Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Friday, August 6th, 2021

Is Your Firm An Overachiever? – Flashback Friday

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” – – Albert Einstein

This week’s Flashback Friday is SO OLD that I am not able to provide a link. So, I am copying and pasting it into this post.

I thought it would be fun to look back on my blog posts from the very first year I began writing this blog – 2006. Here’s a flashback to August 17, 2006. Koltin had a different role then.

Is Your Firm An Overachiever?

According to Allan Koltin, President and CEO of PDI Global Inc., your firm is probably an overachiever if it has these traits:

  • Outstanding leadership and management
  • Common focus and culture
  • Specialization or niche-market dominance
  • Sustainable momentum
  • Powerful leverage
  • Tendency to “spoil” clients
  • Performance discipline
  • High billing rates; low write-offs
  • High-end clients; valuable CPA services
  • Great confidence in “self-worth”
  • Strong work ethic

Have a great weekend!

  • Laughter is an instant vacation.
  • Milton Berle

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

The Childcare Hurdle

“Working from home doesn’t solve the childcare problem.” – Suzanne Lucas

Want to differentiate your firm and be able to attract career-minded CPAs? Consider offering some sort of childcare benefit.

While we often believe that receiving substantial unemployment benefits is the reason people quit working, many are saying the real factor is the high cost, or even the existence, of childcare.

In a recent article by Suzanne Lucas (@realevilhrlady), she makes the case for employers to help employees with this high-cost, career hampering burden. The title of the article: The Number 1 Reason the Unemployed Turn Down Jobs. Here’s an excerpt:

Childcare work pays a ridiculously low wage–on average, $11 an hour. If these workers are part of the 1.8 million who turn down jobs because unemployment offers more, then higher wage earners can’t turn to work either. If schools don’t open reliably and daycare centers can’t hire enough people, not everyone can return to work.

It is a complicated issue. Read the article to learn more and then consider how your firm can subsidize childcare in some fashion.

The childcare issue is nothing new in the CPA profession. Young CPAs just beginning their families have faced this same issue for years and it usually falls on the female’s shoulders. She puts her career on hold to be able to stay at home with her children. It becomes an interrupted career path for many.

  • Even if unemployment insurance ends, why would you take a child care job for $11 an hour when you can walk across the street and get a job in retail or restaurants for $15?
  • Suzanne Lucas

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

Fear of Failing

“Don’t let your failures break your enthusiasm.” – Tom Bilyeu

CPAs are obsessed with not making mistakes. They strive to never make even one mistake. When it comes to compliance work for clients, they have all kinds of safety nets (review steps) to avoid mistakes. That’s a good thing.

When it comes to internal operations the fear of making mistakes still applies. That’s a bad thing. I like the following quote from Scott Cochrane (@WScottCochrane) and it applies to firm leaders:

“When the team misses a goal, secure leaders say, ‘Let’s learn from this and do better next time.’ Insecure leaders say, ‘It wasn’t my fault.'”.

Leaders, if they want their firm to move forward, must be willing to try something new. Are you too comfortable with the status quo? To take the danger out of trying something new, I always recommend that you test it. Experiment with a new idea in just one area of your firm. If it works out and seems beneficial, roll it out to the entire firm.

Don’t let the fear of failure hinder your firm’s progress toward efficiency. Don’t always wait for other firms to discover something new and then follow in their footsteps.

Now more than ever, firms need to be willing to nurture innovation and creativity. Periodically, ask your employees what the firm needs to do to make the firm more efficient and productive. Also, ask them what the firm can do to make it a better place to work.

  • The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.
  • John C. Maxwell

Monday, July 26th, 2021

The Latest On Accounting Firm M&A

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

If you haven’t seen the recent interview of Allan Koltin by Russell Shapiro, it’s time you took a few minutes and watched it.

CPA firm leaders need to keep current on the latest trends in M&A and there is no one more in-tune than Allan Koltin.

  • It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.
  • Herman Melville

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

What Your Team Expects

“Trust me is easy to say, especially when you mean it, but hard to hear.” – Seth Godin

As a result of all the changes firms have faced in the last sixteen to eighteen months, progressive firms are updating their employee handbooks. Many new and changing guidelines need to be explained and documented so that your team members know what is expected as a member of your firm’s team.

Even in your old handbook, is it possible that what you are saying contradicts what they are seeing?

Again, I am talking about setting a good example. I have learned through experience, that the partners are the ones who do not follow the documented processes and procedures that are clearly spelled out in the handbook.

People are now expecting many things to be different but they’ve been taught through experience not to believe that things are actually going to be different.

A quote from Seth Godin: “If you’ve read ten employee handbooks that say one thing when the company does another, you’re likely to not believe the eleventh one.”

Be sure to read Godin’s blog post about this topic. It is titled, Yadda, yadda, yadda.

  • Showing tends to beat telling.
  • Seth Godin

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Considering A CRM For Your Firm?

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

When I worked at a CPA firm, I was always proud of the fact that the firm was on the leading edge when it came to new ideas, processes, and software tools. We were paperless very early on but waited several years for a Document Management System that actually fit the CPA profession.

One technology tool we never purchased and one that I hesitate to recommend for CPA firms is a CRM (Client Relationship Management). Data is only as good as what is fed into the system. I knew that our partners would simply not expend the extra effort to record important client information and conversations into the system. The old slogan applied: Garbage in, garbage out.

That is why I enjoyed a recent article by Gene Marks (the famous guy you see on TV) who is a CPA. The title: On CRM: The Best CRM For An Accounting Firm Is Probably No CRM.

He explains particular things that apply to accountants that make them poor candidates for a CRM. His company has even tried and failed to implement CRMs in a dozen firms.

Be sure to read his article. I am sure the reasons for CRM failure will sound very familiar to you!

  • The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.
  • Henry Ford

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

Learn From History

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.” – Abraham Lincoln

My husband and I are history buffs, especially Civil War history. We have visited many battlefields and other sites. Ken Burns’ Civil War has taught us so much and a movie I always recommend is Gettysburg. It tells the story from both sides and is quite informative. It was actually filmed on the National Battlefield site in Gettysburg, one we have visited many times.

At Gettysburg, you, of course, think of Lincoln. Last week we did a road trip (the first one since COVID) and visited Lincoln’s birthplace in Kentucky (and Jefferson Davis’ birthplace, also in Kentucky). Here’s the memorial at Lincoln’s birthplace.

Our road trip also took us to Graceland and Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo. We visited Shiloh National Military Park and Vicksburg National Military Park. I refer to this road trip as the birthplace and battlefield trip.

Now, think back on the history of your accounting firm. How has it evolved over time and what can you learn from your triumphs and your failures? I have observed that some firms that historically had a more dictatorship type of leadership changed to a very laid-back culture when new leaders took over. I have also seen the opposite happen. A very casual, and honestly disorganized type of leadership changed to a very structured and even rigid culture when the next generation took over.

What is your culture like now? Is it the type of culture you are proud of? Does your culture (and your brand appear attractive to potential employees and potential clients? Exploring your firm’s history might be quite eye-opening like American history is to me.

More pictures – the Jefferson Davis birthplace and, of course, Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo MS.

  • America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Friday, July 9th, 2021

Stay Away From Day-to-Day

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

As summer moves along, you are probably giving lots of thought to your Fall partner retreat.

For this Flashback Friday, read this post from 2019 – Don’t Let Day-to-Day Take Over Your Retreat.

Have a great weekend!

  • The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.
  • Maynard Keynes

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

Your Current Challenge Certainly Isn’t New

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

I’m not sure where I got the quote, below, and I don’t know if it is really true. However, it seems to me that what this person said was probably true at the time.

Finding, hiring and retaining talent professionals is at the very top of the list today. The AICPA is concerned, state societies are concerned, practitioners are concerned and HR managers are exhausted.

Here’s the quote from 1961. It kind of puts things in perspective. The current talent challenge is nothing new and CPAs have been trying to solve it for 60 years!

“The public accounting profession can, in the years just ahead, expand its role in our economy to levels never before reached… The problems of the profession in meeting the demands of the future are centered in its ability to attract and keep within its ranks qualified professional personnel.”
 —John Jones, Georgia Society Magazine – 1961

  • If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.
  • Abraham Maslow

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

High Regard

“People who end up as ‘first’ don’t actually set out to be first. They set out to do something they love.” – Condoleezza Rice

I am reading The Pioneers by David McCullough. I love historical books and McCullough has provided many.

Living in Ohio, The Pioneers is of interest to me cause it is about the first settlers that crossed the Ohio River and settled what they then called the Ohio country. It was really part of a larger area called the Northwest Territory where the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan would thrive.

Manasseh Cutler, a 45-year old pastor from Ipswich Hamlet, a tiny Massachusetts village led the “Ohio Cause” seeking to be able to buy land and settle in this beautiful and plentiful country.

At that time, Congress met in New York. The Constitutional Convention was still meeting. There was, as yet, no President, and Cutler had to bargain with Congress directly to get permission about the Ohio settlements.

Cutler described meetings with many influential people, including James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. Eventually, he met with William Duer, secretary of the Board of Treasury.

I am early on in the book but a certain passage brought CPAs to mind. What do your clients think of you? What kind of person do they think you really are? What do your employees think of you, honestly? What would they write about you?

Cutler’s description of Duer:

“He is a gentleman of the most sprightly abilities and has a soul filled with the warmest benevolence and generosity. He is made both for business and the enjoyment of life.”

Of course, for some of you, replace “he” and “gentlemen” with the feminine reference. Then, as a CPA, would people say something similar about you?

Interestingly, there is more to Duer’s story.

  • What does it take to be the first female anything? It takes grit, and it takes grace.
  • Meryl Streep