Archive for the ‘Millennials’ Category

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

New To The Firm? – – Be A Volunteer

If you are a beginner at an accounting firm, be a volunteer.

If you are not new to the firm, share this blog post with a beginner.

It is my observation that most partners thoroughly enjoy working with a beginner who shows an interest in learning as much as possible. Many partners have told me….. “I would love it if they would just stick their head inside my door and ask if there was anything they could help me with.”

Listen to what is going on around you. Has a new large client recently been added to the firm? Ask if you can be assigned to the job.

Does the marketing person need someone to represent the firm at a community event? Volunteer to shadow a partner or manager.

Sometimes the marketing person needs someone to fill-in for a partner or manager at a charitable luncheon event. They love to invite beginners to fill these spots. IF (and that’s a big if), they are dressed professional enough to attend. This one is a big issue because of very relaxed dress codes. Volunteer to keep some dress clothes at the office for a quick change.

Does the firm administrator or HR person need an extra body to staff the firm booth at a local campus? Volunteer.

Firm leaders are impressed with people who have initiative. They are impressed with people who have a great attitude. They are impressed with people who are not afraid to speak-up and volunteer.


  • Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Battle For Talent: Will Denim Daily & Other Enhanced Benefits Win Out?

I see lots of professional young men and women on CPA firm Facebook pages still dressing professionally – most are business casual but they still look professional to me.

All that is changing as the battle for talent heats up. It’s going to be jeans for every day.

News From GoingConcern:

Baker Tilly’s announcement: Baker Tilly Makes Everyday Denim Dreams Come True:

The Chicago-based accounting firm has launched a pilot program allowing its professionals to wear jeans any day of the week they deem it appropriate. No longer will denim be confined to Friday, a fairly common practice in the profession, or purchased as a one-off dispensation for a $5 charitable donation.

Such a practice is fairly unusual in the buttoned-down profession. “If Baker Tilly is jeans every day, they’re probably leading the way on that,” said Todd Shapiro, president and CEO of the Illinois CPA Society in Chicago.

The official name for this pilot program is “Dress for Your Day” and it is effective immediately for all offices. Naturally, BT employees still have to dress professionally for client meetings but otherwise, they can rock denim every day. Just be aware that some people have strong feelings about tuck/no-tuck.

A few days later (via GoingConcern), Crowe Horwath joined the movement:

Not be outdone by their crosstown1 rivals,Crowe Horwath announced earlier this week that not only can their employees wear whatever they want, they can work wherever they want, too (subject to approval of course):

The firm’s new mobility strategy, which was rolled out in December, includes two policies integral to the firm’s approach to attracting and retaining the profession’s best talent. The first initiative, “What to Wear,” dictates that if you’re in the office and aren’t meeting with clients, you can keep it casual and wear jeans any day of the week. The second, “Where to Work,” allows personnel to work wherever it’s convenient and they’re most productive, with support from their performance manager.

Then there is paid maternity leave and unlimited vacation time via CPA Practice Advisor:

The accounting profession is no different. Brown Smith Wallace, a nationally ranked top-100 accounting firm, added new features to its employee benefit package in an effort to recruit and retain more Millennials. As of January 1, 2016, the firm offers paid maternity leave and increased personal time off—including unlimited vacation for managers and principals—based on years of service at the firm.  

Dear CPA friends….. Times They Are A Changin’

  • better start start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone, for the times they are a changin'.
  • Bob Dylan

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Women In Accounting – Don’t Feel Guilty

IMG_4100CPA firms lose so many bright, savvy females because of the long-talked about stigma that when you want to start a family, you cannot work in public accounting.

Too many young female professionals tend to heed the old-fashioned advice that they should work in public accounting for a few years, get their CPA designation and then get a job in a private company so they can then raise a family. Fewer actually become “stay at home” moms because the millennials need two incomes to live the life style they desire.

So, I urge all young women in accounting, stick it out. The accounting profession is becoming more and more flexible all the time. It is a profession that can provide the career development and prestige that you desire.

Don’t feel guilty if you are working and also raising children. Children of working moms actually reap many benefits because they have working mothers.

According to a survey of 1,000 grown children of working mothers, many substantial benefits were identified

Strong Work Ethic – The grown children reported that watching their mothers go to work every day instilled in them a strong work ethic.

Independence – Working mothers know they won’t be there for everything so they have deliberately taught their children to be more independent.

Resilience – The children of working mothers reported being able to solve their own problems and bounce back from tough times better than children of stay-at-home mothers.

Prepared For The Work World – Watching their mothers face the many challenges at work helped the children feel better prepared for the working world. They have a better sense of what to expect when they enter the work world.

Daughters Benefit Most – Harvard found that daughters of working mothers earned 23% more than daughters of stay-at-home mothers.

All of this and more is in an article on FAST Company by Lisa Evans. She also references a book by Pamela LenehanMy Mother, My Mentor: What Grown Children of Working Mothers Want You to Know. 

Many female CPAs working in public accounting have told me, “The partners just don’t understand because their wives don’t work.”

By the way, my mother was a working mother. So was I.

  • Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.
  • Ambrose Bierce

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Managers Are Often NOT Doing Manager Work

This is mostly a repeat of a previous post from January 2014. At this time, I feel it is worth repeating!

People with the title of “manager” working inside CPA firms usually are not doing what a “manager” should be doing. Just like many partners, managers get very comfortable actually DOING the work rather than carrying out manager level responsibilities and activities.

Managers play a key role in employee engagement and retention. Remember, people leave bosses not firms.

I once asked a group of CPA firm owners to give me their expectations of a person in the manager role and to keep it very simple. I think the following bullet point job description says it clearly and concisely. How do your managers stack-up?

  • Solid technical skills, with an area of technical expertise that is recognized
  • Good communication skills, both written and verbal
  • The ability to manage and develop team members
  • The ability to manage client relationships
  • The ability to manage multile engagements
  • The ability to manage engagement profitability
  • Executive presence
  • Must be an advocate of the firm
  • Participation in firm marketing activities
  • Participation in personal marketing activities
  • Participation in various firm internal projects
  • Be viewed, by most firm owners, as a candidate for partner status

Addendum for 2016: So many partners declare they have no one who can replace them when they retire. If you want succession to work at your firm you must work with your managers on these key traits. Developing people is a key characteristic of a competent partner.

  • To add value to others, one must first value others.
  • John Maxwell

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

What It Takes To Move Your Career Forward

I love it when I have the opportunity to work with the team members of firms without the partners present.

There is so much they don’t know about CPA firm management and why the partners do what they do. I ALSO learn so much from them and that input enables me to advise the owners on where to focus.

If you are new to the CPA profession and focused on moving your career forward, here’s some tips:

Become a quick change artist – The CPA profession is undergoing massive change. Be ready for it and help others in the firm get ready for it. Be a leader in showing the partners that adapting to change is necessary and that resistance to change can lead to a dead-end street.

Commit fully to your job – Don’t be surprised if the firm continually expects more from you. The marketplace is demanding and being fully committed will lead to rapid career advancement.

Speed up – Clients and partners seem to live in an impatient world. Help your firm improve turnaround time and always operate with a sense of urgency.

Behave like you are in business for yourself – Assume personal responsibility for helping clients. Be thinking how you could cut costs, find unique ways to serve the clients, improve your own productivity and then share those ideas with others.

Manage your own morale – Saddling someone else with the job of keeping you contented and upbeat would be a neat trick if you could pull it off. Sometimes you are treated unfairly. Some managers truly are jerks. As the old saying goes, “life is not fair”. Don’t let poor morale drain away precious energy and destroy your self-confidence. Surround yourself with positive people – stay away from the whiners.

  • If you want light to come into your life, you need to stand where it is shining.
  • Guy Finley

Monday, January 11th, 2016

First Of All – It’s Your Job

Some millennials are progressing rapidly inside growing CPA firms. Some are not.

I have observed that many millennials are so used to being coached and told exactly what they should do (by parents, teachers, professors, friends) that they think this same scenario will play-out in the workplace.

The employer/employee relationship is not quite the same. Some employers are even voicing their disappointment with the entire millennial generation. I, personally, believe that the vast majority of millennials are focused on their careers and will work hard to advance.

Yet, I urge firm leaders to educate them to the difference between school and work. Here’s some thoughts for newbies entering the CPA profession this year.

A job is a business transaction – you work, they pay you for that work. It’s your job. You decide if that is a fair deal or not. Your performance tells the employer if it is a fair deal from their perspective.

Beyond the fact that new employees must “do” the work, be sure to show them you can handle the basics – like always being on time. Once you show initiative most employers are happy to offer flexibility and other desirable benefits.

One of the most important things a new hire can demonstrate is a positive attitude.  If you become confused and unhappy, reach out to your managers or partners and ask them for help. Be proactive and find a mentor and work at building a strong relationship with them.

I like some advice given in an article on INC – 3 Reasons Millennials Are Getting Fired. Here it is:

Millennials, don’t get mad, get ahead!

Smart millennials can make some simple changes and set the standard for what an outstanding young professional looks like to employers today.

Firm leaders – most millennials are looking for opportunity – be sure you paint a picture for them of what a successful career in public accounting looks like.

  • Use opportunity, not money, as a motivating currency.
  • Marcus Lemonis

Monday, January 4th, 2016

New To The Firm? Think Before You Speak.

0NML1Q2CFHJanuary will bring many new people into CPA firms across the country. Some of them will be interns, some will be new college grads and some will be people who have worked at another firm…. or even a Big Four firm.

If you are one of these people, never be afraid to ask questions, however, be careful what you say and how you say it.

I worked in a growing firm for many years. There was nothing that would make us cringe more than these words by a new hire from a larger firm…. “at Deloitte (fill-in any big 4 name) we did this (or that)”. It was like fingernails on a chalkboard if the new person said it frequently.

Being compared to their “old firm” always makes the new firm team members wonder why you are not still at your old firm.

I hear a lot of stories from firms….. at one firm it really bugged the team members when the newbie kept his big 4 coffee mug on his desk for months.

Little things can make a positive big difference AND little things can drive people nuts.

New to the firm? Yes, do ask questions about the work. Be sure to listen and observe for a significant period of time before offering your ideas and opinions. All firms welcome new ideas and want your comments but they don’t want to constantly be compared to your former workplace.

Here’s a link to an article you might find interesting – 13 Things You Should Never Say On Your First Day At Work.

  • Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
  • Maya Angelou

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Feedback For CPA Firm Management

I observe and gather.

I am very fortunate in that I have the wonderful opportunity to meet and get to know so many people working in the CPA profession. When I am working with clients, I observe and recommend (I also recommend and push). When I am speaking and attending conferences, I observe and share. When I am facilitating feedback surveys for CPA firms, I observe and enlighten (and recommend). In all situations I observe and gather valuable information that I can share with anyone who will listen (you, the readers of this blog).

Here’s some tidbits for those of you managing the firm. For those of you enjoying the opportunity to build your career, these tidbits might inspire YOU to share your thoughts with management. Speak-up and speak-out – they want and need your thoughts and ideas.

Feedback for management:

  • Be more transparent
  • Performance reviews take too much time
  • Work-life balance needs attention
  • Allow younger people to work on more challenging work (not more hours)
  • Improve communication to younger people, they often feel out of the loop (mentoring program?)
  • Show your people what their career path honestly looks like
  • Show more appreciation
  • An open-door policy doesn’t mean you (you=partners, managers) are available to answer questions
  • Always be honest with your people

I could go on… and on…. that’s enough for today.

  • Every lie is two lies - - the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it.
  • Robert Brault

Friday, December 18th, 2015


IMG_4817Notice that I used the single word compensation as the title of this post. It is amazing how that one word gets peoples’ attention in the accounting profession.

I wanted to get your attention so I could direct you to a good article on AccountingWEB – $53,300: The Average Starting Salary for New Accounting Grads. Take the time to follow the link and read it.

It amazes me how so many firms go to great lengths to keep salaries a secret. It is my observation, especially with all of the internet resources, that keeping salaries a secret is not possible. Never was, even in the old days.

  • I just believe that the way that young people's minds develop is fascinating. If you are doing something for a grade or salary or a reward, it doesn't have as much meaning as creating something for yourself and your own life.
  • Steve Wozniak

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Myths About Millennials

CPA firms employ many millennials. At KPMG they make up 60% of the workforce. You probably  have a lot of them at your own firm. Do you really understand them? Have you noticed that many of the things people say about them are not true? I sure have.

Stephanie Vozza, in her article on Fast Company, tells the story of a Boston College/KPMG joint study to find out how young adults navigate their careers.

Here are the 8 myths about millennials:

  1. They job-hop
  2. They favor technology over in-person communication
  3. Their parents have a big impact on their careers
  4. They follow the gender roles of their parents
  5. They do the minimum required
  6. They believe heir career is the greatest measure of success
  7. They’re more socially conscious
  8. They’re unwilling to make commitments

All are myths according to the study! Be sure to read the article to learn more about each myth and how to better understand your valuable team members.

  • If youth only knew; if age only could.
  • Henri Estinne