Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Some Thoughts For Baby Boomers

Those of us working in the CPA profession have been doing a lot of talking and writing about the fact that so many CPAs are Baby Boomers. In 2011, the oldest Baby Boomers began turning 65.

The prediction was (and still is) that 10,000 Baby Boomers would turn 65 each day for 19 years.  

If you are in this group, here are two quotations to help you cope.  Lighten-up!

“Almost half of the people over 40 believe they look younger than they are. This says something important about older Americans: We have terrible eyesight.” – - Dave Barry

“There’s only one alternative to getting older, so suck it up.” – - Whoopi Goldberg

  • You don't stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Update On The Millennials

I’ve been studying and talking about the Millennial generation in CPA firm circles for many years now. It seems amazing how time has passed and Millennials are turning 34 years old this year. I am sure you have many of them working inside your firm.

Sometimes I think we still under appreciate and under-rate them. I like to tell the story of the firm I was with for so many years. When the founder retired, he named his successor. The successor was 32 years old at the time. That’s when our firm took-off on a growth and improvement path and we never looked back. How many firms do you know now that have a 32 year old managing partner?

Recently Pew Research has provided some insight into “Millennials in Adulthood.”

The Millennial generation is forging a distinctive path. They are relatively unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, distrustful of people, in no rush to marry and optimistic about the future.

Pew Research Center surveys show:

  • 50% now describe themselves as political independents
  • 29% say they are not affiliated with any religion

While they are disaffiliated, Millennials stand out for voting heavily Democratic and for liberal views on many political and social issues.

Another interesting fact on the Millennials, just 26% of the generation is married. When they were the same age, 36% of Gen-Xers were married, 48% of Boomers and 65% of the Silent Generation were married.

The Pew research will give you some valuable insights into the Millennials working inside your firm. Follow the link to the article and read much more on this topic. Share his link with your partners and with your HR people.

Building a great team inside a CPA firm means you need to understand them no matter what generation they are.

  • Parenthood - It's about guiding the next generation and forgiving the last.
  • Peter Krause

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

There’s No Secret Solution To Employee Engagement

In the CPA profession, retaining top talent is critical. Sure, the pressure was off for a few years during the recent economic downturn but now the CPA firm talent wars are back on the front burner.

During my presentations and workshops, I always share with CPA partners, managers and firm administrators, that you must do (what I call) the “warm and fuzzy” stuff. Provide free soft drinks, a popcorn cart, a cappuccino machine, weekly chair massages, ugly sweater contests and so on. Many, many CPA firms try very, very hard to be a “fun-tastic” firm.

But that’s not what keeps great talent. You have to do more. It begins with communication. You must clearly articulate goals and expectations. You must be inclusive! Ask for their opinions. Provide a forum for continually sharing where the firm is going, why the firm exists, and what the owners are thinking. For some reason this is often very difficult for CPA firm partners.

I recently read a blog post on Switch & Shift that outlines Five Employee Questions Every Company Should Answer. They are written from an employee’s point of view.

  1. Why am I here? – How can you expect an employee to “get it” if you don’t communicate a shared sense of purpose?
  2. Why should I trust your leadership? – Open communication builds trust, which is essential to employee engagement.
  3. Why should I be loyal to your company? – Engaged employees know why they are loyal – they are treated with respect.
  4. Why don’t you communicate your company values? – Want to drive people away? Talk about values and then behave in a vastly different way.
  5. Why aren’t you clear about the rewards of working here? – It is amazing how few companies are open about their approach to compensation.

Be sure to follow the link, above, to read the entire article – then practice what you’ve learned.

  • Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Monday, March 10th, 2014

How Do You Identity The Millennials Who Will Be Your Successors?

I read an article this week-end on the Forbes site by Robert Sher. He talks about his recent experience judging a high school debate contest.

It brought back some fond memories. When my son was in high school I did the same thing – I went along on several Saturdays to the debate contests and filled the role of judge.

Also, much like the author, I find talented CPA managers and leaders who fall short when it comes to speaking and communication skills. Many are goo at making Power Point slides, and some are good at presenting facts clearly – even recommendations clearly. But few practice, or are aware of the techniques behind moving the emotions of audiences; whether they be in a meeting, or in an all-hands gathering of hundreds of people.

Read the entire article, How To Find The Millennials Who Will Lead Your Company, on the Forbes site.

Maybe it’s time to seek out entry-level accounting candidates who were on the debate team.

  • Don't raise your voice, improve your argument.
  • Desmond Tutu

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Keep The Conversations Going

The CPA profession is facing a very challenging talent shortage. There is no end in sight. With each passing day it becomes more and more important to retain your valuable employees.

Here’s some great ideas I picked up at the annual CPA Consultants’ Alliance meeting yesterday in Nashville. The meeting continues today.

  • There are different generations working inside your firm but please don’t put them in a box! There are some Boomers who think like Millennials and vice versa. There are Gen-Xers who act like millennials and so on. People are people and breaking down the walls between generations is a valuable step to take.
  • Be sure to communicate! That is one of the biggest issues inside CPA firms. Many leaders think they have communicated but in reality they haven’t. Make use of Stay Interviews – - What would have to happen for you to commit to staying at our firm and building your career?
  • Have your managers form groups for communication. Suggest each manager form a Table of Eight (or if you are a smaller firm a Table of Three). These groups get together periodically just to talk about issues and about their careers.  A manager leads the discussion and it could be a manager that people rarely work with.  Be creative with these groups.

Before you leave this page, look to the right. I have added two new pictures to – Is That You With Rita?  Terry Putney of Transition Advisors and Carrie Steffen of The Whetstone Group.  We are having a great time in Nashville.

  • I come from this really small town near Nashville, Tennessee where everything was la-di-da and normal.
  • Miley Cyrus

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Coach or Mentor

There is a lot of confusion inside some CPA firms about the role of a mentor and the difference between coaching and mentoring.

This might help:

  • Coaching is task oriented.
  • Mentoring is relationship oriented.


  • Coaching is short-term.
  • Mentoring is long-term.


  • Coaching is performance driven.
  • Mentoring is development driven.


Read more on the Management Mentors site.

  • Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
  • Mother Teresa

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

CPA Firm Leaders – I Hope You Are Exhausted

FMBIronton102210I recently read a tweet by my son regarding his 5th grade musicians. “My 5th grade flutes and clarinets just exhaust me. They have so much energy and ask sooooo many questions.” 

In case you don’t know or have forgotten, 5th grade is when children select their first band instrument and began learning from scratch. Of course they will be excited and have lots of questions. While my son might be exhausted, I know he’s very happy about their enthusiasm.

In January and February inside your CPA firm you have quite a few 5th graders. These are the new college graduates going through their very first busy season and your interns who “have so much energy and ask soooo many questions.

As an experienced CPA – a senior, a manager/supervisor or a partner – you might feel absolutely exhausted because of the attention theses newbies demand and need.

A band director invests in the 5th & 6th graders so that when they gradually become very proficient and reach high school age, the band director has a group of very impressive, skilled musicians in the high school marching and concert bands. All along the way, while they work very hard they also have lots of fun.

This is the same investment that CPA managers (at all levels) are making – answer your beginners’ questions with a smile, get them excited and educated about public accounting and 3 to 4 years down the road you will have an impressive, skilled, professional accounting team that works very hard and has lots of fun along the way.

Yes, it is exhausting.

  • If a baseball player strikes out two times, but hits the ball on the third try every time he goes to bat, he's still a great baseball player. But hitting the mark 33 percent of the time isn't good enough for band. In band you have to hit the mark every time you step up.
  • John Mashburn

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Next Gen Leaders

Tom Hood, is that you with Rita?I wasn’t able to attend Winning Is Everything this year in Las Vegas. It was held this week and I followed the comments vis Twitter #WIE2014.

Tom Hood did a presentation – High-Performing Firms-Growth Through A Winning Culture –  and shared his slides via SlideShare. He always does such a great job and shares valuable insights.


I thought I would share his comments about The Next Gen CPA Leaders….

  1. Are proactive, flexible, adaptive and collaborative by nature
  2. Have regained the trust of their clients and the public at large
  3. Have successfully bridged the profession’s “leadership gap” by focusing on succession planning, personal growth, and generational cooperation
  4. Have created the profession’s premier global industry standards and best practices
  5. Have redefined the profession through work / life integration, collaboration, and a team-first approach
  6. Have earned a reputation as technological innovators

How are they doing this?

  1. Professional unity
  2. Work / life integration
  3. The evolving nature of leadership and new leadership models
  4. Proactive, goal-focused planning
  5. Networked collaboration
  6. Embracing and adopting new technologies

We are…..

  • Moving from: Hierarchy     To:  Network
  • Moving from: Transactions      To:  Relationships
  • Moving from:  Efficient              To:  Effective
  • Moving from:  Well managed   To:  Well led
  • Moving from: Command & Control     To:  Connect & Collaborate
  • Moving from:  Push     To:  Pull
  • Moving from:  Good     To:  Great
  • If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.
  • Henry Ford

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Is Your CPA Firm Partner Group Isolated?

If I ask CPA firm partner groups this question, the answer is, “Of course not.”

If I ask CPA firm employees this question, they say something like this, “Oh boy, are they ever!”

If I ask firm administrators, marketing directors/coordinators, HR managers, and network administrators this question why do I so often received a return question? – - “Rita, why don’t the partners ‘get it’?”

As I have noted over and over again in my writings and in my speaking engagements, partners meet and meet, partners and managers often meet and meet…… the rest of the team feels isolated and left out.

Just a few of the many suggestions I could offer:

  • MBWA (manage by wandering around)
  • MBWA 8 (as you MBWA, ask.. What do you think? How can I help?)
  • Have your MP host a meeting ONLY attended by those employees below manager level. Just a Q&A type session and do it 3 or 4 times per year.
  • If you are multi-office, all internal managers/leaders should visit the other offices on a regular schedule.
  • Have your 2 year to 5 year people elect a senior or associate to attend 1/2 day of your annual partner retreat.
  • Always be thinking….. How can we include more diverse viewpoints into our decision-making (young people and more women).



  • Our pleasures were simple - they included survival.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

How Long Will CPAs Over 65 Continue To Work?

While this is a huge topic inside CPA firms, I just want to cover it in very brief terms today.

The following quote that I read on Brad Lea’s Twitter feed was intended to be motivating, I’m sure. However, it sums up the feelings of many aging CPAs and accountants and it is not always a positive situation for younger partners and staff members at the firm:

“If I ain’t dead…. I ain’t done.”

I hope that your partner group has a plan to deal with this.

  • Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.
  • Gloria Steinem