Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Frustration

“If change is happening on the outside faster than on the inside, the end is in sight.” – Jack Welch

We all like to tell our recruits and potential new-hires that “our firm is different”  – – I find that in the hundreds of firms that I have interacted with, nearly all of them have many of the same issues and frustrations.

Are you often frustrated? – “The firm” isn’t changing fast enough. New initiatives often get delayed. Leaders are not setting a good example. People leave messes in the kitchen!

All this reminds me of a story. Stories and quotations inspire me and hopefully, they do the same for you. When I was actively working inside an accounting firm, a friend of mine gave me some good advice. When something really frustrates you just substitute the word fascinated for frustrated.  When you go to get coffee, the pot has about 1/25th of an inch of coffee in it….. isn’t that fascinating?

I could elaborate more fully on the fascination of surviving in a CPA firm. But, the purpose of this blog is to communicate what you can do to make things run smoother, better, faster and more efficient.

I hope you also follow me on twitter:  @cpamanagement.

  • Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.
  • Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, February 14th, 2020

Building An Inclusive Culture

“Exclusion is always dangerous. Inclusion is the only safety if we are to have a peaceful world.” – Pearl S. Buck

Over my years in the public accounting arena, I have found that to motivate your team you must develop a culture of inclusion. Young people, and new hires, want to be in on things. So, I am including today’s post from Seth Godin in its entirety.

Apply this to your CPA firm:

YOU CAN’T SAY YOU CAN’T PLAY

Lenny Levine was a great kindergarten teacher. And he ran his class by this one rule.

It means that if another kid comes along, you need to include them in your game.

That’s it.

It changes everything. It puts an emphasis on connection, not exclusivity. It changes the dynamics of belonging. It weaves together a foundation that crosses traditional boundaries.

It’s a bit like giving every kid in the class a valentine’s day card. Some say that it cheapens the sentiment because it’s not about selection, it’s about inclusion. I think we’ve got plenty of selection already.

In the adult world, open doors create possibility and that leads to insight and productivity.

 

  • Inclusion and fairness in the workplace is not simply the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do.
  • Alexis Herman

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Is It Time To Actually Retire?

In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned that I had recently re-read Tuesdays with Morrie.

One of Morrie’s wise sayings was:

“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”

He was talking about life. To me, because I have worked with so many Baby Boomer CPAs over the years, it is something that applies to their retirement.

Many are in denial about retirement. They plan to work until they drop. Very short-sighted, indeed. There is so much more to experience if you wish it so.

Several situations I know about involve partners retiring but they do not quit working at the firm.

A couple of others involve 80-somethings continuing to come into the office even though they are not able to use the technology any longer.

My advice: Don’t hang on too long.

 

  • It's not too late to develop new friendships or reconnect with people.
  • Morrie Schwartz

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Quit Making Excuses

“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” – John Wooden

When talking with accounting firm owners and working with new clients I often hear lots of excuses when I suggest new ways to do things and the importance of keeping up with current trends in the CPA profession. I hear “Yes, but…” over and over again.

I hear:

  • Yes, we have heard other firms are doing that, but at our firm…..
  • Yes, we tried closing on Fridays, but….
  • Yes, we thought about allowing more people to work remotely, but…
  • Yes, as partners, we know we could delegate more to our staff, but….
  • Yes, the partners want to do paperless billing, but….
  • Yes, all of our partners agree that the managing partner needs to delegate more clients to other partners, but….
  • Yes, we would love to have more female partners, but….
  • Yes, we need some up-and-comers, but……
  • Yes, we have some below-average performers, but….

Are you thinking and saying, “Yes, but…” too often?

  • Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.
  • George Washington Carver

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

Achieving What Matters

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” Karen Lamb

Partners get distracted. They also get comfortable.

Sometimes they end up repeating what they do over and over again. They are not stretching themselves to change, evolve and achieve new goals. The same applies to many managers working in CPA firms.

Often, the agreed-upon goals are not achieved because guess what? They are too busy doing what they always do. New, important things that matter are put on the back burner.

Here’s a quote from Peter Drucker that you should apply:

“What results are you being paid to achieve? List three tasks that you should eliminate to be productive.” – Drucker

Once you list them – then deal with them.

  • The great glorious masterpiece of man is to know how to live with purpose.
  • Michel de Montaigne

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

If I Retire What Will I Do?

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Baby Boomer partners in accounting firms are facing a dilemma. The big question is what to do once they retire.

This challenge causes many to simply ignore retirement and just continue working. Many actually have a great fear of retiring. They picture retirement as spending time around the house and irritating their spouse. The spouses fear this, too! You can only play so much golf.

Because they have put in so many long hours at work during the last 35 years, they haven’t developed many hobbies or other interests outside of the CPA profession.

Stop and think about it. Most CPAs nearing retirement have been involved in numerous community and charitable organizations throughout their careers. They have become very interested in, and actually developed a great passion for, some of those organizations. Devoting time to causes you care about can be an opportunity for many productive years ahead.

WalterLynnJr.LR_-1-720x400I have a wonderful example. One of my former clients and a good friend, Walter Lynn merged his successful CPA practice into another firm a few years ago. While he did stay involved for the appropriate amount of time, he began furthering his strong interest in agriculture and ranching into a great passion – soil! Yes, soil and how the health of our country’s soil should be a greater concern to all of us.

He met numerous, high-profile researchers and experts and his involvement continued to grow and keep him busy doing something he thoroughly enjoyed.

Here’s what happened recently:

In response to an overwhelming demand for regenerative agriculture education and consulting services, Understanding Ag, LLC (UA), today announced the appointment of Walter Lynn, Jr. as its Chief Executive Officer.

Read the full press release here. I am so proud of Walter for taking on something that is so much bigger than grinding out his senior years in tax season after tax season. What are you going to do?

  • Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civiliation.
  • Daniel Webster

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Old School

“There’s definitely an old school element to my music, but I also think it’s modern.” – Lenny Kravitz

How is your firm viewed by clients and prospects?

Progressive, innovative, passionate and future-focused or “old school”?

Many firms still have partners, in their 60s or older, who have been long-time rainmakers still out there being the “face of the firm.” Young partners, managers, and staff are often completely happy letting them do it.

The word on the street becomes, “they’re old school.”

Even in the age of online visibility and branding, the importance of being heard and seen in your local business community is still very important for most accounting firms. Educate your entire team about being “on stage” and representing the firm not only during business hours but after hours, too.

Older rainmakers, it is your duty to replace yourself. ALWAYS take a younger person along when you are out and about. Younger, less experienced CPAs – it’s your responsibility to ask them to take you along.

  • I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.
  • J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

CPAs Can Move On To Other Adventures

“Sooner or later we’ve all got to let go of our past.” – Dan Brown

Many of you may know Tommye Barie, CPA, former Chair of the AICPA.

Here’s a press release from CPA.com about Ms. Barie:

Former AICPA Chair Tommye Barie to Join CPA.com Board

NEW YORK (Jan. 22, 2020) –Tommye E. Barie, CPA, former chair of the American Institute of CPAs, has been named to the board of directors of CPA.com.

Barie has a proven track record of leadership with various organizations. She’s spent her career as a CPA focusing on audit and consulting services for governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations, primarily as a partner with Mauldin & Jenkins LLC, a Top 100 accounting firm based in the Southeast, where she founded the firm’s client advisory services practice.

“Tommye knows how to build an advisory services practice from the ground up and also has over 30 years of experience as an audit and assurance partner,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “Her expertise in both these practice areas brings a great breadth of experience to our board as we advance our Dynamic Audit Solution and client accounting services initiatives.”

As chair of the AICPA from 2014-15, Barie focused on continued relevance for the profession, particularly through the ability to spot trends and new opportunities for growth, such as a deeper application of data analytics and new specializations in technology consulting.

Her thought leadership on culture, strategy and innovation led to Barie being recognized as one of Accounting Today’s 100 most influential people in the accounting profession. Additionally, the Michigan Society of CPAs recognized her with their Outstanding Visionary Award.

Barie currently is executive vice president of leadership development at the Succession Institute, a consulting firm that specializes in strategy, executive development and succession planning.  She is also past chair of the Florida Institute of CPAs, and a current board member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and Stetson University’s board of advisors.

  • The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.
  • Steve Maraboli

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Holding Everyone Back

“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka

I have seen it many, many times. You have seen it inside your own firm. Certain people simply opt-out of learning new processes, procedures and new technology. They do things the way they have always done them.

I used to recommend that you ignore them, work around them and take the majority of your people forward. Don’t let one person sink the whole ship. I don’t want you to make it easy for these non-compliant people. If they can’t keep up, don’t make another person do the work for them.

This often happens with older partners and especially with owners who have supposedly retired but continue to work at the firm. They will definitely have difficulty keeping up with the firm technology and usually expect an admin person or some other staff to “take care of them.”

All this came to mind because of a recent tweet by my good friend, Dustin Hostetler (@Flowtivity). Here’s his tweet and I agree!

Firms are not maximizing their technology investment until all team members are embracing the technology. Having workarounds for certain individuals because they don’t know how to use it (or won’t learn) to perform their function of the process holds everyone back.

  • The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today!
  • Nolan Bushnell

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

Reading For Tax Professionals

“Am I unhappy at my job?” – Tony Nitti

Whether you are a tax professional, another accountant or an admin professional working inside a public accounting firm I hope you will take the time to read this Forbes article written by Tony Nitti.

It is titled, The Five New Year’s Resolutions Every Tax Pro Should Make.

I know! You are busy. You are always busy. Find the time to read.

  • You don't have to love your career every day.
  • Tony Nitti