Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Women’s Initiatives Are Important Now And Into The Future

IMG_1077Yes, they are very important inside your CPA firm right now. They, more than likely, produce much of the work and play a key role in supporting CPA firm partners as they provide services to the firm’s important clients.

I was browsing a CPA firm’s website this morning (something I do very often… I look at a lot of CPA websites). This activity often generates an “on my mind” type blog post.

Something visual I noticed about this one will maybe impress upon you the importance of supporting female CPAs in their career growth, in helping them develop leadership skills, and taking them along as shadows as you network in your business community.

The website belongs to a nice size firm, big but not huge. It is located in a secondary city but not a small city.

Here’s roll call:

Partners:  14 –  (10 men, 4 women)

Senior Managers:  10 – (8 women, 2 men)

Managers:  10 – (9 women, 1 man)

According to the new Rosenberg Survey, the percentage of female partners in 2013 are as follows, by size of firm:

Over $20M – 20.3%

$10-$20M – 17.8%

$2-$10M – 15.5%

Under $2M – 16.0%

Think about your future leaders. How are you supporting them in their career growth? Young women AND men in the CPA profession need to be mentored… they need to benefit from the knowledge of more experienced CPAs.




Friday, September 26th, 2014

It’s Rosenberg Survey Time!

photoYes, September brings the release of The Rosenberg Survey. It is a National MAP Survey of CPA Firm Statistics.

CPAs love statistics!

When you receive your copy, look on Page 11 for my comments (thanks so much to Mr. Rosenberg for including me!).

My advice, if you are part of the survey….. NEVER settle for average.

Order your survey here.

  • Say you were standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in an ice bucket. According to the percentage people, you should be perfectly comfortable.
  • Bobby Bragan

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Gaining Respect and Getting Results As A New Leader In Your CPA Firm

Throughout this year, I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people who are in the process of assuming leadership roles in a CPA firm. Some are moving up to Senior, some to Manager and some to Partner. It takes hard work to achieve success as you begin to become a role model for others.

It is a challenging task whether you have worked your way up inside your current firm or if you have recently joined a firm after working for another accounting firm.

There is a helpful post on the HBR blog network by Jeanne DeWitt – 5 Tips for New Team Leaders. I, of course, have put a CPA firm “spin” on it.

Communicate, communicate, communicate (Yes, over-communicate) – As I have mentioned numerous times in writing and in my live presentations, the bottom-line issue when there are difficulties inside an accounting firm is when someone drops the communication ball. Today’s workforce (no matter what their age) want to know what’s going on. Beware of the perception that the leadership group is keeping secrets and acting mysteriously. Regarding most issues and challenges, your people can weigh-in and actually help you solve the problem.

Ask Questions and Listen – Don’t forget MBWA (manage by wandering around). In the morning when you get your coffee, take a stroll around the office and briefly ask several people: How are you progressing on that assignment? Are you on track to have it done per the timeline? Is there anything you need from me? Take a few staffers to lunch a couple times a month….. and listen to their conversation and respond to their questions.

Don’t just wonder what your people really want… ask them! Ask them face-to-face where they want to take their career. Ask them via surveys. Ask them in roundtable sessions. They want someone to care about them and help them reach their career goals.

Lead by example. Do you know how to do the work they do? Has it been so long since you have done hands-on work that you don’t know how to use the software? That doesn’t work in our paperless, digital work environments. Learn about social media. Educate yourself to talk their talk. Want them to be responsive? Then you must be responsive yourself. The biggest complaint I hear about is “I am waiting on the partner to get back to me”.

Make decisions. One time a partner in a multi-partner firm told me, “We simply do not make decisions, we are terrible at it. We just let things unfold.” As a partner group, don’t fear change. Don’t fear making a mistake. Be decisive. There is too much procrastination inside firms. It makes the leadership group (and the individuals in it) look weak.

  • The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Sabbatical – Make a Plan for 2015

IMG_3327_2Definition of sabbatical (noun) a period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research, etc.

I have been writing about CPA firm sabbaticals for years. I first mentioned it in a blog on April 17th 2006 then wrote more specifically about it on September 13th 2006. 

The idea is nothing new for accounting firms, however, very few have embraced it over the years. I think the reason it hasn’t been embraced is it was originally described (for CPAs) as two months off or something slightly longer or shorter.

The more practical plan for CPAs is four consecutive weeks away from the office. Citrin Cooperman has a four-week paid sabbatical after six years’ employment.

For over ten years, Plante Moran’s sabbatical program has required all partners to take a mandatory four consecutive weeks’ leave every seven years. This year, Gordon Krater, took his second sabbatical and his first as managing partner.

Most CPAs think (and say), I could never do that…. I can’t be away from the firm and my clients for that long. I say, it can be done.

Begin making plans now so that you can implement your firm’s sabbatical program in 2015. Will it be for partners only? Should you include other key leaders? How much contact should be absentee have with the office and clients? All of this has become somewhat more complicated in our culture of constant connection.

I urge firm leaders to base their program on seniority… any CPA working full-time for the firm with seven years of seniority must take a month off every seven years. Plus, they are still expected to take their normal vacation during those years.

If someone has been at your firm for seven years it means they are a top performer and a real asset to the firm. If they are not…. and you think they haven’t earned the sabbatical perk, why are they still at the firm?

In a way it is also part of a leadership and succession program. If a leader is gone for a full-month, the people supporting that person MUST stretch to handle responsibilities.

Here’s some additional reading on the topic:

Sabbaticals: Does It Pay to Give Paid Time Off?

Journal of Accountancy – The Virtues and Challenges of a Long Break



  • Disconnect with your work self on a sabbatical and you'll reconnect with who you really are.
  • Corbett Barr

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Succession Survey – We Need Your Input!





I am a member of the CPA Consultants’ Alliance and our mission is to explore leadership issues facing the profession and develop and share solutions that benefit practitioners.

Along those lines, we are collecting information to determine how partners in firms view their firm’s ability to address the succession of their partners primarily as they approach retirement. Although there have been several surveys recently conducted in the profession about succession issues, we believe this one is unique. Using the data gathered from this survey, members of the CPA Consultants’ Alliance will provide participants and the profession as a whole insights into an issue with which many firms are struggling. Succession of retiring partners is something the vast majority of firms are facing in the next few years and many firms are unsure how they will navigate through this challenge successfully.

We welcome your participation and would appreciate your help in spreading the word about this survey through email and social media. We will provide you with a copy of the results in advance of the public release. To receive this release first, simply email to let us know how you share the survey and we will send you an email with access to our findings.

The survey consists of 15 short, simple statements to which respondents will enter their level of agreement.  The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. The link below opens the survey. Please distribute this link to everyone in your firm, at all levels. The survey ends October 15th. The more data we collect, the more meaningful the results will be.

We will be releasing our findings in the form of an article that will include ideas and practical advice your firm can apply. All survey participants will receive a copy of this article as well as access to interviews we are doing with CPA firm leaders and emerging leaders.

Survey link:

Thank you for being part of this survey and for passing it along to others in public accounting.

  • You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely.
  • Ogden Nash

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Fear of Delegating – A Big Issue For Career Success

I am often in discussions about specific partner performance, manager success and the over-whelming workload of many partners, firm administrators and others working inside busy accounting firms. One topic reappears over and over again.

In my survey work for firm leaders, a comment I am sure to hear regarding almost everyone receiving upward-feedback is: They need to delegate more.

It is a very common problem. Perhaps it is because accountants and those surrounding them become perfectionists and believe no one can “do it” as well, as fast, as thoroughly as they can do it, personally.

It is the down-fall of many on the road to career success.

I may have a resource for you.  I receive newsletters from an organization called Mind Tools. They have lots of great tools and resources for team management, leadership skills, time management, project management and so on……

They are offering a new workbook called:  How to Delegate

Three little words…. but not something easy to do.

Three little words…. that could solve the succession challenges.

  • No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.
  • Andrew Carnegie

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Keeping Pace With Technology

4monitors Roger KramerAll of your people, at least the accountants, have three monitors… maybe four. You offer remote access to most of your people.

There is so much more to accounting firm technology than that and often firm leaders let technology slip from top of mind.

I often see it during firm mergers… acquisitions… technology is not discussed soon enough and thoroughly enough.

This is the year to attend the Association for Accounting Administration Technology Fly-In. You will be able to identify and use:

  • New resources that will help you leverage your time more effectively
  • New applications and knowledge to address today’s technology challenges at CPA firms
  • Specific solutions and best practices in the area of IT

Here’s a quote from a past attendee:  “This is not a fluff session – you are working for 2 days… working on problems broken out in groups based on the size of your firm and gaining contacts you can call when you get back to the office.”


  • November 11-12, 2014
  • Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center
  • Rosemont IL
  • Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it is useless.
  • Thomas Edison

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Trust and Making Employees Feel Valued

Inside your busy accounting firm, how do your people really feel? Do they trust the firm’s leaders? Do they feel valued? Do they feel like a team…. a family?

I was watching CBS Sunday Morning last weekend and they did a segment on the challenges faced by a supermarket chain in New England when employees walked out because the boss they liked was fired by Chairman of the Board (his cousin) who wanted more money to go to shareholders and less to employees. Guess what? The employees won the battle. One of the signs carried by employees on the picket line said, “Don’t reward greed.”

But, more than that, this segment features companies that continually make the Fortune magazine 100 Best Places to Work list. These companies are consistently more profitable than other companies.   Robert Levering, one of the creators of the list says, “too many companies are mediocre.”  The segment went go on to feature Whole Foods – a company that has made the list every year since it was created in 1998 and Radio Flyer, the maker of the little red wagons.

It’s worth your time to watch this video.

I meet and talk to representatives of many, many firms every year. There are some who really work at employee engagement and many more where it’s still about chargeable time, realization and hitting deadlines.

By the way, accounting firm Plante Moran has made the list for 16 years. In 2014, they rank #23, up from #25 in 2013.

Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost U.S. businesses up to $550 billion dollars per year. Gallup says that only 3 out of 10 employees are engaged.

I like the story in the video about the Radio Flyer wagon company.  They ask employees to live by the Little Red Rule: Every time we touch people’s lives they will feel great about Radio Flyer.

Their employees, called Flyers, have a good time (fun and games). But, the point is to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the business of fun and games.

So, think about your firm. Do your team members think the partners are greedy? (I have heard this mentioned numerous times among groups of CPA firm employees.)  Do your team member feel like they get enough recognition? Many simply want to hear the words “thank you” more often.

I have always thought that accounting firms really are great places to work. However, I think owners need to be more open and active in engaging their workforce and focusing on positives and downplaying the negatives.

  • When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.
  • Simon Sinek

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

CPA Firm Practice Management Newsletter

Newsletter pictureMy newsletter went out yesterday. Did you get your copy?

It’s official name is “Solutions For CPA Firm Leaders” but I’m rethinking that.

I like to call it CPA MAP Talk (with Rita Keller).

Why? Because my newsletter, this blog (every business day for almost 10 years), my business Facebook page (and some of my personal page), My Google+ posts, my tweets, my LinkedIn posts and the message in all my in-person presentations is all about MAP.

By the way, how are you doing with Managing an Accounting Practice?

I hear stories. Oh boy, do I hear stories!! Many of you are puzzled, confused, stressed, disgusted – yet… passionate, determined, ambitious and caring.

I hope you will sign-up for my newsletter and follow me on the other venues. I lived through what you are living through. Never a dull moment when you are dealing with MAP. Believe it or not, most of what you are experiencing (successes and challenges) haven’t changed that much over my many years working in the profession – that’s what makes me sad. Use all of these free resources to help you PUSH your firm forward.

Twitter – @cpamanagement

Facebook – business page

Facebook – I have lots of personal and business FRIENDS.



Instagram (mostly for fun).

Also, check out my Flickr page. Click on Albums to find “Is That You With Rita?” Maybe you will see a picture of YOU.


As Margaret Mead said:


  • We all agree that your theory is crazy, but is it crazy enough?
  • Niels Bohr

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Roman’s Eight IT Trends Impacting CPA Firms

Roman RalphIf you are a member of The Association For Accounting Administration, you know Roman Kepczyk. One of the most common phrases I have heard AAA members say is, “I love Roman!”  So do I.

Roman has been advising CPA firms on technology topics and needs for many years and when I visit a firm they usually tell me: “Roman has been here.”

Via the AAA newsletter Roman has published 2014 information about 8 trends for CPA firms:

  1. Cloud Apps/Hybridization
  2. Mobility
  3. BYOD
  4. Learning/Collaboration
  5. Globalization
  6. Big Data/Little Data
  7. Workflow Integration
  8. Security by Design

Read the full article and learn about each of these trends.

That’s a throwback picture of Roman and Ralph Hendrix at an AAA National Practice Management conference quite a few years back. Ralph is a past National President of AAA and is the COO of  MACPAGE in Portland, Maine.

  • Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
  • Mark Twain