Who Is Doing the Work of Your Firm?

If you have a small- to mid-sized accounting or CPA firm here in Pennsylvania, your employees are probably accountants and support staff. Yet the number of college students studying accounting or going on to become CPAs is decreasing, making it more of a challenge to find new accountants. If your current staff is overworked but you’d like to grow your firm, you may want to evaluate the work your employees are currently doing and see what tasks can be reassigned to a non-accountant.

Focusing on your core practice

You’re an accounting firm. You make your money from offering accounting or financial services. Therefore, your best accounting and CPA professionals should be focusing all or most of their time on the work that will produce revenue. 

But many small- and mid-sized companies have employees wearing multiple hats. There are many different aspects of running a business that must be done but don’t necessarily require an accounting degree. Given the change in the hiring market, it may be time to evaluate the work that your staff is doing and reassign work more appropriately to experts in those areas. 

Your first step is to define your core practice. Do you primarily offer tax services? Do you provide small businesses with bookkeeping or financial reports? Do you offer financial advisory services to individuals? Or do you support startups or other firms with strategic planning, bank loan preparation, business compliance, or other services? 

These core offerings are where your accounting professionals should be focusing their time. Any other activities waste their talent and cut into your bottom line. 

Hiring or outsourcing for your needs

Have your staff track their work for a week or a month, classifying the kinds of tasks they’re performing. Make sure they define anything that does not require their accounting expertise. This could even include making large numbers of copies or making sure the break room is properly stocked with coffee, creamers, etc. Other activities they may be involved in include:

  • Marketing
  • Firm-wide communication to staff
  •  Firm-wide communication blasts to clients
  • Business development
  • Content creation
  • New-hire training
  • Handling incoming queries
  • Mail handling
  • Filing and document control
  • Tracking cyber-security, campus security, and document security
  • Evaluating and implementing new technology for improved work-flow 

All these activities need to be done and many of them require input and advice from the accounting staff. For instance, accountants should provide content or subject matter for regular client communications. That said, your accountants should not be actually handling these functions. 

Once your staff has provided you with a detailed breakdown of the kinds of work they do, look at what functions are taking up a chunk of time that would justify a new hire, a temp or part-time employee, or outsourcing to a service. Freeing your accountants from these responsibilities means more time for them to dedicate to your core services. While you may have to hire someone to handle marketing and communication, with your accountants’ time freed up you’ll be able to grow your business. This growth should support the cost of the new hire and allow for greater revenue into the future – and probably much happier staff.