TFYW#089: 5 Pieces Of Advice After 39 Years

May 24, 2024

This week, I’ll get into the advice of a CPA at the end of his career.


Retirement. Finally

I visited my parents on the other side of the country last week. 

My dad hasn’t been as healthy the past few months. 

He announced that on July 31, 2024, he will officially close the doors to his firm.

He’s 74 years old and has been running his firm for 39 years. 

This was the first time he’d ever expressed that he had a plan to retire. 

I’ve pushed him to retirement for the last 10 years but, you know, those ol’ CPAs die hard. 

I asked him for the top five pieces of advice he had for me.     

I’m always looking for content. 

I selfishly asked him to distill four decades of experience into five concise points.

What I thought would be a quick debrief turned into an emotional 30-minute conversation.

Here are the abbreviated top five pieces of advice: 


You Can Always Charge More 

He didn’t hesitate with this advice.

After 39 years, his biggest counsel was to charge more.

We’re quick to devalue what we do. 

Either because it’s easy for us to do or because it doesn’t take us very long. 

Charge based on what your client receives, not what you or your team do. 

Almost everyone should be charging more. Period.  


Be Quick To ‘Turf’ Bad Clients 

This was his second piece of advice. 

He said that clients who complain about prices or the quality of your work will always be unprofitable.

Get rid of them. ‘Turf them’ – his words.  

They might pay you more than any other client, but the time, mental space, doubt and frustration they cause aren’t worth it.  

We let bad clients and their comments live in your head rent-free. You can’t be paid enough for the mental energy you and your team spent on them.  

It’s not worth it to you and your team’s mental well-being.


There’s Always An Excuse

My dad was an earlier adopter of early accounting tech. 

I remember him bringing home his Compaq computer in the late 80s. I remember playing Donkey Kong.

During our conversation, he explained that barely any employee candidates knew how to use his firm’s technology. 

This made it hard for him to hire, so he didn’t. 

In retrospect, he lamented that he had used that as an excuse to not hire anyone for so long.

He had assumed that the net benefit of training and managing people wouldn’t be worth it. 


If you don’t remember anything else from this newsletter, remember this:


Don’t let your assumptions become excuses that prevent you from growth and happiness in your firm.


There will always be an excuse not to do something.  


Never Do Anything The Same Way For Too Long

My dad is a big process guy. 

When he started using spreadsheets, he turned every calculation and schedule into a template. 

The next time, he would use the same template but improve it. 

There is always a way to improve a process. 

Because much of what we do is repetitive, we have the luxury and opportunity to continually improve our processes and tools. 

Don’t let your workflows and tech go unassessed for too long. 

Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s as efficient or effective as it could be.


Identify How You’re Impacting Your Clients

The greatest fulfillment my dad got from his work was helping his clients. 

He expects to continue to meet and have lunch with some clients after he retires. 

The impact he’s made on his clients over the past few decades has motivated him to continually improve his skills and the services he offers. 

Identifying your positive impact on your clients and their families’ lives goes a long way to crafting your WHY.   

Once you know the impact you’re making on your clients, the work has meaning, and your services’ value proposition is more straightforward to communicate. 

At the end of the day, our impact is what our clients get. 

But our impact is what also keeps us fulfilled. 

Don’t discount finding the fulfilment in your firm.


A 700-word newsletter may not pay the proper homage to my dad’s career, but I hope one of these resonated with you. 

Build the firm you want.


P.S. Email with something that you want me to talk about. I’ll add it to the list. 

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