Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Considering A CRM For Your Firm?

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

When I worked at a CPA firm, I was always proud of the fact that the firm was on the leading edge when it came to new ideas, processes, and software tools. We were paperless very early on but waited several years for a Document Management System that actually fit the CPA profession.

One technology tool we never purchased and one that I hesitate to recommend for CPA firms is a CRM (Client Relationship Management). Data is only as good as what is fed into the system. I knew that our partners would simply not expend the extra effort to record important client information and conversations into the system. The old slogan applied: Garbage in, garbage out.

That is why I enjoyed a recent article by Gene Marks (the famous guy you see on TV) who is a CPA. The title: On CRM: The Best CRM For An Accounting Firm Is Probably No CRM.

He explains particular things that apply to accountants that make them poor candidates for a CRM. His company has even tried and failed to implement CRMs in a dozen firms.

Be sure to read his article. I am sure the reasons for CRM failure will sound very familiar to you!

  • The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.
  • Henry Ford

Friday, July 16th, 2021

Words Are Powerful

“Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime.” -Rachel Wolchin

Early in my career, I remember my firm’s partners providing feedback to me in the form of words. Yes, simple words. I have always remembered those words and I still think that keeping feedback simple is the best policy.

Right now, many of you are involved in providing feedback to your employees about their performance during busy season. Read this Flashback Friday post about evaluating people using words.

  • The secret of being boring is to say everything.
  • Voltaire

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

A Long Weekend – Time For Contemplation

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” – Aristotle

Beginning today and through the long weekend. I hope you take some time to think and reflect.

Every day, in your leadership position, you create works of art. It might be a simple process, a procedure, valuable insight for a client, a smile for a co-worker, or a helping hand for your team.
Remember leadership is not a position, it is a state of mind – anyone can be a leader.

I like this one:

“It is about leaving a mark that I existed:
I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated.
I was happy. I was sad. I was in love.
I was afraid. I was hopeful.
I had an idea and I had a good purpose
and that’s why I made works of art.
– – Felix Gonzalez-Torres

  • Contemplation is the root of awareness and creativity.
  • Sandra Chantry

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

Improve Your Productivity & Focus

If you want to be more productive, you need to become master of your minutes.” – Crystal Paine

Have you heard of the Pomodoro method? According to an article I read, it has helped millions of people to become more productive and improve their time management skills.

Plus, according to a very efficient friend of mine who has worked in the CPA profession for years, it has really worked for her.

Also from the web: The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros.

It reminds me of a method practiced by my former marketing director. She would have a pressing task and would be down to a deadline. She would say, “I’m going to play Beat the Clock.” That meant she would completely focus for one hour (usually typing or researching something) and get what she could done in one hour. I have tried it at various times and it worked for me. Sometimes you just agonize over things too long!

  • Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.
  • Paul J. Meyer

Monday, June 28th, 2021

Sabbaticals

“There is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky, and you ask, ‘What if I fall?’ Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” – Erin Hanson

It is Monday and you need to smile.

I was looking for some hand-outs I have on the topic of partner sabbaticals. It was a popular topic a few years ago but I haven’t heard much discussion about it lately. Maybe because partners (and others) have had a lot of time away from the office because of COVID (although they were still working).

I honestly don’t know who gave me this but here’s a sample sabbatical policy for CPA firm partners that will make you smile:

Sabbatical Program for CPA Firm Partners:

We take a vote to decide which partners we’d prefer not seeing around the office.

The remaining partners pool their funds and try to collect enough to send them as far away as possible for the longest period of time. The idea is that most of us will be retired by the time they return.

We find that the system works pretty well, the staff is happy and the office environment much more relaxed.

We’ve set up a system whereby partners can contribute to the fund through their cafeteria plan so they can send others away with pre-tax dollars.

  • Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by.
  • Robert Frost

Monday, June 21st, 2021

The Great Resignation

“Your employer brand is your external experience, and your talent brand is the internal experience.” – Cassie Whitlock

Has your accounting firm started to experience the resignation crisis? It is happening to employers now and the prediction is that it will continue.

Last week, I wrote about how the talent pool for CPAs will be shrinking. Now, it seems, you will be facing the fact that your people can work for a firm, no matter where that firm is located. Firms in large cities are willing to pay large city salaries to remote staff that live in more affordable localities.

Per a recent article via Fast Company, Texan A&M University Associate Management Professor Anthony Klotz coined the phrase (the great resignation) during an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

The article also notes:

Employees are also seeking more rewarding work, adds Cassie Whitlock, head of human resources for the talent management software platform BambooHR. “Many have lost a sense of connection to the workplace,” she says. “Even if they’re getting time with their manager, we discovered they’re having fewer interactions, and the quality of those interactions is diminished. They’re not having a feeling of genuine connection. They feel less seen, recognized, and appreciated.”

Remember something I have written about often – people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Your managers have that first-hand contact with your staff both in person and remotely. It’s time again to help your managers to become very skilled at managing and engaging people.

Whitlock stresses something that CPA owners need to embrace:

“They (managers) spend the most time with employees, and they make or break an organization’s goals, objectives, and outcomes,” says Whitlock. “They carry the water. Invest in growing managers to make sure you have the quality and caliber you want.”

  • You need to be great at telling stories in your organization. How are you making a difference? And are you sharing those successes with team members to help them feel good about the goals and outcomes you’re driving?
  • Cassie Whitlock

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

Firm Administrators – Be Calm

“One leads by calm.” – a French maxim

I don’t need to say this to you, but life inside a busy, growing CPA firm can be hectic and stressful. There are always looming due dates, other “hot” jobs, and various tasks to handle for the partner group.

Your team can always sense when you are NOT calm. They know when you are worrying or even when you are depressed. They are naturally influenced by you. Be sure your entire partner group is fully aware of how closely they are being watched by staff.

Maybe it is a good time to take advantage of some of the apps that help you practice mindfulness and meditation. There is one called Calm that is very popular.

There are many great quotations about being calm:

“Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence so that’s very important for good health.” – Dalai Lama

“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” – Dan Millman

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom

My advice to CPA firm leaders: Without calm, you won’t last as a leader.

I watch a lot of British mysteries, etc. It seems like every time someone has to solve a problem they say, “I’m going to take a walk to clear my head.” Maybe you should be taking more walks. Even my Apple watch reminds me to “Breathe” and I often stop and do it!

  • Step outside for a while - calm your mind. It is better to hug a tree than to bang your head against a wall continually.
  • Rasheed Ogunlaru

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

The Talent Pool Is Shrinking

“The climb might be tough and challenging, but the view is worth it. There is a purpose for that pain; you just can’t always see it right away.” – Victoria Arlen

I received the following press release from the Illinois CPA Society. They are unveiling the findings from research they have done relating to the decline in CPA candidates. If you think finding and hiring future leaders is difficult now, just wait.

How will your firm prepare for the future? It seems that accounting students don’t see the value in devoting the time and energy to become a CPA.

My advice? Share your partners’ salaries with your future CPAs and with college students you talk to or interview. Is it worth it to become a CPA, in public accounting, when average partner compensation in $5 to $20M firms is half a million? In many larger firms, partner compensation is over $1,000,000. Plus, flexible work arrangements make public accounting very attractive.

Illinois CPA Society Releases New CPA Pipeline Report

CHICAGO, June 14, 2021– Unveiling the findings of its previously announced research into the decreasing supply of new certified public accountants (CPAs), the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS)—one of the largest state CPA societies in the nation—is pleased to release its 2021 Insight Special Feature, “A CPA Pipeline Report: Decoding the Decline.”

The result of an in-depth survey of more than 3,100 accounting students, graduates, and professionals predominantly under age 35, “Decoding the Decline” reveals respondents’ top challenges, perceptions, and influencers impacting their decisions to pursue the CPA credential or not and what, if any, value it may bring to their personal and professional lives. The eye-opening responses—particularly among non-CPAs and those who are still unsure about becoming CPAs—provide invaluable insights the CPA profession and its stakeholders cannot ignore while trying to counter the declining number of first-time CPA exam test takers—which hit a 10-year low in 2018, and further declines are expected when new data becomes available.

“Five years ago, I delivered the warning that a stagnating CPA pipeline is a threat. It’s an issue that will only get worse and grow more troubling without action. Today the issue has, in fact, grown worse and more troubling,” says Todd Shapiro, ICPAS president and CEO. “It used to be that if you earned an accounting degree, earning the CPA credential was the given next step regardless of career paths or time commitments—that’s no longer the case.”

“From this initial survey, we learned that individuals—who we believe should be future CPAs—are not pursuing the CPA credential because they feel they can succeed in their anticipated or chosen careers without it,” explains Kari Natale, CAE, ICPAS senior director of planning and governance, who led the survey’s development alongside Association Management Center, ICPAS’ research partner on the project. “They believe any value the CPA credential holds is outweighed by its lack of relevance to their personal and professional endeavors and the time commitment necessary to obtain it. They do not see the return on investment; they do not see their employers or prospective employers supporting or requiring it; and they see other credentials or specialties as being more valuable to their careers.”

Additional notable findings in “Decoding the Decline” include:

  • The costs associated either with obtaining the additional credit hours to meet the educational/licensing requirements or preparing for and taking the CPA exam were not the top barriers cited by any respondent category.
  • The likelihood of becoming a CPA drops dramatically after age 22.
  • Many respondents do not have an interest in pursuing a credential at all.
  • Accounting, auditing, and tax preparation are the words most associated with the CPA credential, further narrowing the credential’s scope and attractiveness.

“As the survey findings shared in ‘Decoding the Decline’ show, reversing the CPA credential’s downtrend will not be without its challenges,” Shapiro cautions. “The CPA credential and the CPA profession are in a race for relevance, and the time to act is now.”

Decoding the Decline” is available now in PDF and digital formats at www.icpas.org/cpapipeline, and print editions are available upon request. Both Natale and Shapiro welcome reader feedback and are available for further commentary on the factors impacting the CPA pipeline.

  • There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
  • Beverly Sils

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

Your People Want to Tell You

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” – Sybil F. Stershic

Per Gallup, your people really want to tell you what they need and how they feel. So, it is up to you to ask them. In doing so, you can gain so much valuable information and receive guidance on how to proceed through the weeks and months ahead.

Great advice from Gallup:

  • Since no one can know how long a crisis will last or what the outcomes will be, the most sensible thing to do is address your employees’ current needs.
  • Gathering employee feedback sends a positive message in times of crisis.
  • Asking your workforce what they think and then taking no action after getting their answers is always the wrong move.
  • We live in counterintuitive times – – now is not the time to “go with your gut.”

Many accounting firms are now doing pulse surveys. A staff pulse survey is a short, quick survey that is sent out to employees on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly, etc.). This survey is essentially a check-in, providing a pulse check on topics such as employee satisfaction, job role, communication, relationships, and work environment.

Gallup says that garnering employee feedback through surveys or other channels benefits the organization and employees alike. Gallup has found that understanding and acting on employee feedback from engagement surveys is directly related to organizational resiliency. Teams perform better during tough times (i.e., recessions, disruptions) if they have:

  • clear expectations
  • the materials and equipment they need
  • the opportunity to do what they do best
  • coworkers across teams who are committed to quality

Here’s a link to the Gallup article.

  • Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.
  • Stephen R. Covey

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

4,225

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss

This is my 4,225th blog post. When I stop and think about it, I even wonder how I can have so much to say about managing an accounting firm. Yet, I haven’t said it all!

Today, go to my website and browse through the Categories. There are topics such as:

  • Communication
  • Client Service
  • Crafting Your Career
  • Culture
  • Firm Administrator
  • Generations
  • Leadership
  • Managers
  • Marketing
  • Mentoring
  • Mergers
  • Reading
  • And, the most important one – Partner Topics!

If you are reading my blog via your email, actually go to my website today and see if you can find the answer to something that is challenging you or your firm right now.

  • Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.
  • Tony Robbins