Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Friday, February 12th, 2016

T A K A (Take A Kid Along)

IMG_5007How do you develop a path for succession?

How do you instill enthusiasm for practice development (marketing) in your younger accountants?

How do you build loyalty and trust?

I advise that you simply TAKA – Take A Kid Along. I don’t call them “kids” to be disrespectful. It is because they are very young in their accounting career.

I read a lot of responses to upward feedback surveys and employee engagement surveys. Many, many times someone says something like this: “Bill asked me to go with him to a Chamber of Commerce breakfast event. He talks about the firm in such a professional and informative way. I learned so much.”

Think of it as having a shadow and even non-partners should have a shadow when they go to events, client meetings or business lunches. Less experienced people need to see, first hand, how it’s done.

Young accountants – If they do not invite you, speak-up and ask! Sometimes partners and managers simply forget to include you.

  • Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Whiners & Complainers

No excusesEvery firm has them.

When I ask my audiences: “You don’t have any whiners in your firm, do you?” – I get a room full of giggles. At your office, of course you have people who whine. You have people who complain. You have people who roll their eyes at new ideas or even at a verbal reminder that everyone should follow procedures to provide better client service.

I am a Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1964). My parents were part of the Silent or Veteran generation (born before 1946). Some are still in the workforce. Here’s a description:

Silents. Silents are considered among the most loyal workers. They are highly dedicated and the most risk averse. Their values were shaped by the Great Depression, World War II, and the postwar boom years. Silents possess a strong commitment to teamwork and collaboration and have high regard for developing interpersonal communication skills. Silents now consist of the most affluent elderly population in U.S. history due to their willingness to conserve and save after recovering from the financial impact of the postwar era.

The interesting thing is, I never heard my parents complain about their jobs. Both of them worked to provide a comfortable life style for my brother and myself. Everything I heard about their work and their co-workers, at our dinner table, was positive.

I never thought much about it then. I think a lot about it now.

In my work I counsel and advise people working inside accounting firms. I have observed that nearly all Silent generation workers are gone. Most Baby Boomers complain some. However, as you go down through the generations in the office it gets worse. GenX and Millennials complain the most.

My parents worked hard. Neither had office jobs. I have always thoroughly enjoyed my work and still do. Yet, as even office work has become easier (more technology, more holidays, free coffee, free soda, free food, free continuing education, casual dress), there is more whining and complaining about work.

  • Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.
  • Salvador Dali

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Women In Accounting – Don’t Feel Guilty

IMG_4100CPA firms lose so many bright, savvy females because of the long-talked about stigma that when you want to start a family, you cannot work in public accounting.

Too many young female professionals tend to heed the old-fashioned advice that they should work in public accounting for a few years, get their CPA designation and then get a job in a private company so they can then raise a family. Fewer actually become “stay at home” moms because the millennials need two incomes to live the life style they desire.

So, I urge all young women in accounting, stick it out. The accounting profession is becoming more and more flexible all the time. It is a profession that can provide the career development and prestige that you desire.

Don’t feel guilty if you are working and also raising children. Children of working moms actually reap many benefits because they have working mothers.

According to a survey of 1,000 grown children of working mothers, many substantial benefits were identified

Strong Work Ethic – The grown children reported that watching their mothers go to work every day instilled in them a strong work ethic.

Independence – Working mothers know they won’t be there for everything so they have deliberately taught their children to be more independent.

Resilience – The children of working mothers reported being able to solve their own problems and bounce back from tough times better than children of stay-at-home mothers.

Prepared For The Work World – Watching their mothers face the many challenges at work helped the children feel better prepared for the working world. They have a better sense of what to expect when they enter the work world.

Daughters Benefit Most – Harvard found that daughters of working mothers earned 23% more than daughters of stay-at-home mothers.

All of this and more is in an article on FAST Company by Lisa Evans. She also references a book by Pamela LenehanMy Mother, My Mentor: What Grown Children of Working Mothers Want You to Know. 

Many female CPAs working in public accounting have told me, “The partners just don’t understand because their wives don’t work.”

By the way, my mother was a working mother. So was I.

  • Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.
  • Ambrose Bierce

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Women In Accounting – Don’t Get Side-Tracked

There is so much opportunity for young women entering the accounting profession. I truly believe it offers the flexibility and opportunity where females can continually develop their careers and still have a life.

Much of this is thanks to Millennials – males and females – who have figured out that work is not the be all and end all.

Here’s a song with right-on-target lyrics written by Pete Seeger’s sister, Peggy, also a singer/song writer.

Maybe many of you hard-working, professional women of today can relate. The story starts out with “when I was a little girl, I wished I was a boy.” Be sure to listen to the end to hear how the story ends.

That was me, an all-out tomboy who bullied the neighborhood boys. If they didn’t do what I said, I would make them eat dirt. Can you believe it? They still tease me about it. There were times at my firm when I wished I could have still done that!

  • If you don't like being a doormat, get off the floor.
  • Al Anon

Monday, January 11th, 2016

First Of All – It’s Your Job

Some millennials are progressing rapidly inside growing CPA firms. Some are not.

I have observed that many millennials are so used to being coached and told exactly what they should do (by parents, teachers, professors, friends) that they think this same scenario will play-out in the workplace.

The employer/employee relationship is not quite the same. Some employers are even voicing their disappointment with the entire millennial generation. I, personally, believe that the vast majority of millennials are focused on their careers and will work hard to advance.

Yet, I urge firm leaders to educate them to the difference between school and work. Here’s some thoughts for newbies entering the CPA profession this year.

A job is a business transaction – you work, they pay you for that work. It’s your job. You decide if that is a fair deal or not. Your performance tells the employer if it is a fair deal from their perspective.

Beyond the fact that new employees must “do” the work, be sure to show them you can handle the basics – like always being on time. Once you show initiative most employers are happy to offer flexibility and other desirable benefits.

One of the most important things a new hire can demonstrate is a positive attitude.  If you become confused and unhappy, reach out to your managers or partners and ask them for help. Be proactive and find a mentor and work at building a strong relationship with them.

I like some advice given in an article on INC – 3 Reasons Millennials Are Getting Fired. Here it is:

Millennials, don’t get mad, get ahead!

Smart millennials can make some simple changes and set the standard for what an outstanding young professional looks like to employers today.

Firm leaders – most millennials are looking for opportunity – be sure you paint a picture for them of what a successful career in public accounting looks like.

  • Use opportunity, not money, as a motivating currency.
  • Marcus Lemonis

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Feedback For CPA Firm Management

I observe and gather.

I am very fortunate in that I have the wonderful opportunity to meet and get to know so many people working in the CPA profession. When I am working with clients, I observe and recommend (I also recommend and push). When I am speaking and attending conferences, I observe and share. When I am facilitating feedback surveys for CPA firms, I observe and enlighten (and recommend). In all situations I observe and gather valuable information that I can share with anyone who will listen (you, the readers of this blog).

Here’s some tidbits for those of you managing the firm. For those of you enjoying the opportunity to build your career, these tidbits might inspire YOU to share your thoughts with management. Speak-up and speak-out – they want and need your thoughts and ideas.

Feedback for management:

  • Be more transparent
  • Performance reviews take too much time
  • Work-life balance needs attention
  • Allow younger people to work on more challenging work (not more hours)
  • Improve communication to younger people, they often feel out of the loop (mentoring program?)
  • Show your people what their career path honestly looks like
  • Show more appreciation
  • An open-door policy doesn’t mean you (you=partners, managers) are available to answer questions
  • Always be honest with your people

I could go on… and on…. that’s enough for today.

  • Every lie is two lies - - the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it.
  • Robert Brault

Monday, December 28th, 2015

What Kind Of Creative New Services Are You Offering?

I recently read a story on Fast Company, These 3 Entrepreneurs Started Companies To Help Their Grandparents.

We often think of young entrepreneurs as being very wrapped up in developing things for millennials. However, the three examples are young people creating solutions for their grandparents. And, they are capitalizing on the huge market that is our aging population.

What is your firm doing to tap into this huge market? Maybe you should solicit ideas from your own young people.

  • And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows.
  • Audrey Hepburn

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Myths About Millennials

CPA firms employ many millennials. At KPMG they make up 60% of the workforce. You probably  have a lot of them at your own firm. Do you really understand them? Have you noticed that many of the things people say about them are not true? I sure have.

Stephanie Vozza, in her article on Fast Company, tells the story of a Boston College/KPMG joint study to find out how young adults navigate their careers.

Here are the 8 myths about millennials:

  1. They job-hop
  2. They favor technology over in-person communication
  3. Their parents have a big impact on their careers
  4. They follow the gender roles of their parents
  5. They do the minimum required
  6. They believe heir career is the greatest measure of success
  7. They’re more socially conscious
  8. They’re unwilling to make commitments

All are myths according to the study! Be sure to read the article to learn more about each myth and how to better understand your valuable team members.

  • If youth only knew; if age only could.
  • Henri Estinne

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Technology & Consumers

It’s a Why Am I Surprised type situation. I periodically “meet” firms (they usually contact me to ask basic questions) that are not embracing the digital world robustly. Many times they have not even dipped their toe in the paperless world. Seventeen years ago my firm went paperless. For many of the more progressive firms it has been nearly that long.

Technology has taken amazing leaps. CPAs must keep-up and be aware of the giant leaps in technology if they are to be a firm of the future. That is why I wanted to share the following. It’s the 10 Hot Consumer Trends via ConsumerLabs.

For many years ConsumerLabs has been in tune with Technology and Consumers and has once again compiled predictions for next year in Tech Trends.  Today they released Ericsson’s 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2016.  You can find the full story on our media rich website we built for this release

This is a quick list of the 10 on the list

  1. The Lifestyle network effect
  2. Streaming natives
  3. Artificial Intelligence
  4. Virtual Get Real
  5. Sensing Homes
  6. SMART Commuters
  7. Emergency Chat
  8. Internables
  9. Everything get hacked
  10. Citizen Journalism

Visit the website for the full story and media elements.

When you visit the website, be sure to hit the Read More button and also follow the link to a PDF of the full report – it is fascinating reading! And, extremely important information for progressive CPA firms.

For example, #2 Streaming Natives tells us that 20% of 16-19 year olds watch more than 3 hours of YouTube daily. The original internet generation does not follow this behavior and only 9% of today’s 30-34 year olds (millennials) watch 3 hours or more of YouTube daily. How will this change your clients and employees of the future? Are you doing YouTube videos to help your clients now?


  • Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.
  • Arthur C. Clarke

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Networking Is A Part Of Public Accounting – Get Good At It.

In a recent article in the Ohio Society of CPA’s Voice magazine, Kyle Shumate, Industry Marketing Specialist at Clark Schaefer Hackett (Top 100 firm) shares some great advice on networking.

It is a great article to share with your new hires, including interns.

Here’s Kyle’s 10 Way to Network Effectively

  1. Determine a goal
  2. Prepare an elevator pitch
  3. Ask open-ended questions
  4. Arrive early
  5. Limit your drinking
  6. Collect information
  7. Go out on your own
  8. Follow-up afterward
  9. Demonstrate value
  10. Think long term

Follow this link to read about each one of these. Share the link with your beginners AND with your managers. I often find that managers have procrastinated for several years about developing their networking skills.

  • Arguing with a fool proves there are two.
  • Doris M. Smith