Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Disruption, Future-Ready and All That Jazz

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

I enjoyed a recent post by Gail Perry, Editor-in-Chief of CPA Practice Advisor, titled, CPA Tomorrowland.

Gail talks about the word disruption and how often it is included in CPA conversations. As she notes, it is not disruption in small letters, it is DISRUPTION in capital letters and it is happening SO fast. Changing FAST is not something most CPAs are not used to.

  • A McKinsey study suggests that 49% of work currently being done by accountants is likely to be automated.
  • Accenture reports that 21% of organizations have blockchain in production and that 40% of basic accounting work will be automated or eliminated by 2020 – in 3 years!
  • The AICPA and state society leaders are pushing members to quickly move from personally doing compliance work (let AI and bots do that) and evolve into business consultants.

What makes all of this very interesting and puzzling to me is the fact that so many consultants, media and profession leaders are strongly advising that the older CPAs need to get out of the way because they are not suited for this new world of CPA-ing.

In my work consulting work with firms, I have observed that automation has been increasing inside firms for years. Sure, there might be a bigger and quicker leap in the coming years but most well-managed practices with savvy (and usually mature) leadership will make that leap.

Successful, older CPAs do not love grinding out compliance work. In fact, many older CPAs (partners), don’t even know how to use the elaborate software and automated systems the firm has now.

I have observed that in multiple partner firms, the more experienced CPAs (older) are the ones ALREADY consulting with clients. The next generation (managers and “next” partners) have been groomed to be production units. They don’t network, they don’t bring in business, they don’t go to management conferences or keep on top of current trends – they are too busy grinding.

I recently asked a CPA how many of their eight partners were already spending the majority of their time consulting. The answer was two! The others have become complacent and comfortable doing compliance work.

Before you push your older, more experienced partners out the door, identify which ones are already consultants. Be sure they are working very hard at training younger partners and next leaders on how to really consult with, and advise, clients. They need to develop the skills necessary to help their clients become more profitable and successful.

We want retiring partners to transition the client relationships. It is a whole lot more than getting the client to call Joe Young rather than Bob Old, when they have a problem.

As for the automation part, here’s what Nick Chandi notes in his article on Forbes – How AI Is Reshaping The Accounting Industry: “..since accounting professionals will still remain as the final approvers of all the tasks performed by the AI, they will keep control of any sensitive information they want. As long as they have everything backed up to the cloud, they are good to go.”

CPAs are going through some very exciting times. The CPA profession is interesting and challenging and unlike many outside the profession believe, it is never, ever boring.

  • Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
  • Robert C. Gallagher

Monday, September 18th, 2017

If You Want To Win….

“Reject ordinary, be legendary.” – Brad Lea

CPAs in public accounting are always seeking to find out what those “other” firms are doing. They eagerly await various surveys that give them statistics about other accounting firms. I often smile when I hear partners say that they are so pleased because, according to the most recent MAP survey, they are doing okay, they are average.

How uninspiring that must be for the young accountants in your office. Often, firm partners don’t even share MAP statistics with their team members. It is just one simple step among the many that you need to take to prepare the next generation of firm leaders.

I say, stop comparing and start taking action. Show your team that you listen to their suggestions. Actually implement some of their suggestions! Take the steps necessary to accomplish the initiatives you outlined at your last partner retreat.

I love this comment from Brad Lea, founder of LightSpeed VT.

brad lea

  • I would rather be alone than surrounded by the wrong people.
  • Brad Lea

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Evolving Into a Consultancy Firm

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare

Here’s the message from the AICPA, state societies, top management consultants and your peers:

Your CPA firm must move from

compliance to consultancy if you want

to survive into the future!

Learn from the Big 4. They haven’t claimed to be a CPA firm for years. I think you must admit they have been rather successful. Recently, while reading an article in National Geographic I thought of most of you – those working in local, regional and even national firms “below” the Big 4. Most of you I meet don’t think of yourselves as consultants, you identify with CPA, Certified Public Accountant.

Does your local press, your business community and your clients think of you as a consultancy firm? Now is the time to re-invent yourself. Here’s the passage that got me thinking about all this:

From Skitch

  • People evolve and it's important to not stop evolving just because you've reached adulthood.
  • J. K. Simmons

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Workflow Software

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein

There are still many of you out there, working in CPA firms, without the advantage of workflow software.

Sad but true, I continually interact with CPA firms who are just “sort of” paperless. One of the tools that makes becoming truly a digital firm a reality is workflow software. From your desktop, you know who has what and how projects are flowing through your office.

Last week, Accounting Today featured an article: Software Survey: Workflow solutions in 2017.

Simply put, workflow for tax preparation means tracking all of the paths and operations involved in producing a return and invoice, and making certain all of the tasks are performed on time by concrete due dates.

Workflow software gives you peace of mind. It helps you be sure that no client falls through the cracks when it comes to due dates. Missing a due date is one of a CPA’s biggest worries!

I know, when my firm adopted GoFileRoom for document management many years ago, the most attractive feature was the workflow portion.

If you are one of those firms still without a workflow tool, be sure to read the article – it is full of great insights from various sources/vendors.

  • When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future.
  • Bernard Meltzer

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

A Bit of News Today

“Jobs fill your pockets but adventures fill your soul.” – Jaime Lyn

It is a sad/happy day for me. In case you haven’t heard, this is my friend’s (Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk) last day in business as bbr marketing. 

Bonnie loves working with her clients, she is no longer passionate about running a business. Maybe all of us have had fleeting thought like that from time to time.

IMG_7499Bonnie is certainly not retiring, she is exploring other options. She states in a recent blog post:

“As my company has grown over the last eight years, a fact about which I am very proud, I get to do less of what I love and instead spend much more time running the firm. I’ve decided it is the right time for me to get back to what I am best at and love doing most, and let someone else run the show.”

Warm wishes and best of luck to Bonnie on her quest for a new adventure!

 

  • Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.
  • Bob Bitchin

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

You Didn’t Act

“You may delay, but time will not.” – Benjamin Franklin

How many times have you contemplated the fact that you should have done something but you didn’t?

Maybe it was passing on hiring a new college graduate and several years later that young CPA is already well-known and active in your business community.

Maybe it was procrastinating on buying document management software and then when you finally did it, you realized all the efficiencies you had been missing out on.

Maybe it was not giving enough recognition to that up-and-coming superstar and they suddenly leave to take a job with a competitor.

  • You know you should offer at least one more holiday.
  • You know you should work with your partners to provide enhanced communication inside your firm.
  • You know you should be truly paperless.
  • You know you should offer flexibility and remote connectivity so people can work from anywhere.
  • You know you should hire a consultant to help you with a specific challenge.

You know you should do more of these things, but you don’t know for sure they will work or you don’t yet feel enough pain to act.

As Seth Godin says in a great recent post… “All the good stuff happens when we act even if we don’t know for sure.”

I think I’ll go buy a lottery ticket!

 

  • Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.
  • William James

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Tracking The Time You Are At Your Desk

“Any privacy in public is a hard thing to negotiate.” – Benedict Cumberbatch

All of this technology is wonderful, right? It helps us get work done faster, it helps us shop, it helps us find places, it helps us do our banking and other chores, and it opens an amazing world of information for us.

I was with a friend recently who uses technology (Life360) to track her teenage daughter. Some people track their entire family.

Recently, Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady) wrote an article for Inc. that reported on a bank tracking the time their employees spent at their desks.

Supposedly, the bank says the purpose is to see what spaces employees use. It doesn’t track who is sitting at your desk. The information will be used for space planning.

But what if employers begin using such devices to track employees for other purposes.

It is kind of creepy but also interesting. I don’t really mind that Google knows where I am most of the time. I’m not so naive to think other entities may be tracking me. If you use a credit card, you become very public. But something about having your boss track the time you sit at your desk would be unacceptable.

Read the article, see what you think.

  • You already have zero privacy. Get over it.
  • Scott McNealy

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

The Importance of Your Ownership Structure

Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” – Hugh Prather

Firm governance is a very important issue and many CPA partner groups have not taken the time and made the effort to clearly define what firm governance means to their firm. Is is not a simple task. There are many topics that need to be addressed when documenting governance.

Brannon-PoeBrannon Poe of Poe Group Advisors, in a recent blog post, addresses the issue of veto power within an ownership group. Veto power in the wrong hands can literally make change, and therefore growth, impossible

If anyone can Veto anything, at any time, it an paralyze a firm.

Make sure your governance and ownership structure will help facilitate change.

Read more via Poe’s post here.

  • They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
  • Andy Warhol

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Warm & Fuzzy

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many accounting firm owners/shareholders, in years gone by believed they were doing the right things.

  • We can get by with two monitors, no one needs three.
  • We need to stick with our professional dress code, our clients care.
  • Not everyone needs access to remote connectivity.
  • We don’t need to send more than one person to that management conference, they can come back and inform us all about what they learned.
  • We can just send one person to that leadership training, they can teach it at the firm.
  • It will be okay if we delay working on that succession plan until next year.
  • We don’t need to spend very much on Christmas gifts for the staff, they really don’t appreciate it anyway.
  • It is too hard to keep track of everyone’s birthdays, we don’t need to send a card to each person’s home.
  • It will hurt production if we close the office on Fridays in the summer.

Many partners called all of these things and other nice, little things they were expected to do for staff, “warm & fuzzy” stuff.

In the past, some of these did apply but they sure don’t now. Never be afraid to admit that you were wrong and make important changes that will guide your firm into the future.

  • We would all like a reputation for generosity and we'd all like to buy it cheap.
  • Mignon McLaughlin

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Observations on Change

“Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.” – Shaquille O’Neal

I have been urging CPAs to change for years. You might think I would get discouraged. Well, I sometimes do. That doesn’t mean I will quit reminding, urging and even nagging you about this important topic.

KoltinI recently looked back to see what I have written about change. Here’s something I featured in August 2008 – 9 years ago!  It was Allan Koltin’s “Dozen Observations on Change.” The sad part is they all still apply.

  1. Sometimes partners don’t want to change, but will say they do.
  2. Sometimes partners don’t want to change, and won’t change!
  3. Sometimes partners want to change, but can’t.
  4. Sometimes partners want to change and can (this is where electric shock may need to be applied).
  5. Sometimes partners want to change, but don’t know how to change.
  6. Sometimes partners can’t change due to conflicting goals/demands.
  7. Sometimes partners will change just enough to get you off their back!
  8. Sometimes partners will change, but only if another partner also changes.
  9. Sometimes partners will initially change, but are only doing it to ultimately prove you wrong.
  10. Sometimes partners won’t change, so don’t waste your time trying to change them.
  11. Sometimes partners will support the change, as long as they don’t actually have to change.
  12. Don’t forget that the value of information is not in what you know. It is in what you know that sometimes the other person doesn’t know that you know.
While some of these bring a smile to our faces, I know that we have all seen these behaviors first-hand.
  • If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
  • John Quincy Adams