Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Is It Time To Exit Gracefully?

Many CPA firm partners are struggling with the decision on when to retire.

It seems most believe that no matter what their age, it is too soon to consider retiring. Some firms have even raised their mandatory retirement age to 70. Many firms have no mandatory retirement age. Do you have a documented transition plan to help retiring partners exit?

While I certainly do not believe in forcing a successful, active, business-getting, forward-thinking partner out the door, I do believe that all aging partners need to think about retirement and make plans. Are you really a visionary or are you holding the firm back in any way?

I love this quote:

“I don’t want to be dragging myself on stage, year in year out until someone else tells me it is time to go. There are certain birthdays that make you revalue your life.” – Tina Turner

As the year draws to a close, will 2019 be the year you put your transition plan into place and provide an opportunity for the next generation?

  • The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.
  • Abe Lemons

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Foot-dragging

“If I see something sagging, bagging or dragging I’ll get it nipped, tucked or sucked.” – Dolly Parton

Does your firm have a foot-dragging problem?

foot-drag·ging
/ˈfo͝otˌdraɡiNG/
noun
  1. reluctance or deliberate delay concerning a decision or action.
    “bureaucratic foot-dragging has continued to delay the project”

You come back from a conference with a great idea. Or perhaps you read about a good idea on this blog. It is not something that is too complicated but it is not something the firm has tried before.

Some partners are excited but a few pooh-pooh the idea, so it never gains enough momentum to survive. Staff watch, shake their heads and smile at another avoidance of change.

Maybe your firm has one or two partners who are passionate and one or two who are completely happy with the status quo. The passionate partners are pulling the heavy wagon of change up the steep hill and the other partners are dragging their feet.

The foot-draggers don’t even have to help pull. All they have to do is pick up their feet!

  • Delay is the deadliest form of denial.
  • C. Northcote Parkinson

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Attention Small Firms!

“If I am to meet with a disappointment, the sooner I know it, the more of life I shall have to wear it off.” – Thomas Jefferson     

I am delighted to work with many small firms. That means I am often Googling smaller firms to look at their websites.

I am usually very depressed after doing so. Just because you are small doesn’t mean you can’t be mighty!

Please, please immediately devote some time to your website, that is if you want to attract new clients. The most recent one I visited had no pictures, no email addresses, no listing of owners or staff, no social media links. When I filled out the contact section it had an “internal error.” Their URL said “not secure.” – What a disappointment.

Prospects judge you on your website.

  • One's best success comes after their greatest disappointments.
  • Henry Ward Beecher

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Leaders of Smaller Firms Have a Great Resource

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Over my many years in the CPA profession, I have worked with firms of all sizes – sole-proprietors with one location to Top 100 firms with nationwide representation. Honestly, the challenges and frustrations CPAs working in public practice face are pretty much the same no matter what the size of the firm.

I really enjoy working with smaller CPA firms and my current client list is made up almost entirely of smaller firms (under 50 total FTEs). I find the smaller the firm, the more they are under-served by outside consultants.

For many of my smaller firm clients, I always recommend they get involved in the AICPA PCPS Networking Groups. There are groups for Small, Medium and Large Firms. These groups are especially valuable to small firms. Currently, there are four small firm groups, two medium firm groups, and one large firm group. The groups meet twice per year.

Through each group’s informal system, networking group members may take advantage of the valuable knowledge of their colleagues and share their own knowledge with their peers.  While many group members are firm owners/partners, any member of a PCPS firm is welcome to attend networking group meetings. Learn more here.

If you have questions regarding networking groups, please call them at 1-800-CPA-FIRM or email them at pcps@aicpa.org.  They would love to hear from you!

  • There are somethings that you can fulfill with money, but at the end of the day these are not the things that make you happy. It is the small things that make life good.
  • Sebastian Vettel

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Get The Right Clients On The bus

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

I have read all the books that David Maister wrote. Many, many of the things he wrote and spoke about hit so close to home for me when I was working in a busy CPA firm. One of his concepts is memorable for me.

Why do you work for clients you don’t like? As Maister says, you work for clients you don’t enjoy dealing with, but they pay you a lot of money. It becomes “you give me money, and I will do what you want. That sounds a lot like prostitution.”

Every firm is looking for talented employees. Some of my clients won’t even outplace poor performers because they need “bodies.” Scary and short-sighted.

What if you had the very best clients? What if you had clients who always paid on time without reminders? What if you had clients who were all interesting, successful and pleasant? What if all your clients appreciated what you do and realized the value you brought to them?

If you get the right clients on the bus, maybe you would attract more talent. If you get the right clients on the bus, maybe some of your top performers wouldn’t leave the firm.

Getting the right clients can’t be left to chance. You must choose only to serve the clients that fit your Type A profile. Be sure to develop systems where you only serve Type A clients. What does your Type A client look like? Not sure? Work with your partners to define it and outplace client that don’t fit. If you don’t do this, you will continue to attract and attempt to serve the wrong clients. You will end up serving clients you don’t even like.

  • It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, November 12th, 2018

Top Five Concerns

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” – Abraham Lincoln

CCH released the results of their survey of firms. Here are the top five concerns published via Accounting Today:

  1. Keeping up with technological change
  2. Growing the business
  3. Meeting client expectations
  4. Data security
  5. Completing work accurately and on time

You can download the full report here.

 

  • Concern yourself more with accepting responsibility than with assigning blame. Let the possibilities inspire you more than the obstacles discourage you.
  • Ralph Marston

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

It Matters

“If you have to choose between being kind and being right, choose being kind and you will always be right.” – Dalai Lama

Inside CPA firms, the partners usually have the strongest relationship with clients.

Often they even meet and talk with clients. They have lunch together and work on helping the client be more successful. They are doing “consulting” with the client.

Meanwhile, back at the office, there are various team members that work on the client’s engagement. Through the firm’s scheduling system, they are assigned a certain task for a certain client. Often it involves working extra hours to accomplish the engagement.

In progressive firms, the team members do have contact with someone at the client’s place of business but maybe not the owner.

Partners, after you have had a meeting or a lunch with a client, be sure to go back to the office and tell the person (or people) who did all the work behind the scenes how the client is doing and how their work is making a positive difference in the client’s success.

Their work matters. That’s what people want to know.

Better, yet, take a team member along when you meet with a client. It is how they learn to become consultants.

  • When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.
  • Dalai Lama

Monday, November 5th, 2018

2018 Anytime, Anywhere Work™ Survey Results Summary

CoverLast week, ConvergenceCoaching, LLC released their 2018 Anytime, Anywhere Work™ Survey.

Today’s talent wants to integrate work and life. As a result, leaders must continually find ways to innovate workplace flexibility.

The goal of the survey is to collect data on CPA firm adoption of flexible work programs and the experiences firms have had with these initiatives.

Firm leaders need to thoughtfully contemplate how enhancing a more flexible workplace can be a huge benefit to the future of the firm.

Jeff Phillips, CEO of Accountingfly tell us, “On Accountingfly, we see incredible talent response to remote accounting jobs, which receive at least 8 times the number of applicants than in-office positions. The demand for remote careers in accounting is clear, and it’s such an obvious solution to the talent issues facing CPA firms.”

Download the survey summary here.

  • Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Are You Breaking This Employment Law?

“Win or lose, do it fairly.” – Knute Rockne

The whole topic of exempt vs. non-exempt has been a challenging conversation inside CPA firms ever since I can remember.

Many CPA firm leaders think the simple answer to paying people is to “put them on salary.” This might not be a wise choice.

I have heard so many questions over the years about docking a salaried person’s pay if they are continually tardy, leave early, etc.

Please take time to read this informative article via Inc. by Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady. It is titled, “The Employment Law You Are Probably Breaking.”

Here’s an excerpt:

You can discipline, fire, demote, yell at, or dock vacation time. But, you may not dock pay. And if you do dock pay? You’ve just made that person non-exempt. Which means you not only owe overtime going forward, you owe it going backward. So your attempt to save $50 by docking two hours pay could mean you’ll be out thousands in back overtime pay.

  • The Way You See People Is The Way You Treat Them, And The Way You Treat Them Is What They Become
  • Goethe

Friday, October 26th, 2018

You Can Get A Lot Done In Two Months!

“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.” – General George S. Patton

I get into some lively discussions that are focused on firm governance. It is about getting the right people on the bus and getting them in the right seats.

Do you have partners in the wrong seats? Perhaps, they are in the administrative, operations, HR seats rather than the revenue generating, nurturing future leaders and bringing in business seats?

During one of my conversations with a client, the CPA partner said, “I don’t think we have time to do anything about this now, I guess it should wait until after busy season.” That sure pushed me onto my soapbox!

It is late October. You have an entire two months to get important firm initiatives rolling along the path to completion.

Leaders, please do not waste two entire months – November and December (and there is usually time up until February) to do things that need to be done at your firm!

CPAs, thank goodness, like to be sure things are correct (and maybe even perfect). Your firm management and operations will never be perfect. It is a work-in-progress and should stay that way.

Continually focus on small changes that never cease. I call it taking baby-steps. Move from status quo (which is comfortable) to “an improved position.” – – one step at a time. Then, repeat that same process.

Need to realign governance so that your partners are more productive? Need to develop a system so that your younger team members are better mentored and trained during busy season? Begin now, in November, don’t wait until Spring.

Your systems will never be perfect – that’s the joy of it. Have fun DOING THINGS!

  • I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.
  • Woody Allen