Today's Features

Working for a Putz

Invisible businessman saying "blah blah blah blah blah"What is more important to you, how you look or how good the work is?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Early on in my career, I was assigned to work with a manager on a half-dozen
monthly clients.

MORE: Staffers Need to Speak Up with Clients | When Writeups Went Extinct | Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech
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He went with me and worked on the main company while I worked alongside
him on the baby company. The baby company was much smaller and
usually was for a second line the client had. I did the writeup and prepared
the financial and other statements for the current month and year to date.

2019: Three New Trends to Watch

After profitable years, here's where to invest.

By Carl George
The Rosenberg Survey: National Study of CPA Firm Statistics

For the most part, it was a very successful year. Profitability improved enough that allowed partners and employees to share in the increases, and ample allocations were made for investments, primarily in personnel benefits and technology. Growth in net fees ranged generally from 5-9 percent, so many firms are experiencing top- and bottom-line growth.

MORE FROM THE MAP SURVEY: 2019: Why Small Firms Shun Mergers | 2019: Using M&A to Launch Consulting | 2019 Trends: Client Service Changes | Staff Policies Improve, But Not Mentoring
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There are three trends developing that will benefit firms for many years to come:


We Hear But Do We REALLY Listen?

Smiling businessmen listening to young female during interview6 people NOT to be.

By Steven E. Sacks

Do you ever find yourself speaking to someone and notice that they are battling you and their iPhone? A quick glance here, a one- or two-word text response there.

MORE: The Holy Grail: Finding the Right Talent | Battling Staff Turnover | Confronting Leadership: Not Such a Bad Thing | The Damocles Sword of Staff Retention | Does Your Board Know Its Role? | Can We Please Refer to Accounting as a Profession?
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Unfortunately, it is the new normal – whether in business or in our personal lives. Those of us who encountered different forms of technology tools and platforms during the second half of our careers still believe that effective interpersonal communication still counts for something. Of course, in this era of uncivil discourse, speaking over one another has, too, become the new normal.

2019: Why Small Firms Shun Mergers

Leadership and "business-getting skills" emphasized for managers.

By Rita Keller
The Rosenberg Survey: National Study of CPA Firm Statistics

When considering a succession plan that involves merging up, some very well-managed and profitable smaller firms actually feel like they are taking a step backward.

MORE FROM THE MAP SURVEY: 2019: Using M&A to Launch Consulting | 2019: Client Service Moves to Fore | 2019: Shifts in Hiring & Office Space
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They view the larger, acquiring firm as having multiple partners who seem complacent and unwilling to invest in digital tools that will take the firm into the future. Decision-making is way too slow.


Economy Shakes CPA Confidence

CPA Outlook Index (AICPA)

But they expect better for their own firms.

By Kayleigh Padar
CPA Trendlines

Trade wars and interest rate trends are undermining accountants' confidence in the U.S. economy, even as their outlook for their own firms strengthens, according to a new survey of 400 C-level CPAs.

MORE SURVEYS & RESEARCH: Jobs Report: 43,000 New Hires  |  CPA Wealth Advisor Survey  |  Survey: Clients Rush for TCJA Answers  |  Join the Accounting Firm and Operations Technology Survey  |  Mergers vs. Clients: Winners and Losers  |

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Only 57 percent said they were optimistic about the U.S. economy over the next 12 months, down from 69 percent in the previous quarter. CPAs cite trade issues and rising interest rates as the main reasons for their pessimism. READ MORE →

Aligning What We Think with What We Do

Two metal balls balancing at each end of seesawIf you're "behind," then "don’t try to eat the entire elephant in one bite."

By Bill Reeb

Look for disconnects between what you think and do. And when you find yourself taking an action that contradicts the way you have been thinking, take a moment to figure out why there is a disconnect.

MORE: Don’t Be Someone Else’s Rug | Focus on Changing Yourself (Not Everyone Else) | How a Strength Can Become a Weakness | Tenacity and Persistence: Friends or Foes? | Don’t Let Worry Consume You | Guilt vs. Duty | Being Judgmental Is Self-Destructive
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When your actions and thoughts are not in congruence, know that you are setting yourself up to get stuck. Doesn’t it make sense that a major source of dissatisfaction can occur anytime you are thinking one way yet acting another? If we can’t be honest with ourselves, how can we ever expect to know who we really are and what is really important to us?

2 Lessons Clients Taught Me

Older businesswoman pondering, seated by windowWhat our clients can teach us.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Let's discuss Lean Six Sigma as it applies to CPA firms. Let's discuss lean processes and error tracking.

MORE: CPAs Can’t Help You | The Value-Pricing Con Job | No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem | The Agile Accountant | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | The Great Marketing Hoax | The Cure for Commoditization | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management | What the Value-Pricers Get Wrong | Four Amusing Millennial Myths | The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It. | 3 Rules for Asking Great Tax-Return Questions

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You’ve probably heard of Lean Six Sigma. Our manufacturing clients implemented it back in the 1990s.

I’m betting this is the first time you’ve heard of its application to the CPA world.


Jobs Report: 43,000 New Hires

Hourly pay averages $33.53, up 4%.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

As 2019 dawns, the most stunning trends in hiring in the tax and accounting industry is in payroll services, which shows year-over-year increases of 7 percent or more in overall employment, according to an exclusive CPA Trendlines analysis. Meanwhile, tax prep continues its slow slide.

MORE ON JOBS: Tax Shops Cut 6,200 Jobs | Tax Shops Cut Staff by 10% | Benefits, Perks, and Incentives: The Happy-Packs of Employee Satisfaction | Salary Survey: Top Skills Getting Top Pay | Growth Slowdown: Tax & Accounting Hiring Rates Hit Headwinds | Steady Gains in Hiring at Accounting Firms | Accounting Wages Set New Record
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In this report, CPA Trendlines reports:

  • Current hiring trends in each of the bookkeeping, payroll, tax and CPA segments of the industry.
  • Average hourly wages for key segments
  • Typical hours worked per week
  • Trends concerning women in the accounting workforce


Charitable Giving under TCJA

Donor-advised funds can be a simpler option.

By Barry J. Friedman, CPA

The new tax law nearly doubles the standard deduction for individuals and families, simplifying the filing process for millions of Americans, but complicating giving strategies for many who have made a habit of deducting their charitable contributions.

MORE: The Latest Fraud Problem: Synthetic Identities | Why Padding Tax Deductions Is a Risky Proposition | Portability: Sharing the Estate Tax Exemption | Tariffs: What Clients Need to Know Now
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Indeed, an estimate from the Washington, D.C., Tax Policy Center is that the number of itemizers will drop from 46 million to 13 million. That means most taxpayers will have little tax incentive to donate cash or stock to charity, reducing giving by $13 billion to $20 billion a year.