Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Life Is Good. Yes! But Don’t Get Too Comfortable.

IMG_3837Many firms tell me that they are having difficulty finding and retaining talented professionals.  I heard that same comment/complaint 30 years ago!

If you have any longevity in the CPA profession and have been with a firm that continually grows, I bet you have seen many, many people come and go over the years. In my career, I can’t begin to count them all or even remember their names.

The firm makes money. The firm grows. The firm adds people… some stay long-term and many move on or are counseled out. The partners stay put and make more and more money. This cycle then becomes normal… even comfortable. Partners and their loyal staff will continue to find people, train them and everyone will be able to serve the clients adequately.

My warning? Don’t become content. Don’t become comfortable. Don’t become complacent.

Complacency is far to0 wide-spread in the public accounting arena today. What disappoints me the most is that is where I see people too comfortable (and it isn’t just partners), I also see enormous wasted potential.

  • "Don't get too comfortable with who you are at any given time - you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be."
  • Bon Jovi

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

CPA, Robert Raiola, Talks About The Jock Tax

RobertI really like it when CPAs get some big-time exposure and are acknowledged for the incredible vastness of their knowledge.

I also find things like the “Jock Tax” very interesting and definitely controversial.

Here’s a link to where my friend, Robert Raiola (@SportsTaxMan on Twitter) was featured on Bloomberg TV last week, discussing the tax.

Check him out on Twitter for a lot of tweets about the Super Bowl jock tax consequences.

  • "Aren't we all striving to be overpaid for what we do?"
  • Will Ferrell

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Predictions and Trends For 2015

img_joeCPA management consultant, Joe Tarasco, had his 2015 predictions featured on the Forbes site last week.

Here’s some brief highlights that I definitely agree with:

  • Career development and leadership training will continue to grow as the need for quality professional staff at the managerial and partner levels turns into a crisis mode.
  • Firms will have no choice but to invest heavily in their best and brightest in all stages of their careers in order to remain competitive and develop succession plans.
  • Firms that have grown through the consolidation of aging practices will begin to deal with intensified succession issues. This will fuel more mergers of mega-firms into larger firms.
  • MPs and Ex Committee members will come under more scrutiny by their partners in their ability to lead and manage successfully. Firms will have to make tough business decisions concerning under-performing partners.
  • More firms will need to hire professional COOs from outside the CPA profession to assist them in managing their organization.

For the complete list and more detail read the article here. Congrats to Joe for being featured on the Forbes site!

  • "I was not predicting the future, I was trying to prevent it."
  • Ray Bradbury

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – It’s Always Something

“….it goes to show you, it’s always something – – if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” – – Roseanne Roseannadana (Gilda Radner).

Maybe this famous line, often used years ago by Roseanne Roseannadana on Saturday Night Live, applies to how you feel about the frustrating changes from the IRS this year and the implications of the ACA. When I hear CPAs complain about some NEW process, procedure, guideline or whatever… I usually think to myself…. “It’s always something!” (I hear Roseanne’s voice in my head and it makes me smile to myself.)

Maybe the next time you are about open your mouth to complain pause,  then count your blessings, and simply say, “It’s always something!” Continually show your positive side to your team and to your peers. Keep in mind those around you are counting on your positive attitude and enthusiastic support. Often, it is simply easier to whine and complain – don’t do it.

Here’s Roseanne’s description of what happened after she opens with …. Last Thursday, I quit smokin’ now….

It’s only 16 seconds long but maybe it’s how you feel after you have an encounter with the IRS. Have a great weekend. 

  • "Nevermind."
  • Gilda Radner as Miss Emily Litella

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

This Post Is For Accounting Majors & Interns

Man DonkeyConsider your future. Don’t just let it happen because of various circumstances. Your professors and maybe even your parents are pushing you to take the job that pays the most money. They want you to work for a firm with great name recognition that will eventually look good on your resume down the road.

Is that how you want begin your career? Will that make YOU happy? Think about where and how you want to work. Not everyone is content with being a grinder. Many young people want to work where they have more freedom and a bigger voice in their workplace.

If you are an accounting major and interested in public accounting (I hope you are because there are great rewards in public accounting), be sure to explore all of your options.

If you are a top student and have a decent personality and work ethic – EVERY CPA firm wants you and will court you.

Be sure to consider, research and talk to small to mid-size firms. Contemplate what you want your day to look like. You’ll be spending a lot of hours at work.

You will need a lot of guidance and hand-holding during the first couple of years. Just being a good student with good grades won’t lead to success. You need help. Large national and huge regional firms have “universities” to train you. That’s nice and I am glad but sometimes you just feel like one of the herd. Look those firm over and determine if that fits YOU. Also, seek to find a firm that will help you, give you more personal attention, guide you… but not smother you nor pigeon-hole you.

My observation after many years working in and with CPA firms is that you will more quickly gain knowledge, experience, and expertise in a very wide range of duties/tasks/projects at a firm that is small to mid-size. You will get exposed to a broader view of how to serve SMEs.

If you are wondering about size of firms, here is how the AICPA classifies them for their Top Issues Survey:

  1. Sole Practitioners
  2. Firms with 2 to 5 professionals
  3. Firms with 6 to 10 professionals
  4. Firms with 11 to 20 professionals
  5. Firms with 21 or more professionals

I consider 1 thru 4 as small to mid-size. Just a qualifier, it’s not only size, it has a lot to do with the vision of the owners. I know 2 partner firms that are vibrant, exciting, growing and their small team loves it there. I know firms with 12 partners who are stuck in the past.

Do your home work before you accept an offer.

  • "Work to become, not to acquire."
  • Elbert Hubbard

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Invest In The Success Of Your Managing Partner

Once upon a time, there was a young, ambitious managing partner passionate about growing the CPA firm he had been selected to lead. He, of course, was good at the numbers. He monitored all the MAP stats and was a strong supporter of going to great lengths to grow and retain top talent. He set a good example for the CPAs at the firm….. he billed timely and always collected all of the A/R associated with the clients assigned to him. It was a very rare occurrence if he was late entering his daily time.

As the firm grew, more partners were were brought in and it became necessary for the MP to give up some of his clients so that he could give more attention to managing the firm (and the partners).

At a partner retreat, after a lot of dialogue and self-exploration by all the individual partners, they asked the MP to find more time to mentor THEM. He humbly replied, “I’m not sure I know how. I have to get more training and education.”

And, he did.

(Leading Professional Service Firms – Executive Training Program at Harvard)

  • "Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better."
  • Jim Rohn

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Helping Your Clients Succeed

CPA firms have all kinds of reasons why they are in the professional service business. We call it a mission, a vision, a purpose and some firm leaders spend a whole lot of time trying to define it with fancy words and catchy phrases.

I like to simplify, so I just refer to your mission in three words: Help clients succeed.

Helping clients is so much more than preparing an annual tax return or performing the annual audit. It is even more than helping them keep their books clean and up-to-date.

You, as a CPA, have a huge challenge – you sell something that no one wants!  Who simply can’t wait to get their taxes prepared or what company loves it when the auditors come in?

What they do want is more of you…. more advice, a sounding-board, an idea person… someone they can go to when they have a question.

Are you proactive? Are you reading what they are reading? Do you know what trends “out there” you should be informing them about? Do you send them links to great articles that they should read?

Here’s a simple example… I recently became aware of a site that helps small business owners find the right software – The have free calculators, such as an SBA Loan Calculator, that you can embed or share with your clients.

Always be searching for ways you can Help Clients Succeed.


  • "Spend a lot of time talking to customers face-to-face. You'd be amazed how many companies don't listen to their customers."
  • Ross Perot

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Winning Is Everything – Management Conference For CPA Firm Leaders

okayWhen I was working at a growing, profitable CPA firm, I attended as many management conferences as the budget would allow.

I truly believe that the knowledge I gained at these conferences helped propel the firm as a leading-edge, profitable, forward-looking enterprise. Winning Is Everything (and it’s successor conferences) is one I never missed.

Why is it important to attend? You become like the people you surround yourself with and the people you know and respect. Over the years I met almost all of the leading consultants who taught me how to create a firm that is not only profitable but one where top talent stays and builds their careers.

Probably more importantly, I met people from firms that were “going places.” They were not stuck in the past and mired in status quo. They experimented and tried new methods and shared best practices. I identified “my heroes” and strived to keep pace with them.

I hope to see you at WIE 2015. Be sure to seek me out and say hello. I am so looking forward to meeting Bruce Tulgan, author of It’s Okay To Be The Boss. Read the book, it will help you hold-on to those bright younger accountants. Click here to hear about The Myth Of Fairness via Tulgan.

Still time to register! It is January 28-30 at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

Register and get more info here.

  • "Forty is the old age of youth. Fifty is the youth of old age."
  • Victor Hugo

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Fun With Ping Pong Balls

Pepsi used thousands of mousetraps and ping pong balls to create a spectacular chain reaction. It was used to send out 2014 with a bang and to say Happy New Year from Pepsi.

I’m weird. I think this is pretty cool (and fascinating). See if it fascinates you and makes you smile. Lighten-up, it’s tax season.

  • "When he worked he really worked. But when he played, he really PLAYED."
  • Dr. Seuss

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Helping Your New Accounting Recruits & Interns Rock Their New Job

Have you checked-out Slideshare? If you are in a leadership position in a CPA firm, you need all the resources you can get. I’m always on the prowl for things that will be helpful to you to build a winning culture and a winning firm.

I really like this slide deck (My First 90 Days), on LinkedIn Pulse that is intended to help newbies make the most of their first 90 days on the job.

Starting a new job can be daunting. It’s time to meet your colleagues, impress your boss, get into the rhythm of your new role. So how should a newbie navigate those first 90 days?

There are only 14 slides that provide links to 8 posts on advice aimed a surviving a new job. The eight titles:

  1. Start working before Day One
  2. You can’t fix it right away
  3. Say yes to everything
  4. Ask your coworkers to lunch
  5. Listen to everyone you meet
  6. Make your boss look good (includes quote from Guy Kawasaki: “Either you rise to the top together, or crash and burn together.”)
  7. Take care of yourself first
  8. Don’t try to be the golden child

This is not just for newbies. CPA partners and managers need to read these posts, too. I frequently remind partners in accounting firms, “Don’t forget what it was like to be the new kid!” Most experienced partners admit they were lost, confused and clueless.

  • "Make yourself available, work hard, and over time you will make yourself indispensable."
  • Richard Branson