Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Monday, September 14th, 2020

The Journey From Manager to Partner

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been.” – T. D. Jakes

The Ohio Chapter of The CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA) will be hosting a REMOTE-ZOOM meeting on Friday, September 18 at 11:00a.

The presentation will be an informative one for firm administrators and managing partners. The presenter will be a “new” partner in a CPA firm and will discuss her experiences in moving from Manager to Partner.

The Journey from Manager to Partner  

Niki Doctor, CPA will be sharing her experiences in moving from Manager to Partner in a CPA firm. The purpose of this presentation is to help firms understand what the firm’s leadership should be focusing on besides just the technical skills and book of business.  Our environment is changing rapidly and the needs of our firms and our clients are changing as well. Learn how can we make the transition from Manager to Partner successful.

ABOUT NIKI DOCTOR – She has over 17 years of public accounting experience and has been at Bregante + Company LLP since 2012. Niki began her career at Bregante + Company LLP as a Manager in 2012 and became a Partner in 2018. Niki believes in providing and offering bespoke solutions to her clients and assisting them in making financially sound business decisions. She is committed to client success and strives to provide prompt and efficient services to all her clients. Niki specializes in closely-held businesses and high net worth individuals that require tax planning, tax advisory, international tax, and compliance services. She also works with businesses that require a combination of tax services and financial accounting, including compilations and reviews with vast experience in the real estate, retail/wholesale, manufacturing, distribution, architecture and engineering, high t-tech, and professional services.

Register securely on line.

  • You’ve got to have rules to live by, and one of mine is always say yes. Put yourself in danger of something amazing happening to you.
  • Tom Bilyeu

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Know It All

“The dumbest people I know are those who know it all.” – Malcolm Forbes

As a leader in your firm, you might think you have to know it all. Partners and managers cannot possibly know it all!

Of course, you have to understand the business of public accounting and how to obtain new clients and provide awesome service to your current ones.

You can never know all the answers. Some things will puzzle you. It is an on-going occurrence and it never ends. To be a skilled leader of people, you need help from others.

Adopt a coaching method of building relationships with your team. Ask for their input and insight and then listen. While you will never know it all, others will help you know a lot more!

  • The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.
  • Stephen Hawking

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

The Power of Thank You

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick

Over the years, I have written several posts about the power of saying thank you.

While I definitely prefer a handwritten note, a thank-you, whether handwritten or by email, is something very special, and often, rare.

One time, I received an email from a friend, a very experienced, professional and effective firm administrator, telling me about a special thank-you she received. It inspired the following “story.”

Anna loved being a firm administrator. She was actually one of the first professional firm administrators in the CPA profession and one of the first members of the CPA Firm Management Association. During her tenure at two CPA firms, while she loved her firms and was very devoted, she received little recognition and appreciation. (Firm Administrators – does this sound like you?)

Rather than continuing in this mode, Anna decided to give another firm a chance before she abandoned the CPA profession. This was a very difficult decision. On her first anniversary at the new firm, here is the email that went out to the entire organization.

From: Managing Partner
To: Everyone at John Doe Firm
Subject: Happy Anniversary to Anna from the Management Committee!

Anna has been here for a year. Hooray for Anna! Things are sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better with her here. Thank you, Anna!! And, yes, we love to drive you nuts, but that is just because we love you so much.

Have you read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (the college professor who died of pancreatic cancer)? I highly recommend it. In Chapter 41, he tells of the power of a thank-you

  • If you can read this, thank a teacher.

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Want More Time?

“The really expert riders of horses let the horse know immediately who is in control, but then guide the horse with loose reins and seldom use the spurs.” – Sandra Day O’Connor

There is a very simple answer to my question in today’s title. One word – DELEGATE.

If you delegate you will have more time to focus on what you should be doing.

In so many firms I see partners doing manager work and managers doing staff work and staff stuck doing the same old thing year after year.

In the CPA firm environment, you should alway be asking yourself, “What am I doing that someone else could do?” Or, the classic CPA question, “What am I doing that someone with a lower billing rate can easily do?”

If you keep doing work for them, staff will never evolve to a higher skill level. In an accounting firm, young accountants learn by doing more difficult assignments. Short-term you may be able to do it better but where does that get you long-term?

Sad to say, your firm might end up merging up because there is no one skilled enough to replace the current partners.

If you work at it and discipline yourself to delegate much of the current work you do, your firm will grow and prosper because the partners and managers have time to market, sell and bring in new business (and mentor younger staff).

  • If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.
  • John C. Maxwell

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Getting Started

“I learned a long time ago that there is something worse than missing the goal, and that’s not pulling the trigger.” – Mia Hamm

Think back to when you were a child. Part of growing up is exploring your world. A child sees a creek and wades in to cross it. A child sees a tree and doesn’t hesitate to climb it. There is no fear of failure.

Accountants have a reputation for being careful, cautious, and conservative. As a leader, do you always begin cautiously, avoiding risk at all costs? Does indecision prohibit you from action?

We are living in a bold new world. As the old saying goes, “he who hesitates is lost.”

We are going into fall. It is a time for reflection and, more importantly, a time to take action to prepare your firm for 2021. Modify that accountant reputation – – Be careful, cautious, conservative and yet, decisive and bold

  • Eighty percent of success is just showing up.
  • Woody Allen

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Act Upon Your Ideas

“Without hustle talent will only carry you so far.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

It is so exciting to go to a conference (or attend virtually) and obtain all kinds of ideas that spark your own ideas. You are invigorated, enthused, and committed to meeting with others on your team and sharing your ideas and intentions.

Then you get sidelined. The phone rings and a client or two or three need something and that seems more important than your idea. You will take care of these clients needs and then work more on that great idea.

Then you get sidelined. Your partners remind you that you have to get that selection of a new software finalized. You have to deal with performance feedback sessions and then you will work more on that great idea.

Someone else in thee firm talks about a great idea that is similar to yours. They work on getting others involved and soon that great ideas is becoming reality.

They found the time to get it done. You did not. They made it a top priority. You did not. You intended to do it but they made the time and succeeded.

Have you ever, in a meeting, a class or a training session, whispered a great comment to the person sitting next to you, and then they raise their hand and vocalize the great comment? It happened to some of us in high school or college. It happened to some of us in a staff meeting. It makes you feel sad and resentful.

Next time, raise your hand, speak up, and take action. You have the time, you just did not make it a top priority. Intending to get it done someday is no longer an option.

  • The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.
  • Steve Harvey

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

Client Accounting Services

“If our true intent is to differentiate CAS from our previous bookkeeping services, we need to offer unique services that tie people directly to our firm and create loyalty.” – Bill Reeb

The growth and success of CAS makes me very happy.

I can remember when accounting services (or bookkeeping as some partners always called it), was the very bottom level of the client services menu. Many firms even quit providing these services because they were simply not profitable enough (and new CPAs thought this work was below them). In addition to that, qualified, skilled bookkeepers were more difficult to find than accounting grads.

There is a good article via the Journal of Accountancy featuring Bill Reeb and his observations about the success of CAS. He identified issues that can prevent CAS from becoming successful.

  • The CAS service line leader and their manager are not in alignment.
  • Partners haven’t bought in.
  • The CAS practice is inadequately staffed.

One other problem is that in many firms the entire CAS operation is on the shoulders of just one highly motivated individual.

How is your CAS division doing? Are you giving it enough support? Are you bragging about it to all your clients?

  • A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
  • Jeff Bezos

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Helping

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Maya Angelou

The above quote is another one that immediately reminded me of CPAs.

When you are a recent college graduate with an accounting degree you just want to get hired and begin to explore your career in public accounting. It is an exciting time, a stressful time. You work hard, and often long hours, to become more knowledgeable and to gain skills in dealing with clients, peers and bosses. It takes both hands… and a lot more.

Helping is a word to keep in mind as you advance in your career. When you began, you soon discovered that you were needed to help others. You became the person that new hires came to with questions and depended on for guidance.

When you became a manager and then, perhaps, a partner, you found that you had matured and began to think more like the above quote. You do not sell something to clients, you help them become more successful. You still use one hand to advance your own success but you never forget to use the other hand to mentor and coach your team and to advise and guide your clients.

  • No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.
  • Charles Dickens

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

Fake Deadlines

“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?” Seth Godin

Every so often, I feature a complete post from Seth Godin. I do it because I feel like it has special meaning for those of you involved in the management of a public accounting firm.

Have you ever established a fake deadline for tax due dates? I know some of you have. Here is Godin’s post titled Fake Deadlines:

FAKE DEADLINES

Slack enables systems to function with more efficiency. That’s because unavoidable delays and errors compound in a system that doesn’t have enough buffer space.

But fake deadlines don’t solve this problem. Fake deadlines exist when we can’t trust others (or ourselves) to be clear about our progress or prioritize honestly. So we invent a date before we actually need something to arrive.

The challenge is that fake deadlines compound. Once someone on another project realizes that they’ve been outfoxed by a fake deadline, they’ll simply escalate their urgency as well. Or perhaps the provider realizes that we’ve been faking the deadlines, and so now there’s a whole new level of guessing about what the real deadline is.

Professionals don’t need fake deadlines and don’t respect them. Instead, we have the chance to build in appropriate slack, get our priorities straight and keep our promises.

  • Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.
  • Seth Godin

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

How Do You Come Across?

“Let us be more simple and less vain.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I recently read an eye-opening article via HBR titled, “Working with People Who Aren’t Self-Aware.” Guess what? It describes many people I have met in the CPA profession!

How many of your partners are not self-aware? HBR discovered that although 95% of people think they are self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.

A staff person in a client firm described a partner as being un-self-aware. The partner talked too much, just constant chatter about his ideas and opinions that were more important than anyone else’s. In a two-person conversation with this partner, you could turn your back, go back to work on your computer and the partner would simply continue to talk, talk, talk, never realizing that you had heard enough!

Some of your un-self-aware team members can be helped. First, find out how others feel so you can determine if they are really unaware.

Here’s a list from the article:

  • They won’t listen to, or accept, critical feedback.
  • They cannot empathize with, or take perspective of, others.
  • They have difficulty “reading a room” and tailoring their message to their audience.
  • They possess an inflated opinion of their contributions and performance.
  • They are hurtful to others without realizing it.
  • They take credit for successes and blame other for failures.

There is a big difference between the unaware and the Aware-Don’t-Care individuals. Read the entire article to see if you can help the people in your firm who are not self-aware. You might not cure them but you can minimize their impact.

I believe most CPAs are self-aware and care about others. The people who are Aware-Don’t-Care people usually don’t last long in an accounting firm.

  • Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying.
  • St. Vincent de Paul