Friday, June 28, 2019

Last of a Dying Breed

If you’re expecting a column loaded with sage advice on accounting M&A or succession planning, stop reading immediately.

There will be none of that today.

No, this missive centers around the recent passing of a journalistic dinosaur, a rugged veteran of the Aussie/London tabloid wars who would do anything to get a story and drank enough to fill a reservoir. This week Steve Dunleavy left for that great copy room in the sky at the age of 81- a fact by itself that thumbed its nose at any accepted principles of medical science. As one veteran journalist mused “Steve never took food with his meals.”

Many remember him from his strong right of center columns for the New York Post where he staunchly supported the police and firefighters or his stint as an on-camera reporter for the nightly “A Current Affair.”

But nearly everyone who ever worked on a New York daily had their own Steve Dunleavy story, from the time he lay nearly comatose in a snowbank only to have his foot broken by a passing plow, or when he slashed the tires on his own father’s car when they both were competing for a story in their native Australia.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The .001 Percent Solution

Last week I chronicled my battles with the climate and walking distance during the AICPA ENGAGE conference in Las Vegas, of which I’m admittedly still recovering. During the four-day confab, I received a voice mail from a firm that unknown to me was less than a mile from my office.

The owner, an affable man in his late 50s outlined what he thought he needed to get his practice where it needed to be and despite having no one on his bench to assume control and the fact that he wanted to work just five more years full time he had the perfect solution – acquire a smaller firm with young CPAs.

Ah, yes! I told him he had determined the best strategy to right his firm. Now, I said instead of engaging me to help, he’d have more success not to mention less expense, just rubbing the magic lamp and waiting until the genie appears.

It took him a while to get the joke which was not a good sign.

So, I painfully went through chapter and verse of a speech I’ve given perhaps 300 times since I came aboard this company. I explained that if regional firms generating 20 times his revenue were having trouble hiring, what makes him think his firm would be a sudden magnet for talent?

He wasn’t done.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Sin City Reality

There are at least two certainties I can count on when attending the annual AICPA ENGAGE conference in Las Vegas. One, I will walk in excess of five miles between my room – which invariably will be situated at the end of an unending hallway - and the conference center, and two, when I finally set aside some time to venture outside the hotel, the temperature will easily be in triple digits.

Well, according to the app on my phone, I walked 7.3 miles during the four-day meeting and the one afternoon I foolishly decided to walk the famed Strip, the Nevada heat welcomed me with a balmy 108-degree blast to the face accompanied by an official heat index of 124.

Hellish temperatures and marathon walking ventures aside, it was technology that took center stage in a venue where cheesy lounge acts and Elvis impersonators are more common than gambling chips. More specifically the impact that pending trends such as AI, block chain and machine learning will have on the traditional operating paradigm of a CPA firm.

At least five sessions that I attended spoke to the reality that much of what used to be referred to as Type 1 audit and tax work will give way to automation and those practices that gird for this massive shift will be the ones that grow and perhaps more importantly, survive.