The accountant's guide to staffing a happy and successful practice

24th Jul 2017
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Happy firm

This short series has been written with the intention of helping you get the most from your staff and maximise the profits of your practice.

For any firm of accountants, with the exception of losing a major client, the most costly mistakes are going to relate to employees. Indeed, if you hire the wrong employee or employees, that might lead directly to the loss of a key client.

While I do not have formal HR experience, my main qualification for writing on the subject is the benefit of bitter experience at both ends, as employer and employee, including 20 years working as a partner in tax practices of various sizes.

Each article will offer very direct advice that should help you to avoid some of the pitfalls that other firms have dived into over the years, might on occasion amuse and will contain a series of anonymised anecdotes that are likely to leave you either with a familiar, wry smile, shaking your head in recognition or possibly bursting into tears.

The Basics

It is generally recognised that an accountancy practice makes its money from selling employees’ (and partners’) time. In order to maximise profits, it therefore follows that you need to charge the maximum amount for each hour provided, while paying as little as possible to staff and for other expenses.

This is as simple as it gets but, almost immediately, stresses become apparent in a model that can work perfectly or leave you tearing your hair out.

To get the perfect staff balance you need to recruit them, retain them and, where necessary, get rid of them and start the cycle again. In principle, the same applies to your fellow partners, although there is always the risk that if you get that one wrong, they could get rid of you.

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