Posts Tagged ‘succession’

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Reminder About CPACA Succession Survey

CPA_LogoThis week, things at your firm just might be a little less hectic than they have been in recent weeks.

Back in September, I invited firms to respond to a survey that is being conducted to determine how partners in CPA firms view their firm’s ability to address the succession of their partners primarily as they approach retirement.

Because of the fall tax due dates, we are offering extended time to complete the survey. Thanks so much to those of you who have already completed the survey and for all others, now you have more time! The survey will now close on October 31.

The survey consists of 15 short, simple statements to which respondents will enter their level of agreement. It should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. We will be releasing our findings in the form of an article that will include ideas and practical advice your firm can apply. All survey participants who supply us with contact information will receive a copy of the article as well as access to interviews we are doing with CPA firm leaders and emerging leaders.

Here is a link to where you can complete the survey.


  • For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
  • Lily Tomlin

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Invest In Success

rencenThis week the Association for Accounting Administration will host it’s annual National Practice Management Conference at the beautiful GM Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan.

If you are a CPA firm managing partner, you probably have a right-hand person who supervises the day-to-day business activities of your firm.

Perhaps YOU, the person reading this blog post are fulfilling that role inside a busy CPA firm.

If you are the managing partner think about the benefits you receive from your state CPA society and the benefits you receive from your memberships in the AICPA. If you are actually taking advantage of all the resources, the benefit list is probably quite extensive. To put it in a few words…. you keep current in order to offer the best possible services to your clients and you meet people (just like you) that offer support, ideas and motivation.

That is exactly what CPA firm administrators get from the Association For Accounting Administration. HR people belong, technology people belong, marketing people belong and managing partners belong. Why? Because of the benefits (keeping current and meeting others who act as resources).

I first attended the national conference in the mid-80s and have not missed a single national conference since simply because it is a phenomenal learning experience.

For example, this year you can hear bestselling author, Mitch Albom, the author of Tuesdays With Morrie.

You will be able to learn from many of the best CPA practice management  thought leaders in the areas of marketing, social media, human resources, lean principles, M&A, public speaking, change management and succession.

  • Roman Kepczyk
  • Randy Johnston
  • Michelle Golden
  • Guy Gage
  • Dev Warren
  • Sandra Wiley
  • Dustin Hostetler
  • Jennifer Wilson
  • Peter Margaritis
  • Joseph Tarasco
  • Bill Reeb
  • And yes…. Rita Keller.  I will be providing a keynote on Friday morning on a critical topic for CPAs – succession planning.

Why do I tell you all this when the pre-conference sessions begin today and the main conference on Wednesday?  So that if you are not attending this year, you can begin to plan for next year.

I have probably attended more practice management conferences than almost anyone working in the profession today. When I speak at practice management events, meetings and conferences – unlike most consultants who fly-in, speak, fly-out, I actually attend as many sessions as possible. The AAA National Practice Management Conference is absolutely the best Practice Management focused public accounting conferences there is.

Firm administrators – If your firm is blind to the value of investing in your success – YOU should invest in yourself.  Bargain with the partners if you must, negotiate, pay part of the expenses yourself.  You need to invest in your own success.

Watch for my tweets this week from the conference – @cpamanagement.

  • Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
  • Mark Twain

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Succession And The Partner Pyramid

Many CPA firms are addressing succession issues inside their organizations. It’s a time of great opportunity for those up-and-comers who have the knowledge, experience and ambition to reach the top of the Partner Pyramid.

Wait a minute….. it involves a whole lot more than playing golf, bossing people around and asking someone to get you a cup of coffee.

I explain it in this less-than-two-minute video – check it out and share it.

  • You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.
  • Zig Ziglar

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Getting To Know Your Future Partners

jenJennifer Wilson, partner and co-founder of ConvergenceCoaching, has a great article in the AICPA CPA Insider. She asks, “How well do you know your future partners?”

Wilson and I are both members of the CPA Consultants’ Alliance that published a white paper last year CPA Firm Leadership: Communication Drives New Possibilities that address leadership development in light of the impending staff shortage.

Wilson not only writes about the challenges the CPA profession faces, she offers valuable suggestions on how to address the issue inside your own firm. She encourages firm leaders to explore “the 12 questions to ask so that you can better know our future partners.”

Here are her 12 questions (but be sure to follow read her How Well Do You Know Your Future Partners Article):

  • What do you envision for your career in one year? How about in three years? What do you most want to achieve in your career?
  • What do you view as your strengths or gifts?
  • What do you most like to do in your position right now?
  • What would you most like to try doing based on what you’ve seen in the work you’ve observed?
  • What do you like least in your position right now? Why? What would you like to see changed in your role as a result of this?
  • What skills do you want to develop to further succeed in your role with the firm?
  • What other skills are you interested in acquiring that are not directly related to your current job?
  • What more can I (the shepherd), your manager, or the firm do to improve your job or assist you in being more successful?
  • What other areas of the firm are you interested in learning about?
  • What questions do you have about your career and its progression that we can answer for you?
  • What should I know about you personally? What do you want to know about me personally?
  • What else would you like to discuss?


  • People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.
  • John C. Maxwell

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

January 2 – This Blog Is Celebrating An Anniversary

On January 2, 2006, I began writing this blog and, with a few exceptions, I have been blogging every business day for SEVEN years, plus a “Lighten-Up” blog post on most weekends.

Here’s that first post on January 2, 2006:

Happy New Year 2006 and Welcome to Rita Keller’s Blog.

I know that many of you visiting this Blog are part of my expanding team of CPA firm management explorers – seeking new ways and revisiting proven, old ways of efficiently and profitably managing the CPA firm of the future – the firm where young professionals will want to build their careers.

I am just getting started, so check back soon for more information.

Many of you have been followers from almost the beginning. Most of you have joined along the way. I hope all of you will continue to follow my rambling journey in the world of CPA firm management that includes partner issues, strategic planning retreats, succession, mergers & acquisitions, daily operations, marketing, technology, human resources and all the important things that go on behind the scenes in a successful, growing accounting firm.

I’ve grown to love writing, especially in the blog post format. It is brief, to the point and intended to be helpful to those working in public accounting. It has forced me to be even more of an avid reader. I often tell my clients, “I read so you don’t have to!”  My content often guides you to helpful information in the world of business that perhaps you don’t have time to find for yourself.

Because of my travels, I have blogged from many places. There is no excuse for not blogging these days since we are all so connected. As you can see from the picture, I blogged from my balcony in San Antonio in November.

Be sure to sign-up – on the right side of this page – to receive an email every time I make a new post.

To help me celebrate I have just one request. If you read a blog post that has meaning for you, if a post helps you determine a course of action, please send the link to someone else in the CPA profession that might be able to benefit from the information.


  • You fail only if you stop writing.
  • Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Responsibilities of a Managing Partner

Back in June I had the opportunity to meet John Engels the founder of Leadership Coaching, Inc. John is part of the faculty of the AICPA’s Emerging Partner Training Forums. This morning I was reading his blog post titled, “Not-So-Obvious Responsibilities of a CEO.”

I believe his message is a great one for CPA firm managing partners and, actually, all partners in CPA firms.

All partners appear “busy.” Most of them tell me, “I’m too busy.” They are too busy doing this and that and too busy to focus on themselves, the needs of their people and the management of their own business.

One of Engels’ not-so-obvious responsibilities is Know Yourself. People want to follow a leader who is “working on self” because such a person inspires calm and confidence. With this kind of leader, followers will more likely bring their own “A” game to work.

Think about how well you really know yourself and ask yourself questions:

  • What beliefs are you most sure about?
  • Are you able to listen with curiosity to opposing beliefs?
  • Where are your most solid relationship connections? Who’s there for you? Who challenges your thinking and pushes back on your immaturity?
  • Where are you going in your life? Does it make sense?

Engels other responsibilities for CEOs:

Develop a broad view of the world. – – I find CPAs don’t reach outside the accounting world for ideas and learning nearly enough.

Listen. – – Engels says most leaders talk to much. I think CPA leaders need to talk enough so that people learn from them but they should focus on developing the skill of REALLY listening.

Become dispensable. – – Plan your own role reduction. This is how you address succession.

Take a few minutes and read Engels’ blog post to learn more about each responsibility.


  • Exposure breeds perspective.
  • John Engels

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Announcing the Formation of The CPA Consultants’ Alliance

As a founding member, I am pleased to announce the formation of The CPA Consultants’ Alliance (CPACA).

CPACA is a newly formed alliance of well-known consultants to the CPA profession that will bring shared thought leadership on the future of the profession to its leaders and emerging leaders.

CPACA’s main purpose is to explore leadership issues facing the profession and develop and share solutions that benefit practitioners. Our vision is to inspire positive change in the CPA profession by collaboratively developing tools and content that will educate, motivate and increase the wisdom of current and future leaders.

Our members are successful consultants within the CPA profession. The expertise represented includes CPA firm:

  • strategic and succession planning
  • leadership and management
  • growth, sales and marketing
  • information technology
  • human resources
  • coaching
  • mergers and acquisitions
  • diversity
  • leadership development and more

In the coming months, CPACA will release a research study and commentary focused on the CPA profession’s opportunities and challenges as well as future leadership in the accounting profession. This deliverable is based on a survey of more than 750 CPAs and combines research and findings on leadership best practices. This whitepaper will be the first of many tools and resources we will provide to the profession to encourage positive and innovative change.

For more information about CPACA, its members and to stay connected with us, please:

Contact us via our website.

Connect with us on iShade.

  • Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
  • Helen Keller

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

The CPA Firm Partner Retirement Timeline

If your CPA firm, like so many others across the country, is facing the succession challenge try this simple Retirement Timeline Exercise and use it as a tool at your next management retreat.

Do you have too many clusters of partners reaching retirement age? How many younger partners are also in clusters?

I suggest doing two time-lines – one based on the year that partners reach age 65 (in many firms this is when you have to sell your stock) and one based on when the individual partner thinks he/she will actually “retire.”

One of the major issues you will be facing is that many partners will reach retirement age, sell their stock and then want to stay active in the firm for many years to come. You have to decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s often a downer for the young partners and future partners in the firm in that they are looking forward to their chance to take over and do things their way.

In years gone by, firms have been able to keep the founder on the payroll and provide an office and other support. However, now you might be facing many Baby Boomer partners wanting to keep working. Does it make sense to have four or five over-65, former partners around the office indefinitely? Be sure to examine, discuss and decide what is really best for the firm.

Here’s a sample of the Retirement Timeline: