Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Friday, October 12th, 2018

In a Hurry?

Lots of experts tell us that millennials want to know how fast they will be promoted. While I agree that you must be able to explain how a career path plays out at your firm, I wonder if a bit of reality might be in order.

Reading the following quote made me realize what a long journey it is to build relationships, learn, and keep current, on loads of technical issues, become well-known in your business community and also build a reputation as “the expert” in a certain discipline.

“It took me fifteen years to make it look easy.” – Fred Astaire

I am not saying that it should take 15 years to become a partner. I am saying that after you do become a partner you must continue to learn, grow and develop ways to make what you do look easy.

  • Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
  • Marie Curie

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Don’t Make Excuses

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” —Benjamin Franklin

In my consulting work, I hear about it all too frequently. In the workplace, there is a troublesome employee. I have heard many stories involving both males and females being the culprit.

This troublesome employee (often it is a partner in the firm) is well known for being difficult. He/She has been with the firm a very long time and is set in his/her ways. He/She might provide good client service but he/she is not a team player. For the people working with them, it means continually giving in to their wishes or risk their wrath. Even leaders back away from the situation.

The common excuse said many, many times over the years to a multitude of people who complain about him/her is: “That’s just the way he/she is.” Letting this go on too long will take a toll on firm morale.

Strong leadership is needed to keep an accounting firm on the track to profitability and success in the future. Quit making excuses for these renegades and take appropriate action. A lot of people will thank you.

  • Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.
  • John Wooden

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Simple Mission: Set A Good Example

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

You are a partner in a CPA firm.

One of the most important things you can do as a leader is set a good example.

When I ask CPA firm citizens who, in their firm, breaks the rules, ignores the established procedures and demands special treatment, the answer is always “the partners!”

Many challenges and frustrations that happen inside a busy CPA firm would be solved if EVERY partner would set a good example.

Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

  • Example is leadership.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Partner Buy-Out & Retirement – Webinar

“Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun.” – Jim Bishop 

I get so many questions about what a partner buy-out and retirement should look like. Here’s an opportunity for you to learn about the current trends presented by Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory via CPA Leadership Institute.

October 10, 2018 – 1:00 – 1:50 pm EST – Surviving Succession – Partner Buyout and Retirement.

If you’re like most firms, your partner agreements have not been reviewed or updated in a long time. That is dangerous given the succession issues in our profession today and the number of baby boomers retiring. I will discuss best practices and latest trends in how to value your practice, how to pay out the retiring partner, building your bench, and successful client transition to the next generation.

REGISTER HERE.

 

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

Plan Ahead & Don’t Disappoint

“Punctuality is the politeness of kings.” – Louis XVIII

Life inside an accounting firm can be very hectic at times. When you arrive at the office, you have great plans for your day and expectations of what you will accomplish.

Then, you-know-what happens.

Suddenly, you realize you probably can’t make that meeting with a client, a team member or an employee. You will just have to reschedule that phone conference with the Chair of a committee you are on at a non-profit organization.

Rather than disappoint and cancel on someone at the last minute, make time toward the end of the week to look ahead at the following week’s schedule. Are you over-scheduled? Can you realistically squeeze in that client visit or meeting with the tax committee? Don’t over schedule yourself. If you must cancel or reschedule, give them plenty of notice.

People count on you. Their time is valuable, too. Don’t be a Last Minute Larry or a Procrastinating Polly.

  • Tardiness often robs us opportunity, and the dispatch of our forces.
  • Machiavelli

Monday, October 1st, 2018

I Love Small Firms

“A big business starts small.” – Richard Branson

I have heard the following numbers mentioned by consultants and AICPA leaders many times. I also use them often. I like to make people working in public accounting aware of the numbers.

There are approximately 46,000 CPA firms in the USA and the 500th largest firm has about 20 people and $3M in revenue. Most recently, I read these numbers via Accounting today in an article by Edward Mendlowitz of Withum. He also notes that small firms outnumber large firms 91 to 1.

In the article, I discovered that he and I have something in common. We like to focus our consulting efforts on smaller firms.

Over the years I have worked directly with over 100 firms and advised and spoken to thousands of CPAs, firm administrators, HR directors, marketing directors and, IT managers. I have a large following for my daily blog and tweets. I have found, much like Mr. Mendlowitz, that small firms need help.

These firms, unlike the larger firms, aren’t big enough to justify hiring full-time support professionals such as HR, marketing, and management professionals. They need and are willing to pay for outside resources that will help them manage better and improve operations.

I find leaders of smaller firms interesting, enthusiastic and receptive to new ideas and methods. Yet, much like accountants in larger firms, they find it very challenging to implement.

Be sure to read the article in the link above.

  • I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.
  • Steve Jobs

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Due Date Decisions

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” – Ralph Marston

The extended due date is here.

You and your team have been working very hard during a time of year when you should not have to work so hard.

You have those fire-drill clients that almost always hold you hostage right up until the drop-dead extension deadline. It is frustrating. Your team wonders why you put up with these clients.

Why do you? Putting extra strain and frustration on your employees in times where employees are valuable and new ones are difficult to cultivate doesn’t seem like a good plan.

Use this client retention analysis form to help you sort out which clients to outplace.

Or, just ask your employees to vote for 5 clients that they would enjoy seeing gone from the client list.

 

  • Hope fills the holes in my frustration in my heart.
  • Emanuel Cleaver

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

The Future of Your Firm

Are you, as leaders, doing the right things today to prepare your firm and yourselves for the future?

I love this quote from Marcus Buckingham:

The future isn’t

somewhere you discover.

It’s somewhere you create 

out of the choices

you make today.

As you prepare for your partner retreat, as you enter into the fall season, as you do year-end planning for the firm, as you participate in the fall college recruiting activities…. be sure you make the right choices.

 

  • Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.
  • John Maxwell

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Is It A Rule or A Guideline?

I have three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.” – Lou Holtz

Sometimes we get our inspiration from strange places. When I read the following quote from Ghostbusters, it made me think CPAs.

“I make it a rule never to get involved with possessed people… Actually, it’s more of a guideline than a rule.” – Bill Murray, Ghostbusters

It also made me think of my grandson when he was very small. If he was corrected because of some action, he would ask, “Is that a rule?” If we said yes, he was okay with that. I think it is something he learned in preschool. If it is a rule, you follow it.

Inside your firm, do you have rules or guidelines? Maybe we need to actually use the term “rule” more often.

  • It is a rule that every partner must bill out all WIP over $500 by the 2nd day of the following month.
  • It is a rule that our people are punctual in relation to their own behaviors and in serving clients.
  • It is a rule that we send accounts receivable statements to all clients every month, no exceptions.
  • It is a rule that we don’t voice our issues with others, except to them directly and in private.

Then we maybe we have some guidelines:

  • We have a guideline that says we return a client’s phone call the same day.
  • We have a guideline that says we stop work if a client is 90 days past due on payment.

I think you probably have more guidelines than rules. Should some of your guidelines actually be rules? Do you demand that all staff follow the documented workflow processes but partners don’t follow the rules?

Help your staff understand this complicated scenario. How are you dealing with it or are you ignoring it?

One time a CPA firm technology director said to me, “At our firm we have guidelines but we manage by exception.” I usually observe that inside CPA firms, there are way too many exceptions.

 

  • The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Billing For Administrative Time

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy

One practice management question that has been asked many times over the years is whether administrative team members should charge their time to a client.

If your firm is still billing by the hour, all employees whether admin team or accounting team should record any time expended on behalf of a client. Whether it is billed or not is up to the discretion of the biller, usually a partner. I have observed that in many firms, most, if not all, of this time is billed.

The accounting firm administrative team spends a great deal of their time on client work. They are providing service on behalf of a client. Serving the client is a valuable and important activity.

Some clients are more “needy” than others and often much of that neediness for service falls to the admin team.

I have also observed that administrative team members focused on client work are usually only about 30-40% chargeable.

 

  • Time has more value than money. You can get more money but you cannot get more time.
  • Jim Rohn