Today's Features

How to Fire a Client

And How to Keep the Good Ones.

Capstone Marketing, led by CPA Trendlines expert author Jean Caragher, is completing its Capstone Summer Series with their Hello-Goodbye End of Summer webinars.

Each is 50-minutes and eligible for one CPE credit. The cost of the two-webinar bundle is $58 and includes:

September 24, 2019 - Client Retention Strategies Every Firm Can Use
October 1, 2019 - How to Fire a Client

CPA firm executives, managers and marketers can register here.

“CPAs strive to build and maintain a profitable, rewarding client base,” says Jean Caragher, Capstone Marketing’s president. “This requires evaluating both new business prospects and current clients. The final two webinars of our Capstone Summer Series will focus on identifying the best prospects and how to retain them, and determining which clients need to be fired.”

Ready for Non-CPA CPA Firms?

What the AICPA and NASBA could learn from other professions.

By Donny C. Shimamoto, CPA.CITP, CGMA

I’ve been watching NASBA and the AICPA communicate the need for a change to the requirements to be CPA. While at a surface level their rationale makes sense, when I think further about the bigger picture of the accounting profession, I’m not sure I agree with their direction. I do however think that the accounting profession needs to be more cohesive and inclusive, and perhaps that is the better solution to pursue, rather enabling more non-accountants to be CPAs.

RELATED: Accounting Services Aren’t What You Think They Are

One of the major premises of their rationale is that CPA firms are hiring an increasing number of non-accounting graduates so we need to enable more of these people to be CPAs. Well, just because they work at a CPA firm, does someone have to be a CPA? Or just because they help with a tax return audit, or consulting project, do they need to be a CPA?


CPA Convene: Building the Future-Ready Firm

Click here to learn more
Click here to learn more

Join the conversation about the new opportunities for the profession on Oct. 3.

By CPA Trendlines Research 

CPA Trendlines founder & CEO Rick Telberg is joining the Maryland Association of CPAs, the Montana Society of CPAs, and a bevy of other through leaders and professional groups to host an online, international grassroots conversation about the future of the CPA profession on Thursday, Oct. 3.

Visit CPA Convene for more details on session topics, speaker panels and the registration procedure.

This virtual conference is designed to foster contribution from individual CPAs and initiate meaningful discussion around the themes that are most pressing for the future of the CPA profession. The event is crafted to give voice to the attendees as stakeholders of the profession and to share expertise and insight across the global community. READ MORE →

OneNote: The Hidden Treasure in Office 365

Join the Webinar: OneNote - Mastering Organization of Your Notes & Correspondence

By John Higgins

Many years have passed since I began my journey to go paperless, both personally and professionally.  It has been like getting into a fitness routine, the hardest part was getting started.

However, once I began to see the benefits of my efforts, the journey transitioned from a challenge to a very positive experience. Yet, there was always that last mile that was nagging me. What I mean is that it felt like I had ended up with my own personal silos of information. Email messages stayed in Outlook, letters and correspondence stayed in Word, spreadsheets stayed in Excel and so on.

There is so much you can do with OneNote. If want to learn about every nook and cranny feature, please join our webinar: OneNote - Mastering Organization of Your Notes & Correspondence

Then I discovered OneNote. I had actually seen the OneNote icon in my Office applications menu for a few years before I began to explore it. That is when everything changed for me. READ MORE →

Why Go PRO? Ask Mike

"We have decided to be more intentional in running our firm as a business and I’m interested in gaining the perspective of other firms and experts in our field."


Go Pro Today
Learn more

5 Ways to Get More Referrals

Woman pressing one of many faces on a gridDo your clients even know you WANT them to share your name?

By Sandi Leyva

The most popular way to get clients is from referrals or by word of mouth.

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: Measure Client Retention … Against Yourself | Turn to the ABCs for Client Feedback | Use Client ‘Touch Plans’ to Stay in Touch | Build Your Revenue Plan in Reverse | 5 Fast, Easy Ways to Turn Annual Clients into Year-Round Clients | Best Practices for Growth: Network, Specialize, Share | How to Handle Referrals – And How Not To
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

A referral takes place when other clients refer you to their friends or a business associate passes your business card to a prospect, and the prospect calls you for more information. At the beginning of your career, you may get started with referrals from relatives, personal friends, previous employers or co-workers, or other entrepreneurs if you have been active in professional business groups.

3 Subjective Compensation Systems

Plus balloting details for those who use paper and pencil.judge gavel,dollar banknotes and calculators

By Marc Rosenberg
Partner Comp: Art & Science

There are at least three performance-based systems for partner compensation. None rely completely on intractable formulas, but instead introduce various degrees of subjectivity. Needless to say, none are without some controversy.

MORE ON PARTNER COMPENSATION FOR PRO MEMBERS: 11 Points in Designing a Partner Comp System | 3 Tiers of Compensation | What Partners Earn and How They Earn It | How Partners View Compensation: It’s Not All about the Money

But each system requires serious thought. Here's a comprehensive of the three approaches. Which does your firm use now? Why? Which might be a better approach?

Let's take a closer look:


How Retirement Issues Affect Succession Planning

An old-school bronze justice scale with inequal stacks of moneyIf you believe your firm will be dysfunctional without you, now is the time to fix it.

By Bill Reeb and Dominic Cingoranelli

When we take our clients through succession planning, eventually the focus turns to implementing the best practices for running a firm – but first we normally have to start with short-term retirement issues.

Why? Because typically you won’t get any buy-in for change until the partners have looked at whether the current retirement system is paying at least roughly a fair market value to the near-term retiring partners. Our rule of thumb is that the remaining partners in a firm will pay a retiring partner up to 120 percent of the fair market price and the partners selling their ownership will take as little as 80 percent of the fair market price to turn over their ownership.

MORE ON PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT: Succession: The Questions to Care About | How Partner Ratings Factor Into Equity | The Pitfalls of Equity Allocation and Reallocation | CPA Firm Performance Assessments: 15 Core Competencies, 21 Questions | What Having Your Employees’ Backs Means

When either group goes even a fraction outside this boundary – and often even when they start coming close to it – then “principle” is invoked and bad things begin to happen. The conversation shifts from one of win-win where both parties come out okay to win-lose with each party out to hurt the other for being selfish and unfair.

When the Deal is Done: A 24-Point Checklist for the Morning After

How to integrate two firms after a merger: carefully.

By August Aquila

The tough negotiations and hard-fought agreement were the hard parts, right? Think again. Now you must move your eye from the financial to the human side of the merger.

Your work has just begun and may last for 12 months or more. In order to make sure your merger has a better than average chance of succeeding, here are at least two dozen questions that need to be answered: READ MORE →

Zach Gordon CPA: “The level of guidance out there is just nonexistent.”

Gordon to speak at NYSSCPA's Cannabis Conference, Nov. 9.

By Liz Gold

A strong network in cannabis, staying up-to-date on all the moving parts of legislation and reading constantly keeps Zach Gordon, CPA well-informed as co-practice leader of Janover LLC’s Cannabis Industry Practice Group. He’s also the chair of the New York State Society of CPAs’ Cannabis Industry Committee and planning the upcoming NYSSCPA’s 2019 Cannabis Conference in conjunction with the Foundation for Accounting Education. He’s taken on these leadership roles as a senior manager in a firm that he’s been at for less than a year.

More at CannaBizCPA.Pro: Katye Maxson-Landis: Integrity Wins in Cannabis Accounting [Bonus Podcast]  |   Cannabiz Meets Intellectual Property Protection  |  Why Jax Wheatley Shifted from LBGTQ to Cannabis Clients  |  [PODCAST] The Cannabis CPA: Sean Robinson  |  iComply Helping Cannabusinesses Stay Ahead of the Curve  |  Green Bits: Helping Cannabis Retailers Stay Compliant  |  Ron Seigneur Blazes New Trails in Cannabis  |  [PODCAST] Laura Durham Finds Her Niche | [PODCAST] Matt Karnes, Greenwave Consultants |  [PODCAST] Cristina Garza, CannaComply  |  [PODCAST] Alex Glueckler, Silver Leaf CBC  |  Silver Leaf CBC: An ERP Platform for Cannabis Companies  |  Leveling the Playing Field for Cannabis Businesses  |  [PODCAST] Sean Robinson, Tebaja Consulting

GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

“I don’t sleep much,” he says with a laugh. “There’s a lot of reading going on. I subscribe to every resource you could possibly imagine. And honestly, it’s just on us as professionals to make sure that we’re as up-to-date as possible with all the legislation out there, the potential legislation. And it’s a matter of having a good network, as well.”

Gordon and his team, which includes co-practice leader Jason Hoffman, CPA, and partner and mentor Marsha Ellowitz, understand the close-knit vibe of the cannabis community and how important it is to cultivate relationships. Hoffman and Ellowitz were focused on the industry for more than five years before they publicly announced the practice launch in September 2018.

“We certainly do our best to play nice with professionals in other states, whether it’s other CPAs, attorneys, finance professionals, certain business owners, politicians,” Gordon says. “That’s a big part of it as well. It’s a growing community, but it’s not that big at the moment where, as long as you have a good reputation that will carry you a long, long way – especially from a knowledge base standpoint.”

Slated for Nov. 6, at Baruch College in New York, the NYSSCPA’s 2019 Cannabis Conference is a chance for those CPAs interested in the cannabis industry to meet business leaders, learn about best practices, tax, and legislation. Like most conferences, it’s an opportunity to earn CPE, check out the latest technology, talk to exhibiting vendors and network.

“Last year was really an intro to the industry,” he says. “This year, we want to take it a step further.”

This includes addressing hurdles their cannabis clients are facing and some of the challenges that have come up for CPAs, including banking and regulatory issues. There will be business owners in attendance, according to Gordon, who have surmounted these challenges and found success in the industry to share their experiences.

Gordon says more CPA state societies are taking the cannabis industry seriously. He said he’s spoken to state societies in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Nevada.

“There are quite a few states that are heading down this road,” he says.

And though the AICPA has “certainly evolved, without a doubt since we first started this journey,” Gordon says there’s still more work for them to do. “It started with, in essence, a non-answer, which is perfectly understandable to be honest. This is certainly still a delicate topic. From where I sit, I completely understand not having a concrete answer. They have done some seminars and some exploratory work and the AICPA has come a long way. There have been communications for sure. But there’s still more work to do. The guidance right now at their level is certainly not where it should be and certainly not where I’d envision it being a few years from now. I take a positive stance as to the direction they’re going. But it will absolutely take some time.”

In the meantime, Gordon will continue to build out Janover’s cannabis practice. The firm works with all different sects in the cannabis industry – from growers, brands, producers, to technology. They handle companies that touch the plant or ancillary businesses that don’t. They help clients properly structure their business entities, focusing on optimizing legal and tax advantages. Aside from a broad range of traditional accounting services, they also help with 280E compliance and business valuation.

“At this point, we’ve seen it all,” he says. “We've actually, as a team, done a very good job of bringing in a wide array of clients just to keep life interesting because, why would we want life to get boring? It allows us to really just expand our knowledge base and this is one of those industries where there is no set path. It's significantly more complicated. The level of guidance out there is just nonexistent. So, if you're talking about challenges from our side that's one of the big ones.”

From the client perspective, Gordon says, banking still remains a significant issue.

“FDIC insured banks are not servicing the industry,” he says. “Unless you want to operate completely in cash you do have to get a bit creative as to how you're going to properly bank. We are fortunate to have strong relationships with some community-owned banks and credit unions depending on the jurisdiction. That's one of the first conversations we always have with our clients. Beyond that, honestly, it's just guiding them along the process. Every state's a little different, every part of the industry is a little different. That's certainly what's interesting from our side but also a challenge, for sure.”

Gordon started in public accounting 11 years ago. About five years in, he realized he could stick around for the long term or try something else. He decided to head into public equity and was on the finance side for a couple of years. While there he got into the tech space, which he says, “opened his eyes a little bit.”

“I had my own company CH3 Ventures, a cannabis-focused technology incubator, accelerator and investment group]. He focused on technology and financial due diligence, while also providing tax and consulting services for a little while and that allowed me to really open up my network and that's how I got into the cannabis space actually,” he says. “Through my journeys there I reconnected with an old co-worker friend of mine [Hoffman] who had actually started the cannabis practice at Janover. “We were sitting down, just talking and realized that it did make sense for us to join forces and tackle this together. It was sort of like coming home, believe it or not.”

Integrity Wins in Cannabis Accounting

Katye Maxson-Landis: “I have my ethics attorney on speed dial.”

By Liz Gold


If you’re a CPA looking to get into the cannabis space, Katye Maxson-Landis, CPA, welcomes you. And she wants you to do your research.

More at CannaBizCPA.Pro: Cannabiz Meets Intellectual Property Protection  |  Why Jax Wheatley Shifted from LBGTQ to Cannabis Clients  |  [PODCAST] The Cannabis CPA: Sean Robinson  |  iComply Helping Cannabusinesses Stay Ahead of the Curve  |  Green Bits: Helping Cannabis Retailers Stay Compliant  |  Ron Seigneur Blazes New Trails in Cannabis  |  [PODCAST] Laura Durham Finds Her Niche | [PODCAST] Matt Karnes, Greenwave Consultants |  [PODCAST] Cristina Garza, CannaComply  |  [PODCAST] Alex Glueckler, Silver Leaf CBC  |  Silver Leaf CBC: An ERP Platform for Cannabis Companies  |  Leveling the Playing Field for Cannabis Businesses  |  [PODCAST] Sean Robinson, Tebaja Consulting

GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

“Welcome to the most interesting accounting you’ll ever do. You can’t say that about accounting that often. This is interesting, thoughtful, investigatory accounting. Welcome to problem-solving like you’ve never seen. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Start building your professional network now. You need an ethics attorney. I have my ethics attorney on speed dial. I talk to that guy twice a month about clients.”


Stop Pricing by the Hour

Scale with coins on one side, alarm clock on the otherWhat are you really selling?

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

When I was starting out I read a number of books by master salesman Elmer Wheeler, who said, among many other things, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

MORE: Things Change | How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer ‘Saved’ Our Lives | I Always Want to be ’The Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Learning from Lee Iacocca Et Al. | How I Saved a Business | The Staffer Who Was Too Smart | How I Got a Mercedes as a Fee
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

This left me with thoughts of always telling clients, or whomever I interacted with, about the value and benefits of dealing with me while de-emphasizing the cost.

Whittle Down WIP

piles of paper, decreasing in sizeIt's cheaper than adding capacity.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

Want to increase profitability and client retention? Manage projects effectively.

MORE: Maximize Your Role as Visionary | How to Be the Chief Communicator | How to Teach Reviewing and Time Management | 4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season | 3 Tips for Handling Rookie Tax Preparers | What Goes Into a Client Project?
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

If you don’t have these measures, get them, or turn in your CEO title. If, as a value pricer, you’ve sworn off practice metrics based on productivity, you’ll learn nothing from this article. You just don’t have the numbers. Mark Cuban is on hold waiting to yell at you.

Trump, Tariffs, Brexit: CPAs Turn Negative on the Economic Forecast

CPAs blame U.S. trade war for impairing the economy. (via AICPA)

Expectations fall to their lowest level since 2016.

By CPA Trendlines Research

Citing U.S. political leadership, trade concerns and fears of a sustained global slowdown, CPAs in private practice have crossed from a generally positive view of the economy to decisively negative, their dimmest view of the business situation in three years. And they expect things to get worse.

Only 42 percent of survey takers express optimism about the U.S. economy’s outlook over the next 12 months, down from 57 percent, the level it held for the past three quarters.

Positive sentiment on the U.S. economy had been as high as 79 percent in early 2018 and had not fallen below 50 percent since the third quarter of 2016, when it stood at 38 percent, according to the AICPA survey READ MORE →

Avoid Over-Auditing with ‘Document Containers’

Man's hands on computer keyboardTwo software apps to compare.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

Traditional audit practices use the previous year’s audit programs and processes updated for the current year as their standard operating plan.

MORE: How to Equip Field Auditors | Why Your Firm Needs Procedure Manuals | Digital Tax Workflow Requires a System, Not Projects | SURVEY: 60% of Firms Employ Remote Access Tools | Collaboration Should Tie In Messaging
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

Eventually this can lead to a significant amount of “overauditing.” Breaking this habit is difficult as every level of staff has been trained in the manual processes and falls back on them when deadlines approach.

Five Keys to Successfully Selling a CPA Firm

No.1: Timing, Timing, Timing.

By Brannon Poe

Selling an accounting practice can be a hard decision, and an emotional one. Having a clear vision of what success looks like is a great place to start.

More Brannon Poe: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying an Accounting Practice  |. Five Key Decisions for Your Exit Strategy  |. How to Transfer a Boomer-Owned CPA Practice to a Millennial

GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

One of the first tasks of developing any strategy is to have a clear definition of what success looks like. Successfully selling a CPA firm is no different.

There are five key components in a successful deal: READ MORE →

New Gadget Measures Water Purity

Hands holding deviceYou don't even have to dunk it.

By Rick Richardson

We often take the quality of the water we drink for granted.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: The Big 8 Next Tech Disruptors | Advanced Tech Drives Financial Services Growth | Microsoft and Oracle Join Cloud Forces to Take on Amazon | Salesforce Buys Data Visualization Company Tableau | How to Fix Coffee-Shop Wi-Fi | 5 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses with Remote Employees | Amazon Takes More Control Over Smart Home Technology
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

Food is regularly tested for hygiene and safety, but that level of scrutiny doesn’t extend to water. With water, we usually take for granted that it’s clean if it looks, smells and tastes okay. If only purity worked that way!

Things Change

Businessman holding a wastebasket with a desktop computer in it“We have to use what has become almost universal if we want to be connected.”

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

Innovation requires change, and many of us resist or are reluctant to change. But hopefully not me.

MORE: How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer ‘Saved’ Our Lives | Getting by Giving Back | Some Mistakes I Made | Growing with a Client | Start with the Cash | Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters | How I Owned a Printing Company and Restaurant | Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech | What Consulting Is
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

I continually look for what’s new that can be adapted to what I am doing. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up and it seems it is getting harder and harder.