Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

A Leader’s Mission: Create THE Culture

“Culture drives great results.” – Jack Welch

I have been stressing the culture message for years: If you don’t create, mold, re-mold and monitor your firm culture, it will form anyway and might not be something you had in mind. It might even turn out to be rather ugly!

I was pleased to read, last week, as I followed the Boomer Technology Summit via Twitter that speaker Steven Anderson addressed the topic of culture stressing, “Every organization, whether it’s your firm, your client’s company, or even your family, has a culture, by design or by default.”

Dan Hood of Accounting Today was there in person and wrote a great recap of Anderson’s presentation. It cover’s Anderson’s “natural laws” for creating a place where people will want to work.

Read all about the three “Laws” in Dan’s article here.

On my blog page, I searched for “culture” and found many additional readings you can access if you want to really WORK on your culture. You can access the search here. Do more reading, research, and soul-searching. Then talk with your partners and decide what you want your firm culture to feel like. Next step is to get busy creating it.

 

  • When you lavish praise on people they flourish. Criticize, and they shrivel up.
  • Richard Branson

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Perseverance

“If you want to change people’s minds, you need more than evidence. You need persistence.” – Seth Godin

Slide60Recently, when I spoke to the 200+ people at this year’s CPAFMA National Practice Management Conference in Baltimore, I stressed to the firm management leaders that PERSEVERANCE pays off when tackling CHANGE in accounting firms. Yes, PERSEVERANCE and PERSISTENCE are the weapons of change.

Change does not come easy for traditional, conservative, risk-adverse CPAs.

That’s why I wanted to share a blog post from Seth Godin. I periodically share a complete post by Godin and I thought the following one SPOKE to those fighting the War For Change inside accounting firms.

The Flip Is Elusive by Seth Godin

For a generation after people realized that smoking would kill them, many smart, informed people still smoked. Then, many of them stopped.

After discovering that an expensive luxury good is made out of the same materials as a cheaper alternative, many people stick with the expensive one. And then they gradually stop going out of their way to pay more.

After a technology breakthrough makes it clear that a new approach is faster, cheaper and more reliable, many people stick with the old way. Until they don’t.

And inevitably, it doesn’t matter how much people discover about their favorite candidate, they seem impervious to revelations, facts and the opinions of others. For a while, sometimes a very long while. But then, they assert that all along they knew something was amiss and find a new person to align with.

Computers don’t work this way. Cats don’t have a relationship like this with hot stoves. Imaginary logical detectives always get the message the first time.

For the rest of us, though, the flip isn’t something that happens at the first glance or encounter with new evidence.

This doesn’t mean the evidence doesn’t matter.

It means that we’re bad at admitting we were wrong.

Bad at giving up one view of the world to embrace the other.

Mostly, we’re bad at abandoning our peers, our habits and our view of ourselves.

If you want to change people’s minds, you need more than evidence. You need persistence. And empathy. And mostly, you need the resources to keep showing up, peeling off one person after another, surrounding a cultural problem with a cultural solution.

  • If you are going through Hell, keep going.
  • Winston Churchill

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Sam Allred…. Class Act

IMG_7518Yesterday, CPAFMA (formerly AAA) wrapped up it’s 33rd  National Practice Management Conference in Baltimore. It was my 30th consecutive conference.

In all those years, I have never been disappointed in the content and educational atmosphere of this annual event. It is absolutely the best conference focused exclusively on CPA firm practice (and self-improvement). I only wish more managing partners would attend. It was such an honor this year to be one of the featured keynote presenters – thank-you CPAFMA!

The concluding keynote session this year featured Sam Allred of the Upstream Academy. If you are involved in CPA firm management you already know Sam. He began by jokingly noting that an attendee said she was “staying until the bitter end” so she could hear Sam. To me, even jokingly, Sam was not the bitter end – he was “save the best for last.”

CPAFMA asked him to focus his comments on this: If I could start from scratch to create the perfect firm, what would it look like?

Can we create a firm…….

Where there are minimal politics

That has a very low turnover

That has a very high morale and high productivity

That has strong organic growth but nobody feels pressured to sell anything

That has no artificial harmony

Where everyone is encouraged (and even expected) to speak their mind

Where all the partners are admired and respected

Where partners believe it is a privilege (not a right) to be part of the ownership group

Where everyone is helped to play to their strengths

Where there’s no parity (everyone is allowed to progress as fast and and far as they are able)

Where every discussion and decision is made with the firm’s best interest in mind

Sam elaborated on all of theses with wonderful insights and advice. I will feature more about all of this in future blogs.

For today, read this list of highlights a couple of times and give them some thought as you enjoy the long week-end.

IMG_7127I also had the wonderful opportunity to catch-up with Georgia Cummings of Upstream and to meet Sam’s handsome son, Jason.

Above, Sam Allred, is that you with Rita? And….. Georgia Cummings and Jason Allred, is that you with Rita?

 

  • You want to create a firm where your people think Monday is their favorite day of the week.
  • Sam Allred

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

CPAFMA 2016 ACE Award Winner – Jeanie Price

Jeanie Price, Partner & Director of Administration at DeLeon & Stang, CPAs received the prestigious ACE Award last night from the CPA Firm Management Association. The award went to a most deserving and amazing champion for the CPA profession.

I have known Jeanie for nearly 25 years and she is a shining example of what hard work, dedication and caring can do for a growing CPA firm and for all of us who know her. Congratulations, Jeanie!

Here’s Jeanie, second from the left, with some of her best CPAFMA friends at last night’s award ceremony.

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  • You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself.
  • Alan Alda

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Randy Johnston, What’s New?

Randy Johnston, is that you with Rita?

I always try to attend Randy Johnston‘s tech update sessions whenever our paths cross at conferences. He makes actually makes the latest trends in technology understandable for people working on the management side of a growing CPA firm. Yesterday, at the CPAFMA National Practice Management conference in Baltimore, Johnston shared some insights from his most recent survey of the profession.

He actually makes the latest trends in technology understandable for people working on the management side of a growing CPA firm. Yesterday, at the CPAFMA National Practice Management conference in Baltimore, Johnston shared some insights from his most recent survey of the profession.

Here are just a few tidbits from Randy’s comments:

-Look at focusing on niches. The most profitable firms are niche focused. Tax and collaborative accounting may not be a good long-term strategy.

-Top tech challenges: Keeping up with new software. Workflow. Security.

-Training, over and over again, is a consistent problem in nearly every firm he visits. He estimated that out of the 400 firms he has visited, only about two do it well.

-When it’s time to purchase monitors, consider going with fewer, larger monitors.

-CCH scan, SurePrep and Gruntworx have all made improvements and are working well.

-For workflow, XCM is the dominant player followed by GoFileRoom workflow.

-Every tax product has a new generation coming out within the next few years. Be prepared for major changes.

-This year, 25% of firms in his survey are looking at changing tax software. That is a high percentage and rather unusual.

-If your technology budget is 6-7% your partners will make more money, if the budget is managed.

 

 

  • Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible
  • Frank Zappa

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Take Them Along

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” – Winston Churchill

Throughout the summer and fall, it is conference season for accounting firms. It is the time when CPA firm leaders attend various types of conferences to obtain CPE credit. While much of the CPE sessions for team members is now obtained online, management of an accounting practice is still learned via attending management conferences and networking with others in the profession.

What I observe is that a firm usually has ONE representative at any such conference that contains a management track. That one person goes back to their firm and does their best to convince others of the trends, changes and challenges the firm is, or will be, facing.

I heard this same story last night as I attended the CPA Firm Management Association opening reception. “It is difficult to convince my partners of what I think we should do after I return from this conference.” “My firm would only send me.” “My managing partner wouldn’t attend with me.” “I was lucky to be able to convince the partners to even just let me attend.”

Managing partners attend their firm association MP sessions but go alone. Please, this year, take one, two or three other partners along. Allow your COO to also attend with you. If it is another conference like CPAFMA’s national practice management conference or AICPA Practitioners’ TECH conference – take others with you and your firm will move forward faster.

Here’s a shining example. My friend, Benito Tagle, attends AICPA PCPS Practitioners’ TECH every year. In recent years, he has included some representatives of his staff. During the conference, they meet and strategize about who will attend the various sessions. They break apart to cover topics and then come together in the evening to discuss what they learned and what the next day will bring.

Below is a picture of Benito and his team going over the next day’s schedule at this year’s PSTech. Guess what? Their firm is making great progress!

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  • Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Mom, Manager, Mentor… Maniac?

Lindsay“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou

One of my favorite sessions from PSTech this year was “Mom, Manager, Mentor…Maniac?” by Lindsay Stevenson, CPA.

I so often hear sad… should I say “sob” stories from women in accounting. They, and often rightly so, are challenged by the difficulties facing them as CPAs trying to advance their careers and the important life role of mother and wife.

That’s why Lindsay’s presentation was so refreshing and inspiring. She didn’t mince words about the difficulties but she was so energetic and positive about the fact that women, working in the CPA profession, can succeed in both roles. She provided a lot of good information and strategies that are helpful to finding work/life integration specific to mothers.

Female CPAs, you can do it too – you can succeed in both roles. What you learn as a mom can also apply to your role as manager at your firm.

Join your local women’s initiative groups or the one sponsored by your state CPA society. Continually reach out to other working moms and seek positive, can-do mentors.

Don’t just let things happen to you – blaze your own trail.

 

  • The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
  • Amelia Earhart

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Prac Tech 2016: Rita Keller Urges “Mentoring Matters”

Thanks so much to Sean McCabe of Accounting Today for sitting in on my session on mentoring at the AICPA PCPS PractitionersTech+ Symposium this week.

Sean covered all the highlights really well in his AT blog post. Read all about it here. Some people might not believe it but accounting conference can be so much fun. I was able to connect with so many clients and friends and I had a fantastic time!

And yes, Mark Koziel can dance…..

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  • I'm doing exactly what I want to do, and I'm having fun doing it.
  • David Johansen

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Don’t Address Partner Compensation Before You Get The Firm Right

IMG_2335Monday afternoon, Allan Koltin addressed the topic of partner compensation at the AICPA PCPS PractitionersTech+ Symposium.

His basic message was the fact that you really can’t even address partner compensation until you assess all of the partners and “get the firm right” first.

There are three kinds of partners:

  • Content – This is me, you see what you get, I’m doing a good job at what  I do so leave me alone.
  • Climber – I’m trying to improve myself and I’m continually getting better.
  • Crazy – Usually the managing partners that has a multitude of good ideas and want them all implemented immediately.

Getting the firm “right” is really an alignment issue. It’s about planting seeds for a better tomorrow.

Be sure to assess the strengths of the partners. Determine what the partners are actually doing vs. what they are really good at. You can no longer allow partners to do whatever they want.

The partners, as a group, must be honest with each other about what each partner should be doing and not allowing partners to simply stay in their comfort zones.

  • An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.
  • W. Somerset Maugham

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Modern Mentoring Methods

“Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been advising CPA firms on mentoring programs for nearly 20 years. Yes, mentoring has changed and evolved greatly over that time period.

I will be updating some of you next week at the AICPA PSTECH Symposium in Las Vegas.

Here are some highlights, just in case you won’t be there!

  • Mentoring is different than supervising
  • Supervising focuses on performance and mentoring focuses on developing insight
  • The mentee owns the goals and the process, the mentor is there for expert support
  • The relationship should be collaborative
  • You can have more than one mentor – seek them out
  • A mentor can even mentor several people as a group
  • The mentee should be able to manage the relationship, called “managing up”
  • Some CPAs believe mentoring is difficult and involved – that is completely wrong, it is easy – keep it simple
  • You can’t force someone to be mentored, they have to be hungry for knowledge and eager to learn
  • Not everyone is naturally a good mentor, don’t force all partners to be official mentors
  • It’s perfectly okay to change mentors

Maybe it is time to update your mentoring program. Times are changing and so has mentoring.

 

  • A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.
  • Oprah Winfrey