Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Invest in Yourself

“If YOU don’t believe in YOU enough to invest in YOU then don’t be surprised when others don’t invest in YOU.” – Grant Cardone

I am often disappointed in some less experienced people working in public accounting when I learn that they always EXPECT the firm to pay for ALL of their learning and continuing education.

Some even expect the firm to pay for a book that might help them with self-improvement.

The investment in yourself is the best investment you can ever make. The “firm,” for one reason or another, won’t pay for you to attend a specific conference, seminar or meeting. Maybe you should pay for it yourself if you really believe it will enhance your career advancement. Maybe you should buy some self-improvement books, tapes, podcasts or apps and actually read them and listen to them.

Commuting time could turn into a motivational session.

grantI like this quote from Grant Cardone:

“The best business advice I’ve ever been given was from my mother, who was never actually in business,” the self-made millionaire tells CNBC. “She said, ‘The best investment you will ever make is in yourself.It’s a no lose deal. It will always give you a return. Nobody can take it from you. It’s yours.'”

I’m not your mother but my advice to you – no matter what your age: Invest in yourself!

  • Success will not come knock on your front door. You must go find it.
  • Grant Cardone

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Smaller Firms

“To this day, I don’t like people walking on stage not looking good. You have to look good. If you feel special about yourself then you’re going to play special.” – Benny Goodman

Are you a smaller firm or are you looking for one to acquire?

Here’s something to think about from the recent AICPA Private Companies Practice Section and Succession Institute LLC survey:

Considering that our profession has roughly 44,000 firms, with about 600 having 21 professionals or more, we believe that the merger market for small firms is about to heat up in the short term, and the marketplace is likely to get very soft towards the end of that five-year period because of the increase in the number of firms in play.

If you think you will “merge up” when the time comes, you better get your house in order.

I have the good fortune to work with many smaller firms and these firms are focused on streamlining processes, training, technology and profitability no matter if they intend to remain independent or are preparing to merge up.

  • No matter how great the talent or efforts, somethings just take time. You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.
  • Warren Buffett

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Let Your Admin Do the E-file Tracking

sample-form-8879Sometimes, inside busy CPA firms, partners and managers do too much of what the admin team should be doing (led by a qualified firm administrator).

Sometimes, inside busy CPA firms, if you have the right admin team, they can do so much more than mindless, routine duties.

If you do not have the right admin team, that’s your fault.

E-filing (and tracking the e-filing) is a great example. When it is their responsibility, they take it very seriously and are sticklers for following policy.

Here’s what some experienced firm administrators had to say when asked about their e-file tracking process:

Sarah Galley, Firm Administrator, Pohlman & Talmage CPAs, Inc.

Our admin is responsible for this process. They ensure we receive the signed 8879 forms back and then they file the returns. We track these using GoFileRoom. If we are having trouble getting an 8879 form back they track the client down. We try to keep the partner out of it.

Tammy Boring, Firm Administrator, Snyder & Company

Our admin staff does all of our e-filing of both returns & extensions. We use GoFileRoom, so all of our due date monitoring is done through there.

Karen Farino, Firm Administrator, Pasquesi Sheppard, LLC

Efiling the tax returns is done by the partner. Extensions are e-filed by partners and staff. Our admin staff releases tax returns to e-file once 8879s are received, then they check for the acceptance. Extensions are also checked by admin staff for acceptance. Everything is tracked in CCH Practice. We rely on the information in CCH and have never had a problem. We also check the e-file system for rejections and any returns that are in the e-file system but haven’t been released just to make sure.

  • Accuracy builds credibility.
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Repetition

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi

Want a simple way to train and develop your people? Try repetition.

Think about how your new college recruits learn to become skilled accountants and CPAs. In many firms, it goes like this. You train them on basic auditing. You may send them to a 3-day training course sponsored by your firm association, state society or inside your own firm. You may do it online. But it is very focused.

Then they are assigned to engagement after engagement where they do the same thing over and over until they “get it.” Then they receive a more difficult task and they do it over and over until they become proficient, and so on. They become more and more skilled, they ask great questions and learn from others, they make mistakes and correct them and over time their confidence and skill become top notch.

People learn from repetition. It is much more effective than a one or two-day training session.

You expect your managers to bring in new business and they aren’t very good at it. This also applies to some partners, they are not able to do the basic function of a partner – perpetuate the firm. Why not apply repetition to teaching people in your firm how to sell.

You best rainmakers are the teachers. Ask them to always have a shadow (less experienced person) when they meet with a client. When they meet with a prospect. When they meet with a referral source. When they attend a business networking event. When they attend a charitable fund-raising function. When they attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting. You get the idea.

Expose them over and over again to business development situations. Have them try it on their own – over and over again. Repetition solidifies skills.

  • Don't join an easy crowd. You won't grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are achieve are igh.
  • Jim Rohn

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Professional Liability Insurance & More

img_7495You all have it but you might not love it. Yes, I am talking about professional liability insurance.

Many of you (my readers) are members of the CPA Firm Management Association and have met Stephen Vono of NAPLIA. He is the sponsor of the special night out event at the FMA annual National Practice Management Conference. Stephen was responsible for making applying for professional liability insurance easy for me and many others in the CPA profession.

Here’s some great information from Stephen and NAPLIA that was sent to the attendees of the conference in June this year. I think you can all benefit from this information.

NAPLIA’s Cyber and Data Security ebook was a popular takeaway from the conference.  If you missed it, you can download a copy here or please send me a note and I’ll be glad to mail you a hard copy. It is intended to give you guidance when preparing to safeguard your firm against the exposure to loss of client information. I hope you find it useful.

I am sending out resources in response to the many questions I received on insurance programs that NAPLIA provides.

  • A Mobile Device Usage policy can help your firm manage and mitigate exposure to client data loss.  In response to Matthew Harvey’s mention of a Mobile Device Usage Policy in his presentation“Minding the Candy Store”last Thursday, I am providing a sample of such a policy here
  • Accounting Today interviewed me on information security and cyber liability exposures for CPA firms. Watch it here: Video: CPA Firms have a target on their back
  • In keeping with the information security and cyber liability theme, I am offering other cyber liability risk management policies and best practices. Samples for your firm to use can be found below.
  • Watch the recorded version of our most recent webinar “Got claims? Just look at the tax side of your practice.”

In addition, many questions were asked about Information Security and Cyber Liability Insurance. Please take a look at our website for additional information or call me at 508-656-1330 to get the conversation started on the important topic of minimizing your firm’s exposure to litigation around client information loss.

Please consider NAPLIA for your firm’s professional liability insurance and risk management needs!

Regards, 

Stephen Vono | Principal | NAPLIA

stevev@naplia.com 

(Picture: Stephen, me and some Ohio FMA Chapter members.)

  • There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.
  • John F. Kennedy

Monday, November 7th, 2016

THINK AND THANK

“The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” – Charles Schwab

It is November, a month when many people might make time to think about what they are thankful for. How about you, as it relates to your accounting firm and the people who populate it?

This month, leading up to Thanksgiving Day (here in the USA), I hope to remind you about some of the “I am so glad at my firm…..” things.

thinkFor today, set aside some time to THINK.

Here are some past blog posts about the value of actually setting aside some time to THINK and reflect upon who you are, where you are and what your work life means to you. After you think about the many wonderful things and wonderful people in your life…. I bet you will be thankful that you are part of an accounting firm.

Always carve out time to think – from August 2015. I think the word “carve” makes it appropriate for November.

Think it over – from January 9, 2014.

Make November your THINK and THANK month.

 

  • Gratitude is best and most effective when it does not evaporate itself in empty phrases.
  • Isaac Asimov

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Helpful Information

I often get questions on a VERY wide variety of CPA firm management topics. Many are HR, succession and operational related. I also try to provide the latest trends in marketing, leadership, and technology.

I am using the title “Helpful Information” to communicate some of the best practices or useful products I hear or read about.

For today, I recently learned some information for firms adopting Two Factor Authentication (2FA).

Many firms are happy with Duo Security. Xcentric has partnered with Duo Security to provide their clients with the utmost protection.

I am not aligned or partnered with any vendors serving the CPA profession. However, I do often feature vendors or products that I think my readers would find helpful.

  • The struggle for today is not altogether for today - it is for a vast future also.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Forget About The Goof-Ups.

“Inspiration does not come to me, I go halfway to meet it.” – Sigmund Freud

Many of you working at accounting firms have recently been through some sort of performance feedback process. While I urge firm leaders to provide feedback more frequently, most still have a once-a-year, larger, more significant feedback session.

While these sessions are supposed to happen in May or June, they usually get delayed and are often not wrapped up until September. These conversations almost always focus on what you can improve. That’s a good thing to know and it should be valuable information for you to receive. Hopefully, you also received some praise for what you are doing well.

So, while that performance conversation is still rather fresh in your mind, begin preparing for next time.

Begin now – today – tracking the positives. Track the good things, the wins, the great learning moments, the times you helped someone else… the new technology you mastered… all the skill enhancing moments that occur on a daily basis.

I mean it. Keep a long list of the positive moments. Spend less time making note of minor setbacks. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Be prepared to share all of this good news during your next performance conversation and also be the one that identifies some areas where you need to improve. Be the one to guide the conversation.

You are the one who owns your career-enhancing journey. Make it a positive one!

  • Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.
  • Washington Irving

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Listening Is A Magical Skill

“Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?” — David M. Bader

Have you ever found yourself explaining something to another person or asking a specific question about something work related and you can tell that they are only half-listening or are completely focused on something else?

I recently observed a conversation between a grandchild and a grandfather that demonstrated the magical power of listening. You could easily observe how much the child loved and wanted to always be near the adult. The child delighted in exploring rocks, weeds, flowers and even dirt while accompanied by the grandfather.

I think that this close relationship developed because the grandfather always listened intently to what the grandchild said. During a story the child was telling about a swimming outing, the grandfather focused his eyes and complete attention on the child. He frequently asked questions… “Did you get your hair wet? Did daddy help you float? Did you wear your new bathing suit? And then what happened? And then what happened?”

Have you ever tried to talk to a partner, across the desk from them in their office and their eyes keep darting away to their computer screen (to see what the latest email might be about or who it was from)? Have you ever asked for information from a supervisor and they pace and focus on looking at the floor? Have you ever tried to explain something to a direct report and they do not maintain eye contact and fidget with something in their pocket or on their desk?

Developing close working relationships and building an amazing, responsive team takes work. Make time for conversations and practice your listening skills. Then focus on what they are saying, look directly at their face, show emotion (surprise, curiosity, pride, happiness, amazement). Ask leading questions. They will admire and respect you for it and might always want to be working with you.

  • If you want to be listened to, you should put in time listening.
  • Marge Piercy

Friday, October 21st, 2016

The Number Of CPA Firms In The U.S.

Many of us working in the CPA profession always seem to be interested in the various statistics about CPA firms.

I’ve been “hearing” for decades that there are about 45,000 CPA firms in the U.S. and that only a very small percentage have more than 20 CPAs.

Here are the latest numbers from an article via Accounting Today:

  • There are about 42,000 accounting firms in the United States.
  • The #1 firm has revenue of about $16 billion and about 65,000 people.
  • Number 100 has revenues of $35m with 175 people.
  • Number 300 has revenue of $8m
  • Number 400 has $3m with about 20 people.

So, the next 41,600 firms fall into the “small” firm category. Most of these firms are really small, with less than four or five people and revenues less than $600,000.

Read Ed Mendlowitz’s entire article about how bright the future is going to be for these small firms.

I work with many very small firms and I can attest that they have vast opportunities!

  • Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.
  • Jimi Hendrix