to Accounting Blogs
Accounting Observer and Accountants Round Up
By Susan B. Anders
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.
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
can come to an end.
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.
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 (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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
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
B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is a professor of accounting at St.
Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y.