Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

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

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

Net Fees Per Partner – CPA Firm

“Money often costs too much.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks to Charles Hylan for sharing some information from this year’s Rosenberg Survey.

Each year The Rosenberg Survey does an analysis to see which metrics have the strongest correlation to profitability, as measured by income per partner. As we work with firms who are struggling with profitability, we start by looking at their various leverage ratios followed by comparing their rates to like-sized firms in like-sized markets. One very important leverage ratio is net fees per equity partner.
Take a look at some of the numbers from this year’s Rosenberg Survey:
CLICK HERE to Order the Survey!
Charles
  • An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

What Managers Should Be Doing In CPA Firms

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Peter Drucker divided the job of the manager into five basic tasks:

1) Sets objectives. The manager sets goals for the group and decides what work needs to be done to meet those goals.

2) Organizes. The manager divides the work into manageable activities and selects people to accomplish the tasks that need to be done.

3) Motivates and communicates. The manager creates a team out of his people, through decisions on pay, placement, promotion, and through his communications with the team. Drucker also referred to this as the “integrating” function of the manager.

4) Measures. The manager establishes appropriate targets and yardsticks, and analyzes, appraises and interprets performance.

5) Develops people. With the rise of the knowledge worker, this task has taken on added importance. In a knowledge economy, people are the company’s most important asset, and it is up to the manager to develop that asset.

Does this sound like the managers at your firm? I find that so many so-called managers are actually higher-paid and more experienced technicians. If owners want more freedom to bring in business and talent, be sure your managers are trained and expected to manage.

Read What do managers do via WSJ.

  • Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, you need to cut your losses and move on.
  • Howard Schultz

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

Think of the Potential

“Don’t let fear of risk paralyze you.” – Marianne Williamson

Accountants often doubt themselves. Of course, in the world of public accounting, the CPA is the most trusted advisor. CPA owners are also trusted bosses. When you count all the clients and all of the employees, there are a lot of people and families depending upon their CPA.

That is why all of the work flowing through an accounting firm is reviewed, reviewed and reviewed. Don’t let this daunting responsibility slow you down. Establish processes that include “safety nets” and be an enforcer when it comes to everyone following the documented procedures. Don’t let fear of risk paralyze you.

I see so many firms NOT taking advantage of their potential. Your CPA firm should be having amazing successes. Lots of clients need your knowledge and assistance. There is so much potential with Client Accounting Services and other services that maybe you haven’t offered in the past.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Take some risk and take a chance on success.

 

  • Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.
  • Helen Keller

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Is It Time To Exit Gracefully?

Many CPA firm partners are struggling with the decision on when to retire.

It seems most believe that no matter what their age, it is too soon to consider retiring. Some firms have even raised their mandatory retirement age to 70. Many firms have no mandatory retirement age. Do you have a documented transition plan to help retiring partners exit?

While I certainly do not believe in forcing a successful, active, business-getting, forward-thinking partner out the door, I do believe that all aging partners need to think about retirement and make plans. Are you really a visionary or are you holding the firm back in any way?

I love this quote:

“I don’t want to be dragging myself on stage, year in year out until someone else tells me it is time to go. There are certain birthdays that make you revalue your life.” – Tina Turner

As the year draws to a close, will 2019 be the year you put your transition plan into place and provide an opportunity for the next generation?

  • The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.
  • Abe Lemons

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Foot-dragging

“If I see something sagging, bagging or dragging I’ll get it nipped, tucked or sucked.” – Dolly Parton

Does your firm have a foot-dragging problem?

foot-drag·ging
/ˈfo͝otˌdraɡiNG/
noun
  1. reluctance or deliberate delay concerning a decision or action.
    “bureaucratic foot-dragging has continued to delay the project”

You come back from a conference with a great idea. Or perhaps you read about a good idea on this blog. It is not something that is too complicated but it is not something the firm has tried before.

Some partners are excited but a few pooh-pooh the idea, so it never gains enough momentum to survive. Staff watch, shake their heads and smile at another avoidance of change.

Maybe your firm has one or two partners who are passionate and one or two who are completely happy with the status quo. The passionate partners are pulling the heavy wagon of change up the steep hill and the other partners are dragging their feet.

The foot-draggers don’t even have to help pull. All they have to do is pick up their feet!

  • Delay is the deadliest form of denial.
  • C. Northcote Parkinson