Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

A Jerk Free Firm

“In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.” – Bill Watterson

Recently, a comment from Allan Koltin caused me to give some thought to what a jerk-free firm might be. Koltin noted that if you had a jerk-free firm, the firm would be more likely to have appeal as a merger candidate.

I have observed that most CPA firms have at least one jerk at the leadership level. It could be a partner, a manager, a male, or a female but their jerkdom is well-known and dreaded. Sometimes they are even ridiculed among the team members. Usually, interns can identify the jerk within a week or so and can often do a great job of doing a comic imitation of that person.

Here is a link to where you can read about jerks in the workplace. But how do you define a jerk personality in an accounting firm?

Someone who:

  • Talks excessively but never listens.
  • Takes credit for other people’s ideas.
  • Is always last minute causing chaos close to due dates.
  • Doesn’t respect other people’s time.
  • Leaves a mess in the lunch room for admin to clean up.
  • Ignores the FIFO method for processing work and puts their jobs first.
  • Seems to have no understanding that you have a personal life.
  • Rarely express appreciation of gives recognition for a job well done.
  • Openly makes fun of other people (staff/clients) and gets involved in the grapevine.
  • Dodges client calls when they know there is a problem and delegates it to someone else.

I could go on but you can add to this list if you want.

I suggest you strive to develop a jerk-free culture by establishing some guidelines and goals. Be sure you have identified the firm’s core values and expect all partners to live by them and set a good example

Here is an example of some values that help make a jerk-free workplace;

  • Client focused – Always sriving to provide awesome client service
  • Focused on excellence pertainig to hiring, establishing processes and working environment.
  • Keeping our word – I always think of something Sam Allred said at a retreat many years ago as it applies to partners: “I will do what I say I will do, on time, without reminders.”
  • Team oriented – Everyone at all levels are expected to give and receive feedback to help themselves and the entire team to continually improve.
  • Self-sufficient – I will be a problem solver; not one who creates problems for others to solve.

Be able to say without hesitation, “We are a jerk-free firm!”

  • Of the billionaires I have known, money just brings out the basic traits in them. If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars.
  • Warren Buffett

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

New Survey About Remote Work

“Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.” – Brian Kristofek

Here are some interesting findings from a recent survey by flexjobs. The last segment about the importance of company culture should be something CPA firms should consider.

44% Know at Least One Person Who Has Quit or Plans to Quit Because of Employers Revoking Remote Work

New FlexJobs survey highlights the high-value employees place on remote work, mental health support, and company culture

Boulder, CO, September 13, 2021 – According to FlexJobs’ survey of over 4,600 respondents, 44 percent know at least one person that has quit or is planning to quit because their employers are requiring them to return to the office. 29 percent are actively looking for a new job because they want to work remotely, while 17 percent have quit a job because it did not offer remote work options.

“It’s a job seeker’s market right now, and workers are more empowered than ever to leave job situations that aren’t ideal, or leave companies that aren’t allowing them to work the way they want to,” said Sara Sutton, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “As our latest survey highlights, workers are placing an extremely high value on the option to work remotely, and they’re committed to finding companies that are embracing remote work as a long-term workplace model and have a healthy company culture to support it,” Sutton concluded.

Remote Work Matters:

  • 44% know at least one person that has quit or is planning to quit because their employers are requiring them to return to the office
  • 29% are currently looking for a new job because they want to work remotely
  • 17% have quit a job because it did not have remote work options
  • 21% would give up some vacation time, and nearly a quarter (24%) would take a 10-20% cut in pay in order to work remotely as much as they want
  • Post-pandemic, 58% prefer a fully remote job, and 39% want a hybrid arrangement that combines both office and remote work; only 3% report wanting to return to the office full-time
  • However, 42% report that post-pandemic, their employers will require them to be in the physical office; 27% will have hybrid work arrangements; 17% will be fully remote; the remaining 14% were unsure of their company’s plans

Other key insights from the survey:

Mental Health Matters:

  • 70% say a permanent remote job would have a huge improvement or positive impact on their mental health 
  • 81% of respondents said having better work-life balance is the #1 factor for wanting a job with a flexible work option
    • Other reasons for wanting a flexible job include commute stress (50%), family (47%), and exposure to illnesses (43%)
  • Lack of healthy work-life boundaries would cause 57% to not apply, not accept, or to quit a job
  • Nearly one in five (18%) said not offering mental health support was a big mistake their company made during the pandemic

Company Culture Matters:

  • Toxic culture would cause 73% of respondents to not apply, not accept, or to quit a job. Other reasons include:
    • Micromanaging boss (58%), lack of healthy work-life boundaries (57%), and not allowing remote work (55%) or flexible options (50%); the top reason was a low salary (79%)
  • Poor communication from leadership was the biggest mistake made by employers during the pandemic (30%). Other top-reported mistakes included: 
    • Not fully understanding the stress of work-life conflicts during the quarantine (25%)
    • Unrealistic expectations about productivity during quarantine (22%)
    • Poor management of workers overall (22%)
    • Being too rigid with schedules (17%) 

Read more here.

  • We have a culture where we are incredibly self critical, we don't get comfortable with our success
  • Mark Parker, CEO, Nike

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Leadership Development

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Once again it is time to remind you of the leadership development programs offered by Convergence Coaching. Too many firms have ignored the need for structured leadership development programs and thus limit their choices when considering firm succession.

Convergence’s flagship program:

Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP) – Kicking off with a remote web seminar on November 1, participants pay $6,500 for the year. This one-year “finishing school” for high-potential managers, senior managers, directors, new partners and key administrators includes a combination of one-on-one coaching, two 2-day workshops (in-person or can pivot to remote if needed), 2-hour web-based roundtables, online self-study and a special in-firm project. Participants join a cohort of up to 26 other leaders from firms around the country, learning both from facilitators and each other in this year-long program.

There are also other programs for up-and-comers in your firm:

  • Leadership Development Program for Seniors and Supervisors (Kicking off October 25)
  • Client Advisor Program (Will soon be scheduling 2022 dates)
  • Rainmaker Development Program (Will be scheduling 2022 dates)

Here’s a graphical view of the programs available:

  • A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be.
  • Rosalynn Carter

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

Does The Pay Justify The Toil?

“Leave something for someone but don’t leave someone for something.” – Enid Blyton

Are you always doing exit interviews with staff? Do you know for sure why people are leaving your firm?

There are times when someone gives notice, you and their peers are all thinking, “Thank goodness!” That should never be the case! Deal with poor performers directly and don’t just hope and pray that they will quit.

During these times of a severe talent shortage, you might find out why in an article via Accounting Today titled, 5 Reasons Staff Are Leaving Your Firm, The author, Chase Birky notes:

The leading voices in our profession consistently cite a pipeline issue — the number of accounting graduates and CPA candidates coming through the system is not high enough to meet demand — exacerbated by the strain brought about by COVID-19. However, this explanation is superficial; it only accounts for the symptoms and not the underlying illness.”

Overwork has been a problem for years but we always downplay it saying to staff that it is only a few months each year when the workload is heavy. In days gone by, that might have been the case. I rarely talk to a firm that is not very busy all year long now.

So, the staff is feeling overworked and stressed. Per Birky, “People are fed up with being treated like a machine in an assembly line. The pay no longer justifies the toil.”

The Five Reasons are – 1) Toxic leadership, 2) Unrealistic workload, 3) Compensation plan is lacking, 4) Confusion about advancement, and 5) No self-determination.

Read more about each of the Five Reasons here.

  • People fear leaving their safe harbor of the known and venturing off into the unknown. Human beings crave certainty - even when it limits them.
  • Robin S. Sharma

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Cover Letters

“A well-written cover letter can be the difference between winning or losing a job opportunity.” – Larry Sheftel, Aprio

It is always great to be featured in The Journal of Accountancy. Thank you to Teri Saylor for contacting me to discuss the power, lack of power, and use of cover letters for resumes.

Do you expect a cover letter when someone submits a resume? Do you even care? Some beneficial information can be obtained from someone who writes an exceptional cover letter if the hiring manager at your firm actually reads it.

I believe that cover letters have almost become a thing of the past. Everyone seems to be in a hurry these days and do not think of including a cover letter. Those doing the hiring are also in a hurry too and don’t even read a cover letter if it is included.

I asked one of my clients if they always expect a cover letter with a resume. He said yes because they ask in the ad, “submit your resume and cover letter to…. ” They don’t care about the cover letter but they just want to see how many people follow instructions!

I hope you take the time to read the article. It was also nice to be featured along with my friend, Larry Sheftel of Aprio (pictured).

  • In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you.
  • Warren Buffett

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

Subscription Pricing

“You’re going to have to define the kind of customers you want, which is much easier if you’re niched.” – Ron Baker

Ron Baker has been talking about value pricing since 1994. You have read his books and heard him speak many times.

In a recent article, he makes the case for subscription pricing. We are keenly aware of subscription pricing. Many things from Netflix to shaving supplies can be bought via subscription.

Baker says, “It’s what I’m calling Value Pricing 2.0 – the subscription business model.”

Read Baker’s article via Thomson Reuters, titled: “Subscription pricing for tax and accounting services? I know this is a great idea because it scares the hell out of people.

Baker thoroughly explains the pricing model. He also covers how it is better for an accounting firm than traditional pricing models.

As with most things from Baker, I think you will find this very interesting.

  • It always amazes me that some firms have $100,000 clients and yet they have a bunch of $500 clients — that’s insane.
  • Ron Baker

Friday, September 3rd, 2021

Check-Ins – Flashback Friday

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” –Zig Ziglar

Now that you don’t actually see many of your employees every day, it is more important than ever to have frequent check-ins to find how they are doing and how they are progressing on their goals.

Read more in this Friday flashback post.

I HOPE you will enjoy this 3-day holiday weekend although I know that probably isn’t the case for many of you with the September due date just around the corner.

  • Never quit. It is the easiest cop-out in the world. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.
  • Bear Bryant

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

Are You Hiring? Maybe Paro Is The Answer.

“We wanted to create a platform where freelancers could connect with the right client.” – Chad Taylor, Paro

The question in the title is really a stupid question. Every firm I talk to is looking for qualified people to help the firm provide exceptional client service. Some firms are so desperate that they are considering outplacing some clients. That probably needed to be done anyway, but considering not to take on new clients could be a disaster in the making.

So, how will you get through the 2022 busy season? Some firms have turned to Paro to obtain experienced tax and accounting skills. I have talked to clients who use Paro and they were very pleased.

I talked with Chad Taylor of Paro to get a better understanding of how they work. Here is the landing page for Paro For CPA Firms. Paro is a talent marketplace for US-based accounting professionals (freelancers). I learned that not just anyone can join their network – – they have to be vetted. They do test projects and they accept about 3 to 4% of those who apply. If you are matched with a person, you get to meet them and interview them before making a decision. They already have an onboarding process so that they can make sure it is a successful bridge between the firm and the freelancer.

Paro might not be the answer for you but it is worth exploring.

Following is information from their promo material:

The CPA Firm Solution to Staffing Capacity Challenges

What Paro Delivers

  • Highly vetted tax preparers, tax reviewers, accountants & auditors
  • Qualified experts with the precise skills, technical experience & credentials you need
  • Candidate matching in as little as 24 hours, driven by AI technology
  • Account management support to ensure successful project outcomes
  • Comprehensive guides & checklists for onboarding remote contractors

What Your Firm Will Gain

  • Flexible, convenient subject matter expertise to relieve workload compression
  • Seamless onboarding thanks to perfect-fit matching for your needs
  • Highly efficient support from public accounting experts
  • Cost savings compared to underutilized full-time staff
  • Pioneer the future of accounting via remote staff augmentation

  • I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability, or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life.
  • Dean Koontz

Monday, August 30th, 2021

How Does A Prospective New Client View Your Firm?

“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” – Steve Jobs

Those of you who know me, know that I am, and always have been, an Apple fan. I had the first Mac when it looked like a little robot box and of all things, it had something called a Mouse! Our son had an Apple IIe when he was in middle school. I wish I had bought stock back then!

I came across a great article via Inc. A story about a Windows devotee who had an Apple Store experience. Take a few minutes and read it. See if there is something you can learn about client service from the story.

I love this one sentence in the article, “I’m deathly allergic to inauthenticity.”

Here’s the story, “I Spent $2,000 at the Apple Store and Got an Invaluable Lesson in Consumer Psychology.”

  • You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out.
  • Steve Jobs

Friday, August 20th, 2021

Things Are Not Always Easy – Flashback Friday

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

Sometimes you just have to do things that make you uncomfortable. Read this Friday Flashback post – Uncomfortable Things Will Often Make You More Successful. I think we can all relate to most of them.

Have a great weekend”

  • The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you will become comfortable.
  • Conor McGregor