2017 summer reading for accountants

Published
  • June 11 2017, 3:26pm EDT
Here are 11 short(ish) reads for practitioners to take on a vacation – and come back charged up with new ideas.

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Here are 11 short(ish) reads for practitioners to take on a vacation – and come back charged up with new ideas.

The Perfect Firm: Your Playbook for Building a Perfect Accounting Business<BR> Rob Nixon; $99

You can’t point to the perfect accounting firm: It doesn’t exist. You can, however, read about it in this book, which is a compilation and distillation of all the things Nixon has seen individual firms doing right over the years. Gathered together in one place, they’re a great guide to deliberately building a strong practice, with a much-needed emphasis on the ways firms are going to have to operate differently to handle the challenges of the future.

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The Visible Firm Executive Guide<BR> Hinge Marketing; free for download

Your firm is probably very good at something. You know what it is, as do your staff and your clients. But does anyone else? This very short e-book makes the crucial point that accounting firms need to spread the word about themselves, to establish a market-wide reputation that makes potential prospects aware of the firm’s expertise long before the firm has had a chance to reach out to them. The more visible your firm is, the easier it is to find and retain clients (and staff), and the more you can charge for your work. (It's free to download.)

Being a Leader with Courage: How to Succeed in Your C-Level Position in 18 Months or Less<BR> Lee Eisenstaedt; $29.95

For every great leader we learn about in school, there are scores of mediocre ones we never hear of – because the simple fact is that leadership is hard, and rarely comes with a useful guidebook. This may be exception, as it takes a very practical approach to laying out the roadblocks to success as a leader, and then focuses on practical tips and strategies for making your tenure at the helm a success. And since the ideas are based on extensive research with successful business leaders, you know they’ve been tested in the real world.

Chief Value Officer: Accountants Can Save the Planet<BR> Mervyn King; $68

There can be no doubt that corporate financial reporting is changing – the question is, what is it changing to? This book suggests that one way it should change is by measuring far more “values’ than it currently does, moving far beyond traditional measures like costs and profits to integrate all sources of value in a way that empowers organizations towards sustainability. And as the title implies, it calls on accountants to lead the way. How often do you get a chance to save the planet?

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How to Become the Firm of Choice<BR> August Aquila and Robert Lees; $71

Like Rob Nixon, Aquila and Lees have worked with countless professional services firm, and have gleaned a host of great ideas and methodologies for making them better. They make a particular point of the importance of integrating and organizing the firm’s operations so that everyone is on the same page and working together to move it forward in a very competitive environment.

A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System<BR> T.R. Reid; $27

One of the premises of A Fine Mess is that we generally overhaul our Tax Code every 32 years – which means we’re due in 2018. With that in mind, the author travelled the world to look for good ideas to improve the giant mess that is our tax system. He returns with a bunch – but also notes the many obstacles in the way of root-and-branch reform.

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Easting Monster to a Money-Making Machine<BR> Mike Michalowicz; $27

Technically, this isn’t a new book – it’s a revised update of a 2014 release – but it was worth reading then, and still is: It up-ends the standard operating formula where profits are what’s left after expenses, which is all too often nothing. Instead, Michalowicz says that business owners (including your clients – and you) should take “profit first” and arrange their expenses on what’s left. It’s a deceptively simple idea, but it brings a clarity and rationality to running a business that allows strong ones to flourish early – and prevents weak ones from dragging their owners down with them.

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The Accountant’s Bad Joke Book<BR> Rick Telberg; $6.99

How many auditors does it take to change a light bulb?
I don’t know … how many did it take last year?
This slim volume hits all the high notes – and a number of truly low ones – to bring together the most groan-inducing jokes ever directed at or about the profession. Take comfort in the fact that The Lawyer’s Bad Joke Book (assuming there is one) is both much longer and much meaner – and share this one with your colleagues and your more forgiving clients.

The Inspiration Code: How the Best Leaders Energize People Every Day<BR> Kristi Hedges; $24.95

If you’ve noticed a leadership theme in this list, you’re not wrong: Figuring out how to lead people is a common preoccupation these days. And few areas of leadership are as mystifying as the ability to inspire people. Based on extensive research, this book aims to unravel that mystery by delving into the specifics of how inspiring people communicate with others. The end result is a primer of practical advice on how to engage with the people around you in a way that combines authenticity, passion, purpose and a willingness to serve others that leads them to serve your combined larger goals.

Accounting 101: A Crash Course in Financial Reporting<BR> Michele Cagan; $15.99

It’s become something of a cliché to say that business owners didn’t go into business to do accounting (or bookkeeping, or payroll, or what have you). And while it’s true that, say, the average baker doesn’t open a bakery just for the pleasure of maintaining a general ledger, the fact remains that a knowledge of the basics of accounting is a major plus for anyone running a business. With that in mind, we suggest that you give this book (written by a CPA) to your business clients for their summer reading.

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Trusted Advisors: Key Attributes of Outstanding Internal Auditors<BR> Richard Chambers; $24.99 (IIA members), $29.99 (non-members)

Institute of Internal Auditors president and CEO has released a follow-up to his 2014 members, Lessons Learned on the Audit Trail, and this time he’s focused on other people – specifically, all the professionals he’s known who were trustworthy, so he could figure out what they all have in common. While the book is aimed at internal audits (among other things, he surveyed 250 chief audit executives for their perspectives), it offers useful lessons for professionals throughout accounting, and beyond.