Welcome back to another installment of … uh … we never did name this series, did we? My bad. Well whatever, welcome back to another installment of us interviewing folks around the accounting profession who have mastered the art of working smarter, not harder. This series is brought to you by our friends at Gusto; […]
Andy Baldwin, your table is ready. EY today announces that Andy Baldwin has been appointed the next EY Global Managing Partner – Client Service, effective from 1 July 2019. In this role, Baldwin will be responsible for leading the go-to-market and client activities. He will also have overall leadership for the three EY geographic areas […]
The following sponsored content is by Joey Havens, the executive partner of Horne, LLP, an Accountingfly Firm Partner. Do you ever wonder what people outside your circle observe when they look at you? As a profession, if we really stepped back and reflected on our client service approach, what might we see about ourselves? One […]
If you're a fan of accounting nostalgia, I recommend the semi-regular anecdotes from WithumSmith+Brown partner emeritus Ed Mendlowitz. In case you're not familiar, he's the guy who gave Greg those accountant trading cards and wrote a thinly veiled dig at anyone who hasn't kept books by hand. In his most recent musing, Ed shares a […]
Folks, we need to talk about something important this afternoon. We would like to talk about the professional services firm Deloitte and its big, bloated, dumb, directionless business strategy. Honestly, this is a firm that has spent the last few years trying to be everything to every business that needs any imaginable service that can […]
In short, Comcast is a despised company.
Now we have another tale of its treachery and the tentacles have intertwined a “large, prestigious accounting firm.”
Late on Friday, Bloomberg reported that Express Scripts was suing Ernst & Young and a former E&Y partner for "theft of trade secrets and misappropriation of the pharmacy benefit manager’s confidential and proprietary data." Which is really just a very nice of saying "corporate espionage." And perhaps not surprisingly, the partner in question, Don Gravlin, wasn't […]
Okay, we're in the aftermath of Sandy and while I cruised around on my bike in sunny Colorado and Adrienne had to round up a single bucket for her leaky ceiling in Richmond as the storm came through, those of you from DC to Philly to NYC to Boston were caught up in the worst […]
At least that's what we were told! It was just a copy and paste job so there's no official Reznickness on it but reading through it, you get the sense that this was definitely what the big man sent out: Reznick Group, J.H. Cohn LLP Announce Merger New Firm Will Be The 11th Largest […]
The problem is that you can't really do that. The stunt backfired when Philip Lawrence took Robert Fitzpatrick to court, arguing that it is illegal to pay off debts higher than £10 with coins. Mr Fitzpatrick, 24, ended up with a £1,118.62 bill after a judge ruled that the delivery was unacceptable. Okay, unacceptable. Strange? Duh: […]
As CPAs and capital market servants, you are all acutely aware that that serving clients to the best of your ability is priority numero uno. Forget your family and friends. Forget your pets. Forget your beloveds. Clients complete you in ways that those other people/animals can't possibly understand. Sure, there is the occasional event that wouldn't allow […]
Do you have needy clients? You know the type – they want to talk to you when every little thing goes wrong. They call to chit-chat for no reason in particular. They need your opinion on EV-ER-Y-THING. How are you responding to these people? Are you not returning their calls? Are you showing up late to your meetings with them? Do you just listen passively on the phone while repeating, “Uh, huh. Yes. I understand,” as you struggle with level 6-13 on Angry Birds? THOUGHT SO.
Well, they’re on to you. They sense your lack of interest. Your lack of giving a rat’s ass. And you know what? They are FED UP. There are plenty of CPAs out there that would love a client like them and MAYBE they’ll just go out and find one:
“Business is out there, but you have to market yourself differently,” [Allan Koltin, chief executive of Koltin Consulting Group] said, noting that one out of seven accounting firm clients are not happy with their accounting firm and are open to switching firms.
He urged attendees to spend time learning the personal goals of their clients. Among the factors affecting a client’s decision to leave an accounting firm, fees were ninth on the list, he indicated. “The number one factor was that the firm didn’t spend enough time with the client.”
“They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” he said.
Got the message? They aren’t going to put up with your shit forever.
As we do from time to time around here, we pick up some chatter from our British sister site to see what’s going on in the Old Empire. Today we learn that some Brits have really taken to slobbing around in their pajamas in places not thought appropriate.
Let’s see what’s troubling our accounting brethren across the pond:
Where I live (and as I understand it, nationwide) there is currently a growing backlash against people wearing pajamas in unsuitable circumstances (mostly while picking their kids up from school or while doing their weekly shop), specifically people refusing to serve them or asking them to leave the premises.
Obviously(?) none of us would meet with clients in our pjs as even the most relaxed accountant would at least wear smart casual for a client meeting I’m sure, but what if a new client came to you for their initial meeting in their pjs, would you refuse to act for them?
For the sake of discussion, assume they are fully clothed in bottoms and tops, not in negligie or short nightdresses.
Here in the States, most of us ditch the sweats in public after getting out of college but their are obvious exceptions (like our friend to the right). But it’s not that unusual for your more affluent clients to get more comfortable being comfortable wherever they go. This means ignoring societal norms. Like pants. Or only being sober for a couple hours a day. But forget all that for now; we’re focusing on sleepwear. So, then – if a successful entrepreneur walks into a meeting rocking Winnie the Pooh jammies with the footsies, are you offended? Do you throw him/her out and demand they come back “and act like a professional!” or “after you pull yourself together!” or “when you rejoin society!”?
Or do you keep a seersucker robe or kimono handy in a desk compartment specifically for these scenarios? Discuss.
Yesterday, prior to today’s excitement regarding Satyam and PwC, PCAOB Chairman James Doty spoke at the The Council of Institutional Investors 2011 Spring Meeting and he had some interesting things to say about the audit profession, specifically that auditors don’t always remember that “protecting investors” ≠ “client service”:
Time and time again, we’ve seen services that might be valuable to management reduce the auditor’s objectivity, and thus reduce the value of the audit to investors. While management may need the services, they just don’t have to get them from the auditor.
Audit firms call this “client service,” and it makes things terribly confusing. When the hard questions of supporting management’s financial presentation arise, the engagement partner is often enlisted as an advocate to argue management’s case to the technical experts in the national office of the audit firm. The mortgaging of audit objectivity can even begin at the outset of the relationship, with the pitch to get the client.
Consider the way these formulations of the audit engagement that we’ve uncovered through our inspections process might prejudice quality:
• “Simply stated we want management to view us as a trusted partner that can assist with the resolution of issues and structuring of transactions.”
• We will “support the desired outcome where the audit team may be confronted with an issue that merits consultation with our National Office.”
• Our audit decisions are “made by the global engagement partner with no second guessing or National Office reversals.”
Huh. Doty doesn’t name names but you could easily interpret those statements as one made by a client advocate, not a white knight for investors. He continues:
Or, to demonstrate how confusing the value proposition could be even to those auditors who try to articulate it:
• We will provide you “with the best, value-added audit service in the most cost effective and least disruptive manner by eliminating non-value added procedures.”
(What is a “non-value added procedure”? Whose value do you think the claim refers to? If a procedure is valuable to investors but doesn’t add value to management, will it be scrapped?)
In other words, “we promise that we won’t be pests” and “value” will be a game-time decision. And finally:
Or, consider this as a possible audit engagement formula for misunderstanding down the road:
• We will deliver a “reduced footprint in the organization, lessening audit fatigue.”
(What is “audit fatigue”? Does accommodating it add value to investors? How should investors feel about a “reduced footprint”?)
Yes, what is “audit fatigue”? Is that what happens to second and third-year senior associates every February/March? Or is this better articulated by “we know audits are annoying and our hope is that we won’t annoy you too much.”?
Taking this (the whole speech is worth a read) and everything else that happened today into account, it will be interesting to hear what Mr Doty has to say at tomorrow’s hearing.
The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.
During the tax season of 1995-1996, Norm Lorch was not feeling well. He had a sore throat, but told himself it would go away. In any case, he did not have time to go to a doctor.
Lorch is principal of Owings Mills, Maryland-based Norman J. Lorch, Chartered, a firm that assists contractors, accountants, and attorneys in areas unique to government contracts.
Eventually, he spoke with a doctor on the phone who prescribed antibiotics – two weeks on and off – but he still did not feel much better. At one point, Lorch passed out, but he told himself that he had tripped on something, picked himself up, and went back to work.
While attending an American Bar Association conference, Lorch met a friend who would be conducting the session he was planning to attend. The friend told him in “pretty clear English” how he looked and said he needed to see a doctor. Lorch said no, but the friend insisted, saying that if Lorch didn’t call a doctor, he would stop the session.
Lorch set up an appointment for the next day. The doctor’s diagnosis was strep throat and made an appointment with a cardiologist for the following Monday. At first Lorch said “No, I have to go to Chicago,” but eventually he acquiesced. The strep had settled in Lorch’s aortic valve and destroyed it, causing congestive heart failure. He was given three to five days to live if he did not have immediate surgery.
“This is a crazy profession. Accountants are nuts. We work ourselves to death. I had allowed my clients to be the most important thing in my life. I didn’t listen to anybody,” Lorch told AccountingWEB.
“Making a few bucks less won’t kill you. When you are tired, quit. When you don’t feel good, stop working. Yes, some clients may leave, but they are going to find someone else if you die,” he said.
“I made a lot of money that year and eventually earned a penalty for underpayment of estimated taxes. I called the Internal Revenue Service to explain, spoke with a supervisor, and she said, ‘if you receive another penalty notice have them contact me.’
“Now, my priorities are my health and my family. My daughter had to leave college during her exams because of my medical condition, and I nearly missed her graduation. My clients can wait, and those that can’t wait can go. When you remember what comes first, everything else will fall in line,” Lorch said.
“When I teach, I tell everybody about this and what stress can do to your health because if I can help one person, it is worth it. I persuaded the moderator at an AICPA tax conference to allow me to speak to a group of 50 or 60 people when I wasn’t scheduled. As we were leaving, one man said, ‘Thank you very much. I am going to the hospital,’ Lorch said.
Since his illness, Lorch has lost weight and is careful what he eats. He walks five to seven days a week for one and a half miles. When he doesn’t feel well, he calls his doctor.
A specialist in financial oversight, compensation, and administration of U.S. government prime contracts and subcontracts, Lorch travels at least 50 percent of his working hours, but now plans travel with his health in mind. “I try to extend the hours, spreading two days of work over three.”
BKD Partner Found Dead at His Office
Fancy yourself a savvy investor? Are you starting a new hedge fund? Need a professional services firm to cater to your every whim so you can concentrate on creating the next shop to be lovingly mocked by our sister from another mister?
SOLUTION: Deloitte’s global full-service hedge fund emerging manager platform. Never heard of it? Of course not! It’s a brand-spanking new platoon in the asset management practice that is just rolling out Project KATN circa now:
“In today’s environment, emerging managers need recognized industry heavyweights for professional services. Deloitte has launched the hedge fund emerging manager platform to provide emerging managers with a solution that offers access to our global network, and customized, creative and responsive service,” said Cary Stier, vice chairman and Deloitte’s U.S. asset management services leader. “If you launch with Deloitte, you stay with Deloitte. A client cannot outgrow our services. Deloitte delivers results that matter.”
And because Deloitte already has “70 percent of U.S. hedge funds with more than $20 billion in assets under management, and 75 percent of global hedge funds with more than $20 billion in assets under management,” they figured that it was about time they started thinking about the little people-cum-hedge fund managers out there. You aren’t going to turn your tiny flagship fund into a behemoth without some help, so why not go with the firm that already schleps for most of the big boys?
So when shopping around for your indentured professional servants budding hedgies, Deloitte’s HFEMP (?) will have you know that they will be there with you every step of the way. From the time you realize your ginormous fortune (pet jungle cats, gold-plated toilets, etc.) to the spectacular implosion (incessant posts by BL, perp walk).
What have you done for your clients lately? Worked through the night to meet a big deadline? Great job. Attended a bar mitzvah? That’s nice. Saved them oodles of dough by navigating a tricky divorce? You’re a rock star.
But until you’re willing to part with a kidney (or better), you’re a basically a chump compared to Jeff Waters.
You see, Jeff likely does everything that most CPAs do – bend over backwards for idiot clients; helps them deal with nosy IRS agents; explains why an incompetent Congress is likely to bungle the estate tax and so on and so forth.
But when his clients, the Fitzgeralds, were in one day chit-chatting about 1099s, a more serious problem (failing kidney serious, not heart attack serious) came up:
The week before standing in Waters’ office, the Fitzgeralds were told a kidney was available for [their daughter] Kelly, but at the last minute, the transplant had to be cancelled because the kidney turned out to be damaged.
“I thought, any problem I have pales in comparison to something like that,” Waters remembers. “I told (Fitzgerald), ‘I can’t even imagine you’re here today doing taxes when something like that happens.'”
Fitzgerald told him, “Well, we just learned to never get our hopes up. We just need to find another B positive donor.”
“That’s when it clicked,” Waters said. “I knew from my LifeSource Donor Card that I was B positive.”
And you can take it from there. Of course Jeff gave his kidney away. All he had to do was put on a cape and re-re-convince some pushy medical staff, “Waters says medical staff repeatedly told him not to feel pressured to go through with the transplant,” and like we said, he went under the knife and made it happen.
We realize not everyone is jumping at the opportunity for voluntary surgery and some are bound by religious whathaveyous but just think about it. Do you really need two kidneys?
Wheaton Accountant Does Taxes, Donates Kidney for Client [Wheaton Patch]
Sometimes the reason for your firm getting the boot is pretty obvious and other times it isn’t. Fortunately for you, Tom Hood over at CPA Success lists the top seven reasons that your clients drop you like a sack of rocks and it sounds like the “It’s not you, it’s me” routine:
1. My accountant (CPA) doesn’t treat me right (two-thirds of the responses).
2. CPAs ignore their clients.
3. CPAs fail to cooperate.
4. CPAs let partner contact lapse.
5. CPAs do not keep clients informed.
6. CPAs assume clients are technicians.
7. CPAs use clients as training ground for new staff.
#1 seems a little vague (feel free to elaborate) to us but we’ve definitely seen 2 – 7 in action. We’d go so far to say that #4 and #7 are a little low on the list but that’s just our $0.02. Smaller clients, especially, want just a tiny bit of partner love every once in a while — lunch, bagels, anything! — but sometimes they’re lucky if they get a Christmas card.
Plus there are some clients that hate nothing more than an engagement team that turns over year after year. There’s nothing more annoying than answering the same questions every year by a different 22 year old accountant.
If you’ve got thoughts on, or additions to, the list drop them in the comments and discuss your client dissatisfaction experiences.