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$3.8M Ponzi Scheme Funded Spa Treatment, Maids, Church Tithes: SEC

The owner of a retirement planning firm cheated dozens of investors out of $3.8 million in two related scams that included a Ponzi scheme and fraudulent stock offerings targeting elderly retirees, the SEC says. To read the full article in FinancialPlanning, click: $3.8M Ponzi Scheme Funded Spa Treatment, Maids, Church Tithes: SEC. ...

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Rare FINRA Disclosure Predicts Budget Shortfall in 2018

FINRA will hold off on raising fees for its member firms despite "revenue challenges," according to an unusual glimpse the regulator gave into its projected 2018 budget.  Projected revenue of $822 million for 2018 is relatively flat when compared to 2013, the last year that FINRA raised fees, the regulator says in its newly released budgetary summary.  FINRA derives about half of its total revenue from indu ...

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Lessons to Learn from SEC Accounting and Auditing Enforcements

Since enacting the Securities Exchange Act in 1934, Congress has repeatedly expanded the arsenal of the SEC to protect investors through enforcement actions.  As a result, the SEC has steadily increased the number of enforcement actions.  The author's analysis of 1,563 accounting and auditing enforcement cases from 2008 to 2014 shows the most frequent securities law violations adjudicated by the SEC, the pe ...

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SEC Should Define “Advisor,” Says CFA Institute

With the fiduciary rule in question, a prominent industry association is calling on the SEC to issue guidance on the use of the term "advisor" when offering advice to retail investors.  The CFA Institute has drafted a letter asking the SEC to take steps–ahead of the full regulatory initiative it is contemplating–to clarify the way financial pros describe themselves and their services. To read the full artic ...

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Sixteen Compliance Trends to Watch in the New Year

Financial advisors face a slew of new regulatory issues in 2018, and when it comes to compliance, they are “better off changing the oil regularly than waiting for the engine to blow up.”  That vivid warning comes from Todd Cipperman, founder of Cipperman Compliance Services, a consulting firm specializing in regulatory compliance.  To find out what to expect next year according to Cipperman, as well as Bao ...

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Last-Minute Revenue Recognition Implementation Tips

The implementation effort surrounding FASB’s new revenue recognition standard is nearing an end for many companies; the deadline for compliance for public companies is the beginning of 2018.  Despite the years of preparation, certain aspects of compliance, particularly the complex disclosure requirements, are being left to the final hours.  Some companies are playing catch-up, scrambling to have their discl ...

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Advisor Gets Prison Time After Pleading Guilty to Bilking Client for $911K

A financial planner who admitted to defrauding his client out of nearly $1 million through a signature-forging scheme received a prison sentence of four-and-a-half years.  William P. Carlson Jr. pleaded guilty to mail fraud in the U.S. District Court in Chicago and agreed to pay restitution of $911,000 in connection with the five-year scam. To read the full article in FinancialPlanning, click: Advisor Gets ...

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Regulators Want Firms to Ramp Up Fintech Accountability

Officials at the SEC and FINRA have been talking a lot lately about how they have been ramping up their use of sophisticated technologies to root out questionable conduct among the firms they regulate.  It turns out that they are expecting advisors and brokers to do the same. To read the full article in FinancialPlanning, click: Regulators Want Firms to Ramp Up Fintech Accountability. ...

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When Your Vendor is Hacked, Doing Nothing Won’t Cut it

Even firms that believe they are too small to matter should think again.  If a cyberattack happens at the firm's outsourced CRM partner, portfolio management vendor or custodian, and clients' personal information is compromised, where is your client going to turn first to demand an explanation? To read the full article in FinancialPlanning, click: When Your Vendor is Hacked, Doing Nothing Won't Cut it. ...

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The Application of Guideline Publicly Traded Company Risk Adjustment

Quantifying the Risk Adjustment Depending on the valuation assignment facts and circumstances, the valuation analyst (analyst) may encounter a unique valuation problem: a problem that is well outside the ordinary scope of typical valuation issues. Unique problems provide the analyst an opportunity to develop thought leadership solutions in a manner that (1) provides value to the client and (2) assists the r ...

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SEC Approves New PCAOB Audit Standards

On June 1, 2017 the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) adopted a new auditing standard to provide additional information to investors.  The new standard received approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 23, 2017.  In this post, Rohan Bose, financial analyst with Mercer Capital, summarizes several of the major changes coming to audit reports in the near future. To read t ...

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PCAOB Inspection Scrutiny of Fair Value Measurement Continues

Fair value measurement has been a hot topic during the last few years, increasingly attributable to PCAOB identified audit deficiencies and heightening scrutiny over the existing fair value framework and related auditing standards.  In this post, we take a look at the causes of attention and recent responses from professionals and professional organizations. To read the full article in Mercer Capital's Fina ...

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The 10 Unimpeachable Commandments

Practical Applications in Unimpeachable Neutrality Expert witnesses in the fields of forensic accounting, matrimonial litigation, and business valuation must possess a thorough understanding of the applicable standards, case law, evidentiary rules, and regulations specific to each engagement to effectively help the court understand the facts and evidence. The already daunting task of interpreting these rule ...

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U.S. SEC’s Piwowar Urges Companies to Pursue Mandatory Arbitration Clauses

SEC Official Suggests IPO Paperwork Could Include Arbitration Clauses Michael Piwowar, a Republican member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has suggested that companies be allowed to include mandatory arbitration clauses in paperwork for initial public offerings. To read the full article in Reuters, click: U.S. SEC’s Piwowar Urges Companies to Pursue Mandatory Arbitration Clauses. ...

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$475 Million Bargain Purchase Leads to an SEC Settlement

Was it a bargain purchase or not?  The SEC has reached a $6.2 million settlement with a Big 4 audit firm relating to auditing failures associated with Miller Energy Resources.  This post will examine the particulars of the case and provide some observations on fair value accounting that can be gleaned from the SEC settlement order. To read the full article in Mercer Capital's Financial Reporting Blog, click ...

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Crowded Out?

In October 2015, the SEC adopted final rules governing the crowdfunding of startups and Regulation Crowdfunding was issued in May 2016.  The new rules allow non-accredited investors to invest directly in startup (and other) companies that can raise up to one million dollars every twelve months through crowdfunding.  Now, a year after Regulation Crowdfunding came into effect, Samantha Albert, senior financia ...

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Q&A: New Guidance on Valuation of Contingent Consideration (Earnouts)

How do you get buyers and sellers to execute an M&A transaction when the prospects of an industry are extremely uncertain?  Part of the answer may be to structure the deal in a way that defers payment of a (significant) portion of the purchase price in the form of contingent consideration.  In this blog post, Sujan Rajbhandary, vice president, interviews Travis Harms, who leads Mercer’s valuation for fi ...

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Audit Committees Face Expertise, Risk Management Challenges

Risk Management, Compliance are Key Challenges, Auditors Say Forty-one percent of audit committee members point to risk management as the biggest challenge to their organizations this year, according to a recent KPMG survey.  Other major issues include regulatory compliance and "maintaining the control environment in an extended organization," respondents said. To read the full article in CFO, click: Audit ...

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