Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

Rethinking

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King

From Alastair Woods of PWC:

“People [are] rethinking what they want from life. With the supply pressures, consumer price inflation and inflationary pressures, there are people looking for ways to increase their income.

“Moving jobs is the quickest way to do this and with many companies in growth mode, there are more jobs around than ever.”

While money is part of the issue for accounting firms, life/work balance and a pleasant work culture are key.

Now, more than ever, CPA firms need to focus on their culture and on clearly communicating the expectations and the opportunities for their employees.

The upcoming tax season will be even a more critical time this year. If your firm has another “rough” tax season, how many people will leave you next summer? Things like mandatory Saturdays during busy season, a long-standing practice in public accounting, is being discontinued by some progressive firms.

Always focus on communicating the exceptional benefits of working in public accounting. There are many! The pay is attractive and the opportunity for exceptional pay is obtainable. Also, life/work balance has become commonplace in public accounting.

It is not easy and there are a lot of factors involved but take steps to make your firm the firm that employees from other firms want to move to.

  • Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.
  • Tim Notke

Thursday, December 2nd, 2021

Changing Your Thinking

“My hope is that when someone has that call to action, they realize that everybody can do something, even if that’s just changing their own thinking. Women have to change the way they think, too. Not just men.”~ Ambassador Melanne Verveer

I think the above quote has a lot of meaning for those working in public accounting.

When I do my communication presentation for CPAs, one of my favorite topics is male/female communication. There is a lot of focus on helping men understand female communication styles and preferences and not quite so much on asking women to better understand male communication.

In the CPA profession, we have asked men to change in many ways so that women can more easily progress in their careers. These men have met the challenge and become amazing supporters of welcoming more females into the former, all-male partner group.

I have observed that some women are almost hostile to “the old boy club.” Hostility gets you nowhere, no matter what the mission.

Men and women in the CPA profession BOTH changing their thinking has moved many progressive firms more quickly forward. It is about respect, trust, camaraderie, and friendship. It doesn’t matter if your are a male or a female.

  • Building trust begins with an appreciation and understanding of trust, but it also requires practice and practices.
  • Robert C. Solomon

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Communication to Clients

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

Late last week I received a nice notice from one of my clients. It is what they sent to all of their clients letting them know that their offices will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday and Friday next week and that they will return to the office on Monday, November 29.

It had a very tasteful Happy Thanksgiving picture message, too.

Do you notify your clients of events like this one? Sure, you think they just know that you will be closed for two days for Thanksgiving but do all of them “just know?” Don’t ever assume.

  • Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
  • C. S. Lewis

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

Great Meetings

“Once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.” – Dan Rockwell LeadershipFreak

Dan Rockwell gives us 3 Words That Make Meeting Great. Those 3 words are Specific. Shorter. Smaller. Follow the link to read more about these three words.

I like the two words that apply to CPAs – Decide and Deliver. Too often, in partner meetings, decisions are put on hold. If a decision is finally made, it often fails because of a lack of implementation.

If someone in your meeting leaves without anything to do they shouldn’t be in the meeting in the first place. Always leave a meeting with an action plan.

Rockwell also gives us the following:

5 Things to stop doing in meetings:

  1. Complaining. Problem-solving isn’t complaining. The difference between complaining and leadership is solution-seeking.
  2. Interrupting. The person leading the meeting should interrupt interrupters.
  3. Blathering on and on.
  4. Chasing rabbits.
  5. Neglecting action items and accountability. Ask, “Who does what by when?”
  • Two or three action items is enough for most meetings.
  • Dan Rockwell

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Jargon

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” ~Albert Einstein

If you have been working in public accounting for even a short time I bet you are using accounting jargon. We all know what, “Are we doing their 1120-S?” means. Cash or accrual are common terms. Actually, many phrases we use can be considered accounting jargon.

Definition: Noun: Jargon – special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.

According to a Quickbooks report (a few years ago), only 40% of business owners surveyed considered themselves to be very knowledgeable in the areas of accounting and finance.

Things like GAAP, IFRS, AR, AP, Accruals, Accrual Basis, Cashflow Statement, even Balance Sheet are unfamiliar terms to many of your business owners. Now, we have PPP and CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). Could you even recite the official name?

And then there is all that stuff that follows your name on the website: CPA, CITP, CGMA, PFS, ABV, ASA. All of that might be overwhelming to a new client, even scare some away!

Never forget that many clients (that pay you a lot of money), might not be very clear on exactly what you are saying.

The AICPA even has a resource called CPEA. Of course, that stands for Center for Plain English Accounting.

Always explain things simply and thoroughly. Save the jargon for conversations between peers inside the firm.

You want the word on the street to be that you, always explain things clearly and you take the time to help clients understand the services you provide.

  • Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify!
  • Henry David Thoreau

Friday, November 5th, 2021

Flashback Friday – Managing Remote Workers

“Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.” – Fred Hoyle

We have been doing it for nearly twenty-one months now, trying to successfully manage a remote workforce.
It looks like the challenge will lessen somewhat as many of your team members come back to the office because they actually enjoy working in the office. You still have those who demand and appreciate the option of working from home.
Here’s a flashback post from last December that addresses the possibility of having an actual “Head of Remote Work”.
  • Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.
  • Booker T. Washington

Thursday, November 4th, 2021

Committees

“A committee can make a decision that is dumber than any of its members.” – David Coblitz

I have observed that most CPA firms have too many committees.

Have you ever served on a committee? I’m sure you have. My experience is that at committee meetings there is a lot of discussions, sometimes debates, and even arguments. After the meeting, not much gets accomplished, and then time goes by and it’s time for the next committee meeting.

If you have a mid-size firm (say, 25-50 people), you have a Managing Partner and a Firm Administrator. Most internal operational issues are handled by the firm administrator with oversight by the MP, while always keeping the other partners informed. Having a committee of partners for anything other than a partner compensation committee is a waste of valuable time, time that could be used to serve clients or bring in new business.

I do believe that a CPA firm should have a Tax Committee and an A&A Committee. Each committee is headed by one partner and comprised of tax or A&A managers, even some seniors and the firm administrator. The other management or operational areas, such as HR, facilities, firm financial, marketing, etc. are handled by the MP and FA (with admin assistance). Once the firm grows, you add an HR Director, Marketing Director, and so on. These support professionals work under the guidance of the MP and FA. The annual salary increase exercise is handled by the MP and FA and approved by the partner group.

If you have a special need for a certain project, such as rolling out new software, establish a task force comprised of people at different levels in the firm. When the project is done, the task force ceases to exist.

Keep in mind if too many people are “in charge”, not much happens. Someone needs to be accountable. Of course, the size of the firm, rate of growth, and geographic location all influence these topics.

Bottom line, if you have a firm administrator/practice manager, empower them and hold them accountable.

  • A camel is a horse designed by a committee.
  • Alec Issigonis

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

Frustration With Customer Service

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

Have you had a frustration episode recently?

Our water softener failed last week. Of course, in our area, we can’t survive without soft water (that’s how we think these days). My husband called our soft water vendor and requested that someone come and repair our water softener. Things like that have been routine for many of us…. you call the service provider and they schedule a time to address your problem. It’s like getting your car serviced.

This time the lady who answered the phone simply replied, “We can’t get to you until January.” Wow, this is October! Needless to say, my husband went rather beserk and after much discussion, they said they would come on Monday. I reminded my husband that they probably didn’t have enough service technicians to meet the demand because of COVID. And, yes, that was the case.

We see the same thing in restaurants. Service has suffered because of the lack of employees. There are many empty tables and some restaurants aren’t even open seven days a week as they were in pre-COVID times.

A client shared with me recently that his Director of First Impressions says that clients seem to always be angry and rude since COVID has changed our lives. I know you struggle to meet your clients’ demands but it is not always possible. How far do you have to go to please them? Are you willing to go that far?

Just keep in mind that frustration is showing itself more and more. My only advice is, “Be Kind.”

  • For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
  • Audrey Hepburn

Friday, October 15th, 2021

How To Talk To Clients – Flashback Friday

“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.” – Margaret Wheatley

First of all, happy October 15th!

This Friday I hope you have time to read my blog post. It stresses the importance of helping beginners on how to talk to clients.

Have a great weekend!

  • Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
  • Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Engagement Letters for CARES Act Consulting

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

It is always good to be reminded about accurately covering services you provide in engagement letters, especially those advisory services relating to the CARES Act.

Here is a good reminder and a resource from my friend Stephen Vono of McGowanPRO professional liability insurance:

CPAs need to be vigilant in advising clients affected by the pandemic regarding all programs available through the federal, state, and local government agencies. Historical claims data shows that failure to advise clients is a common potential claim against accountants. This engagement letter will assist you in describing the scope of services when performing Cares Act-related consulting and advisory services.

For further eligibility requirements, please refer to the United States Government Health and Human Services website. www.hhs.gov 

Contact: John F. Raspante – Director of Risk Management | p: 732.216.7552  jraspante@mcgowanprofessional.com 
Stephen Vono – Senior VP |  p: 732.216.7552 svono@mcgowanprofessional.com
Download E/L here.

  • It is easy to make promises - it is hard to keep them.
  • Boris Johnson