Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Monday, October 5th, 2020

After the Retreat

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” – Peter Drucker

Think about how you felt immediately after your last strategic planning retreat. I have observed it first-hand many times. During the wrap-up conversations partners and other attendees feel relieved, enthused, optimistic even happy.

Next, think about how you felt one month after your retreat. Do you even remember that you felt relieved, enthused, optimistic and even happy?

You return to the office and there are voice messages and emails that need attention. There are team members awaiting your return so they can ask questions or obtain your opinion and there are family and other personal commitments you must meet. That is why I strongly urge you to develop specific action steps that will help you accomplish the FEW important initiatives identified at your planning retreat.

Everything is changing so rapidly that it is difficult to really comprehend what your firm will need to do two years from now. To keep your firm moving forward, identify two or three initiatives, document the steps it takes to accomplish each one and commit to getting them accomplished in 12 to 18 months.

It is each participant’s duty to actively participate. See the quotation above. If you don’t commit, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans.

  • Duty is what one expects from others; it is not what one does one’s self.
  • Oscar Wilde

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 29th, 2020

Getting Things Done

“I’ve found that employing even one of these five strategies can save you hours each week.” – Elizabeth Grace Saunders

You always have so much to do. You are busy, busy, busy. There is always a new due date around the corner.

Last week as I talked with several clients about how it felt to have the September 15th due date behind them there was a common theme. They noted, “We still have twenty trusts to get done by September 30 and then there are 75 1040s still to do for October 15th!

You know how this goes in an accounting firm.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders, an internationally recognized expert on effective time management offers us 5 Strategies for Getting More Work Done in Less Time via HBR.

She notes: You’ve got more to do than could possibly get done with your current work style. You’ve prioritized. You’ve planned. You’ve delegated. You’ve tried to focus. The next frontier is increasing your efficiency so that you can spend less time and still do a good job.

The Five Strategies

  1. Clarify Actual Expectations
  2. Re-Use Previous Material
  3. Develop Templates and Checklists
  4. Make it a Conversation
  5. Time Box Your Work

Read about each of them here.

  • Without hustle, talent will only carry you so far.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

It Arrived! My Copy of the Rosenberg Survey

“If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.” – Tom Peters

I always look forward to the day in September each year when my copy of The Rosenberg Survey arrives. That happened yesterday.

I have always found that public accounting is a fascinating profession. It’s challenging, interesting, never boring, and profitable (if your firm is managed properly). 

“This year, the landscape for the accounting profession changed quickly when the pandemic hit,” noted Charles Hylan, CPA and shareholder with The Growth Partnership that partnered with The Rosenberg Associates a few years ago to facilitate the annual survey.

Hylan also noted in the Forward: “As Sun Tzu famously said, ‘In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.'”

It’s up to you, the leaders of CPA firms, to take advantage of the opportunities now facing you. Order your copy of the survey here.

  • A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
  • Francis Bacon

Friday, September 11th, 2020

Who Are You Helping?

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Maya Angelou

Helping is a word to keep in mind as you advance in your career. 

Read more in this brief flashback post for this beautiful Friday. I am in the woods, in a remote cabin with my husband and two of my longtime friends from the CPA profession. I hope your weekend will be as enjoyable as mine.

  • No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.
  • Charles Dickens

Thursday, September 10th, 2020

Get Things Done

“A plan is what, a schedule is when. It takes both a plan and a schedule to get things done.” – Peter Turla

It is planning time for CPA firms. By now, some firms have had their annual partner retreat and others have the retreat scheduled for later this Fall.

CPA partners are very good at planning. At these retreats, they have lively discussions about new ideas brought to the table by the managing partner, marketing director, technology director and especially the firm administrator.

It is the managing partner’s and firm administrator’s job to read about CPA firm management, network with MPs and FAs from other firms and attend CPA management conferences. Then it falls on their shoulders to inform and convince the other partners that to keep pace the firm must do this or do that.

Perhaps, they even leave the retreat with a strong action plan for accomplishing the new whatever. That’s when it comes to the part…. It takes both a plan and a schedule to get things done.

They have the plan but don’t have a schedule. They fail to set hard due dates for completing internal initiatives. The retreat participants return to their daily lives, serving clients, etc.

Implementation of that great idea might even get delayed to next year (and next year, and next year). That’s why you need a strong firm administrator/practice manager, someone who can devote the time and effort to implementation.

  • You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.
  • Tina Fey

Friday, September 4th, 2020

The Role of The Firm Administrator/Practice Manager

“It’s going to be a rough ride, but together I just think we might be able to do it.” Buffalo Bill from the movie Pony Express

Their are many titles for the go-to administrative person in a busy CPA firm. I have been writing about how important they are for years. Even the smallest firms need to identify the person in that role and give them the title.

Here’s a flashback post about the different levels. In case you are not aware, the CPA Firm Management Association now encourages the title – Practice Manager rather than Firm Administrator.

  • I have so much I want to do. I hate wasting time.
  • Stephen Hawking

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

Difficult People

“If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.” – John W. Gardner

In my firm, I remember people asking to attend those personal improvement seminars that were advertised by flyers arriving in the U.S. Mail.

They were one-day seminars sponsored by some seminar organization. It was usually focused on things like improving your communication skills, how to supervise people if you were a first-time supervisor, time management techniques, etc. They were very affordable and many people did gain some benefit.

There was one that always caught the attention of my admin team and some beginning staff members – – How To Work With Difficult People!

The team would say, “This is one we really need to attend!” It was more or less a joke for them but I believe they were really trying to express the frustration they felt with some partners/managers.

I wonder how the people feel in your firm. Maybe you need a lunch and learn on this topic!

  • When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.
  • Dale Carnegie

Monday, August 31st, 2020

What People Think About Working From Home

“No one on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time in the office.'” – Paul Tsongas

Here are some interesting stats from a recent survey of people working from home. I wonder what your accounting firm team members think about the new normal?

JDP recently surveyed more than 2,000 Americans who typically work in offices who are now working from home full-time to try and learn more about this pandemic-spurred era of remote work.

Here’s what they found:

  • 77% of those surveyed said they are working different hours from home than they would at the office. 66% said they are more likely to work nights and weekends than before. 
  • 67% of Americans surveyed said their productivity is the same or better when working from home, although 54% reported more distractions working from home. 
  • 42% said they are working less than usual from home. 33% reported working more. 25% reported working the same. 
  • Those who are working more said it was hard to keep boundaries between work and home life as the main reason why. Those working less reported having less work to do. 
  • A whopping 92% of respondents said they believe their boss trusts them working from home…and 86% say they’ve taken advantage of their freedom while working remotely. 

Learn more from the full report.

  • You will never be truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.
  • Heather Schuck

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

A Zoom Agreement

“I don’t do meetings.” – Karl Lagerfeld

Here’s a post from Seth Godin that I just had to share. Zoom meetings are an important communication tool but I bet you have been on some that are disorganized and tiresome. Maybe this will help guide your meetings:

TOWARD A ZOOM AGREEEMNT

If you promise not to check your email while we’re talking, we promise to not waste your time.

If you agree to look me in the eye and try to absorb the gist of what I’m saying, I agree to be crisp, cogent and on point.

If you are clear about which meetings are a waste of time for you to attend, we can be sure to have them without you.

If you can egg me on and bring enthusiasm to the interaction, I can lean into the work and reflect back even more energy than you’re contributing.

The purpose of a meeting is not to fill the allocated slot on the Google calendar invite. The purpose is to communicate an idea and the emotions that go with it, and to find out what’s missing via engaged conversation.

If we can’t do that, let’s not meet.

Multi-tasking isn’t productive, respectful or healthy.

  • 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