Katz, Nannis + Solomon, PC
Medium firm with 3 shareholders and 55 employees located in Waltham, MA
PCPS Member since 2007
Jeffrey D. Solomon, CPA, CVA, Managing Shareholder
Innovation and Adaptation: Must-Haves for Sustainability
At Katz, Nannis + Solomon, PC, we’ve crafted a recipe for success: mix equal parts of technically superior people, a forward-thinking practice management strategy, a commitment to balancing work and life priorities, and challenging and rewarding client work. Sprinkle some fun on top and we’re rewarded with really happy team members who thrive in fulfilling careers and provide excellent client service that creates long-lasting relationships.
We’re in a unique place in the Boston market because we work mostly with entrepreneurs and technology-based companies and are known for our knowledge around starting a company and helping them succeed. We work with venture capitalist or angel investor-backed clients who sometimes require technical accounting expertise as well as creative, money-saving solutions for the challenges they face as they grow their businesses.
Working with our entrepreneurial clients has encouraged our firm to adopt a similar workspace and style. We left our office of 15 years and built a new space this year in a building that also houses a health center and full-service cafeteria. We furnished all employees with new laptops and monitors and have spent thousands of dollars upgrading our numerous software systems. We have glass-walled offices, cool furniture, low-walled cubicles and more collaborative space. Employees can take a break to go downstairs and workout or eat their lunch in the cafeteria. Our office is much more like our clients’ offices and we all enjoy the new feel..
Preparing our People Early
We are also looking to the future in our people development approach. Staff members have a mentor or buddy whom they meet with for lunch 2-3 times per year and discuss all kinds of topics related to their careers, clients and the firm. We provide a ton of in-house and vendor-facilitated CPE on both soft and technical topics. I am also a huge advocate of taking as many younger staff members with me on initial sales prospect meetings as possible so they can learn the ropes and get to know our clients from the onset. Our team members help client engagement leaders with various parts of the sales process, too – such as writing the proposal and determining the scope and fee.
We participate in office hours at numerous incubator events with our startup clients almost monthly, in which we’ll designate a day and invite many entrepreneurial companies to attend. It’s an opportunity for our staff to network with other startups and for them to discuss financial challenges and questions with our employees and schedule a follow up appointment to delve deeper if appropriate. During the meetings, the younger staff members learn how to counsel clients and really listen to their questions. This is especially important because our startup clients are typically the same age as our staff accountants and it’s a chance for them to begin developing a value-based relationship.
Our People’s Happiness Counts
We understand that working in the public accounting profession is stressful during the busy times and that we have to compete with the private accounting opportunities that our staff can find. To help ensure our people have a great environment and balance, we pursue initiatives that our employees want and will help improve work-life integration. We have many employees on a flex schedule and we aren’t that strict about hours as we are about productivity. Our people know that they are expected to get their work done and at a high level of quality. If they want to work out at 10:00am, they can do so and manage their hours accordingly. We also stock our lunch room most of the year with fruit and healthy snacks (sometimes those candy bars and chocolate make their way in) and cater monthly breakfasts for all team members.
In addition to our commitment to flexibility, we are also committed to having fun. One of our audit principals is in charge of our Firm Life Committee and works with seven other committee members to coordinate outings and fun activities. Annual events have included our fall outing to pick apples at a nearby orchard, Boston Harbor cruises, Red Sox games and a holiday party. We’ve also had a comedy night and indoor miniature golf tournaments throughout the office , just to name a few. In addition, it’s important to give back to the community so our members also participate in numerous activities such as fundraiser walks supporting cancer research or just donating to local food banks or toys for tots. We have an internal bi-monthly newsletter that the Firm Life Committee creates that shares announcements about employee successes or personal events like passing the CPA exam or getting married. I also regularly contribute an opening article in which I discuss ways to motivate the staff and expand their thinking in areas such as how they can exceed client expectations, for example.
Favorite PCPS Resource
I find the PCPS resources very valuable and especially enjoy reading the monthly publication, The Practicing CPA. It provides articles based on your firm size so you can learn about what other firms are doing related to various areas of practice management and trends in the profession. I also find conferences like the recent AICPA/CPA.com Digital CPA conference helpful for meeting other practitioners and learning about the latest technology available that might help our firm culture or better serve our clients.
I am always reading and looking for opportunities to help our clients be successful, our firm grow, and our people thrive. We believe that it’s vital to stay on the leading edge of changes within the profession and in our market so that we can establish a long-term strategy for success where everyone wins.