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Accountants play a crucial part in running a business. They help companies track income and expenditure; they evaluate the performance of businesses; they help with budget creation, future business projections, prepare and file financial statements. They ensure that liabilities such as tax, VAT, income tax, and pension funds are properly addressed.
Put simply, accountants provide management, investors, and government with any financial information that is pivotal in decision-making. They’re the foundation of your company and vital to its financial health.
It’s important to recognize there’s more to accountants than filing taxes. There are several types of accountants for whom taxes comprise only a small fraction of their responsibilities.
A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), for example, is an expert in an organization’s accounting records and financial standing. As trusted advisors, CPAs help clients meet financial goals, prepare for audits, reviews, forensic accounting, and litigation services.
A Management Accountant helps businesses strategize and manage their financial health by planning, budgeting, financial reporting, analyzing risk and profitability. Management Accountants are additionally tasked with organizing financial information and simplifying complex statistics, trends, and opportunities for business executives.
An Auditor, on the other hand, is an accuracy expert who conducts annual audits to ensure that a company’s fiscal records align. Auditors are often brought in externally to analyze a business’s records without any bias.
Other accounting job titles include Staff Accountant, Forensic Accountant, Government Accountant, Project Accountant, and Investment Accountant. Today, an increased number of online accounting jobs are leading to even more opportunities for unique and specialized financial expertise.
While accounting and finance jobs are among the most important professionals to a business, they’re one of the most overlooked roles within contemporary company structure. Many managers and business owners only call their accountant once a year, typically when tax season is nearing the horizon.
According to a survey conducted by Accounting Today, 46.6% of accountants have been working longer hours since the pandemic began and 58% of accountants have cancelled or rescheduled a vacation due to their workload over the past calendar year.
Your relationship with your accountant is important; if they feel supported by your business, you’re more likely to hear about the latest opportunities and trends and apply them to your business initiatives.
Let’s look at five top strategies to better support your accountant so they can, in turn, help you boost your business.
If the first quarter of 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that accountants need to be prepared to make decisions quickly. If you’re only in contact with your accountant once a year during the busy tax season, it’s not possible for them to be fully cognizant of the expectations, issues, and operations of your business.
“The best thing you can do is work with your CPA on a proactive basis,” says Robert Gambardella, a Connecticut-based CPA and co-author of Secrets of a Tax Free Life. “You really need a year-round trusted adviser.”
It’s important to view your accountant as a trusted advisor, not just a tax filer. Cultivating a strong relationship with your accountant, and keeping them up-to-date throughout the year, can help them recognize and prepare for any transitional times in your business.
Accountants need to be informed if you’re thinking of growing or selling your business, for example, so they can analyze your financial situation and help you control costs to meet your business objectives.
Regular check-ins with your accountant can also help them catch small errors which could lead to major financial repercussions. According to The Wall Street Journal, a revenue miscalculation caused Seneca to understate revenue by $16.5 million.
Try establishing a monthly check point with your accountant. Per Kyle David Group, the “biggest benefit of month-end closing is accuracy. It’s much easier to get a handle on your books month-by-month than it would be at the year’s end because your data is divided into smaller pieces. A duplicate record or a missing transaction doesn’t pose nearly the same threat when it is caught early.”
While your accountant is responsible for monitoring your financial activities, the responsibility to stay up-to-date on changing laws and regulations shouldn’t fall on their shoulders alone.
According to PC, many laws about expenses and deductibles change frequently and differ state to state. “Businesses need to deal with an often overwhelming amount of regulations.”
Staying ahead of the law can help your accountant coordinate financial filings and strategies with your accountant, and reach your goal while keeping costs low.
The Great Resignation of 2021 has touched many industries, and accounting is no different. Account firms saw their fair share of exits in 2020. Lyle Ball reports on a mass departure at his firm: “When the firm looked into where those employees went, they discovered in many cases it was not to another firm, but rather to start a business, join a tech startup or just take an extended break to travel.”
Ball indicates lack of flexibility and experienced leadership as one of the core reasons behind mass departures in the accounting world, likening the treatment of accountants to “drops of juice squeezed out of a corporate template.”
Accountants are overworked and burning out. Today, 25% of accountants claim that their sleep is interrupted by work calls or emails; 38% cite lost sleep as a result of work-related stress.
During the busy tax season, it’s not uncommon for accountants to receive emails at midnight and be expected to compromise their work-life balance. This has a strong and negative impact on their physical and mental health — it’s no surprise that large numbers are quitting their jobs for a vacation.
As business executives and leaders, it’s necessary to set boundaries, and encourage accountants — like everyone else on the team — to take much-needed breaks. Your appreciation and respect will encourage your team to work harder and get better results.
According to a recent study published by the American Accounting Association, Black accountants confront racism from co-workers and clients on a regular basis. The study, which was conducted through in-depth interviews with several current and former auditors who self-identified as Black Americans, found several similar experiences with “stereotyping, insensitivity and disrespect.”
93% of respondents reported that their experiences differed from their non-Black colleagues when working with colleagues. 53% reported they weren’t assigned projects of equal importance, and 6% reported different experiences supervising others. “Common themes were feeling like an outsider, being asked insensitive questions, not having the respect of colleagues, feeling dumped on, and not being given equal opportunities.”
“I was busy so [I] wasn’t straightening my hair,” shares one responder. “[My supervisor] said my hair was bushy. I remember being so upset and being so ashamed that I had let my hair be frizzy and that it was unprofessional. I had to start using a relaxer again.”
Another survey participant described her experience with a co-worker: “I had an opportunity to work on a very large client in New York. A colleague said, ‘The only reason you’re going is because you’re black and you’re a woman.’ I knew I was picked for the team because I could do the work and responded, ‘Regardless of what you think, I’m still going and you’re not.’”
This mistreatment of Black accountants not only negatively impacts their personhood, but also your company. By making Black professionals feel uncomfortable, your company is creating a negative feedback loop that could encourage substandard work, poor morale, and several corresponding DEI issues.
“We need more training on how to be sensitive to issues that touch on race,” says Phebe Davis-Culler, co-author of the study and a clinical assistant professor of accounting at Clemson University. “We also need more mentoring for Black men and women entering the field. And we need auditing firms who are willing to stand up to clients who engage in racist behavior.”
As a leader and executive, it’s important to first acknowledge the problem, update staff training to prevent workplace harassment, and encourage individuals to speak up on behalf of their Black colleagues by setting an example.
When inviting Black professionals in your company as CPAs, auditors, and financial analysts, it’s important to be mindful, sensitive, and proactive about your company culture.
“If everyone in your organization is required to walk, talk and look alike, you can expect the regular exit of many who could have been your firm’s greatest assets over time.” says Lyle Ball from Accounting Today.
Accountants are essential to the smooth-running of any business. They go through rigorous training to earn their job title, burn midnight oil through the tax season and beyond, and offer their valuable skills to make sure your company is performing to its potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for the profession is set to increase by 13% by 2022.
Yet, while accountants are frequently touted as the “Underrated Superstars of Business”, they’re vastly overlooked within most company structures. In order to retain their services, it’s important to show them consistent appreciation — and yes, that goes beyond the tax season.
Sandra Wiley from Firm of the Future recommends rewarding accountants with benefits they are most likely to appreciate such as extra time off, vacation trips, cash bonuses, surprise celebrations, and gifts such as jewelry, watches, pens, or desk accessories.
Wiley adds, “the more creative and individualized the reward is, the better it will be received by the staff member.” And when you utilize Hero in your workplace, you will have an all-in-one, gifting solution that makes business gifting seamless and measurable for any sized company.
Whether they’re navigating your budget, giving you insight that matters, preparing your financial reports, or helping you predict the financial future, your accountant is consistently going above and beyond for the smooth-sailing of your business.
Now, more than ever, it’s crucial for you to take actionable steps to make them feel supported.
Small interactions can make a big impact on company culture. SmartGift’s Spotlight Series identifies the joys, challenges, and needs of specific roles within the teams we work. Over the forthcoming weeks, we aim to outline creative and unique strategies for companies to show appreciation and support their team members.