Finance and Accounting Professionals Forecast Improving Job Prospects through 2013 [PRO Member Exclusive]

Rebound in confidence after two quarters of decline.

Next Question: What’s your best career advice? Join the survey; get the answers.

A leading measure of overall confidence among U.S. finance and accounting workers, rose 5.4 points to 55.8 in 4Q 2012 — ending a two-quarter decline, according to new data reported by CPA Trendlines.

The new survey finds growing confidence in job availability and in workers’ personal employment situations, despite continued tepid sentiment in the strength of the economy.

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No Partner Vote Needed: 17 Decisions Best Left to the Managing Partner Alone

A lesson in leadership from the front lines.

Tony Kendall

By Marc Rosenberg, CPA
Author of CPA Firm Management and Governance.”

Tony Kendall is the CEO of Mitchell & Titus, a firm of over 170 professionals, 19 partners and locations in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.

Shortly after taking over the reins from the firm’s founder, he orchestrated changes in the firm’s management structure, saying this: “I can’t manage this firm if I have to take a vote every time I want to make a decision.”

More on CPA firm leadership and management:  What a Managing Partner Is… and Is Not   •  When Is It Time to Shift Your Firm from Partnership-style to Corporate-style Governance?  •  De-Bunking the Myth about Niche Marketing for Tax and Accounting FirmsPractice Development Is No Longer an Optional Activity10 Good Ways the Achieve Partner AccountabilityPick Your Partners Right to Begin With  Not Every Firm Needs a General Patton Overcoming the Three Biggest Obstacles in Succession Planning at CPA Firms CPA Firm Merger “Non-Negotiables” The “Aha Moment” in CPA Firm Leadership Leadership Is Overrated: It’s Good Management that Makes Successful Firms40 Great Ways to Improve Firm ProfitabilityFour Management Metrics that Fool Even the Best-Run Firms19 Ways to Improve Accounting Firm Profitability

Marc Rosenberg

Marc Rosenberg

All partners usually vote on major decisions, such as:

  • Admitting or dismissing a partner.
  • Mergers and lateral partner hires.
  • Changes to the partnership agreement.
  • Expenditures in excess of a dollar amount.
  • Annual budget approval.

Beyond that, most well-managed firms with a strong managing partner allow him or her to make at least 17 types of decisions without any approval process: READ MORE →

Seven Checklist Secrets for Turning Tax Season into Opportunity Season [PRO Member Exclusive]

Use your time with the client to ask about more than just this year’s tax return.

By Sandi Smith, CPA
Accountant’s Accelerator

Here are some fast tips to help you make the most out of busy season, which is when you have the highest amount of your clients’ attention all year long.

More for soloists and small firms:  How to Stay Energized, Upbeat, and Thinking Bigger through Busy Season • Seven Ways to Wow Your ProspectRev Up Your Revenue with These Two Daily Rituals • 10 Tips for Creating More Energy this Tax Season  • Take a Cue from Venture Capitalists: Your Firm Needs a Brain Trust Trinity    •   Accountants, Do You Know Your Opportunity Number?    •  Five Ideas to Overcome Client Price-Sensitivity   •    5 Mistakes to Avoid When Seeking New Clients  •  3 Steps to Start Running on Millionaire Time   •  The Missing Ingredient in Your Marketing That Will Make All the Difference   •  On the Road to a Stress-Free Life: Identify Your Character Strengths  •

1. Make a checklist to go through with your prospects during the initial meeting (a/k/a “the sales call.”).

  • This is the time to find out what your prospects need and why they might be switching accounting service providers.  You can get your hands around the scope of a clients’ needs best when you use a checklist.

Some example entries could be: READ MORE →

Why Solo CPAs Won’t Sell Out


And what to do about it if you want to buy their practice.

What is it about the sole practitioner that prevents them from doing something that seems to make so much sense? They need to do something soon about succession planning. What’s stopping them?

This former managing partner of a super-regional CPA firm has a suggestion for growth-minded firms shopping for soloists’ books of business. READ MORE →

How many IRS agents does it take to screw in a light bulb?

 … and more tax season humor.

Every tax season for the last umpteen years, Robert E. McKenzie, a tax lawyer at  Arnstein & Lehr in Chicago, has made a tradition of sharing his carefully curated collection of tax jokes. Here are a few of his latest. Enjoy!

Q: How many IRS agents does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Only one, but the light bulb really gets screwed.
— From Garrison Keillor’s ‘Pretty Good Joke Book’

IRS MOTTO: “We’re not happy until you’re not happy!”

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Can You Hear Me Now?

Eight reasons why accounting firms need to work on internal communications first.

by Bruce W. Marcus
Professional Services Marketing 3.0

A terrific definition of chaos is when a client asks two different people in your firm the same question — and gets two different and conflicting answers.

Bruce W. Marcus

Bruce W. Marcus

More for CPA Trendlines PRO members:   Managing Knowledge as a Growth and Management Tool The Secret Formula for Getting New Clients • What We’ve Learned Since Accounting Marketing Was Legalized  • Do Accounting Firms Really Want an ‘Image’? • What Accounting Firms Need to Learn from Personal Financial Planning Specialists • The Delicate Art of Positioning Your Firm in the Mind of the Prospect

Another form of it is when there’s a crisis, and the press calls and gets somebody on the phone who hasn’t been briefed — but who answers the questions anyway. There’s real horror for you. READ MORE →

New Rules: 13 Items that Should be in Your Managing Partner’s Job Description

And 25 best practices to make a merely good managing partner into a great managing partner.

By Marc Rosenberg, CPA
Author of “CPA Firm Management and Governance.”

An increasing number of firms are asking:  Do we want the firm managed by a leader, which for a CPA firm is the managing partner, or managed by one or more committees of partners? The fact is, most firms are choosing a strong leader – the managing partner.

Marc Rosenberg

Marc Rosenberg

More on CPA firm leadership and management:  What a Managing Partner Is… and Is Not   •  When Is It Time to Shift Your Firm from Partnership-style to Corporate-style Governance?    De-Bunking the Myth about Niche Marketing for Tax and Accounting FirmsPractice Development Is No Longer an Optional Activity10 Good Ways the Achieve Partner AccountabilityPick Your Partners Right to Begin With

But too many firms still lack a clear understanding of what a managing partner is.  Based on years of research, we have compiled a comprehensive managing partner job description. And we’re including the 25 best practices that make today’s best managing partners great.

MANAGING PARTNER JOB DESCRIPTION READ MORE →

Putting the “No Jerks” Rule to Work in Tax Season

And a couple more ideas for high performing firms.

by Ed Mendlowitz
Tax Season Opportunity Guide

Ed Mendlowitz

Ed Mendlowitz

If you have staff, have happy, cheerful, helpful people. Don’t surround yourself with downers and nay-sayers.  Make sure they are team players.

Part of this is your firm’s culture.  It takes work to get people to work together and to focus on doing what it takes to service the client fully, properly and timely.  Everyone working together gets it done.  You need to create that atmosphere.

Here are three things that might help:

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How to Stay Energized, Upbeat, and Thinking Bigger through Busy Season

Five motivation tips from the masters.

By Sandi Smith, CPA
Accountant’s Accelerator

Here are a few of the best lessons I’ve received from the masters. Although tried and true, their stories and hardships keep me energized, upbeat, and thinking bigger.

1. Don’t give up

  • Thomas Edison performed 10,000 experiments before he discovered the light bulb. Friends asked him what he would carry on after getting no results. Edison said, “I got lots of results. I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

Sandi Smith

More for soloists and small firms: Seven Ways to Wow Your Prospect Rev Up Your Revenue with These Two Daily Rituals •  10 Tips for Creating More Energy this Tax Season  • Take a Cue from Venture Capitalists: Your Firm Needs a Brain Trust Trinity    •   Accountants, Do You Know Your Opportunity Number?    •  Five Ideas to Overcome Client Price-Sensitivity   •    5 Mistakes to Avoid When Seeking New Clients  •  3 Steps to Start Running on Millionaire Time   •  The Missing Ingredient in Your Marketing That Will Make All the Difference   •  On the Road to a Stress-Free Life: Identify Your Character Strengths  •

  • Beethoven had his share of critics during his time and was in constant conflict with the royalty that hired him to write his works. His response: “A few fly bites cannot stop a spirited horse.” READ MORE →

Tax Pro’s Turn Negative on Busy Season

Washington brinksmanship spells big crunch for preparers. Join the survey; get the updates.

Source: CPA Trendlines / Join the survey; get the updates

by Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

With Tax Season 2013 delayed by last-minute code changes, staffing problems and software glitches, the mood of the profession is turning markedly sour.

“IRS delays will cause confusion and errors, and many upset clients,” says Charles Postal at Santos Postal, a five-partner firm in Rockville, Md. “More extensions will depress cash flow.”

At the same, Postal adds, “Clients will have more tax needs, but the struggling economy will depress their ability and desire to pay for services.”

In order to battle the business pressures, Postal’s firm is “pushing back on fees, using standardized billing by product rather than hours, and adding on charges for technology, audit and tax notice insurance.”

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What a Managing Partner Is… and Is Not

Why some firms decide they don’t want a true managing partner.

By Marc Rosenberg, CPA
Author of CPA Firm Management and Governance

Over the years, I have found that many firms lack a clear understanding of what a Managing Partner is.  Often, it’s a negative conception, caused by a bad experience at their current firm or a previous one.  So, to avoid a repeat of these bad experiences, the partners decide either not to have a MP or to provide for the MP position with greatly limited authority and responsibility.

Marc Rosenberg

Marc Rosenberg

More on CPA firm leadership and management: When Is It Time to Shift Your Firm from Partnership-style to Corporate-style Governance?    De-Bunking the Myth about Niche Marketing for Tax and Accounting FirmsPractice Development Is No Longer an Optional Activity10 Good Ways the Achieve Partner AccountabilityPick Your Partners Right to Begin With • 

The points below clarify what a Managing Partner IS and IS NOT. READ MORE →

Get Paid Faster this Tax Season: Six Good Reasons to Send the Bill with the Return

It’s good for business and considerate to clients.

by Ed Mendlowitz
Tax Season Opportunity Guide

Ed Mendlowitz

Tax season is a business and businesses need to be paid.  It is harder to justify prices when providing services rather than products.  Products are usually priced before delivery while many times services are priced after delivery, i.e. performance.

More on busy season management: Tax Season Trends, Issues and Opportunities 

Many accountants price returns before they are worked on, usually basing the fee on last year, or a rate schedule.  Sending a bill with the return establishes the relationship that you should be paid promptly for the work done. READ MORE →

Seven Ways to Wow Your Prospect

And stand apart from the competition.

By Sandi Smith, CPA
Accountant’s Accelerator

As the competition for clients heats up, it’s time to pull out all the stops and make your prospect feel like you’ve rolled out the red carpet.

Sandi Smith

More for soloists and small firms: Rev Up Your Revenue with These Two Daily Rituals •  10 Tips for Creating More Energy this Tax Season  • Take a Cue from Venture Capitalists: Your Firm Needs a Brain Trust Trinity    •   Accountants, Do You Know Your Opportunity Number?    •  Five Ideas to Overcome Client Price-Sensitivity   •    5 Mistakes to Avoid When Seeking New Clients  •  3 Steps to Start Running on Millionaire Time   •  The Missing Ingredient in Your Marketing That Will Make All the Difference   •  On the Road to a Stress-Free Life: Identify Your Character Strengths  •

How can you do that? Here are seven ways to wow your prospect and help them decide you’re the perfect vendor for them. READ MORE →