AICPA Manufacturing Conference Takeaways

Last week, Schneider Downs sent two representatives from our Manufacturing Industry Group to the annual AICPA Corporate Finance and Controllers and Global Manufacturing Conference in Orlando.  The conference was loaded with great speakers presenting on a wide variety of topics.  In particular, there was a strong focus on the following:

  1. Cybersecurity and information privacy
  2. Selecting and implementing the right technologies, including business intelligence software
  3. Accounting standards and economic updates

There were many helpful tips throughout these sessions. 

Cybersecurity is a main concern. Two key takeaways:

The former Federal agent who presented on cybersecurity effectively scared the pants off the audience with hacking stories and the ease of which they are executed.  Two key takeaways from the session were basic steps any organization can take to thwart a majority of potential cyber-events: (1) the importance of strong passwords and (2) the use of two-factor authentication.  

Business Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation are on the forefront.

With the ever-increasing availability of new technologies, a large topic of focus during the conference was the implementation and use of new technologies.  There were sessions on robotic process automation (RPA) as well as data analytics and business intelligence (BI) tools.  The use of RPAs can reduce time spent on mundane repetitive tasks, freeing up employees to perform higher-level value-add work.  The wide range of BI tools available today, when successfully implemented, can provide incredibly valuable insights and assist in analysis by quickly digesting and interpreting data in a fraction of the time it takes under more traditional methods. 

Accounting standards and economic update.

Presenters also discussed recent accounting standards and their potential impact, including ASU 2014-09 Revenue Recognition, effective for non-public entities for calendar year 2019, and ASU 2016-02 Leases, effective for non-public entities for calendar year 2021.  There were a variety of sessions discussing the availability of various tools to assist in the implementation of ASU 2016-02, which will have a significant impact on the balance sheets of a large number of companies. 

The overall economic update was presented by a representative from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.  The speaker indicated that while the probability of recession over the next two quarters has increased, it still remains low.  Additionally, the presenter noted that even with the recently enacted tariffs, the United States’ tariffs are currently on par with those of other major economies.  However, if all currently “threatened” tariffs are enacted, it would drive U.S. tariff rates far above those of our peers. 

These were just some of the interesting takeaways from the three-day AICPA conference.

One thing that became clear throughout the seminar is that Schneider Downs is focusing our attention in the right areas to help our clients navigate the evolving business environment.  We have dedicated practice groups for cybersecurity, automation and data analytics and accounting advisory.

If you are looking to enhance your cybersecurity, implement a new BI tool or need help with the implementation of a new accounting standard, please reach out to a member of your client service team!

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