Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Let’s Break Tradition with Non-Tradition

Prior to January 1, I have an annual ritual that I have adhered to for nearly 20 years.

Prior to the onset of a new year, I write down all the things I’d like to see and hopefully accomplish in the ensuing 365 days.

As one would imagine, some are easier to achieve than others – i.e. drop 10 pounds, budget money more carefully etc., as opposed to finally sitting down to write that novel or picking the correct numbers for Powerball.

As far as the accounting profession goes, know what I’d like to see in 2019 – one conference session – just one, addressing one of the fastest growing trends currently unfolding – the exponential increase in the number of CPA firms merging with entities that are decidedly not accounting practices.

It is estimated that 20 percent of all mergers by larger CPA firms are affiliations with businesses such as cyber-security companies, HR and payroll consultants, medical and dental concerns and data analytics firms.

Just last week, one of the major accounting publications carried four separate articles detailing such recent mergers. Last year I participated in a podcast on non-traditional mergers and it  received over 2,000 downloads. Yet, not one session is dedicated to that subject in all the major conferences whose agendas I have scrolled through recently.

Last year and despite all the evidence to the contrary, I submitted a speaking proposal to the AICPA to specifically address that topic at Engage 2018 and was not even given the courtesy of a response. To be somewhat fair to them, similar proposals were also ignored by several of the larger state societies in the Northeast.

Instead, attendees at various national and local CPA gatherings are regularly treated to the same repetitive bromides – engaging millennials, value pricing, choosing the correct software etc.

And some still wonder why live attendances at conferences have been declining for years?

But here’s the rub. With pending technologies threatening to reshape the way traditional accounting firms operate and automate certain client services, firms are or have been scouring the M&A landscape for specialty niches to help differentiate their practices and prepare them for those quantum changes.

Closer to home, we have over the past year, facilitated several such mergers and are on the cusp of closing two more prior to the end of January.

And yet, I continue to hear crickets in terms of anything remotely approaching the subject.

Sadly, I fear I’ll be a lot closer writing my novel. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

‘Tis the season – for scams

Now that we’re a week or so into 2019 there are always things you can count on upon beginning a new year.

A sudden flood of people joining health clubs, longer than usual lines at stores specializing in organic and farm-to-table foods and a surge in the downloads of financial calculators as to hopefully better save and budget money.

You know what else?

Scams – whether electronic, snail mail or via the phone.
At the tail end of last week, I received in order: an email from my bank (with a black and white logo I may add) warning me that my personal information had been lost and I needed to re-enter my account numbers and just for added precaution, my Social Security number as well. Next, came a call from someone purporting to be a representative of a collection agency saying that I have a $2,000 outstanding debt and face serious prosecution if I don’t pay up immediately. For my convenience they could offer me a pre-paid card and my record would remain clear.

Friday, January 4, 2019

To Make a R-E-S-olution, You Need R-E-S-olve

Welcome back and Happy New Year.

By now, most of your hangovers – whether food or alcohol - are thankfully a thing of the past. On a personal note, my new best friend for the months of January and February will be the treadmill at my local health club. One more over-sized holiday meal and I could have easily performed my best impression of John Candy.

But with a new year comes the perfunctory annual resolutions. You know the usual bromides, lose weight, make more money, spend more quality time with the family... etc.

You can always tell when it’s early January at my above-referenced gym as people you’ve never laid eyes on before suddenly begin to populate the workout area – a typical New Year resolution that usually lasts at most until the end of the month before cobwebs once again begin accumulating on their membership cards.

Sadly, the same lack of resolve is often seen at CPA firms – particularly those who have done little or nothing in terms of succession planning. “Next Year” is a phrase often tossed my way when I inquire about succession plans – the same barren promise often heard in the locker rooms and front offices of perennially losing sports teams.