Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

Performance Agreement

“People don’t get promoted for doing their jobs really well, they get promoted by demonstrating their potential to do more.” – Tara Jaye Frank.

You know all about performance, right? In your firm, you often talk about performance feedback or pay for performance.

The meaning of performance is varied but for our purpose, we take it to mean the execution of an action, something accomplished, or the fulfillment of a claim, promise or request.

Your employees want to know what you expect of them. Young people entering the profession want to know what their career path looks like. Maybe you should be using performance agreements to clarify what is expected.

A performance agreement is a tool that establishes expectations and accountability for the execution of certain performance standards. Performance agreements must clearly state agreed-upon objectives and how these will be measured.

Learn about the benefits of performance agreements and what points they should contain here (via Mindtools)

  • "A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes."
  • Mahatma Gandhi.

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

Plan Ahead & Don’t Disappoint

“Punctuality is the politeness of kings.” – Louis XVIII

Life inside an accounting firm can be very hectic at times. When you arrive at the office, you have great plans for your day and expectations of what you will accomplish.

Then, you-know-what happens.

Suddenly, you realize you probably can’t make that meeting with a client, a team member or an employee. You will just have to reschedule that phone conference with the Chair of a committee you are on at a non-profit organization.

Rather than disappoint and cancel on someone at the last minute, make time toward the end of the week to look ahead at the following week’s schedule. Are you over-scheduled? Can you realistically squeeze in that client visit or meeting with the tax committee? Don’t over schedule yourself. If you must cancel or reschedule, give them plenty of notice.

People count on you. Their time is valuable, too. Don’t be a Last Minute Larry or a Procrastinating Polly.

  • "Tardiness often robs us opportunity, and the dispatch of our forces."
  • Machiavelli

Monday, October 1st, 2018

I Love Small Firms

“A big business starts small.” – Richard Branson

I have heard the following numbers mentioned by consultants and AICPA leaders many times. I also use them often. I like to make people working in public accounting aware of the numbers.

There are approximately 46,000 CPA firms in the USA and the 500th largest firm has about 20 people and $3M in revenue. Most recently, I read these numbers via Accounting today in an article by Edward Mendlowitz of Withum. He also notes that small firms outnumber large firms 91 to 1.

In the article, I discovered that he and I have something in common. We like to focus our consulting efforts on smaller firms.

Over the years I have worked directly with over 100 firms and advised and spoken to thousands of CPAs, firm administrators, HR directors, marketing directors and, IT managers. I have a large following for my daily blog and tweets. I have found, much like Mr. Mendlowitz, that small firms need help.

These firms, unlike the larger firms, aren’t big enough to justify hiring full-time support professionals such as HR, marketing, and management professionals. They need and are willing to pay for outside resources that will help them manage better and improve operations.

I find leaders of smaller firms interesting, enthusiastic and receptive to new ideas and methods. Yet, much like accountants in larger firms, they find it very challenging to implement.

Be sure to read the article in the link above.

  • "I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance."
  • Steve Jobs

Friday, September 28th, 2018

The Firm Name

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare

I read an article in the news this morning about Macedonia’s upcoming vote on whether to change the country’s name. If you are a Macedonian, it is a very big deal.

Of course, to me, it brought to mind the name issue within CPA firms especially in this time of merger after merger.

Two things to remember:

  1. If you are in merger discussions with another firm – talk about the name issue early on in those discussions.
  2. Keep it short and simple.

Some firms have adopted names that do not even reflect a partner’s name, such as Apiro and Fluence.

Here’s some explanation about the Apiro name and here’s some insight about Fluence.

Recently, I heard about a firm that actually used six partners names. If your firm name is something like – Smith, Jones, Adams, Brown & Black – I bet your clients call you Smith Jones. Why not brand it?

  • "Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes."
  • Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

There Is A Difference

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

Many firms have done a great job of focusing on employee engagement. But, there is more to the story.

Employee engagement and employee experience are not the same.

Employee experience is how the firm provides the employee with an environment, culture, and systems that meet their needs and enables them to do their work efficiently. Employee engagement is an element of employee experience and involves two-way communication.

Research tells us that there are workplace practices that are critical to creating a positive employee experience. They are:

  • Organizational Trust
  • Co-Worker Relationships
  • Meaningful Work
  • Feedback and Growth
  • Empowerment and Voice
  • Work-Life Balance

Here’s a great article posted on CMSWire by David Roe that will give you some interesting details and help you create an effective employee experience for your people.

  • "It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed."
  • Napolean Hill

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Compensation & Succession

“Do your job and demand your compensation – but in that order.” – Cary Grant

Here’s a heads-up regarding two upcoming webinars sponsored by CPA Leadership Institute and presented by Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory. These two topics are usually at the top of the list of partner issues.

Here’s the information regarding date, time and topic:

October 4, 2018 – 1:00 – 1:50 pm EST – Partner Compensation Methods and Trends Update
I will discuss the most common compensation systems in use today and provide my perspective as a former managing partner of a top 200 firm. I will help you determine what is right for your firm and how a firm evolves from one system to the next as it grows. I will also give you some tips on setting up a performance-based system in your firm and how to align your compensation system to your firm’s strategic plan.
October 10, 2018 – 1:00 – 1:50 pm EST – Surviving Succession – Partner Buyout and Retirement.
If you’re like most firms, your partner agreements have not been reviewed or updated in a long time. That is dangerous given the succession issues in our profession today and the number of baby boomers retiring. I will discuss best practices and latest trends in how to value your practice, how to pay out the retiring partner, building your bench, and successful client transition to the next generation.
  • "Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now."
  • Alan Lakein, author

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

John Wooden Methods

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden

I have used many of John Wooden’s quotations in my blog posts over the years and have mentioned his extraordinary coaching methods several times. The best thing is that Wooden’s coaching basketball methods extend to life AND to life inside a busy accounting firm.

A secret to his success, something that you might not be aware of, is one thing: old-fashioned practice, efficiently run, well-planned, and intentionally executed. Doesn’t that sound like how an audit/review should be done?

Things Wooden did:

  • Noted where racks should be placed so no time was wasted looking for a ball
  • Had players practice shooting without a ball
  • How to put on socks
  • Timed his practices to the minute so time was precisely allocated
  • Kept a record of every practice on notecards – so he could determine what worked and what didn’t
  • Had his players repeat drills until they achieved mastery and then automaticity
  • "I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent."
  • John Wooden

Monday, September 24th, 2018

Hard Worker

“I have no time to waste.” – Jamie Lee Curtis

Are you really a hard worker or do you just spend too much time in the office? When you are there (in the office), are you hustling or are you pacing yourself?

I recently read an interview with Jamie Lee Curtis in Good Housekeeping magazine. I could relate to one response she made – she likes elbow grease – here are some of her comments that might inspire you.

Wash your own car.

A little sweat now will earn you a rewarding rest later. “I’m a hard worker. I’m a hustler,” says Jamie Lee. “I like to invent things, and I like elbow grease. I wash my own car — why have other people do it while I sit on a bench watching them? I want sweat equity. I want it in my mothering, I want it in my marital-ing, I want it in my family-ing, I want it in my friend-ing. You tell me you’re moving, I will show up on moving day. There will be a point where I want to relax and not worry so much about my sweat equity — when I’ve earned my rest.”

Once you have made manager, once you have made partner, are you somewhat resting? Is it below you to fill the printer with paper? Do you clean up your mess at the coffee station? Do you return a client’s phone call within two hours?

By the way, I do not wash my own car!

  • "If you have creative ideas and you don’t bring them out into the world in some way before you go, that is a tragedy."
  • Jamie Lee Curtis

Friday, September 21st, 2018

The 3 Kinds of Partners

“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” – Paulo Coelho

I recently watched a short video featuring my dear friend, Allan Koltin. He describes for us the three kinds of partners (and other CPAs) that we encounter inside CPA firms.

I definitely agree with his observation. The three types are Content, Climber and Crazy.

Watch Koltin’s video here. It’s only 2.21 minutes long and you will definitely be entertained and enlightened. Do you recognize yourself?

By the way – you have and need all three!

  • "To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect."
  • Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

It Arrived! – My Copy of the Rosenberg Survey

fullsizeoutput_42cf“80% of firms never make it to the second generation.” – Marc Rosenberg

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). For example, this year in the Forward section of the survey, Charles Hylan shows us that the average HIGH partner comp in the largest firms is $1,175,000 and the LOW partner comp in smaller firms is $247,000. That’s quite a spread and shows young accountants the possibilities for their career growth. Use the survey to see where your firm is doing well and where you might need to focus some attention. You can order it here.

Be sure to read my comments, along with several other CPA management consultants, in the Observations section beginning on Page 6.

  • "Most firms are still stuck managing the compliance services at the expense of the advisory work."
  • Jeff Pawlow