Thursday, June 28, 2012

VisiCalc and the Ghosts of CPAs Past

I often wonder what some of the legendary accounting educators and practitioners of yesteryear would think if they visited an industry trade show in 2012. Would, for example, Emanuel Saxe or Sam Leidesdorf be comfortable or even malleable to the heavy technology-centric focus of the profession where audits can  now be performed on a 9-inch tablet in lieu of a large room full of strewn workpapers?

What about the evolution of career management, where the tracks to partnership don’t require 2,800 hours a year in order to be considered for an ownership stake? Or the meteoric rise of social media, where roughly 70 percent of CPA firms in the U.S. have a presence on Facebook?

Monday, June 25, 2012

What Company is This Again?

Some years ago, I applied for a position with a swimming pool construction firm in Arizona. During the interview, I was asked what I considered a series of random and unrelated questions, such as in what city was the United Nations located (unlike the vapid Snooki of “Jersey Shore” fame, I was able to answer that one correctly) and did I consider myself particularly naïve in matters pertaining to human nature.

Somewhat perplexed, curiosity overtook decorum and I asked point blank what this bizarre line of questioning had to do with securing “dig” sites for pools. The interviewer then thanked me for coming in and left it with a “we’ll let you know.” 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Special Care

In one of the classic episodes of the 1950s comedy “The Honeymooners,” Ed Norton bemoans to Ralph Kramden about getting how he got fired from his job in the sewer following a failed demand for a raise from his boss. When Ralph asks why he doesn’t get a job with another sewer company, Ed responds indignantly that “Sewer workers are like brain surgeons — we’re both specialists!”
Despite the light-hearted take on specialization, the T-shirt-wearing Norton unknowingly touched upon one of the current and sure-to-be future trends in the accounting profession — that of firms veering into specialty niches in lieu of vying to be a client’s “most trusted Costco” in terms of a number of offerings.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Scratching the “Surface”

A while back, I waxed poetically – some would argue otherwise – on the explosive growth of mobile devices within the accounting profession and how their meteoric rate of adoption was basically changing the traditional structure of the CPA firm in terms of remote accessibility and client interaction.
Depending on which survey you read, anywhere from 60-80% of CPAs own a mobile device (and arguably those figures could easily be higher) while more than 50% spend at least five hours per week out of the office on client visits. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

As a fairly diligent practitioner of physical fitness, I learned a long time ago there’s a wide chasm between being “cardiovascular” fit and “trade show” fit. They are about as mutually exclusive as two quasi-related concepts can be.

Working the floor of a conference/trade show, or “booth duty” as it’s known in conventioneer’s parlance, requires long hours on your feet, knowing who it’s important to talk to (as well as knowing who isn’t) and the ability to engage in reams of repetitive pitches and explanations that must carry a veneer of first-time freshness whether it’s delivered while sipping your first cup of coffee at 8 am or following a third round of after-dinner drinks at 11 pm.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

You’ve Done Just Little Enough to Make Partner!

I’m fairly confident I’m not alone when I regale folks with tales of past inept co-workers and supervisors who, despite exhibiting galactic levels of mediocrity or more often incompetence, manage to wrangle ill-deserved promotions.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How Do I Get a Job Like That?

A number of weeks ago, I filled this space with commentary on how the General Services Administration had lavishly overspent on a conference in Las Vegas. For those of us familiar with the often unsupervised and less-than-competent fiscal oversight traditions of the federal government, this probably came as a surprise to exactly no one.

We’ve all often heard of government’s procurement of $600 toilets and $75 screwdrivers (by the way, at Home Depot or Lowe’s, those items can be had for $99 and $6, respectively) let alone spending nearly $1 million for a conference in Las Vegas as the GSA did in October 2010.