Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Predictions and Trends For 2015

img_joeCPA management consultant, Joe Tarasco, had his 2015 predictions featured on the Forbes site last week.

Here’s some brief highlights that I definitely agree with:

  • Career development and leadership training will continue to grow as the need for quality professional staff at the managerial and partner levels turns into a crisis mode.
  • Firms will have no choice but to invest heavily in their best and brightest in all stages of their careers in order to remain competitive and develop succession plans.
  • Firms that have grown through the consolidation of aging practices will begin to deal with intensified succession issues. This will fuel more mergers of mega-firms into larger firms.
  • MPs and Ex Committee members will come under more scrutiny by their partners in their ability to lead and manage successfully. Firms will have to make tough business decisions concerning under-performing partners.
  • More firms will need to hire professional COOs from outside the CPA profession to assist them in managing their organization.

For the complete list and more detail read the article here. Congrats to Joe for being featured on the Forbes site!

  • I was not predicting the future, I was trying to prevent it.
  • Ray Bradbury

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Helping Your New Accounting Recruits & Interns Rock Their New Job

Have you checked-out Slideshare? If you are in a leadership position in a CPA firm, you need all the resources you can get. I’m always on the prowl for things that will be helpful to you to build a winning culture and a winning firm.

I really like this slide deck (My First 90 Days), on LinkedIn Pulse that is intended to help newbies make the most of their first 90 days on the job.

Starting a new job can be daunting. It’s time to meet your colleagues, impress your boss, get into the rhythm of your new role. So how should a newbie navigate those first 90 days?

There are only 14 slides that provide links to 8 posts on advice aimed a surviving a new job. The eight titles:

  1. Start working before Day One
  2. You can’t fix it right away
  3. Say yes to everything
  4. Ask your coworkers to lunch
  5. Listen to everyone you meet
  6. Make your boss look good (includes quote from Guy Kawasaki: “Either you rise to the top together, or crash and burn together.”)
  7. Take care of yourself first
  8. Don’t try to be the golden child

This is not just for newbies. CPA partners and managers need to read these posts, too. I frequently remind partners in accounting firms, “Don’t forget what it was like to be the new kid!” Most experienced partners admit they were lost, confused and clueless.

  • Make yourself available, work hard, and over time you will make yourself indispensable.
  • Richard Branson

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

The Ability To Recognize Emotions In Others

I mention emotional intelligence fairly often. That is because CPAs have the reputation for ranking fairly low on the emotional intelligence scale.

The experts tell us (Daniel Goleman, author) that emotional intelligence consists of five competencies:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social Skills

I urge you to learn more about it and focus on how it plays out inside your busy CPA firm. It is essential to a productive work environment.

It does not mean you are simply nice to everyone and always pleasant. It means that you can confront others in a constructive way when problems arise. It doesn’t mean you are visibly emotional, it means you are in control of your emotions and to recognize emotions in others.

I bet that accountants reading this right now are not liking it much. I find most of them do not want to address the “warm and fuzzy” stuff. Usually, it is the simple fact that accountants think more along the lines of “business is business and personal is personal.”

In a recent article on Fast Company, Yongmei Liu, an associate professor at Illinois State University’s College of Business is quoted as follows. “A leader who has a high degree of emotional intelligence can recognize when his or her followers are not in the right emotional state to perform well.” – That would sure be helpful as you go through tax season!

Read more about it here. – article is titled, Why Emotionally Intelligent People Make More Money (maybe that got your attention).


  • It isn't stress that makes us fall - it's how we respond to stressful events.
  • Wayde Goodall

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Don’t Wait For Change To Be Forced Upon You – Embrace It Now

Accounting firm leaders tend to procrastinate.

  • Let’s put that on hold for now.
  • We have to wait until after April to tackle that one.
  • I think our 15 year-old phone system can get us through another year.
  • Our clients don’t want to use a portal.

Too many firms wait to see what other firms are doing before they make any signifiant decision. “We aren’t ready for that yet. Let those other guys test it.” Meanwhile, you look like you are lagging behind.

You have a lot of very creative people working for you. Why must you do what everyone else is doing? Why must your website look like all the other CPA firm websites? Why must the benefits you offer your people match what most firms in your firm association are offering? Why must the services your firm offers be what CPA firms have always offered?

There is a new normal evolving in the CPA profession. So many opportunities are available if you have the vision to see what is possible.

The quote, below, says it all.

  • We need not wait to see what others do.
  • Gandhi

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Want That Promotion?

I find it very interesting how CPA firm partner groups decide on who gets a promotion and when they get a promotion.

This is a VERY important topic for women in accounting (WIA). It is also VERY important for men who are making promotion decisions.

You see, most women are raised to believe that they will get rewards, promotions, salary increases and so on simply because they do good work…. even excellent work. Wrong…

There is a lot of research out there on how men and women communicate. It tells us, that in general, men mistake some of the ways women communicate as showing a lack of self-confidence. Women don’t brag about their work or their accomplishments. (Toot their own horn.) Yet, it is fairly common among men and widely accepted.

My advice is for WIA to look in the mirror – – Do you look good? How’s your posture? How do you sound when you talk? Learn to enhance your image of self-confidence. You have it inwardly but how do you look to others?

To avoid miscommunication – Think before you speak and ask for what you want.

I observe that CPA firm partners often are looking for, and want, qualities in future partners that they don’t actually possess themselves.

Women, as you proceed with building your career, here a good quote to keep in mind. You should also read the book.

“When decisions are made about promotion to management positions, the qualities sought are a high level of competence, decisiveness, and ability to lead. If it is men who are making the decisions about promotions, they are likely to misinterpret women’s ways of talking as showing indecisiveness, inability to assume authority and even incompetence.” – – Deborah Tannen, author of Talking from 9 to 5

  • I determine to render more and better service, each day, than I am being paid to render. Those that reach the top are the ones who are not content with doing only what is required of them.
  • Og Mandino

Monday, January 5th, 2015

We Should Talk About It – But We Don’t

Today’s title is a statement I hear from managing partners of CPA firms over and over again. It comes from all size firms in all areas of the country.

It’s a topic that could lead to…..  Yes! Honesty, discomfort, disagreement and even confrontation. – – Something many CPA partners avoid.

They often tell me, “We’ll put that one off for now and talk about it next year.”  My advice: If you need to address partner compensation do it THIS YEAR – maybe not in January but definitely in late April or May. Get it changed so that it goes into effect 1/1/16.

Perhaps this excerpt from Marc Rosenberg’s year-end recap will be helpful to those of you facing a change in partner compensation:

Partner compensation
The exodus from formula comp systems to compensation committees continues. Partners have come to understand that (1) formulas encourage behaviors that are harmful to the firm such as hoarding clients, partners performing staff-level work vs. delegating and partners working as silos vs. working as a team and (2) the comp committee is the best system for balancing the value of traditional production metrics vs. intangibles such as mentoring staff, managing the firm, loyalty and teamwork.

There’s an amazing disconnect between the allocation of partner compensation and what firms need most from their partners. The lion’s share of firm income is and always has been allocated based on two factors: bringing in business and billable hours. The near total emphasis on these and other production factors virtually ignores the importance of developing, training, mentoring and retaining staff, efforts at which most partners agree are just as important as clients.

  • If you're not learning while you're earning, you're cheating yourself out of the better portion of your compensation.
  • Napoleon Hill

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Inspiring Quotes For CPA Leaders

I’ve been reading some Drucker stuff – you know, Peter F. Drucker, known as “the founder of modern management”.

Here are some quotations from Drucker that I hope you will contemplate as you begin your week:

“Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right.”

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

“There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.”

“So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.”

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”

  • Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes... but no plans.
  • Peter F. Drucker

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Holiday Closing Choices For CPA Firms

Since Christmas and New Year’s Day falls on a Thursday this year, I was curious about what accounting firms would do about giving their valuable team members some extra time-off.

When I am curious. I ask. Thus, I did a quick survey of some accounting firms of various sizes across the USA. It wasn’t a huge survey – I selected about 60 firms and about 40 replied – still a helpful sampling.

In recent years, many firms have adopted Christmas Eve as a holiday, or at least a one-half day holiday. Would they give people eve and day and ask them to come in for Friday? Would they give them a 4-day weekend? There are lots of choices and I received a variety of answers.

Question #1: Our Christmas holiday closing schedule is:

  • Close December 24 and 25 – – – 21.62%
  • Close half-day December 24 & all day December 25 – – – 18.92%
  • Close December 24, 25 & 26 – – – 18.92%
  • Close December 25 & 26 – – – 32.43%
  • Close December 25 – – – 8.11%

Question #2: Our New Year holiday closing schedule is:

  • Close January 1 – – – 57.76%
  • Close December 31 & January 1 – – – 2.70%
  • Close half-day December 31 and all day January 1 – – – 10.81%
  • Close January 1 and January 2 – – – 27.03%
  • Close December 31, January 1 & 2 – – – 2.70%


  • The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.
  • attributed to Jim Goodwin & Sydney Harris

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The Good Old Days Are Now – Busy Season Survival Tips

Photo on 12-19-14 at 6.40 AMEarlier this fall, I was delighted when Corey Butler, Communications Coordinator for the Minnesota Society of CPAs contacted me to write an article for their Footnote magazine.

Corey asked if I could share ideas with their readers on creative ways to shed some of that stress that builds during busy season. I have found that CPA firms are very active and creative when it comes to showing their appreciation and helping their teams make it through the busiest time of the year.

I like to say, “the good old days are now” because when I began my career in public accounting, we received one “goody bag” from a local bank (it contained headache medicine, mints, gum and the like) and we were treated to lunch at the country club on April 16th. Of course, we made progress! I was so proud as the firm grew and expanded over the years and became the “cool” CPA firm to work for in our market. Like many firms, we realized the value of retaining top talent.

Thanks to many of my clients and friends for contributing to the article by sharing their activities with me. Also thanks, to Carolyn LaViolette, Communications Manager at MNCPA for sending me some copies of the magazine.

Want some good ideas for this busy season? You can read the article here.

  • Our best thoughts come from others.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Tired Of Seeing A Tree or A Bird?

I still enjoy receiving holiday cards – paper and digital. I am especially delighted when I can tell that someone actually took time to provide a card that is creative and represents their personalities.

So many Christmas and Holiday cards depict a beautiful scene, thus… a tree or a bird. Yes, I love trees and birds but how about something more unique (and fun).  It might be too late this year BUT prepare for next December and design a card that will delight your clients and referral sources.

Here’s the card sent out by my friends at Moore Stephens North AmericaSteve and Alexandra.

Very cool.

steve alex

  • There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't met.
  • William Butler Yeats