* The Succession Institute, LLC is not a CPA Firm

Keynote Speeches for CPA & Consultants

Posted: October 2, 2007 at 1:46 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

How to Pass the Torch without Getting Burned

Based on Bill’s book, “Securing the Future: Building a Succession Plan for your Firm,” this lecture focuses on how to structure and operationalize your CPA firm in order to best facilitate a smooth transition/succession to the younger leadership within the firm. Given the number of baby-boomer CPAs that will retire in the next 10 years, the shortage of management staff, the likely buyers’ market that will evolve, it is critical that each firm have a succession plan that they start following immediately. But successful succession is far more the by-product of implementing fundamental business practices than the legal issues and agreements. This session will:

  • Introduce the issues of Succession,
  • How the lack of strategy is causing firms to constantly spin with little momentum,
  • How the upside-down Pyramid is the root of the problems of many firms’ profitability,
  • How the gap in book size between partners creates a chasm that over time makes it difficult to keep the firm together,
  • Why the work queued-up on the floor often paralyzes the firm,
  • Why the phase “the stronger the partner, the weaker the firm” is true of most firms,
  • Review critical process and procedure that will help transition of leadership,
  • Building a business model that supports partners to managing double their book size in the next 5 years and triple the size in about 10 years,
  • Cover organizational models that best support succession,
  • What role should retired partners play and how should it be managed, and more.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 8 hours

 


Partner Compensation

The buzz word for the past decade around accounting firms has been “Accountability.”  While everyone seems to be talking about it, very few firms seem to be doing it.  And for accountability to work, it has to start with the partners.  This session will cover issues such as:

  • Why our current system to pay our partners is failing
  • Why tying retirement, compensation and ownership is a trap
  • How the individual firms’ model destroys accountability and locks in a very destructive partner pay system
  • The roles and responsibilities of partners and then the importance of getting them to act like partners,
  • Some basics required of any pay-for-performance system,
  • Why the managing partner alone needs a compensation stick over the partners,
  • A sample Partner Compensation Framework

By the end of the session, we will have walked through some of the most commonly found formulas as well as how to structure new formulas either around led or lag indicators.  Upon completion of our two hour session, we will have uncovered the necessary hurdles you have to address in order to create a dynamic partner compensation system that will easily change with your business.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 2 hours

 


Investing in Your Firm

This lecture is about what CPA firms should be doing to build an infrastructure that can sustain the organization over a long term. In too many firms, the partners are taking our more profits than the organization can really support — slowly letting the firm deteriorate. Some of the topics covered in this lecture include:

  • Create a plan for your organization.
  • Stop Milking the Cash Cow.
  • Verify that your Services Make Sense.
  • Improve you Business Development Processes.
  • Reverse the upside down pyramid.
  • Start managing your firm.
  • Maximize the role of your managers.
  • Start charging clients a fair fee for the work being done.
  • Align your compensation with your strategic plan.
  • Deal with the Real Infrastructure Issues.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 8 hours

 


Staff Motivation and Management

Our profession is suffering from a staffing crisis – we have more work than we can find people to do it. This situation won’t change significantly for about a decade. Therefore, we have to do a better job managing, retaining and motivating our staff. This session covers issues such as:

  • Present why the reversed pyramid is costing firms more than money
  • Talk about roles and responsibilities of managers and staff
  • How to implement accountability
  • How to create an environment that motivates your staff
  • Why you have to differentiate between technical and supervisory managers
  • Why part-time employees often cripple productivity,
  • Improving realization,
  • What to do to focus managers on training and development of staff.
  • Common areas of misfocus for managers
  • Characteristics of good leaders, and much more

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 2 hours

 


Positioning Your Firm to be the Succession Plan for other firms

With so many baby-boomers about the retire that do not have a succesion plan in place, in our opinion, you will soon be able to take over firms at a fraction of today’s market price. Take the time now to develop and formalize critical processes, operating procedures, governance, roles and reponsibilities, etc. so that you can seamlessly intergrate other firms into yours. This should situate you to easily double or triple your firm size as you position for firm to be the succession plan for others. This session will cover important issues like:

  • Management and Governance.
  • Performance Metrics.
  • Do all partners follow the same rules or does each partner or office set their own?
  • Does the Managing Partner set goals for each partner and hold them accountable to achieving their individual goals?
  • Can a partner run his/her business any way he/she desires?
  • How is Retirement Handled?
  • Do you have mandatory transition of ownership?
  • How does a transitioned partner (after transitioning ownership to the remaining partners) operate within the firm?
  • What does your compensation model look like?
  • What does your staffing model look like?
  • What is your Commitment to Training?
  • How do you ensure that partners are delegating the work?
  • What are you doing to transition client management responsibility to young people?
  • How are you fast tracking the development of your people?
  • What are the Deal Points?
  • Some General Market Metrics.
  • Structuring the Deal.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 3 hours

 


Firm Make-Over – Making Your Firm Attractive For Merger or Acquisition

With so many baby-boomers about the retire that do not have a succesion plan in place, in our opinion, too many firms will be up for sale/merger at the same time.  Simple Economics would dictate that this phenonomum will drive prices down.  So, it is important to do some fix-up, clean-up in order to make your firm as attractive as possible in order to give you a better chance of getting the price you were looking for.  This session will cover important issues like:

  • What is the buyer/mergor looking for?
  • The strengths and weaknesses of the buyer’s practice
  • Clean Up Your Operations
    • Performance Metrics
    • Business Model
    • Management and Governance
    • People Management and Development
  • Improving the Bottom Line
  • What is My Firm Worth?
    • What Firms Are Looking for?
    • What are the Deal Points?
    • Some General Market Metrics
    • How the Above Impacts Value?
    • How the deals are typically structured?

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 3 hours

 


Dealing with the Generational Issues within a CPA Firm

There is no question that every organization has to deal with and resolve many workplace issues that stem from generational differences. This discussion focuses on what some of those differences are, why the gap is smaller than we think, some steps we have to take to address them, and how three chasms get in our way of maintaining a clear perspective. The chasms are:

  • The Environmental Chasm,
  • The Revisionism Chasm, and
  • The Realism Chasm.

Once we understand the demographics and work environment changes that are taking place, we are much better positioned to put together challenges, expectations, benefits and work/life balance that will be appealing to employees of all ages.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours

 


Moving from Expert to Facilitator/Advisor

(based on Bill’s book Start Consulting: How to Walk the Talk)

In a time when traditional services are being squeezed by what the client is willing to pay, what our professional standards/legislation dictate that we do, and what our litigious environment is increasingly challenging, becoming our clients most trusted business (not just financial) advisor is one silver lining on a cloudy horizon. Businesses everywhere are asking new questions; instead of “how profitable are we,” questions focus more on “where will our profits come from tomorrow.” While we have the knowledge to provide this assistance, this session centers on augmenting and/or refining the skills required to effectively deliver these future focused facilitative/advisory services. Here are some of the session topics:

  • Watching non-verbal cues, like body language,
  • Asking the kind of open-ended questions that promote the client expounding on issues beyond traditional accounting problems,
  • The use of the global functions as an investigative technique,
  • Following the client’s lead by chaining questions around their topic,
  • Considering the technique money, time and skill as to how to approach and price the project,
  • Using the phasing technique in pricing/estimating,
  • Incorporating To-Do List planning into standard tool-kit, and
  • Learning to quantify the reasons for being hired.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 2 – 8 hours in a Lecture environment. In a lecture-role playing environment, this can be a 1-4 day skills building workshop.

 


Do I Have to Resort to the Bottle

The role of management has undergone rapid change. This session discusses how you can improve your ability to communicate and motivate those around you. Too often, we feel like we have done our job by working 9 or 10 hours a day, being technically competent and transmitting information when requested (“transmitting” being analogous to writing a note, putting it in a bottle, sending it out to sea, and assuming everyone got your message). Unfortunately, this just isn’t enough. The higher you are in management, the more your job is about leading a group of people, which requires:

  • the use of emotional intelligence,
  • an understanding of teamwork concepts, and
  • a heightened ability to communicate your plans and expectations.

Good communication and improved motivation starts with becoming more aware of the non-verbal queues you are sending, differences between the way men and women translate information, how status impacts messages, and much more.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 2 hours

 


Management on Purpose Instead of by Accident

This session will focus on a number of best practices that can quickly enhance what the partners take home.  In this session, we will discuss:

  • How the lack of strategy is causing firms to constantly spin with little momentum
  • The wrong stuff we are always searching for
  • How the upside-down Pyramid is the root of the problems of many firms’ profitability
  • Why you have to differentiate between technical and supervisory managers
  • Why our current system to pay our people is failing,
  • How you can improve realization, utilization and billing rates
  • How the gap in book size between partners creates a chasm that over time makes it difficult to keep the firm together
  • Why the work queued-up on the floor often paralyzes the firm,
  • Why the phase “the stronger the partner, the weaker the firm” is true of most firms
  • How technology is hurting the profitability of many firms,
  • Why part-time employees often cripple productivity,
  • How the unique talents of your retiring CPA partners are often the firm’s albatross, and much more.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 3 hours

 


Dealing with Problem People

In every firm there exists at least one “problem partner” and several “problem people.”  The real question is, “Why are these people problems for the firm?” Is it that they are bad employees? Are they a problem because they expect too much for what little they offer? Are these people ineffective as well as leaches on the firm’s resources? Or, is it that the firm has done such a bad job managing the issues, situations, expectations and enforcement of the partner/shareholder group that bad people are created and nurtured? This session looks at how to change the workplace so that you create an environment that minimizes — instead of maximizes — the spread of the bad people virus.

  • Talk about roles and responsibilities of managers and staff.
  • How to implement accountability.
  • How to create an environment that motivates your staff.
  • Present why the reversed pyramid is costing firms more than money.
  • Why you have to differentiate between technical and supervisory managers.
  • Why part-time employees often cripple productivity.
  • What to do to focus managers on training and development of staff.
  • Characteristics of good leaders, and much more.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 3 hours

 


Here We Grow Again

For years, all it took to build a successful practice was to perform quality work, especially when CPAs predominately performed a limited number of services (like tax, audit and financial statement preparation). Today, with more competition in the marketplace coupled with ever-expanding service offerings, each of us has to do a better job of promoting what we do, improving client satisfaction and actually living up to our mantra of being our “clients’ most trusted advisor.” This program looks at marketing from two perspectives; an active approach and a passive one. It is critical for firms to leverage both approaches to remain competitive, hold on to our existing clients and win our fair share of new clients. This session will include discussions such as:

  • What does “marketing” mean in a professional services firm,
  • How investing in the process of marketing can help propel your firm to the next level,
  • What are the essential marketing processes,
  • How to improve marketing execution,
  • Defining marketing expectations for all partners and staff.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 3 hours

 


Pitfalls to Avoid in Partner Agreements

The vast majority of CPA firms have partner agreements. However, most of them are created, executed and stuffed in the filling cabinet never to be seen again until one partner uses the agreement against another. This session focuses on ways to avoid common pitfalls encountered in partner agreements. We will discuss:

  • How to create a partner agreement that will limit surprises,
  • How the review process of the critical issues should take place,
  • Why partner agreements create a false sense of security,
  • The black hole that is created by tying retirement, compensation and ownership together,
  • Some essential issues to address in your agreement that are often overlooked until it is too late, and much more.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 2 hours

 


Selling without Feeling like a Salesperson

This is a review of the ingredients required to identify opportunity and convert client need into business without feeling like a salesperson (and staying true to our trusted advisor relationship). In order to sell traditional services, many times, anything short of spitting on your potential clients is adequate. Someone else sent you the business and someone else is requiring that the service you offer be done. However, with the growth of advisory and many niche services, the rules of the game are changing. No outside regulator is requiring your client to buy these new services. Therefore, an entire new persuasive skill set is required. It’s easy for us to walk into our clients’ offices and identify ways to improve operations. The problem occurs when we 1) tell them how much it will cost for us to provide assistance, and 2) try to convince them that now is the time to hire us. This session, which includes a number of exercises, will help you identify hot buttons, quantify the value of your involvement and fine-tune your business development skills.

Format of Session: Lecture or Lecture and role playing
Typical Duration: 1 to 2 hours in a Lecture environment. In a lecture-role playing environment, this can be a 1-4 day workshop

 


Developing Your Firm’s Marketing Plan

For years, all it took to build a successful practice was to perform quality work, especially when CPAs predominately performed a limited number of services (like tax, audit and financial statement preparation). Today, with more competition in the marketplace, coupled with ever-expanding service offerings, each of us has to do a better job of promoting what we do and why people should do business with us. This session focuses on developing a marketing plan to accomplish this and keeps in mind the delicate balance between the cost and expected benefit.

Format of Session: Lecture
Typical Duration: 1 to 2 hours