Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Webinar – February 16

“The safest principle through life, instead of reforming others, is to set about perfecting yourself.” –B. R. Haydon.

You’ve worked diligently and have built a glowing reputation grounded in your excellent skills in tax, accounting, and auditing. You’re known as the “go-to” person when a client is faced with tax and financial decisions. You have a very successful firm — but that’s not enough.

I am pleased to present a timely webinar titled “The Evolution of Your Firm From Compliance to Consulting” for Accountant Advocate.

The webinar will be on February 16th, 2023, at 11:00 am PDT, 2:00 pm EDT, and 7:00 pm BST.

Join me for an insightful discussion on:

  • Why change is now more important than ever
  • How to convince your partners to move out of complacency and embrace new challenges
  • Learn how to overcome the battles you will face with technology, talent, growth, and client services

Read all about it and register here.

  • Look within, for within is the wellspring of virtue, which will not cease flowing, if you cease not from digging.
  • Marcus Aurelius

Monday, January 23rd, 2023

The Scheduling Challenge

“Be like a duck, my mother used to tell me. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath.” – Michael Caine, actor

I continue to hear many stories about the scheduling challenge for CPA firms. Audit work is easier to schedule than tax work. Audits are bigger engagements and consume a higher volume of hours per engagement. Audits also demand more coordination with the client giving the client time to prepare for the upcoming work.

Tax work is more like a constant fire drill. Sometimes a tax return can take many hours, but most are budgeted for a few to several hours. Plus, it is difficult to know, for sure, when the client’s tax information will be submitted to the firm.

Many firms are using software to help in the task, such as Prostaff and others, but the whole process is still a challenge. Other firms have appointed a “Scheduler,” but it is an overwhelming task for one person. So much information is needed from so many people!

Here’s something that might work for you. It works best for firms that ask their teams to be skilled in both tax and audit. One and two-year staff are usually exposed to both tax and audit. They can specialize later on.

Each staff person keeps a two-week schedule. It shows what they have scheduled for the coming week and what they expect to have for the following week. It also shows open time, PTO time, holidays, etc. They submit this report to the Schedulers every Friday morning.

There are two schedulers. One experienced Tax Manager and one experienced Audit Manager for the office. These two managers are charged with knowing what their teams are doing and how they are doing. The Tax Manager and the Audit Manager meet every Friday morning. The firm administrator (practice manager) is also a part of this small scheduling committee. The firm administrator acts as the management contributor, helps balance work when needed, and/or relays communications from management.

The schedulers use the individual team members’ two-week schedules to assess who has too much work and who has room for more work, and they determine the experience level needed for new assignments. They assign work into the two-week schedules and also may move work around depending on client needs and workloads.

The firm administrator, sometimes with the help of an administrative assistant, modifies each two-week schedule and returns the schedules to the staff.

Some managers also keep two-week schedules if they are more involved in doing the work rather than supervising it.

This system makes sure that everyone has a full schedule for the next week and a good idea of what they will be doing for the week after that. Also, these two-week schedules have the number of hours indicated to do the work. The schedulers provide the hourly budgets as they assign new work or modify existing work.

I hope all of this is helpful and not too confusing. If you have questions, feel free to contact me. I will also share a handout explaining all this and a sample two-week schedule form if you request one.

  • Keep busy at something: a busy person never has time to be unhappy.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, January 20th, 2023

Appreciating Tax Season

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

Yes, I always enjoyed tax season. Read this Friday Flashback to find out why.”

  • Recognition is a reward in itself. Any form of appreciation, even a small word, is important.
  • Vikrant Massey

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

The Cost of Recruiting

“Stay calm and aggressive.” – Gabrielle Reece

Today, I am just sharing some interesting comments I have heard recently about how some firms respond to the huge challenge of recruiting new team members.

These examples are not from small firms, nor are they from huge firms. The comments are from what I call mid-size firms.

  • One firm works with seven different professional recruiters.
  • Another firm paid over $300,000 to recruiters in 2022.

Maybe you don’t have to go to these links, but I hope you are acting aggressively when recruiting.

  • Certainly, if you look at human behavior around the world, you have to admit that we can be very aggressive.
  • Jane Goodall

Monday, January 16th, 2023

A Learning Culture Is A Plus For You

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

I continually read about all kinds of ways to hire and keep talented people. Of course, that is a big thing on the minds of CPAs. It has been a huge concern for years. It is right now and will be well into the future.

Today’s workforce wants to be part of a learning culture. What better place than a CPA firm?

CPA firms:

  • Provide focused, immediate training, both formal and casual, the day a new person joins the team.
  • Pay for ongoing continuing professional education (CPE).
  • Never hesitate to send people to outside CPE courses to enhance their careers.
  • Provide a significant amount of internal CPE and other training that never stops.
  • Have a mentoring culture and everyone, no matter their age and experience, must commit to lifelong learning.
  • Reward individuals who continue to learn and build their knowledge base.

If you haven’t already, it is time to spread the word about all the learning opportunities when a person joins a CPA firm.

  • Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were going to live forever.
  • Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

Keeping Them

“The responsibility of a company is to serve the customer. The responsibility of leadership is to serve their people so that their people may better serve the customer. If leaders fail to serve their people first, both customer and company will suffer.” – Simon Sinek

You have worked hard to attract enough talent to be able to master this coming tax season. Now, you have to work at keeping them.

Per an article via Bloomberg, there are five benefits US employees want:

  1. Remote work
  2. Flexibility
  3. Sustainable work
  4. Financial health
  5. Job security

The CPA profession offers so many key benefits. I be you’ve got these!

Read the article to learn more about each one of these five.

  • I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.
  • Thomas Edison

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

What Attracts People To Your Firm?

“Be thankful for problems. If they were less difficult, someone with less ability might have your job.” – Jim Lovell

I’m not talking about what attracts clients to your firm. I wonder what your people would say if you asked why they stay at your firm. Not a full-blown employee satisfaction survey like the best places to work surveys. I’ve never been convinced that these are always truthful.

I mean a few simple questions as part of your stay interview initiative.

Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak) gives us three enlightening questions to ask each of your team members. Try asking these questions randomly, one at a time, when interacting with individuals.

  • If you recommended our company as a good place to work to a friend, what would you say?
  • What do you enjoy most about your job? Least?
  • How much of your day are you using your strengths?
  • A lot of people quit looking for work as soon as they find a job.
  • Zig Ziglar

Friday, December 30th, 2022

Look Back & Move Forward

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

I’ve reviewed my posts for 2022 and selected one from each month. Maybe, just maybe, some of these will inspire you to DO THINGS to make your accounting firm, your people, and yourself more successful (and happier in your business life) in 2023.

Here’s wishing you a successful and unstressful 2023!

  • Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
  • John F. Kennedy

Thursday, December 29th, 2022

Be Competitive With Holidays

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

This time of year, there is always talk about holidays. “We get Christmas Eve off.” “We only get a half day on Christmas Eve.” Those kinds of comments flow among your workforce and their friends and relatives.

Are you competitive when it comes to holidays for your employees? There was a recent discussion on the CPAFMA discussion board. By the way, it is worth your membership fee to get access to the discussion board. Some firms reported offering as few as seven paid holidays. I recommend that you provide nine or ten, and several firms do provide that many.

Of course, religious holidays make a difference in some firms, as do state observances.

Here’s a standard 10-day holiday menu offered by CPA firms:

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • The first Friday after April 15th – Tax Holiday
  • May – Memorial Day
  • July – Independence Day
  • September – Labor Day
  • November – Thanksgiving
  • November – The day after Thanksgiving
  • December – Christmas Eve
  • December – Christmas Day
  • Floating – The birthday of the employee or other reason

We all know and have complained about how many holidays Federal employees receive, probably because we don’t get mail on those days. Here’s the Federal holiday listing for 2023. Notice they don’t get the day after Thanksgiving, nor Christmas Eve.

Monday, January 02 * New Year’s Day
Monday, January 16 Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, February 20  Washington’s Birthday
Monday, May 29 Memorial Day
Monday, June 19 Juneteenth National Independence Day
Tuesday, July 04 Independence Day
Monday, September 04 Labor Day
Monday, October 09 Columbus Day
Friday, November 10 * Veterans Day
Thursday, November 23 Thanksgiving Day
Monday, December 25 Christmas Day
If a holiday falls on a Saturday, for most Federal employees, the preceding Friday will be treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes. If a holiday falls on a Sunday, for most Federal employees, the following Monday will be treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes.

I have observed that no matter how generous with holidays and PTO you are with your employees, in a CPA firm, the work always has to get done – and it does.

Enjoy the long New Year’s holiday weekend – Happy New Year!

  • You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.
  • Maya Angelou

Tuesday, December 27th, 2022

Developing Trust

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” – William Shakespeare

Over my many years working in public accounting, I have had many conversations about trust. People feel like they DO have trust within their firms. However, when I talk to partner-only groups or talk to CPA team member-only groups, both sides almost always describe activities that display a definite lack of trust.

To help bring it down to real life, here’s an example I hear over and over.

  • Team member: I don’t know when to tell them I’m leaving; I’m not sure how they will react, they might escort me to the door right away, and that would be embarrassing.
  • Owner: When someone gives notice, we usually ask them to go ahead and leave right away. We’re afraid that they will be such a negative influence on everyone around them.

I have seen cases where the team member is right about being hesitant because owners have demonstrated that you can’t predict their reaction. I’ve also seen cases where the owner should be concerned because the team member would probably spread negative vibes on purpose.

Trust is a tough topic, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. I have often found that partners (owners) don’t trust the staff, and the staff doesn’t trust all of the partners. Think about what you can do about this situation as you work your way through busy season.

Talk about it openly and maybe host a round-table lunch and learn where trust is the topic of discussion. Have each table explore ways to build more trust inside the firm and then take steps to implement some of the ideas.

  • Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.
  • Albert Einstein