Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

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

Friday, April 10th, 2015

It’s Great When Nice Things Happen – Discount for Excel Training

Most of you know, I love CPAs. My mission is to help CPAs in public practice create successful, progressive, proactive firms where top talent will want to stay and build their careers in public accounting.

I do this in many ways…. writing this daily blog (have only missed a handful of days in 9-1/2 years), providing a monthly, CPA management newsletter, speaking to members of the AICPA, state societies and almost every firm association out there… plus the members of the Association for Accounting Administration. Communicating current trends and helpful information via:

I don’t align myself with any vendors to the profession but I do know and respect many of them. Some are very good friends. I feature vendors and service providers when I think they might be of interest to my audience of CPA firm leaders.

JeffLenning014SqS_250I did that on Wednesday – telling you about Excel University and a really good thing happened. Jeff Lenning, CPA, CITP – author of Excel University emailed me to thank me and to extend an offer of a 20% discount for my readers. All you have to do is use the voucher code: ritakeller

Read more about Jeff here.

  • You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.
  • John Wooden

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Challenge Your Team To Continually Improve

One successful activity that we used when I was working in a CPA firm was challenging our team members to become HIGHLY skilled in the software tools we used daily – like Microsoft Excel and Word.

Accountants were expected the pass the basic Word and advanced Excel tests that Microsoft offered for their certification programs (MOS). Administrative team members were asked to pass the basic Excel and the advanced Word exams. Most of the study to prepare for these exams was pretty much “on your own.”

eu_text_logoRecently, I became aware of a great resource for accountants – Excel University. It is Microsoft Excel Training specifically for CPAs and accounting professionals.

If you could learn Excel simply and easily at your pace and could learn the features and functions that are relevant and practical to accounting professionals – would you want to? If you are an accounting professional and have taken Excel classes before, you know the pace can be too fast or too slow and the content may not be relevant to your work. Excel University explores relevant features that allow you to get your work done quicker, in a self-paced, fun and engaging way.

Designed by a CPA for CPAs, this series covers functions you need and skips those you don’t.  It is available in two formats: Paperback book and Interactive Online Course.

I like the fact that they offer a “full” and “Lite” version. The full version meets NASBA’s QAS Self-Study standards for claiming CPE Credit. The Lite version is almost the same – – maybe more appropriate for your administrative professionals (non-CPAs). Look for more info under the Training Tab when you visit their website and check-out the testimonials.

I bet many of you are already using Excel University. – – Keep encouraging your team to embrace lifelong learning!

  • If you have a job without aggravations, you don't have a job.
  • Malcolm Forbes

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Let’s Talk Teams

Together

In the world of public accounting, I have been talking TEAMS for years and years. From practical experience with “staff” inside an accounting firm, I noticed that when we used the actual word TEAM rather than STAFF or EMPLOYEES it seemed that we began to work more like a team.

An article via the HBR Blog Network by Heidi Grant Halvorson titled:  TOGETHER – Managers Can Motivate Employees With One Word.

Research has determined that human beings are profoundly social. That’s probably not a big surprise to you. We are hardwired to connect to one another and to want to work together. The species would never have survived without our instinctive desire to live and work in groups.

These days, many people work in teams but they are often physically located in different offices, cubicles, or even in different cities and countries. Recent research conducted at Stanford tells us one powerful way to give team members the feeling of working as a team (when they physically aren’t). Use the word TOGETHER. Using this word and planting it in the minds of workers actually leads to better performance.

Enough with all the research talk. Inside your CPA firm, rather than tell someone how to do something and walk away – back to your comfy office, sit down beside them and work through learning experiences WITH them.

In an accounting firm, we hear over and over from new college graduates entering the profession, “We never learned that in school.” Much of what you need your new team members to do is learned via OJT (on the job training) – they learn by doing.

Some of the best training happens when a partner (or manager) actually sits beside a new hire and works through a task with them. Sure, it takes time but once you have done it you don’t have to do it again down the road. The new hire seems to retain it much better and feel more appreciated when you teach by doing things TOGETHER.

 

  • Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.
  • J. C. Penney

Friday, June 27th, 2014

OSCPA Women’s Initiative Luncheon – Dayton, Ohio

I’m still getting some negative comments and reactions from men about women. Imagine that! Actually, I think that has been going on since the beginning of time and vice versa.

No matter where you are in life, it’s always the right time for more understanding involving the people who play a major role in your life. In the home and in the workplace.

Some men in the CPA profession react defensively about women’s initiatives. “Why do they need special treatment?” Some look at the discussions as “men bashing.” I find it all very interesting.

According to Pew research: Fathers have by no means caught up to mothers in terms of time spent caring for children and doing household chores, but there has been some gender convergence in the way they divide their time between work and home.

I have spoken at several state society women’s leadership events and have seen first-hand how experienced female CPAs can give extremely valuable feedback and advice to less experienced female CPAs who are trying to stay in the CPA profession and have an enriching family life. Keep in mind…. the CPA profession needs women. More women are graduating from college with accounting degrees than men. It’s about succession.

If you are anywhere near Dayton, Ohio, please join me and others for an event sponsored by the OSCPA Women’s Initiative Committee. 

The event will take place on July 23rd from 11:30 until 1:00 at Coco’s Bistro. The presenter will be Jennifer McClure, president, Unbridled Talent, LLC and she will lead a session on “Defining and Communicating your Personal Brand for Career Growth. YES, we would love to see some men attend.

Here’s where you can register. OSCPA members and non-members are encouraged to attend.

Women stats

  • Women speak two languages - - one of which is verbal.
  • William Shakespeare

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

On The Minds of HR Directors & COOs

At the AICPA HR Forum last week, we asked the attendees what topics they wanted to learn more about while attending the forum. Here’s the list:

  • Some were new and just wanted to learn more about the CPA profession
  • Software & technology to support training.
  • Tips on hiring experienced people.
  • Restructuring the compensation system.
  • How to cope with rapid growth
  • Best practices in retaining people.
  • Building infrastructure to support growth.
  • Training to aid in succession.
  • Partners retire but they don’t leave.
  • During growth and expansion how can we meet the needs of all offices?
  • Mentoring programs
  • Scheduling
  • Flexible work arrangements – we need more stability.

Quite a list! Perhaps your firm is facing some of the same issues.  Don’t wait until after April 15th to begin planning on how to address these challenges.  Make the plan now and be ready to move quickly on implementing solutions beginning in early May.

 

  • The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.
  • Moliere

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

CPA Firm Leaders – I Hope You Are Exhausted

FMBIronton102210I recently read a tweet by my son regarding his 5th grade musicians. “My 5th grade flutes and clarinets just exhaust me. They have so much energy and ask sooooo many questions.” 

In case you don’t know or have forgotten, 5th grade is when children select their first band instrument and began learning from scratch. Of course they will be excited and have lots of questions. While my son might be exhausted, I know he’s very happy about their enthusiasm.

In January and February inside your CPA firm you have quite a few 5th graders. These are the new college graduates going through their very first busy season and your interns who “have so much energy and ask soooo many questions.

As an experienced CPA – a senior, a manager/supervisor or a partner – you might feel absolutely exhausted because of the attention theses newbies demand and need.

A band director invests in the 5th & 6th graders so that when they gradually become very proficient and reach high school age, the band director has a group of very impressive, skilled musicians in the high school marching and concert bands. All along the way, while they work very hard they also have lots of fun.

This is the same investment that CPA managers (at all levels) are making – answer your beginners’ questions with a smile, get them excited and educated about public accounting and 3 to 4 years down the road you will have an impressive, skilled, professional accounting team that works very hard and has lots of fun along the way.

Yes, it is exhausting.

  • If a baseball player strikes out two times, but hits the ball on the third try every time he goes to bat, he's still a great baseball player. But hitting the mark 33 percent of the time isn't good enough for band. In band you have to hit the mark every time you step up.
  • John Mashburn