The Trouble with Millennials

Craig W. Smalley, EA
Founder/CEO
CWSEAPA PLLC
Columnist
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When I think of working with millennials one word comes to mind, respect. I was taught by the baby boomers, who were less than helpful and struck down all my ideas. They threw me to the fire, and told me to research my questions. By 2003 we were paperless, in 1995 we were the first with a website and email. All these years have gone by and it’s my turn to train the millennials. However, I don’t personally care for them.

I get at least 15 emails a day from young professionals who want to do what I do, usually money is the reason why they want to do it.  I tell them it’s a lot of studying and work. They all say they get that, until they don’t. I hired a millennial as a staff accountant.  During tax season, he missed days to travel to Miami, West Palm Beach, Key West, and Tampa. Missing work each time, but he would work from home to make up for it.  I’m the boss, I have earned the right to work from home if I want. It’s disrespectful to tell your boss what you are going to do. 

I let it go until I couldn’t. My tax season was a mess with this guy. After tax season, he honestly asked me for a raise. He ended up quitting. To be successful in this business, you have to put the work in, even when you don’t want to. What tax accountant goes on a four day vacation during tax season?

When I first started, I volunteered to do everything in the office. I wanted to learn.  I added boxes of receipts, ran tapes on manual bookkeeping, there was nothing I wouldn’t do. This millennial wanted to jump head first into tax. You have to pay dues first.

This staff member left after five months and told me he was going to charge $175 an hour. After 24 years my hourly rate is $275. Not knowing anything, how does he think he can command that amount of money?  With no license. 

I am part of Generation X. Our parents weren’t around so we had to figure out stuff for ourselves. When I played sports we had 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Today, no matter how bad uncompetitive kids are, they all get participation trophies, giving them a false sense of self.

I got started in this business in 1994. In 24 years, I have not only paid my dues, but I command a large fee. For someone to think they can do the same five months into business they are crazy. I was blessed to learn accounting sales from the best in the business, and I inherited my mom’s work ethic. Not to mention I have been in pretty much every conceivable business situation. Which means that nothing phases me.

I love doing research, and getting people out of tax problems. In my leisure time, I read tax magazines.  In short I love what I do for a living and the bonus is they pay me for it.

To sum up, not all millennials are bad, but the ones I have run into seem to be entitled. To what, I don’t know.

About Craig W. Smalley, EA

Craig Smalley

Craig W. Smalley, MST, EA, has been in practice since 1994. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an enrolled agent and has a master's in taxation. He is well-versed in US tax law and US Tax Court cases. He specializes in taxation, entity structuring and restructuring, corporations, partnerships, and individual taxation, as well as representation before the IRS regarding negotiations, audits, and appeals. In his many years of practice, he has been exposed to a variety of businesses and has an excellent knowledge of most industries. He is the CEO and co-founder of CWSEAPA PLLC and Tax Crisis Center LLC; both business have locations in Florida, Delaware, and Nevada. Craig is the current Google small business accounting advisor for the Google Small Business Community. He is a contributor to AccountingWEB and Accounting Today, and has had 12 books published on various topics in taxation. His articles have also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, and several other newspapers, periodicals, and magazines. He has been interviewed and been a featured guest on many radio shows and podcasts. Finally, he is the co-host of Tax Avoidance is Legal, which is a nationally broadcast weekly Internet radio show.

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