Accounting & Audit
Amy Vetter, CPA.CITP, CGMA – 2022 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
As new generations of accounting professionals aspire to leadership roles in the profession, it is inspiring to look to those who have attained those ranks ahead of them. The AICPA and CPA Practice Advisor partner each year to honor ...
Jun. 08, 2022
Amy Vetter, CPA.CITP, CGMA
2022 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
The B Methond Institute
TRAITS OF AWARD WINNERS
- She has been the driving force to create a culture of excellence, innovation, and inclusion. If she is a vendor, she has helped to develop the technologies and solutions that will empower organizations to be more productive and profitable.
- She is one of the top leaders in the accounting profession and her leadership has had a demonstrable effect upon the accomplishments of the organization with which she is associated.
- She is a mentor, sponsor, and a role model, someone who stands out in her ability to encourage and help those around her thrive and flourish.
- The work she does is influential and is having a positive impact on the accounting profession as a whole.
What do you feel is the most important issue facing the accounting profession today?
There is a lack of bench strength at the middle manager level, with a gap in evaluating DEI in the staffing mix at all levels. This in turn limits the options and people identified for succession planning at the Partner level of accounting firms and creating future leaders that are more diverse. As firms are overwhelmed with their client workloads, it’s important for them to still make the investment of time on this issue and step back from the everyday to do an honest assessment of their teams.
Do they have enough staff at the senior, supervisor and manager levels? How can they go out and recruit differently than they ever have before to meet more diverse candidates that are qualified for the roles or with different types of experience in accounting and technology? What initiatives and benchmarks do they have in place to track how they are doing and set goals around the gaps they have in their organization? Are they transparent in letting future leaders know they are on a path to Partner with a detailed plan on how they will achieve it? Are they making the time to reach out and listen to their senior staff to know what their day to day is like and what training and development they need to meet their career goals? Who is mentoring Partners on how to manage people and properly delegate work to truly manage, rather than individually contributing?
These are just some of the questions to think about, but having an initiative and working plan around this is very important so there are people being grouped to be the next level leaders of the practice.
What one thing would you recommend accountants do to prepare for the future?
Streamline the workload by being diligent about assessing client personas and ensuring you are working with the clients you want and charging the right amount to support paying everyone what they are worth annually at a minimum. When I work with firms to assess how they can transform their workplace and culture, I find many professionals are working 50+ hours a week on average, year round. There is an assumption that just because you are in this profession you have to work these kind of hours (“it’s the nature of the profession”).
I also find this is the reason the most cherished accountants leave the profession because they want to have better balance in their lives. Just because it has always been that way, doesn’t mean we have to keep doing it. By doing a proper assessment of the clients we work with and coming up with the personas we like to work with (i.e. personality, size of business, industry, billing level, and more), we can begin eliminating clients that are taking up too much time and hurting the culture of the workplace and instead create billing models that are more profitable for the firm with the clients you want to work with. The option is then to decide if it’s necessary to take on more clients or to make the same amount or more with fewer clients, providing the staff room to breathe and have a life.
This would go a long way to retain more people in the profession so they do not need to feel they have to leave when they have family demands or even just want a life outside of work. Additionally, when everyone is working with clients they enjoy, they are genuinely happier at work.
What one skill or experience would you recommend that young women getting started in the accounting profession master?
Leadership and communication training. With the work I do, the common denominator of when staff feel unhappy is lack of communication from their manager and not being empowered and recognized for the work they are doing. I find there are very few leaders trained in management and leadership skills. Often the focus of training each year is around technical topics.
However, I believe to stand out, being a strong communicator and listener can change your career path. When your employees are happy, you have a better chance to retain your talent and develop people to be ready for their next steps in their career. When you can build bench strength and always know who is the person that could do your job, you will always be ready to take on your best new role. Without bench strength, there is no room for you to take on more responsibility or different opportunities that come available.
Many underestimate the power of an engaged staff, but it can be the difference that helps you stand apart from others when you have a consistently growing book of business with a stable team. When your staff is happy, so are your clients. That is led from the top.
Read more about the 2022 Most Powerful Women in Accounting Winners.