Friday, July 20th, 2018

Invest In Your Managers – Flashback Friday

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

Reaching the manager level inside a CPA firm is a wonderful accomplishment. However, along with the title comes the responsibility for others. It is so much more than having technical knowledge. The manager is (or should be) the first-line boss of other people.

Invest in your managers, help them learn the special skills necessary to manage and inspire others.

Here’s a flashback post on this topic.

 

  • "Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing."
  • Warren Bennis

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Beware of Helicopter Parents

“A suburban mother’s role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after.” – Peter De Vries

Fall recruiting season is fast approaching. Your recruiting team will be on college campuses for job fairs, networking events and interviews. Beware of helicopter moms. They have been spotted roaming the halls of accounting job fairs gathering intel for their student.

Over the last several years, I have heard more and more stories about helicopter parents (almost always Moms) getting involved in the job search and actual hiring of their children by accounting firms. I know, many of you will say this is unbelievable! It’s not. It happens.

It probably begins when their younger teenager gets their first job. Maybe that first job is a fast food chain or a summer job at the local pool. Moms are protective and they check things out.

Here’s a great, short story from Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady. You’ll love the title of her post: Dear Moms, Do You Want Your 35-Year-Old Living in Your Basement? Because This Is How You Get That.

Check out this amusing video in one of my previous posts.

  • "Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together."
  • Pearl S. Buck

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Top 50 Accounting Blogs

“Reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley

I was thrilled to receive notification that Crush The CPA Exam has named my blog one of their Top 50. I am Number 12. Read more about it below and also check out the entire list. There may be several blogs that you should be reading. Of course, read mine first. I post every business day.

Blogs are a fantastic and severely underrated method of staying up to date on all kinds of interesting subcultures and industries. Sure, social media such as Facebook and Twitter can provide faster updates and hotter takes; however, the fact remains that if you want to read long-form articles of substance on a niche topic, you want to look on a blog.

Accounting is no different. While a lot of interesting news and op-eds can be read through publications like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, or Bloomberg, these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finance-related written works. To help you find the best of the best, we’ve cultivated a list of the top 50 accounting blogs in no particular order.

No two blogs are created equal, and these accounting and finance-related blogs are no exception. Some of these blogs are great for individuals without any professional accounting experience who are looking for advice, some of them are geared toward students looking to become CPA’s, and some are perfect for seasoned professionals looking for an expert’s take on the latest developments.

These blogs were chosen based on their popularity, post quality, and post frequency. All of these blogs are also actively posting new content as of June 2018.

  • "Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it."
  • P. J. O'Rourke

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Essential Questions

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

You have gathered all of your partners for the annual partner retreat. You are not going to discuss day-to-day issues. You are all going to focus on strategic issues that will take your firm into the future.

You work diligently for one or two days and document a strategic plan. Allow time at the end of the retreat to discuss one more thing. It is David Maister’s essential questions of strategy (from his book Strategy and the Fat Smoker). Consider these questions, discuss these questions because they are the questions that are often avoided in strategic planning:

“Which of our habits are we really prepared to change, permanently and forever? Which lifestyle changes are we really prepared to make? What issues are we really ready to tackle?”

 

  • "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
  • Nelson Mandela

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Six Habits of Mind

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

Alan Wurtzel, the former CEO of Circuit City, spent three years exploring the rise and fall of his company. He offers some important Habits of Mind. He wrote a book titled, Good to Great to Gone. Here are his Habits of Mind:

6 Habits of Mind:

1. Be Humble; Run Scared. Constantly doubt your understanding of things. Say, “I may not be right.”

2. Curiosity Sustains the Cat: Answers end curiosity. Keep curiosity alive by saying, “That’s a great answer are there other options?”

3. Confront the Brutal FactsIf you don’t confront the brutal facts now, they’ll confront you later.

4. Boldly Follow Through: Big ideas require bold leadership and attract loyal followers.

5. Mind the Culture: Create a caring and ethical culture where employees can make mistakes without fear of adverse consequences.

6. Encourage Debate: Encourage and learn from dissent.

  • "There is no failure except in no longer trying."
  • Chris Bradford

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Asking For Salary History Might Be Illegal

“You can’t teach employees to smile. They have to smile before you hire them.” – Arte Nathan

If you are the typical CPA firm, you are doing a lot of interviewing of potential new hires on a regular basis. Be sure the people in your firm involved in interviewing know what to ask and what not to ask.

Per an article by Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady:

Many states and cities have made it illegal to ask a candidate for salary history, making basing their current offer on a previous salary difficult (but not impossible). Keep in mind, none of these laws prevent employers from asking what salary someone is looking for. A person who currently earns $50,000 is most likely going to say she is looking for a lower salary than someone who currently earns $80,000. The best way is for companies to state a salary range up front: “This job pays between $75-$85,000. Does that work for you?”

Here’s a link to her full article on the Inc. website.

  • "When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute."
  • Simon Sinek

Friday, July 13th, 2018

Think Before You Automate

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

Your firm is almost paperless. You have been working on it (that’s what many firm leaders tell me) but still some paper flows around the office as tax returns and other client projects are being prepared.

You find an appropriate accounting workflow software and commit to automating the way that work flows through your office. There are several vendors serving the CPA profession. Do your research and find out which one is best for your firm. Both of the prominent CPA profession software vendors have a product.

Then you are anxious to get it up and running so that you can digitally track the work flowing through the office. Move ahead cautiously. Take time to think. Are you planning to simply replicate your current process by using the software?

Before you automate, investigate and eliminate all of the inefficiencies in your current processes. The accounting software will just do what you tell it to do. Form a task force comprised of people from different levels and disciplines involved in the work and streamline the process before you automate it.

Accounting workflow software will help you take a huge step toward becoming a truly digital firm.

 

  • "Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things."
  • Peter Drucker

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Accounting Firm Websites

 “If you want success, be unique.” – Natalie Massenet

Many firms I have talked to recently are focusing on updating their website this summer. Your website is so important. It is the first impression that a new client has of your firm. Does it look modern and trendy or does it look conservative, boring and old?

BNA logoI look at a lot of CPA firm websites and my favorite remains BNA CPAs & Advisors in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Their site is modern and trendy, clean and sleek and so are their offices and attitudes.

I met Bernie and Jason Ackerman many years ago at a conference and have stayed in touch over the years. They have been so proactive in improving their firm and its processes. They embrace technology to the fullest. Their focus remains on how they can provide even better client service.

Visit their site and explore. Learn how BNA delivers tax returns in 3 days. Then, compare it to your website. How do you stack up?

  • "My personal ambition remains the same - to be creative, to be modern, to stay one step ahead, to enjoy life."
  • Natalie Massenet

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Left Standing At The Altar

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” – Rumi

Your accounting firm has several partners in their late 50s or early 60s. You don’t have enough young partners or future partners to take the firm into the future and still pay-out a significant amount of retirement dollars.

What do you do? The popular choice is to seek a larger firm to acquire your firm.

In a recent article for Accounting Today, Terry Putney and Joel Sinkin have shared ways to make your firm more attractive to acquirers. It used to be a seller’s market but it has now become a buyer’s market because so many smaller firms are looking for succession assistance.

A large firm is “looking at” your firm and another firm of similar size. The other firm has embraced technology and you are still not completely paperless. They choose the other firm and leave you standing at the altar.

Here are the Five Ways to Beautify Your Firm For M&A. Follow the link to read helpful descriptions about each of the five ways.

  1. Embracing technology
  2. “Brand” versus “partner” loyal
  3. Good clients and staff
  4. Niches
  5. Realistic terms

Thanks to Terry and Joel of Transition Advisors for this helpful information.

  • "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Be Careful What You Say and Where You Say It

“A secret spoken finds wings” – Robert Jordan

Client confidentiality is a very important issue inside a CPA firm. So, my warning to all CPA firm team members, including new hires and the administrative team (includes techies and marketers) is – Be careful what you say and where you say it!

This shouldn’t happen, but it does. Team members joke about clients. Perhaps, inside your firm you even have “pet” names for clients, i.e., Mr. Always Late (or even more unflattering names). Be careful!

Never forget that people sitting in your lobby or conference room can overhear many conversations. Develop a culture where clients are always talked about with respect except behind doors and for a good reason.

Here are some examples to avoid and to educate everyone in your firm to avoid:

One firm had a stairway in the lobby leading to the upstairs staff offices and meetings rooms. Anyone sitting in the lobby could hear what was said in the upstairs landing. After an incident occurred, continual reminders kept people from having any kind of client discussions on that upper landing.

Another firm had a client approach a partner to warn him that he, the client, was dining in a popular business lunch spot and overheard a table of administrative people discussing a client of the firm. The client didn’t want his business discussed in public places.

These examples are just one segment of client confidentiality. Some clients don’t even want people to know who handles their financial affairs.

Again, be careful and educate everyone working at the firm.

 

  • "Confidentiality is an ancient and well-warranted social value."
  • Kay Redfield Jamison