Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

Salary Increases

“Of course, it is not the employer who pays wages. He only handles the money. It is the product that pays wages and it is the management that arranges the production so that the product may pay the wages.” – Henry Ford

I get a lot of questions about salary increases and when I talk to CPA firms, year after year, they disclose that their average salary increase will be 5%. Year after year. Yet, they often provide a disclaimer…. “we do give 10% or higher to some top performers”.

You might find the BDO 2022 Salary Increase Budget Survey Report interesting. 5% looks pretty good.

  • Note to salary setters: Pay your people the least possible and you'll get from them the same.
  • Malcolm Forbes

Monday, March 14th, 2022

A Story Of Life In A CPA Firm

“The way I see it is if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton

I was pleased when I was asked by Sons of CPAs to be part of their podcast. They have titled it, Real Life in the Accounting Profession.

I actually like the title because I think one of my strengths is that I have lived in and observed CPA firms for forty years! I have written about it and been interviewed about it for probably thirty years. I am in my 17th year daily blogging about the inside workings of CPA firms.

I really enjoyed talking with Scott Scanaro and Jason Ackerman, two gentlemen who happen to be sons of CPAs. We had a long conversation so you might want to listen in smaller bites. My interview begins at about 2 minutes and 40 seconds into the podcast.

Listen here.

  • If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.
  • Albert Einstein

Saturday, March 5th, 2022

More Than One Mentor

“The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.” – Plutarch

Never feel guilty about moving on when you feel like a mentoring relationship has run its course. If a certain mentor isn’t providing the advice you need find another. I also recommend having more than one mentor.

Long-term mentoring relationships that continually enrich both parties are rare and should be treasured. They are gold.

However, always be open to exploring new experiences. I usually recommend to my clients that they should collect mentors like seashells.

Let me explain. I’ve told you this story before but it has been a long time ago.

I am definitely a people watcher and I enjoy watching people stroll along the beach (usually on Hilton Head Island). Most of the shells that end up on the shore are broken so when a person finds a whole one they can’t resist picking it up, even though they already have several “whole” ones.

The same thing applies to finding mentors. When you meet someone who, like an undamaged seashell, is whole, meaning they have it all together – latch onto them. In my early years in the CPA world, I called these people my heroes. I would meet someone at a conference or business meeting and realize they really knew what they were doing. I introduced myself and eventually became very close friends with many. Many experienced, competent, professionals helped me along my career path.

Eventually, some mentoring situations seem to simply wear out. That’s okay – don’t draw it out, be honest, disengage with gratitude and be direct. Both of you will be happier. Always keep the door open for the future.

Steve Jobs said, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” While I agree with that sentiment, my way is not quite so pushy – – I apply constant, gentle pressure and eventually they lean in the right direction. Constant is the keyword.

  • Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

You Speak The Language

“Accounting is the language of business.” – Warren Buffett

Recently, I read a quote that made me smile. It was in an article I read via AccountingWEB. The article is titled, The Changing Face of the CPA Profession Del Wright, Corporate Outreach Coordinator for the Illinois CPA Society.

The quote comes from a young accountant who was hesitant to even think about passing the Exam until she learned how much it was valued from her professors and during her internship.

Here is her comment that I want to share with you today.

“I think the profession is ever-changing,” she says. “Accountants are no longer just recordkeepers, they’re analysts and translators. Accounting is the language of business, and accountants are the most fluent in it.”

You probably heard similar statements when you were majoring in accounting but have you thought about it in recent years? Be sure to remind your young accountants how much they are learning about the world of business as they work on client engagements. It is so much more than tax returns and using Excel.

Be sure to read the entire article.

  • If you want an accounting of your worth, count your friends.
  • Merry Browne

Monday, February 21st, 2022

I Always Listen To Roman

“There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity.” – Douglas MacArthur

In January, I listened to a webinar presented by Roman Kepczyk about the findings of a recent technology survey conducted on behalf of The CPA Firm Management Association. It is the fourth comprehensive Information Technology survey tailored specifically to member firms with the goal of identifying the applications, products, and processes utilized by peers. 

The survey was conducted in December 2021 to determine what information technology firms would be utilizing in 2022 and compared to the results from previous surveys where appropriate.  This survey further highlighted the unique nature of CPAFMA member firms which tend to be medium and larger-sized firms. 

If you are a member, you can get the complete results via the CPAFMA website. It’s worth becoming a member just to get benefits like this survey.

Here are just a few bullet points I jotted down during the web presentation. When it comes to CPA firm technology knowledge, I always listen to and trust Roman.

  • 162 firms participated. 43% were multi-office firms.
  • Only 19% host their own.
  • 63% us RightNetworks or another integrator.
  • Firms are providing dual, over-sized monitors rather than three or four smaller ones.
  • Most pay a stepend to staff for mobile phone costs ranging from $30 to $50 per month.
  • 60% do centralized scanning.
  • 33% use individual scanners.
  • 68% use cloud versions of practice management software.

There is much, much more in the full survey results. I hope this gives you a brief snap-shot of what I heard during the webinar and encourages you to read the entire findings.

  • Distrust and Caution are the parents of security.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Friday, February 18th, 2022

You Are In The Public Eye

“Professional is not a label you give yourself – it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” – David Maister

Here’s a flashback post for this Friday – You Are Public. You Are A Professional.

CPAs and their team members are held to a higher standard than most. No matter what your role in a firm, you are a professional.

  • More than any other factor, it is the people we have to deal with that determine the quality of our work lives.
  • David Maister

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022

Active Listening

“Hearing is listening to what’s said. Listening is hearing what isn’t said.” – Simon Sinek

Often when I am talking with a group of CPAs or other CPA firm team members, I ask how many have had any formal training in listening. Rarely do I ever find anyone who has had some sort of listening training.

You are in a people business. A huge part of your job is listening. You probably do a better job of listening to clients than you do listening to your team members or even your own family. But, it is very important to use active listening skills when in discussions with others.

Verbal communication is crucial in every aspect of life, but it’s especially important in your career. From your first job interview to routine meetings, it’s important to understand and retain what your colleagues, bosses, and clients are telling you. Here’s a link to a good article that might benefit you – What is Active Listening? – 4 Tips for Improving Communication Skills.

Also, here is a very informative, brief video about Active Listening from MindtTools. You might want to share this video with your entire team.

  • Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk.
  • Doug Larson

Tuesday, February 1st, 2022

Working On Saturday

“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.” – Khalil Gibran

An interesting topic was mentioned on the CPA Firm Management Association discussion board. Many CPA firms are “open” on Saturdays and expect that CPAs work on Saturdays during tax season. So, if the office is open for a half-day on Saturday and some salaried employees do not work on a particular Saturday, do they have to take PTO for those 4 hours? I was surprised by some answers. I have always believed that PTO was for vacation, sick time, and/or personal time pertaining to the 40 hours, M-F work week. Saturday work is something that is negotiated with individuals.

I was pleased to see Kathryn Jordan’s reply. She is the Operations Manager at Pohlman, Talmage, Brown & Campbell in Dayton, Ohio. She allowed me to share her reply:

From another perspective, our professional staff has unlimited time off and we do not track PTO for exempt employees.  We have had very few issues with abuse of this policy during busy season.  Additionally, we do not have mandatory hours or Saturdays for any employees (exempt or non-exempt) during busy season.  While everyone does work overtime, letting the staff determine how that best fits in their schedule has been very successful and helps staff maintain some work-life balance, even during busy season.  Some choose to work very long days M-F and just a few hours on weekends, some work shorter days M-F and longer weekend days, some work a traditional M-Sa busy season, and some work Su-F.  We just ask that everyone update their Outlook calendar and status notes on their Right Networks homepage to let others know when they plan to be on the clock.

I am hearing of a few firms that do not require weekend work during tax season. I think we will see more and more firms follow this trend in an effort to hire and retain top talent.

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

Monday, January 31st, 2022

Be Generous

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

Sometimes I am puzzled by CPA firms. I know, you are probably laughing out loud right now! After so many years working with CPA firms, you would think I would have a complete understanding of what makes CPA leaders tick. I guess it could be described this way: I know how they think and what they think but sometimes it amazes me WHY they think the way they do.

The talent wars are here to stay. Your firm becomes who you hire and who you retain. These people help form your culture and your brand in your marketplace.

I frequently hear CPA firm administrators and HR directors talk about their various personnel policies. PTO is often a topic. What I often observe is that many firms are somewhat frugal with their PTO. Here is where I ask WHY?

Maybe to justify, I need to give you real-life experience. At the CPA firm where I worked for so many years, fourteen years ago when I left we were offering starting salaries that are very much in line with what I am hearing TODAY – 2022!

When it comes to PTO, progressive firms are generous – 2 weeks PTO to new college grads the day they walk in the door. An example from one firm regarding PTO: All accounting staff with 0-2 years of service received 15 days. Staff with 3-5 years received 20 days and all staff with 6+ years received 25 days. Several firms I know are offering unlimited PTO.

I am still hearing that new hires, in many firms, become eligible for  PTO (or vacation) after one year of service and maybe 10 years before they get 3 weeks and never for 5 weeks.

Why are firms being generous, why are they keeping in tune with market trends and attempting to hire the best talent?

There is a very simple answer and one you should heed: Your competition is doing it!

  • A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking.
  • Earl Wilson

Monday, January 17th, 2022

A Career For Non-CPAs

“Talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it.” – Maya Angelou

The challenge is really nothing new. A CPA firm has a team member who is an all-star. Learns quickly comprehends the issues, and serves clients efficiently and effectively. If they would only pass that CPA Exam!

Usually, they get the message and move on to work in corporate accounting leaving a significant void in the firm. Historically, firms have even said, “We are a CPA firm, we need CPAs.”

Yes, that is true. But in these changing times, involving a new type of workforce, you need to be creative. Firms need to change. Maybe more young people would major in accounting if they didn’t have to pass the CPA Exam to work in public accounting. The goal of becoming a “partner” simply isn’t as strong with younger accountants as it once was.

One firm has taken a step to solve this problem.

Kimberly Wines, COO of SEK CPAs & Advisors allowed me to share their firm’s approach to this challenging issue.

Our Firm recently added a Client Relationship Manager role to our tier of positions.  It parallels the role of a Manager, however does not require the CPA designation and does not provide for advancement to partner consideration.  These individuals are eligible for the same benefits as a manager. 

The firm has provided the core competencies and contribution points for the role and some valuable team members have embraced it.

As you have heard and read many times, the talent shortage is not going away. It will never be “the good old days” again. As some professional leaders have said, the partnership model no longer works. There are even bigger changes ahead for accounting firms.

  • Real talent shines through regardless of how many others there are around you.
  • Paloma Faith