Archive for the ‘Recruiting’ Category

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Solutions Rather Than Problems

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”–Jim Collins

CPAs, along with all others who are hiring, are looking to hire people who bring solutions rather than problems. As amazing as it seems, CPAs tend to keep people for years who are definitely problems.

Per FAST Company, when asked nearly half of recruiters and hiring managers cited potential as the number-one factor, beating out experience (37%), personality (16%), and education (2%).

When you are hiring, are you looking for potential? I have observed that CPA hiring managers are usually looking for experience. The fact is experienced accountants, no matter what their level, are very hard to find and even more difficult to keep. Plus, they always bring “baggage” with them.

Hopefully, you have a strong intern program and are hiring from that pool of talent in an effort to build your firm for the future.  In this day and age, you need to look for candidates who have the willingness and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances. The best employees are lifelong learners and are always seeking new experiences. Does that sound like the accountants on your staff? I doubt it. Many CPAs, not all, are known for avoiding change (and new experiences).

As you hire the new generation of accountants, I think you will find candidates who have the willingness and ability to grow and adapt. Maybe it is time to update your interview and selection process. (I have an Interview & Selection Guide that is available for purchase. Contact me if you are interested.)

 

  • You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb it.
  • Andrew Carnegie

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

Become a Chief Retention Officer

“People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.” – Marcus Buckingham

One way to solve the problem of finding and hiring top talent is to be sure you don’t lose the top talent you already have.

You are well aware of the time, effort and dollars you spend trying to find and hire a qualified candidate. That is why it just makes sense to focus on making all partners and managers Chief Retention Officers.

How do you do that? Have them all read First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The authors contend that employees leave managers, not companies. I strongly believe that this is the case in CPA firms. Buckingham and Coffman offer 12 questions that can be used to measure the core elements needed to attract, develop and retain the next generation of CPA firm leaders.

The questions are:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages both my personal and my career development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

After this fall busy season is over, equip your leaders with these questions and have them meet and talk with the people they supervise. In addition to the questions, be sure your partners/managers can describe what a talented professional’s career path looks like.

  • Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, your will be successful.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Friday, September 6th, 2019

Salaries For CPAs

“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.” – Michael Leboeuf

CPAs are accountants but not all accountants are CPAs. There is a big difference and there is also a difference in what kind of salaries are paid to CPAs.

I receive many questions about what kind of salaries firms are paying their employees. Entry-level salaries are always of great interest to CPA firm leaders. Many are wondering what they need to offer to next year’s graduates. Entry-level accountants intending to become CPAs should also realize that their starting salary is “just a drop in the bucket” in relation to what their future earnings can become.

Thanks to Accounting Today, here is a good visual – read the full article here.

salary range

  • Financial peace isn't the acquisition of stuff. It's learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can't win until you do this.
  • Dave Ramsey

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Changes in Hiring and in Technology

“Every business is having to transform today, no matter the size,” Melancon explained. “It’s up to us to transform to meet those expectations.” – Barry Melancon, CEO AICPA

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have noticed that the future of the CPA profession means if you haven’t refocused your practice on consulting you won’t be successful in the future.

I don’t really believe that the move to significantly more consulting is happening (or will happen) as rapidly as the leaders of the profession predict. From my years of experience with CPAs, the majority always proceed with caution.

It is true that public accounting firms are hiring more non-CPAs and that is a current trend that will definitely continue. These non-CPAs will bring more consulting opportunities and skills into firms.

The current pyramid model in most firms will move to more of a diamond shape. The base-level tasks will be automated or outsourced. The middle level of experts an consultants will grow and the ownership group, at the top of the diamond, will still be the smaller elite.

A different kind of hiring is just one change. Another major change lies in technology. Firm leaders must be willing to invest more than ever in technology. They must also invest time in learning and relearning to keep pace with the technology available.

Read more about all this in this informative article by Danielle Lee via Accounting Today.

 

  • The ability to learn will be one of the most important skills for accountants going forward.
  • Barry Melancon

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

Be Open-Minded About Hiring Remote Workers

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.” – David Ogilvy

The accounting profession traditionally has not been very open-minded about hiring remote workers. I believe that is changing rapidly because of the scarcity of talent. Even some of my smallest CPA firm clients have people working from other parts of the country and even the world. So can you.

You continue to be challenged to find talented people. If you remove location as a limiting factor, it gives you access to all the talent in the world. It also gives you the opportunity to create more diversity and allows talented people to live where they want.

Per a great article via HBR, you need to assess whether the person is independent, passionate about their work, and collaborative. They need to be flexible and willing to travel and know that the firm headquarters is still where the action takes place. It is also important for you to do more intense due diligence when hiring

Read the article and make the decision to be more open-minded about hiring remote workers.

  • Great vision without great people is irrelevant.
  • Jim Collins

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

Leadership Wisdom

“Too many managers spend too much time focused on the wrong things.” – Dave Christiansen

As a partner or a managing partner in a CPA firm, do you cultivate your leadership wisdom? Do you realize that you are watched closely and that everything you do sets an example?

So many accounting firms are desperately struggling with succession, the constant chant being, “There’s no one who can replace me!” Whose fault is that?

Bruce Tulgan, in a recent LinkedIn post, featured Dave Christiansen, President and CEO of Mid-Kansas Coop (MKC). Christiansen spends the majority of his time clearly communicating expectations and vision to, establishing a culture for, and developing future leaders from roughly 400 full-time employees.

Aging CPAs have found themselves in need of future leaders but have spent minimal time focused on developing leadership skills in others (or even in themselves). Most CPA partners have spent considerable time developing CPAs possessing amazing technical skills.

Christiansen has great tips on hiring and developing today’s top talent:

  • Remember that you will end up with the staff you deserve
  • Staff for the company you want
  • Paint a picture for top talent
  • Most formal “coaching” or “mentoring” programs are ineffective
  • If you want to retain people, find out what they value
  • Invest in your people until it hurts
  • Have a structured approach to high-potential identification
  • Don’t hire people you have to motivate
  • The emerging young workforce will put more pressure on managers

Read more about each of these tips here. This is a great article to share with your partners and other management leaders.

  • If you’ve spent your time wisely defining what you’re looking for in an individual, recruited well and created a picture in the new employees’ mind as to how they fit into your organization, what their role is, and how they’ll make a difference, you’ve won 80% of the battle.
  • Dave Christansen

Friday, May 17th, 2019

Millennials’ Desired Workplace Benefits

From a recent AICPA survey:

  • Nearly two-thirds of young adult job seekers have student loan debt, with an average of $33,332.
  • Millennials with loan debt value more help with repayment over all other employee benefits.
  • AICPA Employee Benefits Report offers guidance on understanding and utilizing benefits.

When asked to choose the top three benefits that would most help them achieve their financial goals, young adult job seekers top two choices focused on the traditional benefits of health insurance and paid time off. Interestingly, student loan forgiveness was the third most cited option.

Young Adult Job Seekers

Benefit

Chosen in Top 3 by:

 Health Insurance

54%

 Paid Time Off

45%

 Student Loan Forgiveness

41%

 Working Remotely

38%

 401(k) Retirement Fund Match

36%

 Tuition Reimbursement

25%

 Pension

15%

 Paid Parental Leave

13%

The full results of the survey conducted by MAVY Poll on behalf of the AICPA, along with further analysis, are available in a free Employee Benefits Report on the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website.

  • All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.
  • Calvin Coolidge

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Finding the Best Person for the Job

“We need constant change, technological innovation capability, and high productivity to survive in the fiercely competitive environment.” – Joe Kaeser

Firms merge, people leave, people retire and a new firm administrator (Practice Manager) is needed. The role is a very critical one for an accounting firm. The person in this role can make all the difference in how the firm moves into the future, how staff turnover is reduced, how training is developed and presented and how the owner group operates.

If you are a Practice Manager, Office Manager, Firm Administrator or COO here are the characteristics and actions that will make you successful. If you are searching for a new person to fill this role in your firm, use these attributes in your hiring decision.

18 Attributes of an Effective Practice Manager, Firm Administrator or COO

  1. Technical knowledge of the area being managed.  They learn the area, hone skills and stay on top of technological developments.  It earns respect from subordinates and peers.
  2.  Cheerleader.  They are adept at motivating all people.
  3.  Educated to help deal with peers and colleagues.  They have a solid educational background (many firms require a bachelor’s degree now) and continue learning through seminars, webinars, trade journals, newsletters, online research, and reading Rita Keller’s Blog.
  4.  Innate managerial mentality.  This includes being alert, dependable and willing to carry out a commitment.
  5.  Team player.  Grandstanders are not allowed.  He/She solves problems in other departments, as well as in administration because the objective should be collectively beneficial.
  6.  Ability to anticipate potential problems.  He/She is painfully aware of Murphy’s Law (If anything can go wrong, it will).  Contingency planning is a key tool for practice managers.
  7.  A natural sense of fairness and integrity and emotionally well balanced.  Natural is the keyword.  If he/she has to consult a manual to know what’s fair, frustration will be constant.  Also, immature managers can hurt the employees and the firm they represent.
  8.  Courageous, resolute, strong convictions and socially conscious.  He/She works with management and staff with an overall goal of quality client service.   They often deal with egotistical personalities and partners unwilling to “let go.”
  9.  A good follower, not resentful of instructions or constructive criticism.  Anyone secure enough to demonstrate mature leadership will understand the reasons for recognizing the proper chain of command.  Observing protocol demonstrates respect for the system.
  10.  Have initiative and be creative, imaginative and resourceful.  Preventing problems is the most sublime form of problem-solving.  Successful practice managers act without being told to do so.
  11. Energetic.  The practice manager sets the pace.  Most work 2,300 hours or more per year (that number includes PTO, holidays, CPE, etc., working the hours required to get things done.
  12. Reliable, even temperament.  You can’t constantly change your personality.  Nothing goes right all the time, and if you care, you’re going to get upset once in a while.  You don’t have to be apologetic for losing your cool when provoked.
  13. Competitive, unafraid of conflict.  A competitive person is not afraid to set standards never before attained, nor is he or she afraid to fail.  Such a person realizes there can be growth in failure if there is learning.  In managing conflicts, the effective practice manager must know how to come out on top or graciously back off.
  14. Positive.  A positive attitude is a catalyst for creativity.
  15.  Excellent communication skills.  A successful practice manager should be able to write clearly and crisply, speak articulately and succinctly and listen intently.
  16.  Logical, capable of making decisions.  Managers must make tough decisions without fear of making a mistake.   Procrastination could be worse than the decision made.
  17.  Appreciation of technology and social media.  Successful practice managers see technology and social media as tremendous resources and continually lead the firm to advance in these areas.
  18.  Organized, self-disciplined.  Orderly thinking results in orderly living and managing.
  • Most of life's actions are within our reach, but decisions take willpower.
  • Robert McKee

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

Orientation and Onboarding

“People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” – Jim Collins

While the CPAs have been busy serving clients in tax season, I hope your practice manager or HR manager has used the time to make sure your firm’s hiring practices are in line with current trends. I believe that onboarding, in public accounting, can take up to a full year.

Here is a link to a blog I wrote in 2016 about how orientation and onboarding have changed in recent years.

Here is a link to a good article via Journal of Accountancy on the same topic.

Share this blog post with your HR professionals.

  • If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.
  • Red Adair

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Ghosting

“Our feet are planted in the real world, but we dance with angels and ghosts.” – John Cameron Mitchell

Maybe your firm has done it. I know a lot of firms where it happens. Someone interviews with the firm for an accounting position. You interview them and end with the normal “We’ll get back to you” comment. But no one does get back with them. You have made the decision to hire another candidate but you don’t get back with every one you interviewed to let them know. Someone dropped the ball.

Maybe payback can be expected. Applicants and employees are now ghosting their employers in greater numbers. Per USA Today:

Workers are ‘ghosting‘ interviews, blowing off work in a strong job market. … A growing number are “ghosting” their jobs: blowing off scheduled job interviews, accepting offers but not showing up the first day and even vanishing from existing positions – all without giving notice.

I have heard some amazing stories from firms. Many of the cases are people in administrative positions. They report for the first day and then never show up again. One firm even told me a new admin person left at lunch on the first day and never came back. It sounds amusing (when you are not involved) but it is not that unusual any longer.

Here’s a great article via Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady.

Make sure your firm has systems in place to facilitate the interview and selection process so no one feels ghosted.

  • Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.
  • Stephen King