Archive for the ‘Firms’ Category

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

Establish a Scholarship for Accounting Students

“If anything is going to change in accounting education, it’s going to have to come from practitioners.” – Jason Ackerman, CPA

For the long-term, public accounting firms still need to attract top talent. I have heard all kinds of stories about some firms cutting back on hiring and even laying-off or furloughing people. Sadly, some firms admit that they have used the need to tighten their belts to get rid of poor performers.

One great way to attract talented accounting students to your firm is to sponsor a scholarship program. If your firm hasn’t established one yet, here are some tips from Jason Ackerman of BNA CPAs & Advisors in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I have admired how Jason and Bernie Ackerman continually search for ways to improve their firm since I met them many years ago at an AICPA conference.

Here’s how BNA’s scholarship program works.

To qualify as a BNA scholar, students must want to have an internship and want to become CPAs. During the fall semester, the firm will interview students who are interested; the students selected will receive an internship for the following semester, during tax season. The students will be paid like normal interns; after the internship, if both the firm and the students want to continue, they will receive additional scholarships in the amount of $10,000 per student per year to help pay for CPA exam fees, CPA exam review courses, and college as a whole. In return, the students must agree to pass the CPA exam before graduating and to work for BNA for three years postgraduation.

Read Jason’s entire article, Creating a CPA Scholarship Program, via The CPA Journal.

  • A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
  • Bruce Lee

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Two Words

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw

When I am meeting with team members (without the partners) in a CPA firm or during my sessions at CPA management conferences, I ask the group to quickly write down two words that describe their firm at that very moment.

Here are some examples of what I have received:

  • Organized – Chaos
  • Continually – Frustrated
  • Caring – Challenged
  • Dynamic – Dysfunction
  • Forward – Backward
  • Need – Help
  • Fiefdoms – Abound (one of my favorites)
  • Growing – Pains
  • Fun – Growing
  • No – Decisions
  • Under – Construction
  • And from a sole proprietor – For – Sale!

Two words I like to hear about firms:

  • Relentless – Perseverance
  • Eternally – Optimistic

As leaders, don’t you wonder what two words your team members would use to describe your firm to an outsider?

  • Comfort is the enemy of progress.
  • P. T. Barnum

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

Communication & Inclusiveness

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”  – Jack Welch

To develop an enthusiastic and loyal team it is important to communicate and be inclusive. Firm leaders should be doing this every day.

Many firms take the opportunity to do this on a higher level at least once a year with a full firm retreat, state of the firm event or similarly named gathering. I had the wonderful opportunity yesterday to be part of Kirsch CPA Group’s full firm event in Hamilton, Ohio.

IMG_0878The three partners, John Kirsch, Chad Williams, and Pete Abner each talked to the team about firm performance, future focus and the unveiling of a new training program that will provide each team member with a full-fledged career development plan that is backed up with extensive educational opportunities.

Recruiting and retaining isn’t enough. Now it is about attracting and developing. You want talented accountants to seek out your firm because your brand is a strong magnet for people who want to advance their careers in public accounting.

  • Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.
  • Brian Tracy

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

PCPS 2019 Top Issues

“If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

I should have shared these sooner. 2019 is passing by too quickly.

How does your firm line-up? Hopefully, you have addressed some of these issues this summer.

2019 PCPS Top Issues

Sole Practitioners

  1. Keeping up with changes and complexity of tax laws
  2. Managing privacy / security risks
  3. Keeping up with changes in technology & managing associated costs
  4. Technical training of owners / partners and staff
  5. Seasonality / workload compression

2 – 5 Professionals

  1. Finding qualified staff
  2. Keeping up with changes and complexity of tax laws
  3. Managing privacy / security risks
  4. Seasonality / workload compression
  5. Developing & executing a succession plan

6 – 10 Professionals

  1. Finding qualified staff
  2. Keeping up with changes and complexity of tax laws
  3. Seasonality / workload compression
  4. Managing privacy / security risks
  5. Developing & executing a succession plan

11 – 20 Professionals

  1. Finding qualified staff
  2. Keeping up with changes and complexity of tax laws
  3. Seasonality / workload compression
  4. Retaining qualified staff
  5. Managing Privacy / security tisks

21+ Professionals

  1. Finding qualified staff
  2. Retaining qualified staff
  3. Managing work/life balance initiatives
  4. Owner / Partner accountability & unity
  5. Seasonality / workload compression & Managing privacy/security risks

 

  • There's no use talking about the problem unless you talk about the solution.
  • Betty Williams

Friday, September 13th, 2019

Working the Weekend

“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” – Rita Mae Brown

It’s Friday the 13th. The September extension due date is Monday because the 15th falls on Sunday.

In progressive, efficient and profitable firms, Friday is the final day, the due date. They won’t be delivering tax returns at the last minute on Monday.

Their valuable team will not be working this Saturday and Sunday.

If you are not in this group, you should strive to attain this practice when future due dates roll around.

 

  • As you schedule individual tasks, give yourself a cushion. Mark the due date a few days ahead of the actual deadline so you have time to deal with changes or last-minute emergencies.
  • Harvey Mackay

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Many Firms Are Adding An Extra Holiday – July 5th

“Holidays – any holiday – are such a great opportunity to focus on bringing the family together.” – Lidia Bastianich

Many firms do actually close their office on Fridays during the summer months. I was curious about how many additional firms were going to close this year on Friday, July 5th and treat their team to a four-day weekend.

I surveyed firms of all sizes all across the country. Replies came from Ohio, Vermont, Georgia, Connecticut, Oregon, Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois, California, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Dakota.

The majority of firms are closing. Several are assuming most people will take a PTO day. To me, this means someone must be in the office for calls and visitors. Some have very creative ways of handling “bonus” days and a few are very generous (allowing 2 extra days off or more).
60% of those responding are closing, 30% are not and 10% are closing but it will be charged to PTO. One firm closes for the entire week because “it is our slowest week of the year.” Another firm allows one floating holiday for each summer month (June, July, August) and assumes most people will use July 5th as their floater. And, one larger firm has unlimited PTO and assumes most people will request July 5 but the office will be open. A western firm notes that they always close the day after July 4th no matter what day it falls because most of their team will be out late watching fireworks and celebrating.
I hope this information will be helpful to you in planning for the future. This year December 23rd is a Monday (and most firms now have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as holidays). You have time to decide how you will handle that quiet business day. Being generous is never a bad thing.
  • Liberty is the breath of life to nations.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Reminder – A Message About the Rosenberg Survey

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Participate now so you can receive our benchmarking report which contains nearly 200-pages of data, benchmarks, key statistics, and commentary from leading consultants!
Did you know?
The Elite Firms from our 2018 survey (firms with income per partner > $500,000) had the following metrics:
  • Net fees per person – $211,000
  • Net fees per equity partner – $2,250,000
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.
  • A robust pool of over 350 participants makes our data relevant to firms of all sizes.
  • Clear cut data displayed by firm size for comparison.
Click the link below today to take part!
 
The deadline to participate is Monday, July 15th. (Thank you for those firms that have participated thus far.)

 

  • Great firms continually reinvent themselves.
  • Marc Rosenberg

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Make Your Website (and your Brand) Unique – Here’s a Great Example!

“If you want success, be unique.” – Natalie Massenet

Occasionally, I like to share CPA firm unique websites. I see so many that are static, boring and usually blue. Last year, I featured Bernie & Jason Ackerman of BNA CPAs & Advisors, one of my favorites. I love how they tell visitors to their site how they deliver a tax return in 3 days.

Logo

This year, I just had to share the site of my good friends at Barton CPA & Associates. Their light-hearted and fun approach to business is simply refreshing.

When you get to their homepage, page down to see a picture of their lobby – tasteful, contemporary and colorful. Keep paging down to see other pictures: Part of their team, their conference room and a team picture at some kind of celebration. It sure looks festive and I don’t use the word “festive” about CPA firm websites often – well, never!

Check out the pictures on Greg Barton’s Twitter site. I love the March 23 tweet showing Greg in his office. Does your office look this good (and clean)?

Browse around the site. They have an Instagram account and Facebook, of course. I hope it gives you some ideas for taking action soon to update your site and inspiration to not take yourself too seriously.

A big thanks to Greg and Dee Dee for allowing me to share their excellent branding efforts and their uniqueness!

  • Uniqueness is what makes you the most beautiful.
  • Lea Michele

Monday, May 6th, 2019

Everyone Loves Them

“Safety and comfort come with complacency, and that’s never a good place to be working from.” – Elijah Wood

Many firms are already providing stand-up desks to their team members. Most of what I have heard has been very positive. While I don’t have one myself, I have visited several clients and checked them out first-hand. It seems they are greatly appreciated.

If you want to provide them to your people, you can do it in phases to make it more affordable. Big surprise, certain partners got them first but now firms are even providing them to the entire admin team.

Here’s a real-life report from Karen Farino, Firm Administrator at Pasquesi Sheppard LLC, Lake Forest, Illinois:

“I definitely recommend the sit/stand desks. If you can I highly suggest purchasing a sit to stand desk rather than a unit that sits on top of the desk.

We have replaced 90% of our desks over the last two years with Sit to Stand desks from Haworth. They are “L” shaped and we had them custom made. It is really very affordable. Everyone here LOVES them. Our managing partner likes his so much that we bought one for his home too.

standupdeskThe L desk is 69” in each direction from the corner, and 29” deep. You can custom size them smaller. I am attaching a photo – it isn’t the greatest but will give you an idea as to what we did.

Our admin staff is stuck with the Varidesk units on top of their desks. They like them but don’t love them because when you are standing there is still a lot of items that are on the desk that they have to access which means it is inconvenient and you have to bend down. Not optimal. They also all have two monitors (by choice). If they had three the Varidesk units would not work. I’ve yet to see a decent three monitor sit-to-stand desktop unit. Each admin has their own printer and scanner at their desk.”

How about an office refresh project for your firm this summer?

  • Instead of being 'heads down' we should be 'heads up' so we can spot trends.
  • Josh Linkner

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Forward Thinking

“Embrace your uniqueness. Time is much too short to be living someone else’s life.” – Kobi Yamada

Did you know that Aprio is the only top 100 firm with a non-traditional name? Read more about Aprio and why they changed their name here.

I have known people at the firm for more than 20 years and have always been impressed with their forward-thinking actions. Look over their homepage and notice how they focus on “advisory” first. They are an “advisory, assurance, tax and private client services” firm.

Under “About Aprio” they say: As a premier, CPA-led business advisory firm.. etc.

How are you positioning your firm? If you call yourself advisors more often maybe you will become more advisory focused. The larger CPA firms have already evolved to being CPA-led firms meaning a large percentage of their employees are not CPAs. How are you planning for that evolution? Have you ever thought about it?

I have observed that most firms have fairly boring taglines. Here’s Aprio’s tagline: “Passionate for what’s next.” That seems to say a lot.

 

  • Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.
  • Margaret Mead