Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Old Friends

I think the old saying, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold” applies to all of us. It certainly does to me. I love my new friends (clients, neighbors, business associates) and I sincerely treasure the old friends, especially the ones I have made through Triple-A, now called: CPAFMA (CPA Firm Management Association).

Those CPAFMA friends are spread across the country. But, there is a special group that are (or were) members of the Indiana Chapter of AAA. It is where I first met other people called firm administrators back in the late 1980s. In those early years, we also had joint meetings with the Illinois Chapter. Many of those former members are very near and dear to me, too.

Roman Kepczyk, of Right Networks, is one of those members I met very early on, even though he was in Arizona. He has been an advisor to the national CPFMA organization for many years. He was coming to Indianapolis to speak to the Chapter this last Friday. So, with Virginia Lowery’s urging, I contacted several old friends and we arranged a reunion so we could all visit with Roman again on Thursday evening before his presentation to the Chapter on Friday.

We had a wonderful evening and shared so many great memories of many, many national conferences. We had FIVE past national presidents/chairs in attendance. You can see the entire president list here.

Pictured from left front and around the table: Bill Leach, Virginia Lowery, Colleen Endres, Peggy Burnstein, Anita Goetz, Me, Treva Olson, Donna Cimino, Bill’s wife Nancy, and Roman. (Treva’s husband Ric also attended but is not in the picture.)

I know many of you are members of CPAFMA. Keep those old friends near and dear – they are gold. The quote, below, certainly applies to CPAFMA members.

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  • "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'"
  • C. S. Lewis

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Flashback Friday – Client Service is Your Best Marketing

“If you are doing what everyone else is doing, if you are inside the band of common, then it’s not an approach that will move you forward.”  – Seth Godin

What is your firm known for? Accuracy, understanding, caring, knowledge, maybe expensive?

Has anyone said that you have the best client service? Read more here.

Happy Friday – I hope you enjoy a wonderful summer weekend!

 

  • "There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else."
  • Sam Walton

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

The Busyness Paradox

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter F. Drucker

I love the above quote from Drucker. It certainly applies to some of the work inside a CPA firm.

I have observed that in most CPA firms, there is a culture of busyness. It creeps into how you talk and how you act or react.

You need to do this but you get distracted by that. Just having to quickly check your email turns into an hour or two. You become focused on the immediate rather than the important.

I just read an informative article via HBR by Brigid Schulte – Preventing Busyness from Becoming Burnout.

The author states: “I largely blamed myself for not making the time to do more ambitious, high-priority work, or managing to get it all done within reasonable hours and have more time for life. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to see how I was trapped in a busyness tunnel.”

Here’s an excerpt that explains the Busyness Paradox:

Here’s how the busyness paradox works: When we’re busy and have that high-octane, panicked feeling that time is scarce — what one participant called the “sustained moment of hecticness” through the workday — our attention and ability to focus narrows. Behavioral researchers call this phenomenon “tunneling.” And, like being in a tunnel, we’re only able to concentrate on the most immediate, and often low value, tasks right in front of us. (Research has found we actually lose about 13 IQ points in this state.) We run around putting out fires all day, racing to meetings, ploughing through emails, and getting to 5 or 6 PM with the sick realization that we haven’t even started our most important work of the day.

I am sure much of this sounds all too familiar to all of us who have worked, or who are currently working, inside a “busy” CPA firm! It is a serious issue in the CPA profession and one that drives young workers away from public accounting.

Take a few minutes to read the entire article. The author gives you “3 Ways to Break Your Employees Out of the Busyness Paradox.”

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Partners Doing Partner Work

“Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don’t want..to impress people that they don’t like.” –Will Rogers

Many CPA firm partners do manager work, client service manager work. Many CPA firm partners do internal management/administrative work, firm administrator/COO work.

Don’t get caught in these traps.

Some partners use management/administrative work to fill idle time when they should be:

  1. Bringing in new business
  2. Training/Mentoring/Sponsoring younger team members
  3. Building stronger client relationships

Your COO/Firm Administrator should be continually taking non-billable work away from the managing partner and the other partners.

Here’s how much money a COO could save partners annually. The BIG issue is, the partners must use the saved hours to create revenue!

Save Ptr money

  • "Money often costs too much."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Don’t Complain, Do Something

“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” – Teddy Roosevelt

There is a lot of complaining and what I call drama going on inside accounting firms. That’s why the quote, above, inspired this post.

Most of us have learned this one: When a team member comes to you for an answer, redirect them and ask them to come to you with the question and also with a suggested solution.

When leaders identify an issue, a challenge, an idea… they often fail to act. It is the classic failure to implement. It turns into a session of whining.

whiningMaybe it is time to buy a sign. You can get one for $1.39.

 

  • "You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. "
  • Shirley Chisholm

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Business Getting Means Making Friends

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” – Woodrow Wilson

Maybe they didn’t talk about it when you were interviewed for the job. That interview might have been this year, last year or MANY years ago. Sometimes, it is even a big surprise to a Manager in a firm. If you want to be really successful, advance to owner and make a lot of money working in public accounting, you need to bring in new business.

You love accounting and making sense of it all to help clients become successful. You love tax and all the challenges and creativity that advising clients demands. You do NOT love selling.

But wait! It’s easy. The most important aspect of bringing new clients to the firm is liking people and enjoying making new friends.

It is something you should have learned in pre-school or kindergarten, meeting other people and making them your friends.

If you like people, they will like you. If you don’t really like (and enjoy) dealing with people, why are you in PUBLIC accounting?

  • "Friendship consists in forgetting what one gives and remembering what one receives."
  • Alexander Dumas

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Be Brave. Ask Questions.

It happens daily in accounting firms. Younger, less experienced staff members hesitate, and even fear, to ask what they consider a dumb question.

Yet, one brave soul will often ask it and then everyone nods their head and admits that they wondered the same thing. I love people who ask the dumb question.

That’s why this quote means so much to you as you build your career in accounting:

“No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Beginning this week, no matter how many or how few years of experience you have – be brave, ask questions.

  • "What makes us human, I think, is an ability to ask questions."
  • Jane Goodall

Friday, July 12th, 2019

Flashback Friday – There Are Many Ways to 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

I have observed that many experienced CPAs seem hesitant when it comes to mentoring younger accountants. They want to know:

  • What exactly do I say?
  • What shouldn’t I say?
  • How often should we meet?
  • Where should we meet?
  • And, the list goes on…

Here’s this week’s flashback post: There Are Many Ways to Mentor Someone.

  • "To add value to others, one must first value others."
  • John Maxwell

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

The Importance of the Firm Administrator

The majority of people in the accounting profession operate at Levels I and II. – Gary Boomer

There is a good article by Gary Boomer via Accounting Today – Leadership, Management, and Administration: What’s the difference”

Here are some tidbits:

Boomer refers to Jim Collins’ five levels of leadership from his book “Good to Great.” He defines the levels as:

  • Level I: Capable individual
  • Level II: Contributing team member
  • Level III: Competent manager
  • Level IV: Effective leader
  • Level V: Executive

Administrative personnel are often expected to have all the skills, especially in smaller firms that have a part-time managing partner or CEO. This is a monumental task, and often people are set up to fail in the role of firm administrator. People in these positions require professional development, peer networks, and management resources to succeed. The biggest risk is they are viewed by many accountants, including some partners, as overhead, rather than as a strategic asset.

It’s a great article – Read the entire article here.

  • "People leave firms because of bad managers, not because of the firm. "
  • Gary Boomer

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

5 Hidden Challenges

“I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.” – Machiavelli

I followed a link via Twitter by Joey Havens, the Executive Partner at Horne, LLP. @JoeyHavensCPA

It led me to – 5 Hidden Challenges.. that are drowning the accounting profession.  – These challenges are what we call, cultural quicksand. Firms that understand and avoid hidden cultural quicksand will experience an abundance of growth and enduring prosperity. What got us here as a profession will not get us where we need to go. Do not let challenges that slow us down remain hidden.

Check it out and share it with your partners.

 

  • "Pessimism doesn't grow your business or even maintain the status quo. The pessimists on your staff make the job harder for everyone around them. They make difficulties out of opportunities."
  • Harvey Mackay