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3 Tips for Marketing through Busy Season

Posted By Heather Robinson, Marketing Manager, Friday, March 24, 2017

 

With busy season upon us, does your firm have a plan for maintaining client communications? Looming deadlines often mean marketing gets pushed to the back burner, but busy season is an especially important time to stay connected, while tax returns and annual financial statements are top-of-mind for your clients. Fortunately, with a little planning and help from some essential tools, you can continue marketing through busy season.

Keep the content coming

When you are focused on getting work out the door, writing blog posts is not top of mind, but you should try to keep up a regular posting schedule – even if you post less often than other times of the year.

January is an excellent time to “stock up” on blog content before the workload really ramps up. Put idle interns and staff to work writing a few basic, helpful posts that you can use over the next few months. Even if you don’t write all of the content now, create a content calendar full of useful ideas, so you don’t need to expend valuable brainpower coming up with topics later on. You can also update and repurpose old “evergreen” blog posts with a fresh perspective to keep your calendar full.

If you need more help, the AICPA’s CPA Client Bulletin Select provides a monthly collection of articles about taxes, financial planning and small business issues that can be edited and shared with your clients via email, blog, social media or firm newsletter.

Take advantage of client contact

Busy season may be one of your few chances to have a face-to-face meeting with your client, so capitalize on this opportunity to educate them about other services your firm provides.

Are your small business client’s books a mess? Talk to them about your bookkeeping services. Tax clients may need estate planning or wealth management. Remember, it’s not about closing a deal, it’s a process that involves building relationships and educating your client to make informed decisions. When you listen to your clients and make suggestions based on their wants and needs, you are not selling, you are adding value.

Schedule out your content

Promoting your firm on social media is an essential step in developing new business and staying connected to existing clients, but knowing when to post and finding the time to manage multiple social networks is a challenge. Take advantage of tools that do the grunt work for you.

Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to fill a queue with content and stagger posting throughout the days or weeks. You can maintain a consistent social media schedule without worrying about micromanaging the delivery times.  

The effort you put into marketing during busy season is not just about bringing in new tax clients, but about filling your pipeline with work for the entire year. Stay connected while accounting and taxes are top of mind for your clients. After all, busy season is every CPA’s time to shine.

 

  by Heather Robinson

  Marketing Manager

  Boomer Consulting, Inc.

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Client Spotlight: Kevin Gienger, Boldt Carlisle + Smith

Posted By Heather Robinson, Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Firm Name: Boldt Carlisle + Smith

Location: Salem, OR

# of Offices: 3

# of Partners: 7

# of Employees: 40

 

Streamlining processes to focus on playing above the line!

When Boldt Carlisle + Smith went through a merger a few years ago, firm leaders, including Managing Partner Kevin Gienger, were already aware that the firm had a few processes that were not consistent. But Geinger says the merger “shined a big spotlight on how different things could be between people.” They needed to build consistency in firm processes, but they also wanted to help the new teams collaborate rather than mandating one particular way of doing things.

At the same time, Gienger says, the firm realized that tax preparation, while important, was not the most valuable service they offered from a client’s perspective.  Gienger began researching ways to make tax prep as simple and streamlined as possible so the professionals at Boldt Carlisle + Smith could focus their energy on providing higher-level advisory services.

The firm’s tax department went through a Lean Process Improvement Project with Boomer Consulting, Inc. to address both issues.

Gienger says revamping the whole department’s processes was not seamless, but it provided an opportunity for people who don’t normally work face-to-face to work on a project together in order to formulate the final process, hearing and understanding each other’s ideas and working together on solutions.

As a result of the project, the firm has seen a real increase in how quickly work is completed. Having simple, streamlined processes allows the firm to turn around projects faster. In turn, this has resulted in increased cash flow and revenue during tax season and created more space for projects outside of tax season because they’re doing fewer extensions.

Next up? The firm continues to utilize Lean theory in other areas of the firm. One of their professionals is attending Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification training, and their next project is aimed at the audit side of the firm.

Get to know Kevin

Kevin grew up in Springfield, Oregon. He took his first accounting class in high school and enjoyed it. His uncle, who had attended Columbia Business School and worked in banking before returning to run the family’s dairy farm, encouraged Kevin to major in accounting in college, knowing that an accounting degree would open many doors professionally.

Boldt Carlisle & Smith was Kevin’s first job after graduating from Linfield College in 1997. Although he left for five years to work as a Division Controller for Allied Waste of North America, Kevin returned to BCS in 2006

Outside of work, Kevin enjoys camping with friends, his wife, Dawn, and their sons, Austin and Tyler, age eleven and nine.

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Boomer Flowtivity Process

Most CPA firms want to increase productivity, but they mistakenly believe that simply adding new technology to existing processes is the way to achieve it. Inconsistent processes, poor communication and lack of collaboration result in inefficient processes, frustration and poor engagement performance. The Boomer Flowtivity Process can help you find and eliminate inefficiencies in your firm by combining Lean Six Sigma with project management and workflow management techniques. The result? You’ll maximize the value of your work and improve your bottom line.

Click to learn more about the Boomer Flowtivity Process!

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Intentional Gratitude Actions

Posted By Heather Robinson, Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Intentional Gratitude Actions

Taking simple steps to show gratitude to those in your firm is one of the best ways to increase motivation, good health, teamwork, personal knowledge and a strong firm culture. Luckily, showing gratitude is easy and doesn’t require a big investment of time and money. The more you practice gratitude toward your coworkers, the more you will learn the actions that are meaningful to them. Start receiving the benefits of showing gratitude by practicing one of the actions on this worksheet.

  1. Take time to specifically tell someone why you are grateful for them.
  2. Hand write a thank you note.
  3. Put a stickie note somewhere random in a co‐worker’s work space to thank them for something they have done.
  4. Take a quick walk with a person for whom you are grateful and thank them for the work they do.
  5. Give someone a book with a note marking a specific part that reminds you of something they have done.
  6. Take a person on your team a cup of coffee or other treat “just because…”
  7. Write a letter of gratitude to your manager or partner instead of a holiday card.
  8. Send an email or better yet, an e‐card. (Justwink.com is a great source).
  9. Do someone a favor; like picking up lunch, running an errand or doing some client work without being asked.
  10. Go on Pinterest and search for “Creative Gifts and Ways to Show Appreciation” for hundreds of other ideas!
  11. If you’re running a meeting, keep it short to show them you appreciate and respect their time.
  12. Conduct a team‐building exercise and have everyone on your team state how they like to be shown gratitude. Keep track of each team member’s answer and distribute the summary to the team. Encourage team members to refer to the summary so they can express gratitude to team members according to their preference. 

Download Worksheet HERE! 

This PCPS 2017 PCPS Intentional Gratitude Actions Worksheet is an example of the turnkey tools and solutions PCPS delivers.  PCPS is an add-on firm membership section within the AICPA.  A PCPS firm membership at only $35 per CPA, up to a max of $700 per firm, is a great investment for the wealth of resources.  Find out if you are already a PCPS member or take a quick tour to learn more.

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A Simple Idea Vetting Framework

Posted By Eric Benson, Director of 10X Operations, Friday, March 10, 2017

Have you ever returned from a conference, nearly bursting with ideas about changes you want to make in your life, your work or your firm? Our consultants attend conferences all over the country, and when they return, the idea spill is enormous. But everyone has limited time and resources. We can’t possibly implement every idea, no matter how exciting. We use a simple vetting framework to determine which ideas we should pursue and which ones take priority.

The 3 Is

The first part of the framework consists of three questions or the “Three Is.”

  1. Does it increase profitability?
  2. Can this initiate gains in productivity?
  3. Will we improve the client experience?

If you can easily show that the answers are yes to all three questions, it’s easy to see why you should pursue the idea. However, some ideas may not be a yes on all three questions but are still a good idea. In that case, we add two more questions to the framework:

  1. Why do we need to change?
  2. How would this make us better?

Take a firm that is considering implementing paperless scanning to improve their workflow. There will be significant upfront costs to purchase and install scanners, additional storage capacity and software. The value is not readily apparent to clients and implementing a new process tends to decrease productivity in the beginning as staff needs to be trained and adjust to new policies and procedures.

Using the first three questions, you can identify that 1) If rolled out properly, paperless scanning will increase profitability, 2) the client experience may be improved through faster turnaround or fewer errors, and 3) over time, productivity will increase.  However, these will be deferred results.  In this case, you have three “Yes” answers, but they all have the caveat that it will take time.

In this case, you need to address the last two questions.  Why do we need to make this change?  How would this make us better?  If you don’t have solid reasons for both, then the project will fail.  Use these two questions to identify your metrics for success, and you will be on the road to solid project planning for a successful paper to paperless transition.

Over time, your firm will be able to prepare more returns when they reduce the amount of time spent organizing, sorting and indexing client source documents. Clients will enjoy quicker turn-around time. Your staff will be able to spend less time handling paper and more time offering high-value advisory services to your clients. When you run the idea of paperless scanning through this five-question framework, it becomes clear that this is a good idea, and the firm should move forward.

You may still have more good ideas than you have the time and resources to implement, but this simple framework can help you identify the biggest opportunities going forward as well as put a governor on those that aren’t so urgent.

 

 By Eric Benson

 Director of 10X Operations

 Boomer Consulting, Inc.

 

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Client Spotlight: Randy Nail, HoganTaylor

Posted By Heather Robinson, Wednesday, March 8, 2017


 

Firm Name: HoganTaylor LLP

Location: Tulsa, OK

# of Offices: 4

# of Partners: 30

# of Employees: 235

 

Getting intentional about innovation.

For Randy Nail, CEO of HoganTaylor, core values are not just words on a page of the firm’s website. The firm’s third core value, “Be Dynamic,” means they are constantly watching what is going on in the industry and how technology is changing. Nail says he and the rest of the partners at HoganTaylor are “always thinking about how we can get better or prepare ourselves for things that are coming. We don’t want to be the stereotypical accountants, always looking in the rearview mirror.”

Nail was acquainted with Gary Boomer because HoganTaylor’s Chief Innovation Officer is a member of the Boomer Technology Circles. So when he heard about Boomer’s Innovation and Future-Ready Workshop, he knew the firm needed to do it.

The firm’s focus on being dynamic meant he had no trouble getting others on board. “The firm was excited,” Nail says. “It’s not just about tech. Where is our profession going? What place do advisory services have? We’re naturally curious and want to participate in new things.”

As a result of the workshop, the firm designated a Partner of Innovation and is defining what the innovation process looks like at HoganTaylor, having a process for filtering and implementing innovative solutions.

Making the profession better

Nail’s excitement is palpable when he talks about one of HoganTaylor’s newest innovations, their audit and tax project management tool, HTOne. It’s a secure portal where clients and the firm can interact in real time, exchange documents and communicate about the status of projects with an efficiency that just isn’t possible over email. “We developed it in-house to make ourselves more efficient. Now we’re making it available to other firms. We’re not just making ourselves more efficient, but making the profession better,” he says.

Get to know Randy

Nail grew up in Ada, Oklahoma. He took an accounting class in high school, and his instructor encouraged him to continue the subject in college. Nail earned his B.S. in Accounting from East Central University in Ada. After college, he moved to Oklahoma City to work for one of what was then the Big 8 Accounting Firms, Touche Ross.  He’s spent his entire professional career in public accounting and was promoted to CEO of Hogan Taylor in 2012.

When he’s not focusing on providing leadership at Hogan Taylor, Nail enjoys reading (both business books and spy novels) and playing golf. He has one 2 ½-year-old grandson and another on the way.

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Boomer Team Building Workshops

Boomer’s Team Building Workshops are a customized day for your firm that will infuse education, industry updates, activities and fun into a day that your team will be talking about for the rest of the year. Your Boomer facilitator will ensure that the content matches the overall culture and objectives of your firm.

The sessions will help your team clearly define individual responsibilities, management’s expectations and the firm’s strategic plan. These workshops offer lasting results that will motivate your #1 resource, your people, to higher levels than ever before.

Click to learn more about Boomer Team Building Workshops!

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Project Management and the Communication Rules That Drive It

Posted By Erin Cheever, Project Manager, Friday, March 3, 2017

Communication. Such a simple word, but is it really that simple? With all of the types of communication used in the business world today, it could not be any more complex! So many communication rules and types. From non-verbal communication to the written word, the list is endless. It’s hard to keep up with, and each project or situation necessitates following a particular communication plan. What does your communication plan look like? What are the rules you live by? What must happen or not happen to not only make your project work but succeed? 

Here are the five communication rules I live by when I start a project and what drives it throughout the entire process.

The written word in communication

While some of your communication is oral, another part is expressed through written words such as emails, spreadsheets or reports. When structuring your written forms of communication, there are several different elements that must come into play to make sure your message is clear and concise.

First, you must decide what type of written communication is best for the situation and consider your audience. Will a simple email suffice? Does the situation call for a detailed report? Are you speaking to the owner of the company or the IT staff? Depending on your audience and the structure of your document, your message and tone will vary.

Second, remember to break up your text so that it is scannable and easy to read. You want the reader to be able to pick out the key information by just scanning the document.

Third, brush up on your grammar skills before you start writing. Providing your clients with error-free writing displays your professionalism. If proofreading and grammar checking is not your forte, ask a coworker to help make sure your correspondence is planned, organized and most importantly, mistake-free.

Listening is key

Most people consider themselves good listeners, but in actuality, most people are not. Sure, they hear what you are saying, but are they really taking in the information? Do they understand what you are trying to tell them? In communication, listening is just as important as talking. In some situations, it’s the most important part. You must understand and receive messages just as well as you send them out. Try actively listening to what your client wants. Engage with their needs and understand their wants. Clear your mind of all other thoughts and concerns. Know when to be quiet and not interrupt. Follow your active listening plan and show your clients that they are your top priority.

 

Planning is essential

Must we always have a plan when we start a project? Not unless you want it to be successful. A plan doesn't always have to be a detailed strategic or business plan (although it should be at the beginning of the project), but you do always need to ask yourself these questions: who needs what, what do they need and when do they need it? How much detail or lack of detail should I provide? Can this be a simple email or do you need to send a spreadsheet or report along with it? What kind of person am I talking to? What are my obstacles? What are my challenges? Tackle the who, what, where, when, why and how and you will see the worth of planning before you take action on your project. 

 

Identify your barriers

There are so many obstacles and barriers – personality, cultural, political - to overcome and acknowledge when you are preparing to communicate with someone. Realizing that everyone does not require the same amount or type of information will help you know how to best craft your message and get the answers you need. At Boomer Consulting our knowledge of Kolbe and use of Kolbe A to determine communication styles has helped us determine how to adapt our communication methods depending on who we are talking to. We have determined that if you can learn to change your communication plan and tailor it to each of your clients based on their learning styles, you can change the way the game is played.

 

Don't beat around the bush

This rule is simple and probably something your mom told you when you were growing up. Be clear. Be concise. Be direct. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Period.  

 

Everyone has their own rules and checklists to follow to deliver great communication. Make your communication count. Identify your personal communication plan and you’ll take your projects farther than you could have imagined.

 

 

 by Erin Cheever

 Project Manager

 Boomer Consulting, Inc.

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Client Spotlight: Mark Radetic, MarksNelson

Posted By Heather Robinson, Thursday, February 23, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Firm: MarksNelson

Headquarters: Kansas City, MO

No. of Offices: 8

No. of Partners: 20

No. of Employees: 154

 

Focusing on leadership development as a competitive advantage!

When Mark Radetic joined MarksNelson in 2003, the firm had 35 people and no formal education and training program other than the requisite 40 hours of continuing education hours per year. In a little over a decade, the firm grew to 150 people and was competing for talent with other great firms in Kansas City, including Big 4 and national firms. As Managing Partner of MarksNelson, Radetic recognized that to recruit the best and brightest, the usual CPE just wouldn’t cut it. They had to provide leadership development.

Working with Gary Boomer and Sandra Wiley of Boomer Consulting, Inc., MarksNelson began to focus on talent development and education as one of four firm-wide strategic initiatives and developed success profiles for every experience level. For managers wishing to become a partner, leadership and the ability to gain followship were identified as crucial skills.

After thoroughly researching alternatives, including handling leadership training on their own, MarksNelson turned to the P3 Leadership Academy, where their managers could develop skills in self-management, client management, team management and practice development. The firm sent all managers, 25 people in all, to the Academy over the course of three years.

Today, Radetic says he “tips [his] cap to the P3 Leadership for getting the firm going in the right direction.” The results speak for themselves: as of July of this year, three of those managers have been promoted to partner and two more will be promoted in January of 2017. Radetic says participants in the P3 Leadership Academy have been able to master leadership and followship, but the benefits don’t end there. The members took on out-of-class projects related to the firm. Some focused on education, administration, culture, or another area. These projects allowed participants to really dig in and learn what MarksNelson is all about, but Radetic says the firm’s existing partners learned from the process as well.

Today, the firm continues to focus on talent development and education as a strategic initiative, and not just at the partner and manager level. At MarksNelson, leadership development and education begin as soon as people walk in the door.

Get to know Mark

Radetic was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, the third of seven kids. His parents are now 91 and 89, still going strong in St. Louis. Radetic attended Benedictine College in Kansas. He started out as a math major but switched to accounting after a rough semester of calculus. Radetic took a job in public accounting in Kansas City after graduation, expecting to spend about two years in public before moving on but has found a career he loves and has turned down several opportunities in the private sector.

Radetic has been married for 25 years and has three children. When he’s not working, he enjoys crossword puzzles, golf, speed walking and watching sports. He and his wife, also one of seven kids, enjoy entertaining at home.

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P3 Leadership AcademyTM

The P3 Leadership Academy focuses on developing and elevating the middle of your firm to cultivate astute leaders in the areas of People, Planning and Process. During our three-year program, your Emerging Leaders will develop skills in self-management, client management, team management and practice development.

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Recognizing Your Why

Posted By Michael Wherry, Consultant, Friday, February 10, 2017

When there is something that you don’t like about yourself or your work, or you realize something is interfering with the pursuit of your goals, change it. Simple, right? Anyone who has tried to change knows it’s rarely that simple. Change can be slow, frustrating and painful. That’s why some people choose to stay the same and miss out on the rewards that powerful change can bring.

To make a difficult change or seek out your purpose in life, it’s essential to find your ‘Why?’ We see this a lot in personal development: Why push through a training program to run a marathon? Why change careers or start a business? Most significant change involves an element of suffering, and it’s the ‘Why?’ that gives you clarity, sees you through the tough times and provides a deeper well of motivation from which to draw. But how often do we ignore the pain points that make up our ‘Why?’

One big red flag that we’re ignoring our ‘Why’ occurs when a new person joins a team and asks questions about why things are done a certain way. When the answer is “I don’t know” or “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” there’s a good chance that someone is ignoring an opportunity. Consider these scenarios:

  • Your clients are always complaining that they don’t understand their invoices. They’re constantly asking why the bill is higher than they thought it would be. How could their “simple” tax return take so long? You’re always comparing current year fees to prior year fees to justify the amount you’ve billed them, but that’s just the way clients are. Everyone thinks their return is “simple” and everyone is looking for a discount.
  • Someone in the firm didn’t want to get on board with your move to a paperless office years ago. This person circumvents procedures that everyone else has been using for years, prepares all work papers by hand, and forces admin or staff to adapt. It adds more time and confusion to an already hectic busy season, but that’s the way it’s always been done.
  • It seems like every new CPA candidate you hire leaves within five years of joining the firm. They pass the exam, get some experience and then they’re gone. You hire another crop of new graduates and go through the same thing every few years. It must be that young people don’t have a work ethic anymore. They can’t take the heat.

Is some variation of one of these stories happening at your firm? If so, recognize them for what they are: they are your ‘Why.’ Like a nagging pain that we just learn to ignore and live with, we sometimes just learn to live with a bad situation when we should recognize them as pain points that can be addressed.

Chances are, whatever nagging pain has been bothering you is bothering others in the firm, too. Start asking ‘why’ you’re doing things this way and asking others how they feel about the current process. To get to real change we need to look past the hard part. We need to get into the right mindset, let go of outdated traditions, and reprogram new norms and behaviors. But first, we need to recognize why we need to change. 

 By Michael Wherry

 Consultant

 Boomer Consulting, Inc.

 

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Member Spotlight: Bob Fink of Honkamp Krueger

Posted By Heather Robinson, Wednesday, February 8, 2017

 

Firm: Honkamp Krueger

Headquarters: Dubuque, Iowa

No. of Offices: 11

No. of Partners: 33

No. of Employees: 500

 

Recognizing the value of honest answers and helpful direction from a peer community!

Bob Fink, Partner (previous Director of Information Technology) at Honkamp Krueger, says, “being in IT in an accounting firm can feel like you’re on an island and joining a peer community helps you get off the island.” His predecessor, Natalie Hoffmann was an early participant in the Boomer Technology Circles. As Fink moved up in the firm, Hoffmann started taking him with her to the meetings, eventually paving the way for Fink to be the person representing Honkamp Krueger at BTC.

 

When Fink took over the role of IT Manager, he worried that, while they were ahead of many firms from a security perspective, they were behind when it came to infrastructure. He immediately began taking notes about what other firms were doing, participating and listening to find out where their firm should be.

 

The value Fink received from BTC is what led him to petition the firm to join the Boomer CIO Circle as well. He says he enjoys the ability to make contacts, build relationships and have an open dialog with other members of both groups. “If you’re getting off the path, they’ll straighten you out,” Fink says. “It’s a place to ask the difficult questions. There’s nothing you can’t ask to get helpful direction and honest answers. We just don’t have those kinds of resources here locally.”

 

Those resources have helped the Honkamp Krueger work toward becoming more cloud-oriented and implement flex initiatives, including half-day Fridays and flexible schedules. 

 

Get to know Bob

Fink grew up in Darlington, Wisconsin and went to school at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. His knack for computers and plans to join the family business led to a double major in computer science and business. Instead of joining the family business, he took a job with Honkamp Krueger within a year of finishing college. That decision is one he appreciates when he’s in a cozy office instead of running an agriculture business during cold Wisconsin winters.

 

Fink met his wife, Jolene, in college and they have three children. Outside of work, he enjoys anything outdoors including boating, fishing and golf.

 

Next time you talk to Bob, be sure to congratulate him on making Partner at Honkamp Krueger as of January 2017!

 

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The Boomer Technology CirclesTM

The Boomer Technology Circles are technology-focused communities that bring together firm and IT leadership from peer accounting firms. Members share knowledge, experiences and insights to help one another with management and technology decisions. Members meet three times per year and benefit from access to top solution providers and influencers within the profession.

 

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Winning is Everything

Posted By Heather Robinson, Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Last month, several consultants from Boomer Consulting, Inc. had the opportunity to attend The Advisory Board’s Winning is Everything Conference, a venue for partners in the profession to “come together, brainstorm and inspire one another.”

Here are a few of their takeaways from the conference.

Michael Wherry, CPA, LSS Black Belt, Consultant:

I really enjoyed the keynote speech from Bruce Tulgan, author and founder of RainmakerThinking, Inc.

“Today’s workforce thrives under strong leadership that coaches all day long.”

“It is important to keep score at work. Today’s Millennials have the stigma of ‘everybody wins’ but ask the players on a youth soccer field what the score is. There might not be an official score, but the kids know who is winning.”


I also had the chance to attend the keynote from Mark Shapiro, former GM of the Cleveland Indians and now President and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays, who said,

“Tough conversations require a solid foundation built with respect, trust and collaboration.”


This conference reminded me that firms need to have a Lean mindset to help them in all areas, not just process. A key principle of Lean is the voice of the client, both internal and external. These points above all start by listening to the voice of the internal customer and with proper focus you can coach/mentor/lead them with the right “scorecard” to deliver external client experiences that will lead to tremendous growth.

Dustin Hostetler, LSS Master Black Belt

From the Mark Shapiro keynote, the focus on culture as a strategy really resonated. Building a culture of accountability separates great leaders and great organizations from the rest. And the fact is, with a good culture built on accountability, you can look at all levels to make meaningful contributions.

Shapiro shared stories of an intern and entry-level personnel who made key contributions to the organization. This definitely applies to CPA firms.

I’m also hearing more and more from senior leaders that remaining relevant and growing a sustainable practice into the future are key vision points that firms need to be addressing. Innovation is a key part of this dynamic and firms are talking about innovation more today than I’ve heard in over ten years in this profession, which is a good thing.


Were you able to attend the conference? Share some of your favorite speakers and takeaways in the comments.

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