Introduction to Accounting Blogs
Accounting Observer and Accountants Round Up

By Susan B. Anders

E-mail Story
Print Story
JUNE 2007 - Blogs are an increasingly popular feature on websites. The term “blog” is short for weblog. It is essentially an online journal where the author (“blogger”) often starts a conversation that can be continued by readers. Blog journal entries are generally short and include links to related information. Blogs can also be used to communicate news and announcements from multiple sources faster than other media outlets.

Maintaining a blog requires a major time commitment, but one of the advantages of blogs is that they are current and immediate. Blog readers can subscribe to blogs that summarize articles and news from a variety of sources or create an account on a news aggregator that can search websites for specific content. There is no rest for a blog owner, and even popular blogs, such as the Financial Accounting Blog (accounting.blogspot.com), can come to an end.

In February 2007, CareerBank.com reported that 60% of its visitors indicated that they had read or participated in or finance blogs. Furthermore, 22% read accounting and finance blogs daily. See The CPA Journal article on “Blogging 101 for CPAs” (July 2005) for more information on creating a blog.

For readers who have not used blogs as a source of information, two general blogs that provide a good place to start are The Analysts Accounting Observer and Accountants Round Up. These two blogs provide a basic contrast in how blogs can be formatted, as well as the type of information they can provide. Future columns will address blogs in specialized areas, such as taxation.

Accounting Observer

The Analysts Accounting Observer (AAO), accountingobserver.com/blog, is a personal blog published by Jack Ciesielski, a CPA who owns an investment research and portfolio management firm. [He and Jalal Soroosh also won The CPA Journal’s 2004 Max Block Award for best article in the area of technical analysis for coauthoring “Accounting for Special Purpose Entities Revised: FASB Interpretation 46(R),” July 2004.] He has maintained the AAO blog since January 2005, covering accounting issues and news related to finance and investments. Ciesielski creates postings almost every day, sometimes on multiple topics.

Unlike many personal blogs, the AAO is fairly sophisticated and professional in appearance. The blog provides the owner’s brief report on a news item or other current events gathered from several professional, governmental, and commercial websites. The journal entries include links to other websites, such as the SEC’s and FASB’s, as well as specific documents, such as FASB statements and 10-K reports.

The main page presents the most recent entries over the last several days. The right side of each page provides a menu of hyperlinked categories, including a keyword search function, monthly archive links, and connections to external websites. The organizational categories include General, Stock Comp Fever (with the Backdating Bug subcategory), Section 404, Restatement Zoo (with Leasing Makeovers and Derivative Do-Overs subcategories), Auditing, Pension Puzzlements, SEC/PCAOB Corner, Podcasts, and SAB 108 Stories.

Each entry is dated and labeled with category tags. At the bottom of each entry, options to e-mail or comment about the article are provided, although comments are not generally publicly posted. Given the large volume of entries, new readers may want to make a cursory review of the site and then use the keyword search function to locate specific topics.

Examples. The following are examples of some recent postings to provide readers with an introduction to the blog’s content. The General category contains an entry about a Financial Accounting Foundation warning on scam artists who have been falsely marketing Sarbanes-Oxley compliance materials in “Hi, I’m From FASB, and I Have a SOX Program For You.” “ESOARS Approved, But Will They Fly,” in Stock Comp Fever, offers a fairly long discussion on employee stock option appreciation rights, and an SEC sample letter to companies requesting backdating guidance. Pension Puzzlements presents several entries on pension freezes, including a link to an Excel spreadsheet listing over 40 freezes at the time of the posting in “Pension Freezes: Not An Ice Age Yet.”

Accounting educators and students should note “Lessons from a Floundering Giant” under General, and Section 404, in which the blogger connects General Motors’ lack of internal controls in its recent 10-K report to a lack of investment in technically competent accounting personnel. “PCAOB Report: What Auditors Miss” can be found under General, Auditing, and SEC/PCAOB Corner, and summarizes six areas where auditors are falling short in detecting fraud. Finally, Ciesielski regularly addresses the SEC’s Staff Accounting Bulletin (SAB) 108 approach for correcting errors in accounts.

Accountants Round Up

Accountants Round Up, goldenmarketing.typepad.com/acctroundup, is a fairly new blog that collects news and articles from sources that CPAs read, as well as other publications, websites, and blogs that may be new to accountants. Accountants Round Up is owned by Golden Marketing, Inc., and most of the postings are from Golden staffer Sue Sassmann. As a commercial blog, Accountants Round Up is quite professional in appearance.

The materials on Accountants Round Up are a bit broader in scope than those on Accounting Observer. The main page of the blog lists the daily entries for the last several days. The entries include the article’s title, category, byline, the first few lines of text, and a link to the original source. Comments are moderated and are not available until approved by the author.

The right side of each page presents an index of category hyperlinks, a keyword search function, and archives back to December 2006. The categories include Filing, Marketing, News, On-line, Operations, Other, People, Pricing, Regulations, SOX, and Trends. While the blogger uses one word to name a category, the actual content of that category may not be obvious to new readers.

The journal entries generally provide enough information for readers to tell if they will be interested in the content. Originating sources include The AAO Weblog, AccountingWEB, BusinessWeek, CFO.com, Journal of Accountancy, SmartPros, Strategic Finance, and WebCPA.

Examples. The Marketing category represents a substantial portion of the blog, as that is the core of the blogger’s own business. “CPA Firm Wins Best Blog Award” from SmartPros tells readers about a Houston-based firm’s blog and includes a link to that blog. News is another large category. “The Growing Revolts Against the SEC” from BusinessWeek claims that two causes of the increasing number of financial restatements are the SEC’s capricious interpretation of rules and the use of ambiguous or inappropriate tests.

On-line covers articles related to technology and the Internet, including “Talent-Tempting Websites” from the Journal of Accountancy. The Operations category provides links to practice management articles, such as “Why Do You Have Difficult Clients?” on the Legal Ease Blog. People addresses human resource issues, such as “Exit Interview with Interns” from the CPA Management Blog.

Regulations covers accounting and auditing standards, SEC regulations, and tax law, such as “One Accounting Standard for All?” from CFO.com. SOX entries include “Small Business Hits Sarbanes-Oxley Law” from The Boston Herald. “The 9 Weirdest Tax Write-Offs” from MSN.com is an example of the Trends category.


Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is a professor of accounting at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

©2009 The New York State Society of CPAs. Legal Notices