Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! – Racing Toward Change

IMG_5705Ready, set, go! On your mark, get set, go! – – Many of us used these words as children when preparing for a childhood race (I’ll beat you home! Let’s see who gets there first” and so on).  And, of course, it has traditionally been used to officially start a foot race of varying kinds for varying levels.

Right now, if you are managing an accounting firm, you need to have “on your mark” and “get set” behind you and be focused on “going!”.

Thanks to Sean McCabe of Accounting Today for talking with me about helping firms get ready for the future. Please read the article on Page 1 of the July issue – Change will come, whether you like it or not … If you can’t bring yourself to embrace it, at leas find a way to prepare yourself and your firm for the future.

As Erik Asgeirsson, CEO of says, “Firms are trapped by their own success. We all know when companies are faced with going out of business, they change pretty dramatically. But if they’re successful, they say, ‘I don’t understand why we need to make investments in change management.'”.

If your organization has not researched what you have to do (on your mark), customized action steps that will perhaps shake-up your leaders and the firm culture (get set) and already marked some of those action steps off the list (Go!)- -then you are facing almost insurmountable odds of surviving into the future.

Involve your non-partner, younger accountants (in most firms that is people under 45) in the process. The AICPA says, “By 2020 many CPA firms will be composed of 75 percent Millennials – yet firms continue to be managed the way the parents or even grandparents of current partners would have run them – that’s a major disconnect.”

Just think! 2020 is not that far away.

  • To drive change successfully inside the firm, it's very important to be clear on your purpose.
  • Erik Asgeirsson

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Three Steps To Valuing Your CPA Practice

Are you facing several partner retirements over the next few years? If not, you would be rather unusual. With the exodus of the baby boomers from the workforce, many CPA firms face the challenge of valuing their practice for those events.

gary-adamson-598x747Last week, I received the latest newsletter from Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory. In it he describes three steps to valuing your practice. Here are some highlights:

Step One – You need to determine the value of your firm. This is for an internal transition, not a sale or merger. Values are typically higher for an outside deal. There are two pieces to this puzzle – capital and goodwill. Capital is easy so goodwill is where most of the discussion centers. For traditional services, the overall average goodwill value has been about 80% for the last several years. So, don’t always count on one times revenue.

Step Two – This is where you determine how to split up the firm’s goodwill among the owners. You can allocate it based on ownership percentages or books of business (we see this in smaller firms). In larger firms there is a process called average annual volume or AAV.

Step Three – This is the process you utilize to pay out the value to the retiring partner. The majority of firms are paying out the goodwill in the form of deferred compensation. Usually it is over a 7 to 10 year period.

Be sure to read the entire article via Adamson Advisory.

  • Any fool can make a rule.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Monday, July 13th, 2015

The State of Accounting Marketing

lee-fI was very fortunate to be speaking at the co-located AICPA PractTech, Association for Accounting Administration and Association for Accounting Marketing Conference in Orlando during June. One of the best things about it was that I got the chance to re-connect with many of my marketing friends and also attend some of the AAM sessions.

I was delighted to read a recent blog post by Lee Frederiksen of Hinge, professional services marketing, listing his five top observations on accounting marketing in 2015:

  1. Content marketing is rapidly becoming the approach of choice.
  2. Online marketing is more important than ever before and firms know it.
  3. The mobile revolution has arrived.
  4. A generational sea change is underway.
  5. There will be winners and losers

Be sure to read Lee’s comments about each of these observations here. These points are very important for your CPA firm.

  • There are no two ways about it - a demographic wave is rocking firm cultures around the country.
  • Lee Frederiksen

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Public Accounting Can Be Stressful!

I usually share with people that I am a little weird. Good weird. I think differently than a lot of people working in public accounting and over many years I have connected with others… soul-mates who could possibly be classified as slightly weird. Those are MY people! I love them!

One way that I am weird is that I love to be very busy. When I was working inside a growing CPA firm I especially enjoyed tax season because everyone was hustling, focused, working-hard, no-nonsense and a lot of the daily pettiness disappeared for a few months. We also got to see and chat with our clients more during this busy time. I am pleased when there is no idle chit-chat, time wasted loitering over lunch in the break-room, etc.

Young workerBeing very busy with lots of priorities makes me happy, however, many of our employees in public accounting find it all very stressful, especially Millennials. You need to help them adjust and cope!

Here’s something that might help, it’s an App called DeStressify. It helps all ages of people but is especially important for Millennials. It offers Millennials 5 ways to cope with work-related stress:

Focus on the present – don’t worry about the past or future, stay in the present.

Reframe the story – If something happens, don’t over-analyze or over-react. Simply restate the facts and remove the speculation.

Learn to let go – Don’t let things build-up, learn to release emotions in a healthier way.

Set attainable goals – Perfectionism can cause a tremendous amount of stress. Strive for excellence instead of perfection.

Do what makes you happy – One of the best ways to decrease stress is to do something that makes you happy. Run, hike, listen to music, wind-down with friends, etc.

I am currently using an App called Headspace. It’s a meditation App. I like it… simple and easy. Be sure to explore other options and Apps that might be helpful – for yourself and for your team.

  • We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private... therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.
  • C. S. Lewis

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Please Don’t Interrupt

Remember when you were a child and you wanted your mother’s attention even though she was talking with Aunt Helen?

More than likely she said, “Please don’t interrupt. It’s not polite.”

Next time you are tempted to briefly interrupt a colleague, your manager or a partner, when they are working, just to get their opinion on a task you are completing, please keep in mind that it will take them over 23 minutes to get back on task.

Interruptions kill productivity, for you and for others. Make a list of your questions and set a time to talk with your manager.

Ask people to do the same for you. Some busy managers tell their team, “I am available from 9 to 10 and again from 3:30 to 4:30 to answer questions.

Perhaps it’s time to have a Lunch & Learn session about the pros and cons of banning “friendly interruptions” in the office.

  • People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Be Sure To Participate In The Rosenberg Survey – Deadline is July 10th

downloadThe Rosenberg MAP Survey is well-known and well-respected within the national CPA industry, due to its reputation for accuracy, thoroughness and high participation rate.

Accounting Today calls the Rosenberg MAP Survey “the industry’s barometer for CPA firm practice management”.

Click here to participate in the 2015 survey. Results will be released in September.

I use the results of the survey extensively in my consulting work with CPA firms.


  • Any fool can know. The point is to understand.
  • Albert Einstein

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Plod or Practice?

IMG_5278I am reading a new book. Just started it this week. The title is Practice Perfect, 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better, by Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi. They are teachers and admit that they see the world from an educator’s perspective.

However, the book has a broad reach and definitely applies to the public accounting profession. After all, CPAs are teachers/educators in many aspects.

You teach your young accountants, in a large degree, by repetition. If they execute a certain procedure (maybe it’s a task that is part of an audit) they will eventually become very skilled at it. What if what they are doing is not the best, most efficient way?

Have you ever considered the mere fact of doing something repeatedly does not help us improve?

You have probably heard the stories about Robin Williams and how he practiced, tweaked, and practiced some more and it all looked so natural. In the Foreword of this book, written by Dan Heath, he tells the story of Chris Rock and how he would go to a small comedy club and try out new material, make note of audience reaction and make small changes, get rid of what didn’t work and get better by experimenting 40 times or more before he did it on Letterman.

Heath asks, “Will we be content to cruise along on autopilot or will we scramble and suffer to get better? Will we plod or will we practice?

I see a whole lot of plodding in accounting firms.

“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way.” – – Michael Jordan

Keep in mind, practice requires humility. It forces us to admit that we don’t know everything. Take time to contemplate how you train and educate inside your firm. Even the most experienced accountant should have a practice mindset. You must get better at getting better.

  • To practice isn't to declare, I'm bad. To practice is to declare, I can be better.
  • Dan Heath

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

LinkedIn – A Chance To Learn More

If you are a CPA firm in Ohio, southern Michigan, eastern Indiana, northern Kentucky, western Pennsylvania or West Virginia, the Association for Accounting Administration OHIO Chapter is providing a timely and affordable learning opportunity to leverage the power of LinkedIn for your firm. If you cannot attend, you should send at least one representative from your firm.

Here’s the information from the Chapter:

Leveraging LinkedIn to Grow Your Accounting Firms Business and Influence

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for sales and business development…when you know how to use it correctly! Both the inherent features of LinkedIn as well as the paid advertising features provide many options to help companies of all shapes and sizes generate new business leads. However, used incorrectly and you can find yourself banned from access to your most prized prospect pool or possibly kicked off LinkedIn all together.
We’ll discuss:
  • The power of LinkedIn and leveraging everyone in the firm for visibility and business growth
  • Firm control and management of social media – i.e.   policy and capture software
  • Building profiles for business development vs. job seeking
  • Increasing visibility to target market via status updates and other communications
  • Finding prospect opportunities an introduction away
  • The LinkedIn Company Page and Sponsored Status updates
It all comes down to knowing how to use the Right Strategy, at the Right Time, and in the Right Circumstance.
Date:  July 17, 2015
9:00a Registration and Continental Breakfast
10:00 – 12:00 Presentation (2.0 CPE)
12:00 – 3:00 Lunch and Roundtable (the roundtable discussions are a wonderful benefit)
Price $35
Location: Ohio Society of CPAs, 535 Metroplace South, Dublin, OH


  • Active participation on LinkedIn is the best way to say, 'Look at me!' without saying 'Look at me!'.
  • Bobby Darnell

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Cyber Liability Insurance

I heard this topic discussed by many conference attendees last week. It was an important topic in the break-outs by firm size and in some of the larger sessions.

So… I headed for the NAPLIA booth to see my good friend Stephen Vono and did he ever give me an earful! It’s a technology issue but it is also an insurance issue and these two camps look at it through different lenses.

I’m no expert but I do know that many firms do not have coverage and it is a very scary area.

Learn more here on the NAPLIA site. In the world of “cost vs. benefit” that accountants live in – it’s a cheap investment.

Vono tells me that firms inquire and then procrastinate in making the decision to buy. (I know, that’s hard to believe, right?).

Here’s a selfie taken by Vono with me and several great Association For Accounting Administration friends.

Lori Doherty, Stephen Vono, Ginny Fedrich, Jane Johnson - Is that you with Rita?

Lori Doherty, Stephen Vono, Ginny Fedrich, Jane Johnson – Is that you with Rita?

  • I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
  • Leonardo da Vinci

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

CPACA Releases New Succession Survey Findings

I am honored to be a member of the CPA Consultants’ Alliance, a group of management consultants serving the CPA profession. We join together to share trends and practices so that we can better serve our clients: CPA firms, their leaders and their teams.

We are pleased to release the findings of our Succession Survey. Here is our press release and a link to where you can download the article.

CPACA Releases New Succession Survey FindingsFirms struggle most with procrastination and lack of “bench strength” 

Overland Park, KS, June 2015 – The CPA Consultants’ Alliance (CPACA), released the findings from their new succession survey in an article entitled CPA Firms Face Considerable Succession Challenges.  With input from 337 mostly owner and non-equity partner respondents across a cross-section of small, medium and large firms, the survey indicates that firms have considerable challenges with succession.  According to CPACA President and survey chairperson Terry Putney of Transition Advisors, “our profession has a long way to go to get ahead of the considerable wave of retirements facing us.”

Key survey findings conclude that firms:

•       Are procrastinating or are in denial about succession with 26% of respondents citing “other priorities” as the reason succession planning gets short shrift in their firm and 51.7% blaming procrastination or denial.

•       Lack significant “bench strength” to plan transition around, particularly at smaller firms. While 48% of responding partners in firms with 100-plus employees “definitely agree” their firm has adequate talent on hand, over half are not fully confident in their bench strength. Fewer than two-thirds of all responding partners in small firms say they have the right talent to replace retiring owners in the next five years, and one-third are not ready at all.

•       Do not have a systematic way to identify and develop talent into future partners. Just under half of surveyed partners in midsize firms say they do not have a system in place for developing internal talent. 35% of all survey respondents indicate their firms do not have a system in place and are not working on one.

•       Lack plans for client transition.  Only 25% of firms have a client transition plan they are confident will work, although over 40% of those who do not have a plan in place say they are working on one.

•       Are uncertain about their buy/sell arrangements. Nearly 25% of the large firm respondents and 50% of small firm respondents don’t know what their agreement says and more than 75% of all firm respondents lack complete confidence they can handle future partner retirement obligations.

•       See a sale or merger as their most likely succession plan, which was indicated by half of the respondents in firms with less than 10 employees and one in five in firms with 10 to 24 employees.

“This survey’s purpose is to shed light on a topic that is clearly on the back-burner in firms.  By highlighting the challenges and providing suggested solutions, we hope to help firm leaders take steps to plan for and execute transition,” continued Putney.

Download the article at DOWNLOAD SUCCESSION SURVEY.

About The CPA Consultants’ Alliance

The CPACA was formed in 2012 with the purpose of exploring leadership issues facing the public accounting profession and developing and sharing solutions that benefit practitioners. Other insights from the group include the article What Drives Happiness at CPA Firms and the whitepaper CPA Firm Leadership: Communication Drives New Possibilities. The group’s vision is to inspire positive change in the CPA profession by collaboratively establishing tools and content that will educate, motivate and increase the wisdom of current and future leaders.

The CPACA’s members are successful consultants within the CPA profession. Members’ expertise includes CPA firm strategic and succession planning, leadership and management, growth, sales and marketing, information technology, human resources, coaching, mergers and acquisitions, diversity, leadership development and more.

For more information about The CPACA, its members and to stay connected, please:

Visit our Website


  • A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
  • Greek proverb