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Adding Value to your Practice

Every accountant’s practice is different from that of his or her peers. Whether it’s the client base that has driven the practice to offer specialty services or a particular interest and skill on the part of the professional, every firm varies, sometimes more than others, in the services it offers.

Every accountant’s practice is different from that of his or her peers.
Whether it’s the client base that has driven the practice to offer specialty
services or a particular interest and skill on the part of the professional,
every firm varies, sometimes more than others, in the services it offers. And
just as the expertise in niche fields varies by practitioner, so too do the
capabilities of the various programs on the market that are designed to fill
the niche voids that the all-in-one accounting suites often miss. There are
literally hundreds of specialty applications geared toward professionals who
offer these core special services, from in-depth financial analysis, to proactive
tax planning and business valuation. This special section identifies several
products on the market that are designed to provide professional accountants
with the tools to assist their clients in these matters.


Far too many small businesses and individuals lack a solid understanding of
their financial condition and how various factors contribute to their short
and long-term success or failure. But even when they have accounting programs
that develop basic financial statements, these small business owners and managers
still often lack the ability to see how the data on these statements really
relates to their business. Obviously, the advice of a professional accountant
goes a long way, but there is frequently a language compatibility issue: A professional
accountant may understand the financials but may not be as adept at communicating
their meaning to the small business owner without a financial background.

Many products on the market are geared toward assisting both small business
owners and public accountants with overcoming this issue by providing useful
data presented in understandable formats. This often includes charts and graphs,
as well as narrative discussions about key indicators. These programs also offer
budgeting and planning tools, some with sophisticated “what-if”
scenario-building capabilities that allow the professional accountant to input
variables to show their client the potential effects of taking action X as opposed
to action Y. Additionally, benchmarking functions are available that let a business
see how their business performance rates against those of their peers in the
same industry group and with the same general characteristics.

To adapt an old adage: “Businesses that fail to plan can plan to fail.”
But those that recognize the importance of seeing the whole picture and how
each component of a business interrelates stand a much better chance at overcoming
weaknesses and capitalizing on their strengths. The products in this section
offer varying functions, but all are geared toward helping businesses or individuals
see the big picture and be better prepared for the future.


Financial Statement Analysis Tools

BizBench ( provides financial
professionals with a tool for comparing a client’s business financials
with those of similar-sized companies in its industry (by NAICS code) using
a simple, automated process for calculating performance ratios. The software
provides practitioners with the insight needed to help clients identify and
improve on areas of diagnosed weakness, while also building on strong performance
areas. This enables the development of strategies that can help the business
be continuously more productive and profitable.

BizBench includes scenario “what if” planning capabilities with
its Back Calculation feature that calculates improvement targets based on desired
percentile rankings of client ratios. The customizable client-ready management
report was developed by management consultants to be understandable by most
general managers and business owners, and includes strong visual elements such
as charts and graphs, and plain-language narrative explanations and diagnostics.
The fully editable 45-page client report also contains a section that identifies
specific areas for potential improvement and presents good business practices
that can assist in improving performance in the diagnosed weaker areas. The
system’s goal-setting and scenario functions allow the financial professional
to use projected improvement data to calculate new ratios and rankings. The
2007 version will include an Analytical Review section.

In addition to offering benchmarking of income statements and balance sheets
to other firms in the same NAICS industry group, BizBench compares nearly 20
ratios, including various liquidity, efficiency, operating, financing and profitability
ratios, to diagnose how the business stacks up against its peers. BizBench uses
the RMA Annual Statement Studies database, which includes data for nearly 700
industry codes. Because of the high level of trust that the financial industry
places in the RMA data, BizBench reports are valuable for negotiating financing
from banks and investors. BizBench 2006 costs $749 for a single-user license.
BizBench 2007 will be released in early December.


— CaseWare IDEA

CaseWare IDEA (
is an enterprise-level system that provides powerful financial data analysis
and planning that enables auditors and analysts to improve their audit performance
and extend their capabilities. IDEA is used by thousands of accountants, companies
and governments in 90 countries, and is available in 12 languages. The system
meets recently strengthened requirements relating to fraud prevention/identification
and internal control, and has the ability to automatically find and integrate
data from virtually any accounting system. CaseWare also offers IDEA Express,
a mid-market version of IDEA, as well as the Scenarios system, which is offered
as an add-on to its Working Papers system, providing data analysis and performance
information for that workflow management program. (A single-user license of
Scenarios costs $199. A multi-user version (up to five) is $599, and additional
users after the first five are $99 per user.)

IDEA is exceptionally powerful, yet offers an easy-to-use customizable interface
and various Help tools that keep it manageable for professional accountants.
Recent enhancements to the system have improved navigation, import and record
grouping functions, as well as increased integration, indexing and task streamlining.
The program can extract data from anywhere on the network, whether stored on
a mainframe, Mac or PC, enabling users to display, analyze, manipulate or otherwise
use that data for analysis and planning purposes. One of the most impressive
capabilities of the system is found in the Report Reader, which can extract
pertinent information in reports printed to files created by other databases
and create a file of the data contained there.

IDEA then allows filtering and exception testing for up to 50 criteria to
glean user-specified data, such as payments over a certain threshold, specific
types of transactions or date-based queries. IDEA’s nearly universal data
import capability, which includes XML and plug-ins from accounting packages,
is one of CaseWare IDEA’s three central functions, along with exception
testing tools and a function that enables users to merge databases, bringing
various transaction and master file data into one database. IDEA also includes
a free-form search function. CaseWare IDEA costs $1,995 per user with volume
discounts available. IDEA Express costs $499 for the first user; $399 for each
additional user.


— ProSystem fx Profit Driver

As a part of CCH’s ProSystem fx line of accounting and business
productivity applications (,
Profit Driver combines financial diagnostics and analytics to offer accountants
an interactive planning tool for their business clients. The system includes
scenario building functions, as well as benchmarking capabilities that let users
select data pertaining to a specific industry and business demographics, which
allows “side-by-side” comparisons of a business with its peers to
see what they are doing right or wrong, while also comparing the business to
industry standards.
Detailed analysis and planning capabilities, including the scenario and benchmarking
functions, can show immediately the effect of key variables on the financial
health of the business, from changes in cash flow, AR aging and inventory, to
sales and growth effects. The system takes these variables, along with factual
data from the company’s financials, and develops detailed assessments,
along with recommended plans for reaching goals and benchmarks. The budget vs.
actual function provides additional planning capabilities by showing the effects
of budget variables.

Profit Driver’s reporting functions allow financial professionals to
output company financials and other data into either a spreadsheet format or
into more client-friendly deliverables that offer plain-English narrative explanations
and graphical charts and graphs. This ability to “speak” in two
languages (one for the accountant and one for the business owner) is a great
feature that lets both sides receive data in a method with which they are most
comfortable and from which they can get the most insight. The system offers
a wide array of reports, from a one-page summary of the business’ financials
to a 20-page in-depth Financial Diagnostic Report.

Profit Driver can be used either as a stand-alone system or as an integrated
component of CCH’s ProSystem fx Office, which includes full data
sharing with the engagement and tax applications, thereby allowing quicker analysis
and less redundant data entry. The program can also import data from spreadsheets.
ProSystem fx Profit Driver costs $2,350; additional users are $775


Software — Microsoft Forecaster

Microsoft subsidiary FRx Software (
develops Microsoft Forecaster, a budgeting and planning application designed
for small, mid-market and divisions of larger corporate businesses, giving them
greater control over their budgeting process in a fully integrated, web-based
environment. The system has become one of the most widely used by such businesses,
with a user base of more than 1,300 customers worldwide and interface capabilities
with more than 50 financial accounting systems. Microsoft Forecaster offers
extensive collaborative functions that allow users to work together using various
features, including automatic e-mail notification of upcoming deadlines, a centralized
bulletin board for goals, objectives and instructions that can be posted, and
the sharing of notes and attachments during review processes.

This collaboration also enables departmental management to interact, ensuring
that budgets are complementary, while also allowing them to work and enter data
on their own. This helps to reduce duplicate entry time and the risk of errors.
Changes to cost centers can be made directly by management, with data immediately
available for reporting after input. The system’s calculation capabilities
feature a Rollups function that eases the reorganization of charts of accounts,
with the ability to create rollups for accounts, cost centers or other accounting

Microsoft Forecaster streamlines much of the budgeting process, such as the
creation of budgets per department, cost center or the entire enterprise; changing
budget models; consolidating budgets; and collaboration tasks. This streamlined
process, in addition to automatically incorporated data, makes the budgeting
and planning process immediately available at any time, giving management the
ability to access up-to-date and historical financial information that can aid
them in decision making, while also shortening the budgeting time cycle, reducing
printing and distribution costs and overall time savings throughout the process.
Microsoft Forecaster pricing begins at $8,500 (estimated retail price) and is
based on the size of the implementation and the number of named users.


Computer Company — Net Worth Express PRO Edition

Net Worth Express (
is primarily focused on producing statements of individual net worth, but the
vendor has developed the system to approach the task as if the individual were
a business entity. Therefore, the system’s output is, for all intents
and purposes, a collection of financial statements that comply with GAAP and
focus on revenues, assets and liabilities. The system is tailored to meet the
needs of accounting professionals, individuals, financial professionals and
those in the banking/lending field.

The primary benefit to the financial analysis tools is to improve an individual’s
understanding of their financial condition and to aid in maintaining and securing
credit from financial institutions. Additionally, the system enables professional
accountants and their individual clients to create more accurate personal financial
plans and achieve more productive usage of personal finances by making the most
effective use of assets and liabilities.

The system’s reports are prepared for use by financial institutions,
making it easy for lending officers to find the data they need during the decision-making
process, while also providing an understandable format for the user. Reports
are fully customizable and can be printed on firm letterhead, and include the
personal financial statement, balance sheets, detailed asset and liability schedules,
income and expense reports, and an accountant’s compilation report. Although
the system does not directly integrate with outside accounting packages, Net
Worth Express features an intuitive interface with schedules and balance sheets
that flow and guide the user through entry of financial data, making the process
as efficient as possible and offering assistance tools as needed.

“The diversity of client assets that we have to monitor seems endless,”
said Net Worth Express user Terry Rodgers, a CFA with Orlando, Florida-based
Charter Investment Advisors. “What we find is that Net Worth Express has
the flexibility to encompass so many different asset types that it fits almost
anyone — it can even be customized by the user to include unusual data
when necessary. No matter how involved the initial data, the reports are clear
and quite useful to anyone reviewing the information.” Net Worth Express
PRO Edition is available starting at $59.99.


Horizon Technologies — PlanGuru

New Horizon Technologies’ PlanGuru (
is a stand-alone budgeting, projection and forecasting system geared toward
public accountants with small and mid-market business clients, providing comprehensive
financial modeling capabilities that enable professional accountants to easily
prepare AICPA-compliant integrated balance sheets, income statements and cash
flow analysis, along with client-ready deliverable reports. PlanGuru is available
in Professional and Consultant editions.

The system’s spreadsheet interface is simple to use, while additional
Help utilities such as wizards provide guidance throughout the system. Business
planning tools include several basic projection methods, such as fixed amount,
function of a non-financial item, percentage of another category and trend projects.
It allows adjustments for prior-period amounts and offers up to 21 financial
ratios and breakeven. Trends can be computed based on historical data, and the
system can automatically calculate amortization on notes payable and prepaid
expenses. It also supports special liabilities such as tax withheld, income
and real estate taxes.

PlanGuru allows the creation of budgets and projections for up to five years
based on monthly, quarterly or annual bases. Budgeting and projections include
drilldown capability to calculations and can be started mid-year, with fully
customizable line items. A note feature allows comments to be added to any line
of any document within the system. Projection functions can support multiple
what-if scenarios that can be easily saved for future use, refinement or assessment.

“Being able to know what is happening in my business and in my clients’
businesses on a real-time basis is extremely beneficial,” said David Maybaum,
a CPA in Lynbrook, New York. “Plan Guru makes it so that I don’t
have to wait months to see a financial statement to know both the positives
and negatives. This way we can take better advantage of the positives and take
measures to stop the bleeding from the negatives.”

PlanGuru can import data from QuickBooks, Peachtree, Excel spreadsheets and
plain text, and can output to Excel, Word, ASCII and *.PDF. The vendor also
offers the PlanGuru Business Analyzer, an optional module that adds benchmarking
of company performance against industry trends and peers, with dashboard graphics
that make the reports more understandable to non-professionals This module uses
the RMA Statement Studies database to provide data for more than 700 industries,
allowing relevant comparison by company size or business demographics. The Professional
Edition, single-user license is $199.95, and the Consultant Edition, single-user
license is $299.95.


Accpac Insight

Since Sage Software (; acquired ACCPAC
International a few years ago, the company has continued the development of
the former vendor’s strong accounting and analytical offerings, which
include Sage Accpac ERP and Sage Pro ERP. Sage Accpac Insight is offered as
an available module for both of these enterprise resource planning applications,
providing budgeting, reporting and consolidations functions that are accessible
by all staff over a company’s network, including professionals working
from remote locations, such as home offices, etc. The powerful business intelligence
system, geared primarily for use as a financial reporting solution that can
be extended to reach multiple companies and data sources to be the analytics
solution for the enterprise, gives users the ability to easily and quickly integrate
business financial and non-financial data into summary and comprehensive reports
that can be quickly distributed across the enterprise.

Insight integrates directly with the Sage Accpac and Sage Pro ERP platforms
to offer bottom-up budgeting, drilldown reporting, and multi-dimensional analysis
that allows considerable customization. Since the system automatically has access
to all data in the ERP system, it aggregates and distributes pertinent operational,
sales, customer, product, vendor, employee, geographic and other data as needed,
providing meaningful reporting options that aid in planning, budgeting and other
analytical processes.

This powerful system includes several key modules, including Author, which
uses wizards to simplify the creation of new templates from within Microsoft
Excel, allowing excellent control over charts and graphs. Additionally, the
Data Warehouse module optimizes financial reporting by maintaining critical
data in a centralized location, allowing users to quickly find the information
needed without sorting through irrelevant data. Other modules include Consolidations,
Enterprise Budgeting, Universal Database Access, Viewer, Web Deployment Server
and an Alerts system that automates the reporting process by scheduling filter
updates, report generation and other tasks.

The Sage Accpac Insight Author module is available for an SRP of $1,000 per
seat, and the Viewer module costs $250 per seat. The Consolidations module costs
$3,500, and Enterprise Budgeting has an SRP of $3,500. Data warehousing capabilities,
which comes with simple budgeting and automation features for report creation
and distribution, can be added for $3,500. The Web Deployment Server costs $5,000,
which provides for up to 20 simultaneous users, and the Alerts module can be
added for $1,000. The ability to access data from data sources beyond Sage ERP
applications (the Universal Database Access module) can also be added for an
additional $2,000. (All figures USD.)


Active Planner

Sage Active Planner (
provides an integrated planning and analysis solution that automatically incorporates
necessary financial data into flexible budgeting plans that aid in assessing
the financial condition of a company and in the process of making informed decisions
that may affect business productivity and profitability. The dynamic and feature-rich
system is geared toward internal use by enterprises with a need for broad planning,
budgeting and collaboration capabilities, providing an easy-to-use interface
with features that can automate critical processes, thereby increasing efficiency
in planning and analysis processes.

The Plan Manager acts as the command center for Sage Active Planner, providing
a centralized location for consolidation and distribution of company plan sheets
into various components of the system. Sage Active Planner offers three sets
of core functions: Management features, Analysis features and Calculation features.
The system’s management functionality allows allocation of budgets from
the bottom-up, top down, or various combinations, as well as the ability to
consolidate budget plans. Additionally, the system can integrate multiple departmental
budgets using spreadsheet-like interfaces. Analysis capabilities include what-if
scenario building tools that help reorganize budget structures to preview potential
impacts of changes in operations or other factors.

Sage Active Planner’s calculation features allow the creation of an
unlimited number of formulas and formula lines, enables the application of calculations
to column groups, and then allows them to be spread back to individual plan
sheets using season trends, business drivers, prior-year balances or other factors.
Global formulas also can be utilized, simplifying the process for organizations
with multiple users in the planning and analytical system. Sage Active Planner
provides comprehensive security that allows the limiting of access, as well
as the accessibility of plan sheets and specific functions to only specific
authorized users. Sage Active Planner costs $7,500 to $12,500.


— ProfitCents

ProfitCents ( offers
one of the most user-friendly (accountant) and client-friendly (client) systems
on the market for analyzing the financial health of a business, benchmarking
it against others in the same industry, with scenario planning, as well. The
web-based interface offers an excellent package of reports, with ratio analysis,
trend analysis and industry comparisons using the company’s own patented
FIND technology (Financial Information to Narrative Data). This allows accountants
and their clients to better see and understand the overall condition of a business,
especially those areas in which the business may be underperforming. In addition
to having a simple interface, the system’s web-based nature also enables
the company to keep it constantly updated with the latest data, with the user
never having to install or update the system files, and users being able to
utilize the raw data of other users for comparative analysis.

ProfitCents uses several approaches to the analysis it provides, including
a variety of ratio and trend analyses; benchmarking against other similar companies;
and planning, scenario-building, and forecasting tools. The system is specifically
designed for use by accountants and business financial advisors, and is available
in versions for public companies, private businesses, nonprofit entities and
individual/family financial analysis. Additional product versions are geared
toward the specific needs of the user, from analytical procedures, proforma
and more extensive analysis.

ProfitCents’ reporting capabilities are remarkably comprehensive, yet
not overwhelming. Theoretically, the system can develop more than 6 trillion
unique, analytical reports, but the version of the program being used limits
reporting to what that professional needs. In general, the output is a two-
to eight-page report that includes text and graphs and is exceptional in its
readability to non-financial professionals. A report that clients can actually
understand is definitely a big plus when it comes to a client deliverable, and
several of the versions are also available with reports in Spanish or English.
ProfitCents prices are based upon firm size. A sole proprietor will pay $1,298,
and a five-person firm will pay $3,879.



Tableau Software (
has recently released version 2.0 of its visual analysis and reporting system,
a unique desktop tool that gives users a visual drag-and-drop interface that
lets them easily analyze and build reports based on virtually any information
located on the desktop or the network upon which the system is employed. Available
in Standard and Professional versions, users can simply drag data information
(rows, columns, etc.) from the source (spreadsheet, database, etc.) into Tableau’s
interface, where it can be easily formatted or developed into graphs or other
visual elements. The standard version is directed toward small and mid-market
enterprises, offering integration and data extraction capabilities with Excel,
Access and various text files. The Professional version is for companies utilizing
enterprise-level databases such as MySQL, MS SQL Server, MS Analysis Services,
Hyperion Essbase, Oracle, and IBM DB2 OLAP Server.

When used as a financial analysis tool, the primary functions of Tableau enable
users to summarize historical data, identify trends and discover related issues
that can help them better plan, budget and utilize their resources. This exceptionally
powerful system then allows drill-down selection or other narrowing of data
based on various selection criteria, allowing users to quickly find and utilize
exactly the information they need.

“We do a lot of charting of our transaction data,” said Mark Burgess,
CEO of “Most other products that I’ve looked at require
special database bridges and provide less flexibility when it comes to manipulating
charts, while offering a more complex user interface.”

The system is not specifically geared toward financial functions, which is
actually a big plus, since it enables users to analyze any set of data from
a business’ database, whether financial, customer historical records,
distribution trends, or a multitude of other functions. This allows users to
explore data from any perspective and to visually analyze and pivot the information,
create side-by-side comparisons, and develop on-the-fly calculations. The program
includes various copy and paste tools that allow currently presented data to
be selected and exported into an external application such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint
or other programs. Tableau Standard Edition costs $999. Tableau Professional
MySQL costs $1,299, and Tableau Professional costs $1,799.


Creative Solutions – Financial Analysis CS

Financial Analysis CS from Thomson Creative Solutions (
offers financial statement analysis, planning and scenario generation tools
to financial professionals assisting businesses. The system can generate business
profiles based on either key performance indicators or using a benchmarking
approach that compares a business’ financial health factors against industry
standards or those of other companies in the same field and with similar demographics.

The primary analytical tools in Financial Analysis CS, including ratio and
performance analysis functions, give accountants a simple method to quickly
review and compile business data, whether preparing actual financial reports
or developing variable-based what-if planning. The program’s benchmarking
capabilities utilize RMA industry data, which allows business management to
see direct correlations between their entity and others, with strengths and
weaknesses identified.

The system’s core reporting features enable financial advisors to create
an entire set of financial reports along with narrative explanations and visual
elements that assist the professional in communicating the meaning of the reports
to the client and helps them understand the potential effect of variables on
the future of the business. In addition to full financials, the system can also
create summary data sheets or more detailed reports using the Report Designer.
Professionals can compare data from multiple years and have the option to compare
statements by a variety of periods, including monthly, quarterly, semi-annual
and annual. For analysis, users can include nearly 40 ratios, including inventory
turnover and receivables.

Financial Analysis CS is an integrated component of Thomson Creative Solutions’
suite of applications designed for accountants and their business clients. This
system shares all data across all programs as needed, which reduces the need
for data entry since all business financials are automatically transferred from
the write-up or trial balance programs into the analysis system. Financial Analysis
CS starts at $600.


Tax Planning Tools

Tax professionals and public accountants know that submitting tax compliance
forms at the end of the year is only part of the tax equation. Simply focusing
on this and trying to make the best out of the activities of the prior year
is reactive, and limits the capabilities of the tax professional. Successfully
managing and minimizing tax liabilities, whether for an individual or a business,
requires ardent planning, research and keeping on top of fluid tax regulations.
Considering the breadth of tax law in the United States and each state, this
can be a formidable task.

Fortunately, there are several tax planning and research vendors on the market
with professionals who constantly monitor and analyze tax law changes, providing
insight into the practical effects of new or revised provisions, thereby enabling
tax professionals to not only apply the most beneficial treatments to their
clients’ returns, but also to provide their clients with prudent counsel
when strategizing future tax liabilities. This section identifies some of the
products in this market, providing an overview of the applications and highlighting
their primary features.


Software — BNA Income Tax Planner

BNA Software’s (
BNA Income Tax Planner is a professional stand-alone income tax planning application.
The program is available with federal calculations only or with the “Fifty
State Planner,” which handles all 50 states, NYC and DC, providing support
for individual, federal and resident tax planning for all states with an income
tax, along with most non-resident taxing states. The system offers several modes
of analysis, providing users with insight and scenario-building capabilities,
and can also be used during compliance review processes to verify return accuracy.

The BNA Income Tax Planner uses a simple worksheet interface that allows users
to set up as many as 20 side-by-side columns for data and can utilize prior-year
data as far back as 1987 for analysis, and can extend projections out to 20
years, utilizing multiple variables and situations. A Watch Window allows the
user to view up to 10 rows while entering/editing data so that impacts of changes
to AMT, alternative capital gains tax and other items can be seen immediately.

Data flows though the system as needed, with all computations performed in
real-time and giving users the ability to drilldown to specific worksheets.
Seven modes of analysis aid in planning: years within cases, cases within years,
adjustment, difference, taxpayer-spouse, annualization and minor child. The
program allows users to lock data-entry columns to avoid overwriting and gives
the option of attaching notes to any data-entry or calculated field linked to
client data.

Reporting functions include several customizable templates and a predefined
summary report, with an optional graphing function. Users can also print estimated
payment vouchers, an editable pre-drafted client letter, and *.PDF versions
of reports that can be shared electronically from within the program. The BNA
Income Tax Planner can be set to update electronically and interfaces with most
major tax systems, including Lacerte, ProSystem fx Tax, UltraTax CS and GoSystem.
The program is also offered as an add-on component to Universal Tax Systems’

The BNA Income Tax Planner with Fifty States costs $835; renewals are $625.
One to nine additional licenses are $220 each. The BNA Income Tax Planner (federal
only version) costs $525 with $415 renewals. One to nine additional licenses
are $200 each.

— ProSystem fx Planning

As a separate module that can be integrated into CCH’s (
ProSystem fx Suite of accounting, tax and engagement applications,
ProSystem fx Planning provides financial professionals with individual
tax planning as well as estimated federal and state tax computations and penalty
calculations. The system offers multi-year planning capabilities with functions
that support up to 30 scenarios per plan and offers detailed diagnostics, with
support for regular tax, AMT, capital gains, underpayment penalties, lump sum
distributions, premature distributions, farm income averaging, deduction calculations,
phase-out contributions and personal exemptions. The system includes pre-configured
state tax rates, deductions, exemptions and credits for most income taxing states.

The program’s customizable interface provides intuitive navigation and
easy access to client plans with spreadsheet data-entry screens that automatically
calculate changes, thus allowing users to see the effects of variables on tax
liability. The program includes a Plan Variance utility that helps professionals
plan in reverse by noting variable goals that will result in a desired change.
The AutoFlow feature speeds planning preparation by transferring data from current
or initial year into extended planning years.

ProSystem fx Planning’s reporting options allow users to print
or view side-by-side reports and forecasts that can include grids, estimates
and plan summaries. The system can also generate various forms including estimate
payment vouchers, as well as sample client letters. ProSystem fx Planning
integrates well with CCH’s tax and productivity systems, but does not
offer data import from third-party applications. CCH includes a variety of tutorials,
tips and other assistive tools, which along with the flexible customizability
of the program helps users to quickly understand and work with client data efficiently.
ProSystem fx Planning costs $450.


— Lacerte Tax Planner

The Lacerte Tax Planner (
is offered as an add-on component to Lacerte’s tax application, providing
scenario-based income tax planning that allows comparison of the effects of
multiple variables over up to 10 years. This includes the use of current and
actual future tax rates, which are built into the program’s formulas.
The system supports most income taxing states and is available in both fully
licensed and pay-per-use options. Lacerte also offers a Tax Analyzer option
that focuses on the potential effects of specific new tax codes and legislation.

Lacerte’s spreadsheet interface speeds data entry while allowing the
user to view multiple plans simultaneously and enabling drilldown to specific
calculations on associated worksheets. The program supports four general types
of plans, including year/case analysis, MFS/MFJ comparisons, difference analysis
and adjustment analysis. The calculations that Lacerte automatically performs
include regular tax, farm income averaging, alt capital gains, self employment,
statutory employee rules, lump-sum taxes, estimated penalties and payments,
phase-out personal exemptions, casualty gains and losses, taxable SSI, AMT,
passive gain/loss and various tax credits. A diagnostics feature notifies the
professional of overrides and accuracy concerns, while the system’s Inflation
Rate feature automatically estimates items indexed by inflation.

Lacerte eases moving data between cases and years with a simple copy/paste
function, and allows increases to be applied across multiple years, either by
percentage or dollar amount, which is necessary when estimating future wages
and other variables. The system directly integrates with the Lacerte tax program,
automatically transferring data as needed and allowing the professional to jump
right into planning functions. The system includes customizable client letter
templates, as well as a good stock of reports that can be enhanced with custom
graphs and charts to provide a more informative client deliverable, showing
clients how best to minimize future tax liabilities. Lacerte’s Federal
Tax Planner costs $415; $500 with all states. The pay-per-plan option costs
$25 per plan.


— TaxWorks Tax Planner

The TaxWorks Tax Planner module (
is available as either a stand-alone system or as an add-on module to the TaxWorks
preparation system, offering a basic, yet efficient and useful planning application
that allows multiple scenarios per year with the ability to view up to five
on-screen simultaneously. The TaxWorks planning system is primarily focused
on federal individual filing, but includes a customizable state planning worksheet
that allows users to input taxation rates for a specific client state.

The program bases calculations on primary return components that include filing
status, ordinary income, schedule D, adjustments, AGI and exemptions. It provides
a very easy-to-use interface and data-entry screens that use columns to display
or enter information for each of the five years or plans supported by the system.
It also automatically updates plan figures based upon changes made to the primary
variables. The main worksheet offers drilldown functionality, enabling the professional
to quickly go to associated worksheets via subwindows.

TaxWorks Tax Planner offers basic alphanumeric reporting options (no graphs
or visual elements) that include a general report that displays the various
columnar planning data, as well as AMT schedules and worksheets. The program
is limited in its customization capabilities, but offers sufficient Help and
assistive tools for users. Although the TaxWorks Tax Planner system is not truly
integrated with the tax system, it can extract data via a bridge utility that
essentially provides the same benefit and offers some data exchange capabilities
with third-party tax and accounting systems. The TaxWorks Tax Planner costs


Creative Solutions — Planner CS

Planner CS from Thomson Creative Solutions (
gives tax professionals a highly capable planning system that supports all states
and federal taxes, with the unique ability to create an unlimited number of
scenarios for an unlimited number of years out, strengthening the ability of
the tax planner to help determine the most beneficial actions and tax treatments
for his clients. The system is designed to work with UltraTax CS and the other
integrated components of the vendor’s professional accounting and tax

The system utilizes the vendor’s familiar and very simple-to-use interface,
which provides fast navigation throughout the program’s primary features
and client data sets. Planner CS tracks key data including gross and taxable
income, refund/tax due and other items in a customizable Watch Window that shows
selected information at the bottom of the screen, even during data entry, allowing
the user to always have this information. The system’s planning capabilities
include calculations and allowances for regular tax, projected tax rates, AMT,
underpayment penalties, capital gains, lump sum, farm income averaging, deduction
calculations, phase-out contribution deductions and personal exemptions.

Planner CS includes excellent customizable reporting functions that allow
users to easily add full-color graphs, charts and other visual elements to client
deliverables, with built-in word processing functions. In addition to summary
reports, a fully detailed report is available with all of a client’s scenarios.
Thompson & Kreitzberg PLLC, CPAs in Walla Walla, Washington, has used Planner
CS as part of a full Thomson Creative Solutions suite, which has enabled them
to go paperless, according to partner Kristal A. Hassler, CPA.

“Planner CS provides the technical skills to help us help our clients
with items such as the AMT and state taxes,” Hassler said. “Tax
law has grown so complicated that you can no longer just use a pencil and paper
to complete tax planning, and that’s where Planner CS comes in. Plus,
Creative Solutions’ programs make remote work easier, giving us the ability
to have flexible work schedules and work from home or either of our offices.”

In addition to its outstanding planning, calculation and reporting capabilities,
Planner CS offers additional productivity features such as the Result Finder,
which serves as a calculator that can reverse engineer a desired outcome by
varying the dollar amount of a particular field. Always a big benefit to Thomson
Creative Solutions products is the thorough integration the products share,
with all data flowing as needed between system components. It also offers integration
options with Thomson Tax & Accounting’s GoSystem. Planner CS costs


Business Valuation Tools

Entrepreneurs often don’t think about what they plan on doing with their
business until they start planning their estates, but periodic assessment of
the true market value of a business can provide a valuable tool, whether the
client is planning to pass on the business, sell it, or continue its growth.

As part of business valuation services, accountants provide clients with objective,
actionable valuations that can be critical during estate or succession planning,
or when preparing to purchase or sell all or part of a closely held company.
Business valuation can also play a role in support of tax and familial litigation.
Therefore, a reliable program that streamlines the complicated process of analyzing
financial statements, assessing comparable market values and projecting future
value is essential to practices that perform these engagements.

The products in this section approach business valuation using traditional
methods including asset, income and market approaches, and an assortment of
informational databases such as RMA Annual Statement Studies, Done Deals, Mergerstat,
Pratt’s Stats and BIZCOMPS. These databases provide historical industry
information that can be used to help formulate and justify financial assessments.


— Corporate Valuation Professional

MoneySoft ( produces
a valuation system geared toward use by financial professionals for use in internal
auditing, business planning, tax and legal matters, as well as for basic M&A
purposes. Corporate Valuation Professional offers detailed financial analysis,
business projections and simulations, a wide array of accepted valuation methods,
and an integrated report writer that allows graphing and customization of client

The program offers a simulation model that provides a more accurate assessment
of the fair market valuation of a privately held business. This simulation uses
price, deal terms, debt and equity funding, and post-acquisition operational
assumptions to develop comprehensive financial projections and analyses that
show a full picture of the current and project worth of the company. It also
offers guidance on the entity’s bottom line, free cash flows and potential
return to investors. This can help in determining capitalization and discount
rates and with applying them to the most appropriate earnings base. The end
result is an accurate depiction of a business’ financials, which helps
the buyer avoid the potential “buyer’s curse” of overpaying.
This valuation component was developed with PPC (, which also
offers the system under the brand Business Valuation Specialist.

“The ability to put all financial information including balance sheet
and income statement into a visually appealing presentation also makes me look
good to my clients,” said Sheila Spangler, a business broker and advisor
with Capital Strategies in Meridian, Idaho. “The system’s reporting
functions are also a big benefit, showing cash flow, ratios and giving the ability
to quickly and easily perform projections. I was never able to do projections
as fast as I can now!”
In addition to its strong analysis and projection tools, and the obvious benefit
of getting rid of time-consuming spreadsheets, Corporate Valuation Professional
includes a customizable report writer that automatically generates and formats
valuation reports and appraisals that can be enhanced with charts, graphs and
firm letterhead, and are editable using Microsoft Word. Corporate Valuation
Professional costs $590.


— DealSense Plus+

MoneySoft also develops software programs
for business valuation, depreciation, and mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
DealSense Plus+ is focused at the buyer’s side of the M&A process,
providing extensive valuation that is consistent with PPC’s Guide to Business
Valuations and utilizes accepted valuation methods, offering integrated financial
analysis, forecasting, valuation, simulations, pricing, detailed financial projections,
free cash flow ROI modeling and a built-in report writer. Through its analysis
and projections, the system helps clarify the financial picture of the target
company while showing the economic impact of future variables.

The core features of DealSense Plus+ take the system well beyond the capabilities
of traditional spreadsheets, which can take hours to create and are limited
in their functionality within a professional firm. The financial analytical
tools included in the program help users assess historic and adjusted financial
statements, in addition to pre-acquisition projected statements. It also provides
traditional business ratios, Z-score risk assessment, sustainable growth model,
DuPont Analysis and MoneySoft’s Five-Minute Diagnostic.

Projections can be prepared on monthly or annual bases using pre- and post-acquisition
assumptions, enabling the preparation of two sets of fully linked, line-item
projections of income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, retained
earnings, and sources and uses of funds. The system’s free cash flow ROI
modeling uses various metrics to analyze the returns on total invested capital
and invested equity, calculating returns for both the business and investor

DealSense Plus+ includes a built-in report writer that is geared toward providing
professional, executive-level presentations that include in-depth reporting
and visual elements. It provides a smart report generation system that allows
the numeric analysis to be linked to a preformatted narrative that helps explain
and document the analysis. Reports and the narrative analysis can be edited
in Microsoft Word, allowing for adaptation for various audiences. DealSense
Plus+ costs $995.


— Business Valuation Manager Pro

Offered by the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts (,
Business Valuation Manager Pro (BVM Pro) has become one of the leading valuation
products on the market, providing a simplified method of managing the assessment
process, from documentation and worksheets through reporting. BVM Pro includes
more than 200 analysis schedules, including financial statement input and adjustments
with up to 10 years of historic input and annualization by the last 12 months
or sales cycle. Additionally, financial statement analysis offerings include
21 schedules and 26 charts; multiple general schedules; and “sanity-checks”
that include hypothetical terms of sale, cash flows, payback analysis, IRR and
what-if scenarios. BVM Pro offers 22 valuation methods categorized into approaches
for income, market and cost, along with an unlimited number of custom-built
methods. The system offers optional access to 10 professional databases, including
BIZCOMPS, Done Deals, Mergerstat and RMA, helping users develop a more comprehensive

BVM Pro includes an optional add-on report writer that automatically generates
narrative and graphical reports in Microsoft Word, enabling easy customization
and personalization of all output documents. Additionally, the system includes
a chart wizard that helps users develop informative visual elements for inclusion
with reports. “The report writer is a great timesaver and is one of the
most beneficial features of the program,” said Richard Claywell, CPA,
CVA, CM&AA, CFD. Claywell is principal of Claywell & Associates, a business
valuation and forensic accounting firm in the Houston suburb of Friendswood,
Texas. “The report writer substantially reduces the time it takes to prepare
a report, and it automatically makes changes in the report when numbers are
changed in the analysis.”

BVM Pro is fully compatible with Excel, enabling users to create customizations
such as special valuation methods within the spreadsheet program for integration
into BVM Pro’s conclusions schedule. Existing Excel workbooks and financial
statements can also be uploaded into the system. Business Valuation Manager
Pro costs $795.


— Express Business Valuation

Express Business Valuation from ValuSource (
offers a professional valuation analysis system geared toward helping business
advisors standardize and automate the business valuation process. The program
is built in Excel and Word, thereby simplifying customization of the format
and calculations, as well as providing total control over reporting both through
the built-in report writer and through Word. The company guarantees that the
easy-to-use system’s streamlined workflow processes, customizable schedules
and dynamic reports will save users at least half the time it normally takes
to process a valuation report using only Word and Excel.

Express Business Valuation includes more than 125 pre-built but customizable
schedules, including 22 valuation methods for income, market cost and customized
approaches, as well as schedules for financial statement analysis (five schedules
and 30 charts), financial statement input and adjustments (supporting up to
six years of historic data and annualization by last 12 months or percentages),
and general schedules (including premiums and discounts, excess/non-operating
assets, working capital analysis, capital expenditure analysis and long-term
debt analysis).

The program’s Deal Structure and What-If Analysis provides deal scenarios,
a “sanity check,” payback analysis and IRR. Express Business Valuation
provides users with step-by-step guidance throughout the valuation process,
and the company includes video training to introduce users to the system’s
features and show them how to get the most from the program. The system’s
built-in Quick Report Writer offers customizable reports that can be enhanced
with charts and graphs and edited in Word. The primary 25-page valuation report
can be generated in as little as one minute, with dynamic links that automatically
update report numbers, tables and charts whenever input has changed.
Express Business Valuation costs $495. Access to databases is available at a
per-database cost.