Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

New Clients Will Want Cloud Services

“It takes a very long time to become young.” – Pablo Picasso

I cringe when I hear it. The sad part is that now – summer of 2017 – I am still hearing it way too often from CPA firms around the country.

Are you paperless? Are you completely digital? Are you in the cloud? Are you using a portal?

Most of the answers I hear are…. “sort of,” “not really,” “we don’t trust the cloud,” and “we haven’t pushed it with our clients.”

A recent survey by Bill.com tells us that business owners under the age of 55 prefer their accountants to handle all or most of their accounting work digitally. 78% of those 39 and under want paper-free accounting.

I believe that people, in general, are becoming very accustomed to the digital world – from their personal banking transactions to entertainment.

It’s time to give up the excuse you have used for too many years… “our clients are older and they want things in paper.”

Read more about this survey via Accounting Today – Your Next Accounting Client Wants Paperless, Mobile Services by Mary Ellen Biery.

  • The whims of youth break all the rules.
  • Homer, The Iliad

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Uncomfortable Things Will Often Make You More Successful

“Enjoy what is and not pine for what is not.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

I enjoyed a recent blog post by Meghan Keaney Anderson of Hubspot Marketing. She talks about the value of doing things that make you uncomfortable. I especially enjoyed her story about sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois writing a letter to his daughter when she was about to move to a new place and school.

“Don’t shrink from new experiences and custom. Take the cold bath bravely. Enter into the spirit of your big bed-room. Enjoy what is and not pine for what is not. Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline: Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul. Above all remember: your father loves you and believes in you and expects you to be a wonderful woman.”

Anderson offers 15 Uncomfortable Things That Will Make You More Successful. I have listed them below, but be sure to read about each one in the article.

  1. Learning to take a compliment
  2. Public speaking
  3. Working with data
  4. Waking up early
  5. Taking critical feedback
  6. Giving critical feedback
  7. Fighting through conflict
  8. Exercising
  9. Unplugging
  10. Networking and making small talk
  11. Admitting a mistake
  12. Getting in over your head
  13. Disagreeing with your boss
  14. Promoting yourself
  15. Admitting you don’t understand something
  • Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.
  • Brian Tracy

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Big 4 and Blockchain & Bitcoin

“I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” – Jack Kerouac

Last week I read an interesting article via Nasdaq titled, Big 4 Accounting Firms Are Experimenting with Blockchain And Bitcoin.

My mission is to always keep you informed, as best I can, about happenings that have an impact on CPA firm management.

So today, I simply provide you a link to the article in hopes you will take the time to read it.

The more I read, the more it all seems to be sinking in. Hope the same applies to you.

Here’s more help on Bitcoin.

(Follow me on Twitter!)

  • Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.
  • Isaac Newton

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

No Email Day

“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.” – Mike Krzyzewski

An article via Fast Company caught my eye recently: My Entire Company Avoids Email For One Full Day Every Quarter.

When you email somebody at LaSalle Network, a recruiting and staffing agency, there’s a one in five chance you’ll get this auto-response: “It’s no-email day at LaSalle Network! Today we’re embracing live communication and collaboration. I’m here, just not in my inbox . . . call me! I want to hear from you!”

For the past three years, the company has set aside one day a quarter to abstain from emailing, forcing everyone on staff to get up from their desks and go talk to one another—or at least to pick up the phone. “It’s easy to hide in your inbox, especially when there’s a client issue,” CEO Tom Gimbel concedes. But he’s found that “live collaboration allows us to be more creative. When talking through an issue, we’re faster at coming up with possible solutions and generating new ideas.”

Why couldn’t an accounting firm do this? Here’s how to experiment – what have you got to lose!

Declare a “no email day” for an entire weekday. Everyone is off email from 8:00a to 5:00p except for two 20 minute breaks to identify any REAL emergencies.

Everyone powers down their email and sets a notification – like the one above.

You must talk to people in person or on the phone.

Assess if it cuts down on miscommunications and actually causes more face-to-face dialogue and communication.

Might be a fun experiment this summer and maybe you will make it a habit.

As the business founder, Tom Gimbel, notes, “It’s not perfect. We’ve had people who do get upset or don’t understand why we do it, but overall it’s helping build camaraderie among employees. And most of our clients and vendors have been really supportive.”

 

  • The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication.
  • Malcolm Gladwell

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Keeping You Informed About Blockchain

“I’ve spent a ton of time studying blockchain the last three years, and it’s about getting connected to the right resources.” – – Gary Boomer

As I talk with practitioners this summer, I am finding that many are still not educating themselves about blockchain.

I have blogged about it before and today I am reminding you once again to learn all you can about blockchain.

There is a very helpful article via The Journal of Accountancy, posted recently – Why CPAs need to get a grip on blockchain.

The article covers a presentation by Gary Boomer, CPA/CITP, CGMA, of Boomer Consulting, at the recent AICPA ENGAGE conference in Las Vegas.

Boomer highlighted a number of crucial concepts that helps explain blockchain and gives insight into its value propositions for the accounting profession:

  1. Blockchain is secure and immutable
  2. Think of blockchain as the internet of value
  3. Blockchain data will create new business opportunities
  4. Studying up on blockchain will pay off

Read the entire article and more about each crucial concept here.

  • Accountants who get a grip on blockchain today will be the ones who successfully pivot their services tomorrow.
  • Gary Boomer

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Toxic Behaviors

leadershipfreak“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis

If you are a regular reader, you know that I follow Dan Rockwell, @Leadershipfreak – his tweets and his blogs.

This morning, I read his blog titled, The Complete List of Toxic Behaviors That Poison Teams. Sadly, so many things on his extensive list I see happening inside CPA firms. Many of them apply to the partner group and a lesser amount apply to the entire team.

Here are just a few that I see happen most often, along with my specific comments. Please follow the link and read all the behaviors that are toxic. You might be surprised how many you see inside your own firm.

Assume silence is agreement – When I facilitate partner retreats and a tough issue comes up for discussion, I notice that some partners “look at their lap.” They avoid eye contact and remain silent. Other partners assume the silent partners are in agreement and usually they are not.

Allow power-mongers to drone on and on – You know them, the more powerful partners who believe everyone wants to hear what they have to say – over and over again and again. No one stops them!

Invite the same people to the table, year after year – Invite outsiders to your partner meetings – mix it up by inviting one or two managers, then some seniors. Involve a local advisor, like an attorney you trust or a professional outside marketer and use a facilitator familiar with the CPA profession

Solve every problem and address every imaginable contingency before you try something – Accountants are too risk adverse and too comfortable in status quo to risk trying new ideas.

Discuss, but don’t decide – I don’t think I have to explain this one. The most common comment I hear, “Let’s put that on the agenda for next year.”

  • In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Good Intentions…. No Implementation

“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

I write about implementation often, it is one of my favorite, and sometimes frustrating, topics.

Summer conference season is upon us. You (a CPA firm leader), will go to a conference to gather new ideas and learn about current trends in the CPA profession. While at the conference, you begin to actually get excited about some of the ideas and begin to visualize how the ideas could work in your firm.

You gather more ideas, make numerous notes, meet some very interesting people and begin to really get a sense of renewal, optimism, and think: “We can do this at our firm!”

What happens when you return to your office? Many leaders immediately get BUSY with the day-to-day fire-fighting and soon the notes you took and the excitement you felt begin to fade. You think to yourself, “I’ll bring it up at our next partner/management meeting.”

Don’t allow yourself to become demotivated. Try some of these practical steps….. Wait! Don’t “try.” DO THESE THINGS:

  • Summarize your notes, identify the best and most critical ideas that your firm could use.
  • Meet with the key management leaders and explain the ideas verbally to them.
  • Send the summary to every parter and other internal management leaders and specifically ask them to read the summary. Let them know you will be talking to them individually about the points.
  • Give them one week and then begin making brief visits to each partner.
  • Share your excitement and stress the points that you believe are critical to the firm.
  • After this is done, ask that the points be put on the next partner meeting agenda and push for at least one or two to be approved.
  • Make an Action Plan (specific steps) that needs to happen and assign the steps to specific individuals.
  • Then take action! You can’t do it alone, enlist others to help you.
  • Have you got a problem? Do what you can where you are with what you've got.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

The Skills That Are Needed

“Excellence is not a skill, it’s an attitude.” – Ralph Marston

Many of us rest upon our current skills – we know a lot and that has gotten us to where we are. That’s all fine and good but you can never stop learning and improving your knowledge base if you are working in the CPA profession.

Recently, Barry Melancon, CEO of the AICPA, shared the Top 10 Skills that will be need in 2020. CPA firm leaders and their teams must prepare for the future beginning now! (Thanks to @J_Maiman for the photo.)

fullsizeoutput_4014

 

  • It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.
  • Wilbur Wright

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Always Strive For Personal Development

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

Working inside a busy CPA firm you strive for improvement. Improvement for the firm, improvement for a particular department, improvement for a process, and improvement for those you supervise (and even your peers).

Don’t forget that YOU also need to improve. You need to always maintain a personal development plan. The work on self-improvement is never done – it’s on-going.

I get a lot of questions about structuring personal development plans for team members at accounting firms. It’s usually a case where someone is not meeting expectations. But, that’s not the only situation where personal development plans are a benefit.

samIn a recent Boomer Consulting newsletter, Samantha Zerr, Boomer’s Operations Accountant, shares her story about personal development. It was a journey in moving from a job she wasn’t a good match for to a future role that matched her abilities and enthusiasm.

Here’s Samantha’s advice on a personal development plan.

Personal Development Plan

What areas do you need to develop to be future ready? Whether it is in leadership, management, or communication, the steps I took can be applied:

  1. Identify what you do now, and what you will need to be able to do in the future to have the career path you want and help your firm be successful
  2. Identify the skills you need to develop to prepare for your future role – getting feedback from your peers, mentors and coaches can help ensure you’re on the right path.
  3. Identify resources to develop those skills. These might be courses, leadership development programs, or peer communities.
  4. Personal development doesn’t happen by accident. Finding a mentor and coach to give hands-on, one-on-one guidance and creating a plan of action is one of the most important steps you can take to develop yourself for the future.

Read her entire article here.

 

  • A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Can This Be A CPA Firm?

“We are trying to change this old culture to try to sustain our profession for the future.” – Bernie Ackerman, CPA

Quite a few years ago I met Bernie Ackerman and his son, Jason at an AICPA conference. For several years, we would meet-up and talk about their firm, current topics, other firms and the profession, in general.

BernieBernie and Jason have always been, to me, a great two-generational team that had a firm grasp on what they could do to take their firm, BNA, into the future.

Recently, they were featured in the Journal of Accountancy for the very innovative things they were doing. The title: BNA: A Completely Flat Hierarchy.

As the article notes, you might think they were a tech start-up because staffers set their own working hours and never touch a time sheet. All employees get their own offices, starting on day one. There is no path to partner because there are no partners!

While their practices are very unusual in the profession, they are Jasonpaying off in term of recruitment. Jason Ackerman reports that they receive 10 to 15 resumes a week, even when they are not hiring!

Follow the links above to read the article and to visit their website.

I hope this inspires you to create a great culture and a future for your firm.

 

  • The best way to predict your future is to create it.
  • Abraham Lincoln