Accounting is a highly technical field that requires competency in a number of specialized areas in order for there to be real proficiency. For accounting firms, training plays an integral role in onboarding, developing, and maturing employees. But with so many differing opinions on how to best invest in accounting training, it’s not always clear how to proceed. Let this resource serve as a guide to help you formulate an effective and actionable plan.
The Importance of Accounting Training
There are certain fields and professional niches where companies can hire untrained individuals and quickly equip them for their respective positions without much effort or strategic oversight. Accounting is not one of these areas. From the firm’s point of view, training matters for numerous reasons, including:
- As you know, recruiting is highly competitive in the accounting field. Whether it’s recent graduates or seasoned accounting professionals, prospective hires carefully weigh the total package before accepting a job offer. Savvy hires will want to see a commitment to training and professional development.
- From a liability perspective, you can’t have people working for your firm who are untrained and unskilled. What could be construed as a simple mistake in another line of work could lead to serious financial and legal consequences in the field of accountancy. Training reduces the likelihood of human error and gives your firm a skilled and proficient team that’s ready to handle any and all tasks.
- Competitive advantage.
- The quality of your employees can give your firm a major competitive advantage over other firms that are competing for your same clients. With the right training program, you’ll find it easier to inch ahead.
- Employee turnover is high in the accounting field. Training can be viewed as an investment in employee retention. When employees feel like they’re learning and growing, they’re less likely to jump ship when the next shiny job offer comes along.
It’s easy to overlook training and view it as just another expense, but it’s so much more than this. It impacts every aspect of your firm’s health and well-being. Ignore it if you’d like, but we highly recommend that you embrace it with open arms and reap the rewards that come with a strategic, future-oriented investment.
7 Accounting Training Opportunities
With so many different accounting training opportunities and strategies, it’s smart to sit down and develop a purposeful strategy and approach. As you think about how you want to equip your team, consider the following training options:
1. Accounting Training Software
There are plenty of accounting training software and programs available online. From free and paid online courses on websites like Udemy to downloadable SaaS solutions that require you to pay a monthly fee, options abound.
The beauty of accounting training software is that it’s typically self-paced. This allows employees to train as it fits into their schedules. This results in better efficiency and greater knowledge retention.
2. Accounting Training Seminars
Training software may be convenient, but it’s not always the easiest or most effective way to equip employees with high-level knowledge. Though the cost is significantly higher – and it requires time away from the office – seminars and conferences are usually worth the investment.
There are dozens of accounting training seminars and educational conferences each year. They’re often hosted by private companies, colleges and universities, and other professional organizations. If you’re looking for reputable events to attend, start with the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the American Management Association (AMA).
3. Accounting Training Workshops
Don’t have the financial resources to pay for travel, accommodations, and admission to training seminars? Another option is to hire a training professional or service to conduct on-site training workshops. This saves time and money, while also allowing you to customize the training to your specific needs.
4. Team Member Training
Knowledge sharing amongst employees is something you should highly encourage. While there are plenty of informal ways this happens, you can also set aside some time in your schedule for formal team member training.
During these training sessions – which may occur as frequently as once per week – ask an employee to deliver a five- or 10-minute presentation on a skill or topic that they’re particularly proficient in. This is a fantastic way to empower your team with practical tips, tricks, and techniques.
5. Mentoring Programs
Team member training is perfectly suited for large groups. But if you want to drill down and provide more specialized training for particular employees, you can establish mentoring programs. These one-on-one relationships essentially allow you to groom in-house replacements in the event that one of your more experienced employees leaves (or climbs the ladder).
6. Membership Groups and Publications
Encourage employees to join membership groups and publications. Not only do these groups – such as AICPA, Financial Executives International (FEI), and Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA) – provide training opportunities, but they also motivate members to continue growing and improving.
7. Continuing Education
Accountants are obviously required to pursue continuing education in order to maintain their status, but you should make it a big point of emphasis. Continuing education isn’t just a box to check off and put on the back burner until the following year – it should be viewed as a powerful opportunity to add new skills and acquire new knowledge. Really drive this point home by giving employees plenty of opportunities to find continuing education classes that they’re personally interested in.
Tips for Making the Most Out of Accounting Training
As important as it is to choose the right accounting training opportunities, it’s also smart to think about how you approach each of these methods. Here are some simple tips for maximizing these investments:
- Create systems and processes.
- Training can’t be viewed as an afterthought. It’s a serious element of talent development that directly impacts your firm’s ability to deliver quality services to your clients. Don’t wing it. Create precise systems and processes to achieve documented goals. Be as specific as possible. This means breaking every aspect of training down into actionable steps. There should be no question marks or uncertainties.
- Appeal to different types of learners.
- Some people thrive by learning in a classroom setting with a live teacher. Other people are more comfortable with a self-paced online course that allows them to pause the material and review. Some people need a group of people to discuss material with, while others would prefer to learn on their own. Be sure you’re appealing to a variety of learning styles by offering as many different training and education opportunities as possible.
- Spend wisely.
- When it comes to training, think long and hard about where you get the most bang for your buck. Does it make more sense to outsource the training, or is it more cost-effective to do everything in-house? Furthermore, what sort of results are you getting? It’s one thing to help employees stay up on continuing education, but you also want to make sure their training is directly benefiting your firm.
There’s no perfect formula for accounting training. Every firm is unique and will require a proprietary approach. Take the time to determine how training fits into your organization and what steps you need to take to move forward.
Taxfyle: The Leader in Online Tax Filing Services
At Taxfyle, we believe in empowering accounting firms with the resources they need to be profitable and successful. If your firm needs help managing the busy tax season – or any season, for that matter – please check out our tax preparation outsourcing service that will connect you with our U.S. based network of 1,300 CPAs and EAs with no upfront cost. To learn more, schedule a live demo with one of our resource consultants!