Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

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

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

What Employees Want

“We can – and need to – focus on the right things now, so employees know the company is prepared to invest in their success.” – Sharlyn Lauby

According to a recent survey from Sharlyn Lauby (@HRBartender) the top two reasons employees would leave an organization are:

  • Increased opportunities for advancement.
  • Better compensation and benefits

This survey was not specifically for the CPA profession but I would guess that your current employees want the same thing. Lacking these two factors might cause some people to find other employment opportunities.

I was surprised that lack of flexibility was not one of the reasons people would leave but maybe because employers have, in general, embraced flexible work arrangements for almost everyone.

Do you know the reasons why your team members might leave your firm? Maybe it is time you did your own survey.

Young people entering the CPA profession today want to know what their career path would look like. Are you prepared to give them a clear picture of how that works at your firm? As to better compensation and benefits, I have found that most CPA firm employees are fairly satisfied in that area although I believe starting salaries should be enhanced as much as possible.

  • Money is usually attracted, not pursued.
  • Jim Rohn

Friday, October 1st, 2021

What, Me Worry? – Flashback Friday

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo Buscaglia

It’s October 1st already! It’s Friday, time for a helpful flashback post.

Advice from Jim Rohn about not letting your worries turn into fears.

  • People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Engagement Letters for CARES Act Consulting

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

It is always good to be reminded about accurately covering services you provide in engagement letters, especially those advisory services relating to the CARES Act.

Here is a good reminder and a resource from my friend Stephen Vono of McGowanPRO professional liability insurance:

CPAs need to be vigilant in advising clients affected by the pandemic regarding all programs available through the federal, state, and local government agencies. Historical claims data shows that failure to advise clients is a common potential claim against accountants. This engagement letter will assist you in describing the scope of services when performing Cares Act-related consulting and advisory services.

For further eligibility requirements, please refer to the United States Government Health and Human Services website. www.hhs.gov 

Contact: John F. Raspante – Director of Risk Management | p: 732.216.7552  jraspante@mcgowanprofessional.com 
Stephen Vono – Senior VP |  p: 732.216.7552 svono@mcgowanprofessional.com
Download E/L here.

  • It is easy to make promises - it is hard to keep them.
  • Boris Johnson