Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Predictions and Trends For 2015

img_joeCPA management consultant, Joe Tarasco, had his 2015 predictions featured on the Forbes site last week.

Here’s some brief highlights that I definitely agree with:

  • Career development and leadership training will continue to grow as the need for quality professional staff at the managerial and partner levels turns into a crisis mode.
  • Firms will have no choice but to invest heavily in their best and brightest in all stages of their careers in order to remain competitive and develop succession plans.
  • Firms that have grown through the consolidation of aging practices will begin to deal with intensified succession issues. This will fuel more mergers of mega-firms into larger firms.
  • MPs and Ex Committee members will come under more scrutiny by their partners in their ability to lead and manage successfully. Firms will have to make tough business decisions concerning under-performing partners.
  • More firms will need to hire professional COOs from outside the CPA profession to assist them in managing their organization.

For the complete list and more detail read the article here. Congrats to Joe for being featured on the Forbes site!

  • I was not predicting the future, I was trying to prevent it.
  • Ray Bradbury

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

This Post Is For Accounting Majors & Interns

Man DonkeyConsider your future. Don’t just let it happen because of various circumstances. Your professors and maybe even your parents are pushing you to take the job that pays the most money. They want you to work for a firm with great name recognition that will eventually look good on your resume down the road.

Is that how you want begin your career? Will that make YOU happy? Think about where and how you want to work. Not everyone is content with being a grinder. Many young people want to work where they have more freedom and a bigger voice in their workplace.

If you are an accounting major and interested in public accounting (I hope you are because there are great rewards in public accounting), be sure to explore all of your options.

If you are a top student and have a decent personality and work ethic – EVERY CPA firm wants you and will court you.

Be sure to consider, research and talk to small to mid-size firms. Contemplate what you want your day to look like. You’ll be spending a lot of hours at work.

You will need a lot of guidance and hand-holding during the first couple of years. Just being a good student with good grades won’t lead to success. You need help. Large national and huge regional firms have “universities” to train you. That’s nice and I am glad but sometimes you just feel like one of the herd. Look those firm over and determine if that fits YOU. Also, seek to find a firm that will help you, give you more personal attention, guide you… but not smother you nor pigeon-hole you.

My observation after many years working in and with CPA firms is that you will more quickly gain knowledge, experience, and expertise in a very wide range of duties/tasks/projects at a firm that is small to mid-size. You will get exposed to a broader view of how to serve SMEs.

If you are wondering about size of firms, here is how the AICPA classifies them for their Top Issues Survey:

  1. Sole Practitioners
  2. Firms with 2 to 5 professionals
  3. Firms with 6 to 10 professionals
  4. Firms with 11 to 20 professionals
  5. Firms with 21 or more professionals

I consider 1 thru 4 as small to mid-size. Just a qualifier, it’s not only size, it has a lot to do with the vision of the owners. I know 2 partner firms that are vibrant, exciting, growing and their small team loves it there. I know firms with 12 partners who are stuck in the past.

Do your home work before you accept an offer.

  • Work to become, not to acquire.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Don’t Wait For Change To Be Forced Upon You – Embrace It Now

Accounting firm leaders tend to procrastinate.

  • Let’s put that on hold for now.
  • We have to wait until after April to tackle that one.
  • I think our 15 year-old phone system can get us through another year.
  • Our clients don’t want to use a portal.

Too many firms wait to see what other firms are doing before they make any signifiant decision. “We aren’t ready for that yet. Let those other guys test it.” Meanwhile, you look like you are lagging behind.

You have a lot of very creative people working for you. Why must you do what everyone else is doing? Why must your website look like all the other CPA firm websites? Why must the benefits you offer your people match what most firms in your firm association are offering? Why must the services your firm offers be what CPA firms have always offered?

There is a new normal evolving in the CPA profession. So many opportunities are available if you have the vision to see what is possible.

The quote, below, says it all.

  • We need not wait to see what others do.
  • Gandhi

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