Friday, June 23, 2017


Some people just love to hear themselves write.

In this age of myriad electronic communication avenues, some of which I can’t even pronounce much less explain what they are and how they work, there is still something to be said about brevity.

Tell me is there anything worse than what happened to me at the recent AICPA Engage conference in Las Vegas, where I somehow got corralled into listening to a vendor drone on endlessly about his product and how it would absolutely, positively revolutionize the profession as we know it. With 4,000 or so attendees, I’m fairly certain I was not the only one on the wrong end of a Sominex pitch.

But you know what made it worse?

Two days later I received an opus from him in the form of an email, regurgitating every aspect of my eye-rolling exhibitor booth entrapment.

Needless to say, the message quickly found its way into the e-circular file.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Sorry, that’ll cost you

When I speak to a prospective client, I not only explain what we do here, but perhaps more importantly, what we don’t do. For those keeping score at home, we don’t offer the following services: technology consulting, sales training and with rare exceptions, executive recruiting.

There are other companies and persons that are far more knowledgeable and experienced in those areas and we frequently give referrals when it’s obvious we can’t provide someone with the help they need. For now at least we’ll stick with what has propelled us for the past quarter century – ownership and transition assistance.

You know what else we don’t offer?

Unpaid consulting, with the emphasis on “unpaid.”

For those who may not be in sales, unpaid consulting officially begins when you cross that line of demarcation between trying to determine a client’s problem and then blurting out a number of possible solutions.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Replacing the Role Not Just the Body

In one of the great “Dilbert” cartoon strips of all time, the hapless crew of his fictional company is seen giving a product demonstration to a potential buyer. When the client hopeful asks for more information on a particular feature, one of Dilbert’s crew sheepishly admits, “We didn’t bring the guy who can explain that.”

I harkened back to this timeless parody of all-too-frequent corporate culture, when I spoke recently to a managing partner of a small-to-midsized firm in the Northeast who announced plans that he wanted to exit from full-time work in two years or less.

His plan was to have his two younger partners lead an internal succession strategy and assume the reins of the firm.

Okay, sounded doable enough until, like an onion I began peeling back the layers to expose some inconvenient truths.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

After Pomp and Circumstance, What’s Next?

Years ago, I went to a local comedy show where one of the performers remarked, “look at me, I’m ashamed to admit that I’m 30 and my parents still live with me.”


Actually, according to a recent survey by the financial concern TD Ameritrade it only takes until age 28 when a child finally becomes embarrassed that they’re still living at home.

I thought a lot about that this weekend when I sat through my second (and thankfully, last) graduation from college as my youngest received her diploma from Binghamton University – Magna Cum Laude – I may add (read: brag).

Just when the Mrs. and I were becoming used this empty nest thing.

Our eldest moved out last year – three years earlier than the Ameritrade tipping point for those keeping score at home and now we’ll see how long her sister decides to remain. By the amount of clothes and traditional hoarding of collegiate collectibles, I will give her at least a two-week grace/rest period to put everything in its proper place.

Then hopefully she’ll embark in earnest on that career thing.

By contrast when I left college, I had exactly one regulation Army footlocker that easily contained all my worldly possessions.

But I digress.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Little Vetting Goes a Long Way

A while back some psychologist came up with a theory that for many of us, our worst nightmare is being caught naked in public.

Now I guess that would all depend on who was being observed sans clothes.

That, I would assume, is like performing a basic pre-due diligence fact check on a potential merger partner and discovering their background more resembles Bernie Madoff than the little unassuming CPA practitioner down the block.

Case in point.

Recently, we were working with a seller in a large Midwestern city and the dialogue between him and who we hoped would be the successor firm was going smoothly until the larger practice ran a search.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Management by Objection

How many times have you stopped and wondered how some people find their way into a top management post?

If you’re like me, meaning someone who has worked for a number of mid-sized companies during their career, I would think it was probably on more than one occasion.

Some attain it through birth like the CEO of a publishing company I worked for some 20 years ago whom we nicknamed “Florsheim” after the shoe brand. Because, had his father not founded the company, his career would have entailed asking folks if they wanted to see a particular style in a size 9.

Others just get lucky and throw in when the market is ripe for a service or need.  Yet despite their success many have no clue what to do afterwards. Like the founder of my wife’s company who, to this day, continually denies employees access to work remotely despite losing a cadre of good and efficient people because of it.

This brings us to the topic de jour.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The “Village” Idiot

You know what’s worse than getting no help in a bad situation?

Getting the wrong help.

Sort of like the friendly guy who helps you change a flat tire and forgets to tighten the lug nuts.

I’m sure we’ve all been there.

Sadly, I found it’s often no different in the CPA profession.

Case in point.

I was speaking to a two-partner firm in the Northeast recently about succession, which was not even a blip on either’s respective radar although with no discernable alternative with regard to an internal transition, it certainly should have been.

In any event, one of the owners said they had retained a consultant to lead their firm retreat the year before and said consultant recommended that they build a “village” internally rather than look toward an upstream merger.

Yes, you heard correctly – he advised them to look for young talent and stock their bench with high-potentials who would someday take the leadership reins.

Again, stop me if you’ve heard this before.