Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

Remember When

“People do what people see. Too many leaders send people where they have never been themselves.” – John Maxwell

CPA firm partners, never, never forget what it is like to be the new kid on the block. Think back to your first day in public accounting. How did you feel?

Times have changed. What most of your team members, especially your new hires, are experiencing are things that you did not experience when you were new.

One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habit’s of Highly Effective People is: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

As leaders, make an effort to understand the specific work your various team members are expected to produce. Learn what is most challenging and where most team members struggle.

It is not the same work, done the same way, you did as a beginner twenty-five or more years ago.

As Stephen Covey says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

  • Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
  • Stephen Covey

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Experience Counts – A Flashback for Friday

“At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” – Ann Landers

My post from March 25, 2015 is actually more of a rant. Something must have happened that week to cause me to share my feelings about the value of longevity, experience, and knowledge possessed by the accountants in your firm who have thirty or more years of experience.

If they started their career after graduating with an accounting degree that would make them around fifty-two years of age. I don’t want a doctor or lawyer who is fresh out of school nor do I want one who is 82! Give me that 50-something person.

Read my flashback post here.

  • I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.
  • Maya Angelou

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Misconceptions

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it’s that they know so many things that just aren’t so.” – Mark Twain

I was recently reading an article from National Geographic that explained how our mental maps of the world are probably wrong. I discovered that mine was! There are many common geographic misconceptions. For example, you might think that South America is directly south of North America.

Here’s an excerpt:

For instance, we all know that South America is south of North America, of course. But you may be surprised by the fact that virtually the entire South American continent is east of Florida. There are lots of possible reasons for geographical misconceptions like this one, says cartographer John Nelson. Mental maps are necessarily simplifications, and Nelson suspects the misplaced Americas may be partly a result of their names. After all, it’s not called Southeast America.

How does all this relate to managing your CPA firm? I believe there are many misconceptions flourishing inside accounting firms. Many of these misconceptions are quite large and often resistant to correction.

  • Partners don’t care about people they just want to make a lot of money.
  • Staff don’t care about the firm, they just want to put in 8 hours and then go home.
  • Non-CPAs working at the firm are not as smart as the CPAs.
  • The partners are stingy.
  • The staff are careless.
  • Our firm is the best one in our market.
  • Our firm is the worst one in our market.

I corrected my misconceptions about how countries and continents are aligned and how they appear on maps by education myself, by exploring and reading.

How are you going to battle the misconceptions swirling around inside your firm?

  • If you see a blatant error misconception about yourself, you really want to set it straight.
  • Jimmy Wales

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Employee Engagement Matters – Flashback Friday

“Paychecks can’t buy passion.” – Brad Federman

To drive engagement, it’s simple, you have to be proactive.

Read this blog post from 2017 to learn about your three types of employees.

  • I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.
  • Walt Disney

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

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Could November Be Bail-Out Month?

“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.” – Napoleon Hill

The October due date has passed. It has been quite a year! Are your team members completely burnt-out? Will they almost immediately be thinking it’s time to move on?

Already, I have heard about firms losing people. As a firm leader, you should always have a plan on how to retain top talent. I hope you are rewarding your team for the unusual demands they faced so far during 2020.

Research has shown that public accounting loses a lot of good people (and many females) when they believe public accounting will not accommodate their personal and career choices. Women want to start a family so they think they must leave public accounting. Don’t let your young talent make this assumption.

Progressive firms embraced flexibility as a formal part of their culture long before COVID. Now, more and more firms are doing the same

Communicate to your team: If there comes a time in your life whether you are male or female, when you need or want less (or more), a reduced schedule, more regular hours, less travel, more travel, less responsibility, or really want to accelerate your advancement in the firm – talk to us!

  • Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts.
  • Jim Morrison

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Accounting Graduates

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Lawrence Bossidy

There are reports that tell us that the number of accounting graduates being hired is steadily declining. Yet, many firms are still saying that they need people.

In some firms, the “need people” has come to mean they need more non-accounting graduates, such as people with more advanced technology skills.

Per Todd Shapiro, CEO of the Illinois CPA society says, in an article via Accounting today: “Hiring of accounting graduates is down 30 percent. That’s a massive decline in hiring of accounting graduates by CPA firms. This isn’t companies that traditionally haven’t hired accounting graduates that aren’t CPAs. These are accounting firms.”

I was surprised by this statement from Barry Melancon a few years ago: Today we are a profession of CPA-led firms, not CPA firms. Two-thirds of the employees in all firms are non-CPAs.

Shapiro notes that firms are hiring more non-accounting graduates. It only makes sense to me that accounting students need to be sure that they have more advanced technology skills than at any time in the past.

If you didn’t read the article by Michael Cohn (via Accounting Today), you should.

  • You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world…but it requires people to make the dream a reality.
  • Walt Disney

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Maybe You Don’t Get It?

“I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” – Socrates

Here’s a Friday Flashback Post. It is a reminder that maybe some people think you just don’t get it.

Partners might not realize how long it actually takes to do a certain engagement. They “don’t get it.”

A 20-something staff person doesn’t realize how important it is for CPA professionals to be able to write a memo without misspellings and poor grammar. They “don’t get it.”

Read more here.

Have a nice weekend!

  • Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.
  • Robert Quillen

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

Retired Partners That Never Retire

“Retirement: That’s when you return from work one day and say, ‘Hi honey, I’m home forever.'” – Gene Perret

I don’t know why you call them retired partners if they are going to continue to work. I find it hard to understand why you pay them “retirement” payments and also pay them a salary to keep working.

I have always supported the practice of contracting with a partner who is being paid deferred comp to work for the firm (for a much-reduced salary) after they have transitioned their client responsibilities, for one year, if the firm actually needs them. The contract can be renewed annually. Again, with discussion and consideration among the partner group that the retired partner is actually needed.

Remember, to the outside world AND to young up-and-comers, the firm looks top heavy with partners. It is a disincentive for young people to wait years and years for a partner spot to open up.

Plus, I have observed that these “retirees” take up space, soak up administrative help, and never fully transition clients. If they are working less, they might also struggle with keeping up with the firm technology (thus relying on admin to help them).

The partner group should discuss this topic and develop a policy. If the group wants to keep them around that is, of course, their prerogative. Just make sure everyone understands how retirement works at your firm.

Marc Rosenberg calls them Double-Dippers. Read his interesting post on this topic.

  • Working people have a lot of bad habits, but the worst of those is work.
  • Clarence Darrow

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

Virtual Meeting Dress Code

“A good first impression can work wonders.” – J. K. Rowling

This one will make you smile. Maybe it will make you feel guilty.

According to Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady, judges appreciate it if lawyers and their clients remembered that Zoom hearings are just that: hearings.

The people involved should dress the part. It seems that many attorneys are appearing inappropriately dressed for these hearings – one male attorney appeared shirtless and a female attorney appeared while in bed. The Florida Bar Association has even added a pop-up message to their website reminding attorneys that Zoom hearings are not casual conversations.

Lucas’ article via Inc. explains how maybe you need a virtual dress code and other guidelines for Zoom meetings.

If you are fairly new to video meetings and conversations you might not realize how you appear to others. Of course, looking like you are in a business frame-of-mind helps – a nice shirt, blouse, sweater, etc.

Lighting is also very important – if you do not have sufficient light shining on your face, you can come across as some dark, threatening zombie. Don’t forget about your background. A bookcase or painting in your home office works well but the headboard of your bed does not.

Being a professional service firm dealing with people’s financial matters might be enough reason for a Zoom dress code for internal meetings and another one for external client meetings. Think about it and read the article for some simple internal/external meeting guidelines.

  • We don't know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don't always appreciate their fragility.
  • Malcolm Gladwell