Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Bringing In New Partners

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

Recently, Marc Rosenberg contributed an article to CPA Practice Advisor titled 7 Must-Haves for Accounting Firm Succession Plans. 

Rosenberg notes that 80% of first-generation firms never make it to the second generation because they have non-existent or ineffective succession plans.

If you want your firm to survive into the future, choosing the right partners is an important step. Often, owners make someone a partner without them truly understanding the expectations and responsibilities of a partner. Firms also often make someone a partner just because they don’t want them to leave the firm.

In his article, Rosenberg kindly shares his one-page list of criteria for promotion to partner. You can download it here. Be sure to read his entire article. Thanks for sharing, Marc.

  • Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.
  • George Washington Carver

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Performance Feedback

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi

For many firms, it is the time of year when you begin your performance feedback sessions. Hopefully, you have modified and updated your methods over the last few years. While some firms have theoretically eliminated the annual performance review, it is certainly not dead yet.

If you use the same format year after year after year, your employees and those who are giving them feedback come to dread the entire process.

Sometimes partners are expected to give feedback to 7, 8, 9 or more people. That takes a lot of time. The bigger issue is, after all the preliminary information gathering is done, how you structure the actual feedback face-to-face meeting.

One step in the right direction is to have more performance conversations throughout the year and not put so much focus on the big, annual evaluation.

Another modification is to work with your partners and managers in learning how to provide more meaningful feedback. Historically, managers have focused on past performance rather than talking about the future. Managers have also tended to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths.

Work to identify each individual’s strengths. Then, build momentum and career progression on those strengths. Develop a system of more frequent conversations and down-play the dreaded annual review.

 

  • If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.
  • Thomas Edison

Friday, May 18th, 2018

How To Win Friends & Influence People

“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.” – Dale Carnegie

Maybe you have read it, the book by Dale CarnegieHow to Win Friends and Influence People. I have read it more than once. It was written long ago but still has power today.

I came across a small pamphlet by Carnegie reminding us of the principles from the book.

Here’s an excerpt:

Become a Friendlier Person:

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
  4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  5. Smile.
  6. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  8. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
  9. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Try using these on your clients AND your employees or co-workers. Make them part of who you are!

  • Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
  • Dale Carnegie

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Do You Like Working In Public Accounting?

“Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.” – Conan O’Brien

I was recently reading an article about things to consider when you feel unhappy at work. I applied the items to the CPA profession and from what I observe, I think most people working in public accounting do really like their work.

Do you like what you do for work? Most staffers tell me that they really enjoy the work. They love working with clients and feel satisfied that they are actually helping people with their financial challenges.

Do you feel like you have ownership at work? Firms have come such a long way in involving team members in firm decisions and initiatives. People are encouraged to contribute ideas and efforts to keep the firm on the leading edge of technology and work environments.

Are you encouraged to learn at work? This is definitely a yes if you are working in a CPA firm. You are encouraged and supported in passing the CPA exam and receive formal, firm-paid CPE annually plus the day-to-day learning that comes with client engagements.

Do you feel appreciated at work? If you don’t feel appreciated working at a CPA firm these days, maybe you are working for the wrong firm! I always almost beg young accountants, if they are not happy in public accounting, to try working at another firm before they drop out and go private.

Contemplate the pluses and minuses of working at your firm. I bet the pluses out-weigh the minuses. I also think, that if you stick it out and gain experience, the reward and satisfaction gets better and better as the years pass.

  • If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier.
  • John Wooden

Friday, May 11th, 2018

The 5-Hour Rule – Friday Reading

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George Martin

Have you ever heard of the 5-hour rule? Supposedly, it is something practiced by some of the world’s most successful people. I’m not sure if that is actually true or not but the 5-hour rule sounds like a good plan to me.

You take 1 hour from each weekday and devote it to deliberate practice and learning. Things you can do with that one-hour per day might be:

  1. Read
  2. Think
  3. Experiment

Read the entire article and learn more about these three and more.

There you have it, some Friday reading!

  • Reading is to the mind like exercise is to the body.
  • Joseph Addison

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Profession Update via Melancon

“Attention is a limited resource, so pay attention to where you pay attention.” – Howard Rheingold

Barry Melancon spoke at the BDO Alliance conference this week. Daniel Hood, Editor of Accounting Today communicated many great points from Melancon via Twitter. Twitter is often a great way to learn things – I hope you have a Twitter account and follow @AccountingEdit (Dan Hood) and @CPAmanagement (me).

Here are some of Hoods tweets from Melancon’s presentation. This is IMPORTANT information so you can better lead your firm into the future.

  • For those of you who believe the profession can be insulated from change, that’s a false optimism.
  • Once AI, blockchain, etc. become accepted, they will completely redefine what we think a professional accountant is.
  • Technical skills are table stakes. Finance execs want tech skills, communications skills, and critical thinking/ judgment skills.
  • Technology and the law are changing what tax compliance means.
  • What the world wants now is a combination of tax compliance and tax planning. Tax reform gives us a great opportunity to reposition ourselves this way.
  • The number of U.S. accounting grads hired into public accounting dropped 20% in the last 2 years. But overall hiring at firms was flat – they’re hiring fewer accounting grads.
  • In 2017, a quarter of all CPA firm acquisitions were of non-CPA firms.
  • The digital age in transforming organizations from the traditional pyramid model to more of a diamond, with automation and outsourcing removing a lot of the entry-level staff.
  • We need to start thinking about ‘fat middle’ firms, with more skilled middle-level employees than entry-level staff.
  • In terms of new skill sets, we’re most concerned about mid-career people who need to unlearn what they’ve already learned.
  • The notion of measuring CPE by the hour has to go by the wayside – it’s not about the hours, it’s about the skills learned.
  • The profession can’t say ‘We’re fine.’ No one is, and we’re not exempt. Are we well-positioned for making the changes that go with not being fine? Yes — if we’re willing to change, if we’re willing to take risks, we are very well-positioned
  • The quality of one's life depends on the quality of attention. Whatever you pay attention to will grow more important in your life.
  • Deepak Chopra

Monday, May 7th, 2018

A Fun Way To Build Your Presentation Skills

“Tough issues need soft skills.” – Kristen Rampe

My friend and CPA consultant, Kristen Rampe has unveiled an amazing new service. She is intent on helping CPAs become better speakers and presenters. For many CPAs, it is a very difficult challenge. It is called Slide Deck Improv.

Here’s a message I received from Kristen:

I wanted to share with you this fun service I’ve been working on lately. It involves helping professionals improve their speaking and presenting skills – e.g. when presenting to boards or at community/industry events. As you know, this isn’t always a strong suit for the technically-minded CPA, but I’ve found a way to help get them some practice in a fun and safe environment. It involves improv, and I’ve even captured some video of a tax manager rising to the occasion: https://kristenrampe.com/slide-deck-improv  

I enjoyed watching the tax manager in the video make his way through the improv session. This is a great way to learn!

An insightful book to read about the benefit of improv is Alan Alda’s If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on my Face?

  • With improv, it's a combination of listening and not trying to be funny
  • Kristen Wiig

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

May Day & Mayday

“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” – William Shakespeare

May 1 is the 121st day of the year (122nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 244 days remaining until the end of the year. Historically, it originated as a Roman festival honoring the beginning of the summer season (in the northern hemisphere). Many, when they think of May Day, think of people dancing around a Maypole (a pole painted and decorated with flowers, around which people traditionally dance on May Day, holding long ribbons that are attached to the top of the pole.)

Mayday, an international radio distress signal used especially by ships and aircraft, has a more linguistic origin than the pragmatic approach of S.O.S. Although a connection to the month of May might seem likely, it is actually an anglicization of the French m’aidez or m’aider, meaning “help me”.

Where am I going with this as it relates to public accounting?

You have relaxed, taken some time off and recovered from the traditional busy season. May 1st is here and you should celebrate, but you only have 244 days remaining to focus on making improvements to position your firm for success before you are faced with another busy season.

You, as an individual can’t do it alone. Enlist the help of many at your firm. Never hesitate to say, “Help me!”

  • With the coming of spring, I am calm again.
  • Gustav Mahler

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Problems

“The work is to solve problems in a way that you’re proud of.” – Seth Godin

I love the above quotation from a post by Seth Godin. He is describing what it means to be an entrepreneur.

I believe that this quote describes my mission. I work to help my CPA firm clients solve problems, as the quote says, in a way that I am proud of. Often, it is very challenging, mostly because the problems I am trying to help solve can be solved by a simple solution – change.

You, working in a CPA firm, have the same exact mission. It’s not preparing tax returns or financial statements, it is solving problems for your clients and helping them make needed changes to be more profitable and successful.

Begin looking at your work this way. If you are solving problems, word will spread and you will have more clients. Solving problems is a great way to market.

  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Processes

“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.” – Lou Holtz

How did your processes and procedures work during your busy season? Be sure you contemplate this question. Also, be sure you ask your people how they thought the processes worked this season.

Now is the time to work toward making NEXT year better. Identify trouble spots and spend some time analyzing.

I have observed that in many firms they have very well-thought-out processes and they work well until you get to the partner level and then things fall apart.

As a partner, are you a partner or a sole-proprietor working in a multi-partner firm? Is your firm a one-firm firm or a silo firm? Do you act as though, because you are a partner, the rules don’t apply to you?

One-firm firms grow and prosper much quicker and easier than silo firms.

If you are the leader of the firm, maybe you need a partner commitment statement that declares partners will follow the firm’s processes, procedures, and guidelines. Your people will thank you!

  • If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.
  • Katharine Hepburn