Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

An Important Step In Staff Development

“Mentoring is easy and natural; it does not have to be just another dreaded task on your to-do list.” – Rita Keller

Thanks so much to Accounting Today and Sean McCabe for featuring many of my comments in the article, Molding the Future of the Profession – Mentoring young staff should be a crucial part of the recruiting and retention toolkit of more accounting firms.” 

Follow the link to read the entire article. And, thanks to Edi Osborne for all of her great comments in the article.

Here are some bullet point highlights:

  • Mentoring is just as important as salary and technology.
  • Mentoring requires an investment of time and money.
  • It is about attracting and strengthening future leaders for the profession.
  • Young people will buy into the vision of what it means to be a CPA and stay in the profession longer if they make a solid connection with someone who has already been down that road.
  • CPAs are great at teaching young people the technical skills but fail to impart knowledge about relationship-building and career-building skills.
  • Showing and not telling is vital to the mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Effective mentoring has become a strategic focus for the most progressive and successful firms.
  • "You have to water the flowers you want to grow."
  • Stephen Covey

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Digital Tools Are Part Of Onboarding

“The future depends on what you do today.” – Gandhi

It’s a new world and if you are not keeping pace, your new hires will notice immediately.

It is also a digital world and online activities and resources are such an important part of your firm. Keep this in mind as you overhaul your orientation process. Orientation has evolved into onboarding and onboarding is a process that can last up to a year or more.

I believe that first impressions STILL make a difference in how you are perceived. I always stress this with students aiming to make accounting their career.

While a prospective employee strives to make a good first impression, the firm is also being viewed with a magnifying glass. Be aware of the first impression your firm is making with prospects. I still hear horror stories of new hires arriving on their first day and it seems like almost a surprise. Their cubicle is not ready, they have no computer, etc.

To move from orientation to onboarding, begin with automating all of the initial paperwork. Most of it can be completed online before the new hire even arrives at the office.

Next, review what a new hire experiences in their first year. How can you make it more enriching? How can you convince the new hire that their career development is a top priority? You are probably doing many of the necessary things to help them succeed but you have not formalized it and communicated it very well.

Young professionals want to know immediately what their career path will look like and what it takes to succeed at the firm.

  • Share the steps involved for initial training.
  • Explain the formal CPE they will receive during the first year.
  • Communicate how the Guide, Coach, Mentor, and Sponsor Program works and what it means to them during the first year.
  • Provide an explanation of all of the firm’s services.
  • Explain how they will rotate through working in many types of service areas.
  • Explain how they will rotate working with a variety of people – partners and managers.
  • Provide them job descriptions for all levels of staff at the firm.

This is just a beginning list. Determine all of the activities, assignments, and learning experiences that a new hire will experience at your firm. Now is the time to rebrand from orientation to onboarding.

  • "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right."
  • Henry Ford

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Attract and Develop

Tom Hood, is that you with Rita?Maybe you have noticed, recruiting and retaining efforts have become even more intense and complicated.

No longer are recruiting and retaining enough to guarantee that talented professionals will want to come to your firm and remain there to build their professional career.

Tom Hood, President & CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs, tells us that in this fast changing world we have moved from an environment of recruit and retain to a strategy of attract and develop.

So, keep this in mind: Recruit and Retain no longer applies, it is now Attract and Develop.

For years, I have been urging you to make your firm a talent magnet. My long-standing advice has evolved from “you should” make your firm a magnet for talent to “you must” make your firm a magnet for talent. Develop your strategy now to create an “I want to work there!” kind of firm.

Here’s a short video clip from Tom Hood that describes how talent strategies have changed.


  • "If you're young and talented, it's like you have wings."
  • Haruki Murakami

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend. Are You Tweeting?

I’m always urging CPAs to tweet. It is a powerful social media tool that can help build your firm brand and also provide valuable information to your clients and team members.

This week (Friday) I shared how powerful Twitter is for building a niche and a personal brand (@SportsTaxMan).

Joey Havens, the managing partner of Horne LLP, also provides some very powerful and motivational tweets (@JoeyHavensCPA). Follow me on Twitter: @cpamanagement.

Heck! Even my son’s dog tweets! (@JackJackDogDog).

Jack Tweet




  • "Every dog has his day, unless he loses his tail, then he has a weak-end."
  • June Carter Cash

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

A Strong Niche Focus Can Make You Famous

Back in 2012, I blogged about a tax guy.

We became acquainted by doing a panel webinar about unique career paths you can take in the accounting profession for what is now AccountingFly. We continue to stay in touch and we both are passionate about tweeting.

His name is Robert Raiola and he is Director of the Sports & Entertainment Group at PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP.

At the time, Robert (@SportsTaxMan) was tweeting on a regular basis about his specialty – sports – and he had a few thousand followers. As of today, Robert has done over 29,800 tweets and has over 51,500 followers – that’s a home run for a CPA.

Just to show you the power of Twitter, it has helped him expand his reputation for being an expert – something every CPA should do – and he has been featured on a national level via Sports Illustrated, ESPN, etc.

David Maister, the guru advisor to professional service firms, always said you have to decide what “you want to be famous for” and then pursue it with passion. How is that working for you?

Below is a recent example of the great exposure being an expert has gotten for Robert. Over the years I have blogged six times about @SportsTaxMan (just type his name in the Search box on the right).

Robert knows what he wants to be famous for and he is achieving it. How about you – think about it this weekend!

Screenshot 2016-07-22 06.55.42

  • "I would have changed my last name if being famous were my goal."
  • Zach Galifianakis

Thursday, July 21st, 2016


“The worst curse to befall anyone is stagnation, a banal existence, the quiet desperation that comes out of a need for conformity.” – Deepak Chopra

Stagnate: To stop developing, progressing, moving, etc.: to be or become stagnant.

Stagnation: The state of being still, or not moving, like a sitting puddle of water where stagnation attracts mosquitoes.

I think you get the picture. Are you in a state of stagnation? Is your accounting firm in a state of stagnation?

Some people have an excuse for inactivity during this time of year. They call it the dog days of summer.

Dog days: The sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun (now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11). It is a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.

You should have several things on your firm’s Cultural Action Plan. There are some issues that are a high priority yet you find excuses to postpone action.

Don’t stagnate until you are faced with the fall deadlines! The future of your firm is too valuable. Imagine what you could accomplish in the next few weeks before Labor Day!

Don’t be “some people!” Don’t make your firm a puddle attracting mosquitoes.


  • "Stagnation is a slow death."
  • Ellen Hopkins

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Technology – Return On Investment (ROI)

“A nickel isn’t worth a dime anymore.” – Yogi Berra

I have heard firm leaders discuss return on investment relating to technology costs at many partner retreats and meetings. It always seems to be an elusive number and a never-ending conversation. In most cases, these conversations end with the comment partners apply to many things inside a CPA firm – “It costs too much.”

randyRandy Johnston has a very informative article on ROI via CPA Practice Advisor. He shares what should be in the calculations made regarding technology expenditures.

He also reminds us that there are a few key ideas behind what he discusses. Below are the key ideas. Follow this link to read the worthwhile article.

  1. That you have a technology plan and budget. Our latest National CPA Firm Survey data indicates that only 14% of CPA firms have an IT budget. Firms “spend what is needed” which may or may not be true.
  2. That each project should have an estimated return. Understand that some projects are dependent on other projects. For example, it is hard to implement eSignature if you don’t have your paperless project pretty far along.
  3. That you don’t have to implement the latest technology to be successful. However, you won’t gain a significant competitive advantage if you are a technology laggard.
  4. That, not every technology is for you.
  • "Too many people spend money they earned to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like."
  • Will Rogers

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

There Is A Time To Stand Firm

“Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” – Abraham Lincoln

1CEGO2NFI5Today’s post is one of those “this happens in real life inside many CPA firms” type stories.

A firm leader has an idea on how to inspire team members to become more involved in marketing and pursuing new business for the firm. They will give a nice bonus ($1,500) to the team member who brings in the most “leads” to the firm on a quarterly basis. The rules are established and well-communicated. The contest will run for a full year – 4 quarters. Team members seem excited about the opportunity.

After the first quarter, a team member named Mike wins the quarterly contest. After the second quarter, Mike wins again.

One partner hears some whining from a few team members that “Mike always wins.” This isn’t fair, etc. He consults with the other partners and they decide to discontinue the contest after the second quarter.

Just an example of how not to retain and inspire top talent.

Often inside accounting firms, the leaders seem to go whichever way the wind blows. A very small minority is unhappy, so let’s punish everyone equally. How many times has everyone received an email about leaving a mess at the coffee station when everyone knows the ONE person who is the offender?

  • "Let your soul sand cool and composed before a million universes."
  • Walt Whitman

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Living Up To Your Reputation

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” – Warren Buffett

You are a CPA – Certified Public Accountant. You, because of being a CPA, are known as being the most trusted advisor to business and individual clients.

OJXHDWMWV9You are in the service business – a very important service business. Can your clients trust you?

Have you ever:

Not returned a phone call to a client in a timely fashion?

Not returned a phone call because you know the client is upset?

Not answered a phone call and told your Director of First Impressions to send the caller to voicemail?

You know a client is waiting on an answer from you so you avoid eating lunch at a restaurant that the client frequents?

Blamed someone else at your firm for a delay in client service when you know it is your fault?

Routinely let your ringing phone go to voicemail even when you know it might a client?

Found out, via an administrative person, that a client is upset about their invoice and want to discuss it with you. They ask that you call them and then you don’t.

It all seems like little things. Sure, you eventually talk to these people and address various issues.

But little things make the biggest difference.

  • "Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters."
  • Albert Einstein

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Learn More About Numbers From A Teacher

Accountants love numbers. So do teachers. This guy has some interesting numbers for you. Teachers need bumper numbers, too!