Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

When Women Win, CPA Firms Win

sageworks-squarelogo“Intelligent people can always come up with intelligent reasons…. to do nothing.” – Scott Simon

Save the date – Thursday, November 2, 2017 – 12:00-1:00pm.

Join me and your peers for a special webinar sponsored by SageWorks, titled: Women In Accounting: Thriving Now and Into The Future.

This is not a webinar just for women. Times have changed. Flexibility and work/life balance is a societal and generational issue. Families need flexibility.

Men in the CPA profession have a huge role in attracting and retaining talented female accountants. Yes, there is a lot for females to know and understand. The same goes for males. After all, in addition to female employees, many of your firm’s new clients are, and will be, female business owners.

Times have changed. Women in accounting, prepare yourself for the future!

Learn more here and get registered.

  • Companies used to be able to function with autocratic bosses. We don't live in that world anymore.
  • Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Use Technology, Don’t Let it Use You

“You should not confuse your career with your life.” – Dave Barry

One of my wonderful clients shared an amazing blog post with me recently. I want to share it with you.

Now, that the 10/15 due date is history, take some time to contemplate your work life. Reflect and think about how you might be creating more stress than is needed. Are some of the work/life balance issues your own fault?

I work with and talk to many people in the CPA profession. The profession has become much more flexible and less demanding. The most progressive firms are truly focused on creating a workplace that does not consume 60 to 70 hours per week.

Sure, to be successful, it takes hard work and dedication. However, in our current age of connectedness, we might just go too far.

Here’s the post by John O’Leary – Will You See It? (Tips to make technology work for you).

  • Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
  • Stephen R. Covey

Monday, October 16th, 2017

Partner Accountability

“If you are building a culture where honest expectations are communicated and peer accountability is the norm, then the group will address poor performance and attitudes.” – Henry Cloud

I hear it discussed all the time. I also hear partners debate what accountability really means. Most seem to find it very difficult to define, thus accountability is not part of the partner group culture.

I often describe accountability as simply the act of asking questions. Did you make that follow-up call to Joe Prospect? Did you schedule lunch with that disgruntled client? Did you counsel Jill Newperson about CPE that would be appropriate for her?

When you have a lack of accountability there are consequences. In Aquila Advisors recent newsletter, August Aquila skillfully answers the question, “What is partner accountability?”

  • The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability.
  • Simon Mainwaring

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Tax Return Ranking – A Consistency Issue

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

If you work in a CPA firm, you probably know what I mean by the title of this post – tax return ranking. It means the level of difficulty of a particular tax return.

It is one of those procedural type issues that I probably don’t cover as much as I used to. Yet, these little things can play havoc with consistency and efficiency at your firm.

Here’s the story:

Partners are asked to assign a level of difficulty to tax returns before they are selected (or assigned) for preparation. Some firms use grades like A, B, C and some firms use a numeric ranking like 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult.

Staff and interns then select (or are assigned) returns that are appropriate to their experience level. Beginners and interns might be given the “simple” returns and more experienced tax preparers get the more complex returns.

The issue is that some partners might think a certain return is a Level 2 and another partner thinks it’s really a Level 1. They have not established guidelines as to what actually constitutes a #1 from a #3 return. It is just assumed that a #3 is more difficult than a #1. Take the guess work out of this process by better defining what each level means.

Susan Flynn, Office Manager at Gallagher, Flintoff & Klein in Lansing, Michigan has kindly agreed to share their ranking system. I though it might help other firms better define their own ranking systems.

Tax Return Rankings

0 – Business/Trusts

1 – Simple: W-2, Sch. A, No Sch. C, E or K-1s.

2 – Average: Includes a Sch. C, E or simple K-1s.

3 – Complex: One or more of the following: Sch. C, D, E, K-1s, B w/large brokerage statement, multi-state.

4 – High Touch: High-level preparer required.

Before January 1 rolls around, review your system and determine if it needs to be better defined.

 

  • For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward.
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

It’s Not All About Salary – But It Is About Salary

“Money often costs too much.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You have probably heard it or read it several times, to millennials being happy at work isn’t all about salary. Maybe it isn’t ALL about salary but most people want to know they are being paid fairly.

Per the Journal of Accountancy, CPAs satisfied as average salary tops six figures.  This information comes from the more than 5,000 CPAs responding to the inaugural Compensation Survey in May-June, 2017.

Accounting remains a lucrative profession for those who are qualified, as the average salary of a CPA based in the United States is $119,000 per year, excluding bonuses. Newly qualified CPAs with less than one year of experience earn an average salary of $66,000 per year, and CPAs with more than 20 years of experience average $152,000 per year in salary.

Note that the above comment states “excluding bonuses.” From my experience, almost all CPA firms offer some sort of bonus program for accountants.

KozielAccounting firm leaders worry about retention. But, another interesting finding from the survey is that four out five CPAs said they were not planning to change job roles in the next two years.

Here’s a great comment, in the article, from Mark Koziel, executive vice president-Firm Services at the AICPA:

“Careers in accounting are a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes, I think people leave great organizations for a short-term financial benefit rather than the long-term potential. So when you compare your salary situation, be sure to do so from a holistic perspective.”

  • Too many people spend money they earned to buy things they don't want to impress people that they don't like.
  • Will Rogers

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Sending Follow-Up Emails

“Have something to say. Say it. Stop talking.” – George Lorimer

You probably do it all the time. I often do it, too. Send an quick, easy email to communicate with someone about a project or because you haven’t heard back from someone about some thing, in a while. Your subject line simply says “Just Checking In” or “Touching base” or “Checking on Status,” or something similar.

CPAs send these kind of emails to prospective clients. You have made your pitch and they are in the decision-making mode. You haven’t heard anything for over a week, so you need to touch base or check-in.

The reason people like to send these short emails is because they are very quick – it takes less than 30 seconds. Often, you still don’t hear back. It’s probably because your “quick” communication does not provide any value.

In a post on Hubspot, Leslie Ye gives us 23 Email Subjects That Are Better Than “Just Checking In.” She also gives you some situations where you DO need to check-in or touch base!

I picked seven for you. Be sure to read her brief article to see all the others.

  1. Share an article relevant to their industry
  2. Reference a blog post or Facebook post they they published
  3. Send them a blog post your firm published
  4. Recommend a business event they might want to attend
  5. Call attention to something their competitors did
  6. Invite them to an upcoming webinar or seminar
  7. Reference a common challenge some of your other clients are facing and see if they are experiencing it

If you are going to send an email to enhance communication, make it something worthwhile.

  • There is all the difference in the world between having something to say and having to say something.
  • John Dewey

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Understanding Blockchain

“Blockchain is the foundational technology of transactions.” – Karim R. Lakhani

You have been reading about it, hearing about it and probably wondering about it.

I continue to be curious about blockchain and want to know more. If you want to know more and to understand it better, here is a great video to watch:

HBR Whiteboard Session: How Does Blockchain Work? The session is conducted by Karim R. Lakhani, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. He makes it understandable!

I found it very interesting and valuable. It’s nine minutes long and gives you five points to help you understand how blockchains work. Time well spent for you as a CPA.

 

  • Transactions were always private. Now, we are going to make them open and public.
  • Karim R. Lakhani

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Some Are Still Buying Servers

“The great myth of our times is that technology is communication.” – Libby Larsen

It is very difficult to convince some CPA firm partners that they need to move their technology to the Cloud. They feel very strongly about maintaining client data inside their firm. Often, they get that information from their one internal technology person. Having all your firm’s technology knowledge invested in one person is risky.

I urge you to read a recent article by Roy Keely of Xcentric – The Last Server You Will Buy. 

Thousands of CPA firms have already bought their last server. Keely predicts that for some, the last server they are going to buy will be in 2020 and those will be the absolute laggards.

Why quit buying servers?

  • The world has changed
  • You can’t find a capable person to manage it.
  • IT people will choose something else
  • Security
  • It adds zero value to your business to do it in-house (and waste valuable partner time determining purchase decisions, hiring/firing IT people, etc.)

Be sure to read more about each bullet point and think about when you will buy your last server.

  • Common sense and nature will do a lot to make the pilgrimage of life not too difficult.
  • W. Somerset Maugham

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Received My Copy! – The Rosenberg Survey

“There is strength in numbers, but organizing those numbers is one of the great challenges.” – John C. Mather

Have you ordered yours? Order it here.

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It is loaded with helpful and interesting statistics plus observations from top CPA profession consultants.

 

 

 

  • If you have a dream, you can spend a lifetime studying, planning, and getting ready for it. What you should be doing is getting started.
  • Drew Houston

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

AICPA Campaign Promotes CPA Firms’ Key Role in Advising Small Business

“The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.” – Oscar Wilde

I received the following press release about the latest #CPAPowered updated. Check it out and learn about new tools to help you promote your firm.

Latest #CPAPowered Update Designed to Raise Firms’ Visibility on Social Media and National TV

NEW YORK (Sept. 18, 2017) – The American Institute of CPAs today launched the latest update of its national #CPApowered campaign, an initiative designed to showcase the strengths of CPA firms as trusted tax and business advisors to consumers and small businesses.

This year’s campaign features two 30-second videos with the tagline, “Don’t Worry, I’m a CPA,” both of which allude to practitioners’ expertise in business development, tax planning, risk management, cybersecurity and more. The videos are part of a national cable television and social media buy this fall. Firms can promote themselves through paid opportunities on YouTube, Facebook and local television, as well as use the two videos and other materials for free on their website and social media channels.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and no one is better suited to provide trusted, informed business advice to this sector than CPAs,” said Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, executive vice president of firm services for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. “With the #CPApowered campaign, we’re reminding small business owners that ‘hey, we’ve got your back.’”

Since its launch in 2014, #CPApowered has reached more than three million people through innovative digital media and content strategies. Besides the two videos in this year’s campaign – “It’s a Jungle Out There” and “Small Businesses Take a Beating” – the AICPA has created a CPA marketing toolkit for small business with promotional materials that firms can personalize with their brand. More than 130 firms and several state CPA societies have signed up to participate in the campaign this year.

Information on the videos, suggested social media postings and co-branding options for materials can be found at www.aicpa.org/cpapowered. Videos and content for small business owners on such topics as acquiring financing, succession planning, and family office considerations can be found at cpapowered.org.

  • Bad decisions made with good intentions are still bad decisions.
  • Jim Collins