Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Algorithms, Parental Leave & Other Information

“We never know the love of a parent til we become parents ourselves.” – Henry Ward Beecher

I recently read a very interesting article via Fast Company about Stitch Fix and its CEO, Katrina Lake. At age 34, she was not only the youngest female founder to ever lead an IPO but she also stood at the Nasdaq podium while holding her toddler on her hip.

I know many women who have made Stitch Fix a part of their lives. The story of the company is very interesting. You can learn something about how they gather and use data. Also, I think accounting firms could learn something about parental leave from Lake. Here’s an excerpt:

Stitch Fix’s board is more than 60% female, and its tech staff is 35%—still not gender parity, but far better than the industry average and without hiring quotas. Interviewees are informed that the company values “bright” people over the purely book smart and “kind” people over nice. During the application process, instead of having to solve a technical problem alone, candidates are paired with a nontechnical staffer from styling or merchandising to collaborate, which quickly surfaces inventive applicants. Lake has also been adamant about fostering work-life balance. Most notably, she provides 16 weeks of parental leave to all full-time employees who are primary caretakers—whether they work in data science or a warehouse. It never occurred to Lake to create the kind of caste system of disparate benefits for different types of workers that’s prevalent at many tech companies.

She took the full 16 weeks herself this winter after the birth of her second child in November. “There might’ve been times, years ago, where I would’ve felt a little bit more uncomfortable taking the leave,” Lake says during her last full week in the office in the fall. “We have lots of women at Stitch Fix who are growing their families and also doing a great job here. Being able to take a leave is the right thing for your family. It’s also the right thing for your work so that you can come back and be focused and be excited.”

  • "Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent."
  • Bob Keeshan

Monday, February 25th, 2019

Have A Grateful Week

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I remind you often to remember to simply say, “thank-you” to your team members. No matter what your role in the firm, say it to each other. It means a lot from the boss but it also means a lot from a peer. Sometimes, it is even shocking when an employee says thanks to the boss.

On a recent blog post by Grammarly, they noted that it’s nice to form a thank-you in a different way, rather than the usual thanks or thanks so much.

Here are some alternatives, use them this week.

  • Thank you for all your hard work on this.
  • Thanks again we couldn’t have pulled this off without you.
  • Thank you, you’re amazing!
  • I’m so thankful for everything you bring to the table.
  • Thank you kindly.
  • Thanks a million.
  • Many thanks.
  • Warmest thanks.
  • I truly appreciate your hard work.
  • I truly appreciate you.

Plus, there are more. Read them here.

I am “beyond grateful” that you read this blog!

  • "Gratitude is the sign of noble souls."
  • Aesop

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Personal Connection

“Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” – Tony Robbins

Many studies are now telling us that the way to fully engage employees is all the usual things like compensation and flexible work hours and also human connection.

Maybe you have observed that accountants are not always the “warm and fuzzy” type. Most are technical, traditional, knowledgeable, professional and conservative in their actions and words.

As firm leaders, it is up to you to help develop a firm culture of caring and trust. Don’t forget to have some fun in your culture, too.

CPAs in public practice are very concerned with time. This sometimes leads to them not devoting enough time to develop a personal connection with their own employees. They seem to do better with relationships with clients because they see that as part of their job.

Often, new college graduates enter a firm and they immediately begin on a regime of grinding out work and putting in the hours it takes in busy season.

There is no time for the warm and fuzzy stuff. Leaders must get past this scenario. That’s one reason why firms need to immediately focus on mentoring relationships with new hires. Each employee needs someone who cares about them professionally and personally.

Fulfillment is the new standard for employee engagement, according to a separate PwC report. The results showed that the hallmark of a positive employee experience is a sense of belonging, progress toward a goal and personal growth.

Read more about this topic and about various studies that support it.

  • "It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit."
  • Denis Waitley

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

All Those Versions

“Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window.” – Steve Wozniak

I have heard one prominent complaint about serving clients for years and years and years. I continue to hear it from CPA practitioners from all parts of the country. It is the issue of dealing with so many VERSIONS of QuickBooks.

One of my clients finally did something about it. She purchased the QBO licenses for them and simply told clients the firm was moving them to QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks was having a sale so she purchased several licenses and will eventually pass on the costs via billing rates.

She simply said to her clients, “This is how our firm is doing it now.” She received an insignificant amount of pushback. Clients that don’t like it can go elsewhere.

The world is changing. New technology tools abound. How is your firm going to do it now?

  • "The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself."
  • Bill Gates

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

People Leave

“Fear of the unknown keeps a lot of people from leaving bad situations.” – Kathy Lee Gifford

If you are a staff person thinking of leaving your current firm, don’t fret.

If you are a firm leader and have been notified that someone you like (or don’t like) is leaving, don’t fret.

It is simple, people leave jobs all the time for a multitude of reasons.

It was always interesting to me, when I was working inside a busy firm, that when someone left, after about 2 days no one even seemed to notice. This applied to a person who had been short-term at the firm or even if it was a 15-year key manager.

If you are managing a growing, successful, progressive firm there are no worries, the firm will go on. People will step up if needed and clients often don’t even care as long as someone intelligent responds to them.

If you are a key-person, don’t ever get so conceited that you think “the firm” will miss you. Life will go on for you and for the firm, just as it should.

 

  • "Parting is such sweet sorrow."
  • William Shakespeare

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

The Highest Earning CPAs

“It’s not necessarily about getting tons of new clients; it’s about creating a vision of what you want your practice to look like.” – Anthony Glomski 

I recently read a great article via Accounting Today by Anthony Glomski titled, Lessons from million-dollar accounting partners.

Mr. Glomski made many great points in his article but here is something I want you to read, think about and then read the entire article:

How do they do it? One common thread is that the highest-earning CPAs have made a commitment to lifelong learning. They read a ton. They listen to relevant podcasts. They network all the time. They stay current on all the news and trends affecting our profession. They never stop challenging themselves. And for reasons like these, they’re always ready to pounce when an opportunity breaks their way. For starters, the highest-earning CPAs make time in their schedule to work on their business instead of spending every waking hour in their businesses.

  • "Taking on a truly consultative role starts with really getting to know your client."
  • Anthony Glomski

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Twitter – Use it to learn and gain knowledge

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” – David Alston

I first began using Twitter in April 2008. Hard to believe that it has been that long ago.

I continue to use Twitter every business day. Why? Because I find it very helpful and, hopefully, my followers find that what I tweet helps them. As of yesterday, I had made 16,641 tweets.

I believe that a constant stream of informative and positive tweets helps me know more, learn more and stay connected to current events in the CPA profession.

I try to tweet about 6 or 7 times per day and I read tweets only 2 or 3 times per day – usually early morning and late afternoon. When I see a tweet that is relevant and helpful to CPAs, I often retweet it.

My advice is to not follow TOO many people. Select people who are involved in the CPA profession. I also like to follow people who communicate about leadership. I follow a news source (NPR) but not many others because news becomes so negative. Still, you need to be aware of current events. Of course, I also follow some friends and family.

Try using a tool like Hootsuite to consolidate your Twitter streams. It makes it easy to quickly scan through the Twitter users you follow and retweet them if you like.

I know, you don’t want another distraction, but used cautiously it can keep you in the know. I often follow various management conferences and I feel like I am actually there.

So, if you do not have a Twitter account, sign-up now. You don’t have to tweet anything, just use it to read what others are saying. I never follow anyone who is negative or political – I strictly use it to keep up with current trends in leadership and the CPA profession. Visit my Twitter page and you can see who I follow.

I hope if you do have a Twitter account that you will follow me@cpamanagement.

  • "Conversations are happening whether you are there or not."
  • Kim Garst

Friday, February 15th, 2019

New State Electronic Filing Requirement

“You have to learn the rules of the game, and then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein

One of my clients recently talked to me about the 10 business day rule for state electronic filing. I was unaware.

Since then, I have talked to several more of my clients and most of them were not aware of this new “rule.” The new requirement has been implemented for every software company and is intended to reduce the error rate of returns filed without the latest update(s).

Via CCH: The requirement mandates that “users/customers of this product who attempt to e-file 10 or more business days after a production release will be required to download and apply the product update.”

Read more about it here via CCH and also here via Accounting Today.

  • "There are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something."
  • Thomas Edison

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

It’s Still True – Happy Valentine’s Day!

“If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.” – Maya Angelou

On Valentine’s Day, you will be thinking of someone you love. Hopefully, you will be thinking of several someones you love. People love other people, dogs, cats, horses, Spring, Summer, the mountains, the beach, the nighttime sky and much more.

I love all of that (and much more). But, unlike most people, I have a special love and it has been going on for decades! Yes, I love CPAs!

Fill your Valentine’s Day with love!

Photo on 2-13-13 at 2.58 PM

  • "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt."
  • Charles M. Schulz

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

A Typical CPA Firm

“The idea that you will wake up tomorrow and everything that you know to be true about your practice is suddenly gone is a gross overstatement.” – Darren Root

While many profession leaders are warning CPAs that the typical public accounting firm is a dying breed and that its demise will happen rapidly, it is not what I observe in my consulting practice.

In the “typical” CPA firms I work with, there is definitely a need to become more digital and take advantage of the efficiencies that result. Most of these firms still do a lot of compliance work but also do a lot of true consulting work with their clients. I do expect them to make the transition into more of a consulting practice but I don’t expect it will happen rapidly.

That’s why I enjoyed reading Darren Root’s recent article via Accounting Today – The Traditional Is Still Very Much Alive.

Read it and see what you think. How will your firm make its way into the future?

  • "Because technology and client demands will continue to push firms to adapt, we know that transformation, at some level, is inevitable."
  • Darren Root