Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Friday, May 24th, 2019

A Lesson For CPA Firm Partners/Managers

You are the managing partner of a CPA firm. You are the PIC (partner-in-charge) of audit, tax, consulting or an office of the firm. You are a COO or Practice Manager. What do your employees call you? Don’t you ever wonder what they call you behind your back? Do they say you are a good boss?

You might think Steve Jobs was a fearless leader yet he’s described as egotistical and abrasive. Not exactly in line with the title: Good Boss

Jim Henson, on the other hand, by all reports was a Good Boss (his employees did call him “fearless leader”).

  • His former employees say working for him was the best job they ever had.
  • His son, Brian Henson, says: He taught me to identify a person’s talent, nurture that talent, and encourage them to look to themselves for a solution.
  • His agent says Henson rarely spoke above a whisper.
  • His wife says he was so patient that she sometimes wanted to kick him!
  • He was a good listener, accepted ideas from others and used them.
  • If he thought something hadn’t been done well, he would never say that. He would say, “Hey, I wonder if we just should try…….”

A good boss, like a good teacher, empowers their employees. This is easy to say and very hard to actually do. Most of us have egos that get in the way.

 

As for Henson, no one ever saw him angry. Far from lazy, he worked harder than anyone in his company. He rarely slept. He was not fearful. Never afraid to try something new.

Instead of miserly. Henson was generous, going well over budget in order to give others the time and space to create.

I routinely encounter accounting firm leaders who are miserly (only spend CPE dollars on technical education, won’t send their firm administrator to a conference that could bring huge pay-back to the firm, won’t spend any education/training dollars on their administrative team and support team, etc.).

Read this full article about Henson on Fast Company. It contains so much information to absorb and contemplate. How do you stack up?

  • Life is like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.
  • Jim Henson

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Get Rid of Drama!

This is a sad statement for me to make, however, when I noticed this comment by the author, Jon Gordon I thought of CPAs and their firms. Here is his tweet:

“Complaining is like throwing up. Afterward, you feel better but then everyone around you feels sick.”

How much complaining goes on inside your firm? I have heard from many, well…. most of my clients that there is entirely too much drama inside the firm. Someone always seems to be complaining about someone else.

I have frequently observed a strange reaction from a partner group. They decide on a new policy, procedure or event. Then they hear that one person has complained about their decision. They quickly react and often reverse or modify their decision. Don’t do it!

Keep another famous quote in mind:

You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all of the time” (Poet John Lydgate as made famous by Abraham Lincoln).

When you make decisions always keep in mind… “for the good of the firm”.

  • I can't tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.
  • Ed Sheeran

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Reminder – A Message About the Rosenberg Survey

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Participate now so you can receive our benchmarking report which contains nearly 200-pages of data, benchmarks, key statistics, and commentary from leading consultants!
Did you know?
The Elite Firms from our 2018 survey (firms with income per partner > $500,000) had the following metrics:
  • Net fees per person – $211,000
  • Net fees per equity partner – $2,250,000
Why is The Rosenberg Survey Valuable?
  • Customized comparison of like-sized firms in similar markets for participating firms.
  • Accurate and valid results reviewed by three CPAs.
  • Reliable year to year comparison with a return rate of 82% from previous year’s participants.
  • A robust pool of over 350 participants makes our data relevant to firms of all sizes.
  • Clear cut data displayed by firm size for comparison.
Click the link below today to take part!
 
The deadline to participate is Monday, July 15th. (Thank you for those firms that have participated thus far.)

 

  • Great firms continually reinvent themselves.
  • Marc Rosenberg

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Firing a Pregnant Person

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” ― Tom Bodett

I am often consulted about various HR issues inside an accounting firm. I’ve received questions of many types and some of the same questions over and over again. I am not a legal law attorney. So, I may give you advice as to how many accounting firms have handled various problems but I strongly advise you to check with your attorney before you proceed in some troubling situations.

One repeated question is basically, can we fire a female who is pregnant? Experts tell us you can fire a pregnant person but not because they are pregnant. Here is a very interesting and educational article for you to read. Please read it. If the issue hasn’t come up at your firm, sometime in the future it will

It’s from Inc. and written by Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady, titled: 7 Lawsuits Claim Amazon Fires Pregnant Women.

  • Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.
  • George Carlin

Monday, May 13th, 2019

What About Your Elephants?

“Productive conversations turn conflict into collaboration, reduce costly mistakes and create a culture of accountability.” – Marlene Chism

It’s the beginning of partner retreat season for public accounting firms.

From my experience and from many conversations with CPA partners and practice managers, during these retreats, there always seem to be an “elephants in the room.”

Elephant in the room definition from the urban dictionary:  n. A very large issue that everyone is acutely aware of, but nobody wants to talk about. Perhaps a sore spot, perhaps politically incorrect, or perhaps a political hot potato, it’s something that no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole. 

From my experience in pre-retreat preparation, partners will individually tell their facilitator that they want the elephant in the room topic to be approached and solved but as a group, they want to avoid it completely.

The staff also are aware of the elephant in the room topic. It is difficult to address for various reasons, including power structures and cultural issues but putting it on the back burner time after time is even more disruptive.

This year actually discuss your elephant in the room. Here’s a helpful article from Marlene Chism – The undiscussables: How to address the elephant in the room. The article will also help you better express your concerns when you are giving performance feedback.

You can follow Marlene on Twitter: @StopYourDrama

  • Knowing your feelings won't change the facts, but knowing the facts can change your feelings.
  • Marlene Chism

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Finding the Best Person for the Job

“We need constant change, technological innovation capability, and high productivity to survive in the fiercely competitive environment.” – Joe Kaeser

Firms merge, people leave, people retire and a new firm administrator (Practice Manager) is needed. The role is a very critical one for an accounting firm. The person in this role can make all the difference in how the firm moves into the future, how staff turnover is reduced, how training is developed and presented and how the owner group operates.

If you are a Practice Manager, Office Manager, Firm Administrator or COO here are the characteristics and actions that will make you successful. If you are searching for a new person to fill this role in your firm, use these attributes in your hiring decision.

18 Attributes of an Effective Practice Manager, Firm Administrator or COO

  1. Technical knowledge of the area being managed.  They learn the area, hone skills and stay on top of technological developments.  It earns respect from subordinates and peers.
  2.  Cheerleader.  They are adept at motivating all people.
  3.  Educated to help deal with peers and colleagues.  They have a solid educational background (many firms require a bachelor’s degree now) and continue learning through seminars, webinars, trade journals, newsletters, online research, and reading Rita Keller’s Blog.
  4.  Innate managerial mentality.  This includes being alert, dependable and willing to carry out a commitment.
  5.  Team player.  Grandstanders are not allowed.  He/She solves problems in other departments, as well as in administration because the objective should be collectively beneficial.
  6.  Ability to anticipate potential problems.  He/She is painfully aware of Murphy’s Law (If anything can go wrong, it will).  Contingency planning is a key tool for practice managers.
  7.  A natural sense of fairness and integrity and emotionally well balanced.  Natural is the keyword.  If he/she has to consult a manual to know what’s fair, frustration will be constant.  Also, immature managers can hurt the employees and the firm they represent.
  8.  Courageous, resolute, strong convictions and socially conscious.  He/She works with management and staff with an overall goal of quality client service.   They often deal with egotistical personalities and partners unwilling to “let go.”
  9.  A good follower, not resentful of instructions or constructive criticism.  Anyone secure enough to demonstrate mature leadership will understand the reasons for recognizing the proper chain of command.  Observing protocol demonstrates respect for the system.
  10.  Have initiative and be creative, imaginative and resourceful.  Preventing problems is the most sublime form of problem-solving.  Successful practice managers act without being told to do so.
  11. Energetic.  The practice manager sets the pace.  Most work 2,300 hours or more per year (that number includes PTO, holidays, CPE, etc., working the hours required to get things done.
  12. Reliable, even temperament.  You can’t constantly change your personality.  Nothing goes right all the time, and if you care, you’re going to get upset once in a while.  You don’t have to be apologetic for losing your cool when provoked.
  13. Competitive, unafraid of conflict.  A competitive person is not afraid to set standards never before attained, nor is he or she afraid to fail.  Such a person realizes there can be growth in failure if there is learning.  In managing conflicts, the effective practice manager must know how to come out on top or graciously back off.
  14. Positive.  A positive attitude is a catalyst for creativity.
  15.  Excellent communication skills.  A successful practice manager should be able to write clearly and crisply, speak articulately and succinctly and listen intently.
  16.  Logical, capable of making decisions.  Managers must make tough decisions without fear of making a mistake.   Procrastination could be worse than the decision made.
  17.  Appreciation of technology and social media.  Successful practice managers see technology and social media as tremendous resources and continually lead the firm to advance in these areas.
  18.  Organized, self-disciplined.  Orderly thinking results in orderly living and managing.
  • Most of life's actions are within our reach, but decisions take willpower.
  • Robert McKee

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

Snooze Is Not For You

“The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.” – Seth Godin

On rare occasions, I provide a complete post by Seth Godin. Today is one of those days. Why? I observe so many CPA firms that delay decisions and then delay them again and again.

I also observe that CPAs have an email Inbox that houses hundreds of emails. I once knew a tax manager that had thousands of emails in her Inbox. That is when we began limiting the digital space that accountants could use for their email. Please consider small, everyday decisions and larger partner group decisions as something you should deal with and then move on!

SNOOZE IS A TRAP

There’s a button on my email program that allows me to postpone an incoming email to a future day.

Sort of like a snooze button.

The snooze button is a trap. It’s a trap because not only do you have to decide later, but you just expended time and energy to deciding to decide later.

Do it once, move on.

‘Decide once’ is a magical productivity commitment.

There is a certain class of decision that benefits from time. Decisions where more information is in fact useful.

But most of the time, we’re busy making decisions that should be made now or not at all. You end up with a ton of decision debt, a pile of unanswered, undecided, unexplored options. And you’re likely to simply walk away.

If you open an email, you’ve already made the commitment to respond and move on. Not to push it down the road.

In or out, yes or no, on to the next thing.

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

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

What Being on Salary Really Means

“When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, ‘it’s in the script.’ If he says, ‘But what’s my motivation?” I say, your salary.” – Alfred Hitchcock

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, when an employee is paid on a “salary basis,” this means essentially that she receives regular pay on a regular basis, and that this amount doesn’t fluctuate in regard to the quality or quantity of work actually performed.

Salaried positions often have a higher perceived status and job titles that seem more professional. Being salaried is viewed as having to work extra hours for no additional pay, but if you work less than 40 hours per week, you still get paid your salary. Salary allows for some degree of flexibility and stability.

How does this apply inside your accounting firm? You would think that salaried people would not be monitored as closely as hourly employees. However, as one client said to me recently, “We put them on salary but we treat them like hourly.” What are the benefits of being salaried at your firm?

I have observed that flexible scheduled and part-time people seem to receive more perks and are treated more equitably than full-time, salaried people.

  • I came into the game when I broke into the major leagues, the minimum salary was seven thousand dollars, and I'd have to go home in the wintertime and get a job.
  • Nolan Ryan

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Time to Participate in the Rosenberg Survey

Busy season is history and now it is time, once again, to participate in the annual Rosenberg MAP Survey. The information you receive is a valuable tool in helping you manage your firm successfully. Here’s more information:

The 2019 Rosenberg Survey is well underway and so far, we’ve received a great response.
Do you know which key statistics drive profitability? Do you know how your firm is performing relative to like-sized firms in similar markets? Participate in the 2019 Rosenberg Survey to find out!
For over two decades, The Rosenberg Survey has proven to be the benchmarking standard for mainstream accounting firms across the US and Canada. The Rosenberg Survey provides highly relevant and in-depth analyses and serves as a guide to help your firm make strategic decisions.
See how valuable The Rosenberg Survey is for yourself! The deadline to complete the survey is Monday, July 15th.

 

  • Most firms are still stuck managing the compliance services at the expense of the advisory work.
  • Jeff Pawlow

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Team or Not?

For years, I have talked about CPA firm “teams”. I usually use “team member” rather than staff. I have contended that if you talk consistently about a team, maybe you will actually become one.

I recently read the following quotation by Simon Sinek:

“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.” – Simon Sinek

It made me think about it in a completely different way. I believe a lot needs to be done to develop a strong level of trust within many accounting firms. I have observed that staff do not trust partners and vice versa.

Firm leaders, continue to work on trust within your firm. The best way to start is by setting a good example. Revisit The Four Agreements.

  • Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
  • William Shakespeare