Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Stay Safe Out There – Two-Factor Authentication

“In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I know that CPA firms are fanatics about protecting the safety of their data. Their clients count on them to treat their information with the highest level of security. I also know that CPAs take this responsibility very, very seriously.

I have observed that some CPAs are not using two-factor authentication with their personal devices and some don’t even know what it is. Perhaps, you feel safe because your devices are tied to your firm and all its security. But, what about your clients and your family?

BillRecently, I have become aware of Bill Hess, founder of Pixel Privacy. On his site, Bill gives advice and creates easy to follow tutorials that anyone can use to protect their privacy and stay safe online, even if they have zero technical knowledge.

Want to learn more? Read Bill’s post, Two-Factor Authentication – What It Is and Why You Should Use it. His post is very informative, easy to understand. I hope you will share it with your team, your clients, and your family.

  • The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.
  • Dudley Moore

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Your Firm Budget For 2018

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” — Warren Buffett,

The AICPA Roundtable 2018 is happening this week in New York City. You can follow the comments on Twitter #AICPAroundtable2018.

Just one comment from yesterday that I think is important to you: 75% of accountants will increase technology spend in 2018

Did you significantly increase your tech budget for 2018?

  • A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
  • Dave Ramsey

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

The Cloud Accountant

“Those without self-awareness do not look to improve, often because they do not think they need to.” – Jessica Daley

I talk with so many practitioners who struggle with the belief that they should employ remote employees. Whether you are convinced or not, it is a rapidly growing component of the accounting profession.

I recently read an article, 3 Essential Personality Traits of a Cloud Accountant by Jessica Daley of Xcelerate Business Solutions.

I enjoyed her article but was even more impressed when I visited the Xcelerate website.

Here’s the opening paragraph of the article. Does it sound like you and your team?

Today, flourishing in accounting requires a new way of thinking. It is less about the technical expertise and number-crunching, and more about whether you can handle systems, communicate well, innovate, solve problems, and build a rapport with your clients. If someone on your team is unable to do this, their accounting expertise does not matter—they simply will not be a very good accountant in the client’s eyes.

The 3 essential personality traits:

Curiosity – Your have to be curious about all the apps and technology so you can help your clients make the most of them.

Pride – You and your staff must have pride in what you do. You take ownership of your work and solve client problems.

Self-awareness – In the author’s opinion, this is the most important trait. You need to be aware of what you do not know.

Read more about these 3 traits here.

  • My best staff are relentless in their ownership of a client.
  • Jessica Daley

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Some Are Still Buying Servers

“The great myth of our times is that technology is communication.” – Libby Larsen

It is very difficult to convince some CPA firm partners that they need to move their technology to the Cloud. They feel very strongly about maintaining client data inside their firm. Often, they get that information from their one internal technology person. Having all your firm’s technology knowledge invested in one person is risky.

I urge you to read a recent article by Roy Keely of Xcentric – The Last Server You Will Buy. 

Thousands of CPA firms have already bought their last server. Keely predicts that for some, the last server they are going to buy will be in 2020 and those will be the absolute laggards.

Why quit buying servers?

  • The world has changed
  • You can’t find a capable person to manage it.
  • IT people will choose something else
  • Security
  • It adds zero value to your business to do it in-house (and waste valuable partner time determining purchase decisions, hiring/firing IT people, etc.)

Be sure to read more about each bullet point and think about when you will buy your last server.

  • Common sense and nature will do a lot to make the pilgrimage of life not too difficult.
  • W. Somerset Maugham

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Tracking The Time You Are At Your Desk

“Any privacy in public is a hard thing to negotiate.” – Benedict Cumberbatch

All of this technology is wonderful, right? It helps us get work done faster, it helps us shop, it helps us find places, it helps us do our banking and other chores, and it opens an amazing world of information for us.

I was with a friend recently who uses technology (Life360) to track her teenage daughter. Some people track their entire family.

Recently, Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady) wrote an article for Inc. that reported on a bank tracking the time their employees spent at their desks.

Supposedly, the bank says the purpose is to see what spaces employees use. It doesn’t track who is sitting at your desk. The information will be used for space planning.

But what if employers begin using such devices to track employees for other purposes.

It is kind of creepy but also interesting. I don’t really mind that Google knows where I am most of the time. I’m not so naive to think other entities may be tracking me. If you use a credit card, you become very public. But something about having your boss track the time you sit at your desk would be unacceptable.

Read the article, see what you think.

  • You already have zero privacy. Get over it.
  • Scott McNealy

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

New Clients Will Want Cloud Services

“It takes a very long time to become young.” – Pablo Picasso

I cringe when I hear it. The sad part is that now – summer of 2017 – I am still hearing it way too often from CPA firms around the country.

Are you paperless? Are you completely digital? Are you in the cloud? Are you using a portal?

Most of the answers I hear are…. “sort of,” “not really,” “we don’t trust the cloud,” and “we haven’t pushed it with our clients.”

A recent survey by Bill.com tells us that business owners under the age of 55 prefer their accountants to handle all or most of their accounting work digitally. 78% of those 39 and under want paper-free accounting.

I believe that people, in general, are becoming very accustomed to the digital world – from their personal banking transactions to entertainment.

It’s time to give up the excuse you have used for too many years… “our clients are older and they want things in paper.”

Read more about this survey via Accounting Today – Your Next Accounting Client Wants Paperless, Mobile Services by Mary Ellen Biery.

  • The whims of youth break all the rules.
  • Homer, The Iliad

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Download Your Tech Roadmap

“To embrace technology as a strategic enabler, firms need to shift their treatment of technology from cost to investment.” – Donny Shimamoto

You can now download a new free ebook from Sageworks. In the book, leading experts in technology, practice management, marketing and firm strategy share their real-world advice for preparing firms to navigate technology choices, determining which technologies are best suited for the challenges facing firms and ensuring the solutions work for a firm. The book also covers strategies to help firms increase their value through the reliance on technology.

I am simply delighted to be included among these amazing experts.

Tech Roadmap: Selecting the Ideal Solutions to Thrive in Business AdvisingINSIDE THIS EBOOK:

  • The Groundwork – What needs to happen at a firm before it begins vetting specific technology?
  • Addressing Challenges With Technology – What types of technologies should be considered?
  • Making Tech Work – How can firms ensure technology is adopted successfully?

READ ADVICE FROM INDUSTRY LEADERS

Need help navigating tech choices for your firm? See my advice in a new eBook from @sageworks http://web.sageworks.com/e/14602/2rVqSY7/7f42gj/692738269 

  • Anyone starting a firm today should be in the cloud. I tell every single sole practitioner startup, ‘YOU HAVE TO BE 100 PERCENT IN THE CLOUD. Your clients are going to want to be able to collaborate with you.
  • James C. Bourke, WithumSmith+Brown

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