Today's Features

5 Ways to Get Buy-In for Firm Culture

Industrial metal number 5Change management is one of the keys.

By Martin Bissett
Passport to Partnership

Cultural issues are dynamic, very broad and unique in each firm. As such it is a challenge to summarize them accurately and comprehensively.

MORE ON THE PASSPORT TO PARTNERSHIP: Competence: More Than Technical Skills | Experts Advise What Partnership Takes | Partnership: Competence Is Just the Foot in the Door | Are You Partner Material? Maybe Not

From our research, however, the wise choice for anyone wishing to get their passport to partnership appears to be to study

  • their firm’s existing culture,
  • that of its senior individuals and
  • that of those who have the ear of those senior individuals

to understand not only the route to partnership, but the terrain that they need to cross too.

Using a High-Performance Business Framework

Businessman holding word "success" and upward arrow in handsBONUS: Sample client feedback letter.

By Domenick J. Esposito
8 Steps to Great

The high-performance framework is a description of how middle-market companies can identify the components of high performance, assess their present position relative to high-performance benchmarks, and then create a plan of action to close any performance gaps.

MORE ON STRATEGIC PLANNING: The Benefits of a Client Situation Review | Show Clients How to Improve Working Capital | Do You Belong In Cybersecurity? | Why You Need Marquee Clients | Net Profits: How Much to Whom? | 3 Tools to Boost Your Metrics | Seizing the $10 Trillion Opportunity
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The framework is essentially a set of models and common language that help communicate with a client. It provides the basis for developing an action to assist a client in a systematic and thoughtful way.

What Happened to the Relevancy of the CPA Profession?

College students listening to lecture17 ways to make accounting careers relevant to staff.

By Marc Rosenberg
On Staffing

The business graveyard is littered with major organizations that missed the boat by failing to see cataclysmic game-changers happening right before their eyes.

MORE ON STAFFING: Staffing: What CPA Firms Are Learning the Hard Way
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  • Ice companies failed to get into refrigeration because they saw themselves in the ice business.
  • Railroads missed out on autos and aerospace because they didn’t see themselves in the transportation business.
  • A CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) said he couldn’t imagine why people would want a computer in their own house.
  • It took the Wright Brothers five years to get the U.S. government to even talk to them about their invention.


SURVEY: Firms Must Build Their Benches

Ice hockey player in bench area watching actionIt's that or watch your bright new stars bolt.

By Art Kuesel, Kuesel Consulting
The Rosenberg MAP Survey

In 2015, I saw a moderate shift in mindset from that of “let’s help everyone develop themselves” to “let’s target our resources at our high potentials.” Firms worked through their fears of offending lifetime managers as they saw high potentials depart at the fastest pace in recent memory.

MORE FROM THE SURVEY: New Leaders Promoting Positive Changes | Cybersecurity Grows in Importance | Don’t Just Win Work, Figure Out Why | Mergers Keep Racing Forward  | MAP Survey Top 10 Findings | CPA Firm Revenues Rise a Hefty 8%
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Only a handful of firms started the year with formal “path to partner” programs while many more had them by the close of the year. And MPs reported that the biggest gap in skill set for partner potentials continued to be business development.

Turn Employees Into Social Media Advocates

Young woman using her tablet computerThis requires as much planning as any other firm endeavor.

By Becky Livingston
The Accountant’s Social Media Handbook

There are two schools of thought when it comes to employee advocacy programs:

  • those that enable, increasing reach and participation, and
  • those that must be contained due to regulatory considerations, such as in the financial services, legal, insurance or medical professions.

MORE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: How to Set Your Firm’s Social Media Foundation | 10 Steps to Creating Employee Brand Advocates with Social Media | What ‘Social Sentiment’ Is and Why You Should Care | What a ‘Community Manager’ Does | How to Set Up a Social Media Plan | Tailor Content to Social Media Platform | Which Social Media Should You Use?
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Regulated professions, such as financial services, must follow certain guidelines when leveraging social media methodologies to promote the organization or firm. In this case, leveraging tools and technology to help listen and to monitor what is being said, commented on and shared by employees is extremely important. Security is the foundation for this model.

Staffing: What CPA Firms Are Learning the Hard Way

Marc Rosenberg, "When firms excel at making their firms great places to work where staff stay and thrive, client service always improves."4 reasons staff are the #1 key to firm success.

By Marc Rosenberg
On Staffing

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said:  “There is nothing permanent except change.”

MORE FROM THE AUTHOR: How to Identify Partner Potential in Staffers | 15 Ways to Develop Staff Into Partners | Staff Best Practices … for the Firm | Staff Likes and Dislikes about the Accounting Profession | Keys to Bringing in New Partners

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People fly and drive cars instead of using horses and carts. Technology has replaced calculators, slide rules and how books are written. Food is purchased at grocery stores instead of grown on the farm.

Why You Need an Independent Security Review

Hacking and security word cloudAlso vital: annual training on threats.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Going paperless means that all firm files and client data will be digitally stored on the firm’s network, which is almost always accessible to firm personnel via internal workstations and remotely via the Internet.

MORE ON TECH SPENDING: Mandate Training Programs | Centralize Contact Administration | Is Your AP Digital Yet? | How the Best CPA Firms Capture Best Tech Practices in Procedures Manuals | Smart Firms Don’t Happen by Accident | Are You Ready for Office 365? | Size Matters: In Desktop Monitors
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The firm has a fiduciary responsibility to protect this data from anyone not specifically authorized to view it.

SURVEY: The Risks of Subscription-Based Software

Businessman working on laptop with binary code in the backgroundPlus 7 key findings on SaaS, remote access and more.

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

While subscription-based software has significant advantages, it also has some significant risks that need to be considered, including contingency planning, data backup, and data extraction and export when ending the relationship.

MORE FROM THE SURVEY: Ins and Outs of Email, Document Storage | Cloud Software Improves Financial Reporting | Accountants Quit Trying to Manage IT Themselves | How Top Tech Vendors Are Failing CPAs in the Cloud | Master Change, Master the Future
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Firms should have a clear plan for how they will operate if the cloud service is down for a day or more, including having enough data offline to permit manual preparation of payroll, invoices and other time-sensitive transactions.

Wearable Aims to Help the Blind Move Safely

Woman wearing Horus deviceDevice could be commercially available in spring.

By Rick Richardson
Technology This Week

According to WHO data, 285 million people worldwide are estimated to have visual impairments. Whether totally blind or with low vision, they face daily challenges in moving around and interacting with their immediate environments.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: The Next Target for Amazon’s Echo May Be Your Office | The 10-Digit Passcode to Your Private Life | Uber Wants to Fly You to Work | Meet Monica, Your New Virtual Assistant | New iPhone Case with Built-in Photo Printer | How a Tabletop-Sized Touchscreen Could Change Accounting Workflows
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It was in 2014, after a chance encounter with a blind person, that the idea of Horus was born. It's a wearable device aimed at describing the physical world to those who cannot see it.

8 Ways to Build Team Engagement

Underview of 6 businesspeople in a circle with hands in center in teamwork gestureChange management requires everyone to get on board.

By Rob Nixon

It’s hard to grow and develop an accounting firm on your own. You need the support of your team.

MORE ON STRATEGY: Why a Virtual Team Makes Sense | People Still Needed, But In Different Ways | Don’t Let Technology Make You Dumber | Are Your Goals Big Enough? | Finding New Opportunity in Compliance Services | How Offshoring Is Shaking Up Accounting
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You may want to implement a lot of new ideas; however, your team may have other ideas. Unless you have a super-flexible team who is used to change then the reality is you may struggle with team engagement or buy-in. You may struggle to get the change you’re looking for.

5 Cautionary Tales in Partner Compensation

Older man reading newspaper by fireplaceDo you see your firm here?

By Marc Rosenberg
Partner Comp: Art & Science

Here are five case studies to illustrate potential problems in partner compensation.

MORE ON PARTNER COMPENSATION: Does Compensation Motivate Performance? | Why Compensation and Buyout Plans Must Be Synchronized | When Partner Vacation Becomes Excessive | Management Stipends: Who, How and Why | The 8 Basics for Data-Based Partner Performance Evaluations | Crash Course: Operating a Compensation Committee | 11 Points in Designing a Partner Comp System | What Partners Earn and How They Earn It
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The Stressed-out MP.  This seven-partner firm had recently changed from having the "MP decides" method of income allocation to usage of a compensation committee because the burden of allocating income was too stressful for the MP. The ensuing problems with the compensation committee, all solvable, were:

  1. Mandatory rotation of CC members resulted in people on the CC who were not credible and used their role to boost their own income.
  2. No communication between the CC and the individual partners about expectations and income allocation.
  3. Frequent, bitter arguments among CC members.


SURVEY: New Leaders Promoting Positive Changes

Three happy businesspeople looking at laptopPeople issues still among top challenges.

By Sam Allred, Upstream Academy
The Rosenberg MAP Survey

2015 was another good year for the profession.

MORE FROM THE SURVEY: Cybersecurity Grows in Importance | Mergers Spur Growth | Accounting Profession Demands Swift Change | Don’t Just Win Work, Figure Out Why | Talent Wars, M&A Frenzy Continue | Next-Gen Leaders Getting Restless | Mergers Keep Racing Forward  | Do You Have a Firm or a Co-op? | Accountability, Equity, Compensation Are Concerns | MAP Survey Top 10 Findings | CPA Firm Revenues Rise a Hefty 8%
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Most firms across North America performed well and were pleased with their results. Most firms saw good organic growth – largely coming in non-traditional areas. More and more firms are investing significantly in growing their consulting practices – look for this to be a continuing trend.

How to Counsel on Retirement Planning

Man with briefcase climbing up ladder to top of giant piggy bankGot clients over 50? Get them talking.

By Ed Mendlowitz
The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor

This is a specific financial planning service that helps clients plan for their retirement. This involves calculating how much a client will have to retire on and how much he or she will need.

MORE ON MARKETING: How to Offer Employment Compensation Assistance | 9 Questions to Ask About Divorce and Taxes | Guiding Clients in Investment Allocation and Management | How and Why to Offer Estate Planning | Why CPAs Are Suited to Financial Planning | How to Suggest More Services | Adopt a Marketing Mindset
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This work can take place one to two years before the expected retirement, or 15 to 20 years earlier. It depends on the client. You may also find yourself doing some quick calculations for a client in his or her early 50s who is being offered early retirement. Whatever the case, it is a matter of paramount importance to the client, and must be treated by the accountant as such.

Your Firm’s Biggest Assets Walk out the Door Every Day

There are nearly 80 million Baby Boomers today, and this cohort of 65 and older is projected by the US Census Bureau to reach 83.7 million in the year 2050. By 2030, more than 20 percent of U.S. residents are projected to be aged 65 and over, compared with 13 percent in 2010 and 9.8 percent in 1970. A large part of this growth is due to the aging of baby boomers (individuals born in the United States between mid-1946 and mid-1964), who began turning 65 in 2011 and are now driving growth at the older ages of the population. Every day, 10,000 people turn 65. There are more than personal financial issues at stake here.

What does this mean for the CPA profession?

Why Partners Need Written Goals

Undervater shoot of swimming pool with swimmer holding both thumbs upThree questions to ask yourself.

By August J. Aquila
What Makes a Great Partnership

If we achieve what we measure, then is it true that we become what we think about most of the time?

MORE ON GREAT PARTNERSHIPS: Five Factors for Measuring a Partner’s Value | Why Accountability Counts | Communication Goes Both Ways | Why Shared Values Are Important | Why ‘Walking Together’ Is So Important | How to Build a Better Firm Through Teamwork | 8 Questions to Analyze Your Pricing | 5 Questions for Every MP to Answer Honestly
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Philip E. Humbert, Ph.D. wrote, “The human brain is a goal-seeking, problem-solving machine, and the things we think about, focus on and worry about inevitably shape our destiny.”

PRESIDENTIAL POST-ELECTION SURVEY: Why Accountants Voted the Way They Did

z_-election-chart-trump-v-clinton-concerns-v2How accountants voted and why.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

The CPA Trendlines post-election survey shows accountants split by different issues. Trump accountants tend to be most concerned about terrorism while Clinton accountants are more focused on global warming.

MORE SURVEY RESULTS:  Accountants Assess Business Outlook following Presidential Election

Part of the spread might be explained by gender. Just as the accounting profession tends to be owned and operated by more men than women, 67.7 percent of CPA Trendlines respondents were men – and roughly the same ratio of votes for Trump over Clinton. The demographics of the tax and accounting profession's practice owners and leaders -- the core of the CPA Trendlines community -- tend to match voting patterns beyond the profession. In that, accountants vote more like, well, voters, than accountants.


The Benefits of a Client Situation Review

6 people in a business meetingThis is high-level and interactive, not a presentation.

By Domenick J. Esposito
8 Steps to Great

The Client Situation Review (“CSR”) is an effective tool for delivering client value.

MORE ON STRATEGIC PLANNING: Show Clients How to Improve Working Capital | What a Client Service Plan Can Add | 36 Consulting Services You Might Be Overlooking | How to Drive Consistent Partner Behavior | CPA Firm Partner Performance: Different Activities, Different Metrics | Develop the Partners You Already Have | How Many Partners Do You Need? | How to Develop Tactics for Your Strategic Plan | The Big Eight: Harsh Realities for Firms Today
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The CSR process is one of the most powerful and effective techniques for strengthening a client relationship and improving the quality and level of your service. In the spirit of building a mid-market sustainable brand, you can use the CSR to demonstrate your ability to add value by providing creative ideas, asking the right questions, identifying challenges and providing solutions.

How to Set Your Firm’s Social Media Foundation

White and black rabbits reaching to eat dangling carrotsDangle some carrots and your employees will bite.

By Becky Livingston
The Accountant’s Social Media Handbook

Employees can be the first, vital link to a long network of person-to-person shares.

MORE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Marketing for Mobile | How to Listen on Social Media | How Social Media Affects SEO | Social Media Campaign 101 | Why Use Social Media for Marketing? | Write Headlines Worth Sharing | Who Is Your Customer? | What to Say on Social Media | How to Craft a Social Media Profile | Which Social Media Should You Use? | Determine Your Target Audience | What Is Social Media? | How Social Media Works with Accountants’ Top 5 Marketing Goals
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Many clients I’ve worked with over the years have wanted to implement a social media program within their respective firms. Even though staff knows it’s an initiative for the firm, they have limited or no guidance, lack communication, and basically are too focused on their jobs to think about it.