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Scariest Risks of 2016

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 31, 2016

Click here for the article site.


As Halloween nears, people’s thoughts inevitably turn to ghoulies and ghosties, and long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night. At the Wire we take this opportunity to reflect on the scariest risks our clients faced this year.  Which one scares you most?  Take our poll at the end and let us know.

Tech, Media & Telecom: The Internet of Scary Things
by Jim Devoe

Last week showed us that the emergence of the Internet of Things can lead to frightening new variants of old threats. The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against a single company was able to take down major portions of the Internet. Reportedly 1 Terabit of data per second (akin to downloading the Library of Congress every 2 minutes) was hurled at the targeted company by hundreds of thousands (if not tens of millions) of baby monitors, DVRs, security cameras and similar devices—collectively making up the “Internet of Things” (IoT). The notion that baby monitors could be unwitting participants in a massive DDoS attack such as this is both alarming and not surprising. Awareness that this is possible is important. As we understand how the IoT works – that baby monitors, or DVRs, or any other intelligent devices are basically miniature “PCs” with less control and visibility to their owners – it’s not difficult to see how these devices could be hacked and misused. And awareness, of course, is the first step toward correction. 

Abrupt climate change
by Geoffrey Saville

Efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change are high on the agenda of governments and international organizations around the world. Last year, the milestone agreements made in Paris at COP21, have helped set us on a more sustainable and resilient path. However, the challenge to meet the target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial global average, looms large, and the future for generations to come will have to deal with our choices today. The insurance industry has a part to play in helping to build resilience to the extreme events, both in our current climate and in a future warmer world where extremes such as droughts, storms, floods and others, may occur more frequently. Science can help us quantify these changes and inform the best strategies for managing extreme risks. But scarier still is the concept of climate tipping points. One such theoretical example is a loss of permafrost due to Arctic warming leading to a release of stored methane into the atmosphere. Being a highly effective greenhouse gas, this methane release could conceivably accelerate global warming, to induce a runaway effect known as the ‘clathrate gun hypothesis’, and could thereby bring about an abrupt change of climate state within a human lifetime. There are many theories that describe similar climate ‘tipping points’, which would make adaptation more difficult, so the best way to avoid these would be through mitigating climate change, but this presents different challenges. There is no “silver bullet” solution to climate change, and it is likely to be a concerted effort that makes the difference. By furthering climate impact research, fostering multisectoral partnerships, developing new financial tools to provide climate resilience, and supporting climate conscious investments, the insurance and reinsurance industries have great potential to contribute to this global challenge. 

Transportation: Dependence on third parties
by Mark Hue-Williams

In the era of the alliance, the potential for third-party risks looms large for the transportation sector. Like phantoms, the threat they pose often remains hidden until it is too late. As the collapse of Hanjin Shipping taught participants in the global maritime supply chain, every member is vulnerable to the weaknesses of its partners and, through them, the partners they may not know they have. In Hanjin’s case, many beneficial cargo owners who had no commercial contract with the Korean carrier had their goods held hostage on stranded ships as creditors circled, reputations were tarred and customers fumed. But how well can you know your partners in a commercial environment where they also operate as your competitors? The answer is: too often, not well enough. In the connected world of the transport provider, the more partners a business has, the more risks it assumes. Even the most robust company must assume their partners’ appetite for risk, awareness of risk and their ability to defend against it. When airlines make promises to their customers about frequent-flier plans, their reputations rely on their partners’ ability to deliver; when a rail carrier compiles consumer credit card numbers, their security relies on the strength of shared platforms; and when shipping lines promise delivery dates, it is their partners who often fulfill those obligations. As commercial pressures continue to fuel the pursuit of economies of scale, alliances and partnerships will continue to multiply and the hidden risks will grow. So companies will be known by the company they keep. 

Health care industries: Flooding exacerbating Zika
by Deana Allen

Another communicable disease made headlines this year with the Zika outbreak and it is not over yet. The recent tropical storms and hurricanes (with high probability of more) left many with flooding and standing water. This is the perfect breeding environment for mosquitos. The CDC has reported there are over 2,475 pregnant women with lab evidence of possible Zika virus, which can cause devastating birth defects. There are still unanswered questions concerning the spread of Zika and the potential long-term health effects. Zika also continues to cause disruption in the travel and hospitality industries. Many countries and cities have been hard hit as their economies are dependent on tourism and business travel. Communicable diseases will continue to be a “scary” issue for our world for many years to come and its citizens must work together to prevent, educate and overcome these outbreaks. 

Cyber risk: Cyber extortion takes a turn for the even nastier
by Jamie Monck-Mason

The cyber criminal’s modus operandi of choice in 2016 has undoubtedly been the use of ransomware – i.e. encrypting or locking an organisation’s computer system and then demanding a ransom to decrypt or release it. Whilst the technology has been there for years, the last 12-18 months has seen a dramatic increase in its adoption. The Australian Government has claimed that 72% of surveyed businesses had been victims of ransomware attack in 2015, and leading cyber security experts Kaspersky Lab estimates that ransomware attacks increased fivefold in the 12 months leading up to March 2016. And yet something approaching 50% of cyber insurance policies offer no ransomware protection at all: such policies typically cover only extortion demands by hackers threatening a future attack, rather than where the attack has taken place and the ransom is demanded so as to bring the adverse effects to an end. And that’s before one considers the legality of paying ransoms to criminals who may be subject to sanctions; or the practical implications of notifying law enforcement agencies (as typically required by cyber insurers) in jurisdictions where the inevitable response is to seize all the victim organisation’s computer hardware as evidence. And if that’s not scary enough, just imagine the potential for ransomware attacks on autonomous cars, e-enabled aircraft and perhaps electronic medical implants. Be afraid; be very afraid! So what can one do to protect against ransomware? The FBI amongst other agencies provides some useful tips covering the basics, but no defence is watertight. Hence the value of appropriately worded cyber insurance policies (rather than many un-vetted off-the-shelf products).

Terrorism: Lone wolves
by Rohini Sengupta

As our world becomes increasingly more connected, it no longer takes a coordinated effort on behalf of terrorist groups to inflict terrible damage on societies across the globe. With the advent of interconnected communication systems like social media, recent terror attacks have been largely conducted by a single or small group of assailants not specifically associated with terror groups, but simply inspired by terrorist ideology. Terror attacks in 2016 no longer have the same profile as attacks in 1990 or 2001: recent events also demonstrate a shift from targeting property toward inflicting mass casualties — from the November 2015 Paris attacks to the San Bernardino Shootings, the Orlando Shootings, and the July 2016 attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh. As recent events signal a shift away from large property damage, we have seen a spate of new product offerings looking to cover the gaps in coverage that result from insuring terrorism from just a property-based lens. New products, such as active assailant coverage, which does not require property damage to trigger business interruption cover, are helping insureds protect themselves from the changing nature of terrorism. 

Energy: Real-life destruction from cyber attack
by Robin Somerville

From an energy industry perspective, the scariest risk in 2016 is an offshore cyber-attack leading to significant property destruction, pollution and loss of life on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2017. The potential exposure, running into multiple billions of dollars, may well be enough to threaten the very viability of the affected company. To date, no viable risk transfer solution exists for such an eventuality; not only is offshore cyber risk cover involving physical loss or damage virtually non-existent, but even if it existed, current insurance market capacity for business interruption, pollution liability and operators extra expense – approximately US$1.5-2 billion — are in themselves unlikely to be sufficient to absorb such a risk. 

Natural catastrophe: Large volcanic eruption in Europe
by Rosa Sobradelo

Most dangerous and explosive volcanoes erupt at intervals of several decades or more – long enough for populations and businesses to become established within range. In Europe alone we have two large “currently dormant but potentially active” dangerous volcanoes—Vesuvius (Italy) and Teide (Spain) —with traced records of major explosive and violent eruptive behavior. These volcanoes could reawake at any time in the near future. The modest eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland in 2010 caused millions of pounds in losses from international business interruption owing to the closure of air routes across Europe. A scary thought is to think about the damage, losses and devastation that a large volcanic eruption from Teide or Vesuvius could cause to the European economy, as well as the impact on global climate and the threat from secondary perils such as tsunamis, pyroclastic flows, lahars and landslides. We need to raise awareness of volcanic risk and look at ways of enhancing safety and resilience, especially when living in the shadow of a volcano. 

Captives: Base erosion and profit shifting – the bogeyman under the bed
by Alexandra Gedge

For some, Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) may be causing nightmares, but should it be? BEPS is the OECD’s response to tackling tax avoidance on an international scale, with captive insurance companies specifically referenced on the BEPS target list. However, is it really as scary as it seems? After all, BEPS merely formalises some good practice that, for most captive owners, is already in place. Take a few sensible steps, and BEPS needn’t cause sleepless nights. Like the bogeyman, the ‘threat’ might be more imaginary than you think.

Reinsurance: A turn to a hard market
by Jens Peters

This ought to scare all of our clients across all lines of business, not only the sophisticated insurance buyers we come across in the alternative risk transfer (ART) space. Recent commentary suggests that we are approaching, if not already past(!), the bottom of the insurance cycle. Swiss Re’s Group Chief Underwriting Officer, Mathias Weber, made such comments at the recent “Rendez Vous de Septembre” in Monte Carlo. Many market experts seem to agree with him. A major event, or a combination of significant events, will decrease supply of both traditional and alternative capital. The consequences could be dramatic and include increased price and limited cover – per definition a turn of the market. This is a scenario every risk manager will be nervous about. Those who may be a little less scared probably have explored alternative risk transfer solutions and locked in portions of their risk cover as long-term deals (three to five years) — one way to hedge against price volatility. 

U.S. financial institutions: The Hill has eyes
by Richard Magrann-Wells

Capitol Hill has been one of the scariest spots on earth for financial executives this year. In any election year politicians are anxious to make headlines, and this year financial institutions have been a favorite scapegoat for both parties. Dodd-Frank now makes senior management more liable for problems at their institutions (as well as potentially putting their compensation at risk). A subpoena to appear before a congressional investigatory committee, especially if it means responding to allegations of malfeasance or mismanagement, should terrify any sane executive. Grandstanding politicians with the opportunity to browbeat well-compensated financial institution executives – well, that’s a dream for ambitious politicians and a nightmare for financial executives. The best way to chase away these nightmares is transparency. Clear policies, strong controls and independent audit staff will help keep those scary politicians at bay. 

U.K. executive risk: Reputation rot
by Francis Kean

It’s your reputation, stupid! We’ve all heard about the personal liability exposure for senior managers caught up in regulatory investigations and enquiries in the post-financial crash era. But what about the risk that your reputation becomes tarred by association with a big loss or scandal without you first having had an opportunity even to put your side of the case? Against the rules of natural justice? Well, that’s one of the arguments which will be run by a manager formerly in charge of the London office of one of the world’s largest investment banks in the infamous London Whale case, which is due to be heard by the U.K. Supreme Court before the end of this year. An even greater element of this nightmare scenario is that many D&O polices do not provide this type of protection for reputational expenses for managers in the absence of a claim. 

U.K. construction: Brexit
by Peter London

Uncertainties about the impact of BREXIT weigh heavily in the boardrooms of U.K. construction and property sector businesses. Will investment disappear and projects be cancelled? Will significant design changes be necessary to manage a limited investment? Time will tell, but for now uncertainty is about the only certainty. And financial uncertainty is, for most businesses, their single biggest fear. Much of the U.K. Government’s pipeline of GBP51bn of projects was uncertain even before the 23 June 2016 vote. Some 60% of this pipeline relies on private sector investment, now likely jeopardised by the current climate. Will foreign investment fall away given the doubt about the shape of future trade agreements between the U.K. and the E.U.? Large infrastructure projects will lose a key source of funding – the European Investment Bank (made up of E.U. Members) lent EUR5.5bn to U.K. infrastructure projects in 2015. Previously approved projects will likely proceed, but obtaining approval going forward will certainly get harder. Confidence is needed to encourage investment and promote stability. Perhaps the Government’s decision on Hinckley Point is a step in the right direction – on that front at least.

Brazil: Terrorism
by Alvaro Igrejas

The scariest risk in 2016 for P&C in Brazil was terrorism, as the country hosted the Olympics. Government and businesses have had to contemplate the heightened threat of terrorists targeting the country. Transport facilities, stadiums, shopping malls, hotels, hospitals, storage tanks of flammable materials, bridges, tunnels, tourist attractions, water treatment and supply plants, and offices of iconic brands were all on higher alert. The risk and the product got the attention of media and customers. 

Human capital: Rumor as communication strategy
by Lisa Beyer

The scariest communication risk is not sharing benefits information with your employees on a regular and consistent basis — relying instead on spooky “water cooler” conversations to fill in the gaps. This can lead to “scary” misunderstandings and even more horrifying rumors. To foster employee engagement, ensure understanding, and help employees understand those mysterious benefits and use them wisely, strive to communicate year round. A communications plan with a production schedule will minimize your toil and trouble and keep the information hounds at bay. 

U.S. health and group benefits: HIPAA audits
by Jay Kirschbaum

While we’ve spent the better part of the last 6 years being scared by the next ACA shoe to drop (and that might still be scary), employers have new compliance issues to be wary about. The recent EEOC guidance on wellness plans and their interaction with the ADA and GINA caused many to have sleepless nights as they upended the status quo. Even scarier perhaps is that the Office of Civil Rights in Health and Human Services is analyzing the results of their Phase II HIPAA audit programs. The goal is to then take the information and apply those findings to employer sponsored group medical plans generally. So, for employers who have not kept up to date with the HIPAA obligations of their group medical plans, they should not delay in getting those plans reviewed as the audit program may be rolled out at any time. 

U.S. compensation: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) updates
by Marina Galatro and Sara Ritter

On May 18, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued the long-awaited final regulations updating the overtime pay rules. The final regulations primarily focus on increasing the salary thresholds needed to qualify as an employee who is exempt from the FLSA’s overtime and reporting requirements. These new rules, increasing the minimum salary threshold to $913/week, will have a major impact on many employers as they extend the overtime protection to 4.2 million employees that were not previously covered – and employers have been scrambling to prepare all year. Effective December 1, 2016, how will these changes affect your organization and what do you need to do to prepare?

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Wake Up Call: Are You or Your Staff Tired at Work?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Have you ever gone out to take a nap in your car because you were too tired at work? Do you ever catch yourself — or your employees — sleeping at work?


If that caused you to yawn, you’re not alone. In an Accountemps survey of more than 1,000 U.S. workers, 74 percent of them say they’re often tired at work. This is particularly true for working parents, as they often have to pull a second shift of childcare and housework when they get home from their day job.


Working while tired hurts work performance. Survey respondents admit that when they’re tired at work, they lack focus or are easily distracted (52 percent), procrastinate more (47 percent), are grumpy (38 percent) and make more mistakes (29 percent). Being sleepy at work could be holding you back professionally. For employers, the consequences are potentially worse, as accounting mistakes could lead to missed deadlines, fines, audits and unhappy clients.


It’s time to wake up. Here are some tips to help you and your staff become more alert on the job.


How to be less tired at work

Though some work stress is positive according to a Robert Half survey, some accounting and finance professionals put in long, hard hours. It’s important to take care of yourself so you don’t burn out and crash.


  • Limit device time. Face it: If you’re sleeping at work, you’re not getting enough zzz’s at home. One of the top time bandits today are mobile devices. These gadgets are filled with games, news, social interactions and endless opportunities to go down the rabbit hole. For those who are regularly tired at work, be disciplined enough to put away your tablet or smartphone after 10 p.m. and go to bed.
  • Feed your body well. Oftentimes, you’re tired at work because good nutrition and hydration aren’t priorities. To be in top form at the office, you should eat a good breakfast, drink sufficient fluids, take time out for lunch and have an energy-dense snack in the mid-afternoon.
  • Get up and move. Your desk job may be harmful to your health, so make it a point to not be so sedentary during the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Every hour or so, stand up and shake off the lethargy. Rather than sleeping at work, go outside and take a brisk walk around the block. Some smart watches even tell you when it’s “time to stand” by monitoring your heart rate.
  • Use caffeine wisely. While some caffeine may help you stay alert, be sure to limit your caffeine intake in the late afternoon, or you may have trouble falling asleep at night.

How to help your staff be less tired at work

Managers can’t force their employees get enough shut-eye, but they can help in other ways:

  • Lead by example. Staff tend to follow their manager’s lead in many areas, including work tendencies. So use up your vacation days instead of banking them. Take a real lunch break. Don’t come in too early or stay too late.
  • Allow flexibility in the workplace. If you have good employees who are always tired, it may be to your advantage to accommodate their needs. For example, you could let them work remotely to eliminate their long commute, giving them more time to rest.
  • Maximize the work environment. An overly warm or dark office can lead to sleeping at work – so adjust the thermostat and lighting as necessary. Brainstorm other ways to help workers be healthier and less tired at work. Rather than donuts and fun-size candies, you could provide energy-dense snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, beef jerky or mixed nuts.
  • Limit evening emails. Is it common for employees to check and respond to messages after work? If so, this habit could be cutting into their rest time. You may want to consider a policy that discourages or limits after-hours communication.

When you make it a point to take care of yourself and/or your finance staff, the rewards will be greater job satisfaction and productivity.


This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of senior-level accounting, finance and business systems professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at Follow our blog at


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New Job? 7 Tips to Soar Through Your First 90 Days

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 22, 2016

Between meeting new people and mastering different software, the start of a finance or accounting job is a busy and exciting time. However, you’re not the only one learning. Your new boss and colleagues are watching and scrutinizing your performance during the first few months to learn whether you’re a keeper.


How long do most employers take to decide whether new hires will make the cut? According to a recent Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey, up to 90 days is common. The majority of CFOs interviewed — 54 percent — give newcomers between one and three months to prove themselves, and 9 percent allot less than 30 days.


This means you have little time to make a solid impression when beginning a new accounting position. Here are seven tips to help you make the best first impression:


1. Get a head start. Your first day on the job may be the official start date, but don’t let that be when you start to learn about the position or the company. You will have already investigated the employer as part of your job search. Now that you’ve accepted the job offer, go further:

· Read up on the company’s main competitors.

· Familiarize yourself with the accounting platforms you’ll be using.

· Go on the company’s website and start memorizing future colleagues’ faces and names.


2. Be more than prompt. Demonstrate your dedication to the new job by not just showing up on time, but early. Not only will your boss be impressed by your enthusiasm and commitment, but you can use the extra 10 to 15 minutes to plan your day, study onboarding materials, review training notes and jot down questions or comments you have about the position or company.


3. Ask for help. Some new employees think asking questions might make them appear amateurish. While you don’t want to be repetitive or a nuisance, you do need information that veteran employees take for granted.


Take advantage of the leeway you’ll be given at the start of your probation period to learn as much as you can. In most cases, your colleagues would be happy to help and share their knowledge. Asking for help is also a good way to get to know your coworkers and build relationships.


4. Watch your business etiquette. Good manners are always important in a workplace setting, but they’re especially key during when you are beginning a new job. The last thing you want is to commit a faux pas that makes your boss and colleagues think less of your capabilities or question whether you’ll be easy to work with.


Here are a few etiquette tips to keep in mind:

· Say “please” and “thank you.”

· Practice good cubicle etiquette, such as respecting your coworkers’ space and office supplies and keeping noise to a minimum.

· Polish up your conference call etiquette. A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to what your supervisor and coworkers do, and follow their lead.

5. Steer clear of politics. The longer you’re in your new job, the more likely you’ll encounter office politics. It’s best to listen and learn but not get involved or take sides, most especially during your first 90 days.


The same goes for discussions about local and federal elections. While a recent Accountemps survey shows some workers feel that talking politics at work could be informative, the majority believe these discussions can get heated and offend others.

6. Be social. Your new coworkers’ feedback plays an important part in letting managers know whether you’re a good match for the corporate culture. One way to quickly fit into your new workplace is to be friendly and outgoing. So accept those invitations for coffee or after-work drinks, even if you’re a natural introvert. Rather than eating at your desk all the time, take a lunch break with coworkers or non-finance colleagues. The deeper your professional relationships, the better you’ll fit in at the new workplace.


7. First adapt, and then improve. One of the reasons you were hired was for your expertise. However, the first few months as a new hire is not the time to be a know-it-all. Rather, this is a time to watch, ask questions, listen and learn. Only after you understand the new employer’s methodologies and culture should you suggest changes.

It’s in everybody’s interests that you thrive in your job and settle in as a valued member of the team. Let your boss and colleagues know you’re a keeper by demonstrating enthusiasm, professionalism and diplomacy.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of senior-level accounting, finance and business systems professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at Follow our blog at


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How to Manage a Multigenerational Workforce

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 19, 2016

In any company where a wide range of experience exists, chances are you also have a multigenerational workforce. Your finance department likely has baby boomer controllers, Gen X tax managers, Gen Y financial analysts and Gen Z payroll specialists. They may have a lot in common, however being formed by the decade in which they came of age, they also have varying outlooks, values, communication preferences and work styles.


If you’re the manager of this disparate group — and depending on which generation you fall in — you may wonder about how to lead such a wide range of ages. Here are four tips on how to lead a multigenerational workforce.


1. Understand the various generations


To manage a multigenerational workforce, you have to know what makes them tick. The four generations in today’s workforce have unique preferences, from general behavior to decision-making processes.

  • Baby boomers (born 1946–1964) are work-centric, independent, tend to challenge the rules and have a somewhat guarded communication style.
  • Gen X (born 1965–1977) grew up in the boomers’ shadows. They’re a little cynical, a lot individualistic and are highly adaptable to change.
  • Gen Y (born 1978–1989) came of age as internet technology emerged and dominated their world. They tend to prioritize family, friends and teamwork.
  • Gen Z (born 1990–1999) are tech natives. They have never known a world without the internet, are constant communicators and, having seen their parents weather the Great Recession, desire stability.

Of course, not every member of these generations can be neatly categorized; there’s a wide range of behaviors within each group. These are general tendencies that can provide business leaders with useful insights about how to manage a multigenerational workforce.


2. Promote a mutually respectful workplace


For millennials (a term that refers to both Gen Y and Gen Z combined) to work well with older generations, they have to get to know each other on more than just a superficial level. According to Get Ready for Generation Z, a white paper from Robert Half and Enactus, 45 percent of Gen Zers expect working with baby boomers to be difficult. They’re concerned they will be seen as “kids” and won’t be taken seriously. Similarly, boomers may be puzzled by the communication preferences and work ethics of the youngest working generation, and are afraid they will be seen as old-fashioned or irrelevant.


As a manager of an accounting or finance group, one of your roles is to strengthen work relationships and promote camaraderie. Help the generations mix, mingle and learn about each other with team-building activities. Promote the mindset that each generation has much to offer the team. Be generous with your acknowledgement of different cohorts’ contributions. Your employees reflect senior management’s values, so make sure you’re setting a good example.


3. Provide professional development throughout the organization


Your Gen Z workers are eager to learn and rapidly advance their careers. In fact, our research shows that 56 percent of Gen Z respondents want to be working their way up the corporate ladder or managing employees within five years of graduating from college. This go-getting generation of accountants will need some help getting there. Set them up for success by giving them plenty of opportunities and resources to develop their communication skills, office etiquette, customer service abilities and aptitude for leadership.


Gen Z isn’t the only generation that can benefit from continuing professional education and development. Seminars and workshops are effective ways to provide team-wide training. They keep everyone up to speed on the newest developments in the accounting and finance fields. Most survey respondents cited in The People Puzzle, a report from Robert Half and the American Institute for CPAs, said they prefer in-person training opportunities such as on-site workshops (28 percent) and off-site conferences or seminars (23 percent). Encouraging staff to attain professional certifications helps your department gain a deeper knowledge base.


4. Establish mentoring programs


Mentoring is an excellent means of solidifying the bonds of a multigenerational workforce. A recent Robert Half survey found that while 86 percent of CFOs interviewed say it’s important to have a mentor, only 26 percent of workers have one.


If your accounting firm or finance department doesn’t have a mentoring program, start one. If you have one but it’s inactive, it’s time to resurrect it. You should also encourage reverse mentorships, where Gen Yers and Gen Zers teach senior staff a thing or two about areas where they have expertise, such as social media best practices.


Helping members of a multigenerational workforce interact smoothly and productively is a must-do for managers today. Understanding that all employees — from boomer to Gen Z — have much to offer a company will allow you to make the best use of everyone’s talents.


This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of senior-level accounting, finance and business systems professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at Follow our blog at

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6 Tips for Fostering Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 21, 2016

For a tight team of workers with similar backgrounds, collaboration might come easy. But what about projects that bring together professionals from your IT and finance divisions? A recent Robert Half Management Resources survey found that CFOs and CIOs are working together more today than they did three years ago. Cross-functional collaboration is also occurring more often at the staff level.


Working closely with other departments offers many benefits, such as less red tape and more streamlined processes. That’s not to say you won’t encounter differences along the way, such as friction among staff with unique viewpoints on approaches to problems, distinct work styles and skill sets. So how do you, the manager, go about facilitating collaboration between a group that includes an opinionated auditor, an introverted IT professional and a particularly spirited business analyst? Accounting managers can play a major role in fostering cross-departmental collaboration. Here are six ways you can bring a diverse group together:


Collaboration tip #1: Minimize industry lingo


Ask your staff to minimize accounting jargon and industry shorthand. For example, if the finance and tech departments are working on customizing your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, go easy on potentially confusing terminology like contra accounts and AR/AP. Similarly, if the other department starts throwing around an alphabet soup of acronyms, step up and ask for clarification.


Collaboration tip #2: Strengthen inter-departmental bonds


To promote collaboration, consider including some fun activities so people get to know one another, such as this icebreaker: Have each participant email you a picture of their spirit animal in advance of a group meeting, and then put the images into PowerPoint. As everyone introduces themselves, display their image and have them explain why they identify with that particular animal.

Other ways to foster collaboration:

  • Offer a brown-bag lunch topic such as, “Everything you wanted to know about accounting but were afraid to ask.”
  • Plan social events — off-site lunches, bowling nights, catching a baseball game — and invite one department at a time to join you.
  • Team up with other divisions on company-wide volunteer projects.


Collaboration tip #3: Give all workers a voice


Typically, when you gather people together — some will dominate the conversation while others will hang back. Do your best to encourage more introverted members of the group to contribute to the discussion. You can do this by simply suggesting, “Let’s listen to some ideas from someone we haven’t heard from.” In addition, remind your team that you welcome feedback via email, in person or by phone.

Collaboration tip #4: Show staff the bigger picture


Some of your accountants may have a hard time understanding why they need to collaborate with other departments or how their role factors into the company’s success. Help them break out of this silo mindset. Encourage collaboration by asking a leader from another department to give your team a presentation on what their group does, and include a Q&A afterwards. Or, if a finance staff member needs to work closely with IT, sales or marketing, arrange a job shadowing experience so they can learn firsthand about their colleague’s role.


Collaboration tip #5: Nip conflicts in the bud


Team members are bound to disagree now and then, especially if they come from different departments. Individuals can work out small conflicts on their own, but bigger ones may require management to step in. If you observe a conflict taking root, step in before it escalates. It may require that you reassign teams.

Collaboration tip #6: Celebrate together


A party is a great way to mark major milestones or the end of the completion of a big project. Be sure to recognize the entire group’s efforts and acknowledge their hard work. Give kudos to outstanding staff — from accounting as well as other departments — who went above and beyond. Celebrations and gratitude can boost morale and improve job satisfaction and retention.


With cross-departmental collaboration, your team might include a mix of wallflowers and social butterflies, critical thinkers and creative types, planners and spontaneous decision makers. But they all share one ideal: They’re professionals in their respective fields and they’re here to make the company and its product better. Your job as a manager is to highlight their strengths and foster collaboration that is pleasant, productive and profitable.


This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of senior-level accounting, finance and business systems professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at Follow our blog at  


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AAFCPAs Announcements

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 18, 2016


AAFCPAs, Westborough/Boston/Wellesley, MA announced that:

  • Amber Aubin, Daniel Cahill, Patrick Coakley, Nicholas Foresti, David Gravel, David Mercer, Sheng Wu, and Maggie You have been promoted to Supervisor.
  • Sabrina Bleakney, Morgan Buckley, Ryan DeCinto, Taylor Ezold, CJ Gheringhelli, Tom Haggerty, Pauline Legor, Matthew Murphy, Leanne Precopio, Jared White, and Elizabeth Wright have been promoted to Senior.
  • James Carlise, Grace Carter, Colleen Cavalier, Tiffany Coulam, Allison Cree, Anna Degtyareva, David Eidle, Jr, Allison Graham, Jennifer L'Heureux, Rachel McClain, Kasey Moran, Sandy Tarasiak, and Cody Wopschall have been promoted to Semi-Senior.



  • AAFCPAs, Westborough/Boston/Wellesley, MA announced that:
  • Managing Director Davide Villani, CPA joined a panel of IRS and DOL professionals providing guidance on 401(k) and 403(b) retirement plan compliance at an event hosted by Mayflower Advisors LLC and MA Jump$tart Coalition.
  • Partner James Jumes presented at the IAPA International European Conference in Vienna on SOC Reporting
  • Partner John Buckley presented a Fraud Risk Assessment Workshop at the Institute for Nonprofit Management & Leadership (INML)
  • Partner Jeffrey Mead, CPA, CGMA will present an educational workshop for the benefit of accounting academia at the American Accounting Association (AAA) 2016 Northeast Region Meeting in October 2016. 



  • Donna Angelico, Director of Talent Management, and her team, The Treasured Chests, were one of Boston’s top fundraising teams this year in the AVON 39 challenge!  They have raised an impressive $104,219.99 to date through the Avon Walk!
  • AAFCPAs participated in the 2016 Thousand for Thousand campaign by ALS ONE to help fund a cure and treatment for ALS.
  • Partnering with Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester (HFH MWGW), Tracy Howell, Lauren Duplin, Kristen Dubois, Aileen Wilson, and Allison Cree volunteered on a new affordable housing project as part of the Massachusetts Society of CPAs Day of Service.  Matthew Boyle, Kerrie Gondola, Norma Mendilian, David Consigli, Brendan Lawrence, Tiffany Coulam, and Jeanie Gorlovsky-Schepp volunteered their time performing kitchen preparation at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter.


  • How Brexit May Impact Your Investments - AAFCPAs Wealth Management suggests that you meet with your wealth advisor to discuss your investment strategy. Read More >>
  • Mass Murder May Lead to Charity Scams and Identity Theft - AAFCPAs reminds clients that identity thieves work year-round, but often take advantage of emotional appeals or disasters in the news. Read More >>
  • 10 Things I Know About Diversity - Carla McCall, Co-Managing Partner, CPA, CGMA "Entrepreneurs emerge from every culture. To work with them, your team needs to understand where they're coming from (literally)". Read More >>
  • How to Plan for the Future - Carla McCall, Co-Managing Partner, CPA, CGMA “To plan for what is ahead, you need to see where the change is coming from and where your business is pointed.” Read More >>

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Ready to Rehire? How to Bring Back Former Employees

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 20, 2016

Would you rehire a former employee? If so, you’re not alone: A recent Accountemps survey found that 98 percent of human resources managers would welcome back a worker who had left the company on good terms.


Sometimes called “boomerang employees,” rehired workers come with plenty of benefits. They already understand the company and they don’t need as much hand-holding. Also, you’re familiar with their talents, skill set, personality and corporate fit, minimizing your chances of making a costly bad hire. In fact, boomerang employees can be such an asset that some managers and HR departments choose to keep in contact with their “alumni” as a way to recruit passively.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re considering hiring boomerang employees, along with a few tips for integrating them back into the office:

When to rehire


Of course, you wouldn’t rehire former workers who left on bad terms. But it’s not always the right move to ask top performers to come back, either. Here are a few things to think about when former employees want to return:

  • Why did the person resign from your company in the first place? If the employee left to take a higher-level position elsewhere, then rehiring him for an even more senior role could be a smart move — he’ll likely have valuable new skills and experience to bring to the job. The same is true if the employee stepped down to further his education or attain a new certification. . Also, if you reluctantly let someone go during downsizing, it’s wise to consider a rehire during a boom period.

However, if the employee resigned because he was dissatisfied with an aspect of the job

— the salary, benefits package, management, coworkers or company culture, for example

— and the situation has not changed, it’s probably not wise to rehire him. There’s a good chance he’ll soon find himself unhappy on the job again.

  • Do you need someone to step in right away? Rehiring former employees can be useful when you have a time-sensitive assignment or need to replace a departing worker as soon as possible. They’re a known entity, so you don’t have to spend time checking their references or doing multiple rounds of interviews.
  • What does your current team say? When you’re considering a rehire, reach out to the employees who worked closely with the person the first time around. They may have insights into the person’s skills and fit for the workplace environment that you weren’t aware of.


How to approach rehiring


Even though boomerang employees can be great additions to your staff, there are right and wrong ways to rehire someone. Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:

  • DO meet with other candidates. Even if you think the former worker is the ideal person for the open position, it never hurts to interview other candidates, as well. There might be one who’s an even better fit for the job, or one who’d make a good candidate for another open position at your company.
  • DON’T skip the formal interview. People change. A former employee may have new professional goals or constraints that prevent him from fulfilling certain job duties, such as traveling or working the occasional late night. Also, if a boomerang employee has been gone a long time, his skills may not be as sharp. Use the interview process to dig deeper, especially if the person is applying for a role that’s different from the one he previously held.
  • DO clarify expectations. A returning employee may have preconceptions about the role she’s applying for, based on what it was like when she used to be on staff. If the job duties have evolved or new skills are required, make sure to explain that.
  • DON’T forget about other options. There are many types of work arrangements. If you can’t offer the former employee a full-time position, consider using her talents as a part-time worker, contractor or project professional.
  • DO keep the door open. Even if you decide against rehiring a former employee, or the person declines the job offer, stay in touch. You never know when circumstances — or minds — will change.

As with any job candidate, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits when contemplating a rehire. The opportunity to bring back a former top worker might be welcome, but don’t neglect doing your due diligence before you make the hire.


This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of senior-level accounting, finance and business systems professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at Follow our blog at


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Management Advice: Time For a Career Path Discussion With Your Team?

Posted By Robert Half Management Resources , Monday, May 23, 2016

Do you spend enough time talking to your staff about their career paths? Probably not, according to a recent survey from global staffing firm Robert Half, which found many employees want to spend more time discussing their future. Of the 1,200 accounting and finance professionals polled, 93 percent said they would like to talk about their career path on a regular basis, yet 40 percent said they never have this conversation with their managers. 

The benefits of career path direction
Career planning should be a vital part of any staff retention strategy. Employees are more likely to stay at a company if they feel there is a long-term plan in place for their professional future. Otherwise, they’re liable to take matters into their own hands and look for a job elsewhere. 

As a manager, touch base with your staff on a regular basis to ensure they’re satisfied with their position and career path.

Frequency of career path discussions
Many employers will include career progression as part of an annual review. This may not be enough, though: 48 percent of respondents in the survey said they would like to discuss their career path quarterly or even more frequently. 

So how often should you have a career path talk with staff? There’s no one-size-fits-all schedule, but the answer may be as often as they want to discuss it. 

How to talk about a career path
If you’re among the many managers who have never had a career path discussion with employees, or if you do so irregularly, here are some tips:


  • Uncover goals. Some staff members, especially those at the beginning of their professional journey, need guidance in turning their goals into a tangible career plan. As a manager, ask questions to discover what really motivates them such as: which type of work they are drawn to, if they would be interested in supervisory roles in the future and what weaknesses are holding them back. Work with your employees to define a career path that leads to clear, attainable goals.
  • Help them along the way. When you outline career path objectives, you undertake partial responsibility for helping employees achieve those goals. This means mentorships, training, on-the-job experience and perhaps another degree or certification. If they’re on a management track, professional development can help staff members acquire the leadership skills and general business acumen they’ll need later in their career.
  • Be realistic about opportunities. As with all plans or promises, you shouldn’t make them unless you think you can deliver. It’s best to be transparent and open about the opportunities that will — and will not — be available. For example, if the company won’t be able to offer reimbursement for an MBA, or if there are no senior-level vacancies expected in the next five years, be up front about it. So as to not discourage ambitious accounting professionals, talk about the opportunities you anticipate will become available.
  • Mix formal and informal chats. Even if you and your staff discuss their formal career plan only once a year during performance review time, you can have casual talks more often. Go out for coffee and ask how it’s going and whether they feel they’re on track to meet their goals. Take the time to show you’re interested in their career progression. 

You should never experience turnover due to the lack of career planning. With the cost and time associated with recruiting new finance professionals, as well as the even greater toll of losing top talent, it’s in your best interest to prioritize career path discussions.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of senior-level accounting, finance and business systems professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at Follow our blog at  


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Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 18, 2016

AAFCPAs is an attractive alternative to the Big 4 and National CPA firms. We provide best-value assurance, tax, business consulting, and information technology advisory solutions to nonprofit organizations, commercial companies, wealthy individuals, and estates. Since 1973, AAF’s sincere approach to business and service excellence has attracted discerning clients along with the best and brightest CPA and consulting professionals. AAF donates 10% of its net profits annually to nonprofit organizations. Learn more at:

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Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 18, 2016

AAFCPAs, Westborough/Boston/Wellesley, MA announced that:

  • Co-Managing Partner Carla McCall was honored with International 2016 ATHENA Leadership Award, and has been appointed as Chair of the Board of the MSCPA;
  • Partner Matthew Troiano, CPA, joined the Board of Directors for Tailored For Success, Inc.;
  • Nonprofit Tax Attorney Josh England, Esq. presented Lawyers Clearinghouse’s Legal Workshop for Nonprofits: Online Fundraising:  Is Your Nonprofit in Compliance;
  • David Consigli, Jr., CPA, ABV, Director of Business Valuations, Presented at Massachusetts Bar Association Event in Boston discussing “Collaborative Law, Case Evaluation, And Hybrids: Designing The Dispute Resolution Process;”
  • Partner James Jumes, MBA, to present at the IAPA International European Conference in Vienna on Service Organization Controls reporting.

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