Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The check is in the mail. Yeah right!

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that outstanding invoices are one of the most frustrating aspects of owning your own business. Most of you in practice for yourselves can speak volumes on the frustration of weeks dragging on to months and repeated promises that the proverbial “check is in the mail.”

We’ve all been there.

In fact, this weekend, during a conversation with my long-time landscaper, he complained that one of my neighbors hasn’t paid him in nearly two years. TWO YEARS. My first question to him was why does he continue to service her lawn? I can safely say that after six months I would have cut my losses (pardon the bad pun) and try and recover what I could in small claims court.

But I digress.

I’m sure you’ve all encountered clients that are shall we say, a bit sluggish in opening their checkbooks. The alligator arms-deep pockets image will fit nicely here. For example, many CPA firms that I’ve spoken to will not send a client’s 1040 until they receive full payment. If they don’t then by law the preparer is required to return all documentation to a deadbeat client and wish them best of luck in completing it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Two Annoying Phrases

For those of us in the Northeast this has been one hot summer.

To put the last two months in perspective, my monthly invoice from the power company is averaging $20 more than I paid for my first car.

My air conditioner has been running non-stop seemingly from Memorial Day and I’m sure that my situation is not unique to other parts of the country as I scour the national weather reports. This is not exactly what I envisioned after a particularly brutal and unforgiving winter.

But what compounds an already uncomfortable situation and makes my ears screech in that “fingernails on a blackboard” sort of way is when someone remarks, “It’s not so much the heat but rather the humidity.” It may not be everyone’s most annoying phrase, but it certainly merits a place in the discussion.

I immediately want to go to my local gym and take a few well-aimed whacks at the punching bag.

Now in our business, the weather doesn’t usually make an impact – unless of course, we’re talking something on the order of Category 3, but you know what does? Perhaps the second most annoying phrase – “I’ve been thinking about it.”

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Some Folks Are Just Not Closers

In the 2000 movie “Boiler Room” a thinly veiled portrayal of the infamous Stratton Oakmont brokerage firm that was later featured in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the main character Seth is enjoying a breakfast bowl of Cheerios when he receives a call from a telemarketer.

The salesman is selling subscriptions to The New York Daily News, an institutional tabloid in the Big Apple for those of you who are not from the area. Seth tells him he’s not interested and the salesman thanks him for his time and prepares to hang up.

The ensuing conversation goes something like this.

Seth: “That’s your pitch? You’re giving up? C’mon sell me on it.”

The salesman goes full bore into his script and then waits breathlessly for an answer.

Seth: “See, that’s better. But sorry, I already subscribe to the New York Times.”

Sort of smile inducing for sure, but too close to home especially in our business.

Accountants by nature are not what is known in sales parlance as “closers.” I’m convinced that procrastination and driving 15 mph in a 55 are somehow required courses as opposed to electives in accounting education.

Friday, July 20, 2018

I’m Not Ready!

You know how every Fourth of July there are countless articles and television spots warning holiday celebrants of the danger of using fireworks and how the average person should leave the cherry bombs, M-80s and Roman Candles to the professionals?

Then invariably you read about some unfortunate – and most likely careless – soul who waited a millisecond too long and had one detonate while still in their hands – often severing off fingers or requiring someone call 911 like yesterday.

Some people will never learn no matter how many warnings they receive.

While not quite on as drastic a level as having an M-80 explode in your palm, the accounting profession has, historically been a tough group to catch on – especially when it comes to succession.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Experience Required!

This week marked the debut of the New York Accounting and Finance Show, the 2018 iteration of the former New York Accounting & Technology confab, a repetitive annual debacle that convened in a hotel venue that by some miracle had city health and safety inspectors somehow looking the other way.

After spending several hours there it would not have been impractical for those who are certified germaphobes to undergo a complete physical and receive a tetanus shot for good measure.

It attracted legions of sole practitioners whose firms generated an average of $100k a year and aside from getting their required CPE it was a matter of how many pens and other free giveaways they could stuff in their canvas conference bags.

Simply put, it was hardly our target audience. It was a show that had technically died somewhere circa 2005 but no one bothered to tell the management.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A “Driver” Toward Small Business Ownership

I don’t think a week goes by when I don’t receive a text from ridesharing concerns Uber or Lyft offering me up to a $500 bonus if I decide to begin driving for them.

Since driving is not one of my decided passions, visions of a late Friday afternoon pickup at Newark or JFK airports or attempting to get cross-town in Manhattan quickly eradicates any notion of me signing aboard.

Although in full disclosure I do kind of like the “be your own boss and make your own hours” mantra of each.

Late last week Amazon jumped into the fray – sort of – recruiting folks to begin delivering their Prime packages from its local sorting centers to the customers who ordered them - in company branded vans and uniforms as what they call “local delivery service partners.”

All you need is $10,000 and, if you’ll pardon the bad pun, and a drive to succeed. According to an announcement from the company, its Amazon Prime unit ships 5 billion (yes, that’s with a B) packages a year on a global basis. The $10,000 initial outlay will go to helping them start an independent business that has to begin with at least five delivery vans and ramp up to 20 vans over an undisclosed period.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Slow Cracks in the Ceiling

In college I enrolled in a business law class as an elective which was taught by a former corporate attorney – a no-nonsense woman who once regaled us with a story of how in her first day at law school in 1962, a male classmate leaned over and told her in no uncertain terms that she had taken a deserving seat from man.

Knowing her as I did, I can only imagine her response. It most likely could not have been reprinted in a family publication.

Think about that for a moment in this era of movements like #MeToo.

That scenario seems almost inconceivable today and without doubt would incur severe reprimands if not outright dismissal and/or legal action should it be repeated in the 21st century.

But that was then, and this was now.

I recalled this misogynist episode when I saw an article ranking the best CPA firms in the U.S. for women. The roster was compiled by the Accounting MOVE Project, a nine-year-old annual undertaking that provides a benchmark for the status of women in the leadership pipeline in the profession as well as diversity and the Accounting Financial and Women’s Alliance.

According to the 2018 poll, women currently comprise 25 percent of the management committees at participating firms—up from 19 percent in 2014 and 24 percent of partners and principals at CPA firms. 

According to the AFWA, the below listed firms were measured by a trio of factors related to the advancement of women in accounting:

•    Consistent, measurable progress in advancing women to leadership.
•    Proven and continually evolving programs that retain and advance women.
•    Clear and compelling integration of the business case for advancing women with business results.

So, for those keeping score at home, the best practices for women in 2018 were:
  1. BPM, San Francisco, Calif.
  2. Brown Smith Wallace, St. Louis
  3. Clark Nuber, Bellevue, Wash.
  4. CohnReznick, New York
  5. Kerkering Barbario & Co., Sarasota, Fla.
  6. Lurie, Minneapolis
  7. MCM CPAs and Advisors, Louisville, Ky.
  8. Moss Adams, Seattle
  9. Novogradac & Co. San Francisco
  10. Plante Moran, Southfield, Mich.
  11. Rehman, Troy, Mich.
  12. Bonadio Group, Pittsford, N.Y.

And for those who care, I earned an A in the class - one of the few and far between to appear on my college transcript. And I should mention that she never once told me my seat should have gone to a more deserving student.