This blog tracks the rise of the Accountant for the Facebook Generation: those accountants that have swapped their timesheets for Twitter - why they are doing it and how they are successful.
The Single Biggest Challenge for any Accountancy Practice
If you ask the Managing Partner of almost any thriving accountancy practice what the single biggest challenge they face is, what do you think the answer will be?
Picking up new clients? Retaining clients? Debtors? Billing off Work in Progress? Getting Partners to agree on a new strategy? Compliance? Audit regulation? Perhaps how best to compete with Facebook Generation Accountants?? Possibly, but no.
With few exceptions, the answer you get will be the same: RECRUITMENT. Recruiting and retaining the right people (as well as getting rid of the wrong ones) is the biggest challenge industry-wide.
It is therefore no surprise that Accountants of the Facebook Generation face exactly the same challenge, only magnified. Throughout the profession, Facebook Generation accountants are in the absolute minority. From the firm's perspective, you can't claim to be a new-age accountant and then put some uninspiring (yet well meaning) industry stalwart in front of a client. No way never. The challenge is to somehow find the cream of the profession and hope that they can be tempted away - often tempted away from the perceived secruity of a firm that can trace its roots back to 1891!
Training - or 'growing your own' as one Managing Partner I spoke with recently called it - is the obvious answer. However this is no quick fix, 'growing your own' isn't 100% successful and incurs a significant investment of time and money. If you're growing fast and need some experienced bodies, you have no choice but to recruit - and quite often deal with the devil (recruitment agents!) I've found the best tactic is to be constantly looking - so that if/when the right person presents themselves, you can snap them up and find a role for them if you have to. It might cost more in the short-term, but always pays off longer-term.
Recruitment is at the forefront of my mind at the moment as we're embarking upon our next round of recruitment at all levels at The Wow Company - explicitly looking for 'switched-on accountants' that get the whole Accountants for the Facebook Generation concept. On the Job ads, we've even said "Accountants without personalities need not apply" - it's the first time we've been quite so bold and it will be interesting to see what comes of it. In the ideal world, I'd like to think that our future recruits would proactively approach us via Twitter - or LinkedIn - being Accountants for the Facebook Generation after all!
Let me know what you think. What do you do? What innovative ideas do you have for recruitment? Do you take on trainees? If so, how do you increase the chances of success of your trainees?