Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Going Past the Expiration Date

As someone who once covered sports for a brief time, I’ve seen what happens when athletes stay in the game far longer than they should. And in sports such as boxing, the consequences of remaining past your expiration date are far dire than say in baseball or basketball. 

As you can imagine, I see it quite often in our line of work – people who have stayed too long and are left floundering for a succession plan or those who buck the Einstein theory of repeatedly doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results.

Today’s missive – the last one before we say goodbye to what has been an all-too-accelerated summer - sort of touches on the concept of knowing when to pack it in.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Question of the Week: Is Good Help Really That Hard to Find?

Those of you, who know me, know that it’s a rare occurrence when I find myself completely flat footed and unable to answer a question posed to me. At the very least, I’ll stall with a quasi-response until I can regroup and become better informed.

But in full disclosure I found myself in that exact position earlier this week when a client of mine – who was in the throes of an unsuccessful search to hire a tax manager – asked me why so many recent college graduates and even those with 3-5 years in the profession prefer to remain with the large firms - those residing on the super-regional and Big Four tiers- rather than opt for a position with a middle market practice?

Um, I don’t know I responded.

Friday, August 18, 2017

A menu with two choices

This week I struck gold – sort of.

Well, maybe silver.

My youngest who graduated from college in May received not one but TWO job offers. I advised her it’s now a matter of vetting which one not only offers the best overall package (not just salary) but in essence which one she feels more comfortable with.

Hopefully she will go with her instinct and make the best selection. And from a purely selfish standpoint begin to gradually wean off my payroll.

I understand her predicament, although in full disclosure, that never happened to me nor is it likely to in the near future at my rapidly advancing age.

It is sort of similar to a situation we currently are managing. A seller firm in the Northeast is being courted by two much larger successor practices – each with stellar reputations throughout the profession.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Parting is such sweet – well you know

Over the weekend I sold our 2004 Honda Pilot. It was not an easy decision, since there are four drivers in the family and now only two cars. But it was time. The odometer was approaching 180,000 miles and there were some rather costly repairs needed in its immediate future. It was simply a matter of diminishing returns.

But it was not just a basic business decision but an emotional one as well. It had taken us on uncountable trips and mini-vacations, and transported two children to college while defying all known laws of spatial relations of how many clothes, entertainment equipment, and furniture could be sardined in there for an academic year.

And last year it survived a brutal upstate New York winter while transporting my daughter to and from her classes as she decided to live off campus for her senior session.

So I get it when practitioners get emotional when it’s time to let go of their firm. Folks look at me disbelievingly when I tell them that it’s often easier to merger in a 5-partner firm than a sole practitioner.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Sometimes We Just Can’t Help

After more than a quarter-century advising firms on succession and ownership transition and roughly 900 mergers of CPA firms, we’re pretty confident we have the playbook down pat. We’ve certainly helped more firms who asked for our consult than those we couldn’t.

But sometimes as hard as you try, you just can’t help some firms – especially when trying to save them from themselves. There are those who think they know more than we do, and that’s certainly their prerogative.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Is this a good place to work?

As I’ve stated many times in this space, we’re not executive recruiters, although it’s astounding how many calls we receive on a weekly basis from folks looking for accounting talent of any age.

So when a friend of ours said their daughter, who just passed her CPA exam, was beginning to circulate her resume, they solicited my advice on which firms she should steer her attention toward – specifically those who didn’t operate like slave labor camps.

Which I suppose was another way of asking about their culture of work-life balance or if it was one of those “best places to work.”

Again, I reiterated our “we’re not headhunters” mission statement, which did exactly nothing to discourage them from pursuing the subject.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Better Late Than Never

When I was in high school I trained for months to do one of those gymnastic moves called a “kip.” Try as I might I kept landing on my back, but despite the aches – not to mention embarrassment of looking like a beached whale flopping around – I persevered until one June day of my senior year I actually performed my first and only successful kip.

I harkened back to that exercise of near futility recently when I received a call from a CPA firm that I had been trying to get in and see for five years. Each year right after tax season I would place a call to the firm that ultimately went to voice mail and then followed up with an email that was opened and then, I can only assume, quickly discarded.

Needless to say I was stunned. They wanted our help with a succession plan as they had no one internally capable of leading the firm to the next generation. But as it turned out it was hardly a winning lottery ticket that just happened to fall into my lap.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A decade of accounting and social media

Some 10 years ago, when I was at the helm of a national accounting magazine, two of my Millennial staffers came to me with an idea. They wanted to start a section of the publication that would be geared toward young accountants and diversity, since the profession long held a reputation of being older, white and decidedly male.

One of the foundations for the new offering would be a high-profile presence on what was then a burgeoning social media platform – Facebook. Since I was several years past their generation and knew they were far closer to what piques the interest of young CPAs than me, I told them to run with it, the only stipulation that I had the final say on the business plan and that the IT department would agree that it was doable.

We got a bit of a pushback from the technology folks who insisted that the social media aspect be another fast-growing platform – Twitter – but my staff stuck to their guns and a few weeks later, the section was on Facebook and we were printing out various iterations of layout design.

A decade later, it remains one of the magazine’s best read sections. Like the Hannibal character was fond of saying on the A-Team, I love it when a plan comes together.

Shortly thereafter I began my own page on Facebook and later on LinkedIn as well.

I harken back to that successful venture into social media when I saw that as of June, Facebook had exceeded the 2 billion mark in monthly users. Let me repeat that – 2 billion! To put that figure in perspective, if you combined the populations of North and South America, Europe and Africa it would still fall short of 1 billion people.

On a daily basis, Facebook as 1.32 billion users. Its Instagram unit has 700 million monthly users while it houses some 15 billion business profiles.

But enough eye-opening statistics.