Archive for the ‘CPAFMA’ Category

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

Hiring & Managing People

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” – Richard Branson

I certainly enjoyed being involved in the CPAFMA Accelerator Sessions this week. It was such an honor to be on the agenda both days with some very awesome people. The Accelerator sessions caused me to think about my own list of current issues and trends.

  • The digital transformation of work has finally arrived. It is amazing how much firms accomplished in such a short time.
  • Firm leaders have realized that a hybrid model that combines in-person and remote work actually works well and it will permanently lower the number of people in the office.
  • It has been widely discussed that firms will be reducing the amount of office space. Some have already begun this process. See the next bullet.
  • About 77% of respondents to the third-quarter AICPA Business & Industry Economic Outlook Survey said they planned to keep their office square footage. Only about 18% planned a reduction, despite the potential savings.
  • The pandemic caused us to reset and rethink the ways we hire and manage people. A demand for thorough hiring that is probably different from how you have always done it. Interview questions that provide you with meaningful information will become more important. You will need to train your interviewers.
  • Hiring & managing remote people should be done in a consistent manner. You might soon see a new position in your firm “Head of Remote Work” – larger firms already have positions like chief people officer or chief culture officer.
  • Look for people who can self-manage
  • Prospective employees may be talented – people are born with various talents – but are they able to use their talent to build the skills necessary to be successful in public accounting?
  • Trust on both sides – partners & staff – will become even more important.
  • CPA firms are looking for experienced people. One reason is that they aren’t prepared to hire new college grads who are completely green – they haven’t developed a plan on how to train them yet. Some firms have already mastered this!
  • Don't criticize, condemn, or complain.
  • Dale Carnegie

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

Hard Work

“A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.”  – Colin Powell

As part of the CPAFMA Strategy Leadership & Growth Accelerator Session yesterday, I was asked to talk for just 10  minutes about TALENT. Because I am again speaking today on TALENT, I decided to approach it from a different angle for the Strategy session  If you want to hear more of the nitty-gritty about hiring, interviewing, and retaining employees, please tune in today when I will be part of the Talent & People Accelerator.

We hear Talent talked about so much in the CPA profession. Let’s explore what we really mean by the word “Talent.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, when larger firms were shedding people (mostly poor performers), I anticipated that more qualified people would be in the job market and firms below the Top 100 might attract some people who were experienced and capable.

What I am seeing is that didn’t happen. All of my clients and other firms in my sphere tell me that they are trying (several, almost desperately) to find more people with the skills and desire to work and succeed in public accounting.

Recently, I listened to a Ted talk by Suzanne Lucas @realevilhrlady. She writes and advises on HR topics. The subject of her Ted talk was FORGET TALENT AND GET TO WORK. I agree with her viewpoint on this and feel like it is an issue in the CPA profession. It is only 8 minutes long, you should listen to it.

She talked about Talent and the use of the word in hiring. Sometimes the words we use distort our intentions. We don’t talk about people anymore. We talk about Talent. Look at the titles of many of the webinars you have attended and articles you have read!  We talk about talent management and talent assessment and we moan about talent shortages.

For example, here are some titles of articles in CPA publications:

  • The Accounting Profession: Talents that Matter
  • How to Motivate & Retain Your Talent (JofA)
  • How to Win the Game of Talent (JofA)
  • Where Should You be Looking for Top Talent (AT)
  • I have spoken and written on the topic of Hiring and Retaining Top Talent numerous times!

We seem to think that talent is something you are born with. That a 4.0 GPA means you have talent. In our world, what talent means is you have the above-average ability to master accounting firm work very rapidly.

The definition of the word is: A special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude. b : general intelligence or mental power : ability. 2 : the natural endowments of a person. 

If we believe that music requires talent and that we could never do it – we are wrong. We probably could.

People that made a true impact in the world did it through hard work. Yes, Mozart composed his first piece of music at age 5, and, yes he was talented. Lin-Manuel Miranda says it took him about seven years to write Hamilton. It took him one year alone to write the second song in the show, “My Shot.” He did it through hard work and dedication.

What we really seek are people who are trainable and can develop skills. Skill is something you gain through hard work and dedication.

Could I learn to paint or learn to play the piano? Of course. I don’t have natural talent but I could do it through a lot of hard work.

I never did the hard work to be able to run a marathon – I could have but I preferred ice cream and long leisurely walks.

When we are hiring, we need to ask, “Can this person learn what we have to teach?” Does she have the determination to learn hard things? We all know that fresh college accounting graduates can’t do the work in public accounting right away but do they have the grit to learn? Have they worked hard in the past? Have they failed and then succeeded?

I have heard many, many very successful CPA partners say “I certainly didn’t have a 4.0 GPA.” The average student (not considered top talent) has often become an expert and a very highly-compensated CPA firm partner.

Just about anybody can learn just about anything if they are willing to work hard.

Google asked what makes great employees and perfect grades were not at the top of the list. What was? Listening, critical thinking and problem solving.

It isn’t all about being endowed with natural talent, it is about the hard work of building skills.

CPA firms should be more willing to make significant investments in quality training & development. If more focus was put on training/development you might find that you have more productive and skilled people working at your firm, formerly considered average performers. I still hear horror stories about new hires more or less being thrown to the wolves, so to speak.

Many years ago, I began to talk about team members rather than using the words staff or employees. I thought if we used the word TEAM enough we might actually become one. Why not put more focus on seeking team members who are willing to work hard and develop the skills necessary to be CPA and not stress the word TALENT so much?

I still believe that it takes grit and perseverance to become successful in the public accounting world. Look for people who have demonstrated passion and dedication followed by hard work to build skills. They will succeed.

  • Men die of boredom, psychological conflict and disease. They do not die of hard work.
  • David Ogilvy, advertising business tycoon

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Friday Musings

“Great ideas emerges from useless fragments of thoughts.” – Michael Bassey Johnson

On Fridays, I often provide you with a flashback post – something I have written about before. Sometimes I save Fridays for random thoughts, ideas, and comments.

Here’s a flashback post on an age-old topic – Getting Partners to Change.

Now on to other stuff.

This week I spent some time preparing for CPAFMA’s virtual Accelerator for people managing accounting firms. The virtual event will take the place of FMA’s 2020 annual conference and will provide practice managers with some timely and helpful information. This program is exclusively designed to help participants professionally manage accounting firms of varying sizes.

I will be involved in the Strategy, Leadership & Growth Accelerator – Monday, November 9th at 11:40a – 1:30p EST and also in the Talent & People Accelerator on November 10th at 12:20p – 2:20p EST.

This week I was featured via an AICPA PCPS podcast – Small Firm Philosophy. I hope you will set aside some time this weekend to listen.

Next week, I will be speaking (virtually) with one of the AICPA PCPS small firm networking groups.

Finally, my newsletter went out yesterday. Did you receive your copy? Be sure to check your spam filter. Here’s a link to one of the articles titled, Afraid. This article will only be available online for a limited time. Sign-up for my newsletter via my website.

Have a nice weekend. Monday will be November and you have a lot to do!

  • The best advice I’ve ever received is 'No one else knows what they’re doing either'.
  • Ricky Gervais

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

Virtual Meeting Applications

“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly.” – Mark Sanborn

So many people are finding that meeting virtually really works well and during these unique times, it is a lifesaver. Several products are being used and have been discussed on the CPA Firm Management Association discussion board.

I have used Zoom, as have many others. Here’s what Lori Ellinger, Firm Administrator of Kirsch CPA Group with offices in Oxford and Hamilton, Ohio has to say about using Zoom. I am hoping her comments about how they are using virtual meetings will be helpful to you:

“We started using Zoom last week.  Our 30+ employees are all remote and Zoom works great.  You can see a picture of each person – they are even having fun with changing their background picture.  We started doing a 15-minute “water cooler” meeting just to catch up.  We pick a person ahead of time and do a get-to-know-you Q&A.  It’s a nice break and since we have several new people its good for them to get to know others.

We have not had problems with sound or delay on zoom.

Now, on regular phone lines, we are experiencing poor call quality.

We also use Microsoft Teams for meetings.  We use to use GoTo Meeting but that is going by the wayside lately.”

Don’t forget about your newer people. Communicate continually with your entire team and think of extra ways to “touch” your newbies.

  • Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.
  • Helen Keller

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Old Friends

I think the old saying, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold” applies to all of us. It certainly does to me. I love my new friends (clients, neighbors, business associates) and I sincerely treasure the old friends, especially the ones I have made through Triple-A, now called: CPAFMA (CPA Firm Management Association).

Those CPAFMA friends are spread across the country. But, there is a special group that are (or were) members of the Indiana Chapter of AAA. It is where I first met other people called firm administrators back in the late 1980s. In those early years, we also had joint meetings with the Illinois Chapter. Many of those former members are very near and dear to me, too.

Roman Kepczyk, of Right Networks, is one of those members I met very early on, even though he was in Arizona. He has been an advisor to the national CPFMA organization for many years. He was coming to Indianapolis to speak to the Chapter this last Friday. So, with Virginia Lowery’s urging, I contacted several old friends and we arranged a reunion so we could all visit with Roman again on Thursday evening before his presentation to the Chapter on Friday.

We had a wonderful evening and shared so many great memories of many, many national conferences. We had FIVE past national presidents/chairs in attendance. You can see the entire president list here.

Pictured from left front and around the table: Bill Leach, Virginia Lowery, Colleen Endres, Peggy Burnstein, Anita Goetz, Me, Treva Olson, Donna Cimino, Bill’s wife Nancy, and Roman. (Treva’s husband Ric also attended but is not in the picture.)

I know many of you are members of CPAFMA. Keep those old friends near and dear – they are gold. The quote, below, certainly applies to CPAFMA members.

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  • Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'
  • C. S. Lewis

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Last Chance to Participate – Digital Survey

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass

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DIGITALLY DRIVEN SURVEY
In recognition of the evolving trends in digital operations, the CPAFMA 2019 Digitally Driven Firm Survey –  formerly the CPAFMA Paperless Benchmarking Survey, the longest-running paperless benchmarking survey in the accounting profession – is being conducted as an update to the Association’s 2017 survey. This important resource will be updated to provide you with the valuable, consistent benchmarking that we’ve all come to rely on upon through CPA Firm Management Association. Results of the survey will be included in future CPAFMA articles and resources, including a MAPCast in December 2018. Participants will be provided with an advanced copy of the results. Your participation as a firm management professional is crucial.
Please submit your responses no later than
Friday, November 30, 2018.
The survey takes between 10-15 minutes.

Click here to take the survey. Roman can’t hold his breath much longer!

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Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Firm Administrators – Make Sure to Participate

CPAFMA Logo for Web

 

I hope you will take a few minutes to participate in the CPA Firm Management Association Annual Salary Survey. Click the link below.

Annual Salary Survey
It’s time for the CPAFMA’s 2018 Salary Survey data collection. While technology allows us to enhance the survey and receive more data, we have opted to maintain the survey’s reputation of being efficient, accurate and providing the most vital information to our member firms.
As always, confidentiality is our priority.By clicking the button below, you will enter the on-line survey which will take no more than 7 minutes to complete, including the time it has taken to read this email. We are encouraging ALL members to respond by the deadline of November 19, 2018. The more participants, the more valuable the results. Note that the information is collected and compiled by a third party as confidentiality is imperative.

The results will be summarized and shared with members the second week of December 2018.
      SURVEY
  • Positivity, confidence, and persistence are key in life, so never give up on yourself.
  • Khalid

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

Within Driving Distance of Indianapolis? – Join me!

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

I know many of you are not within driving distance – but I also know that Indiana has many great CPA firms and the Indiana Chapter of CPAFMA has a great membership.

So, mark your calendar for Friday, November 16th. I will be speaking at the Indiana Chapter meeting. It is a morning presentation so you can have all afternoon to drive back home (or to the office).

My topic is “Surviving Change in the CPA Profession.” It is an exciting time to be a CPA or working in a CPA firm, but how is your firm preparing future? It is not a time for a “wait and see” attitude.

Follow this link to download a document that gives you all the information about the meeting and how to register.

The very first CPAFMA I ever attended over 30 years ago was in Indianapolis. The Indiana Chapter is near and dear to me.

  • Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
  • Albert Einstein

Friday, March 24th, 2017

CPAFMA – The CPA Firm Management Association

I hope you are a member of CPAFMA. I also hope you have the opportunity to attend chapter meetings that happen around the country.

Here is where you can find a chapter near you.

I recently attended the Ohio Chapter of CPAFMA, hosted by the Ohio Society. To help you understand the value, I am listing the topics that were discussed in the after-lunch roundtable discussion. In the morning we had an amazing update about employment law, always an important topic for firm administrators, COOs, and HR Directors.

  • Practice Management Software
  • CCH Engagement vs. Thomson EngagementCS
  • Employee recognition
  • Fun things during tax season
  • Banking verifications (confirmations)
  • Competition
  • Thomson UltraTax (problems and issues)
  • Partner retirement
  • MP Transition
  • Helping partners find their seat on the bus
  • Employee time off during busy season.

If you need some answers and some quality advice from others facing the same issues – join CPAFMA.

  • It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.
  • Napolean Hill

Friday, February 17th, 2017

CPA Firm Management Association – A Great Resource

“There is a fundamental distinction between strategy and operational effectiveness.” – Michael Porter

Do you have a firm administrator? Do you wish you had a firm administrator?

If you do have one, be sure they are a member of the CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA). If you don’t have one, join the Association to learn more about how you can find one and how you could be saving your accountants a significant amount of time by having someone else take care of firm operations.

Today, I will be attending the Ohio CPAFMA Chapter meeting to learn a lot about what’s new in employment law, something all of you should be learning. Be sure to follow my tweets today.

There are many chapters around the country. If you are a managing partner or if you are responsible for any part of firm operations (what goes on behind the scenes), join CPAFMA and attend chapter meetings.

  • The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.
  • Michaelangelo