But that’s not the real problem.
A media outlet contacted me the other day to ask:
“What challenges or opportunities do you predict for the accounting profession in 2013?”
Here’s what I told them: READ MORE →
How to remain on track despite setbacks and detours.
by Nick Keseric
Is there a change? Is the economy showing some slight signs of getting a little bit better and stronger? Is it the beginning of a new year that brings new hopes?
I actually believe that some of those frowns that people have been wearing for years are beginning to be turned upside down a little more these days. Do I dare say it, but are we becoming more positive? READ MORE →
‘Tis the season for new promises and plans.
We’ve been asking finance and accounting accounting professionals about what 2013 may hold, and you’ve been answering. To get all the details, click here to join the survey and get the results.
Meanwhile, here are a few sample New Year’s resolutions from colleagues and peers. Some may sound all too familiar from resolutions made in 2012. Personally, I’m still working on the lose-15-pounds resolution from 2012, and, er, 2011, 2010, 2009… Oh well.
– Rick Telberg
President / CEO
New Year’s resolutions from finance and accounting professionals:
And why you need to be more demanding of your IT vendors.
With technology constantly changing the rules of the game, it’s almost impossible to keep up. Let alone to stay a step ahead. But here, from the analysts at SMB Group, are a few trends to watch with your small-business and mid-size-business clients and stakeholders. Some also apply to accounting firms. Many of these trends will need more investment and evangelism from vendors for CPAs and their clients to obtain maximum benefits.
– Rick Telberg
President / CEO
1. Be prepared for the most progessive-thinking clients to sprint ahead of their peers. And watch out for the accounting firms that are doing the same.
Last year we identified a distinct correlation between investments in technology and business performance. Progressive companies and firms are more growth driven, invest more in technology and use technology for competitive advantage. They are also much more likely to anticipate revenue gains than peers whose tech investments are flat or declining—and the gap is widening. READ MORE →
Are you leading, or merely managing or administering?
by Marc Rosenberg, CPA
Author of “CPA Firm Management and Governance”
When attending conferences, we love “aha” moments. Those are moments when a speaker says something so profound that it causes a sudden understanding of a major issue and captures our imagination. We can’t wait to get back to the office, share it with our partners and start implementing the idea.
More on CPA Firm Management and Leadership: Leadership Is Overrated: It’s Good Management that Makes Successful Firms • 40 Great Ways to Improve Firm Profitability • Four Management Metrics that Fool Even the Best-Run Firms • 19 Ways to Improve Accounting Firm Profitability • De-Bunking the Myth about Niche Marketing for Tax and Accounting Firms • Practice Development Is No Longer an Optional Activity • 10 Good Ways the Achieve Partner Accountability • Pick Your Partners Right to Begin With • The First Nine Questions Your Partner Team Needs to Embrace for Optimal Profitability • Profitability and The Value of Strategic Thinking • The Five Essential Building Blocks for Creating a Strong Accounting Firm • The Seven Signs of Great Leadership in a CPA Firm • Compensation Issues for the New Managing Partner •
I had an “aha” moment not so long ago. The speaker was Bob Bunting, long time managing partner of regional firm Moss Adams, a leader in our profession par excellence. He delivered a very simple but powerful statement that described a value system at Moss Adams:
My take on this is: READ MORE →
Two inexpensive gadgets that could save you big money.
More from Ed Mendlowitz, author of “Implementing Fee Increases,” plus: Three and a Half Ways to Get Your Own CPA Practice | Novice Manager Needs to Know: How To Do It All? | Why No One Listens to You | Fun Reads for Busy Season | When NOT to Offer a Free Initial Consultation | Measuring Growth in Yourself, Staff and Partners | What Do You Think You’re Doing? | Can You Teach Judgment? | Clients’ Calls At Home | What You Need to Know before Expanding into Business Valuation |
Question: I’m having a long-standing ‘disagreement’ with my husband about whether we should turn off our home computer when we leave for the day. I like to be as Green as we can, but he’s read somewhere that it causes more ‘wear and tear’ and energy use to be constantly turning things on and off. I think he just doesn’t like to wait for it to start up! What’s your take?
Answer: I’d rather not take sides in a domestic (ahem) power struggle, but as your husband may have found when Googling around on the topic, PC power saving can be a complicated business. Still, I have some tips that may result in a household compromise. I went to a geek colleague, Scott Dare, for his suggestions. READ MORE →
The pragmatic six-step way to evaluate potential new clients.
By Sandi Smith, CPA
Every week, do you get wonderful, exciting calls from new clients who want to use your services? You might want to talk with every one of them to get the sale. The problem is, if you do, you’re likely to go bankrupt. Let me explain.
More for soloists and small firms from at CPA Trendlines: Five Ideas to Reduce Client Price-Sensitivity • Rise to the Top with a Fresh Elevator Speech • Four Ways to Practice Entrepreneurial Perseverance • 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Seeking New Clients • The Success Secrets Women Already Know • His and Her Brains at Work in Tax and Accounting • The Power of Deadlines in Closing a Deal • On the Road to a Stress-Free Life: Identify Your Character Strengths • The Missing Ingredient in Your Marketing That Will Make All the Difference •
Each of us has 24 hours in one day. Most of us have annual revenue goals. A few of us have monthly, weekly, daily, or even hourly revenue goals. Hopefully you know what your revenue goal is. (If not, you should!) If you don’t pull in that level of revenue for the week or month, then you’ve missed your plan.
Let’s say you want to generate $1 million in sales for the year. On average, you need to pull in $20,000a week. That’s $4,000 a day. READ MORE →
Is the traditional business model holding back the profession?
by Bruce W. Marcus
Author of Professional Services Marketing 3.0
It’s not a race, nor are there prizes for the winner. But it has been suggested that personal financial planners trading in college, retirement and estate planning are light years ahead of the accounting profession in marketing.
More for CPA Trendlines PRO members: The Delicate Art of Positioning Your Firm in the Mind of the Prospect • Who’s Better at Marketing? • Lawyers or CPAs? • Even a Random Disaster Can Be Controlled with Risk Management • Managing Risk in Client Relations • Your Clients Love You? What If You’re Wrong? • The Three Degrees of Risk • Four Essential Habits for Building Client Trust • The Nine Hallmarks of a Marketing Culture • The Four Cornerstones to Building A Marketing Culture • Getting the Client is Only Half the Battle • Practice Development: It’s Not Rocket Science • Nine Fundamentals for a Healthy Marketing Culture in an Accounting Firm •
As veteran consultant Terry Lloyd, a CPA and financial advisor, points out, “Even though the lines continue to blur between the services, there are still differences in the way CPAs and financial planners are perceived.” READ MORE →
A roadmap for creating and implementing a succession plan.
This monograph provides a roadmap for creating and implementing a succession plan. It guides you through all of the issues, considerations and details related to succession planning for your firm. The goal of the monograph is a call to action for all CPA firms to understand the urgency of succession planning.
Clues to new challenges and opportunities.
by Rick Telberg
The list of the top 20 most-clicked articles at CPA Trendlines provides a roadmap to the profession’s anxieties, aspirations and, just maybe, a glimpse into what 2013 holds.
Key issues emerging in 2012 and gaining momentum into 2013 include economic recovery, intensified competition, squeezed profit margins, upward pressure on salaries, downward pressure on rates, panic over succession, and a rush to the cloud.
The techniques for telling clients you’re raising your rates.
by Ed Mendlowitz
Author of “Implementing Fee Increases“
Any time is a good time is a good time to review your fees and consider increasing them. But the beginning of the year or a new season is especially good.
Keep in mind that whatever the method you choose, you are making a business decision that should be handled with care and finesse and can affect the relationship with the client that you have been cultivating.
Also, losing the client is always a threat, so you must be prepared for this. Further, not raising the fee also presents a threat to your long term success and business viability, and this must also be considered.
Here are seven methods of increasing fees: READ MORE →
Time tracking and the V.B.T. (Value Billing Taliban)
by Frank Stitely, CPA
Stitely and Karstetter
I have long been a true believer in value billing. Five times a day I kneel towards the east and pray, “I am not selling time. I am selling expertise.” However, I just can’t follow with the end of the prayer which goes, “Time trackers are evil. We must stone them.” Time tracking is essential to value billing, done profitably.
More unconventional wisdom from Frank Stitely, CPA: Who’s Missing in Action From Your Workflow Processing System? | How to Make an Extra $72,000 by Working Smarter
Let’s invite some people to leave our discussion. If you are a coach, consultant, or some other type of CPA advisor, who has never owned an equity position in a CPA firm, please exit stage left. Yes, I know you have decades of experience observing CPA firms. I have decades of experience watching professional football. That doesn’t qualify me to coach the Redskins. Veteran poker players know that playing someone else’s hand is easier than playing your own when big money is on the table. If you’re a CPA firm employee, please stay. Some day you’ll need this information. But sit there silently until we are done.
There are three reasons time tracking is important: READ MORE →
And five ways how NOT to implement a system of partner accountability.
August Aquila, a veteran practice management consultant, works globally with accounting firms on leadership and management issues. If you’re thinking about the quality of leadership at your firm, think on this.
Five WRONG ways to make partners more accountable:
Plus: A dozen deep thoughts on leadership vs. management in accounting firms.
by Marc Rosenberg, CPA
Author of “CPA Firm Management and Governance”
While the differentiation of management from governance is really an issue of professional jargon, a discussion of “management vs. leadership” is a more substantive matter. During my 30-plus year career in the business world, I have read many books and articles and heard many speeches on these two subjects that are near and dear to my heart.
More on CPA Firm Management and Leadership: 40 Great Ways to Improve Firm Profitability • Four Management Metrics that Fool Even the Best-Run Firms • 19 Ways to Improve Accounting Firm Profitability • De-Bunking the Myth about Niche Marketing for Tax and Accounting Firms • Practice Development Is No Longer an Optional Activity • 10 Good Ways the Achieve Partner Accountability • Pick Your Partners Right to Begin With • The First Nine Questions Your Partner Team Needs to Embrace for Optimal Profitability • Profitability and The Value of Strategic Thinking • The Five Essential Building Blocks for Creating a Strong Accounting Firm • The Seven Signs of Great Leadership in a CPA Firm • Compensation Issues for the New Managing Partner
When reading on management and leadership, it seems we are being told that the two traits are almost mutually exclusive, like black and white. Yes, it’s true that many inspiring, innovative leaders are lousy managers because they don’t have the focus and discipline required to manage. And some managers make terrible leaders because either they lack the necessary interpersonal skills or over-rely on titles, authority and intimidation to get people to follow. READ MORE →
And, it’s not a mission statement.
by Bruce W. Marcus
Professional Services Marketing 3.0
There is no great mystique to the marketing concept of positioning. While it’s not as simple as some would make it seem, nor as complex as others would have you believe, it’s still very real.
More for CPA Trendlines PRO members: Who’s Better at Marketing? • Lawyers or CPAs? • Even a Random Disaster Can Be Controlled with Risk Management • Managing Risk in Client Relations • Your Clients Love You? What If You’re Wrong? • The Three Degrees of Risk • Four Essential Habits for Building Client Trust • The Nine Hallmarks of a Marketing Culture • The Four Cornerstones to Building A Marketing Culture • Getting the Client is Only Half the Battle • Practice Development: It’s Not Rocket Science • Nine Fundamentals for a Healthy Marketing Culture in an Accounting Firm •
Like so many words used in marketing, positioning has come to be shorthand for some ideas that have come a long way in the pursuit of sound marketing practice. First popularized by Ries and Trout in their 1981 book, Positioning, the concept took a basic advertising practice and codified it in a way that made it possible for other marketers to think differently about approaches to the market.
CPA Trendlines research has uncovered the startling fact of the wide disparity between how accounting firm management perceives their own performance and how their clients see their performance. (Join the survey; get the results.)
The basic idea of positioning is simple. Or at least, simple to state. READ MORE →
And 11 good tips for once you do.
Here at CPA Trendlines, Ed Mendlowitz answers some of the toughest questions practitioners can throw at him. He’s the right one to ask. After more than 40 years in the business – building his own practice, running the firm, and eventually selling it to a major regional firm, WithumSmith+Brown, where he remains a senior partner and consultant to professional services clients – he has the answers. We’re happy to have him at CPA Trendlines. Send your questions for Ed here, or chime in with Comments below.
More from Ed Mendlowitz, The Practice Doctor Q&A: Novice Manager Needs to Know: How To Do It All? | Why No One Listens to You | Fun Reads for Busy Season | When NOT to Offer a Free Initial Consultation | Measuring Growth in Yourself, Staff and Partners | What Do You Think You’re Doing? | Can You Teach Judgment? | Clients’ Calls At Home | What You Need to Know before Expanding into Business Valuation |
Question: I am working for a CPA firm, but would like to start my own practice. Can you give me some suggestions?
Response: Essentially, you have three options (four if you count my pet project, but I won’t belabor it).