Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Your Mentor

“Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

If you are working in the CPA profession, should have a mentor. I don’t care if you are a 50-something partner (or 60-something), find someone who will tell you the trust and work on improving yourself.

Don’t rely on your mentor. You should seek out their help if you need it. I love this story from Stephen R. Covey:

“When I was just 20 years old, I served as an assistant to the president of an organization. One time I asked him, “Why don’t you ever give me any feedback? You never tell me if you like my speeches.” And he said, “Do you want to be dependent upon me? You know within yourself what’s happening. If you want some help, you just ask me. I’m here. “From then on, I was free of the president. I didn’t have to worry about his reaction. He never praised me or blamed me, but if I wanted help, he’d give it. So I would ask him, “What do you think of this.” He served me as a source of help.”

 

  • "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. "
  • Gandhi

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Due Date Decisions

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” – Ralph Marston

The extended due date is here.

You and your team have been working very hard during a time of year when you should not have to work so hard.

You have those fire-drill clients that almost always hold you hostage right up until the drop-dead extension deadline. It is frustrating. Your team wonders why you put up with these clients.

Why do you? Putting extra strain and frustration on your employees in times where employees are valuable and new ones are difficult to cultivate doesn’t seem like a good plan.

Use this client retention analysis form to help you sort out which clients to outplace.

Or, just ask your employees to vote for 5 clients that they would enjoy seeing gone from the client list.

 

  • "Hope fills the holes in my frustration in my heart."
  • Emanuel Cleaver

Friday, September 14th, 2018

Are You a Hurdle or a Linchpin? – Flashback Friday

“When you are living the best version of yourself, you inspire others to live the best versions of themselves.” – Steve Maraboli

If you asked everyone working inside your busy CPA firm to tell you the absolute truth, would they categorize you as a Linchpin or a Hurdle?

Read more about how to become indispensable in this flashback post from November 2017.

 

 

  • "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
  • John Quincy Adams

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

GOFER or NOT?

 “In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.” – Jeff Bezos

Is your firm administrator (aka, Practice Manager) a gofer or a take-charger?

Many CPA firms have various titles for the person this person. Often it depends on the size of the firm. It could be an office manager, executive assistant, firm administrator, director of administration, chief operating officer, practice manager, and others.

No matter what the title, the mission is the same, to save partners valuable time. What the partners do with that “saved” time is a topic for another day.

It is an executive position and, over time, takes complete responsibility for the operations of the firm. This means everything that goes on behind the scenes. Most Practice Manager job descriptions are quite expansive and include processes, procedures, human resources, financial activities, marketing, facilities, and technology. If you need a sample job description, let me know.

If your managing partner is using this person as a gofer (someone who just does what they are told and immediately reports back), you’ve got it all wrong.

It is a take-charge position and if you have someone who is happy being a gofer, you’ve got the wrong person.

If you are in this role and not operating at a take-charge level, don’t hesitate to speak up and ask for more responsibility, training, and education. So much is available via the CPA Firm Management Association.

  • "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
  • Steve Jobs

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

Improve Your Writing

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain

Accountants must be good at numbers and they also need to be good writers.

According to a recent post by Grammarly, many writers use filler words and phrases and they also use hedging words because they don’t want to appear demanding and bossy.

I am guilty of using hedging words and I never realized it. I also observe that many accountants do the same.

Here are some good examples via Grammarly:

Slightly

I’m slightly annoyed by Kate’s repeated tardiness.

Sort of, Kind of

Their plan was kind of short-sighted.

Rather, somewhat

The play was rather interesting.

Quite

His car is quite fast.

Probably

We should probably wait to send that email until we have final approval.

If you need to learn more ways to improve your writing, read the entire post.

  • "Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
  • Mark Twain

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

Trust Those Around You

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway

Trust is a word that is thrown around the CPA profession all of the time. “Most Trusted Advisor” is familiar to most of you. CPAs have been claiming that mantra for many years now.

I see that the AICPA even has a Trusted Client Advisor Toolbox and Workshop.

Let’s explore trust a little deeper as it exists inside accounting firms. Here’s a familiar story about firm administrators. The administrator is an experienced professional. He/She takes over most of the day-to-day operations of the firm from the partners and implements procedures to make processes flow smoothly inside the firm. Soon the managing partner is distanced from the details (a very good thing) and can focus on managing the partners. The managing partner trusts that the firm administrator will take care of things.

Trust imparts obligation. The firm administrator takes that responsibility very seriously and works diligently to not disappoint the partners.

In my consulting work, I have experienced many situations where staff members do not trust the partners (owners). Building trust that goes both ways is a continual activity in a firm with a healthy culture. Not there yet? Keep working at it.

  • "Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work."
  • Warren Bennis

Monday, September 10th, 2018

2018 Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting

So honored, humbled and thrilled to be part of this wonderful group of people. It is a special feeling to know so many of them personally. Congratulations to all. Here’s a link to the list.

Can you find me in the picture? I am behind the No. 1!

2018 top 100

  • "It ain't the heat, it's the humility."
  • Yogi Berra

Friday, September 7th, 2018

A CPA Partner’s Primary Mission – Flashback Friday

“Make each day your masterpiece.” – John Wooden

If you are a partner in a CPA firm or if you want to be a partner in a CPA firm, one simple act can set the tone for the entire culture of the firm. Set a good example.

As I talk with firm administrators, practice managers, marketing directors, HR directors and staff inside CPA firms around the country, almost all tell me that the people who do not follow the processes and guidelines are the partners.

Here is a post from 2016 about setting a good example. Are you a Dynamo or a Cruiser?

  • "Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."
  • John Wooden

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Three Factors in Effective Firm Management from Koltin

“If the role of managing partner isn’t valued, don’t give up your day job.” – Alan Koltin

KoltinLast evening I watched a short video via the Journal of Accountancy by Alan Koltin. He is so right-on, I loved it. I hope you’ll take just two and one-half minutes to learn about three factors in effective firm management.

I have observed that so many firms have little respect for the role of managing partner. Some even think that it is something the person designated should do in their spare time.

There are many factors of success in managing an accounting firm but Koltin has featured the big three:

  1. Talent
  2. Setting management up for success (authority)
  3. Valuing the role

Watch the video or read the transcript here.

  • "Instead of being a speedboat, often you are like the Titantic."
  • Alan Koltin

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

Fire Drill Clients

“Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others.” – Tom Robbins

September 15th is approaching rapidly. You are so unhappy with those clients that ignore all of your requests for their information. Once the fire drill is over, take time to review your client list and decide on the ones that simply must go.

According to Arvid Mostad, President of Mostad & Christensen, Inc., a well-known supplier of quality marketing materials to the CPA profession, here are the 15 habits of bad clients:
  1. Slow paying or non-payment of fees.
  2. Write-downs always exceed write-ups.
  3. Client frequently complains about billings.
  4. Client is unwilling to pay for added services.
  5. Not profitable when compared to other clients.
  6. Personality conflict with partners and staff.
  7. Client conduct makes staff uncomfortable.,
  8. Client is abusive to staff, even if civil to partners.
  9. Client fails to cooperate or provide information on a timely basis.
  10. Client doesn’t listen to advice given, then complains about results.
  11. Client projects are always on a crisis time schedule.
  12. Client expresses lack of trust in the firm’s work.
  13. Client is less than truthful.
  14. Client has taken on new ventures outside the firm’s area of expertise.
  15. Client’s activities expose the firm to liability.

Use this list to help identify the clients that need to be referred elsewhere.

  • "Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion . . . . I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. "
  • Kurt Vonnegut