Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Monday, November 16th, 2020

Real Skills (Success Skills)

“Some people call these, “soft skills.” That’s because they’re not easy to measure. But for me, they’re real skills. The skills that actually determine how far we’ll go and how it will feel to work with us as we move forward.” – Seth Godin

For many years, in public accounting, we took note of the fact that many accountants dutifully achieved the expert category when it came to technical expertise.

Also, for many years we complained that we employed some very skilled managers but nearly all of them lacked “soft skills.” I like to call them “success skills” because to reach the level of partnership in the firm a candidate had to demonstrate the ability to network in the business community, be a great conversationalist, build relationships, be an adept speaker, manage people and develop personal leadership attributes. I like Godin’s term: Real Skills.

These skills, along with the technical skills, enable a CPA to bring in business to the firm. Some current partners have even developed these skills.

My friend, Guy Gage, @PartnersCoach, has developed the Partner-Pipeline® to assist firm partners to develop the “success skills” necessary to become true firm leaders.

From Guy Gage:

There are five “Contributions” that comprise high-performing partners: strong technical capability; client experience/client relations; new business development; capacity building (talent development), and leadership capability. While no one can be exceptional in all five areas, partner-candidates should be excellent in two and competent in the other three. Since firms have addressed the technical capability, I’ve developed a program that addresses the other four areas.

To learn more about the Partner Pipeline and to download a matrix outlining the program steps that are appropriate for each level in the firm. – Associate, Senior, Supervisor, Manager, and Senior Manager, click here.

It is important to begin the success skills training early in a person’s career so that the firm always has a vibrant and healthy partner pipeline.

  • Firms can only do so much, then it's up to the individual to choose to engage. Teach them HOW with programs and coaching.
  • Guy Gage

Friday, November 13th, 2020

Difficult Clients

“Respect is for those who deserve not for those who demand it.” – Paulo Coelho

In CPA management circles, we have talked and talked about how to deal with difficult clients. Here is a flashback post for this Friday that will give you some solutions.

Upfront, be sure to train your clients. Of course, you know what the final solution is – help them find another accounting firm!

Your team members are way too valuable to be harassed and degraded by rude and unnecessarily demanding clients.

  • I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.
  • Albert Einstein

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Don’t Be So Cheap

“Spend at least 10% of your budget on the best professional advice available before you spend a nickel on anything.” – Harvey Mackay

Accountants are often known for being frugal. Your employees might think you (as a group of owners) are actually very cheap.

Here’s the difference – – Cheap people are driven by saving money regardless of the cost; frugal people are driven by maximizing total value, including the value of their time. … Being cheap is about spending less; being frugal is about prioritizing your spending so that you can have more of the things you really care about.

I don’t know how many times I have heard an experienced, competent firm administrator, practice manager, HR director, or marketing director say, “I won’t be able to attend the conference (event, webinar, meeting) because the partners won’t spend the money.”

On the other hand, I have heard those same people, the ones who did attend the conference (event, webinar, meeting) say, “I learned so much and brought so many great ideas back to the firm that the partners said I should attend every year.”

That’s why Harvey Mackay’s quote, above, is so appropriate for those leading CPA firms.

  • Never have a partner retreat without a paid facilitator – someone very familiar with the CPA profession.
  • Don’t hesitate to hire outside mentors and coaches for your partners, firm administrators, marketing directors, etc. Hire them for your partners, too.

Just last week, a client said to me after a fairly brief phone session, “You have given us several valuable nuggets during our conversation! We will act upon them!”

How much are you budgeting for outside, professional advisors?

  • If the price is very cheap then it's almost certainly a fake.
  • David Russell

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

Bringing In Business

“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” – Sir Richard Branson

For years now, firm leaders have been worrying about what happens when the firm’s best rainmakers retire. Often, firms have depended on one major rainmaker. The ones worrying the most are the partners who have not been rainmakers themselves.

The fact is, the baby boomer rainmakers are retiring now, on a regular basis.

To complicate the situation, how can an experienced business development partner “take along” a young person when talking with clients, attorneys, and/or bankers during COVID? I have always advised experienced partners to take a young person along. Times have changed.

Are your partners involving younger accountants in Zoom meetings with clients and others?

Let the client see the face of the person who will actually be doing the work associated with their engagement. Make that next video (or conference) call your client a 3-way or 4-way meeting.

If you are a partner or manager and about to make a quick video call to a client, stop and think! Who else should be seen by your client? Young people learn by example and now being an example involves a little more thought and effort than it has in past years.

  • You only have to do a few things right in our life so long as you don't do too many things wrong.
  • Warren Buffett

Monday, November 2nd, 2020

Invest In Your Future Partners

“TPI was one of the most meaningful programs in my professional career.” – Jessica Sayles, Managing Principal

How many of your current partners went through any kind of educational program to prepare them for partnership? Your answer might be, “None.” Or perhaps, one or two. Don’t you wish ALL your partners had some basic training on how to be a productive, successful partner in a CPA firm?

Now is the time to register your prospective partners (current partners might need to also register!) for The Partner Institute.

The Partner Institute is a comprehensive three-year leadership development experience designed specifically for the CPA. The program provides participants with world-class training, a continuous learning environment, and a culture of accountability that is unmatched.

The launch of the next program is on January 13-15, 2021 at the Boardwalk Inn at Walt Disney World.

If in-person attendance is not an option for you at this time, you may choose to attend virtually. If less than 12 participants are available to attend in person, they will forego the January start date and launch the program on June 9-11, 2021.

Never hesitate to invest in your firm’s future. More information about The Partner Institute here.

Click here to view testimonials.

  • The path of light is the quest for knowledge.
  • Lailah Gifty Akita

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Navigating Your Career & Growing Your Practice Podcast

“If you’re going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all.” –Joseph Campbell

I was delighted recently to connect up with Brad Barbour, Manager, firm Services at AICPA PCPS.

PCPS has been very dear to my heart throughout my years in public accounting. I have met and worked with so many wonderful people at PCPS by speaking at conferences, serving on committees, writing articles, and helping with resources for the PCPS website.

Brad hosts a podcast for PCPS called Small Firm Philosophy and recently interviewed me for one of his podcasts.

I hope you find time to listen to my story and my observations on working in public accounting. Listen to it at one sitting (approx. 30 minutes) or break it up into segments.

I hope some of my comments will be helpful and some will make you smile. Listen to the other podcasts on Small Firm Philosophy, too. Thanks so much, Brad.

  • Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.
  • Robert McKee

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Good Example

“Every time you have to speak, you are auditioning for leadership.” – James Humes

You are operating mostly in an online culture. Your people don’t see you walk down the hall to get a cup of coffee. They don’t see you greet clients in the lobby. They don’t see you leave for a Chamber of Commerce meeting. You don’t stop by their office/desk for a quick chat.

Just because they can’t see you easily, it doesn’t mean you should not continue to set a good example. Keep them informed of what you are doing and follow all the procedures and policies they are asked to follow.

Click here for the Friday Flashback Post about a partner’s simple mission.

  • We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
  • Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, October 19th, 2020

Distracted

“All distracted leaders are ineffective.” – Dan Rockwell

Are any of the leaders in your CPA firm distracted? This might be a very touchy subject among the leadership group.

Of course, all people working in accounting firms have had to fight the distraction battle in 2020. As you have read (and experienced), working from home has resulted in an abundance of distractions.

Today, I am talking about your partner group and the outside distractions they may be facing (or allowing) that divert their attention from effective firm management and client service.

Does your partner agreements cover the fact that partners might be distracted (hampered from working) due to personal illness?

Perhaps a partner’s spouse has a serious illness yet the partner continues to try to work yet client service suffers and staff complain that the partner is not available or responding to questions.

Do your partners have outside interests/investments, like real estate activities or separate personal businesses that distract them during business hours on a regular basis?

I always advise, “Keep your eye on the ball.” Or, “Don’t kill the golden goose.” A successful and profitable firm can change course when owners are distracted.

Read the above quote again.

  • An addiction to distraction is the end of your creative production.
  • Robin Sharma

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

There Is No Time To Rest

“Last year I joined a support group for procrastinators. We haven’t met yet.”

CPAs have a reputation for procrastination. It has been a very busy year and November is just around the corner. Don’t slack off now! There is so much more to do so that your firm can fully adapt to the new normal.

Here’s my story of the classic procrastination scenario inside a busy CPA firm. It goes something like this:

It’s tax season, we can’t possibly take the time to update our performance feedback process. It’s April 16, we desperately need time to recover from tax season. I call this the after-tax-season coma that you are in for about two to four weeks. It’s late May, early June, we can’t possibly work on the performance system because it is time to begin this year’s reviews. Our process will last at least through July. It’s August, too many people are on vacation. It’s September, we have extensions. It’s October, we have extensions. It’s December, we have tax planning appointments. 

So, that means you may have some time in November to catch-up on all the initiatives and projects you have talked about for months or even years.

Any of this sound familiar? As 2021 approaches, commit to avoiding procrastination. Take it in small steps and just keep moving forward with your initiatives even is you have a lot of various excuses not to.

  • You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Friday, September 25th, 2020

It Is All About Trust

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

If the owner group at your CPA firm has doubts if they have the right person as MP, stop complaining, wondering, and second-guessing the person in the role. Trust them and give them authority or select a different managing partner.

It is Flashback Friday. Read this brief blog post about trusting your leader.

  • All the world is made up of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.
  • J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan