Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

For Your CPA Firm & For Your Clients – Take Sexual Harassment Seriously

“Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.” – George Washington

Well-managed CPA firms got the sexual harassment message a long time ago. But, have you continually educated your new team members and your long-time team members about the importance of a sexual harassment policy and how it works?

Your CPAs are advising your small business clients on many topics and making them aware of the need for a sexual harassment policy should be one of those topics.

david-lewis-headshotSometimes small businesses (like CPA firms and their clients) have a very casual, almost collegiate culture. There is nothing casual about sexual harassment.

David Lewis, President/CEO of OperationsInc, one of the Northeast’s largest Human Resources Outsourcing and Consulting firms, was recently interviewed about sexual harassment policies on MSNBC.

Lewis suggests:

  • Start with awareness and training.
  • Adopt a policy and be sure it is well communicated.
  • Be sure your people understand what sexual harassment is and what is suppose to happen if it occurs.
  • Always follow your policy.

Address sexual harassment before it occurs and you must adopt a zero tolerance policy. Many small businesses don’t want to upset their casual culture and try to ease into some sort of sexual harassment policy. There is no easing in – no middle ground. Let everyone know that going forward there will be zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

If you have a policy and don’t follow it, it is a killer – lawyers love it.

Watch the brief, informative interview here.

  • Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Repetition

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi

Want a simple way to train and develop your people? Try repetition.

Think about how your new college recruits learn to become skilled accountants and CPAs. In many firms, it goes like this. You train them on basic auditing. You may send them to a 3-day training course sponsored by your firm association, state society or inside your own firm. You may do it online. But it is very focused.

Then they are assigned to engagement after engagement where they do the same thing over and over until they “get it.” Then they receive a more difficult task and they do it over and over until they become proficient, and so on. They become more and more skilled, they ask great questions and learn from others, they make mistakes and correct them and over time their confidence and skill become top notch.

People learn from repetition. It is much more effective than a one or two-day training session.

You expect your managers to bring in new business and they aren’t very good at it. This also applies to some partners, they are not able to do the basic function of a partner – perpetuate the firm. Why not apply repetition to teaching people in your firm how to sell.

You best rainmakers are the teachers. Ask them to always have a shadow (less experienced person) when they meet with a client. When they meet with a prospect. When they meet with a referral source. When they attend a business networking event. When they attend a charitable fund-raising function. When they attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting. You get the idea.

Expose them over and over again to business development situations. Have them try it on their own – over and over again. Repetition solidifies skills.

  • Don't join an easy crowd. You won't grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are achieve are igh.
  • Jim Rohn

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

To Engage Employees, Focus On Your Managers

“People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.” – Marcus Buckingham

Back in 2013, Gallup released it’s eye-opening report that showed 70% of American workers were not engaged at work.

In 2015, Gallup updated their findings and it showed that 32% of employees are engaged. Not much of an improvement.

Many firms have used employee satisfaction surveys to find out what their employees really think about the firm. I wonder how many firms have actually acted upon the information they received.

I strongly urge you to do employee engagement surveys, but not if you are not prepared to act upon the information you receive. Employees are looking for an exciting vision and a clear picture of how and when their career will move forward.

If you want to improve employee engagement in your firm, look at your managers first. One of the most important decisions the partner group needs to make is who they promote to manager. In most firms, people are named manager because of longevity with the firm, not because they are skilled at inspiring people and nurturing the career growth of others.

Keep in mind…. 70% of people leave a company because of their manager.

If you want your firm’s employee engagement to improve, focus on your managers. Offer them resources to improve their management skills, provide workshops and training on how to manage people (especially millennials). Partners and managers should be fully involved in creating a culture where young accountants want to stay and build their careers.

 

  • The true genius of a great manager is his or her ability to individualize. A great manager is one who understands how to trip each person's trigger.
  • Marcus Buckingham

Monday, March 21st, 2016

There Is A Lot More Than Just Satisfying The Client

“If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.” – J. M. Power

Many years ago when I attended Accountants’ Bootcamp, I learned a whole lot about quality service and pleasing clients.

Satisfying the client is just the bottom of the Hierarchy of Satisfaction ladder.

You SATISFY the client – that’s that! You correctly prepare their taxes or financial statements.

Better yet… You EXCEED expectations. You do something they didn’t expect. Simple.

Better yet… You DELIGHT the client. Maybe you personally deliver their taxes.

Better yet… You make them say “WOW!” I always thought that was the goal, but there is more

Better yet… The client becomes a RAVING FAN. They talk about you and your firm with their friends and business associates.

Better yet… You create WAVES OF LUST. They want you (and your firm) no one else when they need help. Can there be more? – Yes!

The best – You are the ONLY ones who DO WHAT YOU DO the way you do it. Period.

Are you the ONLY ones? If not, make plans now to get that reputation. Provide a client service workshop for your entire team. Ask them what you, as a a firm, should be doing to better serve the client. Some of the things should be “over the top,” if you want to be the ONLY one.

  • Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set ourself on fire.
  • Arnold Glasow

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Gigantic, Combined Conference For 2017

For a long time, I was a committee member and a a committee chair for the AICPA PractitionersTECH+ Symposium. I have also had the honor of being a featured speaker at the event for many years.

I’ll be in Vegas, June 5-8 this year for the annual event. My presentation will help you understand, document and roll-out an appropriate mentoring program for an accounting firm. I hope to see you there.

But, get ready, the event will take on a whole new personality for NEXT YEAR – 2017. The AICPA is planning to host a combined financial planning and accounting conference in 2017 called AICPA Engage.

The conference will combine five (yes FIVE), of the AICPA conferences into a single, co-located event – June 12-15, 2017 at the MGM Grand in Vegas.

Here’s the line-up:

  • Advanced Estate Planning Conference
  • Advanced Personal Financial Planning Conference
  • Conference on Tax Strategies for High-Income Individuals
  • National Advanced Accounting and Auditing Technical Symposium
  • Practitioners Symposium/TECH+ Conference

You can get more info at aicpaengage.com and read more details at AccountingToday.

Remember to register for this year’s event and be sure to take a younger CPA, or two, with you.

  • To get something done a committee should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent.
  • Robert Copeland

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

The Real Story About CPE Courses

I use Yelp and Trip Advisor to find great restaurants. How about you? I also use the reviews and book reservations with Open Table. These are helpful tools. I feel like I get the real story about the restaurant.

What if you could find the same type of reviews (from different perspectives) when you are deciding upon a CPE course? Helpful, right? Check out the following press release and visit the site. It’s new.

Trinocity launches CPEadvisory.com, a CPE user-review site

CPAs can now rate and review any online CPE course from any provider

Nashville, TN – Trinocity announced today the launch of CPEadvisory.com, a rating and review platform for CPE courses. CPAs can find, rate and review any online CPE course from any provider.

Trinocity President, Eric Busby, said, “Much like Yelp and TripAdvisor did with restaurants and hotels, CPEadvisory brings user reviews to CPE. We believe user reviews increase transparency, which helps CPAs make more informed choices and, over time, drives quality higher.”

The CPEadvisory platform can also be integrated with state CPA society websites. The Kentucky Society of CPAs was the first to do so, with other states coming online soon.

CPEadvisory.com contains over 6,000 course listings and is updated daily. Beginning today, CPAs can use the site to find any online CPE course and are encouraged to post reviews on courses they’ve taken.

About Trinocity: Trinocity is a software company specializing in the advancement of the best instruction through user-generated rating and review platforms. It is based in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

How Skilled Are Your People At Business Writing

“I’m an accountant, I’m expected to know numbers!” – I bet you have heard that before or maybe even said it yourself. It’s a good excuse for poor grammar and spelling.

I have seen some amazing spelling mistakes via CPAs! I’m not an expert at grammar and spelling myself, so I am not pointing fingers. But I do try to improve and often do research on grammar and spelling because I write a lot!

LynnI like to read the business writing blog by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston. About Lynn.

Here’s an example of one of her posts. It is titled: Ignore These 10 Always-Never Rules.

She explains that sometimes we hold on to “rules” we learned in our younger years or from others in our work world. The rule usually starts with “Never” or “Always”.

Her advice IGNORE these 10 Always-Never Rules: (Read more about each one by following the link, above.)

  1. Never us a comma before and.
  2. Always use a comma before quotation marks.
  3. Always spell out numbers that are less than 10.
  4. Never start a sentence with because.
  5. Never end a sentence with a preposition.
  6. Never split an infinitive.
  7. Always include the other person’s name before using me.
  8. Never start a sentence with I in business writing.
  9. Never use a contraction in business writing.
  10. When using bullet points, always have at least two.

One of the most popular in-house CPE sessions we had at my firm was during the summer when a high school English teacher came in and did a writing workshop.

  • Spel chekers, hoo needs em?
  • Alan Bean

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Embrace Excitement – Do Not Fear Some Risk

It has to be right.

Accountants are trained in the art of being accurate… being right.

From day one, young accountants have their work reviewed and reviewed again. They receive multiple review notes about what to re-do and correct. Sadly, in many firms they don’t even know what they did wrong, their work is corrected by a reviewer and passed along the review and production pipeline to “get it out the door.” Eventually, they learn that they are making mistakes…. So, they adopt an “avoid risk and over-work the project” work style.

706BA1163FYes, being accurate with client work is very important but it doesn’t apply to everything that is going on inside a CPA firm. Forming a supportive culture, embracing new ideas on efficiency, empowering your firm administrator, working in the Cloud, modifying HR policies, training people, hiring people are all initiatives that continually need to evolve and keep pace with trends.

Inject some excitement in your firm, try things…. Do things… If it proves unsatisfactory just change it again.

Changing things inside your firm feels very risky. Status quo feels very comfortable.

Get over it and remember:  Being alive is a risk.

  • Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
  • T. S. Eliot

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

LinkedIn – A Chance To Learn More

If you are a CPA firm in Ohio, southern Michigan, eastern Indiana, northern Kentucky, western Pennsylvania or West Virginia, the Association for Accounting Administration OHIO Chapter is providing a timely and affordable learning opportunity to leverage the power of LinkedIn for your firm. If you cannot attend, you should send at least one representative from your firm.

Here’s the information from the Chapter:

Leveraging LinkedIn to Grow Your Accounting Firms Business and Influence

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for sales and business development…when you know how to use it correctly! Both the inherent features of LinkedIn as well as the paid advertising features provide many options to help companies of all shapes and sizes generate new business leads. However, used incorrectly and you can find yourself banned from access to your most prized prospect pool or possibly kicked off LinkedIn all together.
We’ll discuss:
  • The power of LinkedIn and leveraging everyone in the firm for visibility and business growth
  • Firm control and management of social media – i.e.   policy and capture software
  • Building profiles for business development vs. job seeking
  • Increasing visibility to target market via status updates and other communications
  • Finding prospect opportunities an introduction away
  • The LinkedIn Company Page and Sponsored Status updates
It all comes down to knowing how to use the Right Strategy, at the Right Time, and in the Right Circumstance.
Date:  July 17, 2015
9:00a Registration and Continental Breakfast
10:00 – 12:00 Presentation (2.0 CPE)
12:00 – 3:00 Lunch and Roundtable (the roundtable discussions are a wonderful benefit)
Price $35
Location: Ohio Society of CPAs, 535 Metroplace South, Dublin, OH

 

  • Active participation on LinkedIn is the best way to say, 'Look at me!' without saying 'Look at me!'.
  • Bobby Darnell

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Spending Your CPE Dollars

No matter what the size of your firm, I’m sure you have a CPE (Continuing Professional Education) budget. How you spend these dollars is not something that should be taken lightly.

Of course you need to focus on developing the technical skills of your employees, especially the beginners. CPA firms focus on the various “level” training courses for their one, two and three-year team members. Staff level training is offered by state societies and other vendors and is a great benefit to those beginning their careers in public accounting.

After that, investment seems to decline. Dollars are allocated on keeping up with audit and tax issues but not so much for supervisory, management and leadership training. Firms tend to procrastinate on these very important skills that could mean success for the firm in the future.

Partners hand out titles without the education and training to back it up. I have found that most CPA firm managers have no clue how to manage. They were given the title because of technical expertise and longevity. Maybe a supervisor is encouraged to attend a one-day “supervisory” training course like the ones offered by vendors across the country, not specifically for the CPA profession. Often, it doesn’t go any further than that.

I not only encourage you to invest in what we used to call soft-skills (now called success skills), I urge you to seriously evaluate the effectiveness of these “leadership” courses. After your people complete a leadership course, monitor their progress. Sure, they are excited about the whole experience for a few months but does it last? Do they demonstrate the leadership skills they learned or did they attend leadership training just to promote their personal career?

As you prepare your CPE plan for this year, balance the technical with the success skills and then monitor the performance of the individuals as they build on what they have learned.

Leadership in a CPA firm means being able to get diverse individuals to work together as a team to achieve a common goal. It means that your CPA team will out-perform the competition. How’s that working for you?

  • Possessions are usually diminished by possession.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche