For far too long, public accountants traveled a mostly predictable track; graduation, start with a Big 4 (or 6 or 8, depending on how far you want to go back) firm, put in your couple years and then it was off to private industry, government, or non-profit. Or maybe you’d stick around in public a few more years, or even to partner. Suffice to say, options for public accountants have never been more varied than they are at this very moment.
There are endless off-the-beaten-path opportunities for accountants today, and we don’t mean becoming a YouTube star’s personal accountant or a Kickstarter scammer. The Same as Last Year hamster wheel is no longer your only option. Since there are lots of tools for working better not longer already out there, what employers want are people who can identify problems and, more importantly, do something about it. We’re not talking about boilerplate Innovation™. It’s about seeing a need and then taking a risk to fill it that need. This is one of the most underrated and underappreciated skills that employers seek.
Ugh: The month-end close
That’s the entire idea behind FloQast. Two of its founders being experienced CPAs themselves, they knew that the month-end close could be a dreadful experience, second only to wisdom tooth removal and back hair waxing in overall dread distribution. In fact, 82 percent of accounting professionals surveyed in the past year said they find the month-end close to be a negative experience. Thirty-six percent say it’s so bad, it has a noticeable impact on their personal relationships.
“There’s a data problem and a people problem,” says Chris Sluty, Chief Operating Officer for FloQast. “Systems don’t talk to each other.” And people aren’t always crack communicators, either, so an ideal solution would improve both. Especially if 36 percent of accounting professionals report that the month-end close impacts their personal lives. That’s just sad.
Let’s be honest: there aren’t many positions in public accounting where you get to be a hero. Now, imagine, if you dare, clients actually appreciating you rather than dreading your shadow darkening their doorway. Imagine clients actually being excited to hear from you or seeing your name in their inbox, ready to help them.
We’re here to help (no, really)
You may think that sounds like a unicorn of an accounting job, but it does exist. FloQast’s Accounting Specialists are accountants who LOVE — without a shred of irony — helping people improve their close process. It’s client service without all the adversarial awkwardness that, say, an auditor endures on a daily basis.
The oversimplified way to describe the position is this: Gain an understanding of what the client’s current close process looks like and then swoop in like a hero to improve it. After the client gets over their initial disbelief in your ability to change their life for the better and learns how to make the application work for them, you remain their point person for support and technical questions. And because you’re an accountant, you speak their language; you can throw acronyms around to your heart’s content.
What is working at a startup like for an accountant? It certainly isn’t the formulaic, repetitive environment so many accountants thrive in. The same blue shirt, same bad coffee, same endless ticking and tying that is a comfort to some; and those aren’t the people FloQast is looking to add to their team. Don’t worry, your love for Excel will still be welcome, but your enthusiasm to help clients hack their problems is what’s valuable.
Beyond ping-pong tables
It’s easy to stick a ping-pong table in the office — yes FloQast has one, too — and say you’re a cool place to work. Not every company does the challenging work of creating a meaningful and distinct culture. A culture of service and solving problems that people genuinely appreciate is not an easy feat, one that FloQast works on every day.
More importantly, though, all the ping-pong tables in the world can’t make up for the fact that clients universally and viscerally loathe interacting with accounting professionals on the whole. It isn’t your fault clients don’t care that you’re trying to help. But still, a thank you now and then might be nice.
And while gratitude is nice, the satisfaction of helping accountants solve a problem — a problem that you can probably relate to — has its own appeal. Helping a fellow accountant make their close a less dreadful experience won’t be forgotten by them or you. Who knows, you might even save a marriage! Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s probably not a stretch to say that if you improve someone’s close, you’re improving their life.
Are you looking for a workplace that loves client service, solving problems with other accountants, and shares your Excel obsession? Read more about openings at Floqast including a Senior Accounting Specialist and a Product Marketing Manager. You can learn more about the company here.