Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

CPA Exam Benefits

“I’m forever testing myself. As a person and as an actor, I have no sense of competition.” – Michael Caine

I often receive inquiries about the benefits package a public accounting firm should offer. My advice? Be generous!

For example, firms approach paying for the CPA Exam and for the pre-exam study course in varying manners. Of course, some firms are more generous than others.

You are a CPA firm. You need CPAs. Communicate this fact to all your new accounting graduates (and others who have not yet passed the Exam).

Here’s an example of an Exam policy:

John Doe & Company CPA Exam Policy

(Name of firm) is first and foremost a CPA firm. The expectation has always been that, as soon as possible, each of us will sit for and pass the CPA exam. Including our college education, it is the completion of the basics and the foundation that each of us need to practice the profession of public accounting.

Effectively immediately, the firm’s policy on passing the exam is as follows:

  1. For new college graduates joining the firm, the expectation is that you will complete the exam by your two year anniversary with the firm.
  2. For the existing team, the expectation is that you will have it completed within two years of today’s date.
  3. As you will see in the firm’s goal-setting process, if you have not passed the exam your number one goal will be to do so. The achievement of this goal will have a significant impact on your compensation.
  4. Although we do not want to focus on the negative, if the exam is not completed within the above time frames it will be a serious impediment to your career with the firm. We will evaluate each situation on an individual basis.   

We are disassociating the passing of the exam to staff levels within the firm. In other words, you no longer have to have the exam passed to be promoted to senior. The level at which you are performing will be the only factor that determines your title.

We are enhancing our benefits related to the CPA exam as follows:

  • We will pay for 100% of Becker, Surgent, or another review course approved by the firm. This will be paid upfront and will be refundable to the firm if you do not complete the review course.
  • We will now pay the 50% reimbursement of exam fees upfront with no maximum.
  • The firm will pay a $1,000 bonus upon certification from the state licensing agency and will also have your certificate professionally framed.

To summarize, passing the exam is your top priority. The firm will do everything that we can to help you and to accommodate the process. We hope that the enhancements above will make a difference. But, you have to take it and pass it. Please give it the importance that it deserves in your career. 

Again, my message to all firms is to be generous.

  • Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.
  • Jack Canfield

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Accounting Graduates

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Lawrence Bossidy

There are reports that tell us that the number of accounting graduates being hired is steadily declining. Yet, many firms are still saying that they need people.

In some firms, the “need people” has come to mean they need more non-accounting graduates, such as people with more advanced technology skills.

Per Todd Shapiro, CEO of the Illinois CPA society says, in an article via Accounting today: “Hiring of accounting graduates is down 30 percent. That’s a massive decline in hiring of accounting graduates by CPA firms. This isn’t companies that traditionally haven’t hired accounting graduates that aren’t CPAs. These are accounting firms.”

I was surprised by this statement from Barry Melancon a few years ago: Today we are a profession of CPA-led firms, not CPA firms. Two-thirds of the employees in all firms are non-CPAs.

Shapiro notes that firms are hiring more non-accounting graduates. It only makes sense to me that accounting students need to be sure that they have more advanced technology skills than at any time in the past.

If you didn’t read the article by Michael Cohn (via Accounting Today), you should.

  • You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world…but it requires people to make the dream a reality.
  • Walt Disney

Friday, August 21st, 2020

Repeated Mistakes

“When you repeat a mistake, it is not a mistake anymore: it is a decision.” – Paulo Coelho

One comment I hear over and over again from clients and others in the CPA profession is that very often, new people continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.

The solution often turns out to be that the reviewer of the work “fixes” the mistakes and moves the job along the workflow system. Reviewers should send the work back to the preparer (for obvious reasons).

If you are new to working in the CPA profession, read this flashback post about repeating a mistake. It is titled New Beginnings.

  • When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.
  • Paul Bear Bryant

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

Childcare

“I sustain myself with the love of family.” – Maya Angelou

School districts across the country are opening up. There is no consistency. From state-to-state and even district-to-district schedules are varying. Some are part-time in-person classes mixed with online learning. Some schools will be full-time online for many weeks.

This does present huge problems to working adults. The kids needs a parent to help guide them through the online learning maze.

Has hour firm explored the benefits you can provide to help your valued staff deal with this new reality. You need them and their family need them. PwC has increased/modified their benefit package per an informative article via Accounting Today.

They are offering:

  • Protected time
  • Reduced schedules
  • Compressed workweek
  • Flex-time
  • Sabbatical
  • Backup care reimbursement
  • Tutoring services

Read the article to learn more about each offering. Hopefully, it will give you some ideas about what to do for your team and their families.

  • Family is a life jacket in the stormy sea of life.
  • J. K. Rowling

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Followership & Servant Leadership

“Power should be reserved for weightlifting and boats, and leadership really involves responsibility. – Herb Kelleher

I have written about the importance of followership and servant leadership on a few occasions. Most recently on May 18, 2020.

Over my many years working in public accounting, I have observed many outstanding leaders who were, in their formative years, excellent followers. I have also observed many partner teams who were missing good followers.

Last week, I read an excellent article by Sharlyn Lauby (@HRBartender) titled: Servant Leadership: Excellent Leaders are Good Followers.

She shares a quote by a leader I always admired, Herb Kelleher – “To be an excellent leader, you have to be a superb follower.”

Lauby gives us some background on servant leadership and the importance of followership as part of that.

Read her article to learn more about Robert Greenleaf who is credited with starting Servant Leadership. Also, learn more about some basic competencies associated with servant leadership.

  1. Commitment to developing people
  2. Empathy
  3. Listening
  4. Conceptualization
  5. Foresight
  6. Awareness

When it is time to choose a new partner or a successor for your current managing partner, consider their followership and servant leadership skills.

  • Don't assume, because you are intelligent, able, and well-motivated, that you are open to communication, that you know how to listen.
  • Robert Greenleaf

Friday, May 29th, 2020

The Power of Recognition

“I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks.” – William Shakespeare

This week for my Friday Flashback post, I hope you will take a few minutes to read about the importance of “Hello. Good Morning. Thank-you.”

It’s a post from April 2014 and it still applies today. You might even find the 3-minute video helpful that is referenced in the post.

You are probably beginning to welcome people back into the office. Keep in mind that your people need appreciation and recognition, in person, and also when they are working remotely.

Have a great weekend.

  • We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
  • Cynthia Ozick

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Flashback Friday – There is more you need to know

“The sooner, the better!” – Franklin W. Dixon, author of The Hardy Boys

If you are NOT a young CPA, I hope you will share this flashback post with a young CPA.

There is more to being a CPA than knowing the technical work!

Young CPAs – Start Sooner!

Much of this can certainly apply to more experienced CPAs, too.

  • Most people would sooner die than think, in fact, they do so.
  • Bertrand Russell

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Be Prepared

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

If your are a CPA firm leader, you should always remember the Boy Scout motto:

Be Prepared – The Scout motto means that you are always ready to do what is necessary to help others. It also means you are ready, willing, and able to do what is necessary in any situation that comes along.

Peter Drucker told us – The manager will have to look at her task and ask, “What must I do to be prepared for danger, for opportunities, and above all for change?”

Recently, you have had to face danger and change yet not forget about opportunities. Some firms have done a commendable job of this because they were prepared. Some have struggled because they did not have strong enough technology and procedures.

Going forward it is a great time to make sure your firm is lean and can move fast as our new world of work evolves.

Employing the right talent is always an issue. As you have heard many times, you must have the right people on your bus and have them in the right seats. You must be able to trust your people.

Many of your people are skilled, experienced, and loyal. They can work remotely without someone looking over their shoulder. You can trust them. What are you going to do with the people you don’t trust?

  • For there to be betrayal, there would have to have been trust first.
  • Suzanne Collins

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

Let Go Of The Past

“Treat people with their strengths in mind, not their past offenses.” – Dan Rockwell

We hear and read about lots of different ways to build on your strengths. You should also be guiding others in your firm to do the same.

What really happens inside some CPA firms? The managers and partners have very long memories.

I have heard the stories for years. “Don’t give me Tony for this engagement. Remember how he messed up on that John Doe job?” “I don’t want Brenda for this assignment. She has no clue about (fill-in the blank).”

Tony messed up that job three years ago during his first year with the firm. Brenda had no clue about whatever five years ago!

I think it is somewhat part of human nature. Well, accountants’ nature anyway. People remember the bad things that happen and so often forget to recognize the good things.

Be more in tune with how people progress in your firm. Some beginners catch on fast and some not so fast. Don’t give up on them too quickly. Learn to build on people’s strengths and down-play their weaknesses. Even when giving feedback, don’t always make it constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is a term used all to often within CPA firms. Criticism is criticism and the person receiving the criticism only hears criticism (not constructive).

Take advantage of the great resource of strengths of the people working in your firm. Downplay, and even forget, past mistakes.

There are plenty of resources out there:

Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald Clifton

Here’s a good article via Forbes.

  • With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

Establish a Scholarship for Accounting Students

“If anything is going to change in accounting education, it’s going to have to come from practitioners.” – Jason Ackerman, CPA

For the long-term, public accounting firms still need to attract top talent. I have heard all kinds of stories about some firms cutting back on hiring and even laying-off or furloughing people. Sadly, some firms admit that they have used the need to tighten their belts to get rid of poor performers.

One great way to attract talented accounting students to your firm is to sponsor a scholarship program. If your firm hasn’t established one yet, here are some tips from Jason Ackerman of BNA CPAs & Advisors in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I have admired how Jason and Bernie Ackerman continually search for ways to improve their firm since I met them many years ago at an AICPA conference.

Here’s how BNA’s scholarship program works.

To qualify as a BNA scholar, students must want to have an internship and want to become CPAs. During the fall semester, the firm will interview students who are interested; the students selected will receive an internship for the following semester, during tax season. The students will be paid like normal interns; after the internship, if both the firm and the students want to continue, they will receive additional scholarships in the amount of $10,000 per student per year to help pay for CPA exam fees, CPA exam review courses, and college as a whole. In return, the students must agree to pass the CPA exam before graduating and to work for BNA for three years postgraduation.

Read Jason’s entire article, Creating a CPA Scholarship Program, via The CPA Journal.

  • A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
  • Bruce Lee