Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Friday, August 13th, 2021

Do It Right The First Time

“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” – Wyatt Earp

It’s Friday and time for an informative flashback.

When I first joined a CPA firm, I was amazed by the number of review steps and proofing that happened inside a firm. I soon learned the “ropes”.

Are your reviewers overworked? Maybe if staff were better trained there wouldn’t be the need for so many review steps! Click here to learn more from this flashback post.

Have a great weekend!

  • Accuracy builds credibility.
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, August 9th, 2021

More About “The Great Resignation”

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” — Ayn Rand

You have heard it talked about and read about it recently. I wrote about it in June. It’s the situation where jobs are plentiful and people are disenchanted with where they work now and where their career and life are headed.

Maybe in the CPA profession, we should call it the “mild disenchantment”. Accountants, in my observation, are not one to job hop (as we used to call it). When the millennials hit the scene, “job hopping” became normal so we no longer discarded resumes that documented several prior employers.

However, your people have numerous opportunities to accept a lucrative offer.

Today, I want you to read Dan Hood’s article about “The Great Resignation.” He offers some great advice and addresses the issue in a way that only Dan Hood can.

  • Disenchantment, whether it is a minor disappointment or a major shock, is the signal that things are moving into transition in our lives.
  • William Throsby Bridges

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021

COVID Policies

“Honesty is the best policy.” – Benjamin Franklin

Because of the COVID-19 variant some firms are revising or reinstating their COVID policies.

One member of the CPAFMA (CPA Firm Management Association) was kind enough to share their firm’s policy that was reinstated last week and allowed me to share it here.

Samples like this are so helpful to other firms who may want to copy them or use them to develop their own guidelines. I hope you find it helpful.

COVID POLICY

Clients are given the option of dropping documents at an outside table via clear plastic packets then calling to let us know they’ve put them in the dropbox. Once dropped off, the documents are sanitized and passed for project assignment.

  • Clients may come inside to drop documents but will be required to have a mask on and use the hand sanitizer provided at the front desk.
  • Clients who need to come in for meetings can do so but must wear a mask and participate in a temperature screening.
  • Clients who do not want to wear a mask may opt to have their conferences conducted via telephone conference.
  • Employees going out of the office are heavily encouraged to wear a mask while in client offices.
  • All office meetings and celebrations are being held via Teams Software.
  • Employees are urged to self-monitor daily.
  • Direct exposure within the home of a employee requires that employee to work from home for 10 days.
  • Direct exposure outside of the home requires self-monitoring and work from home for 10 days.
  • Indirect exposure requires the employee to wear a mask within the office, stay in their office as much as possible and avoid common areas.
  • Any employee stating they have covid must provide a confirmed test to the Firm Administrator.
  • Any employee who works from home for any period after any claimed exposure must provide a negative covid test to the Firm Administrator before they can return to work.
  • If an employee is a caregiver for a dependent who is required to isolate then that employee must work from home during that period.
  • Special circumstances are considered. 
  • Our pregnant ladies have been asked to work from home until we see how this virus kicks back up. 

  • All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian.
  • Pat Paulsen

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

The Childcare Hurdle

“Working from home doesn’t solve the childcare problem.” – Suzanne Lucas

Want to differentiate your firm and be able to attract career-minded CPAs? Consider offering some sort of childcare benefit.

While we often believe that receiving substantial unemployment benefits is the reason people quit working, many are saying the real factor is the high cost, or even the existence, of childcare.

In a recent article by Suzanne Lucas (@realevilhrlady), she makes the case for employers to help employees with this high-cost, career hampering burden. The title of the article: The Number 1 Reason the Unemployed Turn Down Jobs. Here’s an excerpt:

Childcare work pays a ridiculously low wage–on average, $11 an hour. If these workers are part of the 1.8 million who turn down jobs because unemployment offers more, then higher wage earners can’t turn to work either. If schools don’t open reliably and daycare centers can’t hire enough people, not everyone can return to work.

It is a complicated issue. Read the article to learn more and then consider how your firm can subsidize childcare in some fashion.

The childcare issue is nothing new in the CPA profession. Young CPAs just beginning their families have faced this same issue for years and it usually falls on the female’s shoulders. She puts her career on hold to be able to stay at home with her children. It becomes an interrupted career path for many.

  • Even if unemployment insurance ends, why would you take a child care job for $11 an hour when you can walk across the street and get a job in retail or restaurants for $15?
  • Suzanne Lucas

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