Organizational Development

Firm culture: The key weapon in the talent wars

Recruit_2You might think smaller CPA firms don't have the resources to compete in today's talent wars.

You'd be wrong.

That's what Rick Telberg says, anyway. In "Winning the Talent Wars," Telberg says smaller firms are not only holding their own against bigger firms in the recruiting arena, they're actually winning. And they're doing it by focusing less on paychecks and more on intangible -- and often more important -- factors.

"The local firms that seem to be winning the talent wars don’t always do it on salary or perks," Telberg writes. "More often, it’s about offering a clear sense of mission, strong vision and solid values."

Telberg's source for the column is Mark Koziel, the AICPA’s senior technical manager in charge of practice management. Koziel offered similar sentiments in this MACPA podcast and during a gathering of managing partners of Maryland CPA firms. The bottom line on recruitment and retention, he told the partners, includes the following:

  • Employees want to be engaged in the firm mission , vision and values.
  • They want to be more involved with clients.
  • They want career growth opportunities and greater clarity of what it looks like.
  • They want interesting, challenging projects.

Koziel says the most important factor is often firm culture. In fact, eight of the top 10 reasons why CPAs join or stay with a firm are about firm culture and atmosphere, not about money, according to the PCPS Top Talent study.

I  believe every word of it. I've worked on both sides of that argument, and I'm here to tell you that firm culture wins every time. At least in my eyes.

Meanwhile, Maryland and D.C. firms of all sizes have a leg up in another area -- location. Washington ranks fourth and Baltimore 13th in a recent ranking of the 10 best places for young adults. View the complete rankings here.

What one factor, more than all others, is keeping you at your current job -- or driving you away?


Bill Sheridan