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Keynote presentations

Monday, August 20   | 8:00 – 9:55 am

A. Professional Issues Update

Bill Reeb, CPA, CITP, CGMA, AICPA Vice Chair

Currently the CEO of the Succession Institute, a management consulting firm based in Austin, Texas, Reeb has had a lengthy career consulting for businesses of all sizes, primarily in the areas of organizational structure and governance, operations and accountability. He has founded six small businesses, including a CPA firm, prior to starting the Succession Institute.  Reeb has an extensive history of working with state CPA societies. He has conducted strategic planning with their volunteer boards, worked through bylaws and governance issues and led staff development programs. Additionally, he has provided education and training to state CPA society members for decades, including lectures, leadership programs, workshops, self-study programs and videos. He is a member of the both the Texas and Colorado State CPA Societies. Reeb also serves as an advisory member on the board of the CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA). A prolific author, Reeb has published hundreds of articles and columns both in the United States and abroad. He has been a leading voice on succession planning and becoming a trusted business advisor, co-authoring books and contributing materials to the AICPA’s Succession Resource Center on both topics. For his many accomplishments, Reeb has been repeatedly recognized by Inside Public Accounting as one of the top 10 most recommended CPA firm consultants. He was named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential CPAs by Accounting Today and CPA Magazine has listed him among the Top 100 Most Influential Practitioners.

10:15 - 11:55 am

B. Crisis Leadership: September 11, 2001 - The White House

Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Darling, United States Marine Corps (Ret.)

On September 11th 2001, Lieutenant Colonel Darling was working in the White House Military Office and was initially tasked to coordinate airlift assets for the President’s evacuation to an undisclosed site. However, he was quickly recruited to provide his military expertise and became a key liaison between the Vice President, National Security Advisor and the Pentagon and worked directly with the National Command Authority to respond to the terrorist attacks.  Lieutenant Colonel Darling witnessed first hand the enormity of the crisis leadership decisions that were made that day on behalf of all Americans.

In this insightful and inspirational session, learn what the 9/11 Commission was initially blocked from knowing; who knew what, when, and what specific actions were taken by our nation's highest leader's to defend America. 

1:00 - 2:40 pm | Concurrent Sessions

C1. GAO’s Fraud Risk Management Framework
David Cotton, CPA, CFE, CGFM

Fraud risk in government and governmental programs is different than fraud risk in the commercial sector.  Managing this risk in government and governmental programs requires a different approach.  To this end, the Government Accountability Office published a Fraud Risk Management Framework in 2015.  The 2016 Fraud Reduction and Data Analytics Act now requires Federal agencies to incorporate the leading practices in GAO’s Framework.  These concepts, principles, and leading practices are equally applicable to state and local governmental organizations.  This session explains how and why fraud risk in government is different and provides an overview of the GAO Fraud Risk Management Framework.

 C2. Mid Year Tax Update: What Lurks Beneath
Bradley Burnett, J.D., LL.M.

While you were taking tax season head on and recovering from it, guess what happened? Congress passed at least two new pieces of tax legislation (including highly substantive Technical Corrections and Extenders) over 500 court cases, 200 IRS IRB developments (including regs), 2,500 IRS rulings and other goodies came down. What did you miss? More than you might think. We’ll get you caught up.  This built-from-scratch seminar delivers up-to-the-day changes in federal tax law. The course, delivered at a brisk pace and with humor, is designed to meet the needs of the tax planner and return preparer by identifying and responsibly exploring recent important tax developments.

C3. Career Strategy - Think of it as a 12-step program for Workaholics
Courtney Kirschbaum

The days of the gold watch and decades with one company are long gone. How do you manage your career in the modern workplace?  Most leaders are too busy focusing on the bottom line and day to day work to strategize big picture and long term. This session is part instruction, part Q/A  taking your questions to drive the content forward. From tools to make significant career transitions to brushing up on your job hunting skills, you’ll get the latest tools and trends in the modern work place and job hunt. If you’re thinking of changing jobs, targeting a promotion or pay raise or want to make career change, don’t miss this session.

 C4. Tales of True Tech Crime: Ripped from the Headlines
Brian Tankersley, CPA.CITP

Security is a top concern for CPAs every year, yet many hacks result from organizations failing to implement effective information technology controls. In this session, learn about critical controls by using case studies from recent security incidents. This strategy helps you understand risks and appropriate responses. Find out how to reduce your risk associated with unauthorized access, theft of information, identity theft, data exfiltration, tax refund fraud, and more.

3:00 - 4:40 pm | Concurrent Sessions

D1. Carlo Ponzi, Bernard Madoff, and … the Social Security Program?
David Cotton, CPA, CFE, CGFM

Carlo Ponzi “invented” the Ponzi Scheme.  Bernie Madoff seems to have “perfected” it.  Some politicians have recently called the Social Security Program nothing but a Ponzi Scheme. This session explains Ponzi’s and Madoff’s two schemes, describes key similarities and differences, and explains why the most sophisticated investors in the 21st century were duped by this most basic of all fraud schemes.  The session also explains the defining and descriptive characteristics of Ponzi schemes and explore whether it is fair or accurate to compare such schemes to the Social Security Program.

D2.  Estate, Gift, Fiduciary and Succession Planning Update: What do We Do Now?
Bradley Burnett, J.D., LL.M.

After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, do existing estate plans hit the target or miss the boat now and later? A recent study indicates only 3% of current estate plans in America currently hit the mark appropriately in light of recent estate and gift tax law developments. This course helps you to focus on and hit the mark.  

Topics include:

  • Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes and impact   
  • How income tax step up in basis more and more dictates estate planning
  • Keep credit shelter trusts, dump them or disclaim away from them – Why do we care?
  • Does portability really carry the day at the end of the day?
  • The next 2 year gifting window and why we can’t ignore it
  • Avoid being blindsided by state estate or inheritance taxes                             
  • Trends in recent IRS enforcement activity      
  • Do you and your client's existing estate plans hit the mark or miss the boat?  

D3. The TEDx Talk Killed Toastmasters
Courtney Kirschbaum

Polish up your speaking skills and learn how to write and talk like a professional.  Discover the same tricks and tips used by paid speakers and presidential speech writers. You will see samples of great talks and learn professional secrets that take you beyond Toastmasters. Learn the characteristics of a keynote and the golden rules to write and deliver one. Find out what to do to get started as a public speaker and get tools and next steps to start. This session gives you valuable tools whether you are speaking at a weekly meeting, giving a TEDx talk or running for office. 

 D4. Security: A Practical Guide
Brian Tankersley, CPA.CITP

For many, security incidents are not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when.” Therefore, you should use an end-to-end approach for protecting your data and in this session, you learn how to do just that. Specific topics covered include multi-factor authentication, password managers, encryption, mobile device management, anti-virus, firewalls, policies, and other tools that you can implement immediately. Remember, spending more does not make you more secure, but doing the right things can.

Keynote Session

Tuesday, August 21 | 8:00 - 9:40 am

E. On Fire - The 7 Choices to Ignite Your Radically Inspired Life

John O'Leary

We live in a world where “accidental living” – mindlessly moving through routines, wasting countless hours on social media, or complaining about what’s wrong in our jobs, families and society – has become the norm. But John O’Leary reminds us that just because we got out of bed this morning, does not mean that we are truly living. What would our day, impact and output look like if we lived a radically inspired life, every, single day? Living radically inspired means you learn from past mistakes, rise above challenges and thrive no matter the circumstances. No one embodies this more than  John O’Leary – who was nearly killed in a devastating fire at age nine. Today, John inspires 50,000+ people each year around the world.  In his #1 national bestselling book ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life, John has identified choices to transform your life and business.

John shares the critical truth that “inflection points” – moments in time that change everything that follows – occur daily. John will help you realize it’s your choice how inflection points affect you. Your life has much less to do with what happens to you, and much more to do with how you react to it. Are you ready to live on fire?

10:00 - 11:45 am | Concurrent Sessions

F1. Fraud Brainstorming and Interviewing Techniques for Auditors and Accountants
David Cotton, CPA, CFE, CGFM

Two of the most important requirements under SAS 99 (the fraud auditing standard) are engagement team brainstorming and expanded inquiries of auditee personnel.  The skill with which these important requirements are carried out can mean the difference between discovering material fraud and … a lawsuit.  This session addresses the following:

  • Why brainstorming is important
  • Rules for effective brainstorming
  • The brainstorming documentation dilemma
  • Successful interviewing: what to do and what not to do
  • Integrating brainstorming results with interviewing; and vice versa

These requirements definitely demand that auditors develop new skills and change the way they conduct audits.  This session uses case studies and role-playing exercises to provide hands-on insights into these important skill sets.

F2. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Individual and Investment Update
Bradley Burnett, J.D., LL.M.

The new tax legislation takes a far deeper and wider cut than meets the untrained eye. Tax Reform is popping at the seams with new privileges and challenges.

Highlights Include:

  • Nooks, crannies and consequences of new income tax rate cuts
  • Everybody gets a good deal, except for the ones who don’t
  • New skinny on standard deduction, itemized, personal exemptions and child credit
  • Is the AMT grim reaper dead – Or must we continue to slay it?
  • Taxation of investments – Deck shuffled and re-shuffled on after-tax rate of return
  • Taxation of marriage affected – For better or for worse?
  • Effect on and interaction with state income taxes
  • All new Kiddie Tax demands re-think of child strategies
  • Are you better off after Tax Reform or not? Profiles of victors and victims
  • Effective dates and strategies all over the place
  • Critical choices on 2017 returns
  • Best moves on later tax returns

F3. They Don’t Teach Success in College
Courtney Kirschbaum
This session starts by exploring why some people are massively successful despite the odds being stacked against them - born without privilege and sometimes never even earning a college degree, they emerge at the top of their field or industry.  It’s not long hours, a genius IQ or insider tips on the stock market. You’ll walk away from this session with 10 tools and tactics that really do make a difference. Session attendees reach out to me months later and say, “What I learned in this session changed my life.” 

 F4. Emerging Technologies: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning - A Primer
Brian Tankersley, CPA.CITP

The next wave of technology is arriving now and you need to choose from various technologies and tools to maintain and improve your productivity. Each emerging technology – among them Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Machine Learning – will be explained including why it is important and how it works. Additionally, actual products will be used as examples in each category to turn this discussion from a theoretical overview to a practical selection and how-to cookbook.

12:45 - 2:25 pm | Concurrent Sessions

G1. Resolving Ethical Dilemmas—You Make the Call
David Cotton, CPA, CFE, CGFM

If you said to a group of accountability professionals, “raise your hand if you are ethical,” every hand would go up.  Why, then, do we have ethical failures?  One answer is that not everyone can agree on the “right” course of action to take in every situation.  This session explores several potential ethical dilemmas to determine how and why trained accountability professionals sometimes (often?) run afoul of our ethics principles.

 G2. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: §199A Pass-Through Deduction and Business Update
Bradley Burnett, J.D., LL.M.

The all-new §199A pass-through deduction cuts non-C Corp income tax rates to the lowest in over 3 decades, but only for those eligible. The problem? Some higher income taxpayers, along with some lower income taxpayers, are aced out or trimmed back.

The new legislation (TCJA) seems to turn the choice of business entity analysis on its ear. Or does it? And, if it does, which ear? Is racing out to become a C Corp all it’s cracked up to be? This session cracks the egg, makes it understandable and instructs how to plan for best results.  


  • Complex new pass-through entity deduction (QBID) clearly explained
  • Why wages and property may be important in each business
  • Is the definition of “specified service business” (SSB) the monster it appears to be?
  • Lasso income into the right spots & maximize QBID (turn high taxed tears to joy)
  • Consequences of new Corp rate cuts – Are C Corps still like lobster traps?
  • New rule cuts a break on switching S to C - But, what about switching from C to S
  • Outlier strategy if you don’t buy green bananas anymore
  • Cost recovery – Fast choices and impact short and long term
  • Tax accounting, inventory and UNICAP revolution – Huge deal
  • We’ll have 3115s coming out our ears
  • Interest expense deduction assaulted for some – Can you elect out? At what cost?
  • Entertainment deduction axed. Real question: What is left?
  • Current business losses and NOLs need extremely clear thinking
  • Winners, losers and the newly perplexed (how to help them all)

G3. How to be a MasterMind through a Mastermind
Courtney Kirschbaum

Masterminding is a leadership and problem solving process and tool.  Popularized by Think and Grow Rich author Napoleon Hill and used by others like rags to riches millionaire and founder of AON insurance Company,  W. Clement Stone, who said it was the single biggest factor in his success.  Successful people have used them for decades, probably centuries. Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison Warren G Harding and Henry Ford were in a mastermind together (and that turned out pretty well.) The process is simple and effective for hastening problem solving and generating better ideas, but few people know how to run one or run it well.  This session teaches you the simple process, then gives you the opportunity to practice it. You can take it back to your firm, company, or community group. An excellent leadership and development tool, it’s engaging, enlightening and under utilized. This will be the session you talk about when you leave the conference. 

 G4. Tech Update
Brian Tankersley, CPA.CITP

What to do? What to buy? What to watch for? What to avoid? Get your answers in Tech Update where you will learn about who offers reliable solutions and what is changing the market. Specific topics included are:  technology trends, recommended hardware specifications, applications and licensing, and security. This session provides concentrated exposure to technology that may reveal ideas, trends, and options that you had not discovered through your normal channels.

Keynote Presentation

Tuesday, August 21 |  2:45 - 4:25

H. It's About Time

Bill Sorensen

Bill is the former Mayor of Bismarck and long-time Medora Musical performer.  His inspirational message will be the perfect ending to a great convention!

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