Smart Stops on the Web



Looking to attract new clients or increase your firm's visibility? Visit this Smart Stop to access the AICPA's "CPA Marketing Tool Kit," part of the Institute's public accounting firm resources. The collection offers customer service and selling tips, client satisfaction surveys, PDF brochures and guidelines for becoming a media resource. The marketing guide includes a sample e-newsletter template, dos and don'ts when creating and marketing a Web site, and e-mail marketing tips.

Find case studies on what works - and what doesn't - when it comes to marketing your business on this site from MarketingSherpa. The research firm also provides how-to articles and interviews with marketing directors in both business-to-business and consumer marketing. Click the "Browse by Topic/Brand" tab for a complete listing of articles by industry or target, such as "Marketing to Small Businesses" or "Business Services Marketing," or tactic, such as "Integrated Campaigns" or "How to Pitch to Business Media."

Don't let "legal" throw you off - this site's client communication and marketing tips can be applied to CPA firms wanting to expand their service offerings or client base. Author Thomas Kane, Esq., the principal of Kane Consulting Inc., has served as an in-house marketer for several firms. Check out articles like "Guarantee Client Referrals With Good Client Relations" and "Narrow Your Niche for More Effective Marketing," or explore the Web's marketing resources using Kane's extensive library of marketing and firm blogs.

First appearing in this column in October 2004, this index of tax, accounting and payroll specific sites underwent a complete redesign recently. The new site features an expandable navigation tree and improved search capabilities using a Google custom search. There is also quick access to the site's most commonly requested pages - including federal and state tax forms - as well as links to industry associations, certification information and software vendors.

Corporate CPAs and financial executives: This leadership forum from the California Society of CPAs and the California CPA Education Foundation is for you. The site provides executive education, advanced training in finance and business management, thought leadership, helpful resources and professional peer networking. The site also features opportunities such as participation in economic forums, CFO of the Year events and local roundtable discussions, which are listed in the "Upcoming Forum Events" section. You can read articles, such as how-tos with practical tips and Q&As with other leaders in the field. There is also a section featuring news on such hot topics as the XBRL taxonomy and new PCAOB standards.

How much do you actually spend on gas, groceries or impulse purchases every month? Find out with this money management program. Using login information for your online bank, credit union and credit card accounts - not account numbers - Mint consolidates the data from your accounts and automatically categorizes purchases daily. The site tracks spending and savings, then alerts you when you're over budget, have a low balance, need to pay a bill or if there is suspicious activity on any of your accounts. Spending trends can be displayed graphically by category or month, which allows users to compare purchases over time.

Use the Department of the Treasury's tax site for access to the latest news and regulatory releases of interest to tax professionals. The site organizes content based on topic, such as tax relief, business tax competitiveness, international tax issues, and health and benefits taxes. CPAs can quickly access information on the earned income tax credit, health savings accounts, and bonds and securities.


Year-end tax planning and what’s new for 2016

Practitioners need to consider several tax planning opportunities to review with their clients before the end of the year. This report offers strategies for individuals and businesses, as well as recent federal tax law changes affecting this year’s tax returns.


News quiz: Retirement planning, tax practice, and fraud risk

Recent reports focused on a survey that gauges the worries about retirement among CPA financial planners’ clients, a suit that affects tax practitioners, and a guide that offers advice on fraud risk. See how much you know with this short quiz.


Bolster your data defenses

As you weather the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to make sure your cybersecurity structure can stand up to the heat of external and internal threats. Here are six steps to help shore up your systems.