Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

It’s Great To Work In Public Accounting

Maybe you haven’t thought about it lately. Maybe it never crosses your mind January through April, but working in public accounting is pretty cool.

You work your entire career with a group of professionals, people dedicated to helping others. After all, CPAs are the most trusted advisor to small business owners across the nation.

The people that surround you are intelligent, well-educated and dedicated to giving back to their local communities. Some of the clients you get to work with are the movers and shakers in the business community.

You learn something new almost every day and you become more knowledgeable and professional with each passing year.

I noticed this hard-working young man yesterday, a chilly winter day, and it came to mind how fortunate I was (and you are) to work in public accounting.

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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

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

Be My Valentine!

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz

Nothing thought-provoking to read today. Nothing to nag you about. No reminders to do this or to do that!

Just a picture and a simple message – I love working with CPAs!

valentine pix

  • If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.
  • Maya Angelou

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

Don’t Waste Your Vacation

“A vacation is what you t ake when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” – Earl Wilson

So many people in CPA firms do not take the vacation they have been awarded. I hope you are not one of them!

According to an article, I read recently, every year more than half of Americans fail to use all their time off, creating a stockpile of 662 million unused vacation days.

I bet if you counted all the unused vacation days of your entire team (including partners), it would be a significant number.

DSC03008Most firms allow you to carry over a certain number of hours but few allow you to carryover all of it.

Studies show that “planners” have an advantage over non-planners. If you plan your vacations in advance you will more than likely use more of your allotted vacation time and take longer vacations.

Winter is a perfect time to think about warm beaches, national parks, mountain retreats and cruises. Rather than going home at night and venting about your day at work, talk about and plan your vacations for 2018.

I took the picture on one of our trips to Hilton Head. Nothing like watching the sun come up out of the ocean.

  • Laughter is an instant vacation.
  • Milton Berle

Monday, February 5th, 2018

There is No One to Replace You

“Leadership Tip: Develop leaders or your vision will die when you die.” – Dan Rockwell

On my mind today. CPA partners have been saying it for several years now, “There’s no one to replace me.”

When I hear it I cringe. When I hear it, I usually ask, “Whose fault is that?”

Have you really been that deficient in training and mentoring your employees? Or, are you telling yourself that there is no one qualified to replace you because you are going to merge up, get your pay-out and don’t want to feel guilty about disappointing some key employees?

  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
  • Will Durant

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Incentive For New Business – Keep It Simple

“If you look at history, innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.” – Steven Johnson

Many firms, in recent years, have adopted an incentive plan for bringing new business to the firm. It is usually a percentage of fees billed to the new client for the first year of service. Some firms pay a percentage for the first two or three years of service.

The most common ones that I am aware of are 10% of first-year fees or 5% of fees for the first one, two and/or three years.

Some firms require that a certain amount of fees must be billed and even that certain realization levels are accomplished. They also pay the incentive on a delayed schedule – after services are rendered and fees are billed (and collected, in some cases).

Why not be more generous? How motivational is it to make the effort to bring in new business when the reward comes way down the road with lots of stipulations.

At my firm, we paid 10% of first-year fees at the time the initial engagement letter was signed, based on the amount quoted in the engagement letter. We did not pay for individual income tax clients unless they were quoted a fee over $2,000.

The incentive was intended for business clients. If we quoted a range of fees, like many firms do, such as $3,000 – $4,000, we paid the team member 10% of the higher amount. If first-year fees ended up being more than the amount quoted in the engagement letter, we paid the make-up amount after the year-end. This policy did not apply to partners. All that was required is that the team member made the introduction and involved a partner.

Whatever your firm offers, keep it simple and provide more timely gratification to the team member.

Just FYI, we did not pay-out this incentive very often. It didn’t seem to motivate staff and admin very much.

  • You've got to change incentives for goo behavior as opposed to just disincentivizing bad behavior.
  • Gavin Newsom

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Does It Make Business Sense?

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

In the profession of public accounting, the basic format for staffing has been the same for years.

You hire great talent, we invest in them, train them well and assign them to certain types of work. Their first year on the job is definitely a learning experience. The second year they get better, more efficient and even seem to enjoy what they are doing more because they are comfortable with the work.

The third year, they could be really efficient and profitable but you promote them and they are assigned work that they are not familiar with nor good at and the inefficiencies are reflected in their work.

Would it make more sense to leave them alone for another year or two and let them become even more proficient at their assigned duties? I know! Young talent wants to advance quickly. But, does that mean EVERY person should be treated the same? Why not try managing a person based on their individual abilities, skills, and desires? Some move on more quickly and some don’t, based on what they want. Do you even know what each individual team member wants from their career? It wouldn’t mean that those people who repeat the work they do for another year or two is less valuable. Actually, they might be more valuable when it comes to efficiency and profitability.

All this might not mean much right now since all the experts tell us that the entry-level work is going to be done via artificial intelligence. But, for many firms, that is going to take a while.

Most firms are doing something like this but higher up the food chain. They permit partners to stay at the same level of expertise and performance for decades. Does that make business sense?

  • Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.
  • Peter Drucker

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Take Notes

“Take note. If you don’t take notes your idea will get lost.” – Sir Richard Branson

I was so pleased when I read a recent post from Richard Branson, Why Everyone Should Be Taking Notes.

I am a note taker! I have taken notes all of my adult life. Of course, one reason is that I will forget to do something if I don’t write it down. Actually, I have been forgetful all of my adult life – not sure what that will mean as I get even older!

Each time I talk to a client, I take detailed notes. When someone suggests a wine that I might like, I make note of it. When someone mentions a great book or movie, I make note of it. When I get an idea for a blog topic, I make note of it immediately.

As Branson says, “No matter how big, small, simple or complex an idea is, get it in writing. But don’t just take notes for the sake of taking notes, go through your ideas and turn them into actionable and measurable goals.”

He also mentions that in his opinion, 99% of people in leadership roles don’t take notes.

  • Many people think writing notes is below them - but everyone should be doing it as it can greatly improve what you do.
  • Sir Richard Branson

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Time

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee

A good friend sent me this. We are all so obsessed with time yet we waste so much of it.

Be More Respectful to Time: I heard someone last year say, “if we see someone throwing money away, we call that person crazy. Yet we see others, and ourselves, throwing “time” away almost every day and think or say nothing of it.” I constantly have to remind myself of the importance of time and the fact it is truly a finite, expendable resource. What makes it so difficult to value is the fact we never know when it will run out or completely end. What’s even more crazy is the fact we can’t make any more once it’s gone! An English author named Arnold Bennett once said, “You have to live on this 24 hours of time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, content, respect and the evolution of your immortal soul. Its right use…is a matter of the highest urgency.”

  • The strongest of all warriors are these two - - Time and Patience.
  • Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

You Don’t Have to be a Perfectionists to Achieve Your Goals

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” – George Washington

CPAs are quality minded. They are the most trusted business advisor. They especially pride themselves in the quality of their work. 

If you are living your work life inside a CPA firm, you know how thoroughly the client work gets reviewed. If you are not living inside a CPA firm, here’s how it goes: 

  • The work is completed (financial statement, tax return, various financial projects, etc.)
  • The work is proofed and corrected.
  • The work is draft reviewed and then corrected.
  • The work is quality reviewed and then modified.
  • The work is partner reviewed and adjusted.
  • Just before it is absolutely, positively finished and ready to go to the client, it is “released” and even at this point something is caught that needs to be changed (usually a very small detail).
  • Then the partner assigned to the client work wonders why it takes to much time to get the engagement out the door!

CPAs often deny it but most are perfectionists.

When dealing with the management/operations side of the firm and when setting personal goals for yourself, please do not think that things have to be perfect. Rather than being your own worst critic, become your biggest fan.

Human beings learn so much from their mistakes! When pursuing a goal, don’t focus on perfectionism; focus on progress.

Breakdown your sometimes overwhelming projects and tasks into steps and don’t hesitate to celebrate and reward yourself when even one step is accomplished.

I call it moving from status quo to an improved position. Do that once and then repeat, repeat and repeat.

I’m sure you have heard the saying, “eat the elephant one bite at a time.” If you view your task as one giant goal, you are setting yourself up for failure or disappointment. Why not enjoy the bites along the way!

  • The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.
  • Ray Kroc