Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

My View – Casual Dress

“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.” – Machiavelli

Most of you know, I worked for 30 years at a growing, profitable CPA firm. Most of those years, I believed that the CPA profession was a world of professional men and women who had the great responsibility of advising successful business people. I believed that I worked in a professional office and was delighted to dress in what the world then called professional dress. Our offices were beautiful, tasteful, high-class. I believed in making a great first impression. Why wouldn’t we, as individuals, want to be viewed the same?

Of course, years ago, the firm moved to business casual. We called it “dress appropriate” which meant the same thing that is being talked about now… dress for your day. But then business casual meant no jeans and always a collared shirt for days in the office and professional dress for client/prospect meetings, business networking events, etc.

Of course, business casual slowly became more casual and we had to enforce our dress code. That was certainly not a fun task!

I held out for years about females not wearing panty hose with skirts and dresses. A wonderful mentor of mine finally said to me, “Rita, get over it” and I did. That being said, I still cringe when I see an overweight, young female attorney walking down the street in a suit or short skirt with pasty-white legs. Oh, well.

Now, guess what? I’m “over it” with a lot of things. The world is more casual and the professional business world is more casual and I am certainly more casual in my dress.

It is all about what I continually urge you to do… embrace change! Institute a “dress for your day” policy that allows jeans. Close your office on Friday. Times have changed and CPAs must adapt more quickly than they have in the past.

If you want to attract and keep talented people, stay abreast of current trends and make changes quickly, as needed. Crowe did a survey of their workforce last fall, casual attire was ranked the most important workforce amenity.

  • One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.
  • Robert E. Quinn

Friday, June 17th, 2016

CPA Management Newsletter

My newsletter went out yesterday. Here are the stories I included in this edition:

  • The Latest On Issues Being Faced By Firms
  • Keep The Feedback Flowing – Video Interview
  • Need To Talk?

I hope you received your copy. Be sure to check your spam filter. If you are not on my mailing list, you can sign up for my newsletter here.

 

  • By the time we've made it, we've had it.
  • Malcolm Forbes

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

A True Story About Launching A New Service

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein

Have you been thinking of launching a new service? Have you been thinking of how to better serve your clients via cloud accounting? I have observed that many CPA firm leaders are debating these topics during their partner meetings and management retreats.

sarahSarah Johnson Dobek of Inovautus Consulting posted a great feature story recently about how one firm launched a service around cloud accounting.

Highlights:

  • Clients were requesting better access to their books in real-time with mobility.
  • The old desktop versions of accounting software were a problem.
  • The firm wanted to offer more non-traditional services.
  • The growth has been higher than any other area of the firm.
  • The workflow is different than traditional tax and audit services.
  • Required a change in the pricing model.

Dobek advises:

  • Launching a new service can be daunting – develop a plan.
  • Be prepared for some things to not go as planned.
  • It always takes longer than you expect.
  • Define what success looks like.

Read this entire interesting story about launching a new service via Inovautus, here.

  • The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Hiring – Take Your Time. Firing – Hurry up.

My advice to CPA practitioners about hiring is fairly simple: Hire Slow, Fire Fast.

By hiring slowly, I mean both the firm and the candidate should be thoroughly convinced that it’s a good fit.

Be completely honest with the candidate about the culture of your firm and the expectations you have for your people. Truthfully tell them what busy season is really like at your firm.

Involve people from all levels in your firm in the interviewing process. They are the people who will have to train, hand-hold and work side-by-side with this person going forward. Firms using this very honest, inclusive interviewing process have found it to be very successful.

Now for firing fast. Think about a recent situation at your firm. A new person arrives. I bet that you (partners, managers, seniors) can tell within a week whether the person will do well or not. Caution – I do think you should give every new hire a chance and in public accounting that means a full year, maybe two.

However, when I suggested two years to one practitioner he told me they usually give people eight years! Yes, he was exaggerating but he made a good point. CPAs hate to fire people. They procrastinate while continually hoping the person will improve and sometimes that goes on for years! It is not fair to the firm nor to the employee. They could be building their career elsewhere.

If you tolerate mediocre people you will become a mediocre firm.

 

  • You need to have a collaborative hiring process.
  • Steve Jobs

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

AICPA Practitioners Symposium and TECH+ Conference

“Genius is the capacity to retrieve childhood at will.” – Erik Wahl

Again this year, I am very fortunate to be able to speak at this great conference.

IMG_7017The opening keynote on Sunday afternoon was one of the most amazing presentations I have ever experienced (and I have seen a lot of excellent keynotes!). The presentation titled Unthink was by renowned graffiti artist, Erik Wahl.

His presentation (and message) was unique, different and fun. How about your firm….. is it unique, truly different and fun? Or, do you let fear keep you repeating the status quo?

Here’s Wahl’s take on FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real.

He challenged accountants to use their creative skills, to break the mold and to dare to be unique.

I have observed that CPAs always want to follow the leader; do what every other firm is doing. However, I am seeing a lot of change happening.

You are probably familiar with some of the high-profile firms (of all sizes) that are truly becoming digital firms and providing some very non-traditional services in non-traditional ways.

Just recently I met a couple of additional CPA firm owners who are going down this uniqueness road. I met one in the Las Vegas airport on Sunday and one at an OSCPA meeting. They were both females. That is also an interesting observation!

 

  • Most of our inspirations for solutions and creativity come from interactions with others.
  • Erik Wahl

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Happy

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde

I’m sure you have heard the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. It is from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack album and has been immensely popular. Here’s the lyrics to the chorus:

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

While we often moan and groan about the challenging work inside a CPA firm and the long hours (at times), I believe things have definitely changed for the better and CPA firm employees are happy. While performing my survey work for various accounting firms, I have found that most employees really are pleased with their work and proud of their firm.

Employees in most progressive CPA firms can now wear jeans on Fridays and in some firms every day. Firm leaders are involving all levels of employees in major firm decisions and if they have to work late to meet the needs of a client, they can do so from the comfort of their own home.

There is an interesting article via the Journal of Accountancy titled:  How To Increase CPAs Happiness On The Job. Happiness researcher, Marsha H. Huber, CPA, Ph.D administered a survey on happiness to 1,200 CPAs in various industries asking them questions about topics including their satisfaction at work and in life and whether they found their work meaningful.

She discovered three factors

HOPE – She found the most important ingredient for job satisfaction to be hope – the belief in a better professional future based on concrete goals and multiple paths through which to achieve them.

CALLING – It’s a sense of purpose, excitement, and passion.

AUTONOMY – Nobody wants to be stuck in a job with no freedom.

Be sure to read the entire article and assess the conditions inside your own firm. The go get Happy!

 

  • Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.
  • Dalai Lama

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

The Interviewing Obstacle

“If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas Edison

Recently, one of my monthly coaching clients remarked to me, “The person you interviewed is not the same person you hired.”

I’m sure many of you involved with interviewing college recruits and experienced CPAs have had that feeling at times. I think it is pretty much human nature. Think about the times when you have been in a situation that is out of your element. I bet you were on your absolute best behavior, not acting naturally and carefully watching what you say.

If you have had some difficulty hiring successfully, maybe it is time to update your approach to interviewing. Interviewing is the most important part of the hiring process. So, if you are intending to overhaul your hiring process, look at the interview process first.

The old standard question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is now considered the worst interview question.

Be sure you are asking the right questions, results-oriented questions. Be aware that video screening is being widely used, as well as actual video interviewing.

Another very important step is to keep in touch with the candidates. One statistic tells us that nearly 50% of candidates never hear back after an interview.

The way you interview and hire helps build your brand as a firm. Your reputation will spread on the college campus if you make the interview process an efficient and informative experience.

  • Insist on yourself. Never imitate.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Three-Day Weekend Ahead – Taking Time Off Should Be Important

IMG_0078Many people are looking forward to the 3-day weekend coming up. We will all be observing Memorial Day on Monday.

This first “summer” holiday is anticipated by CPA firm citizens because of the not too distant memories of the long hours of tax season just behind them.

While holidays are treasured, I have observed that many CPAs and others working in public accounting rarely take all of the vacation days they have coming to them. It amazes me how almost everyone working in an accounting firm is “too busy” to utilize their vacation time. It’s not just partners and other CPAs. I know marketing directors, HR professionals and firm administrators never take all of their vacation time. They are “too busy.”

I urge you this year, whether you are an auditor or a tax person or a support professional, take all of your vacation time. See what it feels like. Enrich yourself outside of work.

This Monday, remember our military personnel who died in service to their country.

  • A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking.
  • Earl Wilson

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Strengthen The Connection Between Current & Emerging Leaders

I am so pleased to be part of a new book published by The CPA Consultants’ Alliance. 

Accounting firms all over North America are in a quandary and challenged about how to move forward. Current partners simply don’t see the leadership skills they expect in their firm’s up-and-coming staff and worry about their retirement prospects. While at the same time, emerging leaders are frustrated with a lack of training from above and have no desire to live the hectic life of their older compatriots.

To address these and other succession-related issues, The CPA Consultants’ Alliance (CPACA), a working group of thought leaders united in their efforts to further leadership within the CPA profession has published a new book aimed at helping the CPA profession close the divide between current and emerging leaders.

CPACA members wrote the book, entitled BRIDGING THE GAP: Strengthening the Connection between Current and Emerging Leaders in the CPA Profession as a collaboration.

“This book represents cooperation among leading experts to bring understanding of this complex and important issue to CPA professionals,” said Sarah Dobek, President of Inovautus Consulting and current President of the CPACA.

“I’m proud of what this book represents,” she said. “Not only is it a timely and valuable resource for the profession, it’s been a great learning experience for the CPACA members broadening all our perspectives to make us more informed and better resources for the firms we serve.”

Members of the CPACA collaborated for a year on the content for the book—each bringing a different perspective to the topic and authoring a chapter addressing leadership issues.

The book features 14 chapters worth of insights and examples. In addition, each chapter contains discussion questions to help open conversations among current and emerging leaders in firms to build greater understanding and a common vision for the future. The book is available from Amazon in both Kindle and soft cover form.

  • Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.
  • Warren Bennis

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

The New Exempt Overtime Rules – A Big Factor For The CPA Profession

In the CPA profession, it used to be that many firms took “overtime” hours into consideration when establishing entry-level salaries often resulting in a higher beginning wage. However, many firms (mostly depending on geographic location) do not offer a salary of over $47,476 for beginners.

Even some long-time bookkeepers and other administrative professionals, currently on salary, do not meet the new threshold.

From a recent SHRM article: “It will be hard to accept and even implement,” said Robert Boonin, immediate past chair of the Wage and Hour Defense Institute, a network of wage and hour lawyers, and an attorney with Dykema in Detroit, Mich.  “It’ll be a cultural change to many and perceived as a step back in career growth.”

You now need to be talking with your people, well before the deadline to comply – December 1, 2016.

Another excerpt from SHRM – very important in this world of expecting an instant response from your staff on weekends and after hours:

What about previously salaried workers who were used to responding managers’ e-mails or phone calls after hours?

“Managers can certainly continue to e-mail after hours and expect timely responses from newly nonexempt employees, [they] just need to be prepared to pay for the time,” Kilborn said. “Perhaps this is a chance for those managers to evaluate how badly they need that response from the employee if they know that they will be paying for it directly.”

Said Wise: “Regardless of what a supervisor may be used to … a manager may have to adjust expectations if response time would result in overtime, or an employer may have to consider financial ramifications if response time is critical and would require overtime.”

Read more here, on the SHRM site. Then get busy planning for this change and how it will impact your firm and your clients. They will look to your firm for guidance.

There is a lot of information on the web a about this new law – Google and read! The details seem to keep changing!

Here’s something from the Ohio Society of CPAs Member Alert:

While the complete rules package is not yet available, key revisions include:

  • Exempt salary threshold increased to $47,476 from $23,660
  • The salary threshold will automatically update every three years, and is anticipated to top $50,000 by 2020
  • The new rules are effective Dec. 1.

 

  • The people's good is the highest law.
  • Cicero