HR Can Help Scale Your Accounting Firm – Here’s How

Eric Mochnacz
March 22, 2024

Most business owners want to scale their business.  As a small accounting firm, growth can be exhilarating and nerve-wracking.  You want to compete with the larger accounting firms while still delivering service to your clients in a way that feels personal and intimate.  Small businesses often wait to integrate human resources into their business operations.  But, as you grow, you want your people processes and procedures to grow with you.  HR plays a pivotal role in ensuring your people operation keeps pace with your growing business.  There are some key areas where HR supports accounting firms in their growth.  Read on to understand how HR specifically helps accounting firms stand out in the industry.  

Recruiting Top Talent

According to Accounting Age, there is a talent shortage in the accounting industry due to 75% of accountants reaching retirement age in 2020 coupled with a decrease in enrollment in college accounting programs.  Perceived as monotonous and mundane, the accounting industry is faced with the challenges of recruiting top talent.  As a small accounting firm, you are competing with the Big 4 for talent.  

HR is able to develop a strategic recruitment strategy which allows you to compete with the Big 4.  You may not be able to compete with them in salary, but HR will identify the other perks of working for your firm that outweigh the base salary.  Your ability to offer flexible scheduling or work from home opportunities may be seen as an advantage compared to other accounting firms.  Even if you can’t match larger competitors at base salary, HR can develop an incentive compensation structure which encourages positive employee behaviors while allowing you to be intentional about where you spend money.  

Regardless of industry, job-specific, competency-based hiring is the way to find your next great team member.  HR works to develop employee lifecycle processes, including a recruitment process, that meets your needs.  This includes job description review, sourcing strategies, and implementing best-in-practice interview approaches to attract unique talent.  With direct insight into your company (and industry), they can create a process that evaluates accounting skills and assesses behavioral competencies.  

Improving Onboarding and Training

A strong recruitment process concludes with a strong onboarding process.  How an employee is treated on their first day and within their first 90 days has a huge impact on their desire to stay at an organization.  Working with HR to develop an effective onboarding program allows you to keep talented employees.  In a scarce accounting talent market, your retention strategy is as important as your recruitment strategy.  Commit to implementing an informative onboarding program that also integrates a new employee into your organization and its culture.  

As the accounting talent market evolves, you may need to adjust your expectations for new hires.  HR can help you articulate what skills are necessary for hire and what ones you are willing to train in.  Giving a new hire the opportunity to grow in their accounting skills and profession is another way you can eke out your competitors for top talent. You want to be known as the accounting firm taking an innovative approach to the training of future accounting leaders.  

Learning Leadership Skills

Since there is less interest in accounting as a career, there is a great opportunity to develop individuals who still make the choice to enter the accounting field.  As a small accounting firm, you have the chance to not only help individuals improve their accounting acumen but also become industry leaders.  By providing growth and development opportunities, HR builds career paths for accounting professionals to grow within your company.  Leadership development is another strategic approach to retaining talent that doesn’t focus solely on compensation.  

Building Long-Term Strategies

HR should be a member of your leadership team.  Every decision you make as a business owner or CEO ultimately impacts your people.  HR works with leadership to understand how the business growth is going to impact the workforce and develops long-term people strategies to support growth and the achievement of business goals.  

Adapting to New Technologies

As you work with HR to scale your accounting firm, you provide your insight into the accounting industry.  Your knowledge as the business owner helps HR understand trends and new technologies impacting your industry.  With that knowledge, they integrate skills assessments for new technologies in the recruiting process or make sure those necessary skills are required in job descriptions.  If you require your team to be up to speed on new advancements in the accounting industry, HR develops a learning and development program to skill your employees up to keep pace with changes in the profession.  HR helps companies stay nimble and meet the moment as the accounting industry evolves.  

Grow Your Accounting Firm with HR Support

Red Clover has proven success in helping professional services firms scale.  Having worked with a number of accounting firms, we understand the unique needs of that industry and can easily speak the language with external stakeholders, internal staff, and people looking for their next accounting job.  We work directly with accounting firm leadership to develop a growth strategy for their business and execute on the foundational HR elements needed for an accounting business to grow and thrive.  If you’re ready to reach new heights in your business and its people operation, it’s time to connect with a member of our HR consulting team. 

Photo Credit – Photo by StellrWeb on Unsplash

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A commercial roofing contractor was in hyper growth mode. They had goals to increase their field workforce to expand their service area to additional states and geographical locations. If they were to grow their field workforce, they would also need to increase their administrative, operational and sales headcount to support the additional workload created by increased field work. Additionally, they were challenged in workforce retention and development, experiencing high turnover, and did not have a dedicated Human Resources professional to manage employee relations and compliance issues that come with trying to scale a business.

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