K. Casey Bennett




Inside AICPA

Assurance services director joins AICPA...PFP survey...Stats on AICPA Web site...Staff member wins PFP award...

Fast Facts on AICPA Online
  • In January, over 22,000 visitors viewed 164,000 pages of AICPA material.
  • 80% of the visitors to AICPA Online are AICPA members.
  • Since the sites launch, its logged about 2 million hits, with more than 763,000 pages of AICPA material viewed.
  • AICPA Online has more than 1,200 pages and receives more than 700 e-mail messages a month.
  • More than 200 other Web sites link to AICPA Online.
  • AICPA Online has received accolades: Listed as one of the best tax sites by Ernst & Young; won an Editors Choice Award from LookSmart, a search engine subsidiary of Readers Digest; won a Best of the Web Award from Harcourt Brace.
New Assurance Services Head

The AICPA has filled its newly created position of director of assurance services with K. Casey Bennett, CPA, formerly a business assurance manager at Coopers & Lybrand in New York. Bennett is responsible for working with the assurance services committee to help develop new assurance services. This committee, headed by former AICPA board chairman Ronald S. Cohen, is the permanent successor to the special committee on assurance services.

At C&L, Bennett managed audit and attest services as well as management consulting, information technology and benefit plan development. He began his career as a staff accountant with Arthur Andersen and holds a bachelors degree in accounting from Oklahoma Christian College, Oklahoma City. Bennett reports to Alan Anderson, senior vice-president-technical services.

Financial Planners Take Stock

At the AICPA personal financial planning conference in San Antonio, Texas, 230 CPAs responded to an onsite poll that covered planners strategies and their clients concerns. The survey showed the importance of a cool head and an independent attitude.

Staff Member Wins PFP Award

In the past, Phyllis Bernstein (below, right), AICPA director of personal financial planning, was accustomed to presenting the PFP divisions Distinguished Service Award at the AICPAs annual PFP technical conference. But this year she received itin a very rare occurrence of an Institute committee voting to give an award to an AICPA staff member. Bernstein, who believed no award would be given for 1996, was surprised by the announcement at the PFP conference in San Antonio, Texas. Stuart Kessler (below, left), AICPA vice-chairman, who has long been involved with the PFP division, made the announcement.

President Barry Melancon praised the PFP executive committees decision, saying, "I think this is a wonderful statement about the quality of work that Phyllis does and the respect she has earned from our members."

For example, 68% of those responding advise their clients to hold the course to their strategic allocation of assets to minimize the risk when the market is rising. "You tell your baby boomer clients, we decided on a certain percentage in equity, and were going to stick with it. Were doing asset-class investing, not market timing," conference chairman Barton Francis, CPA, PFS, told the Journal . "CPAs should advise clients about market realities and how to keep a long-term perspective. This differentiates CPAs from less objective advisers who may pander to their clients emotional weaknesses." Francis is a partner of Ernst & Young in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Dealing with "pushy" agents was clients single largest complaint about purchasing life insurance. Another problem is that financial advisers who sell a product may be only interested in advising people to buy it. "Theyll say, You need a $50,000 whole life policyunless, of course, you can afford a $100,000 policy," said Francis. He noted that independence was part of the advantage of having a CPA financial planner, and emphasized that CPAs were process-oriented, not product-oriented.

Francis did sound a word of caution on the increasingly popular family limited partnerships. "Small businesses love these. A parent can transfer the value of assets to future generations at a significant discount while retaining controloften what they most desire is to retain control." However, he said they may become overused and advised financial planners to use them prudently, not as a panacea: "If we abuse this tool, the Internal Revenue Service will focus on it and shut it down."





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