Friday, September 22nd, 2017

AICPA Campaign Promotes CPA Firms’ Key Role in Advising Small Business

“The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.” – Oscar Wilde

I received the following press release about the latest #CPAPowered updated. Check it out and learn about new tools to help you promote your firm.

Latest #CPAPowered Update Designed to Raise Firms’ Visibility on Social Media and National TV

NEW YORK (Sept. 18, 2017) – The American Institute of CPAs today launched the latest update of its national #CPApowered campaign, an initiative designed to showcase the strengths of CPA firms as trusted tax and business advisors to consumers and small businesses.

This year’s campaign features two 30-second videos with the tagline, “Don’t Worry, I’m a CPA,” both of which allude to practitioners’ expertise in business development, tax planning, risk management, cybersecurity and more. The videos are part of a national cable television and social media buy this fall. Firms can promote themselves through paid opportunities on YouTube, Facebook and local television, as well as use the two videos and other materials for free on their website and social media channels.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and no one is better suited to provide trusted, informed business advice to this sector than CPAs,” said Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, executive vice president of firm services for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. “With the #CPApowered campaign, we’re reminding small business owners that ‘hey, we’ve got your back.’”

Since its launch in 2014, #CPApowered has reached more than three million people through innovative digital media and content strategies. Besides the two videos in this year’s campaign – “It’s a Jungle Out There” and “Small Businesses Take a Beating” – the AICPA has created a CPA marketing toolkit for small business with promotional materials that firms can personalize with their brand. More than 130 firms and several state CPA societies have signed up to participate in the campaign this year.

Information on the videos, suggested social media postings and co-branding options for materials can be found at www.aicpa.org/cpapowered. Videos and content for small business owners on such topics as acquiring financing, succession planning, and family office considerations can be found at cpapowered.org.

  • "Bad decisions made with good intentions are still bad decisions."
  • Jim Collins

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Disruption, Future-Ready and All That Jazz

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

I enjoyed a recent post by Gail Perry, Editor-in-Chief of CPA Practice Advisor, titled, CPA Tomorrowland.

Gail talks about the word disruption and how often it is included in CPA conversations. As she notes, it is not disruption in small letters, it is DISRUPTION in capital letters and it is happening SO fast. Changing FAST is not something most CPAs are not used to.

  • A McKinsey study suggests that 49% of work currently being done by accountants is likely to be automated.
  • Accenture reports that 21% of organizations have blockchain in production and that 40% of basic accounting work will be automated or eliminated by 2020 – in 3 years!
  • The AICPA and state society leaders are pushing members to quickly move from personally doing compliance work (let AI and bots do that) and evolve into business consultants.

What makes all of this very interesting and puzzling to me is the fact that so many consultants, media and profession leaders are strongly advising that the older CPAs need to get out of the way because they are not suited for this new world of CPA-ing.

In my work consulting work with firms, I have observed that automation has been increasing inside firms for years. Sure, there might be a bigger and quicker leap in the coming years but most well-managed practices with savvy (and usually mature) leadership will make that leap.

Successful, older CPAs do not love grinding out compliance work. In fact, many older CPAs (partners), don’t even know how to use the elaborate software and automated systems the firm has now.

I have observed that in multiple partner firms, the more experienced CPAs (older) are the ones ALREADY consulting with clients. The next generation (managers and “next” partners) have been groomed to be production units. They don’t network, they don’t bring in business, they don’t go to management conferences or keep on top of current trends – they are too busy grinding.

I recently asked a CPA how many of their eight partners were already spending the majority of their time consulting. The answer was two! The others have become complacent and comfortable doing compliance work.

Before you push your older, more experienced partners out the door, identify which ones are already consultants. Be sure they are working very hard at training younger partners and next leaders on how to really consult with, and advise, clients. They need to develop the skills necessary to help their clients become more profitable and successful.

We want retiring partners to transition the client relationships. It is a whole lot more than getting the client to call Joe Young rather than Bob Old, when they have a problem.

As for the automation part, here’s what Nick Chandi notes in his article on Forbes – How AI Is Reshaping The Accounting Industry: “..since accounting professionals will still remain as the final approvers of all the tasks performed by the AI, they will keep control of any sensitive information they want. As long as they have everything backed up to the cloud, they are good to go.”

CPAs are going through some very exciting times. The CPA profession is interesting and challenging and unlike many outside the profession believe, it is never, ever boring.

  • "Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine."
  • Robert C. Gallagher

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

A Culture of Learning

Jason“Don’t let your learning lead to knowledge. Let your learning lead to action.” – Jim Rohn

I was so pleased to read a recent article titled, Creating A Culture of Learning, by Jason Ackerman, CPA, CFP, CGMA. Jason is a next generation CPA setting a great example and using his influence to guide BNA CPAs into the future.

In the article, he stresses many issues that I am very passionate about, too!

  • Hire for cultural fit.
  • New hires don’t know anything about how to do their job based on what they learned in college.
  • It is management’s responsibility to teach and train new team members, starting from the ground up, if necessary.
  • Involve less experienced team members in important client meetings where complex issues are discussed. They learn so much just observing and listening.
  • Give them the freedom to make mistakes – not sloppiness, but honest mistakes.
  • Don’t embarrass them or belittle them because of mistakes. Sometimes management takes too hard a line on errors.
  • Review notes should be given in person.

Be sure to take the time to read the entire article and share it with your partners and managers. Then begin building a culture of learning inside your own firm.

I also really like the BNA website. Explore it, it’s fun!

  • "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
  • Gandhi

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Trying to be All Things to All People

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception and response to failure.” – John C. Maxwell

Many CPA firms have remained generalists. They do compliance work for all types of businesses of all sizes. Maybe that is why many people who need a CPA think they are all alike. These firms try to please everyone and probably end up being an average firm.

Some of the most successful firms are evolving into experts. They have become known for special expertise with specific types of businesses. You know who they are, the auto dealer firms, the medical firms, the dental firms, the native American firms and, now, even green firms.

If you continue to try to please everyone, you may end up not pleasing anyone.

Here’s a good post by Seth Godin – Beware of false averages.

  • "The average dog is a nicer person than the average person."
  • Andy Rooney

Monday, September 18th, 2017

If You Want To Win….

“Reject ordinary, be legendary.” – Brad Lea

CPAs in public accounting are always seeking to find out what those “other” firms are doing. They eagerly await various surveys that give them statistics about other accounting firms. I often smile when I hear partners say that they are so pleased because, according to the most recent MAP survey, they are doing okay, they are average.

How uninspiring that must be for the young accountants in your office. Often, firm partners don’t even share MAP statistics with their team members. It is just one simple step among the many that you need to take to prepare the next generation of firm leaders.

I say, stop comparing and start taking action. Show your team that you listen to their suggestions. Actually implement some of their suggestions! Take the steps necessary to accomplish the initiatives you outlined at your last partner retreat.

I love this comment from Brad Lea, founder of LightSpeed VT.

brad lea

  • "I would rather be alone than surrounded by the wrong people."
  • Brad Lea

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Evolving Into a Consultancy Firm

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare

Here’s the message from the AICPA, state societies, top management consultants and your peers:

Your CPA firm must move from

compliance to consultancy if you want

to survive into the future!

Learn from the Big 4. They haven’t claimed to be a CPA firm for years. I think you must admit they have been rather successful. Recently, while reading an article in National Geographic I thought of most of you – those working in local, regional and even national firms “below” the Big 4. Most of you I meet don’t think of yourselves as consultants, you identify with CPA, Certified Public Accountant.

Does your local press, your business community and your clients think of you as a consultancy firm? Now is the time to re-invent yourself. Here’s the passage that got me thinking about all this:

From Skitch

  • "People evolve and it's important to not stop evolving just because you've reached adulthood. "
  • J. K. Simmons

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Accounting Today Features the CPACA

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

The CPA Consultants’ Alliance has launched a new series of videos aimed at addressing the key issues facing the accounting profession. I am honored to have participated in this series.

The videos focus on the four key priorities identified by the group as major trends in the next five years:

  • Technology trends;
  • The changing landscape of M&A;
  • The rise of flexible workplaces and remote teams; and,
  • The growth of consulting as a profitable practice offering.

The videos are available on the CPACA website homepage and on its YouTube page.

The segment that I participated in is about flexible workplaces and remote teams – watch it here.

  • "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
  • Aristotle

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Hiring – – It Is More Important Now Than Ever

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins

Too many CPA firms have not hired right. They might hire for GPA. They might hire for professional demeanor (whatever that means). They might hire for ambition. They might hire because of a gut feeling.

Be sure you are focusing on hiring RIGHT. Be honest with candidates. The CPA profession is challenging, requires hard work and professionalism.

Here’s an excerpt from my newsletter from hireMAX about what Warren Buffet thinks about hiring.

Behind every great leader is a team of dynamic individuals. This is true of Buffett. What were the traits that he looked for as he hired his managers and advisors? Frequently, he speaks at universities and explains that he looks for integrity, intelligence, and energy when hiring.
Intelligence
Obviously, candidates need to be intelligent. However, you can get the grades in class but not know how to apply the information you’ve learned.
Intelligence is the very basic requirement to consider as you hire. No one will work with or hire someone dumb and unequipped for the role. After you have the intelligence factor, then go to the next trait as you seek to hire.
Energy
Energy is essential for any new hire. This doesn’t mean that you want the most energetic and coffee-crazed person working for you. Rather, you want an energetic candidate to take initiative in your company.
Lazy people don’t get far in life but those with drive and passion do. Employees that take initiative and are proactive to get things accomplished will most likely have that entrepreneurial spirit that you long for.
Integrity
The right candidate to hire should be intelligent and energetic. There is one missing and yet very important trait to be considered. Integrity is something that you cannot do without in your employees. They must be trustworthy and it is a trait that they make happen within themselves. You can’t pick your eye color or what you look like but you can decide whether you will live as a person with integrity.
Warren Buffett’s formula for a new hire is extremely useful and easy to follow. You don’t want an intelligent person without integrity because that could cause problems for your organization. Further, you wouldn’t want a lazy person with intelligence because it wouldn’t do you any good if they don’t take initiative.

Look for candidates that have intelligence, energy or initiative, and integrity. You will find that someone with top talent and these traits will be an outstanding addition to your company. Warren Buffett is living proof that hiring with these things in mind is beneficial to companies and teams seeking to grow.

  • "Human Resources isn't a thing we do. It's the thing that runs our business."
  • Steve Wynn

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

If You Want To Be Better – Read! Here’s An Amazing List.

“Most of us have far more courage than we ever dreamed we possessed.” – Dale Carnegie

Self Development Secrets has done an amazing job of collecting the best personal development books to read submitted from over 200+ “Influencers”.

They asked the influencers this question – – What is the best self development book you’ve ever read and why is it different from the rest?

There is no best book of all time. Different people go through different things and need a different push. Some relate to certain authors, writing styles or even niches. This post will give you a list of the number one book that has helped these influencers tremendously in their lives.

Be sure to browse through the extensive list and share it with your partners and team members.

I am on the list of contributors. I mentioned just one of my favorites (we were only allowed to submit one book… and I have so many favorites!).

  • "Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply."
  • Stephen Covey

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Utilize Stay Interviews

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

I have blogged a few time about the topic of stay interviews. They have gained more wide-spread popularity in recent years, of course, because of the accounting profession’s need to retain top talent.

One interesting observation that has been uncovered with the use of stay interviews is the fact that your people want you to hire great people. They do not want the firm to tolerate poor performers.

It certainly does make sense – they want to be part of a high-performing team. If you keep mediocre people, the firm will also eventually become mediocre.

Inovautus Consulting recently did a spotlight article about the stay interview process at DesRoches & Company, CPAs in Virginia Beach. It is a great story.

  • "Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong."
  • N. R. Narayana Murthy