Feb 14, 2020
Many of today’s businesses employ workers from across the generational spectrum. Employees may range from Baby Boomers to members of Generation X to Millennials to the newest group, Generation Z.
Managing a workforce with a wide age range requires flexibility and skill. If you’re successful, you’ll likely see higher employee morale, stronger productivity and a more positive work environment for everyone.
Definitions of the generations vary slightly, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation defines them as follows:
Members of the Baby Boomer generation were born from 1946 to 1964,
Members of Generation X were born from 1965 to 1979,
Members of the Millennial generation were born from 1980 to 1999, and
Members of Generation Z were born after 1999.
Certain stereotypes have long been associated with each generation. Baby Boomers are assumed to be grumbling curmudgeons. Gen Xers were originally consigned to being “slackers.” Millennials are often thought of as needy approval-seekers. And many presume that a Gen Zer is helpless without his or her mobile device.
But successfully managing employees across generations requires setting aside stereotypes. Don’t assume that employees fit a certain personality profile based simply on age. Instead, you or a direct supervisor should get to know each one individually to better determine what makes him or her tick.
Here are just a couple best practices for managing diverse generations:
Recognize and respect value differences. Misunderstandings and conflicts often arise because of value differences between managers and employees of different generations. For example, many older supervisors expect employees to do “whatever it takes” to get the job done, including working long hours. However, some younger employees place a high value on maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Be sure everyone is on the same page about these expectations. This doesn’t mean younger employees shouldn’t have to work hard. The key is to find the right balance so that work is accomplished satisfactorily and on time, and employees feel like their values are being respected.
Maximize each generation’s strengths. Different generations tend to bring their own strengths to the workplace. For instance, older employees likely have valuable industry experience and important historical business insights to share. Meanwhile, younger employees — especially Generation Z — have grown up with high-powered mobile technology and social media.
Consider initiatives such as company retreats and mentoring programs in which employees from diverse generations can work together and share their knowledge, experiences and strengths. Encourage them to communicate openly and honestly and to be willing to learn from, rather than compete with, one another.
A competitive advantage
Having a multigenerational workforce can be a competitive advantage. Your competitors may not have the hard-fought experience of your older workers nor the fresh energy and ideas of your younger ones. Our firm can help you develop cost-effective strategies for hiring, retaining and maximizing the productivity of employees.
Feb 13, 2020
Finding the right person to head up your company’s finance and accounting department can be challenging in today’s tight labor market. While it may be tempting to simply promote an existing employee, external candidates may offer fresh ideas and skills that take your financial reporting to the next level. Here are four traits to put on your wish list.
1. Leadership and strategy experience
The finance and accounting department provides critical feedback on how your company is performing and is expected to perform in the future. That information helps the rest of the management team make critical business decisions.
The CFO must provide timely, relevant financial data to other departments — including information technology, operations, sales and supply chain logistics — to help improve how the business operates. He or she also must be able to drum up cross-departmental support for major initiatives. If you operate overseas or plan to expand there soon, experience operating and reporting in a global context would be a bonus.
2. Command of the basics
Your CFO must have a working knowledge of finance and accounting fundamentals, such as:
U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and, if applicable, international accounting standards,
Federal and state tax law,
Budgeting and forecasting, and
Financial planning and benchmarking.
Accounting rules and tax law have undergone major changes in recent years. Candidates should understand the business provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as well as the impact of updated accounting standards on reporting revenue, leases and credit losses. It’s also helpful to have experience with managerial accounting and cost-cutting initiatives.
3. Previous employment in public accounting
Many CFOs start off their careers in public accounting for good reason: They learn about a broad range of accounting, tax and consulting projects in many different industries.
This experience positions candidates for leadership roles in the private sector. Former CPAs know how the auditing process works and can implement procedures to support that process within your organization. They’ve also seen the best (and worst) business practices in the real world. This insight can help your company seize opportunities — and avoid potential pitfalls.
4. Forensic and technology skills
CFOs sometimes need to examine the business from a forensic perspective. That could include overseeing a fraud investigation, evaluating compliance with new or updated government regulations, or remediating a data breach.
In turn, the prevalence of cyberattacks has made technology skills increasingly important for CFOs. Candidates should know how to protect against loss of sensitive data, including customer credit card numbers and company financial data and intangible assets. Candidates also must have a working knowledge of accounting systems and how they operate in the cloud.
As your business evolves, so too must the role of the CFO. We can help you evaluate candidates to find the right mix of skills and experience for your finance and accounting department.
Feb 10, 2020
An array of tax-related limits that affect businesses are annually indexed for inflation, and many have increased for 2020. Here are some that may be important to you and your business.
Social Security tax
The amount of employees’ earnings that are subject to Social Security tax is capped for 2020 at $137,700 (up from $132,900 for 2019).
Section 179 expensing:
Limit: $1.04 million (up from $1.02 million for 2019)
Phaseout: $2.59 million (up from $2.55 million)
Income-based phase-out for certain limits on the Sec. 199A qualified business income deduction begins at:
Married filing jointly: $326,600 (up from $321,400)
Married filing separately: $163,300 (up from $160,725)
Other filers: $163,300 (up from $160,700)
Employee contributions to 401(k) plans: $19,500 (up from $19,000)
Catch-up contributions to 401(k) plans: $6,500 (up from $6,000)
Employee contributions to SIMPLEs: $13,500 (up from $13,000)
Catch-up contributions to SIMPLEs: $3,000 (no change)
Combined employer/employee contributions to defined contribution plans (not including catch-ups): $57,000 (up from $56,000)
Maximum compensation used to determine contributions: $285,000 (up from $280,000)
Annual benefit for defined benefit plans: $230,000 (up from $225,000)
Compensation defining a highly compensated employee: $130,000 (up from $125,000)
Compensation defining a “key” employee: $185,000 (up from $180,000)
Other employee benefits
Qualified transportation fringe-benefits employee income exclusion: $270 per month (up from $265)
Health Savings Account contributions:
Individual coverage: $3,550 (up from $3,500)
Family coverage: $7,100 (up from $7,000)
Catch-up contribution: $1,000 (no change)
Flexible Spending Account contributions:
Health care: $2,750 (up from $2,700)
Dependent care: $5,000 (no change)
These are only some of the tax limits that may affect your business and additional rules may apply. If you have questions, please contact us.
Feb 5, 2020
The word “concentration” is usually associated with a strong ability to pay attention. Business owners are urged to concentrate when attempting to resolve the many challenges facing them. But the word has an alternate meaning in a business context as well — and a distinctly negative one at that.
A common problem among many companies is customer concentration. This is when a business relies on only a few customers to generate most of its revenue.
The dilemma is more prevalent in some industries than others. For example, a retail business will likely market itself to a broad range of buyers and generally not face too much risk of concentration. A commercial construction company, however, may serve only a limited number of clients that build, renovate or maintain offices or facilities.
How do you know whether you’re at risk? One rule of thumb says that if your biggest five customers make up 25% or more of your revenue, your customer concentration is high. Another simple measure says that, if any one customer represents 10% or more of revenue, you’re at risk of elevated customer concentration.
In an increasingly specialized world, many types of businesses focus only on certain market segments. If yours is one of them, you may not be able to do much about customer concentration. In fact, the very strength of your company could be its knowledge and attentiveness to a limited number of buyers.
Nonetheless, know your risk and explore strategic planning concepts that might enable you to lower it. And if diversifying your customer base just isn’t an option, be sure to maintain the highest levels of customer service.
There are other forms of concentration. For instance, vendor concentration is when a company relies on only a handful of suppliers. If any one of them goes out of business or substantially raises its prices, the company relying on it could find itself unable to operate or, at the very least, face a severe rise in expenses.
You may also encounter geographic concentration. This can take a couple forms. First, if your customer base is concentrated in one area, a dip in the regional economy or a disruptive competitor could severely affect profitability. Small local businesses are, by definition, dependent on geographic concentration. But they can still monitor the risk and look for ways to mitigate it (such as online sales).
Second, there’s geographic concentration in the global sense. Say your company relies on a foreign supplier for iron, steel or another essential component. Tariffs can have an enormous impact on cost and availability. Geopolitical and environmental factors might also come into play.
Yes, concentration is a good thing when it comes to mental acuity. But the other kind of concentration is a risk factor to learn about and address as the year rolls along. We can assist you in measuring your susceptibility and developing strategies for moderating it.