Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

Hiring & Managing People

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” – Richard Branson

I certainly enjoyed being involved in the CPAFMA Accelerator Sessions this week. It was such an honor to be on the agenda both days with some very awesome people. The Accelerator sessions caused me to think about my own list of current issues and trends.

  • The digital transformation of work has finally arrived. It is amazing how much firms accomplished in such a short time.
  • Firm leaders have realized that a hybrid model that combines in-person and remote work actually works well and it will permanently lower the number of people in the office.
  • It has been widely discussed that firms will be reducing the amount of office space. Some have already begun this process. See the next bullet.
  • About 77% of respondents to the third-quarter AICPA Business & Industry Economic Outlook Survey said they planned to keep their office square footage. Only about 18% planned a reduction, despite the potential savings.
  • The pandemic caused us to reset and rethink the ways we hire and manage people. A demand for thorough hiring that is probably different from how you have always done it. Interview questions that provide you with meaningful information will become more important. You will need to train your interviewers.
  • Hiring & managing remote people should be done in a consistent manner. You might soon see a new position in your firm “Head of Remote Work” – larger firms already have positions like chief people officer or chief culture officer.
  • Look for people who can self-manage
  • Prospective employees may be talented – people are born with various talents – but are they able to use their talent to build the skills necessary to be successful in public accounting?
  • Trust on both sides – partners & staff – will become even more important.
  • CPA firms are looking for experienced people. One reason is that they aren’t prepared to hire new college grads who are completely green – they haven’t developed a plan on how to train them yet. Some firms have already mastered this!
  • Don't criticize, condemn, or complain.
  • Dale Carnegie

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, January 14th, 2019

CAS – Client Accounting Services

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

I have been talking to my clients a lot recently about CAS (Client Accounting Services). To me, for many firms, it is something that they should pursue. Even many of the Top 100 firms are using it and capitalizing on a growing and profitable opportunity.

Smaller firms seem to be less enthusiastic. For most smaller firms, it does require a digital transformation, elevating technology into a much broader role. Jim Boomer of Boomer Consulting, in a recent article, describes digital transformation:

Digital transformation

First is digital transformation. Moving up the continuum of value from transactional and compliance work to performance and strategic services requires elevating technology a much broader role. We must automate “low or no value” steps in the processes to improve the client experience.

Technology is the foundation of your firm’s ability to move up the continuum of value. So start assessing and evaluating available technologies and considering how your existing clients can benefit from new technologies.

No single software will have all the features to meet the needs of every client. Start with a primary, comprehensive accounting software and then use other add-on solutions that integrate with your main accounting software. This will provide the efficiency gains of automation.

If you want your firm to move from compliance to advisory services, Boomer also warns that your business model must also change. You need to address things like:

  • Value pricing
  • Marketing
  • Staffing
  • Client interaction

Read Jim Boomer’s informative article here.

 

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

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Gender Study

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” – Malala Yousafzai

The AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee recently released the results of their 2nd annual CPA Firm Gender Study.

women-cpa-firms-gender-survey-768x493There has been little change. Women still make up less than one-quarter of partners in public accounting firms.

As usual, the smaller the firm, the more female partners.

Here’s some info from the Executive Summary but I urge you to review the entire report and share it among your partner group.

  • Partnership on average remains overwhelmingly male, with women representing only 22% of partners in CPA firms.
  • A growing percentage of women are serving as directors or non-equity partners.
  • Only 47% of firms have a formal succession planning process and only 2% include a formal gender component in their plans.
  • Flexible work hours are the most popular program, followed by reduced hours and telecommuting.

Women are key to succession for male partners. Make sure your firm is working on, or already has, a plan to help women (and men) to become future owners of your firm.

Here’s a link to the members of the AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee members. Maybe someone from your firm should volunteer for the committee.

  • Instead of looking at the past, I put myself ahead twenty years and try to look at what I need to do now in order to get there then.
  • Diana Ross

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Received My Copy! – The Rosenberg Survey

“There is strength in numbers, but organizing those numbers is one of the great challenges.” – John C. Mather

Have you ordered yours? Order it here.

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It is loaded with helpful and interesting statistics plus observations from top CPA profession consultants.

 

 

 

  • If you have a dream, you can spend a lifetime studying, planning, and getting ready for it. What you should be doing is getting started.
  • Drew Houston

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Maybe a Sabbatical Program Would Make Your Firm Unique

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

In the accounting profession, we have been talking about sabbaticals for years. Few firms offer this benefit.

Some firms established a sabbatical program for partners, urging them to take six weeks away from the office with NO CONTACT. The mission being to prove to the partner that they could get along just fine without them and client service would not suffer. These types of programs were a half-hearted attempt at succession planning. Honestly, I haven’t heard of many firms offering sabbaticals in any form. It seems CPAs love to work!

Rather than focusing on partners, why not establish a sabbatical program for your team members. Maybe it would differentiate you from your competitors and help retain top talent.

Kabbage_logo_wo_tag_vertKabbage®, the pioneering financial services technology, and data platform, out of Atlanta is offering a unique benefit to its employees. Perhaps, you can learn from them.

Kabbage is now offering a sabbatical option for team members who have been with the company for 5+ years. And it’s quite the package – a 6-week sabbatical that is fully paid plus the company gives a $6k stipend to encourage its employees to do something memorable ( a trip of a lifetime?)

Check out their career webpage. They offer:

Dynamic Environment
Daily catered lunches, ice cream freezer & snacks
Dog-friendly office
Cold/brewed coffee & beer on tap
Onsite fitness & meditation classes
Adjustable sit/stand desks

Competitive Benefits
Unlimited PTO
Equity in the company
Full coverage of individual health benefits
Six-week sabbatical program
Free parking
Annual bonus

Learning & Development
Shadowing program
More than 20 onsite courses
Interactive career development
Leadership development
Mentoring program

All of this makes me ask the big question. How does your firm’s career webpage stack up?

  • Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Mom, Manager, Mentor… Maniac?

Lindsay“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou

One of my favorite sessions from PSTech this year was “Mom, Manager, Mentor…Maniac?” by Lindsay Stevenson, CPA.

I so often hear sad… should I say “sob” stories from women in accounting. They, and often rightly so, are challenged by the difficulties facing them as CPAs trying to advance their careers and the important life role of mother and wife.

That’s why Lindsay’s presentation was so refreshing and inspiring. She didn’t mince words about the difficulties but she was so energetic and positive about the fact that women, working in the CPA profession, can succeed in both roles. She provided a lot of good information and strategies that are helpful to finding work/life integration specific to mothers.

Female CPAs, you can do it too – you can succeed in both roles. What you learn as a mom can also apply to your role as manager at your firm.

Join your local women’s initiative groups or the one sponsored by your state CPA society. Continually reach out to other working moms and seek positive, can-do mentors.

Don’t just let things happen to you – blaze your own trail.

 

  • The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
  • Amelia Earhart

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Happy

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde

I’m sure you have heard the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. It is from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack album and has been immensely popular. Here’s the lyrics to the chorus:

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

While we often moan and groan about the challenging work inside a CPA firm and the long hours (at times), I believe things have definitely changed for the better and CPA firm employees are happy. While performing my survey work for various accounting firms, I have found that most employees really are pleased with their work and proud of their firm.

Employees in most progressive CPA firms can now wear jeans on Fridays and in some firms every day. Firm leaders are involving all levels of employees in major firm decisions and if they have to work late to meet the needs of a client, they can do so from the comfort of their own home.

There is an interesting article via the Journal of Accountancy titled:  How To Increase CPAs Happiness On The Job. Happiness researcher, Marsha H. Huber, CPA, Ph.D administered a survey on happiness to 1,200 CPAs in various industries asking them questions about topics including their satisfaction at work and in life and whether they found their work meaningful.

She discovered three factors

HOPE – She found the most important ingredient for job satisfaction to be hope – the belief in a better professional future based on concrete goals and multiple paths through which to achieve them.

CALLING – It’s a sense of purpose, excitement, and passion.

AUTONOMY – Nobody wants to be stuck in a job with no freedom.

Be sure to read the entire article and assess the conditions inside your own firm. The go get Happy!

 

  • Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.
  • Dalai Lama

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Advancing Your Brand

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos

Last week, the Ohio Society of CPAs unveiled their new brand. I love the “Advancing the State of Business” focus and the video that talks about what CPAs in Ohio really do to help Ohio advance the state of business.

CPAs in all states are really doing the same thing.

I want to share the video and I hope you’ll take three minutes to watch it.

Is this the year that your firm needs to rebrand itself? Is your logo stale and out-dated? Winning client opportunities and attracting top talent is ALL about your brand. What are people in your business community saying about you?

Whether you do a rebrand or not, why don’t you do a similar video to help your clients understand how you can help them move their business forward. Put the video on your website and use social media to “drive” people to your website. Mention the video to current clients and ask them to share it with their business friends

  • If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.
  • Howard Schultz

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Best Accounting Firms To Work For In North America

Each year Vault.com, a company that provides in-depth intelligence on what it’s really like to work within an industry, company, or profession, unveils it’s Vault Accounting 50 – a listing of the 50 best firms to work for.

See the complete 2016 list of 50 firms here.

  • If you don't build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.
  • Dhirubhai Ambani