Most accounting firms are small. Approximately 22.5 percent of firms have fewer than nine employees. There are plenty of pros to working for a small accounting firm. For example, compared to working for a large firm, employee schedules are often more flexible, their work hours a bit shorter, and work pressure may not be as intense. However, small firms do not always offer the same quality of training as large accounting firms.
“In the next five years, continuous learning opportunities about their industry are what employees want most,” stated Training Industry. To give your small firm a competitive edge and attract the best talent, level up in the area of CPA training.
3 Ways to Provide Effective CPA Training
Here are three tips for optimizing the CPA training your small accounting firm offers:
1. Provide plenty of hands-on learning opportunities — Most small accounting firms don’t offer the caliber of formal training larger firms do. This doesn’t mean their employees can’t be as effectively trained. After all, most of what we learn is picked up informally. “Since you don’t have the luxury of formal training (at a small firm), you learn on your feet, at the client’s site. This is a steeper learning curve and can be exciting and satisfying,” wrote a contributor to Accounting Resume.
To ensure your employees are up to par with other CPAs, give them as many opportunities to learn on the job as possible.
2. Mentor new employees — Part of the fun of working for a smaller company is that employees can build strong bonds with one another. Accounting can be a fast-paced industry (especially during tax season), but in a small firm, mentorship relationships are more common than in large firms.
If you are a CPA firm owner, do you have time to take on one mentee? Even spending 30 minutes per week answering their questions and giving them personalized advice can help. Which of your seasoned employees would be willing to mentor newer CPAs? When approaching them about this, mention that mentoring a new hire will benefit them just as much as the mentee.
3. Offer CPA Exam Prep — Chances are you have an employee or two who is not a CPA but is interested in becoming one. Preparing employees for the CPA exam is a fantastic way to optimize your firm’s CPA training and be proactive about building your accounting team.
While you may not be able to totally prepare candidates for the exam, perhaps you can familiarize them with some of the most challenging aspects of the test. Beyond that, consider loaning future CPAs the money needed to purchase exam prep materials.
A firm in New England offers its employees a $3,000 (USD) loan toward materials and exam expenses. Catherine Parente, Managing Partner of the firm’s Providence office, said, “We believe that it is important for our professional staff to obtain their CPA license…. Our objective is to make it easy and affordable.”
Are Your Employees Satisfied with the CPA Training They are Receiving?
Employees across all industries value training. A contributor to Forbes said that learning and development is also key to retention. To keep your accounting firm employees happy and loyal, provide opportunities for continuous learning and CPA training.