Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Arguing Influence

At one time or another we’ve all participated in what I call “bar arguments.”

Whether debating over who was the best centerfielder or quarterback of all time, to who was the worst (add your own noun here – i.e. athlete, politician, musician).

As a 25 year veteran of the publishing industry, I’ve participated in compiling a number of issues in several industries that attempted to rank spheres of influence usually in groups of 50 or 100. They ranged from companies to individuals to products and, as with any ranking, it was admittedly part concrete and other parts subjective.

At my former stop before landing here, we put out an annual ranking of whom we considered the 100 most influential people in the accounting profession. Those selections were drawn from fairly diverse fields of pursuit from practitioners to vendors as well as politicians and educators.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

On Demand: Cyber Security

As someone who has been a member of Facebook since 2008, one of the most oft-asked questions on that interactive site is “What film have you watched at least five times and are still entertained?”

Now I could go on for an hour minimum on that subject, as I’m sure we all could but one movie that ultimately ceases my incessant channel surfing is “War Games.” For those too young to remember that perhaps forgotten 1983 gem, a teenaged Matthew Broderick (this was pre-Ferris Bueller) is a high school computer nerd who, when attempting to hack into a California-based software gaming company, accidently penetrates the NORAD missile defense system and nearly triggers a nuclear Armageddon with pre-Glastnost Russia.

Now I’m sure not more than a handful of those who saw the movie envisioned the scale and scope of what online hacking would eventually become years later in terms of online thieves stealing personal information, accounts and Social Security numbers.

But over the past five years or so, we’ve seen too many examples of online piracy of personal data at retailers such as Target and Home Depot, health care conglomerates Blue Cross and Anthem and financial concerns like JP Morgan.

In fact since 2005, there have been some 75 data breaches where more than 1 million or so personal records were compromised. Let that number sink in for a while.

Friday, September 8, 2017

As if Hiring Wasn’t Hard Enough!

There isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t receive at least one call from a firm owner bemoaning the degree of difficulty and frustration he/she has endured to hire good young people and to get them to remain.

Yes, I get it. Believe me I do.

But then again as I’ve warned them, oh, about 2,000 times, you can’t pin a serious succession plan on the chance that some young high performer will show up at your door ready to lead the practice into the future. And it still amazes me how that advice is treated as seriously as asking my daughter to clean up her room.

But I digress.

I bring up the often painful subject of hiring because I came across an article the other day about a hiring scam that has wended its way into the accounting profession. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Going Past the Expiration Date

As someone who once covered sports for a brief time, I’ve seen what happens when athletes stay in the game far longer than they should. And in sports such as boxing, the consequences of remaining past your expiration date are far dire than say in baseball or basketball. 

As you can imagine, I see it quite often in our line of work – people who have stayed too long and are left floundering for a succession plan or those who buck the Einstein theory of repeatedly doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results.

Today’s missive – the last one before we say goodbye to what has been an all-too-accelerated summer - sort of touches on the concept of knowing when to pack it in.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Question of the Week: Is Good Help Really That Hard to Find?

Those of you, who know me, know that it’s a rare occurrence when I find myself completely flat footed and unable to answer a question posed to me. At the very least, I’ll stall with a quasi-response until I can regroup and become better informed.

But in full disclosure I found myself in that exact position earlier this week when a client of mine – who was in the throes of an unsuccessful search to hire a tax manager – asked me why so many recent college graduates and even those with 3-5 years in the profession prefer to remain with the large firms - those residing on the super-regional and Big Four tiers- rather than opt for a position with a middle market practice?

Um, I don’t know I responded.

Friday, August 18, 2017

A menu with two choices

This week I struck gold – sort of.

Well, maybe silver.

My youngest who graduated from college in May received not one but TWO job offers. I advised her it’s now a matter of vetting which one not only offers the best overall package (not just salary) but in essence which one she feels more comfortable with.

Hopefully she will go with her instinct and make the best selection. And from a purely selfish standpoint begin to gradually wean off my payroll.

I understand her predicament, although in full disclosure, that never happened to me nor is it likely to in the near future at my rapidly advancing age.

It is sort of similar to a situation we currently are managing. A seller firm in the Northeast is being courted by two much larger successor practices – each with stellar reputations throughout the profession.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Parting is such sweet – well you know

Over the weekend I sold our 2004 Honda Pilot. It was not an easy decision, since there are four drivers in the family and now only two cars. But it was time. The odometer was approaching 180,000 miles and there were some rather costly repairs needed in its immediate future. It was simply a matter of diminishing returns.

But it was not just a basic business decision but an emotional one as well. It had taken us on uncountable trips and mini-vacations, and transported two children to college while defying all known laws of spatial relations of how many clothes, entertainment equipment, and furniture could be sardined in there for an academic year.

And last year it survived a brutal upstate New York winter while transporting my daughter to and from her classes as she decided to live off campus for her senior session.

So I get it when practitioners get emotional when it’s time to let go of their firm. Folks look at me disbelievingly when I tell them that it’s often easier to merger in a 5-partner firm than a sole practitioner.

Why?