Archive for the ‘Firm Administrator’ Category

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

GOFER or NOT?

 “In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.” – Jeff Bezos

Is your firm administrator (aka, Practice Manager) a gofer or a take-charger?

Many CPA firms have various titles for the person this person. Often it depends on the size of the firm. It could be an office manager, executive assistant, firm administrator, director of administration, chief operating officer, practice manager, and others.

No matter what the title, the mission is the same, to save partners valuable time. What the partners do with that “saved” time is a topic for another day.

It is an executive position and, over time, takes complete responsibility for the operations of the firm. This means everything that goes on behind the scenes. Most Practice Manager job descriptions are quite expansive and include processes, procedures, human resources, financial activities, marketing, facilities, and technology. If you need a sample job description, let me know.

If your managing partner is using this person as a gofer (someone who just does what they are told and immediately reports back), you’ve got it all wrong.

It is a take-charge position and if you have someone who is happy being a gofer, you’ve got the wrong person.

If you are in this role and not operating at a take-charge level, don’t hesitate to speak up and ask for more responsibility, training, and education. So much is available via the CPA Firm Management Association.

  • Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
  • Steve Jobs

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

Trust Those Around You

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway

Trust is a word that is thrown around the CPA profession all of the time. “Most Trusted Advisor” is familiar to most of you. CPAs have been claiming that mantra for many years now.

I see that the AICPA even has a Trusted Client Advisor Toolbox and Workshop.

Let’s explore trust a little deeper as it exists inside accounting firms. Here’s a familiar story about firm administrators. The administrator is an experienced professional. He/She takes over most of the day-to-day operations of the firm from the partners and implements procedures to make processes flow smoothly inside the firm. Soon the managing partner is distanced from the details (a very good thing) and can focus on managing the partners. The managing partner trusts that the firm administrator will take care of things.

Trust imparts obligation. The firm administrator takes that responsibility very seriously and works diligently to not disappoint the partners.

In my consulting work, I have experienced many situations where staff members do not trust the partners (owners). Building trust that goes both ways is a continual activity in a firm with a healthy culture. Not there yet? Keep working at it.

  • Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.
  • Warren Bennis

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

Silence

“Sometimes you don’t have to say anything. Silence speaks it all.” – Disha Patani

During each day, you get an enormous amount of questions.

You are the firm administrator. It seems like people are lined up outside your office door continually as the day evolves.

You are the managing partner. A client calls and expects an answer on the spot. A partner stops you in the hall and asks a question. Your firm administrator needs an answer right away!

Partners and managers get questions from staff. Staff members get questions from each other. It seems everyone asking questions think YOU must have an easy and quick answer.

Try a little silence. In appropriate situations, just remain silent and the person asking the question just might answer it themselves.

If you are stopped in the hallway and asked a question say: “Let me think about that and I’ll get back to you.” Often, people catch you off guard and it is much safer to deflect, think and then reply.

Delay doesn’t mean days or weeks, it means minutes or hours.

One of the main insights I receive from staff is that they often wait on answers from partners (mostly regarding client work) for days, weeks and sometimes months.

  • He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Billing For Administrative Time

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy

One practice management question that has been asked many times over the years is whether administrative team members should charge their time to a client.

If your firm is still billing by the hour, all employees whether admin team or accounting team should record any time expended on behalf of a client. Whether it is billed or not is up to the discretion of the biller, usually a partner. I have observed that in many firms, most, if not all, of this time is billed.

The accounting firm administrative team spends a great deal of their time on client work. They are providing service on behalf of a client. Serving the client is a valuable and important activity.

Some clients are more “needy” than others and often much of that neediness for service falls to the admin team.

I have also observed that administrative team members focused on client work are usually only about 30-40% chargeable.

 

  • Time has more value than money. You can get more money but you cannot get more time.
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Get Moving!

“A plan that starts next week is a comfort to stagnation.” – Dan Rockwell

It is past mid-June. You have conducted your after-tax-season debriefing. You made a list of things to work on for next year. Action steps were discussed.

Many partner groups have already had their retreats. You came out of that session excited about the future and with some definite action steps.

How many steps have you taken? Have you taken even one? Get moving – summer is flying by.

  • I will prepare and some day my chance will come.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Important Survey

“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.” – John Naisbitt

My friends at ConvergenceCoaching®, LLC, are committed to helping firms succeed through the adoption of NextGen strategies, including flex. They are seeking participants in their Anytime, Anywhere Work™ Survey 2018.

The goal of this survey is to collect data on the adoption of flexible work programs (Anytime, Anywhere Work™ programs) by public accounting firms and the experiences firms have had with these initiatives.

Follow the link to find out more and please consider participating in the survey. The survey is open through June 15. By participating you will receive a copy of the survey results.

  • It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

To Act is Hard

“To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.” ~ Goethe 

Read the above quote again.

Many CPAs working in public accounting will soon be participating in their firm’s annual partner, management or firm retreat.

You will THINK and explore many great ideas.

I urge you – act in accordance with your thinking.

  • You will never plow a field if you only turn it over in your mind.
  • Irish Proverb

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Participate In The Rosenberg Survey

“Knowledge is power.” – Francis Bacon
I eagerly look forward to the release of the Rosenberg Survey each year. I use it extensively in my consulting work. Now is the time for your firm to fill out the survey and participate.
Here’s the information to that you can take part:
THE ROSENBERG SURVEY – SURVEY NOW OPEN
For two decades, The Rosenberg Survey has provided accounting firms with key benchmark statistics.
Did you know?
The Elite Firms from our 2017 survey (firms with income per partner > $500k) had the following metrics:
  • Ratio of staff to equity partner – 8.6 (vs. an average of 5.1 for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
  • Net fees per equity partner – $2,180,000 (vs. an average of $1.2 million for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
  • Charge hours for professional staff – 1,510 (vs. an average of 1,492 for firms with fees between $2-10 million)
Why is The Rosenberg Survey Valuable?
  • Customized comparison of like-sized firms in similar markets for participating firms.
  • Accurate and valid results reviewed by three CPAs.
  • Reliable year to year comparison with a return rate of 82% from previous year’s participants.
  • Robust pool of participants of nearly 350 firms makes our data relevant to firms of all sizes.
  • Clear cut data displayed by firm size for comparison.
 
The deadline to participate is July 16th. (Thank you to those firms that have participated thus far.)
  • Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.
  • William Pollard

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Maybe There Are Too Many Reruns

“I do not like to repeat successes, I like to go on to other things.” – Walt Disney

Interesting post by Bill Carlino of Transition Advisors last week about the value of the numerous conferences that are held each year targeted to those work in or with the CPA profession.

Already, and it is just mid-May, I have observed (via Twitter) numerous conferences and meetings focused on educating CPAs on many of the same, recurring topics I have listened to for years and years. In addition to the re-run experience, it is very expensive to attend these conferences. While CPA firm administrators, new to the profession, obtain huge educational value from their national practice management conference, many partners refuse to spend the money to send them.

Take a minute or two to read Carlino’s post. Great post, Bill!

  • Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress, but I repeat myself.
  • Mark Twain

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

May Day & Mayday

“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” – William Shakespeare

May 1 is the 121st day of the year (122nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 244 days remaining until the end of the year. Historically, it originated as a Roman festival honoring the beginning of the summer season (in the northern hemisphere). Many, when they think of May Day, think of people dancing around a Maypole (a pole painted and decorated with flowers, around which people traditionally dance on May Day, holding long ribbons that are attached to the top of the pole.)

Mayday, an international radio distress signal used especially by ships and aircraft, has a more linguistic origin than the pragmatic approach of S.O.S. Although a connection to the month of May might seem likely, it is actually an anglicization of the French m’aidez or m’aider, meaning “help me”.

Where am I going with this as it relates to public accounting?

You have relaxed, taken some time off and recovered from the traditional busy season. May 1st is here and you should celebrate, but you only have 244 days remaining to focus on making improvements to position your firm for success before you are faced with another busy season.

You, as an individual can’t do it alone. Enlist the help of many at your firm. Never hesitate to say, “Help me!”

  • With the coming of spring, I am calm again.
  • Gustav Mahler