Contactless payments on the rise, the case for a 4-day workweek, 12 signs your firm is outdated, and more

Show Notes

Join Blake and David at the Practice Ignition QBC Precon Party! — It’s November 4th (the night before QuickBooks Connect) Register here: https://landing.practiceignition.com/qbc-precon

From the mail bag: Heather Smith shares that Australia is introducing PAYID, an ID that allows people to direct payments independent of what bank you use. Should give Australians an amazing freedom to more easily change banks!

Worldpay Finds Contactless Payments Surpass Chip, Pin Card Purchases — PYMNTS.com

PayPal Posts 25 Pct Jump In Payments Volume — PYMNTS.com

The Case for a 4-Day Work Week — CPA Practice Advisor — “Nearly half (45 percent) of full-time workers say it should take less than five hours each day to do their job if they worked uninterrupted.” That’s from a survey of nearly 3,000 employees across eight countries conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated.

Microsoft Debuts Expense Management App — PYMNTS.com

Email Scammers Still Tripping Up Finance Personnel — CFO.com

12 signs that your firm is outdated — Journal of Accountancy

13 Important Questions to Ask Before You Sign Up With a SaaS Provider — Small Biz Technology

Transcript 

Cloud Accounting Podcast E41: Contactless payments on the rise, the case for a 4-day workweek, 12 signs your firm is outdated, and more

This episode of Cloud Accounting Podcast is sponsored by Elefant. As a listener of this show, I'm pretty sure you've already embraced technology, and practice efficiencies. But sometimes, it's hard to find training in those areas. Some of you look to your state societies to get CP credit, but those tend to be tax-, or audit-focused, and, quite frankly, from what I've heard, pretty boring.

Thankfully, our friends at Elefant have created education for tech-savvy accountants, and bookkeepers, like yourself. They offer training on platforms like Xero, QuickBooks, and Zapier, webinars on topics, like cryptocurrency, and firm marketing; have all-star instructors, who not only understand technology, but are using it to run their own practices.

Just for you, Elefant has a special offer for Cloud Accounting Podcast listeners. Visit ElefantTraining.com/CAP - that's E-L-E-F-A-N-T Training dot come slash CAP - to receive 50 percent off your first webinar. Again, that's ElefantTraining.com/CAP for 50 percent off your first webinar. Elefant, building better practices, one bite at a time.

Welcome to the Cloud Accounting Podcast, the show for accountants, and bookkeepers using cloud technology to make their jobs more strategic, and impactful. I'm Blake Oliver-.

And I'm David Leary.

David, we have some mail this week.

Yeah, let me get that. Yeah, so we got a mail. Let me open it up here. We got mail from Heather Smith, and it was a response-

All the way in Australia.

All the way in Australia, in response to our October 7th show. I think we were talking a little bit about switching banks. I don't remember all the details. Do you remember what we were speaking about?

Yeah, I think we were talking about FinTech disrupting banking relationships; making it easier, if you're using Bill.com, for example, to switch from B of A to Chase, or to your local bank, or whatever.

Okay, that's right. Heather alerted us of an app. It's not really an article, but there's an app in Australia. It's a standard, if you wanna call it that. It's called Pay (P-A-y) ID. You'd have your PayID.com/au/payBlake, and then, you would just have that URL forever. Then, if you switched Bank of America, to Wells Fargo, to whatever bank you change, you just keep that URL.

Got it.

It just makes changing banks super-super simple, and so-

It's like a web URL, right? I can go host my website anywhere, but if I own the domain name, I can point that domain to whatever website I've built.

100-percent correct. As a business, you could have that URL, and if you ever change banks, you don't have to tell all your customers, "Hey, now pay me through this other link." They just keep using the same link [crosstalk].

Account number, routing number, it doesn't matter anymore. There's a layer in between. That's really cool. Thank you, Heather, for letting us know about that. Australia, again, leading the way in FinTech.

Yeah, it took about two weeks for it to get here in the mail, but, we did open it up here in our paper mail. I'll put that away now.

Well, continuing on that trend, you've got some FinTech news that's very interesting, actually. I couldn't believe it.

Yeah, I think it's a twofer. I think there's two articles, and they're very, very closely related. WorldPay has started to discover that more, and more people are doing contactless payments. That's if you pay with your phone; you tap your card; you're paying with your PayPal at Home Depot. They're surpassing chip, and pin card, and swipes now.

This is like Apple Pay, right? I take my phone, I pay at the register, I don't have to pull out my card.

Exactly. It's starting to tip past that. Then, the other related article that's similar is PayPal. PayPal announced their numbers, and their numbers are way up. People are using PayPal. Really, I think the secret in there is Venmo is up. Volumes were up over 50 percent, now, to 36 billion.

I don't know how many of you have used Venmo, but it's very big with the millennials, so maybe you use it, Blake. I'm not sure.

We do, actually. We pay ... Well, everybody in our office uses it, which is ... Hardly any of us carry cash anymore, so, if you need to go get a carwash, or something, you just ... Somebody gives you 20 dollars, and you pay them with Venmo to reimburse them.

It's very popular. If you guys all went to dinner together, one person picks up the tab. Use Venmo to square up with that person for dinner.

Yep, exactly.

It's super-popular. I had some millennials renting a house from me, and they paid me in Venmo. I think this is important for our listeners, because you're probably gonna have, as an accountant, a small-business client coming to you soon, and saying, "Hey, I have customers that are asking me if they can pay me with Venmo." There's just too many people using it for that not to happen, so, put Venmo on your radar, if you don't have it on radar. That's the takeaway.

The way I think of it, or the way I tell people about it is that Venmo is like PayPal, but on your mobile phone. It's the new electronic payments for individuals, and, soon to be, businesses.

Yeah, and I think that's owned by PayPal, but then, what's ... The banks all got together; something called Zelle. Is that right? I don't use that, but ...

I use it sometimes. It's not as easy as Venmo, of course, because the banks developed it, but it's basically the same concept right of phone-to-phone payments. I have Bank of America, so I have Zelle already, by default.

You can't put emojis, or anything like that, when you use Zelle [crosstalk]

No, exactly. That's a Venmo thing. That's cool; that's crazy. To summarize, contactless payments are now surpassing chip, and pin, and PayPal is up 25 percent. Sounds like we're well ... Who knows how long it'll take for us to get rid of paper payments, here in the US, but we're on our way to getting rid of cash, and checks.

Yeah, it's a tipping point. That's what the quote was in this article.

Well, hey, speaking of the future, I've got an article here from CPA Practice Advisor, called, "The Case for the 4-Day Work Week," by Isaac O'Bannon, who is the managing editor over there.

It starts out with an amazing stat. This is from a study of 3,000 employees, across eight countries, by the Workforce Institute at Kronos. They found that nearly half of full-time workers say it should take less than five hours each day to do their job, if they worked uninterrupted.

I could agree with that. Sometimes, I felt like the last four hours of a week on Friday afternoon, when nobody's interrupting you, I would do an entire week of work in four hours. Sometimes, it felt like that. Yeah, I could buy into that.

Just think about, in a traditional office environment, where you're using email, and in-person meetings as your primary way of collaborating ... Think about how much time is wasted in meetings that people don't need to be in, and how much inefficiency there is from communicating via email, where conversations are siloed between two people. If somebody's not on the thread, they don't know.

I know this is true from my own experience, just based on having worked remotely in a remote firm. When you don't have the office as a crutch, you have to be more efficient. My wife's in the same situation. She works from home. She doesn't have to go to those pointless meetings that people have, when they're in the office. She gets her job done in definitely less than eight hours a day, but I didn't say that.

We'll have to delete that. Remind the editors, please pull out of the podcast.

Yeah, I hope my wife's boss is not listening.

Yeah, I kinda think it's funny, because it's like four-day work week. There's the famous book, "The Four-Hour Work Week." The Tim Ferriss game. It's like, "Accountants, just take the risk; just do a four-hour work week. Forget four days [crosstalk].

Accountants are conservative. We're just gonna cut it by 20 percent. That's actually a really reasonable amount. If you can cut the unnecessary work in your job by 20 percent, why not have a four-day work week? There are actually firms that do it.

There was a story ... We talked about this, I think. A firm in New Zealand that has moved permanently to a four-day work week, without increasing the hours, the other days, and it works.

You've had a firm, before. What would be your gut, like, "Hey, everybody just work Monday through Thursday, everybody have a three-day weekend," or do you kinda split your firm, like, "Hey, some of you guys, you're gonna work Monday ... or you got Monday off, and the rest of you are gonna have Friday off," and split their staff? Really, a lotta small businesses are your clients. They might still wanna communicate with you on one of those days, if nobody's in the office.

Yeah, it depends on how you work with your clients. Some people work with ... I was actually just listening to a podcast, where the CPA who was featured was talking about working with dentists. He likes working with dentists, because they tend not to work on Fridays, so, he doesn't have to work on Fridays, which is great.

Now, not everybody is going to be in that type of industry, serving those type clients. What my ideal setup is, it's where people are free to come, and go from the office. They have to be online, and available between certain hours, just so that you know you can reach them.

Instead of that being an eight-hour window, make that a six-hour window, or less, even - four to six hours that people are basically "at their desk." By 'at their desk,' it could mean simply being on Slack, or being present on Skype, or whatever.

That makes sense.

It could be like 10:00 to 4:00 ... People could have different schedules, too. They could be online ... Maybe somebody likes to work early, from 8:00, until 2:00, and then they go pick up their kids, or something like that. That kind of flexibility is so amazing, and allowed us to attract some really great employees by letting them cut out early, or sleep in - whatever they prefer.

Got it. That's good to know. I have another article. It's Microsoft. Everybody knows Microsoft, right? Microsoft's debuting an expense-management app. There's some background to that. I don't know, Blake, if you're familiar with MileIQ?

Yes, I love MileIQ. I've been using it for years now. They recently, I think last year, started an accountants program. If you haven't heard of MileIQ, go check it out. It's a great expense- well, mileage-tracking app.

I think Microsoft acquired them, it might be three years ago, already, now. I'm not positive on the exact time. It's been a while. Now, they have a new product coming out, called Spend. That's from the MileIQ team that built Spend.

Now, you're looking at ... Now, Microsoft's getting in that tracking mileage, and tracking your spending, really for those gig workers, those independent contractors, that just need to track things at that level.

That would be competing with QuickBooks Self-Employed. I think Receipt Bank, in the UK, has a product that's like this. I've probably seen another half-dozen products that are similar to this. "Hey, we track the mileage, and we track your spend." They're really going after those gig workers.

It's something to keep an eye on, because it is Microsoft, so, Microsoft's going to put money behind this. You're probably gonna ... It might show up in Windows 10, automatically, so you're probably gonna see clients using this, cuz they're just there's gonna get it automatically on their desktop from Microsoft. Just be aware that this could be coming.

It's a great bridge to accounting software for, like you said, freelancers who ... They might not be ready for a QuickBooks Online, or a Xero, or a Zoho. It's just overkill for them. They really just need something simple to track cash, expenses, mileage. Somebody's gonna win this battle.

Yeah, cuz I think the thing is, with those products, there's gonna be clients you're gonna take on that you're doing the accounting; month to month, or even daily bookkeeping for those clients, but, you probably have those clients that you see once a year, and all you do is file their business tax return.

If you can put them on a product, like QBC, the Spend product, or the products that are similar, and say, "Hey, just use this all year; Then, when you come see me, it's gonna take us 20 minutes to do your tax return."

So much better.

That's where it's a good fit, I think, is those people where you're not ... You don't have a monthly bookkeeping engagement, but you do do their business taxes. This probably makes a lotta sense.

I've got something, pivoting completely to a different size of business, going to public companies. This is an article that appeared in CFO.com, called "The Email Scammers Still Tripping Up Finance Personnel." It's about an SEC report that finds that internal accounting controls are failing to prevent companies from losing money to business-email fraud.

They called out, in particular, nine public companies. Each of the companies lost at least $1 million; two lost more than $30 million, and one lost more than $45 million. In total, these nine companies wired nearly 100 million as a result of frauds.

Wow.

Yeah, and these are not complicated frauds. This is your basic phishing-email fraud. Let me break that down for you. There's two types.

One, the hackers fake emails from executives. They spoof email domains, and they send an email to a chief accounting officer, to a VP of finance, to accounts-payable folks. It looks like it came from the CEO. Then, those folks say, "Oh, here are instructions from my CFO to work with this outside attorney, and wire a bunch of money," and they do it. That's the first type.

The second type is a little bit more complicated. It's where the fraudsters hack the email accounts of companies' existing vendors, and then insert illegitimate requests for payments into electronic communications, for otherwise legitimate transaction requests. They basically change out the account, and routing number, or the wire-transfer information. It's a little more sophisticated, because they have to know who the vendors are.

Still, in the big scheme of things, these are very, very basic scams that have been going on for years, and years, now. It's ridiculous, in my opinion, that this is still happening, especially with public companies.

I saw an article ... I wish, now, I woulda kept it, cuz you coulda put in the link, as well; literally about Microsoft. Some division of Microsoft has been paying some fraudulent invoices. Somebody just emails them in; like, "Hey, here's ..." I's an old scam from paper-invoices days. People'd just send fake paper invoices to big, huge companies. Some division of Microsoft was just paying these, not knowing it was just a complete fraud.

Yeah. There's a great example in this article of how difficult it can be to prevent ... All of these companies actually had documented internal controls that said that the accounting employees who sent these payments shouldn't have done it, but they ignored those controls, or they didn't understand the process.

One of these accounting employees, he misinterpreted the authorization matrix as giving him approval authority, at a level reserved for the CFO. In two instances, it was actually the chief accounting officer who initiated payments. In that case, there may not even have been a way to prevent it with control.

What's missing from this article, and what's missing, probably, from the SEC's report is, I think, something that's really important, which is you don't need to just document your internal control; as in, "Blake can't send a payment without David co-signing it electronically, or authorizing it." There needs to be some sort of technological barrier to sending a wire for millions of dollars without somebody also co-signing it electronically.

I am assuming that most of these companies, it's just somebody happens to have wire-transfer authority with the bank, and they can go, and make these payments.

My thought about this is, and it goes to conversations we've had before, where ... How come a small-business owner has access to these amazing tools ... Somebody like Bill.com could prevent this, right?

Yeah.

Small-business owners have it, but midmarket enterprise don't. Again, here's another example, they're not using the tools to have this approval process, where four people would get a notification for this payment, and they have to hit the Approved button on their phone, before it actually gets transferred.

That's all that needed to be in place for this not to happen. Actually, there's another thing that they could have done, which is, in their internal process for wire transfers, is not allow these, through email, to authorize them, right?

Don't use email?

Email is fundamentally insecure, or is it unsecured.

It's a postcard. Email's a postcard, folks. Think of it that way.

It would be so easy, for instance, to simply say that all payment requests from our CEO have to go through our internal chat tool, which is secure.

Yeah, it's a flaw. The funny thing is I feel like our listeners, in small businesses, in the QuickBooks, and the Xero world, they have these tools available, and they're cheap. Why enterprises are making these mistakes ...

Because, if they lost, I think you said ... What'd you in the beginning? A billion? Over a billion's been taken, or 100 million ... How much has been done in this?

Gosh, it's over $100 million.

Okay, so Bill.com-

That's just nine companies; nine companies in the report lost 100 million. I bet you that, of all public companies, there are many of these losses that go unreported.

Bill.com ... Here's a way for you to go get $50 million in revenue. Go to these nine companies, and sell them a $400,000 package. That's what you should do, Bill.com. This should solve it. It's so simple. It's amazing that this occurs. It's mind-boggling to me. Man, it hurts my head.

Moving on from public companies that are using outdated processes, let's talk about public accounting firms that are using outdated processes. This is an article that appeared in Journal of Accountancy, called "12 Signs That Your Firm is Outdated." Thank you to Ryan Lazanis for turning me on to this article on LinkedIn. It's a great list. 12 things ... If your firm is doing these things, it's outdated. Check out this full list. I'm just gonna call out some of my favorite items.

Number one, the firm mandates work in the office on Saturdays, during busy season, or mandates any specific timing, or location for extra busy-season work. Why make people come into the office, if they don't have to work, or if they don't have ... If they got all their work done? That's just cruel, if you ask me.

That's like that line from Office Space ... Office Space, the movie. "I need you to come in this weekend."

I think that used to be, back in the old days, when you had to have everybody in the office, in case there were questions. Now, you can just call somebody on the weekend, if you have a question, and you can't file the tax return without it.

Or use Slack, yeah.

Yeah use Slack. Number two, the administrative team, or client accounting professionals are sometimes referred to as "the girls." That blew my mind. Is that really still happening?

I don't even know where to start. I'm just kinda rolling my eyes, and shaking my head a little bit.

Number three, firm leaders think that everyone who works remotely is more likely to cheat the system, or be less productive than those working in the office. I bet you that's the number-one reason why firms haven't embraced remote work is that they're suspicious that if you're not in the office, you're not working.

Yep.

Number four, the firm gives out annual awards to, or otherwise glorifies the people with the most total hours worked, and/or the most billable hours. Some leaders share their total hours worked, like the Red Badge of Courage, when we know their hours worked may speak to effort, but not necessarily results.

Actually, this is the number-one thing that I ... I wrote an article about this in CalCPA Magazine, in the ... I guess it was this month, October issue. About how the culture of billable hours, or the fact that firms reward people with lots of billable hours, that's the number-one thing that contributes to a bad culture in your firm, that stops innovation.

We've seen articles, or talked about this before, that the millennials will not come work for your firm, if you're one of those types of firms.

Technology is all about becoming more productive, and requiring less hours out of you. If you incentivize people, based on lots of billable hours, then why would they ever want to become more productive? Why would they ever wanna become more efficient, I suppose?

The last one I wanna share is number six. Information is disseminated on a "need to know" basis, and leaders think most people don't need to know. This is something I definitely experienced in public accounting is, if you're not a partner, you don't know the strategic direction of the firm. You are not in on the stuff they talk about at those retreats. I think that has to change.

Yeah. I think, now, this is the third pass at this article, and it's growing on me more. I think this article is like soul searching. These are not like, "Oh, you still have a server in your back room" type stuff, or "You're manually installing updates, yourself, to all your office computers," or wherever; things like that.

This is culture mindset. This is a type of article that ... Hey, print this out. Read it this weekend. Ponder every one of these, and ask yourself these questions. I think it's the article the week, easily, by far, that we have. The more you read it, the more you're like ... This is a big deal. People need to read this, and really look ... This is an internal retrospective. People need to do this themselves. This is a really good article. It's a great find. You win this week.

I'm so glad this appeared in The Journal of Accountancy, because that's the most widely read publication, and a lot of the firms that need to look at these points are reading that magazine.

Yeah, and the author ... Kudos to Jennifer Wilson for writing this, like she-

Yes, thank you, Jennifer Wilson.

It's a tough article, but I think it's amazing. It's really, really good.

Jennifer Wilson, of Convergence Coaching, LLC, a leadership, and management consulting, and coaching firm that helps leaders achieve success. If your firm wants to implement those points, I bet she will help you out.

Cool. You just had to countdown list. I have a countdown list. We don't have to go through the list entirely. I think this is one of those articles that'll be in the notes. Everybody should print this out. The article is-

Wait, we're talking about people should go paperless, David.

No, I want people to print this out, and hang it on their cube wall, hang it next to their monitor ... Here's why: "13 Important Questions to Ask Before You Sign Up with a SaaS Provider.".

All of you that are listening to this are signing up for SaaS apps. You may have a system ... You're gonna have some questions you need to ask, or not ask. This article really talks about simple questions, like where's your credit-card data stored? You could ask them, "Are you GDPR-compliant?" You can ask them, "Can I speak with your previous clients?" Additional fees. One of the tough questions I like is, "Will you export my data, if I switch providers?".

That's a good one. That's a really good one.

Another good one is, "Has your security ever been compromised?" Nobody asks those questions straight up to them, so there's really 13 ... Print these out. They're simple. Have them readily available to you all the time.

Yeah, this is great. I love the two-factor-authentication question because that's getting more, and more important. Really, every app, at this point, that owns sensitive financial information should be supporting two-factor authentication. It should be at least an option.

I've been on a kick on that lately. I even found a website that you can see if something uses two-factor. Then, I've been really enabling ... I spent most of this week on every site, trying to enable two-factor. A lot of apps have it so buried, though; it's ridiculous. It's so important, and it's so buried. Hopefully, that'll change soon.

Well, David, I am headed out to Nashville on Monday, for Intacct Advantage. The Sage Intacct ERP Conference.

Nashville's so great. Love Nashville.

I'm looking forward to it. I'll probably just spend the entire week at the Opryland Resort, or Convention Center. That's where we're gonna be. Whole bunch of people from FloQast are going. We are a platinum sponsor. It's our biggest conference.

If you are headed to Advantage, come to the booth. Say hi, check out FloQast. Message me; find me on Twitter, and let me know you wanna hang out. We are doing a special happy hour event for FloQast customers. I can get you into that, as a listener. We're renting out an entire restaurant, Solario. Those should be good times.

Great.

Yeah.

People can go see you there. I have some news, though, Blake, that we should probably tell people.

What?

I almost forgot. QuickBooks Connect. I will be going to QuickBooks Connect. I understand you're going to QuickBooks Connect.

I will be there, as well. Wouldn't miss it.

I have good news. We are going to be appearing together at a party on Sunday night, and we'll have more details on that in our podcast. Practice Ignition, AutoEntry ... Four, or five apps are having a pre-QuickBooks Connect party on Sunday evening. Blake, and I are gonna be there, so it'll almost be like ... Come visit us; hang out. Come get a Cloud Accounting Podcast sticker for your laptop.

Awesome.

I'm really looking forward to that. Yes, it's official. I'm going to QuickBooks Connect, people. I can't wait to see all of you there.

It's the biggest party in the cloud accounting world.

Party ...

Well, at least in the US, anyway.

Yeah, I'm really looking forward to that. I'm excited. I actually haven't booked my airfare, but I bought my ticket, so I am definitely on my way to QuickBooks Connect. Blake, if people want to send us another article for our mail, they could do it physically, but they could just send it to us on Twitter. How would they get ahold of you on Twitter?

I'm @ you, David?

@DavidLeary. Simple to find, and get to.

everyone for listening. David, I'll talk to you soon.

Awesome. Thanks, eve

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Blake Oliver

Los Angeles, California, United States