Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Helping You Save Time – Here’s A Quick Review Of Last Week’s Posts

It’s a simple thing.      Saving time.      You should try it sometime.

Yes, I am being sarcastic again. As you know, working inside a busy, growing CPA firm, it is very important to always be aware of saving time and wasting time. This applies if you still record time daily or if you are a value-pricing firm.

I worked very hard last week to do my part to:  Enlighten you – Give you ideas – Encourage you to be your best – Help you (and your people) earn more money – Be more appreciative of each other – And so on. Plus, never forget that a leader MUST read – often and a variety of things and topics.

Here’s a list of last week’s posts. If one or more grabs your attention, you might want to read it quickly as you start your week:

Monday:  CPAs Will Leave Your Firm – No Matter What Time of Year – Yes, people quit CPA firm jobs in tax season these days.

Tuesday: Identify Future Leaders Early, Part I – Gary Boomer’s article inspired me to elaborate. Be sure you communicate to your young people the benefits of a long career in public accounting.

Wednesday: Identify Future Leaders Early, Part II – My thoughts relating to Boomer’s article were too extensive for just one blog post. So, Here are 10 characteristics to look for in identifying future leaders.

Thursday:  Apologies – Don’t point fingers. Don’t play the blame game. It wastes too much time.

Friday:  Make It Easy For Your Clients – Starbucks Does – Do you avoid client phone calls at times? Do your managers rarely answer their phone, preferring to let it go to voice mail?

Don’t forget my Saturday post “Lighten-Up” post (off topic, humorous or even weird). Holy weekend, Batman!

  • The MORE that you READ, the more THINGS you will KNOW. The MORE you LEARN, the more PLACES you'll GO!
  • Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Identify Future Leaders Early – Part I

Gary Boomer, is that you with Rita?Gary Boomer’s recent article in Accounting Today “hits the nail on the head,” so to speak. As usual, Boomer and I are on the same wave-length. His insight into what accounting firms should be doing and not doing is always right on-target. The theme of his recent article is “leaders should be identified early in their careers….”

Current firm leaders often tend to wait way too long to identify future leaders. They may be thinking to themselves, “Young Ted is really sharp. He grasps things so quickly and he can talk to clients in an enlightened and mature manner.” 

The trouble is, firm leaders don’t communicate to young Ted that he has what it takes to be a major player in the game of public accounting, along with an earnings potential to match.

Meanwhile, young Ted is restless. He wants more responsibility, he wants to mentor the new hires and interns, he wants to be assigned to the firm’s premier clients, he wants to learn directly from the best performing partners and he would like the chance to accompany a partner to a client meeting or lunch.

If Ted’s expectations are not met, he will move on to find career fulfillment elsewhere. Your competitors will hire him in a heart beat!

My theory is that most experienced accountants can almost immediately assess the future potential of a young person entering the accounting profession. Yet, they wait and often suffer through failures with struggling employees for way too long and hesitate to invest very quickly in education and development of all-stars.

Read Boomer’s article and see what you think. Check back tomorrow and I’ll list Boomer’s 10 characteristics to look for in identifying future leaders.

 

  • None of us is as smart as all of us.
  • Ken Blanchard

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Don’t Use Stock Photos On Your Website – Use Your People

One reason I think it is important to use pictures of your accounting firm team members on your website is the simple fact that it gives them exposure, makes them noteworthy to their friends and makes their family proud.

The argument I usually get from practitioners is… “If Suzy leaves then we have to change the website!” – – You should be continually updating and changing your website anyway – it is a living thing, not a history book.

Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk of bbr marketing addresses this issue in her recent newsletter and on a blog post, The Dangers of Stock Photography.

In case you haven’t noticed, it is world filled with pictures now – yes, selfies and more! People like to see pictures of the real people working at your firm. Make sure your entire team is on your website. Your clients really do like to see the people they work with and prospects want reassurance you and your team are real.

Here’s an example of a best-place-to-work firm with pictures of real people – Santos Postal in Rockville, Maryland.

Also, just my opinion, if you have a LinkedIn account and don’t have your picture there – people think you must be weird!

  • The camera can photograph thought.
  • Dirk Bogarde

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Being Happy

Earlier this week, I blogged about Pope Francis and his message to accountants.

As I was doing research on that blog post, I came across another important message from the Pope and Thanksgiving seemed a perfect day for sharing Pope Francis’s secrets to happiness.

  1. Live and let live
  2. Be giving of yourself to others
  3. Proceed calmly
  4. A healthy sense of leisure
  5. Sundays should be holidays
  6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people
  7. respect and take care of nature
  8. Stop being negative
  9. Don’t proselytise; respect others’ beliefs
  10. Work for peace

To me, a few of these are exactly on target for those working inside accounting firms.

Live and let live – – Don’t micro manage. Don’t gossip and worry about what other employees are doing.

Be giving of yourself to others – – but some structure around your mentoring activities. Mentoring happens naturally inside CPA firms – enhance it and help others.

Sundays should be holidays – – When I began my career in a CPA firm, no one EVER worked on a Sunday. It had nothing to do about religion, specifically, it was just that our founder believed that everyone needed a day of rest, a time to recharge. The more hours you work in a week the bigger chance you will make errors or poor decisions.

Stop being negative – – I see this all the time.  I continually say to people working in CPA firms – STOP WHINING!  Public accounting is an honorable, prestigious career, you work with intelligent people, you work in beautiful offices, you make friends with other top-quality professionals, you get to see businesses grow and prosper (with your help), you become admired by others in the business community for your expertise – – focus on the positive!

In closing, just so you know, I count YOU (all the dedicated readers of my blog posts) as blessings in my life. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Be happy.

Thanksgiving

  • Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
  • William Arthur Ward

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

I Don’t Remember This Happening Before

Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped)Perhaps it has happened, but I don’t remember a sitting Pope commenting, in a very public manner, about the important role of accountants in society.

I urge you – CPAs in the corporate arena and CPAs in public practice – to always keep in mind the important role you truly DO play. Here’s a tidbit about what the Pope said in an address in Rome to participants of the World Congress of Accountants.

“So everyone—but especially those in a profession that deals with the proper functioning of the economic life of a country—is required to play a positive, constructive role in the course of their daily work, bearing in mind that behind every document, there is a story, there are faces.

“Those who work in various positions in the economy and finance are called on to make choices in favor of the social and economic wellness of humanity as a whole, giving everybody the opportunity to realize their own development.”

Young CPAs just getting a good start in your career – you should be very proud of the profession you have chosen. Please have the determination and pride to stay in the public accounting arena. You will be able to touch so many lives. I hope you always remember that while the hours are sometimes long and the continual learning is challenging, the rewards are great – both monetary and personal satisfaction and pride.

Experienced CPAs, not only should you keep doing what you are doing, you should also keep in mind how many lives – your clients and your employees – you are responsible for. I believe that you have survived in public accounting because you do strongly feel the commitment to helping people.  Business people and individuals NEED your expertise.

Read about the Pope’s comments on the Journal of Accountancy site.

(photo via Wikipedia)

  • The future starts today, not tomorrow.
  • Pope John Paul II

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Not So Light But Touching

veteran-s-memorial-poppy-559774209I was in Australia on November 11th this year. There, what we call Veteran’s Day is called Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day). It is observed by the Commonwealth of Nations.

I was in the Alice Springs airport on “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” (the official time WWI hostilities ended) and a message was announced that we all stop and observe a moment of silence to honor those who died in the line of duty. Everyone did.

Many people were wearing a red paper poppy. The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem In Flanders Fields. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I and their brilliant color became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

When I was a child, growing up in a very small town in Ohio, the American Legion Auxiliary women made the red poppies and sold them along the street during the week of November 11th each year. They stopped doing it many years ago. I wonder why. They haven’t forgotten in Australia. It was very touching.

Watch the WWI Christmas truce recreated for an epic tearjerker of an ad by a British grocer.

  • In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row...
  • John McCrae, poet

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Rarely Is It A Merger

I have a lot of random thoughts about mergers/acquisitions, I lived through about 5 of them (acquisitions).

In the CPA firm world, we almost always call them mergers when actually they are acquisitions. There is a dominant player and I think there should be. Trying to please everyone creates chaos. So, the acquiring firm, should clearly explain and communicate the expectations up front and the firm being acquired should air any concerns and negotiate, up front. It doesn’t have to be an argument… think negotiation and communication over and over again.

Some partners are strongly against being acquired. It is usually the poor performing partners because they fear that they might… just might be held accountable and might not live up to the expectations of the new entity.

Mergers/acquisitions are the way to go if you want to grow rapidly or if you want to cash in your chips. I like to see mergers be structured as a win-win and they can be (even if it is really an acquisition).

Here’s a story I heard from a large firm partner many years ago about Bob, the long-time managing partner of a smaller firm.

Bob (this was back in the old days) had a button on his desk that he would push to summon his secretary. He usually pushed it when he wanted something specific done or wanted her to summon someone to his office. Of course, the employees joked about the button and always dreaded it when Bob “pushed his button.”

After being acquired by a large firm, Bob agreed to continue working for a couple of years for transition purposes.  The larger firm managing partner (Tom) found Bob very challenging. Bob continued to push his button to convey his wishes to others.

One day Bob’s button disappeared. Bob immediately went Tom and asked in a demanding tone, “What happened to my button?!” Tom simply replied, “Bob, you sold your button.”

So, if you are being acquired by a larger firm – you are selling your button. That doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. It means you will have to change in some ways. Probably in ways you should have changed several years ago.

  • If you wait, all that happens is you get older.
  • Larry McMurtry

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

It’s Bigger Than Engaging Your People

Okay, so you know I love quotations. I am not a purest about them…. I realize there are many mis-quotes out there or pure quotes attributed to the wrong person. That doesn’t bother me a great deal. If I find a few words that inspire me, make the think or even cause me to take action – that’s good enough for me. Some even inspire me to write a blog post for people working at CPA firms!

“Love life. Engage in it. Give it all you’ve got. Love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.” – – Maya Angelou

In my work with accountants (CPAs), I often find that to them… work is life. They truly love their work. They can be completely absorbed and captivated by a tax issue. They can become obsessed with the organization, planning and carrying-out of an audit.

Of course, I am speaking in generalities. They love their work with a passion. But, do they love life with a passion? Many enjoy amazing monetary pay-back for their efforts and passion for work. But is that engaging in life? I know many who never take all of their vacation time. Many who never read fiction or biographies for enjoyment. They are too busy.

I have been consistent in my message to accountants about engaging their people. People like to work for people they like. People come to like people they know.

How involved are you, as a CPA firm leader and role model, with the people who work for you and your firm?

Succession planning, strategic planning, practice growth, partner unity – and even more issues facing CPA firm leaders could be solved if leaders were more engaged with their people and their peers.

People (the best talent) would stay with firms and become owners in the future if they felt engaged with leaders who demonstrate that they are engaged in life.

  • If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
  • Maya Angelou

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Just Another Due Date

IMG_4340I guess you could call it the last major tax return due date of the year for certified public accountants.

Most business people are well aware that March 15th is the tax due date for corporate tax returns, April 15th is the due date for individual income tax returns. The filing of corporate returns can be extended until September 15 and individual returns until October 15. This creates a very busy time inside most CPA firms leading up to 3/15 and 4/15 and another (mini busy season) leading up to 9/15 and 10/15.

Working with and talking to CPAs across the country (and the people who work for them), I hear so much frustration and observe an immense amount of finger-pointing about why these due dates cause so much stress and unhappiness.

Yet, I find bright spots! I also hear (a very few) stories about Mary or John (partner in the firm) who never has to work so many extra hours as a due date approaches nor do they put excessive demands on the people who help them deliver client services.

What has Mary or John done differently than their other partners?

Simple. They trained their clients. 

I have seen it happen first-hand. It is possible.

  • It's easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top.
  • Henry Ward Beecher

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Status Quo Could Mean Failure

cpa logoI admire CPAs. They are smart, professional, traditional, conservative and cautious when making decisions. They have manners. That says a lot these days!

I only wish they would welcome change. When I work with CPA firm leaders, I often advise…. “It’s time to stir the pot.” I imagine you get the picture. The managing partner usually replies enthusiastically, “You are right!”

In the world of public accounting, if you are not growing, you are shrinking. Status quo eventually leads to failure.

Observe your surroundings. CPA firms are growing again. CPA firms are hiring again… continually seeking top talent (they want your people!). CPA firms are offering services in different ways than they have ever done in the past. CPA firms are investing in niches and becoming well-known for their expertise.

If you are slow to embrace current trends and to make necessary changes, this excerpt from a Seth Godin blog post might apply to you very soon:

“The thing is: failure almost always arrives in a whimper. It is almost always the result of missed opportunities, a series of bad choices and the rust that comes from things gradually getting worse.”

  • Desire is what takes the hot water of mediocrity and turns it into the steam of outstanding success.
  • Zig Ziglar