Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Pause

“Take a long pause, breathe and know that things are happening for you, not to you.” – Ashton Kutcher

You are in a management position in an accounting firm. You might be the managing partner, COO, firm administrator, office manager, practice manager, HR director, marketing director, or technology director.

So many of you are so busy that you rarely find time to pause and consider what you are doing and why you are doing it. It’s possible that you have gone through your whole career just working and living and adopting other people’s ideas as your own.

During the holiday season, it is a wonderful time for reflection. Pause and find time to come to some conclusions about yourself, your life, and your career.

Of course, it is better if you do this early in your career but it is never too late. Accounting can be a wonderful career where you are continually challenged with helping other people. But, is it the right career for you? It has been for me.

  • The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
  • Mark Twain

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

Great Meetings

“Once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.” – Dan Rockwell LeadershipFreak

Dan Rockwell gives us 3 Words That Make Meeting Great. Those 3 words are Specific. Shorter. Smaller. Follow the link to read more about these three words.

I like the two words that apply to CPAs – Decide and Deliver. Too often, in partner meetings, decisions are put on hold. If a decision is finally made, it often fails because of a lack of implementation.

If someone in your meeting leaves without anything to do they shouldn’t be in the meeting in the first place. Always leave a meeting with an action plan.

Rockwell also gives us the following:

5 Things to stop doing in meetings:

  1. Complaining. Problem-solving isn’t complaining. The difference between complaining and leadership is solution-seeking.
  2. Interrupting. The person leading the meeting should interrupt interrupters.
  3. Blathering on and on.
  4. Chasing rabbits.
  5. Neglecting action items and accountability. Ask, “Who does what by when?”
  • Two or three action items is enough for most meetings.
  • Dan Rockwell

Monday, November 15th, 2021

Hang On To Your Team

“That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” – Simone de Beauvoir

Over the weekend, I read the latest news from the Associated Press. – – Americans quit their jobs at a record pace for the second straight month in September, while businesses and other employers posted a near-record number of available jobs.

Employees have become empowered and are quitting to take the higher pay that is being offered by employers who are desperate for workers.

I have observed, that some CPA firms are not doing what is necessary to retain the best and the brightest (or even the average) employee.

Some firms are still paying interns $15.00 or $16.00 per hour. I asked some more progressive CPA firms what they are paying for interns for 2022 and learned they are paying $20 to $28 per hour. Of course, geographic location makes a difference but none were paying less than $20.

The more progressive firms have already given significant salary increases and stay bonuses. If you have not done this, these firms will be attracting YOUR people. I have no proof, but I am hearing that the largest accounting firms are giving a signing bonus of $75,000 for a Manager and $100,000 for a Senior Manager.

Firms are also taking steps to outplace troublesome and nonprofitable clients because they want to maintain awesome client service to their best clients. They can’t do that if they do not have the man/woman power.

Now is not a time for CPA firm shareholders to be greedy. You have to give your team lots of little things (perks), but you also have to give them money.

Read the AP article here.

  • You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

Review Your Holiday Benefit

“A holiday is an opportunity to journey within. It is also a chance to chill, to relax. It is when I switch on my rest mode.” – Prabhas

Accounting Today recently released their list of the 2021 Best Firms for Young Accountants.

Each year, Accounting Today and Best Companies Group recognize the 100 Best Firms to Work For in the U.S. — and then they pick the 10 Best Firms for Young Accountants from among those, based on the responses of their younger staff to a comprehensive employee survey. Click here to meet the ten firms.

As I browsed the list, something stood out to me. Only four of the ten best firms offered ten paid holidays. Four offered eight and two offered nine. I thought this was rather unusual. In my network of firms I believe ten paid holidays is very common:

  1. New Year’s Day
  2. First Friday after April 15
  3. Memorial Day
  4. Independence Day
  5. Labor Day
  6. Thanksgiving
  7. Day after Thanksgiving
  8. Christmas Eve
  9. Christmas Day
  10. One floating holiday

The floating holiday is often used to make a four-day weekend if July 4th falls on a Thursday, for example. Some firms give it as an employee’s birthday or any day of their choice.

Think about what your firm offers and see if you are in line with what is expected from future employees.

  • I look my best when I'm totally free, on holiday, walking on the beach.
  • Rosamund Pike

Friday, November 5th, 2021

Flashback Friday – Managing Remote Workers

“Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.” – Fred Hoyle

We have been doing it for nearly twenty-one months now, trying to successfully manage a remote workforce.
It looks like the challenge will lessen somewhat as many of your team members come back to the office because they actually enjoy working in the office. You still have those who demand and appreciate the option of working from home.
Here’s a flashback post from last December that addresses the possibility of having an actual “Head of Remote Work”.
  • Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.
  • Booker T. Washington

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

Is This Person a Good Fit?

“Everybody knows that fit matters but what most people do is hire based on other criteria and then either regret or fire based on a lack of fit, down the road.” – Bruce Tulgan

Often, when CPA firms are hiring, they place great focus on the candidate’s skill set. Did they have good grades? Have they passed the Exam? Are they familiar with the software products we use? Do they seem to be a good communicator. What kind of work experience do they have? Do they seem to have a great attitude?

In these challenging hiring times, you are so anxious to find a body, any halfway intelligent body, that you hire too quickly and regret it later.

Bruce Tulgan, in a recent blog post, titled, Finding Fit When Hiring or Promoting From Within tells us:

Fit is crucial to success.

Fit is intangible, hard to evaluate, and hard to measure. And with talent in such great demand versus supply, it is very hard to convince hiring managers to take the time and invest the scrutiny to do a deep dive evaluation of ‘fit’ before making the hire or promotion. This is even though fit is ultimately the biggest overall factor in success of a new hire or internal promotion.

While you are seeking people to fit your firm culture, you should also be aware of making promotions inside your firm. CPAs often promote people to the manager position just because they are good technicians. Many good technicians do not possess adequate people skills. A manager needs people skills! They are not a good fit for a manager position. The same thought applies to naming a new partner. Do they fit the partner role? Can they mentor young people, excel at client relationships, and bring in new business, or are they just an exceptional technician?

I know a very successful firm that puts candidates through a very rigorous hiring process. Many people at the firm, at all levels, talk with them before they are hired. The firm is very honest with the candidate about the hard work and sometimes long hours that they will be facing. Thus, they have developed a culture where people that don’t “fit” don’t get hired.

If you have hired people lately and they just haven’t worked out, keep in mind how much turnover costs you. Interview and promote for fit.

Read Tulgan’s blog post, it contains a lot of great information that you may want to put into practice.

  • Just because someone is intelligent, capable, and highly-skilled in their current role doesn’t necessarily mean they will find the same level of success elsewhere.
  • Bruce Tulgan

Monday, November 1st, 2021

Moving Ahead

“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energy moving forward together towards an answer.” – Denis Waitley

I talk a lot about preparing your firm for the future. You should be doing that daily. CPAs are known for moving slowly and cautiously. I picture most of them as a wagon train going West; slow, steady progress.

Times have changed, even before COVID. CPAs must now prepare for the future at the speed of an F-35 Lightning II Air Force Jet. It goes 1200 MPH.

What hinders your firm from moving quickly? The answer I most often hear to that question is, “Some of the partners.”

Long ago, I used to say you have to get all the partners on board before you can move the firm ahead effectively. I say long ago because I know that there is no way, in a multiple partner firm, that you will get ALL the partners in agreement about many of the firm initiatives.

For the good of the firm, you have to move ahead anyway. There are some or several, partners who will get behind any needed initiative. Work with those partners. Work with the healthy part of your firm. Persevere and persist and those naysayers will more than likely be convinced that change is necessary and get behind the needed initiative.

  • Insisting that someone choose sides might feel like the satisfying and urgent thing to do, but it rarely leads to enrollment and action.
  • Seth Godin

Monday, October 25th, 2021

2021 Top Issues

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” – Gertrude Stein

I always look forward to reading the AICPA PCPS Top Issues Survey results.

The PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey gathers insights from practitioners in firms of all sizes to understand the significant issues facing firms across the country. 

The survey responses are broken down by firm size, with separate lists released for sole practitioners and for firms with 2 to 5, 6 to 10, 11 to 20, or 21 or more professionals. The AICPA and its Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) team use the biennial surveys to pinpoint areas where new tools and resources may be needed to help practitioners address current challenges. Below are the results. Follow this link to read the commentary and learn about resources for firms to use.

SOLE PRACTITIONERS:

  • Keeping up with changes and the complexity of tax laws.
  • Keeping up with COVID relief programs, such as PPP, EIDL, ERC, etc.
  • Challenges when working with the IRS.
  • Seasonality/layering of deadlines.
  • Keeping up with changes in technology and managing associated costs.

2-5 PROFESSIONALS:

  • Keeping up with COVID relief programs, such as PPP, EIDL, ERC, etc.
  • Keeping up with changes and the complexity of tax laws.
  • Challenges when working with the IRS.
  • Seasonality/layering of deadlines.
  • Finding qualified staff.

6-10 PROFESSIONALS

  • Finding qualified staff.
  • Keeping up with changes and the complexity of tax laws.
  • Keeping up with COVID relief programs, such as PPP, EIDL, ERC, etc.
  • Challenges when working with the IRS.
  • Developing the next generation of firm leadership.

11-20 PROFESSIONALS

  • Finding qualified staff.
  • Developing the next generation of firm leadership.
  • Keeping up with COVID relief programs, such as PPP, EIDL, ERC, etc.
  • Keeping up with changes and the complexity of tax laws.
  • Challenges when working with the IRS…. and… Effective staff utilization & management

21+ PROFESSIONALS

  • Finding qualified staff.
  • Retaining qualified staff
  • Keeping up with COVID relief programs, such as PPP, EIDL, ERC, etc.
  • Developing the next generation of firm leadership.
  • Effective staff utilization & management… and… Managing work/life balance initiatives.
  • We are not in the information age anymore. We're in the information management age.
  • Chris Hardwick

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

Your Personal Efficiency

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

How efficient are you? Have you given it much thought? So often, we simply get into the habit of doing things a certain way and it becomes so comfortable that we don’t give a thought to exploring better ways of doing routine things.

Many years ago I took an extensive time management course. It lasted several weeks and was a foundational part of continual self-improvement for me.

Some of the tips/tactics were challenging and some were very simple, as stated, but quite challenging to carry out.

My favorite:  Never touch things twice.

Sounds simple, right? Back then, I had an “in-tray” on the corner of my desk. I would take things from the “In” tray, review them and decide to respond or procrastinate. I also had another stack, near the inbox where I put things to deal with later…. it kept growing and growing!

I adopted the one-touch method:  Act on it, delegate it or trash it. Honestly, it really helped. Sometimes I had to deal with dreaded things but it was better than having them hanging over my head like a dark cloud.

Give this method a try as you deal with paper items and now, mostly digital items.

Dr. Travis Bradberry, Coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, tells us that to be successful at this you have to master the tyranny of the urgent. The tyranny of the urgent refers to the tendency of little things that have to be done right now to get in the way of what really matters. The key is to delete or delegate or you will find yourself going for weeks without addressing the important stuff. Sound familiar?

Other tips from Bradberry:

  • No is a powerful word
  • Check email on a schedule
  • Avoid multitasking

  • The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time.
  • Mozart

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Salaries

“These men ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.” – Abraham Lincoln

I always get questions about salaries for the CPA profession. Firms want to know what other firms are paying by level – Staff, Senior, Manager, etc. I even did a limited survey myself but was disappointed by the response.

Yesterday, I read a post by goingconcern addressing CPA salaries in eight cities: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, and St Louis. The author used various sources.

There are three salary percentiles.

  • 25th percentile: New to the type of role, still acquiring relevant skills.
  • 50th percentile: Average experience, has most of the necessary skills.
  • 75th percentile: Above-average experience, has all needed skills.

For example, here is the listing for an entry-level tax accountant in Cincinnati:

  • 25th percentile: $41,000 -> $39,975
  • 50th percentile: $50,250 -> $48,994
  • 75th percentile: $59,500 -> $58,013

Read the post here. I think you will find it very helpful.

  • If we expect others to rely on our fairness and justice we must show that we rely on their fairness and justice.
  • Calvin Coolidge