Archive for the ‘Firm Administrator’ Category

Monday, December 20th, 2021

Thoughts on Why

“Some men see things as they are, and say why. I dream of things that never were and say why not. – Robert F. Kennedy

Why are some firms not having a serious people shortage and others are desperately looking for people?

  • It might be about your brand and reputation.
  • Are you the cool firm in town or are you the old school firm?
  • Do you have team members who you should have let go about five years ago?
  • Do you have abusive clients who you can never simply “pull the plug” on?
  • Do you close the week between Christmas and New Years?
  • Do you fully fund and support team members efforts to pass The Exam?
  • Do you aggressively delegate work downward or just keep doing it yourself?
  • Do you have (and reward) a qualified, professional firm administrator?
  • Do you invest in coaching and training for your firm administrator?
  • Do you provide the needed training so managers can actually manage and excite their direct reports?
  • Do you struggle with managing remote employees?

Early January is a good time to do a management review of your own firm? Gather your leaders and identify the pros and cons of working for your firm? Where are the pain points? What have you been ignoring for years?

  • Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present.
  • Bil Keane

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021


“Take a long pause, breathe and know that things are happening for you, not to you.” – Ashton Kutcher

You are in a management position in an accounting firm. You might be the managing partner, COO, firm administrator, office manager, practice manager, HR director, marketing director, or technology director.

So many of you are so busy that you rarely find time to pause and consider what you are doing and why you are doing it. It’s possible that you have gone through your whole career just working and living and adopting other people’s ideas as your own.

During the holiday season, it is a wonderful time for reflection. Pause and find time to come to some conclusions about yourself, your life, and your career.

Of course, it is better if you do this early in your career but it is never too late. Accounting can be a wonderful career where you are continually challenged with helping other people. But, is it the right career for you? It has been for me.

  • The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
  • Mark Twain

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

They Are Watching You

“By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.” – Robert Frost

If you are a partner or a firm administrator in a CPA firm, you are a leader (a boss). Never forget that everyone is watching you. I’m sure you have seen some of those cute videos via social media where the parent performs some simple act and the baby (not even a year old) will mimic them almost immediately.

That’s what your team members will do.

If you always give people compliments and encouragement they will do the same. If you are short-tempered and reserved, they will eventually take on these characteristics.

More importantly, if you work 12 hours a day (as the above quote mentions), they will assume they must also work 12 hours a day. Soon, they will realize that public accounting is not for them. This is why so many firms have succession issues – no one to replace partners as they retire.

If you are keeping up with all the news about resignations and the talent shortages now and the lack of students seeking a career in public accounting in the future, you know that this is happening right now.

Be careful of the example you are setting and remember they are watching you with a magnifying glass because YOU are the boss.

  • I wish I were brave, although I try. I work too hard and don't play enough. Too much work ethic, not enough 'fun'.
  • Danielle Steel

Thursday, November 11th, 2021

So Much To Do Before Year-End

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates

I have covered the topic of being too busy many times over the years in writing this blog. Why? Because it is the term I continue to hear over and over again from partners, firm administrators, and others working inside a growing CPA firm.

It seems you are always too busy to actually think, plan, reflect and even enjoy a beautiful Fall day. When you dig deep into why you are too busy it usually uncovers the fact that it is because of the choices you make.

Maybe it is time you examine those choices you have been making.

Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” What did he mean by that? Here’s an explanation:

Socrates‘ claim that the unexamined life is not worth living makes a satisfying climax for the deeply principled arguments that Socrates presents on behalf of the philosophical life. The claim is that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value.

In your CPA work life, if you are always saying you are so busy or too busy, why would clients and referral sources refer others to you? Make it a rule to never say the “B” (busy) word in the office. Anyone caught saying BUSY must drop $1.00 into the money jar in the break room. Soon you will have enough money (and maybe enough time) for a great party!

  • It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?
  • Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, November 4th, 2021


“A committee can make a decision that is dumber than any of its members.” – David Coblitz

I have observed that most CPA firms have too many committees.

Have you ever served on a committee? I’m sure you have. My experience is that at committee meetings there is a lot of discussions, sometimes debates, and even arguments. After the meeting, not much gets accomplished, and then time goes by and it’s time for the next committee meeting.

If you have a mid-size firm (say, 25-50 people), you have a Managing Partner and a Firm Administrator. Most internal operational issues are handled by the firm administrator with oversight by the MP, while always keeping the other partners informed. Having a committee of partners for anything other than a partner compensation committee is a waste of valuable time, time that could be used to serve clients or bring in new business.

I do believe that a CPA firm should have a Tax Committee and an A&A Committee. Each committee is headed by one partner and comprised of tax or A&A managers, even some seniors and the firm administrator. The other management or operational areas, such as HR, facilities, firm financial, marketing, etc. are handled by the MP and FA (with admin assistance). Once the firm grows, you add an HR Director, Marketing Director, and so on. These support professionals work under the guidance of the MP and FA. The annual salary increase exercise is handled by the MP and FA and approved by the partner group.

If you have a special need for a certain project, such as rolling out new software, establish a task force comprised of people at different levels in the firm. When the project is done, the task force ceases to exist.

Keep in mind if too many people are “in charge”, not much happens. Someone needs to be accountable. Of course, the size of the firm, rate of growth, and geographic location all influence these topics.

Bottom line, if you have a firm administrator/practice manager, empower them and hold them accountable.

  • A camel is a horse designed by a committee.
  • Alec Issigonis

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021

I Should Have…

“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.” – Ernest Hemingway, Old Man and The Sea

I recently read The Old Man and The Sea. It is one of those classics that I have always meant to read but never did. It is a short novel and one of Hemingway’s best-known.

Referring to the above quotation, I am reminding you that it is late in the year and time is running out for that list of management to do’s you wished you had accomplished earlier in the year.

Don’t agonize over what you didn’t get done. Think of what you can accomplish with what time that is left in 2021. Then, get busy!

  • Courage is grace under pressure.
  • Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

Have You Earned Your Title?

“Let them think I am more of a man than I am and I will be so.” – Ernest Hemingway

I am inspired by the Hemingway quote above. Are you?

Here’s my take on the Firm Administrator title: “Let them think I am more of a firm administrator than I am and I will be so.”

To all of you firm administrators out there. Are you truly a fully skilled, empowered, professional firm administrator? Or, are you perhaps just a gal/guy Friday only doing what others want to be done? Not that there is anything wrong with that. CPA partners are very poor at implementing. If you are doing this for them, it is a very valuable activity.

However, is it time for you to break out and become a decision-maker? Are you the one bringing new ideas to the firm, researching and investigating those ideas, “selling” them to the partners… then implementing?

Do you always have to check with the managing partner before you proceed with almost any non-routine duty? Hopefully, you are making all of the daily operational decisions on your own, of course, keeping the partners informed but not always having to ask permission.

If CPAs want their firm administrators to earn their keep, they must empower them and always have their back. When partners are approached with operational questions from staff, they must always be willing to say, “I don’t have that answer, you must ask (fill in the name) the firm administrator.”

Sure, at times you will have some doubts and maybe be nervous about far you push it. Just keep telling yourself, “Let them think I am more of a firm administrator than I am and I will be so.”

All of this also applies to the Managing Partner – – – “Let them think I am more of a managing partner than I am and I will be so.”

  • Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.
  • Seth Godin

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Don’t Give Up

“‘Oh well’, said Miss Marble, ‘it’s just perseverance, isn’t it, that leads to things.'” — Agatha Christie

The Agatha Christie crime sleuth, Miss Jane Marple, consistently solves murder cases by demonstrating perseverance.

The many issues that need attention inside a busy, growing accounting firm must be attacked in the same way. Simply persevere!

Firm Administrators/Practice Managers, now that October 15th has passed, are facing a formidable list of things to do.

One administrator shared a list of things that need to be addressed before year-end:

  • We need to become truly and wholly paperless.
  • We need to hire a Tax Manager!
  • We need to hire an additional administrative professional.
  • Our website needs to be updated!
  • We must upgrade our phone system.
  • We are adding a new server (we are not in the cloud yet!).

Plus, just the daily occurrences that need attention from any firm administrator.

Many of you are facing similar challenges as the year draws to a close. It won’t be easy but keep in mind Miss Marple’s quote, above. Perseverance pays off!

  • Success comes from curiosity, concentration, perseverance, and self-criticism.
  • Albert Einstein

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

What Employees Want

“We can – and need to – focus on the right things now, so employees know the company is prepared to invest in their success.” – Sharlyn Lauby

According to a recent survey from Sharlyn Lauby (@HRBartender) the top two reasons employees would leave an organization are:

  • Increased opportunities for advancement.
  • Better compensation and benefits

This survey was not specifically for the CPA profession but I would guess that your current employees want the same thing. Lacking these two factors might cause some people to find other employment opportunities.

I was surprised that lack of flexibility was not one of the reasons people would leave but maybe because employers have, in general, embraced flexible work arrangements for almost everyone.

Do you know the reasons why your team members might leave your firm? Maybe it is time you did your own survey.

Young people entering the CPA profession today want to know what their career path would look like. Are you prepared to give them a clear picture of how that works at your firm? As to better compensation and benefits, I have found that most CPA firm employees are fairly satisfied in that area although I believe starting salaries should be enhanced as much as possible.

  • Money is usually attracted, not pursued.
  • Jim Rohn

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

The Rosenberg Survey

“Great firms continually reinvent themselves.” – Marc Rosenberg

The 2021 Rosenberg Survey is NOW available!

Each year The Rosenberg Survey does an analysis to see which metrics have the strongest correlation to profitability, as measured by income per partner. It never fails, the Top 4 are all related to leverage and rates!  As we work with firms who are struggling with profitability, we start by looking at their various leverage ratios followed by comparing their billing rates to like-sized firms in like-sized markets. 
CLICK HERE to Order the Survey!
The Rosenberg Survey, a comprehensive benchmarking study for CPA firms, is now available! Our Survey is nearly 200 pages, full of dozens of metrics, ratios and analyses of accounting firm financial performance. Order your book today and receive valuable data to help guide your firm. The fee for the Survey is $500. For questions, please contact us at (314) 209-0922 or email
  • Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.
  • Mark Twain