A Competition for Talent: Accounting Firms VS. Companies

A Competition for Talent: Accounting Firms VS. Companies

Across the United States, accounting is a high demand industry. Various large-scale accounting firms have increased their recruiting efforts with a goal of hiring top talent- this means that other companies have had to alter their hiring processes and change their standards. The recent changes to the standard accounting principles and financial reporting methods have made it important for companies to hire the most professional accountants,

Importance of Accountants

Accountants are vital to the success of most companies. An accountant is expected to set up financial controls and systems, as well as track critical aspects of the company’s business such as the growth and cash flow. Accountants are also required to work to keep companies up to date with regulations by conducting occasional audits and keeping detailed records.

Businesses that don’t have an accountant are more likely to struggle with growth. Most businesses choose to hire an in-house accountant, but it’s not uncommon for companies to opt to outsource to accounting firms.

Increase in Demand

In 2016, the United States unemployment rate of accountants was 2.5%. In a comparison, it was noted that the unemployment rate for other professionals across various industries within the country was 4.4%. The U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics started adopting new job classifications and began to separate professional accountants in early 2011. At the start of this, the unemployment rate for accountants was at 4.2%, proving that the increase in demand for professional accountants has been steady. By having such a low unemployment rate, the competition among companies and accounting firms has sky rocketed, making it increasingly more difficult to fill open positions with certified accountants.

Shift of Culture

Within the past years, most accounting firms have shifted their focus towards company culture. Pricewaterhouse Coopers has taken momentous steps to decrease accountant turnover and attract talent through company culture. In previous years, associates were required to work long hours and had an unbalanced work-life balance. Because of these new changes, associates have the option to work from home, as well as to work a flexible part time schedule. They also have the chance to utilize in-office perks such as sports game tables and treadmill desks. 

Changes to Regulations

Another important reason for the shift in demand is the changes that have been made to the rules of the Financial Accounting Standards Boards. Accounting firms are expected to use the new regulations when reporting the values of leases and book revenues. These new leasing rules go into effect in 2019, and booking rules go into effect at the end of this year.

Increased Salaries

The average salary for an accountant in the United States is $67,190 a year. Some accounting graduates, however, earn up to $53,000 within their first year of graduating. College placement services often see rates of 90% when placing accounting graduates into jobs.

More Focus on Business Ethics

Fraud has plagued the business industry in recent years and resulted in scandals. Both staff and executive members in various companies have been convicted in serious legal battles.

Accountants are required to scrutinize financial statements to help their employers avoid legal issues and maintain satisfactory business ethics.

Growth of Job Opportunities

The professional recreating company, SelectOne, claims that within the accounting job market, the fastest growing positions are that of staff accountant, budget analyst, and auditor.

A Maryville accounting degree can help you reach your career goals, as it provides courses that are practical and useful in the world of accounting.

Apps and Permissions: Risks and Rewards

Apps and Permissions: Risks and Rewards

To use an app to on any Smartphone, user permission will be requested for on any mobile operating system (Android, iOS, or Windows).  These permissions unlock the full functionality of the device, and the permissions will relate to how the app works. For example, a call app will need access to your contacts list, and a gallery app will need access to your camera.

In some instances, some apps may ask for permissions which have no relation to the purpose of the app. This can be a music app asking for access to your messages. Apps that request for irrelevant access likely working with third-party companies such as analytics companies to gain access to informational data.

While you may not be comfortable with this, Data Governance laws ensure that a user’s privacy is protected by removing any trace of your identity. To make apps work better, the data that is gotten from your Smartphone is used to improve the app and also promote target advertisement.

The use, protection, and maintenance of any data gleaned from web browsers, Internet of Things (IoT), and Smartphones is something a student will learn before achieving a Masters Degree in Business Data Analytics.

The Advantages

Among the seemingly endless list of apps which are available on mobile marketplaces like the App store and the Play store, an estimated 70% of these apps provide data analytics companies with data. These data are used to observe social media activities, monitor app usage and also promote adverts which are suited to each person.

A profile is built around each data from a Smartphone in order to aid developers to provide services which will offer more benefits to a particular user.

The data which is gathered from users can also be used along with hardware permissions such as microphone access and camera feeds to offer a more personal touch to the use of each app by a client.

Roger Hurni also states that the use of geo-location technology with an app is the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to get a beneficial event such as an offer in a store which a user is close to. This also helps small businesses to reduce their expenses by providing them with info for their targeted ads. This was while talking to journalist Jennifer Lonoff Schiff’s in “7 Ways Small Businesses Can Benefit From Mobile Apps” on CIO.com.

The use of data obtained from Smartphones is legal if it used for determining the best-targeted adverts, market research, government research, geolocation targeting, etc.

The demerits

Ensuring that the privacy of a user is secure remains a top priority in the world of data analytics. Any information which contains personally identifiable information (PII) needs to undergo de-identification, especially in a developed country. There are regulatory controls in the United States such as the patriot act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which guard against the spread of data which could aid fraudulent activities against a user.

For a definition of what a PII refers to, the HIPAA’s Privacy Rule offers the most comprehensive. In the healthcare industry, a PII is known as protected health information (PHI). The HIPAA’s privacy rule also extends to third-party vendors that interact with any healthcare establishment, healthcare providers, clearinghouses, and health insurance companies.

Information such as vehicle identification numbers, social security numbers, account numbers, first names, last names, and addresses are under the protection of the privacy rule.

The protection of data in other sectors, outside the healthcare sector, also follows similar procedures to the privacy rule. Unlike in the United States, there are countries where there are no laws to protect user privacy. According to Nathan Vanderklippe, a legal writer, he states in his article titled “China Collecting Sensitive Personal Data Through Android Apps: Report,” that some search engines such as Baidu collect data which can be used to identify a user

He then explains that according to the laws in the country, the search engine company provides government authorities with access to the data they collect.

This means that with access to comprehensive data on a user, the profiles built can be personalized. Affected may not only be Chinese citizens but U.S. citizens as well will have their information passed across to the Chinese authorities.

With this problem looming, it would be best to use apps which follow government protection laws and only provide data to analytics companies. While Google is still coming up with techniques to filter apps which request unnecessary permissions, this is the path with the lowest risk.

Brian Reigh in “Google Can Tell Which Apps Are Asking For Too Much Of Your Private Information” on AndroidAuthority.com, he states that there is a machine-language from Google which will be able to categorize apps using the user metrics, text descriptions, and other metadata. This reduces errors when creating categories.

Maryville University’s Master Degree In Business Data Analytics

Maryville University’s online Master’s of Science in Business Data Analytics degree produces experts in business analytics who are currently in high demand by companies. As students become graduates, they are ready to work as data governance specialists, data scientists, or statistician.

What Maryville University teaches students is the monetization of data, decision making using analytics, handling data sets, and creating various infrastructures. As graduates, they will have undergone training on how to use analytical tools along with operational data from businesses.


Rogers Communications beats the Street with 35% profit surge

Rogers Communications beats the Street with 35% profit surge

TORONTO — Rogers Communications is reporting a 35 per cent increase in second-quarter net income, beating analyst estimates.

Its net income was $531 million or $1.03 per share, while adjusted profit was $1 per share.

Analysts had estimated Rogers would have 90 cents per share of net income, or 93 cents per share after adjustments, according to Thomson Reuters.

Revenue was $3.59 billion — up four per cent from last year’s second quarter and within analyst estimates.

It’s the first financial report issued by the Toronto-based telecommunications and media company since Joe Natale became its CEO in April.

Natale is a former CEO of Telus, where he had a reputation of building customer satisfaction and reducing turnover.

He said in today’s announcement that Rogers will improve customer service but also intensify a company-wide focus on controlling costs and improving profitability for shareholders.


Blockbuster Avista deal lifts Hydro One into Top 20 utilities on continent

Blockbuster Avista deal lifts Hydro One into Top 20 utilities on continent

Hydro One Limited, the largest electricity transmission and distribution provider in Ontario, has struck a deal to purchase Avista Corp., a pure-play regulated electric and gas utilities holding company that has operations in U.S. northeast and Alaska, for $6.7 billion.

The acquisition, which will see shareholders of publicly listed Avista receive US$53 a share and which was announced after the markets closed Wednesday, marks Hydro One’s first transaction in the U.S. since it went public in late 2015.

The purchase,marks a proud moment for Canadian champions as we grow our business into a North American leader,” Mayo Schmidt, Hydro One’s chief executive, said, adding the transaction “will be accretive to earnings per share in the mid-single digits in the first full year of operation.” More importantly the acquisition offers shareholders of Hydro One “a significant and stable increase to earnings and cash flow underpinned by fully regulated utility operations.” Hydro One has promised to continue to pay out 70 to 80 per cent of its earnings as dividends.

Investors, however, were not impressed and Hydro One fell the most in eight months Thursday morning after the deal that analysts said is too costly and exposes the Canadian energy company to regulatory hassles.

“Hydro One is paying the price to gain exposure to U.S. markets,” Shahriar Pourreza, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities, said in a note Thursday. The “very rich valuation” is “likely a near-term anomaly.”

Hydro One fell as much as 5.4 per cent to $21.32 in Toronto, the biggest intraday decline since Nov. 10, before paring losses. Avista rose 20 per cent to US$51.83 in New York.

If and when the transaction closes — and the two parties are targeting the second half of 2018 — the combined entity will have an enterprise value of $31.2 billion, and assets of $32.2 billion. It will rank in the Top 20 North American utilities that are focused on regulated transmission, electricity and natural gas local distribution and serve more than two million retail and industrial customers.

In entering the U.S., Hydro One is following the lead set by two East Coast utilities, Newfoundland-based Fortis Inc. and Nova Scotia-based Emera Inc.

And Hydro One is following the lead set by those two entities in the way it finances such acquisitions: it is selling $1.4 billion of 4 per cent convertible debentures represented by instalment receipts.

In that structure, investors will be paid one-third of the cost of each $1,000 debenture on closing with the balance ($667) being paid at a future date when all the conditions have been met. As a result, holders will receive an effective 12 per cent yield on the first installment. The rest of the purchase price will come from placing US$2.6 billion of debt.

When the transaction closes, Avista will be run as a Spokane-based stand-alone company. Synergies between the two companies are expected to be small given that “no workforce reductions” are planned. Instead efficiencies will flow through “enhanced scale, innovation, shared IT systems and increased purchasing power.”

Sears Canada to begin liquidation sales at 59 stores today. Is one of them near you?

Sears Canada to begin liquidation sales at 59 stores today. Is one of them near you?

TORONTO — Sears Canada has been given approval to begin liquidation sales Friday at the 59 locations it plans to close.

Ontario Superior Judge Barbara Conway approved the motion Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Sears lawyer Jeremy Dacks said the company wanted to start sales of its merchandise, furniture, fixtures and equipment as soon as possible so it can “maximize” benefits for its stakeholders.

The liquidation sales will only occur at the 59 stores that are set for closure. They will begin Friday and run until Oct. 12, with the majority to be overseen by a third-party liquidator.

Current employees in the stores pegged for liquidation will be asked to stay on the job until the sales are complete and the locations are shut down.

The beleaguered department store owner has been operating under court protection from creditors since June 22 when it announced its plan to shutter 59 stores and cut approximately 2,900 jobs.

Here are the stores Sears is closing:

Last week, Ontario Superior Court Judge Glenn Hainey gave the company the green light to begin the process of putting itself up for sale. He also gave the retailer approval to pay $9.2 million in retention bonuses to executives and other key employees.

The payout was part of a compromise with retired employees that will see Sears Canada continue making some benefit and pension payments to retirees until Sept. 30.

Founded in 1952, Sears Canada says it hopes to exit court protection as soon as possible this year.

Strong indicators Alberta economy on rebound

Strong indicators Alberta economy on rebound

As Alberta’s economy rebounds from the downturn in the price of oil, new data shows employment insurance use is on the decline.

The province outpaced the rest of Canada with an 11.1 per cent year-over-year decline in EI beneficiaries, according to Statistics Canada.

Economic indicators tell a consistent story — the worst of the downturn has ended, Trevor Tombe, associate professor of economics at the University of Calgary, said Thursday.

Recent data show provincial unemployment down from a high of nine per cent in November 2016. In addition, there’s been a 9.3 per cent increase in the first quarter for job vacancies in the province. Alberta’s business confidence achieved six consecutive gains in Canadian Federation for Independent Business surveys, before holding steady in June.

“The corner has clearly been turned,” Tombe said.

Since October 2014, additional EI payments into Alberta have totalled $3 billion over and above the norm, he said. Typically, the province would receive roughly $50 million a month.

The 72,000 Albertans receiving regular EI benefits in May, according to StatsCan, represented a 7.2 per cent drop from the previous month, in addition to the year-over-year decline.

Alberta was one of eight provinces to see a decline from April. Nationally, the decline from the previous month was 2.4 per cent and the year-over-year drop was only 4.9 per cent.

The presence of other positive economic indicators bode well for economic recovery in Alberta, especially in comparison to the other provinces hit hardest by the oil downturn — Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The declines that you’ve seen in Alberta over the past two months — you haven’t seen similar sized declines in those other two provinces,” said Marton Lovei of Statistics Canada.

The May EI figures represent Alberta’s first year-over-year decrease since November 2014, when the downturn in oil prices began.

Tombe said the reduction in EI beneficiaries might be the result of a strengthening economy, but also said there were factors that contributed to Alberta’s outsized decline that were beyond the norm.

Statistics Canada attributed it in part to an increase in EI beneficiaries in northern Alberta in May 2016 associated with the Fort McMurray wildfires and evacuation. More than one-third — 34.6 per cent — of the decline in beneficiaries in Alberta in the 12 months to May occurred in the census agglomeration of Wood Buffalo, where Fort McMurray is located.

The federal government also made it easier to apply for EI in 15 regions of the country, including Alberta, offering up to an additional 20 weeks of regular benefits for areas hit hardest by declines in commodity prices.

John Rose, chief economist for the City of Edmonton, said the city’s economy came through the recession in relatively good shape.

Since January, Edmonton has seen a marked improvement in labour market conditions, including a turnaround in the city’s manufacturing sector, he said.

He noted about a quarter of jobs in Edmonton are in education, health care and public administration.

“While those areas don’t go down as quickly or as far as other sectors of the economy, particularly energy, they don’t bounce back quite as quickly,” Rose said.

Rose expects a return to GDP growth for Edmonton and for Alberta.

“I’m not aware of anyone who isn’t forecasting growth for the province of Alberta in the range somewhere from the low two per cent range … all the way up to 3.3 per cent,” he said.

Rose said his forecasts are on the modest end — 2.3 per cent growth for the province and 1.7 per cent for the city of Edmonton.