Get professional

The Art of Managing Professional Services: Insights from the Leaders of the World's Top Firms

Wharton School Publishing; $34.99

The interesting thing about professional services firms is that their management is often anything but professional. While other businesses have been extensively studied and subjected to a flood of management theories, professional services organizations are relatively under-examined. The Art of Managing Professional Services aims to change that, with in-depth research with dozens of highly successful firms, including a number of high-profile accounting firms, to determine a set of best practices. Packed with specific takeaways, it should help you bring the same level of professionalism to managing your firm as you do to serving your clients.

Hook 'em young

The Inside Track to Careers in Accounting

AICPA; $73.75 ($59 for members)

Accounting oscillates between two image problems: When scandals are rife, the perception is that accountants are either negligent or corrupt; when times are good, the perception is that they're boring. Neither is accurate (or at least not wholly), but they are prevalent, which means the profession has to put its best foot forward to attract students and young employees. The Inside Track to Careers in Accounting is a good start - it's a clear, concise introduction to the profession, full of useful information to help potential CPAs decide if the field is right for them, and if it is, which career path to take, and how to follow it. It highlights some of the more exciting aspects of accounting without over-hyping them, and addresses some of the more pernicious myths about CPAs with good humor.

With advice like this ...

It's Okay to Manage Your Boss: The Step-by-Step Program for Making the Best of Your Most Important Relationship at Work

Jossey-Bass (Wiley); $23.95

We never get the advice we want. When we opened It's Okay to Manage Your Boss, we were hoping for a sort of corporate version of the Vulcan nerve pinch - a quick, painless way to get our boss out of our hair. Instead, we got an impeccably reasoned, multi-step program for handling all the different forms of mis- and under-management. It calls for us to be more disciplined and detail-oriented, to work harder, and to generallybe more professional. Making our boss better, it seems, starts with making ourselves better, which sounds like more work than we're prepared to do. Where are the nerve pinches and Jedi mind tricks?

No euphemism

Phased Retirement in the New Economy

Lorman Education Services; $159.20 (with WebCPA discount)

"Phased retirement" might sound like a euphemism for working until you drop dead at your desk, but it's a real and useful way to ease into the golden years, allowing employees to maintain some income, while employers hang onto their experience and knowledge. Like all good things, it is surrounded by a thicket of government rules and regulations, which this audio-conference and the associated manual cover in depth, from the applicable legislation and its impact on other employee benefits issues, to phased retirement's applicability and viability in the current economy.

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