In Pursuit of Profit
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Your accountant just gave notice, what do you do now?
Hopefully, your accountant gave you more than the obligatory two weeks, but regardless of what the timeframe looks like, the steps are the same:
Time is of the essence in this situation, especially if it coincides with a closing period or tax season, so you should get started immediately!
Hiring a new accountant should be your top priority, but before you hastily post a stock job description online or start calling your colleagues for recommendations, pause for a moment to try to understand why your current accountant is leaving.
Ask for feedback even if you know the reason has nothing to do with your company because former employees (or those on their way out) will typically be more honest than current employees since they have nothing to lose. The information you gather will help inform your hiring of a replacement.
Determine if there was anything you could have done to keep them, such as offering:
When posting the job opening pay particular attention to anything your former accountant mentioned as an impetus for leaving to avoid ongoing turnover issues or a reduction in the applicant pool. (For instance, remote work has become a requirement for many office employees these days, which means that if the role does not allow for this option, the applicant pool can shrink dramatically.)
Start Looking for a Replacement
Begin looking for a replacement right away to avoid a gap. Customize the job description for the current role instead of just reusing the job description you posted the last time you hired an accountant. Incorporate the feedback you receive from your current accountant and make changes to the job description as needed throughout the process if you determine that you need to refine your expectations for the right candidate.
If you plan on using an accounting recruiter, start the conversation as early as possible in the process to speed up hiring. The sooner a recruiting company can be brought up to speed and given your desired characteristics in a new accountant, the sooner they can begin looking for the perfect candidate for the role.
Include your accountant in the hiring process, if appropriate. Your accountant can help define the intricacies of the role to write the job description and screen applicant resumes while looking through the critical lens of an industry professional. If possible, set up interviews with top candidates while your accountant is still with the company so they can help conduct the interviews as well and give their input on who would be the best fit.
Ideally, you will be able to bring in a new accountant before your accountant leaves so that they can train their replacement and transfer any relevant information to set up the replacement for success and minimize the effect on the business.
Initiate a Transfer of Knowledge
Whether a replacement is hired before your accountant leaves or not, ensure your accountant transfers account logins and ownership, as well as other knowledge to make the transition smoother.
The more ingrained your accountant is in the overall financial matters of your company, the more important this step will be. In smaller businesses, accountants can play a bigger role in the overall management of the company than their counterparts at larger organizations, making this a more involved process.
Avoid the kinds of headaches that can result when key personnel leave the company and inadvertently take critical information with them. The last thing you want to deal with is being locked out of a bank account or your accounting system. Remember, account ownership transfers can take time when waiting on banks or other financial institutions to confirm and authorize changes.
Preserve the Relationship
Former employees can either contribute to building up a brand’s reputation or tearing it down, which makes treating employees well as they transition out of the organization a key HR strategy. This is an even more salient point in tighter professional circles, like those that finance and accounting professionals are a part of, because there tends to be increased information sharing about employers.
Obviously, if your accountant is leaving the company on bad terms preserving the relationship may not be possible. However, if your accountant is leaving due to a circumstance that is outside of your control or to pursue a better opportunity, staying civil will benefit you both. Your accountant may be instrumental in filling their old role or making future hires by drawing on their own professional network.
As a reminder, any time an employee leaves, regardless of what the circumstance is, their access to systems should be revoked as soon as their employment ends. This is not a point that specifically applies to accountants, but it bears repeating because having unnecessary users increases your security risk even if no one has any malintent because one of their logins could be compromised. And, in instances where former employees do have bad intentions, being quick with removing access closes that door before any harm can be done.
Need help finding a staff accountant, senior accountant, accounting manager, or senior accounting manager? We can help! Contact our recruiting team to start the process on hiring a new accountant right away.