Friday, December 16, 2016

Ringing Out 2016

Whether it will be on the receiving end of cheers or jeers, this is my last post for 2016.

Over the past year, this space has addressed a wide range of succession-related topics and a few that were shall we say, a bit off the primary topic – i.e. this week’s rant against one particular air carrier.

After 16 years either covering the profession in my former life, or, consulting to it, I’ve learned that despite quantum advancements in such areas as technology the basic landscape of the profession can probably be graphed via a single unwavering straight line.

Predictably, the last 365 days have seen – more mergers among CPA firms (no surprise there); a mountain of succession procrastination (picture my E*TRADE baby shocked face!); and, despite our repeated cautions to the contrary, far too many owners and partners expecting a white knight in the form of a young CPA to walk through their door and lead them to the promised land of growth over the next decade.

I’ve already given you unsolicited advice about taking a holistic view of your respective practices to determine what needs to be done in the coming year in order to remain competitive.

Several of my columns have also recommended gauging your internal “bench” to see if there’s anyone capable of one day assuming the reins of a firm badly in need of a succession plan.

Whether you listen or ignore all of the above is of course your choice. We tell our clients that they are in the enviable position of ignoring everything we tell them and doing what they want. And of course many of them followed those instructions to the letter.

This inaction to what is often painfully obvious reminds me of when I was about 17 and convinced I was light years smarter than my parents. When I was 24 or so, I was busy attempting to figure out how they became so much smarter in such a relatively short span.

We’ve been at this 26 years now, so I’m fairly confident our approaches work.

In 2017 we have our customary line up of webinars with the first one debuting on January 12 and hosted by yours truly as I take a look back at this year and what we can expect in the coming months. We’ll also be contributing a number of articles to the national accounting press, so stay tuned.

So from all us at Transition Advisors, best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season.

I’ll return in January.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Culture Mesh or Culture Clash?

Last week I was fortunate enough to be asked to deliver a presentation on partnership agreements in a one-firm culture – one of the rapidly emerging shifts in the profession as CPA practices gradually wean themselves away from the “eat what you kill” book of business culture.

I have not seen my session reviews just yet, so I’m unable to tell you if I got through to my audience. If the folks at the AICPA send along a note thanking me for my participation and little else, I’ll know that it’s time to begin lobbying for another organization to speak before.

Mine was hardly the only session at the confab which addressed the quantum changes going on in the profession, but one attendee pulled me aside later and explained that they were in dialogue with a potential successor firm for an upstream merger and asked what were the categories they should be reviewing to determine if it would be a good “fit.”

Immediately I began my soliloquy on the 4Cs – chemistry, culture, capacity and continuity – the quartet essential to any successful merger. He seemed to quickly grasp three out of the four but stumbled a bit on culture.

“How do we know if our cultures are a good fit?”

Friday, December 9, 2016

Flying the Unfriendly Skies

Despite my well-documented ineptness with all things technology I continue to try and at least learn enough about the latest applications and techniques as to not appear a laughingstock in my own household.

Hence, I attend technology conferences such as this week’s Digital CPA in Las Vegas, where each vendor booth will gladly demonstrate how their applications will revolutionize the tax, audit, workflow (or add your own category here) processes. And hopefully along the way, I’ll pick up a few things here and there to elevate my tech IQ to a respectable level.

I doubt anyone, anywhere, will dispute the benefits technology has brought not only to the accounting professions, but countless other fields as well.

But you know what hasn’t changed for the better over the last two decades, despite all the tech advancements?

The air travel experience.

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.