CICA Standards & Guidance Collection (the CICA Handbook) and Effective Electronic Research
Beyond Numbers · January 2007
By Paul Kneebone
Are you having trouble staying current with all the recent CICA Handbook changes? Do you have a stack of Handbook updates waiting to be filed? Are you having trouble finding information?
First: If you’re not already using the electronic version of the Handbook, it’s time to give it a try—odds are that you’ll find it easier to use and more effective than the old print version (to help members make the transition from print to the electronic format, the CICA has retained the same page design and font in both versions). Internet users can realize added benefits—including the elimination of paper filing—and access a more up-to-date database that provides users with the most current version of the Handbook.
The electronic version is available to members for free online through Knotia at www.knotia.ca or for a fee on CD-ROM, DVD, and downloadable formats through the Virtual Professional Library (VPL).
Second: If you’re already using the Knotia platform to access the Handbook but find the process frustrating, there’s good news: The CICA has just launched a new version of the Knotia website at www.knotia.ca, which includes many “easy-to-use” enhancements that are fully functional with the CICA Handbook.
New version of Knotia launched
All members have free access to the full CICA Handbook on the Knotia website. If you do not already have an active Knotia profile (including password), go to the CICA website at www.cica.ca, click on “Services and Products” in the left margin, then choose “CICA Handbook” and follow the registration instructions. If you’ve simply forgotten your Knotia password, click on the “forgot your password?” box when you log in at www.knotia.ca, and it will be reset.
For a summary of the recent site upgrades, go to the Knotia website and click on the “? Help” button at the top right corner of the screen for a five-minute Flash presentation entitled “Knotia Demo.” There you’ll also find a 20-page Knotia User Guide (PDF file), a “Search Syntax” chart, and “Help Desk” contact details.
If you’ve purchased the VPL version of the Handbook, click on the “Contents” view to access the User Guide. For further assistance, you can call CICA Technical Support at 1-800-919-CICA, 416-204-3368, or 416-204-3341, or contact your CICA Information Resources Vancouver-based consultant, Rebecca Taylor, at 866-948-9702 for an online or on-site demo.
CICA Handbook – Internet version
The Internet version of the CICA Handbook has been designed with ease-of-use in mind. Navigation within the electronic version promotes quick access to the information you’re seeking:
- Topical Index – After double-clicking on the “Topical Index” line in the Table of Contents view, click on the appropriate letter of the alphabet. Then just click on the hypertext section link, and you can instantly access the section—no more fumbling around for the correct binder and tab; or
- Revision Releases – Access the latest release summary and print for easy reference. You will find both of these features in the Accounting, Assurance, and Public Sector modules.
Recent content changes to the Handbook
Two major content changes were made to the Accounting and Assurance Handbook modules in 2006:
- Accounting – New financial instruments provisions were added.
- Assurance – New audit risk provisions were added.
Other relevant information added recently includes the “IFRS/Canadian GAAP Comparison” (in the Accounting module) and the “Comparison of International Standards on Auditing and Canadian Generally Accepted Auditing Standards” (in the Assurance module).
These two modules provide both current and historical information (historical versions “Accounting XFI” and “Assurance Archive as at May 31, 2005” appear at the bottom of both modules).
Three basic methods to conduct research electronically
The Knotia and VPL formats each give you three basic choices to help you research the Handbook:
- Table of Contents
Open and explore the Table of Contents view. In Knotia, click on the “Table of Contents” title (left panel). In the VPL, click on the “Contents” tab (bottom of the screen). Then click on any plus (+) symbol to open, or any minus (-) symbol to close, a section or subsection. Double-click on any line, and the specific document will be displayed.
In Knotia, use the “Search” button (left panel) and type in a word or phrase. When you click on the “Go” button or press “Enter,” you will see one of two search summary screens (your choice): “Search Results Summary” or “Search Results List.” The number of hits (results) in each Handbook section is indicated on the left side of the Search Results Summary view. You can then decide where to start your research process. The individual hits are indicated in shaded yellow font. You can revisit the Search Results Summary or Search Results List at anytime.
In the VPL (folio) format, click on the binocular icon (bottom left corner of the screen) to conduct an advanced query. Then type in the word or phrase. When you click on the “OK” button or press “Enter,” you will see the “Contents” view. The number of hits in each Handbook section is indicated in the left margin. Use the arrow icons on the bottom of the screen to go to/from the next hit or document. The individual hits are indicated in highlighted blue font. You can return to the Contents tab view anytime.
In either format, you can go back and edit your search by adding or deleting words, adding quote marks, or changing word context—i.e., wildcard symbol (*) or suffix endings (%)—to further refine your search. You will still, on occasion, get too few or too many results to be useful, but don’t give up—be persistent, check your word search, and revise your search terms if necessary.
- Go directly to a specific document
Use the “Fetch” feature in Knotia or the “Go To” feature in VPL. In the Knotia format, click on the “Fetch” button (left panel) and enter the specific CICA Handbook section or subsection number. You can then go directly to that document. In the VPL format, click on the green arrow (“Go To”) button on the top toolbar. Again, type in the section number, and go directly to the document.
Besides accessing the latest “Revisions Release” listing in the Accounting, Assurance, or Public Sector modules, there are two other ways to stay current. In the Knotia format, click on the “Latest Updates” button (left panel). It will change your centre view to highlight the latest release notes. As a subscriber to the Knotia format, you will automatically receive an email each time the CICA Handbook is updated; this message will include a summary of the changes and a link to the release notes. If you subscribe to the VPL version, you can also receive the same release notes directly to your desktop via email. Simply go to the CICA website at www.cica.ca, click on “News,” then on the “CICA Newsletters” tab. Register for the FYI (Accounting Standards Board) and AASB Update (Auditing & Assurance Standards Board) newsletters, and they will be emailed to you automatically whenever significant changes are made.
Other Handbook modules
There are two other Handbook modules specifically targeted at public companies and their professional advisors:
- Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) – Issued by the CICA’s Canadian Performance Reporting Board, this module sets out six principles and a five-part framework of recommended practices that should enable companies to produce greatly enhanced MD&A reports.
- The Risk Management and Governance Collection – These booklets offer concise information for boards of directors and executives, and provide a practical approach for directors working with senior managers to help their organizations meet the expectations of shareholders and other stakeholders. There are two series available: the CFO Series and the Board of Director Series.
The first blue box at the beginning of each Handbook section in both the Knotia and VPL versions is designed to provide links to additional reference material related to specific sections of the CICA Handbook and other official CICA pronouncements. Free resources include the CAmagazine and the Emerging Issues Committee (EIC) abstracts.
Additional paid subscriptions are available for a number of important info-base links, including:
- Financial Reporting in Canada, 31st Edition (FRIC06) – reviews of 200 sample financial statements and analysis;
- Guide to Canadian Financial Reporting (GCFR) – in-depth commentary, examples, additional readings, and more;
- Guide to Accounting Pronouncements & Sources, 6th Edition (GAPS) – cross-referencing index;
- Canadian Accounting & Assurance Reference Service (CAARS) – 60+ research studies;
- Professional Engagement Manual (PEM) – for public practices;
- Canadian Securities Reporting Advisor (CSRA) – for public companies;
- The Accountant’s Handbook of Fraud and Commercial Crime (FRAUD); and
- International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
Background information and basis for conclusions
A second blue box at the beginning of applicable sections in both the Knotia and VPL versions links
to the background information and basis for conclusions issued by the AcSB. These documents are primary sources of GAAP, as described in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (Section 1100), and are intended to help readers understand how the AcSB has reached its conclusions.
As well as enjoying free member access to Knotia, you can purchase a VPL or Knotia site license for other staff members, starting at $130 per year. Or you may want to step up to the Canadian Financial Reporting Collection (CFRC) suite, which starts at $315.00 for the first year. Consult the Knotia store for further details and to set up trial access—or contact your CICA Information Resources Vancouver-based consultant, Rebecca Taylor, at 866-948-9702.
As with any new tool, finding the most effective way to conduct your CICA Handbook research electronically will likely take a little time and practice; once you master its use and functionality, however, we hope you find it well worth the effort—for both you and your clients!
Paul Kneebone is an information resources consultant with the Canadian Institute of CAs. The original version of this article appeared in the November 2006 issue of CheckMark magazine, published by the Chartered Accountants of Ontario (www.ica.on.ca).
CICA launches Succession Planning Toolkit for Business Owners
Good succession planning is critical to Canada’s overall economy and job creation potential. Almost 60% of employed Canadians work for a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), and the SME sector contributes approximately 45% of Canada’s economic output.
Two-thirds of SME business owners surveyed in October 2006 by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said they plan to exit their businesses within the next ten years, and slightly more than one-third plan to do so within the next five.* Yet over 50% do not have a succession plan to manage their exit as they near retirement.
To help business owners prepare for this critical transition, the CICA released the Succession Planning Toolkit for Business Owners in December 2006. The publication gives business owners the info and tools needed to put their succession plans into action. The result of a year-long collaborative process, the Succession Planning Toolkit for Business Owners was developed by the CICA and experts from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, and Scotiabank. The publication addresses:
- “Soft issues” (often the most challenging for family-owned businesses);
- “Technical issues” (an overview of the legal, tax, valuation, and estate-planning issues); and
- A process for developing a formal succession plan to protect the family’s assets and ensure a smooth transition.
In addition to offering practical guidance, the book includes real-life stories based on interviews with Canadian business owners to guide readers throughout the process and reinforce key messages.
Succession Planning Toolkit for Business Owners
- 212 pages, soft cover; cost: $29.95
- Also available in French
To order, visit the CICA’s online bookstore at: www.knotia.ca/store/businessowners or phone: 1-866-256-6842.
* Canadian Federation of Independent Business, SME Succession: Update, October 2006.