Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Words of Wisdom from a Succession Planning Panel

“It is better to live rich than to die rich.” – Samuel Johnson

At the BDO Alliance conference, the Succession Planning panel was comprised of Marc Rosenberg, Jay Nisberg, Carl George and Bob Lewis. It’s important for you to keep tabs on current trends in the succession area and tweak your own plan as the years go by.

Daniel Hood, Editor of Accounting Today tweeted some great comments from the panel. I have selected a few for your contemplation.

  • Lewis: The first thing to do is look at the gaps – financial gap (can the successors support the retirees?), the talent gap (who can bring in work), the strategy gap (do you know where you want to be in 5 years?)
  • Nisberg: Too many Baby Boomers don’t see the people coming up behind them as having the same strengths they have. I assure you, they do – you just have to trust.
  • Rosenberg: Partners need to have a show-down meeting: When do they want to retire? What do they want from it? It’s a hugely emotional issue.
  • Nisberg: Vision is critical – highly successful firms have a vision that is the culmination of the will of the partners – where they want to go and how they want to get there.
  • Rosenberg: 80% of 1st generation CPA firms don’t make it to the second generation.
  • George: If you don’t put succession planning in partner goals and the compensation system, you will be stuck in the mud.
  • Lewis: It’s important that staff know there’s a succession in place.
  • George: A surprising number of firm leaders don’t understand the business of public accounting.
  • Lewis: In many firms, staff doesn’t understand firm revenue, the actual size of the firm. How can they operate in the dark?
  • George: Start teaching staff the business of public accounting on Day 1 – while you’re onboarding.
  • Rosenberg: Get everyone in the firm to understand how the firm works and how it makes money. That needs to happen at CPA firms. Partners are much too secretive.
  • Rosenberg: Staff doesn’t have a clue how much partners make – give them an idea because it’ll be higher than they expect.
  • Lewis: If a non-equity partner isn’t willing to convert to equity, then you don’t really have a partner.
  • Nisberg: I don’t understand why so many firms rush to M&A when there are so many other options.
  • George: I’m very happy to see more women than ever running firms — and they’re doing a great job.
  • Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun.
  • Jim Bishop

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

May Day & Mayday

“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” – William Shakespeare

May 1 is the 121st day of the year (122nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 244 days remaining until the end of the year. Historically, it originated as a Roman festival honoring the beginning of the summer season (in the northern hemisphere). Many, when they think of May Day, think of people dancing around a Maypole (a pole painted and decorated with flowers, around which people traditionally dance on May Day, holding long ribbons that are attached to the top of the pole.)

Mayday, an international radio distress signal used especially by ships and aircraft, has a more linguistic origin than the pragmatic approach of S.O.S. Although a connection to the month of May might seem likely, it is actually an anglicization of the French m’aidez or m’aider, meaning “help me”.

Where am I going with this as it relates to public accounting?

You have relaxed, taken some time off and recovered from the traditional busy season. May 1st is here and you should celebrate, but you only have 244 days remaining to focus on making improvements to position your firm for success before you are faced with another busy season.

You, as an individual can’t do it alone. Enlist the help of many at your firm. Never hesitate to say, “Help me!”

  • With the coming of spring, I am calm again.
  • Gustav Mahler

Monday, April 30th, 2018

Abusing Technology

“I have so much I want to do. I hate wasting time.” – Stephen Hawking

Baby Boomer Partners complain:

Many of our staff are just looking for a job, not a career. They want to work 8:00 until 5:00, five days a week. Even while they are at work, they waste so much time on social media, texting their family and friends, and shopping on Amazon.

Millennial Staff complains:

Some partners send me emails at midnight. They also send me emails on weekends and sometimes at 5:00 a.m. I am expected to reply and it seems like I am on call 24/7.

Technology enables us to do so many things more quickly. It also allows us to use a lot of time we should be working on personal endeavors or to intrude on people’s personal time inappropriately.

Instant communication is not always a good thing. This might be a good discussion topic for a lunch and learn session. “How are we abusing the use of technology?” “What do we owe each other, as employer and employee?”

  • There's no good way to waste your time. Wasting time is just wasting time.
  • Helen Mirren

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

The Rosenberg Survey Is Now Open

It’s that time of year again! Here’s the scoop:
 The 20th annual Rosenberg Survey is underway and we would like to cordially invite you to participate. For two decades this survey has proven to be the financial benchmarking standard for CPA firms. The Rosenberg Survey provides highly relevant in-depth analyses and serves as a resource for firms to better understand how to drive profitability.

  

Why is The Rosenberg Survey Valuable?
  • Our results are reviewed for accuracy and validity by three top CPAs including acclaimed industry consultants, Marc Rosenberg and Charles Hylan.
  • We deliver clear, valid and unique statistics not available in other industry surveys.
  • We provide a reliable year-to-year comparison with a return rate of over 82% from the previous year’s participants.
  • A robust pool of 350 participants makes our data relevant to firms of all sizes.
  • We display data by firm size for easy comparisons.
Participate in this year’s survey to obtain a great benchmarking tool that can be used in the coming year. The final deadline to complete the survey is Monday, July 16th.

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Problems

“The work is to solve problems in a way that you’re proud of.” – Seth Godin

I love the above quotation from a post by Seth Godin. He is describing what it means to be an entrepreneur.

I believe that this quote describes my mission. I work to help my CPA firm clients solve problems, as the quote says, in a way that I am proud of. Often, it is very challenging, mostly because the problems I am trying to help solve can be solved by a simple solution – change.

You, working in a CPA firm, have the same exact mission. It’s not preparing tax returns or financial statements, it is solving problems for your clients and helping them make needed changes to be more profitable and successful.

Begin looking at your work this way. If you are solving problems, word will spread and you will have more clients. Solving problems is a great way to market.

  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Processes

“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.” – Lou Holtz

How did your processes and procedures work during your busy season? Be sure you contemplate this question. Also, be sure you ask your people how they thought the processes worked this season.

Now is the time to work toward making NEXT year better. Identify trouble spots and spend some time analyzing.

I have observed that in many firms they have very well-thought-out processes and they work well until you get to the partner level and then things fall apart.

As a partner, are you a partner or a sole-proprietor working in a multi-partner firm? Is your firm a one-firm firm or a silo firm? Do you act as though, because you are a partner, the rules don’t apply to you?

One-firm firms grow and prosper much quicker and easier than silo firms.

If you are the leader of the firm, maybe you need a partner commitment statement that declares partners will follow the firm’s processes, procedures, and guidelines. Your people will thank you!

  • If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.
  • Katharine Hepburn

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Accountability

“Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.” – Courtney Lynch

There are a lot of conversations in public accounting firm circles about accountability. Practitioners ask, “How do we hold people accountable?” They want to know exactly what to do and what to say.

In an accounting firm, it is almost always from the top down. As leaders, you want your people to be held accountable for their performance or lack thereof.

Keep in mind, accountability is a two-way street. If you are holding your people accountable for their performance, they should also be holding you accountable for your performance.

Is that happening at your firm? Do the members of your partner group hold each other accountable? Do you welcome upward feedback so that you are accountable to everyone in the firm?

  • Go into every interaction with those who work for you believing that you are as accountable to them for your performance as they are to you for their performance.
  • Jim Whitehurst

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

Strategy and Tactics

“Hope is not a strategy.” – Vince Lombardi

Sometimes, accountants get so wrapped up in tactics that they forget about strategy and vice versa. Distinguishing between tactics and strategy sometimes get very blurry inside CPA firms.

I don’t often include an entire blog post by Seth Godin in my own blog post. But, today is one of those days because I think it is very important for you, and your firm, to clearly understand tactics and strategy. Here it is:

Why even bother to think about strategy?

There’s confusion between tactics and strategy. It’s easy to get tied up in semantic knots as you work to figure out the distinction. It’s worth it, though, because strategy can save you when tactics fail.

If a tactic fails, you should consider abandoning it.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with your strategy. Your strategy is what you keep doing even after you walk away from a tactic.

A real estate broker could decide that her goal is to get more listings.

And her strategy is to achieve that by becoming the most trusted person in town.

There are then 100 tactics she can use to earn that trust. She can coordinate events, sponsor teams, host community meetings in her office, sponsor the local baseball team, be transparent about her earnings, hire countless summer interns at a fair wage, run seminars at the local library, etc. …

It doesn’t matter if one or two or five of the tactics aren’t home runs. They add up.

But if once, just once, she violates someone’s trust and expectations, the entire strategy goes out the window.

Tactics are disposable.

Strategy is for the long haul.

  • Strategy is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do – it’s a matter of being different at what you do.
  • Michael Porter

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Getting Partners to Change

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney

I hear comments like the following over and over again:

  • We’re stuck.
  • We’ve plateaued.
  • We have this one partner who won’t budge.
  • I know my partners and they are not going to change, so let’s focus on our young accountants.
  • Our partners are too comfortable.
  • I honestly don’t want the hassle involved with trying to get them to change.
  • Our owners simply don’t value firm management.
  • He is our rainmaker and he’s going to do things his way.
  • Most of our partners just aren’t very good businessmen.
  • We are just waiting for some of them to retire.
  • Our partners don’t want feedback from staff. They don’t want to hear it.

These are REAL comments I have heard in my discussions with managing partners and I could give you many more.  I know firms who have hired very expensive marketing and sales consultants to help their partners learn how to bring in new business.  I know firms who have hired extremely high-level ($25,000 plus for six months) personal coaches to help owners develop better relationship skills (relationships with other partners, staff, and even their own families).  Short-term change happens but it doesn’t last for very long.

When I hear these stories, it makes me sad.  I shake my head in sympathy (that’s usually what the whiner wants at that point in the conversation) and then I ask, “What are YOU going to do about it?”  That question is something they don’t want to hear.

I agree that you can’t change the basic personality of a CPA partner, but that partner can change their behaviors. If they want to. Most people inside CPA firms, who really need to change their behaviors to help make the firm more successful, really do not want to.  They have no reason to change.

You must develop a culture of accountability. I recommend applying constant, gentle pressure to complacent partners. Don’t back-off.  Plus, YOU have to give them a reason to change.

  • By not holding your partners accountable, you are promoting mediocrity, rather than excellence.
  • Gary Boomer

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Get Motivated – Take Action

joey-havens2_18-748750-edited“We need a wake-up call.” – Joey Havens

I follow Joey Havens, Executive Partner at Horne LLP on Twitter. His tweets often lead me to his blog posts and, to put it simply, he writes really good stuff!

Here’s one of his posts I want to encourage you to read – Mind the Gap: A Wake-Up Call for Professional Services Firms.

We see it every day—automation, implemented well, reduces the amount of compliance work we perform.

We experience it every day—fierce competition from outside our profession pursuing our clients. 

We feel it every day—the market for professional services is demanding and opening the door for “higher value services.”

You know you have to become a true business advisor and consultant but for some, it is a big leap from doing the comfortable compliance work. Take a minute or two to read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

  • It is always a wake-up call to get beat.
  • Usain Bolt