Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

State of the Firm (SOTF)

“Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality. – Dalai Lama

When I was working inside a successful, growing firm, we did a state of the firm event every year. We brought everyone together from our three offices for a full morning of information and fun. It was a great time for people from different offices to see and talk to each other face-to-face. Our team seemed to enjoy hearing about the progress of the firm and news about what might happen in the future. It was held in the Spring, usually in May. We had just over 100 people.

This morning I read an article about Withum’s annual SOTF event where they bring together over 1,000 people! They hold theirs in January. Read all about it here.

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

It is my observation that people working in an accounting firm want to be included. They want to know what’s going on and how the firm is doing. It is a great recruiting and retention tool. Your people read about these events at other firms and probably wonder why their firm isn’t doing it.

  • "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."
  • Benjamin Franklin

Monday, January 21st, 2019

It’s Healthy to Stand

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” – H. G. Wells

I noticed a news article about a firm unveiling new offices in a new market.

The firm, Lutz,  offers accounting services including tax, bookkeeping, and business consulting to individuals and organizations in a variety of industries. The company was founded by Ralph Lutz in 1980 in Omaha as the CPA firm of Lutz, Kinsey, Friedman & Meyers. They also have offices in Grand Island, Lincoln, and Hastings, Nebraska.

Check out the picture of two of their accountants utilizing the stand-up desk option. Are you offering the option to your team members yet?

standup

  • "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
  • Winston Churchill

Friday, January 18th, 2019

Punctuality

I have always admired punctuality in others. There is an old saying:

Punctuality is the politeness of kings.

Here’s the story of where that saying originated:

Kings (especially before the [French] revolution) didn’t need to be punctual. They could show up when they wanted. After all, people would wait for them. But [King Louis XVIII of France, to whom the quote is often attributed] suggests that one way a king can show respect for other people is to meet them at the appointed time. If this is true for kings, it certainly is true for you and me.

  • "In the ordinary business of life punctuality is... necessary."
  • Bertrand Russell

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Square Feet Per Person

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” – Jane Austen

A firm administrator, managing partner or a firm owner faces many things as they try to effectively and profitably manage a growing, successful accounting firm.

One question that might arise is how much office space do we need? It is usually computed via using square feet per person. Of course, now it is even more complex because you have many people working remotely.

Nevertheless, I thought some numbers might be of interest to you. Here are some examples I gathered a few years ago from some actual firms.

  • Firm #1 – 295 sq. ft. per person
  • Firm #2 – 270
  • Firm #3 – 224
  • Firm #4 – 253
  • Firm #5 – 290
  • Firm #6 – 280
  • Firm #7 – 254
  • Firm #8 – 282
  • Firm #9 – 275
  • Firm #10 – 300
  • Firm #11 – 178
  • "Privacy is not something that I'm merely entitled to, it's an absolute prerequisite."
  • Marlon Brando

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

The Battle Inside You

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I read this somewhere many years ago. It is so true. I have read this fable before and, you can find lots of good posts using it on the web. In your work life, it is very tempting to focus on the negative.


I believe that you become who you associate with. Jim Rohn once said, You‘re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

 
Haven’t you ever found yourself beginning to think and talk negative most of the time and then suddenly realize that you have been hanging around negative people most of the workday? I bet you can quickly name the people in your firm who always seem to feel sorry for themselves, who poke fun at others and seem to feel pleasure from getting even.

My advice: Don’t walk away from negative people……. RUN!!

Try this tip I learned at a conference many years ago. Put a rubber band on your wrist. If you suddenly realize you are talking negatively to another person, SNAP the rubber band (stretch it way out) against your wrist so that it stings, just as a reminder. Wear the rubber band all week and see how many stings you feel.

Focus on feeding the good wolf. The good wolf likes positive self-image, kindness, understanding, positive attitude, tolerance, and laughter. Even during this busy time of year, take time to count your blessings. Smile more, it makes people wonder what you are up to.
 

  • "Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end."
  • Roy T. Bennett

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Say It…. Or Not?

“It is a great mistake ever to say anything when you needn’t.” – Agatha Christie 

Communication is an issue inside most CPA firms. Almost every issue my clients need to address can be traced back to communication.

Usually, it means that there is not nearly enough communication. Often, there is communication but not done in the right manner.

An example wrong communication: Betty is almost always late. She is scheduled to arrive at 8:30 but often actually arrives at 9:00 or later. Partners are bothered by this behavior. So, an email is sent to the entire team reminding them that they are expected to arrive before 8:30 each morning. Everyone knows they mean Betty and it results in lots of complaining (among the team) and loss of respect for the partners.

On the other hand, leaders sometimes actually say too much. They might confide their displeasure with other partners to a manager or even to a member of the admin team. Thus, the quote from Agatha Christie, above, applies.

 

  • "A fool is made more of a fool, when their mouth is more open than their mind.” "
  • Anthony Liccione

Monday, January 14th, 2019

CAS – Client Accounting Services

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

I have been talking to my clients a lot recently about CAS (Client Accounting Services). To me, for many firms, it is something that they should pursue. Even many of the Top 100 firms are using it and capitalizing on a growing and profitable opportunity.

Smaller firms seem to be less enthusiastic. For most smaller firms, it does require a digital transformation, elevating technology into a much broader role. Jim Boomer of Boomer Consulting, in a recent article, describes digital transformation:

Digital transformation

First is digital transformation. Moving up the continuum of value from transactional and compliance work to performance and strategic services requires elevating technology a much broader role. We must automate “low or no value” steps in the processes to improve the client experience.

Technology is the foundation of your firm’s ability to move up the continuum of value. So start assessing and evaluating available technologies and considering how your existing clients can benefit from new technologies.

No single software will have all the features to meet the needs of every client. Start with a primary, comprehensive accounting software and then use other add-on solutions that integrate with your main accounting software. This will provide the efficiency gains of automation.

If you want your firm to move from compliance to advisory services, Boomer also warns that your business model must also change. You need to address things like:

  • Value pricing
  • Marketing
  • Staffing
  • Client interaction

Read Jim Boomer’s informative article here.

 

  • "It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."
  • Herman Melville

Friday, January 11th, 2019

What Does Leadership Look Like Podcast

“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water and breeds reptiles of the mind.” – William Blake

Thanks so much to Jessica Salerno of The Ohio Society of CPAs for interviewing me for one of the Society’s podcasts.

Episode info:

As the accounting profession evolves, leadership has to evolve along with it. We spoke with Rita Keller, respected CPA firm management consultant and author of the daily blog “Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders,” on how leadership in accounting has changed over the years, the common leadership mistakes she’s seen, the one thing leaders aren’t doing enough and more.

Click here to listen to the podcast. I also appreciate the Young CPAs of Ohio tweet!

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  • "Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots."
  • Victor Hugo

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

How to Become Virtual

“Mergers generate substantial synergies.” – Roger Altman

Virtual CPA firms have been evolving for many years now. Many have gained much notoriety and a substantial client following.

I enjoyed reading this article about my good friends at Beach Fleischman, a Top 200 firm based in Tucson, Arizona. The joined forces with a smaller firm to create a virtual firm, MOD Ventures, that will service both firms’ outsourced accounting services clients going forward.

Read all about it here, via Accounting Today. Maybe it will motivate you and your firm to become more creative and take advantage of virtual opportunities.

  • "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you."
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Tech Mistakes

“Technology like art is a soaring exercise of the human imagination.” – Daniel Bell

There was an interesting article via the Journal of Accountancy recently that you might want to read. It deals with technology mistakes that you should avoid.

The common mistakes, called “the dirty dozen” by the author (J. Carlton Collins, CPA) are:

  1. Email messages are unencrypted
  2. Old computers are still used
  3. Employees are not adequately trained
  4. Accounting system features are underutilized
  5. Paperless systems are inadequately implemented
  6. Physical security is lacking
  7. Smartphones are underutilized
  8. Cloud computing isn’t used
  9. Work areas are poorly designed
  10. Color printing is underutilized
  11. Social media is underutilized
  12. Websites are inadequate

My hot buttons on this list are #3, #5 and #12. How about you? Be sure to follow the link and read what the author says about each one.

  • "Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday."
  • Steve Jobs