Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Friday, April 29th, 2016

It Is Healthy To Stand Up!

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” – H. G. Wells

Do you have a stand-up desk? Maybe it is something you should consider. More and more accounting firms are offering the option of stand-up desks, not only to partners, but to all staff as well.

I have blogged about this several times: April 24, 2010July 10, 2013June 20, 2014, and maybe even more. It is not something new but I wanted to bring it up again because it now seems to be really gaining steam in accounting firms.

Maybe it will help you with recruiting….. all firms are looking for something to make them unique.

Here’s some information from Julia Johnson, firm administrator for WSW CPAs in Nashville. 

“We moved into new space in September. We put in the sit/stand option for everyone and used a product by Human Scale that allowed us to work with the standard workstations. The sit/stand piece can hold two monitors, and we added a second piece that clamps onto the workstation to hold the other two (ours use 4 monitors each). See pictures attached. They use them daily and love them.”

standup desk 4 monitors Standup stand

 

  • Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

As You Advance – Be Sure To Ask For Feedback

Thanks to the Ohio Society of CPAs for once again featuring a conversation with me on their Spotlight Video Series.

This time we talk about the fact that as you advance in your career and become a partner in your accounting firm, you probably won’t get as much feedback as you did as a staff person or a manager.

It’s up to you to seek out feedback, make people comfortable talking to you. Make yourself approachable.

  • Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success.
  • Paul J. Meyer

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Opportunity To Fuel Your Professional Growth From The Ohio Society of CPAs

“A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

I am working with the Ohio Society of CPAs on an upcoming program. It’s called the Business Excellence Symposium and is being held May 11th in Westlake, OH (Cleveland suburb).

I’m excited by the work OSCPA is undertaking to advance business across Ohio by helping CPAs and finance and accounting professionals be positioned to meet today’s business challenges head on to drive growth. The topic selection, and the expertise brought forth is really on-point for the greatest challenges facing our businesses, large or small.

Attend and gain strategies and insights from national leaders in the business and accounting community:

  • Create a culture that top talent can’t pass up – with tips from the leadership coach for The Ohio State University’s football program.
  • Maximize staff resources and harness the power of diversity.
  • Unlock growth strategies that leverage your specific skill sets as an accounting professional.
  • Develop practices to deliver better solutions to organizational challenges.
  • Learn about harnessing business growth potential via a panel discussion with me and Katie Tolin, CPA Growth Guides

All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a great event, you can see the details here. Also, if you can’t make the trip, note there is a live webcasted option.

This is a perfect symposium (and affordable) to send several of your millennial accountants.
If you decide to attend, you can use my personal invitation to get a 20% “friends of BES” discount.  Simply send an email to oscpa@ohiocpa.com saying you learned about the Symposium from me and you would like to attend.

 

  • I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.
  • Eartha Kitt

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Hear It From Them

“Live your life and ignore your age.” – Norman Vincent Peale

I’ve done many presentations about and written extensively about generations in the workplace. I am convinced that ALL generations better understanding each other, and not putting each other in “boxes” because of their age, can solve most if not all of the misunderstandings inside the firm.

That being said, I do probably focus more on the Millennials. This week, I read an article on the Forbes site by Paul Armstrong. It was directed to marketers and listed three things they need to know so they can better understand the Millennial customer.

10363724_10154114657826535_4176653492470208085_nYou can read the short article and take what you need because the Millennials working in your accounting firm ARE your customers.

The second of the three things was the most important to me because it stressed the fact that we need to hear directly from Millennials so we can better understand what they want and how they feel.

I’ve been guilty. I stand before an audience and tell them what Millennials are like, how they behave (in general) and what they want. I do get much of this directly from Millennials and a lot of it from research, articles, etc. What you really need is to hear it directly from them.

Here’s a quote by an IBM executive from the article:  “I still don’t get how middle aged men on stage can tell us what Millennials want.  Surely we should hear this from real Millennials?”

Rather than listening to us older, non-Millennial male and female consultants tell you what Millennials want, why not ask them yourselves?

Host some roundtable discussions at your firm. Put an older partner at each table with several Millennials and begin gathering information. Ask specific questions and just listen.

You can always survey your Millennials first and then use the results for some lively roundtable discussions.

One of the first things that caused me to focus on Millennials was a statement from a Millennial panel at a conference several years ago. The young man said: “I have an 18-month old daughter at home. Bath time is important to me. At my current firm, I can go home for dinner and bath time and then work for several hours after she goes to bed. That’s why I joined this firm.”

Photo: Lumsden McCormick Facebook

  • Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because youth is sweet and they are growing.
  • Aristotle

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

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Here’s What Flexibility Really Looks Like

“You let professionals be professional, and you don’t sweat the small stuff?  I love it!” – – New employee at William Vaughan Company

If you are a member of the CPA Firm Management Association, you have access to their extremely helpful discussion board. If you are involved in what goes on behind the scenes in any CPA firm, you should be a member.

When I talk to firms about flexibility, I get many reactions. Some are general disbelief! Yes, things have changed significantly when it comes to how the work gets done in many firms across the country. Flexibility is one of the most visible changes. When I actively worked at a firm, we initiated flexibility in February, 1986 – 30 years ago! Some firms are still lagging.

Sharon_TrabbicOn the question of flexibility, Sharon Trabbic, Chief Operating Officer at William Vaughn & Company in Maumee, Ohio provided this response to a question on the CPAFMA discussion board:

We also have flexible hour arrangement, and I think you will find that many CPA firms have embraced it and it’s working out nicely. When we first implemented flex time, we asked for employees to be in the office between 9 and 3, but we’ve virtually abandoned that now.

Here’s what we ask our employees to work at a minimum:

  • January 2 to February 15 or so – 40 hours a week
  • February 15 to April 15 – 55 hours a week
  • April 16 to Labor Day – 36 hours a week
  • Day after Labor Day to October 15 – 40 hours a week
  • October 16 to Thanksgiving – 36 hours a week
  • Monday after Thanksgiving to December 31 (tax planning season) – 40 hours a week

It doesn’t matter how they get the hours in, which days or hours they work. We also allow employees to work from home if they need to (we have a secure cloud environment which makes that easy). We don’t monitor hours except during tax season, and only if there is a problem, which there hasn’t been. We all are professionals and we feel that flexibility for many is a perk they really like and easy for us to allow.

We also have chargeable hour goals and a few of our employees reach their chargeable hour goals but don’t work more than 40 hours outside of busy season but work perhaps 65 during busy season, and that is fine with us too.

Flexibility is a high priority for the new generation of employees. Of course, entry level people need to gain a certain amount of experience before they earn the right to occasionally work from home.

Position your firm so that you come out a winner in the talent wars. You cannot have an A+ firm if you attract and hire B players.

Thanks to Sharon and William Vaughn & Company for sharing!

  • Have a plan, but be open to opportunity.
  • Ralph Raikes

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

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Key Advice For Women In Accounting

“I didn’t get her by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.” – Estee Lauder

Lynne Doughtie is the Chairman and CEO of KPMG. After 30 years at KPMG she made history by becoming the first female CEO last year. It is also important to note that Cathy Engelbert became the first female CEO of Deliotte earlier in 2015.

lynneRecently Doughtie (who is apparently a charming and down-to-earth person), shared some advice for women and employers about how the mindset has to change about females breaking through to reach senior positions in their careers.

Here’s her list:

  • Seek out and ask for mentors and sponsors
  • Understand the difference between the two
  • Work hard and set clear goals
  • Ask for more
  • Press the pause button when you need to
  • Be honest with yourself and stick to what your priorities in life
  • Don’t place pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly all the time
  • Do not lose your confidence, which has a knock-off effect in your career because of immediate circumstances

Want to learn more about mentors and sponsors? Join me at my session at AICPA Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference in June in Vegas.

  • The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.
  • Amelia Earhart

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Key Skills For Young Professionals

“Work to become, not to acquire.” – Elbert Hubbard

There are some recent reports that tell us that many young CPA professionals do not possess many of the skills necessary to carry them into the future.

Some recent studies (such as some done by the Maryland Association of CPAs) hint at an emerging crisis because of a significant gap between the skills young professionals need to succeed and those they actually possess.

Here’s a list that was compiled by a strategy session involving managing partners of 14 local, regional and national CPA firms facilitated by MACPA:

  1. Communication
  2. Writing skills / memos
  3. Critical and strategic thinking
  4. Advanced Excel skills
  5. Time management / organization
  6. Prioritization
  7. Collaboration

Take some time to assess if this list is valid with your own young professionals. Read much more on this topic here.

  • The best way to predict the future is to create it.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Do You Have Any Of These Bad Habits That Make You Less Productive?

“It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

After you read this post, I bet you will answer “yes” to the question in the title, above!

We all get side-tracked during our workday. We intend to read emails for just 30 minutes and then an hour goes by.

I’m just giving you an overview of the 12 bad habits with a twist for accountants. I read the full article via HubSpot by Lindsay Kolowich. Be sure you follow the link and read the entire article.

#1 – Rushing in the morning. – Get to work early. Don’t bring your breakfast to eat in the office. In so many accounting offices I hear of people who might arrive at 8:00 but don’t actually do any work until 9:00!

#2 – Skipping breakfast. – Remember how your Mom said breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Eat a healthy breakfast and you will feel better all day.

#3 – Tackling the easy stuff first. – You are at your best in the morning. Tackle the tough stuff first.

#4 – Checking and responding to emails as they come in. – I’ve lectured you enough about this topic.

#5 – Checking Twitter, Facebook, and your other social feeds. – Turn off various notifications, etc. Stay focused on the task at hand.

#6 – Keeping your phone with you at work.Read the entire article to find out why interruptions can truly hurt your accuracy and productivity.

#7 thru #12Read more here.

You do work that needs intense attention to detail. It is important work and you are dealing with your clients’ financial affairs. That’s a big responsibility.

Client service means many things including being focused, accurate and efficient on behalf of your valuable clients.

  • Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.
  • Wyatt Earp