Friday, August 26, 2016

Expiration Date

Inspiration comes in many forms.

For me, I get inspired by folks who truly believe that age is just a number. One of my physical fitness idols growing up was the ageless wonder Jack LaLanne, who, each year on his birthday, would perform incredible feats of strength and endurance even when he was well into his 80s.

For those keeping score at home the health and nutrition icon finally went to that giant gym  in the sky in 2011 at the age of 96.

I also admire people who don’t think that the date on the birth certificate should dictate how long they should work – provided they can still do the job of course. I knew a 90-year old attorney who came into the office every day and occasionally would still litigate cases in the lower courts. And I’ve seen hundreds of CPA firms with people well into their 70s putting in 40-50-hour weeks.

So as someone who is on the north side of middle age, it angers me when I see workplace litigation predicated on age discrimination. Case in point, I read recently where four former employees of Hewlett Packard are suing the company for what they claim was a purge of older workers as part of a major restructuring in 2012 involving the shedding of 27,000 jobs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

You’ve got to Start Sometime

There was big news at Chez Carlino a few weeks ago.

After slogging through two years at temporary positions, where she did everything from walking dogs, taking her boss’s car to the repair shop to supervising contractors on construction of a pool, my eldest daughter landed a full-time and hopefully, permanent gig at a marketing and communications company, which incidentally were her two pursuits of study in college.

Not to temper her feelings of employment euphoria, I told her one of the first things she needed to do after signing up for company health benefits was to enroll in their 401(k) savings plan.

After outlining to her the basic principles of compound investing and explaining how if she began saving now by the time she was ready to retire she would have a sizeable sum to begin drawing from, she hopefully will take my advice and do just that.

In a remarkable coincidence to my paternal savings lecture, financial services specialist Bankrate recently released a survey which said that more Americans are saving for retirement than ever before.

That’s the good news.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda…

When it comes to facing reality, there are two types of people in this world – those who listen and learn and those who do neither despite repeated efforts to convince them otherwise.

Case in point, people (who shall remain anonymous) that continue to lend my brother-in-law money, despite a two-decade long track record of being stiffed on a regular basis, they continue to write checks.

Once was enough for me, I didn’t need to learn that lesson twice.

This brings us to today’s subject, succession, or, in too many unfortunate cases, lack thereof.

The other day I was visiting a long-time client, who as he approaches age 70 continues to put in absurd hours when at that period in his life he should be lying about his golf handicap like most of his peers. Instead he comes into the office on most weekends even during the 1040 off season. His son works at the firm but the owner told me in all honesty that he lacks the leadership skills to carry the firm into the next generation.

So, naturally, I bring up the “M” word – merger.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Balancing Act

I once was visiting a colleague’s house when suddenly a landscaping truck pulled noisily into the driveway. It struck me as strange because I knew him to be a real DIYer, everything from performing simple repairs on his car to re-grouting his bathroom tile.

So when I asked him why he outsources his lawn maintenance, he replied, “I already work 60 hours a week, I don’t need to work 63.”

Good point. And a prime example of one of the fastest growing and most in-demand job perks over the past 10 years – “work life balance.”

Whether we like it or not, we’re working longer hours today than previous generations – no doubt fueled by technology which has enabled an overlap between the office and the home. Twenty years ago it was unthinkable to be answering emails on a Sunday but think about how many of us do exactly that?

Toward that end, I ran across an article that rated the 25 best companies in the U.S. for work-life balance as rated by the company review site Indeed. To qualify the company must have at least 100 employee reviews on Indeed and hire primarily full time workers. The list did not include colleges, non-profits, government or military organizations.

The companies were rated on such criteria as flexible work schedules, employee wellness programs and, of course, perks.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Are They Partner Material or a Lifetime Employee?

Not long ago I was discussing internal succession with the managing partner of a firm in the Midwest. During the course of the conversation, the elephant in the room emerged when I asked point blank if there was anyone on his bench who could step up to an equity role and be part of the succession team.

He thought about it for a while and said there was a long-time employee who could conceivably assume partner status. He’d been with the firm nearly 20 years and had performed well. But admittedly there was one serious roadblock – he was not credentialed.

This was a moment I like to call “windshield reality” – where the verbal effect can often mirror the impact of being thrown through a car windshield in an accident.

I told him in no uncertain terms that the candidate has made a commitment only to being his employee, not to the accounting profession or else in two decades he certainly could have found the time to get his CPA certification.

He thanked me for my analysis and went on to admit him anyway. I would be interested to see where this firm is in say, five years.

Aside from “what’s the multiple?” one of the more frequent questions I’m asked is what qualities constitutes partner material? Now, there’s no blanket answer for that one, as obviously the circumstances surrounding the admission of a new partner will vary from firm to firm.

But I’ve taken the time to compile a short checklist on some of the characteristics of evaluating potential candidates for an equity role.