RIVIO News

RIVIO Builds New Opportunities Beyond Private Company Financial Statements

Clearinghouse Continues to Gain Traction with CPA Firms

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (Dec. 4, 2018) – Almost one-in-five of the top 100 accounting firms are now using RIVIO Clearinghouse, a private financial company information exchange developed by CPA.com and Confirmation. And with more uses for the platform being developed beyond the secure delivery of financial statements, RIVIO is increasingly serving as a centralized, streamlined distribution hub for firms of all sizes.

With the number of public companies declining sharply since the 1990s and more than $1.8 trillion in private capital raised in 2017, the marketplace is embracing RIVIO as a means to create transparency and trust in key financial data. The secure platform ensures that lenders, investors and other authorized users can obtain access to financial statements and other key documents from validated CPA firms, all delivered unaltered by management.

"We continue to see the application of RIVIO for multiple uses across the firm and business landscape," said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. "With the digitization of financial data and the emergence of a new family of assurance services beyond financial reporting, RIVIO has great value as a differentiator for firms and a robust, secure connection point to clients. It’s efficient, easy to use and fills a critical marketplace need."

RIVIO is driving value for CPA firms in three key areas:

Efficient digital workflow

RIVIO creates a centralized delivery hub that allows accountants to quickly select documents, create projects, and route reports securely to clients. It standardizes the report assembly and issuance process, giving CPA firms more control while improving efficiency. Critical alerts and notifications are automated – if a firm updates or withdraws a financial report, for example, the platform automatically notifies each recipient of the document.

Fraud prevention

An alleged $10 million financing fraud this past fall involving the parent company of Newsweek and several related entities offers another proof of concept for the solution. The alleged scheme revolved around the creation of a fictitious auditor – if the lenders had required receipt of the financial statements through RIVIO, the fraud could not have occurred. “This was a high-profile case but there are many similar frauds out there that don’t get the same media coverage, so it’s more common than you think,” said Brian Fox, president and founder of Confirmation

Enhancing advisory services

RIVIO is providing value for other uses beyond the distribution of audited financial statements. In the assurance category, for example, Systems and Organization Controls (SOC) examinations are in high demand for CPA firms and their clients. SOC reports are sophisticated reviews of a company’s internal controls over financial reporting, processes and cyber-readiness, among other areas, and help demonstrate that a potential vendor or business partner is taking the necessary steps to protect data privacy and availability and the integrity of their systems. Most variations of the reports are not public, however, and in fact require non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) from parties who wish to view them. New one-click functionality permits authorized users to sign the confidentiality agreements and gain immediate access to a SOC report, a streamlined process that gives clients maximum control and still creates documentation at each step.

To learn more about the clearinghouse and its applications, please visit RIVIO.com.

About CPA.com

CPA.com brings innovative solutions to the accounting profession, either in partnership with leading providers or directly through its own development. The company has established itself as a thought leader on emerging technologies and as the trusted business advisor to practitioners in the United States, with a growing global focus. Our company’s core mission is to drive the transformation of practice areas, advance the technology ecosystem for the profession, and lead technology research and innovation efforts for practitioners. A subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs, the company is also part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the world’s most influential organization representing the profession. For more information, visit CPA.com.

About Confirmation

Confirmation is the digital platform and global network trusted by audit firms, banks, law firms, and credit managers to quickly and securely verify financial data. Founded in 2000, Confirmation invented electronic confirmations and reshaped and modernized the audit confirmation process. Today, Confirmation helps nearly 1 million clients across 160 countries confirm more than $1 trillion in financial data every year. Learn more at Confirmation.com.

Article source: https://www.cpa.com/news/rivio-builds-new-opportunities-beyond-private-company-financial-statements

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RIVIO Offers Protection Against Bogus Audit Reports

A church administrator in southwestern Pennsylvania allegedly skimmed more than $1.2 million in funds from his employer over the past seven years, in part by creating fake auditor reports to hoodwink the church’s board of trustees. That kind of fraud could have been prevented if the church or its financial institutions used RIVIO Clearinghouse, a secure online exchange for private company financial information.

David Reiter, 50, had been employed by Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair, Pa., for 17 years, a job that paid $69,000 in 2018. Yet the Allegheny County (Pa.) District Attorney’s office calculates that Reiter and his wife, Connie, managed to steal $1,227,423 from church accounts – including the organization’s nursery school and child care programs – from 2011 to late 2018. Those spoils allegedly paid for trips to Walt Disney World and Hershey Park, Pittsburgh Pirates tickets, music lessons for the Reiters’ children, medical expenses, and a host of other items ranging from Starbucks visits to Sirius XM radio fees, the district attorney’s office contends.

The alleged scheme unraveled when the church board’s treasurer grew impatient with David Reiter when a face-to-face meeting kept being delayed with the church auditor, identified by Reiter as “Drew Harrison” in a Pittsburgh accounting firm. The treasurer called the firm and was told no one by that name worked there.

Reiter instead offered a cell phone number to contact the auditor, according to the district attorney’s office. But it was for a prepaid phone paid out of the skimmed funds, and Reiter impersonated “Harrison” on a subsequent call with the treasurer. With questions mounting, Reiter confessed to the church’s head pastor that he had done “bad things” and needed to resign, the district attorney's office said.

Investigators later discovered the church had never been a client of the Pittsburgh CPA firm, and that Reiter had fabricated an audit report from it, as well as an earlier audit report from another firm that hadn’t been involved with the church for years.

RIVIO Clearinghouse, jointly developed by CPA.com and Confirmation, is an online financial document clearinghouse that enables private businesses to exchange key financial information with their investors and lenders, as well as retrieve information from their CPA firm, ensuring data is submitted from an authenticated source. It provides a validation process to verify that CPA firms leveraging the clearinghouse are appropriately following the stringent professional requirements to upload attested financial information.

“One of RIVIO’s key features is its ability to prevent bad actors from passing off bogus auditor reports as legitimate,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. ” It takes the guesswork out of the sourcing and delivery of critical documents. In the Westminster Presbyterian Church case, the administrator wouldn’t have been able to cover his tracks so easily if RIVIO had been in use by the church or its financial institutions.”

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What’s the Future for Financial Statements in the Digital World?

Audited financial statements are a key underpinning of our financial markets. But are they still relevant in a digital world in which reams of information can be synthesized and analyzed for insight?

Analysts, advisors, portfolio managers and others who evaluate companies’ financial conditions for a living think so. A survey last year by the Center for Audit Quality found that, when it comes to public companies, nearly eight out of 10 retail investors say they are confident in audited financial information when they make investing decisions.

Management and company board members feel much the same way. A 2017 Deloitte survey found that almost eight out of 10 C-suite executives agree that audited financial statements “reveal things that their companies could be doing differently or better.” The percentage is even higher (91 percent) for board members who sit on the audit committee.

The process of auditing financial statements is also increasingly leveraging enhanced access to data and analytical capabilities to the benefit of clients. Deloitte found that audit insights – from the effectiveness of a company’s business processes to spending patterns and potential improvements in operations – often translate into higher growth for companies. Companies that routinely acted on audit insights were 47 percent more likely to achieve what their leaders considered “great” growth in the past three to five years, the survey found.

It’s clear business decision-makers, analysts and investors continue to see value in audited financial statements, as well as in other CPA engagements such as compilation and review. But another key component of relevancy is keeping pace with how information is exchanged in a digital world. In today’s environment, information that isn’t easily obtainable is less valuable and less actionable, no matter what insights it may hold.

In many ways, the availability of digital financial statements has been a tale of two cities. On the public company side, the SEC’s EDGAR platform has long offered a central hub for financial statements and other information in digital format, and there are other online databases with complementary information. Yet fewer companies, particularly small ones, are going public. The Wall Street Journal noted this trend last year with an illuminating statistic: in 1996, there were 557 initial public offerings that raised less than $50 million; in 2016, there were only 18 IPOs of similar size.

On the private company side, information is far less accessible and centralized than public company data, but some strides have been made. We developed with Confirmation.com an online clearinghouse for private financial information that creates a secure, flexible exchange for audited financial statements and other CPA- provided documents. The RIVIO Clearinghouse platform ensures that lenders, investors and other authorized recipients can get an unaltered audit report prepared by a legitimate CPA firm, reducing the risk of fraud, misrepresentation or error. And across the profession, other digital innovations are under development to ensure that the audit can deliver more valuable insights.

Business is moving to digital processes and eliminating pain points from paper transactions at a rapid pace. But the shift to digital isn’t just about removing bottlenecks – it’s about expanding the capabilities we can bring to analyzing and presenting data. In that way, the shift to digital is helping to ensure the relevancy of financial statements now and into the future.

Article source: http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/news/12418248/whats-the-future-for-financial-statements-in-the-digital-world

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Disruption Overtakes 'Change' for CPAs

Not only are more CPAs talking about ‘how’ rather than ‘why’ when discussing technology adoption for them and their clients, but now the idea of disruption is being brought up again in a big way; replacing discussions solely about ‘change.’

This was the general consensus after a full day of sessions, keynotes and chatting with CPAs at the Digital CPA conference hosted by CPA.com and the AICPA. The conference, now in its sixth year, was full of thought leaders in the profession and, predominantly, members of mid to large-sized firms with some smaller practitioners mixed in.

The idea is to learn more about the impact of various technologies and related trends on CPAs and their clients and again, clearly, this year was all about handling the massive disruption occurring once more in the profession. The term reared its head back several years ago when thought leaders warned of the potential impact cloud would have on the profession.

Those discussions then turned to the massive ‘change’ that CPAs had to contend with, supported by taking more advantage of client accounting, collaboration and ultimately taking steps to be more of an advisor. While this is still prevalent, the profession is now preparing to be disrupted by the likes of blockchain, machine learning and the growing generation of Millennial accountants, coupled with the aging out of the Baby Boomers.

To start with, in order to face the next wave of impending disruption, CPAs are being asked to take a more entrepreneurial approach to their practices. In essence, they are being urged to be the disruptors rather than having it happen to them. Such was the tone from the opening keynote speaker Marc Randolph, co-founder of Netflix.

So what does running a multi-million dollar online streaming movie service have to do with accounting and disruption? According to Randolph, it was how the company started in the first place.

“To generate ideas...look for pain, learn how to ask what's wrong in the things you do every day,” he said. “Good ideas don't always come out of nowhere. Before we came up with the idea for Netflix, it was in a big stack of bad ideas. When it comes to disruption, the rate of success is directly proportionate to the ideas you can afford to try.”

To drive the point home further, Randolph was on a panel with accounting application entrepreneurs Rene Lacerte and David Barrett. For those unaware Lacerte is the founder of Bill.com, while Barrett founded Expensify.

“Good ideas and bad ideas will initially look the same, the only way to tell them apart is the rear view mirror” said Barrett. “When I came up with Expensify I had to think of the most boring thing you could do, which was easier expense reports.”

And to the firms, particularly smaller ones, Barrett advised to be a better leader and not to fear failure.

“One key point of being a good leader is not freaking out if you don't have the answers...have a tolerance of failure.”

With regard to artificial intelligence disrupting the profession, Leon Katsnelson, a director and Chief Technology Officer at IBM, said for the most part CPAs should not fear replacement but definitely be aware of how AI will impact their work.

“When you think about AI, the human element is still absolutely vital, the auditor's job will not be entirely replaced and human thinking will still be critical,” said Katsnelson. “AI will impact every aspect of accounting, not just audit and not just expenses.”

During his opening keynote address, AICPA president Barry Melancon gave attending CPAs more confidence that they can and will weather the impending disruption to the profession, making no mistake that it is already happening.

“You may be wondering, how do you change in a successful and profitable firm and still make the right decisions at the right time,” said Melancon. “We face the challenge of making sure we're successful and finding the right things to do for the future. We do have something to lose but can't be less willing to change.”

He also went so far as to say the profession may not recognize itself in as few as five years, based on numerous factors including the aging out of Boomers, use of technology from cloud to AI and blockchain, and firm structure.

“With technology, the basic structure of CPA firms will change; different pricing and business models will happen,” said Melancon. “The most likely scenario to occur in the CPA space will be a narrower base and small ownership structure at the top.”

The AICPA and CPA.com are, of course, taking an active role in guiding CPAs through this disruptive period, again stressing how virtual CFO-type services will offer them a key advantage.

“If you want to see what lies ahead for tax and audit, look at what we’ve seen in client accounting services over the past decade – with the cloud, virtual CFO services are now an increasingly important driver of CPA firm revenue growth,” said CPA.com CEO Erik Asgeirsson. 

Specifically, CPA.com plans to:

  • Set up roundtable groups of client accounting practitioners, keyed to firm size, to provide a support network and a means to exchange best practices
  • Create advocacy materials for CPAs looking to get internal buy-in for their teams to build or expand client accounting services practices
  • Design a comprehensive benchmarking survey, in collaboration with the AICPA’s practice management section, to set metrics for client accounting services pricing and best practices

Asgeirsson also outlined several broad initiatives already underway. These include:

  • A collaboration between CPA.com, the AICPA and CaseWare, a global provider of audit and analytic software, to create a broad, automated audit solution. One piece of this collaboration – the creation of a dynamic preparation, compilation and review solution – was announced earlier this week at Digital CPA.
  • Expanded uses for the RIVIO Clearinghouse, a secure hub for private company financial information jointly developed by CPA.com and Confirmation.com, such as the managed distribution of reports from System of Organization Control (SOC) engagements. Asgeirsson noted that there is growing interest in RIVIO within the credit union industry, and within the Top 20 accounting firms.
  • Taking a leading role in defining the impact of blockchain on the profession through a collaboration with the AICPA and Wall Street Blockchain Alliance.
  • Offering insight into emerging technology trends through CPA.com’s sponsorship of 1.) an annual executive roundtable for accounting technology CEOs, and 2.) formation of a startup accelerator with the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

Article source: https://www.accountingweb.com/technology/trends/disruption-overtakes-change-for-cpas

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Pace of Technology Change Offers Great Opportunity to CPA Firms

Technology is rapidly transforming the practice of accounting, and there has never been a better opportunity for CPA firms to grow and thrive, the chief executive of CPA.com said in a keynote speech at the 2017 Digital CPA Conference.

The rise of autonomous business, marked by the continuing automation of accounting and finance functions, has hastened the shift of CPA firms into advisory services, said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com, the technology subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs. That pace will only quicken as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and the ongoing evolution of data analytics become more common in everyday business transactions.

“If you want to see what lies ahead for tax and audit, look at what we’ve seen in client accounting services over the past decade – with the cloud, virtual CFO services are now an increasingly important driver of CPA firm revenue growth,” Asgeirsson said.  

CPA.com’s ongoing research has identified talent, pricing and the ability to identify prospective clients as three continuing challenges facing virtual CFO practices. To help firms address these, the company plans to:

  • Set up roundtable groups of client accounting practitioners, keyed to firm size, to provide a support network and a means to exchange best practices
  • Create advocacy materials for CPAs looking to get internal buy-in for their teams to build or expand client accounting services practices
  • Design a comprehensive benchmarking survey, in collaboration with the AICPA’s practice management section, to set metrics for client accounting services pricing and best practices

Asgeirsson also outlined several broad initiatives already underway to support the rapid evolution of the profession. These include:

  • A collaboration between CPA.com, the AICPA and CaseWare, a global provider of audit and analytic software, to create a broad, automated audit solution. One piece of this collaboration – the creation of a dynamic preparation, compilation and review solution – was announced earlier this week at Digital CPA.
  • Expanded uses for the RIVIO Clearinghouse, a secure hub for private company financial information jointly developed by CPA.com and Confirmation.com, such as the managed distribution of reports from System of Organization Control (SOC) engagements. Asgeirsson noted that there is growing interest in RIVIO within the credit union industry, and within the Top 20 accounting firms.
  • Taking a leading role in defining the impact of blockchain on the profession through a collaboration with the AICPA and Wall Street Blockchain Alliance.
  • Offering insight into emerging technology trends through CPA.com’s sponsorship of 1) an annual executive roundtable for accounting technology CEOs, and 2) formation of a startup acceleratorwith the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. Four companies that represent the initial class of the accelerator were announced at the conference today.

“At CPA.com, we’re moving forward on several fronts to help CPA firms succeed: thought leadership, the development of key tools and solutions, and collaborations to define and advance emerging technologies and practice management improvements,” Asgeirsson said. “We’re excited about the future.”

Article source: http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/news/12385377/pace-of-technology-change-offers-great-opportunity-to-cpa-firms

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AICPA Supports Implementation of Credit Union Regulatory Body’s New Policy on Audit Report Submissions

National Credit Union Administration’s Directive Is Driven by Desire to Reduce Risk of Report Manipulation by Management

NEW YORK (August 14, 2017) – The American Institute of CPAs supports the National Credit Union Administration’s focus on the overall integrity of audit report submissions, and recently worked with the regulatory body to remove obstacles to the implementation of a new policy designed to reduce the risk of manipulation or fraud by credit union management.

NCUA regulates or insures almost 5,800 federally insured credit unions. The policy change on external auditor reports was designed to reduce the risk of manipulation by management after some issues emerged in the agency’s periodic material loss reviews. The new requirement initially caused concern among some CPA firms, however, because the act of forwarding the audit report directly to the agency is considered a management function, which could impair an external auditor’s independence. At the AICPA’s request, the NCUA agreed to accept an online delivery option for the documents.

“The policy change was designed to preserve the integrity of the auditor’s report, but inadvertently raised issues for external auditors,” said Sydney Garmong, a partner with Crowe Horwath LLP and chair of the American Institute of CPAs’ Depository Institutions Expert Panel, which addresses professional practice issues regarding financial institutions. “We’re grateful that the NCUA heard our concerns and agreed to acceptable alternatives to preserve auditor independence.”

In an update to credit union management and boards in May, the NCUA said the external auditor could either forward its audit report directly to the regulator, provide time for physical inspection of the document at a specified time or place, or use “a secure portal that verifies and validates the original document source and ensures the audit report submitted to NCUA is authentic and unaltered.” An online platform jointly developed by CPA.com – the technology arm of the AICPA – and Confirmation.com, RIVIO Clearinghouse, meets the latter criteria and is already in use for NCUA submissions.

RIVIO ensures private companies and authorized third parties can share audit reports and other relevant records from validated CPA firms. Company management, in this case credit union directors, can designate who views the audit reports uploaded by CPA firms, but cannot alter the financial presentation in any way. And because the clearinghouse ensures that management is solely responsible for authorizing access to data, it defuses questions about the auditor’s independence.

CPA firms that specialize in serving credit union clients are already making use of the platform.

“We have used RIVIO for all the NCUA requests received. It’s a very efficient way for us to follow the updated policy,” said Chris Vallez, CPA, of Nearman, Maynard, Vallez, a Miami-based CPA firm.

Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com, said: “The RIVIO Clearinghouse was developed to address the exact type of potential fraud or financial manipulation identified by the NCUA.” Brian Fox, president of Confirmaton.com, added: “Going forward, RIVIO will provide the NCUA the peace of mind that it is getting an unaltered audit report from a verified CPA firm, while still ensuring independence for CPA firms.”

About CPA.com

CPA.com offers a growing list of products and services for practice management, client advisory services and professional development. The company has established itself as a thought leader on cloud technology and has been a driving force around the reemergence of virtual CFO/controller services by firms. The RIVIO Clearinghouse, a joint venture between CPA.com and Confirmation.com, is an online financial document clearinghouse that enables private businesses to exchange key financial information with lenders and investors.

CPA.com is a subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs, the world’s largest member body representing the CPA profession. For more information, visit CPA.com.

About the American Institute of CPAs

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world’s largest member association representing the CPA profession, with more than 418,000 members in 143 countries, and a history of serving the public interest since 1887. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including business and industry, public practice, government, education and consulting. The AICPA sets ethical standards for its members and U.S. auditing standards for private companies, nonprofit organizations, federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination, offers specialized credentials, builds the pipeline of future talent and drives professional competency development to advance the vitality, relevance and quality of the profession.

The AICPA maintains offices in New York, Washington, DC, Durham, NC, and Ewing, NJ.

Media representatives are invited to visit the AICPA Press Center at www.aicpa.org/press.

About the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association) is the most influential body of professional accountants, combining the strengths of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to power opportunity, trust and prosperity for people, businesses and economies worldwide. It represents 650,000 members and students in public and management accounting and advocates for the public interest and business sustainability on current and emerging issues. With broad reach, rigor and resources, the Association advances the reputation, employability and quality of CPAs, CGMAs and accounting and finance professionals globally.

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Protecting the financial data of your private company clients

Multiple risks lurk in the way accountants deliver their business clients’ information. CPA.com CEO Erik Asgeirsson and Confirmation.com founder Brian Fox discuss how a new information clearinghouse may solve the problem.

Article source: https://www.accountingtoday.com/podcast/protecting-your-private-company-clients-financial-data

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RIVIO Clearinghouse Wins Accountex's 'Blue Ocean App Award'

Financial Information Exchange Developed by CPA.com and Confirmation.com Honored for Innovation

NEW YORK (Nov. 18, 2016)RIVIO Clearinghouse, a secure document exchange for private company financial information, has been honored with Accountex’s 2016 Blue Ocean App Award, which recognizes innovation in the accounting software marketplace for small to medium-size businesses.

The award was presented today in Las Vegas at Accountex USA, the largest independent accounting technology conference and expo in the United States. It is one of four Meridian in Technology Awards that Accountex oversees in partnership with AccountingWEB, a leading online community and news site for CPAs.

“The Blue Ocean App is an important designation, as it represents innovation in the marketplace,” said R.D. Whitney, group vice president of Diversified Communications, the parent company of Accountex. “The (RIVIO) solution steps outside standard market boundaries to answer a problem that had previously not been addressed for not only CPA firms and their clients, but for financial institutions as well.”

Jointly developed by CPA.com and Confirmation.com, RIVIO is an online platform that securely controls the flow of financial documents between private companies, CPA firms and lenders and investors. It helps prevent fraud and provides more sophisticated controls than existing delivery methods.

“This is the third major accounting technology award RIVIO has won this year, so we’re seeing a consensus of expert opinion form about the advantages of this innovative platform,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com.

The clearinghouse previously was recognized with a CPA Practice Advisor 2016 Tax & Accounting Technology Innovation Award and an Accounting Today 2016 Top New Product designation.

“We’re proud to be recognized with this award and look forward to working with CPA firms, private equity firms, financial institutions and other key stakeholders who can benefit from RIVIO,” said Brian Fox, CPA, founder and president of Confirmation.com.

For more information about the clearinghouse, visit RIVIO.com.

About CPA.com

CPA.com offers a growing list of products and services for practice management, client advisory services and professional development. The company has established itself as a thought leader on cloud technology and has been a driving force around the reemergence of virtual CFO/Controller services by firms.

The RIVIO Clearinghouse, a joint venture between CPA.com and Confirmation.com, is an online financial document clearinghouse that enables private businesses to exchange key financial information with lenders and investors.

CPA.com is a subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs, the world’s largest member body representing the accounting profession. For more information, visit CPA.com.

About Confirmation.com

Confirmation.com is the world's leading provider of secure online audit confirmations. Today, 13,000 audit firms confirm over $1 trillion annually for 700,000 clients worldwide. Confirmation.com is used in over 125 countries by banks, companies, and law firms to respond to audit confirmation requests. For more information, visit Confirmation.com.

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CPA.com Releases Report on the Need for a Private Company Clearinghouse

Position Paper Discusses Demand from Lenders and Investors for Authenticated Data Sources

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 24, 2016)CPA.com today released a position paper, “Addressing the Need for a Private Company Clearinghouse,” that makes the case for the secure digital distribution of private company financial information.

“Reliable financial information is one of the foundations of capital markets,” the document states. “Emerging trends and market demands suggest the current process in the United States of exchanging private company financial information between CPA firms, clients, banks and investors is not working and needs to be dramatically improved.”

Among other findings, the report:

  • Discusses current practice for distributing financial statements and other critical financial data for private companies, which can lead to increased risk of fraud and error
  • Examines the digital transformation of financial services, which has led to a growing demand for readily available, authenticated sources of data
  • Identifies components of a private company clearinghouse that are required to make it effective

“We created this position paper to shine a light on the growing market problem related to private company financial information exchange.” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “In addition, we identified the key capabilities needed in a private company clearinghouse based on extensive discussions with firms, lenders, and investors over the past two years.”

CPA.com and Confirmation.com have jointly developed RIVIO Clearinghouse, a secure, online financial document exchange that meets the requirements outlined in the report. RIVIO was launched this past May, and has been recognized as an Accounting Today 2016 Top New Product and winner of a CPA Practice Advisor 2016 Tax & Accounting Innovation Award.

The position paper was released at the fall meeting of the AICPA governing Council, where Asgeirsson led a panel discussion on RIVIO. The report was developed with feedback from firms, investors, lenders and private businesses, as well as several AICPA technical committees.

More information about RIVIO Clearinghouse can be found at RIVIO.com

About CPA.com

CPA.com empowers CPAs and businesses for the digital age. The company offers a growing list of digital products and services that help firms succeed in practice management, client advisory services and professional development.

CPA.com is a subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs, the world's largest member organization representing the accounting profession, and operates such leading websites as the AICPA Store, AICPA.org and IFRS.com.

The company has its headquarters in New York City and offices in Silicon Valley, Calif., Dexter, Mich., and Durham, N.C. For more information, visit CPA.com.

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Fraud Examples Demonstrate Need for RIVIO Clearinghouse

The new RIVIO Clearinghouse (see accompanying article) is a solution to a problem of financial hijinks with which you might not be familiar. After all, most CPAs perform their services ethically and expect their clients to represent their financial information in a truthful manner. So it’s quite possible you don’t realize how rampant this misrepresentation can be.

Financial statement fraud occurs in about 9% of all occupational fraud cases, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiner’s 2016 Global Fraud Survey. But the median loss in this category is much larger than the median loss in all cases: $975,000 vs. $150,000. Some frauds are fairly low level – altering a PDF or paper copy of a document. Others can be much more elaborate.

We connected with Erik Asgeirsson, CEO at CPA.com, and Brian Fox, president at Capital Confirmation.com, to learn more about the problems that caused these two organizations to join forces and create the RIVIO Clearinghouse.

“We found out from banks that banks are disproportionately relying on tax returns [instead of financial statements],” explained Asgeirsson. “They want source documents – they don’t want documents coming directly from the businesses. They use the IRS tax transcript service to pull the form directly from the IRS.”

With RIVIO Clearinghouse, CPAs in good standing, whose status has been verified by CPA.com, can upload reviewed or audited financial statements. The business then gives authority for lenders or investors to download those forms, and the forms go directly to the authorized third party with no intervention from the business.

“This is the ultimate final documentation to third parties,” said Fox. “This is the only way an auditor can maintain a privity defense.”

Here are some examples of real life fraud that could have been prevented with the use of RIVIO Clearinghouse.

Canopy Financial

Two top executives at Canopy Financial, a now-bankrupt Chicago health care transaction software company, were sentenced to 15 and 13 years in prison in 2012 for defrauding investors and customers of more than $93 million. The two men used a bogus auditor’s report – ostensibly from KPMG -- and falsified bank statements to obtain $75 million from private equity firms. Prosecutors said they misappropriated $18 million from clients, and spent part of the money on luxury cars such as Bentleys and Lamborghinis, jewelry, personal home renovations and a nightclub investment.

Munire Furniture

Norman D’Souza, CFO for Munire Furniture, pleaded guilty to an $18 million accounting fraud in April 2016. He allegedly prepared fraudulent financial statements for the New Jersey-based manufacturer of crib and baby furniture that overstated sales and accounts receivables, which helped the company obtain $17 million in loans from a Manhattan bank and an additional $1 million in financial incentives from an Indiana municipality where the company has a furniture factory, according to federal prosecutors.

Bayou Hedge Fund

Hedge fund founder Samuel Israel and his CFO, Daniel Marino, were charged in 2005 with a $300 million-plus fraud scheme that involved creating a fake outside auditor to sign off on financial statements that masked significant losses by Stamford, Conn.-based Bayou Group LLC.

“A new accounting firm,­­ Richmond-Fairfield, ­­was created to oversee the fake bookkeeping, prosecutors contend,” the New York Times wrote in a wrap-up of the case. “Mr. Marino was the firm's principal.”

Aphelion Fund Management

In 2014, the SEC charged executives at New York-based advisory firm Aphelion Fund Management with investment fraud, including diverting more than $500,000 for luxury car payments and legal settlements for majority owner and chief investment officer Vineet Kalucha. Kalucha allegedly altered an outside auditor’s report, which originally showed a return of minus 3% for the fund over a 15-month period, to reflect a 30% positive return over an 18-month period.

“When the accounting firm learned of the alteration to its report, it told Kalucha to stop distributing the report to investors and to inform anyone who had received it that it had been altered, according to federal prosecutors,” according to a report on Law360.com. “Kalucha told the firm that he had only given the altered report to one person, a claim the Department of Justice said Monday was untrue.” Kalucha eventually pleaded guilty to obstruction.

New Mexico Finance Authority

With an upcoming bond offering in the works in 2012 and the authority’s independent public audit incomplete for FY2011, the controller of the NMFA, Greg Campbell, decided to take matters in his own hands and create a bogus financial statement, making it appear it came from the authority’s outside auditor, Clifton Gunderson, by putting a fake letterhead and signature on the cover page. The report was posted on the authority’s website and shared with investors and the public until the state auditor discovered some irregularities and began an investigation later in the year.

“Mr. Campbell rationalized his decision by repeatedly stating that the facts and figures in the report were accurate, therefore users of the statements could rely on theme,” the state auditor said in a report. “He stated that he believed he was “helping” the agency by finalizing the audit report himself so it could be included in the upcoming 2012A bond offering.”

Campbell eventually pleaded guilty to three fraud charges and got probation, the NMFA’s CEO was fired, and the state made several steps to improve internal controls at the authority.

Article source: http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/article/12240548/fraud-examples-demonstrate-need-for-rivio-clearinghouse

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Private Companies, Financial Technology and a Winning Opportunity for CPAs

We live in an era of rapid innovation in financial technology that is transforming how banks, private equity firms and other investors evaluate business opportunities and quantify risk. Yet the prevailing methods for exchanging private company financial information among key stakeholders such as CPAs, corporate management and lenders and investors have largely not kept pace with the sweeping change in this sector. In short, the system is broken, leading to a greater risk of fraud in transactions and delays in the lending process, which could ultimately result in CPAs playing a less significant or relevant role – or worse, being pushed out of the process altogether.

Audited financial statements are arguably the gold standard data source for assessing the current health and prospects of a private company. But the current delivery methods employed by CPA firms for that information – emailed PDFs or mail courier, for example – put them at a distinct disadvantage in a banking industry increasingly reliant on data that flows over a secure, digital infrastructure. To put it simply: if you’re the bottleneck in a process dedicated to driving out inefficiencies, you’re a problem.

The good news is these problems can be addressed, and CPAs can strengthen their position in the value chain for the long haul. But first let’s talk about the place we currently find ourselves in.

CPAs have always played a critical role in lending decisions for private companies. About 40 percent of small business principals turn to consultants such as accountants for guidance on financing decisions – the largest category of advice givers behind banks and lenders themselves, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2015 Small Business Credit Survey.

With strong links to their communities, CPAs also are a key bridge for connecting private companies with local banks. This relationship banking role will continue to be an important one for the profession, but the rise of alternative lending platforms – where analytics and algorithms rule, not personal ties – creates different priorities and needs.

About one-in-five small businesses currently seek financing from online lenders, according to the Federal Reserve, and that number is only expected to grow. At the same time, you also have many of the large commercial banks evaluating alternative lending platforms as potential private-label solutions, which would replace and power their increasingly obsolescent legacy systems.

Because of this, online lenders and traditional banks both have a critical need for reliable, third-party information – the kind that’s available instantly, in digital form and from an unimpeachable source. In the public company sphere, the SEC’s EDGAR filing system fills that role but there is no central hub for private companies. Instead, lenders tap business tax filings from the IRS and credit reports from commercial databases, among other sources.

Because of liability risks, , CPA firms often choose to not confirm the validity of financial statements and other documents to outside parties such as banks and investors. In practice, private company management controls the distribution of these materials, which creates a window of opportunity for unscrupulous companies who can change numbers in a legitimate document or create an altogether fictitious report. The lack of a defined confirmation process can have implications for a CPA firm’s reputation if fraud is later discovered, even if the firm was completely unaware of the wrongdoing.

At CPA.com, we believe financial technology is an area of significant opportunity for CPAs, and we’ve thought long and hard about the barriers that might prevent that promise from being fulfilled. That’s why we and Confirmation.com developed RIVIO Clearinghouse, a secure platform designed to rationalize the flow of documents between CPAs, private companies and lenders and investors. Here’s how it helps solve some of the problems for CPA firms we discussed above:

  • The system ensures that financial statements and other key data was provided by a licensed CPA firm. Fictitious or sanctioned firms are weeded out, reducing the risk of fraud.
  • Private companies have broad control over who can view their encrypted financial information on the secure, cloud-based platform, but cannot alter critical data uploaded by a CPA firm. That gives end users peace of mind that the data is accurate and complete, and CPA firms have assurance their reputation is protected.
  • Because the distribution of financial statements to authorized users is blind to CPA firms, they retain privity defense and other legal protections – and have greater control themselves because end users will be automatically notified if the CPA firm withdraws a statement or makes other changes.

Perhaps most importantly, RIVIO restores the primacy of CPA-produced financial information in lending decisions by creating a digital clearinghouse that solves a critical marketplace need for authenticated data from a validated, trusted source. RIVIO helps ensure that CPA-produced financial information stays front-and-center in private company lending and investment decisions – right where it should be.

It’s a new world in banking, one characterized by the digital flow of key financial information, and I’m confident CPAs will take the necessary steps to adapt to changing demands from the industry. With the RIVIO Clearinghouse, we feel we’re off to a good start.

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Erik Asgeirsson is the President and CEO of CPA.com. He has more than 20 years of experience in leading technology organizations and driving business growth. Over the past ten years Erik has driven CPA.com's focus on cloud computing and the transforming opportunities available to accounting firms and their business clients.

Article source: http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/article/12229591/private-companies-financial-technology-and-a-winning-opportunity-for-cpas

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Technology Revolutionizes the Transfer of Private Company Information

How can CPA firms, their clients and the investors and lenders with whom they do business easily access shared documents? How can CPA firms ensure that their signature won’t be used fraudulently or that there won’t be unauthorized changes in their financial reports? I spend a lot of time speaking with CPAs across the country, and these are some of the questions on the minds of firms that serve private company clients.

Public companies have a simple solution for sharing financial information in a secure environment. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval (EDGAR) System collects, validates, indexes and forwards submissions from public companies’ SEC filings. It was launched in 1984 and offers public companies an efficient way to share corporate information, but there has never been a similar system to fit the needs of private companies.

That can be a problem, as I’ve heard from practitioners. Here’s one scenario that illustrates why: A CPA firm’s client has an opportunity to work with a new investor who will offer a capital infusion as well as possible improved access to new markets. The client is thrilled about the possibilities, but there’s one hitch: The investor has received altered financial information in the past and is demanding reassurance about the security and authentication of the data it receives. The client turns to their CPA, hoping for a solution.

Over the last several years, my team at CPA.com has been researching how today’s technology can allow private company clients to access information from their CPA firms and share this financial information with investors and lenders, as well as ensure that data has been submitted from an authenticated source. In addition, as part of our market research we found that many banks were beginning to have increasing reliance on IRS-sourced business tax returns due to their concerns around fraudulent audited financial statements. Based on this research we realized that it was critical to have a clearinghouse-type solution that would ensure the audited financial statement, one of the core services of a CPA firm, is part of the digital information highway. We also believed a solution which delivered these audited statements digitally to banks and other key users would help firms distinguish themselves in the marketplace.

This spring, in partnership with Confirmation.com, CPA.com introduced its Repository of Intelligent Validated Inputs and Outputs (RIVIO), an online financial clearinghouse that features robust controls, easier collaboration and reduced risk for all parties. Transmissions through the RIVIO Clearinghouse are secure and verifiable unlike traditional delivery paths such as print or email, which leave open the possibilities of loss or misuse of data. The RIVIO Clearinghouse houses audited financial statements which only can be uploaded by appropriately licensed CPA firms as well as other key financial documents. The client then shares this information with specific banks, private equity firms or other users. We sought the experience and insights of the AICPA’s audit and accounting teams to ensure RIVIO supports and enhances the high level of CPA firm services, and we made sure it helped to advance the goals of the profession’s Enhancing Audit Quality initiative.

Benefits include:

  • Clients can efficiently share financial documents with key users without raising security or privacy concerns.
  • Firms can recall documents such as a withdrawn audit report. They can also restrict distribution of reports.
  • Audit reports stored in the system can’t be forged or altered.
  • Firms can differentiate themselves in their markets based on their efficient report distribution. Banks and other third parties know they can rely on the documents they receive from firms employing RIVIO Clearinghouse.

RIVIO is not intended to replace firms’ existing portals. Portals will remain valuable tools that allow efficient digital collaboration between firm and client while RIVIO will facilitate the controlled distribution of client documents to lenders and investors. RIVIO basically adds another option to the practitioner’s audit toolkit because of its ability to validate users, authenticate documents and ensure financial reliability.

As with any new tool, it will be important for firms to get comfortable working with RIVIO. That will be easy to do, since CPAs are invited to try out the service at no charge. CPAs add value by identifying opportunities for clients. This new option can help them address clients’ and firms’ security and authentication concerns where important documentation is concerned.

Erik Asgeirsson, President and CEO, CPA.com

Article source: http://blog.aicpa.org/2016/08/technology-revolutionizes-the-transfer-of-private-company-information.html#sthash.MQYOpIUM.dpbs

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RIVIO Clearinghouse Wins 2016 Tax & Accounting Technology Innovation Award

Financial Document Exchange for Private Companies Honored by CPA Practice Advisor

NEW YORK (June 2, 2016)RIVIO Clearinghouse, a financial document exchange for private companies, was the recipient last night of a 2016 Tax and Accounting Technology Innovation Award from CPA Practice Advisor, a leading publication for the accounting profession.

RIVIO was developed by CPA.com and Confirmation.com as a secure, online platform to control the flow of financial documents between private companies, CPA firms and lenders and investors. It helps prevent fraud and provides more sophisticated controls than existing delivery methods.

The Tax and Accounting Technology Innovation Award is meant to recognize “outside-the-box thinking in product development, breakthrough technologies, state of the art design and implementation, and cutting edge concepts that help accounting professionals and their clients be more productive and profitable,” according to CPA Practice Advisor.’

“We're delighted that our judges selected RIVIO Clearinghouse as one of the winners of the 2016 Innovation Awards,” said Gail Perry, the publication’s editor-in-chief. “This particular product is going to have a significant and positive ripple effect throughout the accounting profession.”

The award was presented at the California Accounting & Business Show & Conference in Los Angeles.

“We appreciate the leadership CPA Practice Advisor has shown in identifying technology trends in the accounting space,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “We think RIVIO Clearinghouse addresses a pressing marketplace need for source-validated private company financial information, and it’s gratifying when respected voices in the profession endorse that view.”

“We’re excited about the award,” said Brian Fox, president and founder of Confirmation.com. “It’s a great testament to the value of RIVIO to CPAs and their clients.”

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2016 Innovation Awards Announced in L.A.

As accounting firms increasingly rely on cloud-based technologies and services, they are also seeking tools that can help them optimize their workflow and streamline and automate client services.

The winners and finalists for the 13th annual Tax & Accounting Technology Innovation Awards reflect this focus on workflow and automation, which allow firms and their small business clients to operate more efficiently and profitably. The awards were presented on June 1, 2016, by CPA Practice Advisor during a reception and ceremony at the California Accounting and Business Show & Conference in Los Angeles.

CPA Practice Advisor provides a variety of independent digital and print resources for accounting professionals, including practice resources, technology reviews, interactive tools and content that helps firms achieve greater productivity.

The 2016 Innovation Award winners are:

Six Innovation Award Finalists were also recognized by CPA Practice Advisor:

The Innovation Awards were first presented in 2004, and honor new or recently enhanced technologies that benefit tax and accounting professionals and their clients through improved workflow, increased accessibility, enhanced collaboration, or other means.

“We are constantly seeking new technologies that can benefit tax and accounting professionals, and their clients” said CPA Practice Advisor Editor-in-Chief Gail Perry, CPA. “As the profession continues to embrace new workflows and processes that optimize the potentials of these technologies, firms are improving their efficiency and focusing their practices on more profitable service offerings that, at the same time, are more beneficial to the small businesses that rely on them for advice and strategy." Perry also manages a tax practice and is the author of more than 30 books, including Mint.com for Dummies, and Idiot's Guide to Introductory Accounting.

In addition to the winners and finalists, more than 40 technology products and services were nominated for this year's Innovation Awards:

ATX Integrated IntelliConnect Browser Search Tool and Tax Research Menu

BEPS Global Currents

BigTime IQ Pro

BNA Income Tax Planner Web

BNA State Tax Analyzer

Canopy Tax, Inc Tax Resolution

CCH CodeConnect

CCH iFirm Practice Manager

Client Centric Communications

Depre123 Depreciation System

Eaglefiling

eFileCabinet SideKick

Exact for Accountants

FloQast

Gravity Software LLC

Industry Newsletters

Intacct Subscription Billing

Intelligize

Intuit Trial Balance

ONESOURCE Indirect Tax Certificate Manager 2.0

PPC’s Guide to Tax-Related Identity Theft

QuickBooks Self-Employed

ReceiptBank Practice Platform

Credits and Incentives Pinpointer: Statutory and Discretionary

Thomson Reuters myPay Solutions Direct

TSheets Scheduling

 

Winners of the Innovation Awards are selected from nominated products by CPA Practice Advisor’seditorial board and awards committee, which include thought leaders and professionals from across the country. The digital resource and print publication is the leading independent source of practice management resources and technology information for tax and accounting professionals in public practice. www.CPAPracticeAdvisor.com.

The nomination period for the 2017 Innovation Awards will open in February 2017.

Article source: http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/news/12213994/2016-innovation-awards-announced-in-la

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