Firm culture is a conglomerate of aspects merged together to create the overall environment that employees and clients experience when involved with a firm. Some of these aspects include the number of employees, types of accounting services provided, management’s mission and goals for the firm, and the variety of clients that the firm services. This list is not all inclusive; however, you will get a general idea of a firm’s culture upon learning these things. I could further describe the attributes of firm culture, but instead, I would rather discuss why it is important to the overall health of an entity and the well-being of its clients.
Having a couple years of experience under my belt has enlightened me to the notion that a solid firm culture is imperative for the health of an accounting firm to thrive. For accountants, the long hours during tax season and the weight of numerous important projects on their shoulders can be draining. It is in times like these that firm culture is able to boost morale and heighten spirits for employees to perform quality work in an efficient manner. A culture that promotes professional growth, critical thinking, and problem solving will flourish over those that are based on hierarchy, demanding requests, and criticism. In a sense, an accounting firm is like a sports team where colleagues rely on each other for support. With the right support, work becomes an opportunity and not an obligation.
Culture is also relevant to the client’s experience. For example, most customers enjoy sitting in a coffee shop that has a nice atmosphere and friendly employees. In the accounting world, clients should also look for a firm that suits their taste in atmosphere. It is important to remember that not every firm will be the right fit. As a client, do your research, read reviews about the firm, and get to know the professionals who are preparing your financials. Imagine you were locked in an elevator for a day with the people who were giving you financial advice. Would you still like them after that day? If the answer is yes, then you probably chose the right firm with the right culture.
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