Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Listen to Learn What Clients Need

“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” – Howard Schultz

We have heard it over and over again from speakers at conferences and read it over and over again in CPA marketing publications. It is seven times easier to sell services to current clients than it is to obtain a brand new client. Client loyalty is priceless.

As with many activities inside a firm, you need a system, a process, a questionnaire or a checklist. You need some type of tool to help your accountants actually explore the future needs of current clients.

Some firms call it the Additional Services Checklist.  Others may call it The Expanded Services Questionnaire or The Enhanced Opportunity Checklist.  No matter what you name it, it is a sales tool that your team can use to find out how the firm can truly better and fully serve your clients. Once they have the checklist/questionnaire, they can simply listen more intently when they are talking with a client or working in the client’s office.

The goal is to bring extra value to your clients.  CPAs call it value-added as if their normal services don’t have much value. In these changing times, compliance services are looked upon as only a way to discover advisory services that the client needs.

Do all of your team members, even the most recent college recruits:

  • Know what to look and listen for while they are at the client’s location?
  • Been educated/informed about all of the firm’s service offerings?
  • Know what to do if they recognize an opportunity and who to refer it to inside your firm?

If you answered “no” to any of these, take action.  Host a lunch & learn in early January and talk about all the value-added services your firm offers. Provide the entire team, including the admin team, with a listing of questions/items to apply to the clients and give them the name of the partner to seek out for guidance if they identify an area where your firm can bring more value to the client.  Just having this simple questionnaire or checklist seems to give everyone more confidence.

During the lunch and learn, experienced partners and managers can speak-up and give practical advice to the less-experienced team members.

  • Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.
  • Steve Jobs

Friday, December 13th, 2019

Different Policies For Holiday Closings

“The holidays stress people out so much. I suggest you keep it simple and try to have as much fun as you can.” – Giada De Laurentiis

When holidays fall on a Friday, Monday or mid-week, we often wonder if firms are doing anything more than just the one-day holiday.

When it comes to the December/January holidays – Christmas and New Year’s Day – firms differ on what they offer.

I did a quick survey to see what firms were offering this year for Christmas since it falls on a Wednesday.

  • 18.52% – Close only on December 25th
  • 18.52% – Close 1/2 day on December 24th and all-day December 25th
  • 55.56% – Close all day the 24th and 25th
  • 7.41% – Are closing the entire Christmas week

Most firms are just closing one day for New Year’s Day and allowing people to leave a “little early” on New Year’s Eve.

No matter how much time you get off work, celebrate and have fun with family and friends!

  • Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you’re giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism.
  • Caroline Kennedy

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

2020 Is The Year To Invest In Your Future Leaders

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

For many years, I have been a fan of The Growth Partnership’s Partner Institute. This class is a must for those currently or soon to be in leadership positions with your firm.

Here is some information on their 2020 program.

If you’ve been considering enrolling your future leaders in The Partner Institute™ 2020, now is the time to act. There are only a few spots left. Once the class fills up, you won’t have another opportunity to participate in The Partner Institute™  until next year.

This three-year, multidisciplinary program will help your senior managers and young partners develop the personal, interpersonal, managerial, and organizational capabilities they need to assume leadership roles within your firm. For more information, follow the links below.

The next session of The Partner Institute™ begins January 16-18, 2020 at the Boardwalk Inn at Walt Disney World. Reserve spots for your team members by submitting registration and a deposit of $500 per person. Participants can attend the initial course and then decide if the program is right for them. If they elect to continue, we will invoice accordingly.

For more information, please visit The Partner Institute online

or call them at 877-226-0496, or email:

info@thegrowthpartnership.com.

  • Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
  • John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

The Challenge of What Gift to Give Your Employees

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” – Andy Rooney

A very common topic this time of year among CPA firm administrators (and partners) is what kind of gift to give the employees for Christmas.

This difficult task usually lands in the COO/Firm Administrator’s or HR Director’s lap. And, it’s a dangerous minefield. Different generations appreciate different things and finding a “one size fits all” can be a daunting task.

Suzanne Lucas, @RealEvilHRLady, gives us a great list this year. She notes: Here are some ideas, gleaned from real, actual humans, and not marketers. You’ll notice some are contradictory. This isn’t bad editing on my part. It’s reality. Get to know your employees!

Here are a few of the suggestions – but, be sure to read the entire list. Money is always a good choice!

  • My husband’s boss gives his managers steak. We have really appreciated that!
  • If anything, something “consumable.” I don’t want or need any more do-dads. Food is good–a nice bottle of olive oil, a good bottle of balsamic vinegar, anything that can be used and enjoyed and then gone!!
  • $100 gift cards to a nice restaurant have always been my favorite.
  • Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white.'
  • Bing Crosby

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

They Are So Much More Than A Receptionist

“I’m just a friendly person; that runs in my family.” -Dolly Parton

The person who greets your client and other visitors is so much more than a receptionist. It is such an important role, especially if you, like many firms, have an office where people feel comfortable just stopping by.

Many firms are now titling their receptionist the Director of First Impressions and that is exactly what they are. Visitors to your office, whether they are a client, a prospective client, a delivery person, an interviewee or a person making a sales call, will talk about your firm. Make sure they are saying, “Wow, what a friendly place!”

Little things make the biggest difference in this area. Does your DOFI offer refreshments? Do they hang up the client’s jacket/coat in a cedar-lined closet? Do they have a menu prepared that lists the types of beverages you have available? Do they engage in small talk in an informative, entertaining and helpful manner?

They are truly an ambassador for your firm. It is not a job that should be looked down upon by other people on the admin team.

If you have an all-star in this role, I hope you are paying them a premium. I know a firm that once won a huge client partly because they liked the way they were treated when their executive team visited the firm’s office.

Read this interesting and helpful article by Jeffrey Gitomer called Receptionist Selling.

  • We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
  • Jeff Bezos

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

New Rules of Work

“Disruption requires us to think differently about work.” – Sharlyn Lauby

I’m sure you have noticed, finding, hiring, and retaining talented people has become more and more difficult. The AICPA PCPS 2019 Top Issues names Finding Qualified Staff as the top issue in every firm size category (except sole proprietors).

In the accounting profession, everyone is talking about disruption and the need to change how things have been done in the past. The work and the workforce has changed and it requires us to think differently about work.

Sharlyn Lauby (@hrbartender) has written an excellent post: The 7 New Rules of Work – Workforce Readiness In the Digital Age. I urge you to read it and share it with all the partners and HR leaders in your firm.

The rules she describes come from a keynote she heard by Polly LaBarre, author of the New York Times best-seller “Mavericks at Work: Why The Most Original Minds in Business Win.”

It is important to create rules that apply all the time and to let those rules drive company culture.

The rules are:

  1. Everyone has power
  2. Nobody is smarter than everyone
  3. All ideas are heard
  4. Challenging ideas is acceptable and encouraged
  5. Passion is the most powerful currency
  6. People design their own jobs
  7. Values rule decision-making and accountability

Please read the article. It gives good advice to managers and HR leaders about these seven rules. Staying current on trends in hiring and retaining will help you win the talent wars in the CPA profession.

  • Company values should already be the guiding principles of the organization.
  • Sharlyn Lauby

Monday, November 25th, 2019

Private Offices

“The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” – Mark Twain

I have always thought that putting beginners in a cube environment helped them learn faster. They could overhear when someone else had a question and received an excellent answer. And with millennials, it seemed they liked to collaborate extensively.

As with everything, times have changed. Recent studies tell us that employees reported the highest satisfaction with their personal workspace when it was inside a private office.

Even if you have a very trendy office space involving the open concept, it seems the trendiest office space pales in comparison to an office.

Read more about it via Fast Company here. – The article is titled, Want a happy employee? Give them an office. When I worked in a firm I know I sure enjoyed my private office, don’t you?

  • Whether I'm at the office, at home, or on the road, I always have a stack of books I'm looking forward to reading.
  • Bill Gates

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Accountants & Emotional Intelligence

“Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness.” – Justin Bariso

There has been a lot of talk and many things written about accountants having a fairly low EQ (Emotional Intelligence). CPAs are often cautious, conservative, reserved and hesitant to show any emotion. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on raising your level of emotional intelligence.

Last December I did a post titled, You Are Business Smart. Are You Feelings Smart? I mentioned Justin Bariso and his 3-Second Trick (to help with EQ).

Bariso recently wrote another article to help with EQ in his column via Inc. Take This 5-Minute Test to See if You Have High Emotional Intelligence. I hope you will take 5 minutes to see where you stand. Do you think before you speak? Do you learn from negative feedback? –and several more good questions to ask yourself.

  • Paying attention to body language, eye movement, and tone of voice helps emotionally intelligent people to distinguish what's going on in others.
  • Justin Bariso

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

New Beginnings

“When you repeat a mistake, it is not a mistake anymore: it is a decision.” – Paulo Coelho

Whether you are a new college graduate or someone with experience joining a different CPA firm, you will make mistakes. It is expected and your new bosses (partners/managers) understand.

One of the most common complaints I have heard over my many years working with CPAs and one I continue to hear on almost a weekly basis is about the issue of people learning from their mistakes. I hear:

  • They keep making the same mistakes over and over.
  • They don’t listen.
  • They don’t learn from their mistakes.

Repeating a mistake is something your new bosses don’t understand. I love the above quote. Read it again and commit to not making the same mistake twice!

  • Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

Digital CPA

“The majority of meetings should be discussions that lead to decisions.” – Patrick Lencioni

Here’s the press release from the AICPA about the upcoming Digital CPA conference. Digital CPA is the leading conference for practitioners curious about technology and its impact on the accounting landscape. Together we’re challenging business models, transforming practice areas and driving innovation across the profession.

CPA.com Announces 2019 Digital CPA Conference Keynote Lineup

Innovation Futurists and Leadership Experts Offer Insights at Dec. 9-11 Event

NEW YORK (Oct. 23, 2019) – Innovation is reshaping the traditional areas of practice in the accounting profession, and CPAs who want to position their firms for success can gain the latest intelligence and insights about this shift at the 2019 Digital CPA Conference, sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs and its technology arm, CPA.com.

This year’s conference will be held just outside Seattle at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, Wash. The Dec. 9-11 event is organized around the theme “Age of Innovation,” and includes sessions on the shift to advisory services across all core areas of the CPA firm, such as audit and assurance, tax, and accounting services.

Keynote speakers at the event include:

  • Lisa Bodell, founder, and CEO of FutureThink, a global consulting firm that helps companies eliminate red tape and busy work and adopt simplicity as an operating model to unleash innovation.
  • Pascal Finette, chair of Open Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Singularity University and co-founder of radical Ventures, a firm that takes the long view on the impact of technological change. Pascal will share insights and future trend predictions from his year-long collaboration with CPA.com in a program called “Navigating the Future,” which is designed to help CPA firms prepare and prosper from exponential change.
  • Steven Robbins, founder of S. L. Robbins and Associates, a firm that studies human behavior, who will talk about how inclusion, leadership and the “power of caring” are key drivers of productivity and innovation.

Further rounding out the speaker lineup are Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA, president and CEO of the American Institute of CPAs, will provide a professional issues update, and Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com, will give a “state of the union” on Digital CPA trends.

The Digital CPA Conference is designed for CPA firm partners, managers and, staffers responsible for rolling out cloud solutions, and business development, firm marketing and human resources directors within firms.

Reporters interested in covering the event can apply for on-site press credentials or arrange for online access to live broadcasts. Members of the media can contact Jeff May, jeffrey.may@aicpa-cima.com, for more details.

For more information about the conference, please visit digitalcpa.com.

  • Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.
  • Abigail Adams