Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Thursday, May 19th, 2022

Caseware

“To make an embarrassing admission, I like video games. That’s what got me into software engineering when I was a kid. I wanted to make money so I could buy a better computer to play better video games – nothing like saving the world.” – Elon Musk

I am posting this because Caseware was one of the products that enabled our firm to go completely paperless many, many years ago. We started that paperless journey in 1999.

Here is their message:

As part of our commitment to support and drive transformational change in the accounting and audit industry, we have evolved our brand. 

Our new brand is not just a new look and feel, it is our dedication to helping our customers work more effectively, gain deeper insights and see further along the road that leads to change for the better. It is our promise to you that we will be with you every step of the way on your journey to transform insights into impact. 

Welcome to the new Caseware!

  • Computers themselves, and software yet to be developed, will revolutionize the way we learn.
  • Steve Jobs

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

Getting Ready To Grow or Merge Up

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

As I have for many years (decades?), I urge every CPA practitioner to get their house in order. That means having a solid foundation to build on. Acquirers don’t want to merge with a firm that is unorganized and/or dysfunctional. Future partners don’t want to buy in to something that is not attractive.

There are some very basic things that CPA firm leaders need to do to continually increase the value of their firm. Of course, CPAs must be technically competent, good communicators, and committed to client service. You are in a service business, just like a hotel or restaurant.

Beyond those basics, a couple more foundational items are needed to create firm value.

Culture – You (and your partners, if you have some) should devote your attention to creating a culture in which you want to work, providing your employees with a clear picture of acceptable behaviors that exemplify your core values. A culture built around consistent and strong core values will attract people with those same core values. If you discover employees who do not embrace your core values, they should be encouraged to go elsewhere.

Processes – Another foundational item thing you can do to increase the value of your firm is to implement processes, procedures, and policies that are well-documented in writing. This means the success of your firm is not solely on your shoulders and not dependent on just a few people. Having written processes and procedures ensures that you can easily get new employees up to speed quickly.

  • Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.
  • Dalai Lama

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

Virtual Mentoring

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg

A Gallup survey last fall revealed that working from home — including various hybrid arrangements — is trending permanently. Last September, 45% of U.S. employees were working partly or fully remotely, and 91% of them planned to continue some level of remote work post-pandemic; in fact, 58% would consider leaving their current jobs if access to remote arrangements vanished.

By now, you have learned that remote/virtual training can be accomplished. You had no choice. I want to encourage you to continue your mentoring program that embraces a method of having a virtual mentor/mentee, someone you do not see face-to-face every working day. It can be done and while you have not been forced to do it, as with training, it can be done successfully.

Many people assume that mentoring relies on being physically together at least from time to time. However, that is not true. I will offer myself as an example.

I have successfully mentored, coached and guided CPA firm managing partners, HR directors, firm administrators, and even marketing directors for many years, most of them I have never met in person. Sometimes we use Zoom or Teams for our sessions but mostly it is simply via phone conversations. Of course, there is some structure to our conversations and action steps that are identified and achieved just like it is with in-person mentoring.

My advice to you, if you cannot be a mentor or mentee in person you can, just simply talk to each other. Often, it is easier to talk to a person via phone (not seeing their face). Think about helplines for people with various troubles and challenges. They do to see the person they are talking to but they soon learn that the person on the other end of the conversation cares, can be trusted, and has sound advice.

Don’t exclude your virtual employees from the benefit of mentoring. It is a fundamental part of building a career in public accounting – a more experienced person guides a less experienced person to help them achieve career success.

  • Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

Hard Work

“Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that’s the difference.” – Lou Holtz

I agree with the above quote by Lou Holtz. If you want to be successful and reap financial rewards, hard work is part of the equation.

We, working in the CPA profession, know about hard work. It is part of a professional career whether you are a CPA, a lawyer, an engineer, or a medical professional.

It is also hard work to be working in technical support, as an Amazon distribution employee, or as an employee of a construction company.

No matter what the career path, hard work pays off. I feel like I am a good example. I worked long hours when I was at a firm, not only during tax season but all year long. I enjoyed the challenge and appreciated the knowledge I gained. I loved it.

Make sure you enjoy or even love, the work you do and it really doesn’t seem like hard work. As Holtz says, if you work hard, you just might become a winner. If you see your work as punishment, get another job.

  • It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.
  • Lou Holtz

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

AICPA Survey Results About Recruitment and Retention Struggles

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” — Napoleon Hill

The following is a press release from the AICPA.

Impact of Unfilled Jobs: Staff Restructurings, Delayed Projects and Deferred Expansions

AICPA & CIMA Survey Polled U.S. Executives on Recruitment and Retention Struggles

NEW YORK (March 30, 2022) – Almost one in four U.S. business executives said the ongoing impact of unfilled jobs had forced them to restructure staff to protect core operations or limited the pursuit of new projects or bids, according to an AICPA & CIMA survey.

A dearth of skilled job candidates had been a top concern for businesses for years before the pandemic and quickly reemerged as the recovery progressed. Business leaders list “availability of skilled personnel” as a challenge second only to inflation in the latest AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, which polls CEOs, CFOs and other senior-level CPAs and management accountants in the finance function. Top-line results of the quarterly survey were released earlier this month.

Some 82% of business executives said their organizations were having at least some difficulty with recruitment and retention, with 17% characterizing it as extreme difficulty. The latter is actually an improvement from the fourth quarter last year, when it stood at 25%.

Some 31% of survey takers said mid-level staff openings have been the most difficult to fill, while 28% said the problem is across the board. One in four identified entry level positions as the most challenging category to recruit.

While 40% of business executives said unfilled jobs have not had a significant impact on operations, a majority said the problem had manifested itself in several ways within their organizations. The most common outcomes (survey takers could choose more than one):

  • Restructured staff to protect core operations (24%)
  • Limited new projects or bids (23%)
  • Delayed service expansions (16%)
  • Slowed customer/client acquisition (9%)
  • Reduced hours of operations or  work shifts (7%)
  • Closed some work locations (3%)

“We know from our survey that 57% of business executives report they have too few employees,”  said Ash Noah, CPA, CGMA, vice president and managing director of CGMA learning, education and development for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, representing the AICPA and CIMA. “Pandemic-related trends such as the Great Resignation have complicated an already difficult hiring situation, and that can exacerbate burnout and disaffection among remaining staff if the situation isn’t managed carefully.”

To combat the tight labor market, companies have adopted a number of recruitment and retention strategies, principally higher wages and more flexible work arrangements, although the former has been driven in part by inflationary pressures. Signing bonuses are also increasing as a tactic to attract new talent.

Methodology

The first-quarter AICPA Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey was conducted from Feb. 2-23, 2022, and included 461 qualified responses from CPAs who hold leadership positions, such as chief financial officer or controller, in their companies. The overall margin of error is less than 3 percentage points. A copy of the report can be found on aicpa.org.

  • Don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for.
  • Marian Wright Edelman

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

Rewarding Top Performers

“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” – Jonas Salk

It is true inside a CPA firm. You reward your best performers by giving them more work. That’s not what Jonas Salk meant by the quotation above.

The scheduler hears it often….. don’t assign Barry to my client’s engagement, give me Betty. (Yes, Betty is a top performer, and Barry, not so much.)

While I recommend you be fully aware as you assign work. Make sure that someone isn’t being over-scheduled, because they will end up leaving your firm.

I also have some advice for the Bettys of the CPA world. The best way to learn the game of business and expand your world of accounting knowledge is to demand that you be given more and more challenging assignments. Just because you are fast at one particular task, never be satisfied doing that same task over and over again.

Public accounting offers so many avenues for success. Explore them all. Ask for more challenging work and never be afraid to communicate that you have too much and need help. As time goes on, you will discover what you love doing. It might be tax, it might be SALT, it might be CAS, it might be audit, it might be estate planning, it might be working with auto dealers, manufacturers, franchisees, or any other services or niches your firm offers, including business advisory.

The status quo won’t get you very far.

  • There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.
  • Henry Ford

Thursday, March 24th, 2022

Gen Z Management

“Spend time advising and training your team. Be positive, patient, and practical.” – Mike Monroe

It seems you just got used to managing the Millennials and now you are faced with Gen Z. Gen Z is defined as those aged 10 – 25. Here’s a recap:

  • Gen Z – born 1997 – 2012 – Ages in 2022 10-25
  • Millennials – born 1981 – 1996 – Ages in 2022 26-41
  • Gen X – born 1965 – 1980 – Ages in 2022 42-57
  • Boomers II born 1955 – 1964 – Ages in 2022 58 – 67

*Please remember that there are slightly differing opinions as to the exact years but this recap gives you a general idea.

Some sources say that the disillusionment that has driven the Great Resignation has been caused by mediocre management. I think that is partially true. Not all managers are mediocre.

An interesting article by Mike Monroe via SmartBrief will help you understand all of this much better.

According to McKinsey & Co., employee-manager relationships are the top factor affecting employees’ job satisfaction. Workers will stay at a so-so position if their managers are great. But people won’t stick around for mediocre managers — even if the job is otherwise fantastic.

Monroe offers two mindsets that may help you be a better manager.

  1. Be the manager that you would have benefited from in your past.
  2. Check your narcissism at the door.

Read the brief article and see if anything applies inside your firm.

  • If you’re a middle manager, you’re one of the intangible benefits of working at your company. You need to learn how to attract, interview and supervise up-and-coming workers.
  • Mike Monroe

Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

Salary Increases

“Of course, it is not the employer who pays wages. He only handles the money. It is the product that pays wages and it is the management that arranges the production so that the product may pay the wages.” – Henry Ford

I get a lot of questions about salary increases and when I talk to CPA firms, year after year, they disclose that their average salary increase will be 5%. Year after year. Yet, they often provide a disclaimer…. “we do give 10% or higher to some top performers”.

You might find the BDO 2022 Salary Increase Budget Survey Report interesting. 5% looks pretty good.

  • Note to salary setters: Pay your people the least possible and you'll get from them the same.
  • Malcolm Forbes

Monday, March 14th, 2022

A Story Of Life In A CPA Firm

“The way I see it is if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton

I was pleased when I was asked by Sons of CPAs to be part of their podcast. They have titled it, Real Life in the Accounting Profession.

I actually like the title because I think one of my strengths is that I have lived in and observed CPA firms for forty years! I have written about it and been interviewed about it for probably thirty years. I am in my 17th year daily blogging about the inside workings of CPA firms.

I really enjoyed talking with Scott Scanaro and Jason Ackerman, two gentlemen who happen to be sons of CPAs. We had a long conversation so you might want to listen in smaller bites. My interview begins at about 2 minutes and 40 seconds into the podcast.

Listen here.

  • If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.
  • Albert Einstein

Saturday, March 5th, 2022

More Than One Mentor

“The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.” – Plutarch

Never feel guilty about moving on when you feel like a mentoring relationship has run its course. If a certain mentor isn’t providing the advice you need find another. I also recommend having more than one mentor.

Long-term mentoring relationships that continually enrich both parties are rare and should be treasured. They are gold.

However, always be open to exploring new experiences. I usually recommend to my clients that they should collect mentors like seashells.

Let me explain. I’ve told you this story before but it has been a long time ago.

I am definitely a people watcher and I enjoy watching people stroll along the beach (usually on Hilton Head Island). Most of the shells that end up on the shore are broken so when a person finds a whole one they can’t resist picking it up, even though they already have several “whole” ones.

The same thing applies to finding mentors. When you meet someone who, like an undamaged seashell, is whole, meaning they have it all together – latch onto them. In my early years in the CPA world, I called these people my heroes. I would meet someone at a conference or business meeting and realize they really knew what they were doing. I introduced myself and eventually became very close friends with many. Many experienced, competent, professionals helped me along my career path.

Eventually, some mentoring situations seem to simply wear out. That’s okay – don’t draw it out, be honest, disengage with gratitude and be direct. Both of you will be happier. Always keep the door open for the future.

Steve Jobs said, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” While I agree with that sentiment, my way is not quite so pushy – – I apply constant, gentle pressure and eventually they lean in the right direction. Constant is the keyword.

  • Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson