Friday, July 6th, 2018

Flashback Friday – Provide Guidance On How To Enter Time

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” – Albert Einstein

If you are a value pricing firm, disregard.  Good for you and I bet you have a lot of happy team members. I also imagine that you have well-trained managers who mentor and guide them through client engagements.

If you are not a value pricing firm, like most of the firms I talk to and work with, I bet you get the questions, “How do we enter our time for traveling to a client location? Is it chargeable or not?”

Here’s a flashback post to help you help your team.

  • "No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit."
  • Andrew Carnegie

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Billing For Administrative Time

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy

One practice management question that has been asked many times over the years is whether administrative team members should charge their time to a client.

If your firm is still billing by the hour, all employees whether admin team or accounting team should record any time expended on behalf of a client. Whether it is billed or not is up to the discretion of the biller, usually a partner. I have observed that in many firms, most, if not all, of this time is billed.

The accounting firm administrative team spends a great deal of their time on client work. They are providing service on behalf of a client. Serving the client is a valuable and important activity.

Some clients are more “needy” than others and often much of that neediness for service falls to the admin team.

I have also observed that administrative team members focused on client work are usually only about 30-40% chargeable.

 

  • "Time has more value than money. You can get more money but you cannot get more time."
  • Jim Rohn

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

Talk With Your Team About Purpose

“The purpose of your business should be as clear as the name on your building, not another page in your HR handbook.” – William Vanderbloemen

Yes, talk to your team about the firm’s purpose. However, the ownership group better talk about it first!

Have you really given any thought about the purpose of your firm?

A recent study from Korn Ferry showed that companies with teams focused on their organization’s purpose had annual growth rates nearly three times the annual rate for their entire industry.

The survey also showed that 90% of people who worked in a purpose-driven organization reported feeling engaged in their work.

Forbes.com contributor, William Vanderbloemen, CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group (an executive search firm focused on churches) discusses the great impact of focusing on purpose. Read his Forbes article here.

Do CPA firms have a strong purpose? You bet they do! I talk to a lot of CPAs and the thing they love the most is their clients. When I ask managers and staff of public accounting firms what they like best about working at a firm they almost always name “the clients” first.

CPAs are the most trusted advisor. They help businesses and individuals become more successful. They help family businesses survive. They help transition businesses from generation to generation. They help clients better understand tax issues and accounting practices. The healthier the business community, the healthier the community. CPAs play a huge role in that.

I know you can add to this list of what you do but do you talk about it? Do you identify your purpose and keep it in front of your employees? Are you persistent in pushing the importance of your core values? Are the core values meaningful and understandable? I admire the values of Mr. Vanderbloemen’s firm:

  • Broadband Love
  • Unusual Servanthood
  • Wow-Making Excellence
  • Ridiculous Responsiveness
  • Solution-Side Living
  • Ever-Increasing Agility
  • Stewardship of Life
  • Constant Improvement
  • Contagious Fun

Learn more about each value by visiting the website. It is under the “About” tab. For example, Solution-Side Living means:  The Vanderbloemen team members are problem solvers, always having a solution mentality and not a victim mentality.

They actually all nine of their core values them painted on a wall in their staff meeting room – covering the entire wall in big letters of different styles and sizes.

Take steps this summer to better define your culture. Make it a purposeful culture. Identifying your core purpose is not enough. It requires a deep and abiding commitment from the top. Your purpose needs to be visible in all your actions and activities from hiring people to serving clients.

 

  • "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

The Best Way to Train New Staff

“The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.” – Michael Jackson

Several years ago I heard Dustin Hostetler, Chief Innovation Officer at Boomer Consulting, talk about a method of training that he thought would be greatly beneficial to the CPA profession.

It is a simple, 4-step method but seems to make so much sense for interns and new hires working in accounting firms.

  1. I do – You watch
  2. I do – You help
  3. You do – I help
  4. You do – I watch

Here’s a short video with the complete explanation.

  • "Learning is not watching a video, learning is taking action and seeing what happens."
  • Seth Godin

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Flashback Friday – Are You Making Excuses?

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

Do you procrastinate? Be honest.

Read this flashback post from June 2016.

  • "I am convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. "
  • Steve Jobs

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Reminder – Participate in the Rosenberg Survey

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to participate in the Rosenberg Survey!
The Rosenberg Survey, a comprehensive benchmarking study for CPA firms, is now open for participation. Our Survey is nearly 200 pages, full of dozens of metrics, ratios and analyses of accounting firm financial performance. Participate and receive valuable data to help guide your firm.
Thank you to those who have already participated!
The fee for the Survey is $400. For questions, please contact us at (314) 209-0922 or email chylan@rosenbergsurvey.com.

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Top Firms For Women – 2018

“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Each year I look forward to the release of the Accounting MOVE Report. In conjunction with the report, the names of the top accounting firms for women are also announced.

Here’s the 2018 list:

  • BPM (San Francisco)
  • Brown Smith Wallace (St. Louis)
  • Clark Nuber PS (Bellevue, Wash.)
  • CohnReznick LLP (New York)
  • Kerkering, Barberio & Co. (Sarasota, Fla.)
  • Lurie LLP (Minneapolis)
  • MCM CPAs and Advisors (Louisville, Ky.)
  • Moss Adams (Seattle)
  • Novogradac & Company LLP (San Francisco)
  • Plante Moran (Southfield, Mich.)
  • Rehmann (Troy, Mich.)
  • The Bonadio Group (Pittsford, NY)
  • "When a woman is talking to you, Listen to what she says with her eyes."
  • Victor Hugo

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Motto or Tagline

Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
– Henry David Thoreau

Most firms have them. Many firms have them prominently displayed on their website. I am referring to the firm motto or tagline. Most are rather boring. They are things like the following:

  • A Century Strong
  • Improving the lives of our staff, clients and community with innovation, trust and integrity.
  • Collaborative Approach.Practical Advice
  • Go Beyond
  • Serving clients since 1931
  • Strategy Meets Challenges
  • Helping You Meet Your Financial Goals
  • Experience, Financial Clarity and Confidence
  • Uncommon Expertise, Incomparable Service

Read more here. 

Some firms tout their longevity, some their client service and some have just copied something another firm has used. I remember hearing a very prominent managing partner from a very prominent and forward-thinking firm do a presentation on developing core values for his firm. We, the audience, were all very impressed with the list of six or so values and the meaning behind each one. Privately, in a later conversation, I asked him, “How did you come up with the values and meaningful descriptions?” He replied, “Oh, I just found them on the internet.”

Mottos and taglines are also used internally to motivate your entire staff. Maybe you need a different kind of motto for internal use, something that will actually motivate staff, something not so stiff, formal and vague. Here’s a motto, intended as a family motto, that I recently read in a magazine. I love it and think it would be a great motto for your CPA team:

Be kind. Have fun. Work hard. Learn a lot.

Whatever your motto – to make it relevant and truly alive inside your firm you must use it repetitively. Make posters and display them around the office. Engrave it on a paperweight for each person’s desk. Put it on t-shirts and give them out at the firm summer picnic.

My continuing message to all of you: Be kind. Have fun. Work hard. Learn a lot.

  • "My motto is: Contented with little, yet wishing for more."
  • Charles Lamb

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Talking and Writing

“The spoken word and the written — there is an astonishing gulf between them.” – Hercule Poirot 

The above quote from an Agatha Christie novel made me think of CPAs and all the other people working inside accounting firms.

Talking – – You have developed your own language. You never say individual tax return, you say 1040. You don’t say:

  • We need an Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate; you say we need a W-4.
  • We have the U.S. Return of Partnership Income; you say 1065.

Be careful, especially when talking to clients and new hires, that you answer questions in a way that is easily understandable for people not familiar with life inside a CPA firm. As for your new hires, they will soon be very comfortable with form numbers.

Writing – – So much is conveyed these days in writing. Email is our main form of communication with clients, business associates, and employees. I see first-hand that many CPAs rank poorly with grammar and spelling! After all, they are numbers people. More than once, I have talked with firm administrators and partners who are actually embarrassed, for the firm, because of a way a partner corresponds via email.

So, back to the quote. Are you easily able to put in writing clear, concise answers to your clients’ questions? Are you careful not to use CPA lingo that might not be understood by outsiders?

Some CPAs are skilled at putting things in writing yet find it difficult to convey verbally, and vice-versa. Talking and writing are things we can all work on to become more skilled and proficient.

  • "It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous."
  • Robert Benchley

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Flashback Friday – What Are You Training Them To Do?

You complain and complain about “those” clients who wait until the last minute. Your team has to work so many long hours because things are delayed because of “those” clients.

Why do you let some people make your work life miserable? There is a couple of solutions – 1) give them the opportunity to work with another provider and 2) train them to do what you expect!

Here’s a post from last year with some great comments from Seth Godin about training customers.