Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Talking and Writing

“The spoken word and the written — there is an astonishing gulf between them.” – Hercule Poirot 

The above quote from an Agatha Christie novel made me think of CPAs and all the other people working inside accounting firms.

Talking – – You have developed your own language. You never say individual tax return, you say 1040. You don’t say:

  • We need an Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate; you say we need a W-4.
  • We have the U.S. Return of Partnership Income; you say 1065.

Be careful, especially when talking to clients and new hires, that you answer questions in a way that is easily understandable for people not familiar with life inside a CPA firm. As for your new hires, they will soon be very comfortable with form numbers.

Writing – – So much is conveyed these days in writing. Email is our main form of communication with clients, business associates, and employees. I see first-hand that many CPAs rank poorly with grammar and spelling! After all, they are numbers people. More than once, I have talked with firm administrators and partners who are actually embarrassed, for the firm, because of a way a partner corresponds via email.

So, back to the quote. Are you easily able to put in writing clear, concise answers to your clients’ questions? Are you careful not to use CPA lingo that might not be understood by outsiders?

Some CPAs are skilled at putting things in writing yet find it difficult to convey verbally, and vice-versa. Talking and writing are things we can all work on to become more skilled and proficient.

  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
  • Robert Benchley

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Get Moving!

“A plan that starts next week is a comfort to stagnation.” – Dan Rockwell

It is past mid-June. You have conducted your after-tax-season debriefing. You made a list of things to work on for next year. Action steps were discussed.

Many partner groups have already had their retreats. You came out of that session excited about the future and with some definite action steps.

How many steps have you taken? Have you taken even one? Get moving – summer is flying by.

  • I will prepare and some day my chance will come.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Important Survey

“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.” – John Naisbitt

My friends at ConvergenceCoaching®, LLC, are committed to helping firms succeed through the adoption of NextGen strategies, including flex. They are seeking participants in their Anytime, Anywhere Work™ Survey 2018.

The goal of this survey is to collect data on the adoption of flexible work programs (Anytime, Anywhere Work™ programs) by public accounting firms and the experiences firms have had with these initiatives.

Follow the link to find out more and please consider participating in the survey. The survey is open through June 15. By participating you will receive a copy of the survey results.

  • It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

Client Acceptance

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” – Nathaniel Branden

A potential new client calls and wants to meet you and possibly hire you and your firm. You are thrilled – a new client!

More and more potential clients are contacting you via your website to inquire about services. You are thrilled – a new client!

They come into the office for a complimentary first meeting. This is where you need to be careful and not be so thrilled.

They talk and talk. You talk and talk. Before you know it you have given them a couple hours of FREE consultation. Because you are a nice person and want to help people you have also probably given them valuable advice on their financial situation without them becoming a client.

Many people who contact you, are not a suitable client for your services. Don’t invest too much time upfront.

Yes, put the word out there that you offer a free one-hour consultation for prospective clients. But, establish a script for that first meeting to learn more about them so you can decide whether they are a suitable candidate for your firm. Don’t accept clients that do not fit your criteria for an “A” client. Your expertise is not a fit for everyone. Invest one hour, no more until they sign the engagement letter.

The establishment of a valid billing and collection policy begins with client acceptance.

  • Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it.
  • Michael J. Fox

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

We Are So busy

“Never mistake activity for achievement.” – John Wooden

I love the above quote and it is something that I think applies to CPA firm citizens.

I hear it all the time:

  • We are so busy.
  • No one has time to help me.
  • I hesitate to add new clients because I can’t ask the staff to work more hours.
  • And, many similar statements.

I also see it all the time. A huge amount of talking, debating and worrying with very little actually being accomplished. I observe it often in my coaching clients – lots of talk and excuses (we were too busy) and little achievement.

Analyze what you are so busy doing. The best thing you can be doing, no matter what level of staff you are (or partner), is to focus on developing others. Delegate to them and get yourself out of the busy-work and focus on achieving something bigger.

  • Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Bringing In New Partners

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

Recently, Marc Rosenberg contributed an article to CPA Practice Advisor titled 7 Must-Haves for Accounting Firm Succession Plans. 

Rosenberg notes that 80% of first-generation firms never make it to the second generation because they have non-existent or ineffective succession plans.

If you want your firm to survive into the future, choosing the right partners is an important step. Often, owners make someone a partner without them truly understanding the expectations and responsibilities of a partner. Firms also often make someone a partner just because they don’t want them to leave the firm.

In his article, Rosenberg kindly shares his one-page list of criteria for promotion to partner. You can download it here. Be sure to read his entire article. Thanks for sharing, Marc.

  • Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.
  • George Washington Carver

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

To Act is Hard

“To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.” ~ Goethe 

Read the above quote again.

Many CPAs working in public accounting will soon be participating in their firm’s annual partner, management or firm retreat.

You will THINK and explore many great ideas.

I urge you – act in accordance with your thinking.

  • You will never plow a field if you only turn it over in your mind.
  • Irish Proverb

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Performance Feedback

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi

For many firms, it is the time of year when you begin your performance feedback sessions. Hopefully, you have modified and updated your methods over the last few years. While some firms have theoretically eliminated the annual performance review, it is certainly not dead yet.

If you use the same format year after year after year, your employees and those who are giving them feedback come to dread the entire process.

Sometimes partners are expected to give feedback to 7, 8, 9 or more people. That takes a lot of time. The bigger issue is, after all the preliminary information gathering is done, how you structure the actual feedback face-to-face meeting.

One step in the right direction is to have more performance conversations throughout the year and not put so much focus on the big, annual evaluation.

Another modification is to work with your partners and managers in learning how to provide more meaningful feedback. Historically, managers have focused on past performance rather than talking about the future. Managers have also tended to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths.

Work to identify each individual’s strengths. Then, build momentum and career progression on those strengths. Develop a system of more frequent conversations and down-play the dreaded annual review.

 

  • If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.
  • Thomas Edison

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

The Partner Pledge

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi

I have talked with many firms about the use of a partner commitment statement. It is a list of things that a person commits to when they become an owner (partner) in a CPA firm. The first example I ever saw was from Sam Allred of Upstream Academy.

Over the years I have encouraged all firms to establish some guidelines for partners to follow. In so many firms, it is a sort of “now I am a partner so I can do whatever I want” culture. Progressive firms are setting the expectation for partners and I think it would be helpful to all partner groups.

Thanks to the CPAFMA discussion board, I recently read a sample Partner Pledge shared by Scott Chicoine, Firm Administrator for KerberRose, a prominent Wisconsin firm. They have kindly agreed to share their Partner Pledge with all of you. Thank-you, KerberRose!

kerberrosecclogo01

 

 

 

 

 

PARTNER COMMITMENT PLEDGE

Mission:
To Make our Clients and Employees Successful

Core Values:
• Honesty
• Integrity
• Respect
• Balanced Life
• Community Orientated

As a Partner of KerberRose, S.C., I understand that partnership is a privilege and not a right…this privilege must be continuously earned. I have a responsibility to KerberRose, the Partners, and the team members. As a Partner, I understand that I am on display for all to see and serve as a role model. My effort, attitude and desire will serve as a constant point of reference for employees. As such I pledge to:

-Commit to the Core Values of KerberRose in all interactions with all of The Firm’s Team Members
-Make myself more valuable every year and strive for continuous improvement
-Ensure the perpetuation of KerberRose through the transfer of knowledge and talents to future firm leaders
-Support firm efforts to develop and train future firm leadership
-Foster a culture that promotes inclusivity, family values, and opportunity for team members
-Continually engage with Team Members… be accessible, show them they are valued and help them to achieve their goals
-Be a great role model for success and judgment… be an inspiring Partner
-Make myself available for meetings with Firm Administrator and Managing -Partner to help monitor my personal goals and firm goals
-Delegate as appropriate, giving proper direction and setting reasonable expectations
-Commit to a unified and cohesive Partner group, but allow for creative thinking and challenging the status quo
-Commit to spirited involvement rather than grudging compliance
-Act in a modest manner and set ego aside
-Promote the full offering of available services to clients and prospects
-Ensure the services I offer are beneficial to clients
-Understand that we should provide clients exceptional service
-Always put the business interests of KerberRose ahead of my personal business interests
-Use my best efforts to meet or exceed my new business goals on an annual basis
-Use my best efforts to attain both chargeable and non-chargeable goals each year
-Establish non-chargeable hour goals that enhance the future of KerberRose
-Prepare billing timely and fairly
-Follow established collection policies and requirements of Partners
-Record my time daily
-Always give my best attitude, effort, and desire
-Make a lifelong commitment to learning

I, ________________________________have read, understand, and agree to do my best to approach my daily work in accordance with this KerberRose Partner Commitment Pledge.

 

  • Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes... but no plans.
  • Peter Drucker

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Participate In The Rosenberg Survey

“Knowledge is power.” – Francis Bacon
I eagerly look forward to the release of the Rosenberg Survey each year. I use it extensively in my consulting work. Now is the time for your firm to fill out the survey and participate.
Here’s the information to that you can take part:
THE ROSENBERG SURVEY – SURVEY NOW OPEN
For two decades, The Rosenberg Survey has provided accounting firms with key benchmark statistics.
Did you know?
The Elite Firms from our 2017 survey (firms with income per partner > $500k) had the following metrics:
  • Ratio of staff to equity partner – 8.6 (vs. an average of 5.1 for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
  • Net fees per equity partner – $2,180,000 (vs. an average of $1.2 million for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
  • Charge hours for professional staff – 1,510 (vs. an average of 1,492 for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
Why is The Rosenberg Survey Valuable?
  • Customized comparison of like-sized firms in similar markets for participating firms.
  • Accurate and valid results reviewed by three CPAs.
  • Reliable year to year comparison with a return rate of 82% from previous year’s participants.
  • Robust pool of participants of nearly 350 firms makes our data relevant to firms of all sizes.
  • Clear cut data displayed by firm size for comparison.
 
The deadline to participate is July 16th. (Thank you to those firms that have participated thus far.)
  • Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.
  • William Pollard