Thursday, November 26th, 2015

Count Your Blessings And Take Time To Laugh

Our family watches this WKRP In Cincinnati Thanksgiving video every year. It’s a tradition like watching A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve (but this video is a lot shorter).

Many of you are not old enough to remember the show, but it was one that always made you laugh. Gather your family and watch this video together. The classic line comes at 3:55 but you’ve got to watch the whole thing play out.

To all of my clients and loyal followers of this blog…. I count you among my blessings.

  • "As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
  • Mr. Carlson, WKRP In Cincinnati

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Invest In Your Firm Administrator

If you are a managing partner, you know the value of attending your firm association meetings or networking with other CPAs at your state society.

That’s why I am so surprised to hear that many CPA firm administrators do not get the support of the managing partner for attending the association meetings that are vital to their continuing career growth and success of the firm.

I attended the Ohio Chapter of CPAFMA last Friday and attendance was disappointing. I often speak at CPAFMA Chapter meetings around the country and their #1 concern is attendance at the chapter meetings.

CPAFMA_Name_PantoneWhen you dig deeper, you find out that some firm administrators don’t even ask the MP if they can attend. They take it for granted (because of their experiences inside the firm) that the MP would NOT want them to be out for a day or half day.

There are 21 chapters around the country. If your firm administrator is a member of CPAFMA, please support their attendance at chapter meetings and at the national conference. If you are a firm administrator ASK… No, inform the partners that you will be attending.

Most chapters have a roundtable discussion after the speaker has finished. Everyone brings a list of topics they want feedback on. Here’s an example from the Ohio meeting: Leadership development training, Skype, Credit Card use, 7216 & E/L’s, pay increases, retention, electronic signature procedures, super forms, cyber liability, billing rate changes, HR systems, bad debt write-offs, scanners/printers.

I bet you would like to know more about some of these topics – CPAFM provides a wealth of information to run your firm more efficiently.

  • "I am learning all the time. My tombstone will be my diploma."
  • Eartha Kitt

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Working Hard In An Accounting Firm? Need A Raise?

IMG_4817Research tells us that many women have NEVER asked for a raise. It is my observation that inside accounting firms, employees, in general, rarely ask for a raise.

Yes, accounting firms pay well for experienced people. Sometimes those coming in from the outside are paid quite a bit more than someone with longevity with the firm.

Don’t settle for less than you are worth. Here are some points to consider.

Has your list of responsibilities expanded since your last pay increase? Keep a list of tasks you have taken on and be ready to discuss these during your salary conversation. Your firm does not provide a salary conversation session? Ask for one.

If you are really dissatisfied with your pay increases/salary do some research in the marketplace. Again, it is my observation that many people in accounting firms are overpaid as compared to the market. This includes partners.

Do your research. If you determine you are underpaid, schedule a talk with your boss (partner/mentor/department head). If the result is “No, no raise at this time,” then ask them to describe what you have to do to earn more and get a follow-up meeting with them on the calendar for 3 to 6 months down the road.

It is healthy for both boss and employee to talk about salary. If you are the employee, it’s about your future and your career path. The firm should be prepared to paint a picture of the future for you.

  • "Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune."
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

Managing partners and other partners in CPA firms sometimes have challenges when it come to focus.

While it is good to be involved in the community, in your firm association, state society or the AICPA, be careful not to ignore what is going on at the firm. The outside involvement, especially in the community helps the firm grow and prosper.

Some partners, as they accumulate wealth, begin investing in outside businesses. They seem to spend a lot of time outside the firm tending to these businesses. Again, be careful not to ignore what is going on at the firm.

If you are a partner (owner) in an accounting firm, I hope it is your #1 priority. It is a treasure, a valuable resource that needs constant attention. I have known some prominent CPAs that have suffered greatly from taking their eye off the ball (the firm). Some have even lost their firm.

I always advise, don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

  • "A fox should not be on the jury at a goose's trial."
  • Thomas Fuller

Friday, November 20th, 2015

2015 Most Powerful Women In Accounting


I am proud, honored and delighted to be named one of the 2015 Most Powerful Women In Accounting by CPA Practice Advisor.

Something like this causes me to reflect on all of the wonderful mentors and role models that have influenced me over my many, many years in the accounting profession and business world.

My advice to you: Surround yourself with the right people. Collect mentors like sea shells on the beach. Follow the good examples in your life and ignore the bad ones.

I was not able to attend the awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Wednesday but you can see the beautiful ladies in attendance above.

  • "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

The Real Story About CPE Courses

I use Yelp and Trip Advisor to find great restaurants. How about you? I also use the reviews and book reservations with Open Table. These are helpful tools. I feel like I get the real story about the restaurant.

What if you could find the same type of reviews (from different perspectives) when you are deciding upon a CPE course? Helpful, right? Check out the following press release and visit the site. It’s new.

Trinocity launches, a CPE user-review site

CPAs can now rate and review any online CPE course from any provider

Nashville, TN – Trinocity announced today the launch of, a rating and review platform for CPE courses. CPAs can find, rate and review any online CPE course from any provider.

Trinocity President, Eric Busby, said, “Much like Yelp and TripAdvisor did with restaurants and hotels, CPEadvisory brings user reviews to CPE. We believe user reviews increase transparency, which helps CPAs make more informed choices and, over time, drives quality higher.”

The CPEadvisory platform can also be integrated with state CPA society websites. The Kentucky Society of CPAs was the first to do so, with other states coming online soon. contains over 6,000 course listings and is updated daily. Beginning today, CPAs can use the site to find any online CPE course and are encouraged to post reviews on courses they’ve taken.

About Trinocity: Trinocity is a software company specializing in the advancement of the best instruction through user-generated rating and review platforms. It is based in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • "I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday."
  • Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Flexibility Is The Winner In The Race For Talent

I love the following story from the Ohio Society of CPAs. If you follow this blog you know how much I love the world of marching band and appreciate what CPA firm leaders can learn from it.

Here’s a great story of a CPA firm’s flexibility and how it helped fulfill a dream a young accounting major and future employee. I have embedded a short video below….”Doting The i In Accounting.”

Ohio CPA firms getting creative with workplace flexibility to attract talent

Local accountant to dot the ‘i’ in Sunday’s OSU game—a dream his employer helped make possible

(COLUMBUS, Nov. 17, 2015) —Dotting the ‘i’ for script Ohio in The Ohio State University marching band was a longtime dream for Neil Steffens. That dream came true this past September in part because Steffen’s employer, Clark Schaefer Hackett, a regional CPA firm, was open to a flexible work arrangement as Steffens was transitioning from accounting grad to full-time tax accountant.

Arrangements like Steffens’ are becoming more common as the race for top talent has intensified in many professions. Companies are competing in a limited talent pool, and pulling out all the stops to attract and retain the most qualified candidates.

According to an EY survey, flexibility ranked second only to competitive pay and benefits when employees evaluate a potential job opportunity.

Flexibility was top of mind for Steffens, an accounting grad searching for his first job out of college. He had a special situation, as he explains in this video from The Ohio Society of CPAs. Despite having graduated from The Ohio State University, he was still a member of the OSU marching band and had the opportunity to dot the ‘i’ during theScript Ohio band performance, a special honor reserved only for fourth-year sousaphone section members. He will make a repeat performance this Saturday during OSU’s last home game of the season against Michigan State.

“I was going to dot the ‘i’ no matter what, even if it meant putting my life on hold,” Steffens said.

The band requires a huge time commitment, one that would interfere with a normal work schedule. Steffens approached his job search by only considering employers that would accommodate his practice schedule. Clark Schaefer Hackett, a large regional CPA firm in Ohio, fit the bill.

“For Neil and others who are granted opportunities like this it comes down to trust,” said Ed Walsh, CPA, shareholder-in-charge of the firm’s Columbus office. “He trusts us to allow him the flexibility to pursue his passions, and we trust that he’ll make it all work when it comes to helping us serve our clients.”

As job seekers, particularly millennials, continue to value flexibility, employers are bending to meet market demand. Walsh believes the key to making flexible arrangements work for both employer and employee is evaluating each request one at a time, to ensure the company can meet its needs. Open dialogue and clear communication about expectations are also imperative.

“Great people are hard to find,” Walsh said. “And when we hire those people we’re not just thinking about how to keep them happy for 6-12 months. More and more we really think long term, and what can we do to make this a place where people want to stay.”

“It was awesome to find Clark Schaefer Hackett and be able to earn a living while also accomplishing my dream,” Steffens said. “It’s one thing to say ‘We’re going to allow you to have a work life balance,’ but it’s another thing to truly support what you do outside of work.”

Steffens is a master at juggling responsibilities. In addition to marching in the band and working full-time in the firm’s tax practice, he is studying to pass the four-part national CPA exam. Some would say that’s a full time job by itself.

Workplace flexibility is one of several talent management topics featured in OSCPA’s video Spotlight series. The latest episode features Neil’s story and a profile of Kaiser Consulting, a Powell, Ohio-based firm founded on the concept of offering employees control over their schedules.

Here’s the video:

The Ohio Society of CPAs is a leading partner and influential voice for a thriving business environment. We empower Ohio’s 30,000 CPAs and financial professionals to drive value as trusted business advisors by advancing advocacy and education programs that strengthen Ohio’s tax and business climate and make our state a friendlier place to live and do business.

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Cannot Afford To Leave

Today’s post is sort of a follow-on to yesterday’s Sacred Cow post (people who are protected, cannot be fired). There’s probably at least one of those inside your firm, probably more.

What about the people who really don’t want to stay at your firm but, over the years, they have performed adequately (but maybe not) and you have given them annual pay increases and now they make a VERY good salary. They are not passionate about the firm any longer (this could even be partners) and are just “putting in their time”.

EGHQ7ZDZI8I hear it all the time….. “There’s no where else in my area where I can make as much as I do here.” And from the other side, “She’s doing a pretty good job for us and it’s so hard to hire people now.”

Develop a “grow your own” culture where you are continually hiring new college grads and developing them. That way there is always someone who can stretch and fill a spot vacated by a more experienced person. People love challenges and promotions.

Identify your middle stars, people who are not all superstars but they are not falling stars either. Many middle stars are passionate about the firm. Challenge them and help them meet your expectations. If they are unwilling, and too comfortable with status quo, offer them the opportunity to work for another firm.

If you have someone who is working at your firm just because of the money – it’s time to deal with it. Give them a nice severance. Long-term, it’s the right decision.

From the other side, if you are that person, working for an accounting firm although it’s depressing, unchallenging, chaotic and poorly managed, don’t stay just for the money. Life is too short.

  • "There's no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there's no excuse for boredom, ever."
  • Viggo Mortensen

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Sacred Cows

Sacred Cow – definition:

One that is often unreasonably immune from criticism or opposition. Someone or something that has been accepted or respected for a long time and that people are afraid or unwilling to criticize or question.

If you are involved in merger discussions and are acquiring a firm, be sure to ask: What are your sacred cows?

When leaders of a firm want to be “merged-in” they might shy away from talking about their sacred cows until after the deal is done. Too late. The firm that is acquiring cannot facilitate the transition if they are not aware of the sacred cows.

cowWhat I usually observe is that it is a long-time employee who cannot be terminated. CPAs are kind and loyal. They keep some long-time employees just because “she has been with the firm for 25 years, even though she hasn’t adapted to our technology” or “he’s a partner, even though his performance hasn’t been up to par for many, many years.”

Sometimes it is tax software. “We will not change our tax package.” Period.

Remember, you are running a business. Why wouldn’t you negotiate a nice departure package and hire someone at half the salary who loves technology? Why wouldn’t you negotiate a retirement timeline and make departure easy?

As for technology and software, the entire firm should be using the exact same software and following the exact same procedures. That way any team member can work for any partner or office at any given time via remote connectivity. The same goes for basic office procedures. Of course, offices have some minor nuances and personality differences but the work gets done the same way and to meet firm-wide quality standards.

  • "I don't want any vegetables thank you. I paid for the cow to eat them for me."
  • Douglas Coupland

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

It’s Not A Lighten-Up Weekend – It’s a Caring Weekend

france+flagNot my usual weekend post. Just thoughts and good vibes sent to France. It is sad to me how terrible acts bring out the best in people, here and around the world. I wish these people were more visible all of the time.

In case you haven’t seen some of the beautiful images around the world in support of Paris & France, check out these photos via BBC.

  • "Patriotism is not a short frenzied burst of emotion, but the long and steady dedication of a lifetime."
  • Thomas Jefferson