Tracking SSARS 21 Financial Statement Preparation Engagements

Our firm just performed a SSARS 21 financial statement preparation engagement. Since the preparation service is a new type of engagement, we needed a new billing code. Why?

Our firm is subject to peer review, so our SSARS 21 preparation engagements will be subject to inspection. The new preparation service is a separate engagement, just as compilations and reviews are. When your peer review is performed, you will need to provide the peer reviewer with a summary of how many preparation engagements you have performed, just as you presently do for compilation engagements. So firms should separately track their SSARS 21 preparation engagements.

Note: Firms that perform only SSARS 21 preparation engagements are not subject to peer review, per AICPA rules. Some state boards of accountancy may require a peer review even though the AICPA does not.

Action Tip: Consider how your firm will track SSARS 21 preparation engagements.


CPE in 10-Minute Increments: Nano-Learning

NASBA’s April 2015 newsletter included an article about Nano-Learning, also called Micro-Learning. It appears a move is afoot to change how CPAs receive continuing education, a move from hours-at-a-time to smaller increments. This makes sense to me. Making CPAs sit through 8-hour sessions is brutal, and I’m not sure how much we learn (after a few hours). As I tell my CPE audiences, “the mind can only absorb what the behind can endure.”

Here’s an excerpt from the NASBA newsletter:

As of last month, CPAs from Ohio and Maryland can fulfill their CPE requirements in 10-minute increments.

On March 3, it was announced that the Maryland State Board of Public Accountancy unanimously passed new CPE regulations that allow for course content to be delivered in 10-minute increments (known as “nano-learning” or “micro-learning”).

And on March 12, the Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) launched Quick Byte, a series of courses packaged to deliver information in 10-minute modules. Quick Byte is the first CPE curricula developed by a state CPA association, and the first program under one hour to qualify for CPA continuing education in Ohio.

I think you’ll see more states move to this model over time.

Think about how this will work: You’re working on an audit, and you run into an issue for which you need information. You take a 10-minute CPE class related to the issue. In addition to receiving the CPE credit, you obtain an understanding of the issue at hand. Two birds with one stone–good idea. Information received as you need it–again, a good idea.

Your Own Personal English Editor: Grammarly

CPAs create plenty of documents in Word or other text editors. Like other professionals, we also create lots of emails. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a personal English editor as we work? That’s what Grammarly software is.

You can add Grammarly to Outlook, and it critiques your words as you type (and offers suggested changes).

I use Grammarly to review my blog posts before they are published. And recently I have started using the program to critique language in audit reports. (I never realized how often I write in passive voice.) Of course, Grammarly only makes recommendations, so the final choice of words and punctuation are up to you.

Here’s a screenshot of the program when used from their website:


Here’s a screenshot of the program when used in Word:

Grammarly corrections

And here’s an example from Outlook:

Grammarly in Outlook

Grammarly does offer a trial account, so give it a go. I think you’ll like it. The cost is $139.99 per year.


How to Overcome Cookie-Cutter Audits

Do audit checklists have the ability to think? Is passing peer review the full measure of quality? Might we create a pretty audit file but miss a massive fraud?

Picture courtesy of

Picture courtesy of

Many of you have told me that our profession relies too heavily upon checklists, that we no longer think as we should.

So why do CPAs place so much reliance on audit forms? My guess is we do so for the following reasons:

  • Efficiency (we believe that checklists are the plan; they need no tweaking)
  • Compliance (we believe forms will ensure compliance with professional standards)
  • Less need to supervise new staff (the checklists will tell them what to do)
  • It’s a part of a firm’s quality control system (which is a good thing)

While forms are helpful, they can’t replace the auditor’s experience and ability to reason.

10 Powerful Steps to Reduce Theft

Windows open. Curtains are blowing. The sound of crickets and an occasional train in the distance. It was a simple childhood. It was my childhood. My mother parked her black Ford Falcon and left the keys in the ignition. The doors to our home were unlocked. We trusted our neighbors, and they believed in us. And why would we not? We’d known each other for what seemed like millennia.

Picture courtesy of

Picture courtesy of

But then one night at the dinner table, my father said, “someone stole Miss Gussie’s Chevy.” Unthinkable. Our innocence was broken, and soon my mother took precautionary measures. Each evening, after parking, she would place the car keys under the car seat. No need to take chances. We began to close the windows at night, but still the back door was left unlocked in case my father needed to go out for a smoke.

A couple of months later, I overheard my mother whispering to my grandmother that a man slithered into Miss Kidd’s house in the dead of night and had taken valuables. Miss Kidd lived diagonally from our home, just a stone’s throw away. To think that someone just walked–unannouncedinto the octogenarian’s home. How could this be?

Picture courtesy of

Picture courtesy of

Fear was palpable. Our neighborhood’s character shifted. No longer would Mom leave the keys in the car. No longer would we leave the windows open. No more cricket sounds. And my father even locked the back door.

Safely we would sleep, not because there were no threats, but because of protection.

McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co., LLC

For those of you who read my blog, I thought you might want to see a few of the awesome people I work with.

Here are a few of the smiling faces that make up our firm (they are still smiling during the last two weeks of tax season–outstanding).

Our offices are in Macon, Georgia and Perry, Georgia. We have 125 people in the firm.

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2000-01-01 00.01.432000-01-01 00.00.00-22000-01-01 00.00.002000-01-01 00.00.01-12000-01-01 00.00.012000-01-01 00.00.032000-01-01 00.00.062000-01-01 00.00.092000-01-01 00.00.10-12000-01-01 00.00.102000-01-01 00.00.142000-01-01 00.00.162000-01-01 00.00.172000-01-01 00.00.22-12000-01-01 00.00.232000-01-01 00.00.302000-01-01 00.00.422000-01-01 00.00.432000-01-01 00.01.482000-01-01 00.02.09

I look forward to speaking about fraud prevention at the 2015 ACCG Conference in Savannah, Georgia. We’ll take a look at some actual fraud cases and then discuss how the threat of theft can be lessened in Georgia county governments.

Date:April 17, 2015
Time:1:45 p.m.
Event:ACCG Conference
Topic:Preventing Fraud in Local Governments
Sponsor: Association County Commissioners Georgia