Archive for the ‘Recruiting’ Category

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

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Toxic & Civility

“Teaching civility is an obligation of the family,” – Stephen Carter

CPA firms are definitely in the hiring mode. You need people and people interested in working for a public accounting firm are in short supply. When you are interviewing, don’t settle for someone who is not a good fit. Beware of toxic people.

According to research and an article via HBR, one toxic employee wipes out the gains of more than two superstars! Also, rude employees have a much stronger effect on your organization than workers who demonstrate civility.

When interviewing, if you ask the same questions in the same order you have a better chance of predicting the candidates’ performance. Ask questions like:

  • Describe a time when you were stressed. How did you deal with it?
  • Describe a tim when you had to work with a difficult person. How did you handle it?

Read the article for more interview questions.

Be sure to get your team members involved in the interviewing process. It gives your team a chance to observe the candidate and a chance for the candidate to observe your team.

Always set the example for civility. Your firm will not have a culture of civility if leaders do not demonstrate it on a daily basis.

Right now, in this time of labor shortages, product shortages, and dangers from COVID, civility seems very difficult to discover, sadly, even in our government officials. Make your firm a model for civility.

  • I think it is important that we rebuild an atmosphere of forgiveness and civility in every aspect of our lives.
  • T. D. Jakes

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

Taking Care of Your People

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” – Max DePree

Accounting firms have been searching and experimenting with many ways to not only attract new talent to the firm but to also retain their valuable current team members.

One firm I know closes its office between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Of course, they care about their clients but they also care about their people and retaining the best and brightest talent. The best thing about this is that they did this even before COVID.

Many firms think they could simply NOT do this. The point is to give clients plenty of notice and keep your word. It is what I call an example of training your clients. I think clients would understand. The few that might grumble could go elsewhere but I bet they wouldn’t.

Here’s the message that a former client of mine, a very successful, local CPA firm, sent to their clients earlier this month.

Our office will be closed from Friday, December 24, 2021, to January 2, 2022.  We will be back to work on Monday, January 3, 2022.

In order for our team to enjoy the holiday time with their families and friends, we will not be checking email regularly during the time off. If you have any year-end needs or questions, please contact us by Monday, December 20, 2021, so we may help you before our time off. 

Thank you for entrusting us with your financial needs this year, and we look forward to continuing to help you in the New Year!

  • Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.
  • Peter Drucker

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

Review Your Holiday Benefit

“A holiday is an opportunity to journey within. It is also a chance to chill, to relax. It is when I switch on my rest mode.” – Prabhas

Accounting Today recently released their list of the 2021 Best Firms for Young Accountants.

Each year, Accounting Today and Best Companies Group recognize the 100 Best Firms to Work For in the U.S. — and then they pick the 10 Best Firms for Young Accountants from among those, based on the responses of their younger staff to a comprehensive employee survey. Click here to meet the ten firms.

As I browsed the list, something stood out to me. Only four of the ten best firms offered ten paid holidays. Four offered eight and two offered nine. I thought this was rather unusual. In my network of firms I believe ten paid holidays is very common:

  1. New Year’s Day
  2. First Friday after April 15
  3. Memorial Day
  4. Independence Day
  5. Labor Day
  6. Thanksgiving
  7. Day after Thanksgiving
  8. Christmas Eve
  9. Christmas Day
  10. One floating holiday

The floating holiday is often used to make a four-day weekend if July 4th falls on a Thursday, for example. Some firms give it as an employee’s birthday or any day of their choice.

Think about what your firm offers and see if you are in line with what is expected from future employees.

  • I look my best when I'm totally free, on holiday, walking on the beach.
  • Rosamund Pike

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

Is This Person a Good Fit?

“Everybody knows that fit matters but what most people do is hire based on other criteria and then either regret or fire based on a lack of fit, down the road.” – Bruce Tulgan

Often, when CPA firms are hiring, they place great focus on the candidate’s skill set. Did they have good grades? Have they passed the Exam? Are they familiar with the software products we use? Do they seem to be a good communicator. What kind of work experience do they have? Do they seem to have a great attitude?

In these challenging hiring times, you are so anxious to find a body, any halfway intelligent body, that you hire too quickly and regret it later.

Bruce Tulgan, in a recent blog post, titled, Finding Fit When Hiring or Promoting From Within tells us:

Fit is crucial to success.

Fit is intangible, hard to evaluate, and hard to measure. And with talent in such great demand versus supply, it is very hard to convince hiring managers to take the time and invest the scrutiny to do a deep dive evaluation of ‘fit’ before making the hire or promotion. This is even though fit is ultimately the biggest overall factor in success of a new hire or internal promotion.

While you are seeking people to fit your firm culture, you should also be aware of making promotions inside your firm. CPAs often promote people to the manager position just because they are good technicians. Many good technicians do not possess adequate people skills. A manager needs people skills! They are not a good fit for a manager position. The same thought applies to naming a new partner. Do they fit the partner role? Can they mentor young people, excel at client relationships, and bring in new business, or are they just an exceptional technician?

I know a very successful firm that puts candidates through a very rigorous hiring process. Many people at the firm, at all levels, talk with them before they are hired. The firm is very honest with the candidate about the hard work and sometimes long hours that they will be facing. Thus, they have developed a culture where people that don’t “fit” don’t get hired.

If you have hired people lately and they just haven’t worked out, keep in mind how much turnover costs you. Interview and promote for fit.

Read Tulgan’s blog post, it contains a lot of great information that you may want to put into practice.

  • Just because someone is intelligent, capable, and highly-skilled in their current role doesn’t necessarily mean they will find the same level of success elsewhere.
  • Bruce Tulgan

Monday, October 11th, 2021

The Best People Work Here

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

Hopefully, you have worked very diligently on building a brand that attracts and retains clients. You have testimonials that stress the fact that your firm is knowledgeable, progressive, and meets your client’s expectations for awesome service. You have experts in many disciplines and are also very active in community and charitable organizations. All of that builds a brand that attracts quality clients.

That brand also attracts quality people but with people, you need more. How prestigious is it to work at your firm? Is it prestigious at all? Bruce Tulgan calls it the prestige factor. Per Tulgan, “Prestigious organizations send two messages: ‘Not everyone gets to work here,’ and ‘It is a privilege and an honor to work here.’”

Much of this falls on the shoulders of your managers. How much have you invested in their people management skills? When managers set high expectations for themselves and those they manage you begin to build a prestigious workplace. It is up to managers (and partners also fill the role of manager), to weed out low performers. Your “all-stars” do not like working at a firm that tolerates “falling stars.

In this era of the great resignation, you need to take immediate steps to build your firm’s prestige factor. Read more from Tulgan here.

  • The one thing that organizations with prestigious cultures have in common is a reputation for shining a bright light of scrutiny on performance.
  • Bruce Tulgan

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

When They Walk In The Door

“If you want to ignite the spark, focus on them from the moment they walk in the door.”  – Bruce Tulgan

I have often talked about young, newly graduated talent walking into the door, for the first time, at their new job in a CPA firm. My story stresses the fact that from a baby’s first step they have heard applause for each accomplishment through their growing-up years. Even at college graduation, they hear applause.

What do they hear when they walk into a CPA firm? Silence.

From Bruce Tulgan – “With a concrete onboarding plan, clear learning objectives, and supporting materials—and one or two daily one-on-ones—you will be amazed how quickly you can get a new employee on-board, up-to-speed, and operating at full capacity.”

Read this great blog post by Bruce Tulgan and watch the short video summary. What can your firm do to make onboarding and continual employment at your firm enjoyable, exciting, and rewarding?

  • Employees today want to know, “What do you want from me today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this year?
  • Bruce Tulgan

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Boundaryless Recruiting

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.” – Elbert Hubbard

As accounting firms have adapted to a remote work environment, things have happened. Some of these things could be described as – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Team members have been working very effectively. Key people in your firm have become experts at training new hires remotely. Others have worked hard on guiding the culture of the firm. The good? Now, you can hire people no matter where they live. It is called boundaryless recruiting it is going very well for some firms.

Beware, the bad – Now firms from anywhere in the world can reach out to your valuable staff and hire them without the requirement of having to relocate. They can pay them a much larger salary than you are offering and that much larger salary goes even farther if your firm is in a lower cost of living location.

The ugly part is that while you are widening your horizons when it comes to hiring, other firms are doing the same. Boundaryless recruiting has become just one battlefield in the war for people. Don’t give up!

  • It always seems impossible until it's done.
  • Nelson Mandela

Monday, September 27th, 2021

Is It Really Too Hard?

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act.” – Amelia Earhart

Back in late August, Daniel Hood, Editor-in-Chief of Accounting Today asked the question, “Is it too hard to become a CPA?” He referred to the difficulty of the CPA Exam and the extra credit hours needed to sit for the Exam. You can read my opinion here.

Many other people, most of them CPAs, sent their replies and opinions to Dan. Last week, he published many of them.

I think you will find the answers interesting – the ones from practitioners and the ones from CPA want-to-bes. Read them here.

  • Difficult things aren't easy, but they're worth it.
  • Mia Love