Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Participate In The Rosenberg Survey

“Knowledge is power.” – Francis Bacon
I eagerly look forward to the release of the Rosenberg Survey each year. I use it extensively in my consulting work. Now is the time for your firm to fill out the survey and participate.
Here’s the information to that you can take part:
THE ROSENBERG SURVEY – SURVEY NOW OPEN
For two decades, The Rosenberg Survey has provided accounting firms with key benchmark statistics.
Did you know?
The Elite Firms from our 2017 survey (firms with income per partner > $500k) had the following metrics:
  • Ratio of staff to equity partner – 8.6 (vs. an average of 5.1 for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
  • Net fees per equity partner – $2,180,000 (vs. an average of $1.2 million for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
  • Charge hours for professional staff – 1,510 (vs. an average of 1,492 for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
Why is The Rosenberg Survey Valuable?
  • Customized comparison of like-sized firms in similar markets for participating firms.
  • Accurate and valid results reviewed by three CPAs.
  • Reliable year to year comparison with a return rate of 82% from previous year’s participants.
  • Robust pool of participants of nearly 350 firms makes our data relevant to firms of all sizes.
  • Clear cut data displayed by firm size for comparison.
 
The deadline to participate is July 16th. (Thank you to those firms that have participated thus far.)
  • Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.
  • William Pollard

Friday, May 11th, 2018

The 5-Hour Rule – Friday Reading

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George Martin

Have you ever heard of the 5-hour rule? Supposedly, it is something practiced by some of the world’s most successful people. I’m not sure if that is actually true or not but the 5-hour rule sounds like a good plan to me.

You take 1 hour from each weekday and devote it to deliberate practice and learning. Things you can do with that one-hour per day might be:

  1. Read
  2. Think
  3. Experiment

Read the entire article and learn more about these three and more.

There you have it, some Friday reading!

  • Reading is to the mind like exercise is to the body.
  • Joseph Addison

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Words of Wisdom from a Succession Planning Panel

“It is better to live rich than to die rich.” – Samuel Johnson

At the BDO Alliance conference, the Succession Planning panel was comprised of Marc Rosenberg, Jay Nisberg, Carl George and Bob Lewis. It’s important for you to keep tabs on current trends in the succession area and tweak your own plan as the years go by.

Daniel Hood, Editor of Accounting Today tweeted some great comments from the panel. I have selected a few for your contemplation.

  • Lewis: The first thing to do is look at the gaps – financial gap (can the successors support the retirees?), the talent gap (who can bring in work), the strategy gap (do you know where you want to be in 5 years?)
  • Nisberg: Too many Baby Boomers don’t see the people coming up behind them as having the same strengths they have. I assure you, they do – you just have to trust.
  • Rosenberg: Partners need to have a show-down meeting: When do they want to retire? What do they want from it? It’s a hugely emotional issue.
  • Nisberg: Vision is critical – highly successful firms have a vision that is the culmination of the will of the partners – where they want to go and how they want to get there.
  • Rosenberg: 80% of 1st generation CPA firms don’t make it to the second generation.
  • George: If you don’t put succession planning in partner goals and the compensation system, you will be stuck in the mud.
  • Lewis: It’s important that staff know there’s a succession in place.
  • George: A surprising number of firm leaders don’t understand the business of public accounting.
  • Lewis: In many firms, staff doesn’t understand firm revenue, the actual size of the firm. How can they operate in the dark?
  • George: Start teaching staff the business of public accounting on Day 1 – while you’re onboarding.
  • Rosenberg: Get everyone in the firm to understand how the firm works and how it makes money. That needs to happen at CPA firms. Partners are much too secretive.
  • Rosenberg: Staff doesn’t have a clue how much partners make – give them an idea because it’ll be higher than they expect.
  • Lewis: If a non-equity partner isn’t willing to convert to equity, then you don’t really have a partner.
  • Nisberg: I don’t understand why so many firms rush to M&A when there are so many other options.
  • George: I’m very happy to see more women than ever running firms — and they’re doing a great job.
  • Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun.
  • Jim Bishop

Monday, May 7th, 2018

A Fun Way To Build Your Presentation Skills

“Tough issues need soft skills.” – Kristen Rampe

My friend and CPA consultant, Kristen Rampe has unveiled an amazing new service. She is intent on helping CPAs become better speakers and presenters. For many CPAs, it is a very difficult challenge. It is called Slide Deck Improv.

Here’s a message I received from Kristen:

I wanted to share with you this fun service I’ve been working on lately. It involves helping professionals improve their speaking and presenting skills – e.g. when presenting to boards or at community/industry events. As you know, this isn’t always a strong suit for the technically-minded CPA, but I’ve found a way to help get them some practice in a fun and safe environment. It involves improv, and I’ve even captured some video of a tax manager rising to the occasion: https://kristenrampe.com/slide-deck-improv  

I enjoyed watching the tax manager in the video make his way through the improv session. This is a great way to learn!

An insightful book to read about the benefit of improv is Alan Alda’s If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on my Face?

  • With improv, it's a combination of listening and not trying to be funny
  • Kristen Wiig

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

The Threat From Artificial Intelligence & More

“It’s beauty that captures your attention; personality that captures your heart.” – Oscar Wilde

I receive a newsletter from a long-time business friend, Norm Bobay of  HireMAX. Check them out if you have a need to use DISC for your firm.

This month’s newsletter has two articles that I think will be of interest to you – CPA firm citizens.

The first explains the threat many are feeling because of AI replacing their jobs. The second article – Leaders Excel With These Different Leadership Styles – is also insightful.

The leadership styles are:

  • Action-Oriented
  • Transformative
  • Encouraging
  • Empowerment
  • Reflective
  • Idealistic

Follow the link to the article and read more about these styles.

  • The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
  • Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

The Rosenberg Survey Is Now Open

It’s that time of year again! Here’s the scoop:
 The 20th annual Rosenberg Survey is underway and we would like to cordially invite you to participate. For two decades this survey has proven to be the financial benchmarking standard for CPA firms. The Rosenberg Survey provides highly relevant in-depth analyses and serves as a resource for firms to better understand how to drive profitability.

  

Why is The Rosenberg Survey Valuable?
  • Our results are reviewed for accuracy and validity by three top CPAs including acclaimed industry consultants, Marc Rosenberg and Charles Hylan.
  • We deliver clear, valid and unique statistics not available in other industry surveys.
  • We provide a reliable year-to-year comparison with a return rate of over 82% from the previous year’s participants.
  • A robust pool of 350 participants makes our data relevant to firms of all sizes.
  • We display data by firm size for easy comparisons.
Participate in this year’s survey to obtain a great benchmarking tool that can be used in the coming year. The final deadline to complete the survey is Monday, July 16th.

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

Strategy and Tactics

“Hope is not a strategy.” – Vince Lombardi

Sometimes, accountants get so wrapped up in tactics that they forget about strategy and vice versa. Distinguishing between tactics and strategy sometimes get very blurry inside CPA firms.

I don’t often include an entire blog post by Seth Godin in my own blog post. But, today is one of those days because I think it is very important for you, and your firm, to clearly understand tactics and strategy. Here it is:

Why even bother to think about strategy?

There’s confusion between tactics and strategy. It’s easy to get tied up in semantic knots as you work to figure out the distinction. It’s worth it, though, because strategy can save you when tactics fail.

If a tactic fails, you should consider abandoning it.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with your strategy. Your strategy is what you keep doing even after you walk away from a tactic.

A real estate broker could decide that her goal is to get more listings.

And her strategy is to achieve that by becoming the most trusted person in town.

There are then 100 tactics she can use to earn that trust. She can coordinate events, sponsor teams, host community meetings in her office, sponsor the local baseball team, be transparent about her earnings, hire countless summer interns at a fair wage, run seminars at the local library, etc. …

It doesn’t matter if one or two or five of the tactics aren’t home runs. They add up.

But if once, just once, she violates someone’s trust and expectations, the entire strategy goes out the window.

Tactics are disposable.

Strategy is for the long haul.

  • Strategy is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do – it’s a matter of being different at what you do.
  • Michael Porter

Friday, April 6th, 2018

As a Mentor, You Are Sculpting

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg

A recent article via HBR – The Best Mentors Think Like Michelangelo – describes how Michelangelo considered a beautiful piece of art was already inside the stone and he worked to release it.

This is a beautiful thought to apply to your mentoring role. Here are some points from the article that might help you as your mentor the young, ambitious accountants in your accounting firm. As you have time later, be sure to read the entire article and apply these thoughts to your firm’s mentoring program.

  • The Michelangelo phenomenon refers to when a skilled and thoughtful relationship partner becomes committed to first understanding and then reinforcing or drawing out another’s ideal form.
  • A skilled mentor can bring out a promising form that might be hidden from view.
  • Excellent mentors devote the time to truly “see” their mentees. It takes time and patience to see their ideal selves.
  • A mentor must earn trust, be accessible, and listen generously.
  • Research confirms that women face more barriers to finding a mentor and when they find a male mentor, it might not result in professional and psychological benefits.
  • One reason is that men sometimes struggle with the important skill of active listening.
  • Men can be great mentors to females if they work hard at understanding some of the challenges of cross-gender mentoring.

Read the entire article and share it. Maybe it’s time to refresh your program.

  • A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.
  • Bob Proctor

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Take Your Vacation

“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.” – Robert Orben

I have written a lot about people working in CPA firms not taking all their vacation time. Just type “vacation” in the search box – on the right – and browse the various posts.

The fact remains, many (probably a vast majority of) CPAs and other people working in public accounting firms do not take all of their vacation time. Sure, they can bank some of the time to use down the road for illness or family emergencies. That’s a good thing but studies tell us that vacation time is very valuable.

Here are 10 reasons to take your vacation time:

  1. Going on vacation shows you are competent.
  2. No one is impressed if you don’t.
  3. Your team is motivated.
  4. Your team gets more productive.
  5. Being unavailable helps people develop.
  6. You will be more productive.
  7. You will prioritize better.
  8. You let other people be “important.”
  9. Your company benefits.
  10. You need a break.

I recently read an interesting article via HBR – What One Company Learned from Forcing Employees to Use Their Vacation Time.

The article even states that unlimited vacation policies do not work. Peer pressure is always there. You receive social signals that say you’re a slacker if you’re not in the office.

The company in the article adopted a policy of recurring, scheduled mandatory vacation. After working for seven weeks, you must take a week off. I can visualize how this might work in an accounting firm. Read the article and see if it could be modified slightly to work at your firm.

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

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

Too Many Interruptions

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” – Stephen Covey

I hear it from so many people working in public accounting. The topic is distractions and interruptions. Several people have told me recently that even when they shut their door, people don’t take the hint – they simply knock and enter.

Distractions also include mobile devices, too many meetings, and noisy people when a group decides to chat in the cubicle next to you or outside your office door. Then there are those newer staff members who continually have questions.

Sharlyn Lauby, @hrbartender, has some helpful suggestions in her article, Workplace Distractions Are Impacting the Bottom Line.

  • Provide a place where employees can hang-out and talk without disturbing others.
  • Define, upfront, whether music can be played in work areas. Some people like quiet and some people like music – define your policy.
  • Provide employees with noise-canceling headphones.

Teach newer team members to compile a list of questions and let them know you will make yourself available at 11:00 and 4:00 to provide answers and guidance.

If you want to know more about the research behind Lauby’s article you can access Udemy’s 2018 Distraction Report for more information.

If you have HR responsibilities at your firm, follow Lauby on Twitter @hrbartender.

  • The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited. All you have to do is tap into that well. I don't like to use the word efficiency. It's creativity. It's a belief that every person counts.
  • Jack Welch