October 31, 2020
COVID-19 has opened up many challenges for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) working with accounting clients. One way CPAs can prepare for these challenges is to take continuing professional education (CPE) courses that cover some of the new risks and problems associated with COVID-19. This article will discuss important CPE areas that would be beneficial to a CPA dealing with COVID-19 accounting challenges.
Internal Controls Testing
Once the stay-at-home orders were issued back in March and April, many employees had to shift their work location from their offices to their homes. The shift from office to remote locations and the change from in-person to virtual financial processes heightened the risk of a breakdown in internal controls. It is unlikely that organizations were prepared for employees to instantly shift their workspace to a virtual one and a new set of challenges presented themselves related to developing and maintaining strong internal controls. Fortunately, CPAs can find many CPE courses covering a variety of internal controls topics, including some courses specifically addressing COVID-19 internal control concerns. Keywords to search when looking for a CPE course covering internal controls:
- Risk Mitigation
- Risk Management
- Information Technology Controls
- Internal Control
The variety of courses available make it easy for CPAs to find a course meeting their exact needs whether it is a general overview or a detailed scope. For example, a CPA may want to review their knowledge of a vast topic, such as fraud. Courses are available to cover basics, such as how to apply the fraud triangle to the new internal controls in place in an organization and to also cover specifics, such as how to test for fraud within the internal controls of a specific business cycle, such as cash disbursements.
Financial Statement Testing
COVID-19 increased the risk of material misstatement of certain areas on the financial statements. Taking CPE courses targeting these higher risk areas could greatly benefit both the financial statement preparer and the financial statement auditor. With the financial challenges faced by many organizations there is an increased risk that accounting estimates associated with revenue recognition calculated by a client will be overstated. Key areas for increased misstatement risk:
- Allowance for Doubtful Accounts
- Intangible Assets
Searching CPE courses for any of these keywords would drill down to the courses offered on these specific topics. There has also been a major standard update related to revenue recognition: ASC Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers. Fortunately there are CPE course options available to train CPAs on this new update and how to apply it during the COVID-19 crisis.
Rise to the Challenge
COVID-19 has presented many new business challenges for CPAs, both in public accounting and in the private sector. Fortunately, there are many great CPE courses available to educate and prepare CPAs to take on the challenges associated with this virus.