Monday, December 10th, 2018

This is What is Trending in CPA Firms

marc-rosenberg-2017“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”—Peter Drucker

Thanks to my good friend, Marc Rosenberg, I am pleased to share his recent article: Trending: What I’m Seeing at CPA Firms This Year.

I am sure many of my fellow CPA management consultants will agree with Rosenberg. I know I am seeing the same issues with my CPA firm clients.

If you haven’t already, take a minute or two to read Rosenberg’s view on current trends.

 

  • "The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake—you can’t learn anything from being perfect."
  • Adam Osborne

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Do We Make Leadership Too Difficult?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

In the CPA profession, there is an enormous amount of resources for leadership training. We hear about it all the time, we read about it all the time and there are hundreds of books written every year on leadership. Almost all of the prominent CPA management advisors offer a “leadership training” program. And yes, I write many blog posts on the topic of leadership.

Does all the training and reading on leadership work? Are we making it too difficult? Are we expecting too much? Are we spending too much on leadership training? Isn’t most of it obtained by experience and passion?

I hope you follow HBR on Twitter (@harvardbiz). Here’s an HBR tweet I read this week that led me to an excellent article:

With such a flurry of developments, there must be some useful new ways to think about leadership.

An excerpt from the article:

The reality, however, is somewhat different. Yes, the leadership development industry is thriving, and yes there are a lot of new and interesting ideas, some of which may prove to be helpful. But despite many changes in our context — as organizations have become more democratic and networked, for example — in its fundamentals leadership has not changed over the years. It is still about mobilizing people in an organization around common goals to achieve impact, at scale.

Getting a promotion or becoming a partner does not make you a leader.

  • "Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Is It Time To Exit Gracefully?

Many CPA firm partners are struggling with the decision on when to retire.

It seems most believe that no matter what their age, it is too soon to consider retiring. Some firms have even raised their mandatory retirement age to 70. Many firms have no mandatory retirement age. Do you have a documented transition plan to help retiring partners exit?

While I certainly do not believe in forcing a successful, active, business-getting, forward-thinking partner out the door, I do believe that all aging partners need to think about retirement and make plans. Are you really a visionary or are you holding the firm back in any way?

I love this quote:

“I don’t want to be dragging myself on stage, year in year out until someone else tells me it is time to go. There are certain birthdays that make you revalue your life.” – Tina Turner

As the year draws to a close, will 2019 be the year you put your transition plan into place and provide an opportunity for the next generation?

  • "The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off."
  • Abe Lemons

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Foot-dragging

“If I see something sagging, bagging or dragging I’ll get it nipped, tucked or sucked.” – Dolly Parton

Does your firm have a foot-dragging problem?

foot-drag·ging
/ˈfo͝otˌdraɡiNG/
noun
  1. reluctance or deliberate delay concerning a decision or action.
    “bureaucratic foot-dragging has continued to delay the project”

You come back from a conference with a great idea. Or perhaps you read about a good idea on this blog. It is not something that is too complicated but it is not something the firm has tried before.

Some partners are excited but a few pooh-pooh the idea, so it never gains enough momentum to survive. Staff watch, shake their heads and smile at another avoidance of change.

Maybe your firm has one or two partners who are passionate and one or two who are completely happy with the status quo. The passionate partners are pulling the heavy wagon of change up the steep hill and the other partners are dragging their feet.

The foot-draggers don’t even have to help pull. All they have to do is pick up their feet!

  • "Delay is the deadliest form of denial."
  • C. Northcote Parkinson

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Attention Small Firms!

“If I am to meet with a disappointment, the sooner I know it, the more of life I shall have to wear it off.” – Thomas Jefferson     

I am delighted to work with many small firms. That means I am often Googling smaller firms to look at their websites.

I am usually very depressed after doing so. Just because you are small doesn’t mean you can’t be mighty!

Please, please immediately devote some time to your website, that is if you want to attract new clients. The most recent one I visited had no pictures, no email addresses, no listing of owners or staff, no social media links. When I filled out the contact section it had an “internal error.” Their URL said “not secure.” – What a disappointment.

Prospects judge you on your website.

  • "One's best success comes after their greatest disappointments."
  • Henry Ward Beecher

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

Working at an Accounting Firm – New Graduates

“Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.” – Benjamin Franklin

The CPA profession hires thousands of new college graduates each year. Many join the big, national firms. Others join regional or local firms – some of them are huge and some are very small. All of them do their best to provide you with an onboarding and orientation experience. Some do a good job and some do not.

What can you really expect while working at a CPA firm? Sadly, it often takes years to figure that out and sometimes you learn it the hard way, by trial and error.

Suzanne Lucas, in her article for Inc., gives us 10 workplace secrets for New Grads – those young people who have landed a job in a profession. They all apply to public accounting. Please read her entire article. I have listed a few of the secrets and modified them for your situation in a public accounting firm.

Your manager can’t fire you – Managers in an accounting firm are often very skilled at managing the work but not so skilled at managing people. They have exceptional training in “the work” but most firms do not provide enough training in managing people. Most people in a CPA firm at the manager level can’t fire you without extensive involvement of others at the firm (partners, usually).

Your manager can’t give you a raise either – They can make recommendations but rarely have the authority to designate an amount.

HR isn’t bound by confidentiality rules – They must investigate things – if you are harassed, they are required to investigate things.

Grunt work leads to success – This applies across all professions. You must do the hard work first and you will be recognized and rewarded as time goes on.

Flexibility has to be earned – It might make you look bad if you start taking advantage of some benefits before you have earned them. Prove that you are capable, responsible, and hard working.

Be sure to read the article to learn about the remaining 5 secrets.

  • "We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows."
  • Robert Frost

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Last Chance to Participate – Digital Survey

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass

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DIGITALLY DRIVEN SURVEY
In recognition of the evolving trends in digital operations, the CPAFMA 2019 Digitally Driven Firm Survey –  formerly the CPAFMA Paperless Benchmarking Survey, the longest-running paperless benchmarking survey in the accounting profession – is being conducted as an update to the Association’s 2017 survey. This important resource will be updated to provide you with the valuable, consistent benchmarking that we’ve all come to rely on upon through CPA Firm Management Association. Results of the survey will be included in future CPAFMA articles and resources, including a MAPCast in December 2018. Participants will be provided with an advanced copy of the results. Your participation as a firm management professional is crucial.
Please submit your responses no later than
Friday, November 30, 2018.
The survey takes between 10-15 minutes.

Click here to take the survey. Roman can’t hold his breath much longer!

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Thursday, November 29th, 2018

CPA Regulators & Profession Jointly Explore Evolving Licensure Model

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ― Leo Tolstoy

Interesting press release from the AICPA. Times are changing and changes need to happen.

NASHVILLE and NEW YORK (November 29, 2018) – Leaders of the CPA profession, the regulatory community and representatives from critical stakeholder groups are joining together to explore possible changes to the CPA licensure model that embrace the need for expanded skillsets of professionals. The goal of the effort is to align licensure with how CPAs will perform services in an increasingly technologically-driven environment.

The CPA Evolution Working Group, which is having its second meeting today, was formed by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of CPAs(AICPA).

The Working Group consists of representatives from Boards of Accountancy, state CPA societies, CPA firms of all sizes from around the country, the accounting academic community, and NASBA and AICPA volunteer committees. They have been tasked with advising NASBA and the AICPA on actions that would position the profession for the future while continuing to protect the public interest.

“Technological innovation and changing client demands are rapidly transforming the skills accountants need to thrive,” said Working Group Chair Cathy Allen, CPA, a managing member of Audit Conduct LLC and a member of NASBA’s Board of Directors. “We want to reimagine the CPA learning and licensure approach. Working Group members recognize the critical role of technological and data analysis expertise needed in firms and businesses today. Our goal is to recommend a strategy that provides the guiding principles for how to build related knowledge and skills into accounting curricula and how to test for those proficiencies on the CPA Exam.”

In the last year, the AICPA and NASBA have discussed potential alternatives to the current licensure model with key stakeholders and have gathered valuable initial feedback. A principal theme that has emerged from the feedback is support for action to evolve the approach to licensure.

“We really value the early engagement we’ve seen from the profession’s key stakeholders,” said Susan S. Coffey, CPA, CGMA, AICPA executive vice president for public practice. “Based on what we’ve heard, there is no question that the profession is ready to take action to capitalize on the opportunities that technology presents to us. That includes an evolution in our approach to licensure that embraces the changes and continues our public protection mandate. I’m looking forward to the Working Group’s recommendations and engaging with the profession and our key stakeholders throughout 2019.”

The Working Group will meet again this winter, and recommendations on a path forward regarding the licensure model are expected to be shared with state boards, state societies, CPAs and other stakeholders next year.

In addition to Allen, CPA Evolution Working Group members are:

  • Tom Broderick, CPA, CGMA, managing principal, BPW&C
  • Mark Dawkins, CPA, CGMA, CMA, dean, Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida
  • Clay Huffman, CPA, senior manager, Frazier & Deeter, LLC
  • Nancy Wolven-Juron, CPA, partner, Deloitte LLP
  • Audrey Katcher, CPA/CITP, CGMA, CISA, partner, RubinBrown LLP
  • Rick Niswander, CPA, CGMA, professor, East Carolina University
  • Todd Shapiro, president and CEO, Illinois CPA Society
  • Susan Somers, executive director, Kansas Board of Accountancy
  • Michael Womble, CPA/ABV/CFF, CVA, MAFF, ASA, managing partner, Williams Overman Pierce, LLP

 

  • "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
  • Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Leaders of Smaller Firms Have a Great Resource

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Over my many years in the CPA profession, I have worked with firms of all sizes – sole-proprietors with one location to Top 100 firms with nationwide representation. Honestly, the challenges and frustrations CPAs working in public practice face are pretty much the same no matter what the size of the firm.

I really enjoy working with smaller CPA firms and my current client list is made up almost entirely of smaller firms (under 50 total FTEs). I find the smaller the firm, the more they are under-served by outside consultants.

For many of my smaller firm clients, I always recommend they get involved in the AICPA PCPS Networking Groups. There are groups for Small, Medium and Large Firms. These groups are especially valuable to small firms. Currently, there are four small firm groups, two medium firm groups, and one large firm group. The groups meet twice per year.

Through each group’s informal system, networking group members may take advantage of the valuable knowledge of their colleagues and share their own knowledge with their peers.  While many group members are firm owners/partners, any member of a PCPS firm is welcome to attend networking group meetings. Learn more here.

If you have questions regarding networking groups, please call them at 1-800-CPA-FIRM or email them at pcps@aicpa.org.  They would love to hear from you!

  • "There are somethings that you can fulfill with money, but at the end of the day these are not the things that make you happy. It is the small things that make life good."
  • Sebastian Vettel

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Women in Accounting

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
—Nora Ephron

More and more women are rising to the top in the CPA profession. They will continue to do so. How are you helping? IMG_1095

  • "You had the power all along my dear."
  • Glinda the Good Witch (Wizard of Oz)