Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

Communicate Your Thoughts On Hybrid

“Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.” – Linus Pauling

So many firms right now are sticking their toe into the hybrid work schedule waters. Do we or don’t we? How will it look? How will we keep communication and culture strong? Maybe we just go to a four-day workweek. If everyone works whatever schedule they want, will it create chaos? Will client service suffer over the long term? What will we do about the administrative team?

Many decisions need to be made and I hope you can make them quickly. The most important things is to communicate to your team. Don’t leave them wondering all summer long what the firm will do in the Fall.

Here’s a message Tim Cook of Apple sent to the team last week:

In an email to staff, Apple CEO Tim Cook has told office employees that they are expected to return to their workspace three days a week starting in September. The iPhone maker said it wants most office workers to show up Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays. “For all that we’ve been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other,” he wrote in the email. “Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”

What goes through my mind is how will this building look empty for the long term.

  • For now, let me simply say that I look forward to seeing your faces.
  • Tim Cook

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

Keep Connecting

“Perhaps the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen

One of the most beneficial career boosters for CPA firm administrators, practice managers, COOs, HR directors and, managing partners is the practice of networking and connecting with others working in CPA firm management.

The CPA Firm Management Association has nineteen chapters around the country that provide an excellent opportunity to network, connect and continue to learn the best practices in CPA firm management.

For the last year it has been more challenging to keep those important connections alive and well. Of course, Zoom meetings has helped tremendously. Various chapters have tried different methods to keep those professional relationships strong.

I recently heard from Ronda Lawson of the Northern California Chapter about their efforts to facilitate information sharing.

Rita – You are so wonderful about sharing information with all of us, so I thought you might be interested in these notes from our recent NorCal Chapter Roundtable.  We are having a Zoom call monthly, primarily discussing life during the pandemic.  Let me know if you would like to see notes from our future meetings!  – Ronda

I like that they schedule their meetings every month. Even if you have only six or eight people in attendance, the chance to learn from others and share your own challenges is very valuable. The meetings don’t have to take a lot of time. They could be only one or two hours long.

Here are the topics discussed at a NoCal Chapter recent meeting:

  • Are you currently working in the office? Allowing clients in the office?
  • What precautions are you taking to keep the workplace safe?
  • How are you promoting employee engagement for your remote workers? What are you doing to help employees with their mental and emotional health during the pandemic?
  • How are you monitoring productivity for your remote workers?  What are you doing to help managers manage remote workers?
  • How are you handling your administrative team during the pandemic?  Are they working in the office or remotely?  Can they work remotely?
  • What are your plans for reopening if you haven’t already? What criteria will you use to determine when to reopen? Will you continue to have some remote work even when the office reopens?
  • What affect has the pandemic had on your staffing plans?  Have you had lay-offs, salary freezes, furloughs?  Has this changed your hiring plans?  Will you be doing campus recruiting?  Will you be bringing on interns?
  • What changes has your firm made because of the pandemic?  Are they positive?  Will they continue?
  • Other than the ongoing pandemic, what are the biggest challenges your firm is facing right now?

Check back tomorrow to learn more about how this chapter is handling their meetings. I am hopeful that it will prompt you to not ignore your chapter meetings just because you can’t connect in person.

I believe that having virtual CPAFMA Chapter meetings will continue to thrive after COVID. It is an economical and less time-consuming method of meeting (no commuting!). I know that the Ohio Chapter had people driving three hours one-way to attend some of the Chapter meetings.

  • The most important things in life are the connections you make with others.
  • Tom Ford

Monday, March 29th, 2021

Pay Attention to Your CAS Services!

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

Profession experts have been telling you that CAS services are lucrative for you and important to your small business clients. The following is from a Facebook post by Jim Metzler (who most of you know from his many years with the AICPA).

I feel it is important enough to use just as he posted. Click on the link in his post.

From Metzler:

If you don’t think CAS is a game-changer, just read this article. Non CPA competition in non-attest is real and these folks are really impressive. Can’t beat a valuation of over a billion dollars and Jeff Bezos as an investor. CPA continues to be a potential differentiator for us and as a profession, we need to better articulate, communicate and reinforce why the CPA brand is of greater value in this space. Value only exists in the minds of clients and it’s up to us and our professional associations to get the message out there.

CNBC.COMJeff Bezos-backed accounting start-up hits $1.2 billion valuation after new funding round

  • Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.
  • Wayne Gretzky

Friday, March 26th, 2021

Hiring Remote Workers – Flashback Friday

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins

So many CPA firms are looking for experienced team members. This group has always been elusive and continues to be so.

My advice has always been you must grow your own. Hire them out of college (from a pool of interns you have used) and invest significantly in their training and development. As they become experienced, ask them to stretch and take on more difficult work. Don’t let your current managers cling to work.

Here’s a flashback post – Be Open-Minded About Hiring Remote Workers. It references an HBR article that you should read.

  • Every business is having to transform today, no matter the size, it’s up to us to transform to meet those expectations.
  • Barry Melancon

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

Stay Afloat

“Sometimes getting smaller and faster can lead to opportunities and growth we would have missed by being too big and slow.” – Joey Havens, CPA

I always enjoy reading Joey Havens’ articles and posts. His recent article via the Journal of Accountancy, in my opinion, hits the nail on the head. It is titled, Don’t Let Dead Weight Sink Your Ship.

What is going on inside your firm that slows the firm down? What keeps you from being one of the fastest-growing firms? What causes you to lose talented people? What causes you to lose clients to your competitors?

I sometimes talk about partners in a boat. Some are rowing and some are throwing out anchors. A few partners are pulling a heavy wagon up a hill and there are a few who are constantly dragging their feet. These partners are so-called leaders who are not leading. Slowly your boat is sinking.

Then there are the clients who complain about your fees, always pay slowly after much effort is spent trying to collect, and clients who are rude and disrespectful to your team members. I bet you have clients that make you cringe when you see, on your mobile, that they are calling you. You probably do not answer their first call. Slowly, those clients are sinking your boat.

Do you have partners/managers who are not teaching, mentoring, coaching, and motivating? In fact, they are actually driving top talent away. Slowly, your boat is sinking.

Read Havens’ post!

  • Once you know the right thing, do you have the discipline to do the right thing and, equally important, to stop doing the wrong things?
  • Jim Collins

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

Remember When

“People do what people see. Too many leaders send people where they have never been themselves.” – John Maxwell

CPA firm partners, never, never forget what it is like to be the new kid on the block. Think back to your first day in public accounting. How did you feel?

Times have changed. What most of your team members, especially your new hires, are experiencing are things that you did not experience when you were new.

One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habit’s of Highly Effective People is: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

As leaders, make an effort to understand the specific work your various team members are expected to produce. Learn what is most challenging and where most team members struggle.

It is not the same work, done the same way, you did as a beginner twenty-five or more years ago.

As Stephen Covey says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

  • Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
  • Stephen Covey

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

Two Things

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Attributed to Albert Einstein and many others

I have observed that many Certified Public Accountants have similar personality traits. Many accountants are conservative, traditional, reserved, kind, polite, cautious, curious, serious, and professional. They are confident in their knowledge.

Two traits you might be missing – 1) There are some things you do not know and, 2) A willingness to change.

For example, do you know everything about marketing and selling your services? Do you know everything about the kind of technology that will push your firm into the future?

I still encounter firms where there is a “we do it this way because it is tradition and we have always done it this way” mindset among the partner group.

As the old saying goes (above) if you keep doing things the way you have been, you will get the same results you have gotten before.

Do you have initiatives at your firm that you never seem to accomplish? Your leadership group acknowledges the changes that need to be made (usually at a partner retreat). They even draft a strategic plan. Then little if anything gets implemented.

The constant you have is change. It is time – now – to accept the fact that in the business world, the environment has changed and is changing dramatically. Embrace it and look forward not backward. Eliminate your “getting back to normal” thoughts.

  • “The only reason time seems to be moving rather fast is that sometimes we’re too busy living in the past.”
  • Dominic Riccitello

Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

“May you have all the happiness and luck that life can hold—and at the end of your rainbows ay you find a pot of gold.” – Old Irish Blessing

I like this post for St. Patrick’s Day. I have used it a couple of times before. It still applies – So eat some green bagels or cupcakes and have a green beer this evening and think about NOT being green. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Can CPAs relate to Kermit and his tale about:  It’s not easy being green?

As Kermit says, “Wouldn’t it be nicer being red, or yellow or gold?  Green seems like you blend in with so many other ordinary things and people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water.

Perhaps, because you are a CPA you might feel ordinary or under-appreciated.  Well…. YOU ARE NOT!

As Kermit continues, “But green’s the color of Spring and green can be cool and friendly-like and green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree.  When green is all there is to be it could make you wonder why, but why wonder why wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful and I think it’s what I want to be.”

  • My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here.
  • Jim Henson

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

Motivate Your Team

“Issues inside an accounting firm almost always can be traced back to someone’s communication failure.” – Rita Keller

I am very pleased that the AICPA asked me to do a guest blog post. It was featured yesterday on the daily CPA Letter Daily.

Check it out and learn 5 Ways to Motivate Your Team During Tax Season.

Keep in mind that tax season is showtime for CPAs and their teams.

  • People who cease to grow can't inspire others. Leadership begins with challenging oneself.
  • Daisaku Ikeda

Monday, March 15th, 2021

Sharing Information

“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” – Margaret Fuller

One of the ways I progressed in my career in public accounting was to network with others working in the public accounting profession (firm administrators, managing partners, marketing directors, HR directors, IT directors, etc.). We shared information.

Most of this experience came from networking in the Association of Accounting Administration, now called The CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA), and attending management conferences sponsored by state societies and the AICPA.

I also learned so much from the speakers at conferences. These people were usually CPA management consultants. I got to know them and they helped guide me in my early years of consulting. I soon became a speaker and management consultant myself thanks to so many who mentored me.

I became the first female member of the New Horizon Group, a group of experienced CPA management consultants. We met annually to share best practices, etc. Those early members were: August Aquila, Allan Boress, Steve Erickson, Chris Frederiksen, Allan Koltin, Bob Martin, Jeff Pawlow, Marc Rosenberg, Don Scholl, Steve Weinstein and Jim Metzler. I learned so much because we shared information.

That golden opportunity, of learning from others is available to you today if you take advantage of it.

Now, when I encourage people in management positions in CPA firms to attend meetings and conferences, the problem I encounter is the fact that so many people say they are too busy and some people think they already know it all. If you know it all, it is your responsibility to share (and no one ever knows it all).

If you get a chance to attend a CPAFMA Chapter event. Set a goal to attend other management conferences such as the AICPA ENGAGE conference. This year the CPAFMA annual management conference is in conjunction with ENGAGE.

Never stop sharing information and learning from others. After all these years, I am still learning (and sharing).

  • Sharing knowledge is the most fundamental act of friendship. Because it is a way you can give something without losing something.
  • Richard Stallman