“One of the profession’s most well-read and highly respected”
From personal assistant to true COO: How firms are delineating the job.
Sophisticated CPA firms are adding the position of firm administrator at an an increasing rate. But there is still little consistency in what that entails. Some firm administrators have the authority and responsibility of a chief financial officer or chief operating officer. Others may be little more than personal assistants to the managing partner.
After years of study at hundreds of CPA firms, practice management consultant Marc Rosenberg has formulated a 16-item checklist by which to gauge an FA’s role within a firm. in “CPA Firm Management and Governance,” where his findings are spelled out, he plots the 16 criteria along a three-point scale of authority, showing how an FA’s duties evolve from the lowest level of authority to the highest level.
Some things are predictable. It’s clear that one key measure of an FA’s role is their relationship to the managing partner (MP). At the lowest level, they are an aide de camp. At the highest, they operate as a COO alongside the MP as CEO.
But other things are less predictable, and this is where Rosenberg’s study breaks new ground. Rosenberg, for instance, has been able to chart the evolution of the FA role using more subtle criteria, such as their activities in mergers, partner meetings, budgeting and strategic planning.
Here is his analysis, plotted on a grid: READ MORE →
Taxpayers surge into e-filing.
Growth in do-it-yourself electronic filing of tax returns is advancing by more than 4% this year. But among tax professionals, it’s flat this year, after a 3% decline last year.
Tax guru Bob Jennings (CPA, EA, CFP, and RTRP) has been polling past attendees of his CPE seminars about Tax Season 2013.
Clearly, tax professionals are still seething. “We sent our survey out and it must have pushed a button because the responses overwhelmed our servers,” says Jennings, taxspeaker.com.
The results may not surprise you. But they are sobering nevertheless.
He offers new data on: workloads, profits, software, volume of returns handled, retirement plans, and the use of engagement letters and portals.
Here are the highlights so far: READ MORE →
In a 43-item checklist based on surveys of the best-run firms in the nation, Marc Rosenberg, author of “CPA Firm Management and Governance: The Managing Partner’s Guide to Running a CPA Firm Like a Business,” details the allocation of duties and responsibilities that distinguish the separate roles of the managing partner as CEO and firm administrator as COO.
It’s easy to see why the managing partner should be the executive most responsible for holding partners accountable. But other questions are not so clear: Who manages the banking relationships? Who works with partners to set goals? Who’s responsible for profitability?
The answers may surprise you. If they don’t, then you’re already doing everything right.
Here’s the checklist:
The end of tax season makes a wonderful time to gain the genius of hindsight before the memories fade.
To create your very own business season-in-review, ask yourself these five questions and prepare your answers thoughtfully.
- What were your major accomplishments for the season?
- What were you most proud of?
- What was your biggest lesson?
- What person in your life was most helpful or motivating for you?
- Is there a negative person in your life you need to spend less time with?
- How will you celebrate or reward yourself?
– Sandi Smith, CPA
And 12 retreat topic no-no’s.
by August Aquila
Author of “Leadership At Its Strongest”
The purpose of the retreat should be clearly thought out early in the year. Articulate one or two goals for the retreat. You need to be very specific as to what you want to accomplish. For example, the purpose of the retreat is to develop a succession plan for the firm. You many not know exactly what it will look like, but you know what the end product of the retreat will be.
If you cannot do this, don’t hold the meeting. Ask yourself this one question: “What would happen if we did not hold this retreat?” If the answer is “nothing,” you’ll know what to do.
Retreat topic no-no’s
Let’s look at common retreat topics that should not be discussed at a retreat. You may or not agree with the list, but I urge you to strike the following items from your retreat agendas. READ MORE →
The end of every busy season means a new beginning for practitioners, which is why we thought this Q-and-A was particularly timely.
By Ed Mendlowitz
Question: Do you have any suggestions for the New Year?
Answer: Checklist of things to do in the New Year:
- Stop marking SALY next to your new year’s resolutions. Make one or two big time life goals resolutions that you will do. READ MORE →
And why it will cost you.
By Sandi Smith Leyva, CPA
There are five simple steps to getting more clients. But, guess what, most accountants make a big mistake along the way.
First, here are the five steps to get more clients: READ MORE →
And why it sometimes doesn’t.
- Five generic reasons to advertise
- The 15 basics of accounting advertising
- The 18 benefits advertising can provide an accounting firm
By Bruce W. Marcus
Professional Services Marketing 3.0
Advertising in CPA firms services has a strange history. More words and more dollars have been wasted on it, and less seems to have been learned from its mistakes than from any other marketing tool we currently use. READ MORE →
by Marc Rosenberg
Author of What Really Makes CPA Firms Profitable?
At a monthly roundtable of 25 managing partners from most of Chicago’s largest local firms, several highlights emerged, including insights into:
- Partner comp
- Non-equity partners
- The impact of not-for-profits on profitability
- Realization rates
- Increasing staff-to-partner leverage
- Collecting receivables
[CLICK TO PLAY]
Jennifer Warawa, Vice President, Partner Programs & Channel Sales at Sage, says marketing isn’t just for larger firms. It’s just for firms that want to be successful.
Updated with responses from May 2013.
The latest update to the topline results for the CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer shows additional confirmation of four key findings, beginning with the across-the-board problems of a late-starting season and buggy software.
How did your season compare? We’d love to hear. Send your comments, rants raves, ideas, or questions to me here. – Rick Telberg
Key Finding #1: Most practitioners, across all size firms, report a tougher 2013 than 2012. (See chart below for comparisons by size of firm.) READ MORE →
Especially in these trying times, partners must show leadership by accepting the consequences of their actions – or their inaction.
Accountability is the essence of your success, according to management consultant August Aquila, author of “Leadership At Its Strongest: What Successful Managing Partners Do.”
“I don’t think that the average partner takes accountability seriously,” Aquila says. “If they did, they would take their individual goals more seriously and not let their fellow partners down.” READ MORE →
By Ed Mendlowitz
Author of “Implementing Fee Increases“
I received two related questions, which I’ll answer together.
First Question: I am nearing retirement and want to sell my practice to two longtime staff people, but they don’t get along, and I’m afraid to sell to them. What should I do?
Second Question: I have a large individual tax practice, but also have an audit practice that is handled by different staff in my firm. How do I sell this practice? None of the larger buyers want the tax clients and none of the smaller buyers want the audit clients. READ MORE →
What to do when democracy no longer works.
When firms are still small or just starting out, the partners often share a culture of democracy, shared burdens, personal freedom, and the opportunity for high earnings. But all that changes if the firm becomes successful.
In this article, Marc Rosenberg, author of “CPA Firm Management and Governance:”
- Identifies four key factors of a start-up firm’s culture.
- How those factors change with success and growth.
- The development of management and leadership committees.
- The functions and roles of a management committee.
- The functions and roles of an executive committee.
- How they differ.
- Where a compensation committee fits in.
- 11 key duties for the executive committee.
- 5 major decisions reserved for the full partner group.
Simple easy activities to boost your business.
By Sandi Smith, CPA
Every working day, we’re all slammed with hundreds of things to do. We might need to occasionally slow down and ask ourselves whether we are working on the most profitable things we could for our business. Are we constantly fighting fires, dealing with urgent but not important client matters and neglecting the things that could grow our business?
Here’s how to move off this treadmill to create a “money maker hour” in your business: READ MORE →
Driving the client-driven practice.
By Bruce W. Marcus
Professional Services Marketing 3.0
The conventional wisdom is that it costs more to get a new client than to keep an old one. And for once, the conventional wisdom is correct.
Yet, many professionals too readily take clients for granted. Or don’t look for opportunities to increase revenues from perfectly satisfied clients.
Then there’s the classic story of the client who went to another firm for a particular service. “Why didn’t you come to me for that service?”
“Because I didn’t know you did it.” It happens too often. READ MORE →