Friday, May 24th, 2019

A Lesson For CPA Firm Partners/Managers

You are the managing partner of a CPA firm. You are the PIC (partner-in-charge) of audit, tax, consulting or an office of the firm. You are a COO or Practice Manager. What do your employees call you? Don’t you ever wonder what they call you behind your back? Do they say you are a good boss?

You might think Steve Jobs was a fearless leader yet he’s described as egotistical and abrasive. Not exactly in line with the title: Good Boss

Jim Henson, on the other hand, by all reports was a Good Boss (his employees did call him “fearless leader”).

  • His former employees say working for him was the best job they ever had.
  • His son, Brian Henson, says: He taught me to identify a person’s talent, nurture that talent, and encourage them to look to themselves for a solution.
  • His agent says Henson rarely spoke above a whisper.
  • His wife says he was so patient that she sometimes wanted to kick him!
  • He was a good listener, accepted ideas from others and used them.
  • If he thought something hadn’t been done well, he would never say that. He would say, “Hey, I wonder if we just should try…….”

A good boss, like a good teacher, empowers their employees. This is easy to say and very hard to actually do. Most of us have egos that get in the way.

 

As for Henson, no one ever saw him angry. Far from lazy, he worked harder than anyone in his company. He rarely slept. He was not fearful. Never afraid to try something new.

Instead of miserly. Henson was generous, going well over budget in order to give others the time and space to create.

I routinely encounter accounting firm leaders who are miserly (only spend CPE dollars on technical education, won’t send their firm administrator to a conference that could bring huge pay-back to the firm, won’t spend any education/training dollars on their administrative team and support team, etc.).

Read this full article about Henson on Fast Company. It contains so much information to absorb and contemplate. How do you stack up?

  • "Life is like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending."
  • Jim Henson

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Just Ask!

“One common thing about great achievers is that they keep asking useful questions every day. They ask questions like; “What do I want and what do I need to do to get it?” 
― Israelmore Ayivor

Over the years, I have had the following conversation with many firm administrators, marketing directors, HR directors, IT directors and others working in an accounting firm.

Rita: “Are you going to attend (fill-in the blank) conference this year?”

     Team member: “No, I won’t be able to go. It is too expensive and my partners would never   approve it.”

     Rita: “Did you actually ask them?”

     Team member: “Well, no. But I know they would never allow it.”

Please don’t assume. Prepare your case and then present it to the managing partner. Explain the benefits for you and the firm. Networking with people in your position at other firms and attending presentations by well-known CPA profession leaders has a pay-back much bigger than the expenses incurred.

Don’t delay – just ask!

 

  • "The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge."
  • Thomas Berger

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Focus On Your Fans

“The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.” – Zip Ziglar

You had a successful first quarter. Busy season was busy for both tax and audit and you and your team interacted with some wonderful, loyal clients, also known as your fans. They keep coming back year after year because they like you, they trust you and are pleased with the services you provide.

In a recent partner meeting or retreat, you have probably explored ways to land new clients. Lots of good ideas were expressed, new ways to attract exactly the right type of client.

Of course, you should do things to build your brand but don’t forget about the loyal following you already have.

Develop ways to engage devoted clients (your fans) to help you spread the word. A referral from a current client is golden. However, what happens most often with accountants is the fact that they simply don’t ask current clients for their help.

As Seth Godin tells us, “Ideas spread from person to person. Horizontally.” Read his helpful post here.

  • "I'm as loyal as anyone and will do anything for people I respect. But if you don't give that back to me in return, you're dead to me."
  • Eric Weddle

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Get Rid of Drama!

This is a sad statement for me to make, however, when I noticed this comment by the author, Jon Gordon I thought of CPAs and their firms. Here is his tweet:

“Complaining is like throwing up. Afterward, you feel better but then everyone around you feels sick.”

How much complaining goes on inside your firm? I have heard from many, well…. most of my clients that there is entirely too much drama inside the firm. Someone always seems to be complaining about someone else.

I have frequently observed a strange reaction from a partner group. They decide on a new policy, procedure or event. Then they hear that one person has complained about their decision. They quickly react and often reverse or modify their decision. Don’t do it!

Keep another famous quote in mind:

You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all of the time” (Poet John Lydgate as made famous by Abraham Lincoln).

When you make decisions always keep in mind… “for the good of the firm”.

  • "I can't tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone."
  • Ed Sheeran

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Reminder – A Message About the Rosenberg Survey

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Participate now so you can receive our benchmarking report which contains nearly 200-pages of data, benchmarks, key statistics, and commentary from leading consultants!
Did you know?
The Elite Firms from our 2018 survey (firms with income per partner > $500,000) had the following metrics:
  • Net fees per person – $211,000
  • Net fees per equity partner – $2,250,000
Why is The Rosenberg Survey Valuable?
  • Customized comparison of like-sized firms in similar markets for participating firms.
  • Accurate and valid results reviewed by three CPAs.
  • Reliable year to year comparison with a return rate of 82% from previous year’s participants.
  • A robust pool of over 350 participants makes our data relevant to firms of all sizes.
  • Clear cut data displayed by firm size for comparison.
Click the link below today to take part!
 
The deadline to participate is Monday, July 15th. (Thank you for those firms that have participated thus far.)

 

  • "Great firms continually reinvent themselves."
  • Marc Rosenberg

Friday, May 17th, 2019

Millennials’ Desired Workplace Benefits

From a recent AICPA survey:

  • Nearly two-thirds of young adult job seekers have student loan debt, with an average of $33,332.
  • Millennials with loan debt value more help with repayment over all other employee benefits.
  • AICPA Employee Benefits Report offers guidance on understanding and utilizing benefits.

When asked to choose the top three benefits that would most help them achieve their financial goals, young adult job seekers top two choices focused on the traditional benefits of health insurance and paid time off. Interestingly, student loan forgiveness was the third most cited option.

Young Adult Job Seekers

Benefit

Chosen in Top 3 by:

 Health Insurance

54%

 Paid Time Off

45%

 Student Loan Forgiveness

41%

 Working Remotely

38%

 401(k) Retirement Fund Match

36%

 Tuition Reimbursement

25%

 Pension

15%

 Paid Parental Leave

13%

The full results of the survey conducted by MAVY Poll on behalf of the AICPA, along with further analysis, are available in a free Employee Benefits Report on the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website.

  • "All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work. "
  • Calvin Coolidge

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Client Service and Technology

“The team at your firm needs to know how to provide excellent client service. It should be clear to them what the firm’s expectation is and that you enable each person to provide excellent client service.” – Randy Johnston

I believe that excellent, over-the-top, client service is your best marketing strategy. Your clients will brag about you to others because that kind of client/customer service is rare these days.

I usually visit two groceries on a regular basis. One is huge and offers everything you could possibly need in the grocery category. The other is also a chain but a small, specialized type. The large one offers self-checkout and a few full-service lanes are open even though they have numerous ones that are always closed. The smaller one has no self-checkout. The clerks in the large one rarely talk to you and almost never smile. The clerks in the smaller one are always friendly, talkative and helpful. The large one has cheaper prices. The smaller one is usually slightly higher in price. Which one do I visit the most? You guessed it. Friendly, caring, engaging customer service out-weighs pricing.

Today,  am sending you to an article by Randy Johnston via CPA Practice Advisor. He gives us lots of technology tools to help with awesome client service.

He notes: But most of you who have been in business for a while recognize right away that there is a difference between academic smart, book smart, certification smart, common sense, clever, innovative and practical. 

And: How can we use technology to enable great client service? First, we should define what we want as our client service deliverable. Technology tools can make each client service interaction easier, more seamless and professional.

 

  • "Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans."
  • Ken Blanchard

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Be Sure To Take Part in the AICPA PCPS Top Issues Survey

“He who has no opinion of his own, but depends upon the opinion of others, is a slave.” – Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock

There are just a few days left to weigh in on the top issues facing your firm!

Take 10 minutes for the AICPA PCPS Top Issues Survey and help set the direction for the resources they develop.

Survey closes 5.17.19 http://bit.ly/302prW6 

  • "It is not truth, but opinion that can travel the world without a passport."
  • Walter Raleigh

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Firing a Pregnant Person

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” ― Tom Bodett

I am often consulted about various HR issues inside an accounting firm. I’ve received questions of many types and some of the same questions over and over again. I am not a legal law attorney. So, I may give you advice as to how many accounting firms have handled various problems but I strongly advise you to check with your attorney before you proceed in some troubling situations.

One repeated question is basically, can we fire a female who is pregnant? Experts tell us you can fire a pregnant person but not because they are pregnant. Here is a very interesting and educational article for you to read. Please read it. If the issue hasn’t come up at your firm, sometime in the future it will

It’s from Inc. and written by Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady, titled: 7 Lawsuits Claim Amazon Fires Pregnant Women.

  • "Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit."
  • George Carlin

Monday, May 13th, 2019

What About Your Elephants?

“Productive conversations turn conflict into collaboration, reduce costly mistakes and create a culture of accountability.” – Marlene Chism

It’s the beginning of partner retreat season for public accounting firms.

From my experience and from many conversations with CPA partners and practice managers, during these retreats, there always seem to be an “elephants in the room.”

Elephant in the room definition from the urban dictionary:  n. A very large issue that everyone is acutely aware of, but nobody wants to talk about. Perhaps a sore spot, perhaps politically incorrect, or perhaps a political hot potato, it’s something that no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole. 

From my experience in pre-retreat preparation, partners will individually tell their facilitator that they want the elephant in the room topic to be approached and solved but as a group, they want to avoid it completely.

The staff also are aware of the elephant in the room topic. It is difficult to address for various reasons, including power structures and cultural issues but putting it on the back burner time after time is even more disruptive.

This year actually discuss your elephant in the room. Here’s a helpful article from Marlene Chism – The undiscussables: How to address the elephant in the room. The article will also help you better express your concerns when you are giving performance feedback.

You can follow Marlene on Twitter: @StopYourDrama

  • "Knowing your feelings won't change the facts, but knowing the facts can change your feelings."
  • Marlene Chism