Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

What Consultants Talk About

“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.” – Paul Hawken

The CPA Consultants’ Alliance is a group of consultants who focus strictly on the CPA profession. They meet each year to talk about the hot topics (and challenges) they see facing the many accounting firms they work with.

Roman Kepczyk of Right Networks wrote a recent blog post about three takeaways from the Alliance meeting that happened in February.

The three topics:

  • DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives
  • PE (private equity) impacting accounting practices
  • Firms adopting unlimited PTO (Paid time off)

Read about the discussions on each of these topics here.

  • Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.
  • Peter Drucker

Monday, March 13th, 2023

Decide Who Will Decide

“It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney

When your firm was first founded, probably one, two, or three partners (owners) made all the decisions. Somehow, as the ranks of partners grew, all partners thought that they should be part of every decision.

Think of all the revenue-producing time that was wasted. That’s one reason why the role of firm administrator was created, and the joke that resulted was, “How many partners does it take to decide which printer to buy?”   

The intent of the role of the firm administrator was that administrative and operational aspects of the CPA firm would be better handled by someone solely focused on firm administration and operations. Still, many partners thought that they should be allowed to have an opinion and weigh in on the decision to buy anything that cost more than $100!  

That decision-making format where every partner had a say lasted until the firm had about ten partners. Then an Executive Committee was formed consisting of 3 or 5 partners who still thought they should be involved in daily operations.  

Progressive firms decided that the Managing Partner should actually manage the firm with a chief-of-staff type person – the firm administrator, practice manager, or COO. Of course, owners are kept informed, but their job is to take care of client relationships, attract and mentor younger staff and bring in business.  

In my consulting work, I observe so many firms where group decision-making still thrives. In reality, what really happens is that the group cannot decide, so important decisions are delayed year after year. Not making a decision becomes a decision.  

Is it time for your firm to actually operate like a business? Is it time for your owners to “decide who will decide”?  

  • Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it.
  • Gordon Graham

Tuesday, February 28th, 2023

How Do They Describe You?

“A conversation is so much more than words, a conversation is eyes, smiles, the silences between the words.” – Annika Thor

CPAs in public practice attend a lot of civic and charitable events. I know you are all familiar with the value of “getting out there” in your business community.

When working at a CPA firm for many years, I understand how difficult it can be to recruit accountants from your staff, including partners, to attend these kinds of events. However, the best rainmakers I have known were very skilled at being out and about and being seen and heard in their business community.

I learned the skill of personal business networking from one such CPA. He was so smooth at working the crowd and making connections with people who just might refer business to our firm. He allowed and encouraged me to shadow him at some of the major business events in our city. I observed people light up, smile and engage when he approached them. He came to our firm via an acquisition, and I am grateful that I had the chance to learn from him.

Think about the last charitable fund-raiser dinner you attended. I hope you didn’t sit next to people from your own firm. I always encouraged our team to spread out and sit with people they did not know. Let’s say a potential client happened to sit next to you at that dinner, and you enjoyed the conversation.

What kind of impression did that person have about you when the evening was over? Here’s a great quote I read recently:

“When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England.”
— A woman when asked her impression of the two English statesmen Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone after dining with them.

Maybe this is something to strive for at your next charitable or civic event. Practice makes perfect! Share this post with your younger, less experienced team members.

  • Good conversation is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023


“Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more easily assess the situation and see the options.” – Simon Sinek

It seems my entire career has been about change. I came into the CPA profession when it was moving from manual to computerization, and I have never looked back.

I focused my energy on streamlining processes and procedures and keeping up with all the changes that were happening throughout the profession. I have fought many battles with many CPA partners on why change is necessary, and the status quo means their firm will not become a firm of the future. Many partners that didn’t want to change eventually merged up and faced change that was quickly forced upon them.

I have observed that many CPAs are aware that change is happening yet, don’t think it has to be accepted by them. “Life is good, so why change?” seems to be their theme.

So, for all of you struggling with change, this quote from Nathaniel Branden applies:

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”

I hope you are accepting change and moving into the future.

  • My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.
  • Michael J. Fox

Tuesday, February 21st, 2023

Your Dream

“The moment that you begin to think ‘we are great’ your slide towards mediocrity will have begun.” – Jim Collins

Do you have a dream about what the future could hold for you and your firm? Most of us do, even if it is deep down inside us.

It would be great if we could accomplish that! I bet we could get that done! I would be so cool if we could just…….!

If you are old enough, remember when you read Jim Collins’ book Built to Last. He mentioned a BHAG.

BHAG is a concept developed in the book Built to Last. A BHAG (pronounced “Bee Hag,” short for “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”) is a powerful way to stimulate progress. A BHAG is clear and compelling, needing little explanation; people get it right away. Think of the NASA moon mission of the 1960s.

Many firms established a BHAG. I wonder how that turned out.

As for now, I hope you have a dream of what the future might bring. A big and exciting dream. My question for you is in this quote (via @leadershipfreak):

“Are the *habits* you have today on par with the *dreams* you have for tomorrow?” ~Alan Stein, Jr.

  • We must exert self-control in a world that is out of control. 20-mile march, 20-mile march, 20-mile march, day in day out.
  • Jim Collins

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

Analyzing Results of the 2022 Practice Management Survey

“Survey and test a prospective action before undertaking it. Before you proceed, step back and look at the big picture, lest you act rashly on raw impulse.” ~ Epictetus

I hope you participate and study the results of the Rosenberg Survey each year.

The 2022 survey disclosed some very interesting information. I could analyze and recap it for you, but why do that? The CPA Journal has already done it for you.

Find out about:

  • Economic growth.
  • Alternative workforce.
  • Compliance to advisory.
  • Non-traditional hires.
  • Average age of partners.
  • Gender mix & percentage of female partners
  • Private equity.

Read the summary here.

  • Latest survey shows that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the world’s population.
  • Stephen Hawking

Friday, February 10th, 2023

The Way To Coach A Person – Flashback

“It’s not hard to find smart people. It’s hard to find people who inspire and motivate.” – David Maister

It’s Friday again and time for another Friday Flashback. This is one of my favorites about David Maister.

From January 2019:

An Effective Way to Coach a Person

If you never heard David Maister speak in person, you lost out on a memorable experience. He was vibrant and very direct.  He often would stop himself and say, “Okay, I’ve got to calm down.”

One lesson from Maister that I have never forgotten is an example he used in explaining the effective way to coach a person (a partner in a CPA firm, for example). The method is called “the pigeon story,” and he presented it in his humorous and logical fashion. I’ll try to summarize it briefly. 

If you want a pigeon (partner) to progress to another “place” that is too distant from them, they can’t do it in one huge step.

You draw a line very close in front of them and draw them there. You coach them by saying, “Come on Pigeon, you can do it, I will help you.”

When they get there, you celebrate and then draw another line not too far in front of them.

Same with people (partners). It is too hard to make a gigantic leap to an annual goal – it is too far in the distance. Instead, set a goal that is a small step away and continually repeat, “Come on partner, you can do it. I will help you.” After seven or eight lines (small steps, 9 or 10 for tax partners), they arrive at the larger goal.

  • The way to get rich is don’t get sucked into doing dumb stuff for people you don’t like.
  • David Maister

Thursday, February 9th, 2023

Family or Community

“Some family trees bear an enormous crop of nuts.” – Wayne Huizenga

I read a couple of quotes this week that caused me to contemplate life inside a CPA firm.

So many firms proudly state that their firm (that employs people of different ages, backgrounds, cultures, and personal beliefs) is a family. The CPA firms I have interacted with that function as a family is a firm that family members own. And most family firms employ people who are not relatives.

So, does saying you treat everyone working at our firm like family really a true statement?

Here are the two quotations.

“Unless you are a family business, your team is not a family.” – Todd Henry

“A community is a group of people who agree to grow together.” – Simon Sinek

I hope you are building a community.

  • The other night I ate at a real nice family restaurant. Every table had an argument going.
  • George Carlin

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Webinar – February 16

“The safest principle through life, instead of reforming others, is to set about perfecting yourself.” –B. R. Haydon.

You’ve worked diligently and have built a glowing reputation grounded in your excellent skills in tax, accounting, and auditing. You’re known as the “go-to” person when a client is faced with tax and financial decisions. You have a very successful firm — but that’s not enough.

I am pleased to present a timely webinar titled “The Evolution of Your Firm From Compliance to Consulting” for Accountant Advocate.

The webinar will be on February 16th, 2023, at 11:00 am PDT, 2:00 pm EDT, and 7:00 pm BST.

Join me for an insightful discussion on:

  • Why change is now more important than ever
  • How to convince your partners to move out of complacency and embrace new challenges
  • Learn how to overcome the battles you will face with technology, talent, growth, and client services

Read all about it and register here.

  • Look within, for within is the wellspring of virtue, which will not cease flowing, if you cease not from digging.
  • Marcus Aurelius

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

Nominate Your Marketer

“Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day.” — Beth Comstock, Former CMO & Vice Chair, GE

I bet your firm has a great marketing director. You have a chance to recognize them. Here’s a press release from The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM).

Lexington, Ky. (January 23, 2023) – The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is seeking nominations for the 2023 Marketer of the Year award. Nominations will be accepted through February 16.

 Since 1993, the annual award, presented at AAM’s Summit, recognizes a marketing professional who has demonstrated exemplary performance in the profession of accounting firm marketing. To be eligible, nominees must have held a senior-level marketing position in an accounting firm for at least three years, although not necessarily at the same firm. 

All nominations should be submitted online no later than February 16. Nominations are not anonymous, and self-nominations are welcome. Previous nominees and marketers from firms of all sizes are encouraged to participate. This award is open to both AAM members as well as non-members. All nominees will be required to complete an online application no later than March 9. Additional details will be outlined once a nomination form has been received. 

The nominees will be ranked by an anonymous, but neutral, panel of judges on accomplishments, strategic thinking, financial impact, collaboration, business development, analytics and technology, future-forward approach, and leadership. We have also evaluated and modified the judging criteria to level the playing field for all firm sizes. Full details including the judging criteria can be found on the AAM website.

 “2022 was another challenging year in the accounting profession, but many of our members were able to turn those challenges into opportunities and help grow and advance their firms. If you or another marketer you know did big things in 2022, this is your time to shine. Nominating yourself, or someone else, for the MOY award is a great way to share your hard work, secrets to success and lessons learned with other members,” says AAM executive director Rhonda Clark. 

AAM is proud of the rich history of past winners who have contributed immensely to the success of our industry and their firms. Transform your future by submitting an application or take a moment to nominate and recognize a peer doing amazing things. Please contact with questions about the award.

About AAM: The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is an international association boasting a network of marketing, business development and growth strategists. The association was formed in 1989 to elevate the profession and advance the careers of growth professionals in the accounting profession through education, community, thought leadership and leading-edge resources. Learn more about AAM at

  • Content is king.
  • Bill Gates