Archive for the ‘Firms’ Category

Monday, April 25th, 2022

The Managing Partner (CEO)

“If you are the CEO, you are the brand.” — George Farris

The above quotation inspired this post. If you are the Managing Partner, you are the brand.

CPA firms operate under the partnership model even if they are not legally a partnership. There is a group of owners, usually titled partners. They elect one partner to take on the role of Managing Partner (MP), meaning he/she is the person charged with managing and leading the firm.

Larger firms have mostly evolved to a more structured system where an executive committee, led by the MP, deals with most firm management decisions. But, the majority of firms in the U.S. are considered smaller and the MP leads the firm. The role has great responsibility but yet, the other partners still want to be involved in almost everything! Still, the MP is expected to be out and about in the community being the visible “face” of the firm. The MP is on various community and charitable boards, attends many civic events, and speaks at various venues when given the opportunity. The MP really does generate and develop a brand for the firm.

Something I have often heard from MPs is the fact that they have become the firm’s MP because no one else wanted the job! Makes me sad. It is such an opportunity if you do it right, for the individual and for the firm. A great MP should be rewarded substantially because of the management duties plus they are expected to have a significant client load. They should be bringing in business and passing it along to other partners.

My simple reminder today is that as MP, you should never lose sight of the fact that you have a responsibility to build the firm brand. The firm brand determines how many clients you will attract and how many accounting graduates and other prospective employees decide to join the firm.

If you want to learn more about the role, there is a great webinar coming up on May 3 titled, The Role of the ManagingPartner: A Guide for Managing Partners to Achieve Greatness for Their Firms. It is via CPA Leadership Institute and presented by Gary Adamson.

  • It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.
  • Warren Buffett

Monday, January 31st, 2022

Be Generous

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes I am puzzled by CPA firms. I know, you are probably laughing out loud right now! After so many years working with CPA firms, you would think I would have a complete understanding of what makes CPA leaders tick. I guess it could be described this way: I know how they think and what they think but sometimes it amazes me WHY they think the way they do.

The talent wars are here to stay. Your firm becomes who you hire and who you retain. These people help form your culture and your brand in your marketplace.

I frequently hear CPA firm administrators and HR directors talk about their various personnel policies. PTO is often a topic. What I often observe is that many firms are somewhat frugal with their PTO. Here is where I ask WHY?

Maybe to justify, I need to give you real-life experience. At the CPA firm where I worked for so many years, fourteen years ago when I left we were offering starting salaries that are very much in line with what I am hearing TODAY – 2022!

When it comes to PTO, progressive firms are generous – 2 weeks PTO to new college grads the day they walk in the door. An example from one firm regarding PTO: All accounting staff with 0-2 years of service received 15 days. Staff with 3-5 years received 20 days and all staff with 6+ years received 25 days. Several firms I know are offering unlimited PTO.

I am still hearing that new hires, in many firms, become eligible for  PTO (or vacation) after one year of service and maybe 10 years before they get 3 weeks and never for 5 weeks.

Why are firms being generous, why are they keeping in tune with market trends and attempting to hire the best talent?

There is a very simple answer and one you should heed: Your competition is doing it!

  • A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking.
  • Earl Wilson

Monday, October 25th, 2021

2021 Top Issues

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” – Gertrude Stein

I always look forward to reading the AICPA PCPS Top Issues Survey results.

The PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey gathers insights from practitioners in firms of all sizes to understand the significant issues facing firms across the country. 

The survey responses are broken down by firm size, with separate lists released for sole practitioners and for firms with 2 to 5, 6 to 10, 11 to 20, or 21 or more professionals. The AICPA and its Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) team use the biennial surveys to pinpoint areas where new tools and resources may be needed to help practitioners address current challenges. Below are the results. Follow this link to read the commentary and learn about resources for firms to use.

SOLE PRACTITIONERS:

  • Keeping up with changes and the complexity of tax laws.
  • Keeping up with COVID relief programs, such as PPP, EIDL, ERC, etc.
  • Challenges when working with the IRS.
  • Seasonality/layering of deadlines.
  • Keeping up with changes in technology and managing associated costs.

2-5 PROFESSIONALS:

  • Keeping up with COVID relief programs, such as PPP, EIDL, ERC, etc.
  • Keeping up with changes and the complexity of tax laws.
  • Challenges when working with the IRS.
  • Seasonality/layering of deadlines.
  • Finding qualified staff.

6-10 PROFESSIONALS

  • Finding qualified staff.
  • Keeping up with changes and the complexity of tax laws.
  • Keeping up with COVID relief programs, such as PPP, EIDL, ERC, etc.
  • Challenges when working with the IRS.
  • Developing the next generation of firm leadership.

11-20 PROFESSIONALS

  • Finding qualified staff.
  • Developing the next generation of firm leadership.
  • Keeping up with COVID relief programs, such as PPP, EIDL, ERC, etc.
  • Keeping up with changes and the complexity of tax laws.
  • Challenges when working with the IRS…. and… Effective staff utilization & management

21+ PROFESSIONALS

  • Finding qualified staff.
  • Retaining qualified staff
  • Keeping up with COVID relief programs, such as PPP, EIDL, ERC, etc.
  • Developing the next generation of firm leadership.
  • Effective staff utilization & management… and… Managing work/life balance initiatives.
  • We are not in the information age anymore. We're in the information management age.
  • Chris Hardwick

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Salaries

“These men ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.” – Abraham Lincoln

I always get questions about salaries for the CPA profession. Firms want to know what other firms are paying by level – Staff, Senior, Manager, etc. I even did a limited survey myself but was disappointed by the response.

Yesterday, I read a post by goingconcern addressing CPA salaries in eight cities: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, and St Louis. The author used various sources.

There are three salary percentiles.

  • 25th percentile: New to the type of role, still acquiring relevant skills.
  • 50th percentile: Average experience, has most of the necessary skills.
  • 75th percentile: Above-average experience, has all needed skills.

For example, here is the listing for an entry-level tax accountant in Cincinnati:

  • 25th percentile: $41,000 -> $39,975
  • 50th percentile: $50,250 -> $48,994
  • 75th percentile: $59,500 -> $58,013

Read the post here. I think you will find it very helpful.

  • If we expect others to rely on our fairness and justice we must show that we rely on their fairness and justice.
  • Calvin Coolidge

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

We All Want To Know The Top Issues – Share Yours!

“Latest survey shows that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the world’s population.” – Stephen Hawking

I have always looked forward to reading the results of the AICPA PCPS Top Issues Survey. They conduct it every other year. The last one was in 2019 and a lot has certainly happened since then!

Now is your chance to share the top issues facing your firm by participating in the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) CPA Firm Top Issues Survey. Your responses highlight the critical issues facing firms and guide PCPS as we develop tools and resources to assist your firm in meeting the everyday challenges of running a practice.

The Top Issues Survey — which takes less than 10 minutes to complete — is open until Friday, June 18.

Take the survey

Comprehensive results and thought-leading commentary will be available this summer at www.aicpa.org/pcps/topissues.

Your participation informs the profession and shapes the future. The AICPA appreciates your valuable time and insight and so do I. Remember, it only takes 10 minutes and you have until June 18.

Of course, I will keep nagging you…. oops, I mean reminding you. I hope you are following me on Twitter.

  • Survey and test a prospective action before undertaking it. Before you proceed, step back and look at the big picture, lest you act rashly on raw impulse.
  • Epictetus

Monday, March 1st, 2021

Succession Planning

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

There are many different ways to address succession planning and client transition. This topic is often discussed inside accounting firms. Some firms have elaborate and formal succession plans that are well-documented.

I have observed that many firms, especially small to medium-size firms have not dedicated the time and effort to define a more formal plan.

This topic was discussed recently on the CPAFMA Discussion Board. If you are not a member, you should be.

One member admitted that they did not have a formal document but they do have a list to guide their planning for partner retirements. Tricia Duncan, CPA with Jones & Roth shared their firm’s method. I think you will find this plan helpful if you do not have a formal plan. This one is simple, yet effective. Here is Duncan’s comment on the topic:

We don’t have a formal document – we generally start 3-4 years out from the retirement year.  We develop a plan for each individual that addresses:

  • Client relationship
  • Technical expertise
  • Firm responsibilities
  • Community/Niche/Referral relationships
  • Mentor/Team Responsibilities

Generally, start the planning and execution 1-2 years out.  We try to have client relationships transitioned 1 year out so the last year the Partner is on board is more as an advisory role if questions come up. Our new CRM manages the entire relationship.  This has been critical for us.

We’ve successfully transitioned 5+ partners in the last 5 years.


  • If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.
  • Yogi Berra

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

Naming Your Intranet

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde

A vibrant firm intranet that provides various useful and necessary information for your team members is a must.

Some firms realized this years ago and have an intranet that has evolved and gained prominence as a crucial tool for research and guidance.

Some of my clients have made updating their intranet a high priority for 2021, especially with a remote workforce being something that is here to stay.

My question for you today is did you name your intranet? I have heard some very creative ones. I think it gives the resource center a personality and keeps it’s value in the minds of the team.

If you don’t have a name for your intranet have a contest for the team to name it. One company named their intranet Dwight (the employee know-it-all from The Office).

Here is a helpful article about the importance of naming your intranet and it gives you several examples.

  • Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.
  • Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

Hard Work & Dedication Pays Off

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King

Perhaps you are new to the CPA profession. Don’t think for a minute you will be stuck in a dead-end job for years to come!

If you have the passion for what you do and the drive to always strive to improve yourself, the sky’s the limit.

I was so pleased yesterday to see the press release announcing Eric Majchrzak has been named as CEO-elect of BeachFleischman, Arizona’s largest locally-owned CPA firm and a Top 20 largest CPA Firm in the United States.

I have known Eric for years and have always been so impressed with his professionalism, knowledge, and skills. Plus, he’s just a darn nice guy.

Congratulations and best wishes, Eric. I am so proud of you!

Board appoints Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer to lead firm

TUCSON, Ariz., Dec. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — BeachFleischman, Arizona’s largest locally-owned CPA firm and a “Top 200 largest CPA firm” in the U.S., announces that Eric Majchrzak, the firm’s chief marketing & strategy officer, is appointed CEO-elect. Effective January 1, 2022, Majchrzak will serve as the third CEO in BeachFleischman’s 30-year history and succeeds Marc Fleischman, who became CEO in 2016 following co-founder Bruce Beach. The board appointed Majchrzak following a comprehensive search process that was part of the firm’s formal succession plan. The transition occurs over the next twelve months after which Fleischman and David Cohen, President, will both retain leadership roles on the firm’s board of directors and serve the firm’s clients and community. Cohen continues in his role as president with Majchrzak as CEO.

“I am honored to be selected by my peers to lead our firm into the future,” Majchrzak said. “Our plans are bold and transformative. We’re profoundly aware of the speed of change in our world and profession. While we’re proud about what we’ve already accomplished at BeachFleischman, we are even more excited to continue our business evolution as we anticipate and meet the changing needs of our clients, employees and community.”

“From the beginning, BeachFleischman has been willing to do things differently than most accounting firms. It’s just part of our DNA,” said Marc Fleischman, CEO. “Appointing a marketing leader as our next CEO affirms our commitment to growth, innovation and outside-the-box thinking, all of which are important for our success and the success of our clients.”

David Cohen, President, said “Business development and forging creative partnerships are critical factors in our firm’s long-term sustainability. As our next CEO, Eric keeps our focus on building depth and expertise while adding service lines to remain an industry leader.”

Bruce Beach, Board Chairman added, “We have a proud history and a promising future. With Eric’s appointment, BeachFleischman continues to cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit that’s made us who we are today. Innovation and transformation are key for thriving in the era of disruption, and Eric’s leadership will keep us on that path.”

Majchrzak joined BeachFleischman in 2012 as chief marketing officer and was elected shareholder in 2013. In 2018, he became the firm’s chief strategy officer. As the strategy leader, Majchrzak’s responsibilities include working closely with the CEO and firm management to develop and execute short and long-term strategic initiatives such as growth plans, joint ventures, M&A, transformation, advanced pricing, and business model innovation.

Majchrzak has held various leadership roles with the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM), where he received accolades including Inside Public Accounting’s 2015 “AAM Marketer of the Year” award and a 2018 “AAM Hall of Fame” induction. He was honored by AAM with a “Bruce Marcus Lifetime Fellowship” for his contributions elevating the accounting marketing profession. Accounting Today Magazine twice named Majchrzak to their list of the “Top 100 Most Influential People” in the accounting profession for using innovative digital marketing approaches to accomplish strategic growth objectives. Eric is a graduate of the State University College in Buffalo, NY with a Bachelor of Science in Business.

BeachFleischman has over 200 client service and administrative professionals, and provides accounting, assurance, tax, and strategic operations & advisory services to businesses (U.S. and foreign-based), organizations and individuals. The firm serves clients doing business domestically and internationally and specializes in a variety of Industry-related practice areas, including construction, healthcare, real estate, manufacturing, hospitality, technology, nonprofit and professional service businesses. In addition, the firm is expanding into the Cannabis Industry sector and is establishing a Family Office practice. BeachFleischman has subsidiaries, including Pinnacle Plan Design LLC, a national provider of qualified retirement plan consulting, design, administration and actuarial services; MOD Ventures LLC, a virtual client accounting services and consulting firm; and Contempo HCM LLC, a payroll and human capital management company. Offices are in Tucson (headquarters) and Phoenix, Arizona. Visit www.beachfleischman.com for more information.

  • Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

Too Long

“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” – Barbara Johnson

When you graduated from college and began working at a CPA firm you probably thought you would work your way up to partner someday.

The years went by and you worked your way up the ladder. You became a Senior, a Supervisor, a manager and perhaps, a Senior Manager. Maybe then you were offered something called Non-Equity Partner and you could actually use the title “Partner” on your business card. But, you were not really a partner.

How long did that take? I am guessing way too long!

Starting with the millennials (they are 39 years old now!) and continuing with Gen Z, young people want to become successful much more quickly than the culture of many CPA firms allow.

All this is prompted by some CPA firm websites I have visited recently. “John Doe joined the firm in 1996 and became a partner in 2018.” “Betty Smith joined the firm in 1994 and became a partner in 2017.”

Doesn’t that seem like a long time to you? And, are they equity partners or just the non-equity type? I am not a fan of the non-equity partner slot. It seems like a holding pattern to me.

Becoming a firm owner is not for everyone, of course. But, for those who have the ambition, the dedication and the skills to become a partner, twelve or thirteen years seems like a long time.

There is one factor to consider. The Baby Boomers are retiring at a rapid rate. If they actually retire, then you don’t have to depend so much on firm growth.

As the old saying goes, if you want to become a partner you have to make yourself too valuable to lose. Make yourself valuable more quickly!

  • I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.
  • Edith Sitwell

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

More Important Than Ever

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” – Will Rogers

Websites are on my mind today. When comes to promoting your firm, yourself, and your people, your website is more important than ever.

As you might guess, I constantly look at CPA firm websites. If you ever send me an email or if your firm is ever in the news, you can bet I will be perusing your website.

There are still a significant number of firms that have not taken action on updating their website. It appears that it has been the same for the last ten or fifteen years. You can tell immediately when you hit their site. When I ‘hit’ one, it makes me sad.

In these times of no meeting and greeting potential clients in person, the only impression they get of you is from your website. Someone should be managing your website daily. You need current articles and high-quality pictures of your partners and other leaders. Your site needs to give the impression that you are modern, future-focused, and extremely knowledgeable. If your website says (without using words) that you are an “old school” firm, you are in trouble.

For progressive firms, a significant number of new clients come to the firm because of their website. How many are coming to your firm because they simply looked at your website and were impressed?

  • You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and yours may be in the hands of the receptionist.
  • Harvey Mackay