When I started the Lance CPA Group, I wanted to build a firm that was distinctly different from my experience working at other accounting firms. I wanted to make sure that the people I hired felt valued – through the way we treated them, compensated them, and the culture we built. I wanted to prioritize hiring people that other accounting firms passed over. In all previous settings, the ‘work’ in the work-life equation took over. I decidedly chose to build a firm where work had to fit in and around life, and not the other way around.
The Lance CPA Group team is comprised of primarily stay-at-home parents. As a remote firm, our team can work from home, at the dance studio, or in a coffee shop. Using Xero and a host of other great cloud-based apps, we can serve our clients wherever we need to be. We aren’t tied down to working in an office or specific hours, which gives us the flexibility we need to live our lives and get our work done. By providing this type of work environment, we have been able to hire some of the best people out there.
One of the biggest reasons people are attracted to, or leave your firm, is the culture. A firm’s culture is driven by its core values and how they manifest in practice. One of the core values of our firm is ‘Courageous Authenticity’, which means being transparent, vulnerable, and honest. The culture we have developed around this value enables our team to interact with each other and our clients in a way that puts preconceptions aside and leaves any ego at the door in order to be able to create relationships where people can truly be themselves. When I do something wrong, I know my team will bring my mistake to me in a way where I can learn from it because transparency, vulnerability, and honesty are present.
Hiring and retaining employees is a tough task for accounting firm owners. The demand for accounting and bookkeeping talent is greater than the supply of labor, thus leaning in favor of the employee. Accountants have a multitude of options in choosing what type of position they want. This means it’s even more important that accounting firms build the type of firm that can attract and retain the right people.
This month’s Xero Hour is all about people. Xero Hour brings together a community of accountants and bookkeepers with the idea that collaborating with our fellow peers enables us to more effectively lead our firms and better serve our clients. In October, we are going to be putting our collective wisdom together to identify how we can best recruit and retain people in our firms.
In my experience hiring people, finding the right fit is of utmost importance. As the saying goes, hire for culture, train for skill. Most people who are applying to work at your firm likely know debits and credits, but not everyone is right for your firm. Hiring someone that does not fit your culture can create negative impacts on how you operate. I recommend spending time to understand your firm’s value and how they apply in action in your firm. If the culture is not what you want it to be now, figure how what needs to change and make those changes before you start hiring.
Understanding your compensation model is also key in attracting and retaining the right people. Compensation is one way to show your employees how much you value them. It goes beyond simply their base wage or salary, and needs to fit with the culture of your firm. We try to foster a sense of ownership at Lance CPA Group in our culture. We put our money where our mouth is by offering a 401k plan that includes profit-sharing. At the end of year, we put a sizeable amount of our profit into the profit-sharing plan. We reward ownership by giving our people the chance to share in the profits of the firm.
People are the greatest asset an accounting or bookkeeping firm has. Therefore, investing your time in understanding why people want to work and stay at your firm is critical. Listen to your employees and work with your peers to understand how you can improve your culture or how your firm operates. In doing so, you will better understand what’s needed in order to attract and retain the people you need to build your firm.
Want to get involved and join a community of like-minded accounting professionals on a journey to accelerate their practices? Find your local Xero Hour event here.
Joshua Lance, Lance CPA Group