Archive | May 2013

Do you have what it takes?

Do you have what it takes to become the next big thing? Now, I know you’re thinking of course I do! SuperheroWhy would you ever have any doubts then read on my friend, read on.   Now for those of you who are still on the fence and trying to determine if blogging is right for you then keep reading and maybe I might just make it look easy enough to try. One thing I know for sure is marketing to the masses continues to evolve and no matter what channel it’s communicated through it’s always a wild ride.  Have no fear; if I can do it so can you!

 Step 1 – Getting started and finding your voice

The number one rule when starting a blog is you MUST grab the reader’s attention within the first few sentences. You can achieve blogging superstardom through a variety of ways. You can write a catchy opening paragraph or add cool interactive features such as pictures, bullet points and videos.  The key importance of these features is to break up the writing and make it pleasing to the eye as well as engage the reader in additional content if they want to explore.   The second most important rule is to write about what you know.  People want to read witty, informative and entertaining post not some drawn out and boring drivel on a topic that may be somewhat new to you.  Not to say that blogs featuring the trials and tribulations of learning something new or forging a new path are not entertaining because they can be, I’m just saying that the best blogs are the ones that feature a compelling story.

Step 2 – Don’t be a quitter

I admit there is nothing more annoying than finding a blog you love only to realize it hasn’t been updated in ages.  The best rule of thumb is to update regularly, and check back frequently for comments.  One of my favorite blogs The Anonymous Accountant has been around for years and the last update I could find was back in 2010.  Seriously, have you seen the enormous following that blog has?  Why would you ever let that kind of talent die?  So many questions so little time, all I can say is don’t be a quitter; your legions of fans will thank you later.

Step 3 – Engage the audience and expand your readership

Ok, so now you’re a blogger – how do you become a superstar?  I thought you would never ask!   First you need to understand your consumer, figure out where they like to hangout and advertise.  Advertising your blog can be simple but requires dedication and consistency to the cause.  You can direct traffic to your blog via a few social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or the old fashion way such as word of mouth and emails, among others.  Yes, people do communicate in person and no, email hasn’t gone the way of the dinosaur…yet.

Step 4 Have fun

Have fun, enjoy what you do and your readership will follow.   Who knows maybe I’ll be following you someday?

Additional resources:

Check out Dan Rickershauser’s blog: “10 best practices for corporate blogging” – His blog provides great additional content on best practices.

Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff – A must read for any new social media diva and features “a case study framework for harnessing the wild world of social applications for business.”

Social media, a risky business?

social_media

The accounting industry faces many challenges today, many of those challenges center around security and the risk of unwanted disclosers of sensitive and confidential information.  As any good accountant would tell you we are entrusted with hundreds if not thousands of confidential financial documents on a daily basis. Honestly you wouldn’t believe the stuff I see, everything from medical records, divorce decrees, death certificates and other legal documents disclosing who gets what in an inheritance or business disagreement.  Just when you think you know someone, trust me follow the money and it might surprise you.  To summarize my point, the key to providing great client service is to provide a service that meets the mobile needs of your client while remaining easy to use, convenient and secure while also making your life a little easier.  Overall, social media is here to stay so deal with it! The best way to manage this emerging issue is to develop a plan to monitor, control and secure such data in order to mitigate the risk associated with it.  Sounds simple enough right? Now the hard part, what next?

Legal aspect

Ok, so now what can you disclose, what’s legal and can you define grey area?  Good question! The funny part is our regulators seem to be debating the same question.  In an attempt to fill the void, our laws and statutory regulations continue to evolve but they only seem to be creating more questions than answers.  A great example of how the industry is changing is a legal case involving Netflix.  Netflix stirred controversy with the SEC’s regulatory agency when CEO Reed Hastings disclosed on Facebook that “viewing on Netflix’s streaming service had exceeded 1 billion hours for the first time” in June 2013. (see Bloomberg article below)  This short and simple expression was immediately picked up and scrutinized by the SEC regulatory agency.   Who knew Netflix could be so controversial?  The end result was a social outcry and eventually the SEC reversed course and instead issued additional guidance letting companies use social media to communicate financial information, although limited.  Many investors were upset at this ruling as they were concerned about the additional risk shareholders would face with information disclosed in such a way.

For further information, check out a great article on the subject at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-11/netflix-lists-facebook-twitter-as-media-sources-for-disclosures.html

Public image

The next big issue facing accounting firms today is maintaining a great public image.  As I have been told again and again, what is said among others reflects upon the firm and impacts future growth.  I know last year our firm did a virtual sweep of the office and Googled several random employees to inspect their “social presence”.  Scary right, whew glad I passed that test!  The firm was simply trying to figure out how it wanted to expand and transform itself into a social super power but for the young staffers it was a real wake up call to remove any pictures of crazy all-nighters or weird off-color postings, not that I had any of course.

Maintenance

Bring in the storm troopers!  Ahh the IT guy (or girl) how could we live without them! They remind me of the old song from that movie, what was that… oh yea Ghost Busters.  Ok sing it with me, “who ya going to call when the world gets crazy”?  The IT guy that’s who!  Ok, kidding aside the security aspect of keeping millions of financial documents safe is actually quite a feat.  Not only does it require constant maintenance from the trusty tech people but it cuts deep into the budget as well. Having backups are essential for peace of mind and it is truly scary to think that one click could potentially wipe out a years’ worth of work.  That reminds me when was the last time you backed up your documents?

ghostbusters

Are you mobile?

Citrix

The life blood of an auditor their constant companion and travel buddy is by far the lonely computer.  I marvel at how life was possible without a laptop.  Believe me I have heard many war stories from the more “seasoned” players about the finer points of a good wheelie cart and/or quality bag that can handle such weight.  As the story goes before the age of mobile computers, with their glorious virtual files, the new staff or those with the lowest street cred were stuck hauling the luggage… ahem I mean files.  Every time I hear the tale, I am reminded again of my appreciation and fondness for my ever ready companion the mobile computer and amazing iPhone.  With the birth of the digital age, the accounting industry has changed drastically and in my opinion for the better.  A single accountant can now go to a job site, scan or swap hundreds of files digitally and complete a mountain of work in less time than you can say, Wow look at that amazing accountant!   The market is filled with various applications and software that promises to increase efficiency and improve client relations all in an attempt to create the world’s best super accountant.  I for one cannot determine if the world is ready for the next super hero but I know my firm would be lost without our Citrix applications.

Citrix, the greatest mobile cloud computing application since sliced bread.  Well maybe not the absolute greatest but Citrix is not only an application; it is a gateway into accessing additional information.  In a way Citrix allows the user to remotely access any desktop or server while providing a secure encrypted world to hold it.  I know I know, cloud computing has been around for a several years but lately it has truly blossomed into an amazing world just waiting to be used.   Citrix allows our staff to log into their email, calendar, regulatory software, and virtual filing systems all from the comfort of their mobile laptop computer.  On the backend our IT folks love it because it provides a secure method to hold our sensitive financial data.  This way if our laptop is ever lost or stolen all the files remain safe and sound on the server where only authorized users can access them.   One of the features I truly enjoy is the ability to run multiple platforms on one machine.  Now when I have my laptop open in the field, not only can I open the server and access my remote files but I can open more than one instance and have multiple file years open at the same time while running virtual email and scanning documents hurray!    Now are you ready to go mobile?

A Brave New World!

Your average modern day accountant, despite the stereotypical viewpoint is no longer chained to a desk surrounded by paperwork.  Although, from time to time we may encounter such misadventures it is truly a Brave New World out in the accounting industry.  So… I know what you’re thinking, how can an accountant operate in a cyber-world without facing intense privacy concerns or possible future legal entanglements?   Your right, these are all issues the accounting industry faces on a daily basis but our core principal is to help those with financial needs no matter what medium they may be presented on.

I know from personal experience that most accounting firms operate several public online profiles. The majority of these accounting profiles focus on advertising services followed by a description of the Firm as a whole and the resources available to those in need.  My post today will focus on two great social media tools and provide a quick overview of the benefits each has to offer.

linkedin2

 

One of the first reason I tried LinkedIn, as I’m sure many others can attest to, was my simple attempt to find a job.  As you may know, one of the top reasons people visit an accounting firm’s website is to first find a service and second to find a job, while the third is to communicate those needs and locate the firm in question.  LinkedIn is one of the largest and most popular online professional communities.  LinkedIn’s main purpose is to provide a medium for businesses and business professionals to locate and connect with other businesses and professionals.  LinkedIn promotes a clean professional image that helps to weed out clutter and focuses the Firms voice.  Accounting firms today use LinkedIn to endorse others in the field especially those that may assist in funneling business their way (i.e. Lawyers, Insurance appraisers, bookkeepers and small business associations), additional advantages are to promote current job openings, showcase connections to industry leaders and expand upon scholarly articles all in an attempt to grow the brand image.  LinkedIn also provides a place to connect and advertise each partner’s credentials and achievements. The more advanced sites will provide additional scholarly resources and “best practice” suggestions.  Overall LinkedIn is a great tool that can assimilate and organize the firm’s communications and creates an easily sharable resource across all social mediums.

twitter2

 

Twitter has transformed the modern day news media and ushered in a revolution that each individual can contribute and broadcast events much same as a news anchor would years ago.  The world no longer waits until 5 o’clock to sit around the TV waiting for the latest events to unfold. Twitter allows each individual to participate, at 160 characters or less, while reporting live and streaming content to the far reaches of the globe.  Never before have live “real time” conversations and group think tanks developed across the internet as is now possible through Twitter.  Now your neighbor could report live and within minutes have group discussions with like-minded individuals discussing the same events.   Take in point the recent situation in Boston and the manhunt that ensued.  The cyber detectives were a force to be reckoned with and as a result a debate developed about the security and safety of such future events.