Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

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 (www.simonassociates.net) 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 (www.simonassociates.net), 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

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Blockchain – The Future of Accounting

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

I am always searching for ways to better explain blockchain to accountants and accounting students. This infographic from Maryville University and the accompanying article are very informative.

 

Blockchain: The Future of Accounting? Infographic

Maryville University

 

  • The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, January 26th, 2018

Interviewing Experienced Candidates

I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way.”  – Lee Iacocca

When it comes to interviewing potential new hires, I have observed that CPA firms are not very creative. Many firms have the same people do the interviewing whether it is a college recruit or a 10-year experienced person.

Are your interviewers asking the same questions they have asked for 20 years? Do they focus too much on where they went to school (even if it was years ago) and how strong their tax (or audit) technical skills are?

With an experienced person, ask more questions like these from Seth Godin’s recent blog post.

  • What have you built?
  • What have you led?
  • How do you make decisions?
  • How do you act when no one is looking?

For an experienced person, in public accounting, I would add:

  • How many people have you mentored?
  • How would you describe your tolerance for change?
  • Joe has interrupted you six times this morning with questions. What do you say when he interrupts you the seventh time?
  • The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.
  • Steve Jobs

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Do Your New People Look Forward to Reading Your Employee Handbook?

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” – P. J. O’Rourke

I am sure you have an employee handbook. Well, I guess I’m not that sure. I have worked with two firms lately who did not! Often, smaller firms don’t bother but even a brief, streamlined manual helps guide employees.

Does yours have a very boring title, such as Employee Handbook, Personnel Guide, Staff Manual or something similar? Why not jazz it up a bit and give it a new title? The title could be something like “The Smith & Company Journey” or “The Way We Work”. My favorite is “How We Do It Here”. Afterall, that’s what new people want to know…. how do you do it here? They want to fit in quickly and not make dumb mistakes.

First of all, you must be able to tell your people how your firm does things. It can’t be the all too often reality…… “If you are doing it for Jim, do it this way.” If you are doing it for JoAnne, do it that way.” Partners must agree upon and adhere to how work processes and procedures work at the firm and bend their personal preferences to align with firm standards.

Of course, you need to include your firm’s vision, purpose, and core values. Consider writing it in a more reader-friendly style.

Be creative in how you present it to your new employee. Don’t send them a pdf copy to read. It’s easy now to have booklets bound with an attractive cover then present it to them with a Starbucks gift card tucked inside.

Wouldn’t it be fun to give your handbook a facelift? Give it a try.

  • Reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are.
  • Mason Cooley