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6 posts from July 2018

I jumpstarted my productivity in 15 minutes – and you can, too!

ReadingIt was early January 2014. The Kansan plains were covered in a crunchy layer of frozen grass, the overcast sky giving little indication that the ice would soon melt. Staff at Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Lloyd – a small accounting firm – were eager to step in from the cold to start their day. But this day would start differently than others. No one opened their laptop. No one phoned clients. No one crunched numbers. Instead, everyone, from partner to administrative assistant, had their heads down in a nonfiction book of their choice. They read uninterrupted, untethered from technology, for 15 minutes. You see, this firm had taken the first step in a journey that would evolve from an experiment into a successful on-the-clock reading program. And that reading program would evolve them too. 

Admittedly, The First 15 reading program took some time to get off the ground because, although everyone agreed to the merits of reading, no one had time for it. That’s when Chet Buchman, managing partner and eventual architect of the reading program, suggested paying for people to read on the clock. “You can’t control what people having going on at home…but you do have the ability to influence what happens when they’re on the clock.” 

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5 tools to help your firm operate effectively

IStock-173737815Summer is a time for relaxing vacations, outdoor concerts and barbecue gatherings. It’s also a time to hit the recharge button and revisit the goals you planned to achieve by year’s end. Many CPAs set aside time during the summer months to focus on their firm’s operations and growth opportunities. The good news is that there are resources available to AICPA members to help you reach these goals and improve your firm’s overall success. Here are some tools for efficient firm management:

  1. Gain perspective with benchmarking metrics.

Metrics provide you with invaluable information. The PCPS/CPA.com National Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) Survey is a unique benchmarking resource that provides firms of all sizes with the key performance indicators they need to make many important management decisions such as firm realization, billing rates and compensation, net remaining per owner and more. The 2018 MAP survey has been significantly streamlined to make it even easier and faster to take. If you want to know where you stand compared to other firms in your region or nationally, I’d urge you to take the survey before it closes this month. Firms that participate receive a customized report comparing their responses to those of firms with similar net client fees, firms in the same region, and against top performing firms. PCPS members also get additional tools, including PowerPoint trend reports and the ability to run customized reports utilizing filters.

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Summer reading list

Shutterstock_288888452It’s that time of year: trips are being planned, office cubes seem emptier than normal and social media is flooded with pictures of vacation spots. But, nothing says summer to me like relaxing with a good book, so I joined forces with my colleagues to present you with a collection of books for your next trip or staycation.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
You don’t even have to be a history buff to become fully engrossed in this novel. It’s a remarkable story of one Jewish family who – torn apart by World War II – fought for survival without knowing if they’d ever see each other again. The most unbelievable part is it’s based on a true story. While the topic is a tad heavier than a typical beach read, I couldn’t put this one down!
Sonia Bauer, Senior Manager - Corporate Communications & Public Relations

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Is hiring a CPA worth it in 2018?

GettyImages-863565040When people hear I’m a CPA who specializes in tax, the question invariably comes up — what do I think about the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (also known as “tax reform”)? I’m not one to talk about politics, so to be neutral, I say “it’s certainly an exciting time to be a CPA in tax.” No question, many of the provisions of tax reform bring added complexity to areas of the law that were not simple to begin with. 

Some individuals will continue to feel comfortable using tax preparation software, but there are circumstances where “you don’t know what you don’t know,” requiring you to call in the help of a CPA. A great CPA can provide much more value than just the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your forms are correct. They can provide planning and tax advisory services, consultation, business and international accounting, forensic accounting, business valuation and more. 

Read on to learn four reasons why it’s worth hiring a CPA.  

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8 tips to help recent grads establish financial independence

Shutterstock_309048455School's out for summer! And, for some, school is out for good. In honor of America declaring its independence, here are 8 tips from the American Institute of CPAs' National CPA Financial Literacy Commission to help recent college grads declare their own FINANCIAL independence now and for the future:

1. Have a plan to repay student loan debt. While paying off significant debt takes time, establishing and sticking to a plan will put you on a good path toward your financial independence. The AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website has free resources to help create a plan to reach your financial goals.

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An insider's look at avoiding ethical violations

GettyImages-590617706Ethical dilemmas can occur at any time during the career of a tax practitioner. Sometimes, the practitioner doesn’t even know they did anything wrong. As a former IRS Office of Professional Responsibility attorney, cases just like that would come across my desk.

A vast majority of these cases came from simple misunderstandings of ethical responsibilities — practitioners were not aware they were violating Circular 230 or the practitioner just had a bad day and made a one-time mistake. Review these stories and learn a little more about how easy ethical violations can happen if you aren’t paying close attention. (Note: details have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved).

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