Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category
Monday, December 9th, 2013
Sometimes you get busy and you forget. Perhaps you have said many times, “I’ll do that later.” If this applies to your membership in The Association For Accounting Administration (AAA), now is the time to join for 2014!
Sometimes, I forget to remind you of some of the amazing benefits of belonging to AAA. Here’s one I read a few days ago on Q&AAA, the AAA Discussion Forum.
Someone inquired what kind of testing tools were available as a tool in hiring bookkeepers. Sharon Trabbic, national board member of AAA, noted her firm uses the free assessments from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers site.
AAA is an association of “professionals managing CPA firms.” It is solely focused on public accounting firms and serves partners in public practice, firm administrators, office managers, human resource professionals….. and technology and marketing professionals working in CPA firms, too.
Here are some examples of topics recently discussed on Q&AAA:
- Billing Rates
- Non-solicit Agreement
- Custom Report Covers
- Community Activity Time
- Professional Liability Coverage
- New Client Set-up Form
- Staff Meeting Ideas
- ….. and many more
You will receive a huge pay- back on your investment in joining AAA. Just do it.
And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!
Friday, December 6th, 2013
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of doing a podcast for The Bean Counter and it’s founder Andrew Argue. Argue features various people working in the accounting profession in an effort to help young people further their careers or perhaps decide upon a career in accounting.
Be sure to check-out Episode #51 with me…. Rita Keller!
I hope you will share it with any young people you know in public accounting or students considering a career in public accounting. A foundation in accounting can lead to a variety of career paths that are not only enriching but challenging and never boring.
Here’s how the format plays-out.
If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
I recently read a listing of Seth Godin’s most popular blog posts of 2012. Here’s one of those posts that spoke volumes to me, as it relates to the hundreds…. thousands… of CPAs I know in public practice.
What do YOU do when you first sit down at the computer? – - Here’s Seth’s post:
The first thing you do when you sit down at the computer
Let me guess: check the incoming. Check email or traffic stats or messages from your boss. Check the tweets you follow or the FB status of friends.
You’ve just surrendered not only a block of time but your freshest, best chance to start something new.
If you’re a tech company or a marketer, your goal is to be the first thing people do when they start their day. If you’re an artist, a leader or someone seeking to make a difference, the first thing you do should be to lay tracks to accomplish your goals, not to hear how others have reacted/responded/insisted to what happened yesterday.
As a CPA firm leader – no matter what your actual title – you are someone seeking to make a difference. Use your “freshest” time wisely.
Today, take a minute to ponder the following quotation… from Godin.
Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from.
Monday, December 2nd, 2013
I’ve heard it for years and years, “Watch out for scope creep.” “”How do we guard against scope creep?” “How do we teach our young accountants about scope creep?” “Most of our partners actually give too much away.” And so on.
I have two thoughts on this topic and they contradict each other!
First of all, I believe that the more you give away (of yourself, of your knowledge and of your expertise), the more will eventually come back to you.
In contrast with that, CPAs SELL knowledge, it’s their business. I always tell CPAs they have the toughest sales job ever…. nobody wants what they sell – tax returns and audits. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I can’t wait until it’s time to get my taxes prepared!” or “Hooray, the auditors are coming next week!”?
During a client engagement, you warn your staff to watch out for scope creep. If the client asks for more we need to issue a Change Order. How often does that really happen? Most CPAs just take a write-off when it comes time to bill.
CPAs – your years of experience and the extensive knowledge you have, plus your continuing education to keep current is of tremendous VALUE to your clients. Never be afraid to bill a client for value delivered. It’s your business, it’s what you sell!
I found some great tips about scope creep from Erika Napolentano on American Express Open Forum:
A clear scope of work is the best defense. (In the CPA world that’s your engagement letter.)
Some clients don’t even realize they are asking for something that goes beyond the scope. When you find a client asking for something that isn’t in the project scope, here’s how to say yes – when you’re really saying no:
Hi Client Awesome,
Thanks so much for the ideas on adding X to our project. We’re glad you’re happy with our work so far and that you’re trusting us to get even more involved in your brand’s success.
We’d be happy to add <stuff not in scope of work> to the project scope. We’ll send over a revised scope of work for your approval. Once we have that, we’ll send you estimated delivery times and add the additional work to the project’s final billing installment.
You’ll receive that revised scope shortly.
One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.
Monday, November 25th, 2013
There, I said it. They are conducted the way they have been conducted for 30 (or more) years.
Lack of or poor communication is one of the biggest inside CPA firms. It comes out on top in most of the many surveys I have done as a consultant over the years. To many partners in CPA firms, this means they need to have more meetings – wrong!
There are so many great ways to communicate. Use the social media tools inside your firm. I urge managing partners to set-up a PRIVATE Twitter account just for people inside their firm and keep people posted on management and practice growth activities by simple tweets.
I believe that regularly scheduled update meetings are fine. Keep them brief and informational. These meetings are not a place to debate topics. It’s just what’s it’s called, an update on current happenings inside the firm. Sure you can do those with social media, too, but I want all of your people, as a group, to see each other and the firm partners face-to-face at least once a month.
Now for the important project focused, learning focused, problem-solving meetings. Why not try the Amazon method. Here’s how they do it at Amazon. I read about this in a post by Bijan Sabet. You can Google it and find lots of other information about the Amazon meetings.
There are no PowerPoint or keynote presentations. Everything is written out in a six-page memo that often contains an appendix with supporting data. The memo does not have charts or pictures. It has text.
The memo is presented at the beginning of the meeting. The attendees do not see it in advance. The meeting begins with EVERYONE silently reading the memo for 15-20 minutes. Then everyone has the same information and the meeting begins.
This method forces the presenter (or meeting chair) to do the work in advance instead of winging it in the meeting. It forces the meeting participants to pay attention to the material.
I certainly don’t believe this would work with every CPA firm internal meeting. But perhaps it will make you stop and think before you interrupt someone before you have heard the whole story. And, for project themed meetings (improving your mentoring program, streamlining workflow, considering a new software project, etc.) it might be something you should definitely TRY. Remember what I keep telling you – WTTMSW (from Tom Peters):
Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins
We have study hall at the beginning of our meetings.
Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
It might seem like I am constantly nagging you about employee engagement. Of course, it is very important for all employers but certainly critical for the CPA profession.
Image from Gallup
Per Gallup, an alarming 70% of American employees aren’t working to their full potential, and they’re slowing economic growth.
Let’s say that inside your public accounting firm you do have a lot of young, engaged employees. My first point is that in CPA firms, we often recruit bright, energetic, positive focused individuals from the college campus and we soon, so to speak…. suck the life out of them!
Young accounting graduates, like most people, want challenging work – continually challenging work so they can gain valuable experience. In your firm, do not let long-time managers cling to the more difficult work! Assign it to the seniors and staff and, if you have to, FORCE your managers and partners to do manager and partner-level work.
Okay, so you have many Engaged employees. Larry Myler, a contributor on the Forbes site, tells us that there is a level of employee beyond one that is engaged.
This level of engaged employee is called an Intrapreneur - An employee who is both willing and able to develop ad implement innovative solutions, thereby adding surprising value to some or all of the organization’s stakeholders.
An Intrapreneur is aware of the bigger picture, including strategic goals, customer desires, competitive threats and the need for continuous improvement. They act like leaders by creating value through cost-reducing and revenue-increasing innovation.
CPA leaders – Take a few minutes to follow the links provided and learn more about this type of employee. Then cultivate them. Don’t let the weeds choke them out.
Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.
General George Patton
Thursday, November 14th, 2013
Many of you already know about the CPACA. To some of you this might be your first time to hear about it.
The CPA Consultants’ Alliance is a working group of thought leaders united in their efforts to further leadership within the CPA profession. Through collaboration, we offer deliverables and solutions CPA firms can use to advance leadership in their firm.
Our twelve current members are pleased to announce the addition of two new, outstanding, high-profile, experienced consultants to our membership roster.
Welcome, Roman Kepczyk of Xcentric and Rick Solomon of Ran One. We are so proud of our great team!
The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.
Friday, November 1st, 2013
Here’s some information from the Ohio Chapter of AAA:
Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory will be speaking on Succession Planning & Partner Retirement at the November meeting of the Ohio Chapter of The Association For Accounting Administration on November 21, 2013 at the offices of the Ohio Society of CPAs.
His presentation explores the ticking time bomb that most firms are facing – partner succession. Gary looks at best practices and the latest information from the PCPS 2012 Succession Planning Survey: the latest trends in the profession surrounding partner retirements; what firms are paying to their retiring partners and how they structure it and how it is allocated among partners, the payout terms, client transition expectations, the concept of mandatory retirement, post retirement employment and the latest trends in partner agreements. You will learn how your firm compares and what adjustments you may want to implement.
Gary Adamson is the CEO of Adamson Advisory, a CPA practice management consulting firm specializing in partner succession and retirement strategies, M&A, practice structure and management, and cohesive partner teams. He helps CPA firms and their managing partners to:
- Build succession plans for the firm
- Create breakthrough annual retreats and planning sessions
- Implement the changes necessary to move rapidly through growth plateaus
- Break your objectives down into achievable goals to move you from Point A to Point B.
As an experienced retreat and strategic planning facilitator, merger and acquisition negotiator and partner performance coach, Adamson brings over 20 years of experience as managing partner of a top 200 accounting firm.
Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren't going to get rid of me that way.
Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
As I always point out when talking with accounting firm citizens…. I’ve been around a while. That being the case, I have had the wonderful, exciting opportunity to speak at almost every CPA focused conference out there – some that don’t even exist anymore. However, I had never been invited to speak at the famous, widely regarded and highly attended CCH Users Conference. They called earlier this year and asked, “You speak on Generations, don’t you?” – - Yes…. and so here I am (and having a wonderful time).
Yesterday’s kick-off keynote speaker was Pat Croce. Croce is an entrepreneur, sports team executive and owner, author, and TV personality. He did a great job and energized the crowed to be…. guess what… POSITIVE – stop with the negative thoughts!
Keep in mind what I always stress when you are working inside a CPA firm – Don’t walk away from negative people….. RUN!!
Here’s a brief excerpt by Croce.
My session on how to understand and build on the strengths of generations was a lot of fun for me (and hopefully for the attendees). A special thanks to @ATomorrow (Danielle Lee) for all of the tweets she did to cover my session. Also, many thanks to Dustin Hostetler, @flowtivity and @BillSheridan and @TomHood for tweeting and retweeting about my comments.
One thing that Pat Croce stressed to the entire room (nearly a thousand people working in the accounting profession) – - – “You should ALL be on Twitter!” It made me smile because I know YOU ARE NOT.
An attendee told me that she thought Twitter was just celebrities and other people telling the world what they are doing at a particular moment – - chit-chat and gossip. Yes, there is a lot of that out there but that is not what I follow or what most people working in accounting follow.
I get valuable news and information via Twitter – I follow national news sites, accounting profession new sites, prominent CPAs, and consultants to the CPA profession (plus my family and a few friends). I don’t care to “follow” a hundred thousand tweeters – I want it manageable and helpful. Check me out @cpamanagement. Sign-up, pick just 5 or 6 people (or news sites) to follow and just read – you don’t have to tweet anything…. until you get comfortable and then test the waters. CPAs have so much they could offer their clients via Twitter.
Persistence has no time limit.
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
Eric Majchrzak is the Chief Marketing Officer for BeachFleischman CPAs, one of Arizona’s largest locally-owned CPA firms and a Top 200 largest accounting firm in the U.S.
I have been a huge fan of Eric’s for several years and appreciate all of the sharing he does to help me, and others, understand and stay on top of current trends in marketing CPA firms.
In a recent interview on Accounting Today TV, Senior Editor Danielle Lee asked Eric about the biggest challenges and the biggest opportunities accounting firm marketers are facing.
One definite challenge is the fact that accounting firms are selling something that people do not want – tax returns and financial statements. Who has ever heard a client say, “I just love getting audited!” or “What a thrill to get my taxes done!”.
Eric explains it as the challenge of marketing commodity services and the role of the marketer involves helping the firm identify and offer specialty services like sustainability, Green and specialty taxes.
Another challenge for marketers is dealing with the multiple “masters” inside professional service firms. They must learn to deal with varying personalities and multiple decision-makers.
When it comes to opportunities, CPA firm marketers must become more proactive rather reactive. Help the CPAs with strategic planning, brand platform and pricing options, just to name a few.
Over 50% of people in the US have a smart phone and marketers must find a way to be relevant with content that is short but sweet when dealing with the complex issues that CPAs can solve for clients.
Take a few minutes to watch and listen to the full interview.
Marketing is too important to be left just to the marketing department.
Philip Almond, marketing director, Diageo