Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Delay and Millennials – Not A Good Combination

“Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.” – Charles M. Schulz

Think about it. Millennials have always had technology at their finger tips. The oldest Millennials are 37 years old this year. They are not kids and many are your employees and your clients.

As consumers, they do not expect delays. They are used to having access almost immediately to any kind of information via their mobile device. When making purchases, they are used to having their information (profile) “out there” so they don’t even have to spend time entering specific billing and shipping information. It is not just Millennials, we are all now used to speed when shopping on line.

The younger generation is also used to obtaining answers by looking at FAQ pages rather than calling a customer service rep. According to a Desk.com study, 80% of Millennials find calling customer service highly inconvenient.

Consider how this information relates to your accounting firm.

Your Clients:

Much of your current and most of your future client base expect information quicker. They do not want to wait until you can return their phone call – 4 hours later.

How user friendly and interactive is your website? Do you have a FAQ page to help people learn about and understand CPA services?

Your Employees:

Do your employees have to wait on performance feedback? I often hear about firms that have delayed the feedback scheduled for June until November or December!

Do your employees have to wait, maybe a week or more, on review notes that guide them as they work on client engagements?

Do your employees have to wait days to talk to a partner (the partner is out of the office, on the phone, in meetings, etc.)?

Do your employees have to wait YEARS to be promoted? Telling a new college grad that it might take 10 years to become a partner could be quite a shock.

As a partner group, do you table a decision until the next partner meeting… then the next partner meeting… and then the next partner meeting?

Beginning now, explore ways to speed things up at your firm…. or, you will find your firm lagging behind in many areas.

  • The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.
  • Mary Kay Ash

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Maybe a Sabbatical Program Would Make Your Firm Unique

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

In the accounting profession, we have been talking about sabbaticals for years. Few firms offer this benefit.

Some firms established a sabbatical program for partners, urging them to take six weeks away from the office with NO CONTACT. The mission being to prove to the partner that they could get along just fine without them and client service would not suffer. These types of programs were a half-hearted attempt at succession planning. Honestly, I haven’t heard of many firms offering sabbaticals in any form. It seems CPAs love to work!

Rather than focusing on partners, why not establish a sabbatical program for your team members. Maybe it would differentiate you from your competitors and help retain top talent.

Kabbage_logo_wo_tag_vertKabbage®, the pioneering financial services technology, and data platform, out of Atlanta is offering a unique benefit to its employees. Perhaps, you can learn from them.

Kabbage is now offering a sabbatical option for team members who have been with the company for 5+ years. And it’s quite the package – a 6-week sabbatical that is fully paid plus the company gives a $6k stipend to encourage its employees to do something memorable ( a trip of a lifetime?)

Check out their career webpage. They offer:

Dynamic Environment
Daily catered lunches, ice cream freezer & snacks
Dog-friendly office
Cold/brewed coffee & beer on tap
Onsite fitness & meditation classes
Adjustable sit/stand desks

Competitive Benefits
Unlimited PTO
Equity in the company
Full coverage of individual health benefits
Six-week sabbatical program
Free parking
Annual bonus

Learning & Development
Shadowing program
More than 20 onsite courses
Interactive career development
Leadership development
Mentoring program

All of this makes me ask the big question. How does your firm’s career webpage stack up?

  • Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Virtual Employees Made Easier

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

In case you missed it, I wanted give you a link to an article in the latest issue of Accounting Today – Rise of the robot. It’s pretty cool.

We have been talking about remote and virtual employees and how to deal with them for several years now. Things continually evolve and firms are learning how to manage the ever-changing world of employee engagement and retention.

beam_pro_sizedOne firm, Navolio & Tallman featured in the article, is now using a machine called the Beam mobile presence system as their mobile conference set-up for individuals working virtually.

Think of the episode of Big Bang where Sheldon wants to protect his body from the hazards of the world and begins using a virtual presence machine.

Check out the article and the pictures. It also proves that you don’t have to be a humongous firm to do some very creative things. N&T has 3 partners and 18 people.

The firm’s work-from-home culture is thriving. They have a compressed work week, after April 15. Employees work 9 hours a day Monday through Thursday, and work from home Friday with the day ending at noon. During tax season, staff members do work on Saturdays, but they can do that from home as well.

I believe the best message for retaining top talent is simple. Invest in technology.

 

  • It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Professional Liability Insurance & More

img_7495You all have it but you might not love it. Yes, I am talking about professional liability insurance.

Many of you (my readers) are members of the CPA Firm Management Association and have met Stephen Vono of NAPLIA. He is the sponsor of the special night out event at the FMA annual National Practice Management Conference. Stephen was responsible for making applying for professional liability insurance easy for me and many others in the CPA profession.

Here’s some great information from Stephen and NAPLIA that was sent to the attendees of the conference in June this year. I think you can all benefit from this information.

NAPLIA’s Cyber and Data Security ebook was a popular takeaway from the conference.  If you missed it, you can download a copy here or please send me a note and I’ll be glad to mail you a hard copy. It is intended to give you guidance when preparing to safeguard your firm against the exposure to loss of client information. I hope you find it useful.

I am sending out resources in response to the many questions I received on insurance programs that NAPLIA provides.

  • A Mobile Device Usage policy can help your firm manage and mitigate exposure to client data loss.  In response to Matthew Harvey’s mention of a Mobile Device Usage Policy in his presentation“Minding the Candy Store”last Thursday, I am providing a sample of such a policy here
  • Accounting Today interviewed me on information security and cyber liability exposures for CPA firms. Watch it here: Video: CPA Firms have a target on their back
  • In keeping with the information security and cyber liability theme, I am offering other cyber liability risk management policies and best practices. Samples for your firm to use can be found below.
  • Watch the recorded version of our most recent webinar “Got claims? Just look at the tax side of your practice.”

In addition, many questions were asked about Information Security and Cyber Liability Insurance. Please take a look at our website for additional information or call me at 508-656-1330 to get the conversation started on the important topic of minimizing your firm’s exposure to litigation around client information loss.

Please consider NAPLIA for your firm’s professional liability insurance and risk management needs!

Regards, 

Stephen Vono | Principal | NAPLIA

stevev@naplia.com 

(Picture: Stephen, me and some Ohio FMA Chapter members.)

  • There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.
  • John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

What Top Leaders In The Profession Are Worrying About

Here’s an excerpt, about TECHNOLOGY, from a recent article in Accounting Today.

MODERN TIMES

The speed with which the future is demolishing the present was a major concern for many of the profession’s leaders, who worry that accountants are “not adapting to the fast pace of change fast enough,” according to Maryland Association of CPAs CEO Tom Hood. “Many CPAs are stuck in the current state and not taking the time to be aware, predictive and adaptive to the changes facing our profession. This is causing them to delay making changes necessary to leverage technology, develop succession plans and next-generation leaders.”

The rate at which technology changes —and the slower rate at which accountants adapt to it — was a frequent worry. “It is difficult to keep up with the pace of innovation today,” said Antonio Argiz, chairman and CEO of Top 100 Firm MBAF. “More firms are moving towards cloud computing, which raises more cybersecurity issues than we have had to account for before. Also, staying up-to-date with the changes in technology and innovation in the audit field will be challenging, especially for smaller firms where upgrading can be cost prohibitive.”

Technology thought leader and partner at WithumSmith+Brown Jim Bourke echoed that: “The impact of technological changes in the profession … is changing the game and how financial information will be viewed in the future. Firms that are stuck in the traditional compliance reporting role will be forced to change or will be left behind.”

Avoiding that fate will require accountants to develop greater expertise, said Confirmation.com founder Brian Fox. “The most important issue is the change that needs to take place in order for our CPAs to be effective in the future — specifically I’m referring to the need for CPAs to have a much higher level of education when it comes to technology.”

Be sure to read the entire article here.

  • Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.
  • Leo Buscaglia

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Helpful Information

I often get questions on a VERY wide variety of CPA firm management topics. Many are HR, succession and operational related. I also try to provide the latest trends in marketing, leadership, and technology.

I am using the title “Helpful Information” to communicate some of the best practices or useful products I hear or read about.

For today, I recently learned some information for firms adopting Two Factor Authentication (2FA).

Many firms are happy with Duo Security. Xcentric has partnered with Duo Security to provide their clients with the utmost protection.

I am not aligned or partnered with any vendors serving the CPA profession. However, I do often feature vendors or products that I think my readers would find helpful.

  • The struggle for today is not altogether for today - it is for a vast future also.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Technology – Return On Investment (ROI)

“A nickel isn’t worth a dime anymore.” – Yogi Berra

I have heard firm leaders discuss return on investment relating to technology costs at many partner retreats and meetings. It always seems to be an elusive number and a never-ending conversation. In most cases, these conversations end with the comment partners apply to many things inside a CPA firm – “It costs too much.”

randyRandy Johnston has a very informative article on ROI via CPA Practice Advisor. He shares what should be in the calculations made regarding technology expenditures.

He also reminds us that there are a few key ideas behind what he discusses. Below are the key ideas. Follow this link to read the worthwhile article.

  1. That you have a technology plan and budget. Our latest National CPA Firm Survey data indicates that only 14% of CPA firms have an IT budget. Firms “spend what is needed” which may or may not be true.
  2. That each project should have an estimated return. Understand that some projects are dependent on other projects. For example, it is hard to implement eSignature if you don’t have your paperless project pretty far along.
  3. That you don’t have to implement the latest technology to be successful. However, you won’t gain a significant competitive advantage if you are a technology laggard.
  4. That, not every technology is for you.
  • Too many people spend money they earned to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like.
  • Will Rogers

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Randy Johnston, What’s New?

Randy Johnston, is that you with Rita?

I always try to attend Randy Johnston‘s tech update sessions whenever our paths cross at conferences. He makes actually makes the latest trends in technology understandable for people working on the management side of a growing CPA firm. Yesterday, at the CPAFMA National Practice Management conference in Baltimore, Johnston shared some insights from his most recent survey of the profession.

He actually makes the latest trends in technology understandable for people working on the management side of a growing CPA firm. Yesterday, at the CPAFMA National Practice Management conference in Baltimore, Johnston shared some insights from his most recent survey of the profession.

Here are just a few tidbits from Randy’s comments:

-Look at focusing on niches. The most profitable firms are niche focused. Tax and collaborative accounting may not be a good long-term strategy.

-Top tech challenges: Keeping up with new software. Workflow. Security.

-Training, over and over again, is a consistent problem in nearly every firm he visits. He estimated that out of the 400 firms he has visited, only about two do it well.

-When it’s time to purchase monitors, consider going with fewer, larger monitors.

-CCH scan, SurePrep and Gruntworx have all made improvements and are working well.

-For workflow, XCM is the dominant player followed by GoFileRoom workflow.

-Every tax product has a new generation coming out within the next few years. Be prepared for major changes.

-This year, 25% of firms in his survey are looking at changing tax software. That is a high percentage and rather unusual.

-If your technology budget is 6-7% your partners will make more money, if the budget is managed.

 

 

  • Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible
  • Frank Zappa

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Technology Fly-In For CPA Firms – Recap

Roman-mainIn November, the CPA Firm Management Association hosted it’s annual technology fly-in. It is an opportunity for firm technology managers/directors and firm practice managers to learn the most current trends and threats to their firms from a variety of CPA profession technology experts.

Sessions were conducted by Roman Kepczyk, Eric McMillen and Christian James.

Here are the topics:

  • CPA Trends: Strategic IT Response
  • Your Security Response
  • CPA Digital EcoSystem
  • IT Infrastructure/Data Center

Read the entire recap by Roman Kepczyk on the CPAFMA website here.

  • Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.
  • Thomas Edison

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Educate and Inspire Your CPA Firm Tech Team

CPAFMA_Name_PantoneCPAFMA is offering a fantastic opportunity for your firm’s valuable tech team (or tech person). The 2015 Technology Fly-In will be held in Chicago on November 10-11, 2015.

There is an elite list of speakers:

  • Eric McMillen, CEO and Chief Security Architect, The McMillen Group.
  • Christian James, Co-Founder, Xcentric
  • Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA, CITP, CGMA, Director of Consulting, Xcentric

Here’s a quote from a past-attendee:

“Great information was shared at the Technology Fly-in in Chicago. While my role has changed, I always learn so much at this event. All of the speakers are exceptional; it is so evident that each loves what he/she does. The exchange of information is invaluable.”

Topics for this year:

  • CPA Trends: Strategic IT Response
  • Your Security Response
  • CPA Digital Ecosystem
  • IT Infrastructure Update/Data Center
  • Tech Take Aways
  • IT Hot Topics and Open Brain Share Networking

Get all of the details here.

  • Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it is useless.
  • Thomas Edison