Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

Staying Safe Online

“The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” – Tacitus

As the old saying goes, “It’s a jungle out there!” It sure seems to apply to the internet.

Jared Clarke, privacy advocate & tech writer, made me aware of his VERY informative article, Ultimate Privacy Guide (How to stay safe online).

Complete privacy on the internet is virtually impossible, and any services that claim to offer it are bending the truth.

However, anyone can improve their privacy online by adapting their on-line habits, like choosing privacy-focused online services and limiting the volume of information, they store on the internet.

In this privacy internet guide, we’ll show you how to protect internet privacy against threats.

As you read the article, be sure to note the top three basic mistakes users follow repeatedly. He also shares his Top 10 Online Privacy Tips.

 

  • The best safety lies in fear.
  • William Shakespeare

Monday, October 7th, 2019

National Tax Conference – FYI

“It’s income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.” – Dave Barry

The quote above is for those of you preparing extended 1040s!

Here’s a press release from the AICPA:

SAVE THE DATE: AICPA National Tax Conference

Washington, D.C. (October 3, 2019) – This November, the American Institute of CPA

s (AICPA) will host its annual National Tax Conference. Press registration includes access both online and in-person access. Please mark your calendars.

WHAT:            2019 AICPA National Tax Conference

WHEN:            November 13-14, 2019                                                          

WHERE:         The Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C.

INVITED:                   

  • Charles Rettig, IRS Commissioner
  • Michael Desmond, IRS Chief Counsel
  • Rochelle Hodes, Washington National Tax Office Crowe, LLP
  • Tony Nitti, Partner, RubinBrown LLP

TOPICS INCLUDE:

  •  Using Machine Learning to Predict Outcomes in Tax Law
  •  Treasury and the TCJA
  •  Small Business Exceptions and the Tax Shelter
  •  Lessons Learned from the 1st Year of Filing After TCJA                             

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE: Current information about speakers and conference topics including full agenda may be found here

 

Note: AICPA Fall Tax Division Meeting will take place at the Marriott Marquis on November 15th. These meetings are open to the press but not accessible via the internet.

 

  • I'm proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money.
  • Arthur Godfrey

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Always Too Busy

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” Harvey Mackay

You are thinking:

  • I would like to investigate that new niche opportunity.
  • I have heard that XXXXX software has really improved its performance. I should check it out.
  • I need to make phone calls to my top 10 clients every quarter.

BUT, I don’t have time.

Most people DO have time, they just choose to do some things and not others.

Many people desperately need some basic time management education.

Leaders often get caught up in the short term and postpone spending valuable time on long term planning because short term might be more profitable.

Schedule your time. Determine what is essential to your career and firm growth. Find your time-wasters and eliminate them. Re-think your routine and how you can capture more time to do the things you actually WANT to do.

  • You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.
  • Charles Brixton

Monday, September 30th, 2019

CPA Firm Marketing

“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world you are one.” – Robert Rose

There continues to be a lot of questions from practitioners about marketing – activities, budgets, staffing, etc.

Of course, a big percent of your marketing budget is devoted to salaries. More and more firms are devoting more time and money to online marketing while still continuing much of the traditional methods… sponsorships, etc.

Once again, the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) partnered with the Hinge Research Institute to conduct the bi-annual Marketing Budget Benchmark Study. The purpose of this study was to provide marketing professionals, firm leaders and business developers with the insights needed to determine whether their efforts are effective – especially when compared to the marketing efforts of firms that may be similar in size or with regard to a chosen marketplace.

You can download a summary or the full report here.

  • Don’t settle: Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.
  • Chris Brogan

Friday, September 27th, 2019

It’s Friday – Clean Up Your Emails

“No one got rich checking their email more often.” – Noah Kagan

I have heard it for years. Now, I hear it more from Baby Boomers working at accounting firms.

“I have so many emails! I just can’t keep up.”

Younger generations have found other ways to make contact. One Boomer partner’s comment to me: “My clients are texting me! I can’t deal with that!”

I have known some CPA partners and managers who almost think it is a badge of courage to say they have 1,500 emails in the inbox! Or, “I get 200 emails per day!”

Do you have hundreds in your firm email inbox? Go ahead, delete them all in one bold action and start over.

I like the efficiency practice I learned years ago in dealing with paper items sitting in a physical inbox sitting on your desk. It applies to email now.

Look at the item. You have three choices.

  1. Delegate it.
  2. Deal with it immediately.
  3. Throw it in the trash.

Have a great fall weekend.

 

  • Email is having an increasingly pernicious effect. Not only is it having a perceptible effect on productivity, it's skewing what it is we focus on. The immediate increasingly crowds out the important.
  • Noreena Hertz

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