How often do you visit other accounting firms? Many firm associations, when holding a meeting in a city where a firm member is located, often arrange for the attendees to visit that firm’s office in a guided presentation. The Practical Accountant editorial staff also periodically visits accounting firms, and the payoff for us, and also ultimately for our readers, is astounding. The last firm that we visited was Weiser in New York City, and the result was the same.

No matter how much we talk to and electronically communicate with firm members or peruse firms’ Web sites, we don’t really get the true flavor of a firm. When we visit, we get to actually see the many aspects of how a firm operates. This begins with the reception area and how we are greeted, what is displayed both in terms or art work, plaques, awards, and accessories, as well as the reading and firm material available. You then come in contact with staff and their working environment. Attendance at audit prep and tax group meetings gives us a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the firm. But the best time for us is when we meet the managing partner, usually another partner, and the marketer, where we get an insider’s view of the culture and the management philosophy. The off-the-record comments provide us with remarkable insight.

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