Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More Yesterdays than Tomorrows

As we approach Thanksgiving, or as I like to refer to it, the poster child for the Ab-Roller machine, a big shout out to all those folks who were kind enough to send out birthday wishes to me this weekend via Facebook. There were 23 in all, folks who wisely availed themselves of the immediacy and price-friendly properties of that social media channel.

Not to mention sidestepping the awkwardness of having to purchase one of those belated “sorry this is late” cards. I absolutely hate doing that, but it’s amazing how often I find myself in that exact situation.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Half Century – Looking Back

Like most Americans who were around and cognizant of the world around them, I remember exactly where I was 50 years ago today, when the news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy hit the airwaves. I was taking a spelling test in Mrs. Beck’s second-grade class when Dr. Glickman, the principal of P.S. 133 in Bellerose, N.Y., made the somber announcement on the public address system that he had been shot.

I arrived home that afternoon and found my mother tearfully glued to a transistor radio as updates unfolded. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Your Practice is not the Second Coming of Snapchat!

Last week, I read - with a high degree of incredulity I might add - that the 20-something founder of the Snapchat website was offered $3 billion to sell the portal and its application to the powers that be at Facebook. Now that mind-boggling offer was not in stock, but rather an all-cash deal  of a 3, followed by nine zeros, ready for deposit at any institution large enough to handle it.

And he turned it down.

Let me repeat that for emphasis. He turned the offer down.

Now this is a three-year-old website that has generated exactly NO revenues since its inception. None, nada, nein, nyet. For those unfamiliar with Snapchat, its application “times out” pictures posted to the site for 10 seconds or less before they disappear – a handy relief for those embarrassingly uploaded morning-after selfies from a wild night before and safely out of view of college admissions offices and prospective employers.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Don’t Try This at Home

For those of you who occasionally like to get your hands dirty, remember back when you could actually perform both major and minor repairs on your car without the need for computer scopes or space-age tools that somehow only auto dealers and high-priced garages have access to?

Sadly, automotive technology has sort of phased out what we used to refer to as the “shade tree” mechanic. And while the DIY auto tinkerer is gradually becoming a thing of the past, unfortunately many CPA firm owners still fancy themselves as “shade tree” M&A facilitators.

Almost two years in my consulting incarnation, I’m still bowled over by the number of small-to-midsized firms who have it in their minds that executing a successful merger is simply a matter of signing on the dotted line and going out for a celebratory meal afterwards.

I have a warning label for this: Don’t try this at home. But nevertheless many still do. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The World According to Croce – Not Jim…Pat

The importance of punctuality was instilled in me at an early age. My father always told me that if you had an appointment at 10 am and you arrived at 9:45, you were late.

I once interviewed the chairman of a Fortune 100 company whose adherence to punctuality was so unbending that he would schedule meetings at odd times such as 7:53 or 8:31. Straggling staffers who arrived after the appointed times would find the door locked. Five minutes later, the chairman would re-open  the door so the parade of latecomers would be forced into a “walk of shame” - on full display  before those who came on time.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Will it play in Muscat?

Recently I was privileged to host a roundtable discussion of international managing partners who were gathered in New York City. Their firms were scattered across the globe from Lagos, Nigeria to Muscat, Oman (who knew Oman even had accounting firms?) to more familiar international venues as Berlin, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro.

For three hours, I spoke on the trends and issues facing firms on domestic shores – occasionally pausing to regale them with jokes and anecdotes whose punch lines few of the attendees appreciated, or for that matter even got.

Note to readers: American humor doesn’t play well in Muscat.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Going to “Market”

As noted in this space last week, the conference travel schedule for our company principals has more resembled 11th hour campaign stops just prior to Election Day than a measured and deliberate agenda, but such is the mid-to-late fall season within public accounting.

In just a few short months, our phone calls will be embraced with all the warmth and respect of a persistent subway panhandler in dire need of a shower as our clients no doubt will be snorkeling under a tsunami of 1040s. Succession planning or upstream mergers will be at, or near, the last thing on their minds.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Out of the Mouths of Babes!

Like many of you, I’m old enough to recall when there were just 7 channels on television and you actually had to muster the energy to get out of your chair to change the program. Like on Thursday nights for example, we went straight from F-Troop to Ironside.  

Flash forward a few decades or so and hundreds of cable stations later.

Since our business revolves around succession and aging partners approaching retirement or in some instances putting it off, you can imagine I do not regularly conduct lengthy conversations with younger folks or “Millienials” employed at CPA firms.

But after this week I’m rethinking that strategy.