Archive for the ‘Recruiting’ Category

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Signing Bonus

“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.” – Stephen Hawking

Signing bonuses are just one bit of ammunition in your hiring arsenal.

Just in case you aren’t up-to-date on what firms are doing in this area, a mid-size firm I recently talked with told me they are offering $10,000-$15,000 as a signing bonus.

I am sure many of you are doing the same AND many of you aren’t, but should.

  • The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.
  • Jimmy Johnson

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022

Keeping People

“But day in and day out, the most stimulating part of the work is being a member of a team of so many very bright, articulate and talented professionals.” – – Randy West

We are hearing so much about CPA firms losing people. I continue to hear about and read about the Great Resignation and also that women are often forced to make choices that put family ahead of career. Here’s an idea that may help you retain more females AND males.

Consider embracing a career lattice culture rather than a career ladder culture. Not everyone achieves success in the same way. Often there are many detours along the way.

Research has shown that public accounting loses a lot of good people (and many females) when they believe public accounting will not accommodate their personal and career choices. Women want to start a family so they think they must leave public accounting. Don’t let your young talent make this assumption. Most successful firms have already embraced flexibility offering remote and hybrid schedules as a formal part of their culture.

I urge you to paint a picture for your young professionals of a career lattice. Communicate to them: If there comes a time in your life whether you are male or female, when you need or want less (or more), a reduced schedule, more regular hours, less travel, more travel, less responsibility, or really want to accelerate your advancement in the firm – talk to us!

The lattice, as opposed to a career ladder, allows people to stay at a certain level, move sideways, or even step downwards for a time and still not put their career progression in danger.

  • Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energy moving forward together towards an answer.
  • Denis Waitley

Monday, April 18th, 2022

Age Discrimination

“You cannot just hire younger people. It’s illegal.” – Suzanne Lucas

Probably, right now, in the CPA profession, you will hire anyone remotely qualified! That’s not really a true statement but finding talent really is a challenging fact of life for CPA firm leaders. There is no end in sight to this problem.

I thought it might be a good time to remind you about age discrimination when hiring. Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady) shares a very interesting article about a company that openly proclaimed that they only hire Gen Z. Watch out for lawsuits! Read the article here.

  • Chance words spoken in kindness often help amazingly; and that's what old people are here for —else their experience is of little use.
  • Louisa May Alcott

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

AICPA Survey Results About Recruitment and Retention Struggles

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” — Napoleon Hill

The following is a press release from the AICPA.

Impact of Unfilled Jobs: Staff Restructurings, Delayed Projects and Deferred Expansions

AICPA & CIMA Survey Polled U.S. Executives on Recruitment and Retention Struggles

NEW YORK (March 30, 2022) – Almost one in four U.S. business executives said the ongoing impact of unfilled jobs had forced them to restructure staff to protect core operations or limited the pursuit of new projects or bids, according to an AICPA & CIMA survey.

A dearth of skilled job candidates had been a top concern for businesses for years before the pandemic and quickly reemerged as the recovery progressed. Business leaders list “availability of skilled personnel” as a challenge second only to inflation in the latest AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, which polls CEOs, CFOs and other senior-level CPAs and management accountants in the finance function. Top-line results of the quarterly survey were released earlier this month.

Some 82% of business executives said their organizations were having at least some difficulty with recruitment and retention, with 17% characterizing it as extreme difficulty. The latter is actually an improvement from the fourth quarter last year, when it stood at 25%.

Some 31% of survey takers said mid-level staff openings have been the most difficult to fill, while 28% said the problem is across the board. One in four identified entry level positions as the most challenging category to recruit.

While 40% of business executives said unfilled jobs have not had a significant impact on operations, a majority said the problem had manifested itself in several ways within their organizations. The most common outcomes (survey takers could choose more than one):

  • Restructured staff to protect core operations (24%)
  • Limited new projects or bids (23%)
  • Delayed service expansions (16%)
  • Slowed customer/client acquisition (9%)
  • Reduced hours of operations or  work shifts (7%)
  • Closed some work locations (3%)

“We know from our survey that 57% of business executives report they have too few employees,”  said Ash Noah, CPA, CGMA, vice president and managing director of CGMA learning, education and development for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, representing the AICPA and CIMA. “Pandemic-related trends such as the Great Resignation have complicated an already difficult hiring situation, and that can exacerbate burnout and disaffection among remaining staff if the situation isn’t managed carefully.”

To combat the tight labor market, companies have adopted a number of recruitment and retention strategies, principally higher wages and more flexible work arrangements, although the former has been driven in part by inflationary pressures. Signing bonuses are also increasing as a tactic to attract new talent.

Methodology

The first-quarter AICPA Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey was conducted from Feb. 2-23, 2022, and included 461 qualified responses from CPAs who hold leadership positions, such as chief financial officer or controller, in their companies. The overall margin of error is less than 3 percentage points. A copy of the report can be found on aicpa.org.

  • Don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for.
  • Marian Wright Edelman

Monday, March 28th, 2022

I Like Living.

“We’ve greatly exaggerated the risk of sinking, without celebrating the value of swimming.” – Seth Godin

For many CPA teams this time of year, every day is another workday. The hours, days, weeks seem to be getting longer and longer.

However, in recent years, firms have taken great strides to alleviate the dark cloud of tax season that hangs over their employees’ heads. I honestly believe that CPA firms, despite the many due dates, are wonderful places to work and expand your career. When I was working inside a firm, I enjoyed tax season because everyone was focused on providing awesome service to the clients. They were focused on helping people. That’s what CPAs do.

The drudgery involved has a lot to do with attitude and attitude is the one thing you only can control. So many people are less fortunate than CPA firm teams.

The following quote from Agatha Christie’s autobiography is sure meaningful to me and I hope it is to you. Being alive is a grand thing!

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly despairing, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. – Agatha Christie

The following from Seth Godin should guide us in hiring:

“The actual differentiator in just about every job is attitude. From plumbers to carpenters to radiologists to pharmacists, someone with extraordinary soft skills (honesty, commitment, compassion, resilience, enrollment in the journey, empathy, willingness to be coached… the real skills that we actually care about) is going to outperform. If this is so obviously true, then why don’t organizations hire for attitude and train for expertise?

  • Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from.
  • Seth Godin

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

You Speak The Language

“Accounting is the language of business.” – Warren Buffett

Recently, I read a quote that made me smile. It was in an article I read via AccountingWEB. The article is titled, The Changing Face of the CPA Profession Del Wright, Corporate Outreach Coordinator for the Illinois CPA Society.

The quote comes from a young accountant who was hesitant to even think about passing the Exam until she learned how much it was valued from her professors and during her internship.

Here is her comment that I want to share with you today.

“I think the profession is ever-changing,” she says. “Accountants are no longer just recordkeepers, they’re analysts and translators. Accounting is the language of business, and accountants are the most fluent in it.”

You probably heard similar statements when you were majoring in accounting but have you thought about it in recent years? Be sure to remind your young accountants how much they are learning about the world of business as they work on client engagements. It is so much more than tax returns and using Excel.

Be sure to read the entire article.

  • If you want an accounting of your worth, count your friends.
  • Merry Browne

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

Are You Meeting Their Needs?

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Be sure you are aware of what your employees really need. Firms are trying all kinds of creative and unique ways to attract people and to keep the talented people they already employ. Some of these ways are not so creative and unique, nor do they have to be.

You might think that more money will solve the hiring and retention dilemma. I agree that it will certainly help. I have observed that many firms are offering new recruits nearly the same salary that my firm offered about twelve years ago! For small to medium-size firms, beginning salaries are still not very competitive. Owners make the excuse that they are small and that they are located in areas where the cost of living is less than major cities. Location isn’t an excuse any longer. You are competing with every CPA firm everywhere.

In a recent article, Suzanne Lucas (@realevilhrlady) notes that 77% of employees say they would prefer to work for a company that gives them flexibility rather than work for a company with a fancy corporate headquarters.

Flexibility has been discussed extensively in the CPA profession but it is still a challenge for managers and for those being managed. Managers are uneasy about having people work from home. How do they know they are working? Well, trust is the answer but that is a topic for another day.

It is true that some managers micro-manage and want to track time on the employees’ computers (keystrokes) and want them to have their cameras on all the time so they can be seen working. Thankfully, I don’t see those extremes in very many accounting firms.

Read Lucas’ article and learn how ER (employee relations) can help managers focus on results and outcomes, rather than availability when a manager reaches out to them.

  • The man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.
  • Max Lucado

Monday, January 24th, 2022

Hire The Best

“I look for three things in hiring people. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is a high energy level. But if you don’t have the first, the second two don’t matter.” – Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire-Hathaway

In a recent podcast with Dan Hood, Allan Koltin talked about the need to not only hire people but to hire THE BEST people. I couldn’t agree more.

What I have observed happening now is that firms are hiring whoever they can find. Don’t embrace a hiring philosophy that says if the person is breathing, hire them.

Don’t be desperate – – if you are desperate, you hire average people. to me “average” means mediocre and that leads to a mediocre firm that will eventually go nowhere.

So many firms are merging up now because they have been hiring mediocre people for many years and now they have no future leaders. Much of this has been brought on by complacency. Firm owners have been very comfortable for too many years.

So, hire the top students – compete with the Big 4 if you have to. Be very generous with training dollars for your all-stars. You don’t have to treat everyone the same. Weed out poor performers and the clients that cause the most headaches and frustration.

Build an all-star team serving all-star clients!

  • People inspire you, or they drain you. Pick them wisely."
  • Hans F. Hasem

Monday, January 17th, 2022

A Career For Non-CPAs

“Talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it.” – Maya Angelou

The challenge is really nothing new. A CPA firm has a team member who is an all-star. Learns quickly comprehends the issues, and serves clients efficiently and effectively. If they would only pass that CPA Exam!

Usually, they get the message and move on to work in corporate accounting leaving a significant void in the firm. Historically, firms have even said, “We are a CPA firm, we need CPAs.”

Yes, that is true. But in these changing times, involving a new type of workforce, you need to be creative. Firms need to change. Maybe more young people would major in accounting if they didn’t have to pass the CPA Exam to work in public accounting. The goal of becoming a “partner” simply isn’t as strong with younger accountants as it once was.

One firm has taken a step to solve this problem.

Kimberly Wines, COO of SEK CPAs & Advisors allowed me to share their firm’s approach to this challenging issue.

Our Firm recently added a Client Relationship Manager role to our tier of positions.  It parallels the role of a Manager, however does not require the CPA designation and does not provide for advancement to partner consideration.  These individuals are eligible for the same benefits as a manager. 

The firm has provided the core competencies and contribution points for the role and some valuable team members have embraced it.

As you have heard and read many times, the talent shortage is not going away. It will never be “the good old days” again. As some professional leaders have said, the partnership model no longer works. There are even bigger changes ahead for accounting firms.

  • Real talent shines through regardless of how many others there are around you.
  • Paloma Faith

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

High School Interns

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” — Bob Proctor

I have often suggested, for an accounting firm, to utilize some high school interns. I think it is important to introduce the world of public accounting to a younger audience. Plus, I encourage practitioners to get involved in high school career days. If you have elementary children, why not volunteer to talk to their class about the accounting profession?

Maybe you will be encouraged to hire some high school interns by the following comments from Timothy Allen, MBA, Chief Operating Officer of Reilly, Penner & Benton in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

“We started with high school interns this past tax season. We hired one as a tax administrative intern doing tax assembly, scanning, and other admin duties. She did such a fantastic job we hired her back as a tax intern this tax season. We have also started hiring college freshmen and sophomores as administrative interns with the intention of having them come back as juniors/seniors as full interns.

Going forward, CPA firms need to be creative and adventurous in their hiring practices. Add high school interns to your action plan.

  • Learning is finding out that you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, and teachers."
  • Richard Bach