05 Nov November ’18
Getting better every day feels so good!
Transforming your firm is no small task. Getting better every day takes commitment and focus—and it also requires taking the time to reflect on the past and give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished so far. You’d be amazed at far you’ve come once you give the past year a thoughtful review.
We do this in Rootworks as well. In fact, when I look back to early 2016, I vividly remember reading an article on the concept of grading our business based on the traditional GPA (Grade Point Average). This article was the spark that fueled our company on a whole new trajectory. We jumped into the GPA, grading ourselves in numerous areas against the gold standard of world-class. Based on our self-assigned rankings, over the past two years we’ve improved our scores in nearly every area of the business. Reflecting on the past, it became clear just how many big rocks we were able to move and how we truly were getting better every day. Here are just a few of the projects launched and completed:
- Complete rebuild of Rootworks.com as our mega platform— integrating the separate member platform formerly known as Grow. The rebuild included our new and improved online learning, Connect, member profiles, event registration and CPE features…to name only a few.
- Re-design and rebuild of our Thought Leader newsletter.
- New, more modern website platform for member sites.
- Highly improved event and content delivery.
We are also gearing up to launch significant new rootworks.com features at the end of this month, including Client View, Client Education tools and an enhanced Internal Projects tool.
There are many more areas of our organization that are getting closer to world-class status. But, it has taken a lot of work over a significant period of time. My objective with this trip down Memory Lane is to highlight how a single idea can spark inspiration that puts you on a course of substantial positive change. This all happened for us one day at a time…small efforts of getting a little better every day.
Turning attention to our members, I’m sure that many of you have your own accomplishments to share as you’ve worked to build your Modern Firm. Some of the changes I’ve heard about are:
- Slack Implementation—Significantly improving internal firm communications while decreasing your email footprint and digital security risk.
- Zoom Implementation—Allowing you to support more modern and convenient client and staff communications.
- Stripe Integration—Offering your clients an advanced digital option to pay you.
- Website Upgrade—To ensure that you are keeping up with the times and always maintaining a leading brand presence.
- QBO Growth—Here’s hoping that your QBO growth has been significant over the past two years and will continue to flourish.
- Fathom Reporting—Allowing you to offer a rich client experience in the area of reporting.
- Two-factor Authentication on Applications—Here’s to better security for all!
In RootAdvisors, we’ve also had a big year of transitions and change. Our plate runneth over due to three major implementations:
- ADP Run Wholesale—I know this isn’t for every firm, but for us, it’s been a real win. It’s taken us most of the year, but we are getting close to having all our clients converted. We now have a more modern mobile client experience, and the amount of time we spend on quarterly and year-end payroll compliance is little to none.
- Google Drive Conversion—Again, I know this isn’t for every firm, but we’ve been pleased with our conversion from FileCabinet CS to the world-class platform, Google Drive. This process took us about a month to complete. We now have our documents in the cloud, accessible to our team in an easily searchable environment. For many of you, a conversion to Onvio Documents or OneDrive may be the right direction.
- Liscio Implementation for Client Communications—Effective October 16, 2018, we no longer used FileCabinet CS, which meant that we were no longer using NetClient CS portals for delivery of client financial and tax information. We’ve moved all of our client documents to Liscio and are working to move as much client communication as possible into the Liscio communication platform.
The Liscio transition and process requires a consistent team effort in order to be effective. We are currently focused on training our business clients. We will address and re-address our 1040 clients once tax season rolls around. Our mission is to continue to minimize security risks by using a military-grade secure sharing platform.
Looking back is enlightening and helps confirm that you are on the right path. And, of course, looking forward is highly energizing. With this in mind, we have a lot to share with you at this year’s Inspire conference in sunny Sarasota, Florida. If you haven’t already registered, be sure to do so. Our agenda is packed with sessions and speakers who will continue to motivate you to action and inspire you with new concepts and practical tools to take back to your firm. Don’t miss it!
All my best,
P.S. Now that fall is here, my thoughts are turning toward sunny Florida and our year-end Inspire Conference. Are you registered yet? I really hope I see you there.
Tips on Getting Started with Fathom
One of the popular topics of the summer retreats was talking about how to best deliver information to our clients in a new and visual way. We talked a lot about using Fathom to provide more than just financial statements. Since our summer retreats, the Rootworks Coaching team has been busy. If you are just getting started with providing your clients with more than just a financial statement, take a look at a few of our tips and tricks to get you started on the right foot with using Fathom.
- Don’t just use the standard reports to start, use them for some inspiration, but the fact that you can customize the reports and make them more pointed and more relevant will make them a better tool to use for the client.
- You do not have to be experts in an industry to sound like an expert!
- Google is your best friend, google the client’s industry and pick 1-2 operational metrics to add to the custom report.
- If you can’t find items on Google, check out the industry association (national, regional, state) websites, or simply talk to your clients and see what items mean most to them.
- For our Advantage and Academy members: watch the recorded Rootworks staff training where we went over real-life examples of KPI’s used for clients in the fitness, church and optometry industry.
- Search the Online Learning Center for ‘Using Fathom as an Advisory and Reporting Tool.’
- Next, schedule a coaching call with us! We can help you with creating a custom report if you have questions.
Incognito is a term used in computing which means to “remain anonymous.” For example, running a web browser in incognito mode means that no history or cookies are stored on the computer. It’s often used for troubleshooting, or by paranoid web surfers.
Applying this incognito concept to firm banking, a similar concept can be applied to finances to make logins, multi-factor authentication, and user accounts secret, and thus much harder to identify or attack. To demonstrate how this works, let’s use a fictional firm as an example.
Victor Oladipo, while on the off-season of the NBA, gets his CPA and starts Dipo Advisors. Since he’s a high-profile person, he is a big target for cybercriminals. Easily, criminals can obtain the following profile information for his business, as it’s public information and published on his website, business cards, Google business listing, etc.
- His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
- His cell number is 317.444.4444
- His model sets up all his clients to use Pacers bank, so it’s probable that his firm does as well.
Given this information, criminals can go to work on trying to break into the firm’s bank accounts. To make his firm finances incognito, Victor can do the following things:
- Register a domain that has no affiliation to his firm. He finds that hoosierfan4life.com is available and registers it, using the private registration option.
- He sets up the domain’s email to deliver to a separate organization than his firm email, so that the mailboxes are completely separate.
- He then sets up an email address for that domain, such as email@example.com.
- He reconfigures all his banking profiles to use that email address.
- Additionally, he sets up an alternate phone number than his published cell number for two-step verification.
The firm’s bank accounts are now “incognito” in regard to publicly known information. Even if a cybercriminal were to successfully hijack his email and cell number, they would have no ability to break into bank accounts, as any attempt to reset logins would not hit the public email or phone number. Hopefully, at this point, the cybercriminal will get frustrated and move on to softer targets.
If you avoid using the incognito address for anything else, it should never have a phishing attempt find its way into the mailbox, virtually eliminating the most common exploit attempt.
It’s the home stretch to year end, and that means prime time for client communications, because you can bet that they are alert and listening. You are their advisor after all, so they expect to hear from you year-round. And not to worry; there’s lots of content you can share to stay connected to clients as you approach busy season.
It’s important to note that, for whatever reason, client communications can slow significantly at year end for many firms. And once the slow down begins, it’s hard to get your communications mojo back. So, make a concerted effort to keep things rolling to stay front-of-mind with clients. It doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, between now and the start of tax season, you really do have a lot to say. Consider just a few ideas:
- Tips to prepare for tax season—You know this stuff like the back of your hand…start to collect and organize source documents, complete your tax organizer, schedule a meeting with our firm for Q4 planning, and so on. Provide a solid list of tips in your own unique voice.
- Tax organizer is ready—Send an initial “your tax organizer is ready” communication and then follow-up with a few reminders.
- Announce new services—Take the opportunity to announce any new services to clients who would benefit. Promoting new services before the rush of tax season plants the seed for after-tax-season selling.
- Holiday well wishes—Everyone loves a warm holiday greeting. Take the time to send a holiday card signed by all staff, post holiday wishes in your social media channels, or send a well-designed holiday email.
- Holiday budgeting tips—While the holiday season is wonderful, it can also be a time of financial overindulgence. Offer clients a list of tips to help them budget holiday spending and avoid financial stress later. Communicate these tips via a blog or a series of social media posts. Or include an article in your firm’s newsletter if you have one.
- Business and individual tax tips—It never hurts to communicate tax tips to your business and individual clients, especially at year end when they still have time to take advantage of deductions or implement changes.
There is a world of helpful and happy content you can share with clients from now until year-end (and even into tax season). As their advisor, your goal is to stay connected and in front of clients all year, so make sure to keep the communications flowing. Use some of the tips above to create a stockpile of content that you can drip out over the next few months to keep clients engaged with your firm.
We have two new lessons under Online Learning.
- New Staff: Hiring and Onboarding. You will work through creating a job ad, looking for the right candidate, developing a hiring and onboarding process and more. Take the November 18th webinar for a review of the lesson.
- Business Foundation Services. This lesson provides a complete framework for packaging, selling, and delivering the Business Foundation Services product to new business clients, from a sales presentation through the educational material that a firm would use when delivering the service to the client. The lesson also includes a fee calculator that is built using a value-pricing methodology. We will be discussing Business Foundation Services at the Inspire Conferences in Sarasota. You can also take the December 11th webinar for a review of the lesson.
November 13—Modern Firm Webinar: This webinar is intended for new firms to Rootworks and for staff that may be new to the firm. The Modern Firm Webinar is an online version of the two-day, on-premise Modern Firm Workshop that Rootworks hosts at our Indianapolis Learning Center. This is a two-hour webinar.
November 15—Fall Planning Workshop: Quarterly Planning workshops are time spent working ON your business. Use each session as a checkpoint throughout the year. Take time away from day-to-day work to celebrate accomplishments, think through projects and issues, and plan out your future objectives.
November 19—Review of the New Staff Hiring and Onboarding Lesson: You can find the lesson under Online Learning by filtering by the lesson type.
Advantage and Academy Members:
November 14—Staff Training, Payroll Year End Best Practices: This staff training is designed to provide tips and tricks to getting ready for year-end payroll processing. This session will cover best practices to keep in mind for firms using Accounting CS Payroll as well as items to keep in mind if your firm is using the hybrid model with ADP Run.
November 20—Staff Training Part 2 of 3, Modern Document Management: Document Management Conversion. This staff training will cover steps to take to have a successful conversion to a new document management solution.
November 27—Staff Training Part 3 of 3, Modern Document Management: Integrating Onvio Document into your processes. This webinar will cover the processing steps firms will use with Onvio Document. Since the system is different than FileCabinet, we will go over how the recommended Rootworks processes will change with Onvio Document.