Archive for the ‘Firms’ Category

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

More About Flexibility

“The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” – Tom Peters

Yesterday, I blogged about flexibility. Since it is such a popular topic, I wanted to continue to provide information to you today.

Isaac O’Bannon, Managing Editor of CPA Practice Advisor, in a recent post tells us that many firms really do offer flexibility. If your firm does not, it’s time to learn more about it and begin making some changes.

Here’s O’Bannon’s take on the rules:

As long as you comply with RULE #1: Get the job done. It is also recommended that you comply with RULE #2: Be damn good at your job, consistently. Oh, and RULE #3: Be responsive to your boss, your clients, and anyone else you do business with or for- so that it’s just like you were in the office.

Here’s some firms that made Fortune’s list of the 50 Best Workplaces for Flexibility. #1 was Ryan, an international tax firm. Other accounting firms on the list:  PwC at #12, Plante Moran at #27 and DeLeon & Stang at #30.

  • You absolutely must have the discipline not to hire until you find the right people.
  • Jim Collins

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Best Accounting Firms To Work For In North America

Each year, a company that provides in-depth intelligence on what it’s really like to work within an industry, company, or profession, unveils it’s Vault Accounting 50 – a listing of the 50 best firms to work for.

See the complete 2016 list of 50 firms here.

  • If you don't build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.
  • Dhirubhai Ambani

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Keeping Good People – It Doesn’t Happen By Accident

It’s not just the Big Four; don’t go to a firm just to get a name on your resume.” – Brad Self, Dir. of Training & Development, CSH

I really enjoyed a recent article in Accounting Today featuring Clark Schaefer Hackett, an Ohio accounting firm.

I’m trying to keep my post short this week (because most of you are very busy), so I won’t ramble on. Click on the link and read the entire article when you have time. However, I want to stress some points that impressed me in the article.

CSH has done what I urge most firms to do. They have clearly defined the career paths inside their firm. Many studies have told us that young people want a clearly defined picture of where their career is going.

Here are the competencies of a Senior: Manage Work | Resolve Conflict | Assure Quality | Tolerate Stress | Coach/Develop Others | Collaborate – Each competency is described in detail for Seniors.

CSH researched and developed a cultural approach that they call “Change-80-5,” where CSH pursues cultural change to increase staff engagement; stronger employee engagement will lead to stronger client engagement with a goal of 80 percent, which should drive the 5 percent organic growth rate the firm has targeted.

I love this quote from Brad Self, Director of Training & Development:

“It was surprising as I met with other firms and talked to people in universities and the academic arena to hear the stigma that hangs around public accounting,” he said. “The academic world is saying that people should use public accounting as a stepping stone to a ‘real career.’ We need to change that. … We want to start talking to these universities about pushing more of a career opportunity — it’s not just the Big Four; don’t go to a firm just to get a name on your resume; go to a firm that aligns with your values and where you’re going to feel like you can grow the most.”


  • Since belief determines behavior, doesn't it make sense that we should be teaching ethical, moral values in every home and in every school in America?
  • Zig Ziglar

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Make Some Progressive Changes This Year

After busy season your thoughts will more strongly turn to your people. Of course, you continue to think about them and their well-being during busy season but probably won’t take action on any items until after April 15.

Here’s a couple of things that many progressive firms are doing:

Stand-up, Get Moving – – Standing desks reduce health risks, encourage more activity (and we all know that more activity is good for us). Accountants sit way too much! Does your firm offer to provide stand-up desks for everyone? Do you offer ways to be more active during tax season (yoga classes, Zumba, or an office basketball league)?

Here’s some tips for office workers to keep moving (from an article in the Dayton Daily News):

  • Use a printer or restroom on a different floor
  • Take the stairs
  • Leave the office for an afternoon stroll or coffee run (walk to the coffee shop!)
  • Set a notification on your computer that reminds you to move every 30 minutes
  • Get up to talk to a colleague instead of sending an email
  • Have a walking or standing meeting (these are very popular)
  • Stand while talking on the phone (I’ve seen a lot of partners do this one)
  • Pause and stretch
  • Take a quick walk during lunch break (I know a managing partner and firm administrator that often take a walk during lunch hour and talk about operational and HR topics.)

Here’s a picture of Hemingway at his stand-up desk.

The second thing to consider, that many firms are providing, is closing the office on Fridays (or half-day on Fridays) from June through August. There are a lot of variations:

  • Close for the entire day on Friday (summer Fridays are fairly “dead” anyway)
  • Stay open but allow half the staff to be off one week and the other half the next week.
  • Establish 10 hour work days from Monday through Thursday so that 40 hours are still worked.
  • Close on Friday afternoons (this one does not eliminate commuting for a day which is a big issue).

Most firms tell me that their clients don’t mind at all if the firm closes on Fridays. Check out the website of Payne Nickles. Look on the left at their hours. “Fridays from May 1 through Labor Day we close at noon.”

  • The problem is not the problem. the problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?
  • Captain Jack Sparrow

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Merger Mania for CPA Firms

0 Avatar slide for blogIt seems that merger mania still reigns. It started with larger firms acquiring smaller firms and evolved to gigantic firms acquiring other gigantic firms and everything in between.

Have you recently been merged into a larger firm? Even though it is all about clients and industry niches, progressive firms still focus on the people side of things. In a merger, some people lose, especially those professional support people in the firm being acquired.

How did the acquiring firm in your situation perform relating to embracing your people into their culture? Did they orchestrate all of the on-boarding activities so that everyone felt included? Do you now have a clear sense of what is going to unfold during the next year? Or, do you feel like there is a dark cloud hanging over your head?

If you joined the right firm, they have a clear plan, well-documented and well-executed for making the people they are merging-in feel part of something extraordinary. They excel at communication.

How do you feel about going into the office this morning?

  • Nothing will work unless you do.
  • Maya Angelou

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Sole Practitioner/Small Firm Concerns

IMG_5009If you are a regular subscriber to this blog, you know that last week I had a wonderful opportunity to work with a group of partners/owners comprised of small firms and sole proprietors. It was a beautiful setting in southern Ohio.

The entire two days was focused on MAP and yes, small firms must pay very close attention to all the details and management challenges, just like larger firms.

As a result of the meeting, I came away with a list of concerns from CPA firms with under 20 people.

  • Practice growth
  • People – attracting & retaining
  • Client touches (via Cloud/Virtual)
  • Determining when to hire more people
  • Leverage
  • Exit strategy
  • Keeping people busy from May to December

If your firm, no matter what the size, is facing similar challenges, I hope you will attend some MAP sessions at conferences this summer, learn about some new solutions and then implement them at your firm. I also want to urge managing partners and firm administrators to take other partners along to MAP events. I hope to meet many of you at next week’s AICPA/AAA/AAM conference in Orlando.

  • Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.
  • Helen Keller

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

LBMC – Passing The Touch

I love this video widely distributed by Lattimore, Black, Morgan & Cain (LBMC) this week.

David Morgan and Mike Cain have been the poster-children for co-managing partners in CPA firms and have built an amazing firm. They never disappoint when it comes to managing in a first-class style and this “Passing The Torch” video is just another example.

I have had the pleasure of knowing David and Mike personally and have benefitted from their experience and the example they set. Best wishes to Jeffery S. Drummonds, new Managing Partner of LBMC.

  • March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life's path.
  • Khalil Gibran

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

If Your Partners Are Truly Happy…

IMG_1902I line-up with my good friend, Marc Rosenberg, when he says, “If your partners are truly happy with your system, who cares what other firms do.”

In a recent blog post, Rosenberg address the percentage of ownership issue. Read it here.

As I visit with firms around the country, I have observed the good, bad and ugly of ownership issues. Some firms have equal ownership for all equity partners and in some firms the majority of the ownership rests with one or two individuals. In so many firms, the percentage of ownership has nothing to do with how well the partners actually perform.

What I find is that in most firms, ALL of the partners are NOT truly happy.

In a dictatorship firm, if that majority owner is motivated, passionate and forward-thinking, the firm can be leaps and bounds ahead of competitors. If that person is happy with status-quo, the firm languishes and people leave OR poor performers stay.

In a multi-owner firm where everyone has equal ownership and an equal vote, rarely are ALL partners truly happy. Poor performing partners are allowed to be silos and no one is motivated to “stir the pot”. These partners all make nearly the same amount of money and life seems reasonably good.

This leads back to pay for performance. I urge you to always pay for performance – for everyone from the Director of First Impressions at the front desk to the managing partner.

  • I believe ownership percentage is important.
  • Marc Rosenberg

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Working In The CPA Profession – My Walk To Work Today

IMG_5007Sometimes we are all so busy we forget to stop and smell the roses! You’ve heard that saying since you were a child. Do you think about it as an adult?

This week I am working with the CPA Network at the lovely Inn at Cedar Falls in southern Ohio. The group is here for renewal. To renew their own passion and plans and to capitalize on the brain-power of the entire group. The 2-day focus is on MAP issues and how to better manage their firms.

This morning I sat on the back porch of my cottage in the deep woods – no sounds of civilization – just birds, water dripping off the trees and a slight breeze. I waited for daylight (no sunrise views because of the deep woods). I didn’t read… I just let my mind wander (and it traveled a great distance).

I hope you take time this summer to think about your firm. Your culture develops by design or default – – make sure you are in control of the design and are continually guiding it.

The pictures are from my “walk to work” this morning. Ain’t life grand?


  • Cultivate the habit of early rising. It is unwise to keep the head long on a level with the feet.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Friday, May 15th, 2015

How Is Your CPA Firm Different From Your Competition?

An observation: Most CPA firm are pretty much alike. They “follow the leader” when it comes to management practices. They do a great job serving clients and most also deserve acknowledgement for almost bending over backwards for their people.

However, there is a small percentage of firms out there that are truly unique. I am very lucky to have one of those firms as a long-time, valued client – Fluence in Portland, Oregon.

I received an email from them last week and I was surprised to see they were going to be CLOSED for an entire week.  I emailed the firm’s CEO to inquire and she told me they were closing the office to take all employees (plus a guest) to Mexico to stay at an all-inclusive resort for a week.

They have always done a week-end get-away for staff & spouse/guest after tax season but this was above and beyond. It is a reward for hitting the firm’s financial goals.  Just FYI, they are not a “small” firm.

I always encourage firms to do things that make their team members say, “Wow!” It sure made me think, Wow!

Here’s the email:

Office Closed May 11, 2015  through May 15, 2015

  • I've been around a long time, and life still has a whole lot of surprises for me.
  • Loretta Lynn