Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Friday, June 18th, 2021

The Big Things

“Your comfort zone is a place where you keep yourself in a self-illusion and nothing can grow there, but your potentiality can grow only when you can think and grow out of that zone.” – Rashedur Ryan Rahman

Do you get caught up in so many little things that you always procrastinate on the big things? Don’t do it. It’s summer – focus on the BIG things. Here’s a Friday Flashback post about thinking big.

  • No one plows the field just by thinking about it.
  • Ljupka Cvetanova

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

The Talent Pool Is Shrinking

“The climb might be tough and challenging, but the view is worth it. There is a purpose for that pain; you just can’t always see it right away.” – Victoria Arlen

I received the following press release from the Illinois CPA Society. They are unveiling the findings from research they have done relating to the decline in CPA candidates. If you think finding and hiring future leaders is difficult now, just wait.

How will your firm prepare for the future? It seems that accounting students don’t see the value in devoting the time and energy to become a CPA.

My advice? Share your partners’ salaries with your future CPAs and with college students you talk to or interview. Is it worth it to become a CPA, in public accounting, when average partner compensation in $5 to $20M firms is half a million? In many larger firms, partner compensation is over $1,000,000. Plus, flexible work arrangements make public accounting very attractive.

Illinois CPA Society Releases New CPA Pipeline Report

CHICAGO, June 14, 2021– Unveiling the findings of its previously announced research into the decreasing supply of new certified public accountants (CPAs), the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS)—one of the largest state CPA societies in the nation—is pleased to release its 2021 Insight Special Feature, “A CPA Pipeline Report: Decoding the Decline.”

The result of an in-depth survey of more than 3,100 accounting students, graduates, and professionals predominantly under age 35, “Decoding the Decline” reveals respondents’ top challenges, perceptions, and influencers impacting their decisions to pursue the CPA credential or not and what, if any, value it may bring to their personal and professional lives. The eye-opening responses—particularly among non-CPAs and those who are still unsure about becoming CPAs—provide invaluable insights the CPA profession and its stakeholders cannot ignore while trying to counter the declining number of first-time CPA exam test takers—which hit a 10-year low in 2018, and further declines are expected when new data becomes available.

“Five years ago, I delivered the warning that a stagnating CPA pipeline is a threat. It’s an issue that will only get worse and grow more troubling without action. Today the issue has, in fact, grown worse and more troubling,” says Todd Shapiro, ICPAS president and CEO. “It used to be that if you earned an accounting degree, earning the CPA credential was the given next step regardless of career paths or time commitments—that’s no longer the case.”

“From this initial survey, we learned that individuals—who we believe should be future CPAs—are not pursuing the CPA credential because they feel they can succeed in their anticipated or chosen careers without it,” explains Kari Natale, CAE, ICPAS senior director of planning and governance, who led the survey’s development alongside Association Management Center, ICPAS’ research partner on the project. “They believe any value the CPA credential holds is outweighed by its lack of relevance to their personal and professional endeavors and the time commitment necessary to obtain it. They do not see the return on investment; they do not see their employers or prospective employers supporting or requiring it; and they see other credentials or specialties as being more valuable to their careers.”

Additional notable findings in “Decoding the Decline” include:

  • The costs associated either with obtaining the additional credit hours to meet the educational/licensing requirements or preparing for and taking the CPA exam were not the top barriers cited by any respondent category.
  • The likelihood of becoming a CPA drops dramatically after age 22.
  • Many respondents do not have an interest in pursuing a credential at all.
  • Accounting, auditing, and tax preparation are the words most associated with the CPA credential, further narrowing the credential’s scope and attractiveness.

“As the survey findings shared in ‘Decoding the Decline’ show, reversing the CPA credential’s downtrend will not be without its challenges,” Shapiro cautions. “The CPA credential and the CPA profession are in a race for relevance, and the time to act is now.”

Decoding the Decline” is available now in PDF and digital formats at www.icpas.org/cpapipeline, and print editions are available upon request. Both Natale and Shapiro welcome reader feedback and are available for further commentary on the factors impacting the CPA pipeline.

  • There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
  • Beverly Sils

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Don’t Delay!

“Ideas are useless unless used. The proof of their value is in their implementation. Until then, they are in limbo.” – Theodore Levitt

To be able to run an efficient and profitable accounting firm you need to do more than talk about the changes you need to make. Talking about change is an active exercise inside firms. Actually, implementing and executing the steps necessary for change is another topic altogether. This is where many firms settle on a plateau rather than to continue climbing the mountain.

In my early days in public accounting I worked for the founder of the firm, a person in what we now call the Veteran (or Mature) Generation. If we had an issue or challenge he would proceed with Ready, Aim, Fire. We would research solutions (ready), adopt them to fit our size firm (aim) and then implement (fire). He did not hesitate.

As the Baby Boomers took over leadership of firms or founded firms, many of them seemed to find implementation more difficult – for various reasons. Even today, I observe so many firms that have adopted: Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim……

In today’s rapidly changing environment in public accounting and especially in technology and in the nature of our workforce, practitioners (Gen-X and Millennial leaders) must be able to Fire, Fire, Fire if they want the firm to stay ahead of the competition.

In dealing with succession, many firms are still in the “aim, aim, aim, aim” mode.

  • Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.
  • Guy Kawasaki

Friday, May 21st, 2021

One of Your Biggest Challenges

“The best way out of a difficulty is through it.” – Will Rogers

This week for Flashback Friday, I encourage you to read about one of your biggest challenges. Here is a post from 2019.

  • The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.
  • Maynard Keynes

Monday, May 17th, 2021

The New CPA Exam

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

They are changing the CPA Exam again. It is shifting to put an increased focus on technology. July 1, 2021 is when this shift in the Exam will take place.

From Accounting Today: As the accounting profession evolves to meet today’s needs, the Uniform CPA Examination is also evolving to reflect these industry changes. On July 1, 2021, the CPA exam is shifting significantly to put a heavier focus on technology, digital mindsets, data analytics, and the other skills that newly licensed CPAs need to succeed. Candidates preparing to take the CPA Exam must take these updates into consideration.

Here’s the informative article, What every candidate needs to know about the updated CPA exam, via Accounting Today. Read it and share it.

I wonder how many CPA partners could pass the exam if they had to take it in 2021. I have often heard partners joke about it (meaning they couldn’t pass it now, let alone after July 1).

  • Study while others are sleeping, Work while others are loafing, Prepare while others are playing, and Dream while others are wishing.
  • William Arthur Ward

Monday, May 10th, 2021

How Is Your Firm Perceived?

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” – Aldous Huxley

Ever wonder how you are really perceived in your business community?

“Oh, yes… I know Smith, Jones & Company, they are the ___________ firm.”

Try this fun exercise with your entire team during a Lunch & Learn session or at a regular team meeting.

Use the above line.  Insert the name of your firm. Have each person write down a word or phrase that fills in the BLANK.

After everyone is done – share them and discuss them.  How is your firm really perceived?

It could be……

  • They are the auto-dealer firm.
  • They are the new firm.
  • They are the oldest firm in town.
  • They are the audit firm.
  • They are an estate planning firm.
  • They are the innovative firm.
  • They are the old school firm.
  • They are the big firm.
  • They are the small firm.
  • They are the cool firm.

You might find out some eye-opening perceptions about your firm.

  • We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
  • Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Take Care of Today

“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” – Walter Hagen

Working in a busy accounting firm you sometimes lose sight of today.

You worry about tomorrow, next week, next month, and even future years. How many returns did we complete today? Will the young, new hire have that return to me for review tomorrow? Are we keeping pace to have everything done by the due date? Is our 3-year strategic plan still viable? What will we talk about at this year’s retreat?

You also worry about the past. “Remember how bad last tax season was? We don’t want that to happen again!” You recall the poor job Mary did on that Jones job last year and wonder if you can trust her now. I find CPAs have long memories when it comes to someone’s poor performance.

Never forget to live in the present. Let go of living in the past or in the future and enjoy the present. Life is short. Quit worrying so much and enjoy this day. Remember Alfred E. Neuman’s words “What, me Worry?”

  • Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. It only saps today of its joy.
  • Leo Buscaglia

Monday, April 12th, 2021

Change Your Image

“Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

An interesting article via FastCompany about Major League Baseball needing to attract younger fans. The average TV viewer for MLB is 57 years old. How old is your average client? Think about it.

An example of being stuck in the past (via FastCompany) is the Boston Red Sox. Their logo and colors (red, of course and a pair of socks) have been the same for years.

Nike’s new uniform for the team (it debuts on the field on April 17) features none of that old stuff. The new uniform is yellow/gold with “Boston” written in a modernist, light blue script. Check it out here. As for me (not being a Boston fan), I like it a lot. I notice the cap still has the traditional “B”.

Now, what about your firm? Look how Boston is written on the front of the uniform – very contemporary. Does your firm’s logo and website say:

  • We’re an old-fashioned firm.
  • We have been around for years.
  • We are traditional and conservative.
  • We do taxes.
  • We could be called Old School.

Are your colors dark blue or burgundy? If you have a partner named Green is your website color green?

There is lots of conversations going on right now about accountants needing to be more creative. Put refreshing your image on your to do list for 2021.

  • The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.
  • Steven Spielberg

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

Goals

“The only criterion for what makes a good goal is that the person working towards it must set it for themselves, voluntarily.” – Marcus Buckingham

CPA firms, usually on an annual basis, have each team member establish goals for the coming year. This happens after the annual performance feedback exercise. Many firms have now moved beyond the annual tradition and are providing feedback much more frequently: Semi-annually, quarterly or monthly. Of course, the best firms provide feedback continually and have even discontinued the annual or periodic formal feedback session.

The current workforce wants to know how they are doing much more often than periodically. It makes me think of taking small children on a drive to a family outing or to a visit with grandparents. They ask, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” about every five minutes. That is how your employees feel; they want to know.

A friend of mine has an online job. They have never met their supervisor face-to-face. There are guidelines and parameters and lots of communication with their supervisor. At the end of each day they get a report on how they did that day. Are you anywhere close to that?

Some firms continue to assign goals to individuals based on their performance. Progressive firms involve individuals in setting goals. The person drafts their own goals and the supervisor advises and approves. Be sure you encourage people to have fewer goals and shorter timeframes. Something like two goals per quarter. I have observed that if a person has six or eight annual goals most of them never get accomplished.

CPA managers and partners need to give more frequent feedback and guidance and listen to where the individual wants to go with their career. They want to know, “Am I there yet? Am I there yet?”

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

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

Is Your Work Your Passion?

“Connecting to your passion is being you, but better.” – Garrison Wynn

I have always thoroughly enjoyed my job, working inside a growing CPA firm and working as a CPA management consultant. CPA firm management has been my passion for many years.

I have known several people over those years who did not enjoy their job. Yet, they remained working at the same place and in the same role for years and years because….. Because of what? Money? Security? I even had one person tell me they stayed because it was an easy commute.

I am not talking solely about people in the CPA profession. I have had acquaintances in other professions or businesses who shared with me that they loved what they did but hated the people they worked with. Some said they loved the people but hated their role.

The above quote says a lot to me. My passion for what I do drives me to be better. I am never content. I always want to know more, do more, learn more, share more and be more.

If you don’t have a strong passion for your work don’t keep doing it for decades. There is so much more out there that could be available to you. Take the leap forward and don’t look back.

If you do have a strong passion for working in a CPA firm, never be content. Keep learning more, doing more, embracing change and taking others long with you into the future.

I love this quote: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

  • Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
  • Steve Jobs