Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Stay Safe Out There – Two-Factor Authentication

“In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I know that CPA firms are fanatics about protecting the safety of their data. Their clients count on them to treat their information with the highest level of security. I also know that CPAs take this responsibility very, very seriously.

I have observed that some CPAs are not using two-factor authentication with their personal devices and some don’t even know what it is. Perhaps, you feel safe because your devices are tied to your firm and all its security. But, what about your clients and your family?

BillRecently, I have become aware of Bill Hess, founder of Pixel Privacy. On his site, Bill gives advice and creates easy to follow tutorials that anyone can use to protect their privacy and stay safe online, even if they have zero technical knowledge.

Want to learn more? Read Bill’s post, Two-Factor Authentication – What It Is and Why You Should Use it. His post is very informative, easy to understand. I hope you will share it with your team, your clients, and your family.

  • The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.
  • Dudley Moore

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

The Employee Experience

“Starbucks was founded around the experience and the environment of their stores. Starbucks was about a space with comfortable chairs, lots of power outlets, tables and desks at which we could work and the option to spend as much time in their stores as we wanted without any pressure to buy. The coffee was incidental.” – Simon Sinek

It seems we have evolved past employee engagement. It is now all about the complete employee experience. From a recent study via Deloitte:

Nearly 80 percent of executives rated employee experience very important (42 percent) or important (38 percent), but only 22 percent reported that their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience. 

Large firms can leave most of this up to their HR departments. However, a vast majority of accounting firms really don’t have an HR department. It’s up to you – partners, managers, firm administrators and even the entire team to shape the employee experience.

Are you striving to have a “differentiated employee experience”?

  • An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.
  • Jack Welch

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Find Reasons to Celebrate

“At the end of the day, the fact we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.” – Meredith Grey

Inside accounting firms, mid-March is a milestone of sorts. The March 15th due date passes and there is only one more month until the mid-April deadline is history.

It is time to celebrate and do some special things before those last few, intense weeks, such as:

—Some firms require their people to work on Saturdays during tax season. What if you gave everyone a REAL weekend on the first Saturday after March 15? The office is closed and no one works! We did for years at my firm and everyone really appreciated have a REAL weekend.

—Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! This year it is on a Saturday, so do some fun things on Friday. Everyone wears green! There will be green bagels and cupcakes in the employee lounge.

—Have green cupcakes or bagels delivered to your best clients.

—It is also March Madness time. During the first games on Thursday and Friday that are played during the afternoon, host an open house for referral sources and clients to watch the games while enjoying some refreshments throughout the afternoon. Guests can come at lunchtime, right after work or anytime during the afternoon. I know a firm that did this every year and it was a very big deal in the business community.

—Send a personal letter (not an email) from the partners to the family of your team members thanking the family for the patience and support for their special person during this time of extended hours.

  • Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet.
  • Sarah Louise Delany

Monday, March 12th, 2018

A Meaningful Tagline

“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.” – Edward R. Morrow

As I was driving the other day, a van passed me. It belonged to a plumbing company and on the side and back of the van was their tagline: Got a leak? Don’t freak.

I thought that it really conveyed a lot of meaning if you need a plumber. Of course, then I thought about all of the various CPA firm taglines I have encountered over the years. I did some browsing and a list is below.

Most of these don’t convey a lot of meaning to me, but a few did. I also found that many firms do not have a tagline at all or at least they don’t have it on their homepage.

What does your firm tagline convey?

  • Always On.
  • Our Strength is in our Numbers.
  • Big Thinking. Personal Focus.
  • Working Together Sets Us Apart.
  • Smart decisions. Lasting value.
  • Candor. Insight. Results.
  • Make Progress Here.
  • Solutions Beyond Traditional Accounting.
  • Making Lives Better.
  • Numbers Count. But Relationships Make the Difference.
  • Knowledge, Reliability and Integrity.

It is always a fun exercise to get your team involved in exploring possible taglines. Some suggestions you probably wouldn’t want to use but you would find them entertaining!


  • Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
  • Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Accountants As Skilled Writers

“Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control.” -Jeffrey Gitomer

Many accountants say, “I’m a numbers person, I can’t really worry so much about grammar and spelling.” I have heard this phrase and very similar ones from CPAs for years!

Sometimes I am absolutely amazed by the misspellings and poor grammar emails I receive from accountants.

As a professional, it is so important for you to share your knowledge so that clients know you…..

  1. Are smart
  2. Want to share your knowledge
  3. Want to help them be successful
  4. Want to save them money

If you send them an email that doesn’t convey these messages, you could be influencing them to go elsewhere. Clients will think that if you are careless with your writing you might be careless preparing their taxes!

Some hints:

  • Don’t make your emails too long.
  • Be sure you use paragraph breaks.
  • Don’t use run-on sentences.
  • Don’t use slang words or crude language.
  • Strive to be clear, concise and brief.
  • If you have a long message – please, please just call the client!
  • You are college-educated – don’t misspell.
  • Use Grammarly.
  • If you have an important topic to convey to a client and must put it in writing, have someone proof it for you before you hit the send button.
  • Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  • Unknown

Monday, March 5th, 2018

2018 Top New Products For Accountants

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Just in case you missed it, Accounting today has published their 2018 list of new products for accountants.

Accountants do really use more tools (software, hardware, and other stuff) to serve their clients than almost anyone else. Have you counted the number of different software products used inside your firm lately? I bet your tech person can tell you. They just love managing all that.

Per Dan Hood:

This year’s trend is somewhat different, in that it focuses on a service area, rather than a technology or a type of tool. The last few years have seen an explosion in the number of tools available for auditors, and this year saw more than ever. This matches a growing expectation that this most-traditional of accounting services is on the verge of a revolution — a revolution driven, in no small part, by the new tools available to its practitioners.

Click here to view the list. I think you will find it informative and interesting. Stay curious and improve your practice!

I love today’s quote at the bottom of my blog page. I think it describes a lot of CPAs.

  • People are very open-minded about new things - as long as they're exactly like the old ones.
  • Charles Kettering

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Don’t Discount Older Workers

“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” – Aldous Huxley

This is a reprint of an article I received and was given permission to use. I think it is important. Accounting firms are always looking for talented people but most hesitate to even consider an older person.

3 Reasons Why Hiring Older Employees Is A Smart Decision

In the 2015 movie The Intern, Robert DeNiro starred as a 70-year-old widower who returns to the workforce as an under-appreciated and seemingly out-of-step intern working for a young boss played by Anne Hathaway.

Initially, Hathaway’s character can’t quite relate to this baby boomer who ditched retirement out of boredom, but by the film’s finale, she comes to appreciate his skills and experience.

In real life, you’re unlikely to encounter many septuagenarian interns, but it’s not unusual for people to re-enter the labor market or launch new careers when they are well into what was once considered retirement age.

And that can be good for businesses that are willing to take advantage of all those decades of hard-earned experience, says Andrew Simon, a partner in Simon Associate Management Consultants ( who himself is in his 70s.

“Starting a new career after 60 is not for everyone,” Simon says. “But it can be rewarding for those with energy and commitment levels that are high, and who are willing to learn new skills and keep up with the constantly evolving technology.”

The question is whether businesses will balk at hiring workers who, in many cases, are old enough to be the parents of the people supervising them. Sure there are downsides, Simon says, but the upsides can be tremendous when it’s the right fit for the right person.

He says a few things businesses should keep in mind as they weigh whether to hire older workers include:

  • Experience counts. Baby boomers come to the table with a whole set of experiences, including 30 or 40 years of interpersonal people skills that make them more adept at dealing with unique situations or different types of people. “On the flip side,” Simon says, “some of them could lack the technical skills that we take for granted in today’s workforce. So, be careful what you are asking them to do.”
  • Self-motivation. The odds are older employees will be self-motivated. “If these potential workers would like to join an organization or start a new career after 60, they probably like the idea of work,” Simon says. “They need to do something every day. Perhaps they view their job as intellectually stimulating.” You do need to make sure of their motivation, though, he says. If they’re just working for a paycheck, that might not cut it.
  • Different age groups have their own behaviors. Baby boomers often have a very different set of values than millennials. “Different things motivate them,” Simon says. “The culture of an organization is very important and can be tricky. You want to make sure these older workers have an opportunity to thrive in your new environment.” While it’s best to avoid stereotyping the generations too much, in general, baby boomers tend to be productive, loyal to the company, willing to put in long hours to get the job done and prefer to have conversations in person.

“Companies that pass on hiring older workers risk missing out on people who could become some of their most valuable employees,” Simon says. “Age shouldn’t be the issue. Instead, as with any hire, the issue is what skills and experiences each of these people can bring to the workforce.”

About Andrew Simon

Andrew Simon, a partner in Simon Associate Management Consultants (, has had a 50-year career as a senior executive. He founded and ran Questar Assessment Inc., the fifth largest K-12 summative assessment company in the U.S. As a serial entrepreneur, Simon also developed and ran businesses in real estate development and did start-ups inside larger corporations, such as Citibank, Bankers Trust, Norcliff-Thayer and Lederle Labs. Earlier in his career, he was part of a team that launched L’Oréal into the consumer products arena. Simon also is a trained and certified Innovation Games® facilitator and has conducted more than 50 client engagements using Innovation Games methods.



  • I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.
  • Francis Bacon

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Are You The Silent One?

“You create your opportunities by asking for them” – Shakti Gawain

Accounting firms have a lot of meetings. Actually, I believe they have way too many meetings about things that really don’t matter that much and not enough meetings that are actually productive and meaningful to all in attendance.

Staff meetings often turn into lectures. This partner, that partner, the HR person, the firm administrator or maybe the marketing person all talk and the rest of the staff listen.

Many times I have witnessed a meeting chair almost beg for someone to speak up and ask a question. They are often met with silence and lack of eye contact.

Even in the annual tax update session – where the firm tax guru tries to impart tax wisdom about current tax changes and things they need to watch out for this year – many attendees NEVER ask a question. Some of them are hoping that someone else will ask the question that is on their mind.

In the next meeting, ask that question that comes to mind. Make a comment on a topic that is being discussed. That is how you learn, no matter how much experience you have. That is how you build a reputation for being passionate about your work. That is how you build a career.

Don’t be part of the silent majority.

  • The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.
  • Thomas Berger

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Different – Bold – Fast!

Lisa Simpson











“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” – Mario Andretti

Thank-you to Lisa Simpson, Associate Director – Firm Services AICPA for posting this picture from the AICPA Digital CPA Conference back in December.

If there is any other advice for CPA practitioners right now, it pales in comparison to these three statements.

Many of my clients are smaller firms. I think “Move fast” especially applies to them.

That doesn’t let the larger firms off the hook. My larger, multi-partner firms need to also take these three statements to heart.

I see “Think different” happening in many firms right now. But, being bold and moving quickly are lagging behind.

Adopt these three statements as your firm’s internal motto, a motto that will take your firm into the future. Make posters and put them up around the office. Make a screensaver using these three. Discuss the three statements at each partner meeting.

Most importantly, ask your team members:

  • Are we thinking differently enough?
  • Are we making bold decisions and taking bold steps?
  • How can you help us move faster?
  • Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.
  • Mark Zukerberg

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Reading For Workaholic Partners

“I’ve heard that hard work never killed anyone, but I say why take the chance?” – Ronald Reagan

Yesterday, I read an article via Harvard Business Review that certainly made me think of many of you (partners in CPA firms around the country).

I personally know many who work WAY TO MANY hours. I know just a few partners who actually work too few productive hours, meaning they work a significant number of total hours but not nearly enough hours that are productive (or billable).

The article is titled, If You’re So Successful, Why Are You Still Working 70 Hours a Week? The author is Laura Empson, a professor in the Management of Professional Service Firms at Cass Business School, University of London, and Senior Research Fellow at Harvard Law School.

If you are not a partner you will probably enjoy the article more than the partners.

  • Either you run the day or the day runs you.
  • Jim Rohn