Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Time

If time is flying, you are likely doing a good thing.” – Alan Burdick, author of Why Time Flies

Time is an over-whelming part of CPA firm culture. Sometimes we place way too much importance on it and sometimes we waste it. No matter what, whether you are value pricing or billing by the hour – someone above you in the office food chain, one of your peers or a subordinate will be asking… “How long did it take you to do that?”

Even more important is your personal time. Do you treasure it, save it or waste it?

People who are more engaged, interested, having fun and immersed in what they are doing will say, “Wow, time sure flew.”

I leave you with this:

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

  • "There are no secrets that time does not reveal."
  • Jean Racine

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Frustrated With The Annual Performance Review?

“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.” – Tom Peters

I am so pleased to be part of the lead article for the December issue of the Journal of Accountancy. The article is by Anna Reitman.

It is titled: Want to jettison the annual performance review? – Here’s how some organizations are making the change.

As I have often stated, in many CPA firms, the reviewers and those being reviewed have come to dread the annual ordeal. This article examines changes that firms have made, the pitfalls they have encountered, and the results of their efforts.

I hope you find it helpful if your firm is considering making a change. Contact me if you need help.

 

  • "I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better."
  • Elon Musk

Friday, December 15th, 2017

It’s Not a Time For Procrastination

Procrastination under the guise of preparation is stagnation. – Dan Rockwell

Certified Public Accountants working in public practice are known for their very well-developed procrastination skills.

Sometimes, entire partner groups seem to become frozen in time.

It probably would seem strange to outsiders, but some of it comes from success. We’ve worked hard. We’ve done well. We are making great money. Our clients are happy. Let’s cruise for a while! We will think about “those” issues and address them next year.

Firms with that mentality (and there are a lot of them), will not find their way into the future. 2018 could be a key turning point, or not, for many smaller firms.

Plan now to make 2018 an action year.

  • "The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They're full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too."
  • Norman Vincent Peale

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

It Won’t Be The Same Tomorrow

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” – Arnold Bennett

If you are retirement age, working in a CPA firm, it might be a good time to actually retire.

Here’s an informative, brief blog titled, “What is an Accountant? It Won’t be the Same Tomorrow” by Todd Cheney.

So much of what you have done (or supervised) during your professional life will be done by automation. Young people will need to be equipped to do consulting work much sooner. Almost half of your new hires won’t be accountants. Very soon – NOT the distant future – you will have to change your work skills drastically.

But, there is such opportunity if you are will to invest in drastic change. Mark Belfance, a Managing Partner at the accounting titan EY, sees it as a positive for both clients and employees. “When you take away the mundane, we get the opportunity to give our people differentiated experiences and they become those business advisors sooner. That’s what our clients want.”

If you struggle with accepting change and if you and your firm are really good at the mundane, it’s a rocky road ahead.

  • "Action is the foundational key to all success."
  • Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

We Just Can’t….

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins, author Good to Great

Read the above quotation again.

I have coached and consulted with lots of CPA firms. I have done presentations for thousands of CPAs. I often hear the same lament about a poor performer: “We can’t let her go, she’s been with us 20 years.” I have heard that statement applied to poor performers over and over again throughout my career.

Is she meeting the firm’s expectations for her specific job at the firm? “No, but…” I hear too many “No, buts…” when I ask questions about this person. “We just can’t let her go.”

I use the term “she” because it is usually a she (just from my experience). “She” is someone hired by the former managing partner. She is stuck in status quo. She hasn’t kept up with technology changes. She demotivates all those around her. She dodges difficult tasks. Sometimes it is an admin person. Sometimes it is a paraprofessional. Sometimes it is a very technical tax person. AND yes, sometimes it is a partner!

Take action:

  • Clearly communicate to this person that they are not meeting expectations.
  • Clearly define those expectations.
  • Work with them to outline a development plan and assure them of the firm’s support in the improvement process.
  • Set a target date for some improvement to occur.

They just might change, improve and succeed. Usually, they remain a poor performer or a mediocre performer, at best.

If your people are mediocre, the firm will remain mediocre.

Again, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins, author Good to Great.

  • "Bad decisions made with good intentions, are still bad decisions."
  • Jim Collins

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Firms Are Optimistic About Growth

“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” -Aristotle

Accounting Today conducted their annual survey of over 500 firms of all sizes in November, on everything from their growth expectations to their plans for tech spending, their use of social media, and the new services they’re offering.

Here’s what firms think about their growth in 2018:

Atoday

Check out all of the results from the survey. It also shows how firms feel about hiring and retaining talent.

  • "Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, December 11th, 2017

I’m On My Reading Soapbox Again

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury

A suggestion from Seth Godin, instead of having 20 valuable employees spend an hour in a meeting that’s only vaguely related to their productive output, why not have them spend one hour reading?

That suggestion made me think about some things you can do at your CPA firm.

Rather than having a “lunch & learn” that about half of your employees dread, why not have a “read & learn”?

One of my clients is having their management group read a chapter a week in a selected popular business/leadership book and then discuss it briefly at their weekly management meeting.

Another client is establishing a leadership/management library by collecting (and buying) well-known business books and asking the leadership group to read one per quarter.

I also believe you can learn a lot from and be inspired by simply reading novels.

Thinking about the goals you will set for 2018? Commit to reading at least 12 books.

Wondering what should be on your team’s reading list? Here’s a list of twenty books. 

  • "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns one on, I go into the other room and read a book."
  • Groucho Marx

Friday, December 8th, 2017

Little Things All Year Long

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden

It’s December. There has probably been a discussion about doing something special for your best clients because of the holidays.

Rather than only doing something special this time of year, why not do many little things all year long? Keep in mind, little things can make the biggest difference.

Here are just a few ideas for little things you can do for your clients throughout the year:

  • Send a handwritten note to clients on the anniversary of the day they became a client of the firm.
  • Have a small box of candy (4 to 6 pieces) mailed to their home on their birthday (so their family can see it and share)
  • Mailing the clients who always pay on time a “Thanks for always paying on time” note – U.S. mail or email.
  • Sending a card to a client’s child when they graduate from H.S. or college.
  • The client likes dark chocolate or milk chocolate – send them the appropriate box of candy.
  • When the weather gets cold and snowy, send a special client one golf ball in the mail and remind them to think about Spring.
  • Be sure all clients who have new babies get a special monogrammed blanket with their name and date of birth noted.

Ask your team to come up with more little things. It can be a fun lunch & learn activity.

What about those clients who are not your best, the ones you dread? Find them another accounting firm!

  • "Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things."
  • Frank Clark

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Maybe You Are Lazy

“I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you.” – Kolbe Bryant

I often refer to Seth Godin and some of his amazing blog posts. I hope you are following him, too.

Today, he posted about “modern laziness.” I have observed modern laziness inside so many CPA firms. I bet you have, too!

From Godin: “The original kind of lazy avoids hard physical work. Too lazy to dig a ditch, organize a warehouse or clean the garage. Modern lazy avoids emotional labor.”

As a team member in a CPA firm:

  • During a training session, do you refrain from raising your hand and asking a question? Do you wait on someone else to ask?
  • Do you follow what was done last year (SALY) on a client engagement rather than discuss with your supervisor something that confuses or puzzles you?

As a CPA firm leader:

  • Do you dodge those tough phone calls from clients about their recent invoice?
  • Do you hide out in your office and hope no one bothers you with questions?
  • Do you ask someone else to discuss an issue of poor performance with a team member rather than doing it yourself?

These are the kinds of things that require emotional labor. To me, it falls under the category of Emotional Intelligence. Accountants have a reputation of NOT having it!

Whether your are a recent accounting graduate or a long-term partner in an accounting firm, work on your EQ and don’t be lazy!

  • "People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals - that is, goals that do not inspire them."
  • Tony Robbins

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

What’s Ahead For 2018

“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” – Neil Armstrong

As the new year approaches, Accounting Today asked a panel of industry thought leaders and experts to paint a picture of what accountants can expect from the next 12 months in terms of important trends, big surprises and key initiatives to undertake.  

Thanks to Dan Hood and Accounting Today for including me in this group of thought leaders!

The question: What trends should accountants keep an eye out for in 2018? 

Read the entire article here with my comments and great insights from: Jim Boomer, Angie Grissom, Steve Mankowski, Erik Asgeirsson, Gary Bolinger, and Joel Sinkin.

  • "There's always something in the game you wish you would have done different. That's why players improve, because they learn from what they did before. They might have been guessing before, but now they know. "
  • Gordie Howe