Accountants are keen to embrace new advisory business models based on cloud technology such as real-time data and interactive forecasting, but many firms lack the resources or expertise to make this move.
While more collaborative cloud services rely heavily on technology, finance data hub developer Silverfin has identified that having the right people in place to deliver these services is becoming a major hurdle. To help firms tackle this talent challenge, the company has published a guide on hiring, retaining, training and motivating business advisers.
This article presents a brief overview of key points from that guide.
Many of the low-level bookkeeping and admin tasks are run now by software, which means practices need to recruit people with the right technological knowledge and client service skills to thrive in collaborative relationships. But do you know what those skills look like, and who has them within your team?
Assess the current status of your firm
The first step in the talent challenge is to define what you are actually looking for. You will need to revisit your existing systems and processes and assess whether they adequately support your business model.
Put into place a firm-wide review to ensure that your practice has the right foundations and technological infrastructure to meet the expectations of your clients.
Some of the things you will need to assess are:
- Your business model: Is it efficient, scalable and profitable for the firm or do you need to make modifications so that it is?
- Target clients: Clearly define who your target customers will be and the services your firm needs to provide in order to solve their problems.
- Internal roles: Which are the essential internal roles and responsibilities within your firm? Define the list of staff required to deliver your strategy, and define the job specifications for each role.
- Your systems and software: Update any systems that don’t meet all your requirements.
Finally, consider how all these systems, software and people interact with clients and whether there are any new opportunities to improve processes and communication.
Consider the roles needed in your firm
Once you have established the current profile of your firm and how you want to enhance it, you need to focus on human resources. Does your firm have the talent to deliver your strategy? You may need to hire in new people to fill skill gaps identified in your assessment.
Alongside a solid base of data entry, bookkeeping and administration staff, you will need to cover additional skills that are becoming essential within modern accountancy firms:
- Software expert: A person who knows everything about the software you use and how to choose the right apps and integrations.
- A data analyst: Look for an analytical person who can see patterns in a client’s numbers and identify the right opportunities in your clients’ businesses.
- Trusted advisers: Client relationships and advisory services are an essential part of any accountancy practice. Find people who know how to empathise with your clients and match solutions to their needs.
Train and upskill your people
Just as important as finding the best talent for the firm is to lose the inefficient talent. You can part ways with the people who are not able to increase the value of your firm, but you can also retrain people who don’t fit into your new model and move them to new roles.
Try to provide regular training for all the people working in your firm, so that they stay up to speed with new technology and new ways of adding value for clients. To do this, you can use tools such as online training and other online resources. Peer mentoring can also help junior staff increase their skills and confidence while keeping the rest of the staff up to date.
When it comes to client service, face-to-face time with clients will help your less experienced staff, who will learn by interacting with clients and participating in meetings.
For more tips and insight, download your copy of ‘Solving the talent challenge for established accountancy firms: Five steps for hiring, retaining and training the right people.’