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Talent Search: Hiring the Best Bookkeeping and Finance Staff

August 4, 2020 / by Mark Wald

There's much more involved in handling your company's bookkeeping and finance needs than meets the eye. Here's how to find a team of qualified professionals.

Job-candidates-holding-signsWe live in a world of specialists. As a business leader, you recognize the importance of hiring people with the knowledge base and experience to fill specific roles in your field. During a building project, for example, a commercial builder might hire an architect, plumber, electrician, roofer, drywall installer, masonry contractor and other support people.

You know what a commercial builder won't do? Hire one person and expect them to do all of those jobs. And yet, when it comes to enlisting various forms of operational support, including bookkeeping and finance staff, that's effectively what many business leaders do.

There's a much better way.

A Crash Course in Finance Talent
At Supporting Strategies, we understand what it takes to recruit and hire the cream of the crop in the field of bookkeeping and finance because we've been doing it for 16 years. Last year alone, we received 60,255 applications through our applicant tracking system. We conducted thousands of interviews and ultimately hired 232 individuals — about one in 260 applicants.

Ask yourself: Do you have time to screen 260 applicants and conduct dozens of interviews to find the best bookkeeper for your business — and then start that process all over again when you have turnover at some point in the future? Do you really know how to distinguish the best bookkeeping resource from the rest? Do you conduct background checks, reference checks and accounting skills tests to validate that you're making the best choice? Who is going to train and supervise your new bookkeeper and, inevitably, their replacement?

As we know from experience, "hiring a bookkeeper" can be trickier than it sounds. Most top pros have honed their skills in a team environment within a framework of established processes, financial controls and best practices to support professionally-managed enterprises. They recognize the importance of installing backup systems, documenting their work for audit support and implementing segregation of duties. And they know from experience how to deliver insightful reports and analysis to drive key management decisions.

It's much harder for business leaders to institute financial controls on their own to guard against errors, or even fraud, if they hire only one person to handle all bookkeeping responsibilities. It comes down to basic checks and balances. If you have just one person doing your books, and that one person makes a mistake, who's going to catch it? Also, just imagine what would happen if that one person were tempted to commit embezzlement.

Beyond providing basic safeguards, a team-based approach also makes it easier to scale for growth or cyclical spikes in business as well as to secure coverage during vacations, sick days or extended leaves. In addition, it mitigates disruptions caused by staff turnover. When one person is doing all the work and that person leaves, the business has to start over from scratch by training a new hire. Having another team member available who's been cross trained in those responsibilities enables a smooth transition and minimizes disruptions. Plus, two heads are better than one on delivering maximum value to your business on an ongoing basis.

The reality, however, is that most small businesses simply don't have access to top-flight bookkeeping and finance talent because professionals who recognize the value of a team-based approach are less likely to pursue direct positions in which they'll be operating on their own. To attract those top performers, you need to invite them to work in a collaborative environment with a team of other high-caliber bookkeeping and finance professionals as colleagues.

Hire for Tomorrow, Not Just for Today
As a business leader, you must be a problem-solver. But it's important to recognize the vital difference between doing damage control and fixing the problem permanently.

Here are some examples: Let's say your bookkeeper just quit and your finances are in disarray. Don't settle for simply re-establishing the status quo with another individual resource. Instead, look for a team-based solution that will prevent that situation from happening again. Or, if your current bookkeeper is overloaded because your business is growing, try having an experienced team identify time-efficient, scalable opportunities for process improvements before you just hire more bodies to keep up with your manual, traditional and perhaps error-prone processes.

Given the level of talent and productivity-enhancing tools available, set your sights higher. Seek out a team of experts who can not only do the books today, but also set up scalable processes and systems that will provide the kinds of financial insights you need to grow your business in the years ahead.

An Inescapable Conclusion
Now that you know everything that's involved in hiring top-level bookkeeping and finance talent, are you sure you want to do it yourself?

Outsourcing that responsibility to a firm that specializes in recruiting only the best candidates and building efficient teams will ensure you have checks and balances in place and are equipped to deal with the ebbs and flows of business. Better yet, it can prove to be a much more productive and cost-effective approach than doing all this in house.

Topics: Santa Monica, Bookkeeping Services, Los Angeles, Ventura County

Mark Wald

Written by Mark Wald

Mark is managing director of Supporting Strategies | Santa Monica, CA.

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