Thursday, October 19th, 2017

When Women Win, CPA Firms Win

sageworks-squarelogo“Intelligent people can always come up with intelligent reasons…. to do nothing.” – Scott Simon

Save the date – Thursday, November 2, 2017 – 12:00-1:00pm.

Join me and your peers for a special webinar sponsored by SageWorks, titled: Women In Accounting: Thriving Now and Into The Future.

This is not a webinar just for women. Times have changed. Flexibility and work/life balance is a societal and generational issue. Families need flexibility.

Men in the CPA profession have a huge role in attracting and retaining talented female accountants. Yes, there is a lot for females to know and understand. The same goes for males. After all, in addition to female employees, many of your firm’s new clients are, and will be, female business owners.

Times have changed. Women in accounting, prepare yourself for the future!

Learn more here and get registered.

  • "Companies used to be able to function with autocratic bosses. We don't live in that world anymore."
  • Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Never Happy

During CPA firm partner meetings and retreats, there is often one partner who is never happy with whatever new thing the firm is trying to implement. They seem to want to argue about almost everything.

Every idea is challenged and the person usually qualifies their comments with words like “I’m playing devil’s advocate….”

That is why this recent, brief blog post by Seth Godin hit home with me:

Oppositional

When someone is frequently naysaying a proposal or a situation, it’s tempting to figure out how to make them happy. What can you change to find a compromise, how can you listen to their objections and respond in a way to gain their approval?

It might be, though, that being oppositional is making them happy. It may be that the best way to satisfy their objections is to let them keep objecting.

  • "Dig your well before you are thirsty."
  • Seth Godin

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Use Technology, Don’t Let it Use You

“You should not confuse your career with your life.” – Dave Barry

One of my wonderful clients shared an amazing blog post with me recently. I want to share it with you.

Now, that the 10/15 due date is history, take some time to contemplate your work life. Reflect and think about how you might be creating more stress than is needed. Are some of the work/life balance issues your own fault?

I work with and talk to many people in the CPA profession. The profession has become much more flexible and less demanding. The most progressive firms are truly focused on creating a workplace that does not consume 60 to 70 hours per week.

Sure, to be successful, it takes hard work and dedication. However, in our current age of connectedness, we might just go too far.

Here’s the post by John O’Leary – Will You See It? (Tips to make technology work for you).

  • "Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important."
  • Stephen R. Covey

Monday, October 16th, 2017

Partner Accountability

“If you are building a culture where honest expectations are communicated and peer accountability is the norm, then the group will address poor performance and attitudes.” – Henry Cloud

I hear it discussed all the time. I also hear partners debate what accountability really means. Most seem to find it very difficult to define, thus accountability is not part of the partner group culture.

I often describe accountability as simply the act of asking questions. Did you make that follow-up call to Joe Prospect? Did you schedule lunch with that disgruntled client? Did you counsel Jill Newperson about CPE that would be appropriate for her?

When you have a lack of accountability there are consequences. In Aquila Advisors recent newsletter, August Aquila skillfully answers the question, “What is partner accountability?”

  • "The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability."
  • Simon Mainwaring

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Resource For What You Need To Know About Tax Reform

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo

Here’s an opportunity for CPAs to learn more……

What You Need to Know About Tax Reform

AICPA’s Oct. 18 Webcast Will Cover Proposals, Politics and Prospects for Passage

Washington (Oct. 12, 2017) – The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is offering a tax reform webcast on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT.

The audio webcast features Edward Karl, CPA, CGMA, AICPA vice president of taxation, and Melissa Labant, J.D., CPA/PFS, CGMA, AICPA director of tax policy and advocacy.

Entitled Tax Reform: What CPAs Need to Know, the webcast is intended to brief participants about the latest tax reform developments and prospects for passage.

One CPE credit is available for the webcast.  It is $59 for AICPA members and $69 for non-members.  Group registration is also available.  Those interested may register at http://tinyurl.com/y9q9nd8n

  • "Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire."
  • W. B. Yeats

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Tax Return Ranking – A Consistency Issue

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

If you work in a CPA firm, you probably know what I mean by the title of this post – tax return ranking. It means the level of difficulty of a particular tax return.

It is one of those procedural type issues that I probably don’t cover as much as I used to. Yet, these little things can play havoc with consistency and efficiency at your firm.

Here’s the story:

Partners are asked to assign a level of difficulty to tax returns before they are selected (or assigned) for preparation. Some firms use grades like A, B, C and some firms use a numeric ranking like 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult.

Staff and interns then select (or are assigned) returns that are appropriate to their experience level. Beginners and interns might be given the “simple” returns and more experienced tax preparers get the more complex returns.

The issue is that some partners might think a certain return is a Level 2 and another partner thinks it’s really a Level 1. They have not established guidelines as to what actually constitutes a #1 from a #3 return. It is just assumed that a #3 is more difficult than a #1. Take the guess work out of this process by better defining what each level means.

Susan Flynn, Office Manager at Gallagher, Flintoff & Klein in Lansing, Michigan has kindly agreed to share their ranking system. I though it might help other firms better define their own ranking systems.

Tax Return Rankings

0 – Business/Trusts

1 – Simple: W-2, Sch. A, No Sch. C, E or K-1s.

2 – Average: Includes a Sch. C, E or simple K-1s.

3 – Complex: One or more of the following: Sch. C, D, E, K-1s, B w/large brokerage statement, multi-state.

4 – High Touch: High-level preparer required.

Before January 1 rolls around, review your system and determine if it needs to be better defined.

 

  • "For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward."
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

You Don’t Always Have to “Give In”

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison

Accounting firms, in recent years, have gone to great lengths to be more flexible, to be more understanding, to be more tolerant, compassionate and caring towards their valuable workforce.

All that is good. However, firm leaders, and accountants, in general, are non-confrontational so it seems like they eventually give in to almost any request.

arrow-down-4-xxlYou dumb things down, you go to great lengths to make things simple and easy. You strive to eliminate any discomfort and stress. You want people to have fun and enjoy their work.

I have observed that this fear of offending any team member leads to more work getting done by those at a more experienced level in the firm. Leaders not only fail to set high expectations, they fail to set any expectations. An environment evolves where partners and managers are doing the work and the staff are looking for work.

Many experts tell us that young people want to know exactly what is expected of them. Thus, they can judge when they are making progress on their career path.

I believe that there are still talented people working in the CPA profession who want to be challenged, who want to learn more and do better. They want assignments that are not boring and cause them to stretch to a higher level of performance.

Develop a culture of high performance and high expectations. Create a reputation of being extremely professional, well-disciplined and knowledgeable. You don’t always have to give in to lowering your standards. It is a downward spiral.

  • "Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable."
  • Joe Biden

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Reading About Leadership

2.0are

I have been reading a book titled, Leadership 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.

Here’s a passage that I want to impress upon CPA firm leaders. It’s something especially important when you are promoted to a leadership role.

What you can accomplish now and in the future has everything to do with what you can accomplish through others. It’s just not about you anymore.

Leaders who aren’t privy to this guidance early enough in their careers head down one of three possible paths:

  1. Micromanaging because they don’t trust anyone but themselves.
  2. Trying to be a superhero by being the only one who can save the day
  3. Trying to be a one-man or one-woman show because they seek all the glory.

If you are undertaking a more advanced leadership role in your firm, seek out a mentor, one that will hold you accountable – not one that just takes you to lunch to chat.

  • "Change is inevitable. Growth is optional."
  • John Maxwell

Monday, October 9th, 2017

Are You An Authentic Leader?

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln

I have observed that many of the performance, human resources and leadership issues inside a CPA firm could be eliminated very easily if partners (owners) would simply do what they say they will do.

If you are an owner/leader of a firm, you need to be authentic.

Here’s what Seth Godin has to say about being authentic:

We call a brand or a person authentic when they’re consistent, when they act the same way whether or not someone is looking. Someone is authentic when their actions are in alignment with what they promise.

Showing up as a pro.

Keeping promises.

Even when you don’t feel like it.

Especially when you don’t.

 

  • "I define authenticity as 'consistent emotional labor.'"
  • Seth Godin

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Focus On Next Generation Clients

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” – George Orwell

Firm leaders are always faced with multiple priorities. Probably, two of the most prominent are hiring and retaining top talent and taking great care of current clients. Leaders are also often deeply engaged with a new client pursuit. Your rainmaker partners truly love the pursuit and sometimes pay more attention to prospects and new clients than they do to their long-time loyal clients.

There is another priority that needs attention. In a recent article via the AICPA CPA Insider, How to engage next-generation clients, Jennifer Wilson of Convergence Coaching, reminds practitioners of the massive generational shift that is happening over the next several years within their own client community. Many firm leaders have not developed strategies to deal with this client leadership transition to a younger, more tech savvy generation.

It is time for firm leaders to add this priority to their list – more focus on next generation clients.

Wilson not only addresses what next-gen clients value, she also gives practitioners six “first steps” to begin appealing to and attracting these clients.

Be sure to read the entire article.

  • "First we are children to our parents, then parents to our children, then parents to our parents, then children to our children."
  • Milton Greenblatt