Investigative Report

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Jordan Frazier
719 Method Townes Rd, Raleigh NC
(336) 263-8470

Memorandum
Date: September 5, 2012|
To: Professional Writing Committee and Jamie Reed|
From: Jordan Frazier|
Subject: Writing Styles in Accounting|

Purpose
This investigation for the English Department’s Professional Writing Committee is focused on what kinds of communication people actually do on the job, how they do it, and how important it is to their job performance. This report will contain qualitative and quantitative information for updating the similar report done in 2007. There is a need to update the curriculum because of the drastic change in writing styles and ways of communication in the workplace. I interviewed Emily Cox an Accountant at Stout, Stuart, McGowen, & King LLP to learn what kinds of writing and oral communication she does at work. Research Methods

Qualitative Data: Information and data were gathered through a phone interview and survey. The phone interview provided qualitative information such as types of documents written in the profession of accounting and why people read what they write. Also, the phone interview provided information about how Ms. Cox learned to do the writing she has to prepare in her workplace and how technology has changed the way she communicates. The survey provided professional data for the interviewee and details about her workplace. Quantitative Data: Quantitative information was provided with the survey. The survey included percentages of the amount of time she spends composing different forms of written communication. Also, the percentage of her time spent communicating orally one-on-one, and in groups was included in the survey. Results

Types of documents written:
Tax notice response letters are used to respond to an IRS notice that is proposing adjustments to an income tax return prepared by their firm. The letter will dispute the adjustments and resolve disagreements between the IRS and the accounting firm on the tax return content. The responses are in letter or memo form and not exceeding two pages. The length of the document depends on the complexity of the notice. The demand for tax notice response letters are unpredictable. “There is no certain time frame on the frequency of the IRS notices to our office. We could go a month without receiving any or get five in one week.” Therefore, the number of response letters written to the IRS would be irregular. The firm’s clients depend on these response letters to represent them to the IRS with professionalism and precision.

Financial statement notes are documents added to a company’s financial statements to give additional information to clients. These notes are to reduce any confusion a reader may have when reading financial statements. Financial statements are prepared annually for companies, depending on changes in financial statements from year to year effect what is written in financial statement notes. The lengths of these documents vary from client to client. The format as stated by Cox is “a combination of a cover letter, table of contents, auditor’s report, and notes. The notes section is really notes (paragraphs with headings/subheadings and occasionally tables/charts.”
Accounting professionals routinely use templates in the workplace for communicating with clients and colleagues. The templates were created within the office for ease of use and consistency amongst all office personnel within the firm. Examples of documents with templates include:

* engagement letters
* audit letters
* cover letters
* financial statement work papers
* new client forms.

Importance of documents to readers: Professional writing is an essential part of efficient communication in the workplace and to clients. When I asked Cox about the importance of documents she writes to clients she responded that clients depend on them to make key business decisions such as: * buy or sell...
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