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

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

Think Time

“Take a rest. A field that has rested yields a beautiful crop.” – Ovid

I recently read a tweet by Chris McClure: “Sitting quietly is the conduit for receiving a million great ideas.”

CPAs in public practice (and the people who work for them) seem to never have time to actually sit quietly and do nothing. I assume they did when they were children and maybe even teenagers but they seem to have forgotten how.

They blame it on due dates, clients, and the IRS. I hear the we-are-so busy and the we-are-slammed comments over and over again.

In this kind of work environment, it is difficult to find time to sit quietly and let your mind wander. You must take positive steps to find the time to just think. You HAVE the time, it is just a matter of how you spend it.

Think about it, do minutes or even hours slip through your fingers every day? Why not budget just 20 minutes a day to sit quietly? I do it first thing in the morning, sipping a cup of coffee. It sometimes amazes me how interesting thoughts and ideas creep through my mind when I allow time for it to happen.

  • "Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they started."
  • David Allen

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Accounting Graduates

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Lawrence Bossidy

There are reports that tell us that the number of accounting graduates being hired is steadily declining. Yet, many firms are still saying that they need people.

In some firms, the “need people” has come to mean they need more non-accounting graduates, such as people with more advanced technology skills.

Per Todd Shapiro, CEO of the Illinois CPA society says, in an article via Accounting today: “Hiring of accounting graduates is down 30 percent. That’s a massive decline in hiring of accounting graduates by CPA firms. This isn’t companies that traditionally haven’t hired accounting graduates that aren’t CPAs. These are accounting firms.”

I was surprised by this statement from Barry Melancon a few years ago: Today we are a profession of CPA-led firms, not CPA firms. Two-thirds of the employees in all firms are non-CPAs.

Shapiro notes that firms are hiring more non-accounting graduates. It only makes sense to me that accounting students need to be sure that they have more advanced technology skills than at any time in the past.

If you didn’t read the article by Michael Cohn (via Accounting Today), you should.

  • "You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world…but it requires people to make the dream a reality."
  • Walt Disney

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

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Your Foundation

“The important thing is that you’ve got a strong foundation before you start to try to save the world or help other people.” – Richard Branson

Does your CPA firm have a solid foundation?

I often talk about the internal workings of a firm as the foundational issues. Do you have effective and efficient processes and procedures as it relates to client service and also how it relates to human resources issues? If there are many different ways to accomplish client work, it cannot be as efficient as having one way, the FIRM way. In too many firms, the way work is completed depends on the partner-in-charge of the client engagement.

Of course, there are other foundational issues relating to the services you offer and the needs of your clients. Those issues are changing. The once-solid foundation of the CPA profession consisting of accounting, tax, and audit is becoming rather shaky!

Joey Havens, CPA, CGMA, is the executive partner at HORNE LLP. He offers us a closer look at your foundation in his article, Five Ways Firms Can Solidify Their Business Foundation via the AICPA, CPA Insider. Take a few minutes to read his tips.

  • "Great persons are great because of good, strong foundations on which they were able to build a character."
  • Alfred Armand Montapert

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

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Working From Home

“Unfortunately, most accounting firms were not ready for ‘stay at home orders.’ – – Gary Boomer

There has been so much written about how to more efficiently work from home. It involves a lot of small details and some big decisions.

The progressive firms that I know have provided the technology needed for their teams to work from home for years but they did not expect that suddenly EVERYONE would be working from home.

Recently, via Accounting Today’s Boomer’s Blueprint, Gary Boomer gives us 10 tips for working from home. Listed below are the 10 Tips titles. Be sure to read Boomer’s comments about each topic.

  • Bandwith
  • Connection
  • Lighting
  • Background
  • Microphone
  • Camera
  • Mute or Stay open
  • Interruptions
  • Use a desk
  • View

Boomer notes that the biggest obstacle is paper. For years, way too many firms have told me “we are sort of paperless.” He also notes that the biggest advantage is the cloud.

  • "To collaborative team members, completing one another is more important than competing with one another."
  • John C. Maxwell

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

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Maybe You Don’t Get It?

“I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” – Socrates

Here’s a Friday Flashback Post. It is a reminder that maybe some people think you just don’t get it.

Partners might not realize how long it actually takes to do a certain engagement. They “don’t get it.”

A 20-something staff person doesn’t realize how important it is for CPA professionals to be able to write a memo without misspellings and poor grammar. They “don’t get it.”

Read more here.

Have a nice weekend!

  • "Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance."
  • Robert Quillen