Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Just Send Us Your Information

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” – Henry Winkler

It is easy to just have clients mail their information to you or use your portal to submit it. You don’t have to do anything. Some clients, who are close by, just drop it off at the front desk and walk out the door.

Why not think about increasing communication with your clients at this time of year. Many of your 1040 clients are also business clients. Ask them to stop by and spend 15 minutes with you (or talk to them via phone) to talk about their business or personal situation.

A brief conversation like this can uncover additional services that your firm could provide to clients. Tax time is marketing time. Many of your clients might be greatly under-served and you do not even know it.

Have you talked to a client at tax time and found out that during the past year they have used another provider for something your firm provides? Their comment might be, “I didn’t know YOU could do that!”

  • “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
  • Sam Walton

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Say It…. Or Not?

“It is a great mistake ever to say anything when you needn’t.” – Agatha Christie 

Communication is an issue inside most CPA firms. Almost every issue my clients need to address can be traced back to communication.

Usually, it means that there is not nearly enough communication. Often, there is communication but not done in the right manner.

An example wrong communication: Betty is almost always late. She is scheduled to arrive at 8:30 but often actually arrives at 9:00 or later. Partners are bothered by this behavior. So, an email is sent to the entire team reminding them that they are expected to arrive before 8:30 each morning. Everyone knows they mean Betty and it results in lots of complaining (among the team) and loss of respect for the partners.

On the other hand, leaders sometimes actually say too much. They might confide their displeasure with other partners to a manager or even to a member of the admin team. Thus, the quote from Agatha Christie, above, applies.

 

  • A fool is made more of a fool, when their mouth is more open than their mind.”
  • Anthony Liccione

Friday, January 11th, 2019

What Does Leadership Look Like Podcast

“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water and breeds reptiles of the mind.” – William Blake

Thanks so much to Jessica Salerno of The Ohio Society of CPAs for interviewing me for one of the Society’s podcasts.

Episode info:

As the accounting profession evolves, leadership has to evolve along with it. We spoke with Rita Keller, respected CPA firm management consultant and author of the daily blog “Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders,” on how leadership in accounting has changed over the years, the common leadership mistakes she’s seen, the one thing leaders aren’t doing enough and more.

Click here to listen to the podcast. I also appreciate the Young CPAs of Ohio tweet!

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  • Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.
  • Victor Hugo

Thursday, December 27th, 2018

You Are Business Smart. Are You Feelings Smart?

“One thing you can’t hide – is when you’re crippled inside.” – John Lennon

To be a successful CPA, it is extremely important to understand your own feelings and the feelings of others. Some CPAs struggle with this issue. Many CPAs I have known tend to be very “business-like” and seem to try very hard to hide their emotions. Does this sound like you? Make 2019 the year to work on your emotional intelligence.

In a new book by Justin Bariso (a contributor to Inc.), EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence, he outlines a number of clear, practical tips that you can implement in your daily routine, most of which take only a few minutes a day.

He recommends that you begin with self-reflection. To understand your own feelings and other people’s, it begins with having the emotional maturity to know you need it.

Here’s an example of one of the 21 tips he provides in a recent Inc. post:

4. Use the 3-second trick.

If you tend to put your foot in your mouth, agree too quickly to commitments, or otherwise say something you later regret, ask yourself three quick questions (which I learned from Craig Ferguson) before speaking:

  • Does this need to be said?
  • Does this need to be said by me?
  • Does this need to be said by me, now?

In contrast, if you’re more introverted and often find that later you wish you had expressed yourself in a specific moment or situation, ask yourself:

Will I regret not speaking up later? 

The right question(s) can help you manage your emotional reactions and avoid regrets.

  • We know too much and feel too little. At least, we feel too little of those creative emotions from which a good life springs.
  • Bertrand Russell

Friday, December 21st, 2018

Triple Dog Dare

To all the wonderful followers of this blog, I wish you a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year!

holiday card

 

  • It's a major award!
  • Mr. Parker, A Christmas Story

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Say Thank-you

“Take time to be kind and to say ‘thank you’.” – Zig Ziglar

It has been a busy year and for most firms, a very successful year. This week, just before Christmas, would be a good week to bestow your gift of thank-yous on the many people who have helped make the year so remarkable.

Whether you are a firm partner or a person who just joined the firm sometime during the year, you have a lot of people to thank for your career success.

Of course, you have lots of other people outside the firm to thank but for today and tomorrow focus on the people you spend so much time with – your work family.

If at all possible, say thank-you in person or via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom!

  • Thank you for life, and all the little ups and downs that make it worth living.
  • Travis Barker

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Emails From Partners

“The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.” – W. Edwards Deming

If you are working in a CPA firm, first of all, good for you. For the most part, they are wonderful places to work. You learn so much, no matter how long you have worked there and you are in a profession where you are helping people.

One of the challenges of working inside a CPA firm is email. It is a beast and a beast that you are constantly attempting to train and control.

One of the complaints I have heard many times over the years is the fact that partners (and sometimes managers) send work-related emails to you at any time from 5:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. Of course, many come during business hours but often several come during non-business hours.

Those frequent emails during the business day interrupt your train of thought and your concentration on client work that you are attempting to complete in a timely and efficient manner. There are many methods to handle those emails, such as turning off notifications and responding to emails three times per day. I have written many posts on the topic of emails, just type email in the search box on my website and browse through them.

So, what about those emails you receive late in the evening or early morning even before you wake up? You might make the assumption that the sender expects you to answer ASAP. That is not often the case. If your firm does not have clear guidelines about the handling of emails, it is time you create a policy that documents the expectations. If there is an urgent situation that needs immediate attention, it should be communicated in person, by phone or maybe even text. Make it clear that emails should be used for non-time-sensitive communications. Here’s a great article about all of this via HBR – Protecting Company Culture Menas Having Rules for Email.

As for emails, in general, remember that work and life have become blended. If receiving an email from a work colleague during personal time bugs you, consider your time spent in the office. Have you ever sent a personal email or a text, checked social media, scheduled a doctor’s appointment, dealt with a child’s issue on company time?

  • Permission marketing is marketing without interruptions.
  • Seth Godin

Monday, December 10th, 2018

This is What is Trending in CPA Firms

marc-rosenberg-2017“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”—Peter Drucker

Thanks to my good friend, Marc Rosenberg, I am pleased to share his recent article: Trending: What I’m Seeing at CPA Firms This Year.

I am sure many of my fellow CPA management consultants will agree with Rosenberg. I know I am seeing the same issues with my CPA firm clients.

If you haven’t already, take a minute or two to read Rosenberg’s view on current trends. Also, if you haven’t yet, order a copy of the 2018 Rosenberg survey.

 

  • The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake—you can’t learn anything from being perfect.
  • Adam Osborne

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

Working at an Accounting Firm – New Graduates

“Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.” – Benjamin Franklin

The CPA profession hires thousands of new college graduates each year. Many join the big, national firms. Others join regional or local firms – some of them are huge and some are very small. All of them do their best to provide you with an onboarding and orientation experience. Some do a good job and some do not.

What can you really expect while working at a CPA firm? Sadly, it often takes years to figure that out and sometimes you learn it the hard way, by trial and error.

Suzanne Lucas, in her article for Inc., gives us 10 workplace secrets for New Grads – those young people who have landed a job in a profession. They all apply to public accounting. Please read her entire article. I have listed a few of the secrets and modified them for your situation in a public accounting firm.

Your manager can’t fire you – Managers in an accounting firm are often very skilled at managing the work but not so skilled at managing people. They have exceptional training in “the work” but most firms do not provide enough training in managing people. Most people in a CPA firm at the manager level can’t fire you without extensive involvement of others at the firm (partners, usually).

Your manager can’t give you a raise either – They can make recommendations but rarely have the authority to designate an amount.

HR isn’t bound by confidentiality rules – They must investigate things – if you are harassed, they are required to investigate things.

Grunt work leads to success – This applies across all professions. You must do the hard work first and you will be recognized and rewarded as time goes on.

Flexibility has to be earned – It might make you look bad if you start taking advantage of some benefits before you have earned them. Prove that you are capable, responsible, and hard working.

Be sure to read the article to learn about the remaining 5 secrets.

  • We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows.
  • Robert Frost

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

CPA Regulators & Profession Jointly Explore Evolving Licensure Model

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ― Leo Tolstoy

Interesting press release from the AICPA. Times are changing and changes need to happen.

NASHVILLE and NEW YORK (November 29, 2018) – Leaders of the CPA profession, the regulatory community and representatives from critical stakeholder groups are joining together to explore possible changes to the CPA licensure model that embrace the need for expanded skillsets of professionals. The goal of the effort is to align licensure with how CPAs will perform services in an increasingly technologically-driven environment.

The CPA Evolution Working Group, which is having its second meeting today, was formed by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of CPAs(AICPA).

The Working Group consists of representatives from Boards of Accountancy, state CPA societies, CPA firms of all sizes from around the country, the accounting academic community, and NASBA and AICPA volunteer committees. They have been tasked with advising NASBA and the AICPA on actions that would position the profession for the future while continuing to protect the public interest.

“Technological innovation and changing client demands are rapidly transforming the skills accountants need to thrive,” said Working Group Chair Cathy Allen, CPA, a managing member of Audit Conduct LLC and a member of NASBA’s Board of Directors. “We want to reimagine the CPA learning and licensure approach. Working Group members recognize the critical role of technological and data analysis expertise needed in firms and businesses today. Our goal is to recommend a strategy that provides the guiding principles for how to build related knowledge and skills into accounting curricula and how to test for those proficiencies on the CPA Exam.”

In the last year, the AICPA and NASBA have discussed potential alternatives to the current licensure model with key stakeholders and have gathered valuable initial feedback. A principal theme that has emerged from the feedback is support for action to evolve the approach to licensure.

“We really value the early engagement we’ve seen from the profession’s key stakeholders,” said Susan S. Coffey, CPA, CGMA, AICPA executive vice president for public practice. “Based on what we’ve heard, there is no question that the profession is ready to take action to capitalize on the opportunities that technology presents to us. That includes an evolution in our approach to licensure that embraces the changes and continues our public protection mandate. I’m looking forward to the Working Group’s recommendations and engaging with the profession and our key stakeholders throughout 2019.”

The Working Group will meet again this winter, and recommendations on a path forward regarding the licensure model are expected to be shared with state boards, state societies, CPAs and other stakeholders next year.

In addition to Allen, CPA Evolution Working Group members are:

  • Tom Broderick, CPA, CGMA, managing principal, BPW&C
  • Mark Dawkins, CPA, CGMA, CMA, dean, Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida
  • Clay Huffman, CPA, senior manager, Frazier & Deeter, LLC
  • Nancy Wolven-Juron, CPA, partner, Deloitte LLP
  • Audrey Katcher, CPA/CITP, CGMA, CISA, partner, RubinBrown LLP
  • Rick Niswander, CPA, CGMA, professor, East Carolina University
  • Todd Shapiro, president and CEO, Illinois CPA Society
  • Susan Somers, executive director, Kansas Board of Accountancy
  • Michael Womble, CPA/ABV/CFF, CVA, MAFF, ASA, managing partner, Williams Overman Pierce, LLP

 

  • Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
  • Nelson Mandela