Friday, January 27th, 2023

The Decline of Voicemail

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

Here’s a Friday Flashback post from 2014 that notes the decline of voicemail. Do you still expect clients to leave voicemail messages rather than you accepting their call at once?

  • "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
  • Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, January 26th, 2023

What Do You Do Around Here?

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

I came across this post by Seth Godin. I thought of those working in a CPA firm. Here’s the post:


WHAT DO YOU DO AROUND HERE?

There are lots of useful, honest answers. Some might include:

I do what I’m told

I challenge the status quo

I show up on time

I solve complicated problems

I absorb nonsense and create calm for others

I raise our standards

I help people feel seen

I’m steady

I don’t cause trouble

I bring energy

I lead the way

I turn mountains into molehills

People like me

The ones that aren’t helpful are things like:

I’m just passing through

I give people a hard time

I’m a bully

I make mountains out of molehills

What do you do???

  • "When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed."
  • Maya Angelou

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

Nominate Your Marketer

“Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day.” — Beth Comstock, Former CMO & Vice Chair, GE

I bet your firm has a great marketing director. You have a chance to recognize them. Here’s a press release from The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM).

Lexington, Ky. (January 23, 2023) – The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is seeking nominations for the 2023 Marketer of the Year award. Nominations will be accepted through February 16.

 Since 1993, the annual award, presented at AAM’s Summit, recognizes a marketing professional who has demonstrated exemplary performance in the profession of accounting firm marketing. To be eligible, nominees must have held a senior-level marketing position in an accounting firm for at least three years, although not necessarily at the same firm. 

All nominations should be submitted online no later than February 16. Nominations are not anonymous, and self-nominations are welcome. Previous nominees and marketers from firms of all sizes are encouraged to participate. This award is open to both AAM members as well as non-members. All nominees will be required to complete an online application no later than March 9. Additional details will be outlined once a nomination form has been received. 

The nominees will be ranked by an anonymous, but neutral, panel of judges on accomplishments, strategic thinking, financial impact, collaboration, business development, analytics and technology, future-forward approach, and leadership. We have also evaluated and modified the judging criteria to level the playing field for all firm sizes. Full details including the judging criteria can be found on the AAM website.


 “2022 was another challenging year in the accounting profession, but many of our members were able to turn those challenges into opportunities and help grow and advance their firms. If you or another marketer you know did big things in 2022, this is your time to shine. Nominating yourself, or someone else, for the MOY award is a great way to share your hard work, secrets to success and lessons learned with other members,” says AAM executive director Rhonda Clark. 

AAM is proud of the rich history of past winners who have contributed immensely to the success of our industry and their firms. Transform your future by submitting an application or take a moment to nominate and recognize a peer doing amazing things. Please contact info@accountingmarketing.org with questions about the award.

 
About AAM: The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is an international association boasting a network of marketing, business development and growth strategists. The association was formed in 1989 to elevate the profession and advance the careers of growth professionals in the accounting profession through education, community, thought leadership and leading-edge resources. Learn more about AAM at www.accountingmarketing.org.

  • "Content is king."
  • Bill Gates

Tuesday, January 24th, 2023

I’m The Boss

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”- Mark Twain

Have you ever experienced it? I have. When a healthy discussion about a process or procedure goes on too long, I am talking about a boss who says, “I’m the boss; you’re the employee!”

What those kinds of bosses really mean is “My way or the highway!” These kinds of conversations did happen in CPA firms back in the old days. I am hoping it is a rare occurrence now.

As CPAs work their way up to a Manager position in the firm, they are often given lots of training and CPE relating to the technical aspects of the job. They are not always given enough training and mentoring about managing people.

Here are some phrases you should never use if you are a manager.

  • I’m the boss…
  • I don’t like surprises (or bad news)…
  • Failure is not an option…
  • I give up…
  • I’ll do it myself, or I have to do everything myself!
  • Don’t take this wrong…
  • I don’t take vacations…
  • I don’t have time…
  • Let’s wait a while…
  • Don’t ask questions…

These phrases are mentioned in an informative article via SharpHeels. Follow this link to read more about each one of these phrases. It is almost a mini-course on how to be a boss.

  • "I always tell kids; you have two eyes and one mouth. Keep two open and one closed. You never learn anything if you’re the one talking."
  • Gordie Howe

Monday, January 23rd, 2023

The Scheduling Challenge

“Be like a duck, my mother used to tell me. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath.” – Michael Caine, actor

I continue to hear many stories about the scheduling challenge for CPA firms. Audit work is easier to schedule than tax work. Audits are bigger engagements and consume a higher volume of hours per engagement. Audits also demand more coordination with the client giving the client time to prepare for the upcoming work.

Tax work is more like a constant fire drill. Sometimes a tax return can take many hours, but most are budgeted for a few to several hours. Plus, it is difficult to know, for sure, when the client’s tax information will be submitted to the firm.

Many firms are using software to help in the task, such as Prostaff and others, but the whole process is still a challenge. Other firms have appointed a “Scheduler,” but it is an overwhelming task for one person. So much information is needed from so many people!

Here’s something that might work for you. It works best for firms that ask their teams to be skilled in both tax and audit. One and two-year staff are usually exposed to both tax and audit. They can specialize later on.

Each staff person keeps a two-week schedule. It shows what they have scheduled for the coming week and what they expect to have for the following week. It also shows open time, PTO time, holidays, etc. They submit this report to the Schedulers every Friday morning.

There are two schedulers. One experienced Tax Manager and one experienced Audit Manager for the office. These two managers are charged with knowing what their teams are doing and how they are doing. The Tax Manager and the Audit Manager meet every Friday morning. The firm administrator (practice manager) is also a part of this small scheduling committee. The firm administrator acts as the management contributor, helps balance work when needed, and/or relays communications from management.

The schedulers use the individual team members’ two-week schedules to assess who has too much work and who has room for more work, and they determine the experience level needed for new assignments. They assign work into the two-week schedules and also may move work around depending on client needs and workloads.

The firm administrator, sometimes with the help of an administrative assistant, modifies each two-week schedule and returns the schedules to the staff.

Some managers also keep two-week schedules if they are more involved in doing the work rather than supervising it.

This system makes sure that everyone has a full schedule for the next week and a good idea of what they will be doing for the week after that. Also, these two-week schedules have the number of hours indicated to do the work. The schedulers provide the hourly budgets as they assign new work or modify existing work.

I hope all of this is helpful and not too confusing. If you have questions, feel free to contact me. I will also share a handout explaining all this and a sample two-week schedule form if you request one.

  • "Keep busy at something: a busy person never has time to be unhappy."
  • Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, January 20th, 2023

Appreciating Tax Season

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

Yes, I always enjoyed tax season. Read this Friday Flashback to find out why.”

  • "Recognition is a reward in itself. Any form of appreciation, even a small word, is important."
  • Vikrant Massey

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

The Cost of Recruiting

“Stay calm and aggressive.” – Gabrielle Reece

Today, I am just sharing some interesting comments I have heard recently about how some firms respond to the huge challenge of recruiting new team members.

These examples are not from small firms, nor are they from huge firms. The comments are from what I call mid-size firms.

  • One firm works with seven different professional recruiters.
  • Another firm paid over $300,000 to recruiters in 2022.

Maybe you don’t have to go to these links, but I hope you are acting aggressively when recruiting.

  • "Certainly, if you look at human behavior around the world, you have to admit that we can be very aggressive."
  • Jane Goodall

Wednesday, January 18th, 2023

Don’t Do It

“Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to error that counts.” – Nikki Giovanni

Busy season is unfolding. The workload on managers and partners will steadily increase. You will be in a hurry to get jobs out the door.

It has happened many times before, whether it is February and March or July and August. You review a tax return and find a couple of oversights by the preparer. You fix the mistakes and, as mentioned, get it out the door. You don’t even take the time to notify the preparer about their mistakes.

This practice has been going on inside busy CPA firms for decades. Don’t do it!

Return the tax return or project to the preparer so they can learn from their mistakes. If you don’t, they will continue to make the same mistakes, and you will continue fixing mistakes for the remainder of your career.

  • "What is done cannot be undone, but at least one can keep it from happening again."
  • Anne Frank

Tuesday, January 17th, 2023

News From Illinois About The CPA Exam

“Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t, pretend that you do and, at some point, you will.” – Venus Williams

In Illinois, you will only need 120 credit hours to sit for the Exam. You still need 150 to be certified. Here’s the press release from ICPAS:

Illinois Updates CPA Exam Eligibility, Reduces Credit-Hour Requirement

CHICAGO, Jan. 4, 2023– Effective Jan. 1, 2023, prospective certified public accountants in Illinois will only need to present proof of having 120 eligible semester credit hours, versus 150, and a baccalaureate degree to apply to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam, the universal exam all certified public accountant (CPA) candidates must pass to earn the distinguished CPA credential. Individuals passing the exam will still need 150 semester credit hours to become licensed.

The Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS)—one of the largest state CPA societies in the nation—advocated alongside the Illinois Board of Examiners (ILBOE) to reduce the credit-hour requirement for testing eligibility from 150 semester credit hours to 120. In 2021, the Illinois House and Senate unanimously passed ICPAS-sponsored legislation to amend the Illinois Public Accounting Act to allow this change. While earning 150 semester credit hours remains a key education requirement to become a licensed CPA in the state, ICPAS hopes that requiring fewer credit hours to initially sit for the CPA exam will help make becoming a CPA both more appealing and accessible to a broader candidate pool, particularly among accounting students, graduates, and young professionals.

“Earning the CPA credential is one of the most notable ways to establish your professional identity and exhibit a high level of competence in the accounting and finance profession,” says Todd Shapiro, ICPAS president and CEO. “Yet, despite strong market demand for the specialized services CPAs are entrusted to provide, we’ve been witnessing a nationwide decline in new CPAs. It’s our hope that this rule change will help alleviate some of the time and financial barriers associated with becoming a CPA and, ultimately, strengthen the CPA pipeline.”

Individuals planning to sit for the CPA exam can submit their credentials evaluation application on the IBOE website at www.ilboe.org once they’ve earned 120 semester credit hours (including 24 hours in accounting with at least one course in audit and one course in tax, a minimum of 12 hours of business courses, and a baccalaureate degree). Provisional approval will be available for students completing the educational requirements in the final term in which they receive a degree. ICPAS’ FAQ on preparing to take the CPA exam is available at www.icpas.org/cpaexam-faq.

  • "Self-belief and hard work will always earn you success."
  • Virat Kohli

Monday, January 16th, 2023

A Learning Culture Is A Plus For You

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

I continually read about all kinds of ways to hire and keep talented people. Of course, that is a big thing on the minds of CPAs. It has been a huge concern for years. It is right now and will be well into the future.

Today’s workforce wants to be part of a learning culture. What better place than a CPA firm?

CPA firms:

  • Provide focused, immediate training, both formal and casual, the day a new person joins the team.
  • Pay for ongoing continuing professional education (CPE).
  • Never hesitate to send people to outside CPE courses to enhance their careers.
  • Provide a significant amount of internal CPE and other training that never stops.
  • Have a mentoring culture and everyone, no matter their age and experience, must commit to lifelong learning.
  • Reward individuals who continue to learn and build their knowledge base.

If you haven’t already, it is time to spread the word about all the learning opportunities when a person joins a CPA firm.

  • "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were going to live forever."
  • Mahatma Gandhi