Website of the Month: MDP Academy
By Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, St. Bonaventure University
The website for the Academy of Multidisciplinary Practice (mdpacademy.com) provides comprehensive web-based products and services for accountants, attorneys, and other professionals, with a special emphasis on estate and wealth planning and advisement. The website is designed for professional advisors, not the general public, and offers subscription publications, practice tools, and continuing education.
The opening webpage emphasizes the academy’s three main products: Journal, Encyclopedia, and Virtual University, and the entire website is organized around these products. By logging in, new users can view a product and price list and preview each product without charge. Returning users can log in on the home page or the main product pages.
An interesting free feature of the website is its “special bulletins,” which can be accessed from the home page. The bulletins summarize current pertinent IRS notices, news items, and court decisions. Most important, the bulletins provide quick links to the underlying documents, including revenue rulings, proposed regulations, court opinions, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and “Tax the Wealthy: Why America Needs the Estate Tax,” an essay by William H. Gates, Sr., and Chuck Collins.
Journal. The web-based Journal of Multidisciplinary Practice consists of reviews of current articles on estate and wealth planning, practice tools, and expert opinions. New users can view a sample review, practice tool, and expert opinion column. The approach is an executive summary focused on gathering current articles and related tools for practitioners in a variety of fields.
The “Cutting-Edge Current Reviews” section provides weekly reviews of estate and wealth planning articles from more than 300 publications, which can be a tremendous time-saver for practitioners. The weekly reviews are presented in an easy-to-read index of short summaries. The reviews provide citations to the original source, the main points, discussions of fundamental issues and practice applications, code and case-law references, and links to related reviews.
The “Practice-Ready Tools” section includes sample client letters, forms, checklists, and spreadsheets that download, open, and save quickly and cleanly. Many article reviews offer related practice tools. The practice tool files can be accessed from the Journal page, the index of reviews, the specific review pages, or an index of practice tools.
Encyclopedia. The Encyclopedia is organized in a frequently asked question (FAQ) format and can be accessed via a table of contents, an index of basic terms, or a keyword search. The keyword search offers drop-down choices to refine the search.
By clicking on a FAQ search result, the website drills down to the answer. The questions are linked in a logical progression, and from the answer page the user can access a selected website, a previous question, or the next question.
An interesting feature of this website is the ability to link the Encyclopedia to a firm’s website. Subscribers can obtain a site license to the virtual encyclopedia, allowing clients to access it. The question-and-answer format is specifically geared toward the nonexpert.
Virtual University. MDP Academy offers web-based courses and certifications in personal wealth planning, business succession planning, and planned giving. The academy is currently approved as a continuing accounting education provider in Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
A three-credit course on the Tax Relief Act of 2001 can be accessed at the “Virtual University” or via the index.
The MDP Academy site is easy to use, but the homepage provides
only minimal access to the basic products. The user has to enter one of the
product pages for improved navigation ability via an index on the left. Navigation
could be improved by adding the same vertical index that the product pages have
to the home page. Additionally, some features can be accessed by only one route,
but most Internet users expect to navigate a website by a variety of paths and
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