Today's Features

Six New Rules for Smarter Tech Spending

Plus: Topline findings and recommendations for firms of every size from the new Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey.

By Brian Tankersley
Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey

Many practitioners think that CPA firm information technology is easy, and the really hard work is done with people who have large databases, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth, as it would be normal for a staff tax preparer to have as many as 12 applications open at once.

More from the AFOT Survey:  Top Video-Conferencing Tools: GoToMeeting, Skype |  3 Monitors the New Standard |  Ready for a New Laptop?Dell Gains on Laptop RivalsWhen to Replace Your Desktop PC?Accountants’ Favorite Desktop PCWho’s Still Using Windows 7?Cisco, SonicWall Top Firewall ChoicesHow Firms Manage Mobile Devices

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Very few things are as important to your firm’s effectiveness and efficiency than the reliability and effectiveness of your technology.

Some general guidance on how to approach IT in your firm includes the following. READ MORE →

[The Cannabis CPA] Sean Robinson, Tebaja Consulting

CPA targets fast-growing business sectors facing common problems.

By Liz Gold

For Sean Robinson, CPA, MBA, and founder of Tebaja Consulting LLC, his company is helping him answer his calling.

MORE ON CANNABIZ: John Pellitteri Takes Grassi Full Steam into the Cannabis Industry | Cannabis: Top Trends to Watch in 2019 | Dean Guske on the Cannabusiness | Squar Milner Takes on Cannabis in California and Beyond
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Robinson spent a decade at Citigroup in various roles. During that time, he always had a fondness for his first role, which was managing several teams that supported and expedited the financial close process for private equity funds and venture capital investors.


Hiring Trends Flash Warning Signs of Slowdown in Tax & Accounting

CPA firm staffing and wage growth signal weakness.

By Beth Bellor

Not only are several sectors in the tax and accounting industry charting new records in employee numbers, but wages often are up as well, according to new CPA Trendlines research.

MORE ON JOBS: CHARTS: Tax & Accounting Among Biggest Jobs Creators in U.S.
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But key indexes are flashing signs of a decelerating expansion, possibly augering a slowdown, or even cutbacks, in the months to come.

In this report, CPA Trendlines highlights:

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


The Job Interview: A Make or Break Proposition

Two businesswomen sitting at table and talking in office courtyard5 criteria to meet when hiring.

By Steven E. Sacks

Over the past several years, there has been significant job growth and a large part has been attributed to the private sector, which includes professional services firms, businesses, hospitality, education, and health.

Despite what appears to be robust employment with new opportunities across a broad swath, companies on the hunt for talent are still facing the challenge of finding the perfect candidate.

MORE: The Power of ‘Real Influence’ | Smart Trust in the Workplace | What Aspiring Accountants Need to Know | Improve Job Satisfaction or It’ll Cost Your Firm | We Hear But Do We REALLY Listen?
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Companies are using third parties to assist them in their quest to get the “right fit” because their goal is to build solid teams. The team approach ensures that there is consistency in attitude and performance within and between departments. This is not to suggest the goal of creating automatons or cultivating groupthink.

However, a recruiter considers not only whether the individual is competent but also if he or she will be compatible with the other players.

KPI’s: Practice Management by the Numbers

Data chartBONUS: 6 charts, including most and least effective ways to control costs.

Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey

Our survey respondents were asked practice management questions that explored how much time is spent working from remote locations, the top challenges of managing the firm, channels to bring the most new clients to the firm, time spent managing tasks, and methods for controlling costs.

They were also asked about initiatives that generate revenue, their biggest technology challenges, security in the cloud, communications with clients, mergers and acquisitions, wireless networking and plans for the firm’s website.

Learning from Lee Iacocca Et Al.

Woman on city train using tabletSUMMER READING: Proven leaders can teach us a lot.

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

Lee Iacocca passed away July 2 at age 94. He was a brilliant business and civic leader and a cultural icon who was even considered for president.

MORE: Growing with a Client | My First Thought Is to Never Turn Down Business | Secret Success Formula: E=fs4Uh | High CPA Fees Should Be a Client’s Goal | How Hidden Bias Taints Results | When to Keep Some Plans to Yourself | When Writeups Went Extinct | Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech
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I never met him but read his autobiography and besides enjoying it I took away a management technique I am sharing with you here.

Building Competency on Every Level

Work is passed down to the next level once the saturation point has been reached.

Including 3 key initiatives in most strategic plans.

By Bill Reeb

Let's discuss how firms need to alter their thinking as to what best practices might look like near term to better position themselves for the future that is almost here NOW.

MORE: Change Happens: How to Master It.
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First of all, which I have covered numerous times before, we have to truly address from a workload perspective the prevalence of the Upside-Down Pyramid™ in firms.

4 Ways to Fix IRS Collections

Home foreclosure? Put on the brakes.

By CPA Trendlines Research

Tax assessment and collection – this is the juncture where taxpayers really get to know their favorite federal agency ... or, if not favorite, the only one that touches virtually every working American.

MORE: 3 Ways to Improve IRS Levies | How the IRS Abuses ‘Math Errors’
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It can be a heavy touch to a tender area, the one in the vicinity of the wallet. So it’s a touch that can always use improvement.

Fortunately for taxpayers, the Tax Advocacy Service  suggests 16 ways Congress could make the assessment and collection touch a touch softer.

Smart Tech Tips from Top CPA Firms

Laughing businesswoman talking on the phone in office in front of four monitors5 key questions, including what to tell recruits.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

I have a keen interest and understanding of how managing partners perform their jobs. Their duties encompass a long list of critically important management functions. Certainly, one of these is to ensure that technology has an optimal impact on the firm’s success, profitability and efficiency.

MORE: 15 Amazing Organizational Tactics to Manage a CPA Firm | Why Governing by Partner Ownership Is Bound to Fail | 6 Ways to Retain NextGen Staff | How to Develop a Truly Progressive NextGen Culture | The Top 5 Concerns of Great Managing Partners | Partners: When To Speak Up and When To Shut Up
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This can be quite challenging because, unlike most MP duties, managing the technology function is a highly technical skill that most MPs don’t have.

Reframe Sales as Communicating Value

Two people working side by side on laptopsCreate a conversation where the client can experience what it would be like to work with you.


I've talked about how the accounting industry has been disrupted. High-volume, low-profit services such as tax returns are being pushed out by large commercial organizations, leaving small and medium-size accounting firm owners to work increasingly harder for decreasing profits.

MORE: 3 Keys to Evolving Your Accounting Practice
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The solution is to allow your business model to adapt by following these three core principles:

  1. Transform from accountant to advisor. (Read 3 Keys to Evolving Your Accounting Practice if you haven’t yet!)
  2. Learn to price/sell/deliver.
  3. Confront and conquer fear.


How to Guide Your Firm Through ‘Critical Periods’

IllustrationTake a holistic approach.

By Kayleigh Padar

Most firms face “critical periods” as they grow in which new challenges appear, Karbon’s recent Practice Excellence Scorecard report finds. However, with some strategies firms can prepare for these stressful times and emerge unscathed, the report shows.

MORE: 9 Key Insights for Practice Excellence
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The study assessed 250 accounting firms and identified the common challenges firms are facing and how they’re conquering them.

The Power of ‘Real Influence’

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SUMMER READING: "Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In"

By Steven E. Sacks

Today’s rapid-fire communication dynamic expects quick responses to emails, texts, and even the old-fashioned telephone call. An information or idea exchange requires quick analysis and quick decision making. If something requires drawn-out deliberation, which takes away from task-driven activity, it screws up our mojo – the stars and moon are no longer in alignment.

MORE SUMMER READING: Smart Trust in the Workplace | 10 Elements to Balancing Shareholders’ Needs | Stop Wasting Time in Useless Meetings | A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement
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I am not talking about business proposals that require significant sums of capital or a change in an organizational structure or something else that has enormous transformative implications. There are, however, so many lesser matters we encounter that are superseded by our daily “to do” checklist.

4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season

Young businesswoman working on laptop computer with growth chart in backgroundThink of yourself as a CEO.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Please have a seat. No, not that one. Take the one next to me. All of us are here because we love you to death. We only want the best for you. But we can no longer stand by and watch you suffer. When you suffer, we all suffer as a family. We have written some letters to let you know how we feel. I’ll let your firm go first.

MORE: How to Create Good Managers | 4 Tips for Managing Advanced Preparers | The Right Way to Assign Staff Projects | Workflow for Dummies | How Effective Project Management Makes Your Life Easier | 2 Lessons Clients Taught Me | No Consultant Can Solve Your Biggest Problem
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“Your behavior has affected me negatively in the following manner. I’m not as profitable as I should be. You are stifling the development of your staff. Your clients are upset that returns aren’t getting done on time. Your kids resemble the mailman more than you.

“Please accept the help we are offering you today. We have your bags packed, and we’ll put you on a plane to rehab at the beach. Don’t worry about scoring your next fix. We’ll help you detox safely. But you must decide right now. You must give up your addiction to doing everything yourself.”