Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category
Monday, February 17th, 2014
CPA firm partners, owners, and other firm leaders hear it over and over again from speakers and authors focused on the profession of public accounting.
Think big picture. Be a visionary. Stay out of the day-to-day, be more strategic.
I, too, have written about it and talked about it. I do believe there is a time and place for contemplating the bigger picture.
However, much of what you do is about the here and now. If you are honest, most of what you do inside your firm and to help clients is about the here and now. And, it is important.
I was reminded of this when I heard a passage in a Wallander episode. I have also read all of the Wallander novels by Henning Mankell. If you are not familiar… Wallander is a brooding, dark character. A Swedish detective who investigates violent and terrifying murders. Kenneth Branagh is amazing in the role.
Here’s the passage:
“I don’t really think there is a bigger picture. This is where we live, here and now. These are our lives. They are fragile and precarious…. and miraculous. They are all we have.”
The majority of you and the people who work for you are living in the here and now.
Think about the big picture, the future but please don’t forget that the majority of life is in the here and now. How can you make life, the here and now, better for yourself and for all the people in your firm who depend on you. After all, life is all you have.
It's only when we can work with something that brings out our strengths that we're of any real use.
Henning Mankell, author The Fifth Woman
Thursday, January 30th, 2014
The January issue of the Rita Keller newsletter was emailed to you yesterday. Didn’t get your copy? – Sign-up here.
January featured articles:
- In Baseball If The Team Does Poorly Who Get Fired?
- First Step Towards Staff Retention
- Important Opportunity For Your HR Professionals To Build A Network
- Stay In Tune With Current Trends Between Newsletters
When you sign-up I’ll send you a link to the January issue.
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
Thursday, January 23rd, 2014
During the last couple of months I have had the great pleasure (and honor) to speak to women in accounting – female CPAs – at events sponsored by state societies.
It has been a wonderful experience for me and from the feedback, the attendees gained some understanding, knowledge and passion about their careers. Sure, they heard about some hurdles but I also like to stress the “high jumps” available to them in the accounting profession. I believe the CPA profession is a win-win for women and men and such an honorable and fascinating profession at that!
Much has been said and written about Sheryl Sandberg’s book – Lean In – Women, Work And the Will To Lead.
Today, I just wanted to share a slide I created for my presentation. There are some good book recommendations pictured in the photo, too. Start with Why Must There Be Dragons.
I truly believe that women do need to lean in but…. men need to lean in, too. Men and women in the CPA profession need to LEAN TOGETHER.
Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you're proud to live.
Anne Sweeney, President, Disney-ABC Television Group.
Monday, January 13th, 2014
During my very first role working inside a CPA firm, I assisted partners. You know, the “S” word that we don’t use any more – Secretary.
I was proud of my role and I loved it. I always seemed to understand the power of simply helping other people succeed. One particular partner always (and I mean always) said “Thank-you”. I know it seems like such a little thing but those two words had such power with me. Yes, I eventually asked for more money. Yes, I had to ASK for my first raise and they gave it to me!
The point is the Thank-You Partner was the winner. I often had multiple requests for assistance and prioritizing was a daily activity. Unless there was a major crisis or special emergency response needed, I put the Thank-You Partner’s requests and projects first. Why? Because he appreciated me and my efforts and showed it by ALWAYS saying thank-you.
I am currently reading a book titled The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly. I will be blogging more about it in the days to come. Here’s a passage:
“Employees want to feel appreciated. Eighty-five percent of people who leave a job leave because of their relationship with their direct supervisor. And when you ask them about their relationship with their supervisor, they almost inevitably say that he or she didn’t appreciate them or their contribution. The predominant concern of employees isn’t money or benefits, and it is not the hours. They want to feel appreciated.”
On this Monday, as you begin your week do a good thing for your team by showing your appreciation for contribution to your firm by offering words of encouragement. Begin with thank-you and expand upon it. Never stop.
Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
Friday, October 18th, 2013
My good friend, Marc Rosenberg, you know the famous Rosenberg Survey guy, has shared some great information on the 10 biggest mistakes partners make in reading and computing MAP statistics.
Here are some bullet points but be sure to follow the link to read much more informative detail about each one.
Over-reliance on partner income percentage as a measure of profitability. – Many partners believe that 33% is the minimum acceptable partner income percentage and they should strive for 40%. If a firm is heavily leveraged, partner income percentages in the 20s and low 30s are perfectly acceptable.
Being content with “average.” – This is one that really bugs me! Don’t celebrate being average.
Average salary data – Salary data is too tied to geographic area for nationwide averages to be very helpful.
Utilization percentage – This metric is total billable hours of a firm divided by the total work hours of the firm, with all personnel included.
Net firm billing rate – This is calculated by taking the total annual net fees of the firm and dividing it by the total firm billable hours.
Average compensation for firm administrators – This is a mis-leading number because of the wide variety of levels of firm administrators. Rosenberg thinks the results were misleading and has discontinued using it.
Treating non-equity partners like “partners.” – Treating non-equity partners the same as equity partners will usually distort the computations. Many non-equity partners perform like managers.
Computing income per partner. – Don’t ignore the distinction between accrual and cash basis methods of accounting.
Average fees per professional – There is a problem here with definition. What is a professional? It varies by firm. Rosenberg likes to use fees per person.
Computing the average charge hours for any category of personnel, such as partners and professional staff. – There are two main issues. Most firms make the mistake of computing the number of FTE’s by adding up their total work hours and dividing by 2080. The only proper way to compute average annual charge hours for a personnel grouping is to only include personnel who were with the firm for a full year and were full time the entire year.
Order your copy of the 2013 Rosenberg Survey here.
Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts.
Thursday, October 10th, 2013
Leverage and a well-managed pyramid are key ingredients for a profitable CPA firm.
We have been talking about it for years….. Bill Reeb calls it the Upside Down Pyramid. It’s where partners work and work until they are “full” and then they push down to managers who work and work until they are “full” and only then do they push down to staff. Meanwhile, staff are sending emails asking for assignments!
In this month’s Accounting Today, Gary Adamson has a great article once again stressing this situation. It is titled, “Flip Your Pyramid.”
Many firms have evolved to a top-heavy culture because:
- Generational issues, including the Baby Boomer bubble, Gen Xers and Millennials.
- Lack of a people plan with effective, consistent recruiting and staff development processes in our firms. We don’t have a process to see enough new faces and we let people hang around too long.
- Promoting non-partner-track people or sometimes marginal folks to higher positions because “We’re preserving staff continuity” and “it’s best for the client” – - when perhaps it is just the path of least resistance, or we have no one else to fill the role.
- Partner compensation plans that focus on chargeable time. Partners stay busy first. Managers are doing staff work and no one has incentive to push work down.
- It’s just easier to do it myself and, besides, I’m a lot more efficient at it.
Do any of these sound like you?
Read the entire article to learn how to start flipping your pyramid.
An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.
Saturday, August 3rd, 2013
As you work in the world of public accounting, do you ever get distracted?
Ha! Stupid question, right? Everyone gets distracted, sometimes it seems the distractions never cease. Many, many people working in CPA firms tell me….. “I always come in at least an hour early so I can get some work done before other people arrive.” or “I like to stay late because it is so much quieter in the evening and I can get more done.” or “I just have to close my door at times but even that doesn’t stop people from interrupting me.”
Take some time this weekend to read an article on the Fast Company site titled, How Your Habits Become Productivity-Draining Distractions.
Experiment with the Lilac Chaser, an optical illusion that’s part of the article. It’s a black cross in the middle, encircled by 12 blurry lilac-colored dots. A green dot animates over the lilacs as though counting the time on a futuristic clock. Stare at the cross long enough and the lilacs disappear, one by one. But the moment you get distracted and look away, the lilacs come back.
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
Sadly, I must report, that inside many CPA firms many people do not “get it.” Get-it applies to a wide variety of things, such as how long it takes to get a job done.
Sometimes you just have to laugh. Do you have the 1.5 hour partner? This is one of the several partner-types I hear described over and over again as I work with firms. This partner, when asked how long it should take to do a particular client project (you know, the time budget for this job)…. always replies, “It should take about an hour and a half.”
I could go on and on about what the mature partners inside CPA firms “don’t get.” However, today I want you to consider the things that the 20-somethings inside your accounting firm might not “get.” Share this information with them.
Jason Nazar, a contributor on the Forbes site, highlights 20 Things 20-Year Olds Don’t Get. This is a good read for all ages of professionals working in an accounting firm. Here are the 20 Things – read the article to get advice on each topic.
- Time is Not a Limitless Commodity
- You’re Talented, But Talent is Overrated
- We’re More Productive in the Morning
- Social Media is Not a Career
- Pick Up the Phone
- Be the First In & Last to Leave
- Don’t Wait to Be Told What to Do
- Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes
- You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked
- A New Job a Year Isn’t a Good Thing
- People Matter More Than Perks
- Map Effort to Your Professional Gain
- Speak Up, Not Out
- You HAVE to Build Your Technical Chops
- Both the Size and Quality of Your Network Matter
- You Need At Least 3 Professional Mentors
- Pick an Idol & Act “As If”
- Read More Books, Fewer Tweets/Texts
- Spend 25% Less Than You Make
- Your Reputation is Priceless, Don’t Damage It
The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.
Monday, July 15th, 2013
I think I have read all of David Maister’s books. Of course, Managing the Professional Service Firm is the book I still recommend most for any professional who is managing an accounting practice. I also recommend that the managing partner give every new hire a copy of True Professionalism by Maister when they first arrive at the firm.
Several years ago Maister was a keynote speaker at the Association for Accounting Administration National Practice Management Conference. I found the following on Maister’s website that refers to his AAA presentation. I like the “Maister-isms.” Just fyi, David Maister is now retired.
Memorable Maister-isms: Quotes From The Master
Nobody can turn a phrase quite like David Maister, Boston-based professional services consultant, former Harvard Business School professor, and author of five books, including the classic, “Managing The Professional Services Firm.” Here are some gems from his three presentations at June’s national symposium of the Association For Accounting Administration in Phoenix.
“I’m not a people person. I have no social skills. Everyone always told me, ‘That’s OK.’ Then I left education and made a terrible discovery: The world is full of people. I needed to learn how to deal with people, and it wasn’t optional. There’s no intelligent substitute for understanding how people work.”
“The worst way to get someone to change is to criticize them. Throw away every performance appraisal system you have. These systems say, ‘Let me tell you what your weaknesses are and what you owe to the relationship.’ We know how to change behavior in our personal lives, but not in our business lives. Why do we think they’re so different?”
“It’s not hard to find smart people. It’s hard to find people who inspire and motivate.”
“People at accounting firms are starved for appreciation.”
“The only way you motivate people and change them is one-on-one. Everything else is window dressing.”
“What could you accomplish in three months that you would find fun and that would help the business? Whatever it is, do it. Evaluate and set new goals when the three months are up.”
“Most accounting firms aren’t good at creating energy, enthusiasm and excitement, but they are extraordinarily great at destroying it.”
“The way you get rich is don’t get sucked into doing dumb stuff for people you don’t like.”
“Most accounting firms never met a billable hour they didn’t like. Report in terms of profit per partner, not in terms of hours. It’s profit that matters, not hours billed.”
“The amount of energy left in Big Four partners barely exists. The passion has just been beaten out of them.”
The job of a manager is to make other people successful, which is why you rarely see good management at an accounting firm. We use the wrong principles for choosing managers.
Friday, July 12th, 2013
Be sure to read an article in the Illinois CPA Society Insight Magazine by Derrick Lilly titled, Are You Fit to Lead? I feel honored to be quoted in parts of the article.
The article urges you to take a look at yourself. Look into the mirror.
“Comfort kills,” says Jody Michael, founder and CEO of career coaching firm Jody Michael Associates. “There’s such rapid change in this day and age that it’s imperative that leaders have the ability to shift perspectives, take in multiple points of reference, and make changes with nimbleness, agility and fluidity. You have to keep growing and developing, and shaping and crafting your lens and your capacity to lead; you never stop looking in the mirror.”
I usually find that nimbleness, agility and fluidity are not common words that describe leadership inside accounting firms.
Here’s how you get in leadership shape (follow the link above to read the entire article and explanation of each of these points):
- Get a healthy dose of objectivity
- Boost your E.I. factor
- Stretch your world view
- Train as a generational guru
“It used to be that leadership was about command and control, but today there’s a clear evolution into partnerships, collaboration and two-way dialogue as the means to leadership,” says Dr. Todd Dewett
Dr. Dewett finds feedback hilarious because it is one of the most useful things there is, and it’s also one of the most passionately avoided things there is in a professional life. He urges leaders to find two interesting people who are not afraid of you, who know you as a person and as a professional, and are willing to give you unfiltered, real feedback.
Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.