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1. U.S. accountants’ optimism returns to pre-recession levels   WebExclusive

BY Neil Amato
Not since 2007 have U.S. accountants in industry felt as optimistic about the future of their companies and the state of the domestic economy as they do now.While concerns about regulatory requirements linger, and some companies remain hesitant to deploy cash or hire, those potential obstacles can’t stem the rising tide of optimism regarding U.S.

2. ERISA: 40 years later  

BY Rebecca J. Miller, CPA, Robert A. Lavenberg, CPA, J.D. and Ian A. MacKay, CPA, CGMA
Forty years ago, Congress passed landmark legislation to protect workers’ pensions from abuses. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which President Gerald Ford signed into law on Labor Day, Sept. 2, 1974, greatly expanded the federal government’s role in regulating private-sector retirement plans and made the government the guarantor of private pensions by creating the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

3. Nine ways to improve data security  

BY Jack Hagel
Many businesses continue to underestimate cyberthreats. An urgent change of mindset is called for, says Florian Stahl, lead information security consultant at MSG Systems in Germany. He offers nine tips to bolster thinking around data security.Don’t underestimate the severity of the threat. Many companies think that their data are not of interest to cybercriminals.

4. Proposed new guidance outlines 12 principles for internal auditing   WebExclusive

BY Ken Tysiac
Proposed changes to guidance followed by internal auditors include a new mission statement and a set of 12 core principles that highlight what effective internal auditing looks like in practice.The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) on Monday announced the proposed changes to the International Professional Practices Framework, which is promulgated by the IIA.

5. Nimble thinking takes the lead  

BY Jack Hagel
The past few years have seen unprecedented uncertainty. The ever-increasing rate of change in global trade, the regulatory environment, and technology—even social expectations of businesses—have set strategies in new directions and confounded those charged with developing credible forecasts and setting capital investment priorities.The dynamics also have prompted people to think differently about finance, forecasting, and the role of financial planning and analysis.

6. A pipeline for diversity  

BY Frank K. Ross, CPA, Jean T. Wells, CPA, J.D. and and Allyson T. Clarke, CPA
Despite decades of intensive efforts, the accounting profession has not reached its diversity goals. African-Americans and Hispanics made up 13.1% and 16.9%, respectively, of the U.S. population in 2012, according to U.S. Census data, but secured just 4% and 6% of the new hires in 2011–12 at CPA firms, AICPA data show.Misperception about accounting as a career is one reason for the disparity.

7. Six ways not-for-profits can get value from risk management   WebExclusive

BY Ken Tysiac
Many not-for-profits lack the resources to implement a holistic approach to risk across the enterprise. So it’s no surprise that they often lag behind public companies in implementing enterprise risk management (ERM). Indeed, just 13% of not-for-profits responding to a recently released survey said they have complete formal enterprise-wide risk management processes in place.

8. How internal audit can meet growing expectations   WebExclusive

BY Ken Tysiac
Broadening duties in a rapidly changing business environment make it imperative for the internal audit profession to evolve, according to a new research report.Although audits of operations still make up the largest portion of internal audit plans for 2014, the percentage of internal audit coverage devoted to operations dropped to 24% from 29% in 2013, according to the Institute of Internal Auditors’ Pulse of the Profession global survey.Financial audits (8%, down from 14% in 2013) also represent a decreasing portion of the internal audit plan.Increased areas of internal audit focus in 2014, according to the survey of

9. Effective performance management  

BY Doug Blizzard
For a manager, few things are more difficult than delivering honest performance feedback to an employee. And far too many managers don’t give feedback at all. Fortunately, there are ways to address performance review problems. Success lies in the execution of these simple ideas. Define the culture of your organization, i.e., the behaviors that lead to success.

10. The four D’s of better strategic planning  

BY Jack Hagel
Instead of approaching business as a series of problems to be solved—say, how to cut down on spending, or how to keep employees from getting bored at work—organizations should take a more appreciative look at themselves. That’s the aim of appreciative inquiry, a change method that consultant Bill Swedish thinks can help businesses get out of a negative rut.The problem-oriented approach limits business thinking, and companies end up being reactive instead of proactive.
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