Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

What You May Have Missed This Last Week

The following is just a quick recap of my blog topics from this week. Perhaps you were too busy with last minute tax issues and then too busy celebrating the end of tax season to read some of these:

Monday, April 17th – Just for Fun – Taglines & Slogans (What’s your firm’s tagline?)

Tuesday, April 18th – What Will You Do Next Week? (Go ahead and recover after busy season…. but make it quick.)

Wednesday, April 19th – Virtual Employees Made Easier (The rise of the robot!)

Thursday, April 20th – Success in the CPA Profession (Now it is time to live in the real world – not home, not high school, not college. It is the world of work.)

Friday, April 21st – International Understanding (All CPAs, young or old should have some understanding of international issues, tax, etc.)

Scroll down this webpage and read about these topics, then do some other reading this weekend. Reading is a big part of life-long learning.

  • "The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change, the way I see it, is service to a fellow human being."
  • Lee Iacocca

Friday, April 21st, 2017

International Understanding

“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” – Peter Drucker

Not that many years ago, CPA firms in the U.S.A. didn’t need to know much about international affairs. In fact, most people in firms never even thought about international implications.

All that has changed. Even some very small firms now have international clients and U.S. clients operating internationally.

If you work for a large corporation, accepting international assignments is expected if you want to advance your career.

Reading an article on HBR – Will refusing an International Assignment Derail Your Career? – made me think about what CPA firms are doing to educate their workforce about the business aspects of international operations.

In many firms there are partners who are well versed in international business. But, how far down the ladder does this type of knowledge go?

My questions for millennial CPAs, will the lack of international business knowledge and experience derail your career?

  • "If people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust you, they'll do business with you."
  • Zig Ziglar

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Success in the CPA Profession

You majored in accounting. You enjoyed all of your accounting courses.

You researched all the best CPA firms and interviewed with many – large, mid-size and small. Some were near home and some were in bigger, more vibrant cities.

You received offers from a few and made your decision.

Now it is time to live in the real world – not home, not high school and not college. It is the world of work.

You are in the world of building a career as a professional and easing into adulthood. It’s about learning what it means to be a professional along with all kinds of accounting, audit and tax topics. It’s learning about the business world and what to do to make a small (or large) business successful. It is about understanding people, getting along with them, eventually influencing them and enjoying working with them. It’s about earning the respect and trust of your clients and peers.

Maybe this quote from Vince Lombardi about football will help you.

“Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”

  • "If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride - and never quit, you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards."
  • Paul Bryant

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Virtual Employees Made Easier

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

In case you missed it, I wanted give you a link to an article in the latest issue of Accounting Today – Rise of the robot. It’s pretty cool.

We have been talking about remote and virtual employees and how to deal with them for several years now. Things continually evolve and firms are learning how to manage the ever-changing world of employee engagement and retention.

beam_pro_sizedOne firm, Navolio & Tallman featured in the article, is now using a machine called the Beam mobile presence system as their mobile conference set-up for individuals working virtually.

Think of the episode of Big Bang where Sheldon wants to protect his body from the hazards of the world and begins using a virtual presence machine.

Check out the article and the pictures. It also proves that you don’t have to be a humongous firm to do some very creative things. N&T has 3 partners and 18 people.

The firm’s work-from-home culture is thriving. They have a compressed work week, after April 15. Employees work 9 hours a day Monday through Thursday, and work from home Friday with the day ending at noon. During tax season, staff members do work on Saturdays, but they can do that from home as well.

I believe the best message for retaining top talent is simple. Invest in technology.

 

  • "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

What Will You Do Next Week?

“The mind should be allowed some relaxation, that it may return to its work all the better for the rest.” – Seneca

It’s here. Tax day 2017. After today it will be officially over for a while.

What will you do next? I’m sure many of you will take a few days off. Some will take more than a few days off. Then what?

I repeat my message every year around this time….. don’t wait on focusing more intensely on issues that need to be addressed at your firm.

I used to joke and say that most CPAs go into a coma-like trance for about three weeks basically doing nothing and then they take a week’s vacation claiming they must “recover” from tax season.

Go ahead, recover but you better make it quick. Times are changing, technology is changing, the workforce is changing, firms are changing and the profession is changing. Don’t wait until June or July to tackle firm initiatives. Make a list of high priority items and begin NO LATER than May 1.

If retaining top talent is an initiative for your firm, please don’t procrastinate on giving them feedback. Some firms put off the official feedback meetings until fall. Something else is always more important.

If you haven’t identified your firm’s most pressing initiatives, get your retreat scheduled quickly – have your retreat in July rather than November!

For tomorrow and maybe even the rest of this week, put all of this out of your mind. Then next week take action.

  • "It is necessary to relax your muscles when you can. Relaxing your brain is fatal."
  • Sterling Moss

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Just for Fun – Taglines and Slogans

“Semper fidelis” – Marine Corps motto

I think everyone knows who you mean when you refer to the tagline – Just do it! Can the people working inside your firm quickly recite your tagline? It is something familiar to your clients?

Just for fun, here are some famous taglines from over the years. I bet you can remember the company using the tagline:

  • Finger Lickin’ Good
  • The king of beers
  • Because I’m worth it
  • Let your fingers do the walking
  • Don’t leave home without it
  • M’m! M’m! Good!
  • Where’s the beef
  • The ultimate driving machine
  • Got milk?
  • We try harder
  • The happiest place on earth

More fun…. thanks to Accounting Today, I found a list of CPA firm taglines. Many incorporate the words:  Numbers, add, and passion.

  • Beyond the numbers
  • Strength in numbers
  • It all adds up
  • Our strength. Your numbers.
  • The passion to unlock potential
  • Passion works here
  • Turning vision into value
  • Delivering on the promise
  • Your success is our business
  • See beyond the numbers

For even more fun, here are some law firm taglines:

  • We take it personally
  • Solving your legal puzzle
  • Law. Life. Passion.
  • Right there with you
  • Getting it done
  • Results. Period.
  • Unusually good
  • Fewer lawyers. Bigger impact.
  • Small but mighty
  • Ready for trial!
  • We make the complex simple
  • Putting imagination to work

My firm used “Pushing the Possibilities.” How about your firm? I hope you have something catchy!

  • "Slogans rarely convince the unconvinced. However, they do rally the troops already on your side."
  • John McCarthy

Friday, April 14th, 2017

A Short, Simple Message For Friday

“Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime.” -Rachel Wolchin

 

Words matter.

  • "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
  • Mother Teresa

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

The Next Generation of the CPA Exam

“Success is no accident It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love os what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

I just received a press release about the new Exam.

AICPA_ThisWayToCPA_logo_WEB-1jl846vNational Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and Prometric are pleased to announce the successful launch of an updated version of the Uniform CPA Examination.

The next generation Exam, which began testing on April 1, has added additional assessment of higher-order cognitive skills that test a candidate’s critical thinking, problem solving and analytical ability. The Exam also makes greater use of task-based simulations (TBSs) as a means of assessing these higher-order skills. Recent research confirms that CPAs are now performing tasks that rely upon these skills earlier in their careers.

Follow this link to read the press release and the most important changes to the CPA Exam.

  • "That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence."
  • Leonard Nimoy

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Your Cultural Norm

“Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Sometimes it is the little things that make up what your firm culture is really like.

  • When a client has left a voice message for you to call them back, do you do it right away or procrastinate for a day or more?
  • Partners often short-cut firm processes.
  • When the front desk person is really busy and the phone rings more than three times, does almost everyone ignore it?
  • When the coffee pot is empty, the last person simply puts it back on the burner and walks away.
  • When the printer is out of paper, the next user simply decides to use another printer rather than load paper.
  • When a client is sitting in the lobby, employees pass through and just ignore them.
  • Yes, when there is no toilet paper left on the roll in the wash room, it is simply ignored by most people.

Or, do you really have a culture of caring, teamwork and passion for the firm?

  • Client calls are returned (almost always) within 4 to 6 hours.
  • No one dodges an incoming telephone call.
  • All partners set a good example.
  • Partners and team members never hesitate to pick up trash in the parking lot.
  • Everyone cleans up messes in the lunch room and makes coffee.
  • “It’s not my job” is never even a fleeting thought among the team.
  • Someone occasionally brings in Starbucks coffee and treats for the lunch room.
  • People seem almost anxious to tell outsiders where they work and how great it is.
  • Partners return reviewed jobs within a day or let you know why they can’t and when it will be returned.

Just contemplating, this morning, how firm cultures are built. If you don’t help build a firm culture one will form anyway – on its own – and it might not be what you want it to be.

  • "Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, the first often tasting like the second."
  • Edward Abbey

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Retire or Get Retired?

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.” – Doug Larson

I recently read an interview with actor Christopher Walken. He is 73.

He talked about taking any acting job that came his way these days because he is aging and not that many do come his way. As an actor, any job can be your last job.

It made me think of the many aging CPAs working in firms right now. As the baby boomers age, more and more are over the age of 65 and I encounter quite a few who are 70 – or nearing that age.

I also realize that many younger CPAs in these firms really want the older partners to retire. They are thinking the older partners should play the retirement card – just do it! Eventually, some will be forced out. Sure, it might be gently or it might not.

I don’t personally feel that partners should be forced out just because of age. It should be based on how productive they are and what contributions they make to the success of the firm. I continually hear of partners in their 40s and 50s who are NOT productive and don’t really contribute that much to the success of the firm.

However, if you are a more senior partner, is it time? Do you feel the unverbalized pressure? Wouldn’t you rather retire than “get retired”?

  • "There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want."
  • Bill Watterson