Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Monday, September 16th, 2019

A Simple Thing

“When you meet people, show real appreciation, then genuine curiosity.” – Martha Beck

How do your clients, prospective clients, and other visitors feel when they walk into your office? Do they feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated?

Things that DO NOT promote a warm and fuzzy feeling:

  • An empty front desk
  • A sliding glass window that is closed
  • A bell to ring when you arrive
  • An outdated waiting area that looks like the 1970s
  • A receptionist that doesn’t offer to hang up their coat or get them a refreshment

I once knew a spectacular Director of First Impressions. She did some very simple things to make visitors say, “Wow!” For example, she checked the partners’ calendars every day to see if any visitors would be coming to the office to meet with partners the next day. She would make a sign and put it on her counter for each person, saying:

SUSAN SMITH

WELCOME TO

John Doe & Company

It might be a client, a prospective client, a vendor, an intern, a new hire or someone interviewing with the firm. Everyone saw a visible sign that they were important. The sign evolved into a digital message sign that sat on the reception counter.

There are a lot of little things you can do to show visitors/clients that you care.

 

  • Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
  • Robert Brault

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Brag About Your Team

“If you done it, it ain’t bragging.” – Walt Whitman

Normally, I would say it’s not good manners to brag. That is not always true.

In the accounting profession, I often find that people DO NOT brag enough!

I especially urge women to “toot your own horn” because men tend to do it much more often than women. Be proud of what you have accomplished.

When it comes to your team, let them know they are very valuable to the firm. One way you can do this is to have a brag book in your lobby.

I am sure you have received compliments from clients about your team members. Some clients even send a letter to the firm communicating their appreciation of the people they work with at your firm. Maybe they send a personal email to individual partners about the good work done by the team.

Make it a project to gather all these types of compliments (in writing), print them out and make a scrapbook to put in your lobby. Give it a fancy cover and title. You might be surprised how many people will look at it. Even co-workers don’t often hear about these kinds of compliments.

Another way is to have the video screen in your lobby scroll through pictures of the team with quotes extracted from communications from clients. Such as, “Joe, was such a pleasure to work with.”

Why not do both… paper and digital communication that you are so proud of your team and want to brag about them.

  • Bragging is not an attractive trait, but let's be hones. A man who catches a big fish doesn't go home through an alley.
  • Ann Landers

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

Become a Chief Retention Officer

“People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.” – Marcus Buckingham

One way to solve the problem of finding and hiring top talent is to be sure you don’t lose the top talent you already have.

You are well aware of the time, effort and dollars you spend trying to find and hire a qualified candidate. That is why it just makes sense to focus on making all partners and managers Chief Retention Officers.

How do you do that? Have them all read First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The authors contend that employees leave managers, not companies. I strongly believe that this is the case in CPA firms. Buckingham and Coffman offer 12 questions that can be used to measure the core elements needed to attract, develop and retain the next generation of CPA firm leaders.

The questions are:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages both my personal and my career development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

After this fall busy season is over, equip your leaders with these questions and have them meet and talk with the people they supervise. In addition to the questions, be sure your partners/managers can describe what a talented professional’s career path looks like.

  • Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, your will be successful.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Friday, September 6th, 2019

Salaries For CPAs

“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.” – Michael Leboeuf

CPAs are accountants but not all accountants are CPAs. There is a big difference and there is also a difference in what kind of salaries are paid to CPAs.

I receive many questions about what kind of salaries firms are paying their employees. Entry-level salaries are always of great interest to CPA firm leaders. Many are wondering what they need to offer to next year’s graduates. Entry-level accountants intending to become CPAs should also realize that their starting salary is “just a drop in the bucket” in relation to what their future earnings can become.

Thanks to Accounting Today, here is a good visual – read the full article here.

salary range

  • Financial peace isn't the acquisition of stuff. It's learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can't win until you do this.
  • Dave Ramsey

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

Focus On Your Career Success

“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.”  Chris Grosser

Several years ago, I would speak to students majoring in business courses at a local community college. These students were typical students along with some non-traditional (older) individuals refocusing their careers. I enjoyed meeting and talking with all of them. They were always very enthusiastic.

I talked about the Seven Secrets of Career Success and elaborated on each one. After each session I would leave them with a postcard from me with the following tips:

Advice from Rita Keller

Seven Secrets of Career Success

  • Become a quick-change artist
  • Commit fully to your career
  • Speed up
  • Behave like you’re in business for yourself
  • Practice lifelong learning
  • Manage your own morale
  • Be a fixer – not a finger pointer

I requested that they put the postcard reminder somewhere on their desk, bulletin board or mirror where they would be reminded every day of what is important for career success.

Maybe you should be thinking about these Seven Secrets, too!

 

  • Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don't wish it were easier; wish you were better.
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Build Your Brand – Be Visible

“The power of visibility can never be underestimated.” – Margaret Cho

You have heard it over and over in recent years, you have to be visible on social media to attract and retain clients.

Yes, I agree with that. But, I ask more of you!

Don’t forget the old fashioned way. You must be visible in your business community – up close and personal.

Each person working at your CPA firm helps build a reputation for the FIRM. Remember those elevator speeches (describing what you do in 30 seconds)? Are you still teaching your newest team members how to do that? Remember, when someone asks you where you work you don’t say, “I work for an accounting firm.” You say, “I work for Acme CPA firm, the fastest-growing, most knowledgeable and progressive CPA firm in town! I am on the tax team.” Each person crafts their own story.

All your partners and managers should be involved in a charitable or community organization and eventually take a leadership position in that organization.

A basic visibility activity that partners sometimes forget – you eat lunch outside the office every day. Eat lunch with a client, a banker, an attorney or with another person from the firm. Dine at the most popular business lunch place in town where you will be seen by clients, bankers, and attorneys.

An on-going motto for the firm – “Let’s get visible!”

  • A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor.
  • Victor Hugo

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Be A Great Manager

Bruce Tulgan tells us: Being a great manager requires a lot of time and effort. You cannot treat your management responsibilities as a low-commitment responsibility! You owe it to the people on your team to give them the support, guidance, and coaching they deserve. 

An important part of managing people involves one-on-one conversations. These one-on-one meetings help you create an upward spiral of performance.

There are four basic steps to creating an upward spiral of performance on your team:

1. Define performance standards

2. Spell out expectations

3. Collaborate on next steps

4. Follow up, revise, and adjust

Download Tulgan’s ebook here.

one one

  • It’s the most talented, not the least talented, who are continually trying to improve their dialogue skills. As is often the case, the rich get richer.
  • Kerry Patterson

Monday, August 26th, 2019

Don’t Leave Public Accounting!

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” — Steve Jobs

So many times over the years I have heard people working in public accounting say, “Public accounting is not for me. I’m going to work for local business.”

If you have only worked at one CPA firm, I implore you to think before you bail out of public accounting. Try another firm first! Not all firm are alike. Sure, they do much of the same work but leadership and culture vary greatly. Public accounting is a lucrative career. In a firm with 33 people, the average partner salary is $382,092.

Lifestyle matters, too. One of my clients is a small firm, in a smaller market in Central Ohio. They are looking to hire. If you are looking for a new opportunity where it is truly a value pricing firm and you never have to keep a timesheet, check out their ad:

CPA / ACCOUNTANT

Are you ready to join an innovative accounting firm with a solid portfolio of diverse clients and over 25 years of success?  We have a big vision, an amazing culture and are looking for that next great fit to join our growing team!  If you love taking care of clients in a meaningful way, giving them high-quality deliverables and service, and are tired of tracking every 5 (or even 15) minutes of your day, then you may be our next great addition! Snyder & Company has escaped the traditional model, leaving behind the billable hour and the counterproductive nonsense it creates. Relocation assistance is available.  Intrigued? Click for more information:  

https://www.snydercpas.com/job-opportunity

 

  • There is no passion to be found in playing small — in settling for a life that is less than you are capable of living.
  • Nelson Mandela

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

The Hiring Model Has Shifted For CPA Firms

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.” – Sigmund Freud

The following is a press release I received from the AICPA. It is much longer than my normal post but I think it is important for firm leaders to read. Read it, then think about it and begin making plans.

Public Accounting Firm Hiring Model Shifts: AICPA ‘Trends Report’

  • Undergraduate accounting enrollments were second highest on record in 2017-2018
  • AICPA is working with key stakeholders on programs to strengthen pipeline of talent entering the profession

NEW YORK (Aug. 12, 2019) – Rapid advances in technology continue to impact the accounting profession. As CPA firms shift their hiring models to focus more on technology skills, non-accounting graduates now comprise 31 percent of all new graduate hires in public accounting. That’s an increase of 11 percentage points from 2016 to 2018, according to the “2019 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits,” released today by the AICPA.

The biennial report, published since 1971, provides statistical projections and expectations based upon university responses for the 2017-2018 academic year and firm responses for the 2018 calendar year. This data provides a snapshot of the profession, set against the current economy, and the ability to forecast future trends.

“Increased demand for technology skills is shifting the accounting firm hiring model. This is leading to more non-accounting graduates being hired, particularly in the audit function,” said Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, AICPA president and CEO, and CEO of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. “CPAs have an unmatched reputation for trust and integrity, earned through decades of working in the public interest. However, to play this vital role in the future will require an increased focus on technology.  It is incumbent upon the profession to ensure accounting graduates and newly licensed CPAs have these skills and expertise needed to support the evolution of the audit.”

One of the ways AICPA is seeking to address this trend is through the CPA Evolution project, in partnership with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. This project strives to ensure that CPAs continue to have the competencies needed to support an accounting profession that plays a critical role in protecting the public interest.

The percentage of new accounting graduate hires assigned to audit-related work is increasing. This area now comprises 56 percent of new accounting graduate hires. That’s up four percentage points from 2016 and nine percentage points from 2014.

Overall CPA firms hired about 11 percent fewer accounting graduates in 2018 than they did in 2016, and nearly 30 percent fewer than in 2014. As firms continue to embrace technology and evolve their approach to the audit, they are seeking employees with data science and data analytics skills. They are largely filling those needs with non-accounting graduates, though there is anecdotal evidence from firms to suggest that some of this technology-specific hiring is occurring at the experienced hire level.

On the supply side, enrollments in undergraduate accounting programs stand at the second highest level on record after pulling back slightly from their all-time high in 2015-2016.

Nearly 208,000 projected students were enrolled in undergraduate accounting programs during the 2017-2018 school year, topping 200,000 for the fourth Trends report in a row. More than 33,000 projected students were enrolled in master’s programs in 2017-2018. This reflects a six percent decline from 2015-2016 but remains comfortably above any level pre-recession. Declines in graduate student enrollment is due largely to more students opting to enter the workforce in lieu of pursuing an advanced accounting degree.

There were nearly 55,000 projected bachelor’s and more than 21,000 projected master’s degrees earned in 2017-2018. This reflects a decline of four percent each from the previous report. However, the combined 76,542 degrees remains above pre-recession levels.

After a significant increase in the number of new CPA Exam candidates in 2016, largely attributed to the new version of the exam launching in 2017, the number of candidates and newly licensed CPAs in 2018 dipped to the lowest level in 10 years. CPA candidates fell 7 percent to 36,827, while newly licensed CPAs fell 6 percent to 23,941.

“The AICPA and other stakeholders in the profession are focused on anticipating the changes shaping our economy and ensuring newly licensed CPAs have the skills they need to serve as trusted advisors to their clients,” said Yvonne Hinson, CPA, CGMA, Ph.D., AICPA Academic-in-Residence, Academic & Student Engagement. “As the pace of change increases, the Institute has been accelerating our work on a number of profession-wide initiatives that attract, inspire, and engage the next generation of CPAs.”

In addition to CPA Evolution, some of these initiatives include:

  • A CPA Exam practice analysis focused on the impact of technology and the critical skills for newly licensed CPAs. An exposure draft and invitation-to-comment will be published in late December.
  • Accounting Accreditation Practitioner Engagement Program which places CPA practitioners on AACSB accounting accreditation teams and committees.
  • Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program provides funding for CPAs to obtain their doctorates and teach.
  • Accounting Program for Building the Profession trains high school educators to teach a college-level accounting class.

The Institute is working with organizations to increase the likelihood that racial and ethnic minority students consider accounting early in their career decision-making process. AICPA scholarships and programs such as the Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop help ensure accounting students have a meaningful and successful experience as they work to earn their CPA license.

The report found that racial/ethnic diversity has increased, with the highest percentage of non-white enrollees to date. Enrollment by gender is nearly even at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels.

View the full Trends report

  • Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.
  • Napoleon Hill

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

No Negativity!

“Negativity is the enemy of creativity.” – David Lynch

I love these rules from Jon Gordon:

5 Ways to transform negativity on your team:

1. The No Complaining Rule.

2. Engage in Positive Conflict: Have difficult conversations to address issues.

3. Meet and talk about the negative effects of negativity.

4. No energy vampires.

5. Discuss ways to stay positive as a team.

  • When someone tells me "no," it doesn't mean I can't do it, it simply means I can't do it with them.
  • Karen E. Quinones Miller