Build an Accounting Team of Talented Advisors for Your Firm

By Posted in - Public Blog on February 6th, 2018 0 Comments

Talented Accounting Team

Building a great accounting team is not easy.

It takes a concerted effort to attract and build a team of talented people.

People who want to do advisory work, and have the knowledge and skills to deliver it well.

It’s easy to say, that’s who you’d like to attract. It’s another thing entirely to actually have a strategy and system in place that connects you with those people.

You also need the right mix of skills and personality styles to cover everything in the firm, including — but not limited to — advisory.

Why? Because not having the right mix of team members can be very costly to your firm. Thankfully, there is an easy solution.

There’s a lot to unpack within each of those, and they are all interrelated.

Let’s start by focusing on attracting people to your accounting team who want to do advisory work.

Find people who WANT to advise to join your accounting team

Accounting firms are advisory in nature — the act of advising and having a relationship with clients — it’s a people-person profession.

So why do accounting firms keep hiring people who are unlikely to be suited to being strong advisors?

Because that’s what 99% of other accounting firm’s do. In other words, a lack of clarity and forethought.

MC examines the situation in the context of the archetypal roles outlined by David Maister. Grinders, Minders, Finders, and MC’s addition—Reminders. Watch below for a breakdown on the types and tendencies firm’s have to continually hire Grinders, instead of opting for the ‘Winning Mix’.

As you see, some personality types are far more suited to advisory than others. In fact, some accountants and advisors view client-facing time as an interruption!

Less than ideal for the advisor.

Even more less than ideal for the client who won’t be getting the care, attention, and responsiveness they deserve.

So what can you do? How can you find and hire accounting team members who are eager and willing to advise?

Don’t get rid of all your Grinders — that’s not the point of this post.

What we recommend, is to to hire from all of the archetypes outlined in the video. That’s what we call, the Winning Mix.

You can find out your Social Profile here. Send a link to your accounting team members and find out whether your firm is weighted too heavily in a particular area.

If you watched the video, you’ll learn more about social profiles. You can use that to draft a few questions to ask potential new hires so that you can find out where they’re positioned, and which archetype(s) they fall into.

Then you’ll be hiring accountants on to your team who a) actually want to advise, and b) complement your existing mix.

This is one method among many. There are other ways you can achieve a diversified, capable team for your firm.

Here’s a practical example of one alternative approach.

Attract young talent to your accounting team

Nothing ever happens without someone first taking action to make it happen.

Jason Croston of SRJ Walker Wayland took action to attract young talent to his accounting and advisory firm 6 years ago. He got in touch with a local high school and started speaking to parents and students each year, offering 3-4 cadetships within the practice.

Watch the Friday Beerstorming chat below, where Jason explains his approach and the benefits he’s experienced.

It’s an approach that’s worked well for SRJWW.

Why does it work so well?

It helps attract quality young people to the firm by seeking out talented kids early on, rather than waiting for hopeful graduates to apply to the firm. Jason takes a proactive approach, and it pays off.

Be sure to watch the video to hear the discussion around personality profiling and The Winning Mix, to find out how cadetships work at SRJWW (and how you can create a similar system for your firm), and why it’s so important kids get real-world experience with careers they’re interested in early on.

Jason also shares the results of this approach after 6 years doing things differently within his firm.

As you can see, striking the right mix of staff personality types in your accounting firm is crucial to success.

Let’s go deeper on the Winning Mix, so you can understand your team better. Uncover your firm’s gaps and weaknesses to bridge when hiring future staff.

Is your accounting firm team Grinder-heavy? Find out what it’s costing you.

As a progressive accountant or advisor, you want to offer the most value to your small business clients.

But to achieve that you need the right mix of people in your accounting team. You need a mix of Finders, Minders, Grinders, and Reminders.

Far too many firms are hiring technicians (Grinders) — people who love a task list but see client meetings as disruptions rather than engaging or fulfilling.

Think about your firm. Think about your advisors and your support team. Does your accounting firm have The Winning Mix?

If each of the social styles are present and optimally represented in your firm, congratulations! That’s a huge win which, combined with other factors, puts you on a path to high growth and success. We’ve seen at PARADOX among many award-winning firms.

If not, don’t panic you’re not alone. See the situation for what it is.

This represents an opportunity to change and re-orient your firm. And doing that doesn’t mean firing all the Grinders and trying to hire the other social styles.

Set aside some time in your calendar to watch our online training session exploring The Winning Mix. This recording will help you understand the problem plaguing accounting and advisory firms.

But more importantly, it will help you see what you can do about it.

Time Stamps:

  • 00:00 — Introduction
  • 06:30 — The upstream and downstream questions to understand to achieve The Winning Mix
  • 25:00 — What does your team’s social style mix look like, is your firm advising as best you can?
  • 30:30 — Assertiveness + Responsiveness
  • 41:45 — Minders, Grinders, Finders, and Reminders
  • 47:00 — Assertiveness and Responsiveness behaviours
  • 51:00 — The People Paradox — What’s the social profile of your accounting team?
  • 55:00 — Feedback from a large firm about hiring advisors

If you skipped the webinar recording, do yourself a favour and block out an hour in your calendar to watch it.

You will discover a better alternative to what most other firms are doing. The benefit to your firm will make it more than worthwhile.

Now you are equipped with the knowledge to make better hiring decisions in future. You have the power to build the accounting team, and by extension the accounting firm, that you want.

If you found the above content helpful you may like to dig a little deeper. We’re at a place now where graduates have few real-world skills in spite of more formal education than ever before.

And yet we see great results from SRJWW’s cadetship program. Why might that be?

Recruiting high-calibre talent to your accounting or advisory firm

T.K. Coleman, the Education Director of Praxis, and Isabella Carter, Chief Creative Officer here at PARADOX recently discussed this topic.

T.K. sheds some light on the issues with modern education, and the lack of experience and real skills young people get today. Perhaps a cadetship program is the perfect solution to this problem.

Watch this webinar to discover:

  • How Praxis is changing the conversation around education,
  • The paradigm shifts that need to happen in education
  • And most importantly, how these shifts are going to help (and affect) you and your business.

What we talked about:

(02:00) We kicked off the interview with T.K. explaining his philosophy on education. He believes that there isn’t just one path to education. Instead of school being something you’re forced to do, it should be like a yoga studio. Something you do when you want to and do because it’s helping you get closer to your goals.

(06:00) How did PARADOX get involved with Praxis? Bella met T.K. while she was a preschool teacher and was able to teach them to ask their own questions and incorporate philosophy into their everyday education.

And it’s when you apply that mindset to the accounting field you see the shift that needs to occur. Accountants need to go from number crunchers to problem solvers and communicators.

(09:00) How many people have ever been disappointed with the lack of real world skills from graduates of traditional universities? Probably most business owners. Graduates haven’t been taught in an environment that motivates mastery. Thus, when they enter the workforce they have to learn how to actually use their knowledge to create value.

(11:00) Which is where Praxis comes in. Instead of getting a degree to get past the gatekeepers who use degrees as a filter to avoid wasting their time, participants are learning how to show that they can create value in the real world. In fact, Praxis has had businesses completely remove the degree requirements because the participant placed with them showed how well someone without a degree can create value for them. Imagine being able to find ideal accounting team members for your firm through something like Praxis.

(16:00) What is Praxis? Praxis is a 12-month entrepreneurial boot camp and apprenticeship, with a 6-month boot camp where participants build their brand, work on portfolio projects, and learn the skills they need before getting placed with a startup for a six-month apprenticeship.   

(20:00) You need to own a business to be ‘an entrepreneur’, but not to approach your work with an entrepreneurial mindset.  And it’s that entrepreneurial mindset that will lead to an interesting and valuable life. It’s this mindset that Praxis stresses to its participants.

Not only that but it’s this mindset that’s driving the way Praxis is changing the conversation around education. And the first step to doing that is taking education outside of the classroom and learning in the real world. Where there are real rewards and real consequences.

(26:00) MC on how Praxis has re-invented the apprenticeship when the ed. system is still teaching the same way it did when people were being prepped for factory work.

(27:00) Praxis isn’t just about focusing on a particular set of skills, it’s also about emphasising where those skills need to be learned in order for true development to take place. It doesn’t matter how long you practice public speaking in front of a mirror. You’re not going to get better until there’s actual risk and actual feedback.

Not just that—but feedback from the market is much different then the feedback we get in school.

“In the real world you don’t get an F, you get ignored.” – T.K. Coleman

(30:00) Why are interviews and CV’s still being used when competency tests are so much more valuable? It’s because for most people they’re still the best way available. But this is changing for all industries—including accounting. This is changing as technology advances and makes gatekeepers obsolete.

A Praxis participant was recently hired based on a podcast interview they did.


       “Technology isn’t just changing the world that we’re trying to prepare for, it’s changing the way that we signal that preparation.” – T.K. Coleman


(36:00) The placement process isn’t just blind pairing’s of businesses to participants. Praxis matches them based on the participant’s interests, goals, strengths, and weaknesses as well as the mutual excitement both parties have about working together.

(46:00) Praxis participants don’t have to learn a certain list of tools. Instead, they learn how to use the tools that will use at their business partner. In fact, business partners are more concerned with a proven track record of being able to master new skills as necessary, rather than being the master of one or a few tools that don’t provide value to the business.

(52:00) You’re not going to get entrepreneurial, value creating employees by hiring people the same way everyone else does.

Accounting teams are not going to become talented overnight. Nor will people’s personalities change to give you The Winning Mix. You have to make the effort to hire well in the first place.

Implement what you’ve learned here, and your accounting team will become better with each new hire you bring onboard.

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