Archive for the ‘Talent’ Category

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

The Hiring Challenge

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi

I was reading an article via the Journal of Accountancy titled, Small firm spotlight: How I recruit and hire new accountants. Cheryl Meyer interviewed Kenneth Cerini, the managing partner at Cerini & Associates.

I could certainly relate to much of what Mr. Cerini divulged.

Recruiting and hiring is an art, not a science. When you are hiring people, you can’t cram a square peg into a round hole. We’ve brought people in from bigger accounting firms and realize they are not the right fit overall. We have much smaller clients, and our clients need more handholding. That’s why I love interns. I’d rather invest more money in the training and be able to bring on people at a younger level and help them grow within our atmosphere. You learn a tremendous amount during your first two to three years in public accounting.

At my firm, we found that hiring a 5-year person from a big four firm was not a very smart move. We had many small business owners and our 5-year people were so much more knowledgeable on many types of situations. It seemed to us that a 5-year person working at one of the big national accounting firms just did a one-year person’s duties five times.

However, that being said, firms are often very successful in training smart people no matter what their background. Often it is the training programs that need attention and, of course, the experienced new hire’s attitude is key.

  • Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
  • Helen Keller

Monday, January 21st, 2019

It’s Healthy to Stand

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” – H. G. Wells

I noticed a news article about a firm unveiling new offices in a new market.

The firm, Lutz,  offers accounting services including tax, bookkeeping, and business consulting to individuals and organizations in a variety of industries. The company was founded by Ralph Lutz in 1980 in Omaha as the CPA firm of Lutz, Kinsey, Friedman & Meyers. They also have offices in Grand Island, Lincoln, and Hastings, Nebraska.

Check out the picture of two of their accountants utilizing the stand-up desk option. Are you offering the option to your team members yet?

standup

  • Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
  • Winston Churchill

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Making The Move

You have heard it discussed extensively during the last few years. I am referring to making the move from compliance work to becoming a consulting firm.

CPA firms have been doing compliance work (tax returns and financial statements) forever. Some people working at the firm have, through years of experience, moved into more of a consulting role. Traditionally, these people are partners. In recent years, it has become common for a CPA firm to also provide some sort of technology and human resource consulting for clients.

In a recent article in Accounting Today, August Aquila notes, “There is a significant difference between consulting and compliance services — the way they are priced, marketed, the staff training, and even the business model all come into play. I’ve seen too many firms try to manage their consulting services as if they were compliance services. This is a big mistake.”

I have found that so many CPAs are performing consulting services just as if they were part of the compliance engagement, leaving money on the table.

Angie Grissom, in the same article notes, “Let’s not forget competencies, training and people. It can take a long time to become a good consultant. Many consultants have MBAs, and operational and finance experience, rather than accounting or tax. Like all professionals, they learn on the job.”

Consider how many consultants you have now. You probably just have a few partners performing these services. To develop more consultants, you must start grooming younger people earlier in their careers. From day one you should be taking them along on consulting engagements and involving them in discussions with the clients.

Larger firms are building their consulting practice by acquiring firms that are already consultants such as technology firms or human resource consultants. They are also hiring people from the college campus who are not accounting majors.

Get started on a plan for how your firm will make the transition from compliance to consulting. Keep in mind what Grissom says, “A major difference is, of course, the fee that consultants can charge versus what auditors or tax preparers charge. Consultants have convinced their clients that their services have a higher value.”

Read the entire article here.

 

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

Working at an Accounting Firm – New Graduates

“Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.” – Benjamin Franklin

The CPA profession hires thousands of new college graduates each year. Many join the big, national firms. Others join regional or local firms – some of them are huge and some are very small. All of them do their best to provide you with an onboarding and orientation experience. Some do a good job and some do not.

What can you really expect while working at a CPA firm? Sadly, it often takes years to figure that out and sometimes you learn it the hard way, by trial and error.

Suzanne Lucas, in her article for Inc., gives us 10 workplace secrets for New Grads – those young people who have landed a job in a profession. They all apply to public accounting. Please read her entire article. I have listed a few of the secrets and modified them for your situation in a public accounting firm.

Your manager can’t fire you – Managers in an accounting firm are often very skilled at managing the work but not so skilled at managing people. They have exceptional training in “the work” but most firms do not provide enough training in managing people. Most people in a CPA firm at the manager level can’t fire you without extensive involvement of others at the firm (partners, usually).

Your manager can’t give you a raise either – They can make recommendations but rarely have the authority to designate an amount.

HR isn’t bound by confidentiality rules – They must investigate things – if you are harassed, they are required to investigate things.

Grunt work leads to success – This applies across all professions. You must do the hard work first and you will be recognized and rewarded as time goes on.

Flexibility has to be earned – It might make you look bad if you start taking advantage of some benefits before you have earned them. Prove that you are capable, responsible, and hard working.

Be sure to read the article to learn about the remaining 5 secrets.

  • We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows.
  • Robert Frost

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Executive Presence, What Does That Mean?

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” —Jack Welch

My friend Kristen Rampe has been providing some amazing workshops for some of my clients and other progressive CPA firms. Here’s some information about one of her most popular workshops. Maybe it would be helpful to your team members.

EXECUTIVE PRESENCE AND CHARISMA

How you show up matters. For many CPAs, displaying higher levels of confidence and charisma in their interactions with clients, co-workers and the community can make a significant impact on achieving professional and personal goals.

Exhibiting the traits we associate with charisma and executive presence doesn’t come naturally to everyone. When was the last time you or your team set aside some time to discuss modern professional dress or actively work on posture, eye contact and confidence?

This session gives practical knowledge, advice and live practice that leaves participants feeling empowered to reach their next level of leadership.

Get more information on her workshop here.

  • I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.
  • Alexander The Great

Monday, November 5th, 2018

2018 Anytime, Anywhere Work™ Survey Results Summary

CoverLast week, ConvergenceCoaching, LLC released their 2018 Anytime, Anywhere Work™ Survey.

Today’s talent wants to integrate work and life. As a result, leaders must continually find ways to innovate workplace flexibility.

The goal of the survey is to collect data on CPA firm adoption of flexible work programs and the experiences firms have had with these initiatives.

Firm leaders need to thoughtfully contemplate how enhancing a more flexible workplace can be a huge benefit to the future of the firm.

Jeff Phillips, CEO of Accountingfly tell us, “On Accountingfly, we see incredible talent response to remote accounting jobs, which receive at least 8 times the number of applicants than in-office positions. The demand for remote careers in accounting is clear, and it’s such an obvious solution to the talent issues facing CPA firms.”

Download the survey summary here.

  • Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Are You Breaking This Employment Law?

“Win or lose, do it fairly.” – Knute Rockne

The whole topic of exempt vs. non-exempt has been a challenging conversation inside CPA firms ever since I can remember.

Many CPA firm leaders think the simple answer to paying people is to “put them on salary.” This might not be a wise choice.

I have heard so many questions over the years about docking a salaried person’s pay if they are continually tardy, leave early, etc.

Please take time to read this informative article via Inc. by Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady. It is titled, “The Employment Law You Are Probably Breaking.”

Here’s an excerpt:

You can discipline, fire, demote, yell at, or dock vacation time. But, you may not dock pay. And if you do dock pay? You’ve just made that person non-exempt. Which means you not only owe overtime going forward, you owe it going backward. So your attempt to save $50 by docking two hours pay could mean you’ll be out thousands in back overtime pay.

  • The Way You See People Is The Way You Treat Them, And The Way You Treat Them Is What They Become
  • Goethe

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

A Difficult Situation

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.” – George Carlin

Believe it or not, I have been asked by several CPA firm leaders over the years about what to do in this unsettling situation.

You have a poor performing employee. The employee is female and she needs to be fired. She is not performing well. You have even put her on a performance enhancement plan that she has failed. Then, before you decide to pull the trigger and fire her, you learn that she is pregnant.

Is it legal to fire her or do you have to wait until she returns to work after maternity leave? It’s a tricky situation and Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady) gives us some great advice.

The bigger issue is that you procrastinated on letting her go in the first place. That is the exact issue I see most often with CPAs.

Use this informative article to help you going forward.

And, please deal with poor performance proactively. Document all performance feedback and be sure someone is not surprised when they are fired.

  • If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.
  • Vince Lombardi

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

Working Remotely Works

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” – Joseph Campbell

I recently noticed a discussion on the CPAFMA discussion board. Someone wanted guidance on designing a remote work policy.  Some firms are really strict about having a documented agreement that outlines the do’s and don’ts of staff working remotely.

I thought a great reply was provided by my friend, Donna Marlarkey, Firm Administrator for KWC in Alexandria, Virginia. The firm doesn’t stress that working remotely is a privilege, it is something offered to everyone. Here is Donna’s reply to the question.

donnaWe have so many staff who work remotely… some even work from other states (we have them in NC, Colorado, North Dakota and Rhode Island). Our staff loves the flexibility of working from home when they need to. We try not to get wound up in whether it is a right or a privilege… as long as the employee is getting their work done.

The courtesy is extended to everyone… from Partners to our administrative staff (to the extent admin staff has work they can do remotely, like billing, setting up new clients, etc.). We are on a cloud and we are mostly paperless, so working from home is no different than working here at the office. We do ask that they update the EIO board to let us know when they intend to work from home so that we can plan for it (the EIO board “electronic in/out” status site that we use to know where our staff are and what their schedule is). 

I had lunch with someone the other day who used to be with BB&T and they worked under the presumption it was a privilege. They made staff sign annual statements that showed their kids were enrolled in daycare, and they had some kind of program that could tell by the lack of keystrokes whether someone was working or not… if someone was home “working” they were supposed to be working, not going to the store, doing laundry, etc.

Our firm takes the position that we want to be competitive, so we want our staff to have options to have work/life balance, so again, as long as the work is getting done, we let them control their schedule. It’s surprising how many of our young staff prefer to work at really odd hours… they will log in at 10:00 at night when they are most productive! 

I wish you all the best with coming up with an agreement that works for you and your firm.

I agree with Donna – I also wish you much success in offering remote work opportunities to your staff.

  • Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.
  • Voltaire

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Hiring of Accounting Graduates Is Down

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

How will this affect your CPA firm?

Bob Dylan’s theme “The Times They Are A-Changin’” continues to apply to the CPA profession.

Acctg grad hiring down

  • If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
  • Maya Angelou