Are you ready for Trusted Advisor 2.0? I know you are thinking, but wait; I haven't quite mastered Trusted Advisor 1.0. And, by the way, what is the difference, you ask? Before we can answer that question it's important to set a context. The context is that we are already operating at Business 2.0, and the recent recession/depression has served to accelerate business owner needs from expectations to demands. What used to be considered discretionary service offerings that only Maverick CPAs pursued are no longer optional
As is the case with many 1.0 versions of anything, adoption rates are often slow and weak. Accountants, by nature are risk averse so when something is brand new, they have a tendency to hold back and wait until others have proven the model. The iPad is a great example of this. The accounting profession has always been a "PC" platform so that when iPad
I first came on the scene only a small percentage of the "techies" jumped out there. When iPad II arrived a few more jumped on board. Click here to read on...
Score YOUR firm on 8 critical success factors.
By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
Everywhere I go, experts in the profession have a debate about what percentage of the profession really gets “it?” The veritable “it” is the future of the profession. Firms that get “it” have a good grasp on what is critical to thrive in the future. Some experts say fewer than 20% of firms get “it.” Others will stretch that number to 40%. Only you know for sure where your firms stands (score yourself at the end). Here are eight critical areas of focus that indicate if your firm gets “it.”
1. Succession Strategy - Your firm has a clear path to succession with future leaders already identified and being groomed for leadership. You have a well considered, written plan for identifying and engaging these professionals in the future of the firm. These future leaders are already involved in all areas of firm planning and strategy development.
The cloud won't make you in to a superhero - and it won't save the accounting profession.
By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
“Is it a bird? A plane? No, it’s an Accountant!”
We can all relate to the desire to be a superhero, to swoop down from the clouds in Superman/woman-like fashion to rescue the damsel in distress. However, if the accounting profession is banking on mobile or cloud technology to make them a superhero in their client’s eyes, clients should not hold out much hope of being rescued.
Does your brain need a vacation? I'm not talking about just any vacation where you sit by the pool with a drink in hand. What is different about this type of vacation is that it is designed for brain uptime not downtime. For me, pushing my artistic right brain seems to make my whole-brain function better. To that end, each year, I take a week to immerse myself in learning about art. This year, I took a master's class in textile arts. It was stimulating and challenging. I learned a lot about perspective, composition, visual perception, and so much more. What is even more stimulating is thinking about all the ways I can apply this new knowledge to what I do every day. A quick search online will reveal that Brain Games are growing in popularity. Beyond crossword puzzles, Suduko, and Words with Friends, there are brain game sites like Lumonisty.com and FitBrains.com (and dozens more) designed to improve everything from memory to cognitive skills. These games are being used to help ward off dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and help stroke patients recover. Taking just 15 minutes a day to engage your brain in a challenging/new activity can make a real difference in your ability to assimilate important information, fine-tune your critical-thinking skills, and improve retention.
The subject of fees is near and dear to our hearts. Fees are the ultimate measure of value and yet, even the most talented practitioners sometimes struggle with communicating their value to clients and prospects. In a recent webcast, we broke the subject down into five steps to getting the value you deserve!
1) Make it easy to say yes: Have you made it easy for your clients to do business with you? Believe it or not, we sometimes put a lot of obstacles in the way of our clients doing business with us; especially when it comes to fees. Only when you remove the uncertainty around the return on the investment in your fees can you achieve a Win-Win fee arrangement.
By Edi Osborne - CEO of Mentor Plus Behind every well-run business there are people and processes. Incidentally, behind every struggling business there are people and processes. Read the first two sentences again, it is not a misprint. The very same components that make one company successful are also present in those who struggle to get by.
So what makes the difference? Why are some businesses perpetually plagued with mediocrity while others achieve legendary status? The obvious answer is that it comes down to how well the people and the processes are managed. The not so obvious answer lies in answering this question: Is it a People or Process Issue? Here are 10 steps that will help you get to the heart and solution of any problem you face.
Step 1: Articulate the Issue - For example, "We are not getting our shipments out on time." Before proceeding to the next step, it's important to survey those involved with the process to be sure there is consensus about the issue. If there is agreement as to what the issue is, you are ready to proceed to Step 2. If there is disagreement, you'll need to invest the extra time required to understand the different perspectives. Often times, those different perspectives provide a good foundation for the next step.
In December, I wrote about the dysfunctional behaviors that Christmas bonuses can cause. I encouraged you to get your client to hold off on promising anything until the concept of performance-based compensation could be thoroughly explored. It's not that all bonuses are bad, but they are certainly not created equal. Dan Pink speaks to this very point on this ted.com video: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html If after watching the video you and your client still want to look for ways to connect performance to compensation, I recommend you read the book, The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack. Mr. Stack makes the case for financial and business fluency on a grand scale. He also makes the case for "bonus games" rather than making wholesale changes to compensation.
It's Dysfunctional Compensation Time a.k.a. The Christmas Bonus
Tuesday, 20 December 2011
It's that time of year when everyone starts to wonder about their Christmas bonus. "Will there be one? How much? How much compared to (insert co-worker's name)?" Call it a Christmas bonus, call it a year-end bonus, or call it for what it is, an entitlement. That's right an entitlement. I know I sound a bit "scrooge-like" wanting to take away Tiny Tim's Christmas fun but this seemingly innocent act of handing out money as a reward for unspecified activities sends a dysfunctional message to the team. Unfortunately most business owners have gotten themselves locked into the "forever" bonus that ends up (in the employees mind) being an expected part of their compensation package. Most have got it spent even before it is handed out.
Tuesday, 18 October 2011 Mentor Plus and Corelytics have joined to launch a Coach Incubator Program for accountants and other business advisors. The goal is expand their business mentoring mindset, skills set and toolset.
The alliances combines Mentor Plus techniques with the Corelytics Financial Dashboard. Program participants become part of the Mentor Plus M.B.A. - More Business Acumen workshops. The first workshop will be held December 12 & 13, 2011 in San Jose, Calif.
Just as you can't stop a client from leaving the firm, I question whether you can keep an employee from "stealing" a client? A blog post from Jason Blumer, chief innovation officer, Blumer & Associates CPAs asks the question, Does your firm really own a client relationship?
For the past 20 years, we have talked about the greatest asset of any organization - its people. I want to extend that thought further to say people come and go, it's really the culture that sustains the value of an organization. If a client is truly happy with the firm, the exit of one of your professional staff should not rock the client/firm relationship. The fear-based, proprietary, silo-type behaviors that are rampant in the profession must be left behind if the profession is to move forward. Ultimately clients vote with their feet and no amount of perceived "ownership" (or non-compete agreements) can stop that from happening.
By Steve Osborne - President of Mentor PlusMonday, 26 September 2011
I often hear from managers and partners that accountability in firms is hard to accomplish. Unless an engagement has a government filing or client deadline attached to it, it just doesn't get done on time or at all.
We've all been in those meetings or retreats where new initiatives are launched and everyone is assigned their part. Everyone leaves with great ambitions and intentions. Then nothing happens ... no one gets called on the missed deadlines, i.e. no one is held accountable!Once this happens, the trust bond in the team has been broken. This broken trust bond has an effect on productivity and whether or not change can occur in the organization. The culture suffers from mistrust and lack of leadership.
There is so much talk about how we get our team members to become more accountable; how to have them embrace change and help to innovate. It's a given that today, with fast-paced change in technology and the way we work, it's essential that teams are able to plan and implement change initiatives.
Just as you can't stop a client from leaving the firm, I question whether you can keep an employee from "stealing" a client? A blog post from Jason Blumer, chief innovation officer, Blumer & Associates CPAs asks the question, Does your firm really own a client relationship? Sadly, there are still a lot of firms focused on trying to stop undesirable behavior rather than stimulating desirable outcomes. It's the difference between the abundance versus scarcity mindset. The scarcity mindset continues to be driven by out-dated partner comp and buy-out models.
"If you give it away they won't value it." Really? Isn't that what we've always heard? This admonition gets applied in many areas of our personal and professional life and in some cases it is the truth. However, when it comes to professional relationships, I would like to offer up an alternative admonition, "Focus on the relationship and the fees will follow." Patrick Lencioni, in his book, Getting Naked, tells us that if we focus on building trust and serving those around us, fees are less of an issue or even moot. Is this possible? What would this look like in real life? Allow me to introduce you to two equally competent accountants. Click here to read on...
By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus I love August. Not for the heat - in fact for that reason alone August could be scratched from the calendar. I love August because it is time to start harvesting our fruit trees. They are laden with fruit this time of year. The plums, in particular, are so prolific that if we are not prepared for the harvest, much of the fruit will go to waste; waste not, want not as my grandmother would say. We have a tendency to go after the low hanging fruit because it's easy. In fact much of the low hanging, barely ripened fruit is eaten long before it makes it to the house. However, I've learned over the years, as good as the low hanging fruit tastes, some of the sweetest, juiciest fruits are among the slowest to ripen and are nestled in the highest branches. It takes patience and a tall ladder to harvest them.
By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus We celebrate the forming of our nation on Independence Day and we honor veterans on Memorial Day. Did you know that it wasn't until 2011 that President Obama designated November 19th to be Entrepreneur's Day. Better late than never but doesn't it strike you that entrepreneurs deserve a lot more recognition?
If it were up to me, everyday would be Entrepreneur's Day. After all, small businesses have generated 64 percent of all net new jobs in the past 15 years. It's the entrepreneurs who are willing to risk it all to build something from nothing that are having the biggest impact on curing long-term unemployment and growing our economy.
Thursday, 16 June 2011 By Steve Osborne - President Mentor Plus
A March 2011 survey of U.S. workers conducted by polling firm Harris Interactive on behalf of Plateau Systems showed that 69 percent are either satisfied or very satisfied with their employment. Yet 74 percent indicated they would consider leaving their job if approached with a new offer." So how engaged are you and your team? In small business having engaged, motivated, and loyal employees reflects directly on the success of that business. Employees are typically the business' largest expense item while also its greatest asset. Productivity and customer satisfaction are driven by engaged employees who are interested in what they are doing and who they are working with.
Monday, 06 June 2011 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
Last week we took a field trip. Not to the chocolate factory. Not to the zoo. This was a "business" field trip. I have always been a huge proponent for letting fledgling accountants have more client contact. I believe the more they can relate to the end consumer of their hard work, the more pride of ownership they will have. I also believe that in order for these young people to become true trusted advisors, they need to understand not just the financial performance aspect of a company, but all performance aspects.
The old practice of occasionally "shadowing" a partner at client meetings just doesn't cut it anymore. We need to immerse our people in real-life business practices to accelerate the development of business acumen they will need to meet the growing expectations of clients.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 By Steve Osborne - President of Mentor Plus
There has been a lot written about the multi-generational work force, and most of it has been directed toward the differences in the values and the behaviors that each generation exhibits. Highlighting the conflict between them, how they don't get along, and that "we just have to live with it". Of course this is coming from the point of view of an ageing Baby Boomer.
I reject that premise and suggest that we have always had values and behavior conflict in the workplace. We've just lived with it for so long it seems natural. Most studies report that a majority of employees would change jobs if they could find a better one. The new generation is asking "Why" it has to be this way, while the established "Baby Boomers" are threatened by the question. In this environment communications breaks down and conflicts arise, consequently productivity goes down.
Monday, 16 May 2011 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
Did you drop the ball on marketing during tax season? Every May I hear accountants lament they should have done more marketing while they had clients right in front of them. The reasons cited are pretty much the same year after year and, frankly, come May 1st they don't even matter. What is important is that you have a strategy for recovering from your marketing fumble.
Pick five of your clients to call. When you call them say the following, "Since I saw you during tax season, I have been thinking a lot about you. I would like to get together to talk about some important financial ratios that need some attention. How about next week?" Set the date and relax. NOT!
Running a firm is often referred to as "herding cats." I believe an even better metaphor can be found in our annual May Day celebration: Running a Firm is a lot like running a drumming circle. Yes, a drumming circle, where people sit in a circle and pound out a rhythm. We host an annual "drumming party" on May Day each year to celebrate the end of rainy season and the start of summer planting. As you would expect, a good time is had by all. But even more important, there is a lasting effect that draws people back to the drumming experience again and again. The metaphor for team building is pretty obvious, but the comments from the participants add some insight that I want to share with you.
• "Great party to kick off the season, we needed someone to wake us up from Winter." One could argue that tax season is Winter, you may want to look at creating a Kick-off event for your team that sets the tone for the balance of the year.
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
Let’s assume you are too young to remember (or to have heard about) the 1938 infamous broadcast by Orson Wells based on the novel by H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds. Although the radio broadcast took place on Halloween, it could have easily been an April Fool’s Day prank. What made the broadcast so believable was the format; it involved a series of news bulletins detailing the invasion of planet Earth by Martians. The broadcast led to varying degrees of public panic during the transmission followed by even more uproar afterwards. It took several days to debunk the prank since we didn’t have Twitter or newsfeeds to instantly clarify what was real and what was not. Orson Well’s prank could be viewed as an early example of a social media virus run amuck. These days we get an annual flu shot to avoid a catching a real virus and yet, from a marketing stand point , we pray for the day our message/cause “goes viral” in the media. What message are you putting out to the social media universe? Is it a message you want to go viral? If you could start a viral message for your firm what would it be?
Thursday, 03 March 2011 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
What do clients and daffodils have in common? Each year, we have purchased bulk bags of daffodils. Over the years we've planted thousands in our garden, but last year we were too busy and didn't get around to it. Spring comes early here in California and by March 1st nature's display is already starting to unfold. As I walked around the garden today, one thing became abundantly clear, our bulb population has suffered because we didn't make time to plant new bulbs.
Compounding that, our existing bulbs paid the price of neglect since we were not out in the yard giving some attention to existing flower beds. With gardening you are always working to stay ahead of natural decay, weeds, gophers, and other pests. There is no such thing as status quo in the garden; you are either moving ahead or moving backward.
May 17, 2011 Edi Osborne is honored as a Top 25 Thought Leader
DALLAS, TX – February 9, 2011 – The public accounting industry’s most diverse and influential individuals will come together on February 20-22 at The Gaylord Texan Resort to participate in The CPA Technology Advisor’s Top 25 Thought Leader Symposium. This first-of-its-kind event is sponsored by CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business; Sage; and Thomson Reuters. The 25 thought leaders are distinguished in their own right with several who have been named to the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting list, IPA’s Top 10 Most Recommended Consultants list, the American Institute of CPA’s Technology 100 as well as earning lifetime achievement awards. Click here to read on...
Tuesday, 08 February 2011 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
As the story goes, in the early 300s Constantine the Great sent out vast armies of men to conquer the world. The soldiers could be gone for years at a time. Overtime, soldiers who missed their families became melancholy and lost much of their will to fight. Constantine, seeing that families were at the root of his army's waning courage and resolve, decided to ban marriage all together. The mandate went over almost as well as trying to cure hunger by banning food.
Food for the belly and love for the soul are equally important for our survival. Recognizing the burning desire and human need for love, St. Valentine defied Constantine's order by marrying young couples in secret. His defiance landed Valentine in prison. Many of the young couples he had brought together in marriage started the tradition of passing notes and gifts of gratitude to him. He died in prison on February 14th as a martyr and the symbol of true love. Click here to read on...
Friday, 26 November 2010 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
Scenario 1: A clients asks for help with a business problem that doesn’t quite fit with our ordinary tax and A&A service offerings and you say, "of course, we can help you with that." Then you head back to the office to figure out your next steps. Scenario 2: Your firm has a couple of really good consultative type CPAs who seem to have a gift for taking on unusual projects. I call these Consulting Savants – they have the ability to create unique deliverables on the fly when a client presents the need. But when they are not around what happens to the firm's ability to provide similar services?
In both of these scenarios you end up with Random Acts of Consulting; a service that is typically a one-off deliverable. There are reasons firms have well documented processes and procedures and are investing millions to automate core service offerings. Without a well defined, repeatable process you will never achieve the efficiencies and leverage that are the hallmark of a well-run firm.
The headline here doesn't mean quite what it says. It means that fixing process improves people in the sense that making changes to the way things are done can push performance to better levels. Because a lot of things we think are wrong with workers are more about bad processes and bad training. But it's also clear that many managers still think the big problem is people doing things wrong. That came through in a polling question during a Webinar Edi Osborne recently conducted in conjunction with the Progressive Accountant. Osborne talked about improving practice management performance through Kaizen, a disciplined approach to implementing organizational change.
Asked to identify the sources of most problems at their organizations, half of the attendees said the processes and half said people doing things incorrectly.
Monday, 30 August 2010 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
Cuba Gooding Jr.'s famous line, "Show me the money," from the movie "Jerry Maguire" won him an academy award for best supporting actor. Current economic conditions have a lot of business owners saying the same thing, unfortunately they are not acting. The question is, are you showing your clients their money? Are you going to win the award for best supporting CPA? We have all heard the expression, "I feel like I am just treading water." Many businesses that have managed to tread water for the past two years are now running out of energy. We are quickly evolving from "flat or treading water" as the new normal, to struggling to stay afloat. Your clients need you (right now) to show them where they will get the biggest bang for their dwindling resources such as time and money; show them their money!
What do I mean by "show them their money? I am not referring to the incredibly accurate financial statements you provide. Although accuracy is important, it's like throwing a swimming suit to someone who has fallen overboard and is drowning. The swimming suit makes sense when someone is going swimming but not when your clients are having difficulty staying afloat. They need a lot more from you (right now) to navigate and sustain themselves until the economic storm subsides. Click here to read on...
Saturday, 19 June 2010 02:09 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
Burnout has a direct impact on the value of a firm, but because it is intangible, it doesn’t show up on the balance sheet. Just like any other liability, it can take down another intangible, your firm’s morale and good will, without you even realizing it. Over the 20 years I have worked with the accounting profession, I’ve met a lot of CPAs who recognize their burn out for what it is; an indicator that they need to reinvent themselves, broaden their horizons and expand their competencies to embrace more interesting work. I’ve also met a lot of tired, burned out CPAs who have resigned themselves to cope with the status quo until they retire. If you are one of those people who say “just suck it up”, life isn’t perfect or easy, just buckle down and do the work. You might want to consider the economic cost of “sucking it up”.
Here’s what we know: Every day we are learning more about how our brains work and the impact it has on behavior. For example, when you experience positive emotions, we know that your brain releases endorphins that help boost our immune system and make us feel good. Likewise, every time you experience a negative emotion, your brain releases adrenaline into your system. Click here to read on...
Created 06/09/2010 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
A few of years ago my daughter was expecting our first grandchild. After being rushed through an inconclusive (for gender) ultrasound at the hospital, we decided it would be fun to have one of the new, popular three-dimensional ultrasounds done.
Because we went retail and it was done at a private clinic we could take our time, ask questions, have several people in the room, and video tape the whole event. And because it was 3D, we would have a much clearer picture of the baby’s face and features.
My son-in-law, up to the day of the 3D ultrasound, had felt like a bit of an observer, not fully engaged in the gestation process.
However, once he saw Hazel’s face, hands, feet, and body, and watched her move about in her temporary home, his eyes widened and he got that look on his face that I’ve seen so many times in a classroom situation. That “A-ha, I get it!” moment when we move from being an observer with a conceptual understanding of something to being a learner where the information starts to take hold, to being fully engaged.
I’ve thought of that day many times in the two and a half years since Hazel’s arrival, and the transformative impact the 3D ultrasound had compared with the conventional method. I believe, when we apply a 3D approach to firm growth, we can see the same kind of transformative impact on the firm’s culture and performance. Growth starts with the understanding of the direct correlation between the state of the people and firm outcomes. Smart leaders know: “You don’t grow companies, you grow people and people grow companies.” Click here to read on...
For accountants, workflow tools are about gaining control of information. Rather than spending hours running from office to office seeking to learn the status of that lost tax return or incomplete compilation, with a good workflow solution you are promised access to any client file at any stage of completion anywhere in your (real or virtual) office. Ideally these tools also let you check the status of client work, monitor due dates, manage staff time, and review actual versus budgeted time. As more firms have moved from paper to paperless, these electronic command and control systems have become increasingly important for those seeking to realize the full potential of their paperless systems.
Some systems offer insight into a single practice area, while others attempt to connect tax with audit and document management with time-and-billing applications. Most are still in their infancy, but from basic to advanced they promise a range of features that might help you get a handle on all of that precious work-in-process that is making its digital way around your office. Click here to read on...
Sunday, 25 April 2010 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
For thousands of years, scientists and religious leaders introduced, modified, and later abandoned hundreds of different calendaring models. People take calendaring very seriously. Wars have been fought over the appropriate association of time and measure. There are a few calendars that are still actively referred to in today’s society; such as the astrological, lunar, Gregorian, Chinese, Balinese, Islamic or Jewish. All these calendars have three things in common, a start date, a means of measuring time in various and cumulative units, and an end date. The units of time may correspond to earthly occurrences, like seasons or astronomical changes. Or they may be very arbitrary based on a governmental or religious edict. Conflict over calendars continues even today. There is one fringe group that seems to still struggle with defining their calendar; the accounting profession. I believe it is the profession’s undefined calendar that often gets in the way of taking on new initiatives and advancing toward their goals at the same rate as other businesses. Here’s why . . .
For the most part Western civilization has accepted the Gregorian calendar as its standard for marking time. As a result, most people look at January 1 as their “start” date for the year. There is a psychological boost that comes from throwing out the old calendar and starting fresh. It’s almost as if we give ourselves permission to forgive and forget the past in favor of a more productive future. Some of us are old enough to remember the days before IPhones or Palms when we had “turn a page” non-digital desk top (you know the actual top of your desk) calendars. They were simply brilliant. They never crashed or lost data and you could be guaranteed a “snow storm” on the last day of every year in the downtown area of every major city as thousands of workers would toss out their old calendars. I am sure it cost the city’s millions in trash clean up but somehow we didn’t care, because the act of “letting go” and starting fresh is so liberating. I’m not sure tossing your digital calendar out the window would have the same effect, however. But I digress. Click here to read on...
04/22/2010By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus Now I’m not proposing we launch a new TV series where business owners stay in a fancy mansion surrounded by eager CPAs vying for their business – although it does make me giggle to picture the hot tub scene with floating laptops or the contests to see who can balance the books the fastest or the scavenger hunt to find the hidden error in the financial statements.
And just imagine the heartbreak of every CPA who doesn’t receive the coveted engagement rose (letter) at the end of the cocktail party or the final scene as they pull away in the limo and remark, “I should have put a fancier cover on those financial statements,” or “I got him the maximum refund, what more does he want?” Or, “Doesn’t he know I’m his trusted advisor?”
All of the drama makes for good TV ratings, but my favorite is the “after the rose” show. Every once in a while one of the candidates is honest and admits he or she got caught up in the fantasy of the competition and focused on winning rather than on whether the prospect was his or her type. Click here to read on...
Tuesday, 23 March 2010 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
If you have ever read any of Patrick Lencioni’s books then I know you are already a fan. But if you aren’t already familiar with Lencioni, his latest book, “Getting Naked” might be a great place for you to start. The book will likely evoke a very passionate response from you. In it, Lencioni talks about the three fears that can sabotage client loyalty.
According to Lencioni, the three fears are: 1) Fear of Losing the Business 2) Fear of Feeling Embarrassed 3) Fear of Feeling Inferior
Lencioni points out that each of these fears can get in the way of creating an authentic client relationship. At the end of the day, it’s the authenticity that clients most want from us. I recommend that every accountant read this book for layer after layer of insight associated with each of these fears as they relate to client service. Click here to read on...
03/15/2010 By Steve Osborne, MBA, CSPM, CPBA, TriMetrix-certified Last month we introduced you to the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI). We made the connection between CPAs’ Emotional Quotients (EQ) and their success. In that article we defined EI and explained the importance of a high EQ in today’s business environment. We also promised to expand on the concepts of EI and provide some practical strategies for increasing your EQ scores.
But first, let’s step back and look at why emotional intelligence is so important to business success in the decade ahead. It’s been extensively documented that EI skills are critical for successful leadership. In fact, they are more of an indicator of success than technical skills or analytical reasoning skills (IQ).
In the American Institute of CPA’s (AICPA) 2011 Vision Project, “people skills” were identified as one of the most important areas of development for up-and-coming leaders in the profession. Click here to read on...
03/10/2010By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus Dear potential accountant,
I think it’s great that you ride a Harley, raise chickens, enjoy food and wine, skydive, or volunteer at a homeless shelter. All of those things make you a more human, well-rounded, and interesting person to spend time with. I get how hard it must be to break away from the old stereotype of green eyeshades and pocket protectors.
To that end, if your firm is one of those that has personal bios on your Web site that highlight the humanness of your partners and team members, good for you! Again, all this makes you and your firm more interesting and less one-dimensional. Plus, it gives me a chance to get to know others on your team and tells me your team is important to you – like mine is to me.
Are you really passionate about what you do or are you just pretending? I’m not talking about that once in awhile put on a good face type of day when you would rather be doing something else. I’m talking about day in and day out; do you get excited about helping your clients be more successful? Do you seek out opportunities to learn new things that will help your clients overcome their most difficult challenges?
Good accountants would report that they invest a lot of time and money on professional education each year and be able to tell you the latest tax laws and pending IRS changes. But could they articulate the biggest industry changes coming in the next five years for their top five clients? It’s not enough anymore to be good at traditional accounting services. Not because the services have changed much, but because expectations clients have of their accounting relationship have. Click here to read on...
Friday, 19 February 2010 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
Passion, and the biochemical release it facilitates in the brain, reduces stress and is shown to improve your overall health. Amazingly, it has a similar effect on those who cross your path. Now put the words Passionate and Accountant together in the same sentence and you have a formula for healthier people, businesses, firms, and the economy. Bottom line: if you are not passionate about what you do, if you don’t spring out of bed with enthusiasm for the day ahead, you have to ask yourself, “what ‘s missing?”
Sadly, the immortal lyrics, “You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling” describe a number of accountants and their attitude about the work they do. Over the years, I’ve met a great many accountants who are good at what they do but are not getting to do what they love. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. There is a cure for these accountant’s blues and there is a community of passionate accountants who are sharing some of the key ingredients for their passionate formula. Passion is the natural outcome of connecting what you are good at with what you love to do. Click here to read on...
By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus “We’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore! We want the world to know we are not just standing by, waiting for the economy to jump-start itself.”
This is the battle cry of a community of accountants who are passionate about helping their clients not just survive, but thrive during the best and the worst of times. A new Web site,www.thepassionateaccountant.com, is a place for these specially certified, non-traditional practitioners to tell their story.
While many accountants are sitting idly by, waiting to keep score of their clients’ descending revenue trends, this group of accountants has been preparing for years to help their clients address this sort of problem. They have learned to look beyond the financial statements to the underlying issues that create the numbers on the page. They have been teaching employees to understand and apply financial concepts, training managers to create and monitor non-financial measures, and helping entire organizations work toward a common goal. Click here to read on...
At the opening of this year's Super Bowl, seven men were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You don't even have to be a football fan to appreciate the skill it took for each of the Hall of Fame Inductees to have received the honor. It's like winning an Olympic Gold Medal for football but instead of just prevailing during the Olympics, these athletes prevailed and excelled throughout their football careers.
As the commentator went down the line, naming each Inductee, I was struck by the variances in their physical attributes. For example, Floyd Little at 5'9" 196 lbs was next to Russ Grimm who's 6'3" and 273 lbs – they looked like David and Goliath. Although they are very close in weight (205 lbs), Emmitt Smith looks up to Jerry Rice both professionally and physically at 5'9" and 6"2" respectively. In spite of their different physical attributes, each of these players has developed his skill to a level of performance excellence that has put them in a world-class group of inductees. Click here to read on...
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
Let me start off by saying, I hate waste! The idea of getting the “biggest bang for my buck” or “killing two birds with one stone” has always appealed to me. Anytime you can use the same or fewer resources to get a greater result, that’s leverage right? Or is it efficiency? Most of the time, the terms leverage and efficiency are used interchangeably. However, when it comes to accounting firms, the distinction between the two terms can make the difference between just managing time and truly leveraging your firm’s talent.
Whenever I teach performance measurement and management advisory skills to accounting professionals, as excited as they are about expanding their skills to provide more value to the client, the one thing that seems to get in their way is capacity, or lack thereof. However, when asked what percentage of time practitioners are doing work that could or should be done by someone else, the answer is typically 50 percent to 70 percent. That is an astonishing number when you add it up across the firm. Click here to read on...
01/07/2010By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus Lay’s potato chips had it right when they said, “Nobody can eat just one.” Unfortunately, accounting firms often confuse their planning efforts with eating potato chips when they take on too many strategic initiatives at one time. It usually happens at a Partner Retreat in May/June when the strategic bucket is passed around the room and everyone throws in their input. And because partner groups like to be inclusive of everyone’s ideas, they end up with an overstuffed list of strategic initiatives that everyone will have had their fill of before summer comes to an end.
The firms that seem to have the greatest success implementing their objectives are those that have mastered the art of “less is more.” They understand the positive ripple effect of focusing effort around one key initiative as opposed to the “more is good” philosophy where everything gets elevated to a level of importance where, in the end, nothing is important.
Every planning retreat should begin and end with “This is the year of . . . “ Fill in the blank with “Just One” of these initiatives. Click here to read on...
Thursday, 29 October 2009 By Edi Osborne - CEO Mentor Plus
These days, everyone is asking the ROI question on Software as a Service. What they are not asking is what is the lost opportunity cost off our current model. I am not, in any way, a technology guru, but I am completely dependent on technology to run my business. And maybe it's my business owner bias that drives me to the conclusion that SaaS is a no-brainer.
Think about it: currently your IT person (assuming you have one) is paid by the hour to keep your operating systems and applications up to date. By contrast, SAAS is modeled much like the ancient Chinese doctor's approach - you only pay them when you are healthy - if you get sick, they don't get paid. Does it matter that half of the firm is on one version of a software program while the other is still waiting to be updated? Click here to read on...
As a lover of horticulture, I see many parallels between the lessons I learn in my garden and those I learn in life. We are not so many generations away from our agrarian roots that many of these “lessons” still linger in our business nomenclature. In business, we often refer to the parity between nurturing employees and harvesting profits. We have come to accept the parity of pruning dead wood to stimulate new growth.
Nature also teaches us that different species of plants respond to vastly different growing conditions. You need only look at an agricultural zone map to determine which plants will thrive in your region. Read a little bit and you’ll find ideal growing techniques for nearly every plant on the planet. Reading even further, you find that we are still discovering new species of plants every day and that many species are adapting and morphing into something altogether different as a means of survival. Click here to read on...
So you want to start blogging. Or more likely, you have just found out that you are expected to start blogging.
By Geni Whitehouse This usually happens when someone in marketing decides that your firm needs to add a blog to your website. They ask volunteers to step forward and everyone steps back – except you. Or maybe you have written an article or two on cost segregation or charitable remainder trusts and now there is documented proof that you can form complete sentences. That makes you the best candidate for the role of firm blogger. No matter how you have arrived at your blogging assignment, it probably feels like a chore. You’ve lived through numerous failed newsletter projects and know how much of a hassle it is to write content even once a quarter. You probably figure blogging will require tons of research and more long nights at the office.
Financial analysis tools for accountants sounded like a natural hit. Give CPAs software that would help them analyze client financial statements and sell services based on the analysis.
It hasn’t quite worked that way. In May, Thomson Reuters announced after years of promoting its entry that the Financial Analysis CS module from its CS Professional Suite would be given to accountants for free. Profit Driver from CCH is off the market in the United States, as is the Sage Accpac CFO package that was built on the same Australian product as Profit Driver.
Now, Mentor Plus is making another go at financial analysis with a product called ScopeIt that follows the same basic principles as the other applications in that users can manipulate numbers in financial statements and changes will ripple through to connected data. Advisors can use scenarios to show clients how changes, such as in the cost of goods sold, can affect financial performance. Click here to read on...