Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Don’t Waste So Much Time

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

I often talk about how much time is wasted inside growing CPA firms. Sure, most people work hard and often work long hours. But, I have observed that there is a lot of time not wisely used by CPA firm citizens.

Have you ever considered how much time you spend on someone who is already well known as a poor performer? Often, it is someone who has been with the firm for several years and has simply not met expectations.

You spend time talking about this person with others, you spend time counseling them, setting development plans, following up periodically and still haven’t seen much improvement. You notice that other team members spend time complaining to each other about a certain poor performer. If you are fortunate, someone finally makes the decision (after the partners talk about it over and over again) to out-place this particular low performer. Team members think, “Thank goodness, it’s about time!”

What if…. a huge portion of that time was spent on nurturing, coaching, mentoring and encouraging the top performers. Wouldn’t that be more pleasant? Wouldn’t that be a better investment of your time?

  • If time be of all the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Employment Agreements

“Too much agreement kills a chat.” – Eldridge Cleaver

Oh, yes – that touchy topic – employment agreements and partner agreements. CPA firms are famous for having them. Usually, they are part of becoming a manager and for sure when you become a partner. Many firms even have staff accountants sign them.

To be quite honest, after working in public accounting for decades and having signed one myself years ago when I worked in a firm, I have always thought they were not very logical.

My view: If you are a “firm” the clients are clients of the firm and partners are just caretakers of the relationships. Clients really don’t “belong” to anyone – how can you control what a client chooses to do?

If a caretaker leaves the firm and clients also decide to leave the firm, that’s the “firm’s” fault for not strengthening the relationship beyond one particular person.

All of this came to mind because of a recent post by Seth Godin – All deals are handshake deals. I love the final line: “Start with a good agreement. But your future depends on doing agreements with good people.”

  • My people and I have come to an agreement which satisfied us both. They are to say what they please, and I am to do what I please.
  • Frederick the Great

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Providing Leadership Training Is A Must

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

There are a lot of good leadership training programs out there for managers and new partners in the CPA profession. Today, I want to make you aware of a great one from ConvergenceCoaching, LLC.

It is a future leaders development program called theTransformational Leadership ProgramTM.  The typical participant is a manager, senior manager or newer partner and the one-year program focuses on leadership behavior and mindset first, then management skills and knowledge of the profession, too.  Convergence runs “public” programs where any firm can send their up-and-comers and they also offer private versions of the program for specific firms and/or associations.

The program is unique from others in that they help participants understand the power of their mindset and the “internal dialogue” we all have that holds us back, or causes us to say or do things we shouldn’t.  It is only after participants understand themselves better that they can then help them develop new leadership, management and practice development skills.  And, participants are personally coached by a ConvergenceCoaching, LLC coach and their accountability to the program, their commitment to change and grow and their leaps forward are greater than in an education-only program.

There is a program beginning in mid-September and information about that program can be found at:

http://www.convergencecoaching.com/what-we-do/transformational-leadership-program/

Testimonials on the program can be found at:  http://www.convergencecoaching.com/who-we-serve/testimonials/

  • An army of a thousand is easy to find but ah how difficult to find a general.
  • Chinese Proverb

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Those Workaholics!

“If there is such a thing as a workaholic, I’m it and that’s what passes for leisure.” – Steve Earle

I hear it from so many CPA firm owners…. “We are trying to get Ginny to work less.”

I am talking about that staff person who seems determined to work more hours than anyone else at the firm. They work late into the evening, especially during the first quarter of the year. They work almost every Saturday, except maybe during June, July and August.

They have more total hours and more chargeable hours than any other employee at the firm.

I also find that this team member is usually a long-time employee, a manager and often female. But, when I encounter a male working unrealistic hours, it is almost always a partner.

As firm leaders, you love this team member – they have lots of billable hours, they provide amazing client service, they pitch-in and help others when needed.

On the other hand, you worry. Is all of that total time necessary? You actually become concerned about their well-being. You observe them showing more stress and often more negativity than other team members.

As for workaholic partners, who would want to be a partner in a firm where the partners work 2800-3000 hours per year? I actually know some partners that get almost 3000 billable!  Oh, my.

Counsel these workaholics, help them cut back, there is so much more to a career, and to life, than the number of hours you work.

  • I'm not driven by killer ambition, I'm not a workaholic. I'm a good team player. I don't have to be captain, but I do want to play on a winning team.
  • Jane Pauley

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Be Active and Involved In Your State CPA Society

“The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.” – Martina Navratilova

I have met some of the most wonderful people by working with, and being involved in, The Ohio Society of CPAs.

I have also been very fortunate to have worked with and visited many of the other state societies around the country via my speaking and consulting activities.

I hope you are active in your state society and I also hope that you are encouraging the next generation of leaders in your firm to be involved.

I am especially pleased to offer my congratulations to my friend, Edward I. Guttenplan, CPA, CGMA of Wilkin & Guttenplan, the incoming President of the New Jersey Society of CPAs. Listen to Ed’s inspiring story, below. Not involved? Make a commitment to your state society today!

  • Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
  • Greg Anderson

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Big 4 and Blockchain & Bitcoin

“I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” – Jack Kerouac

Last week I read an interesting article via Nasdaq titled, Big 4 Accounting Firms Are Experimenting with Blockchain And Bitcoin.

My mission is to always keep you informed, as best I can, about happenings that have an impact on CPA firm management.

So today, I simply provide you a link to the article in hopes you will take the time to read it.

The more I read, the more it all seems to be sinking in. Hope the same applies to you.

Here’s more help on Bitcoin.

(Follow me on Twitter!)

  • Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.
  • Isaac Newton

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Keeping You Informed About Blockchain

“I’ve spent a ton of time studying blockchain the last three years, and it’s about getting connected to the right resources.” – – Gary Boomer

As I talk with practitioners this summer, I am finding that many are still not educating themselves about blockchain.

I have blogged about it before and today I am reminding you once again to learn all you can about blockchain.

There is a very helpful article via The Journal of Accountancy, posted recently – Why CPAs need to get a grip on blockchain.

The article covers a presentation by Gary Boomer, CPA/CITP, CGMA, of Boomer Consulting, at the recent AICPA ENGAGE conference in Las Vegas.

Boomer highlighted a number of crucial concepts that helps explain blockchain and gives insight into its value propositions for the accounting profession:

  1. Blockchain is secure and immutable
  2. Think of blockchain as the internet of value
  3. Blockchain data will create new business opportunities
  4. Studying up on blockchain will pay off

Read the entire article and more about each crucial concept here.

  • Accountants who get a grip on blockchain today will be the ones who successfully pivot their services tomorrow.
  • Gary Boomer

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Toxic Behaviors

leadershipfreak“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis

If you are a regular reader, you know that I follow Dan Rockwell, @Leadershipfreak – his tweets and his blogs.

This morning, I read his blog titled, The Complete List of Toxic Behaviors That Poison Teams. Sadly, so many things on his extensive list I see happening inside CPA firms. Many of them apply to the partner group and a lesser amount apply to the entire team.

Here are just a few that I see happen most often, along with my specific comments. Please follow the link and read all the behaviors that are toxic. You might be surprised how many you see inside your own firm.

Assume silence is agreement – When I facilitate partner retreats and a tough issue comes up for discussion, I notice that some partners “look at their lap.” They avoid eye contact and remain silent. Other partners assume the silent partners are in agreement and usually they are not.

Allow power-mongers to drone on and on – You know them, the more powerful partners who believe everyone wants to hear what they have to say – over and over again and again. No one stops them!

Invite the same people to the table, year after year – Invite outsiders to your partner meetings – mix it up by inviting one or two managers, then some seniors. Involve a local advisor, like an attorney you trust or a professional outside marketer and use a facilitator familiar with the CPA profession

Solve every problem and address every imaginable contingency before you try something – Accountants are too risk adverse and too comfortable in status quo to risk trying new ideas.

Discuss, but don’t decide – I don’t think I have to explain this one. The most common comment I hear, “Let’s put that on the agenda for next year.”

  • In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Best Accounting Firms For Women – 2017

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” – Vince Lombardi

The Accounting MOVE Project has released their Best Public Accounting Firms for Women list for 2017.

Thanks to Isaac O’Bannon of CPA Practice Advisor for summarizing the results in his recent article.

Top Trends From the 2017 Accounting MOVE Project

  • Transparent career paths enable women to anticipate work-life conflicts and proactively propose solutions.
  • Firms whose leaders continually communicate with rising women make many small course adjustments to retain women in the partnership pipeline and to ensure that they are offered key growth opportunities.
  • A few firms, including Moss Adams, are breaking down firmwide measurements for advancing women to to practice areas and offices. That injects immediacy to the overarching initiative and equips office and practice leaders with context for creating fresh ways to retain and advance women.

The top 12 firms are:

  1. BeachFleischman
  2. The Bonadio Group
  3. Brown Smith Wallace
  4. BPM LLP
  5. Clark Nuber
  6. CohnReznick
  7. Frazier & Deeter
  8. MCM CPAs and Advisors
  9. Moss Adams
  10. Plante Moran
  11. Novogradac
  12. Rehmann

Be sure to read the entire article to learn what each individual firm is doing to facilitate the professional growth of women in accounting.

From a personal viewpoint, firms appear to be lowering the bar in many ways. The words alternative, limited equity, reframing business development, shared wins, mutual accountability, etc. bother me some.

I have observed, over many years, that hard work, dedication and making yourself so valuable to the firm that they don’t want to lose you proves you are partner material whether you are male or female. When I say work hard, I don’t mean workaholic. I have known many workaholic females and most were not partner material.

  • It is hard to beat a person who never gives up.
  • Babe Ruth

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Strategic Plans and Fairy Tales

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” – Henry David Thoreau

I really enjoyed a recent post by Jeffrey Gitomer titled, Business Plans, Five-Year Spreadsheets, and other fairy tales.

How about your strategic plan? Have you looked at it recently? Have all your partners looked at it often over the last year and talked among themselves about how well you are doing with the plan? I bet not.

What about the business plans for a new niche inside your firm? You had a young partner anxious to specialize in business valuation, for example. You asked him to bring a business plan to the partner group for discussion and approval. The group like it, approved it and…. it hasn’t been looked at since. It hasn’t been monitored nor has it been followed. Perhaps, it was just a fairy tale!

I think you will enjoy Gitomer’s article. Much of it sounds familiar to those of you working in a CPA firm. He also includes some great suggestions.

  • Plans are nothing; planning is everything.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower