All of us, in the business world, have been dealing with significant changes in the way we work. Accountants have been automating many of their tasks for years now. Remember the first “portable” computers we used in accounting firms? They weighed about 30 pounds but we still thought they were cool.
I am sure that, by now, you have been reading about the massive changes that are continuing to come our way. McKinsey & Co. estimates that 45% of all activities humans perform in the workplace can be done by software or machines.
McKinsey also estimates that somewhere between 85% and 100% of the labor, in 5 categories of jobs, can be done by machines rather than humans. Here are those 5 categories. Take note of #2.
Bookkeeping, accounting, auditing and billing clerks
Mechanics and automotive technicians
Construction equipment operators
Bakers and butchers
Maybe the talent shortage in the CPA profession will lead CPAs to more quickly move down the road to automation.
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.
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.
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.
It’s a Why Am I Surprised type situation. I periodically “meet” firms (they usually contact me to ask basic questions) that are not embracing the digital world robustly. Many times they have not even dipped their toe in the paperless world. Seventeen years ago my firm went paperless. For many of the more progressive firms it has been nearly that long.
Technology has taken amazing leaps. CPAs must keep-up and be aware of the giant leaps in technology if they are to be a firm of the future. That is why I wanted to share the following. It’s the 10 Hot Consumer Trends via ConsumerLabs.
For many years ConsumerLabs has been in tune with Technology and Consumers and has once again compiled predictions for next year in Tech Trends. Today they released Ericsson’s 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2016. You can find the full story on our media rich website we built for this release
Visit the website for the full story and media elements.
When you visit the website, be sure to hit the Read More button and also follow the link to a PDF of the full report – it is fascinating reading! And, extremely important information for progressive CPA firms.
For example, #2 Streaming Natives tells us that 20% of 16-19 year olds watch more than 3 hours of YouTube daily. The original internet generation does not follow this behavior and only 9% of today’s 30-34 year olds (millennials) watch 3 hours or more of YouTube daily. How will this change your clients and employees of the future? Are you doing YouTube videos to help your clients now?
Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.
I use Yelp and Trip Advisor to find great restaurants. How about you? I also use the reviews and book reservations with Open Table. These are helpful tools. I feel like I get the real story about the restaurant.
What if you could find the same type of reviews (from different perspectives) when you are deciding upon a CPE course? Helpful, right? Check out the following press release and visit the site. It’s new.
Trinocity launches CPEadvisory.com, a CPE user-review site
CPAs can now rate and review any online CPE course from any provider
Nashville, TN – Trinocity announced today the launch of CPEadvisory.com, a rating and review platform for CPE courses. CPAs can find, rate and review any online CPE course from any provider.
Trinocity President, Eric Busby, said, “Much like Yelp and TripAdvisor did with restaurants and hotels, CPEadvisory brings user reviews to CPE. We believe user reviews increase transparency, which helps CPAs make more informed choices and, over time, drives quality higher.”
The CPEadvisory platform can also be integrated with state CPA society websites. The Kentucky Society of CPAs was the first to do so, with other states coming online soon.
CPEadvisory.com contains over 6,000 course listings and is updated daily. Beginning today, CPAs can use the site to find any online CPE course and are encouraged to post reviews on courses they’ve taken.
About Trinocity: Trinocity is a software company specializing in the advancement of the best instruction through user-generated rating and review platforms. It is based in Nashville, Tennessee.
I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.
When you see low level hate activity with no names or individuals to attach to it, it’s not enough to say we’re “looking into it” or “we’re going to work on that”. You have to take action, and if you don’t, you may be held accountable in a way that is career-threatening and embarrassing to you.
(It’s not hate activities at your firm but how many time have you told your employees, “we’re going to work on that”, and then you don’t?)
You can’t be stand-offish to small interest groups that form. You have to engage, or the problem is probably going to get worse.
(At CPA firms, unhappiness of one person spreads. If a star performer is unhappy, they won’t engage, they will just leave and get more money down the street.)
Social media can blow any situation through the roof.
(Be aware! Do you, as a firm leader, even follow social media? One unhappy employee can tell thousands about your firm with one tweet or post on a hiring site.)
All it takes is one group with over-weighted power to take a stand and you’ll be out. Let’s face it, the deans of the various schools came forward and recommended to the president to stand down. Crickets. The football team came forward and it was all over for that president in less than 48 hours. Money and viral pressure from social media, the kind that maybe only sports can deliver in our country, reigns supreme.
(Managing partners, how are you doing? Do you have the support of your partners and your team? Ask them. Talk about it.)
As the author says, take action when you see bad stuff.
To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy, a whole heart and a free mind.
I work with CPAs and their firms. I visit many, many CPA firm websites on a continual basis. For many, it is definitely time to rebrand.
My clients and other CPAs I meet ask me, “What are other firms doing?” or “Can you give me a good example?”. Thanks to my friends at LBMC, headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, I can.
Here is a video about their new rebranding project.
LBMC is a very large firm and can afford to spend a lot more money than many other firms. That’s no excuse for you not to consider rebranding. You can do it! Establish a budget and go forward. It is one step in becoming a firm of the future.
If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.
You used to have to worry about your competitors luring away your younger accountants. After all, $5,000 to $10,000 more in compensation is quite tempting to someone fairly new in the job market.
During the current accounting firm talent wars, firms are pulling out all the stops to find and attract experienced talent. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that experienced accountants are now much more willing to jump ship. I believe there are various reasons for this, one being the fact that some more senior owners dig in their heels when it comes to change. Many of them don’t think they have to spend money to become a firm of the future because, after all, they will be retiring within the next several years.
If you are a 5 to 10-year CPA, even if you are a partner, you are probably being courted. If you are a niche leader you may even become the object of a bidding war.
The bigger firms are paying more for talented people. Smaller firms don’t seem to be as willing to keep pace. That’s what is interesting about the CPA firm model. The percentage that partners are very used to taking home might not be a sustainable model for the future. After all, if you have to pay your people more, it usually means the partners get less.
I am honored to be a member of the CPA Consultants’ Alliance, a group of management consultants serving the CPA profession. We join together to share trends and practices so that we can better serve our clients: CPA firms, their leaders and their teams.
We are pleased to release the findings of our Succession Survey. Here is our press release and a link to where you can download the article.
CPACA Releases New Succession Survey Findings – Firms struggle most with procrastination and lack of “bench strength”
Overland Park, KS, June 2015 – The CPA Consultants’ Alliance (CPACA), released the findings from their new succession survey in an article entitled CPA Firms Face Considerable Succession Challenges. With input from 337 mostly owner and non-equity partner respondents across a cross-section of small, medium and large firms, the survey indicates that firms have considerable challenges with succession. According to CPACA President and survey chairperson Terry Putney of Transition Advisors, “our profession has a long way to go to get ahead of the considerable wave of retirements facing us.”
Key survey findings conclude that firms:
• Are procrastinating or are in denial about succession with 26% of respondents citing “other priorities” as the reason succession planning gets short shrift in their firm and 51.7% blaming procrastination or denial.
• Lack significant “bench strength” to plan transition around, particularly at smaller firms. While 48% of responding partners in firms with 100-plus employees “definitely agree” their firm has adequate talent on hand, over half are not fully confident in their bench strength. Fewer than two-thirds of all responding partners in small firms say they have the right talent to replace retiring owners in the next five years, and one-third are not ready at all.
• Do not have a systematic way to identify and develop talent into future partners. Just under half of surveyed partners in midsize firms say they do not have a system in place for developing internal talent. 35% of all survey respondents indicate their firms do not have a system in place and are not working on one.
• Lack plans for client transition. Only 25% of firms have a client transition plan they are confident will work, although over 40% of those who do not have a plan in place say they are working on one.
• Are uncertain about their buy/sell arrangements. Nearly 25% of the large firm respondents and 50% of small firm respondents don’t know what their agreement says and more than 75% of all firm respondents lack complete confidence they can handle future partner retirement obligations.
• See a sale or merger as their most likely succession plan, which was indicated by half of the respondents in firms with less than 10 employees and one in five in firms with 10 to 24 employees.
“This survey’s purpose is to shed light on a topic that is clearly on the back-burner in firms. By highlighting the challenges and providing suggested solutions, we hope to help firm leaders take steps to plan for and execute transition,” continued Putney.
The CPACA was formed in 2012 with the purpose of exploring leadership issues facing the public accounting profession and developing and sharing solutions that benefit practitioners. Other insights from the group include the article What Drives Happiness at CPA Firms and the whitepaper CPA Firm Leadership: Communication Drives New Possibilities. The group’s vision is to inspire positive change in the CPA profession by collaboratively establishing tools and content that will educate, motivate and increase the wisdom of current and future leaders.
The CPACA’s members are successful consultants within the CPA profession. Members’ expertise includes CPA firm strategic and succession planning, leadership and management, growth, sales and marketing, information technology, human resources, coaching, mergers and acquisitions, diversity, leadership development and more.
For more information about The CPACA, its members and to stay connected, please: