Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Bring Clarity To The Role Of A Partner In A CPA Firm

In a recent newsletter from August Aquila of Aquila Global Advisors, August identified some of the things partners need to do to help the firm be successful.

There is a critical link between partner behavior and what the firm is trying to achieve. Here’s a list to give to all of your partners. Then discuss it and then do it.

Being a leader means partners must:

  • Make a personal economic contribution
  • Bring in new business
  • Bring the firm’s resources to their clients
  • Pass work to their colleagues
  • Develop their people’s capabilities
  • Persuade their people to join the partners on the journey and to play a part in building a better firm
  • Help their colleagues and, through them, the firm
  • Live the firm’s values all day, every day
  • Never be satisfied with second best
  • Be role models for high performance and judgment, the people members of the firm turn to for inspiration and help
  • Stand up and be counted

Read Aquila’s newsletter article here.

  • The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Productivity Hack of the Week

Fast-Company-Logo“To help you work smarter instead of harder, we’re hitting you with a productivity hack each Friday. Check out our hacks here.” – – this is from Fast Company.

If you are confused by the word hack, used in this context, learn more here.

I thought the Productivity Hack Of The Week for October 10, 2014 just might interest many accountants working in public accounting. You know…. the place where in most firms you track every single minute of your day! (Except for the very progressive firms where they have embraced the value pricing model.) Of course, whether you are tracking time or not – you can end up wasting a lot of time browsing the web.

Taking a Facebook break or reading a few blogs that you follow everyday (and find helpful… hopefully like mine), can still be good for you and also be productive, within limits. It is still very clear that there is only so much time you can spend with these browsing activities.

That is why, when I read about how to track how much time you waste, I thought it would certainly pique your interest.

There is an app that runs in the background while you work on your computer or smartphone that tracks each second you spend on applications and websites and gives you weekly reports and data based on your activity.

Then there is another app that helps you, after you have decided how much time you want to cut back (a productivity extension for Google Chrome) that allows you to restrict the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. If you lack self-control completely and need to put yourself on a productivity lock down, you can block specific sites completely using Chrome.

All this is interesting. I need to dig a little deeper and see if it could benefit me. I know that I get sucked into reading a post and following a link, then another link and end up reading, reading, reading….. which is good for my knowledge and expertise but I often have other more important priorities!

As mentioned above, Fast Company provides a productivity hack every week – read them here.

  • Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.
  • Stephen King

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Want To Be A Successful Leader, Then READ

I keep pushing, nagging, and pleading with CPA firm leaders AND future leaders to read. It has to be part of your daily life and I don’t mean tax and audit stuff!

Read the blog post I did on April 3 and watch the video. As you go into the late fall season inside your busy firm, I want you to prepare your mind for 2015!

Just to reinforce the importance of reading (if you want to be a successful leader), here is something I read recently in an interview with Tom Peters on the McKinsey site:

Tom Peters: I was at a dinner party recently with a guy who’s probably one of the top ten finance people in the world. At one point he said, “Do you know what the biggest problem is with big-company CEOs? They don’t read enough.”

Another excerpt for you to contemplate:

Tom Peters: Peter Drucker once said the number-one trait of an effective leader is that they do one thing at a time. Today’s technology tools give you great opportunities to do 73 things at a time or to at least delude yourself that you are. I see managers who look like 12-year-olds with attention deficit disorder, running around from one thing to the next, constantly barraged with information, constantly chasing the next shiny thing.

My advice, as you enhance yourself and build a successful firm:

Rita Keller: Read, think, plan and then IMPLEMENT.

  • Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Better Client Service

HostetlerDustinLeanCPA-1023It just makes sense to me that the more efficient you are, the better service you can provide your clients. However, it is sometimes difficult for CPAs to get past the mindset that the faster you complete the engagement services the bigger the chance of doing something wrong.

Dustin Hostetler, the founder of Flowtivity and the lead consultant for Lean4CPAs by Flowtivity is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with extensive experience working inside a large regional CPA firm and has taken proven Lean techniques from the manufacturing floor and tailored them to bring value to public accounting firms.  Hostetler thoroughly addresses the issue of delivering better client service in a recent blog post and I wanted to share his remarks with all of you.

He notes two misconceptions about process improvement initiatives:

# 1 – You can’t be more efficient without negatively impacting quality

#2 – By undertaking a process improvement initiative, we could negatively be impacting our client service.

He explains client satisfaction via three different customer services “curves.” They are, Basic, Performance and Delighter services.

Read more about it here.

 

  • We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
  • Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon

Monday, July 21st, 2014

The Little Things Can Make You Happy

Sometimes in our work-a-day world we get stressed. Sometimes we get very tired. Sometimes we get annoyed by people. Sometimes we get disappointed, in ourselves and in others. Sometimes we get angry. Sometimes we get rushed. Sometimes we get our feelings hurt. Sometimes we feel unappreciated.

But, many times we feel happy. It can come from some of the littlest things…. someone shows appreciation, you receive recognition, someone says “thank-you,” you spend time with business colleagues who help you learn, someone smiles at you, your boss says, “good morning,” you get an email from an old friend…

Working with CPA firms I always recommend, IF you want to create a winning firm, one where young people will want to stay and build their careers and one where people feel joy in serving the clients, just remember that the little things can make the biggest difference.

A little thing happened to me last week. It came via social media. I tweeted about my participation in Advance 2014: The Accounting Career Summit and how pleased I was that on the agenda for the week I am listed right above Bruce Tulgan, author of It’s Okay To Be The Boss and Not Everyone Gets A Trophy and many more. You know how often I recommend these books to you! If you want a copy of my 2014 Read List (for CPAs and their teams) you can download it here.

Well, Bruce Tulgan replied to my tweet! Sometimes little things can make you very happy.

What are you doing for the people in your work life (and home life)?

Screenshot 2014-07-19 07.26.03

  • Scheduling flexibility is the single greatest non-financial tool - and the number-one dream-job factor - at your disposal for winning battles in the talent wars. Use it.
  • Bruce Tulgan

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Improving the Culture Inside Your Busy CPA Firm

Gary Boomer, is that you with Rita?Many CPAs ask me, “How can we actually improve our culture?” or “How can we really make things better for our staff while still providing great client service and meeting government deadlines?”

Of course, tax season is one of the most challenging times. If you can make the work environment better during January thru April, you would be a firm where impressive, young talent would stay and build their careers.

That’s why I like a recent article by Gary Boomer in Accounting Today. Well, I like all of Boomer’s articles but this one caused me to reminisce about many of the things I worked on when I was working inside a busy, growing firm.

Boomer talks about the “after tax season review,” assessing what went right and what went wrong. We did it faithfully every April and compiled a list of things to change, improve or tweak. The secret? We made sure that we did actually implement…. we changed, improved and tweaked continually. It was part of our culture.

Here’s Boomer’s 10 Way You Can Make Next Tax Season Better:

  1. Schedule client appointments in advance.
  2. Scan and organize client data into a digital file.
  3. Utilize a digital workflow system.
  4. Implement one-way workflow and avoid loops. You do not have to send work back for training purposes.
  5. Review returns on a timely basis.
  6. Grade preparers on each return to drive out errors at the lowest cost.
  7. Bill and collect with the return.
  8. Reduce cycle time to increase profits.
  9. Utilize portals for aggregation of client data and the delivery of returns.
  10. Utilize a technology surcharge to achieve a return on your IT investment.

How many of the 10 are you doing? Read the entire article here.

  • Providing the right services to the right clients is very important.
  • Gary Boomer

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Twitter As A Resource – Not Just Noise

I keep urging CPAs and their team members to sign-up for a Twitter account. Yet, I still find that many people in the CPA profession are not using Twitter.

Here’s my suggestion for getting started:

  • Establish an account.
  • Be very selective as to who you follow.
  • Be sure those you follow offer something of value.
  • Follow just a few, especially at first.
  • You don’t have to “tweet” anything, just read what others tweet, at least for a while.

I use Twitter (@cpamanagement) to keep me current. I follow some news feeds (CNN, NPR), some CPA profession experts, leadership experts, a few CPAs who actually tweet, Fast Company, etc.  You can visit my Twitter page and see who I am following. I also don’t hesitate to switch some out and back in, experimenting to see who gives me the most value and staying within a manageable number.

A couple times a day, I quickly scroll through my twitter feeds on my iPhone and see the national/world news, current business trends (Fast Company), and what’s going on in the CPA profession.

There are a lot of people out there saying a lot of things on Twitter and via other social media. Most of it is just noise. Follow those who give you value – for your CPA firm and for your life. Ignore the noise.

  • Nowadays most men lead lives of noisy desperation.
  • James Thurber

Friday, June 6th, 2014

M&A – – Due Diligence

Terry Putney, is that you with Rita?Terry Putney and Joel Sinkin of Transition Advisors have been writing a series of articles for the Journal of Accountancy over the last 12 months. It has been a year-long look at issues affecting succession for CPA firms.

The most recent issue of the Journal is out and Putney and Sinkin have focused their last article on the Do’s and Don’ts of Due Diligence.

I relate to how they describe due diligence as beginning when you first meet a potential M&A candidate and it every step along the way. You are continually assessing whether a combination of firms would meet your goals and expectations.

However, there is a more specific, intensive review of firm data that we usually think of when we hear the words: due diligence.

The authors tell us that the first step, as you start formal due diligence, is to exchange lists of what each side wants to see. To manage time and priorities, break the review down into three categories:

  • Things that are readily available and can easily be delivered, for instance, by email. Examples are financial statements, tax returns, employee handbooks, leases, and employment agreements.
  • Things that might require some effort pulling together, such as accounts receivable, breakdowns of client information (fees, industries, tenure), and operating metrics on productivity.
  • Information that can be gathered only in the field, such as a review of workpaper files and quality-control processes, inspections of office and equipment, and interviews of key people.

Be sure to follow the link, above, and read the entire article in the Journal. The link to the article will also give you links to the other eleven articles in the series.

(Terry Putney, is that you with Rita?)

  • What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.
  • Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

A Light-Hearted Look At The Difference – Boys Will Be Boys?

bookI do a lot of educational sessions for the CPA profession.

An on-going challenge is the male-female differences. Differences in the way they think, work, and communicate.

I highly recommend a book by Gail Evans titled, “Play Like A Man, Win Like A Woman.” Buy a copy for every female in your firm.

Yesterday, on NPR, I saw a video recorded at a baseball game that demonstrates how a future man (a boy) demonstrates the difference. He catches a ball and then fools the women!

Quite clever. Quite disturbing in some ways. Maybe he didn’t even plan it. Who knows?

I know that the boys in my neighborhood when I was a kid pulled off “tricks” like this on a regular basis and thought it was hilarious. You know what they say, “Boys will be boys.”

Here’s the link to the video.

  • When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream.
  • Elvis Presley

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Find The Joy In New Experiences

Have you read the book Into The Wild?

If you follow this blog, you know that I am an avid reader. I often tell my clients, “I read so you don’t have to read so much.” I read to keep current on business trends, especially trends in the CPA profession. However, sometimes reading various novels for enjoyment brings me some rewarding thoughts. The following quote comes from the book I mentioned above.

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”  – Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

It made me think about many people working in the CPA profession who avoid change. They dread it, maybe even fear it. They are way too comfortable with status quo. They are thinking, “Life is good, why change?”

I have always felt that working in public accounting was naturally “an endlessly changing horizon”. I find joy in that. How about you?

  • I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.
  • Anne Frank