In the past year (2019) have you noticed any trends in practice at your firm/organization? For example, changing workloads; challenges in recruitment and retention, training, or promotion; outsourcing of accounting services; staff shortages; or tapping into retirees?
From experience, I believe employee retention both in public and private practice is a big challenge. Employees leave mostly due to wanting higher salaries, not being able to achieve the right work/life balance, or a corporate culture misalignment.
According to the 2019 Rosenberg Survey, there is a huge divide between the age of partners and professional staff. Have you seen the same? Do you think this has an impact on retention?
I believe this has been improving. I see a lot of younger professionals making it to partner quicker.
The 2019 Rosenberg Survey found that the percentage of women partners continues to grow very slowly, especially at large firms. What have you experienced? What explains the challenges the profession faces in achieving greater gender parity? How about racial and ethnic diversity?
I believe firms/companies are more conscious than ever on diversity and reflecting that in their leaders/partners. I see many more women partners and leaders, as well as many from different ethnicities.
According to the survey, revenue per partner and equity per partner are increasing. Leverage (the ratio of professional and administrative staff to partners) seems to impact this. Can you comment on this—do you see burnout and extra work increasing among nonpartners? Are you witnessing greater unhappiness or staff turnover?
You will always hear people complain about “working more” than their manager/partner. I believe that has to do a lot with perception. Staff usually deal more with details and tangible results that can be measured, like the number of returns filed, while partners are doing the same amount of work or more, but with results that are not as tangible or easily measured. They are involved in daily decision-making, following up with their team in order to complete projects; they develop strategies for the firm/business and the exploring new projects. They are still putting in a lot of hours and work. Obviously, they make more, but this should be a motivation for staff to keep pushing themselves to make partner.
Can you weigh in on what you’ve seen in 2019 in terms of new practice areas, new regulation, legislation headaches, and new emerging technologies and practice growth areas?
I am no longer in public accounting, but from attending conferences and seminars, the big talk is about artificial intelligence and blockchain. It also seems like CPA practices are moving more toward consulting roles in order to secure future revenue streams.
What concerns do you have about the professional marketplace? Do you think there has been a dilution of the value of the CPA license?
As a CPA, I see a lot of value in the license. Even in the private sector, companies prefer hiring CPAs for senior management roles. I strongly believe having the CPA license gives us a competitive advantage in the professional marketplace.
How would you counsel high school or college students about careers in accounting?
I always encourage students to follow the CPA path. It’s not only monetarily rewarding, but it also develops a skill set that is transferable among various industries. Every business needs a good “numbers person.” We are the backbone of all organizations.
Do you find your work satisfying? Valuable? Meaningful?
Absolutely. Our leadership as CPAs and our contributions to our firms/organizations are very valuable. We advise our higher-ups, teams, and colleagues at so many levels, always backed by powerful data. They trust us. To earn people’s trust by delivering results is satisfying.
Historically, CPAs were responsible for protecting the public, ensuring the integrity of financial statements for all stakeholders. Do you think this is still the CPA’s role? Is this still a critically important objective?
Yes, I believe so. In my current role, I make sure every decision I make is the right decision for all owners and stakeholders of the company. I know that what I represent on the financial statements is correct and free of misstatement. I always perform my due diligence to deliver the highest quality of work. We are the trusted professionals and should always continue to be.