Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

Getting Things Done

“I’ve found that employing even one of these five strategies can save you hours each week.” – Elizabeth Grace Saunders

You always have so much to do. You are busy, busy, busy. There is always a new due date around the corner.

Last week as I talked with several clients about how it felt to have the September 15th due date behind them there was a common theme. They noted, “We still have twenty trusts to get done by September 30 and then there are 75 1040s still to do for October 15th!

You know how this goes in an accounting firm.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders, an internationally recognized expert on effective time management offers us 5 Strategies for Getting More Work Done in Less Time via HBR.

She notes: You’ve got more to do than could possibly get done with your current work style. You’ve prioritized. You’ve planned. You’ve delegated. You’ve tried to focus. The next frontier is increasing your efficiency so that you can spend less time and still do a good job.

The Five Strategies

  1. Clarify Actual Expectations
  2. Re-Use Previous Material
  3. Develop Templates and Checklists
  4. Make it a Conversation
  5. Time Box Your Work

Read about each of them here.

  • Without hustle, talent will only carry you so far.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Your Foundation

“The important thing is that you’ve got a strong foundation before you start to try to save the world or help other people.” – Richard Branson

Does your CPA firm have a solid foundation?

I often talk about the internal workings of a firm as the foundational issues. Do you have effective and efficient processes and procedures as it relates to client service and also how it relates to human resources issues? If there are many different ways to accomplish client work, it cannot be as efficient as having one way, the FIRM way. In too many firms, the way work is completed depends on the partner-in-charge of the client engagement.

Of course, there are other foundational issues relating to the services you offer and the needs of your clients. Those issues are changing. The once-solid foundation of the CPA profession consisting of accounting, tax, and audit is becoming rather shaky!

Joey Havens, CPA, CGMA, is the executive partner at HORNE LLP. He offers us a closer look at your foundation in his article, Five Ways Firms Can Solidify Their Business Foundation via the AICPA, CPA Insider. Take a few minutes to read his tips.

  • Great persons are great because of good, strong foundations on which they were able to build a character.
  • Alfred Armand Montapert

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

Rejection Letters

“To the old, the new is usually bad news.” – Eric Hofer

I often get requests from my clients (and others) for samples of various types of letters. I have observed that CPAs are much more open to new ideas, processes, etc. if they can see samples.

That’s why a recent article via HBR seemed an important one to share. It is titled, Writing a Rejection Letter (with Samples).

I am sure there are many instances where you must turn someone down. You know, let them down gently. I believe it is the proper thing to to when you have interviewed a job candidate and decided they were not the best fit for the job. It can often be an unpleansant task so do not put it off!

Keep in mind that you don’t have write a long or detailed explanation. The article suggests four steps:

  1. Say thanks.
  2. Deliver the news.
  3. Give the main reason.
  4. Offer hope.

Read the entire article. The samples are very helpful.

  • Bad news isn't wine. It doesn't improve with age.
  • Colin Powell

Friday, July 24th, 2020

Is It Time To Retire? – Flashback Friday

This week, for Flashback Friday, I have selected a post from February, this year. It was before the you-know-what hit the fan. Maybe retirement is now on your mind more than ever.

Here’s the post:

IS IT TIME TO ACTUALLY RETIRE?

In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned that I had recently re-read Tuesdays with Morrie.

One of Morrie’s wise sayings was:

“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”

He was talking about life. To me, because I have worked with so many Baby Boomer CPAs over the years, it is something that applies to their retirement.

Many are in denial about retirement. They plan to work until they drop. Very short-sighted, indeed. There is so much more in life to experience if you wish it so.

Several situations I know about involve partners retiring but they do not quit working at the firm.

A couple of others involve 80-somethings continuing to come into the office even though they are not able to use the technology any longer.

My advice: Don’t hang on too long.

  • It's not too late to develop new friendships or reconnect with people.
  • Morrie Schwartz

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

2020 Accounting MOVE Project

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

Each year I look forward to the MOVE Project report.

2020 Accounting MOVE Project outlines new career paths for women opened by Firms’ expansions into new practices.

  • 48% of firms conduct internal pay equity surveys that include base pay and bonuses
  • 90% of firms, up from 71% in 2014, have partners and principals review the results of internal pay equity surveys
  • 59% of firms, up from 48% in 2019, prepare managers for pay equity discussions
  • 52% of firms rotate emerging women leaders into client-facing roles, an all-time high
  • 38% of firms offer rotations onto executive task forces, an all-time high
  • 34% of firms offer rotations into operating positions, an all-time high

Firms are growing in multiple directions. Women lead much of that growth with unexpected combinations of experience, skills and aptitude”

Here is a press release about the report and a link to where you can read it.

Women Propel Innovation & Growth in Surprising Ways at Accounting & Advisory Firms

2020 Accounting MOVE Project report reveals emerging momentum of women in driving new practice growth: AFWA releases 2020 Best CPA Firms for Women and 2020 Best CPA Firms for Equity Leadership lists

 Lexington, Ky., May 27 –

Women are leading accounting & advisory firms’ forays into new lines of business with unconventional perspectives and new approaches, according to the findings of the 2020 Accounting MOVE Project report. Among the most productive strategies driving new revenues and new career paths are:

• To seed new lines of business with first-time clients, firms need strong internal referrals, and internal referrals are a longstanding strength for women.

• Women who started boutique firms decades ago are rejoining large firms, bringing with them entrepreneurial leadership that fuels new lines of business.

• Firm women’s initiatives are invaluable sources of talent for fast-track advisory service launches that pivot on diverse perspectives and fresh approaches.

“Women are perfectly positioned to chart new ways to win new types of business, because they take encouragement and direction from incremental wins,” says Joanne Cleaver, President of Wilson-Taylor Associates, Inc., the content strategy firm that manages the Accounting MOVE Project. “In an unpredictable business environment, firms can rely on the deep loyalty that many women earn with ongoing clients, and that create footholds for new practices.”

“Collaboration, diverse perspectives, and a growth mindset are important ingredients to fueling new services and a firm’s growth. This year’s study shows many examples of how women leverage these leadership capabilities to create a competitive advantage for their firms,” says Jennifer Wyne, executive director of human resources for Moss Adams, Founding Sponsor of the Accounting MOVE Project.

“It is encouraging to see the data from firms of all sizes telling a story of women’s leadership advancement as growth creates new opportunities. At CohnReznick, we have seen this first-hand across our advisory, assurance and tax practices – both with new service lines as well as traditional practice areas. Even better: these women leaders are excelling with people development, attracting and advancing outstanding men and women in their teams,” said Risa Lavine, Principal and chief of staff at CohnReznick. CohnReznick is the National Sponsor of the Accounting MOVE Project.

The 2020 Accounting MOVE Project is available at the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance website. https://www.afwa.org/move-project/

“The findings of this year’s report solidifies that women are extending positive change into the financial workforce by creating new initiatives and client retention with creativity and leadership,” said Cindy Stanley, executive director for the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA), the association partner for the Accounting MOVE Project. “The unique perspectives and reliability of women in finance will continue to create new streams of opportunity and pave the way for progress.”

  • There is a special place in Hell for women who do not help other women.
  • Madeleine Albright

Monday, May 11th, 2020

News About Rootworks & Right Networks

“You make different colors by combining those colors that already exist.” – Herbie Hancock

Two “works” are becoming one – Right Networks has acquired Darren Roots’ organization, Rootworks.

This combination will be of interest to probably hundreds (or thousands) of firms using these organizations.

Here’s a quote from Root whose organization boasts 700 member firms – –

“We’ve been growing rapidly over the last several years, with over 700 member firms today,” Darren Root said of Rootworks. “And we’ve been evolving on the technology side. We provide a business model for the modern firm, and we help educate firms for that business model; but we also have a platform that helps accountants organize and grow that firm. Being able to leverage Right Networks’ long history of solid security and infrastructure and customer service will greatly benefit our member firms.”

Here’s the article describing the combination via Accounting Today:

  • When it seems that someone has shattered your dreams..pick up even the smallest of pieces and use them to build bigger and better dreams.
  • Jeremy Irons

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Is It Time To Actually Retire?

In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned that I had recently re-read Tuesdays with Morrie.

One of Morrie’s wise sayings was:

“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”

He was talking about life. To me, because I have worked with so many Baby Boomer CPAs over the years, it is something that applies to their retirement.

Many are in denial about retirement. They plan to work until they drop. Very short-sighted, indeed. There is so much more to experience if you wish it so.

Several situations I know about involve partners retiring but they do not quit working at the firm.

A couple of others involve 80-somethings continuing to come into the office even though they are not able to use the technology any longer.

My advice: Don’t hang on too long.

 

  • It's not too late to develop new friendships or reconnect with people.
  • Morrie Schwartz

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

What Are You Reading?

Even if you are always busy, find time to read. Of course, read the most beneficial and motivational business books. But, don’t stop there. Read for enjoyment and meaning.

While on a winter get-away, I found a copy of Tuesdays With Morrie in the villa we rented. I’m sure you have heard of it. I hadn’t read it in years so I re-read it. It’s an easy read.

Here is just one takeaway:

“Find someone to share your heart, give to your community, be at peace with yourself, try to be as human as you can be.”

If you are “too busy” to read the book, read these 14 inspiring quotes.

  • If you really want it, then you’ll make your dream happen.
  • Morrie Schwartz

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Be Clear About Your Purpose

“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.”  Winston Churchill

The partners go away for a couple of days and come back with a firm mission statement. Does that inspire you? I doubt it. In many firms, it is just another “flavor of the month” and soon no one will even be able to recite it.

I like the new trend in calling it (mission statement) a statement of purpose. What is the purpose of your firm? What are you trying to achieve?

Many owner groups struggle with defining and living, their purpose. Some even copy a purpose from another firm and roll it out to their team as if it has real meaning to the owners.

Per an interesting article via Harvard Business Review, a truly powerful purpose statement is one that achieves two objectives: clearly articulating strategic goals and motivating your workforce.

If you want to find and retain top talent, they must know and understand your firm’s purpose – I mean really, not just some fancy words.

Surveys tell us that a large percentage of employees don’t feel fully connected to their firm’s purpose, they don’t see the value they create and that their jobs don’t allow them to fully leverage their strengths.

This adds up to a crisis of purpose. And, what follows along is a communication crisis. As I continue to say – most problems I encounter inside accounting firms can be traced back to poor, or lack of, communication.

Read and share the HBR article with your firm leaders. It is titled, Why Are We Here? Good question.

  • Workers feel lost. And over time, a lack of direction saps motivation; people begin backing away from the challenges required to achieve the firm’s articulated goals.
  • Sally Blount & Paul Leinwand, authors HBR

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

Immediate Feedback

“Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.” – Ed Batista

I have been recommending it for years. Many firms seem to have difficulty implementing it (doing what they say they will do). I’m talking about immediate feedback.

Our younger generation of workers wants immediate feedback at the push of a button. They do not want to wait for an annual performance feedback session or even a quarterly feedback session.

That’s why I loved a recent post by Ed Mendlowitz – Uberize Staff Evaluations:

Uber passengers are asked to evaluate their ride as soon as they get out of the car, and the drivers are also asked to evaluate the riders immediately. This seems like it would be a good idea for accounting firms.

Bruce Tulgan calls it “hands-on management.” Managers touch base with those they manage on a daily basis. Accounting firm managers need to improve and be more proactive with their people-management skills. Read Tulgan’s book, It’s Okay to Be the Boss.

As Mendlowitz and Tulgan (and I) suggest, keep it simple. I still hear stories of beginners preparing a tax return and hearing back from a manager or partner three (or more) weeks later that they did something wrong.

  • To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.
  • Elbert Hubbard