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Monday, October 13, 2014

Good News: Investor Confidence Hits New Highs

This year's edition of the Center for Audit Quality's Main Street Investor Survey brings good news. Investor confidence is up.

Since 2007, the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) has commissioned an annual survey of U.S. investors as part of our efforts to enhance understanding of and confidence in capital markets. Each year, the Main Street Investor Survey measures retail investor confidence in U.S. capital markets, global capital markets, and audited financial information, as well as confidence in investing in publicly traded companies. The survey also asks about the current financial and economic landscape and its impact on investors.

Let's take a closer look at this year's findings. They bode well not just for investors, but for our entire economy, which relies on vibrant financial markets as an engine of capital formation and economic growth.

Investor Confidence Shows Strength

This year, confidence in investing in U.S. public companies reached an all-time high of 80%. Additionally, 73% of investors indicate they have some, quite a bit, or a great deal of confidence in U.S. capital markets, an increase of four percentage points from 2013 and the highest level since 2009.

To read full article, click here.

Source: Cindy Fornelli (

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tesco's Accounting Irregularities Are Mind Blowing

It wasn’t long ago that Tesco was a retail darling. Across the industry it was held up as a great example of a Retail Winner. After all, it does go neck-in-neck with Carrefour as the world’s second largest retailer, behind Walmart. And customer loyalty initiatives, overseen by dunnHumby, are considered some of the world’s best retail practices.

Sure the company stumbled in its U.S. expansion.  Fresh & Easy has never succeeded in finding the customer base it was seeking, even though by many accounts, the store had a great product assortment. Still, no one saw something like this coming.

So how did it come to this? The Wall Street Journal appears to have been first out of the gate in announcing that the company has issued a new profit warning and suspended four senior executives due to serious accounting irregularities. The cause has been identified as early bookings of “Commercial Income” and delayed booking of costs.

To read full article, click here.

Source: Paula Rosenblum (

Friday, October 3, 2014

Unemployment falls below 6% for first time since 2008

The nation's unemployment rate fell below 6% in September for the first time in six years.

The rate came in at 5.9%, while employers added 248,000 jobs last month.

The unemployment rate fell last month because more people were getting jobs, not because they were dropping out of the labor force as they have at times during the economic recovery. The number of people in the workforce was essentially unchanged.

Jobs growth was strong in professional and business services, particularly in employment services and consulting. The retail and health care sectors, which have been a powerhouse throughout the recovery, also gained. Construction added 16,000 jobs.

The hiring boost came after a surprisingly weak August, though the Department of Labor Friday revised that month's figure upward to 180,000 jobs. Still, August was the first time figures came in below 200,000 since January.

The consensus forecast from economists surveyed by CNNMoney was for a jobs gain of 215,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 6.1%. On average, the economy has been adding well over 200,000 jobs a month this year, a very positive sign.

To read full article, click here.

Source: Tami Luhby (

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Employee Ownership Quiz: Six Surprising ESOP Facts

With stock prices perched at precarious levels, and an Internet-technology stock selloff already partially in motion, there’s a great anxiety among many business owners and investors hoping for a smart exit strategy.

My friends at private equity funds are loaded down with some 7,500 portfolio companies and would like to greatly reduce that number, book some big gains and focus on tomorrow’s acquisitions. Venture capital funds are eyeing the mythical IPO window, wondering whether the startup they’ve backed can squeeze through or will have to wait – a delay that could necessitate another round of investment by funders.

Our economy certainly benefits from the dynamic and varied nature of U.S. capital markets. But for a lot of companies, especially relatively stable middle market service and manufacturing concerns, a durable ownership structure, as opposed to one that changes twice a decade, helps build long-term value best. I’ve spent my career helping founder/entrepreneur/owner/CEOs structure Employee Stock Ownership Plans, or ESOPs, that offer just such durability.

If you’ve thought about selling your business, here’s a quiz that will help you better understand ESOPs.

1. ESOPs are pretty rare, right – I’d be the only one within miles?

Probably not. With more than 11,000 ESOP companies in the U.S., they out-number private equity-owned companies – roughly 7,500, as reported above – and the roughly 5,000 companies listed on either the New York Stock Exchange or on Nasdaq. ESOPs collectively employ more than 10 million workers in the U.S., and the ownership format is typically more stable than others.

To read full article, click here.

Source: Mary Josephs (

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Inversion on Corporate Inversions

The U.S. Treasury department just made it more difficult for corporations to move their headquarters to lower tax countries, an effort to slow the recent trend of corporate inversions plaguing the Fed by decreasing their tax revenue. Is it too late to cancel my ticket to Ireland?

To clarify, corporations reincorporate to a tax-friendlier country while still keeping their U.S. operations intact. Essentially they get the best of both worlds… or both countries in this case. Some recent examples are Burger King acquiring Tim Horton to move to Canada or Abbvie acquiring Shire to move to Ireland. Corporate inversions are technically legal but have received a large amount of criticism. President Obama has suggested that corporate inversions are unpatriotic, given they still participate in the U.S. markets but are not subject to the taxing regulations.

Companies used to simply park their profits overseas, where U.S. tax authorities could not reach until it is brought home. The problem is that the companies could not make much use of the money while it is overseas.

To read full article, click here.

Source: Michael Hennel (

Friday, September 19, 2014

Getting Audited? First Rule: Don't Panic!

Dread. Anxiety. Fear. It happens. Immediately upon learning you've been targeted for an audit, the first thing to do is not panic! Look over the notice carefully. Take deep breaths. Often, the IRS is just questioning one deduction that appears unusual to them.

Even if the matter appears simple, there are pitfalls that can trip up even the most careful taxpayer. Although the standard substantiation requirement for any deduction is a proof of payment combined with evidence that the payment was for an allowable deduction, there are special circumstances, such as automobile use deductions that have extra substantiation requirements.

In addition, the 1993 Clinton tax reform act added a new type of substantiation requirement for charitable deductions over $250 in which you must have substantiation of the deduction in your possession before the date of your tax return.

To read full article, click here.

Source: Narine Harootoonian (

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Accounting Businesses Top List Of Money-Making Industries

Few people know better than accountants what goes into a company’s bottom line. So it’s not too surprising that accounting and related fields top the list of the most profitable industries in the U.S.

Sageworks, a financial information company, recently found that accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services (NAICS 5412) generated more profit per dollar of sales, on average, than other U.S. industries, according to a financial statement analysis for the 12 months ended July 1. Collectively, the accounting-related industries had an average net profit margin of 19.8 percent, which is more than double the average net profit margin for privately held companies overall.

Also at the top of the list of money-making industries were legal services (NAICS 5411), oil and gas extraction (NAICS 2111), and the rental or leasing of commercial and industrial machinery and equipment (NAICS 5324). Offices of dentists (NAICS 6212) rounded out the top five on the list of 15 most profitable industries, according to the financial statement analysis.

To read full article, click here.

Source: Mary Ellen Biery (