Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

Do Some Planning

“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” – Earl Nightengale

Many of you know and remember Rebecca Ryan. She spoke at many CPA management conferences a few years back and work with several firms focusing on planning for the next generation. She is a futurist and economist.

Ryan’s recent post, “What to tell your team when everyone’s freaked out” is something that I highly recommend you read.

As she notes, “A great antidote to being scared is to do some planning.” She talks about Assumptions, First Principles, Pivot plan, financial contingency plans, and shares some personal reflections from another tough time we went through (the Great Recession).

I think you will find her thoughts very helpful as you plan for the future of your firm and your people. Click here to read her post.

  • Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
  • Mary Oliver

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Work Habits of CPA Partners

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many non-partner CPAs and others working in or advising the CPA profession have said that partners work too many hours.

Advisors have been saying for years that your young CPAs won’t want to become a partner because they see the partners setting the wrong example – they work too hard and too many hours.

A recent article via HBR stated that, based on a study, top CEOs of public companies work an average of 62.5 hours per week. CEOs are always on, and there is always more to be done. Think about how that statement applies to your partners, especially the managing partner, the executive committee, etc.

If you want to be a partner someday, keep in mind that you will have two roles, owner and employee. Non-partner CPAs in public practice work with clients. Yes, they have some additional roles by serving on committees or special task forces for the firm but mainly, they help clients.

Partners serve clients and their second job – which maybe should be their first job – is running an efficient, effective and profitable business – the firm. They are paid well if the firm is successful. Their employees are paid well if the firm is successful.

If you are critical of your partners, keep in mind, they are always on, and there is always more to be done.

You might find the HBR article interesting – How CEOs Manage Time.

  • I am focused on the work. I am constantly creating. I am a busy girl. I live and breathe my work. I love what I do. I believe in the message. There’s no stopping.
  • Lady Gaga

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Time for something off-topic

John Prine passed this week from COVID-19. It makes me so sad.

Here is my favorite John Prine song. It will make you laugh. Also, listen to “Hello in there” by Prine – it will make you cry.

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Snooze Is Not For You

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

I have been amazed that, even though I have been observing the Stay At Home order now for nearly three weeks, that time seems to fly by quickly. It has always been that way for me, even as a child I was never bored.

For my many CPA firm friends, I know that this busy season is moving quickly and even with the extended due dates, you are still focused on that April 15th date for many of your clients. Time is flying by! There isn’t time to hit the snooze button.

However, when you return to focusing on how to more efficiently and effectively manage your firm, you will most likely hit that snooze button.

Here’s an informative post from April last year. It’s Flashback Friday and time for you to remember that snooze is not for you!

  • Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.
  • Kevin Stirtz

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Stay Positive

“I’ve decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” – Voltaire

It is a strange time for all of you working in public accounting. Of course, it is tax season. Client service must continue as usual. However, strange and unfamiliar circumstances have been layered on top of business as usual.

Many of you are working from home this week and for the unforeseeable future. In my state of Ohio, all schools will be closed at the end of today.

This new day and week will bring new challenges. However, I know that CPAs and all their team members will meet the challenges with style and grace. They will be creative, curious and dedicated.

Already, I have heard from many firms about how they are handling the challenges. I will post about some solutions that CPA firms are embracing tomorrow. It is a time of flexibility and creativity and I KNOW you are good at that.

I love to share quotes and it is time for some positive ones! Below are a few (via @SkipPrichard). Follow this link to read his entire post – 24 Quotes to help you relax when you are stressed.

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answers.” – William Burroughs

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mohandas Gandhi

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.” – Mark Black

  • Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Stay Home When You Are Sick

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” – Fannie Lou Hamer

It is tax season. There is a lot of pressure to work extra hours and keep the work flowing through the office and out the door by March 15 and April 15.

I worked in a CPA firm for many years and I rarely missed a day. It was very unusual for a “professional” to call in sick. Sometimes people would drag themselves in, persevere for part of the day and then go home early. This, of course, just help spread the germs throughout the office.

Even if management urged people to stay home when they were sick, it made little difference. Tax season meant you must be at work unless you were drastically sick.

Thank goodness, times have changed. Progressive firms have enabled everyone to do their work remotely. Yet, I still talk with firm leaders who do not offer connectivity to EVERYONE.

A recent study found that 90 percent of the American workforce admits to coming into work when they are not only feeling under the weather but know they are contagious.

Make sure your team members believe you when you tell them to stay home when they are sick.

  • There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

Be Prepared for a Pandemic

“All firms should implement is a remote access technology that allows firm personnel to continue to communicate and collaborate if they must stay home.” – Roman Kepczyk

What would happen if you had several employees become sick or have to stay home with a sick relative, especially during tax season?

So much has been in the news about the current Coronavirus. Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP, CGMA has written a very helpful and informative article on preparing for a pandemic.

Natural disasters and cybersecurity concerns have pushed most firms to develop a disaster response plan in the event of a catastrophic office or systems loss, but few have considered the potential impact of a massive influenza outbreak, such as the current Coronavirus epidemic.

Read the article here.

  • The minute you think you've got it made, disaster is just around the corner.
  • Joe Paterno

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

I Call It the Bad Apple

“To keep poor performers in place is to risk the future of the firm.” – Ron Baker

Recently, I read a great article by Ron Baker (you all know Ron Baker!).

His title for the article is Negative human capital and how it affects your firm. I simply call it The Bad Apple and have blogged about it several times. That being said, you MUST read Baker’s article.

Here’s an excerpt:

We do people no favors when we let them languish in a job they are not capable of performing well, or for which they have no heart. The philosophy, “hire slow and fire quick,” is sound advice. How do you know when it is time to let someone go? Ask yourself if you would hire this person again. Think how you would feel if this person came to you and said he or she was leaving to pursue another opportunity.

It is simply unacceptable to other team members to keep people in the firm who are not meeting expectations. The negative morale effects are significant, and will ripple throughout the company. Poor performers are not good role models, do not make good mentors, and may even be damaging customer relations. If the leaders don’t make these tough decisions regarding the most important form of intellectual capital in their firms, who will?

In my consulting work, I have observed that partners make excuses upon excuses for why they can’t let some go even when the entire staff would breathe a sigh of relief. Even when the person has caused repeated turnover because people cannot put up with their bullying.

It only takes 7 minutes to read the entire article.

  • We do people no favors when we let them languish in a job they are not capable of performing well, or for which they have no heart.
  • Ron Baker

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Pay Attention to Collections

“Debt is normal. Be weird.” – Dave Ramsey

During my consulting and advisory work with firms, the collection policy topic comes up on a regular basis. I have posted about this before but I think it might be time to revisit this topic.

Collections are one of those things inside a CPA firm that is fairly simple but that seems to become complicated when you are dealing with multiple partners. My message to CPAs: You are running a business and effective collections is a basic business activity.

Here are my thoughts on CPA firm collections.

A documented, widely published Collection Policy is the foundation for good cash flow.

  • It must come from the top – all owners.
  • They need to meet, discuss all of the options and arguments then come to agreement on what they can truly live with, for the good of the firm.
  • Management drafts the document and all owners review and approve.
  • The written policy is communicated to all team members and is posted on the firm’s Intranet.
  • Everyone involved – managers, staff, controller, administrative assistants, firm administrator thoroughly understands and monitors compliance with the policy
  • AR statements should be mailed monthly to ALL unpaid accounts, with no exceptions.
  • Your collection administrator should routinely write notes/requests on the AR statements when a client is slow to pay.
  • A service fee should be applied for balances over 30 days.
  • I recommend that collection activities should be performed by a part-time administrative person (collection administrator) who is skilled in client communication and has no other priorities. This person’s role is also defined in writing and they operate within certain parameters.
  • They begin calling (not emailing) at 31 days. Some say 45 days but it is better to do it sooner. Often the client has just misplaced your invoice.
  • When the collection administrator exhausts all avenues with a particular, difficult client or when it ages beyond 90 days, it goes back to the partner in charge of the client account for collection, along with Managing Partner involvement. Work stops at the 90-day point.

Also, consider having your firm administrator send a welcome letter to every new client that includes a copy of your collection policy.

The bottom line – all partners must agree to follow the published procedures, if they cannot, they must keep working on the policy until they CAN all agree.

  • If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
  • Earl Wilson

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Your Future Will Be Limited

I follow John C. Maxwell on Twitter. Yesterday, he posted the following tweet:

If you’re not identifying the leaders of tomorrow whom you will train up, your potential and your future will always be limited. 

It a simple, short message that speaks volumes to CPAs working in public accounting.  Owners of firms should have heeded this advice many years ago.

Here’s another recent tweet from Maxwell that hits home with CPAs:

No matter what it costs you, the return you receive will eclipse the price. Developing leaders is the most impacting and rewarding thing you can do as a leader.

Baby Boomer CPAs, nearing retirement, have been warned over and over again but few have acted upon the advice and now, their futures are limited. For some, it is merge-up or close-up.

  • Don't let what's uncertain be what defeats you. Instead, let it be what motivates you to keep reaching toward what's possible.
  • John C. Maxwell