Holidays — more specifically, time off during the holidays — are a sore subject around here. And for good reason. Other than mail carriers, accounting professionals are probably right up there as the folks who are expected to work come rain, shine, or celebration of the birth of baby Jesus. Sure, most people get Christmas […]
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We're off today, observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Since posting will be on the light side, you can drop questions or news you want to discuss in Open Items. The Accounting News Roundup will return tomorrow. If you'd like to receive it in handy email form, you can sign up here. Image: Wikimedia Commons
Don't say we never gave you anything. Should you have any to add, make your own or just leave it in the comments and we'll make it for you. Happy Holidays!
With the holidays fast approaching, what better way to celebrate the season than with a humblebragging press release about how you will be doing the right thing and giving your people a little much-needed time off: PwC is shutting down the firm between Christmas and the new year. Our gift of guilt-free downtime is more […]
If you are looking for gift ideas for accountants, we suggest you check this post by CPA Insider. If you are looking for gift ideas for accountants that you can't actually buy, you came to the right place. Here are just a few things we would have liked to see this holiday season for the […]
Forgive me for posting this too soon if in fact it is too soon but Christmas will be here before we know it so might as well get on this now. We're working on a Pinterest board of gifts for the accountant in your life (email us if you have one to add) but this […]
That's it for us, team. We'll be back with guns blazing on Tuesday. Have a safe holiday weekend and if you're feeling inspired, write something up and send it over. Just remember that Adrienne will be reading. Facebook’s stock should trade for $13.80 [MW] Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Stock Rises With Choice to Turn Down […]
Good morning capital market servants. I know the first day back from an epic holiday weekend is a tough pill to swallow, as many of you couldn’t bear the thought of returning to work today. And because some people like to prolong the agony by taking today off, I’ll do my best to take you back to last Friday. A McGladrey reader dropped this note after I checked out for the day.
The company leaders have recently rolled out this lean working platform [GC coverage here]. They are trying to say work smarter not harder. What most people think lean means though is “do more with less” which is trademark of this company. CE [Andrews] and Joe [Adams] talked on a webcast the other day and they were trying to rile us up. What for? So in the end, they can tell us “despite our great efforts there isn’t money for salary increases”.
CE and Joe and other leaders are all excited about letting the entire firm off at 3 p.m. Friday., July 1 for the weekend holiday WOW! Don’t get too crazy CE and Joe, not 3 p.m. on a Friday? Holy cow!
When Steve Tait was President [of RSM McGladrey] we would get two days off during the Fourth, but under new leadership we get to get off at 3 p.m. on Friday? What a deal. What work-life balance. No wonder we make Working Mothers top 100 each year. Oh and you know what, the firm took away summer hours too…all because they want us to focus on ongoing flexibility…and working lean, which means no one can take time off because departments are too lean.
It’s 3 p.m. now on Friday, and boy I am lucky to be off. Nevermind most employees checked out – officially or unofficially – a few days ago already. I am sure major accounting and tax deals are going down right now on this holiday weekend, but we were fortunate enough to get off at 3 p.m. What a joke!
I think I might get a small putting green cake to celebrate!
Many firms – we’ve confirmed PwC and KPMG – gave their employees last Friday off, which does make for a nice four day weekend. And our tipster is correct, early July is a pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay slow time of year for accounting firms so a 3 pm let-out for a Friday before the grandest, pyrotechnic digit-losing holiday of the year might feel like a slap in the face.
That said, if you’re so bent out of shape about it, why not use some PTO (God forbid!)? You’re completely in control of this situation, friend. You want an extra-long weekend? Make it happen. Expecting accounting firms to just hand you a four-day weekend is a little bitchy and you have no excuse if you have a grip of PTO banked. Don’t make the same mistake come Labor Day.
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.
The holidays: a nice, quiet time of year to enjoy with friends and family, while methodically preparing for the upcoming year and a busy tax season. The only problem is very few of us can afford to take off six weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year, let alone reduce our contact with customers and clients.
We interviewed a number of CPA firm leaders, from sole p rs at large firms, to get their take, advice, and best practices on how to best spend time during the holiday season, while effectively planning for the upcoming year.
Communicate and get face time with clients
The welcome lack of immediate deadlines and calm before the tax season storm provides a great opportunity to get in touch with your clients.
“Every year I tell my clients that the holiday season coincides with the upcoming tax season, and that it’s a good time to get in touch and see where things are financially,” said Mark Eiger, CPA, a New Jersey-based accountant. “One thing you don’t want after Christmas is an April 15th surprise!”
Gail Rosen, CPA, recommends an e-mail communication.
“During my downtime, I like to use the software package Constant Contact to send e-mail updates to clients, contacts, and friends. For example, one update every tax practitioner should consider sending this year is a reminder to their clients that they only have until December 31 to do a Roth conversion without income limits and with the option of spreading the income over two years for tax purposes,” Rosen said.
“The last issue you want is clients who are upset that you haven’t informed them of all their options – and the deadline now has passed. I find that when I send this e-mail update, many people reply back. This exchange creates business opportunities I otherwise would not have had,” she said.
Michael Cecere, a partner at Gray, Gray & Gray LLP, hits the road to get some face time with his clients.
“The holidays can actually be a pretty intense time period with a lot of face-to-face meetings,” Cecere said. “It’s a bittersweet time because we’re busy now, and busy after!”
Stay aggressive on business development
‘Tis a great season to be focused on marketing and networking, recommended James Guarino, a partner at Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, LLP. “This time of the year, we’re always meeting with clients and networking with our contacts, getting out into the public, and letting people know that we’re available if and when we’re needed.”
Cecere agrees. “The business development element never stops – it can’t take a back seat. We continue to attend networking events, conferences, seminars, and set up meetings. In addition, more companies are back to hosting holiday parties, so we’re becoming busier attending our clients’ parties.”
Self-improvement, continuing education
Most accountants agreed that the relative calm of the holiday season provides a good opportunity for conducting evaluations, performance reviews, and catching up on continuing education.
“We’re continually educating our staff, so at the end of the year, we conduct a lot of in-house training,” Guarino said. “We want to familiarize them with the software and tax systems they’ll use during the upcoming tax season.”
His firm, and others we spoke with, also dedicates a significant portion of time during November and December to evaluations and performance reviews.
Review of tax law
Guarino’s team also makes it a point to review current-year tax law and proposed tax law. “Clients want to know how to improve their tax situation – both for current and future years,” he said.
Steven J. Elliott, tax director at Schwartz & Company, LLP, does the same, saving “time for major tax planning opportunities for both business and individual clients in order to best advise them about year-end tax payments and other planning items, such as minimum IRA/retirement distributions, Roth IRAs, stock trading activity, and more.”
Recharge your batteries
Historically, the holiday season was a time to enjoy with loved ones, and generally chill out a bit; but that’s easier said than done in 2010.
“It’s tougher to disconnect now than ever before,” said Cecere. “Times have changed now that we’re plugged into e-mail 24/7. It’s a never-ending cycle because you’re always connected; the higher up the ladder you go, the greater pressure you’re under to respond quickly.”
Guarino’s firm makes it a top priority to remove as many obstacles as it can to enable employees to recharge their batteries. From October 15 until the beginning of December, they make it a point to take time off to reenergize.
Elliott agrees with this strategy. “Best of all, it’s a time when more family time/vacation can take place in and around the special projects. We need this time to recharge the batteries for the next busy season. And, although it is usually a quieter time, there is always something to do!”
About the author:
Brett Owens is CEO and co-founder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, CA-based provider of time-management software that accurately records and reports back how you spend your time. Previously marketed to only the legal community, Chrometa is branching out to accounting prospects. Gains include the ability to discover previously undocumented billable time, saving time on billing reconciliation and improving personal productivity. Owens is also a blogger and founder at ContraryInvesting.com, as well as a regular contributor to two leading financial media sites, SeekingAlpha.com and Minyanville.
Happy 4th of July capital market servants, tax wonks and accountants of all stripes. Get out there and make some bad decisions (responsibly of course!) this weekend. We’ll see you on Tuesday unless we get word of another good time gone wrong.
CIT Names Former Cerberus Exec CFO [FBN]
And your winner is Scott T. Parker.
IRS agent: Blagojeviches spent $400,000 on clothes [AP]
Is anyone surprised by this? “Next to their mortgage payments — $392,000 — their second-biggest payment from 2002 to nearly the end of 2008 was $205,000 on Tom James/Oxxford custom clothes, revenue agent Shari Schindler said.”
France Calls Google a Monopoly [Floyd Norris/NYT]
Couple Accused of Stealing $2M From Veterans [FN]
A couple of septuagenarians no less!
Researchers: Regions’ religiosity cuts down on accounting scandals [Nashville Business Journal]
Bible belt = less accounting scandals? Texas A&M says Hallelujah!
How Bad is the Budget Outlook? [TaxVox]
In a word: prettyfuckingbad.
Governor puts 200,000 state workers on minimum wage [Sacramento Bee]
In the battle between Sacramento and Albany for the most incompetent/corrupt/helpless state government, it appears that Arnie has kicked the efforts up a notch.
Some NY hedge fund execs may escape new tax [Reuters]
Speaking of Albany, the hedge fund manager tax that David Paterson & Co. were kicking around is as good as dead now that Hizzoner got a word in on the matter. Back to the drawing board.
Apple Acknowledges Flaw in iPhone Signal Meter [NYT]
How they got Steve Jobs to cave on this is anyone’s guess.
Study for the CPA exam: July is a testing month, so study up on whatever exam is hanging over your head. Your firm is giving you time off – stay sober for six of those hours and cram some knowledge.
Spend The Man’s money: Are you done with the CPA exam and now have an incentive check for doing so burning a hole in your madras shorts? Cash it in, treat yourself to something nice, and begin the b*tching about fulfilling upcoming CPE requirements.
Eat some meat: If you’re a lucky KPMG Kamper that already received your Omaha Steaks package, light up the grill and cook up a feast. (I hear outdated Becker CPA review books make excellent fire starters.)
Jump Start things early: E&Y, PwC, and Deloitte are all closed tomorrow and Monday (at least that’s the case in New York City), leaving Uncle Peat as the lone office stuck with just a three day weekend. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that…sucks? Skip out early, Kampers.
Click on the ads all over Going Concern. Come on, Caleb deserves your ad revenue.
Network you patriotic pants off: Holiday barbeques bring together both friends and strangers. Also be open to the possibility of talking shop with the acquaintances you meet; you never know when a job or new client opportunity will present itself.
Work on your resumé: Your resumé should always be updated; simple as that.
Spend time with family and friends: No, really. You public accountants work too hard and spend too much time together (yes, I’m referring to the romantic couplings occurring at Thursday night happy hours). Branch out and reconnect with your friends – you know – “those people” with 40 hour work weeks. They miss you. Plus, the tan-less look you’ve been rocking since busy season is so February’s look.
Share your plans or off-the-cubicle-wall ideas below. See you all on Tuesday. Cheers!
As we mentioned in the prelims, today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and we’re assuming that nearly all of you are serving clients today as opposed to enjoying a day off observing the holiday as you see fit.
While it may cause some bellyaching among the newbies, the more seasoned of you have come to accept the fact that because it’s busy season, you are expected to work today.
So let this function as the sounding board for your frustration or acceptance of working today while many are not. Since we’re feeling nostalgic, we’ll hang in there with you today (as long as possible anyway).