By Ed Mendlowitz The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor QUESTION: Most of my clients are either tax returns or small business clients. The number of individual tax returns grows each year, but I seem to be standing still with business clients. For every new one I get, I lose one. Otherwise, I have about a 6 or 7 percent turnover. Is there anything I can do to keep them? RESPONSE: I think small business clients need extra hand-holding from us because they are really alone.
To develop and nurture talent: It’s more than just lunch. Unfortunately, even the best-intentioned mentoring initiatives can easily fizzle in the early stages, before delivering value to the participants and the organization at large, according to Molly Sargent of Rowayton, Conn.-based Professional Impressions Consulting. Sargent has trained and coached thousands of financial professionals and client-facing executives in professional image, presentation skills, business etiquette and sales effectiveness. Since 1985, she has helped major accounting firms and Fortune 500 companies, including Aetna, American Express, AT&T, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Key Bank, MasterCard, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Prudential achieve breakthrough results. With so much to gain, how can your firm initiate mentoring in a way that is successful and sustainable?
Today’s best career advice: join the survey; get the answers. What’s your mentoring story? by Rick Telberg At 20 years old, the world was a blank canvas with vast opportunities for Sal Inserra. He thought he knew exactly what he wanted in life. “Until,” he once told me, “I was set straight.” Like many CPAs, Sal owes much of his career and success to a few key mentors who guided him early on. Today — as the kids head back to school and college, and as the rest of us wind up our summers and look ahead to the fall — it may be a good time to salute the mentors who help steward a great profession to the next […]
Get certified. Apply early and often. Join the survey; get the results. By Rick Telberg I’m looking over the early responses to our new CPA Careers survey and one stands out for its practicality and wisdom. This from a veteran senior finance manager at a Fortune 1000 company is, I think, 18 pieces of the best advice I’ve ever heard. 1. For the accountant who is not a CPA yet: If you’re not a CPA already, make it a goal. 2. If you need hours, apply to every accounting firm that you could drive to or are willing to move close to. 3. Apply beginning in mid-April, after busy season, when accounting firms clean house.
Download the sample client satisfaction survey. by Ed Mendlowitz Question: Is there any value to sending clients a survey? Response: Yes. Our firm sends a survey with every deliverable to a client. We want to know what they think and how they feel about our service. I think your best friends are the clients that complain. This gives you an opportunity to correct any deficiencies or exceptions. One time a long time very good client put on the survey that we were great but our fees were high. I immediately met with him, reviewed our charges, had the time runs and details of everything extra we had been doing beyond the scope of our engagement, and the value to the […]
Clients say: Not as long as you think. If you’re a finance manager on the client side, what do you say? by Rick Telberg Are most CPAs fooling themselves? If you ask a CPA, as CPA Trendlines has been doing since 2006, how long they typically keep a client, you’ll get a fairly consistent answer through the years. If you ask a client how long they’ve worked with their current CPA firm, you’ll also get a fairly consistent answer. The problem is: The CPA and the client disagree.
What you need to know. How finance executives pick accounting firms: Join the survey; get the answers. by Rick Telberg Here’s some good news for accounting firms: Most companies stick with their CPA firms for at least five to 10 years. And they are loathe to change. The reasons are myriad. The inherent cost of switching – getting a new set of outside accountants up to speed – is certainly one. However, another, less tangible reason, cannot be denied: The vast majority of CPA firms develop strong and deep relationships with their clients. And yet, there is some fragility in the relationship to which no CPA firm, or corporate finance manager, should turn a blind eye. A surprising number of […]
What we know that clients don’t even know they need. By Sandi Smith, CPA Accountant’s Accelerator I’m pretty sure that I am not the only accountant who has made the following mistakes with clients. Here are a couple of ideas to help us remember what we know that the client doesn’t and why it costs us when we forget. 1. Clients do not know how to evaluate our technical skills. If you need to hire an accountant, chances are you don’t know a lot about accounting. It just follows that you’re not going to be perfect at hiring an accountant. As accountants, we need to remember that it’s not our technical prowess that gets us the job since the client […]
Hint: It’s not about how smart they are or hard they work. By Rick Telberg How do you spot the hidden rock stars on your staff? And what do up-and-coming tax, accounting and finance professionals need to know to get ahead in today’s profession? These aren’t idle questions. Many firms and individuals are struggling with these issues right now. But don’t take it from me. Just listen to the decision-makers from a dozen firms I met with in a Milwaukee hotel recently. The mission: Learn how to deal with a looming new staff shortage. Some took away solid action plans. “Our firm,” said one, “is trying to develop our rock stars and this showed me we need to be doing […]
Learn what it takes to attract the best talent and merger partners. by Robert Fligel, CPA RF Resources LLC For many in the CPA business, organic growth is going to be very slow for the next several years. So, CPA firms seeking growth are: making strategic mergers or acquisitions, or bringing in new partners or groups of partners with strong books of business. But how do you position your firm to be desirable to merger partners or new talent?
Good clients don’t leave their CPA on the basis of fees alone. In fact, money factors in only when the relationship isn’t valued and the difference you make is not evident. You and your team can impact that directly by delivering exceptional client service on a consistent basis.