Friday, July 24th, 2020

Is It Time To Retire? – Flashback Friday

This week, for Flashback Friday, I have selected a post from February, this year. It was before the you-know-what hit the fan. Maybe retirement is now on your mind more than ever.

Here’s the post:

IS IT TIME TO ACTUALLY RETIRE?

In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned that I had recently re-read Tuesdays with Morrie.

One of Morrie’s wise sayings was:

“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”

He was talking about life. To me, because I have worked with so many Baby Boomer CPAs over the years, it is something that applies to their retirement.

Many are in denial about retirement. They plan to work until they drop. Very short-sighted, indeed. There is so much more in life to experience if you wish it so.

Several situations I know about involve partners retiring but they do not quit working at the firm.

A couple of others involve 80-somethings continuing to come into the office even though they are not able to use the technology any longer.

My advice: Don’t hang on too long.

  • "It's not too late to develop new friendships or reconnect with people."
  • Morrie Schwartz

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Helping

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

The above quote is another one that immediately reminded me of CPAs.

When you are a recent college graduate with an accounting degree you just want to get hired and begin to explore your career in public accounting. It is an exciting time, a stressful time. You work hard, and often long hours, to become more knowledgeable and to gain skills in dealing with clients, peers and bosses. It takes both hands… and a lot more.

Helping is a word to keep in mind as you advance in your career. When you began, you soon discovered that you were needed to help others. You became the person that new hires came to with questions and depended on for guidance.

When you became a manager and then, perhaps, a partner, you found that you had matured and began to think more like the above quote. You do not sell something to clients, you help them become more successful. You still use one hand to advance your own success but you never forget to use the other hand to mentor and coach your team and to advise and guide your clients.

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

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

Fake Deadlines

“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?” Seth Godin

Every so often, I feature a complete post from Seth Godin. I do it because I feel like it has special meaning for those of you involved in the management of a public accounting firm.

Have you ever established a fake deadline for tax due dates? I know some of you have. Here is Godin’s post titled Fake Deadlines:

FAKE DEADLINES

Slack enables systems to function with more efficiency. That’s because unavoidable delays and errors compound in a system that doesn’t have enough buffer space.

But fake deadlines don’t solve this problem. Fake deadlines exist when we can’t trust others (or ourselves) to be clear about our progress or prioritize honestly. So we invent a date before we actually need something to arrive.

The challenge is that fake deadlines compound. Once someone on another project realizes that they’ve been outfoxed by a fake deadline, they’ll simply escalate their urgency as well. Or perhaps the provider realizes that we’ve been faking the deadlines, and so now there’s a whole new level of guessing about what the real deadline is.

Professionals don’t need fake deadlines and don’t respect them. Instead, we have the chance to build in appropriate slack, get our priorities straight and keep our promises.

  • "Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from."
  • Seth Godin

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

COOs, Firm Administrators, Marketing & HR Directors

“That leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less”.  – John Maxwell

In the CPA firm world, if you are a support professional such as a firm administrator/practice manager, COO, HR director, marketing director, or chief information officer, you are not a partner in the firm.

Yet, you are a leader and although you might not have the power that goes along with being a partner, you have something that is just as powerful. You have influence. You gain influence by being a role model.

You can accomplish just as much, and probably more, with influence as the partners can with power. You use positive affirmation and encouragement to get people to do things and to buy-in to change.

You lead with influence by getting to know people. You are the one who knows everyone’s name, their spouse’s name, and even their kids’ names. You always have a positive attitude. You are a mentor to others, officially and unofficially. Recognizing people is something you continually do.

You also use your great power of influence in an upward manner. You might not be able TO MAKE partners change but you can apply constant, gentle, pressure to influence them to change. It works!

So, don’t worry about power. Utilize the influence you have and use it to your advantage and to move your firm and its people forward.

  • "Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means."
  • Albert Einstein

Monday, July 20th, 2020

The Rosenberg Survey

“Great firms continually reinvent themselves.” – Marc Rosenberg

Want to know more about what is going on in the CPA profession? Take part in the Rosenberg Survey and receive key information about how you stack up with your colleagues in the CPA profession.

ONLY TWO WEEKS LEFT!

For over a decade, The Rosenberg Survey has provided accounting firms with key benchmark statistics. Did you know? The Elite Firms from our 2019 survey (firms with income per partner > $500k) had the following metrics:

  • Ratio of staff to equity partner – 8.8
  • Net fees per equity partner – $2,410,918

The Survey has dozens of other metrics from the elite firms so be sure to participate!
Why is The Rosenberg Survey Valuable? 

  • Customized comparison of like sized firms in similar markets for participating firms.
  • Accurate and valid results reviewed by three CPAs.
  • Reliable year-over-year comparisons, 89% of the firms in our 2019 survey also participated in 2018.
  • Robust pool of over 310 participants makes our data relevant to firms of all sizes.
  • Clear cut data displayed by firm size for comparison.

Click Here to Participate in 2020 Rosenberg Survey

  • "80% of firms never make it to the second generation."
  • Marc Rosenberg

Friday, July 17th, 2020

Flashback Friday – Tax Season is Over

“We must care for each other more, and tax each other less.” – Bill Archer

We all know that the “normal due dates” for taxes like March 15 and April 15 never means that it’s over, that you don’t have to worry about your client’s taxes for another year.

To celebrate July 15th this year, here’s a fun flashback. Now, I hope you have a real weekend and that many of you have closed your offices this Friday in July to thank your people.

  • "We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly."
  • Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

Need A Degree?

“Just because I don’t have a college degree doesn’t mean I am not smart.” – Emma Stone

Are you only hiring people for your CPA firm who have a degree?

I have observed that in many accounting firms there are many people who do not have a college degree. On the other hand, I have also observed, in some accounting firms, even the administrative people have a degree.

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.

I found this stat to be quite eye-opening. Clients need all kinds of services to help their businesses grow and prosper, not just what a licensed CPA can provide. Many of you are already providing pension administration, M&A consulting, employee benefits, HR consulting, technology services, and so on.

With Client Accounting Services (CAS) becoming more and more lucrative, many firms are desperate for experienced bookkeepers and they are almost always people without a four-year degree.

Does it really require a degree to do much of the work inside a CPA firm?

You may have noticed that many college graduates are being hired to do jobs that their parents could get right out of high school.

Read this informative article via Inc. – Why Your Barista Probably Has a College Degree

  • "I don't have a college degree, and my father didn't have a college degree, so when my son, Zachary, graduated from college, I said 'My boy's got learnin'!"
  • Robin Williams

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

How Do You Come Across?

“Let us be more simple and less vain.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I recently read an eye-opening article via HBR titled, “Working with People Who Aren’t Self-Aware.” Guess what? It describes many people I have met in the CPA profession!

How many of your partners are not self-aware? HBR discovered that although 95% of people think they are self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.

A staff person in a client firm described a partner as being un-self-aware. The partner talked too much, just constant chatter about his ideas and opinions that were more important than anyone else’s. In a two-person conversation with this partner, you could turn your back, go back to work on your computer and the partner would simply continue to talk, talk, talk, never realizing that you had heard enough!

Some of your un-self-aware team members can be helped. First, find out how others feel so you can determine if they are really unaware.

Here’s a list from the article:

  • They won’t listen to, or accept, critical feedback.
  • They cannot empathize with, or take perspective of, others.
  • They have difficulty “reading a room” and tailoring their message to their audience.
  • They possess an inflated opinion of their contributions and performance.
  • They are hurtful to others without realizing it.
  • They take credit for successes and blame other for failures.

There is a big difference between the unaware and the Aware-Don’t-Care individuals. Read the entire article to see if you can help the people in your firm who are not self-aware. You might not cure them but you can minimize their impact.

I believe most CPAs are self-aware and care about others. The people who are Aware-Don’t-Care people usually don’t last long in an accounting firm.

  • "Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying."
  • St. Vincent de Paul

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

Take Care of Your People

“Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that.” – Herb Kelleher

I have often written about Herb Kelleher and I used his quotes often in the many presentations I did over the years. The reason is…… he believed in taking care of your people!

It has been very trying times. Your people have done the best they could with the situation that was forced upon them. They worked (and are working) diligently to serve clients fully and passionately.

As a firm leader, it your job to not only take care of clients but also take care of your people. Don’t put them at a lower position on your priority list.

Let them know you care. Let them know you appreciate how hard they are working. Let them see you… use video chats. Some employees would be simply amazed if they got a video invitation from the managing partner.

Other non-CPA professionals… marketing directors, HR directors, firm administrators, technology leaders… touch base with individual team members whenever possible. It would be good for them and also good for you. You don’t want them to forget you exist!

Show your team (and our peers) your passion for life and work. Show them your kindness, your sense of humor and your sense of true teamwork.

How about just simply sending individual emails to team members thanking them for being on your team?

  • "Power should be reserved for weightlifting and boats, and leadership really involves responsibility."
  • Herb Kelleher

Monday, July 13th, 2020

Business Development

“Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

Times have changed and the pandemic has caused marketers to rethink their activities and strategies.

Sales calls are becoming a thing of the past. Plus, a prospective client already knows SO MUCH about the firm because they study your website and check you out on social media.

In a very informative article in the July issue of Inside Public Accounting (I hope you have read your copy), Carrie Steffen, founder, and president of The Whetstone Group says relationships can be nurtured even if meetings aren’t in person.

  • Check in with clients (use Zoom)
  • Check in with prospects and referral sources (organize a virtual networking lunch).
  • Move forward (if a prospect check-in meeting goes well, pursue the relationship further).
  • Use technology (be proficient with your video software – no fumbling around! Email is also still a good tool.)
  • Find profitable opportunities. (Revisit your definition of an “A” client and match prospects to the profile.)

Read the entire article for much more information. It is titled, Business Development In A Recession: Outrun The Competition With A Digital Strategy And Strong Relationships

  • "Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you."
  • Thomas Jefferson