Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Time to Participate in the Rosenberg Survey

Busy season is history and now it is time, once again, to participate in the annual Rosenberg MAP Survey. The information you receive is a valuable tool in helping you manage your firm successfully. Here’s more information:

The 2019 Rosenberg Survey is well underway and so far, we’ve received a great response.
Do you know which key statistics drive profitability? Do you know how your firm is performing relative to like-sized firms in similar markets? Participate in the 2019 Rosenberg Survey to find out!
For over two decades, The Rosenberg Survey has proven to be the benchmarking standard for mainstream accounting firms across the US and Canada. The Rosenberg Survey provides highly relevant and in-depth analyses and serves as a guide to help your firm make strategic decisions.
See how valuable The Rosenberg Survey is for yourself! The deadline to complete the survey is Monday, July 15th.

 

  • Most firms are still stuck managing the compliance services at the expense of the advisory work.
  • Jeff Pawlow

Monday, April 15th, 2019

What Are The Minimum Hours You Expect Staff To Work?

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” – William Shakespeare

The number of hours you expect your team members to work, throughout the year, is something that should be clearly communicated. Some firms expect significantly increased hours during February, March and half of April and also during the Fall busy season. More and more firms are adopting a four-day workweek during the summer months.

Kimberly Hawkins of Thomas, Head & Greisen (Anchorage AK), allowed me to share how their “Seasonal Schedule” works. I think it is rather creative and very reasonable compared to most CPA firms.

At the bottom of this page is more information from Kim about how they handle holidays, PTO days, etc.

We have what we call a seasonal schedule. Our work weeks range from 50 hours during tax season, to 32 hours during the summer and late fall. During our 32 hour work weeks, staff schedule a day off, which is typically a Monday or a Friday. This is our schedule for this year:

Seasonal Schedule 2018-2019-Minimum hours we would like someone to work due to the seasonal nature of our business:

Wk # Begin Date End Date Std Hrs
1        10/1/2018 10/6/2018           50
2        10/7/2018 10/13/2018         50
3        10/14/2018 10/20/2018       40
4        10/21/2018 10/27/2018       32
5        10/28/2018 11/3/2018         32
6        11/4/2018 11/10/2018         32
7        11/11/2018 11/17/2018       32
8        11/18/2018 11/24/2018       32
9        11/25/2018 12/1/2018         32
10       12/2/2018 12/8/2018          32
11       12/9/2018 12/15/2018        32
12       12/16/2018 12/22/2018      32
13       12/23/2018 12/29/2018      32
14       12/30/2018 1/5/2019          32
15       1/6/2019 1/12/2019            40
16       1/13/2019 1/19/2019          40
17       1/20/2019 1/26/2019          40
18       1/27/2019 2/2/2019            45
19       2/3/2019 2/9/2019              45
20       2/10/2019 2/16/2019          50
21       2/17/2019 2/23/2019          50
22       2/24/2019 3/2/2019            50
23       3/3/2019 3/9/2019              50
24       3/10/2019 3/16/2019          50
25       3/17/2019 3/23/2019          50
26       3/24/2019 3/30/2019          50
27       3/31/2019 4/6/2019            50
28       4/7/2019 4/13/2019            50
29       4/14/2019 4/20/2019          40
30       4/21/2019 4/27/2019          40
31        4/28/2019 5/4/2019           40
32       5/5/2019 5/11/2019            40
33       5/12/2019 5/18/2019          40
34       5/19/2019 5/25/2019          40
35       5/26/2019 6/1/2019            40
36       6/2/2019 6/8/2019              32
37       6/9/2019 6/15/2019            32
38       6/16/2019 6/22/2019          32
39       6/23/2019 6/29/2019          32
40       6/30/2019 7/6/2019            32
41       7/7/2019 7/13/2019            32
42       7/14/2019 7/20/2019          32
43       7/21/2019 7/27/2019          32
44       7/28/2019 8/3/2019            32
45       8/4/2019 8/10/2019            32
46       8/11/2019 8/17/2019          40
47       8/18/2019 8/24/2019          45
48       8/25/2019 8/31/2019          50
49       9/1/2019 9/7/2019              50
50       9/8/2019 9/14/2019            50
51       9/15/2019 9/21/2019          40
52       9/22/2019 9/28/2019          45
53       9/29/2019 9/30/2019            8
Year End Total                             2080

If a holiday is on a Monday and that is the day staff take their Seasonal Day, they can choose another day in the same week (Sunday – Saturday).  Staff can only have one Seasonal Day in a week.  I’ve also attached our Seasonal Variance Schedule.  If staff work on different projects, for example, 990’s, they may choose to take their Seasonal Days in different weeks, with approval.  Our staff takes PTO by days, so if they are on vacation during a 32- hour week, they only have to release 32 hours of PTO.  Once staff has selected their day off we add them to our vacation calendar and also to ProStaff.  ProStaff pushes an appointment to our Outlook calendars, blocking off our Seasonal Days.  We add this to the vacation calendar so we can easily see at a glance everyone out of the office that day.  Our staff also update their status in PM showing they are taking a Seasonal Day.

  • If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

Orientation and Onboarding

“People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” – Jim Collins

While the CPAs have been busy serving clients in tax season, I hope your practice manager or HR manager has used the time to make sure your firm’s hiring practices are in line with current trends. I believe that onboarding, in public accounting, can take up to a full year.

Here is a link to a blog I wrote in 2016 about how orientation and onboarding have changed in recent years.

Here is a link to a good article via Journal of Accountancy on the same topic.

Share this blog post with your HR professionals.

  • If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.
  • Red Adair

Friday, April 5th, 2019

A Refresher On The Overtime Rules

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

An administrative assistant in your office receives a great performance evaluation and then asks you if they can be put on salary. In many CPA firms, it sometimes becomes a dilemma.

Be sure you are abiding by the federal overtime rules. Here’s a link to an article that owners, firm administrators and HR managers might need to read. It could also be shared with your entire team. Your CPAs all need to be able to advise clients when this topic arises.

Don’t work too many long hours this weekend. Next weekend you should be all done – no working! Many firms are able to do this when the due date falls on a Monday.

  • My first job at Gleason's Bar in Cleveland was $800 a week, when I was making $92 a week with overtime at the automobile plant.
  • Chuck Berry

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Discussing Fees

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett

I hear stories that have a similar theme:

  • I inherited the firm from a sole proprietor. The clients are just not used to paying what would be a normal fee.
  • I am working so many hours and need to increase my fees. But, I am afraid I will lose too many clients.

I ask, “How do you describe your fees to clients?” What I usually discover is that the CPAs who have such a great fear of losing clients are not actually talking about fees WITH the client, at all. I also learn that CPAs who charge an appropriate fee don’t talk with clients about the fees either.

My friend, Sarah Johnson Dobek of Inovautus Consulting gives us some excellent advice:

  • Initiate the conversation
  • Describe the services you will provide
  • Present your fees with clarity
  • Write it down
  • Don’t be defensive

Read more about each of these points on Sarah’s blog post. Take the time to teach your entire team how to talk about fees with clients.

  • The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.
  • Meister Eckhart

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Dealing With The High Volume of Tax Season Emails

“Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late.” – William Shakespeare.

During tax season, a few years ago, I sent an email to one of my clients, a CPA managing partner. In response to my email, I received the following message:

Greetings, Friends & Clients:

 Due to the normal tax season intense workload, and to allow me to completely focus on the tasks at hand, I am currently checking and responding to e-mail daily at 8:00 am, 1:00 pm and 5:30 pm CT. You & your email is important to me and at the scheduled times, I will respond.

If you require urgent assistance, please contact my assistant (name and phone number) or you can email her at (he provided her email address).

Even though you get this auto-response, rest assured that I do receive and am able to view the email you sent. Thank you for understanding this move to more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me accomplish more and serve you better.

Sincerely,

It was a first for me. I had never received one like it. Of course, I had to ask the partner how this move toward winning the email battle was working for him. I’m sure most of you are fighting this same email overload challenge.

He replied that he was glad that I was not offended and that the feedback has been mostly positive. He added, “Email is the biggest challenge I have and many people (who don’t email you a lot), have an expectation of an instant response.”

I was absolutely not offended. I knew right away he had received my email and when he would get back to me. Simple as that. Don’t you hate it when you never hear anything at all (for two days or more)? You just wonder if they received your email or not. Don’t leave your clients wondering.

  • Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.
  • William Penn

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Alpha Females

“In theory, Vera liked strong women, in practice, they often irritated her.” – Ann Cleaves, author of Vera series 

I read the above phrase and it stayed on my mind. I must admit that it hit home with me. I have known many very strong women over my long career. Some inspired me and some completely turned me off. Maybe you can identify with that.

As I think back, the reason that some strong women irritated me was not that they were strong. It was because they were irritating. I have known mild-manner females who have also irritated me. Such is life. There have certainly been many males, strong and mild, who have irritated me, too!

The passage and these thoughts inspired me to look a little deeper into the issue of strong females. I do believe that women in the profession of public accounting need to have strength and grit if they want to survive.

This is from the site Science of People: The term ‘alpha female’ is thrown around casually, but what does the science have to say? What is an alpha female? Here is the real definition of an alpha female, based on the latest research. The Alpha Female: 9 Ways You Can Tell Who is an Alpha Woman. 

The Nine Traits:

  1. Fearless Leadership
  2. High Emotional Intelligence
  3. Obsessive Learners
  4. Strong
  5. Are Sought Out
  6. Highly Ambitious
  7. Love Their Mommas (and Daddys)
  8. Cultivate Harmony
  9. Exceptional Confidence

Read the article and share it with other females in your firm.

  • She's proof that you can walk through hell and still be an angel.
  • R. H. Sin

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

You Have To Nag

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

There is no way to put it nicely. If you want your client to get their tax information to you on time, you have to remind them and remind them and nag them.

My dentist reminds me of my appoint four different ways: phone, email, U.S. Mail and text. For the dentist, I must reply with a “C” to text my confirmation. Do you have a system in place to remind your clients individually? Sad to say but it must be repetitive.

It is easy these days to send out a bulk email. It might be ignored but it is still a great reminder. Here’s a sample of what one of my clients sent out last week. Specifying a due date helps. They ask for individual information by March 13th! Use their example and do the same thing.

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  • Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
  • Helen Keller

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Make Friends

“If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” – Anna Quindlen

It is a common activity in the CPA profession. Firm leaders advise and encourage their managers and younger team members to get out there and network.

Attend every Chamber function. Take part in those non-profit fundraiser events. Don’t stand in a corner and eat or drink. Talk to people and exchange business cards. Add their name to your contact list.

It does rather seem like a merry-go-round. You go round and round and never get anywhere. That’s because gathering contacts is not making friends. Suzy Welch suggests a different approach. Rather than make contacts, make friends.

Meet people, sure. Find a few you actually like and build a friendship over time. People love to do business with friends. Hundreds of contacts rarely turn into friends who will recommend you and refer others to you.

  • A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face.
  • Maya Angelou

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Failure to Detect Fraud Webinar

“Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.” – Sophocles

Be sure to check out an upcoming webinar sponsored by CPAFMA (CPA Firm Management Association).

The Accountants Exposure To Litigation In Failure To Detect Fraud – MAPCast

Failure to detect fraud claims continue to happen against accounting firms and claims go beyond the scope of audit services. This session will discuss in an overview fashion what fraud is and steps you can take to hopefully mitigate this exposure. We will look at claim scenarios and discuss what could have been done to head off such claims.

Date: Thursday, March 21, 2019

Click here for more information.

  • There is no success without hardship.
  • Sophocles