Prior to the recession, accounting firms viewed formal mentoring programs as “nice,” but nonessential add-ons designed to recruit and retain employees.
But in today’s ultracompetitive job market, top accounting candidates now expect employers to provide a formal development plan that includes access to partners and a clear understanding of how they can advance at the firm.
For that reason alone, formal mentoring programs should be an integral part of any forward-thinking firm’s strategic plan, said Maureen Schwartz, executive director of global accounting association BKR International.
“Firm leaders understand that they are in a high-stakes battle for talent. The next generation of managing partners is talking about what the mentoring program should look like to current and potential employees,” Schwartz said. “A formal mentoring program is now an important part of their long-range planning. They are assigning mentors in-house or outsourcing the coaching and development to consultants.”
“Formal” is defined as a program that is officially budgeted for and implemented by firm leadership, as well as tracked for accountability.
BKR International cites five key benefits of formal mentoring programs and why it’s important to do it consistently for your firm and the profession.
1. Risk mitigation. Because CPA firms are at risk for legal claims due to the nature of their work, a formal mentoring plan can be a risk mitigator, as well as a benefit to employees for career development.
About Deanna Arteaga
Deanna Arteaga is a professional freelance writer and public relations specialist who for the past six years has covered CPA industry trends for AccountingWEB. She also writes about CPA firm marketing, higher education and professional development for CPAs, and workplace trends in the accounting profession. She has more than 20 years of journalism and public relations experience, including her tenure as a former newspaper reporter in suburban Chicago where she covered breaking news, municipal politics, and state legislative issues.