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Beware Technology “Gotchas” in M&A

Merger discussions kick into high gear each summer as partners look to expand their practice reach, combine well-suited practices, discuss new service opportunities, and address succession and retirement issues.  Often, these discussions focus on tax and assurance practice compatibility from a financial and cultural perspective, and while Information Technology is touched upon, the lack of IT knowledge often has the negotiators defaulting IT issues to a later time.  Unfortunately, many firms have found out that there are a variety of IT “gotchas” that can result in major headaches with hidden financial consequences after the deal is closed.  Below we share a number of technology surprises that firms should look out for before the M&A celebrations start. (more…)

Change and the Millennials Go Hand-in-hand

Guest Author: Rita Keller

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” – Benjamin Franklin

We have been talking about the millennials for years now. Just as we talked about Gen-X when they became the youngest workers in our CPA firm offices. New generations bring change. The Baby Boomers sure brought change as they progressed through their lives, partly because of their massive numbers.

Pew Research tells us that more than 30% of American workers today are millennials. They recently passed Gen-X in becoming the largest share of the American workforce. Boomers are retiring and Millennials are filling in the gap. They range in age from 19 to 35 and those 35 year-olds are now in leadership roles in CPA firms. (more…)

Remote Employees: Plan Ahead for the Inevitable

*We are introducing a new series on having remote employees.  See the bottom of this post for all aspects of this series.

Funny enough, when you look up the definition for the word remote, you get two definitions; both are what what you would expect, but given this topic of remote employees at accounting firms, I find it intriguing when thought about in conjunction.

re·mote /rəˈmōt/

  1. (of a place) situated far from the main centers of population; distant.
  2. (of a chance or possibility) unlikely to occur.

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Age of Distracted Work(ers): Give someone FOCUS for the holidays

“Give someone an inch and they will take a mile.”

That describes us with all our fancy gadgets these days. We have a mental fidget, and then 8 minutes later, we come up for air from our phones and discover we just wasted our time learning about something that is un-actionable, like reading news-de-jour or details of the Spanish conquest via a wikipedia deep dive.

Here are a few tools to stay focused and fight against the distractions that surround us. (more…)

Xcurated: Artificial Intelligence, Low-hanging Fruit, Body Language & Wall Art

What is behind lawyers’ anxiety around artificial intelligence (AI)?

I think the accounting profession will mirror the legal profession in regards to AI and how it applies in professional service firms. Thus, I suggest following a few thought leaders in these areas and looking at how law firms are beginning to implement AI.

The myth of low-hanging fruit

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Should You Try a Standing Desk?

Studies over the past few years have identified the negative long term health effects of “prolonged sedentary time,” which is a nice way of pointing out most of us in CPA firms spend too much time sitting.  While after work exercise and stretch breaks help energize us, researchers are finding that they do not fully counter the effect on our bodies of sitting all day, which is especially compounded during the extended hours of busy season. The recommendation to “sit less” sounds great but that list of to do’s on the screen are not going to get done unless you are at your computer cranking them out.  The solution touted by many is to move to a standing or exercise desk.  With that in mind (and prompted by a minor back injury), I transitioned to a standing desk earlier this year and found that it did help boost productivity, particularly in the afternoons when my energy level faded and when the work I was doing was more collaborative with others.  I found that standing when editing documents, participating in conference calls, webinars, and doing research did not cramp my work style and I believe helped negate my back issues.  To be fair, my mind works the best in mornings so I tend to crank out the bulk of my thinking work (consulting reports, articles) while in sitting mode, but there is a noticeable boost in energy when I move to standing mode that provides a “refreshed” start. (more…)

4 Decisions You Can Make to Improve Retention in 2017

Guest Author: Jeff Phillips, CEO at Accountingfly and GoingConcern

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a managing partner of a top 20 U.S. CPA firm, and I asked him about his firm’s biggest threats and opportunities.

“The problem,” he told me, “is that our good people are leaving, and there aren’t many good candidates to replace them with.”

Ouch. So what about you? Is attracting and keeping staff a concern at your firm?

Professional staff turnover is at its highest within the past decade (around 17%), and at the same time, CPA firm employment is expected to grow faster than average compared to all other industries. I imagine that you’re feeling the same pain as the managing partner I spoke with. So what is driving these retention issues? (more…)

Is Your Audit Practice Ready to be Uberized?

More than two decades ago, industry auditing staples such as GoSystem Audit, Fast-Governmental, and Accountant’s Trial Balance were quickly replaced by a new generation of more robust audit engagement binders including CaseWare and CCH Engagement (formerly known as ePace). While audit binder applications evolved and included some integration and export capabilities, most firms continued to utilize their same PPC-directed audit approach and work programs, as well as adopting a third party secured email or portal solution.

The different vendors’ applications traditionally did not integrate well, but this mismatch of applications became the status quo for most firm’s audit production workflow. Evolution within the auditing realm was somewhat stagnate compared to what was happening in the rest of the business world, where hyper efficient web-based applications were able to displace levels of management and bureaucracy, while also providing a better end-user experience. Think NetFlix, Amazon, Airbnb, and of course Uber, which has not only improved the local transportation experience for passengers, but made it a less expensive and more efficient for everyone involved. This concept of Uberization is now impacting the auditing world and is on track to bring on the next great evolution in audit efficiency. Below we discuss five audit focused applications worth watching. (more…)

Profitable Path to the “Famous Person”

A long time ago, as a fledgling staff accountant, I was introduced to the concept of the “Famous Person” as the most effective way to not only fast track my career, but also as a way to build a sustainable practice for the firm. Simply stated, if you are known as one of the top three most knowledgeable people in any specific area by that niche’s client base, you will be given the opportunity to propose on potential new work in the majority of situations. Taking it a step further, if you develop a reputation as the top “go to” person in any industry segment you will be exposed to the more complex, higher level problems leading to consulting opportunities that further differentiate you. Sharing your knowledge further elevates your reputation to the point where you become a class of your own, distancing you from any possible competition. So how do you become the expert in a niche? Below are opportunities and resources that can set you on the path to being your own “Famous Person.” (more…)

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