Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Still A Great Way To Obtain New Clients – Networking

As I have worked with accountants over many years, I have truly come to realize that meeting and talking to people can be difficult, awkward and yes, even scary. All that is foreign to me because I love people and I love to talk (those of you who know me are smiling… maybe laughing… right now).

So, you may be an introvert but that doesn’t mean you can’t begin to enjoy meeting and talking with people. The huge chamber networking events are sometimes scary for experienced networkers, so don’t feel like you have to begin there. Make the networking you do fit your style.

I attended Accountants’ Bootcamp many years ago. We learned many great things there…. but one thing I liked was a way to help accountants feel comfortable with a form of networking.

Have your partners (maybe the ones who aren’t so comfortable in big groups) invite a banker, an attorney, an insurance person, a client and maybe two potential clients and form a breakfast group to simply discuss business issues relevant to your community.  Set the ground rules – - this is not a meeting to “sell” to each other, it is more like a self-help group.  Referral sources and business owners are likely to participate because YOU are the CPA and YOU know a lot that can help them!

Host it every month or every other month, in your office, serve a continental breakfast (or late after noon snack) and talk in round-table format for an hour or so. Ask each other questions about business issues and get to know each other personally. The members of the group will quickly begin looking forward to the meetings and begin to rely on each other’s opinions.

Don’t limit it to just partners. Have your up-and-comers host their own networking groups. Many CPAs across the country are doing exactly this or something very similar. It works!

Also, read this article on the HBR Blog network titled:  Networking for Introverts.  It’s all about doing this where you are comfortable not stressed-out.

  • "Talk to someone about themselves and they will listen for hours."
  • Dale Carnegie

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

CPA Firm Administrators – This Is Really How Your Role Shakes Out

I don’t care if you are a male or a female, the role of the firm administrator is to be a jack-of-all trades, a fire fighter, and basically a Superman or Superwoman.

I saw this testimonial to mothers and thought immediately of firm administrators inside a busy CPA firm.

where is mom
















Here is the accounting firm version:



  • "When your mother asks, 'Do you want a piece of advice?' it's a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway."
  • Erma Bombeck

Monday, September 15th, 2014

The Important Role of The Managing Partner

I believe that someone has to be in charge. If a CPA firm has more than one owner, I think there needs to be a clearly defined and visible role for a managing partner.

Not to have one, would be like identifying an important strategic initiative and not assigning someone to own it, be responsible for it and make sure action happens.

I’m sure you have heard the old saying/joke about why a particular person is the MP of a firm…. “I left the partner meeting to go to the restroom and while I was gone I was elected managing partner.”

Other descriptions I have heard expressed:

  • He is the managing partner but he doesn’t acknowledge it or act like he’s in charge.
  • He’s not the managing partner but he thinks he is and acts like he is.

I could make this list of comment longer but I think you get the idea. These days, in light of succession, many new managing partners are taking on the responsibility for leading the firm. For those, here is a quote from Lincoln:

“Being elected to Congress, though I am very grateful to our friends, for having done it, has not pleased me as much as I expected.”

Being elected managing partner doesn’t mean you have landed on easy street. Be sure you have a clearly defined position description and you know the expectations of your partner group. While you may be humble, don’t be invisible.

The most successful firms I know have a strong leader. Firms with weak leaders are always happy with slow forward movement and a lot of status quo.

  • "It is hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse."
  • Adlai Stevenson

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Hashtag Mania

If you have been to a CPA conference in recent years, you have been asked to tweet about it using that particular conference’s hashtag. What I find is that most people attending CPA conferences do not tweet, so what’s the point!

Want to know more about hashtags? Visit the site.

For this weekend, lighten-up and enjoy Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake demonstrating what a Twitter conversation sounds like in real life.

  • "Love your family, work super hard, live your passion."
  • Gary Vaynerchuck

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Fear of Delegating – A Big Issue For Career Success

I am often in discussions about specific partner performance, manager success and the over-whelming workload of many partners, firm administrators and others working inside busy accounting firms. One topic reappears over and over again.

In my survey work for firm leaders, a comment I am sure to hear regarding almost everyone receiving upward-feedback is: They need to delegate more.

It is a very common problem. Perhaps it is because accountants and those surrounding them become perfectionists and believe no one can “do it” as well, as fast, as thoroughly as they can do it, personally.

It is the down-fall of many on the road to career success.

I may have a resource for you.  I receive newsletters from an organization called Mind Tools. They have lots of great tools and resources for team management, leadership skills, time management, project management and so on……

They are offering a new workbook called:  How to Delegate

Three little words…. but not something easy to do.

Three little words…. that could solve the succession challenges.

  • "No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit."
  • Andrew Carnegie

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Almost Unheard Of In CPA Firm Circles

On Monday, Marc Rosenberg blogged about well-known and admired accounting firm, Plante Moran.

Rosenberg heard things directly from Plante’s MP, Gordon Krater, that I wish I heard from the many firms I work with and talk to each year. I usually don’t like to repeat so much of what someone else has written – BUT, this is important for all people working in public accounting to read.

Things like:

  • We could be 20% more profitable, but we’re not here to make the most money we can. We make long term investments. We’ll walk away from profitable clients if they are not a good fit for us. We favor doing profitable work over low-realization work just to keep people busy.
  • We just lowered our mandatory retirement age from 65 to 62. If you want people to succeed you, opportunities for younger people must be continually created.
  • On being a mentor. If a staff person you work closely with comes to you and says he/she is leaving, you haven’t been doing your job being close to the person. I want to have the kind of partners where staff say: “I want to be like him.”
  • As you move up the organization as seniors and managers, you need to demonstrate skills developing people.
  • If you are manager on a job, you’ll become responsible for the client as a partner because it’s easier for partners to build their book this way vs. going out and finding new clients. We actually limit our partners from having too large a book.
  • Regarding all equity partners, no one is exempt from practice development and developing staff. Equity partners have to be builders. If you’re not building, you should not be an equity partner.

Read the entire blog post here.  A great post by Mr. Rosenberg and a great message by Mr. Krater.

Thanks, Marc, for sharing these valuable points!

  • "Taking care of people is just as important as practice development."
  • Gordon Krater, MP Plante Moran

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Accounting Firm Insights – An Interview With Rita Keller by Jetpack Workflow

A week or so ago, I had the good fortune to spend about a half hour talking MAP TALK (management of an accounting Practice) with David Cristello, founder of Jetpack Workflow.

As a follower of this blog, you know I love to talk MAP talk! I hope you will gather your team around and listen to the interview together.

We touch on:

  •  How to increase employee engagement
  • The advantages of being a one-firm firm
  • Being more involved in practice growth
  • Determine “your firm” way (or method) of doing things
  • Urging young people to stay in public accounting
  • How to make your firm healthy on the inside


CLICK HERE to listen to the full interview.  Thanks so much to David and Jetpack Workflow.

  • "Knowing what's right doesn't mean much unless you do what's right."
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Keeping Pace With Technology

4monitors Roger KramerAll of your people, at least the accountants, have three monitors… maybe four. You offer remote access to most of your people.

There is so much more to accounting firm technology than that and often firm leaders let technology slip from top of mind.

I often see it during firm mergers… acquisitions… technology is not discussed soon enough and thoroughly enough.

This is the year to attend the Association for Accounting Administration Technology Fly-In. You will be able to identify and use:

  • New resources that will help you leverage your time more effectively
  • New applications and knowledge to address today’s technology challenges at CPA firms
  • Specific solutions and best practices in the area of IT

Here’s a quote from a past attendee:  “This is not a fluff session – you are working for 2 days… working on problems broken out in groups based on the size of your firm and gaining contacts you can call when you get back to the office.”


  • November 11-12, 2014
  • Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center
  • Rosemont IL
  • "Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it is useless."
  • Thomas Edison

Monday, September 8th, 2014

It’s My Passion

I’ve said it, have you? – - It’s my passion!

CPA firm management is something that I get excited about, want to learn more about, never tire of reading about…. always trying to improve.

Does your CPA firm and the profession of public accounting make you feel the same way? Sometimes, at first, we are truly excited and then as time goes on we seem to lose the magic.

If you ever feel like you are losing your passion for your work. If you feel like you are trying SO hard to make others in your firm feel the passion, read this post by Leadership Freak: 3 Ways To Bring The Dead To Life.

Do your team members seem to be going through the motions like the walking dead? Do they have empty eyes and hanging hands?

The post gives you 5 reasons why passion dies, how you kill passion and how to ignite passion.

I think you will enjoy the blog post and hopefully it will inspire some action steps for you to take.

  • "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Top 100 Most Influential People In Accounting

Photo on 11-22-13 at 7.08 AMYes, I admit it. Every year I wonder….. will I make it again? Am I working hard enough, am I helping enough people, am I answering enough questions, am I working with enough firms, am I speaking often enough, is my writing (blogging) on target and relevant?

Again, for 2014 I am honored and delighted to be named to Accounting Today’s prestigious listing. I am so fortunate to be among the individuals on the list. I was first named to the list in 2005. That was a year before I started blogging, in 2006, times certainly have changed.

I owe so much to my colleagues in the CPA management world, to the members of the AICPA, AAA and so many state societies and CPA firm associations – they give me a forum, a voice and I am grateful. Of course, a special thanks to Dan Hood and the editors of Accounting Today.

My reports tell me that this blog and my tweets are my best tools for reaching all of you. I also get a lot of great feedback on my monthly newsletter. If you don’t get it, sign-up here.

My advice for today – to all of you….. You have potential that you probably are not completely aware of. Keep your passion burning and never give up. As a young lady, I never dreamed I would speak in front of hundreds of people, and be influential in such a highly-regarded profession as public accounting. Keep your dreams alive.

  • "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."
  • Sir Edmund Hillary