What’s Your Financial Information Style?

April 22, 2019 § Leave a comment

Are you a person who learns by doing? Or would you rather watch someone else show you how it’s done before you give it a try? When the box says, “some assembly required,” do you locate and read the directions first, or do you dump all of the pieces out on the floor and see what fits where? When it comes to financial information, people have style preferences, too.  

Often financial information is presented in the form of “financial statements.” For some people, these reports make perfect sense and tell them exactly what they need to know. For others, the reports are just a bunch of noise, and they want their accountant to “just tell me how I’m doing.” Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple.

Thankfully, the rise of technology has given accounting firms the option of presenting financial information in graphic formats with any number of visual “bells and whistles.” With a couple extra clicks of a mouse, the people who need or want charts and graphs to make things clearer can have those formats now. As with any technology, some people don’t need or want bells and whistles. They can still be provided with financial information in the same format they’re accustomed to. Both style preferences can be accommodated. And regardless of presentation, as long as the underlying financial statements adhere to generally accepted accounting principles, then the graphic reports are acceptable as well.

So, whether you’re providing or receiving the information, how do you make sure it’s in the most effective format? Communication! Ask your client what their financial information style is. Clients, even if you aren’t asked, don’t be shy about letting your accounting professional know your style and preferences.  If the financial reports aren’t meeting a need for you, be very clear with your provider about what you need and how you need it presented – “just the facts” rows and columns of numbers and labels? – or “bells and whistles” with graphics and perhaps even animation? It’s your information, so be sure it’s presented to you in a way that doesn’t confuse or intimidate you. Have it complement your style!

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Denise Dooley | Accounting Specialist

Revenue Recognition for Not-for-Profit Entities

April 17, 2019 § Leave a comment

We have posted several video blogs regarding the changes to revenue recognition over the past year. I hope you have had a chance to watch these videos explaining the 5-step process and how they impact various industries. This will be a significant change for all types of entities. It is important to note that for Not-for-Profit entities there is a step that must be taken before using the new 5-step revenue recognition process.

Revenue for Not-for-Profit entities often includes both contributions and exchange transactions. This determination is important because contributions are scoped out of the new revenue recognition guidance and instead follow the Not-for-Profit specific rules for revenue recognition. Exchange transactions, in which the other party receives commensurate value, will need to follow the new revenue recognition 5-step process mentioned above.

Accounting Standards Update 2018-08 provides clarity to the accounting guidance for determining whether a transaction is a contribution or exchange transaction. The guidance is effective for years beginning after December 15, 2018 (calendar years ending December 31, 2019 and fiscal years ending in 2020). This is to allow it to align with the revenue recognition guidance so that Not-for-Profit entities may make the changes concurrently as they are interdependent.

To determine which guidance your entity should follow you need to determine if the revenue was a contribution or exchange transaction. In an exchange transaction, the resource provider (government agency, foundation, corporation, individual, etc.) receives equal value in return for the cash or non-cash asset received. They type of resource provider does not factor into this determination, rather the terms of the agreement are what is important. Commensurate value does not include benefits received by the general public (often the case with government grants), execution of the providers mission (often the case with foundation grants), or the positive feeling someone may receive by donating (often the case with individual or corporate donors).

Examples of exchange transactions could include tuition for school or child care, membership dues (or a portion of those dues if value received by entity is more than value returned to member), or fees for a service provided. Grants from government agencies, foundations, and corporations are quite often determined to be contributions, however, it is important to review the terms of those agreements in making that determination.

We are always available to help review grant agreements and assist you in making these determinations as the new guidance may change how you have previously categorized grant funds or other amounts received. 

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Kristin Clayton, CPA | Senior Manager

Client Assessment Services

April 3, 2019 § Leave a comment

How is your business operating? Could it be more efficient and run a little smoother? Jonathan Porter, CAS Manager, explains how a Client Assessment can help identify ways to improve your business and accounting operations.

What I Have Learned in Life

April 2, 2019 § Leave a comment

Having the benefit of over 45 years in working with clients, business organizations, and firm members, I have seen and experienced many life lessons. Some, if not all, of those lessons are from situations that have stretched me out of my comfort zone and challenged me daily on a professional and personal level. I recognize and value each one of those lessons.

I have learned that…

  • being kind is more important than being right.
  • to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
  • the best way for me to grow is to surround myself with people smarter than me.
  • opportunities are never lost. Someone else will take the opportunities we miss.
  • when you harbor bitterness, happiness will find somewhere else to reside.
  • one should keep their words soft and tender, because tomorrow we may have to eat them.
  • a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
  • no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
  • the small, daily happenings make life so spectacular.
  • life is tough, but I am tougher.

Through the years, I have continually strived to be successful in building relationships that stand the test of time. I believe, applying the above lessons will help you with your journey at home, at the office, and in your communities. What life lessons have you learned that would help me and others?

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Bob McGowen, CPA | Consultant and Former Shareholder

New Lease Guidance for Non-Public Companies

March 28, 2019 § Leave a comment

There is new lease guidance requiring significant changes for non-public companies that are lessees or lessors. Today, Wendy Moran highlights some of these changes and how lessees or lessors can prepare for the new lease guidance. #NonPublicCompanies #Leases #LeadingTheWay #MHCScpa

Wild and Crazy Friday Night

March 27, 2019 § Leave a comment

What comes to mind when you hear someone say “wild and crazy Friday night”? My Friday nights usually consist of tunes bumping on a Bluetooth speaker, flashing lights, people dressed up and dancing, and lots of laughter. Wild, right? Well, those tunes streaming are often Disney songs, and those flashing lights are coming from the microphone stand my three-year-old daughter received for her most recent birthday this year. [Her Grandpa knew exactly what he was doing when he got her a toy with lights and sounds.] The Friday night dancing is typically from my 4-year-old super hero son and Disney’s Elsa princess dressed-up (singing into the flashing light microphone) daughter, my husband, and me. You’re picturing this, right? Combine all those factors and how could it not lead to a lot of laughter? Like many of you, our ‘day-job’ is important and we work with serious situations that involve setting up businesses or adjusting entity structures, tax savings plans, business deductions, understanding the laws and applying them (new and old) to each situation and many other challenging situations for thousands of individuals and businesses. These are intense and valuable to each party and to us – and for us, it is also important to add our vibe – our culture – to the mix!

As my ten-year anniversary in the industry is quickly approaching, I am reminded that we can’t take all of life too seriously. I have learned firsthand many times that life is too short and although important in certain settings, seriousness isn’t the only way to go through life. I think one big factor that has spurred this change in my life is starting a family and raising two sweet, stubborn, and (very) energetic young kiddos. Before having kids, I would see the words “Work-Life Balance” plastered everywhere. I never really understood that idea until I had my son and then fourteen short months later I had my daughter. Instead of work-life balance I liked to think of it more of work-life integration. Yes, my job is serious and often doesn’t include any dancing or singing (lucky for you), but it is also important to slow down, enjoy the moments, and welcome the laughter!

Whoever said we aren’t getting out of this place called life alive, said it best. Take a walk around the pond, smell the flowers, enjoy your break, dance it out with your kid, go for a run, sing out loud in your car, and do what makes you happy! Being a CPA makes me happy in so many ways and since it’s March, I feel it’s necessary to share that – “two things in life are certain: death and taxes.” As much as I want you to imagine yourself as Elsa from the super popular Disney movie, Frozen, on the top of an ice mountain whaling at the top of your lungs “LET IT GO” be sure you also take some time to get your tax documents in order and come see us!

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Kristina Spieker, CPA | Manager

Why Leading Millennials is More Effective than Managing Them

March 18, 2019 § Leave a comment

Four years ago, Millennials surpassed Generation X as the largest workforce demographic. While an entire generation cannot be generalized, there are characteristics about this new workforce that remain consistent. One main characteristic is that they would rather be lead than managed.

Things that leaders can do for millennials that are likely to make them want to follow are:

  • Help them progress in their career. They will want their skills to be developed on a regular basis so make sure you are offering training, mentoring, and teaching moments on a regular basis. In a world where information is readily available, learning must be a regular part of the culture.
  • Make their work meaningful. When recruiting, the question or comment I always receive from recent college grads is regarding our community service projects. Millennials want to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves. Help them connect the work they are doing to the effect it is having on the client. They want to make a difference in the lives of others so show them the connection.
  • Collaborate with millennials rather than just giving them orders.
  • The old, “because I said so and I’m the boss” model doesn’t work well with this new workforce. Bring millennials into the brainstorming process so that they can share ideas and feel as though they are contributing, because they are. They have new, innovative ideas that are relative and need to be considered when putting a plan together.
  • Create real connections for them. Setting up social interactions outside of work will help millennials form friendships with co-workers. Having friends at work helps create greater engagement and as a result effects collaboration and teamwork.
  • Let them learn through experience. Bring them into meetings early and often so that they can observe and be a part of the process. This generation grew up playing video games and learned how to progress to the next level by trying over and over again. They want to be a part of what is going on and have an active role, so let them.

In Kouzes and Posner’s book, “The Leadership Challenge,” the authors share that exemplary leaders are able to do five things that produce excellent results. Those five things are:

  • Challenge the process (step out into the unknown)
  • Inspire a shared vision (breathe life into the hopes and dreams of others)
  • Enable others to act (enlist the support of all those needed to make the project a success)
  • Model the way (behavior wins respect rather than titles)
  • Encourage the heart (genuine acts of caring)

Author and speaker, John O’Leary writes, “Focus more on people and you’ll demonstrate leadership, more on results and you’ll perform management.” The results will happen when you focus on people and millennials are looking for leaders to follow rather than managers.

If leaders can find a way to incorporate the things that inspire a millennial to want to follow them, with the things that fulfill them as a worker and person, then they can build a team that will assist them in reaching goals. There is no cookie-cutter recipe that fits all employees but a good rule of thumb for leaders is to start with genuinely caring about the people that they work alongside. If that’s focused on first, the rest will fall into place.

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Cindy Wubben | Director of Human Resources