CPA Growth Trends

Beginner’s Guide: The Accounting Industry is Changing, and so is the Role of Accounting Marketers

Over the past couple of years, accounting firms around the world have had to adapt to a disruptive, uncertain landscape. They have been forced to transform their processes, reexamine their working environments and contribute to businesses’ economic recovery.

Now that the dust has (mostly) cleared from the pandemic, lasting changes to the accounting industry are starting to emerge: shortages of top talent, the shift to remote work and a focus on advisory services, to name a few. Each of these factors impact the way we do business and play a role in reshaping the job duties of those in accounting marketing.

Shortages of Top Talent

With the Great Resignation and fewer students pursuing accounting degrees, many firms are feeling the crunch of staff shortages. In response, accounting marketers have increased support for HR functions, focusing on retention and recruitment.

Marketing’s role in supporting HR includes:

  • Creating internal recognition programs. Internal recognition programs are one way to retain top talent. These can be peer recognition programs where coworkers nominate other team members or a manager-nominated award.
  • Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. DEI has implications for both prospective and current employees. DEI programming can include training sessions or resource groups for employees to connect with others with similar identities.
  • Building employer brands. Celebrating employee achievements, gathering testimonials from team members and showcasing company culture on social media are all ways marketers build and promote their employer brands.

The Shift to Remote Work

More and more accountants are working remotely, and this trend will likely continue. However, maintaining a company culture in a remote work environment can pose unique challenges. In addition to everything marketers do externally, there is added pressure to focus inward and help maintain the company culture for distributed teams.

Marketing’s role in building company culture includes:

  • Hosting virtual events. Virtual team-building events or activities can be crucial to maintaining culture in a remote working environment. This can include playing virtual games together on Zoom or bringing a celebrity onto a meeting through platforms like Cameo to liven things up.
  • Promoting employee connection through branded merchandise. One tangible way for employees to feel involved and supported is through branded merchandise. The right company gear given at the right time in the right way can enhance teamwork, foster inclusion and make working remotely easier.
  • Revamping internal communication strategies. Internal communications go beyond ensuring that employees are informed. Implementing water cooler chats or town hall discussions for staff to get to know each other personally can help promote connection and improve culture.

Focus on Advisory Services

To stay competitive, many accounting firms are switching from traditional bookkeeping and tax preparation services to advisory services such as consulting, wealth management, technology, business valuations and more. As marketers, we must ensure the switch goes smoothly for both clients and internal stakeholders.

Marketing’s role in the shift to advisory services includes:

  • Helping evaluate outsourced solutions for compliance-based work. Outsourcing is a solution for many firms facing staff shortages and a shift to advisory services. Some are offshoring, where the work is done in a foreign country, and others are utilizing contract or gig workers to help during the busy season.
  • Evaluating client acceptance and culling. With many firms moving away from 1040 preparation, client acceptance and culling are at the forefront for marketers. If culling, communicating the severance of the relationship to the client must be conveyed clearly and confidently with no room for misinterpretation. Developing speaking points for partners to ensure consistent messaging during these difficult conversations can be key.

Staying Focused Despite Change

Change is the dominant fact of life in every business today. As the accounting industry continues to evolve, so will marketing’s role. But we can count on one thing: People prefer to buy from, interact with and work for brands they like, know and trust. As marketers, our job is not to sell. It is simply to build these three traits for our companies, clients and people. Doing so will give our firms a solid foundation to move forward despite the ever-evolving world.