Archive for the ‘Firms’ Category

Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

Moving Online

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

Have you ever wondered, contemplated, or wished that you could move your CPA firm online?

It is not for everyone, but I bet you wonder how it is done. Here’s an email I received from Laura Gannon. She agreed to let me share so you can see how client communication could be framed. I have eliminated the many helpful links that she included in the communication, like email addresses, physical addresses, etc.

I hope you find this helpful. Maybe your firm is ready for this BIG step?

Dear Rita,
BIG NEWS!
We are closing our office in Chelmsford after 15 years! This community has been so supportive of us, we will be forever grateful. This is where I started my business, and it has continued to support many local businesses and employees over the years.

In these changing times, we have seen how effective our staff can be working from anywhere, and we want to be a part of this culture shift that’s happening worldwide.

While we plan to be as connected to clients as ever, this will no longer include meeting at the Chelmsford office. Instead, we will use video conferencing and flexible co-work spaces in West Concord and Salem, Massachusetts. We will continue to collaborate as a team and give you great service, as always.

To make this transition as smooth as possible, check out our FAQ’s at the bottom of the newsletter, and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Thank you so much for being a valued client! We appreciate your business.

Thanks,
Laura and the team!
FAQ’s
How can I schedule a virtual meeting? Reach out to any of us individually, Barry, Laura or Hannah, to schedule a virtual meeting.

Where can we meet in person? We have two conference spaces available for meetings. West Concord – The Wheelhouse – Laura will meet clients here! Salem – Workbar – Barry has conference availability here, and he can use any of their 9 locations!

Hannah will have some ability to meet in person, but please coordinate directly with her.

Staff contact info? If you have any questions about processes or procedures, Hannah is our client administrator; feel free to reach out to her @ xxx-xxx-xxxx or click here to email her.

Where do I send physical documents? We prefer electronic documents scanned into to the portal, but if you prefer to send us the physical documents, please use our PO Box XXX in Chelmsford. Address below. Hannah will scan the documents in and return them to you when complete.

  • The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.
  • Nathaniel Branden

Tuesday, October 25th, 2022

Reflection

“Selling out is doing something you don’t really want to do for money. That’s what selling out is.” – Bono

It is a beautiful Fall in Ohio. The trees have been vibrant with color this year, and we have had day after day of beautiful weather, although we do need some rain.

When Fall arrives, it makes me feel like it is time for reflection. It puts me in a “winding down” mood. For CPA firms, after the October 15th deadline, it means it is time for action! November is when you have to finish all of those internal projects that make the firm more efficient and profitable. It is not a time for “winding down” it is a time for gearing up for the busy season that will arrive after the holidays.

As for my reflection, I read this morning that another well-known CPA firm has given up the ghost and merged up into one of the mega firms. It makes me sad. I think about so many firms (dozens of them) I have known and worked with over my many years working in public accounting. They have disappeared and are mostly forgotten. The local/regional mid-size firms have evidently failed to develop the next generation of owners, and they have no choice but to sell out.

  • It's not selling out, it is called making lots of money.
  • Mick Jagger

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

Publicize Your Benefits

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl

I have a Google notification set to alert me about accounting firm news. I noticed that a firm in a large city earned several spotlights in the news, one from a local source, and it was picked up by Yahoo news.

The news is (and it is old news to many of us) that the firm is closing its offices at noon on Friday for the remainder of the summer.

Why is publicizing something like this a good lesson for you? Younger CPAs focused on growing their careers will read the press release and think: “I should learn more about that firm and apply for a job there.”

In your hiring ads, mention that you close on Fridays in the summer. At this point, normal activities to attract talent have worn out. Do you have a unique employee benefit? Publicize it.

  • The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
  • W. B. Yeats

Thursday, July 14th, 2022

Using Initials For Your Firm Name

“If names are not correct, language will not be in accordance with the truth of things.” – Confucius

It has been a huge trend for CPA firms during the last 15 to 20 years. They modify their name and end up using just initials.

I must admit, I have found it rather confusing as I work and network with many small to mid-size firms in the USA. Using a fake firm, my mind goes with something like this…. JBG, what does that stand for? Is it the firm that used to be Jones Brown & Green?

This all comes to mind as I read an article by Fishman Marketing in the National Law Review titled, Why Do CPA Firms Use Initials Instead of Names? Part 2. You can read Part 1 by following the link to Fishman Marketing.

I agree with the author. Why not use a name, something people can remember more easily? Like, Jones Brown? As you read the article you will see how the author proves their point.

You might think, well KPMG uses initials. The author also explains why huge, international firms can more easily get away with it.

I think you will find it an interesting read, especially if you are thinking of rebranding.

I apologize if the name of your firm is Jones Brown or JBG. I just used it as an example.

  • Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Dale Carnegie

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

Next July

“It is really a cool perk.” – Alan Sobel

I recently read that Sobel, a 190-person CPA firm in New Jersey, closed their office and gave their entire staff the week of July 4th off.

Here’s a quote from the article by Tom Bergeron:

You might be surprised – what with him serving as the managing member of an accounting firm – but Alan Sobel said he didn’t break out any spreadsheets or enter any figures into a calculator to determine just how much giving his entire staff at Sobel Co the entire week off would cost the company.

That’s not what this was about.

Yes, Sobel acknowledges it is a cool perk but it is also a way to thank their team for all their hard work. They notified clients and others of the office closing via all the social media outlets. None of their clients seemed to mind, they seemed to understand.

I have heard of a few other firms also closing the week of July 4th each year. Maybe it is something for you to consider for next year. July 4th in 2023 is on a Tuesday. You would probably close on Monday anyway. Read the entire article. It might convince you to do the same. Think about it!

  • If our doing this leads other companies to think about doing the same thing, that’s great. But that’s not why we did it. This was about saying, ‘thanks,’ to our people.
  • Alan Sobel

Monday, July 11th, 2022

Problems. What Is Your Plan?

“Perhaps you don’t think it’s a problem worth solving. That’s important to bring up before we ask you if you have a plan.” – Seth Godin

A great post by Seth Godin about problems and having a plan to deal with the problem.

First, your group of problem solvers needs to acknowledge if it is a problem (problems have solutions) or if it is simply a situation you have to live with.

If you agree that there is a problem, the status quo will show up. The status quo usually wins.

I see this situation over and over again inside CPA firms. Do yourself a favor and read the entire post.

  • The key to change is to let go of fear.
  • Rosanne Cash

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