Friday, April 29, 2016

Customer Service and the Internet of Things Part II

On more than one occasion I’ve been blindsided by technology – or more accurately, advances in technology.

Case in point: I attempted the relatively simple process of printing a document from my home computer. After hearing the familiar whirr of the unit beginning to engage there was one problem – the finished product was a blank sheet of paper.

Now I have a sound method of dealing with tech malfunctions.

First I Google any troubleshooting blogs. If that doesn’t work, I speak softly to it. My third option and usually the one by default, is I begin to hit.

An exception report showed that I was low on ink – for once a relatively simple fix. A quick trip to Staples and some $70 later, I was armed with a “full metal jacket” so to speak of fresh ink.

Again I found myself staring at a blank page.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Back to business – for everyone!

No, that was not a mild 3.0 on the Richter Scale most of you felt last week, but rather the collective exhale of thousands of exuberant CPAs delighted that another 1040 season is in the books.

Now it’s back to business as usual – not only for 50,000 or so accounting firms across the country, but for us as well.

Firms that from mid-February through April 18th treated us like telemarketers trying to convince them of the virtues of the pocket fisherman or how good a Chia Pet would look in their offices, are beginning to once again address the succession issues that a busy filing season managed to sideline – albeit temporarily.

So for the next few weeks, our team embarks on the gradual process of resurrecting the relationships we formed during BF (Before Filing) and hopefully, pick up moderately close to where we left off before their clients began dropping tax organizers like a Vermont snowfall.

Now in my fourth full year of making the difficult transition to the consulting world, I’ve come to expect a number of post-tax season inevitabilities.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The CPA Playbook

In the early 1960s while an assistant coach at a California junior college, future NFL Hall of Famer John Madden, once scraped together enough money to attend a local football clinic which happened to feature a session led by legendary Green Bay Packers’ head coach Vince Lombardi.

Madden, who was in his mid-20s at the time, was arrogantly skeptical that he could learn any more about the game than he thought he already knew – even from the great Lombardi.

Hours later, after Lombardi had spent the entire session dissecting ONE PLAY – the famous Packers’ sweep – a humbled Madden walked out of the clinic now convinced he knew next to nothing about football.

But as Madden learned that afternoon, Lombardi’s coaching philosophy was predicated on perfection not complexity. The Packers’ playbook was truncated compared to other teams, containing relatively few plays unlike their competitors, but all executed to a point where every contingency and assignment was precisely calculated.

He unrelentingly demanded the team do a few things better than anyone else, as opposed to a whole roster of plays mediocre. And since he won five championships in nine years, it’s probably pointless to argue his methods.

That, in my humble opinion, is the blueprint that CPA firms should follow particularly when it comes to client service offerings.

Friday, April 8, 2016

I’ll have a Slurpee and pay my taxes while I’m here

Growing up on Long Island, one of the favored hangouts during much of a misspent youth was in front of the local 7-Eleven.

During the day, our snack de jour would either be one of the brand’s trademark flavored Slurpees or one of the hundreds of high calorie and preservative laden packaged treats that would likely send a vegan into a seizure.

At night we’d try and bribe those 18 and older to buy us a six-pack which we would then transport under the cover of darkness to our traditional drinking venue - the railroad tracks.

Fast forward 40 years or so and now some 7,000 units of the national convenience store chain in 34 states have added another item to their menu – tax payments.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How About Economics Instead of Home Economics?

One of my Sunday morning rituals includes tuning in to a two-hour radio program hosted by Rick Edelman, a nationally known financial planning expert and author of a number of books including the best sellers “The Truth About Money” and “The Lies About Money.”

Like most call-in programs, whether focusing on money or sports, the host fields phone calls from listeners who seek a wizened opinion on financial matters – from mortgages to annuities and anything in between.

He also on occasion has some high profile guests come on and they in turn take listener’s questions. And this past Sunday he had on his program one Richard Cordray.

Now that name might not flip a switch for many of you, but Richard Cordray currently serves as director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a Washington D.C.-based organization that describes itself as a “21 century agency that helps empower consumers to take better control over their economic lives.”

Basically, it’s an independent body that assists the consumer financial markets ensuring the implementation of guidelines and fair rules.

Friday, April 1, 2016

This is no Joke

The other day I read in one of the accounting publications that the era of merger-mania in the profession is over.



April Fools!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that bit of sophomoric humor when I noticed on my desk calendar that March is over and we’re rounding third base with regard to the end of tax season.

No, as most of you are probably aware, merger mania is not within three area codes of being over. If anything, both pundits and those in the profession predict that if anything, affiliations between CPA firms will increase during the next few years.

But like anything else, the M&A landscape is shifting.