CPAB’s 2024 Crypto Assets Inspections Insights

The Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB) has just released a publication that provides insights and illustrative examples into common inspection findings for auditors of crypto-asset reporting issuers. The publication Crypto Assets Inspections Insights outlines good practices observed in audit files without findings and highlights some emerging risks.

As of February 2024, there were 72 Canadian reporting issuers in the crypto-asset industry audited by 26 public accounting firms registered with CPAB. Between 2020 to 2023, CPAB inspected 33 audit files of reporting issuers with crypto-asset activities and identified significant findings in 23 of those files. “Although we have seen improvements to the procedures performed by auditors of reporting issuers in this industry, and we have seen the rate of findings trending downward – in 2020 all files inspected had significant findings compared to 50 per cent in 2023 – the types of inspection findings and the rate of findings remain unacceptably high,” says the report.

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Oh Great, AI Can Detect Sarcasm Now

A recent article in Entrepreneur, written by Sherin Shibu, points out that sarcasm can be tricky for even humans to pick up — let alone a computer.

That's why researchers at the University of Groningen's Speech Technology Lab in the Netherlands decided to build an AI sarcasm detector that can pick up on tone of voice and convey those emotions through emojis embedded in transcribed text.

One of the researchers who worked on the project, Xiyuan Gao, presented the work on May 23, 2024, as part of a joint meeting held by the Acoustical Society of America and the Canadian Acoustical Association at the Shaw Center in Ottawa.

 Usually, sentiment analysis just "focuses on text," said Gao at that meeting. “The new approach goes deeper into the way people say things, not just what they say, which could help fields like AI-assisted health care. The findings of the study could also mean better AI virtual assistants that can pick up on tone.”

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AI Appears to Be Driving a Productivity Revolution

An article on PwC’s webpage dubs AI “the Industrial Revolution of knowledge work,” transforming how workers can use information, find insights and deliver results at speed and scale. How is this affecting jobs?

To find out, PwC analyzed more than half a billion job ads from 15 countries that together comprise over 30% of global GDP to find empirical evidence of AI’s impact. PwC examined how jobs are changing in industry sectors and individual occupations that are “AI-exposed,” which means AI can readily be used for some tasks. Examples of AI-exposed occupations are financial analysts, customer service agents and software coders.

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AI and Fraud: What CPAs Should Know

A recent article in the Journal of Accountancy says that artificial intelligence technology can be misused for fraud, but it is also a tool accountants can use to detect fraud. Authors Ray Sang and Clay Kniepmann point out that resourceful fraudsters “can now use AI to create convincingly realistic documents and data such as invoices, contracts, reports, spreadsheets and bank statements to support a fraud scheme. The more examples of legitimate documents available for an AI system to evaluate, the higher-quality fake the AI can generate. AI’s capabilities of generating documents — whether for fraudulent or legitimate purposes — are ever-increasing and now represent a dangerous tool in a fraudster’s arsenal.”

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The Three-Word Phrase That Will Stop People from Interrupting You

An article on the CNBC webpage, written by John Bowe, acknowledges that getting interrupted is a fact of life and whether it happens at work or elsewhere, it’s frustrating. “It limits your ability to express yourself, to contribute, to shine, and to feel good about yourself. Ultimately, if you can’t speak up, you can lose out professionally and emotionally.”

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Fostering a Healthy “Tone at the Top” at Audit Firms

In a statement released May 15, 2024, Paul Munter, the SEC’s Chief Accountants, spoke at length about how audit firms are private businesses with the same legitimate interest in making a profit that all private businesses have. But, he added, “audit firms have also been entrusted to be essential gatekeepers in maintaining the integrity of our capital markets. The leaders of audit firms, and the tone that they set, play a central role in ensuring that professionals within audit firms do not sacrifice integrity and professionalism for profit and growth.”

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The Future of Leadership Is Evolving

A recent article in Chief Executive, written by Kevin Cashman, notes that “as companies navigate our ever-complex, ever-emerging ecosystems, there is a growing demand for leaders to transcend conventional boundaries to deliver the best results across their businesses. Responding to the ever-evolving environment means embracing a holistic and dynamic leadership approach, one that not only fosters innovation and resilience, but also creates sustainable growth for all.”

As a result, he adds, “the next generation of leaders will need to possess a radically different mindset than their predecessors. This shift means that leaders will need to think beyond their core business, demonstrating a higher level of inquisitiveness and humility than ever before. For many, transcending self will be a requirement to serve and thrive.”

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CPAs Can Help Boost Societal Mental Health

An article on the CPA Canada webpage, written by Alex Correa, says that it’s easy for CPAs to overlook the widespread influence that can occur through just their work. “Their unique roles can lead to improvements in both mental and financial wellbeing, while contributing to the growth of local economies and, in doing so, making a substantial societal impact.” 

Correa points to the findings of an IPSOS poll from September 2023 that sheds some light on the emotional and lifestyle consequences of being in debt. Canadians who perceive their personal debt as terrible are more prone to experiencing increased stress (77%), anxiety (72%) and staying home more often (72%) to save money. “Canadians are feeling the pressures of our economy, with everything costing more and more,” says Michel Rodrigue, CPA and President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). “Particularly those who have mortgages or are hoping to find affordable housing.”

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Companies Focus on Internal Training to Fill Tech Skills Gaps

The 2024 State of Tech Talent Report just released by The Linux Foundation offers a comprehensive analysis of global trends in technology talent acquisition, retention, and management. “Through a survey-based approach involving individuals responsible for hiring and training IT professionals, the report provides valuable insights into the evolving landscape of technical skill development and organizational strategies in response to emerging technologies and economic challenges,” the report says.

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Conducting A Meaningful Ethics Audit

A May 7, 2024 article on the Wolters Kluwer webpage notes that most auditors start an ethics audit by reviewing the organization's ethics policy and confirming that new hires have all signed off on it. “While confirming the existence of such a policy is a good first step, the policy has little to do with an organization's daily actions and decisions.” Some companies have good ethics policies in place and likely required all employees to sign the policy in acknowledgment. “A better first step in an ethics audit would be to survey the employees about areas that point to a weakening ethical culture, paying special attention to factors that point to a tone at the top that prioritizes profits at all costs. For example, the factors of pressure, opportunity, and rationalization can lead an employee to fraudulent behavior. In the survey, consider directly asking if the employee feels pressure to act in a way that compromises their ethical standing.”

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CPA Founding Partner

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), one of the largest national accounting organizations in the world, has chosen to become a founding partner of ThinkTwenty20.