Friday, December 2, 2016

Raise Your Hand if you Like Your Boss!

Like many of you, I’ve been fortunate to have a number of good-to-occasionally great, supervisors, and conversely, some that should not have been allowed within three area codes of managing people.

With few exceptions, I’ve learned something from almost all of them – my previous post being a notable exception to that rule - but that’s discussion fodder for another column.

Some were mentors who selflessly and patiently imparted their experience and wisdom and made me not only better at my job, but better as a person as well.

On the flip side, I’ve had a few managers whose only lines of communication opened when something went wrong and they demanded answers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Being Great at Not Doing

In full disclosure, I’m on the treadmill as I’m dictating this column, a byproduct of eating enough over the Thanksgiving weekend to power a commuter train. In a season of giving thanks, I’m thankful beach season is at least six months away. At this point I’m in no danger of Sports Illustrated calling me to appear in their annual swimsuit edition.

Let’s just say that when filling out my pants size for a Christmas wish list, discretion is the better part of valor so I’ve added a size or two for good measure – if you’ll pardon the bad pun.


But on to the topic de jour. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I Robot

Sixteen years ago just as the tech bubble was about to erupt like Mount St. Helens, two software executives from a company in California dropped by my office to demonstrate their latest product, an accounting application that could be accessed remotely via the Internet.

Back then, vendors like those were referred to by the acronym of ISPs – Internet Service Providers – which as most of you know by now the online product movement has evolved to the more updated and colorful nomenclature of “cloud applications.”

I compared that experience to the first time I saw my uncle demonstrate the Bowmar Brain, a hand-held electronic calculator back in 1972, or when I witnessed a crude form of email in the early 1980s.

Today, many CPA firms have eschewed the expense of servers or on-site remote people and opted for the hundreds of available cloud apps, as over the past decade even the traditional accounting software vendors now offer a cloud version of their product lines.

But there’s an emerging trend that’s a bit eye-opening and, from my standpoint, a tinge frightening.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Throwing “The Book” out!

In full disclosure, I’m a statistics junkie.

And always have been.

I think I’m one of the few people other than those who pursue it as a career, who took not one, not two but THREE statistics classes in college.

Whether it be sports, business, professional services or some other arcane arena, I file fact and figures away for future reference, which usually manifests itself in columns such as these or CPE presentations.

Other numericals such as batting averages or yards per pass attempt are best left for backyard barbecues or cocktail parties.

So as you can imagine, I got a minor thrill when the AICPA recently released its quadrennial succession survey, an amalgamation of several hundred slides citing responses from both sole practitioners and multi-owner firms on a variety of succession-related topics.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sometimes it’s the smaller picture

Tired of election coverage?

Join the club.

As someone who has voted in every Presidential election since Ford-Carter in ’76, I’m adamant about not reading or watching anything election-related for the next 48 hours.

That may be easier said than done, because Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton more resembles a five-car pileup on the interstate that you can’t help but rubberneck as opposed to choosing the next four-year occupant of the Oval Office.

But in many cases, the voting public in any big election misses the bigger picture, or more accurately, the smaller picture.

A number of years ago when I was cutting my proverbial teeth at a local newspaper, my wizened editor who so often served as a mentor, pulled me aside one election night and explained that too often the citizenry focuses on the larger elections instead of the ones that affect them the most.

A bit puzzled I asked how so?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Payback is a you-know-what!

Earlier this year I chronicled my adventures with those overseas scammers posing as IRS Agents who claimed I was in danger of arrest for failure to repay back taxes.

As someone who covered the accounting profession for 12 years I was more than familiar with standard IRS collection procedures something our friends in India were obviously not aware of.

Well I’m happy to report, actually, “giddy” is more like it, that the Justice Department has charged some 61 individuals and entities that victimized thousands of people with false IRS claims resulting in millions of dollars in losses. As of now, some 20 have been arrested in the U.S. and another 30 or so and five call centers in India have been charged.

Friday, October 28, 2016

These Firms are a-Changing

For nearly a quarter century I made the weekday commute from my leafy suburb to Manhattan. First a 45-minute ride on the railroad, followed by a lengthy subway ride. As a remote worker, let me tell you that daily grind is not one of the things I miss about my old office.

As anyone who has ever done an overlong apprenticeship as a commuter knows, each train and subway car is overrun with billboard advertising – whether it is for medical or dental practices, banks and financial institutions or even the state lottery.

Since I began my involvement with the accounting profession more than 16 years ago, I always paid special attention to the advertisements trumpeting both the regional and global CPA firms – from those on the cusp of cracking the Top 100 to the behemoths of the Big Four.

As an advertising and marketing reporter in a former life, old habits die hard as with any ad I pay close attention to the copy.

And do you know what word the copywriters almost never use in those ads for those firms?

Accounting.

Let me repeat that for emphasis.