Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Friday, September 13th, 2019

Working the Weekend

“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” – Rita Mae Brown

It’s Friday the 13th. The September extension due date is Monday because the 15th falls on Sunday.

In progressive, efficient and profitable firms, Friday is the final day, the due date. They won’t be delivering tax returns at the last minute on Monday.

Their valuable team will not be working this Saturday and Sunday.

If you are not in this group, you should strive to attain this practice when future due dates roll around.

 

  • As you schedule individual tasks, give yourself a cushion. Mark the due date a few days ahead of the actual deadline so you have time to deal with changes or last-minute emergencies.
  • Harvey Mackay

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Transparency

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

A couple of basics that your staff desires are inclusion and transparency. They want to know about and be included in what is discussed behind-closed-doors in the partner meetings.

To attract and keep top talent, you need to figure out how to inform and involve them.

Daniel Hood of Accounting Today recently wrote a very informative article – 10 Staff Questions Firms Should Answer Right Now.

Here are the 10 Questions – be sure to read the article to learn more about each one. These are IMPORTANT questions!

  1. How is the firm doing?
  2. What is the firm doing?
  3. What does this mean for me?
  4. What can I do here?
  5. Hoe do I do that
  6. What does a partner make?
  7. How long does it take to make partner?
  8. Will the firm be around in 10 years?
  9. What will it look like? Can I make a suggestion?
  • Speak the truth. Transparency breeds legitimacy.
  • John Maxwell

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Build Your Brand – Be Visible

“The power of visibility can never be underestimated.” – Margaret Cho

You have heard it over and over in recent years, you have to be visible on social media to attract and retain clients.

Yes, I agree with that. But, I ask more of you!

Don’t forget the old fashioned way. You must be visible in your business community – up close and personal.

Each person working at your CPA firm helps build a reputation for the FIRM. Remember those elevator speeches (describing what you do in 30 seconds)? Are you still teaching your newest team members how to do that? Remember, when someone asks you where you work you don’t say, “I work for an accounting firm.” You say, “I work for Acme CPA firm, the fastest-growing, most knowledgeable and progressive CPA firm in town! I am on the tax team.” Each person crafts their own story.

All your partners and managers should be involved in a charitable or community organization and eventually take a leadership position in that organization.

A basic visibility activity that partners sometimes forget – you eat lunch outside the office every day. Eat lunch with a client, a banker, an attorney or with another person from the firm. Dine at the most popular business lunch place in town where you will be seen by clients, bankers, and attorneys.

An on-going motto for the firm – “Let’s get visible!”

  • A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor.
  • Victor Hugo

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Changes in Hiring and in Technology

“Every business is having to transform today, no matter the size,” Melancon explained. “It’s up to us to transform to meet those expectations.” – Barry Melancon, CEO AICPA

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have noticed that the future of the CPA profession means if you haven’t refocused your practice on consulting you won’t be successful in the future.

I don’t really believe that the move to significantly more consulting is happening (or will happen) as rapidly as the leaders of the profession predict. From my years of experience with CPAs, the majority always proceed with caution.

It is true that public accounting firms are hiring more non-CPAs and that is a current trend that will definitely continue. These non-CPAs will bring more consulting opportunities and skills into firms.

The current pyramid model in most firms will move to more of a diamond shape. The base-level tasks will be automated or outsourced. The middle level of experts an consultants will grow and the ownership group, at the top of the diamond, will still be the smaller elite.

A different kind of hiring is just one change. Another major change lies in technology. Firm leaders must be willing to invest more than ever in technology. They must also invest time in learning and relearning to keep pace with the technology available.

Read more about all this in this informative article by Danielle Lee via Accounting Today.

 

  • The ability to learn will be one of the most important skills for accountants going forward.
  • Barry Melancon

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

What Kind of Busy Person Are You?

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

If you work in an accounting firm it is almost certain that you are very BUSY. Usually, busier than you want to be. However, what are you busy doing? If you are a partner doing manager work or a manager doing staff work, that does not count as being busy.

I occasionally repost a blog from Seth Godin in its entirety. Here’s one that is right on target for CPAs!

ASK A BUSY PERSON

You might know one.

The busy person has a bias for action, the ability to ship, and a willingness to contribute more than is required. The busy person is wrong more than most people (if you get up to bat more often, you’re going to have more hits and more strikeouts, right?). Those errors are dwarfed by the impact they create.

Being a busy person is a choice.

It might not work for you, but you could try it out for a while.

We need more busy people.

  • I am so busy doing nothing that the idea of doing anything which as you know, always leads to something cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.
  • Jerry Seinfeld

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

The Hiring Model Has Shifted For CPA Firms

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.” – Sigmund Freud

The following is a press release I received from the AICPA. It is much longer than my normal post but I think it is important for firm leaders to read. Read it, then think about it and begin making plans.

Public Accounting Firm Hiring Model Shifts: AICPA ‘Trends Report’

  • Undergraduate accounting enrollments were second highest on record in 2017-2018
  • AICPA is working with key stakeholders on programs to strengthen pipeline of talent entering the profession

NEW YORK (Aug. 12, 2019) – Rapid advances in technology continue to impact the accounting profession. As CPA firms shift their hiring models to focus more on technology skills, non-accounting graduates now comprise 31 percent of all new graduate hires in public accounting. That’s an increase of 11 percentage points from 2016 to 2018, according to the “2019 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits,” released today by the AICPA.

The biennial report, published since 1971, provides statistical projections and expectations based upon university responses for the 2017-2018 academic year and firm responses for the 2018 calendar year. This data provides a snapshot of the profession, set against the current economy, and the ability to forecast future trends.

“Increased demand for technology skills is shifting the accounting firm hiring model. This is leading to more non-accounting graduates being hired, particularly in the audit function,” said Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, AICPA president and CEO, and CEO of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. “CPAs have an unmatched reputation for trust and integrity, earned through decades of working in the public interest. However, to play this vital role in the future will require an increased focus on technology.  It is incumbent upon the profession to ensure accounting graduates and newly licensed CPAs have these skills and expertise needed to support the evolution of the audit.”

One of the ways AICPA is seeking to address this trend is through the CPA Evolution project, in partnership with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. This project strives to ensure that CPAs continue to have the competencies needed to support an accounting profession that plays a critical role in protecting the public interest.

The percentage of new accounting graduate hires assigned to audit-related work is increasing. This area now comprises 56 percent of new accounting graduate hires. That’s up four percentage points from 2016 and nine percentage points from 2014.

Overall CPA firms hired about 11 percent fewer accounting graduates in 2018 than they did in 2016, and nearly 30 percent fewer than in 2014. As firms continue to embrace technology and evolve their approach to the audit, they are seeking employees with data science and data analytics skills. They are largely filling those needs with non-accounting graduates, though there is anecdotal evidence from firms to suggest that some of this technology-specific hiring is occurring at the experienced hire level.

On the supply side, enrollments in undergraduate accounting programs stand at the second highest level on record after pulling back slightly from their all-time high in 2015-2016.

Nearly 208,000 projected students were enrolled in undergraduate accounting programs during the 2017-2018 school year, topping 200,000 for the fourth Trends report in a row. More than 33,000 projected students were enrolled in master’s programs in 2017-2018. This reflects a six percent decline from 2015-2016 but remains comfortably above any level pre-recession. Declines in graduate student enrollment is due largely to more students opting to enter the workforce in lieu of pursuing an advanced accounting degree.

There were nearly 55,000 projected bachelor’s and more than 21,000 projected master’s degrees earned in 2017-2018. This reflects a decline of four percent each from the previous report. However, the combined 76,542 degrees remains above pre-recession levels.

After a significant increase in the number of new CPA Exam candidates in 2016, largely attributed to the new version of the exam launching in 2017, the number of candidates and newly licensed CPAs in 2018 dipped to the lowest level in 10 years. CPA candidates fell 7 percent to 36,827, while newly licensed CPAs fell 6 percent to 23,941.

“The AICPA and other stakeholders in the profession are focused on anticipating the changes shaping our economy and ensuring newly licensed CPAs have the skills they need to serve as trusted advisors to their clients,” said Yvonne Hinson, CPA, CGMA, Ph.D., AICPA Academic-in-Residence, Academic & Student Engagement. “As the pace of change increases, the Institute has been accelerating our work on a number of profession-wide initiatives that attract, inspire, and engage the next generation of CPAs.”

In addition to CPA Evolution, some of these initiatives include:

  • A CPA Exam practice analysis focused on the impact of technology and the critical skills for newly licensed CPAs. An exposure draft and invitation-to-comment will be published in late December.
  • Accounting Accreditation Practitioner Engagement Program which places CPA practitioners on AACSB accounting accreditation teams and committees.
  • Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program provides funding for CPAs to obtain their doctorates and teach.
  • Accounting Program for Building the Profession trains high school educators to teach a college-level accounting class.

The Institute is working with organizations to increase the likelihood that racial and ethnic minority students consider accounting early in their career decision-making process. AICPA scholarships and programs such as the Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop help ensure accounting students have a meaningful and successful experience as they work to earn their CPA license.

The report found that racial/ethnic diversity has increased, with the highest percentage of non-white enrollees to date. Enrollment by gender is nearly even at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels.

View the full Trends report

  • Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.
  • Napoleon Hill

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

They Like Working at The Firm BUT…..

“If you love your work, if you enjoy it, you’re already a success.” – Jack Canfield

Partners in many firms really try to provide a friendly and fun work environment. They care about providing value, offer competitive salaries and have 4-day workweeks in the summer, plus other perks.

These things are appreciated by staff. However, there are always a few things they would like to see improved:

  • Managers need to do a better job at delegating. Partners and managers are busy and staff are looking for work (this is an on-going theme I have blogged about several times).
  • Partners say they have an open-door policy but they really don’t welcome interruptions. Don’t tout it if you don’t mean it.
  • The partners are very competent but they struggle with understanding younger staff and their struggles. Things like commuting, two working parents, lack of on-going feedback on performance, etc.
  • They need to develop more work for after tax season. The firm needs to offer a wider range of services.
  • And, to me, the biggest issues in most firms – They need to improve communication, as a firm and as individuals.

There are many more positives and negatives but this is just a list that might be a wake-up call to leadership.

  • It is highly impossible for you to be successful at what you don't love. Do what you love and love what you do.
  • Israelmore Ayivor

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Don’t Let Day-to-Day Take Over Your Retreat

“Strategic thinking starts with the end in mind.” – Pearl Zhu

If you are planning your fall retreat, plan your agenda carefully.

So many things are going on inside the firm such as issues with people and their performance, a renegade partner or secondary office, the progress on technology upgrades, the lack of new business coming in the door and so on.

Don’t let all the daily noise cloud your retreat. Put one thing on the agenda – strategic planning – then do it.

What are the big-picture items you need to address? Things that affect the future of the firm and things that will force partners to think of the firm before themselves.

Explore and discover what your firm is truly all about (vision/mission/purpose), identify (or review) your core values, uncover what needs to be done to prepare your firm for the next generation or for an upward merger. If your firm is not growing steadily, that is a huge issue to discuss. All partners must generate new business. Discuss and document the expectations for every partner. Actually talk, face-to-face, about issues within the partner group that everyone has always swept under the carpet. Address that elephant in the room!

If you don’t have a solid strategic plan to share with your team you will soon experience turnover. Talented people can easily move on to a firm that is transparent, forward-thinking, growing and creating a culture where they can see, in advance, where their career is heading.

 

  • Be strategic about productivity. Do less exceptionally well, instead of doing more in an average way.
  • Laurie Buchanan, PhD

Monday, August 12th, 2019

Client Accounting Services (Bookkeeping)

“Many small businesses would rather face an angry barbarian horde than tackle their cash flow statement.” -Nicole Fende

Many firms are enjoying a growing niche. It seems that the niche is new but to me, much of it is a new face on old one (bookkeeping). Yes, CAS involves so much more and can encompass many additional services for clients. It also means that much of the “work” has been automated so that it is not so labor-intensive and little time is required of partners and managers.

Dan Hood of Accounting Today has a good article that you should read if your firm provides bookkeeping services to clients (and most of you do!). The article is titled, The State of Bookkeeping in 2019.  It reports on a survey involving over 700 accountants in the AT audience.

Hood offers charts that tell us:

  • The biggest issues for bookkeepers.
  • The average number of bookkeeping clients.
  • Less time spent at the high end.
  • Less time and more clients.
  • Other services offered.
  • Segmenting the client base.
  • Top industries for bookkeepers.
  • The geographic reach of bookkeeping practices.

Hood’s article is a good one to share within your firm.

  • Few have heard of Fra Luca Pacioli, the inventor of double-entry bookkeeping; but he has probably had much more influence on human life than has Dante or Michelangelo.
  • Herbert J. Muller

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

Podcasts

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo

Podcasts are becoming more and more popular within the CPA profession. Many of you listen to podcasts as you commute back and forth to the office.

Check out this infographic via Podcast Insights that gives you some interesting facts about podcasting.

If you want to learn more about CPA practice management, firm governance and trends, listen to my podcast with Brannon Poe of Poe Group Advisors.

  • The older I get, the more I see a straight path where I want to go. If you're going to hunt elephants, don't get off the trail for a rabbit.
  • T. BOONE PICKENS