The public accounting industry is known for its long grueling hours, piles of papers and accountants hunched over adding machines. There is a common image of CPAs churning out a mass of tax returns and financial reports with a Lumbergh figure hovering over their shoulder mumbling about TPS reports and ‘Mmm, yeah, I’m going to have to go ahead and ask you to come in on Sunday, too.’
Maybe a bit dramatic, but if you take a closer look at the makeup of public accountants today, you will find many just-entering-the-workforce accountants or a handful of 20+ year experienced accountants… but the middle 5 – 19 years experience levels are definitively lacking.
To some extent, this is an anecdotal conclusion based on our experience recruiting, attending CPE courses and commiserating with fellow colleagues. However, it is also a common topic among leading industry publications like Accounting Today – Art of Accounting: Why CPAs Leave Public Accounting. Even the American Institute of CPA’s confirms our concern: How to stop young CPAs from leaving public accounting.
Reoccurring themes among these articles begin to emerge as to why accountants leave the industry after only a few years:
- Long grueling hours; no work/life balance
- Inflexible work schedule
- Usually no additional compensation for overtime
- Lack of autonomy
- Accountant / Client Mismatch
- Feeling Unvalued
While the industry has predominantly remained stagnant in its work environment, The Kane Firm has a long standing tradition in providing unique scheduling options and compensation for all hours worked. Facing the trend of young accountants leaving the industry, The Kane Firm realized it was time for further change.
Over the last several years, we leveraged our unique tradition to transform into a ‘new’ public accounting work environment – breaking the mold formed by the rest of the industry.
Some of the ways we have done this include:
- Customized work schedules; informally agreed upon as necessary and formally reviewed annually
- Compensation for every hour worked through straight overtime pay and/or additional vacation time
- Employees are given autonomy to:
- Manage Work Load
- Handle Client Communication / Relationships
- Career Development
- Problem Solve
- Commitment to avoid form over substance
The Kane Firm chose to move in this direction partially due to industry pressures. However, we also found this direction has built a happier and healthier environment within our firm. Empowering our accountants to have control over their day to day, career development and to be problem solvers, has provided fulfillment for employees and management alike while allowing the business to be scalable.
We believe we are moving in the right direction, but that is not to say we don’t make mistakes or face pitfalls. Over this series of blogs, we will discuss our successes, pitfalls and aspirations as we continue to ‘break the mold’.
If you are interested in learning more about working at The Kane Firm, please contact us.