Archive for the ‘Firm Administrator’ Category

Monday, March 20th, 2023

CPA Firm Administrator/Practice Manager

Too much work and too much energy kill a man just as effectively as too much-assorted vice or too much drink.” – Rudyard Kipling

This blog post is for my dear friends who are (or have been) CPA firm administrators. It comes from Dan Rockwell @Leadershipfreak. Keep this in mind as you make your way through tax season!

Avoid overcommitments.

Repeat after me…

I don’t have to do everything.

The world will keep spinning when I’m gone.

I won’t do other people’s jobs.

  • Stress is the trash of modern life. We all generate it, but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.
  • Danzae Pace

Monday, March 13th, 2023

Decide Who Will Decide

“It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney

When your firm was first founded, probably one, two, or three partners (owners) made all the decisions. Somehow, as the ranks of partners grew, all partners thought that they should be part of every decision.

Think of all the revenue-producing time that was wasted. That’s one reason why the role of firm administrator was created, and the joke that resulted was, “How many partners does it take to decide which printer to buy?”   

The intent of the role of the firm administrator was that administrative and operational aspects of the CPA firm would be better handled by someone solely focused on firm administration and operations. Still, many partners thought that they should be allowed to have an opinion and weigh in on the decision to buy anything that cost more than $100!  

That decision-making format where every partner had a say lasted until the firm had about ten partners. Then an Executive Committee was formed consisting of 3 or 5 partners who still thought they should be involved in daily operations.  

Progressive firms decided that the Managing Partner should actually manage the firm with a chief-of-staff type person – the firm administrator, practice manager, or COO. Of course, owners are kept informed, but their job is to take care of client relationships, attract and mentor younger staff and bring in business.  

In my consulting work, I observe so many firms where group decision-making still thrives. In reality, what really happens is that the group cannot decide, so important decisions are delayed year after year. Not making a decision becomes a decision.  

Is it time for your firm to actually operate like a business? Is it time for your owners to “decide who will decide”?  

  • Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it.
  • Gordon Graham

Thursday, March 9th, 2023

Don’t Get Caught Unprepared

“One of the major keys to success is to keep moving forward on the journey, making the best of the detours and interruptions, turning adversity into advantage.” – John Maxwell

You are often put on the spot. You are the managing partner or the firm administrator (practice manager), and someone stops you in the hallway as you return to your office with a cup of coffee.

They say it is just a quick question. You know better.

Just know that you don’t have to answer every question immediately. Maybe you feel uncomfortable giving them a quick answer. No matter what the topic, just tell them that you’ll have to get back to them.

It is annoying getting put on the spot with random questions. Maybe you really don’t know the answer. It is okay to tell them that you don’t know and will get back to them. It gives you time to think about what they have asked.

Sometimes a quick answer will come back to haunt you.

Once, I heard a great presenter, at a conference, give this advice – If you don’t want to be bothered or interrupted while walking around the office, carry a clipboard and walk fast.

  • Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023


It’s like what we’re doing at this precise moment doesn’t even exist. Everyone is focused on the next thing. Everyone is racing to the next thing.” – Maria Shriver

Sometimes I struggle with our TV remote, especially when I am dealing with various streaming services, the DVD player, and live TV. Which buttons do I push? However, one button I know for sure is the Pause button.

I need a break, I need to think, the phone rings, someone’s at the door – I hit Pause.

If you are working inside a CPA firm, you are in one of the most challenging times of the year. It’s rush, rush, rush. When will that job be done? How much billable time did you have last week? Call so-and-so and have them hurry up and get their information to us.

Years ago, Maria Shriver gave a commencement speech to her daughter’s graduating class titled – The Power Of The Pause – The importance of stopping and evaluating where you are in life. How often have you done that?

Shriver noted, “So remember to pause and reflect before you sign on with someone or some organization whose work you don’t admire and respect. Who you work for is as important as what you do.”

As a CPA firm leader, are you admired by your people? Are you pausing to explain the importance of the work you do? Are you sharing the success stories of your business clients and how an accountant’s role is to serve others and help them become successful? Are you encouraging your valuable people to pause once in a while to reflect on their work, their life, and their families?

You and everyone else at your firm have hectic, busy lives. People get tired, worn down, and lose sight of the positives. For yourself, remember to pause and reflect often. Am I truly happy with my work? Do I trust and admire my partners? Do I value my employees? Am I always honest with my team members? Am I always honest with my family? Am I happy?

  • He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

Anytime, Anywhere Work Survey

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Convergence Coaching has announced the release of the 2022 ConvergenceCoaching® Anytime, Anywhere Work™ (ATAWW) Survey Results Summary! In its sixth edition, the ATAWW Survey examines the adoption of flexible work practices in accounting firms across the country.

The 2022 survey featured a series of questions exploring ATAWW programs as well as remote client service, non-traditional staffing strategies, and cultural shifts required. Some interesting findings include: 

  • 95% offer remote auditing, and the percentage who performed more than half their audits away from the client site soared from 14% in 2020 to 54% in 2022
  • 83% of firms allow Admin and Operations to work remote or blended
  • 81% who employ remote talent hired a “stranger” outside their geography (up from 38% in 2020)
  • 73% don’t dictate when extra hours are worked (no more mandatory Saturdays!)
  • 19% offer Unlimited PTO
  • 12% close the office between Christmas and New Year’s

The full Survey Results Summary is now available for download. In addition, they collected even more interesting data that could not be included in our Survey Results Summary. Click here to access the Anytime, Anywhere Work Bonus Content page. There is also an Accounting Today podcast on the survey results.

  • If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.
  • Henry Ford

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023


“Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more easily assess the situation and see the options.” – Simon Sinek

It seems my entire career has been about change. I came into the CPA profession when it was moving from manual to computerization, and I have never looked back.

I focused my energy on streamlining processes and procedures and keeping up with all the changes that were happening throughout the profession. I have fought many battles with many CPA partners on why change is necessary, and the status quo means their firm will not become a firm of the future. Many partners that didn’t want to change eventually merged up and faced change that was quickly forced upon them.

I have observed that many CPAs are aware that change is happening yet, don’t think it has to be accepted by them. “Life is good, so why change?” seems to be their theme.

So, for all of you struggling with change, this quote from Nathaniel Branden applies:

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”

I hope you are accepting change and moving into the future.

  • My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.
  • Michael J. Fox

Tuesday, February 21st, 2023

Your Dream

“The moment that you begin to think ‘we are great’ your slide towards mediocrity will have begun.” – Jim Collins

Do you have a dream about what the future could hold for you and your firm? Most of us do, even if it is deep down inside us.

It would be great if we could accomplish that! I bet we could get that done! I would be so cool if we could just…….!

If you are old enough, remember when you read Jim Collins’ book Built to Last. He mentioned a BHAG.

BHAG is a concept developed in the book Built to Last. A BHAG (pronounced “Bee Hag,” short for “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”) is a powerful way to stimulate progress. A BHAG is clear and compelling, needing little explanation; people get it right away. Think of the NASA moon mission of the 1960s.

Many firms established a BHAG. I wonder how that turned out.

As for now, I hope you have a dream of what the future might bring. A big and exciting dream. My question for you is in this quote (via @leadershipfreak):

“Are the *habits* you have today on par with the *dreams* you have for tomorrow?” ~Alan Stein, Jr.

  • We must exert self-control in a world that is out of control. 20-mile march, 20-mile march, 20-mile march, day in day out.
  • Jim Collins

Monday, February 6th, 2023

The Director of First Impressions Has Gone By The Wayside

“It only takes one cat – or person – to make another feel welcome and special.” – Laura C. Monteiro

There was an interesting discussion on the CPAFMA Connect discussion board. Several people noted that they no longer have a receptionist at the front desk.

Clients come into the office less frequently, and many team members work from home – times have changed.

I like to call the front desk person the Director of First Impressions because that is what they represent. They have been, and are, the face and voice of the firm. Maybe there is no longer a need for that person in some firms, but I imagine it is still necessary for many firms.

Kim Fitzgerald, PAFM of Squire, Lemkin & Company, allowed me to post her comment.

As of January 1, we no longer have anyone sitting at our front desk. Our front door is locked, and all visitors must ring the doorbell. Like you, our in-office traffic is very minimal these days as the majority of our staff are working remote.  We do have an admin that answers the mainline calls from their desk, but again the majority of our firm members have given out their direct dial numbers, so our phone traffic has become minimal also. I hope you find this helpful.

  • Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.
  • William Shakespeare

Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

Strengthening The Relationship With New Clients

“Don’t say, ‘if I could, I would.’ Say, ‘If I can, I will.’” – Jim Rohn

A new client is landed by one of the firm’s partners. They met several years ago at a Chamber of Commerce business event. The client knows the partner, but how much does he/she know about the firm?

It is important that clients become attached to the firm and not just the partner – for various reasons that some of you know all too well. You don’t want clients to leave the firm just because one person leaves.

Begin building the relationship with the firm at the beginning. In some firms, the first written piece of information a client gets from the firm is an invoice.

After a new client is added to the list, progressive firms send out a warm and friendly welcome letter. Make it different, put it in writing, on paper, and mail it (USPS) to them. It should have a real, written signature on it.

I like to see the letter come from the firm administrator. This helps the client know that there is another person they can contact immediately if needed. Eventually, they will get acquainted with the engagement team and build relationships with several people at the firm. However, in the very beginning, they may have many questions and not feel somewhat lost.

Express your appreciation for them joining the firm. It is also a great time to ensure they know your billing and collection policies. Most new clients always wonder about that but have been hesitant to ask.

Let me know if you would like a sample.

  • You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
  • Abraham Lincoln

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