Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

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

Friday, March 27th, 2020

Too Many At The Top

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

There are many CPA firm partners who are nearing retirement. They have always dreamed of passing their firm on to the next generation, dreamed of having it survive. Sorry to say, that is going to be an unfilled dream for many small to mid-size firms.

The reason? They are top-heavy. They are counting a few top performers to replace many, including some non-performing partners?

Read this post about the Upside Down Pyramid – it’s Flashback Friday!

Stay safe!

  • The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
  • William Shakespeare

Friday, March 13th, 2020

Don’t Get Too Busy To Provide Feedback

You only have to do very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.” – – Warren Buffett

Inside your firm this busy season you have interns and new-hires, first-year CPA candidates.

During the hiring process for these young, future CPAs you talked to, listened to, entertained them. The firm leaders were on their best behavior.

Then when these young, high-potential employees enter the firm they are often greeted with silence. Sure they go through training but often it’s do-this, do-that, follow-this guideline and so on.

When young people enter your accounting firm, keep the conversations going – – not some sort of formal feedback session after 60-days or 90-days – talk to them daily. Create a culture of communication – clear, concise, honest and often.

Seth Godin says the best way to change long-term behavior is with short-term feedback. The opposite is not true. We rarely change short-term behavior with long-term feedback.

There is a lot of whining surrounding performance evaluation systems inside CPA firms. It creates a culture of dread. If you want to change your culture and attract top talent – start with feedback.

  • How was your day? is a question that matters a lot more than it seems.
  • Seth Godin

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Your Future Will Be Limited

I follow John C. Maxwell on Twitter. Yesterday, he posted the following tweet:

If you’re not identifying the leaders of tomorrow whom you will train up, your potential and your future will always be limited. 

It a simple, short message that speaks volumes to CPAs working in public accounting.  Owners of firms should have heeded this advice many years ago.

Here’s another recent tweet from Maxwell that hits home with CPAs:

No matter what it costs you, the return you receive will eclipse the price. Developing leaders is the most impacting and rewarding thing you can do as a leader.

Baby Boomer CPAs, nearing retirement, have been warned over and over again but few have acted upon the advice and now, their futures are limited. For some, it is merge-up or close-up.

  • Don't let what's uncertain be what defeats you. Instead, let it be what motivates you to keep reaching toward what's possible.
  • John C. Maxwell

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Is It Time To Actually Retire?

In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned that I had recently re-read Tuesdays with Morrie.

One of Morrie’s wise sayings was:

“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”

He was talking about life. To me, because I have worked with so many Baby Boomer CPAs over the years, it is something that applies to their retirement.

Many are in denial about retirement. They plan to work until they drop. Very short-sighted, indeed. There is so much more to experience if you wish it so.

Several situations I know about involve partners retiring but they do not quit working at the firm.

A couple of others involve 80-somethings continuing to come into the office even though they are not able to use the technology any longer.

My advice: Don’t hang on too long.

 

  • It's not too late to develop new friendships or reconnect with people.
  • Morrie Schwartz

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

The Challenge of What Gift to Give Your Employees

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” – Andy Rooney

A very common topic this time of year among CPA firm administrators (and partners) is what kind of gift to give the employees for Christmas.

This difficult task usually lands in the COO/Firm Administrator’s or HR Director’s lap. And, it’s a dangerous minefield. Different generations appreciate different things and finding a “one size fits all” can be a daunting task.

Suzanne Lucas, @RealEvilHRLady, gives us a great list this year. She notes: Here are some ideas, gleaned from real, actual humans, and not marketers. You’ll notice some are contradictory. This isn’t bad editing on my part. It’s reality. Get to know your employees!

Here are a few of the suggestions – but, be sure to read the entire list. Money is always a good choice!

  • My husband’s boss gives his managers steak. We have really appreciated that!
  • If anything, something “consumable.” I don’t want or need any more do-dads. Food is good–a nice bottle of olive oil, a good bottle of balsamic vinegar, anything that can be used and enjoyed and then gone!!
  • $100 gift cards to a nice restaurant have always been my favorite.
  • Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white.'
  • Bing Crosby