Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

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

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Organized, Professional, No Nonsense

Because I love CPAs – old, young, middle-aged – I am thrilled when I get a call to go into a firm and provide some common sense advice on many of the little things that helps build a career in public accounting. It amazes me at the stories I hear about professional CPAs who do not dress the part or know how to host a business lunch!

Yes, for young accountants, “professional and organized” is about building, for middle-aged accountants it’s about enhancing and for older CPAs with lots of experience, it’s about not being embarrassed.

If you are not organized in your personal life, it sure bleeds over into your professional life.

One comment I hear from accountants that are under 40 – especially females – is the fact that partners have stay-at-home wives who “take care of all the little things at home”.

Younger accountants, working very hard to build their careers almost always have a working spouse, who is working very hard to build their own career. These young couples also often have children and they manage home-life as a true 2-person team. Each person has to know how to do a variety of things. Then there are the young accountants, just out of college and living the single life, on their own away from Mom and Dad, and learning to maintain a home life as well as a business life.

Organized at home helps being organized at the office. That’s why this video makes me smile and may help you fold the laundry!

 

  • Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.
  • Barbara Hemphill

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Recruiting Strategies That Work

On Wednesday morning, the last day of the AICPA AAA AAM Conference in Orlando, I attended one of the early-riser sessions at 7 a.m. I am definitely an early riser but I don’t often actually get moving… I read a little and then write my blog, answer emails, etc. So, I didn’t attend many of the early-riser sessions.

However, when I saw the name of the session – Recruiting Strategies That Work and the names of the two gentlemen conducting the session – I got moving!

 

IMG_5097Jim Fahey (the incoming Chair of The Association For Accounting Administration) is the Project Manager for Hill, Barth & King in Youngstown, Ohio and someone I have watched advance, blossom, grow and excel in CPA firm management.

Jeff Phillips is the CEO of Accountingfly, the industry’s only accounting specific job board and network. Accountingfly has an amazing database full of qualified applicants. I have known Jeff for only a few years but I am certainly a big fan. Accountingfly and Accounting Today is hosting ADVANCE 2015: The Accounting Career Summit on June 18, 2015 from 1:00p to 5:00p EDT.

Both of these gentlemen are well versed in recruiting for the accounting profession. It was great to hear about Jim’s real-life, daily challenges/solutions and from Jeff’s view of progressive ways to find talent for the CPA profession.

Here’s my take-aways:

  • We are facing the hottest job market in decades
  • Your people are constantly getting calls
  • High performers are looking for new opportunities
  • Good time to recruit using social but you must 1) Have a good plan, 2) Develop a good marketing plan, and 3) Establish a process
  • The Big 4 hire 1/3 of undergrads each year
  • Students are not aware of opportunities at small to mid-size firms. They think a small firm is the 2nd tier firms they might have heard of… firms with 800 or 1,000 people.
  • Accountingfly wants grads to come to smaller firms
  • Big 4 has huge turnover (70% across a 3-year span)
  • Stress to your top performers – JUST ASK is you want something… like more flexibility… whatever (that’s what they do at Jim’s firm)
  • Be able to tell your top talent – What Happens Next. They want to know how their development works
  • Candidates need to be in a database so you can track them and find them later on. Firms used to try to do this on their own, now there are web-based solutions
  • Firms need to be able to tell top candidates:
    • Why you should work for our firm
    • Why you should trust your career to us
    • What will the future look like if you are effective
    • What our culture is like
  • Great vision without great people is irrelevant.
  • Jim Collins

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

If Your Partners Are Truly Happy…

IMG_1902I line-up with my good friend, Marc Rosenberg, when he says, “If your partners are truly happy with your system, who cares what other firms do.”

In a recent blog post, Rosenberg address the percentage of ownership issue. Read it here.

As I visit with firms around the country, I have observed the good, bad and ugly of ownership issues. Some firms have equal ownership for all equity partners and in some firms the majority of the ownership rests with one or two individuals. In so many firms, the percentage of ownership has nothing to do with how well the partners actually perform.

What I find is that in most firms, ALL of the partners are NOT truly happy.

In a dictatorship firm, if that majority owner is motivated, passionate and forward-thinking, the firm can be leaps and bounds ahead of competitors. If that person is happy with status-quo, the firm languishes and people leave OR poor performers stay.

In a multi-owner firm where everyone has equal ownership and an equal vote, rarely are ALL partners truly happy. Poor performing partners are allowed to be silos and no one is motivated to “stir the pot”. These partners all make nearly the same amount of money and life seems reasonably good.

This leads back to pay for performance. I urge you to always pay for performance – for everyone from the Director of First Impressions at the front desk to the managing partner.

  • I believe ownership percentage is important.
  • Marc Rosenberg

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Be A Woman. Be Yourself.

There is a lot of advice out there to supposedly help women succeed in the game of business.

I often offer some myself – specifically to women in accounting, to help them survive in the interesting world of public accounting.

Recently, I have been re-reading and reviewing the book, “Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman.” I’ll be using this book for a Women’s Leadership Discussion webinar for the Michigan Association of CPAs on June 3.

The author of the book, Gail Evans, offers a full menu of “rules” for women to be aware of as they play the game of business. The final chapter titled: The Final Two Rules are so important AND simple: Be A Woman. Be Yourself.IMG_1071

Here’s an excerpt I want all women in accounting to keep in mind:

Intuition is one of the most powerful tools women have in the marketplace. To use it, all you have to do is listen–not just with your ears, but with your gut.

So employ your female instincts to your advantage–as long as you understand the effect these will have on the men in your office. It’s one thing to be privately nurturing with a male peer whose work is faltering, but don’t do it in a public forum or you’ll embarrass both of you.

Business relationships are first and foremost office alliances. This doesn’t mean that they’re not genuine, only that they exist to help all of you build a better, more profitable, more enjoyable work place.

  • I knew that if I didn't love my job, my performance would be second rate.
  • Gail Evans

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Women In Accounting – Don’t Cry

Have you see Jersey Boys? Or, are you old enough to actually remember when the Four Seasons’ songs were at the top of the hit list?

One song title stayed with me all these years and helped me travel the female career path: Big Girls Don’t Cry. 

Later on, one of the lists from Gail Evans’ book, Play Like A Man, Win Like A Woman brought me another line to remember. On the list of Six Things Men Can Do At Work That Women Can’t. Number 1 is: They Can Cry. You Can’t.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, in her book Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success: “Crying, I found in my research, is just one of a menu of communication blunders that, in a mere instant, can suck the executive presence right out of you.”

Mika Brzezinski commenting on when she got fired from CBS:  “…..but there was no place for those tears in that moment. If anything, when you cry, you give away power.”

Here’s the best story…. from a post by  Lisa Quast on Forbes:  The next time you feel like crying at work, take a few slow, deep breaths, roll your shoulders up and down several times and try to relax. Picture in your mind the line from the movie “A League Of Their Own” when Tom Hanks’ character says to one of the female baseball players, “Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There’s no crying! THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!” Then try to laugh at yourself to help diffuse the emotions of the situation.

What worked for me, for many years, is that when I felt myself begin to tear-up…. I would simply excuse myself and take a brisk walk down the hall, around the office. It’s better to be abrupt and mysterious than to cry. Besides, as females KNOW, crying usually doesn’t really mean that you are upset, angry, hurt, happy, or sentimental…. it’s a pure emotion we really can’t control.

Men, if you are confronted with this situation – it’s not personal and usually not significant. When counseling and mentoring females and tears happen, simply hand them a tissue (keep tissues handy in your office), and ignore the tears.

Ladies, one more thing from Gail Evans’ list of Six Things Men Can Do At Work that Women Can’t: #6 – They Can Be Ugly. You Can’t.

  • It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
  • Tom Hanks in A League Of Their Own

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

AICPA Spring Council Meeting – Be Aware

Barry slideMany CPAs attended the AICPA Spring Council in Washington DC this week.

MOST of you did not. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to know what was discussed there. If you have a twitter account you could have had an on-going stream of relevant points from the Council meeting.

Here’s the hash tag:  #AICPAGC15

If you just scan through the posts you will be rewarded with some vital information and comments. I followed along periodically throughout the day (each day) and enjoyed the important topics and comments.

I followed tweets by Tom Hood, Accounting Today, Scott Wiley and others. But if you go to the hashtag you can see everyone’s tweets.

So, here’s my bullet list of just SOME of the important comments made at the meeting:

  • Meeting theme: Adapt-Innovate-Evolve
  • Because of my CPA and CGMA, I’m allowed to be the only woman in the room – Arleen Thomas SVP Management Acctg. & Global Markets AICPA
  • 77,000 accounting grads–all time high. New CPAs remains flat though.
  • Quote used by Melancon – See picture above.
  • 3 themes 1) pipeline/talent war 2) broader firm interconnected ecosystem 3) demand for specialization
  • What concerns CPAs: CPA Pipeline. Relevancy. Brand perception. Competition. Increased complexity. Ability to adapt. Aging practitioners. Technology.
  • What excites CPAs: Technology, Broader profession, Career opportunities, Opportunities for growth, Brand/Trust, Complexity, Specialization, Talented youth, Business advisor.
  • AICPA plans to call on Congress to preserve the cash method of accounting.
  • AICPA exceeded 400,000 members last year and is expecting to reach 408,000 this year.
  • AICPA expects to have 5,000 credential holders of the new fair value measurement credentials by 2020.
  • How do we keep young CPAs in the profession? We need to embrace disruption and innovation in our profession.
  • There are SO many more great tweets by some impressive people at the Council meeting…..

Don’t have a Twitter account? Quit procrastinating and GET ONE. You don’t have to tweet but you can READ a lot of good information everyday

  • If outside is changing faster than inside your org, you are dying.
  • Jack Welch