October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

The Internet is part of everyone’s life, every day. We use the Internet at work, home, for enjoyment, and to connect with those close to us.

However, being constantly connected brings increased risk of theft, fraud, and abuse. No country, industry, community, or individual is immune to cyber risks. As a nation, we face constant cyber threats against our critical infrastructure and economy. As individuals, cybersecurity risks can threaten our finances, identity, and privacy. Since our way of life depends on critical infrastructure and the digital technology that operates it, cybersecurity is one of our country’s most important national security priorities, and we each have a role to play—cybersecurity is a shared responsibility.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month is designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity and increasing the resiliency of the nation in the event of a cyber incident.

October 2014 marks the 11th Annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

Americans can follow simple steps to keep themselves, their assets, and their personal information safe online. Here are a few tips all Internet users can leverage to practice cybersecurity during National Cyber Security Awareness Month and throughout the year:

  • Set strong passwords and don’t share them with anyone.
  • Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by installing updates.
  • Maintain an open dialogue with your family, friends, and community about Internet safety.
  • Limit the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.
  • Be cautious about what you receive or read online—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

BMSS sister company Abacus IT Solutions can help you.  Whether you are in need of secure servers, an outsourced Chief Information Officer to oversee your security policy, a cloud solution, firewalls, or a network analysis, Abacus IT Solutions is here to serve your cybersecurity needs.

Contact Abacus IT Solutions at (205) 443-5900 today to discuss the cybersecurity needs of your business.

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Birmingham Innovation Week

How exciting to have this in Birmingham!  Hope to see you there.

Birmingham Innovation Week (September 22 – 26) is an annual celebration of innovation in Birmingham and the inventors, investors, entrepreneurs, supporters and catalysts that drive it. It is an open platform to showcase the numerous organizations and initiatives that support the Birmingham Innovation ecosystem and the rich human capital foundation that drives it.

The inaugural 2014 Innovation Week Birmingham will be an exciting rollercoaster of thought leadership, networking, pitching, and celebrating; everyone is encouraged to pick and choose from the event roster to fit your interests!

http://www.innovationweekbirmingham.com/

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Startupland Documentary Series

The Birmingham Venture Club and Birmingham Entrepreneur are proud to present Startupland! Startupland is a new documentary series that follows five startups from idea stage to seed fund. This program was named Inc. Magazine’s #1 “Must-Watch Documentary for Entrepreneurs” and features the founders of AOL, Reddit, Eventbrite, Blackboard, Mapquest, Evernote, Living Social, and more. Startupland aims to educate and empower entrepreneurs by bringing the accelerator experience to the screen.

With regional exclusivity, this three part series will be a one-of-a-kind experience for Birmingham startups.

Series 1- Screening of Episodes 1 + 2 with virtual Q & A Session with Startupland directors and entrepreneurs.

Part of Birmingham Innovation Week!

Monday, September 22, 2014, 4:45 pm – drinks & appetizers

Burr Forman, LLP

420 North 20th Street, 34th Floor, 35203

Tickets are $7.00 per person, per series. Click here to register until Noon on Monday, September 22. Free drink and appetizers until 5:15pm! Show begins at 5:30pm.

Click here to check out the trailer.

Series 2- Screening of Episodes  3 + 4- TBD

Series 3 – Screening of Episodes 4 + 5- TBD

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ASCPA Magazine Article on The Gartner Group’s Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2014

The Gartner Group released their Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2014 – a list of the top technology trends that have the potential to affect individuals, businesses and IT organizations during the next three years.

The Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants (ASCPA) asked me to provide my thoughts on the most meaningful and immediate technologies on their list that we are considering at Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith.

I discussed 7 of their items and gave pros and cons for each option. What do you think about my list?

Read my article  (page 5) in the ASCPA magazine…

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Alabama Launchpad Innovation & Entrepreneurship Conference

Alabama Launchpad is a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama Foundation. This innovative public-private partnership brings together Alabama’s university, business and economic development communities to encourage and support high-growth entrepreneurship in Alabama through a startup competition that accelerates the development of new ventures. There is a full agenda for the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Conference on September 25 & 26.  I hope to see you there!

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Leadership Spotlight – Keith Barfield

I was recently selected to share my insights on leadership.  The article, written by Michelle Baca, was featured in Convergence Coaching’s online website and was published September 4th, 2014.  In the article, I got to discuss my leadership style, the person who inspired that style and how I try to encourage leadership in others.  If you would like to read more about the article, please visit

http://www.convergencecoaching.com/leadership-spotlight-keith-barfield-founding-member-barfield-murphy-shank-smith-llc/.

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Cyber Liability and Network Protection Seminar

U.S. COMPANIES LOSE $100 BILLION A YEAR TO CYBERCRIMES AND OVER 500,000 JOBS

McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) investigated this growing problem and pointed out that this loss goes beyond finances and intellectual property. There are opportunity costs, damage to brand and reputation, consumer losses from fraud, the opportunity costs of service disruptions, “cleaning up” after incidents and the cost of increased spending on cyber security.

Join S.S. Nesbitt & Company, Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith and Abacus IT Solutions for a lunch and learn on “Cyber Liability and Network Protection and an Insurance & Benefits Update.”

Thursday, September 25
11:30AM- 1:00PM
S.S. Nesbitt & Company
3500 Blue Lake Drive, Suite 120

FREE.  Lunch will be provided.

Presentations by Steven Nichols, Wesley Ratliff, and Cooper Johnson of S.S. Nesbitt & Company and Brian Jackson of Abacus IT Solutions (sister company to BMSS).

RSVP to marketing@bmss.com.

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New Revenue Recognition Standard

Excuse me if this is a bit too much “accounting talk”, but I believe this is something that will affect your business.  Particularly those in software development.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board issued Revenue from Contracts with Customers in late May 2014. The new revenue recognition standard is principles-based, which is a big shift from and eliminates the industry-specific guidance under U.S. Generally Accepted Auditing Principles (GAAP) we have today. The revenue standard’s core principle is built on the contract between a vendor and a customer for the provision of goods and services. It attempts to depict the exchange of rights and obligations between the parties in the pattern of revenue recognition based on the consideration to which the vendor is entitled.

To accomplish this objective, the standard requires five basic steps:

(i) identify the contract with the customer,
(ii) identify the performance obligations in the contract,
(iii) determine the transaction price,
(iv) allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract, and
(v) recognize revenue when (or as) the entity satisfies a performance obligation.

Every entity’s daily accounting and the way it executes contracts with customers might be affected. Entities will generally be required to make more estimates and use more judgment than under current guidance, which will be highlighted for users through increased disclosure requirements.

What is the timeframe for implementation? Non-public entities are required to apply the revenue recognition standard for annual reporting periods beginning December 15, 2017, and interim periods within annual periods beginning December 15, 2018. Non-public entities can early adopt for annual reporting periods beginning December 15, 2016.

Although the required implementation date for non-public entities is more than three years away, companies should start to prepare for this change soon to choose the most appropriate transition method.

Three basic transition methods are available:

  • Full retrospective
  • Retrospective with certain practical expedients
  • Cumulative effect approach

Under the third alternative, an entity would apply the new revenue standard only to contracts that are incomplete under legacy U.S. GAAP at the date of initial application (e.g., January 1, 2017) and recognize the cumulative effect of the new standard as an adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings. That is, prior years would not be restated and additional disclosures would be required to enable users of the financial statements to understand the impact of adopting the new standard in the current year compared to prior years that are presented under legacy U.S. GAAP.

Each transition option has pros and cons. It might be beneficial for your business to move from U.S. GAAP to the new Financial Reporting Framework for Small & Medium-Sized Entities.

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Technology Industry Competition Drives Expansion and M&A Risks, According to BDO Study

Press Releases

Keri Toomey
Bliss Integrated Communication
212.584.5471
Keri@BlissIntegrated.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY COMPETITION DRIVES EXPANSION AND M&A RISKS, ACCORDING TO BDO STUDY

- INCREASED LABOR RISKS ALSO PLACE COMPANIES ON EDGE -

Chicago – May 27, 2014 – Faced with fierce competition and the unrelenting demand to innovate and meet consumer needs, technology companies are increasingly turning to strategies such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and global expansion to defend their market positions. As technology companies increase their size, change structure and confront new geographic frontiers, they raise their exposure to related risks. Furthermore, the evolving regulatory landscape and looming changes to U.S. GAAP add to a climate of uncertainty. According to a new report from BDO USA, LLP, while competition and regulation are the most frequently named risks (mentioned by 99 and 98 percent of technology companies, respectively), more and more technology companies are citing risks related to M&A, supplier and vendor concerns, and threats to international operations.

The 2014 BDO Technology RiskFactor Report, which analyzes the most recent SEC 10-K filings of the 100 largest publicly traded technology companies in the U.S., also found that companies are increasingly addressing labor-related risks in their filings (cited by 83 percent of companies, up from 55 percent last year). Labor concerns are on the rise amid the shortage of highly skilled labor, the growing cost for healthcare benefits and an improving labor market. Additionally, global competition for talent is vigorous, with 81 percent of companies citing concerns over their ability to attract and retain key personnel. Tech companies also note risks related to managing a geographically dispersed workforce. Increased focus on these challenges is also in line with trends identified in the BDO Technology Outlook Survey, which found that 95 percent of tech CFOs do not plan to offshore their activities in the coming year. As companies repatriate previously off-shored positions, they increase their need for highly-skilled U.S. professionals.

“Competition is the consistent theme in many of the top risks in the technology industry this year,” said Aftab Jamil, partner and leader of the Technology & Life Sciences practice at BDO USA, LLP. “Companies are battling to manage, attract and retain the best talent, efficiently oversee supply chains and protect their valuable intellectual property, all while developing the most innovative products at fiercely competitive prices. In this fast-paced market, any delay or unanticipated cost can be the difference between success and failure.” Continue reading

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IRS Virtual Currency Guidance: Virtual Currency Is Treated as Property for U.S. Federal Tax Purposes; General Rules for Property Transactions Apply

The following post was released by the IRS in their IRS Newswire, Issue Number: IR-2014-36.

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today issued a notice providing answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) on virtual currency, such as Bitcoin. These FAQs provide basic information on the U.S. federal tax implications of transactions in, or transactions that use, virtual currency.

In some environments, virtual currency operates like “real” currency — i.e., the coin and paper money of the United States or of any other country that is designated as legal tender, circulates, and is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance — but it does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction.

The notice provides that virtual currency is treated as property for U.S. federal tax purposes.  General tax principles that apply to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency.  Among other things, this means that:

  • Wages paid to employees using virtual currency are taxable to the employee, must be reported by an employer on a Form W-2, and are subject to federal income tax withholding and payroll taxes.
  • Payments using virtual currency made to independent contractors and other service providers are taxable and self-employment tax rules generally apply.  Normally, payers must issue Form 1099.
  • The character of gain or loss from the sale or exchange of virtual currency depends on whether the virtual currency is a capital asset in the hands of the taxpayer.
  • A payment made using virtual currency is subject to information reporting to the same extent as any other payment made in property.

Further details, including a set of 16 questions and answers, are in Notice 2014-21, posted March 25, 2014 on IRS.gov.

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