Posts Tagged ‘firm’

Friday, August 15th, 2014

CPA Partners Need To Set Goals

AquilaIn some firms, when you become a partner, a lot of the restraints and expectations don’t seem to be as important as they were when you were climbing the ladder.

As a team member, you had to set goals and achieve them each year. As a partner, in the best firms, you need to continue that practice with even more gusto!

In profitable, growing firms, the MP manages the other partners and it is a very important job. Leave the day-to-day operations and administration to the COO or firm administrator.

Of course, partner goal achievement is tied to the compensation system. Once the goals are set, I like to see the MP meet with each individual partner, one-on-one at least every other month JUST to talk about progress on the goals. Often during these conversations, the MP identifies ways that he/she can help the partner achieve the goals.

August Aquila gave us some great advice in his most recent newsletter on the Eight Key Goal Areas For Partners

The areas:

  1. Production Goals
  2. Business Development Goals
  3. Competency Improvement Goals
  4. Self-improvement Goals
  5. Strategic Planning Goals
  6. Client Service Goals
  7. Fir Leadership Goals
  8. Process Improvement Goals

Follow the link, above, to read the entire article and learn more about each area. You can sign-up for his newsletter here.

  • Happiness is not a goal, it's the by-product of a life well lived.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

First-Line Boss In A CPA Firm

Who is really the first-line boss in your CPA firm?

Unless you are an absolute solo (sole proprietor, no employees), then I hope you have a manager, and in most firms you have many, who are responsible for the growth and well-being of your employees.

In many firms the firm administrator plays this key role on the “well-being” side and your audit and tax managers fill the role on the “growth” topic. If you are a partner in a CPA firm, you often act as the “first-line boss.”

I continually find managers (the people with the title manager) inside CPA firms who do not manage. Sure, they manage the work fairly well but they really don’t know how to manage and inspire people BECAUSE the owners of the firm have not spent enough money on how educating them about management.

Firms are almost always generous with CPE dollars when it relates to tax, accounting and audit but no budget for learning the best and most progressive ways to help people achieve career success.

Tom Peters’ shares a weekly quote. This week it was as follows:

“Do you absolutely understand and act upon the fact that the first-line boss is the … KEY LEADERSHIP ROLE … in the organization?”

This comes from the Gallup organization:

“People leave managers not companies … in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue.”

Rally your partner group, your executive committee, your management team and establish a plan and budget for helping managers learn what they are really suppose to be doing.  This will solve your succession issues if you can pull it off…. Can you pull it off?

  • Start with the end in mind.
  • Stephen R. Covey

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Don’t Do It!

photoAbout once a year I feel the need to write something on this topic. Here’s the scenario inside a busy CPA firm:

Someone is late, someone leaves a big mess in the lunch room, someone is making too many personal calls during work hours, or maybe it is someone who simply talks too loudly in the cubicle farm. What does someone in a leadership position do about these small problems? They send an email BLAST to everyone in the firm asking them not to leave a mess in the lunchroom… and so on.

Everyone knows who is leaving the mess and are cringing because leaders have the mentality of “let’s punish everyone because one person is disappointing us.”

I encourage firms to develop their own Courtesy Policy, a brief statement of inside-the-firm courtesy extended to each other inside the firm. For the above situation, I recommend #3 on an 8-point sample I share:

3. If you have a problem with someone, talk about the problem only with them and in private.

When something (usually trivial) happens and, as a leader, you feel the urge to quickly blast out an email to everyone in the firm….. don’t do it!

  • Take two troublemakers out of a class and it's amazing that the goodness of the other kids shines so much more brightly.
  • Tweet from a high school teacher

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Xero – Online Accounting Software

I think all of you know that I try my best to keep you informed of the various products and services “out there” in the accounting world that might help you make your CPA firm a better place. I like to share topics that might help you build strong teams within your firms and also help you serve clients.

Perhaps you have been hearing about Xero – Online Accounting Software. Many firms are already using it.

Today, I just wanted to share this video because it is interesting, fun and beautifully done.

Experts tell us that we learn more and better when we are told a story. Check out this story of a small business owner, Arthur, a tree-house architect, Lucy, his bookkeeper and Charles Green, his accountant.

Are you telling stories about your firm and how you serve clients?

  • When someone is mean to me, I just make them a victim in my next book.
  • Mary Higgins Clark

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Become A High Performance Firm

For the last couple of days I have been following the Winning Is Everything conference via Twitter.

I was not able to attend in person this year. If you are in the same boat – – – for any major conference – – be sure to “follow” the happenings and advice being shared by attendees, experienced consultants, advisors and speakers on Twitter. In case you are not aware, you simply click on the hashtag (for example:  #WIE2013) for all the tweets on a specific topic, meeting or conference.

Danielle Lee, Senior Editor of Accounting Today, tweets as @ATomorrow. I found one tweet she made this week pretty much said it all for public accounting firms. She tweeted a statement made by Sam Allred of Upstream Academy. Her tweet:

“Impossible to become a high-performance firm by accident.”

Don’t wait until after tax season (the standard excuse). Begin now to plan how your firm can take the necessary steps in 2013 on your journey to becoming a high-performance firm.

  • In the end, the only perspective that matters is the customer's.
  • Jeffrey Gitomer

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

I Don’t Want To Be Mean Or Disrespectful

However, are you really aware of what some of your people (maybe many of your people) think about you if you are a partner in a CPA firm?

I respect and truly like CPAs. I absolutely love working with them to improve the “inside health” of their firms. They are ladies and gentlemen and really, really nice people. Most of the time we get a lot accomplished and truly have fun. Yet, the usual excuse I get for not dealing with “management” issues is, “I’m too busy.”

As a result, things inside the firm don’t go smoothly and people working at firms begin to think….”there must be a better choice.”

I said all that to set the stage for a comment I received directly and unsolicited from a former team member in a CPA firm. This person was letting me know to take them off my newsletter mailing list. I just want you – CPA leader – to contemplate if this fits you in any way.

“Rita, I love what you are doing, but I got out of the public accounting industry last year after many years. My experience is that partners in this industry make up the worst management I have ever experienced. They are clueless. Keep up your efforts to get through to them.”

This one comment is not rare for me. I get many, similar to the following, that ask, “Rita, why don’t ‘they’ get it?

The talent wars are just beginning to heat-up. You really need to focus on retaining your very best performers (and out-placing your under-performers). If you cling to status-quo your entire firm will be mediocre. All-star talent does not want to work for a mediocre firm.

So – once October 15th passes – please get busy. There is still time this year to actually listen to your people and take action. Ask them what’s important to them.


  • Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.
  • Mae West

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

CPAs Have Questions About Marketing & Sales

Hopefully, at your CPA firm your are deep into marketing season – connecting, contacting, being visible in your business community, providing helpful information to prospects and maybe even blogging helpful content for your followers.

I was reading Michelle Golden’s blog and noticed she was re-sharing the Top Ten Marketing and Sales frequently asked questions for CPAs.  I’m passing them along for you today.

Top 10 Marketing and Sales FAQs 

  1. Why do we need to market when we can barely staff the work we have?
  2. What is the difference between “marketing” and “selling?”
  3. Can I expect a marketer to generate new business leads?
  4. How should sales and marketing functions be aligned?
  5. What does a marketing person do?
  6. How can I tell if our firm needs an in-house marketing person?
  7. What level of marketer does my firm need?
  8. To whom should the marketer report?
  9. When can we expect to see marketing results?
  10. How might marketing’s cultural changes affect my firm?

See what you think. Are you wondering about any of these? If you are wondering, what are you doing to do about it – – seek answers and keep moving forward. Check my categories on the right and read some archived blog posts in the marketing and sales category.

  • Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.
  • Frank Zappa