Five unexpected hires that accountancy firms should hire
Posted by Hassan Khallaoui
Up to a point, it makes sense for a small CPA firm to be resourceful and handle the marketing, business development and client-facing sides of the business alone. But at some point the firm needs to hire in order to grow. This is especially true for CPA firms who are attempting to scale up their practice to provide more strategic guidance and support to their clients. These value-added services require that individual accountants expand both their general business knowledge and their messaging to clients.
Here are some of the most important "outsider" hires that an accounting firm can make to plug the skills gap and get their value-added services off the ground.
1. Digital marketer
Marketing used to be low on the agenda for CPA firms, but increasing competition for work means that accountants must now look for new and innovative ways to promote their services. The new(ish) kid on the block is digital marketing. It offers a way of promoting your services via electronic media- web, social media, pay per click advertising, mobile apps, podcasts, direct mail and point of sale.
Unlike traditional advertising, which offers no guarantee of a return on the advertising spend, digital marketing strategies are driven by data. By using digital marketing channels and methods, a digital marketer can analyze the conversion data associated with marketing campaigns to understand what is working and what isn't - typically, in real time.
2. Sales representative
Once a CPA firm has a finely tuned service to sell, it is ready to add a sales representative to the team. Their job is to bring personal, presentational and sales skills to the table - generating leads and closing sales. Judicious hiring is essential. Accountancy sales are intrinsically linked to technical expertise and knowledge. Clients do not want to deal with a sales rep who does not understand the finance sector. The challenge is to find someone who knows it's their mission to hit the phone, schedule meetings and open up new revenue streams, but who can also master the "technical speak" of accounting.
Hot on the heels of Deloitte announcing the acquisition of a boutique leadership consultancy of business psychologists, "leadership strategy" is fast becoming a buzzword in accounting circles. Hiring an occupational psychologist means that you can offer specialty leadership services (leadership assessment, in-depth psychological profiling and leadership development) alongside your core services. The market is estimated to be worth over $40 billion a year globally.
4. Business development expert
Accountancy firms crossing the bridge from bookkeeper to trusted financial advisor will be expected to provide business development services to their clients. A business development manager's job is to twofold:
- To crunch the numbers - looking at the health of a business through sales, revenue and expenses.
- To sit alongside a company's sales and marketing teams, poring through the data and market research to identify prospects, pitch services to new clients and, ultimately, grow the business.
As such, business development experts serve an internal and an external function - driving new business opportunities and cross-selling to the CPA form's existing client base, as well as offering business development services to clients.
5. Customer support representative
Accountancy has traditionally been a "lone wolf" profession. In the age of collaboration, however, it is expected that the accounting function will increasingly be team-based, using technology solutions that allow multi-disciplinary teams and their clients to access the same work platform and work together in real time.
Supporting new and existing clients as they navigate the new era of team service delivery is crucial. By handling all the general product and service questions, a customer support representative can supplement the personal relationship that a CPA has with their client and ensure that no one gets lost in the fold.
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