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Friday, September 25th, 2009


For us Baby Boomers, of course, The Fab Four means the Beatles.

For me and the attendees at CPAmerica’s Firm Administrator Roundtable in Orlando this week, the “fab four” means the four accounting students in their final year at the University of Florida. Pictured with me, left to right, is: Kristen Ruffing, Harsh Vaidya, Ngan Pham and Sam Young.

I think I can safely say that these four future leaders of the accounting profession exceeded everyone’s expectations as to what this special panel discussion would be about.

As for me, they validated my belief that their generation will be a major positive force in the accounting profession going forward. I actually thought that one hour and forty minutes would be a long time to keep the panel Q&A sessions going, however, the time just flew by and questions were still being fired (both directions) when time ran out.

The session turned out to be a learning experience for both the students and the firm administrators. You won’t be surprised to learn that they did not know a whole lot about local and regional firms. And yes, they did know a lot about the four largest national firms. The main reason they knew so much about the four….. because those firms are in their face constantly. “They” are sponsoring campus activities and events almost weekly. As one student noted, “we are spoiled by all of the attention we get.”

How visible is your firm on campus? Are you doing the same old thing every year…. host ONE campus event and/or invite the students to your office ONCE?

One great question was asked. What do you really like to get as a “give-away?” I know that my clients struggle with this one every fall…. what should we give the students at job fairs and career days that will make them notice us? The students like practical things they can use! Some of the best things they have received: wireless mouse, USB drive and a backpack.

Thank-you, Sam, Kristen, Harsh and Ngan for your participation and for the pleasure of meeting and talking with you.

My continuing concern….. don’t bring in these bright, young people and try to fit them into the old, traditional accountant mold. CPA leaders, you are teachers and that means setting high expectations and an impeccable example. I love this quote, no matter what your profession…..

“In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less.” – – Lee Iacocca

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

How Visible Is Your Firm On Campus?

“A baby has brains, but it doesn’t know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.” – L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I hope you have read Rosenberg’s recent post about accounting interns‘ lack of knowledge about public accounting.

He interviewed a group of accounting interns working for local firms in Chicago. The sad result is that their perception of the CPA profession – hours worked by staff, hours worked by partners, earnings of partners – is sadly off-target.

Read my post from 2009 to learn about my experience with college students. They did not know anything about local firms, they only knew about the Big Four. Why? Because the national firms are visible on campus EVERY week.

There is much smaller firms can do.  My firm was recruiting on campus when I joined the firm and we only had nine people! So, big firm or small firm, be visible on the college campus.

  • No man's knowledge can go beyond his experience.
  • John Locke

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Summer Interns – Hire Them Even If You Don’t Need Them

New CPAs Freed MaxickTraditionally, public accounting firms focused all their recruiting activities around the “fall season.” Students were fresh.. back on campus… and their professors had prepared them for the beauty contest of the very active fall season.

I talk to many firms that still operate this way. I also talk to many firms who are just finishing-up the “spring season.”  It involves just as much work and intensity from firm HR professionals, firm administrators and partners as the fall campaign.

If you are not hiring summer interns – wake-up. If you are not identifying and getting to know the students you will be talking to in the fall – wake-up. If you think that being visible on campus just in the fall is enough – wake-up.

Accounting majors at prominent universities don’t know much (if anything) about local and regional accounting firms. Read more about why and how four students were surprised to learn that they could have the resources and support they thought was only available at the national firms at a local/regional firm.

Just a few years ago (including at my former firm) we did not hire summer interns because we didn’t have anything for them to do. Now, you must find something for them to do to keep them in your hiring pipeline. Some of the best students need a summer job!

Find projects where they can help. Let them shadow the summer auditors – there is always some repetitive work they can help with on an audit. They can also shadow in the tax area – have your tax team become your tax teaching team in the summer by establishing mini seminars on tax research, state & local tax, etc.

Check-out these good ideas via HBR, Hiring an Intern? What to Do Before the Summer Starts.

Some advice:

  • Craft your sales pitch. Even if you think your firm’s value proposition is obvious, dig deeper. Think hard about what a twenty-something is going to get out of 8 to 10 weeks of working side by side with your experienced, knowledgeable people.
  • What will your intern walk away with? What skills and insights will he/she learn on the job that will shape their career path, strengthen their network or help them decide once and for all that accounting is the way to go long term (and that your firm is flexible, fun, cool and prestigious).

What do you say to interns when they arrive? Check-out my Intern Speech and modify it to fit your firm.

Picture: Picture of new CPAs at Freed Maxick CPAs Buffalo office at their celebration lunch last week. How active are you at posting to your Facebook page?

  • I am often amazed at how much more capability and enthusiasm for science there is among elementary school youngsters than among college students.
  • Carl Sagan

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Your Firm Could Do What The Ohio Society Is Doing

Here’s a competition that the Ohio Society is conducting. If you are in Ohio, I hope you share it with your interns or prospective college hires.

If you are not in Ohio (or even if you are), why couldn’t your CPA firm do something like this for students at your key recruiting schools?

Here’s how OSCPA is conducting their competition:

Today’s students are busier than ever, as many college students juggle part time jobs, campus activities and community service commitments in addition to full course loads. The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) is offering accounting students a chance to express their interests beyond preparing to become a CPA. Beginning April 1, students can enter OSCPA’s “Me in a Moment” video contest.

“OSCPA loves learning about and supporting our future CPAs,” said Karen West, CAE, vice president, academic & career awareness. “We hope “Me in a Moment” will show just how well-rounded accounting students are.”

To enter, students should create a video beginning with the phrase “I can’t wait to be a CPA! But when I’m not studying you can find me…” The videos that most creatively demonstrate students’ passion outside of the classroom will be posted on the Ohio YCPA Facebook page.

Videos must be under 30 seconds and submitted by May 1 to Rebecca Hixen From May 1- 15th videos will be judged based on the amount of Facebook “likes,” creativity and originality. Three winners will be announced in May and will receive a free Becker CPA Review course and a $50 Visa gift card valued at $3,315.

For more contest information, visit

Attracting the most talented accounting graduates is critical to your firm’s success. How do the accounting students at your local universities view your firm? Do they even know about your firm? On many campuses all the accounting students know about is the big four!

  • Only a few find the way, some don't recognize it when they do - some... don't ever want to.
  • The Cheshire Cat

Saturday, November 20th, 2010


Did you read yesterday’s post?  I asked if you had magnificent managers.

As I was drinking my coffee this morning and thinking, a thought came to mind that made me smile and thus, a perfect thought for the week-end. I hope it makes you smile, too.

Let’s say you have 7 managers in your firm.  Would you think of them as the Magnificent Seven?  Do you remember the music from the old movie?  What if every time one of your managers walked in the room, this music went through your mind.  Click and just listen to the first minute and 10 seconds.

Wasn’t that inspiring!  Don’t have seven managers?  You might have the Talented Two, the Terrific Three, the Fabulous Four, the Fantastic Five or, wait…. the Spectacular Six!

Not there yet?  Look at the categories on the right-side of this page and select “managers.”  See if any of the posts can help you determine HOW to help your managers continually improve their skills.

Soon, your firm will be the envy of your competition because the reputation of your “spectacular six” will spread throughout your market.  They will become known far and wide for their effectiveness, their ability to nurture younger accountants, and their success at bringing in additional revenue to the firm.

Then the opportunity you have been waiting for will arrive…..   you are at a business cocktail reception and a partner from another firm in your market will give you the perfect lead in….. “I’m hearing really good things about your managers.  Our managers are just not performing up to our expectations.  What I’m hearing about yours is almost unreal!”

You guessed it – – Your answer is:

Have some fun this week-end.  I hope this music keeps flowing through your brain and you strive to make your firm magnificent and spectacular.

Today’s quotes are famous cowboy quotes…..

  • Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction. Don't squat with your spurs on. Always drink upstream from the herd.
  • from Cowboy Quotes, Sayings and Wisdom