Friday, June 15th, 2018

Flashback Friday – Show Your Confidence

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

In a job interview or in a conversation with your boss or even in a conversation with a client – all CPAs need to work on showing confidence. Many of you are humble and introverted but you are also intelligent, knowledgeable and interesting.

Show that confidence. This week’s flashback is a great, short video to teach you how to have a conversation. It is directed toward women but it applies to males, too!

  • "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. "
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

You Probably Have One – A Bad Apple

“Bad apples spoil teams and healthy team dynamics, it is more important than top talent.” – Will Fleps

Over the years, I have often talked and written about bad apples inside accounting firms. A recent blog post by @leadershipfreak brought this important topic to light again.

As I always say, “One bad apple can ruin the whole barrel.” that means that the constant whiner inside your firm is doing significant damage in the long-term. Yet, CPAs are nice people and they just shy away from firing people – even bad apples.

Per the article, one bad apple lowers team performance up to 40%! Maybe that gets your attention.

Read the blog post here. Maybe it will inspire you to have a more critical look at some team members.

The first step is to let the bad apple know they are causing problems. Be honest and straight-forward. Give them a chance to change – but, don’t give them too long.

Warning! – Make sure your culture isn’t cultivating bad apples.

  • "In marketing you must choose between boredom, shouting and seduction. Which do you want?"
  • Roy H. Williams

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Changes To The CPA Exam

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

The Journal of Accountancy has a podcast titled, How Tax Reform – and Excel – Are Changing The CPA Exam. It is hosted by Chris Baysden of the AICPA.

Tax reform will have an important impact on many aspects of the accounting profession — including the CPA Exam. In this week’s episode of the podcast, we talked to Mike Decker, the vice president of examinations at the AICPA, about the changes being made to the exam as a result of tax reform — and about how Excel will now be available for use on the test.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • How the AICPA’s exams team has gone about collecting feedback on the exam.
  • Why continuous testing could be on the horizon.
  • The timeline for implementing changes due to tax reform.
  • How and why a practice analysis will be initiated.
  • The changes that test takers will see to monitors and software used in the exam.

Here’s a link to the podcast (it’s only 11 minutes long). You need to know so you can advise and encourage the young accountants in your firm to take the Exam and get it behind them!

  • "Nothing happens until something moves."
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

Grace and Radical Kindness

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” – Fred Rogers

You have heard it and read it over and over again. I am talking about news and conversations about arguments, disagreements, biases, hate, and lack of understanding. Like many, I am very tired of the whole thing. I’m tired of people who can’t seem to tolerate anyone who thinks differently than them.

On a smaller scale, how are things inside your CPA firm? How’s morale? Are people happy? Are there certain people you know NOT to approach at certain times because they are in a bad mood? Are there bossy people, closed-minded people and people who simply don’t want to rock the boat when it involves change? Are there egotistical people or even greedy people?

Maybe it is time for Radical Kindness. That’s the term the Director of the new documentary about Mister Rogers uses to describe him. Here’s an excerpt from a recent article I read in the Dayton Daily News about the film. The director is the filmmaker Morgan Neville:

“I’ve thought a lot about why the film moves people. Fred kind of digested his message down to what I call radical kindness, but Fred himself called it grace. And to him, grace was an idea that could be expressed as – Be good to others, even if they don’t deserve it.”

“Fred saw life as a struggle between fear and love. What we see today, rage and anger and resentment, are the byproducts of fear. What he tried to do was quell that fear in children, to keep them from manifesting those toxic emotions. Fred chose love, and that is his legacy.”

Here is a link to the trailer for the documentary. There is also a movie in the works about Fred Rogers, starring Tom Hanks. It is to be released in 2019.

For now, I hope you act with grace and practice radical kindness.

  • "There's no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.""
  • Mister Rogers

Monday, June 11th, 2018

Technology Surprises

“Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you.” – Randy Pausch

Roman Kepczyk, CPA, CITP via the CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA.org) has conducted the 2018 IT Survey to identify information technology trends in the medium and larger CPA firms representative of their membership. Many technology trends begin in medium and larger firms where their worth is proven and eventually flow through to smaller firms after adoption and best practices have been standardized.

The Top 10 Accounting Firm IT Survey Surprises has been published by CPA Practice Advisor.

The No. 1 “surprise” is very interesting:

The most significant change in the CPAFMA IT survey over the past two years was the transition from internally managed Exchange/Outlook servers to utilizing external, cloud-based solutions. While 68% of firms hosted their own Exchange Servers in 2016, this number was cut by more than half in 2018 to 30%. With 70% of participating firms utilizing an external email/groupware solution, this is a trend that every firm should be evaluating before buying new or updating their existing Exchange servers.

Follow the link, above, to read the other nine surprises.

  • "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."
  • George S. Patton

Friday, June 8th, 2018

Flashback Friday – Training Your Clients

Here’s a post from last summer. It is an ongoing challenge for CPA firms. Every year as tax season closes the biggest complaint I hear from CPAs is the fact that it is so difficult to get tax information from many of their clients.

Why keep these clients? If you do keep them, train them.

Read more here.

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Important Survey

“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.” – John Naisbitt

My friends at ConvergenceCoaching®, LLC, are committed to helping firms succeed through the adoption of NextGen strategies, including flex. They are seeking participants in their Anytime, Anywhere Work™ Survey 2018.

The goal of this survey is to collect data on the adoption of flexible work programs (Anytime, Anywhere Work™ programs) by public accounting firms and the experiences firms have had with these initiatives.

Follow the link to find out more and please consider participating in the survey. The survey is open through June 15. By participating you will receive a copy of the survey results.

  • "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."
  • Arthur Conan Doyle

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Lack of Sleep

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

If you are working for a CPA firm, you are working hard. Often, it is fast-paced, challenging, stressful and frustrating – but not all the time. Sometimes, it is slow and boring – but that is rare (my opinion).

You get up early so you can get to the office early so you can have some quiet time before the crowd arrives. Then, you also often stay late for the same reason. You still have home duties and want to spend time with your family so you probably stay up later than you should. You rise at 4:30 or 5:00 and get to bed at 11:00, 11:30 or 12:00. You are definitely not getting enough sleep.

All of this affects your productivity. Some experts have actually noted that showing up for work sleep deprived can be the equivalent of showing up to work intoxicated!

Experts also tell us that you should be getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night. I know when I worked in a growing firm, I usually got about 5-1/2 to 6 hours of sleep – for years. Now that I work from home, I can attest that getting 7 hours sleep per night makes a big, positive difference.

Lack of sleep not only affects your productivity at work, it affects your health.

Here’s a good article to share with your team via Fast Company: Why We Can’t Sleep And What It’s Doing to Our Work.

 

  • "Sleep is the best meditation."
  • Dalai Lama

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

More About Client Acceptance

“You get to choose your customers, not the other way around.” – Seth Godin

Yesterday I wrote about providing too much information and spending too much time with a potential client before you know they are a suitable fit for your firm.

This is a tough issue inside many CPA firms.

Firms are competing heavily for new clients. You need them. So, you add new clients without subjecting them to a rigorous client acceptance process.

Has your firm grown by accepting every client that comes along and keeping them even when they are a collection headache?  Is there pressure on your partners to bring in new business so that they can claim their share of the profits during the year-end compensation dance?  If these type of actions are in your past, think hard about your future.

Ask your team members about the quality of your client base.  They will tell you immediately which ones they would nominate for out-placement.

Even though you really know you should serve clients that fit your mission, clients you like and admire and get rid of those that are poor business people, most of you will continue to work with clients that you really don’t like very much, who treat your people disrespectfully and then don’t pay you.

Seth Godin had a good post on his blog about Choosing Your Customers. Seth says, “Yes, you get to choose them, not the other way around. You choose them with your pricing, your content, your promotion, your outreach and your product line.”

  • "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do."
  • Michael Porter

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

Client Acceptance

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” – Nathaniel Branden

A potential new client calls and wants to meet you and possibly hire you and your firm. You are thrilled – a new client!

More and more potential clients are contacting you via your website to inquire about services. You are thrilled – a new client!

They come into the office for a complimentary first meeting. This is where you need to be careful and not be so thrilled.

They talk and talk. You talk and talk. Before you know it you have given them a couple hours of FREE consultation. Because you are a nice person and want to help people you have also probably given them valuable advice on their financial situation without them becoming a client.

Many people who contact you, are not a suitable client for your services. Don’t invest too much time upfront.

Yes, put the word out there that you offer a free one-hour consultation for prospective clients. But, establish a script for that first meeting to learn more about them so you can decide whether they are a suitable candidate for your firm. Don’t accept clients that do not fit your criteria for an “A” client. Your expertise is not a fit for everyone. Invest one hour, no more until they sign the engagement letter.

The establishment of a valid billing and collection policy begins with client acceptance.

  • "Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it."
  • Michael J. Fox