Mentoring tax staff.

Author:Hollander, Amy V.
Position:From The Tax Adviser

CPA firms believe that staff recruitment and retention are among the greatest challenges to success in the profession. As young and eager accountants enter the profession, their most important personal project is to explore and ultimately map out their career paths and roads to success. One integral program that all firms should consider embracing is a mentoring program. A well-designed, well-executed, and well-managed mentoring program can prove to be an advantageous investment for your tax firm.


Far too often, amid the day-to-day work of CPA firms, succession planning is put on the back burner. Mentoring is one of the keys to succession planning. It is a powerful way to develop the next generation of firm leaders. Consider that such a program can be established either "intra" (within a firm) or "inter" (between an internal staff person and someone on the outside). Both options have advantages. The overall goal is twofold: (1) to develop future leaders and (2) to establish an environment where the employees feel that their employer is fully vested in their future success. In today's environment, it is an understatement to say--especially with the extraordinary cost of postsecondary education--that the latter goal is of utmost importance to the next generation of the current workforce--a workforce that is eager to excel.

Mentors can offer insight, advise about challenges and opportunities, and serve as a sounding board for one's ideas and career-related decisions. An outside mentor will bring an objective perspective to complement the mentoring and coaching that a professional receives inside an organization. For example, often a young staff person is hesitant to express his or her lack of a clear understanding of a technical issue or subject; in this situation, a confidential line of communication with a mentor would be of great value.

More broadly, consider the challenges facing the tax profession itself. Specifically, consider the way in which tax compliance services--particularly tax return preparation services--will be rendered in the future. Simply, between artificial intelligence, tax reform, and other outside factors, the profession is evolving for the next generation.

These evolutionary times pose a ripe...

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