PRACTICE MANAGEMENT OR MIND POSITIONING?
How disappointing it was to read the technology piece by Ted Needleman, "Practice management - when you have to know!" (Accounting Today, March 14-April 3, 2005, page 28).
I accept that Mr. Needleman's piece was "just" a technology review, but it reinforces the problems that we face, and which Bill Carlino highlighted in his own opinion piece, "Mind positioning CPAs," in the very same issue (page 6).
Far from maximizing billable time, my practice has soared since we started to bill none. I do not accept that the time I spend on my clients' affairs has anything to do with the value they receive. That's fortunate, because they don't either. I had a great idea for a client the other morning while swimming; I estimate it is worth tens of thousands of dollars to him. No timesheet at hand, how can I price for this example of expertise? (I am assuming Timeslips, et al., will not be putting effort into an underwater version?)
Our minds are, it seems, stuck in the wrong position. Shame, because our clients can choose where to spend their money, and technological assistance for us to do the wrong things more efficiently stops our minds from being where they should.
Four years ago, after reading Ron Baker's Professional's Guide to Value Pricing, our 10- person firm of chartered accountants moved swiftly to discussing the value of assignments with our clients, agreeing on a fixed price and payment terms - all before we did the work. Timesheets became superfluous, and our minds found a better (more client-congruent) direction. We hadn't been able to see this better solution for our clients by staring more intently at the irrelevant measurement that we had in front of us.
"America counts on CPAs" may be the American Institute of CPAs' new tagline, but what about what counts with the clients - results, not hours? Maybe the AICPA shouldn't be so quick to trash a tagline that at least mentions value. And maybe better ways to do the wrong thing - measure hours - should not be allowed to be called practice management!
Paul O'Byrne, FCA
O'Byrne and Kennedy LLP
Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, U.K.
A SALUTE TO MILLER & BAHNSON
This will be the shortest letter to the editor I have ever written.
To Messrs. Miller and Bahnson, for their article, "You say you don't like SOX?" (Accounting Today, April 4-17, 2005, page 12) - Bravo. Well said.
The truth at last.
The many pay for the misbehavior of a few, but what a powerful few.
The amazing thing is that the powers that be still don't get it. They should be reminded that the first step in a 12-step recovery program is to acknowledge one's mistakes of the past.
Harold L. Katz, CPA
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