Leadership / Management | Organizational Development | Training & CPE

How to win the talent war

Dsc03565_2 If you are a CPA firm and need help winning the talent war -- or just winning -- I think you need to belong to the AICPA PCPS.

I thought this as I have watched what the PCPS group has been doing under the leadership of AICPA VP Jim Metzler, and after spending more time with Mark Koziel (who works with Jim), I am more convinced than ever.

Mark recently visited Maryland managing partners at a roundtable for the MACPA at the Turf Valley Resort. Mark is the senior technical manager for the PCPS's small firms division. Mark also has experience as a senior manager in a large firm in Buffalo, NY, which means he has been in the trenches in a firm and speaks from first-hand experience.

Pcps_top_20 Here is his bottom line on recruitment and retention:

  • Employees want to be “engaged” in the firm mission , vision and values.
  • They want to be more involved with clients.
  • They are accustomed to real-time communication.
  • They want career growth opportunities and greater clarity of what it looks like.
  • They want personalized one-fits-one policies.
  • They want interesting, challenging projects.
  • It’s about culture.

Mark pointed out that eight of the top 10 reasons to join or stay with a firm are about the firm culture and atmosphere and not about money, according to the PCPS Top Talent study. Easy programs like developing career paths, better training programs and flexibility are underestimated for the impact that they could have on recruitment and retention. He added that the opportunities for smaller firms to differentiate and capitalize on their strengths could make them as competitive as the largest firms. (He referenced a Cornell/Gevity Institute study.) That study correlated revenue growth, lower turnover, employee satisfaction and profitablity with good employee management programs.

Mark previewed the new Human Capital Resource Center that the PCPS has developed for firms. (Hint: These are the actual tools you can use to implement many of the suggestions that turned up in the Gevity study.) He also included some excellent resources that I am including here for you:

  1. Team recruiting action plan.
  2. Assessing team resources, including a basic competency model.
  3. A client evaluation tool, something I believe every firm needs.

This is just the beginning of hands-on tools and techniques available in the PCPS section.

Pcps_maryland_experienceMark's message resonates with me because it is exactly what I have been hearing from our young professionals and our Leadership Academy participants. This is also a major area of concern as the combination of the staff shortage and the generational differences (which we have reported on in this blog) are creating stress cracks in the foundation of most firms.

I worry that we have an inflection point where the managers who are the workhorses of the firm (and in the shortest supply -- Gen Xers) are caught between the demanding boomer partners and demanding (in an opposite way) millennials coming out of college. For more, see my post "Something's gotta give."

What do you think? Our thanks to Mark and the AICPA for sharing him with us.


Mark is also mentioned in a chapter on CPA firm training in the book, Firm of the Future, by Paul Dunn and Ron Baker.