Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Monday, March 25th, 2019

How To Keep Firm Initiatives Moving Forward

“Never be so busy as not to think of others.”  – Mother Teresa

Have you heard some of these comments inside your firm?

  • Our partners are so busy that they never seem available for questions.
  • We have a retreat every year but we should just video it and play it again next year since we always talk about the same issues year after year.
  • The managing partner is more focused on clients than he/she is on firm initiatives.
  • The managing partner is our best rainmaker – we don’t want him/her focused on the day-to-day issues.
  • We are trying to identify our next managing partner but no one seems to want the job.
  • Our managers don’t seem to be very good at mentoring others.
  • There is definitely a communication problem inside our firm.

What’s the solution to a lot of the above comments and the following:

  • How do you enable your partners to be focused on client service, client relationship-building, and business development?
  • How do you enhance the communication inside your firm?
  • How do you create a mentoring program that really inspires young people?
  • How do you investigate your processes and procedures and make them more efficient?
  • How do you make sure the firm is following all of the most current trends in human resources?
  • How do you create a cool culture, a fun culture and move your firm into the digital world?

Heres the answer – Hire a qualified, professional practice manager/firm administrator. Make it their responsibility to keep initiatives, important to the inside health of your firm, OFF of the back burner and ON the front burner.

  • Those who are wise won't be busy, and those who are too busy can't be wise.
  • Lin Yutang

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

People Leave

“Fear of the unknown keeps a lot of people from leaving bad situations.” – Kathy Lee Gifford

If you are a staff person thinking of leaving your current firm, don’t fret.

If you are a firm leader and have been notified that someone you like (or don’t like) is leaving, don’t fret.

It is simple, people leave jobs all the time for a multitude of reasons.

It was always interesting to me, when I was working inside a busy firm, that when someone left, after about 2 days no one even seemed to notice. This applied to a person who had been short-term at the firm or even if it was a 15-year key manager.

If you are managing a growing, successful, progressive firm there are no worries, the firm will go on. People will step up if needed and clients often don’t even care as long as someone intelligent responds to them.

If you are a key-person, don’t ever get so conceited that you think “the firm” will miss you. Life will go on for you and for the firm, just as it should.

 

  • Parting is such sweet sorrow.
  • William Shakespeare

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

The Highest Earning CPAs

“It’s not necessarily about getting tons of new clients; it’s about creating a vision of what you want your practice to look like.” – Anthony Glomski 

I recently read a great article via Accounting Today by Anthony Glomski titled, Lessons from million-dollar accounting partners.

Mr. Glomski made many great points in his article but here is something I want you to read, think about and then read the entire article:

How do they do it? One common thread is that the highest-earning CPAs have made a commitment to lifelong learning. They read a ton. They listen to relevant podcasts. They network all the time. They stay current on all the news and trends affecting our profession. They never stop challenging themselves. And for reasons like these, they’re always ready to pounce when an opportunity breaks their way. For starters, the highest-earning CPAs make time in their schedule to work on their business instead of spending every waking hour in their businesses.

  • Taking on a truly consultative role starts with really getting to know your client.
  • Anthony Glomski

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

Unlimited PTO – Things To Consider

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” – Earl Wilson

I am aware that several firms have now adopted an Unlimited PTO policy. If you are considering this type of policy for your CPA firm, I want to share some very interesting insights from someone who has experienced unlimited PTO first-hand. He is an audit manager with a firm in the western part of the USA. I hope you find his comments helpful if you are considering adding this benefit.

My current firm does not have unlimited PTO, but I have worked at firms that did. I can’t offer a written policy – there really wasn’t one – but I can offer some considerations, most of which you probably are already aware.

First, doing away with traceable measures (PTO available/used) demands reliance on other performance measures to determine whether the unlimited policy is being abused. Partners/managers need to pay closer attention to metrics at the individual employee level.

Regularly reviewing metrics such as individual realization, time-to-completion, deadlines met (or missed) as well as the timing of PTO days taken becomes essential.

Be sure your practice management system can provide that information before enacting the unlimited policy. Also, the policy assumes that everyone will “do the right thing.” Be aware that not everyone will do the right thing and be prepared to take action against those that abuse the system. If you allow unchecked abuse, it will become rampant.

In an unexpected twist, you may need to actually force some people to take PTO. Without the pressure of the old use-or-lose policy, some of those Type A folks will be more inclined, or more pressured, to work instead of taking time off. I’m sorry I can’t cite a specific study, but there is some evidence that the unlimited PTO policy actually results in less time away from the office.

Finally, be aware that some states (California and Washington, for example) have passed legislation regarding required sick leave. This is a number that may, by law, require tracking and that might throw a wrench in your unlimited policy. There are typically exceptions if your leave policy is more permissive. And the standard disclaimer: check with your state or your employment law attorney before changing your policy.

  • Isn't it amazing how much stuff we get done the day before vacation?
  • Zig Ziglar

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Mergers 2019

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

My firm did its first acquisition/merger in 1993. It was a fast way to grow and to enter a new market. It worked for us and the firm did several more over the years. The firm also acquired non-traditional firms such as an employee benefits firm and a TPA company when it was very unusual to do so.

Things have certainly evolved in the CPA firm M&A market since 1993. During our first merger, all we could think about was not losing clients of the acquired firm. We did not lose clients but we lost employees. We learned from that experience and for the next acquisition around 1996 and going forward, we focused on retaining talented people. It had become more important to retain people than clients.

Daniel Hood of Accounting Today recently interviewed several CPA consultants who focus on M&A. There are major changes ahead for M&A. Valuations of firms are declining. It is becoming a buyer’s market. Acquirers are more selective and do not necessarily want more compliance clients. The cost of technology, going forward, is also an issue, especially for smaller firms.

Be sure to read the interesting article. I know many of you are experiencing a succession dilemma.

  • The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination.
  • Tommy Lasorda

Monday, February 4th, 2019

The Most Difficult

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” – John Maynard Keynes

There is something you should do but it is very hard to do. It is difficult and challenging and easy to avoid.

As a leader in a CPA firm, you read about new trends. Many of you attend one or even more CPA firm management conferences each year. You are involved in your state society and take an active part on committees, etc. During these activities, you learn about what your firm needs to do to move successfully into the future.

You bring these ideas back to your firm. If you are a partner you probably set the date for a firm leadership (or partner) retreat. You spend a lot of money on the venue and the facilitator. You make sure that the new trends are on the agenda of the retreat.

At the retreat, the need for change and the adoption of the new trends into the firm is heartily agreed to by the attendees. A strategic plan or action plan is developed. Everyone is excited.

IntentionsIn the weeks and months following the meeting, nothing happens. You are too busy. It seems everyone else is also too busy.

The most difficult thing is taking action. As I often say when describing change inside an accounting firm, “Good intentions, no implementation.”

  • The best way out of a difficulty is through it.
  • Will Rogers

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

An Effective Way to a Coach Person

“It’s not hard to find smart people. It’s hard to find people who inspire and motivate.” – David Maister
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 a 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, January 10th, 2019

How to Become Virtual

“Mergers generate substantial synergies.” – Roger Altman

Virtual CPA firms have been evolving for many years now. Many have gained much notoriety and a substantial client following.

I enjoyed reading this article about my good friends at Beach Fleischman, a Top 200 firm based in Tucson, Arizona. The joined forces with a smaller firm to create a virtual firm, MOD Ventures, that will service both firms’ outsourced accounting services clients going forward.

Read all about it here, via Accounting Today. Maybe it will motivate you and your firm to become more creative and take advantage of virtual opportunities.

  • Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Friday, January 4th, 2019

You Are Running a Business

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” – Lemony Snicket

I talk to so many CPA firm leaders who are struggling with very important decisions. I can listen, suggest and advise but I can’t do it for you.

  • What are you afraid of? Why do you often postpone some simple business decisions because you just might hurt someone’s feelings?
  • Why do you procrastinate on dealing with poor performers because you might hurt someone’s feelings?
  • Why do you allow several clients to use your firm like a bank? They owe you money, they don’t pay and you just let it “go” for a very long time.

You are running a business and your people and your clients should expect you to make timely, and sometimes difficult, business decisions.

Are these types of things happening at your CPA firm? If so, make a decision to deal with them, beginning immediately.

  • Just say yes and you'll figure it out afterwards.
  • Tina Fey

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

The Secret of Change

Focus slideI was browsing through famous quotations about facing a new year. I came across one that I have often used in my presentations.

To me, it says so much about CPAs in public practice coping with surviving in a profession that is undergoing some of the most formidable changes it has ever faced.

Clinging to the past is not the answer. Making the commitment to change yourself is the answer. How are you, personally, going to survive into the future.

Too many partners and managers are clinging to work that they know and love. They have not developed the skills or desire to delegate properly so that less experienced CPAs can learn from more challenging work.

Begin this week to observe what your team members need to learn and give them projects that will help develop their skills and knowledge.

Struggling with exactly what to delegate? Ask your team what they think you should delegate. They are more insightful than you might think. Managing partners, ask your firm administrator what he/she thinks you should delegate to them. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  • Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
  • Henry David Thoreau