Today's Features

CPA Firms Hit the Brakes on Increases in Billing Rates

CPA firm price index through August 2015
CPA firm price index through August 2015

The good news? A lot less volatility.

By CPA Trendlines

After a period of rapid price increases, CPA firms appear to be backing off on rate hikes.

The price index for U.S. CPA firms reached 117.2 in August, representing a 15.1 percent price increase since the January 2005 baseline. This is the second time this year the index has reached this mark, with the other in March, and the highest point except for February’s 117.5. It denotes increases of 0.6 percent for the month and 0.3 percent for the year.


CPA Firm Performance Assessments: 15 Core Competencies, 21 Questions

Reeb-and-Cingoranelli-with-CPATR-SI-logo-200CHECKLIST: How to fine-tune your own firm's performance management systems.

By Bill Reeb and Dominic Cingoranelli
CPA Trendlines / Succession Institute

When evaluating people within a firm, “relative importance” is a way to differentiate expectations regarding the same competency for various levels within your firm. We decided the best way to drill down even further into a competency model was to share some of the details of our competency model with you.

MORE ON PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT:How to Target What Skills to Develop Now | What Having Your Employees’ Backs Means | 5 Harmful Management Attitudes (and How to Fix Them) | Do CPA Firms Need Management or Leadership? |  Job 1 for The Practice Owner: Client Management

It considers the following six levels within a CPA firm (each firm needs to choose whatever breakdown works best for them):


3 Steps for Firm Procedures Manuals

Hands holding sign that says "BEST PRACTICES"We document everything else, why not processes?

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Every firm has accountants that are 10 percent, 20 percent or even 50 percent more productive in their departments than other personnel because they have simply “figured it out.” Unfortunately, when these people leave the firm, their unique knowledge of specific processes and shortcuts goes with them.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING:Stop Paper at the Source: The Client | How and Why to Set Optimal Scanning Practices | Digital Workflow Systems Make Tax Season Easier | Who Decides What to Keep? | Firms Need Document Management Standards | How Smart Accounting Firms Use Intranets to Get Smarter | Unified Messaging Boosts Security | Ready for a Revolution? Your Phone Is | When Is the Last Time You Renegotiated Your Internet Rates? | Remote Access Boosts Productivity, Requires Planning | Get Ahead of Your Software Updates | Blame Accounting Vendors: Accountants Stuck with Outdated Versions of Microsoft Office | Ready or Not, Here Comes Windows 10 | Back Up and Check Your Backup | Cloud Computing Can Cost Less | Laptop-Only Workers More Common | In PC Monitors, More Is Better 

It is the responsibility of firms to capture these individuals’ best practices so that their knowledge can be shared and accessed by all firm members both now and in the future. This can be accomplished by making a concerted effort to develop a best practices manual within each department.


Radar Turns Your Smartphone into a Baseball Speed Detector

Kickstarter product looking for funding.

Scoutee, click for Kickstarter video
Scoutee, click for Kickstarter video

By Rick Richardson
Technology This Week

Do you have a budding major league pitcher on your team? The cost of coaching a pitcher usually includes some very expensive radar guns etc. and a lot of stat books to write down all of the pitching data for scouts.

MORE TECHNOLOGY THIS WEEK: Microsoft Moves Closer to Making an Android Phone  |  The Cloud Isn’t Risky. You Are.  |  Hydrogen-Powered iPhone Runs for a Week  |  New Pocket-Sized Projector for the CPA Road Warrior  |  New Europay-style Credit Card Technology May Be Losing Steam    |  Hacking into an Accounting Office Computer System  |  The Newest Earthquake Early Warning System  |  Apple’s Secret Car Project Code-Named Titan  |  More

A new startup has come up with a very small radar measurement unit that transmits its data to a smartphone app and provides all of the analytical information necessary to get that hurler to the next level in his sports career. The new product is called Scoutee and is another Kickstarter product looking for funding.


14 Smarter Ways to Use Timesheet Data

Ed Mendlowitz CPA The Practice Doctor Q and AIf you just pay people and move on, you're missing critical information.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

QUESTION: I keep timesheets for billing purposes but am not clear how I can use them to better manage my practice. How can I do this?

MORE PRACTICE DOCTOR Q&A: Why More Firms Are Trashing Timesheets | How Much Overhead Is Too Much? | When Partners Stop Growing | Clear Billing Procedures Make Collecting Easier | Change Your Thinking About ‘Small’ Clients | It’s Not Sales. It’s Your Duty | When Staffers Stagnate | When to Hire an Admin Assistant | Why the Average Fee Doesn’t Matter | 8 Times When Hourly Billing Trumps Value Pricing | 10 (Nearly) Painless Ways to Keep Up to Date with Technology | 5 Time Management Tips for an Overworked Accountant | Running an Accounting Business | 14 Ways to Switch to Value Pricing

ANSWER: Analyzing time records is a very effective practice management tool and is an essential part of most professional services organizations. Some people contend that timesheets should not be used since they should not be the basis of any pricing, with fees solely based on the value to the client.


Who Should Participate in a Retreat?

Overhead view of five businesspeople discussing something at a table with an open laptop nearbyInclude the relevant folks – but no more than 15 unless you plan on breakout groups.

By Marc Rosenberg
CPA Firm Retreats

What to discuss at a retreat is important, but so is who will be doing that discussing.

Firms naturally tend to limit participation to key people – the partners, plus professional staff such as the COO, firm administrator, marketing director and HR director – so that sensitive and confidential issues are more easily discussed. Also, keeping the group small lends itself to better group participation and more fruitful discussions.

MORE ON RETREATS: Retreat Logistics: How Long, What Kind? | What Should CPA Firms Discuss at Retreats? | Why Do CPA Firms Conduct Retreats?

On the other hand, there are benefits to involving others in the firm beyond the key people... if the objectives include five key items:

An IT Department of 1? Soloists, Small Firms Relate

Johnston, Garrett, Tankersley
Johnston, Garrett, Tankersley

TENDING THE DETAILS: Considerations for email, backup, viruses, websites, retention and remote access.

By Randolph P. Johnston, Leslie Garrett and Brian F. Tankersley
The Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey

Small firms require owners to do more back office and supporting work themselves due to the limited number of staff at their disposal.

Seventy-one percent of solo practitioners and 30 percent of small firm respondents reported that they personally handle the IT support in their firm. Smaller firms were much less likely to have others who can assist in the firm, with only 1 percent of solo practitioners and 9 percent of small firms delegating this work to staff or in-house IT professionals.


3 Apps to Automate Business Networking

High quality 3D render of a robot hand touching a human hand, representing the relationship between human and artificial intelligence. Dramatic orange overcast sky.

New technologies harvest social media data, suggest how to write the perfect follow-up email, and schedule appointments.

PatilBy Hitendra Patil
Pransform Inc.

Have you found yourself attending a networking meeting and spending most of the time with just one or two persons you already know? You are not alone! It’s challenging to get the communication started and going. It is an even more daunting task to make killer impressions and walk out with connections that will help you and your business.

MORE on THE ENTREPRENEURIAL ACCOUNTANT:  The 5 Most Common Marketing Blunders Accountants Make |  LinkedIn Adds Messaging. Finally!  |   Re-Learning the Lingo of the Accounting Business  |  How the “1099 Economy” Will Transform Accounting  |  What CPA Firms Could Learn from Google’s Alphabet  |  Summer Reading List: Five Great Books for the Five Lives of a Busy Accountant  |  Four Signs the Uberization of Accounting Has Already Begun  |  Management Guru Chester Elton on Success  |  Savvy CPAS Focus on the Constants  |  More

But that’s where new technology comes into the picture. You don’t have to the best-dressed person in the room, nor the smoothest talking or most knowledgeable. You just need to have the best APPetite! Let me explain, rather, reveal, some powerful information that can totally transform how you network. From thousands of apps and websites that I have personally tested, here are three that could make you a networking hero.


Thanks for the Advice, But I’d Really Prefer a Promotion

Young businesswoman and businessman talking in a hallwayBONUS LISTS: 3 ways women benefit when they are seen as leaders. Statistics on women in management ranks. And 4 extra obstacles for women of color.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

The benefits of sponsorship are indisputable. Having a highly placed sponsor is a distinct career advantage, and when competing for top positions it can be a critical differentiator.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: 18 Ways to Boost Your Protégée | Women Leaders Provide 6 Market Advantages | Why CPA Firms Need More Women | Beyond Mentoring to Sponsorship | Protect Your Protégée from Flextime Saboteurs | How to Keep Sex from Derailing a Sponsorship | Use Others to Promote Your Protégée | 8 Ways Sponsors Can Highlight Opportunities | 17 Ways Sponsors Can Help Protégées | 3 Ways to Open a Sponsorship Conversation | What Sponsors Need from Protégées | 3 Ways to Derail Sponsorships | 4 Reasons Women Hold Themselves Back | 4 Ways Sponsors Can Help Women Seek Power | Bias About Women with Families Lingers | Judged on Performance, Not Potential? Must Be a Woman | Why Women Are Overlooked (And How to Fix It) | 3 Ways Men Are Favored in the Workplace

Protégées gain career-enhancing opportunities that others do not get, such as:

  1. receive more chances to excel,
  2. are accepted into influential networks,
  3. gain visibility as rising stars and
  4. enjoy heightened prestige through the intervention of a powerful backer.