Friday, July 29th, 2022

Flashback Friday – Maister-isms

“Professional is not a label you give yourself – it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” – David Maister

This Friday, reflect on some advice from David Maister. His comments never seem to get old, and he’s been retired for quite a few years now. Read the Maister-isms here.

Have a great weekend.

  • "If your clients aren't actively telling their friends about you, maybe your work isn't as great as you think it is."
  • David Maister

Thursday, July 28th, 2022


“Disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other.” – Rosemary Wixom

WilkinGuttenplan is a great firm. I am honored to know Ed Guttenplan personally and am always impressed with the progressive way he manages the firm.

They have been named a New Jersey Best Place to Work, Best Firms to Work For by Accounting Today, and Best of the Best Firms by Inside Public Accounting.

To cultivate a healthy work-life balance, the firm will be providing Days of Disconnect – July 29 – August 1. See the announcement below. What are you doing for your people?

To our valued clients and members of our community,

WG takes pride in cultivating a healthy work-life balance and in an effort to acknowledge the hard work and dedication exemplified by our employees, we will be providing our staff with a well-deserved break to fully disconnect and recharge. We will be closing our offices from July 29th through August 1st. We will resume regular business hours on Tuesday, August 2nd. Staff will not be available during this time, however, if an emergency occurs, please reach out to the Partner on your account.

We appreciate your ongoing support of our team and our firm and look forward to continued success together.

Thank you,


  • "Work is important, but you also need to disconnect, to unplug at times, in order to be even more concentrated when you do work."
  • Massimiliano Allegri

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

We Will Just Merge Up

“The biggest problem I shall ever face: The management of Dale Carnegie.” – Dale Carnegie

We haven’t groomed future owners. We will just work a few more years and then merge up.

The above is the succession plan that many smaller firms are embracing. Many of these firms are not managed well. Yet, the partners are still making a hefty salary. Life is good because they have stayed comfortable and ignored some significant changes.

Here’s a wake-up call: Acquiring firms want well-managed, successful firms.

They want:

  • Skilled leaders
  • Efficient processes
  • Outstanding people
  • High performance

Cruising along until you age out or get sick might not be the best plan.

  • "Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."
  • Rumi

Tuesday, July 26th, 2022

What Is Your Why?

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” – Simon Senek

Simply giving people more money and perks will not necessarily improve your employee engagement. To motivate, inspire, and retain employees, clearly define why you do what you do.

In many accounting firms, the staff believes they are there so the firm can earn more money and the partners can grant themselves larger salaries.

Sorry to state that fact, but I have heard this opinion from people in firms large and small over the many decades I have worked in the CPA profession.

The big issue for you is whether YOUR people think that is the reason your firm exists.

In reality, CPA partners, having many years of experience, believe that they are there to help people as a firm. Doctors help people. Lawyers help people. CPAs help people, too, in a way to secure financial success.

Sure they help business owners with accounting and tax, but they also act as a business coach and mentor to help the owners and their companies become more successful. Maybe to put it more concisely, CPAs help businesses survive and prosper. Maybe you should adopt the Vulcan greeting as a message to your clients, “Live long and prosper.”

Surveys tell us that people are leaving their current employers because they are questioning the purpose of their day-to-day job.

“An inspired employee comes to work lit up about what they’re doing because they feel they matter, their work matters, and the impact they’re having matters. What burns people out is when they don’t have a sense of the impact or contribution and that it matters,” says Stephen M.R. Covey, author of Trust & Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others. 

Has your partner group agreed on your firm’s WHY? If not, you have some work to do because you need to figure it out and share it with your team before more people leave your firm to live long and prosper elsewhere.

  • "The miracle is this - the more we share, the more we have."
  • Leonard Nimoy

Monday, July 25th, 2022

The Mystery About Compensation

“When it comes to landing a good job, many people focus on the role. Although finding the right title, position, and salary is important, there’s another consideration that matters just as much: culture.” – Adam Grant

Why is there so much mystery surrounding compensation inside accounting firms? I don’t have a good answer to this question. Probably, “because that is how we have always handled it.”

I still find CPA firms that declare their staff should not discuss compensation. Yeah, right. Times have definitely changed regarding the confidentiality of salaries. The internet took that confidentiality away.

If you think your team members don’t know, in general, what each makes, you are fooling yourself.

Be more open, and embrace transparency. You don’t have to be exactly specific. Publicize salary ranges. If you are a beginner, you will make somewhere between $XX,XXX and $XX,XXX per year. If you are a Senior the range is (fill in the blanks). Supervisor, Manager, Senior Manager, etc.

In the past, disclosing the salary was something that happened in the 2nd interview. Now, talking about salary ranges early on in the interview process is helpful to the candidate. They can decide if they want to continue the interview and 2nd interview process early on and save everybody some time.

  • "There's no way I can justify my salary level, but I'm learning to live with it."
  • Drew Carey

Monday, July 25th, 2022

What Are You?

“You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.” – Howard Hendricks

Partners and managers teach younger, less experienced CPAs. They teach them tax, audit, and accounting. They guide them in gaining the technical knowledge to advance in their careers.

Old Bob, the firm’s ancient tax guru partner, helps younger CPAs better understand tax. Yet, everyone knows he’s off-limits when it comes to participating in the mentoring program. He rarely leaves his office. He doesn’t market, sell or participate in community and charitable events. Do you want a bunch of Bobs as partners?

So, re-read the quotation above. It applies to many CPA leaders (who are role models). Yes, they have accumulated great knowledge and experience over many years, and they strive to teach that technical knowledge to the young people entering the firm.

Here comes the BUT! But, do they set a good example to go along with their technical abilities. Here are some things that partners do that puzzle the interns and new hires:

  • They don’t have a set schedule and are often absent from the office.
  • They do a lot of personal business during work hours, such as taking care of their “other” businesses and handling financial activities for relatives (non-paying relatives).
  • Play golf quite often in the summer with non-clients.
  • Don’t return client phone calls promptly.
  • They say they have an open door policy, but their door is often closed.
  • They never attend firm functions such as the holiday party or summer picnic.
  • They work from home more than the staff does.

As a firm leader, think about what you are and not just about what technical knowledge you have.

  • "The greatest reward for your actions is not the respect you gain from others but the respect you gain for yourself."
  • T Jay Taylor

Friday, July 22nd, 2022

Speak to Students – Flashback Friday

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai

Profession leaders are urging CPAs to go into high schools and speak about the benefits of majoring in accounting in college and becoming a CPA.

I have additional advice. Check out this flashback post.

Have a great weekend!

  • "Be so good they can't ignore you."
  • Steve Martin

Thursday, July 21st, 2022

One Way To Describe CPA Leaders

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” – Peter Drucker

Just a quick thought for you today. Don’t let this happen at your firm!

  • "The single largest pool of untapped resource in this world is human good intentions that never translate into action."
  • Cindy Gallop

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

Publicize Your Benefits

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl

I have a Google notification set to alert me about accounting firm news. I noticed that a firm in a large city earned several spotlights in the news, one from a local source, and it was picked up by Yahoo news.

The news is (and it is old news to many of us) that the firm is closing its offices at noon on Friday for the remainder of the summer.

Why is publicizing something like this a good lesson for you? Younger CPAs focused on growing their careers will read the press release and think: “I should learn more about that firm and apply for a job there.”

In your hiring ads, mention that you close on Fridays in the summer. At this point, normal activities to attract talent have worn out. Do you have a unique employee benefit? Publicize it.

  • "The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper."
  • W. B. Yeats

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

Keep Your Hook In The Water

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins

When finding talent to hire for your firm, a good friend of mine and long-time CPA management consultant, Steve Ericksen, noted that he always told his CPA firm clients to “keep their hook in the water.” Sadly, Steve has passed away, but I remember and appreciate so much of what I learned from Steve.

“Keep your hook in the water” means you must make it widely known that you are looking to hire accountants. You not only have to advertise on all reputable sites but also need to talk about it openly with everyone in your business and personal circles. When talking to attorneys, bankers, and clients, mention that your firm is hiring and actively seeking qualified candidates and ask if they know of anyone.

Make it a positive statement, such as, we are growing and expanding and now have room for more people. If you know anyone who might be interested in working for a progressive, growing, future-focused accounting firm, please let me know.

You can also mention it to friends and relatives. You never know where your next qualified hire might come from.

  • "Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to."
  • Richard Branson