Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

Increasing Fees

“Every year, review clients and decide who should be culled.” – Bill Reeb, CPA

If you have been at the grocery store lately you have probably been shocked at the increases in prices. I know I have!

Suppliers and companies are facing more costs of doing business such as increasing wages and benefits for their employees. So have CPA firms.

Some firms are notifying their clients about an increase in fees. It is time to notify your clients about a more significant fee increase this year than in past years.

One of my long-time friends from the CPA Firm Management Association has allowed me to share an example of their firm’s letter to clients, as follows:

Like many businesses, we are seeing rising expenses due to the
pandemic, changing laws, supply chain issues, and overall escalating
cost trends. Specifically, there have been dramatic cost increases
in sustaining our workforce, benefits, software, supplies and
technology.
In order to keep pace with these changes, we will be increasing our
fees. For the preparation of your 2021 income tax returns, our
minimum service fee will increase by a percentage range of 11% –
20%. This new fee is calculated based on the scope of your 2020
work. If the 2021 work includes extra complexities as compared to
2020, the fee may increase by a greater percentage. This shift in
pricing will also come with increased value as we hope to serve as
your financial and tax resource throughout the year.

It is better to let your clients know ahead of time rather than be surprised when they receive your invoice. Now is NOT the time to afraid of losing some clients.

  • We have to up our game when it comes to managing our firms.
  • Bill Reeb

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021

The Reason Your Firm Is Stuck

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

The reason your firm is stuck in the past is fear.

I talk about it with my clients and hear about it from many of my contacts working inside CPA firms.

A small group of partners or even one specific partner is afraid of the future. They are consumed by fear and prohibit the firm from:

  • Adopting new software
  • Truly becoming a digital firm (being completely paperless)
  • Admitting that staff can be effective and efficient working remotely
  • Stop the firm from combining offices because they have their own small kingdom/queendom
  • Entering into merger discussions because they know they would not be successful in the larger firm
  • Exposing some staff members to experiences that will broaden their career because the partner want them devoted solely to them
  • And, many more…

It is up to the managing partner, to address these issues and these individuals. It is not fair to the firm to simply wait for the individual(s) to retire.

  • Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
  • Jim Rohn

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

What People Think About Their Bosses

“Many people hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” – John Maxwell

Here is a Flashback Friday post from 2019. What kind of leader/manager will you be as you begin your journey through 2022?

  • If you've gotta think about being cool, you ain't cool.
  • Keith Richards

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

Don’t Hold Back

“Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.” – Seth Godin

Occasionally, I simply reprint an entire post by Seth Godin. Today is one of those days because I believe his message fits CPAs and their teams.

THE LIFEGUARD HACK

Who am I to walk up to someone at a party and introduce myself?

Who are you to start a new project?

Who are they to give a talk on the main stage?

Don’t raise your hand–someone else might have a better question. Don’t ship that work, it’s not ready…

There are endless excuses, comparisons, and reasons to hold back.

Unless…

Unless you’re on lifeguard duty and someone is drowning. In that situation, even if you’re not the best lifeguard in the world, and even if the water isn’t the perfect temperature, and even if you don’t quite remember how to do the latest version of the cross-chest carry… you jump in the water.

Because it’s not for you. It’s for them.

Generosity unlocks doors inside of us.

  • Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance.
  • Seth Godin

Monday, November 29th, 2021

What Does Your Team Want?

“People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be.” – – Harvey MacKay

The experts tell us that 79% of workers who recently left their job say they left because of a lack of appreciation.

Because of the serious lack of talented professionals in the CPA profession and a weak pipeline for the future, perhaps you have upped your game and are paying people an excellent salary. That is important.

But never forget something that I have continually written about for years. They want:

  • You to say appreciate them
  • Someone who cares about them personally (mentoring)
  • Recognition if they go above and beyond
  • Recognition if they help others
  • Leaders who always say, “Good morning!” and “Thank-you!”
  • You to listen to them

I love to share Tom Peters’ Big Six:

  1. Hello.
  2. Thank you.
  3. Eye contact.
  4. Fierce listening.
  5. What do you think?
  6. How can I help?

Read more – Here is a great article by Amy Vetter in Accounting Today – Why It Is Important To Thank Your Team.

  • It's amazing how email has changed our lives. You ever get a handwritten letter in the mail today? What the? Has someone been kidnapped?
  • Jim Gaffigan

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

Great Meetings

“Once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.” – Dan Rockwell LeadershipFreak

Dan Rockwell gives us 3 Words That Make Meeting Great. Those 3 words are Specific. Shorter. Smaller. Follow the link to read more about these three words.

I like the two words that apply to CPAs – Decide and Deliver. Too often, in partner meetings, decisions are put on hold. If a decision is finally made, it often fails because of a lack of implementation.

If someone in your meeting leaves without anything to do they shouldn’t be in the meeting in the first place. Always leave a meeting with an action plan.

Rockwell also gives us the following:

5 Things to stop doing in meetings:

  1. Complaining. Problem-solving isn’t complaining. The difference between complaining and leadership is solution-seeking.
  2. Interrupting. The person leading the meeting should interrupt interrupters.
  3. Blathering on and on.
  4. Chasing rabbits.
  5. Neglecting action items and accountability. Ask, “Who does what by when?”
  • Two or three action items is enough for most meetings.
  • Dan Rockwell

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Give Them A Chance

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pelé, Brazilian football legend.

Performing all the services that a CPA firm offers is not something that is learned overnight.

How many times have you heard a new recruit say, “I never learned this in college!”? Many new hires struggle for a while with what seems like fairly easy activities to a more experienced CPA.

With inexperienced new hires and with administrative employees, I believe that it takes a full year cycle for them to begin to grasp the intricacies of their job. In a CPA firm, there are three seasons – busy season, summer, and fall. Each season has varying duties that you sometimes don’t perform except once a year. That is why giving them a year to experience the duties expected of them seems to make sense. Then, I always recommend that you give them two years to determine if they are going to fail or succeed.

If a person is not a good fit for public accounting, it is not fair to string them along, hoping that they will eventually “get it”. You are not doing them, or the firm, a favor.

Comments I have heard from practitioners during some of my presentations: “We don’t give them two years, we usually give them eight years before we face reality and let them go.” “If someone is not a good fit, we seem to keep them forever.”

So many firms are desperate for people right now. Don’t lower your standards. That’s never what a CPA should do.

  • The greater the difficulty the more the glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.
  • Epictetus

Thursday, November 4th, 2021

Committees

“A committee can make a decision that is dumber than any of its members.” – David Coblitz

I have observed that most CPA firms have too many committees.

Have you ever served on a committee? I’m sure you have. My experience is that at committee meetings there is a lot of discussions, sometimes debates, and even arguments. After the meeting, not much gets accomplished, and then time goes by and it’s time for the next committee meeting.

If you have a mid-size firm (say, 25-50 people), you have a Managing Partner and a Firm Administrator. Most internal operational issues are handled by the firm administrator with oversight by the MP, while always keeping the other partners informed. Having a committee of partners for anything other than a partner compensation committee is a waste of valuable time, time that could be used to serve clients or bring in new business.

I do believe that a CPA firm should have a Tax Committee and an A&A Committee. Each committee is headed by one partner and comprised of tax or A&A managers, even some seniors and the firm administrator. The other management or operational areas, such as HR, facilities, firm financial, marketing, etc. are handled by the MP and FA (with admin assistance). Once the firm grows, you add an HR Director, Marketing Director, and so on. These support professionals work under the guidance of the MP and FA. The annual salary increase exercise is handled by the MP and FA and approved by the partner group.

If you have a special need for a certain project, such as rolling out new software, establish a task force comprised of people at different levels in the firm. When the project is done, the task force ceases to exist.

Keep in mind if too many people are “in charge”, not much happens. Someone needs to be accountable. Of course, the size of the firm, rate of growth, and geographic location all influence these topics.

Bottom line, if you have a firm administrator/practice manager, empower them and hold them accountable.

  • A camel is a horse designed by a committee.
  • Alec Issigonis

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

Don’t Hesitate to Say Goodbye

“When I go to a party, nobody says hello. But when I leave, everybody says goodbye.” – George Gobel

In working with CPA firms, I have observed that so many CPAs like to cling to work. You can’t keep growing and expanding your skillset if you keep doing the same things while still doing the familiar things.

When you become a Senior, you have to leave much of your staff work behind. When you become a Manager, you have to say goodbye to some of the clients and the type of work you still love to do. You have to say hello to some new skills. The same thing applies when you become a partner. At that point in your career, you have to definitely say goodbye to doing the work and embrace the role of partner. Partners need to be bringing in business, enriching client relationships, and mentoring young people.

Occasionally, I read a post by Seth Godin that says so much to me about CPAs. The following is one of those posts.

WHAT WILL YOU LEAVE BEHIND?

Twenty years from now, you will have new skills. New customers. A new title and a new kind of leverage.

All of this forward motion requires a less celebrated element–all the things you’re not doing any longer.

To get a new job, you’ll need to leave the old job behind.

When you have a child, you’ve initiated a process that leads to an adult…

Often, we try to pretend that growth comes with no goodbyes, but it does.

Perhaps we can go in with our eyes open, understanding that what we begin will likely end. And when we plan for it, we’ll do it better.

  • That money talks, I'll not deny. I heard it once it said, 'Goodbye.'
  • Richard Armoour

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Culture Must Be Nurtured

“A culture is not invented. A culture constantly evolves..which is why it must be nurtured.” – Simon Sinek

I read the above quote by Simon Sinek and knew I had to write about CPA firm culture again. As you know, I have written about it many, many times. I have written about a marketing culture, a learning culture, an inclusive culture, a flexible culture, and more!

As Sinek notes, a work culture constantly evolves. If you don’t pay attention to your culture, make it a priority and nurture it, it will form on its own and might not be something you intended or are proud of.

You can use the search box on my website to find all the posts I have written about culture.

  • 'How was you day?' is a question that matters a lot more than it seems.
  • Seth Godin