Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

The CPA Profession 2027

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

Today, I am sharing a press release from the Illinois CPA Society. I think it will definitely be of interest to those working in the CPA profession. They are providing seven predictions for the future titled, “CPA Profession 2027: Racing for Relevance.”

CHICAGO, Nov. 11, 2020– Unveiling seven provocative predictions for the future of the CPA profession, the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS)—one of the largest state CPA societies in the nation—has released its 2020 Insight Special Feature, “CPA Profession 2027: Racing for Relevance.”

The result of more than a year’s worth of strategic planning conversations and reviewing countless articles, interviews, reports, studies, and surveys—and conducting some of its own—“CPA Profession 2027” coalesces ICPAS’ findings from these authoritative, and sometimes disparate, sources into a powerful report detailing the underlying trends and challenges driving change in the CPA profession and how they may shape its future.

Inside “CPA Profession 2027,” ICPAS outlines how the CPA profession is facing a pace and type of change unlike any it has experienced before, where the rules of the race are literally being rewritten by technology. Key predictions include outlooks on how artificial intelligence and robotic process automation will forever change accounting, audit, finance, tax, and more;  the ways services are provided to companies and clients, and the ways companies and firms are staffed, will shift dramatically; and how implications of the global pandemic, along with rapidly changing company and client expectations, will demand CPAs change both mindset and skill set. The most provocative prediction of all is that the number of CPAs will decline in the years ahead as technology becomes more pervasive.

“While many strategic plans and reports look just one, two, or maybe three years out right now, we believe we cannot risk being shortsighted given the long-term implications of all that is changing around us,” says ICPAS President and CEO Todd Shapiro. “We understand the risks of making predictions. We acknowledge it’s unlikely each one plays out perfectly. But we firmly believe they’re directionally correct. Our hope is that the insights compiled here will rev up conversations that help us chart a roadmap for ensuring the sustainability, relevance, and growth of the CPA profession for many years to come.”

“CPA Profession 2027” is available now in PDF and digital formats at www.icpas.org/CPA2027, and print editions are available upon request. Shapiro welcomes feedback and is available for further comment.

  • The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

So Many Ideas

“There’s no shortage of remarkable ideas, what’s missing is the will to execute them.” – Seth Godin

Once again, a Seth Godin quote seems to fit perfectly into the management of an accounting firm.

Failing to implement is something that I have covered often. Why? Because it happens SO often!

You are not attending conferences where you once obtained many great ideas that would benefit your firm. But now, in these unique times, you are listening to a lot of helpful podcasts and informative webinars. Something is mentioned that would be a perfect thing for your firm to embrace.

You mention it to others on the firm’s management team. They agree that it is a good idea but with COVID the time is not right.

When will the time be right?

For some helpful ideas, join the CPAFMA Accelerator Program on November 9 and 10. I’ll be involved both days.

  • Have you got a problem? Do what you can where you are with what you've got.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

Worry & Fear

“Start from wherever you are and with whatever you’ve got.” – Jim Rohn

Recently, you find yourself worrying more than ever. You worry about your family, their health, and your personal health.

You also worry a lot about your firm. You worry about your peers, your employees, and your clients.

Soon you find your worries may have evolved into fears.

From Jim Rohn: “What can destroy our ambitions, our fortunes, our relationships—our lives? The enemies lurking inside us, the ones we face from within, the ones we’ve got to destroy before they destroy us.”

Rohn gives us six enemies lucking inside us:

  • Fear
  • Indifference
  • Indecision
  • Doubt
  • Worry
  • Timidity

Every day, you must battle worry and fear and build your courage to fight what is holding you back. Fight what is holding your firm back.

Read Rohn’s full article to learn more about each of the emotional enemies.

  • We have to be courageous in our lives and in our pursuit of the things we want and the people we want to become.
  • Jim Rohn

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Could November Be Bail-Out Month?

“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.” – Napoleon Hill

The October due date has passed. It has been quite a year! Are your team members completely burnt-out? Will they almost immediately be thinking it’s time to move on?

Already, I have heard about firms losing people. As a firm leader, you should always have a plan on how to retain top talent. I hope you are rewarding your team for the unusual demands they faced so far during 2020.

Research has shown that public accounting loses a lot of good people (and many females) when they believe public accounting will not accommodate their personal and career choices. Women want to start a family so they think they must leave public accounting. Don’t let your young talent make this assumption.

Progressive firms embraced flexibility as a formal part of their culture long before COVID. Now, more and more firms are doing the same

Communicate to your team: If there comes a time in your life whether you are male or female, when you need or want less (or more), a reduced schedule, more regular hours, less travel, more travel, less responsibility, or really want to accelerate your advancement in the firm – talk to us!

  • Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts.
  • Jim Morrison

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

What Was Wanted Has Been Achieved

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw

Last year, the year before, and even years before that, your young people wanted it.

While it was desired for years, when it did happen, it happened quickly and, for the most part, efficiently.

Younger employees, some who are now very experienced, wanted more flexibility as to when and where they did their work.

Now, your organization is doing it and will be supporting various forms of remote and flexible work arrangements for years to come.

Progress is being achieved.

  • Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.
  • Frank Zappa

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Performance Management is Evolving

“My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.”  – Hank Aaron

A great resource for firm administrators/practice managers, managing partners, and HR directors working in public accounting is Sharlyn Lauby, an HR pro turned consultant. She created HR Bartender so people would have a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. I follow her on Twitter so that I can keep abreast of all the current issues facing HR professionals.

I constantly remind you to focus on the importance of performance feedback and make it a process that is simple, easy, and effective. In light of COVID and the fact that so many team members are working remotely, you have new challenges with providing helpful feedback to a remote workforce. Even before the pandemic, a PWC survey found that about 60% of employees were able to work at least one day a week remotely.

Performance feedback is evolving and the old days of judging a person’s performance based upon chargeable hours is a thing of the past. Firms utilizing value pricing have realized that moving away from a chargeable hour culture is not an easy task. It actually requires managers (and partners) to manage people and processes.

Lauby gives us five performance management activities to consider. The following are my comments on each of the five but please read her article to gain the full impact.

Take performance management online – Many firms have already done this and it is a must when people are not physically working from one location.

Create measurable goals, including stretch goals – I always remind you to ask less experienced staff to stretch and take on more responsibility. Instead of looking to hire a Manager, ask a Senior to step up.

Build a feedback mechanism – Managers and employees should have regular feedback sessions, not just once per year.

Allow multi-rater feedback – I believe most CPA firms are doing this now and obtaining a self-evaluation. However, read Lauby’s comments on this one.

Offer training programs for managers (and employees) – I have observed that accounting firms do not train their managers on how to truly manage people. Firms make a person a manger because they are a highly-skilled technician. Don’t forget the softer skills!

  • If the employee doesn’t understand the goal or the process, it’s difficult to achieve successful performance.
  • Sharlyn Lauby

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

Getting Things Done

“I’ve found that employing even one of these five strategies can save you hours each week.” – Elizabeth Grace Saunders

You always have so much to do. You are busy, busy, busy. There is always a new due date around the corner.

Last week as I talked with several clients about how it felt to have the September 15th due date behind them there was a common theme. They noted, “We still have twenty trusts to get done by September 30 and then there are 75 1040s still to do for October 15th!

You know how this goes in an accounting firm.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders, an internationally recognized expert on effective time management offers us 5 Strategies for Getting More Work Done in Less Time via HBR.

She notes: You’ve got more to do than could possibly get done with your current work style. You’ve prioritized. You’ve planned. You’ve delegated. You’ve tried to focus. The next frontier is increasing your efficiency so that you can spend less time and still do a good job.

The Five Strategies

  1. Clarify Actual Expectations
  2. Re-Use Previous Material
  3. Develop Templates and Checklists
  4. Make it a Conversation
  5. Time Box Your Work

Read about each of them here.

  • Without hustle, talent will only carry you so far.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk

Monday, September 28th, 2020

Ingenuity

“It is true that I sometimes compliment myself upon my ingenuity.” – Hercule Poirot

Definition of ingenuity: The quality of being clever, original, and inventive.

I have observed that CPAs in public practice like to follow the crowd.

They call it best practices. I don’t deny that learning from others is a good thing.

But, is your firm a leader firm, the one developing ideas, implementing and setting the pace for others, or are you one of the cautious ones waiting to see what happens with other firms before you dip your toe into the cold waters?

You always start slowly and carefully doing something that you have not done before, because you are not sure if you will like it or if it will be successful.

Once in a while, I urge you, use your ingenuity.

You have a great idea about improving efficiency. You are not aware of any other CPA firms doing it. Try it. Test it. Is anyone going to die if the initiative fails? No, just explain, “Well, that didn’t work. Let’s try something else!”

  • Never tell people how to do things. tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
  • George S. Patton

Monday, September 21st, 2020

Tax Document Automation

“Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates.

In his August 2020 column for CPA Practice Advisor, Randy Johnston gives you valuable information about automating your tax documents.

Many advisors seem to recommend the same tax automation strategies no matter what the size of your firm. Johnston suggests that one size does not fit all.

Did you have to send your administrative team into the office to scan documents so the staff could work remotely? This happened at many firms and put the admin team at risk for COVID.

In the article Johnston covers:

  • What is the right tax document automation?
  • What tools are most effective, provide the highest ROI, or are easy to miss?
  • Decide the right thing for you, your firm, and your clients.

Capitalize on Johnston’s helpful guidance by reading the article here.

  • The robots of the cartoons and movies from the 1970s are going to be the reality of the 2020s
  • Alec Ross

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

A Manager’s Life

“The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.” – Warren Bennis

How are your managers coping with life during COVID? Have you wondered or even asked them recently?

Of course, firm leaders have been concerned about their entire team and how working remotely has impacted production. But how has it specifically challenged your managers?

Recently, I heard from a Manager at a very large firm express the challenges of his role. Meetings! He said that all day long it is meetings, Zoom meetings and other meetings (conference calls) and then he has to work until 9:00 p.m. to get his work done.

Now is the time to plan how working remotely will work more efficiently and effectively going into the future. A remote workforce will be part of your culture probably forever. Establish a task force, if you haven’t already, to determine how you can make it more palatable for everyone.

  • If you are not in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?
  • T. S. Eliot