Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Parental Leave

“Trust yourself. You know more than yu think you do.” – Benjamin Spock, M.D.

A few months ago I surveyed a small number of CPA firms across the country. I was curious about the kind of parental leave they offered as an employee benefit.

To my dismay, paid maternity leave is almost non-existent. CPA firms seem to approach it with a combination of actions. The employee (the mother) is encouraged to save and/or carry over PTO to be used and they combine it with short term disability options.

As far as any type of paid leave for new Dads, it seems truly non-existent.

Here is a good article from FAST Company – How Paid Parental Leave Changed in 2016. 

Some progress has been made, in general, but 2016 was not an impressive year for paid parental leave. A quarter of new mothers go back to work just 10 days after giving birth.

Just so you know, in 2016, EY announced a new policy to expand its parental benefits to over 35,000 U.S. employees. Both new mothers and fathers are eligible for up to 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave for birth, adoption, surrogacy, foster care, or legal guardianship.

If you want to attract and retain young, top talent. An impressive paid parental leave policy might just be the answer.

 

  • "Encourage and support your kids because children are apt to live up to what you believe of them."
  • Lady Bird Johnson

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Skill Gap

Do we have a skill gap in public accounting? Yes, I believe we have SOMEWHAT of a skill gap in that CPAs with more longevity are not as nimble with technology. They are certainly not slugs either.

The bigger issue is that they have an aversion to change. Often forming a major roadblock to change inside their own firm. One managing partner told me, “We LIKE paper.”

With younger accountants, the skills gap seems to be mostly with communication.

Watch the short video, below, via IFAC, as Mark Koziel, Executive Vice President, Firm Services, AICPA expertly explains these gaps.

 

  • A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want.
  • Madonna

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

For Your CPA Firm & For Your Clients – Take Sexual Harassment Seriously

“Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.” – George Washington

Well-managed CPA firms got the sexual harassment message a long time ago. But, have you continually educated your new team members and your long-time team members about the importance of a sexual harassment policy and how it works?

Your CPAs are advising your small business clients on many topics and making them aware of the need for a sexual harassment policy should be one of those topics.

david-lewis-headshotSometimes small businesses (like CPA firms and their clients) have a very casual, almost collegiate culture. There is nothing casual about sexual harassment.

David Lewis, President/CEO of OperationsInc, one of the Northeast’s largest Human Resources Outsourcing and Consulting firms, was recently interviewed about sexual harassment policies on MSNBC.

Lewis suggests:

  • Start with awareness and training.
  • Adopt a policy and be sure it is well communicated.
  • Be sure your people understand what sexual harassment is and what is suppose to happen if it occurs.
  • Always follow your policy.

Address sexual harassment before it occurs and you must adopt a zero tolerance policy. Many small businesses don’t want to upset their casual culture and try to ease into some sort of sexual harassment policy. There is no easing in – no middle ground. Let everyone know that going forward there will be zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

If you have a policy and don’t follow it, it is a killer – lawyers love it.

Watch the brief, informative interview here.

  • Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

To Begin This New Year – Be Kind

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

This week, I am celebrating completing ELEVEN years of blogging every business day on the topic of CPA firm management. Here’s an introduction I did on January 5, 2006 – my third blog post. Notice how many of the publications I recommended no longer exist.

My theme, behind all of the practical information I share, began in 2006 and will continue into 2017:  Be kind and practice civility.

From his book, Choosing Civility, Pier Massimo Forni says:

“Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another. It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness, and fostering effective self-expression and communication. Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health.”

  • Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
  • Mark Twain

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

More About Flex Job Growth

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein

Recently, I posted about The Growing Area of Flexible Work Arrangements. Today, there is more news that supports the fact that YOU (CPAs in public practice) need to be prepared to compete in this area of significant growth.

FlexJobs announced 5 career categories for remote job seekers to watch for in 2017. Guess what is on the list – Accounting & Finance. It is among the five categories where remote job listings have grown more than 20 percent since January 2016.

When it comes to how people prefer to work, 65 percent of workers say they would be more productive telecommuting than working in a traditional workplace. As many as 80 to 90 percent of the workforce say they would like to telecommute at least part-time. Telecommuters are almost twice as likely to love their jobs than employees who work in traditional offices and report higher levels of productivity.

Managing partners and firm administrators, are you preparing your firm to take advantage of this growing workforce? It could be the answer to the big challenge of finding top talent to serve your clients.

CPAs are (and think) traditional. It’s time to think non-traditional relating to so many areas of firm management.

2017 is going to be an exciting year!

  • Change is not merely necessary to life - it is life.
  • Alvin Toffler

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

The Growing Area of Flexible Work Arrangements

Many firms have incorporated flexible work arrangements into their menu of offerings to employees. Some have been much slower to adapt.

Here’s an update from a non-profit organization called 1 Million For Work Flexibility. To keep your CPA firm competitive you need to learn all you can about the flexibility options available to talented professionals.

Here are some of the top moments of the year for flexibility listed below.

  1. New Hampshire became the second state to make it legal for workers to request work flexibility. New Hampshire has an aging workforce and demographic. State Senate Bill 416 encourages younger workers to stay in (or move to) New Hampshire and work there so they can enjoy a flexible work arrangement that allows them to care for their growing families as well as their aging parents without worrying about bosses who might fire them for asking for flex. The bill’s sponsor believes that this isn’t just good for working parents and families, but for the overall state economy. New Hampshire follows Vermont with this type of “right to request” legislation, as well as the city of San Francisco.

  1. New York City passed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which is said to be the first of its kind protection for freelancers. It requires written agreements for the timeline and payment of freelance work, with penalties for employer violations.

  1. More companies, industries, and occupations are now offering flexibility to their employees. These 250 companies are shining examples of work flexibility in action. This list of the top companies with the most flexible job listings since 2013 (the “FlexJobs 250”) is based on an analysis of more than 40,000 companies and their flexible job posting histories in the FlexJobs database between October 1, 2013, and October 1, 2016.

  1. The United State of Women, a summit hosted by the White House, showcased the importance of workplace policies that work for women. The inaugural event, attended by 1 Million for Work Flexibility, highlighted work flexibility and brought together thousands of people who are working to change tomorrow for women.

  1. Work flexibility conversation focused on fathers. It’s long been clear that flexibility is crucial for working mothers, but the issue is much more broad. As part of its mission to demonstrate the far-reaching value of flex, 1 Million for Work Flexibility teamed up with supporters to co-host a special Father’s Day-themed event featuring scholar, international lawyer, foreign policy analyst, and thought-leader Anne-Marie Slaughter. The event focused on how we can shift the work and family narrative to include men and women in both corners, by valuing both care and competition, home and career in a way that benefits us all.

Launched in 2013, the 1 Million for Work Flexibility movement now has more than 100 coalition members including advocacy groups, think tanks, academic institutions, and businesses, as well as thousands of individuals demonstrating the many types of flexible work that are not only leading to happier and healthier workers, but also improving our economy.

  • Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.
  • Tony Robbins

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Set Expectations For Your Clients

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes

In my November newsletter, I wrote an article titled, “Let Clients Know Your Expectations.”

I covered a favorite topic of mine, training your clients. I continually hear a lot of moaning and groaning about clients who are always late with their “stuff,” clients who don’t respond to requests and clients who provide their information in a shoebox or shopping bag. We all know who they are!

I even outlined some steps you can take. You can read the article here.

img_1250In response to that article, my good friend, and client, Mike Shost sent me a copy of his Year End Letter to clients and agreed that I could share it.

Shost clearly outlines “2017 filing season dates to help you personally plan for the preparation of your 2016 individual income tax return.”

Notice he states…. to help you. He is helping the client but he is also helping himself and his valuable team members.

The letter also contains a detailed listing of Important Dates for the 2017 Filing Season. How clearly are you communicating with your clients?

You can view the sample here. Thank-you so much, Mike!

  • Write to be understood. Speak to be heard. Read to grow.
  • Lawrence Clark Powell

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Invest in Yourself

“If YOU don’t believe in YOU enough to invest in YOU then don’t be surprised when others don’t invest in YOU.” – Grant Cardone

I am often disappointed in some less experienced people working in public accounting when I learn that they always EXPECT the firm to pay for ALL of their learning and continuing education.

Some even expect the firm to pay for a book that might help them with self-improvement.

The investment in yourself is the best investment you can ever make. The “firm,” for one reason or another, won’t pay for you to attend a specific conference, seminar or meeting. Maybe you should pay for it yourself if you really believe it will enhance your career advancement. Maybe you should buy some self-improvement books, tapes, podcasts or apps and actually read them and listen to them.

Commuting time could turn into a motivational session.

grantI like this quote from Grant Cardone:

“The best business advice I’ve ever been given was from my mother, who was never actually in business,” the self-made millionaire tells CNBC. “She said, ‘The best investment you will ever make is in yourself.It’s a no lose deal. It will always give you a return. Nobody can take it from you. It’s yours.'”

I’m not your mother but my advice to you – no matter what your age: Invest in yourself!

  • Success will not come knock on your front door. You must go find it.
  • Grant Cardone

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Smaller Firms

“To this day, I don’t like people walking on stage not looking good. You have to look good. If you feel special about yourself then you’re going to play special.” – Benny Goodman

Are you a smaller firm or are you looking for one to acquire?

Here’s something to think about from the recent AICPA Private Companies Practice Section and Succession Institute LLC survey:

Considering that our profession has roughly 44,000 firms, with about 600 having 21 professionals or more, we believe that the merger market for small firms is about to heat up in the short term, and the marketplace is likely to get very soft towards the end of that five-year period because of the increase in the number of firms in play.

If you think you will “merge up” when the time comes, you better get your house in order.

I have the good fortune to work with many smaller firms and these firms are focused on streamlining processes, training, technology and profitability no matter if they intend to remain independent or are preparing to merge up.

  • No matter how great the talent or efforts, somethings just take time. You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.
  • Warren Buffett

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Let Your Admin Do the E-file Tracking

sample-form-8879Sometimes, inside busy CPA firms, partners and managers do too much of what the admin team should be doing (led by a qualified firm administrator).

Sometimes, inside busy CPA firms, if you have the right admin team, they can do so much more than mindless, routine duties.

If you do not have the right admin team, that’s your fault.

E-filing (and tracking the e-filing) is a great example. When it is their responsibility, they take it very seriously and are sticklers for following policy.

Here’s what some experienced firm administrators had to say when asked about their e-file tracking process:

Sarah Galley, Firm Administrator, Pohlman & Talmage CPAs, Inc.

Our admin is responsible for this process. They ensure we receive the signed 8879 forms back and then they file the returns. We track these using GoFileRoom. If we are having trouble getting an 8879 form back they track the client down. We try to keep the partner out of it.

Tammy Boring, Firm Administrator, Snyder & Company

Our admin staff does all of our e-filing of both returns & extensions. We use GoFileRoom, so all of our due date monitoring is done through there.

Karen Farino, Firm Administrator, Pasquesi Sheppard, LLC

Efiling the tax returns is done by the partner. Extensions are e-filed by partners and staff. Our admin staff releases tax returns to e-file once 8879s are received, then they check for the acceptance. Extensions are also checked by admin staff for acceptance. Everything is tracked in CCH Practice. We rely on the information in CCH and have never had a problem. We also check the e-file system for rejections and any returns that are in the e-file system but haven’t been released just to make sure.

  • Accuracy builds credibility.
  • Jim Rohn