Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

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.

 

  • 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

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Listen to the Ideas of Others

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”  – John Steinbeck

The managing partner knows a lot and maybe even thinks he/she knows more than others.

The partner group knows a lot and maybe even think they know exactly what needs to be done at the firm.

The managers know a lot and maybe even think they are always right.

The accounting team knows a lot and maybe even more than the partners!

The admin team knows a lot and often has even more insight than anyone else.

Build a culture where people are very comfortable sharing their ideas and what they know without the threat of being discounted or even ridiculed. Sometimes the “higher-ups” ignore and discount ideas and sometimes the “lower-downs” do the same. It goes both ways.

  • An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.
  • Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Inside An Accounting Firm – Find Happiness

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…. not for another hour, but this hour.” – Walt Whitman

I think about accounting firms a lot. I talk with so many of you who are faced with challenges and even worry about how you will move forward into the enchanting future that awaits the accounting profession.

Because it is Thanksgiving week here in the USA, it is a good time to count your blessings. Count the ways you have found happiness working in the accounting profession. CPA firms are wonderful places to work!

Try some of these ideas to maintain and increase your happiness at work:

Live and let live – – Don’t micromanage. Don’t gossip and worry about what other employees are doing.

Be giving of yourself to others – – put some structure around your mentoring activities. Mentoring happens naturally inside CPA firms – enhance it and help others.

Sundays should be holidays – – When I began my career in a CPA firm, no one at our firm EVER worked on a Sunday. It had nothing to do with religion, specifically, it was just that our founder believed that everyone needed a day of rest, a time to recharge. The more hours you work in a week the bigger chance you will make errors or poor decisions.

Stop being negative – – I see this all the time.  I continually say to people working in CPA firms – STOP WHINING!  Public accounting is an honorable, prestigious career, you work with intelligent people, you work in beautiful offices, you make friends with other top-quality professionals, you get to see businesses grow and prosper (with your help), you become admired by others in the business community for your expertise – – focus on the positive!

  • Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out of it alive.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Treating People With “Ignore”

“Over and over I marvel at the blessings of my life: Each year has grown better than the last.” – Lawrence Welk

Do you have one of those people (usually a partner) in your firm that treats people with “ignore”?

They come in the front door in the morning and don’t say a word or make eye contact with anyone else. They hurriedly walk to their office.

They come into the break room first thing in the morning to get a cup of coffee, quickly pour it and exit without acknowledging the presence of several others in the room.

They rarely, if ever, even say good morning to anyone.

The rarely, if ever, say thank-you when a team member provides something for them or passes an assignment along to them for review.

If these descriptions sound like you, wake-up! Be aware! Show people you appreciate them and care about them.

If this is someone you know, do what I always do – “kill them with kindness!” Smile at them and always say “Good morning.” Ask, “How are you today?” Ask if there is anything you can help them with. Tell them a brief, amusing story about something happening within the firm.

Sometimes, their distant behavior might be caused by more serious things, things you are not aware of. Be kind and count your blessings, especially this week.

  • When you are grateful - when you can see what you have - you unlock blessings to flow in your life.
  • Suze Orman

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Read Read Read

I love to read. I used to read almost every major new business book that came to my attention. Now, I read a much wider variety of things – books, articles, blogs, whitepapers, and tweets. I learn things from all of these that can be applied to the CPA profession.

As for business books. I sometimes get tired of the “new idea of the month” club. So, I widened my view of the world. I read thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, historical topics, biographies and sometimes Dave Barry, just to make me laugh.

I know what you are thinking. You don’t have time! Listen to audio books as you commute. Get up 30 minutes earlier and read while you drink your first cup of coffee. One day a week, skip lunch and read for an hour. Don’t sleep in on the weekends – get up early and read. When you flying, rather than watching a movie on your phone, read something.

Here are some great quotes about reading.

“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Books are mirrors. You only see in them what you already have inside of you.” – Carlos Zafon

“Classic – – a book which people praise and don’t read.” – Mark Twain

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” – P. J. O’Rourke

  • If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
  • Haruki Murakami

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Executive Presence, What Does That Mean?

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” —Jack Welch

My friend Kristen Rampe has been providing some amazing workshops for some of my clients and other progressive CPA firms. Here’s some information about one of her most popular workshops. Maybe it would be helpful to your team members.

EXECUTIVE PRESENCE AND CHARISMA

How you show up matters. For many CPAs, displaying higher levels of confidence and charisma in their interactions with clients, co-workers and the community can make a significant impact on achieving professional and personal goals.

Exhibiting the traits we associate with charisma and executive presence doesn’t come naturally to everyone. When was the last time you or your team set aside some time to discuss modern professional dress or actively work on posture, eye contact and confidence?

This session gives practical knowledge, advice and live practice that leaves participants feeling empowered to reach their next level of leadership.

Get more information on her workshop here.

  • I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.
  • Alexander The Great

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

I’ve Been Thinking About Followership

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Last year, I again had the chance to visit the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. I had been there a couple of times before but it has been quite a few years ago and this was the first time I had visited the actual visitor’s center.

The Center provides great information and outside there is a walkway that brings you to a spectacular view of the U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel (the inside is simply breath-taking).

At the visitor center, I learned that the program at the Academy is guided by the Air Force’s core values of “Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do”, and based on four “pillars of excellence”: military training, academics, athletics, and character development.

I was also able to read about the cumulative responsibilities that cadets are taught as they move through their 4-year education. Yes, they are taught (and developed into) leaders. And, they are also taught followership.

Fourth Class – Freshman Year

  • Demonstrate assertive followership skills
  • Prepare to be instructors of the next fourth class

Third Class – Sophomore Year

  • Demonstrate effective instructional skills
  • Prepare to be supervisors in the cadet wing
  • Exemplify assertive followership skills

Second Class – Junior Year

  • Demonstrate effective supervisory skills
  • Prepare to be cadet officer-leaders in the cadet wing
  • Exemplify effective instructional and assertive followership skills

First Class – Senior Year

  • Demonstrate effective leadership and officership skills
  • Prepare to be commissioned officers in the US Air Force
  • Exemplify effective supervisory, instructional, and followership skills

Notice how each year builds on the prior year. What if, inside CPA firms, we taught more about followership? What if we had well-defined training programs that continued to build on the prior year without forgetting the basics (like followership)? What if all partners demonstrated followership as well as teamwork?

So many articles, programs, conferences, seminars, webinars, and CPE classes are focused on leadership skills for accountants and we still hear, profession-wide, that we don’t have enough future leaders.

Maybe we are going about it all wrong.

  • The world is moved not only by the mighty shoves of heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.
  • Helen Keller

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

It Matters

“If you have to choose between being kind and being right, choose being kind and you will always be right.” – Dalai Lama

Inside CPA firms, the partners usually have the strongest relationship with clients.

Often they even meet and talk with clients. They have lunch together and work on helping the client be more successful. They are doing “consulting” with the client.

Meanwhile, back at the office, there are various team members that work on the client’s engagement. Through the firm’s scheduling system, they are assigned a certain task for a certain client. Often it involves working extra hours to accomplish the engagement.

In progressive firms, the team members do have contact with someone at the client’s place of business but maybe not the owner.

Partners, after you have had a meeting or a lunch with a client, be sure to go back to the office and tell the person (or people) who did all the work behind the scenes how the client is doing and how their work is making a positive difference in the client’s success.

Their work matters. That’s what people want to know.

Better, yet, take a team member along when you meet with a client. It is how they learn to become consultants.

  • When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.
  • Dalai Lama