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Passport to Partnership: New Research Shows Wide Gap between Partners and Partners-To-Be

Martin Bissett


What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Editor's Note: With this article, CPA Trendlines introduces a new series of articles by Martin Bissett reporting on the findings of his proprietary research into the keys to making partner. The research is based on hundreds of interviews with partners and practitioners at more than 30 firms in the U.S. and the U.K., dozens of experts and advisors, and his own 20 years of experience in the field. In his research, Bissett uncovered a wide gap between what partners say they seek in a staffer yearning to be partner and what they actually do and say to train and nurture the staffer. His work in Passport to Partnership is dedicated to bridging that gap, revealing to both partners and partners-to-be the unspoken rules, and working to create a bulletproof program to guide their efforts.

By Martin Bissett
Passport to Partnership

Have you ever wondered what the partners of your firm are looking for from you, beyond your technical abilities?

For full disclosure, I am not an accountant, but I have spent decades working with accounting firms of all shapes and sizes in the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe.

MORE FROM MARTIN BISSETT:  Selling on Value vs. Fees | 3 Ways to Convert Scheduling Practices to New Fees | Selling vs. Attracting to Build Relationships | When Selling, Don’t Chase New Fees, Attract Them | Selling Accounting Services Doesn’t Have to Be Hard! | ‘Selling’ Isn’t a Dirty Word | 8 Factors in Practice Development Success | In Sales, Perception Is Reality | Success Begins With Accountability | Do You Realize You’re Failing? | Winning Your First Client

I noticed over time that in many firms, partners may often regard one or more of their managers as not being "partner material" because they feel that the manager does not exhibit the traits they are looking for.


Can Accountants Save the Planet?

Z-1'We must find new ways to measure economic costs and the changes in the economy.'

By Edward Mendlowitz, CPA

Worth Reading: "Six Capitals, or Can Accountants Save the Planet?: Rethinking Capitalism for the Twenty-First Century" and "Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance," by Jane Gleeson-White

The history of accounting is a fascinating drama and Jane Gleeson-White brings it to its thrilling heights. ZI recommend both "Double Entry" and "Six Capitals" by Jane Gleeson-White, but for different reasons.

"Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance," is really two separate books – one an exciting history and the other a disturbing condemnation of the way the method of financial measurement has progressed. I also recommend "Six Capitals" if you want to find out more about her ideas, which is pretty deep stuff.


Tax Leads Accounting Industry in Price Hikes

PPIMay15thumbnailAccounting industry shows healthier pricing power than most other industries -- and its own clients.

NEXT QUESTION: Which pricing strategies are best for today's market? Join the survey; get the answers.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

Following hefty hikes in billing rates during tax season, the tax, accounting and bookkeeping industry is pushing through price increases three times faster than the rest of the nation's economy, according to a new CPA Trendlines study.

MORE: Fees and Pricing Reports for PRO Members Only
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While most other industries -- and, by implication, most of the profession's clients -- are barely managing to maintain price levels, the accounting industry is forging ahead aggressively. The industry's powerful position in pricing suggests huge demand for the complex services that only accountants can provide. And many practitioners appear to be taking every opportunity possible. To be sure, costs are rising as well, with talent, technology and retirements putting pressure on many firms.

In this report, CPA Trendlines analyzes pricing trends and billing rates for:

  • CPA firm services in general,
  • Auditing and assurance services in particular,
  • Tax preparation and planning, and
  • Bookkeeping and compilations


Get Ahead of Your Software Updates

Words "time for an update" on clock faceBottom line? You'll be more productive.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Every firm has concerns about their systems being hacked or getting attacked by a virus or malware. The vast majority of issues can be effectively negated with one simple process: KEEP YOUR SOFTWARE UPDATED.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING: 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 | Scanners Allow Data Capture at the Source | In PC Monitors, More Is Better

For workstations, your antivirus software should regularly look for updates and automatically install them. Microsoft Windows has an update feature that can be set to automatic for security upgrades. Turn them on and schedule them to run automatically, either overnight or on weekends. READ MORE →

How Social Media Transforms Firms to their Core

Young people holding social media logosWhat's all this tweeting and liking about?

By Jody Padar
The Radical CPA

Now it’s time to understand the social media business approach, how Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can help your business.

First of all, stop calling it social media! Using “social” to gen­erate new customers is a new way of doing business in today’s digital world. Most firm owners don’t understand that when you combine social media with cloud, the effects become multiplied. We’re talking Internet 3.0. Are you ready to get there?

Jody Padar, The Radical CPA

Jody Padar, The Radical CPA; learn more

MORE ON RADICALISM: 10 Radical Steps into the Cloud | Six Competitive Advantages for The Radical CPA | Radical Tenet #1: Embrace the Cloud | Radical Customers Are On Their Way | The Market Is Moving Toward the Radicals | 5 Radical Transparencies; Are You Ready? | 4 Questions Radical Firms Must Face | Being Radical Is All About Your Customer | Being Radical Starts with Being the Change | Why Start Being Radical Now? | Going Radical: The 4 Tenets of a ‘New Firm’ | Why Should CPAs Be Radical? | The Roots of ‘Radical’ CPAs

You don’t do social media — you become a social business. Being social is going to impact your firm at its core. Once you get started and it becomes part of your DNA, it’ll be less about strategy and more about culture. READ MORE →

The Top 10 Mistakes in Partner Retirement Plans

Top 10 signIs your firm guilty of any of these?

By Marc Rosenberg
Retirements & Buyouts

Mistakes abound in partner retirement plans. Here are the top 10 we see:

MORE ON RETIREMENT: Are Partner Buyout Plans Just Ponzi Schemes? | 20 New, Essential Keys for Today’s Partner Retirement Plans | Clawback and How to Handle It | Can Partners Compete After They Leave? | How to Juggle Tax Considerations for Partner Retirement Benefits | Retirement Plan Funding? What Funding? | Vesting Can Cover Part-Timers, Too


Blame Accounting Vendors: Accountants Stuck with Outdated Versions of Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office logoMany still using Office 2010 even as Microsoft plans launch of new 2016 version.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

To be effective in business today, every member of your firm must optimally utilize the Microsoft Office suite at an intermediate to advanced level for Outlook, Excel, and Word. Today’s standard is Office 2013, but many firms use Office 2010 because some accounting vendors still do not support Office 2013 within all of their applications.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING: Ready or Not, Here Comes Windows 10 | Back Up and Check Your Backup | Cloud Computing Can Cost Less | Laptop-Only Workers More Common | Scanners Allow Data Capture at the Source | In PC Monitors, More Is Better

This is a good time for firms to review their listing of accounting applications to determine if they can transition to Office 2013 and the cost to do so. Keep in mind Office 2016 will likely be released later this year and supported by the accounting vendors by the end of 2016. READ MORE →

U.S. Accounting Pay Beats London, but Not Asia

New global study shows 43 percent of accountants are ready to jump ship. Here's why.


By CPA Trendlines Research

Source: ICAS, via CPA Trendlines Research

The war for top talent in the U.S. accountancy profession is spreading worldwide, fueled by growth and increased confidence, according to a new global study obtained by CPA Trendlines.

Some 43 percent of accountants at multinational firms say they’ll probably leave their jobs within the next year or two, seeking more pay, better opportunities or both. The figures closely follow those found by CPA Trendlines in U.S.-focused studies (CPA Firms Paying Top Dollar for Talent in Nationwide Hiring Binge).



Are Partner Buyout Plans Just Ponzi Schemes?

Businessman tightly holding briefcase with dollar sign on itApply this test to your firm's succession plan.

By Marc Rosenberg
Retirements & Buyouts

Most multi-partner CPA firms have partner buyout plans that enable partners who leave the firm via retirement, death, disability or withdrawal to redeem their share of the firm's value.

MORE ON BUYOUTS: 20 New, Essential Keys for Today’s Partner Retirement Plans | Clawback and How to Handle It | Can Partners Compete After They Leave? | Retirement Plan Funding? What Funding? | Why You’ll Get Less from Your Partners in a Buyout than You Might by Selling the Whole Firm | Partners May Balk at Guaranteeing Retirement Obligations

Over the last 10-20 years, retirement plans have come under more scrutiny as younger partners question whether departing partners are worth the payments due them and whether the firm can afford those payments. Staff with near-term partner potential also question whether to commit themselves to making these payments. Both of these groups fear that the firm will not be able to survive the retirement of dynamic, rainmaking partners who have tight relationships with their clients.