Business ForUM: Merging Leaders and Accounting Expertise

June 21, 2018

By Dr. Kay Tatum & Kendra Parks

Alumni, accountants, lawyers, and faculty all gathered on Tuesday, May 22, to attend the Business ForUM event, hosted by the Miami Business School’s Department of Accounting, in the Shalala Student Center. The conference theme was “The Influence of eCommerce on the Global Economy.”

The event’s Gold Sponsors were Alvarez & Marsal, Deloitte, and Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. Its Silver Sponsors were Berkowitz Pollack Brant, Coral Gables Trust, Crowe Horwath, EY, Grant Thornton, HLB Gravier, Kaufman Rossin, KPMG, and MasTec. A Friend of the ForUM was Taxfyle.
 
Dr. DJ Nanda, chair and professor of accounting, gave the welcoming remarks to 100 guests in attendance, followed by Dean John Quelch’s introduction of the keynote speaker, Wifredo A. “Willy” Ferrer.
 
Ferrer, a UM alumnus from the class of 1987, is a partner in the Miami office of the law firm Holland & Knight. He serves as the chair of their Global Compliance and Investigations team. Previously, he was a U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, nominated during that time by President Barack Obama. The main focus of Ferrer’s presentation was the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, also known as FCPA, and how it is enforced by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This particular act, which was originally created over 40 years ago, was only recently enforced. According to Ferrer, due to the emergence of e-commerce, more enforcement of the FCPA should be expected.
 
The event also allotted time for the conference attendees to network or reconnect with their peers. “I really enjoyed the networking opportunities in between the sessions,” said Roberto Valdez, manager in risk advisory services at Kaufman Rossin. “I believe the event provides insightful content that is provocative and creative, more than the average accounting seminar.”
 
The keynote address was followed by the “Accounting and Auditing Updates” panel that was moderated by accounting associate professor Dr. Miguel Minutti-Meza. The panel experts were: Andres Castaneda (principal of business advisory services at Grant Thornton), Gilbert Santiesteban (vice president of internal audit at MasTec), and Paul Munter (senior partner in KPMG’s Audit Quality and Professional Practice Group). The panel’s discussion focused on the relationship between operational control risk (for example, security breaches) and financial reporting deficiencies. During the discussion, Munter noted that the SEC had recently issued a statement and interpretive guidance on public company cybersecurity disclosures.
 
The next session featured David Sites, partner and international technical leader of Grant Thornton’s Washington national tax office. Keeping with the conference theme, Sites’s topic was “Global Tax Reform and the Digital Economy.” Sites began his presentation by defining the digital economy.
 
“The digital economy may be best thought of as the new paradigm within which creators and consumers connect to exchange value,” he said.
 
Sites then discussed the challenges of the digital economy and direct taxation of the same.
 
“There is significant economic presence without a physical presence,” he stated, and went on to explain thoughts on how some IT business models blur the lines of classifying income, which create some of the challenges associated with taxing in the digital economy.
 
The last session, which provided an update on cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, seemed to peak most attendees’ interests. This session was moderated by Roberto Valdez, manager in risk advisory service at Kaufman Rossin. The featured panelists for the session were: Hiram de Amo (cybersecurity consultant at Berkeley Research Group), Jonathan Tickner (chief data scientist at Cybraics), Bruno Haring (director of cybersecurity and privacy at PwC), and Richard A. Lavina (CEO and co-founder at Taxfyle).
 
“The Cybersecurity and A.I. session had to have been one of the most informative and thought-provoking discussions of the day. It was interesting to hear how the advancements in A.I. will affect the accounting profession in the not too distant future. It also forces us to think of adjustments that we, as CPAs, need to make, and what we need to do to prepare for these changes,” said UM alumnus Mahesh Mipuri of Mirpuri Accountants and Advisors, LLC. “This is valuable information, which we can now pass on to our clients in an attempt to protect them and their data.”
 
The presentation of awards featured both the Faculty and Alumnus of the Year. The Faculty of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Miguel Minutti-Meza. He joined the Department of Accounting in 2011 after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, and was promoted to the rank of associate professor and awarded tenure in 2017. He has experience teaching Advanced Accounting: Consolidation of Financial Statements, Accounting Theory, and Contemporary Issues in Accounting.
 
Dr. Minutti-Meza’s research focus is in auditing and financial accounting in empirical capital markets, which has been published in top accounting journals, including The Accounting Review, Journal of Accounting Research, and Contemporary Accounting Research. He is a member of the editorial boards of Journal of Accounting Research, Contemporary Accounting Research, and Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory. He has been appointed Sr. Economic Research Fellow during 2018-2019 at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.
 
Jose Rodriguez, of KPMG, was awarded Alumnus of the Year, for his dedication to the MBS and his professional success. He has been a partner with KPMG for more than 20 years and in the profession for over 35 years. In addition to his role as audit partner, Rodriguez serves as the partner in charge and executive director of KPMG’S Audit Committee Institute. He also serves as ombudsman for KPMG US, chair of the KPMG Foundation, and holds the roles of SEC reviewing partner and foreign filing partner.
 
The event concluded with closing remarks by Dr. Nanda, and was followed by a cocktail reception, which presented attendees with the opportunity to discuss business and socialize more with their peers.

To view pictures from the event, please click here

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