Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Professional Courtesy – Flashback Friday

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

Has professional courtesy completely disappeared? Do you talk to people and they are not even looking at you, they are looking at their phone or computer. Check out this post from 2019 about what a school is doing to instill professional courtesy in their students.

Have a nice weekend. I love summer!

  • And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Doing Your Best With Virtual Meetings

“No matter what time it is, wake me, even if it’s in the middle of a cabinet meeting.” – Ronald Reagan

I hear it over and over again, CPA firm citizens are suffering from Zoom fatigue. I have experienced some frustrations, too. There are people who never participate, don’t turn on their video on, don’t mute sound and so on.

It is up to the meeting host to facilitate a productive meeting. If you are the host for some meetings, there is a great list of suggestions from Paul McDonald in a recent issue of CPA Practice Advisor. The topics are:

  • No agenda, no meeting
  • Use visual stimuli
  • Have a backup plan
  • Get everyone involved
  • Set some ground rules
  • Video on, sound off
  • Keep to time
  • Show empathy
  • Always follow up
  • Consider alternatives
  • Do check your tech
  • Don’t multitask
  • Do check your background
  • Don’t use speakerphone
  • Do come prepared
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Do connect on a human level

Be sure to follow this link to read the helpful information about each of these bullet points. Become the champion meeting host for your firm!

  • If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings'.
  • Dave Barry

Monday, May 24th, 2021

The Rosenberg Survey

“Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.” – Mitch Kapor

Today I have a message (and reminder) from my friend Charles Hylan:

Welcome to the other side of the tax deadline!
The 2021 Rosenberg Survey is well underway and so far, we’ve received a great response.

Our world has certainly changed and the need to proactively lead your accounting firm cannot be any higher!

The 2021 Rosenberg Survey will include financial results from 2020 and how the accounting profession navigated the pandemic.
Click Here for this year’s Rosenberg Survey Form
For over two decades, The Rosenberg Survey has proven to be the benchmarking standard for mainstream accounting firms across the US and Canada. The Rosenberg Survey provides highly relevant and in-depth analyses and serves as a guide to help your firm make strategic decisions.

See how valuable The Rosenberg Survey is for yourself! The deadline to complete the survey is Thursday, July 15th.

Thank you to those firms who have participated thus far!

Regards,
Charles Hylan
  • Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.
  • Gertrude Stein

Monday, May 17th, 2021

The New CPA Exam

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

They are changing the CPA Exam again. It is shifting to put an increased focus on technology. July 1, 2021 is when this shift in the Exam will take place.

From Accounting Today: As the accounting profession evolves to meet today’s needs, the Uniform CPA Examination is also evolving to reflect these industry changes. On July 1, 2021, the CPA exam is shifting significantly to put a heavier focus on technology, digital mindsets, data analytics, and the other skills that newly licensed CPAs need to succeed. Candidates preparing to take the CPA Exam must take these updates into consideration.

Here’s the informative article, What every candidate needs to know about the updated CPA exam, via Accounting Today. Read it and share it.

I wonder how many CPA partners could pass the exam if they had to take it in 2021. I have often heard partners joke about it (meaning they couldn’t pass it now, let alone after July 1).

  • Study while others are sleeping, Work while others are loafing, Prepare while others are playing, and Dream while others are wishing.
  • William Arthur Ward

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

Topgrading

“If we weren’t still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become some mediocre company.” – Bill Gates

Have you heard of topgrading interviewing? It is something I was not aware of until I read a recent article by Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady).

Per Lucas:

The term topgrading comes from a 1997 article by Bradford D. Smart and his son, Geoffrey, called Topgrading the organization. Their definition is:

“Topgrading simply means proactively seeking out and employing the most talented people available, while redeploying (internally or externally) those of lesser ability or performance. More specifically, we view topgrading as employing only A players.”

Topgrading, to me, seems like something you would want to use when making lateral hires and so many firms are looking for experienced CPAs.

Read more about topgrading here in the article by Lucas. She gives us a 12-step process for hiring.

  • Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture.
  • Howard Schulz, Chairman & CEO of Starbucks

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Strengths

“It’s good to strengthen weakness but better to strengthen your strengths. You hired them for their strengths. Why focus on their weaknesses?” – Dan Rockwell @LeadershipFreak

You hire them because they have an accounting degree, they received good grades and they interviewed well.

You teach and train them to perform the basic duties of an accountant working in public accounting. You provide lots of feedback on what they did wrong along the way.

Of course, they still have some areas where they need to improve. Now, it is time to downplay their weaknesses (no one is perfect) and devote time, energy, and dollars to building on their strengths.

Communication – Maybe they are a poor communicator but they can investigate and solve the most challenging tax issues. Maybe they are a great communicator but they dread having their nose to the grindstone for eight hours.

Problem-solving – Maybe they love the challenge to think outside the box and discover answers to specific challenges. Maybe, when they encounter a problem, they prefer to immediately seek the advice of their manager or other experienced person.

Some no-brainers in an accounting firm – Someone just has a knack for preparing corporate tax returns and another can quickly and accurately work their way throw a long list of individual tax returns. Someone seems simply loves working in the tax area and dreads being drafted to be on an audit team.

Discover each individual’s strengths by enlisting their help and then put people with different strengths on the same engagement team. Most engagement teams need a planner and a doer, etc.

Here’s a good article via Forbes that will help you begin focusing on each of your team members’ strengths.

  • Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.
  • Napoleon Hill

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

Reinvent Yourself

“Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.” – Robert Kennedy

In CPA circles, all the talk lately has been about how to stop being a tax return preparer (or auditor) and become a business advisor.

Simple statement; sounds easy. It isn’t.

Doesn’t matter if it isn’t easy. You have to do it anyway if you hope for your firm to survive into the future.

Jasen Stine, in a recent (and brief) article via Accounting Today, builds an excellent case for change.

Your vision and strategy is your desired destination, and your plan is your roadmap to get there. Step back and ask how you’re going to move forward as a firm. He shares:

Three steps for creating vision and strategy include the following:

  • Bring in thought partners: trusted clients, staff, mentors, and key contacts.
  • Think “ideal state” first.
  • Balance ambiguity and specificity.

He has a valid point – you have to stop giving tax advice with the tax return and give it at the point of need.

Read the article here. Then, get busy creating your firm’s vision and strategy for the future.

  • Artificial Intelligence is the talk of the town these days, and its application to the tax and accounting profession means automating tasks that we are accustomed to billing for by the hour or form.
  • Jasen Stine

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