Going Cashless

My children are Millennials and Generation Zers and they simply do not carry cash.  OK, maybe it’s better to say they rarely carry cash. And don’t even bring up the subject of checks.  At least they know what cash looks like and understand how it is used.  Checks are included in the same category as records (I mean the old vinyl LPs) and Atari game systems.  Quaint remembrances of the past that have no use whatsoever.  They do their banking on-line, their paychecks are transferred to their bank account via ETF, they transfer money to each other through apps, and they pay for everything with plastic: either a credit card, debit card or gift card. When grandma sends them one of those quaint checks, they use an on-line app to deposit the funds; no need for an ATM, and heaven forbid having to set foot inside a bank branch. Of course the use of physical “plastic” is even becoming a last resort with more and more of those transactions occurring through a virtual card on a phone or attached to an online account.

This lack of cash and checks is providing some unique risks and opportunities to aspects of our society that are going to have to change or die.  Here are a couple examples.

Houses of Worship – simply passing the basket won’t work anymore. If people don’t carry cash or write checks how will they put anything in a basket?  Part of the solution is automated giving online. Members may be willing to set up recurring automated transfers, but not everyone will want to set up a recurring payment or enter a lot of information (name, address and credit card information) to make a donation.  These institutions will also need a way for people to make a quick painless donation – like dropping cash in a basket.  There are already ways to do that today.  Set up your institution on those money transfer apps or go even further and set up a process for people to be able to donate via text if they are set up to do that.

Children – the days of giving your child a weekly cash allowance or paying cash for chores around the house are coming to an end.  The question is what will take its place.  Will they have bank accounts?  Will they simply have money in on-line accounts like Paypal or other yet to be invented services?  I don’t know where they will store their cash, but to access it they will need some type of “connected device.”  Today those are cell phones, tablets and PCs; but with the technology advancements coming will they simply carry around a card that “has money on it?”  I don’t know, but with Millennials starting to have kids reaching allowance age, I think there is money to be made for someone who can solve the cashless problem for allowances.

There are many more aspects that need to be thought about. Garage sales, lemonade stands and donations to the homeless are just a few.  Maybe the answer is that hard currency does have a place for such transactions and Millennials will just need to adapt, but somehow I don’t see the adapting occurring on that side the ledger.

What do you think?

The Upside-Down View of Leadership and Why You Should Care by TXCPA2B blogger Jacob Walker

When you think of a leader, what comes to mind? What about a boss? If these two terms are not synonymous in your vocabulary, then the remainder of this post is for you.

Imagine two scenarios:

  1. You show up to work only to be yelled at by a superior demanding that certain tasks get done in an unreasonable amount of time. There is no appreciation when you meet their extreme expectations, and you feel like you have been stuck in the same position for too long.
  2. Your boss asks how projects are going and asks if there is any way they can lend a hand. Not only do they go out of their way to provide assistance, but they make sure you have all the tools necessary to reach your full potential.

These might sound like two extremes, but scenario 1 exists far too often. There is one simple way to revolutionize how you lead which creates an environment where everyone thrives. This is done through something called servant leadership. Most people view leaders as someone who is at the top and commands people below. Servant leadership flips that idea around and puts the leader on the same level as his subordinates getting the work done with them. The boss from scenario 2 embraces this idea and lets it show in how he directs his employees.

In my six years of employment working various jobs, I have experienced both forms of leadership. A scenario 1 boss creates an environment of hostility and fear in the workplace. Not only do employees dread coming to work, but they are motivated to only put in enough effort to get the boss off their back. A scenario 2 boss creates a warm and trusting environment that employees love. Not only do they look forward to work, but they want to go above and beyond because their boss leads by example.

The beauty of servant leadership is that it does not stop there. One of my favorite quotes is from Todd Wagner. He says, “Great men use power to serve others.” Part of being a servant leader is not just leading by example, but it is using your available resources to ensure that your employees are maximizing their potential and advancing in their careers. If you master this skill as you move up the corporate ladder, there will be no limits.

This idea of leadership is easy to grasp but much harder to put into practice. As a student myself, it is something I constantly strive for because acting as an effective servant leader is not something that happens overnight. I know that if I begin trying now, it will come much easier when I do start off in my career.

Now think of the best boss you have ever worked for; do you see any similarities between how they lead and how a servant leader acts? Perhaps you can think of a terrible boss who does the opposite of what servant leader does. Regardless of which category your superiors fall under, understand that servant leadership is the golden standard. When you put it into practice, you will soon realize that it is a challenging and humbling experience. However, the quicker you adopt the upside-down view of leadership, the better off you will be.




New Job

By now, many of you have figured out I moved to a new job as an Audit Director at AT&T.  The first question I get asked when people find out I have a new job is did AT&T ask you to move or did you ask to move.  My answer is always, “yes.” Moving to a new job provides me an opportunity to learn new skills, reacquaint myself with things I have done in the past and see parts of AT&T I didn’t get to see much of as the Accounting Policy Director.  It also allows AT&T to develop skills in others – my replacement was a promotion from within my old group – and create a deeper bench of talent for the future.  I spent seven years in the Accounting Policy job which was the longest I ever spent in a single job at AT&T.  Twenty-five years, nine jobs (before my latest move) – you can do the math and see that my tenure in the policy job was three times the length of my average tenure in a job at AT&T.

That was really too long in a single job, but it happened for a variety of reasons including the release of significant new standards and the merger with DirecTV right when I would have looked to move.  That meant it was better for AT&T for me to stay in the position; and because I enjoyed the work so much, who was I to argue?   Now, we’ve worked through most of the technical accounting issues on the significant new standards, even if we haven’t fully implemented them yet; so it was as good a time as any to move on.

The next question I get is why would AT&T move you; you’re so good at accounting policy?  I appreciate the compliment, but buried in that statement is also an implied comment that no one else can do the job as well as me.  I don’t believe that for one second.  No one is irreplaceable, and I never figured I was.  In fact, I don’t want to be irreplaceable because that means I’m also unmovable.  That means I can’t take that next great opportunity within the company when it comes along.  I made sure that members of my team could replace me (there was more than one that could, which in a nice way made the decision on who to replace me with hard). In fact, the proudest part of my move to a new job was seeing someone I had worked with for seven years promoted to take over the leadership of the policy group at AT&T.

Replacing someone, however, does not mean you have to do everything the way that person did.  The advice I gave my successor was don’t try to be me.  I was not perfect; there were things I could have done better or differently.  So I told her, be yourself and build on the organization you inherited in your own way.   Your areas of focus may be in parts of the job that needed more attention that I could or was willing to give.  That is the benefit of moving people around.  It provides a fresh perspective on the work and hopefully makes the organization even better.

While I was never bored in dealing with all of the technical accounting issues – there was always another challenge – I was becoming jaded in some ways.  My new job will let me look at new and different issues with a fresh set of eyes.  Just the thought of that is invigorating.  And that is what I love about working for a company like AT&T.  When I move on to a new job, it’s not just the same job at a different company.  It’s a new job with different challenges.  And even better, I get to keep all my tenure.

What emoji would you be?

If you ever text, then you know that emojis are a key part of communication today.  If you haven’t ever texted anyone, an emoji is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

Any of various small images, symbols, or icons used in text fields in electronic communication (as in text messages, e-mail, and social media) to express the emotional attitude of the writer, convey information succinctly, communicate a message playfully without using words, etc.

I use several emojis in both my company’s internal messaging system when communicating with co-workers as well as my texts to family and friends outside of work.  Like ordering the same dish at your favorite restaurant, I might try out a new emoji now and then, but I tend to go back to a few tried and true emojis most of the time.  They are fun and convey a lot of meaning without having to type words.  In looking at the ones I tend to use most often, they represent my sarcastic streak, which fits because I tend to use sarcasm once I get to know people a little better; and I tend to only text with people I know a little better than most.

That got me thinking.  I wonder what emojis people would use to describe me.  Even better, I wonder what emojis each of the following groups of people would use to describe me:

  • My professional colleagues
  • My peers at work
  • My current and former team members at work
  • My boss
  • My family

I wonder if they would use similar emojis to describe me or if they would use different ones?  If I’m consistent with the way I deal with people then they should be similar, but if I’m not then who knows.  The real problem would come if my boss says I’m 😇 (an angel); my staff says I’m 😡 (red hot mad) ; and my peers say I’m 😳 (a deer in the headlights).

I probably need to a customized emoji to be described – maybe one with a halo, horns and a bunch of juggling balls.  At least that is how I hope people would describe me.  If not, maybe I need to think a little more about why I’m perceived differently than I want to be perceived.

Maybe you should think about how this all applies to you as well.

Be From or Be At

There are lots of articles and books on how to retain your employees in your organization these days.

  • Give them work schedule flexibility.
  • Make sure you have the latest, coolest tools and gadgets.
  • Have a good benefits package.
  • Make sure your company is seen as making a positive impact on the world.
  • Give them the right training and opportunities to advance their career.
  • Make it fun – group outings, game areas, whatever it takes.
  • Pay a good salary.

But all of those things are not enough.  There are a lot of companies out there people want to go to work for because they think the name will look really good on a resume.  And I agree it must work, because I see certain company names on resumes and immediately give the potential employee a lot of credit.  But the more I looked at resumes, the more I realized I was seeing a lot of people who used to work at those supposedly prestigious companies; and I started thinking, why did all these people used to work at those companies instead of still work at those companies.  Then I started noticing that a different set of companies kept coming up when I got those “congratulate Sue for her 5th or 10th anniversary at the same company” notices from LinkedIn.

So I started thinking.  Which company – or organization within a company – do I want to be part of?  The company that everyone wants to be from or the company everyone wants to be at?

Which do you think is better?

Replace Yourself by Guest Blogger Susan B. Anders, Ph.D., CPA, CGMA

First the good news: Texas is the best state for accounting positions, with a 16% growth in the number of accounting jobs between 2009 and 2016, and the highest cost-of-living adjusted entry-level and mid-level salaries, and a tie with Delaware for the high-level salaries. (Accounting Principals Blog, August 25, 2016)  Accounting salaries are expected to continue to rise, especially for accountants in industry. (Journal of Accountancy News, August 30, 2016) Here’s the 2017 Robert Half Salary Guide for detail by position.

Now the bad news: although demand is strong, studies indicate there are not enough accountants, new hires or experienced, to meet the demand, especially as baby boomers retire. (Going Concern, “The State of Accounting Recruitment and Talent Shortages in 2017”) Here is the AICPA’s full report: Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and Demand for Public Accounting Recruits (2015).

Calling all CPAs: think back—who influenced your decision to become an accountant and a CPA?  In my case, it was four practicing CPAs—all with different career paths, all enthusiastic about their jobs, and all encouraging me to study accounting and become a CPA.  Although my accounting professors were great, it has usually been practicing accountants who influenced my career—including my decision to pursue becoming a professor.

Has the profession been good to you?  Don’t you think it could be a great career for others?

Replace yourself: Help us to recruit more potential accountants and let them know that being a CPA, in all of its great variety, is the best profession ever.

  1. Encourage your employer to offer accounting internships

Employers can help ensure more future accountants by offering internships.  Even more importantly, we need internships in industry so that students can learn about a wide range of career opportunities.  Most of the internships on the TSCPA website are in public accounting.

If your company cannot offer internships, what about letting prospective accounting students “shadow” you on the job?

  1. Adopt a high school or college

Opportunities abound, from representing your company at formal career fairs, to speaking to accounting student groups, to just attending meetings and getting to know the students.  The TSCPA has helpful resources for talking to students, including ideas for career fairs, formal PowerPoint documents, and videos.  Don’t forget the AICPA’s Start Here Go Places.

  1. Talk to everyone you meet

Get your “elevator speech” ready.  Mine is that accounting is the most beautiful of all subjects.  It’s all about balance and relationships.  Oh, it probably doesn’t sell, but what can you expect from a professor?  Just another reason for practicing accountants to promote the profession.

I am happy for anyone who would like more information or ideas about how to replace yourself to email me at susan.anders@mwsu.edu.

Susan B. Anders, Ph.D., CPA, CGMA is the Louis J. and Ramona Rodriguez Distinguished Professor of Accounting at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls TX.  She has been an academic accountant for over 20 years, and was a practicing CPA for the first 15 years of her career.  She is an officer and board member of the Wichita Falls Chapter of the TSCPA.

AICPA CFO Conference

I recently attended the 2017 AICPA CFO conference.  I know what you are thinking, “Bill is not a CFO, what was he doing at that conference?”  My first answer is that you don’t have to be a CFO to attend the conference.  A more accurate answer is that I was invited to give a GAAP update to the conference participants.  None-the-less, as an invited speaker, I was privileged to be able to attend the entire conference, and I wanted to share a few key quotes and highlights from the conference.

James Glassman of JP Morgan Chase gave an economic update and said “manufacturing jobs are not ‘going overseas’.”  Instead, they are being replaced with automation and the remaining jobs are fewer, higher skilled jobs.  In fact, routine jobs all over the economy are going away.  We won’t be able to stop it, the question is what are we going to do about the societal disruption it is creating?

Aaron Beam, former CFO of HealthSouth provided a great overview of the fraud that occurred there starting in the 1990’s, but the thought that hit me the hardest was a quote he included from Dan Ariel of Duke University. He said, “A society without trust isn’t a society.  It’s a collection of people who are continuously afraid of each other.” I’ll let you decide if we are already there or if there is still hope of reversing course.

Finally, Nandu Nandkishore, formerly Global CEO of Nestle’ Nutrition, discussed the emerging new reality we are all facing in the world.  First, he went back to 1820 when China and India were 50% of Global GDP.  At that time the world economy was dominated by land and labor with capital not being as important.  With lots of people and land, India and China dominated.  With the importance of capital increasing, and changes brought on by the European focus on human and property rights, by 1980 China and India had dropped to 3% of Global GDP. There were many reasons why China and India missed the initial move to a more capital-centric GDP from the impact of colonization to some internal structural issues, but whatever the reasons, China and India are now gaining the benefits of capital and they still have the benefits of lots of labor and land.

This means the U.S. will drop from the largest to the 3rd largest contributor to Global GDP around 2040 or 2050; China will be number one by 2020 or 2030.  Overall, six of the top 10 economies in 2050 will be from Asia and Africa.  This is the world that is coming, In fact, in some ways it is already here.  2010 was the first time after 150 years that “emerging” economies were more than 50% of world GDP.  This is the new reality we face.  The question isn’t what can be done to stop it.  The question is what are we, as business leaders, going to do the position our companies to take advantage of the opportunity it creates.