Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Monday, September 26th, 2022

Awesome Client Service

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi

I have often written and spoken about awesome client service. What does it mean inside your CPA firm? Do your older accountants understand it much better than your younger accountants?

Seth Godin recently did a blog post about White Glove Service. Here’s an excerpt.

Good service meets expectations. It is the fulfillment of a promise to the customer.

White glove service goes far beyond that. It is designed to surprise and delight. It creates a connection with the recipient that goes beyond a simple transaction already paid for. It is a signal of care and respect, of gratitude and abundance.

He also mentions that sometimes “white” glove service slips and becomes “gray.” Don’t let this happen at your firm.

I sometimes observe that inside a CPA firm, especially as important due dates approach, the staff (and partners) complain loudly about the clients being tardy submitting their information. Service might slip into the gray area. Remember, if you make a small mistake (like misspelling their name or getting the wrong address), they think you might be making mistakes on their tax return or financial statement.

I like to refer to the Ritz Carlton motto: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”

If you are ladies and gentlemen (and I know you are), get rid of the clients who are not.

  • Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come and watch you burn.
  • John Wesley

Friday, September 23rd, 2022

Help Them Understand

“Without hustle, talent will only carry you so far.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

On my mind this morning is the topic of communication. Here’s a Flashback Friday post about helping clients understand what you are saying. I think this topic also applies to conversations between generations. Gen Z might not understand certain phrases and words a Boomer might utter (and definitely vice versa)!

Have a great weekend.

  • Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
  • Maya Angelou

Friday, August 26th, 2022

Plant Seeds Early – Flashback Friday

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln

Be sure you are talking about all of the positive things about being a CPA. Forget about dwelling on the long hours. Read this flashback about planting seeds early.

  • You don't have to be a great start, but you have to start to be great.
  • Zig Ziglaf

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

Insights On Managing Your Firm

“For some of them it is too late….. they are not going to change the system.” – Allan Koltin

Yuri Kapilovich, CPA does a podcast titled, the Capital Contribution. Recently, he did an interview with Allan Koltin. I urge you to listen to it. They both have good advice for CPAs in public practice. Click here for the podcast with Koltin.

There is so much good advice in this podcast that I can’t possibly share it all in one blog post. I am pleased that much of it has been said by many of us in the CPA firm management world. I know most of it applies to the clients I am serving right now.

Here are some highlights. Maybe you have heard them before from me and other consultants but probably Koltin sees inside more top 100 firms than anyone.

  • There is still too much “old school” thinking out there in the CPA profession.
  • We neglect the A client because we are swamped with the crappy C & D clients.
  • Give young people client contact early on. Don’t leave them in the back room grinding.

Listen to the podcast. It is worth your time.

  • In a CPA firm, change only happens when change is better than status quo. And right now status quo feels pretty good.
  • Allan Koltin

Monday, June 20th, 2022

Keeping Them

“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” – Vikrant Massey

You are and have been for several years, very focused on finding and hiring additional talent for your firm. You have worked on being a unique firm. You are paying significant sign-on bonuses. You offer remote and hybrid options. You will do almost anything (within reason) to attract college accounting majors and experienced accountants.

Don’t forget about something just as important, keeping the employees you already have. How do you keep them? Experts are calling it “the great recognition.” Research has found that feeling recognized makes a huge difference when it comes to employee engagement, productivity, and loyalty.

I have been writing and speaking about it for years. Young people hear applause when they take their first step, when they play soccer, when they perform ballet, when they are in marching band or sports or drama club. Then they enter an accounting firm and they hear silence.

Offering a bonus or an incentive program helps but CPA firm employees are facing burnout and in some cases, boredom.

Take 3 minutes and watch this video I did several years ago. It applies more now than it did then (when we were attracting millennials). Sometimes a simple thank you makes all the difference.

  • Don't work for recognition, but do work worthy of recognition.
  • H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

Special Treatment

“I am a product of nepotism. I don’t think I would have had the profession that I’m in currently if it wasn’t for my dad.” – Jeff Bridges

It’s an old story in the business world. The boss’s son has joined the firm/business.

The “other” employees cringe but they are willing to give “the kid” a chance. They fear the son will get special treatment. It is a wait-and-see mode for a while. Sometimes it works out well and sometimes it does not. I have observed it going both ways.

I lean towards some sort of nepotism restrictions. But, in an accounting firm, unless it is very large, it is difficult for a partner not to have some direct working relationship with their child, wife, mother, husband, or other relatives.

A common story is the managing partner’s son has just been hired. He is a newbie but unlike other newbies, he pretty much does as he pleases. He arrives late, takes extended lunch breaks, and leaves early. Even if his work is outstanding, the little things make a huge difference to his peers. Discontent escalates.

On the other hand, I have observed fathers/mothers, sons/daughters, and husbands/wives working together effortlessly to grow the firm without any discontent from co-workers, and the firm flourishes. Some of the most successful firms I have encountered are family firms.

My point for today is for you just to remain aware and watch for any signs of discontent.

  • Nepotism exists everywhere.
  • Nidhhi Agerwal

Thursday, February 3rd, 2022

Over Paying

“There is no way I can justify my salary level but I am learning to live with it.” – Drew Carey

Many firms have acknowledged that they are willing to overpay when pursuing new, hard to find, talent. Where will it end? When will it end? Who knows?

I have two concerns. First, will new, unproven, maybe less skilled employees be making more than proven, long-time team members? How that plays out can cause severe headaches for management.

My other concern is, in response to the situation mentioned above, firm leaders will increase salaries for ALL team members. This could result in significant increases for less-than-stellar performing employees.

I still think that pay for performance applies. Not everyone needs to be treated the same. Top performers should make top wages and get extra perks.

In the CPA world, firm owners worry about what “the other” team members will think and how will they react. They will be complaining loudly.

Don’t ignore the complainers. Talk to them immediately and honestly. Explain to them that Jessica All-Star makes more and receives more because she is a top performer. Then, explain to them exactly how they can become a top performer and thus, make more money. Set goals and challenge them.

You have probably read where KPMG is allocating $160M in salary increases for their 35,000 employees. Their CEO said:

“This increase in salaries embodies our commitment to quickly recognize the value our people create for our clients and firm in times of change,” said Knopp in a statement. “Moreover, it reflects our appreciation for their resilience and consistent dedication to serving our clients and the capital markets with quality.”

Your team members have probably read about this, too.

  • The more they applaud, the bigger our salary will be.
  • Anna Held

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022

Generational Viewpoint

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

Accounting Today published an interesting article recently titled, “Generational Viewpoints: Time for change.”

It features two professionals from Barnes Dennig, a 160-person firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a firm I have admired for many years. One viewpoint was from a baby boomer and the other viewpoint is from a millennial.

Today, I want to share just one paragraph from the millennial’s viewpoint. It follows. I hope you read the entire article.

From my point of view, we always feel like we’re on the job. As great as technology is, it’s a double-edged sword because it’s impossible to get away from it. Nobody feels that more than us. As a generation who grew up with unlimited access to technology and integration, it’s hard for us to compartmentalize aspects of our lives. We don’t leave work at work and work never leaves us. From my experience, millennials, especially in the public accounting industry, are ultracompetitive. Even though we try to log off at 5 p.m. or take time off, we are constantly checking and responding to emails because we want to impress someone or everyone. To an extent, we do understand this could be of our own doing, but nothing will change until the culture of being 100% accessible changes.

  • Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.
  • Jane Austen

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

High School Interns

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” — Bob Proctor

I have often suggested, for an accounting firm, to utilize some high school interns. I think it is important to introduce the world of public accounting to a younger audience. Plus, I encourage practitioners to get involved in high school career days. If you have elementary children, why not volunteer to talk to their class about the accounting profession?

Maybe you will be encouraged to hire some high school interns by the following comments from Timothy Allen, MBA, Chief Operating Officer of Reilly, Penner & Benton in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

“We started with high school interns this past tax season. We hired one as a tax administrative intern doing tax assembly, scanning, and other admin duties. She did such a fantastic job we hired her back as a tax intern this tax season. We have also started hiring college freshmen and sophomores as administrative interns with the intention of having them come back as juniors/seniors as full interns.

Going forward, CPA firms need to be creative and adventurous in their hiring practices. Add high school interns to your action plan.

  • Learning is finding out that you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, and teachers."
  • Richard Bach

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Give Them A Chance

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pelé, Brazilian football legend.

Performing all the services that a CPA firm offers is not something that is learned overnight.

How many times have you heard a new recruit say, “I never learned this in college!”? Many new hires struggle for a while with what seems like fairly easy activities to a more experienced CPA.

With inexperienced new hires and with administrative employees, I believe that it takes a full year cycle for them to begin to grasp the intricacies of their job. In a CPA firm, there are three seasons – busy season, summer, and fall. Each season has varying duties that you sometimes don’t perform except once a year. That is why giving them a year to experience the duties expected of them seems to make sense. Then, I always recommend that you give them two years to determine if they are going to fail or succeed.

If a person is not a good fit for public accounting, it is not fair to string them along, hoping that they will eventually “get it”. You are not doing them, or the firm, a favor.

Comments I have heard from practitioners during some of my presentations: “We don’t give them two years, we usually give them eight years before we face reality and let them go.” “If someone is not a good fit, we seem to keep them forever.”

So many firms are desperate for people right now. Don’t lower your standards. That’s never what a CPA should do.

  • The greater the difficulty the more the glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.
  • Epictetus