Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

You Probably Have One – A Bad Apple

“Bad apples spoil teams and healthy team dynamics, it is more important than top talent.” – Will Fleps

Over the years, I have often talked and written about bad apples inside accounting firms. A recent blog post by @leadershipfreak brought this important topic to light again.

As I always say, “One bad apple can ruin the whole barrel.” that means that the constant whiner inside your firm is doing significant damage in the long-term. Yet, CPAs are nice people and they just shy away from firing people – even bad apples.

Per the article, one bad apple lowers team performance up to 40%! Maybe that gets your attention.

Read the blog post here. Maybe it will inspire you to have a more critical look at some team members.

The first step is to let the bad apple know they are causing problems. Be honest and straight-forward. Give them a chance to change – but, don’t give them too long.

Warning! – Make sure your culture isn’t cultivating bad apples.

  • In marketing you must choose between boredom, shouting and seduction. Which do you want?
  • Roy H. Williams

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Changes To The CPA Exam

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

The Journal of Accountancy has a podcast titled, How Tax Reform – and Excel – Are Changing The CPA Exam. It is hosted by Chris Baysden of the AICPA.

Tax reform will have an important impact on many aspects of the accounting profession — including the CPA Exam. In this week’s episode of the podcast, we talked to Mike Decker, the vice president of examinations at the AICPA, about the changes being made to the exam as a result of tax reform — and about how Excel will now be available for use on the test.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • How the AICPA’s exams team has gone about collecting feedback on the exam.
  • Why continuous testing could be on the horizon.
  • The timeline for implementing changes due to tax reform.
  • How and why a practice analysis will be initiated.
  • The changes that test takers will see to monitors and software used in the exam.

Here’s a link to the podcast (it’s only 11 minutes long). You need to know so you can advise and encourage the young accountants in your firm to take the Exam and get it behind them!

  • Nothing happens until something moves.
  • Albert Einstein

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

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Young CPAs – Start Sooner!

“Life is short, and it is here to be lived.” – Kate Winslet

If you are not a young CPA – I hope you share this blog post with young CPAs.

You are fairly new to your CPA career. You graduated with a history of good grades. You landed an entry-level job, right out of college, with a prestigious, growing public accounting firm.

Major accomplishment: You passed the CPA exam and are now a twenty-something CPA – congratulations, you have the momentum going for you!

You have been working on a variety of client engagements. You may be focused on tax and you may be focused on the audit side of things. You might be in a small to mid-size firm and have the opportunity to work in both areas and will probably soon declare your future focus.

You are focused on the work. You are getting better and better at the work. It seems the partners are happy with your technical abilities and the way you complete the work.

Wait! There is so much more to becoming a successful CPA than just knowing how to do the work. You must be:

  • A great conversationalist
  • A “reader” of people
  • An interesting dinner (or lunch) companion
  • A good speaker
  • Known as a “professional”
  • A contributor to your community
  • Good at time management
  • Good at motivating other people
  • Good at setting the perfect example for subordinates and peers
  • Thinking about the future
  • Able to change and evolve with the times and influence the firm to do so
  • And more – –

Don’t wait years and years to get started on this list. Learn the success skills as you are learning the technical skills. Life is short – get busy!

 

  • Life is short and the older you get, the more you feel it. Indeed, the shorter it is. People lose their capacity to walk, run, travel, think, and experience life. I realize how important it is to use the time I have.
  • Viggo Mortensen

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Do You Like Working In Public Accounting?

“Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.” – Conan O’Brien

I was recently reading an article about things to consider when you feel unhappy at work. I applied the items to the CPA profession and from what I observe, I think most people working in public accounting do really like their work.

Do you like what you do for work? Most staffers tell me that they really enjoy the work. They love working with clients and feel satisfied that they are actually helping people with their financial challenges.

Do you feel like you have ownership at work? Firms have come such a long way in involving team members in firm decisions and initiatives. People are encouraged to contribute ideas and efforts to keep the firm on the leading edge of technology and work environments.

Are you encouraged to learn at work? This is definitely a yes if you are working in a CPA firm. You are encouraged and supported in passing the CPA exam and receive formal, firm-paid CPE annually plus the day-to-day learning that comes with client engagements.

Do you feel appreciated at work? If you don’t feel appreciated working at a CPA firm these days, maybe you are working for the wrong firm! I always almost beg young accountants, if they are not happy in public accounting, to try working at another firm before they drop out and go private.

Contemplate the pluses and minuses of working at your firm. I bet the pluses out-weigh the minuses. I also think, that if you stick it out and gain experience, the reward and satisfaction gets better and better as the years pass.

  • If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier.
  • John Wooden

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Entry-Level Hiring Is Changing Quickly

“Be Prepared” – The Boy Scout Motto

Be aware. You will not need the same type of talent going into the future. Here’s a brief excerpt from an article by Dustin Hostetler via CPA Practice Advisor:

The convergence of technology (namely more artificial intelligence), along with the gig economy, is going to change the way CPA firms hire entry-level staff in the very near future. Basic compliance work will be automated through technology and what isn’t fully automated will be sourced to the gig economy. The new staff you bring in must demonstrate the ability to grow/develop into a client-facing advisor much earlier in their careers than has historically been the case. They also need to possess more skills in the areas of data analytics, financial analysis and strategic thinking.

Now is the time to plan.

  • Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life, not a sudden, spectacular program.
  • Spencer Kimball

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Want To Be More Profitable?

“A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.” – Joseph Joubert

Per Paul Epperlein of ADP:  Organizations with high employee engagement experience 22% higher profitability.

This is a big statement that applies to your firm. Do you really have employee engagement? You might think you do because you offer free coffee and soft drinks. You offer 9 or more holidays. You have an attractive lunch room with lots of amenities. You have a relaxed dress code and many other little things that make a big difference.

But… also per Epperlein: 60% of people leave their job due to a lack of relationship with their front line manager.

People like to feel connected to the people they work for. They want to feel like they are noticed, included and cared about by their boss.

How good are your firm’s partners and managers at building and nurturing caring relationships with your people? You might want to focus on that more this year. Make it a performance expectation.

  • The simple act of caring is heroic.
  • Edward Albert

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

It’s An Important Role – DOFI

“Without hard work and discipline, it is difficult to be a top professional.” – Jahangir Khan

A key role in your firm is one that I call the Director of First Impressions (DOFI). Many firms have adopted this title because it really is very descriptive. Some firms just say it is their Receptionist or the front desk person. For some reason, and it probably goes back to the old days, team members look down on this position and no one wants to “sit at the front desk” even when that person goes to lunch!

I think you should be very selective in hiring for this position and demanding when it comes to their performance – set some high expectations. It really is NOT a no-brainer job!

Historically, this person just greeted clients and answered the phone. There wasn’t much else they could do without physically leaving their desk. Technology has changed all of that. Now, they can do a lot of what the other administrative assistants do. Plus, phone traffic has decreased in many firms because of direct phone numbers for your team.

One very important task this person should be handling in your firm is the monitoring of 8879s and releasing returns. Many firms have actually established this procedure and it is working very well. Reminding clients and following up if they don’t respond and then monitoring the release of returns is something that can be done without leaving the front desk.

Your DOFI also is an important part of your client service and marketing efforts. They make everyone feel welcome when they visit the firm, offering them refreshments and hanging up their coats. They have a smile (in their voice) when they answer the phone.

Many CPAs have told me that some clients call the firm’s main number just so they can talk to the DOFI. At my firm, we once landed a big client and in their acceptance letter, they mentioned how nice they were treated by Sonya (DOFI) when their executive team visited our firm.

If you are fortunate enough to have a top performer in this position, pay them well. They are worth more than an average administrative assistant.

  • If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
  • Red Adair

Friday, January 26th, 2018

Interviewing Experienced Candidates

I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way.”  – Lee Iacocca

When it comes to interviewing potential new hires, I have observed that CPA firms are not very creative. Many firms have the same people do the interviewing whether it is a college recruit or a 10-year experienced person.

Are your interviewers asking the same questions they have asked for 20 years? Do they focus too much on where they went to school (even if it was years ago) and how strong their tax (or audit) technical skills are?

With an experienced person, ask more questions like these from Seth Godin’s recent blog post.

  • What have you built?
  • What have you led?
  • How do you make decisions?
  • How do you act when no one is looking?

For an experienced person, in public accounting, I would add:

  • How many people have you mentored?
  • How would you describe your tolerance for change?
  • Joe has interrupted you six times this morning with questions. What do you say when he interrupts you the seventh time?
  • The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.
  • Steve Jobs

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Make Background Checks Part of the Hiring Process

“People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” – Jim Collins

You are working in the CPA profession. You are honest, trustworthy and dependable. You sometimes take it for granted that everyone in the profession or entering the profession is the same.

That’s why so many CPA firms make a background check a routine part of the hiring process. I have observed that CPA firms use a variety of vendors and there are a lot of reputable ones out there.

Here’s a good article about hiring nightmares from Sharlyn Lauby – HR Bartender.

If you need some information about background checking companies to use, contact the CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA).

  • Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can't tell you whether someone will fit into a company's culture.
  • Howard Schulz