Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Working a Flex Schedule Doesn’t Mean Your Are Stuck

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

I was delighted to read a recent article from the Journal of Accountancy by Yasmine El-Ramly and Anita Dennis titled, Rising to the top on a reduced schedule.

The article features two female partners at Grant Thornton. Yes, partners who work a flex schedule – Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA).

The partners are Debbie Smith, CPA and Erica O’Malley, CPA. They built a thriving employee benefit plan audit practice while working a 70% schedule.

Some lessons featured in the article:

Lesson 1 – A flexible work arrangement can pave the way

Lesson 2 – A foundation built on teamwork and trust

Lesson 3 – Focus on results

Lesson 4 – With flexibility comes responsibility

Lesson 5 – Time management and organizational skills stand out

Lesson 6 – Plan to be flexible

These are great lessons for anyone struggling with working a flexible schedule or for firms contemplating implementation of an FWA that can even include partners.

I hope you read the entire article to learn more about each lesson.

  • Women are the real architects of society.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

How Visible Is Your Firm On Campus?

“A baby has brains, but it doesn’t know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.” – L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I hope you have read Rosenberg’s recent post about accounting interns‘ lack of knowledge about public accounting.

He interviewed a group of accounting interns working for local firms in Chicago. The sad result is that their perception of the CPA profession – hours worked by staff, hours worked by partners, earnings of partners – is sadly off-target.

Read my post from 2009 to learn about my experience with college students. They did not know anything about local firms, they only knew about the Big Four. Why? Because the national firms are visible on campus EVERY week.

There is much smaller firms can do.  My firm was recruiting on campus when I joined the firm and we only had nine people! So, big firm or small firm, be visible on the college campus.

  • No man's knowledge can go beyond his experience.
  • John Locke

Monday, February 6th, 2017

A Brief Message – What It Takes

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” – Colin Powell

Today, I am thinking of what it really takes to be successful in the CPA profession. From my experience, a lot of it depends on the people you choose to work with and for.

But mostly, it can be summed up in four words: Work ethic and passion.

  • Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are dong or learning to do.
  • Pelo

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Expand Your Learning – Read More!

“The book you don’t read won’t help.” – Jim Rohn

Maybe your learning is too narrow.

CPAs must obtain Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits in order to continue being a CPA. It’s a rule.

Many CPAs just get the minimum and often accumulate their CPE credits in the easiest possible way. Technical CPE keeps you current and you get better at the technical topics, but that is not enough. Life-long learning is a must if you want a successful career.

Think about broadening your reading menu this year. History is full of great leaders who were avid readers. Read business books (not about tax and audit!). Read great literature.

If you want to get it done you have to set a goal. How about reading 12 books this year? I prefer you read 24, but 12 would be a good start.

  • Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.
  • John Green

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Leaders & Managers – You Need Both

“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” – Stephen R. Covey

In an accounting firm, you need great partners and great managers.

Partners have the vision, they are the role models and they steer the firm in the direction of the strategic plan. Managers follow their example but have much more responsibility to get the work done. They supervise all of the staff members, teach them, encourage them and accomplish the various, identified goals.

Your firm needs great partners and you especially need great managers. In many firms, the firm administrator is an excellent example of a great manager, carrying out the wishes of the partners and working to keep the team focused on the work.

So, if you promise every young person joining your team that “they can be a partner someday,” are you telling the truth? Probably not. A firm full of partners with no managers and staff would not be building something for the long-term.

Per Gallup, great managers look inward. They look inside the firm, into each individual, into the differences in style, goals, needs and motivation of each person. Managers guide people toward the right way to release each person’s unique talents into performance.

Great leaders look outward. They look at the competition, out at the future, out at alternate routes to follow. They focus on broad patterns, finding connections, cracks, and then press home their advantage where the resistance is weakest. They must be visionaries, strategic thinkers, activators.

How is your leader and manager groups doing? Maybe it is time to realign, rethink and refocus on the proper roles for each. Both are valuable.  Read the Gallup article here.

  • The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.
  • Casey Stengel

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Women In Accounting

“If you don’t like being a doormat, get off the floor.”Al-Anon

There is so much going on right now centering on the topic of women. There are some good discussions and information and some bad.

IMG_1077I still firmly believe that there is a great opportunity for women in the accounting profession and I encourage young, college-bound females to consider accounting as a career.

I have been inside a significant number of accounting firms during my consulting career. Have I seen discrimination against women in the workplace (the accounting profession)? Yes, of course, many times. Have I seen women in the workplace behave badly? Yes, of course, many times. Have I seen women who, in my opinion, deserved to be fired but weren’t because the partners were afraid of consequences because they were female? Yes, I have, several times.

If you want to read some of the many blog posts I have done on the topic of women in accounting, I have sorted my blog site on the topic of Women. Click here to scroll through them and, hopefully, you will read many of them.

  • Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be dammed if you do, and dammed if you don't.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

I Can Do It A Lot Faster

“Deciding what not to do is an important as deciding what to do.” – Jessica Jackley

CPAs who have reached the manager level in a public accounting firm are not always great managers.

They have reached the manager level (usually the level just below partner) because they have worked very hard and been with the firm for several years. They are good at managing the client work. They have been trained and trained for that job. The firm has invested significant dollars in their technical knowledge advancement. They are great technicians.

Firm leaders then expect them to naturally be great managers of people – great trainers, mentors and delegators. Yet, the firm has not spent any money on teaching them how to be motivators and leaders.

Perhaps you have heard this story inside your own firm – Sally is a great manager. She brings the job in on time and under budget. She works an almost unreal amount of hours to get it done. She has an engagement team to help her. Young Bill on her team struggles with a particular part of the work. Sally takes the work back and does it herself. Her excuse is, “I know my billing rate is much higher than Bill’s but I can do it in half the time.” Thus, Bill never learns and Sally is tired and stressed.

Ask you younger people to stretch – they might just surprise you in how much they can accomplish if they are taught, managed and encouraged.

  • No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.
  • Andrew Carnegie

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Positive Vibes

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson

Most businesses have a busy season. For CPA firms, that season is mid-January until mid-April. For decades CPA firm owners have strived to find ways to keep their people busy all year long and have been very successful in most cases.

Yet, January through April has always been the months of intense focus, numerous distractions, multiple interruptions, on-going questions, constant learning and career-building opportunities.

When the pressure is on, partners and managers sometimes become negative. When the pressure is on, all the other people working at the firm sometimes become negative!

Some people begin to say things like:

  • Joe is never going to make it. He just isn’t getting it.
  • Sally is so slow. What are we going to do?
  • Bill is a loner. He never asks questions and ends up doing it all wrong.
  • The way Betty dresses is horrible.
  • Tim has bad breath. Who is going to talk to him?

In times of stress, people tend to become more negative. The old 80/20 rule surfaces. People are negative 80% of the time and positive 20% of the time.

Let’s change that beginning this week. Begin to focus on things you like about people at least 80% of the time. I have always naturally been an optimist. Maybe that has helped me survive many busy seasons and still remain positive most of the time.

  • I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.
  • Walt Disney

Friday, January 20th, 2017

All CPA Partners Should Remember This

Many firms have a Managing Partner, CEO or President. Many firms are sole-proprietorships and that owner is the Managing Partner. People within the firm look to the person in this role as the firm leader, the person-in-charge, the visionary.

In firms with multiple partners, the employees also look to the other partners as leaders and expect as much leadership from them as they do from the CEO.

Some of these “other” partners believe that leadership is up to the Managing Partner and that as a client service partner they don’t have to worry as much about inspiring staff or guiding their careers or even about following firm processes and guidelines.

This brings to mind a quote I read recently from Queen Elizabeth I of England. She ruled from 1558 until her death in 1603 and was the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.

“A thousand eyes see all I do.”

It was rough being the Queen during those times when even her most personal actions and even her health details were observed and closely monitored by not only her personal attendants but also her subjects.

As a CPA partner, many eyes see what you do. Keep that in mind when you short-cut a procedure, delay returning a phone call or answering a question for a team member.

  • To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it then it is pleasant to them that bear it.
  • Queen Elizabeth I

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Focus On Your Destination

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” – Jim Rohn

Think about this meaningful quote from Jim Rohn. Can you see how it applies to you and how you go about improving and growing your accounting firm?

For example, you finally agree that you need to be TRULY paperless and become a digital firm. – – That’s the destination.

You work with your people to develop a roadmap on how to get there. You start down that road. Something happens (I won’t use the other “S” word), but things do happen. You get delayed, you encounter an unexpected obstacle. Some of the things you planned don’t work well.

By all means, change your approach. Learn from those who have gone before you and adopt some different ways to arrive at your destination.

But, do not give up. Keep focused on results and reach your destination.

Then set a new destination!

  • I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.
  • Jimmy Dean