Archive for the ‘Firm Administrator’ Category

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Continuous Testing For The CPA Exam

“Testing leads to failure, and failure leads to understanding.” – Burt Rutan

We are hearing a lot about testing, COVID-19 testing. But here is some good news about testing.

If you have been working in pubic accounting for a while you are aware that the CPA Exam has evolved and changed as society and resources have changed.

Beginning July 1, your firm’s candidates will not be confined to a designated time frame.

This from the Journal of Accountancy:

A new “continuous testing” model for CPA Exam candidates is scheduled to make its debut on July 1, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) announced Tuesday.

Under the continuous testing model, candidates will have the ability to take the exam year-round, without restriction, other than waiting to receive scores from previous attempts of the same section or when there is a major change to the exam.

Continuous testing will replace the existing CPA Exam testing window model, which limits candidates to testing during designated time frames in each quarter during the year.

NASBA is continuing to serve as a resource to the boards of accountancy as they advocate for the legislative changes needed to enable the transition. Of the 55 U.S. accountancy jurisdictions, just one (South Carolina) is expected to be unable to offer continuous testing before 2021.

Read the entire article here.

  • I'm forever testing myself. As a person and as an actor, I have no sense of competition.
  • Michael Caine

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Stay Home When You Are Sick

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” – Fannie Lou Hamer

It is tax season. There is a lot of pressure to work extra hours and keep the work flowing through the office and out the door by March 15 and April 15.

I worked in a CPA firm for many years and I rarely missed a day. It was very unusual for a “professional” to call in sick. Sometimes people would drag themselves in, persevere for part of the day and then go home early. This, of course, just help spread the germs throughout the office.

Even if management urged people to stay home when they were sick, it made little difference. Tax season meant you must be at work unless you were drastically sick.

Thank goodness, times have changed. Progressive firms have enabled everyone to do their work remotely. Yet, I still talk with firm leaders who do not offer connectivity to EVERYONE.

A recent study found that 90 percent of the American workforce admits to coming into work when they are not only feeling under the weather but know they are contagious.

Make sure your team members believe you when you tell them to stay home when they are sick.

  • There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

Be Prepared for a Pandemic

“All firms should implement is a remote access technology that allows firm personnel to continue to communicate and collaborate if they must stay home.” – Roman Kepczyk

What would happen if you had several employees become sick or have to stay home with a sick relative, especially during tax season?

So much has been in the news about the current Coronavirus. Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP, CGMA has written a very helpful and informative article on preparing for a pandemic.

Natural disasters and cybersecurity concerns have pushed most firms to develop a disaster response plan in the event of a catastrophic office or systems loss, but few have considered the potential impact of a massive influenza outbreak, such as the current Coronavirus epidemic.

Read the article here.

  • The minute you think you've got it made, disaster is just around the corner.
  • Joe Paterno

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Pay Attention to Collections

“Debt is normal. Be weird.” – Dave Ramsey

During my consulting and advisory work with firms, the collection policy topic comes up on a regular basis. I have posted about this before but I think it might be time to revisit this topic.

Collections are one of those things inside a CPA firm that is fairly simple but that seems to become complicated when you are dealing with multiple partners. My message to CPAs: You are running a business and effective collections is a basic business activity.

Here are my thoughts on CPA firm collections.

A documented, widely published Collection Policy is the foundation for good cash flow.

  • It must come from the top – all owners.
  • They need to meet, discuss all of the options and arguments then come to agreement on what they can truly live with, for the good of the firm.
  • Management drafts the document and all owners review and approve.
  • The written policy is communicated to all team members and is posted on the firm’s Intranet.
  • Everyone involved – managers, staff, controller, administrative assistants, firm administrator thoroughly understands and monitors compliance with the policy
  • AR statements should be mailed monthly to ALL unpaid accounts, with no exceptions.
  • Your collection administrator should routinely write notes/requests on the AR statements when a client is slow to pay.
  • A service fee should be applied for balances over 30 days.
  • I recommend that collection activities should be performed by a part-time administrative person (collection administrator) who is skilled in client communication and has no other priorities. This person’s role is also defined in writing and they operate within certain parameters.
  • They begin calling (not emailing) at 31 days. Some say 45 days but it is better to do it sooner. Often the client has just misplaced your invoice.
  • When the collection administrator exhausts all avenues with a particular, difficult client or when it ages beyond 90 days, it goes back to the partner in charge of the client account for collection, along with Managing Partner involvement. Work stops at the 90-day point.

Also, consider having your firm administrator send a welcome letter to every new client that includes a copy of your collection policy.

The bottom line – all partners must agree to follow the published procedures, if they cannot, they must keep working on the policy until they CAN all agree.

  • If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
  • Earl Wilson

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Banish the Interruptions

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” – Josh Billings

You arrive at the office very early ahead of everyone else. Maybe you get up at 4:30 a.m. and work from home a couple of hours before you leave.

You need more time to get your work done because during the traditional work hours – 8 to 5 – you have too many interruptions. You cannot even walk down the hall to the coffee station without getting stopped by someone asking a question.

You are a “go-to” person and you always give people answers. Maybe you should stop.

Why are people constantly coming to you for answers and guidance? If you have hired the right people, they will not need constant guidance. If you hire B players you will be continually stuck in a squirrel cage. Hire people smarter than you. You have heard that piece of advice for years but do you actually do it?

Develop your team and shield yourself from phone calls, emails and a line outside your door.

Firm administrators, managers, and managing partners – I am talking to you!

 

  • The oldest, shortest words – ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – are those which require the most thought.
  • Pythagoras

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

The “Save the Day” Person

“Some heroes save the day. Other heroes keep the day from needing to be saved.” – from a Mark Sanborn tweet

When I read the above quote, I thought of CPA firm administrators. They are the unsung heroes inside so many successful and profitable accounting firms.

Top-notch firm administrators/practice managers keep the wheels turning, eliminate the hurdles and often “take a bullet” for the sake of the firm and the team.

The best part is, as noted in the above quotation, they keep the day from needing to be saved.

How much are you investing in your “Save the Day” person? Are you spending money to send them to the right conferences? Are you, as partners, standing firmly behind them as they take those daily bullets? Are you investing in their professional growth by providing a coach?

A successful firm administrator shields the partners from the daily grind.

  • Stones in the road? I save every single one, and one day I'll build a castle.
  • Fernando Pesssoa

Thursday, December 26th, 2019

A B C

“Being cool is when you win, you don’t get too happy; and when you lose, you don’t get too mad.” – Ice T

You are responsible for the management of a CPA firm.

It is a challenging role and can often be very stressful.

Don’t ever let them see you rattled. If you are nervous, everyone will be nervous. If you look tired, everyone will be tired. If you are angry, everyone will notice and feel the negative vibes.

That’s why I am suggesting three little words that will be your leadership mantra for 2020 and beyond.

Just remember A – B – C.

ALWAYS BE COOL!

  • If you've gotta think about being cool, you ain't cool.
  • Keith Richards

Friday, December 13th, 2019

Different Policies For Holiday Closings

“The holidays stress people out so much. I suggest you keep it simple and try to have as much fun as you can.” – Giada De Laurentiis

When holidays fall on a Friday, Monday or mid-week, we often wonder if firms are doing anything more than just the one-day holiday.

When it comes to the December/January holidays – Christmas and New Year’s Day – firms differ on what they offer.

I did a quick survey to see what firms were offering this year for Christmas since it falls on a Wednesday.

  • 18.52% – Close only on December 25th
  • 18.52% – Close 1/2 day on December 24th and all-day December 25th
  • 55.56% – Close all day the 24th and 25th
  • 7.41% – Are closing the entire Christmas week

Most firms are just closing one day for New Year’s Day and allowing people to leave a “little early” on New Year’s Eve.

No matter how much time you get off work, celebrate and have fun with family and friends!

  • Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you’re giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism.
  • Caroline Kennedy

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

The Challenge of What Gift to Give Your Employees

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” – Andy Rooney

A very common topic this time of year among CPA firm administrators (and partners) is what kind of gift to give the employees for Christmas.

This difficult task usually lands in the COO/Firm Administrator’s or HR Director’s lap. And, it’s a dangerous minefield. Different generations appreciate different things and finding a “one size fits all” can be a daunting task.

Suzanne Lucas, @RealEvilHRLady, gives us a great list this year. She notes: Here are some ideas, gleaned from real, actual humans, and not marketers. You’ll notice some are contradictory. This isn’t bad editing on my part. It’s reality. Get to know your employees!

Here are a few of the suggestions – but, be sure to read the entire list. Money is always a good choice!

  • My husband’s boss gives his managers steak. We have really appreciated that!
  • If anything, something “consumable.” I don’t want or need any more do-dads. Food is good–a nice bottle of olive oil, a good bottle of balsamic vinegar, anything that can be used and enjoyed and then gone!!
  • $100 gift cards to a nice restaurant have always been my favorite.
  • Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white.'
  • Bing Crosby

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

Tone It Down

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” – Zig Ziglar

You are in a firm meeting. It could be a partner meeting, a staff meeting, a committee meeting or an admin meeting. Someone complains (gripes.. bitches…) and another person joins in and soon there are several on the bandwagon.

Think about it. It probably happens all too frequently. In some cases, the person running the meeting (a manager, partner, firm administrator) actually joins in. They feel like they are sympathizing and showing support for the concerns.

If you are leading a meeting that suddenly turns into a gripe session, don’t join in. Tone it down! You might think you are building camaraderie but you are actually undermining your own credibility.

Take immediate steps to turn these bitch sessions into productive, problem-solving meetings. You might simply say, “Wait a minute, I hear the problem. Let’s talk about solutions.” Enlist the entire group into voicing possible solutions.

  • Everyone has to make their own decisions. I still believe in that. You just have to be able to accept the consequences without complaining.
  • Grace Jones