Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

Keep Communicating With Your Clients

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

I happen to be on the mailing list of many CPA firms and I have been so pleased to see how well you are all communicating with your clients.

Now is the time they need reassurance from you. They will need lots of assistance in the days, weeks and months ahead and you are their “go-to” person.

I have assembled some of the communications as inspiration for you. You can download a copy of my compilation of just a few of the emails firms are sending to clients.

 

  • Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

The New Challenge of Leading People Remotely

“Being supportive is always important—but in times of crisis and separation, it’s critical.” – Dolly Daskal

In my office at work, many years ago, I had a magnetic sign stuck on the side of a metal file cabinet (remember those?) that said in big letters “Shit Happens.” It was where no one could see it but me! One of the partners gave it to me.

That pretty much described my focus back then. I was the firefighter, the policewoman, the physical Wikipedia and lots of challenges came my way. I welcomed the challenges but sometimes it was very frustrating (thus the sign). Things do just happen.

Now, as a leader in your firm (managing partner, HR director, Practice Manager, COO) lots of challenges have come your way (Big S— Has Happened).

If you are seeking help on how to do your management job in a remote environment Dolly Daskal has written an informative post.

Here are some tips:

  • You should be more supportive than ever.
  • You should be more present than ever.
  • You must keep people more informed than ever.
  • Be sure to show that you care more than ever.
  • You should bring more clarity than ever.
  • You should lead by example more than ever.

Daskal gives you more explanation for each of these tips in her post. Be sure to read the entire article.

  • It’s harder to show caring from a distance, but a time like this, when people are feeling anxious and isolated, is when a personal touch is most needed.
  • Dolly Daskal

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

Do You Have People Who Aren’t Self-Aware In Your Firm?

“I am dating a woman now who, evidently, is unaware of it.” – Gary Shandling

Research shows that although 95% of people think they are self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.

In a recent article via HBR, you probably can find them in your office. It is my observation that you definitely find them in CPA firms!

These are people who have solid qualifications and are intelligent, yet they have no clue as to how they come across to their co-workers or employees. They are not only frustrating, but they can also cause increased stress and decreased motivation for others on the team.

Sometimes it is hard to identify that the real problem is lack of self-awareness. Some things to consider are that they don’t accept critical feedback, they lack empathy, they have an inflated opinion of their contributions and they are hurtful to others without realizing it.

Sometimes upward feedback surveys can bring the issues to the surface. In other cases, if you recognize it in others, you might have that crucial conversation with the person yourself.

Read the entire article. Plan to deal with these situations rather than sweep them under the carpet and risk driving top performers away from your firm.

 

  • There must be a happy medium somewhere between being totally informed and blissfully unaware.
  • Doug Larson

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

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

Important News From The AICPA

Here’s a press release:

AICPA Calls for Tax Relief for Individuals and Businesses Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON, DC, March 11, 2020 – The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) today called for the Treasury Department and the IRS to provide relief to all taxpayers in light of the uncertainty and challenges caused by the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Specifically, we request that Treasury and the IRS consider the following recommendations, which will provide extensive relief to millions of individuals and businesses:

Individuals

  • Broad Relief: Extend certain deadlines falling on or after March 15, 2020 and before October 15, 2020 to give individuals additional time to file and make payments through October 15, 2020.
  • Automatic Extension: Provide an automatic extension to October 15, 2020, without the need to file any forms or request an extension.
  • Penalties & Interest:
    • Waive late payment penalties if at least 70% of an individual’s current tax due is paid by April 15, 2020.
    • Waive interest through October 15, 2020.
  • Other Relief:
    • Waive underpayment penalties for 2020 estimated tax payments if paid by September 15, 2020.
    • Extend the IRA contribution deadline.

Businesses

  • Broad Relief: Extend certain deadlines falling on or after March 15, 2020 and before October 15, 2020, to give businesses additional time to file and make payments through October 15, 2020.
  • Automatic Extension: Provide an automatic extension without the need to file any forms or request an extension.
  • Penalties & Interest: Waive late payment penalties and interest through October 15, 2020.
  • Other Relief: Provide appropriate relief for all businesses and tax-exempt organizations regarding elections and filings (including payroll, excise tax, etc.).

“We are hearing from our members that they and their clients are experiencing great uncertainty about this year’s tax filing season.  Our recommendations will help give taxpayers, large and small, much-needed relief in the midst of this fast-moving emergency situation,” said Edward Karl, AICPA Vice President of Taxation.  “We continue to closely monitor the Coronavirus pandemic and thank the Treasury Department and IRS for their commitment to the welfare of all taxpayers.”

  • Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more easily assess the situation and see the options.
  • Simon Sinek

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

Always Look Successful

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

You ask your clients for a substantial amount when you provide services. You are a professional and it has taken a lot of investment in college education, your continuing professional education and simply keeping current on trends in your area of expertise.

I believe your fees should reflect your expertise, professionalism and your success. How do your clients know you are professional and successful? They base it on what they see and how you act.

You should never feel guilty about charging clients what you are worth! But, I believe you need to show them that you are successful. They base their opinions on things like:

  • How you dress each business day.
  • The kind of car you drive.
  • Where you live.
  • Where you dine.
  • Where you are visible in your business and charitable community.
  • Your conversational skills.
  • Your abilities to write proficiently and speak confidently.

Even if you are a new CPA, you are a professional working in a professional firm. Clients sometimes see you and often talk with you via phone. They assume because you are a CPA, that you have all the technical skills. They judge your professionalism, your success, and your worth by a lot of other things. This is especially true when you are interacting with potential clients, successful business people who really don’t know you.

  • The starting point of all achievement is desire.
  • Napoleon Hill

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Stay Home When You Are Sick

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” – Fannie Lou Hamer

It is tax season. There is a lot of pressure to work extra hours and keep the work flowing through the office and out the door by March 15 and April 15.

I worked in a CPA firm for many years and I rarely missed a day. It was very unusual for a “professional” to call in sick. Sometimes people would drag themselves in, persevere for part of the day and then go home early. This, of course, just help spread the germs throughout the office.

Even if management urged people to stay home when they were sick, it made little difference. Tax season meant you must be at work unless you were drastically sick.

Thank goodness, times have changed. Progressive firms have enabled everyone to do their work remotely. Yet, I still talk with firm leaders who do not offer connectivity to EVERYONE.

A recent study found that 90 percent of the American workforce admits to coming into work when they are not only feeling under the weather but know they are contagious.

Make sure your team members believe you when you tell them to stay home when they are sick.

  • There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

Treating Everyone The Same

A quote I recently read from Tom Peters brought to mind some situations I have observed in accounting firms. Here’s the quote:

“Every team in the world is very diverse!!! Think of symphonies or sports teams or classrooms. The good conductors/coaches/teachers treat every member differently every day.” – Tom Peters

Some firm leaders try to make everything fair by treating everyone the same. It is a hopeless struggle. I like the current term we use in managing people in public accounting firms: One size fits one.

Think about the ways you have set yourself up for failure by requiring the same behavior from all your team members. Things such as:

  • All associates must get 1700 chargeable hours.
  • All seniors must pass the CPA exam before they can be promoted to supervisor.
  • All partners and managers must be mentors in our mentoring program.
  • Everyone must be in the office and ready to work by 8:00 a.m.
  • During our busy season, everyone must work in the office on Saturday morning.
  • No administrative people are allowed to work overtime.

Simple solutions: Be more flexible. Allow individuals to do more work where they use their strengths rather than focusing all your energy on trying to help them improve their weaknesses.

  • I've known people who thought that reaching their potential would come from shoring up their weaknesses. But do you know what happens when you spend all your time working on your weaknesses and never developing your strengths? If you work really hard, you might claw your way all the way to mediocrity! But you'll never get beyond it.
  • John C. Maxwell

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

Be Prepared for a Pandemic

“All firms should implement is a remote access technology that allows firm personnel to continue to communicate and collaborate if they must stay home.” – Roman Kepczyk

What would happen if you had several employees become sick or have to stay home with a sick relative, especially during tax season?

So much has been in the news about the current Coronavirus. Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP, CGMA has written a very helpful and informative article on preparing for a pandemic.

Natural disasters and cybersecurity concerns have pushed most firms to develop a disaster response plan in the event of a catastrophic office or systems loss, but few have considered the potential impact of a massive influenza outbreak, such as the current Coronavirus epidemic.

Read the article here.

  • The minute you think you've got it made, disaster is just around the corner.
  • Joe Paterno

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Set Clear Expectations For Your Clients

“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I admire firms that are proactive with their clients. So many CPAs just wait on the client to call if there is an issue they need help with. Surveys have told us over and over again that clients want their CPA to be more proactive.

Be more proactive when it comes to obtaining the client’s tax information. For most firms, it is an annual, painful drama. Here’s a message one firm has sent out (in late February) to their clients. It went out in an email. It is a simple thing to do and guess what? It might help!

fluence

Have We Received Your Personal Tax Information?

April 15th will be here before you know it! Have you turned in your personal tax information? Remember, in order to ensure a timely filing of your tax return (to avoid an extension), we must have your information by March 11, 2020. All tax organizers were sent to clients in December of 2019. If you need another copy, please let us know. Please be sure to bring us your information so we are able to get started. If you are waiting for a few items, not a problem! Bring us what you have, we will get started, and then bring in the additional information as it arrives.
 
If you have any questions regarding your personal tax return, please contact our office. Thank you for your help.

  • Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.
  • Stephen R. Covey