Leadership / Management | Training & CPE

Top 10 skills wanted by top talent in Maryland

A study conducted by the MACPA of CPA firm managing partners and our New / Young Professionals group identified the top 10 skills needed by CPAs who were on the "partner track." The survey used the AICPA's CAT (Competency Assessment Tool) based on research on the competencies requird for CPAs in CPA firms. The top skills:

  1. Top_ten_skills_needed_2Managing and developing people
  2. Decision making
  3. Integrity and ethics
  4. Innovative / critical thinking
  5. Teamwork
  6. Strategic thinking and planning
  7. Problem solving
  8. Relationship management
  9. Coaching and empowerment
  10. Professionalism

We combined this with research into corporate universities and developed the MACPA's Leadership Academy, which is now in its third year. The amazing thing is that these new / young professionals expressed sincere interest in career development and advancing inside their firms. Yet the majority said their firms were not investing enough in training and developing in these critical performance skills. They said that without these skills, they felt the partner goal was out of reach.

Competency_ladder_2 We have been studying this and working on it for the past few years and have developed a framework to understand the CPA career path better. Our competency ladder shows the progression of a CPA in a firm from entry-level to partner. The reflexive model shows the archetypal image of a bouncing ball.

Two significant ideas are evident. One is the extra bounce (increase in performance) achieved by managing the career path continuum and matching the right skills to the levels. Two is the turn and change in direction at the manager "ball" at the bottom. This indicates a change in skills focus from concrete technical skills to intangible strategic performance (soft) skills. These skills are exactly what our new/young profesisonals identified in the survey. Our own Business Learning Institute is a national leader in providing training and development on these exact topics.

This brings up three major opportunities to attract and retain talent.

  1. Develop a clear career path for your organization by matching roles and responsibilities to this competency ladder.
  2. Identify critical skills needed to execute your strategic plan and map them to the position levels.
  3. Develop personal training plans for your people and discuss with them (or have theme develop their own plans based on the career ladder and skills needed).

By the way, this hits two of the top 10 reasons to stay with a firm identified by the AICPA PCPS's recent Top Talent Survey (which I highly recommend).

Another major area of concern is that they identified a major two-way generation gap (1)  between them and their baby boomer partners and (2) the gap between them and the new generation entering the workforce (millennials). Managing the different expectations between these two generations in addition to being the smallest generation in the workforce makes them significantly at risk. These are the managers in CPA firms and in companies. I think this is one of the biggest "hidden" challenges we face in our profession. These are the most experienced, knowledgeable CPAs in the market underneath partners. This is an area we are discussing in our town hall meetings and profssional issue update and I confirmed over and over again. 

What would happen if this group decides to leave their positions? Tell me what you think and what are you doing about it.