Posts Tagged ‘survey’

Friday, February 1st, 2013

AAA Paperless Benchmarking Survey

romanCPA firm technology consultant and all around nice-guy, Roman Kepczyk of Xcentric, has shared his findings from the Association for Accounting Administration 2013 Paperless Benchmarking Survey.

The survey has been conducted every two years since 2003 and this year 115 firms responded.

You can see the survey results on the Xcentric blog.

  • Be prepared and be honest.
  • John Wooden

Monday, September 24th, 2012

What Are They Thinking?

Ever wonder what your people are thinking?

In my conversations with various groups of people who work in public accounting firms, I hear all kinds of stories.

Inside some firms they still use the Baby Boomer method of training new hires. I am talking about the way Baby Boomers were trained. It goes something like this….. a Baby Boomer joined a CPA firm in the late 70s or in the 80s. On his second or third day a partner (another “he”) walked up to his desk, dropped a legal size, thick file on the desk and casually said, “Follow what’s in this file and do what we did last year.”

Funny thing is, the Baby Boomers did just that and basically learned from trial and error. Maybe I should describe it as “try to do the work, receive extensive review notes addressing all your errors and then try again.” – – repeat, repeat, repeat.

What has evolved is that we have partners and managers who grew-up in public accounting this way and now they are attempting to manage Millennials who respond differently.

I find most of it is just poor communication. It is compounded by the fact that for years CPAs have spent lots of money on technical training for the people who are now partners and managers and very little on providing education on how to manage, coach and mentor people.

What can you do about this? Find out what your people think. Begin now to build an environment that builds trust between managers/partners and the team. Many experts tell us that to begin building this culture of trust you should begin with the people who know most – the ones being managed – and only then seek feedback from the leaders downward.

Here are some of the disturbing excuses (stories) I hear from people working in firms:

  • The partners refuse to do an upward survey – they don’t care what the people think.
  • Our partners are afraid of what will be said.
  • Our partners really don’t want to change so they don’t see the need for an upward survey.
  • Our managers really got upset when we once discussed asking for upward feedback about them and the partners backed off.

I firmly believe that we get better by a constant stream of helpful information from the people who are part of our accounting firm team. That is why I am pleased to be co-founder of a new survey company, along with Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory, formed to help CPA firms with the PEOPLE side of the business. Take a look at SurveyCPA and consider if it is time for the PEOPLE managing your PEOPLE to obtain some feedback that can help them improve their performance.

  • A telephone survey says that 51 percent of college students drink until they pass out at least once a month. The other 49 percent didn't answer the phone.
  • Craig Kilborn

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Firm Administrator Salary Survey

I receive many inquiries about hiring a firm administrator, coaching a firm administrator, setting expectations for a firm administrator and how much to pay a firm administrator.

The role of the professional CPA firm administrator has been elevated to a key management role in most CPA firms. As the expertise, experience and reputation of firm administrators has grown so has the salary.

If you are wondering how much to pay or if what you are paying is on target, you can find out from the 2012 AAA Salary Survey.

The 2012 Association for Accounting Administration’s Compensation Survey was designed as a quick reference tool providing information relative to professionals managing accounting practices. The survey addresses gross billings for firms, firm size, compensation and benefits, hours worked, years of administration experience, administrator billable hours and location. The results indicate the spirit of a profession whose future is growing and evolving.

Members ONLY may view the survey results. Yes, that means if you are not a member, you do not have access. However, for most firms, it’s worth the cost of membership just to have this one benefit. Visit the Association’s website and select the Membership tab, select Join AAA to see the categories and costs. AAA membership is a great investment in the success of your firm.

  • It's not your salary that makes you rich, it's your spending habits.
  • Charles Jaffe

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

What’s It Really Like?

What’s it really like working inside a CPA firm?

Do I know? You betcha! So, when my friend Greg Wilder, Vice President Operations and Management, of the Georgia CPA Society called several months ago to inquire if I would be willing to speak on that topic at the AICPA & CPA/SEA Interchange 2012 in St. Louis on July 20th, I was thrilled.

Most of you reading this blog DO work inside CPA firms. Just think about the people working at your state society or even at the AICPA. They are professionals for sure but perhaps professionals in event planning, communications, technology, public relations, governmental issues. I am sure many of them, at times, wonder what it truly is like working inside a firm.

I urge you to always keep the lines of communication open with your state society and help them better understand the real issues your are dealing with inside your firm.

I also urge partners to ALWAYS REMEMBER what it is like being a beginner at your firm, a senior or a manager. Sometimes partners get distanced from some of the reality. As firm leaders, are you continually surveying your team to find out how they really feel about the firm? Are you, at least every 3 years, asking the team to do upward evaluations of the partners and managers? If you need more information or assistance with staff surveys or upward evaluations, I am unveiling a new service this summer – email me for more information.

I also recommend that the MP have no-agenda roundtables with everyone below manager level at least 3 times per year – no other partners or managers are allowed to attend.

Right now it is so important to KEEP your top performers. Are you having Stay Interviews with them? Also, don’t forget your exit interviews – what do people leaving really think about the firm?

If you are working at a state society and are attending Interchange, be sure to introduced yourself to me.

  • Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
  • Oscar Wilde

Friday, April 20th, 2012

AICPA Top Talent Survey

It is becoming more and more important every day for CPAs to actively engage the bright, young and talented people working inside their firm. Futurists and researchers continue to stress how important it is to focus on your people.

There is a lot of great information in the new AICPA Top Talent Survey. Yasmine EL-Ramly, CPA/CITP, Project Manager at AICPA PCPS, gives us highlights via the Journal of Accountancy:

Foster a culture of trust and open access to management – The survey reported decreased trust in firm leadership among 40% of high-potential CPAs.

Make work/life balance a firm priority. – The brightest young CPAs are much more focused on successfully integrating their professional and personal lives than their predecessors were.

Provide a competitive compensation package. – Salary is the top factor in retaining high-potential CPAs and the second most important factor in attracting them, the survey found.

Transform each engagement into a training opportunity. – Involve top young talent from start to finish, ensuring they grasp the breadth and complexity of each engagement.

Implement diversity initiatives for women and minorities. – Such programs can have a substantial effect on attracting and retaining women and minorities by enhancing their sense of belonging and recognition.

Identify emerging partners as early as possible. – With career growth high on the high potentials’ priority list, it is important to establish a career road map with top talent.

The respondents, as profiled, are an ambitious, experienced and well-educated bunch. The top talent studied represent all staff/seniors/managers who have been identified, either formally or informally, as future leaders.

On average, high potential CPAs:

  • Have nearly 14 years of experience as a CPA.
  • Have been with the current employer for more than 10 years.
  • Are committed to the profession; two-thirds say they would make the same career choice – to be a CPA – all over again.
  • Believe they are being groomed for leadership in their firm (63.7%).
  • Would like to be partners or senior leaders in their firms (62%).

I often hear from owners, “Our managers don’t want to be partner.”¬†Do you know this for sure at your firm? What kinds of communication and conversations are happening in relation to future leaders?

Be sure to explore the survey results. The full report is available online.

For firm leaders and future leaders, I hope you adopt the following quote as something to live by.

  • Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Friday, April 13th, 2012

AICPA 2012 Top Technology Priorities

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of listening to Roman Kepczyk present and explain the AICPA 2012 Top Technology Priorities to The New Horizon Group of Consultants.

Here’s the list:

  1. Securing the IT environment
  2. Managing and retaining data
  3. Managing risk and compliance
  4. Ensuring privacy
  5. Leveraging emerging technologies
  6. Managing system implementation
  7. Enabling decision support and managing performance
  8. Governing and managing IT investment/spending
  9. Preventing and responding to fraud
  10. Managing vendors and service providers

Here are the top technology initiatives considered having the most impact:

  1. Information security
  2. Remote access
  3. Control and use of mobile devices
  4. Business process improvement with technology
  5. Data retention policies and structure
  6. Privacy policies and compliance
  7. Staff and management training
  8. Spreadsheet management
  9. Overall data proliferation and control
  10. Portals (vendor and client/customer)

This information comes from the AICPA survey conducted early this year. There were 2,259 AICPA member responses.

To me, a very important observation made by Kepczyk is the fact that a public accounting firm’s technology manager/director must now become much more strategic in their focus and become the competent technology visionary for the firm.

Today’s quote says a lot about leadership, people and technology in CPA firms.

  • There go the people. I must follow them for I am their leader.
  • Alexandre Ledru-Rollin