Archive for the ‘Firm Administrator’ Category

Monday, September 21st, 2020

Tax Document Automation

“Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates.

In his August 2020 column for CPA Practice Advisor, Randy Johnston gives you valuable information about automating your tax documents.

Many advisors seem to recommend the same tax automation strategies no matter what the size of your firm. Johnston suggests that one size does not fit all.

Did you have to send your administrative team into the office to scan documents so the staff could work remotely? This happened at many firms and put the admin team at risk for COVID.

In the article Johnston covers:

  • What is the right tax document automation?
  • What tools are most effective, provide the highest ROI, or are easy to miss?
  • Decide the right thing for you, your firm, and your clients.

Capitalize on Johnston’s helpful guidance by reading the article here.

  • The robots of the cartoons and movies from the 1970s are going to be the reality of the 2020s
  • Alec Ross

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

Difficult People

“If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.” – John W. Gardner

In my firm, I remember people asking to attend those personal improvement seminars that were advertised by flyers arriving in the U.S. Mail.

They were one-day seminars sponsored by some seminar organization. It was usually focused on things like improving your communication skills, how to supervise people if you were a first-time supervisor, time management techniques, etc. They were very affordable and many people did gain some benefit.

There was one that always caught the attention of my admin team and some beginning staff members – – How To Work With Difficult People!

The team would say, “This is one we really need to attend!” It was more or less a joke for them but I believe they were really trying to express the frustration they felt with some partners/managers.

I wonder how the people feel in your firm. Maybe you need a lunch and learn on this topic!

  • When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.
  • Dale Carnegie

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

Childcare

“I sustain myself with the love of family.” – Maya Angelou

School districts across the country are opening up. There is no consistency. From state-to-state and even district-to-district schedules are varying. Some are part-time in-person classes mixed with online learning. Some schools will be full-time online for many weeks.

This does present huge problems to working adults. The kids needs a parent to help guide them through the online learning maze.

Has hour firm explored the benefits you can provide to help your valued staff deal with this new reality. You need them and their family need them. PwC has increased/modified their benefit package per an informative article via Accounting Today.

They are offering:

  • Protected time
  • Reduced schedules
  • Compressed workweek
  • Flex-time
  • Sabbatical
  • Backup care reimbursement
  • Tutoring services

Read the article to learn more about each offering. Hopefully, it will give you some ideas about what to do for your team and their families.

  • Family is a life jacket in the stormy sea of life.
  • J. K. Rowling

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Putting Out Fires – Flashback Friday

“Really, most of us just focus on what’s in front of us. We’re too busy putting out the fires of everyday life.” – Aidan Quinn

This week’s flashback is focused on a recurring challenge that faces managing partners and, especially, firm administrators.

Have a great weekend.

  • You get to decide where your time goes. You can either spend it moving forward, or you can spend it putting out fires. You decide. And if you don't decide, others will decide for you.
  • Tony Morgan

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

Rejection Letters

“To the old, the new is usually bad news.” – Eric Hofer

I often get requests from my clients (and others) for samples of various types of letters. I have observed that CPAs are much more open to new ideas, processes, etc. if they can see samples.

That’s why a recent article via HBR seemed an important one to share. It is titled, Writing a Rejection Letter (with Samples).

I am sure there are many instances where you must turn someone down. You know, let them down gently. I believe it is the proper thing to to when you have interviewed a job candidate and decided they were not the best fit for the job. It can often be an unpleansant task so do not put it off!

Keep in mind that you don’t have write a long or detailed explanation. The article suggests four steps:

  1. Say thanks.
  2. Deliver the news.
  3. Give the main reason.
  4. Offer hope.

Read the entire article. The samples are very helpful.

  • Bad news isn't wine. It doesn't improve with age.
  • Colin Powell

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Act Upon Your Ideas

“Without hustle talent will only carry you so far.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

It is so exciting to go to a conference (or attend virtually) and obtain all kinds of ideas that spark your own ideas. You are invigorated, enthused, and committed to meeting with others on your team and sharing your ideas and intentions.

Then you get sidelined. The phone rings and a client or two or three need something and that seems more important than your idea. You will take care of these clients needs and then work more on that great idea.

Then you get sidelined. Your partners remind you that you have to get that selection of a new software finalized. You have to deal with performance feedback sessions and then you will work more on that great idea.

Someone else in thee firm talks about a great idea that is similar to yours. They work on getting others involved and soon that great ideas is becoming reality.

They found the time to get it done. You did not. They made it a top priority. You did not. You intended to do it but they made the time and succeeded.

Have you ever, in a meeting, a class or a training session, whispered a great comment to the person sitting next to you, and then they raise their hand and vocalize the great comment? It happened to some of us in high school or college. It happened to some of us in a staff meeting. It makes you feel sad and resentful.

Next time, raise your hand, speak up, and take action. You have the time, you just did not make it a top priority. Intending to get it done someday is no longer an option.

  • The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.
  • Steve Harvey

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

Billing Clients

“Never take your eyes off the cash flow because it’s the life blood of business.” – Richard Branson

Billing clients should be routine. It should be a well- established habit. It’s not difficult so don’t make it so.

Document your billing guidelines and then live by them. Much of the task of billing clients can be automated now. Your admin team can assist in making the process easier.

Billing clients was a recent discussion on the CPAFMA discussion board. If you are not a member, the discussion board by itself is worth the annual dues.

Victoria LeStrange, is the firm administrator for Heymann, Suissa & Stone P.C. of Rockville, MD. The process she shared is very similar to what I recommend. Teach your partners how to use the software! In this day and age, partners must be computer proficient.

Here’s Ms. LeStrange’s firm’s process:

Each partner does their own billing from soup to nuts.   It’s all done onscreen with CCH AXCESS…we typically bill business clients on the 16th of each month and most all bills are done and emailed by the end of the day. Individual tax returns are often billed upon completion.

Many firms bill weekly, especially during busy season. Again, the software and the admin team facilitate the process. Individual tax returns should be billed immediately upon delivery.

An efficient billing and collection process speeds up cash flow. That should be very important to your partner group.

  • Entrepreneurs believe that profit is what matters most in a new enterprise. But profit is secondary. Cash flow matters most.
  • Peter Drucker

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Helping

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Maya Angelou

The above quote is another one that immediately reminded me of CPAs.

When you are a recent college graduate with an accounting degree you just want to get hired and begin to explore your career in public accounting. It is an exciting time, a stressful time. You work hard, and often long hours, to become more knowledgeable and to gain skills in dealing with clients, peers and bosses. It takes both hands… and a lot more.

Helping is a word to keep in mind as you advance in your career. When you began, you soon discovered that you were needed to help others. You became the person that new hires came to with questions and depended on for guidance.

When you became a manager and then, perhaps, a partner, you found that you had matured and began to think more like the above quote. You do not sell something to clients, you help them become more successful. You still use one hand to advance your own success but you never forget to use the other hand to mentor and coach your team and to advise and guide your clients.

  • No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.
  • Charles Dickens

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

COOs, Firm Administrators, Marketing & HR Directors

“That leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less”.  – John Maxwell

In the CPA firm world, if you are a support professional such as a firm administrator/practice manager, COO, HR director, marketing director, or chief information officer, you are not a partner in the firm.

Yet, you are a leader and although you might not have the power that goes along with being a partner, you have something that is just as powerful. You have influence. You gain influence by being a role model.

You can accomplish just as much, and probably more, with influence as the partners can with power. You use positive affirmation and encouragement to get people to do things and to buy-in to change.

You lead with influence by getting to know people. You are the one who knows everyone’s name, their spouse’s name, and even their kids’ names. You always have a positive attitude. You are a mentor to others, officially and unofficially. Recognizing people is something you continually do.

You also use your great power of influence in an upward manner. You might not be able TO MAKE partners change but you can apply constant, gentle, pressure to influence them to change. It works!

So, don’t worry about power. Utilize the influence you have and use it to your advantage and to move your firm and its people forward.

  • Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.
  • Albert Einstein

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

Need A Degree?

“Just because I don’t have a college degree doesn’t mean I am not smart.” – Emma Stone

Are you only hiring people for your CPA firm who have a degree?

I have observed that in many accounting firms there are many people who do not have a college degree. On the other hand, I have also observed, in some accounting firms, even the administrative people have a degree.

I was surprised by this statement from Barry Melancon a few years ago: Today we are a profession of CPA-led firms, not CPA firms. Two-thirds of the employees in all firms are non-CPAs.

I found this stat to be quite eye-opening. Clients need all kinds of services to help their businesses grow and prosper, not just what a licensed CPA can provide. Many of you are already providing pension administration, M&A consulting, employee benefits, HR consulting, technology services, and so on.

With Client Accounting Services (CAS) becoming more and more lucrative, many firms are desperate for experienced bookkeepers and they are almost always people without a four-year degree.

Does it really require a degree to do much of the work inside a CPA firm?

You may have noticed that many college graduates are being hired to do jobs that their parents could get right out of high school.

Read this informative article via Inc. – Why Your Barista Probably Has a College Degree

  • I don't have a college degree, and my father didn't have a college degree, so when my son, Zachary, graduated from college, I said 'My boy's got learnin'!
  • Robin Williams