Web Musings

A rundown of the latest fee-based and free sites of interest for finance execs.
Joseph McCaffertyFebruary 1, 1998

The Internet has rapidly evolved into a valuable tool for competitive intelligence, research, professional development, and electronic commerce. Certainly, there are some valuable sites that don’t cost a penny to access. But there are also many newer sites that make it worth your while to reach for the corporate credit card.

Edgar Online This is a must for users of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s electronic filing system, Edgar. A monthly subscription to the service ranges from under $10 to as much as $100, depending on the level of use. Subscribers can access Edgar filings in real time (filings for nonsubscribers are not available for 24 to 72 hours), and can view documents in Microsoft Word and import tables into Excel. Users can conduct information searches by sector, industry, geographic location, or an executive’s name, in addition to a company name. Subscribers can also receive E-mail notification of particular filings of special interest to them. In addition, for a fee, companies can direct investors to their own filings through Edgar Online.

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CCH Tax News Direct For all the breaking state and federal tax news, visit CCH Tax News Direct. Users can customize their news page to get news on specific states, LLCs, S Corps, or partnerships. The site, which has a user-friendly and graphically driven interface, also includes weekly analysis and commentary written by tax experts, with tips and strategies on tax issues. A subscription to the service is $299 per year.

FS Forum The Financial Systems Forum, a free site sponsored by The AccountWare Group, was established to allow finance executives to exchange ideas on enterprisewide financial systems. The forums–which cover large and midsized applications, plus discussions on consultants and project management–have few participants so far, but could be immensely valuable if traffic increases. In addition, the site provides information and resources on methodologies, service organizations, and vendors in the enterprisewide marketplace.

The Benchmarking Exchange Another forum set up to bring companies and individuals together is The Benchmarking Exchange, which allows subscribers to exchange ideas on benchmarking and process improvement initiatives. For a subscription of $25 per month or $195 per year, members can compare their processes with some of the world’s leading companies. Members include Motorola, American Express, Lear Corp., and Xerox. Some of the exchange’s records contain performance metrics, but the general focus is on qualitative data.

Exec! Not too many companies have their own E-zine for senior managers, but Unisys Corp. does. Exec! is an online journal that includes articles, interviews, and resources on various disciplines, including finance. Stop in and get Unisys CFO Robert H. Brust’s take on standardized financial systems. As part of its CxO Resources, the site also has reviews of other Web sites.

The Treasury Management Pages This site bills itself as the premier resource for treasury management professionals. And while most of the information originates somewhere else, this is one of the few sites that adds a great deal of value through its links to other sites. Users can find the fastest way to free information, including current interest rates, bond yields, foreign exchange rates, futures, and options prices, plus equity quotes from around the world. The pages also include links to historical rate data. If you’re in treasury management and you’re looking for current figures, start here.

WebNet CPA Although this service specializes in “helping CPA firms use Internet commerce to improve their business,” it has much to offer anyone in the accounting profession. Its best feature is the weekly CPA newsletter. Just send your E-mail address and you can receive it for free. It runs down the latest news on FASB, the AICPA, and timely discussions on various accounting practices.