screen shot of the BigTime Express product follows.)
The lovely and talented Kelly Erb(@TaxGirl) has been running a social media promotion where she asks aspiring poets to write haikus about taxes. This has served as my brain break (in an open Excel sheet) for the last couple of days. Today’s haiku follow:
Kelly Phillips Erb (aka @TaxGirl) has a blog post over on Forbes where she is challenging users to create haiku about taxes. I composed a few, and have posted them here for you, the gentle reader of this blog:
As many of you know, I’ve taught the Becker CPA Review for the last 15 years. I learned this morning of Newt’s passing in the following e-mail from the Becker organization, which I am publishing in its entirety.
It is with sadness that I’m sending you this message. Newt Becker, the founder of Becker Professional Education, died Monday evening in Los Angeles after being ill for quite a while. Newt was 83 years old.
Newt started Becker CPA Review in 1957 in Cleveland, his home town. From humble beginnings and with a handful of students, he found a successful formula for dedicated CPA candidates to pass the difficult CPA exam. He was a pioneer in interactive learning for exam preparation, engaging his students in every facet of mastering the curriculum – through lectures, mnemonics, homework, etc. Most importantly, he truly cared about each student who selected the review course that bears his name. His goal was fulfilling their dream to earn the CPA credential and to ultimately enrich their lives.
All of us at Becker owe Newt our gratitude for the painstaking effort that he and his early team of colleagues expended to produce the best product for CPA exam preparation. His legacy of putting the student first resulted in the Becker culture that thrives today. We care about our students and we care about each other.
Newt devoted his life to making the world a better place. When he handed over the CPA Review reins to DeVry in 1996, he immersed himself in charitable and altruistic social endeavors, including the exploration of clean air alternative energy resources. He was truly a generous and good man.
So let’s remember Newt Becker for what he gave to us… A thriving business for sure, but also a commitment to excellence and caring about student success. We honor his legacy.
John P. Roselli
President, Becker Professional Education
At the CPA Tech Blog, all of our thoughts and prayers are with Newt’s family in this difficult time. Many CPA’s I know are very grateful to Newt and the Becker organization for helping them pass the CPA exam, and I am thankful to have worked in his organization.
The last week of October and the first week in November each year is where many of the major conferences are held. National conferences from CCH, Thomson Reuters, and the Sleeter Group take place this time of the year, and many state CPA societies have large conferences for their members. These conferences are also where publishers announce new products and services for the coming year. Most of us in the accounting technology business are running around the country trying to speak on various topics, take webinars on the big announcements from the publishers, write up what we learn, and in our spare time, travel to the next site and, occasionally, sleep. (Nah – we don’t really sleep. It’s a blur of receipts, airplane peanuts, taxicabs, and caffeine this time of the year.)
Some major trends have emerged from these announcements.
Mobile is the new “must have” product offering. CCH and Thomson Reuters both had big announcements (CCH, TR) about mobile strategy in the last week, and both promise more to come in the year ahead. The new apps work on smartphones and tablets, and have expanded to include not only Apple’s iOS (iPad and iPhone) platform, but also includes the popular Google Android smartphone platform.
Hosting will be the way many locally-installed applications first move away from on-premises installation. Many hosted offerings are helping organizations move to the cloud without giving up the option of running an application on their internal servers in the future. Some notable examples include:
CCH announced a new hosted version of its ProSystem fx Scan tax document automation application.
Cloud-based offerings are moving from the “hot and trendy” category to the “must have wardrobe basics” section. We are seeing the cloud-based offerings from many of the publishers mature, and there are a wide range of new, on demand offerings from every publisher.
Yesterday Intuit announced a new version of its QuickBooks Online product targeted at accountants (the aptly-named QuickBooks Online for Accountants).
Doug Sleeter’s keynote address yesterday detailed many major cloud offerings, and his conference is the ground-zero for the web-based accounting revolution. Major releases from Sage, Intuit, Xero, SmartVault, and many others will all be announced at this event, which continues through Wednesday in fabulous Las Vegas.
Thomson Reuters announced a new product to be launched next year – Workpapers CS. This tool will be a new cloud-based integrated workpaper management system, and although I didn’t get a chance to see it during my trip to San Diego for their conference, I’m hoping to see it in the near future.
CCH announced the integration of Speedtax’s SaaS applications into the CorpSystem product line, and also highlighted how the newest versions of their solutions make it possible to rapidly develop, create, and deploy applications such as the new CCH Tax News Highlights App, which was designed, created, and deployed to mobile devices running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS reportedly in just six weeks.
There is some consolidation going on in the marketplace, especially for venture-funded companies. This summer, major acquisitions include Drake’s purchase of tax document automation provider Copanion, CCH’s purchase of sales tax provider SpeedTax, Sage purchased Alchemex (the publisher of most of the Sage business intelligence offerings), and enterprise computing giant Citrix purchased secure portal provider ShareFile.
Where in the world is Brian? Well, I spoke at the Thomson Reuters User Conference in San Diego and at the PA Institute of CPA’s Emerging CPA’s Conference last week. This week, I’ll be speaking at the Tennessee Society of CPA’s Accounting & Auditing Conference (today), then jumping on a plane to the CCH User Conference in San Antonio, and wrapping up the week at the Arkansas Society of CPA’s Technology Conference on Thursday and Friday. (I really wanted to go to the Sleeter Conference in Vegas, but there were not enough hours in the day for me to make all of that happen). For more information about the goings-on, follow me on Twitter (@BFTCPA). There’s some really fabulous stuff rolling out to the profession this week, dah-lings.
(Now, where’s that sugar-free Red Bull I just opened….)
There are a lot of questions about how social media outlets will change the way practitioners do tax research in the future. While practitioners need access to authoritative publications and interpretative guidance, there is also a need to ask a peer a question. In the past, we might have done this at the water cooler, or over lunch with a peer, but in the age of the virtual office, these opportunities may be more difficult.
While Intuit is a long-time provider of tax tools for individuals and practitioners, they have shown some fresh thinking in their professional tax research offering. The tool, ProLine Tax Research, includes authoritative content from BNA and IRS Forms/Publications. Peer to peer advice is facilitated on a virtual community. Questions and answers can be searched and retrieved at will from a user community.
Another place where innovation is taking place is in the mobile space. Many publishers are creating mobile applications or websites which support mobile browsers for their product offerings. Mobile applications for practitioners include:
Hammond, LA – September 27, 2010 ‐‐ K2 Enterprises today announced the recipients of their annual quality awards as follows:
· Reseller Program – Avalara
· CPA Program – QuickBooks ProAdvisor – Intuit, Inc.
· Installation Channel/Methodology – Intacct
· Reseller Channel – Sage North America
· New Product – iPad – Apple, Inc.
· New Module – MIP Fundraising Online - Sage
· New Technology – Intelliconnect - CCH
· Management Strategy – Thomson Reuters
· Technical Support – Conexxus
· Customer Satisfaction – AccountantsWorld, Inc.
· Ease of Use – Confirmation.com – Capital Confirmation
· Marketing Communications – Thomson Reuters
· Overall Quality – Windows 7 – Microsoft, Inc.
· Tax – Pro Systems fx - CCH
· Accounting Industry Press Coverage – CPA Technology Advisor
· Audit – Knowledge Coach - CCH
· Financial Reporting - BizNet
· Workflow – XCM – XCM Solutions
· Small Business Solution - Freshbooks
· Small CPA Firm Solution - Drake
K2 Enterprises is the premier provider of technology continuing professional education (CPE) in both the United States and Canada. With seminars in over 46 states in 2010, 1,000+ presentations, special events such as their turn‐key Annual Technology Conferences, CPE & Ski, K2 Enterprises ‐ Canada, they are the largest provider of technology CPE in North America.
K2 Enterprises CEO, Val Steed, announced five new categories this year. “We feel like after nine years we needed to expand our awards a bit. The accounting technology industry is becoming more specialized and I would imagine we will add a few more categories next year”. Executive Vice President Randy Johnston said “I am especially pleased to see so many good candidates this year. It certainly makes voting much more difficult and expanding the awards is the right thing to do”.
K2 Enterprises Annual Quality Awards are determined by a simple voting poll of the K2 Enterprises instructor team. The polling members of this team are Randy Johnston, Will Fleenor, Val Steed, Bob Spencer, Alan Salmon, Lawrence (Mac) McClelland, Tommy Stephens, Brian Tankersley, & Ilene Eisen.
K2 team votes are influenced by, end user feedback, and experience from consulting and extensive teaching. Detailed biographies on each of the polled members can be found at: