Jeff Phillips- “Why I’m Investing in Training for Modern Accounting”

Why I’m investing in training firms and accountants to become future-ready.

Jeff Phillips, CEO Accountingfly

I have become an investor in and advisor to the accounting training company Elefant.  I’d like to share why this is important to me, because it has a lot to do with you – folks who see the changes and opportunities already playing out across the industry.

Canaries in the Coal Mine

My team at Accountingfly, the accounting recruiting platform, started in 2012 with a mission to help accounting firms hire the right staff to build thriving, profitable, and meaningful firms.

Our job was to match accountants and bookkeepers with CPA firms. We even acquired Going Concern, read by 70% of millennial CPAs to be a pipeline to fill our jobs. Despite the massive CPA candidate reach, applications to traditional CPA jobs were slower than expected.  Why?

Candidates were the canaries in the coal mine, telling us there was change coming.  Candidates were losing interest in traditional, location-based public accounting jobs, yet they were applying in droves to gigs, remote jobs and firms that offered Client Accounting Services (CAS) and especially to firms that embraced online accounting technology.  These jobs were created by accounting entrepreneurs who, by embracing cloud tools, remote talent, flexible work schedules and scalable business models, were delivering big client value. It inspired us to be the recruiting company that matched amazing bookkeepers and accountants with these innovative, progressive, high-growth firms.  

But we face two problems:

  • There aren’t enough CAS-ready accountants and bookkeepers to satisfy the growing demand of innovative accounting practices.
  • Traditional firms looking to add cloud accounting services aren’t wired for hiring the specialized or remote talent they need and they don’t have resources to train current staff.

I firmly believe that in ten years, the accounting firm model will look completely different than it does today.

The underlying global economy is changing. Firms have to meet clients and talent where they are which means flexibility driven by new technology and even more, so, a change in corporate culture.  Firms looking to scale must adopt and constantly review new technology, which means hiring tech-curious talent who know the latest apps, know accounting and know how to advise clients. These three-tool players are younger and they don’t want to work in a stale, traditional firm.  They expect to be valued for the product they deliver, however and wherever. This is non-negotiable.

Lastly, firm owners looking to scale are going to be disappointed in exit values. Buyers are paying for process, technology and talent, not client count or top-line revenue dollars. True value will be built by lean, modern accounting firms. (See Aprio’s acquisition of cloud/fully remote firm HPC.)

Enter Elefant

Accountingfly’s clients, our candidates, and frankly, the whole accounting industry, need to know the tech, the process, and the tools that drive lean growth.

That’s why I asked Amanda Aguillard, founder of Elefant, for a chance to partner.  

Elefant is a practice management and technology training company for modern accountants and firms. Amanda and her team train accountants and bookkeepers on technology and skills needed to thrive in modern accounting firms and they help firms retool to attract modern talent.  

Through self-paced courses, live webinars, in-person training, and downloadable resources Elefant trains staff to deliver advisory and develop tech skills for future-ready accounting firms and the people who work there.  

In short, my partnering with Elefant ensures innovative firms are getting the quality of talent they need and the training required to kick ass and take advantage of the changing landscape.

I’ve seen no one do this better than Amanda, and I’m all in.

So you’ll start to see a lot out of Elefant soon–we’re building a library of tech resources, creating new advisory training courses, doing more one-on-one coaching, and hosting more CPE-qualified webinars with experts in the industry.  In the meantime, thanks for reading and let us know your thoughts in the comments.