Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category
Friday, May 1st, 2015
There is a lot of advice being handed out to females on how to advance to leadership roles in accounting.
One issue that often holds back both males and females in public accounting is the fact that they must continually devote time and energy to improve their technical skills. CPAs are required to have a tremendous amount of expertise in audit, tax and often in other highly specialized technical areas.
To advance as a leader, they need to maintain their technical skills but they also need to seek out broader exposure to management, marketing, technology and other areas to enhance their over-all business experience.
Many experienced CPAs gained valuable skills via volunteer work such as serving on non-profit boards, being committee chairs at other community organizations and so on. Many younger accountants, especially women, say they simply don’t have time to get involved outside the firm.
Most firms support these community and charitable activities. Consider joining Toastmasters to enhance your speaking and presentation skills. Join a YP (young professionals) group or begin your own women’s networking group.
Leaders need board exposure – don’t hide in your cubicle or office and expect to become a leader in your firm.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Thursday, April 30th, 2015
Once again this year, Accountingfly will host ADVANCE 15 an online career summit to connect accountants with accounting firm employers.
It will be on June 18, 2015 – 1:00-5:00p EDT. Here’s the scoop:
WELCOME TO ADVANCE ’15!
This online career summit will connect you with your next accounting career opportunity without having to leave your home or office.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
Thursday June 18, participate in the online career fair where you can interact with employers of your choice. “Get in line” to chat in one-on-one text conversations with employers who have current job openings that match your interests. Build your network by continuing your conversations with employers after the event ends. New employers are signing up everyday – register today!
WHO SHOULD ATTEND
Accounting professionals across all specialties.
- This is a great opportunity to meet recruiters from different types of employers from across the United States.
- The webinars throughout the week will bring experts to show you future trends in our profession. You will receive more information on these webinars as the event approaches.
Read all about it and register here.
The future depends on what you do today.
Monday, April 27th, 2015
It’s amazing what you might accomplish if you work hard and pursue your dreams.
I enjoy success stories and was fascinated as I read about Belicia Cespedes, CPA. She’s 17 years old and passed the CPA exam last summer.
After graduating from high school at 13, Belicia took a QuickBooks course and enjoyed bookkeeping so much she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree and study accounting.
As of January 8, 2015, she became the youngest voting member of the AICPA.
Be sure you are challenging and coaching the youngest members of your CPA team. They do not want to be ignored; they crave your attention. Who knows what they might accomplish.
Read more about this amazing young lady’s story on the AICPA site.
The person who is waiting for something to turn up might start with their shirt sleeves.
Friday, April 24th, 2015
Maybe you just joined the firm and maybe you have just survived your first busy season. Are you getting noticed? Are you being assigned to some high-profile clients? Are you being sought out to work with the managers and partners who seem to “get it”?
It’s always important to make a good first impression and often inside CPA firms it might take a year to do that. You might think it is safe to keep your head down and grind through the work. That’s what you have heard gets your noticed by the partners. That’s part of it but not the most important part.
You want the partners and managers to notice you. What I have heard, time and time again from partners, is that they can teach bright, new people accounting and tax, but they want more than that.
Be visible, friendly and respectful – Ask questions but don’t interrupt them constantly. Don’t shy away from a partner when you have a chance to just be friendly.
Pay attention. Be a good listener – Out of the starting gate, don’t get the reputation of “being glued to her mobile device.” Seek conversations and advice where you can look them in the eye and soak it all in.
No matter what you think – how you look matters (especially in public accounting). – Looking professional is one of the easy things you can do to help bridge the generation gap with Boomers and Xers. No, you don’t have to wear a coat and tie (or a pantsuit) to look professional.
Speak-up in meetings. – If you are in a training session inside the firm, don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for more detailed instructions, if you need them.
Show them that millennials are not afraid of hard work. – This is a big misconception with Boomers and GenXers. Research has shown that millennials are willing to devote extraordinary efforts to their work – they just want to do it differently with more flexibility. Explain how you feel and show them with results.
Ask them questions about building your career. – This will show them that you value their experience and want to make the most of being a CPA. If your firm doesn’t have an official mentoring program, informally seek one out. Pick the one you think can help you the most and just ask them.
Be prepared. – Yes, the old Boy Scout motto. Be ready to discuss the review comments you receive on your work. Speak clearly and concisely. Use eye contact and show that you are confident and are willing to absorb feedback and advice.
Be Genuine – This one applies every day. The best possible way to win people over, regardless of their age, is to be yourself. Find ways to open dialogue with all the different partners and managers. Absorb their good habits and build on yours.
Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
Millennials are now mature, experienced and ready to take control.
I have been talking about Millennials for years and urging Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers to embrace them, nurture them and learn from them.
There is some great information for CPA firm leaders in this article on Forbes. Here’s an excerpt:
Companies have also felt the pressure by millennials to evolve, especially because about one in every three employees in the U.S. will be a millennial by next year, and by 2025 they will become 75 percent of the global workforce. At some companies, such as EY, millennials already make up 60% of their workforce. Technology has ended the nine to five workday, crushed global communication barriers and create transparent offices. They have forced companies to rethink flexibility, meetings and cubicles. They also believe that business should focus on a societal purpose, not just be in business to make a profit. This is why you see so many millennial become social entrepreneurs or support their local non-profit – they always need to feel like they are touching someone and making an impact, regardless of their job title.
Accounting firms have always recruited on college campuses, sought out the young career beginners to become part of the CPA firm team. Be sure your firm is taking advantage of the millennial goldmine you already have.
It takes a very long time to become young.
Thursday, April 16th, 2015
I always remember the story from management consulting guru David Maister about his early days at Harvard. He was young and inexperienced and was trying to find his path to success. His boss didn’t rush him or pressure him but finally one day asked a simple questions that led to success, “What do you want to be famous for?”
Maister classified partners in a CPA firm into 3 categories: Dynamos, Cruisers and a few Losers. He noted that you would expect accounting firms to be a hotbed of skill building. But in his observation, that is not the case.
When it comes to partners, he found only 10 – 20% could be labeled “Dynamos” – always working to learn something new, continually building their practices in new and challenging areas. The rest of the partners, except for a very few incompetents, are Cruisers who work hard, do good work and take care of their clients but they don’t stand out as special talents.
Where do you fit? Where do your partners fit? The managing partners needs to ask each individual partner, “What do you want to be famous for?” and work with them to get there.
Robert Raiola of O’Connor Davies is my favorite example. He’s famous for helping high net worth individuals in sports or entertainment deal with taxes. He began tweeting as @SportsTaxMan several years ago and now is often quoted by Sports Illustrated and appears on various television outlets. He’s become famous as a sports tax man. Click here to see his latest Yahoo News spot about Jordan Spieth and his Masters winnings.
Next, contemplate what you could be famous for. Maybe you are ContractorTaxMan, NonProfitAuditLady or DentistAccountingGuru.
The way you get rich is don't get sucked into doing dumb stuff for people you don't like.
Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
There are many “bosses” inside a public accounting firm.
You, as a beginner and even as a manager, work for all the partners – that could mean 10 or 12 bosses (or more). Almost every manager, and senior, boss other people. Perhaps even the first-year team members boss the interns.
What kind of boss are you?
I saw a stat this week that was troubling. 65% of the workforce would choose a new boss over a raise. Also, a majority of workers trust a stranger more than their boss.
Thank goodness, I don’t think it is quite this depressing in the CPA profession, however, you need to pay attention if you are a boss. Accounting firms are frantically looking for good people. If you are not a good boss, if you are not encouraging, if you are not friendly, if you are not a good mentor, if you are not a good listener…. younger people will leave. Others are contacting them everyday to win them away from your firm.
If you hear comments like, “You can always talk to Bill, but don’t ever interrupt Ted.” Deal with it.
Retaining people is a top priority. I mean top performers. Sometimes firing poor performers is a great retention action, even if you have to search for a replacement. It tells your top performers that you are a high-performing firm focused on growth so there will be room for advancement.
If people leave your firm after busy season, look in the mirror.
By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.
Saturday, April 11th, 2015
When I talk to very successful business people, I notice one thing they almost always tell me…. I love what I do!
What a joy it is to not dread going to the office (or workplace) every day. I have to admit, all the years I worked in a CPA firm, I never dreaded going to work – I did love my job and my firm. I was never bored. New and exciting things were always on the horizon.
However…. not everyone loves working in accounting. That’s why this true story has always made me smile.
Deep-Slime Divers Keep Vast & Smelly Sewers Flowing
Mexico City — Carlos Barrios Orta squeezed himself into his rubber diving suit, pulled on an 18-pound helmet that made him look like an astronaut, then lowered himself into the sewer. He disappeared into the filthy water, which looked like some cauldron of rancid beef stew, until the only sign of him was air bubbles breaking the surface.
“It’s very, very cold,” Barrios, 48, said into the radio microphone in his diving helmet.
Above ground his partner, Julio Cesar Cu, monitored his radio transmissions and urged him to keep talking. As long as Barrios was still chattering away, it meant that he was okay, that his air hose was working properly and that he hadn’t been swept away to his death by an unexpected rush of waste — as happened to another diver some years ago.
It was 11 a.m. in a massive drain underneath Mexico City, where the smell of human waste and rotting trash was so strong it was hard for a visitor not to vomit. But it didn’t seem to bother Barrios, one of four divers who maintain the 600 miles of sewers and pipes beneath the biggest city in North America. He was just doing his job: keeping pumps and sewers clear.
“I feel plastic bottles, wires, glass,” said Barrios, his every breath exaggerated on the radio.
In the darkness of the sewer, Barrios could see nothing. He doesn’t bother to carry a light, because it would be of no use in the thick waters. He inched forward in his bright red suit, an airtight model that sealed away the disease all around him, feeling his way with his rubber gloves, listening in the darkness. He could hear the powerful, whirring pump that pushed the flow through a six-foot-wide pipe. His mission was to clear away the debris around it so it wouldn’t back up into city streets. Thousands of homes have been flooded in the past by dammed-up wastewater.
“I’ve got it!” Barrios said as he pushed away bottles, plastic bags and other junk he could not identify by touch. At least there were no human bodies today, like the two he found floating by recently.
Now Barrios was singing. “I live in the water, lah-deh-dah-dum.” It was a popular children’s song, “The Pretty Little Fish,” and Barrios sang it like he couldn’t possibly have been happier. He loves his job. Two years ago, he gave up a career in accounting for this — which, he noted, says something about accounting.
Thank goodness we have people who love accounting! Read the entire newspaper article here.
Doing what you love to do, with your whole heart and spirit - it doesn't get any better than that.
Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
One successful activity that we used when I was working in a CPA firm was challenging our team members to become HIGHLY skilled in the software tools we used daily – like Microsoft Excel and Word.
Accountants were expected the pass the basic Word and advanced Excel tests that Microsoft offered for their certification programs (MOS). Administrative team members were asked to pass the basic Excel and the advanced Word exams. Most of the study to prepare for these exams was pretty much “on your own.”
Recently, I became aware of a great resource for accountants – Excel University. It is Microsoft Excel Training specifically for CPAs and accounting professionals.
If you could learn Excel simply and easily at your pace and could learn the features and functions that are relevant and practical to accounting professionals – would you want to? If you are an accounting professional and have taken Excel classes before, you know the pace can be too fast or too slow and the content may not be relevant to your work. Excel University explores relevant features that allow you to get your work done quicker, in a self-paced, fun and engaging way.
Designed by a CPA for CPAs, this series covers functions you need and skips those you don’t. It is available in two formats: Paperback book and Interactive Online Course.
I like the fact that they offer a “full” and “Lite” version. The full version meets NASBA’s QAS Self-Study standards for claiming CPE Credit. The Lite version is almost the same – – maybe more appropriate for your administrative professionals (non-CPAs). Look for more info under the Training Tab when you visit their website and check-out the testimonials.
I bet many of you are already using Excel University. – – Keep encouraging your team to embrace lifelong learning!
If you have a job without aggravations, you don't have a job.
Monday, April 6th, 2015
Today, I am just offering some simple thoughts that cross my mind in dealing with people working inside CPA firms for over 30 years.
- In today’s environment at CPA firms with so many current partners (owners) beginning to retire, pushing every CPA working at the firm toward becoming “a leader” is almost in the mass hysteria mode.
- At so many firms, as the partners are considering retirement, they complain that “there’s no one here who can replace me”.
- No one can replace them? I believe there are some who can replace them. Those are the top performers who need extra attention and extensive training. Some current leader are worried about showing favoritism.
- However, not everyone wants to be a partner or even a manager. According to a survey by Careerbuilder, approximately one-third of workers aspire to leadership positions, with only 7 percent aiming for senior or C-level management.
- Wouldn’t it seem logical to spend time talking with your team members, mentoring them, counseling them and discovering which ones truly are passionate about becoming a partner some day? It’s not for everyone, so don’t push it on everyone.
- Some progressive firms have identified a specific program for top performers. Not everyone is included, they have to earn their way into the program. I like this because everyone knows who is a top performer.
- If someone expresses the desire to become a leader (partner or manager) and they are not a top performer, tell them that and explain how they can become a top performer.
- Finally, look at your current partner group. How many are truly displaying leadership skills on a daily basis? Don’t allow them to coast. Life-long learning is for everyone.
These types of thoughts are on my mind today because I have observed that current firm leaders often tell people they have the chance to become a partner some day, if they work hard….. then, behind closed doors they talk to each other about the fact it will never happen for that particular person.
It’s kinder to be honest.
If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.