Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ 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

Monday, December 6th, 2021

Purpose

“Profit isn’t a purpose, it’s a result. Purpose is the reason we do the thing that makes the profit.” – Simon Sinek

Surveys tell us that a large percentage of employees don’t feel fully connected to their firm’s purpose, they don’t see the value they create and that their jobs don’t allow them to fully leverage their strengths.

Every CPA firm started for a reason. Every CPA firm continues to operate and move forward for a reason. That reason results in profit.

Many firms are confused about the difference between a mission statement and a purpose statement. The first step to understanding a purpose statement is to distinguish it from a mission statement because each plays a different role in your business plan.

Here’s an explanation from a blog post by WGU.edu that I think will help you understand the difference:

Mission Statement vs. Purpose Statement

A purpose statement is a single statement that defines the reason your company exists—beyond simply making a profit. It also illustrates how your product or service positively impacts the people you serve. Once your purpose is established, you’ll need a series of goals to drive that purpose. That’s where the mission statement comes in.

First and foremost, a mission statement is actionable. It explains the path you need to take to reach your purpose. So, while a purpose statement is focused on the future, a mission statement is rooted in the present.

Unlike a company mission, your company purpose isn’t something that can be completed or checked off a list. A purpose statement illustrates the ongoing pursuit to push your company forward.

It is important to define your CPA firm’s purpose and share it with your entire workforce. Too many partners attend a partner retreat and then do not share the action steps from that meeting in a way that motivates and connects team members to the firm’s purpose, vision, and core values.

Here’s the Lego purpose statement: “To inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.”

I hope you can define your purpose so clearly and briefly.

  • Nothing will divert me from my purpose.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, December 2nd, 2021

Changing Your Thinking

“My hope is that when someone has that call to action, they realize that everybody can do something, even if that’s just changing their own thinking. Women have to change the way they think, too. Not just men.”~ Ambassador Melanne Verveer

I think the above quote has a lot of meaning for those working in public accounting.

When I do my communication presentation for CPAs, one of my favorite topics is male/female communication. There is a lot of focus on helping men understand female communication styles and preferences and not quite so much on asking women to better understand male communication.

In the CPA profession, we have asked men to change in many ways so that women can more easily progress in their careers. These men have met the challenge and become amazing supporters of welcoming more females into the former, all-male partner group.

I have observed that some women are almost hostile to “the old boy club.” Hostility gets you nowhere, no matter what the mission.

Men and women in the CPA profession BOTH changing their thinking has moved many progressive firms more quickly forward. It is about respect, trust, camaraderie, and friendship. It doesn’t matter if your are a male or a female.

  • Building trust begins with an appreciation and understanding of trust, but it also requires practice and practices.
  • Robert C. Solomon

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

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Lights, Camera… Action!

“I always thought acting was all lights, camera, action. It’s a job; you have to do your job correctly.” – Corey Haim

November is passing quickly. You are probably spending a lot of time getting ready for the busiest time of the year. There is a need for enhanced focus on how your serve your clients and how your serve your staff.

Tax season is the time that firm owners and all their team members take the stage and step into the spotlight. “Lights, camera, action!” – the term they use when making movies definitely applies. It is your time, as a firm, to shine. You are about to be a hero for your clients.

All of this applies to those of you inside CPA firms who are “the bosses.” It will be a challenging time for the people you supervise. Acknowledgment and encouragement are the order of the day. It’s time for you to take your role as the Director of the movie very seriously and extract the best possible performance from your cast and crew.

When things are running smoothly and people are doing good work for the clients, don’t forget to recognize efforts. Things will go wrong at times, seems they always do. If a mistake happens, recover rapidly – be honest, make amends and move on quickly. It seems that people (you, your clients, and your team) always remember bad things and often forget about all the good things that happen.

I’m not sure what you can do about the bad things, except try, desperately try, not to mess anything up. If you do, try to mend fences (and your reputation) before you move on. 

You are now in the rehearsal stage. Keep rehearsing (getting ready) so that when it’s time to say, “Lights, camera, action!” everyone is ready to give their best performance.

  • All the real work is done in the rehearsal period.
  • Donald Pleasence

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

They Are Watching You

“By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.” – Robert Frost

If you are a partner or a firm administrator in a CPA firm, you are a leader (a boss). Never forget that everyone is watching you. I’m sure you have seen some of those cute videos via social media where the parent performs some simple act and the baby (not even a year old) will mimic them almost immediately.

That’s what your team members will do.

If you always give people compliments and encouragement they will do the same. If you are short-tempered and reserved, they will eventually take on these characteristics.

More importantly, if you work 12 hours a day (as the above quote mentions), they will assume they must also work 12 hours a day. Soon, they will realize that public accounting is not for them. This is why so many firms have succession issues – no one to replace partners as they retire.

If you are keeping up with all the news about resignations and the talent shortages now and the lack of students seeking a career in public accounting in the future, you know that this is happening right now.

Be careful of the example you are setting and remember they are watching you with a magnifying glass because YOU are the boss.

  • I wish I were brave, although I try. I work too hard and don't play enough. Too much work ethic, not enough 'fun'.
  • Danielle Steel

Monday, November 15th, 2021

Hang On To Your Team

“That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” – Simone de Beauvoir

Over the weekend, I read the latest news from the Associated Press. – – Americans quit their jobs at a record pace for the second straight month in September, while businesses and other employers posted a near-record number of available jobs.

Employees have become empowered and are quitting to take the higher pay that is being offered by employers who are desperate for workers.

I have observed, that some CPA firms are not doing what is necessary to retain the best and the brightest (or even the average) employee.

Some firms are still paying interns $15.00 or $16.00 per hour. I asked some more progressive CPA firms what they are paying for interns for 2022 and learned they are paying $20 to $28 per hour. Of course, geographic location makes a difference but none were paying less than $20.

The more progressive firms have already given significant salary increases and stay bonuses. If you have not done this, these firms will be attracting YOUR people. I have no proof, but I am hearing that the largest accounting firms are giving a signing bonus of $75,000 for a Manager and $100,000 for a Senior Manager.

Firms are also taking steps to outplace troublesome and nonprofitable clients because they want to maintain awesome client service to their best clients. They can’t do that if they do not have the man/woman power.

Now is not a time for CPA firm shareholders to be greedy. You have to give your team lots of little things (perks), but you also have to give them money.

Read the AP article here.

  • You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 11th, 2021

So Much To Do Before Year-End

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates

I have covered the topic of being too busy many times over the years in writing this blog. Why? Because it is the term I continue to hear over and over again from partners, firm administrators, and others working inside a growing CPA firm.

It seems you are always too busy to actually think, plan, reflect and even enjoy a beautiful Fall day. When you dig deep into why you are too busy it usually uncovers the fact that it is because of the choices you make.

Maybe it is time you examine those choices you have been making.

Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” What did he mean by that? Here’s an explanation:

Socrates‘ claim that the unexamined life is not worth living makes a satisfying climax for the deeply principled arguments that Socrates presents on behalf of the philosophical life. The claim is that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value.

In your CPA work life, if you are always saying you are so busy or too busy, why would clients and referral sources refer others to you? Make it a rule to never say the “B” (busy) word in the office. Anyone caught saying BUSY must drop $1.00 into the money jar in the break room. Soon you will have enough money (and maybe enough time) for a great party!

  • It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?
  • Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021

I Should Have…

“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.” – Ernest Hemingway, Old Man and The Sea

I recently read The Old Man and The Sea. It is one of those classics that I have always meant to read but never did. It is a short novel and one of Hemingway’s best-known.

Referring to the above quotation, I am reminding you that it is late in the year and time is running out for that list of management to do’s you wished you had accomplished earlier in the year.

Don’t agonize over what you didn’t get done. Think of what you can accomplish with what time that is left in 2021. Then, get busy!

  • Courage is grace under pressure.
  • Ernest Hemingway