Monday, May 10th, 2021

How Is Your Firm Perceived?

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” – Aldous Huxley

Ever wonder how you are really perceived in your business community?

“Oh, yes… I know Smith, Jones & Company, they are the ___________ firm.”

Try this fun exercise with your entire team during a Lunch & Learn session or at a regular team meeting.

Use the above line.  Insert the name of your firm. Have each person write down a word or phrase that fills in the BLANK.

After everyone is done – share them and discuss them.  How is your firm really perceived?

It could be……

  • They are the auto-dealer firm.
  • They are the new firm.
  • They are the oldest firm in town.
  • They are the audit firm.
  • They are an estate planning firm.
  • They are the innovative firm.
  • They are the old school firm.
  • They are the big firm.
  • They are the small firm.
  • They are the cool firm.

You might find out some eye-opening perceptions about your firm.

  • "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
  • Oscar Wilde

Friday, May 7th, 2021

A Book For CPAs – Flashback Friday

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

I am assuming (and hoping) that, as a leader, you have read most of the prominent business books.

Here’s a flashback post about a book I think all people working in a public accounting firm should read – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

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

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Contradictions

“The contradictions are what make human behavior so maddening and yet so fascinating, all at the same time.” – Joan D. Vinge

As you successfully manage your public accounting firm, you will encounter many contradictions. Here are a few I have observed:

  • You have to be more flexible.
  • You have to have more structure.
  • You must be able to talk in a way that is inspiring and motivating.
  • Don’t do all the talking, it’s important to be a good listener.
  • You must inspire young people to stay with the firm.
  • You should draw upon the experience of older accountants and not rush them out the door.
  • You have to provide quick turnaround for your clients.
  • You should take your time, you can’t risk making mistakes.
  • You want the team to achieve lots of billable hours.
  • You want the team to achieve great realization.
  • You want young people to be able to take on more challenging work.
  • You allow managers to cling to the most challenging work.
  • You expect the entire team to follow all the policies and procedures.
  • You, a leader, don’t set a good example by adhering to firm policies and procedures.

What I usually observe is that a great number of firms make it all too complicated. They spin their wheels, procrastinate, micro-manage, involve too many people in trivial decisions and make important decisions too slowly. They want the firm to grow and prosper by doing the same old things they have always done.

Make some changes now… before too much of 2021 passes by. Take some risk. It can be fun and exciting (and profitable).

  • "I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money."
  • Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

A Great Manager is an Employee Benefit

“Just as a bad manager can ruin a good job, a great manager can make a good job even better.” – Gallup

I have written and talked about the danger of having bad managers in the CPA profession many times and quoted Gallup saying, “People don’t leave companies, they leave bad managers.”

That’s why, when I came upon a recent article from Gallup titled, “The No. 1 Employee Benefit That No One’s Talking About.” Guess what that benefit is…. good managers!

Bad managers can even affect the health of your team members. The stress they feel at work goes home with them and is a factor in their overall well-being.

People leave good jobs because of bad managers then why don’t they look for good managers when seeking a new job? It is because companies don’t advertise or promote the fact that they have great managers.

I hope your firm is investing in the success of your managers. Accounting firms spend significant dollars on TECHNICAL CPE for managers as they advance in their careers. It’s time to spend more money helping them become great people managers.

There are many great leadership programs for managers and future partners in the CPA profession. Make the investment to send your managers. Then find ways to let the world know you have good managers.

Gallup has advice for building a healthy and thriving organization, starting with your managers. Read the article to learn more.

  • "Research reveals that about one in 10 people possess high talent to manage."
  • Per Gallup

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

Topgrading

“If we weren’t still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become some mediocre company.” – Bill Gates

Have you heard of topgrading interviewing? It is something I was not aware of until I read a recent article by Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady).

Per Lucas:

The term topgrading comes from a 1997 article by Bradford D. Smart and his son, Geoffrey, called Topgrading the organization. Their definition is:

“Topgrading simply means proactively seeking out and employing the most talented people available, while redeploying (internally or externally) those of lesser ability or performance. More specifically, we view topgrading as employing only A players.”

Topgrading, to me, seems like something you would want to use when making lateral hires and so many firms are looking for experienced CPAs.

Read more about topgrading here in the article by Lucas. She gives us a 12-step process for hiring.

  • "Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture. "
  • Howard Schulz, Chairman & CEO of Starbucks

Monday, May 3rd, 2021

Mission – Vision – Purpose

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren G. Bennis

I still encounter some confusion about how to write a meaningful mission, vision, or purpose statement for your firm or organization.

Some CPA partner retreats actually get bogged down in this endeavor while crafting their strategic plan.

purpose statement provides the reason or reasons you exist. It is about why you exist, whereas the mission is about what you do and for whom. … Some organizations find that a mission statement alone suits their needs, whereas others prefer to use a purpose statement.

Read more about the difference between these statements in this brief, informative article.

  • "The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision."
  • Helen Keller

Friday, April 30th, 2021

Keeping Poor Performers

“Be thankful for problems. If they were less difficult, someone with less ability might have your job.” –Jim Lovell

In the not to distant future, busy season will be over and you will be contemplating the performance of your employees.

For Flashback Friday, read this brief post on why poor performers stay at CPA firms even though they are unhappy.

  • "Everyone rises to their level of incompetence."
  • Dr. Lawrence Peter

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

Here I Go Again

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffett

I have said and written about the following things over and over again for YEARS! The sad part is I continue to observe that these basics of CPA firm management need to be implemented.

  • FIRE CLIENTS who suck up more of your time trying to collect than you do with helping their business.
  • Outplace poor performers more QUICKLY.
  • Update your website so that visitors see timely information that is of IMMEDIATE value.
  • Put partner performance and accountability under the MICROSCOPE.
  • Make it a WIN-WIN for partners who have retired in place to exit gracefully.
  • Spend money on continually educating your people – client service, internal management, and administrative team member. It’s called CPE. Don’t forget the CONTINUING part.
  • Become a MARKETING organization that provides accounting and tax services.
  • Hire a firm administrator/COO who can help the firm MAKE MORE MONEY.
  • Critically assess your PROCESSES.
  • ENFORCE the guidelines, rules, and adherence to the processes OR don’t bother wasting all the time it takes to establish them.
  • EMBRACE change, marketing, technology, social media…..
  • Figure out how your firm can be UNIQUE, different from your competition.
  • "Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement."
  • Alfred Adler

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

Build On Your Transformation

“The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.” – Elbert Hubbard

During 2020, CPAs were shocked out of their comfort zone. They had little time to think. They had to act quickly if they wanted to continue serving their valuable clients.

Thus, they made giant leaps forward. Don’t quit the giant leaps and go back to your normal baby-steps!

Joey Havens, CPA, CGMA has written an excellent article via The Journal of Accountancy titled, The Pandemic Pushed Us Forward. Let’s Keep Evolving. The title says it all! He contends that it is a defining moment for all CPAs.

Here are the topics he covered in the article:

  • It forced us to adopt flexibility in how, when, and where we work.
  • It led us to create new services to meet clients’ increased needs.
  • It caused us to rethink how we measure work and bill for it.
  • It accelerated our learning curve.

He elaborates on each of these topics. Be sure to click here to read the entire article.

  • "Everybody accuses me of moving fast when I direct a picture. I don't move fast, but I just keep moving. "
  • Clint Eastwood

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

Having a Bad Day?

“I tried being reasonable, I didn’t like it.” – Clint Eastwood

We all have, what we personally consider, bad days.

I remember in high school the dreaded bad hair day. Things have gotten much more serious than that over the many years I have worked in the CPA world. There were many bad days during each tax season especially April 10th to 15th. Then, all of a sudden after April 15, we had many good days and maybe even some fantastic days as summer unfolded.

Public accounting is like a roller coaster ride. There are many ups and downs. It usually depends on what month it is. Often it happens day to day, depending on what is happening with client engagements or with human resources.

The ups and downs of public accounting life do not usually prove to be reasonable. You can’t always predict what will happen. Much like life. That’s why I identified with the following phrase from an Agatha Christie novel:

“Life is like that! It does not permit you to arrange and order it as you will. It will not permit you to escape emotion, to live by intellect and by reason! You cannot say, “I will feel so much and no more.” Life, whatever else it is, is not reasonable.” – Hercule Poirot

Read the quote again and replace the word life with “public accounting.” See what I mean?

  • "Men are rather reasoning than reasonable animals, for the most part governed by the impulse of passion."
  • Alexander Hamilton