Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

Dementors

“You control your own life. Your own will is extremely powerful.” – J. K. Rowling

I am assuming you are familiar with Harry Potter. I read all the books and watched all the movies. J. K. Rowling created a fascinating world. Let’s take a somewhat light-hearted look at how Dementors might apply inside your firm.

When you read the following meaning of Dementors, I wonder what it brings to mind.

Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. … If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself – soulless and evil.

I know I am weird, but it brings to my mind, some managers in CPA firms who seem to “suck the life out of people.” Thankfully, it doesn’t apply to all managers.

Some Managers are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the accounting firms that are stuck in the past and glory in the status quo. They drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. If they can, the Manager will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like themselves – uncaring and demanding.

J. K. Rowling has revealed that the inspiration for Dementors came from her bout with severe depression before her phenomenal success. She described the feeling as an “absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope.”

I have said all of that to remind you that, as firm owners, you must invest in the non-technical training and education of your managers. Managers need to be people developers. In some firms, they are simply highly-trained technicians charged with getting the most work out of subordinates. They don’t know how to build strong relationships and engage with the people they supervise.

I’ve been working in public accounting for decades. I have heard many stories about inadequate managers. And yes, they have been described as “sucking the life out of people.” I have also heard the same about some partners.

  • "We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better."
  • J. K. Rowling

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Build A Marketing Culture

“Doubt is a killer. You just have to know who you are and what you stand for.” -Jennifer Lopez

As baby boomers retire and many of them have already, the firm is usually faced with a shortage of rainmakers. Of course, their knowledge and experience with technical work are also missed.

Firms have spent many years and a lot of money developing technical experts. But, have they spent many years and lots of money developing rainmakers? The answer is no.

It is so important to instill the responsibility and expertise for bringing in new business in everyone working at the firm, especially the younger accountants. I have observed that firm leaders don’t begin early enough to develop future rainmakers. Here are some suggestions on how to build enthusiasm for marketing.

Marketing Education From Day One – As part of orientation, be sure your new hire spends some time with your marketing director (or firm administrator) to learn about firm marketing efforts. One marketing director gives the newbies a “tour” of the marketing closet, showing them the firm marketing collateral and giving them their business cards on the first day. Set a goal for them to distribute their business card to twenty people their first week at the firm. Assure them that they can give it to friends and even relatives, just for the practice. The marketing director has a lot to teach new hires.

Provide Opportunities to Practice – Organize a marketing skills lunch and learn for staff. At my firm, we even talked about the proper way to shake hands and had them practice with each other. Have them develop their elevator speech (how they quickly describe what they do and who they work for in an informative and brief way).

Establish Accountability – A simple, easy-to-use marketing activity report is an important tool for new staff. Sometimes, even managers need marketing education. The marketing activity report is submitted to the marketing director every month.

Leaders Setting The Example – Young people learn from observing others. Do all your partners frequently attend community and business events? Are your partners writing articles for the firm newsletter? Do you have some partners who blog, tweet, or do podcasts?

Always Have A Shadow – Partners and more experienced accountants should always offer to take a beginner along on a prospect meeting. When you have a lunch meeting with a current client, invite a beginner. You can flatter your important client by saying, “Today I have asked Ned Newbie to join us for lunch. He is new to the firm and just learning how CPAs work. I thought he could learn benefit from attending a lunch meeting with an important client like you.”

Building the enthusiasm for marketing doesn’t happen naturally for accountants. Don’t wait until a manager is being considered for partnership before they know that bringing in business is an expectation.

  • "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."
  • Zig Ziglar

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

Are You Hiring? Maybe Paro Is The Answer.

“We wanted to create a platform where freelancers could connect with the right client.” – Chad Taylor, Paro

The question in the title is really a stupid question. Every firm I talk to is looking for qualified people to help the firm provide exceptional client service. Some firms are so desperate that they are considering outplacing some clients. That probably needed to be done anyway, but considering not to take on new clients could be a disaster in the making.

So, how will you get through the 2022 busy season? Some firms have turned to Paro to obtain experienced tax and accounting skills. I have talked to clients who use Paro and they were very pleased.

I talked with Chad Taylor of Paro to get a better understanding of how they work. Here is the landing page for Paro For CPA Firms. Paro is a talent marketplace for US-based accounting professionals (freelancers). I learned that not just anyone can join their network – – they have to be vetted. They do test projects and they accept about 3 to 4% of those who apply. If you are matched with a person, you get to meet them and interview them before making a decision. They already have an onboarding process so that they can make sure it is a successful bridge between the firm and the freelancer.

Paro might not be the answer for you but it is worth exploring.

Following is information from their promo material:

The CPA Firm Solution to Staffing Capacity Challenges

What Paro Delivers

  • Highly vetted tax preparers, tax reviewers, accountants & auditors
  • Qualified experts with the precise skills, technical experience & credentials you need
  • Candidate matching in as little as 24 hours, driven by AI technology
  • Account management support to ensure successful project outcomes
  • Comprehensive guides & checklists for onboarding remote contractors

What Your Firm Will Gain

  • Flexible, convenient subject matter expertise to relieve workload compression
  • Seamless onboarding thanks to perfect-fit matching for your needs
  • Highly efficient support from public accounting experts
  • Cost savings compared to underutilized full-time staff
  • Pioneer the future of accounting via remote staff augmentation

  • "I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability, or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life."
  • Dean Koontz

Monday, August 30th, 2021

How Does A Prospective New Client View Your Firm?

“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” – Steve Jobs

Those of you who know me, know that I am, and always have been, an Apple fan. I had the first Mac when it looked like a little robot box and of all things, it had something called a Mouse! Our son had an Apple IIe when he was in middle school. I wish I had bought stock back then!

I came across a great article via Inc. A story about a Windows devotee who had an Apple Store experience. Take a few minutes and read it. See if there is something you can learn about client service from the story.

I love this one sentence in the article, “I’m deathly allergic to inauthenticity.”

Here’s the story, “I Spent $2,000 at the Apple Store and Got an Invaluable Lesson in Consumer Psychology.”

  • "You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out."
  • Steve Jobs

Friday, August 27th, 2021

Who Do You Want To Be Around? – Flashback Friday

“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” – Mark Twain

You are easing into the hectic “Fall busy season.” This flashback post was written just before Labor Day in 2014 and asks you to look around and see who you are hanging out with.

You have a choice about which people to surround yourself with.

  • "Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."
  • James Baldwin

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

“THE” Exam

“Students are struggling to afford that fifth year of school.” – Daniel Hood 

There are a lot of discussions recently about the difficulty of passing the CPA Exam and requiring five years of education (the 150-hour rule) to become a CPA. These are the reasons college accounting majors are giving for not going into public accounting.

Accounting Today editor-in-chief, Dan Hood puts this dilemma in question form to all of you out there. He asks, “Is it too hard to become a CPA?” He notes that CPA profession leaders/consultants say that the number of students in accounting dropped from 2% in 1990 to 1% in 2000. The 90s is when the 150-hour rule became prominent in many states. The Exam itself is widely known to be very grueling. What could be the answer?

Read the article and give him your personal feedback.

In my personal opinion (and please note, I am not a CPA but have worked with them for over 40 years), the extra year of education is a waste of money and effort. I have never been able to see how that extra year made incoming recruits any better prepared than those that came before them. The CPA Exam should be on the “grueling” side. Clients rely on CPAs for their amazing expertise and advice. If they want to remain “the most trusted advisor” they not only have to prove their current knowledge, they have to commit to LIFE LONG learning to add to that knowledge.

  • "The CPA profession is facing serious staffing challenges and long-term threats around its ability to attract future professionals."
  • Daniel Hood

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

Punctuality

“Lots of professional jobs require punctuality.” – Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady)

Punctuality still matters. Even if you are working a flexible schedule or a hybrid culture, professionals are judged on their punctuality. You ARE a professional.

I’ve blogged about it SO many times:

January 8, 2020 – – – January 18, 2019 – – – March 11, 2021. Do a search on the right side of this webpage to find more of my blogs about punctuality.

Adopt the marching band member commitment, “If you are on time, you are late. If you are early, you are on time.”

Read Suzanne Lucas’ article: Why punctuality Absolutely Still Matters–Even For Remote Jobs.

  • "Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late."
  • Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

Your Value Proposition

“When you bring your best to the table, no matter where you are or what you are doing, you bring out the best in others. And soon, you start to realize, that, in turn, helps them bring out the best in you.” – Bruce Tulgan

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I admire Bruce Tulgan. Tulgan is an American writer specializing in management training and generational diversity in the workforce. He is a dynamic and informative speaker. When I first read his book It’s Okay To Be The Boss, I was hooked and have read and followed his books and articles for years.

I was fortunate to hear him speak live and got to meet him and have him sign my copy of It’s Okay.

In a recent article Tulgan addresses the topic of an employer value proposition. If you want to have an advantage as an employer, begin with defining a clear value proposition for potential new hires.

Keep in mind that not one value proposition fits every role. Tulgan lists many questions an employer must ask themselves before they can define a purposeful staffing strategy.

Be sure to read the article to learn more and to learn about the eight Dream Job Factors.

  • "Leverage your uniqueness."
  • Bruce Tulgan

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

Firms Are Adapting

“We look forward to this next chapter on our journey to be the Firm of the Future.” – Matt Snow, CEO DHG

There has been a lot of talk about how firms will adjust their workforce model going into the future.

Back in July, I shared some news about one large firm’s new office and how it is designed to serve future needs.

Recently, CPA Practice Advisor shared some news about DHG’s new hybrid workforce model. DHG, in September, will be unveiling something they call “DHG Anywhere”. The workforce model will create flexibility within reasonable boundaries and is being called “Freedom Within a Framework.”

Their plan makes a lot of sense to me and I expect many other firms to make similar adjustments in the coming months and years.

Be sure to read the article to get the full details.

  • "The future depends on what you do today."
  • Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, August 20th, 2021

Things Are Not Always Easy – Flashback Friday

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

Sometimes you just have to do things that make you uncomfortable. Read this Friday Flashback post – Uncomfortable Things Will Often Make You More Successful. I think we can all relate to most of them.

Have a great weekend”

  • "The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you will become comfortable."
  • Conor McGregor