Archive for the ‘Millennials’ Category

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

I Wish You Could Do Away With Job Descriptions

IMG_1109Yes, I wish job descriptions were not necessary inside CPA firms. But, it’s hard for me to visualize.

I was recently reading a post by Leadership Freak (you should follow him on Twitter), that gave some great reasons not to give a new hire a job description. The example, an employer, hired a new person and didn’t give them a job description. They are writing their own. The new person has goals and responsibilities but he is writing the details himself. The boss and employee meet every week to track progress and set the path forward.

Read the post for yourself and see if you can see the two problems I see.

# 1 – Surveys tells us that young accountants want to know there is a career path for them and exactly what is expected of them. You need to paint a picture (with words) of where they are going and how they are going to get there.

# 2 – Notice the sentence: The boss and employee meet every week to track progress and set the path forward.

Number 2 is the clincher. Are your partners and managers meeting every week with the people they supervise to track progress and set the path forward? I see very little of this happening. I do see lots of questions being answered and lots of general direction being given but not the “progress and path forward” types of conversations that need to happen more frequently.

Set a goal this fall to practice your mentoring on a weekly basis – just until December 31. See if it becomes a habit!

  • I really didn't say everything I said.
  • Yogi Berra

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Show Me The Money

IMG_4817According to surveys over the many years I have been involved with the profession of public accounting, CPA firms are the most profitable businesses.

It’s nothing new but I think sometimes CPA firm owners don’t think much about it, probably because they are used to the profit margins.

I read about it again last week via Accounting Today “Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services are collectively the most profitable industry in the U.S., according to a new ranking.”

The information comes from Sageworks in its annual ranking of the most profitable industries in the U.S.

Most CPAs truly love the work they do. Sure, it involves some long hours, commitment and dedication to client service but being extremely profitable sure is a nice reward.

Share this information inside your firm. Perhaps it will inspire more talented, young CPAs to go down the future partner track.

In the past, some CPAs have actually said to me, if they know how profitable we are they will want more money. Maybe it is time to actually have that conversation.


  • Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
  • Thomas Edison

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

If You Engage Them Maybe They Will Stay.

IMG_1109Most firms do a wide variety of things to keep great people at their firms. It, definitely has become more difficult during the recent talent wars. Every firm you compete with wants your people. Firms across the country want your people. And, these other firms will pay them more.

You have to do the chair massages, special coffee, ice cream socials, bowling events, mini-golf in the hallways….. the list goes on. Oh yes, your real employee benefit menu has to be up-to-date and generous…. great pay, plenty of PTO, holidays and insurance coverage and so on.

Many studies tell us they like all that but what they really want is communication and recognition. They want to know what is going on, what you expect and what their career path really looks like. They want to know someone cares about their development.

Asking one simple question can provide your firm with some very valuable information. Ask them in an individual conversation – What is the one thing we could change that would help you be more successful at your job?

  • You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Bridging The Gap


I am a member of The CPA Consultants’ Alliance.

During 2015, our membership has taken on a project of publishing a series of 15 blogs, written by individual members, around the central theme of Bridging the Gap-Strengthening the Connection Between Current and Emerging Leaders.

In her August 11th blog post, A Winning Culture Is An Intentional Culture, CPACA member Tamera Loerzel asks you to explore the following primary areas where Millennials are driving (and expect) change in firm culture:

  • Clear vision and direction
  • Engagement by upper-management
  • Leaders willing to change
  • Feedback and the desire to give it
  • Increased transparency – they want to know what, why and how
  • A 100% commitment towork efficiently using the latest IT and standard processes
  • An expectation that they’ll benefit from a learning and development investment
  • Flexibility and anytime, anywhere work (moving away from the time and place paradigm)

Be sure to read this entire blog post and the others in the series. The posts feature real stories from real CPA firms.

  • Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Public Accounting Can Be Stressful!

I usually share with people that I am a little weird. Good weird. I think differently than a lot of people working in public accounting and over many years I have connected with others… soul-mates who could possibly be classified as slightly weird. Those are MY people! I love them!

One way that I am weird is that I love to be very busy. When I was working inside a growing CPA firm I especially enjoyed tax season because everyone was hustling, focused, working-hard, no-nonsense and a lot of the daily pettiness disappeared for a few months. We also got to see and chat with our clients more during this busy time. I am pleased when there is no idle chit-chat, time wasted loitering over lunch in the break-room, etc.

Young workerBeing very busy with lots of priorities makes me happy, however, many of our employees in public accounting find it all very stressful, especially Millennials. You need to help them adjust and cope!

Here’s something that might help, it’s an App called DeStressify. It helps all ages of people but is especially important for Millennials. It offers Millennials 5 ways to cope with work-related stress:

Focus on the present – don’t worry about the past or future, stay in the present.

Reframe the story – If something happens, don’t over-analyze or over-react. Simply restate the facts and remove the speculation.

Learn to let go – Don’t let things build-up, learn to release emotions in a healthier way.

Set attainable goals – Perfectionism can cause a tremendous amount of stress. Strive for excellence instead of perfection.

Do what makes you happy – One of the best ways to decrease stress is to do something that makes you happy. Run, hike, listen to music, wind-down with friends, etc.

I am currently using an App called Headspace. It’s a meditation App. I like it… simple and easy. Be sure to explore other options and Apps that might be helpful – for yourself and for your team.

  • We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private... therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.
  • C. S. Lewis

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Working In Public Accounting is………

Okay, you have read the title. Now, finish the sentence! Here’s my answers – Working in public accounting is rewarding, interesting, fun, continually educational, prestigious, admired and yes, cool.

What’s it like at your public accounting firm? I bet the good MORE than out weighs the bad. Being a CPA has immeasurable stature. CPAs are the trusted advisor to millions of successful small businesses (not to mention the large businesses).

The CPA profession needs to continue to attract great minds and every business is looking for those same talented, young employees.

Interesting article on the Forbes site about Dow CEO Andrew Liveris:

Leading a diversified chemicals company with 53,000 employees, Dow CEO Andrew Liveris is constantly on the hunt for new talent. So he has decided to send his company’s employees and retirees into schools to spread on simple message: Science is sexy.

Well, some of us think that accounting is sexy!

I applaud the work that state societies do to get school children interested in accounting and help them become more financial literate. I encourage individual CPA firms to get more involved.

One firm I talked to recently offers internships to high school students. What unique things is your firm doing to reinforce the talent pipeline?

One of the biggest issues public accounting faces is the drop-out rate caused by a young person having a bad experience at one particular firm. More on that in another blog soon.


  • We'll make talent the centerpiece of everything we're trying to do.
  • Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan (where Dow is headquartered)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Millennials Are No Longer Something New To Worry About

Millennials are now mature, experienced and ready to take control.

I have been talking about Millennials for years and urging Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers to embrace them, nurture them and learn from them.

There is some great information for CPA firm leaders in this article on Forbes.  Here’s an excerpt:

Companies have also felt the pressure by millennials to evolve, especially because about one in every three employees in the U.S. will be a millennial by next year, and by 2025 they will become 75 percent of the global workforce.  At some companies, such as EY, millennials already make up 60% of their workforce. Technology has ended the nine to five workday, crushed global communication barriers and create transparent offices. They have forced companies to rethink flexibility, meetings and cubicles. They also believe that business should focus on a societal purpose, not just be in business to make a profit. This is why you see so many millennial become social entrepreneurs or support their local non-profit – they always need to feel like they are touching someone and making an impact, regardless of their job title.

Accounting firms have always recruited on college campuses, sought out the young career beginners to become part of the CPA firm team. Be sure your firm is taking advantage of the millennial goldmine you already have.

  • It takes a very long time to become young.
  • Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Be Creative In Motivating Your Valuable Team Members

DSC_0018CPA firm leaders are continually seeking ideas on ways to RETAIN top performers. It is almost like a competition among firms as to who can shower their millennials with the most gifts and perks.

Most people think that spending money on physical things makes them happy – that a physical object will last longer so it makes us happy over a longer time than a one-off experience like a concert or a vacation. According to recent research – that assumption is completely wrong.

A study by a professor at Cornell tells us that rather than buy a BMW you’ll actually get more happiness for spending money on experiences – art exhibits, outdoor activities, learning a new skill or traveling.

Haven’t you noticed that the McMansions of the world have diminished and the new trend is smaller, more compact dwellings with furniture that is dual purpose? Young professionals seem to no longer want a big house but no furniture because they can’t afford it.

Apply this to you team members. Be creative! How can you give them experiences rather than things?

Yes! That’s me in the white helmet.

  • Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting.
  • Van Goethe

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

CPA Managers – Make Time For Face Time

Many of you attended Winning Is Everything in January in Las Vegas. The best part, to me, was the chance to hear and meet Bruce Tulgan in person.

Yesterday, Mr. Tulgan was a contributor to a great article in the WSJ titled, Managers Need to Make Time For Face time.

Accounting is not the only profession/business where it has become difficult to find time to actually meet, face-to-face, with the people you supervise and manage.

Hands-off management carries risks. One high-profile CEO left his corporation amid criticism that he was too detached from his top team.

Sometime I talk to firms where some managers and partners are actually located on a different floor or even a different building. Just my opinion, but I think the managing partner needs to be with the troops.

There is a difference between micro-managing and being hands-on. In these times of talent wars in the CPA profession, your people want to know you care about them. They want access to their leaders (partners and managers).

One of the biggest complaints I see in the upward surveys I facilitate via SurveyCPA is the fact that staffers want more access to the leaders. They are always on the phone, out of the office or have their office door closed – they tell me. Another comment I hear: I give them work to review and it sometimes takes weeks to hear feedback on how I did, if I hear at all.

Be sure to read the article and determine how, as a manager of people, you might be more involved with your people.

  • There are more of them than us.
  • Herb Caen

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Young Women In Accounting

This week, I have been focusing on the young, valuable talent working at CPA firms. Some very important people in that group are young, career-focused women.

My message to you:  Don’t give up on public accounting! Don’t think you cannot continue your CPA career in public and also enjoy the rewards of personal life.

During the last 10 years, public accounting has become even more flexible. Flexible work arrangements are very common for both females and males.

If you don’t “jive” with your current CPA firm, try another firm before you give up on public accounting.

I firmly believe that choosing public accounting is one of the smartest decisions a female accounting major can make. Being a CPA and working with business owners is challenging, interesting, flexible, well-respected and financially rewarding.

Don’t give-up too easily!

  • If you're offered a eat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat! Just get on.
  • Sheryl Sandberg