Guest post by Julie Barnes, Director of Marketing

When I joined Smith & Howard in late 1993, I was an administrative assistant, we had about 27 people, four partners and a small office in a small building on Peachtree Street. When I woke up this morning almost 21 years later, I was the Director of Marketing and was working for a firm that has almost 100 people, ten partners, has relocated twice in seven years due to growth and now occupies a large floor of office space in a Class A office building with a view of Atlanta that can’t be beat.

But what is really stunning is that we were just...

Guest Post by Debbie Torrance, Partner with Smith & Howard

I started my career in 1986 with no prior experience and a master’s degree in accounting from Clemson University. My first real job was at an international accounting firm where I worked my way up to Tax Manager before leaving five years later. My next stop (which turned out to be my last) was Smith & Howard - a top 25 Atlanta CPA firm in 1991 and still a top 25 Atlanta firm in 2014. As a Tax Partner at Smith and Howard since 1997, I have not only seen my own career change and grow but have also had the privilege and fun of helping others to...

Guest post by Whitney Cheesbro, CPA and member of Smith & Howard's Accounting, Advisory and Assurance Services team

On June 9th, I set out on a bicycle trip known as the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, or “BRAG” for short.  The trip started in Washington, Georgia and ended in Darien, Georgia.  About 800 other cyclists participated in BRAG.  Spending a whole week of your vacation on a bicycle in June may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but there is no better way to see the charming small towns that dot the highways of Georgia than with a steady paced bicycle ride.  Every town we visited was full of southern hospitality and well-wishers.  Rolling fields, cow pastures,...

I have mentioned before our “Never stop learning” philosophy. We provide comprehensive training – both hard and soft skills – to our entire staff throughout their careers through Smith & Howard University. Included in this training is a long history of reading books together. Jim Howard, our co-founding partner and former Managing Partner, created a culture of reading here, and it continues today. Most recently, our book club (lead by Jessica Yandell, a member of our Accounting group) read and discussed an intriguing book by Malcolm Gladwell, “Blink.” If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. In short, Gladwell discusses the many ways and instances in which we make significant judgments and decisions in the “blink” of an...

I recently hosted a panel discussion of a group of experienced CPA firm partners. The purpose of that group was to discuss best practices of our firms and of our roles. It was a good , productive discussion that benefited each of us. But what was particularly enlightening for me and others was the fact that, no matter how long we have each been in our profession or our current roles, we still:

  1. Have a lot to learn; no matter where we are in our careers, we can benefit from training
  2. Need to ask for and listen to the advice of our peers
  3. Must seek input from those outside our profession and recognize that
  4. ...

Deadlines (goals with absolutely end dates attached) require laser focus and cohesive teamwork. Accounting firms experience this through regulatory deadlines, April 15 being the most well known. In the  months leading up to April15, we have an "all in" spirit - we know the goal and we know how to reach it. Everyone gets on the same page and even though we wonder every year if it we will get finished "this time,", it does get finished and we do meet the deadline.

But what happens after April 15 is as important, and as the post from LeadershipNow (below) points out, post-deadline may be the most dangerous time of all. Using climbing Mount Everest as an example, the author notes...

It surprises many people to learn that accounting firms can bill up to 50% of their revenue in the first four months of each year. Not only does this speak to the volume of work created by demands for audits and IRS-required tax filings, it also provides a hint into the hours and brain power used by everyone in an accounting firm during that time. And I mean everyone.

At Smith & Howard, there really is no “i” in team - we all pitch in at some level during busy season. Even having participated in over 20 years of busy seasons at Smith & Howard, I still find myself in awe at the incredible staff we have, the positive attitudes...

I consider myself extremely fortunate to work with about 100 very smart people at S&H. Many of them are young, energetic professionals who have ideas and ambitions that are broader and more creative than anything I would dream up on my own.

Our challenge as leaders? To recognize this energy and creativity and help our staff channel that energy in ways that interest them and help them grow and at the same time provide solutions our clients need. 

About 7 months ago, we decided to establish a scholarship program at the Atlanta Technology Village (ATV) providing free rent for a year to a total of four tech start-ups. While this was a firm-wide initiative, it was our younger staff members...

When the mission of your business is “We have a passionate commitment to responsive, personal service,” you have to spend a good bit of time reminding one another what that means. Not just to the business, but to the client. I found some inspiration in the video below and hope you do, too.

Click here to watch Customer Love.

The ten most important phrases for customer service are:

  1. I apologize for our mistake. Let me make it right.
  2. Thank you for your business. Please come back again.
  3. I’m not sure, but I will find out.
  4. What else can I do for you?
  5. What is most convenient for you?
  6. How may I serve you?
  7. How did we
  8. ...

It’s hard to believe, but the SEC spring football schedule kicks off in less than two weeks. Our office has graduates from a wide range of colleges, many of them in the SEC. No matter which SEC team we cheer for, we believe that SEC coaches are among the best in the nation. Coaching is all about leadership and in many ways it is probably one of the most challenging leadership roles of all. So I thought it would be a good time to highlight some leadership lessons from three SEC coaches: Mark Richt of the University of Georgia, Gus Malzahn of Auburn University and Nick Saban of the University of Alabama. No matter where your team allegiance may...

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