The Key to the Cover Letter

When looking for a job due to unemployment, current job dissatisfaction or finding openings at a dream company, drafting a separate cover letter for each prospective position may seem daunting and time consuming. Many applicants may keep stock cover letters depending on company or job industry, but they are doing themselves a disservice by not crafting a fresh cover letter each time, no matter how long it may take. The importance of doing so lies in the purpose of the cover letter.

The typical first step in applying to a position, either through a recruiter or directly, is submitting your resume and a cover letter. Unlike the resume, the cover letter is meant to speak directly to the hiring manager and or HR professional as to why you want the position, what you will bring to the position and company, and your overall motivations and experience as an employee and person.

It also indirectly serves as a writing sample, which is an important factor to keep in mind.

Your qualifications, skills and most important experience are included in your resume, so the cover letter is your opportunity to showcase additional attributes about yourself that the hiring manager wouldn’t otherwise know. They are looking to get a deeper glimpse into the person behind the employee that would be in their office. Are you a dedicated volunteer for a specific cause or charity? Do you ski in the winters or surf in the summer? Are you a spin instructor or have an interesting hobby after hours? These details will all contribute to the picture you are painting of yourself.

While those details will certainly help craft a conversation during the phone and or in-person interviews, and will help HR professionals identify with you as a person, the central piece of the letter should focus on your motivation and desire to do the specific job applied for at this specific company. The job title and name of the company should be included as well as specific aspects of the job description and why you would be the best person they could hire.

The key to all of these details is that they be portrayed in a genuine and heartfelt manner and that you match everything back to the position and company. This will make the hiring manager feel like you greatly desire their particular position, not just a new position.

Every company wants to make careful hiring decisions and hire employees that really want to work on behalf of their mission and endeavors. Eloquently portraying that you do, and will do so effectively, will help them see you as their next great hire during the hiring process.

New York’s Sexual Harassment Law Overview

Going to work in an environment that is comfortable and free from unwanted or negative comments is important. Regardless of gender, employees deserve to have a safe place to be productive. To this end, beginning on April 1, 2019, New York employers with at least 15 employees must provide sexual harassment training every year. This applies to all employees who work at least 90 days and more than 80 hours per year. Records of the training and who attended must be kept on file for at least 3 years.

This law is called the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act and it went into effect on May 9, 2018 under Mayor de Blasio. The overall goal of enacting annual training and ensuring that NY employers have a sexual harassment policy is to create a work environment that is safe, welcoming and productive for all employees.

Through the training and the individual employer’s policy, employees will be provided knowledge on what constitutes sexual harassment, what to do if an employee observes sexual harassment, and what avenues someone can take if they feel they are a victim of sexual harassment. Case studies and examples may be included in the training to give participants a real feel for different scenarios and what may be considered unwanted or uncomfortable for a fellow employee.

In addition, there is a responsibility of managers, supervisors and the company itself once a sexual harassment claim has been brought to their attention. The key part of this is that the person who felt sexually harassed must say something in order for the process to move forward. Once a company has knowledge of a claim, they have a legal obligation to conduct an investigation.

Resources for employees include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforce anti-discrimination laws at the federal level. Their website is www.eeoc.gov. More detail about the Act itself can be found here: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/law/stop-sexual-harassment-act.page.

A good rule of thumb for all employees is to maintain a high code of conduct for themselves and the people around them. What one person may consider a harmless joke could be deeply offensive to another. Also, if employees become friends outside of the office, they may become more lax in language or demeanor amongst other employees in the office, but it is important to always remember where you are.

Employment law is constantly evolving and changing, and this Act is an important measure to ensure the workplace is productive and comfortable for employees.

The Phone Interview

After applying to multiple positions and attending networking events, your efforts are finally paying off: you’ve been asked for a phone interview! While this is an exciting first step in the hiring process, it can also be fraught with risks.

Don’t fall into the following traps:

Too Casual

This means in both speech and demeanor. Since you are on the phone likely in a comforting environment to you, it is easy to slip into old habits of casual language as if you were speaking with an old friend or even a longtime coworker. Just because you are not being evaluated in person doesn’t mean the interviewer isn’t picking up on your social cues. Perhaps they are picking up even more so since they only have your voice and language on which to base an opinion.

Make sure you dress professionally as it subconsciously will make you speak and present yourself in a more commanding way. If you feel like you are dressed for a professional environment, you will speak as if you were in one!

Have good posture and use facial expressions as if the interviewer was sitting across from you. It may feel funny at first, but the inflections in your voice will be come through the phone and will make you seem more engaging.

Not Using Your Resources

Since you are not in person, you can have your research and resume laid out in front of you for reference. Don’t forget to glance at your resume to jog your memory of work experiences and sills you can use in conversation. If you have research on the company printed out, bring company news, historical company facts, etc., into the conversation so the interviewer gets the feeling that you are interested in their job, not just any job.

Unprofessional Environment

If you are taking the phone interview at home and have noisy pets, make accommodations for them before the phone rings. Perhaps bring a dog to another floor of the house or make sure the cat has enough food and water prepared.

Don’t have the tv on in the background and limit the possibility of background noise as much as you can. For example, don’t sit next to an outside window in case the neighbor’s landscaper decides to show up.

If you are taking the phone interview at your current office and have ducked into a conference room, make sure it is either formally reserved or the door is shut/ locked so you don’t have fellow employees entering the room. That would not only be uncomfortable for you but for them, as well!

No Follow Up

Even though the prospective company did not host you in person, the interviewer still devoted time out of their day to get to know you, your experience and skills, and decide if you could be a good fit for them. Sending a thank you message is important as it recognizes this time investment and their consideration of you for their company.

If you devote ample preparation time and avoid these pitfalls, you will likely see yourself preparing for the next step in the hiring process: the in person interview!

Lunch Hour Power

In traditional jobs employees are given a lunch break, oftentimes an hour, to eat and recharge. These 60 minutes can look very different person to person. Maybe you like taking the full hour to eat while scrolling the day’s news or a book, or you like to get out of the office with coworkers to get some fresh air and take a walk. Regardless of how you use this hour, it presents a powerful opportunity to not only network within your own company, but to seek out contacts in other companies that may help advance your career.

In House

Is there a manager or director that you always seem to gleam inspiration or knowledge from in meetings? Do you find yourself inwardly thinking that you would love to learn a lot more from them outside the confines of those meetings or work flows? Take advantage of the opportunity your lunch hour gives you and ask this employee to grab a mid-day cup of coffee or bite to eat. Chances are they will accept because people are happy to talk about their own experiences and knowledge with others.

A bit intimidated or nervous? Take a few days to notice their routine and where they usually get their coffee or lunch. Then a simple question of “I was already going to grab lunch at {establishment’s name}, I’d love for you to join me.” Playing to someone’s preferences will always increase your chances for an acceptance.

Then, use the opportunity to learn from them and create a repour that will be beneficial on a professional and personal level. Once you see the valuable connections you are able to make in a relatively short period of time, you will soon find yourself with a packed lunch calendar!

Stone’s Throw Away

Not only are contacts within your own employer beneficial, but is there a vendor that is often used whose office is nearby? Or a fellow company in the industry with whom you have LinkedIn contacts but would love to have actual conversations? Reaching out to these people will offer you the same benefits as forging relationships within your own company, while also enriching your view and knowledge of your industry at large. And, should you find yourself in the intentional or unintentional position of trying to find another job, these contacts will come in handy.

Virtual Connections

If your job isn’t structured in a way where you can leave the office or your office is in an isolated region, seek out lunchtime webinars or online training sessions where you can virtually meet other people in the industry while enriching your skills.

Using the 60 minutes that that are given to you in the middle of the work day to actively connect with coworkers in your company and within the larger industry can be a strategic method to advance your career and forge valuable relationships.

You’re Hired! Now What?

The phrase that every job candidate loves to hear: “you’re hired!” Emotions run strong and all the preparation that was put towards securing the position finally feels validated. However, now is the time to actively transition from having secured the job to starting off on the right foot with your new company. Consider the following:

Appearance

Chances are you had at least one in-person interview, during which time you noticed how the employees dressed. Now is the time to take stock of your wardrobe to be sure you have clothes that match the culture of your new environment. As formal corporate suits and khakis with a polo are completely different office cultures, it is important you meet expectations in the clothing department, especially if you will be interfacing with clients or external visitors.

Bonus: treat yourself to a haircut! Walking in the office on day one with a fresh haircut will give you a confidence boost and after working hard for the position, you’ve earned it!

Training

If you commented during an interview how you would be willing to learn a program or skill, now is a great time to research class offerings or watch a few online tutorials on the subject. Actively trying to improve yourself already will be an impressive quality that your new boss and coworkers will appreciate.

Network

So you’ve done your homework on the company to prepare for the interviews, but now is the perfect time to do research on LinkedIn to figure out team structures and everyone’s experience. If you already have some semblance of faces, names, and job titles, you will be ahead of the game and will feel less intimidated when meeting a lot of people on your first day.

Travel

Taking a dry run of your new commute at the time you would actually be commuting will prove invaluable as you will be able to get an accurate picture of how much time you will need. Traffic patterns, probability of accidents given certain roads or highways and bus or train timetable accuracy are all issues to be conquered ahead of your first day so you don’t leave anything to chance.

These four items will help you get into the right mindset for your new role and company and will alleviate, as much as possible, the first day jitters.

Finance in the Age of Digital Transformation

Technology has been around for many years but the transformative ways it affects all avenues of our lives is becoming more apparent. From the way we order lunch online to the way we can do almost everything on our smartphone that we do on our computer, business operations are also being transformed and affected by digital transformation.

Anton Sher, Steven Ehrenhalt and Jonathan Englert of Deloitte explain that “from phone apps to home automation to cashless commerce and beyond, digital disruption is the new normal for consumers today. It’s changing what we do-and how we get things done-in countless ways…What does this have to do with the future of Finance? Everything.”

Role of CFO

Finance, specifically the role of the Chief Financial Officer, will be deeply impacted if it has not been already. The Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) explains that the traditional scope of a CFO’s job description includes the following bullets:

  • Organizational Leader
  • Business Partner & Steward
  • Integrator & Navigator
  • Finance & Accounting Leader
  • Professional

Furthermore, they have divided the CFO position into four roles: creator, enabler, preserver and reporter. Given that their purview is already of great importance to the business model of any company, the digital transformation is putting another log on the fire of an already all-encompassing role.

It is for this reason that CGMA concluded that “one of the key challenges facing CFOs today is the dilution / divergence of focus.”

Concerns

Digitization is certainly contributing to the dilution of focus as it raises new concerns and factors to either mitigate or address in a live environment. Cyber security is a large element as the amount of digital transactions is only increasing as is the number and type of financial risks. So are digital businesses environments as “there is no framework or guidance, in financial governance, control and compliance, areas that also traditionally fall under the purview of a CFO,” explains CGMA. Social media is also an element that is a double-edged sword as the demand for products or services can eb and flow based on the outpouring of public opinion on various platforms. The advancement of IT tools for a CFO and finance department are aiding in the reporting functions but also pose the risk of taking away job tasks from people. However, telling the story behind the numbers is sometimes as important as presenting the numbers themselves.

Bob Violino for ZDNET also outlines digital transformation concerns that CFOs and finance departments are facing. The following results are from a survey of over 300 CFOs and finance professionals conducted by CFO Research and Grant Thornton LLP. The highlighted concerns centered around automation technologies and other IT tools. Having the right staff members in place once these technologies become more commonplace and the CFOs themselves being properly equipped with the ability to understand and advance data analytics are central concerns. In addition, being able to quantitatively measure the ROI of advancing IT technologies for finance is a worry.

The Way Forward

These uncharted territories allow people with a background in both finance and IT a chance to really advance their career as the two departments are becoming closely mingled. When applying to finance positions either for entry level, laterally or for advancement, highlighting experience and interest in IT is sure to be a huge bonus for any company.

Violino also shared that the survey indicated that due to competition and strategic opportunities like cost cutting and customer experience, more money will be allocated and spent in IT for finance.

Sher et al for Deloitte succinctly presents the importance of technology within finance by saying that “the needs of the business are growing. The pace of innovation is accelerating. CFOs can either plan for change, or plan to retire.”

Some of these affected topics have been detailed by Deloitte and include the below:

  1. The finance factory
  2. The role of Finance
  3. Finance cycles
  4. Self-service
  5. Operating models
  6. Enterprise resource planning
  7. Data
  8. Workforce and workplace

In their publication, Deloitte expounds on what companies and employees can do to address these and why they will make an impact on company culture.

Future of Finance

According to McKinsey & Company’s Kapil Chandra, Frank Plaschke and Ishaan Seth, the need and expectation for technology within finance is now expected yet there is still trepidation and uncertainty: “…today’s CEOs and boards say they want CFOs and the finance function to provide real-time, data-enabled decision support…but our research also shows that CFOs still spend less time on digital trends than they do on traditional finance activities…CFOs are often content to let colleagues in IT, marketing or other functions press the issue.”

Chandra et al suggest that in order to get the ball rolling, CFOs could work with their senior leadership to devise a game plan of where digitization would be the most effective for their organization. They predict that the following four technologies will revamp the finance team:

  • Automation and robotics “to improve processes”
  • Data visualization “to give end users real-time financial information”
  • Advanced analytics for finance “to accelerate decision support”
  • Advanced analytics for business “to uncover hidden shareholder value and growth opportunities”

McKinsey & Company also details two digital revamps that will greatly affect workflow and reporting in finance. Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, is “a category or automation software that performs redundant tasks on a timed basis and ensures that they are completed quickly, efficiently, and without error.” This ties back to the concern of taking job functions away from finance employees, yet it was explained that numbers need human explanation for them to give meaningful guidance to a company.

The second is a self-service approach, such as a dashboard, that enables employees and key stakeholders to pull the information they need in live time without waiting to get reports sent to them. Chandra et all explain that “this self-serve approach has decreased the need for the finance group to generate reports by more than 50 percent and has cut the cost of reporting by 40 percent.”

Even though the promise of these new technologies and procedures stand to make individual workflow and company-wide procedures more streamlined and accurate, there is still a cloud of confusion and resistance.

Tim Sandle for Digital Journal explained that “across those tasked with leading digital transformation, the executives reported that resistance to introducing new ways of working was common and many felt overwhelmed by digital complexity.” This sentiment exists even though the CFO is the perfect person to take on this challenge, according to the Global Banking and Finance Review: “only one C-suite executive sits at the intersection of strategy, technology, operations, and financial management: the CFO.”

CFO Opinions

James LaCamp, partner at Deloitte, conducted an interview with Todd Ford, CFO of Coupa Software, in which he discussed his views on the role of the CFO amidst digital transformation.

“You have to be able to get the right data to the right people at the right time. True digital transformation takes place when organizations use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to mine that data for insights that improve processes and create value.”

Doug Alexander, EVP of Finance Operations at Shell, echoes Ford’s sentiment by saying that “we are focusing on getting the right people in the right place with the right skills to transform the organization.”

Based on that opinion, it doesn’t seem like finance employees need to worry about their job functions being completely eliminated by technology as the numbers generated by the technology are only as good as the people that tell the story behind them.

Ford goes on to divulge that “real time is where finance is headed: By 2025 there won’t be a need for a monthly or quarterly close process in my opinion; financials will be closed in real time.”

Conclusion

Where there is great opportunity can also be uncertainty and doubt, and that is perhaps the current climate of finance digital transformation summed up by Mark Evans, CFO at O2: “digital technology is fundamentally changing customers’ behavior and business models which is both a threat and an opportunity if we can foresee the next evolution.”

Sources:

“A CFO’s Key Competencies For The Future.” Chartered Global Management Accountant, 14 Sept. 2018 <https://www.cgma.org/content/dam/cgma/resources/reports/downloadabledocuments/cfo-competencies-report.pdf>

“CFO Challenges in a Digital World.” Genpact, 14 Sept. 2018. <http://www.genpact.com/insight/article/cfo-challenges-in-a-digital-world>

Chandra, Kapil et al. “Memo to the CFO: Get in front of digital finance-or get left back.” McKinsey&Company, 14 Sept. 2018. <https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/memo-to-the-cfo-get-in-front-of-digital-finance-or-get-left-back>

“Coupa Software CFO Todd Ford on Digital Transformation and the Future of the CFO.” Deloitte, 14 Sept. 2018. <https://deloitte.wsj.com/cfo/2018/05/21/coupa-software-cfo-todd-ford-on-digital-transformation-and-the-future-of-the-cfo>

Sandle, Tim. “Are CFOs the answer to digital transformation leadership crises?” Digital Journal, 14 Sept. 2018. <http://www.digitaljournal.com/print/article/524126>

Sher, Anton et al. “Crunch time V: Finance 2025 (Our predictions).” Deloitte, 14 Sept. 2018. <file:///C:/Users/llestino/Downloads/us-ft-crunch-time-V-finance-2025.pdf>

Violino, Bob. “For digital transformation, CFOs are loosening the purse strings.” ZDNET, 14 Sept. 2018. <https://www.zdnet.com/article/for-digital-transformation-cfos-are-loosening-the-purse-strings/>

Interview Ready Resume

The beginning of the job process is centered around a candidate’s resume. Whether you submit your resume directly or work with a recruiter, the company will first judge your candidacy based on your resume. Don’t let the below resume pitfalls keep you from a job opportunity that could be a great next step in your career.

Basic Grammar

Not using the proper tense for present and past jobs can not only confuse the hiring manager, but make you appear sloppy and not having attention to details. Same goes for spelling and punctuation. It is imperative that you take your time when writing your resume and each time you make additions with current jobs and experiences. Even if you have the exact experience a company is looking for, they will proceed with another candidate that has the same background but with a flawless resume.

Accuracy

Exactly reflecting the month and year you started and ended with each company is a basic expectation on a resume. Unfortunately, people either don’t include the months or include inaccurate or false dates. This could have very negative consequences on your candidacy.

Accuracy in what you list as your experience is equally important. Each line on your resume and each skill that is included is fair game for interview questions, so be sure you are able to expand upon everything that your resume contains.

Formatting

Depending on the industry, a clean, reader-friendly resume is your best option. Consistent formatting of titles, companies, dates and bullet points throughout the resume is key. This will allow the hiring manager to quickly scan for salient information while also viewing you as an organized, professional candidate.

Length

A resume should not be an exhaustive list of every task you performed at every job you’ve had. Reflecting on the title of the job you are applying for, it is optimal to tailor your past experiences and skills to what is required and desired by the company for that specific role. Be sure to include all the experience you have that matches what they are seeking, and then offer additional details of your work history during the interview process.

Your resume is the first example of your work product and you want it to reflect positively on you as a candidate. If you follow these tips, you will be in great shape to begin discussions with a company that could be your next employer!

The Importance of Punctuality in the Job Process

We’ve all either experienced this dreaded scenario or know someone who has: a utility provider says they will be at your home between a certain window of time and either arrives at the last possible minute, late, or not at all. The anxiety and frustration you or the person you know felt is not only unfortunate but avoidable.

The Reasoning

Punctuality is supremely important in all aspects of life, especially the job process. Once you decide to work with a recruiter or submit your resume directly to a job posting, being accessible, responsible and timely is of supreme importance. This is because from the first time a client receives your name for consideration, an opinion is starting to form, subconscious or not.

As a job candidate, you want to do everything in your power to give yourself the best shot possible at what could be a great job opportunity, which in turn will elevate other aspects of your life, such as work-life balance, commute, salary, etc.

The competition is always high in the job market for qualified candidates and you don’t want a time management issue to be the reason someone else beats you to an offer.

Helpful Tips

If you have a phone interview scheduled for 10:00am, be completely prepared with your resume and other pertinent materials and waiting with your phone at least 10 minutes prior. This will give you a chance to mentally prepare, calm your nerves and be ready for the phone to ring at 9:57 in case the interviewer is a few minutes early.

When you are going to an in-person interview, plan to arrive at the location a half hour early. Don’t enter the office until 5-10 minutes before your interview, but arriving at the location will ensure you are in the area in enough time to take into account any weather issues, transit delays, traffic volume, missed exits, etc. If the office is in a suburban location, waiting in your car will allow you to compose yourself and go over your materials. If the office is in an urban setting, sit in a nearby coffee shop. This approach will also help you get a sense of the local area that you are considering spending a large chunk of your daily time!

After the interview, either phone or in-person, sending a timely thank you note will leave a nice impression. More guidance on thank you notes can be found here.

Taking the same approach of subsequent interviews will solidify you as a punctual and responsible candidate who would be an asset to their company not only for your skill set and experience but for your personal qualities.

Throughout the duration of the process, whether you are working with a recruiter or a company directly, being in close contact if and when last minute issues arise or you have to withdraw from the process for any reason, will only leave a favorable impression of your memory. You want to avoid a recruiter and or client being blindsided by a decision or problem that could have been communicated sooner.

Happy job hunting!

Cybersecurity and Accounting

 

In today’s current digital age, a lot of people have at one point wondered if their online accounts have been compromised or have been part of a large store or restaurant data breach. With the constant news cycle, it can become desensitizing but it is imperative, especially for public companies, to be vigilant and educate their employees and stakeholders on proper protocols and procedures for minimizing risk. Accounting professionals are in a unique position to be utilized in the effort to maintain cybersecurity.

SEC Release

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued guidance on cybersecurity. In an article produced by Deloitte’s Christine Mazor and Sandra Herrygers that appeared in The Wall Street Journal, they explained that “issued on February 21, 2018, the release largely refreshes existing SEC staff guidance related to cybersecurity and, like that guidance, does not establish any new disclosure obligations but rather presents the SEC’s views on how its existing rules should be interpreted in connection with cybersecurity threats and incidents.”

The rise and scope of these threats is important to note, as well as the varying type of attacks. The compromising of an employee’s password and the complete breach of a major retailer’s financial transactions are difference in degree, but the need for security is the same.

Further detailing the SEC’s release, EY provided this statement from the SEC: “given the frequency, magnitude and cost of cybersecurity incidents, the Commission believes that it is critical that public companies take all required actions to inform investors about material cybersecurity risks and incidents in a timely fashion, including those companies that are subject to material cybersecurity risks but may not yet have been the target of a cyber-attack.”

In a description of the release, EY explains that one of the main components is “clarifying that disclosure controls and procedures should enable registrants to identify cybersecurity risks and incidents, assess and analyze their implications and make timely disclosures.”

Risks

Due to the nature and increased sophistication of cyberattacks, PricewaterhouseCoopers stated that “the current US standalone cyber insurance market is estimated at $2.5-$3.5 billion annually…” This alone portrays the vastness and severity of cyber dangers that face companies, specifically public ones.

Lisa Traina lists for AICPA the top 5 cybersecurity dangers that companies and CPAs face:

  1. Ignorance
  2. Passwords
  3. Phishing
  4. Malware
  5. Vulnerabilities

The first, ignorance, is important because accountants and other hired parties cannot help a company if there is no belief that a danger exists. Regarding passwords, Lisa explains that due to the cloud and remote accessing, the need for strong passwords has increased. Furthermore, she advises against employees carelessly storing passwords in places that can be easily compromised, such as a desktop folder. Phishing, malware and vulnerabilities speak to the need for strong IT infrastructure as well as strong employee training on how best to avoid recognizable compromises.

Given the climate of increased technologies correlating to increased risk, Terry Sheridan asserts that “not all that long ago, most companies relegated anything “cyber” to the IT department. But as recognition grows that cybersecurity risks include personnel practices, supply chain management, and operational decisions, more enterprise-wide approaches to managing these risks have evolved.” This includes accountants and finance professionals.

Accounting Attributes

Terry notes that the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) published a white paper entitled “The CPA’s Role in Addressing Cybersecurity Risk,” which highlights the inherent strengths of accountants to aid with cybersecurity.

  1. Core values and attributes

Terry explains that “CPAs are viewed by management and boards as trusted advisors who have a board understanding of businesses, who receive appropriate annual training, who comply with a code of ethics, and who are subject to rigorous external quality reviews.”

  1. Experience in independent evaluations

The framework has already been laid to make the connection from accounting to cybersecurity, Terry reveals: “…many large and midsized CPA firms have built substantial IT practices that provide attestation and advisory services to organizations on IT security-related matters…”

  1. Multidisciplinary strengths

This point is important as the combination of accounting knowledge and information technology knowledge is being specifically sough after by firms. For students and professionals looking to enrich or advance their accounting career, adding a specialty of IT knowledge would be very useful for public companies.

Unified Framework

Furthermore, there is a need for common language and procedures so companies can have a roadmap to assess their situation and progress. Susan S. Coffey explains that “there hasn’t been a consistent, common language for describing and reporting on the cybersecurity risk management programs organizations put in place. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for stakeholders to determine whether an organization’s cybersecurity risk management plan effectively addresses potential threats.”

For this reason, she described that a framework has been developed by Assurance Services Executive Committee (ASEC) comprised of accountants with IT work history with clients; the framework can be found at aicpa.org/cybersecurityriskmanagement.

Coffey outlines how the framework helps accountants become further involved in cybersecurity: “management accountants more directly involved with the organization’s cybersecurity efforts can promote awareness and use of the framework as a means of communication those efforts, both internally and externally, and of evaluating the effectiveness of the organization’s controls in achieving its cybersecurity objectives.”

Expounding on the framework, Russ Banham for Journal of Accountancy, specifically outlines the opportunities for accountants:

  • CPAs to perform a consulting engagement to help a client’s management develop a description of its cybersecurity risk management program to provide to the board and other internal parties…
  • CPAs to perform a consulting engagement known as a “readiness assessment” to help a client identify where its cybersecurity processes and controls may need to be shored up.
  • CPAs to perform a System and Organization Controls (SOC) for Cybersecurity examination engagement to assess the client’s cybersecurity risk management program…

The framework’s suggestion that accountants can be on the forefront of providing sensitive information to a company’s Board is important to note, as a Board’s responsibility is to monitor and be made aware of critical issues facing company operations.

Role of the Board

Christopher P. Skroupa, a Contributor to Forbes, has interviewed Michael Yaeger, an expert in cybersecurity. In response to a question about the role of cybersecurity as it relates to the Board, Yaeger explained that “one basic function of a modern corporate Board is to oversee risk management, and many risks do not present themselves as cybersecurity issues.” This is all the more reason to be vigilant on all sides of a company’s operations, including accounting and finance.

Speaking specifically on what the Board can do regarding cybersecurity, Yaeger asserts that “the board must ensure that the company has cyber risk management policies and procedures consistent with its strategy and risk appetite, and the board must ensure that these policies and procedures are functioning.”

It is a given that there are moving pieces when it comes to cybersecurity and the need for employees and a company at large to be secure. For this reason, it is most beneficial when accounting professionals have a multi-layered background that includes cybersecurity so they are able to be an additional line of defense. And as the research has shown, accounting and cybersecurity is a perfect match.

—-

Sources:

Banham, Russ. “Cybersecurity: A new engagement opportunity.” Journal of Accountancy, 22 May 2018. < https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2017/oct/cybersecurity-engagement-for-cpas.html>

Coffey, Susan S. “It’s Time to Speak the Same Language on Cybersecurity.” AICPA, 22 May 2018. < http:// blog.aicpa.org/2017/05/its-time-to-speak-the-same-language-on-cybersecurity. html#sthash .aVdMkso8  .pnI16iEE.dpbs>

Mazor, Christine and Herrygers, Sandra. “SEC Issues Cybersecurity Guidance.” The Wall Street Journal, 22 May 2018. <http://deloitte.wsj.com/cfo/2018/04/27/sec-issues-cybersecurity-guidance/>

Porcelli, Mike et al. “Are insurers adequately balancing risk & opportunity? Findings from PwC’s global cyber insurance survey.” PwC, 22 May 2018. < https://www.pwc.com/us/en/industry/assets/pwc-cyber-insurance-survey.pdf>

“SEC Reporting Update: SEC issues guidance on cybersecurity.” EY, 22 May 2018. < file:///C:/Users / llestino/Downloads/secreportingupdate_01030-181us_cybersecurity_22february2018.pdf>

Sheridan, Terry. “CPAs Have the Strengths Needed to Address Cybersecurity Risk.” Accountingweb, 22 May 2018. < https://www.accountingweb.com/aa/auditing/cpas-have-the-strengths-needed-to-address-cybersecurity-risk>

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The Art of the Thank You Note

Congratulations! Exploring the interview thank you note means that you’ve either had a phone or in-person interview, and that in itself is worthy of celebration. Now, in order to positively seal the memory of you in the hiring manager’s head, a perfectly crafted thank you note is essential.

The Opening

It may seem obvious or like an afterthought, but correctly addressing the hiring manager’s name, or whomever you met with, is essential. Erring on the side of formality is better, too. You may have overhead colleagues address the hiring manager by a nickname or shortened version of their name, but this is best left for once you have been hired.

A good rule of thumb is to use the name that appears in the person’s email signature.

The spelling of the name is highly important as well, as this shows attention to detail and attentiveness.

The Content

The overall goal of the thank you note is to thank the person or people who took time out of their day to speak or meet with you, while also conveying yourself as a competent and engaging candidate. The sentences you write should be genuine and authentic; not boilerplate language that is recycled for use after each interview. Briefly touch on why you can see yourself in the role and the skills and experience you would bring to the table along with how your personality would be a good culture fit for the organization.

The Timing

Due to the fast-paced nature of the job market, it is imperative to send the thank you note on the same day as your interview or, at the latest, the beginning of the following day. You want to remain top of mind with the hiring manager(s) who may have met a few people that same day.

When a great candidate sends a heartfelt and timely thank you note expressing continued interest in the role, organization and potential colleagues, the positive benefits cannot be understated.