Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

This Post Is For Accounting Majors & Interns

Man DonkeyConsider your future. Don’t just let it happen because of various circumstances. Your professors and maybe even your parents are pushing you to take the job that pays the most money. They want you to work for a firm with great name recognition that will eventually look good on your resume down the road.

Is that how you want begin your career? Will that make YOU happy? Think about where and how you want to work. Not everyone is content with being a grinder. Many young people want to work where they have more freedom and a bigger voice in their workplace.

If you are an accounting major and interested in public accounting (I hope you are because there are great rewards in public accounting), be sure to explore all of your options.

If you are a top student and have a decent personality and work ethic – EVERY CPA firm wants you and will court you.

Be sure to consider, research and talk to small to mid-size firms. Contemplate what you want your day to look like. You’ll be spending a lot of hours at work.

You will need a lot of guidance and hand-holding during the first couple of years. Just being a good student with good grades won’t lead to success. You need help. Large national and huge regional firms have “universities” to train you. That’s nice and I am glad but sometimes you just feel like one of the herd. Look those firm over and determine if that fits YOU. Also, seek to find a firm that will help you, give you more personal attention, guide you… but not smother you nor pigeon-hole you.

My observation after many years working in and with CPA firms is that you will more quickly gain knowledge, experience, and expertise in a very wide range of duties/tasks/projects at a firm that is small to mid-size. You will get exposed to a broader view of how to serve SMEs.

If you are wondering about size of firms, here is how the AICPA classifies them for their Top Issues Survey:

  1. Sole Practitioners
  2. Firms with 2 to 5 professionals
  3. Firms with 6 to 10 professionals
  4. Firms with 11 to 20 professionals
  5. Firms with 21 or more professionals

I consider 1 thru 4 as small to mid-size. Just a qualifier, it’s not only size, it has a lot to do with the vision of the owners. I know 2 partner firms that are vibrant, exciting, growing and their small team loves it there. I know firms with 12 partners who are stuck in the past.

Do your home work before you accept an offer.

  • Work to become, not to acquire.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Invest In The Success Of Your Managing Partner

Once upon a time, there was a young, ambitious managing partner passionate about growing the CPA firm he had been selected to lead. He, of course, was good at the numbers. He monitored all the MAP stats and was a strong supporter of going to great lengths to grow and retain top talent. He set a good example for the CPAs at the firm….. he billed timely and always collected all of the A/R associated with the clients assigned to him. It was a very rare occurrence if he was late entering his daily time.

As the firm grew, more partners were were brought in and it became necessary for the MP to give up some of his clients so that he could give more attention to managing the firm (and the partners).

At a partner retreat, after a lot of dialogue and self-exploration by all the individual partners, they asked the MP to find more time to mentor THEM. He humbly replied, “I’m not sure I know how. I have to get more training and education.”

And, he did.

(Leading Professional Service Firms – Executive Training Program at Harvard)

  • Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better.
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Winning Is Everything – Management Conference For CPA Firm Leaders

okayWhen I was working at a growing, profitable CPA firm, I attended as many management conferences as the budget would allow.

I truly believe that the knowledge I gained at these conferences helped propel the firm as a leading-edge, profitable, forward-looking enterprise. Winning Is Everything (and it’s successor conferences) is one I never missed.

Why is it important to attend? You become like the people you surround yourself with and the people you know and respect. Over the years I met almost all of the leading consultants who taught me how to create a firm that is not only profitable but one where top talent stays and builds their careers.

Probably more importantly, I met people from firms that were “going places.” They were not stuck in the past and mired in status quo. They experimented and tried new methods and shared best practices. I identified “my heroes” and strived to keep pace with them.

I hope to see you at WIE 2015. Be sure to seek me out and say hello. I am so looking forward to meeting Bruce Tulgan, author of It’s Okay To Be The Boss. Read the book, it will help you hold-on to those bright younger accountants. Click here to hear about The Myth Of Fairness via Tulgan.

Still time to register! It is January 28-30 at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

Register and get more info here.

  • Forty is the old age of youth. Fifty is the youth of old age.
  • Victor Hugo

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Helping Your New Accounting Recruits & Interns Rock Their New Job

Have you checked-out Slideshare? If you are in a leadership position in a CPA firm, you need all the resources you can get. I’m always on the prowl for things that will be helpful to you to build a winning culture and a winning firm.

I really like this slide deck (My First 90 Days), on LinkedIn Pulse that is intended to help newbies make the most of their first 90 days on the job.

Starting a new job can be daunting. It’s time to meet your colleagues, impress your boss, get into the rhythm of your new role. So how should a newbie navigate those first 90 days?

There are only 14 slides that provide links to 8 posts on advice aimed a surviving a new job. The eight titles:

  1. Start working before Day One
  2. You can’t fix it right away
  3. Say yes to everything
  4. Ask your coworkers to lunch
  5. Listen to everyone you meet
  6. Make your boss look good (includes quote from Guy Kawasaki: “Either you rise to the top together, or crash and burn together.”)
  7. Take care of yourself first
  8. Don’t try to be the golden child

This is not just for newbies. CPA partners and managers need to read these posts, too. I frequently remind partners in accounting firms, “Don’t forget what it was like to be the new kid!” Most experienced partners admit they were lost, confused and clueless.

  • Make yourself available, work hard, and over time you will make yourself indispensable.
  • Richard Branson

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Nominations Are Open For 2015 Top 10 Public Accounting Professionals

I was not aware of this award, however, when I received the press release, it got my attention. I recognized several of my clients on the 2014 listing!

The National Academy of Public Accounting Professionals (NAPAP) is now accepting nominations for the 2015 “Top 10 Public Accounting Professionals” awards in each state. In addition, NAPAP is also accepting nominations for the newly established “Top 10 Public Accounting Professional Rising Stars” awards, which will recognize outstanding accountants with less than 15 years of experience.

Here’s a link to their website. You can see the 2014 award winners for your state on the site and also nominate someone for 2015.  There is also a link to their selection criteria.

I love to see CPAs get recognition!

  • An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.
  • Gandhi

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

The Ability To Recognize Emotions In Others

I mention emotional intelligence fairly often. That is because CPAs have the reputation for ranking fairly low on the emotional intelligence scale.

The experts tell us (Daniel Goleman, author) that emotional intelligence consists of five competencies:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social Skills

I urge you to learn more about it and focus on how it plays out inside your busy CPA firm. It is essential to a productive work environment.

It does not mean you are simply nice to everyone and always pleasant. It means that you can confront others in a constructive way when problems arise. It doesn’t mean you are visibly emotional, it means you are in control of your emotions and to recognize emotions in others.

I bet that accountants reading this right now are not liking it much. I find most of them do not want to address the “warm and fuzzy” stuff. Usually, it is the simple fact that accountants think more along the lines of “business is business and personal is personal.”

In a recent article on Fast Company, Yongmei Liu, an associate professor at Illinois State University’s College of Business is quoted as follows. “A leader who has a high degree of emotional intelligence can recognize when his or her followers are not in the right emotional state to perform well.” – That would sure be helpful as you go through tax season!

Read more about it here. – article is titled, Why Emotionally Intelligent People Make More Money (maybe that got your attention).


  • It isn't stress that makes us fall - it's how we respond to stressful events.
  • Wayde Goodall

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Get Serious About Retaining People

Your firm had some fairly significant turnover in 2014.

You spent a lot of time on hiring people to take their place.

That means this busy season will not be as efficient and profitable because your experienced people will be slowed down by training the newbies.

In the CPA firm world, people really get productive at about their third year with the firm. According to research about the millennials (employees under age 35), if they are not completely happy at the 3-year mark, they will change jobs without guilt or hesitation.

If you have created a culture where people want to stay and BUILD their career, you have a competitive advantage over the firm down the street. I’m not talking about keeping mediocre performers who are comfortable with coasting along for many years. I’m talking about young people who have the desire to advance. Sure, not everyone wants to advance and make their way up the career ladder, but if you have some with the desire – show them the way!

Horne, LLP has person with the title of “People FIRST Director.” How about you?

  • Only undertake what you can do in an excellent fashion. There are no prizes for average performance.
  • Brian Tracy

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Want That Promotion?

I find it very interesting how CPA firm partner groups decide on who gets a promotion and when they get a promotion.

This is a VERY important topic for women in accounting (WIA). It is also VERY important for men who are making promotion decisions.

You see, most women are raised to believe that they will get rewards, promotions, salary increases and so on simply because they do good work…. even excellent work. Wrong…

There is a lot of research out there on how men and women communicate. It tells us, that in general, men mistake some of the ways women communicate as showing a lack of self-confidence. Women don’t brag about their work or their accomplishments. (Toot their own horn.) Yet, it is fairly common among men and widely accepted.

My advice is for WIA to look in the mirror – – Do you look good? How’s your posture? How do you sound when you talk? Learn to enhance your image of self-confidence. You have it inwardly but how do you look to others?

To avoid miscommunication – Think before you speak and ask for what you want.

I observe that CPA firm partners often are looking for, and want, qualities in future partners that they don’t actually possess themselves.

Women, as you proceed with building your career, here a good quote to keep in mind. You should also read the book.

“When decisions are made about promotion to management positions, the qualities sought are a high level of competence, decisiveness, and ability to lead. If it is men who are making the decisions about promotions, they are likely to misinterpret women’s ways of talking as showing indecisiveness, inability to assume authority and even incompetence.” – – Deborah Tannen, author of Talking from 9 to 5

  • I determine to render more and better service, each day, than I am being paid to render. Those that reach the top are the ones who are not content with doing only what is required of them.
  • Og Mandino

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Hiring Tends For 2015

According to a recent article on Fast Company, 70% of today’s workforce is actively looking for another job or is open to hearing about a new job opportunity.

Another study tells us that a recent college graduate will hold between 15 to 20 jobs in their career. That means they are going to change jobs every three to four years. They will always be looking.

This certainly does not paint a rosy picture for CPA firm leaders. Growing firms hire extensively from the college campus and invest significant dollars in the first three years of their career in training and development. For them to leave at the end of three years is an expensive scenario. At three years, they are just at the point where they can be really productive.

Here are some trends:

Job boards are no longer the primary source used by job seekers. Job seekers, along with employers, are looking via social networking sites. Even the recruiters (the ones your firm has relied on) are finding their candidates via LinkedIn. According to a recent survey, 79% of recruiters said they found candidates via LinkedIn. 26% through Facebook and 14% via Twitter. Firm leaders are telling me that the recruiters are presenting to them the same people that they can find on LinkedIn themselves.

Here’s an important trend to follow for CPA firms. Employers will target marketing to job seekers. Accounting firms must invest in building an employer brand, just like they invest in building a brand to attract new tax and accounting clients. CPA firms can develop action steps for retention by surveying their people and talking to their people to determine what they need to do to become the CPA firm employer of choice in their market. What kind of impression does your website make on a potential new hire? It seems that the investment in, and focus on, building a unique career page on accounting firm websites no longer has the attention it had several years ago.

In-person networking is back. Since the social media space is so crowded, it’s now unique to network in person. Young people intent on building their careers and finding career opportunities are focused on building a base of “people they know.”

Do they know you and your firm? Are your people “out there” networking to identify future new hires as well as potential new clients?

In the world of public accounting it is all about the number of people you know. Using social media is key but so is face-to-face networking.

  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.
  • Aristotle

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Dare To Change The Future Of Your Firm in 2015

I have been reading more over the Holidays. How about you? My suggested New Year’s resolution for you — Read more!

I mentioned earlier this week that I am reading Seth Godin‘s book. So many of his thoughts and challenges apply to CPAs. Many accountants are smart, talented people who get trapped in status quo. I DARE you to take that big, scary step this year and make some changes, take some risk. In fact, I triple-dog-dare you!

From the book:

“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations – one can either do THIS or THAT. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this:  DO IT OR DO NOT DO IT – YOU WILL REGRET BOTH … To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. NOT TO DARE IS TO LOSE ONESELF. – – Soren Kierkegaard

  • Happy New Year to all my loyal blog followers (and to my occasional readers, too).
  • Rita Keller