Why Strong Cross-Departmental Skills Help Young Accountants

Why Strong Cross-Departmental Skills Help Young Accountants

In the following post, Lewis Daidone discusses the importance of learning the art of cross-collaboration with different departments. Lewis Daidone is a Certified Public Accountant and a consultant to financial services firms and tech companies.

Although accounting and finance professionals must regularly interface cross-departmentally, a 2015 study of 2,200 CFOs found that the greatest challenge they faced was interacting with different personalities. If you’re entering the accounting profession, you can make yourself a highly desirable candidate by honing your interpersonal skills. Here’s why.

  • You expand your range of employment opportunities. The amount of expected collaboration varies dramatically depending upon the industry in which you want to work. Even if you have your sights set on a career at one of the Big 4 public accounting firms, you’ll have to have a knack for relating to a broad scope of client personalities, all with different levels of accounting experience and understanding.
  • It prepares you to take on different, more challenging roles within the organization. An accounting professional who can wear different departmental hats is extremely valuable. If you exhibit the ability to network effectively, your supervisors and team members will have confidence in your leadership abilities.
  • You help management make sound decisions. Being comfortable in collaborative environments and having clear and persuasive communications skills is not common in the world of accounting, and therefore extremely desired. If you can effectively present your findings and ideas in a language that non-accountants can understand, you can effectively influence decisions and help to create an efficient and orgainized methodology to problem solving and issue resolution.
  • Your team members will like you! Okay… “making friends” clearly isn’t going to be incorporated into your job description. However, when you have a strong rapport between team members, it creates a cohesive company culture. This results in every member of the team speaking the same language, ensuring that directives and ideas are always clearly understood.

Lewis Daidone works alongside boards of directors, venture capitalists, senior executives and partners toward improving infrastructure, growth projections, and fiscal results of financial services and technology companies.  Follow him on Facebook to know more.

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The Job Interview: Coping with Curveball Questions

The Job Interview: Coping with Curveball Questions

In today’s post, Lewis Daidone discusses how challenging questions during your job interview can be used to your advantage. Lewis Daidone is a Certified Public Accountant and a consultant to tech companies and financial services firms.

As job interviews become more and more extensive and multi-faceted—including, in some cases, luncheon meetings and video conferences—questions will inevitably become faintly personal. While simple queries about home towns, parents, and associates might only be meant to put applicants at ease or discover common associations, sometimes they can open up unexpected cans of worms. Family relationships might be strained, past friends no longer on speaking terms, or beloved relatives stricken by some tragedy. Although such questions aren’t meant to “test” you necessarily, they can lead to very uncomfortable moments if they aren’t handled well. Here are a few things to remember that could help you transform difficult interview situations into positive ones.

  • Always, always, always be honest. It is never a good idea to be untruthful in an interview because if your interviewer discovers the deception later… game over. Be as forthright as possible, better to deal with a mild awkwardness than get caught in a lie.
  • Ease into the difficult subject. Let’s say your interviewer used to know a relative of yours who is now under hospice care. When the interviewer, unaware of this fact, asks how she is, do your best to reveal the circumstances as gently as possible. Do not blurt out the information. While the situation is definitely sad, you don’t want to give your interviewer the impression that she said something wrong, which could make the rest of your interview uncomfortable.
  • Frame bad circumstances as triumphs, or learning experiences. If your interviewer is a close associate of someone who dislikes you, don’t act like this is not the case. Diffuse the situation as best you can, because your interviewer will definitely ask this associate about you. When you are asked if you know this person, explain that there had been difficulties in the past which were unfortunate, but you recognize how misunderstandings may have occurred, and believe that under different circumstances this all could have been avoided. In any case you learned from this experience and are confident that, as a result, nothing of the sort could ever happen again.

No one’s life is perfect, but your capacity to meet diverse challenges combined with the ability to discuss them maturely and openly will help you to ace the job interview process. Remember, you might not have the right answers, but very often it is the way you deliver your answers that will give interviewers confidence in your abilities.

Lewis Daidone works alongside boards of directors, venture capitalists, senior executives and partners toward improving infrastructure, growth projections, and fiscal results of financial services and technology companies.  Follow him on Facebook to know more.

How to Get the Best Perks

In today’s post, Lewis Daidone reviews how to discuss benefits and perks with prospective employers. Lewis Daidone is a Certified Public Accountant and consultant to financial firms and tech companies.

Have you thought about which incentives you’d want from the firm you ultimately work for? Do you know what is commonly offered to candidates with your skills, educational background, and experience? Here are a few tips that might help you to successfully negotiate the benefits you want.

Know what is being offered at competing firms.

Unless you know what is commonly offered to professionals with your job title in your industry, you won’t be in an effective position to negotiate. Make sure you also research the effect offering the benefits or perks has had on other organizations. Was employee morale improved? Was there an increase in productivity? Having these answers could make the perks more attractive to your employer, while sending him or her the message that you’re a conscientious team member.

Have a strategy.

Make sure your requests are well-thought out and precise, and give reasons you require your specific benefits. For example, rather than asking to work remotely or periodic time off throughout the day, present a trial schedule where your employer can monitor your off-site performance and evaluate your productivity after the trial period ends.

Know what is a deal breaker and what you can live without in advance.

The possibility exists that you won’t get all of the benefits you want, but that doesn’t mean you should necessarily refuse the job. Think carefully about which incentives you don’t consider absolutely essential before you even walk into the room.

Certain workplace incentives are becoming increasingly generous and diverse across industries. Don’t be timid when requesting your benefits. You may be surprised!

Lewis Daidone works alongside boards of directors, venture capitalists, senior executives and partners toward improving infrastructure, growth projections, and fiscal results of financial services and technology companies.  Follow him on Facebook to know more.

How to Prepare for a Successful Video Interview

In the following article, CPA and consultant Lewis Daidone offers tips for conducting a smooth and professional video interview.

Now that we have easy access to an abundance of communications devices, we have the option of engaging in conversations across a wide variety of digital channels. The video interview is becoming more and more common as hiring managers seek to streamline the interview process. Video communications platforms are cost-effective and efficient resources for interviewing long lists of candidates. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to treat a video interview more casually than you would an in-person meeting. Here are a few tips for making sure you leave the hiring manager with best possible impression of your skills, intelligence, and personality.

Make sure your camera is stationary.

While smartphones are convenient and easy to maneuver, you should definitely keep yours perfectly still while you are conducting your interview. Mount it securely on a smartphone stand so that your interviewers don’t get motion sickness from your Cinéma vérité-style camera work. Better yet—use your desk/laptop

Check and double check your background.

If you’re going to be at home during the interview, make sure the space is professional and clean. It is very easy to forget that your funny-yet-undignified posters, laundry, dishes, pets, etc. might be visible to the interviewer.

Check and double check the video technology.

Make sure your camera and microphone are working properly, and that you’re familiar enough with the platform the interviewers have selected. If you haven’t already, download it well in advance so that you won’t be in danger of logging on late, or wasting time fussing with the sound and the composition.

There is no reason why a video interview should be any different from a live interview. Prepare well, dress well, and don’t forget to smile!

Lewis Daidone works alongside boards of directors, venture capitalists, senior executives and partners toward improving infrastructure, growth projections, and fiscal results of financial services and technology companies.  Follow him on Facebook to know more.

Accounting Benefits from Software as a Service

Accounting Benefits from Software as a Service

Most companies today, as well as individuals, rely more on Software as a Service, or Saas, over traditional desktop software products that come packaged, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint,. SaaS offers a wide range of advantages, such as ease of access and immediate updates and bug fixes. Public accounting is one major area that has benefited from SaaS, with more Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) using SaaS applications due to their effectiveness and efficiency in helping accountants to service their clients.

What is SaaS?

SaaS refers to a software company offering its financial or business programs/services through a secured connection on the Internet. These programs and services are offered on demand. A major advantage of using SaaS applications versus traditional software products is that the traditional product had to be installed and maintained, which meant obtaining updates, buying upgrades, and repairing bugs. With SaaS, these problems are eliminated since SaaS providers do this regularly and effectively, usually providing a schedule in advance to alert customers of updates.

The Benefits to Business Owners

A huge benefit of using SaaS applications for accounting purposes is that QuickBooks Online, and other similar applications, make it possible for you to access your accounting records no matter where you are in the world. You do not need to be at a particular computer to retrieve financial data pertaining to your organization. In addition, all of your financial data are always automatically backed up. Thus, gone are the days where the crash of a local hard drive will affect your business’s financial data.

Risk Consideration

For many CPAs, the benefits of using an SaaS outweigh the risks. Most SaaS Companies have proved their reliability through years of uninterrupted service, which is why SaaS is dramatically changing how CPAs do business today.

Lewis Daidone, a certified public accountant, works as an investment management consultant with BlackRock. Learn more about him by visiting this blog.

Accounting Certifications Employers Want

Accounting Certifications Employers Want

In the following article, Lewis Daidone discusses the CPA certification process and benefits.. Lewis Daidone is a Certified Public Accountant and consultant for financial service firms and tech companies.

Accountants are well-educated professionals trained to measure, disclose or provide assurance about financial information that helps managers, investors, tax authorities and others make decisions about allocating resources. Similar to other highly regarded professions, accountants have a number of credentials and certifications designed to ensure a high level of professionalism. The most widely sought credential is the CPA, or certified public accountant.

Certified Public Accountant License

The process of becoming certified begins with a college degree in accounting, or a business or finance degree with a suitable concentration of accounting courses. Most states’ licensing requirements call for 150 semester hours of coursework, more than that required for the average bachelor’s degree. Future accountants can complete extra courses or take advantage of combined bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that award both degrees after five years’ study. The CPA examination is written in four parts and must be completed within a 12-month period. Most states also require accountants to have two years’ work experience under the supervision of a CPA before they can be certified.

Becoming a CPA is not a one-time process. Retaining the designation requires a commitment to continuing professional education. Each state’s own board of accountancy determines how much continuing education is appropriate. For example, New Jersey requires 120 hours over a three year period, with no fewer than 20 hours in a given year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 16 percent growth in the number of accountants between 2010 and 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. However, those with a CPA designation — especially when combined with an MBA or other advanced degree — will be the most employable. International staffing firm Robert Half Finance and Accounting corroborates the bureau’s assessment, describing the CPA as its most-recruited credential. Like the BLS, Robert Half sees CPAs with an MBA as the most desirable recruits.

Social Media and Accounting: Do they Mix?

In the following article, Certified Public Accountant and consultant Lewis Daidone discusses the importance of social media in strategic communications, and how accountants can leverage social media platforms for their advantage.

With all of the regulations and overarching client privacy issues, is having a robust social media presence really necessary for accounting firms? Isn’t it safer and more practical to limit marketing efforts to more controlled, less interactive, channels?

While social media for your accounting services might not be absolutely essential, it certainly could be extremely beneficial, if you take the proper precautions! Here are some things to keep in mind before launching a social media campaign for your accounting practice.

Make sure you stay in compliance with proper industry practices and federal regulations.

If you’re uneasy about utilizing social media tools because you want to be absolutely certain you’re adhering to government regulations, you might want to investigate social media services that cater to advisors and consultants in financial sectors. Heresay Social, for example is a highly useful platform, that has vigorous compliance oversight.

Stick to social media platforms that are widely used in your industry.

LinkedIn and Twitter newsfeeds are essential online resources for CPA firms. Instagram and Pinterest—not so much. Make sure you funnel your resources towards social media channels that could potentially expand your client and associate network, as well as enhance your industry prestige. You can effectively communicate with numerous respected media channels (the Journal of Accountancy, Wall Street Journal, and all noteworthy accounting associations) via Twitter.

Create and post useful content that illustrates your industry expertise.

Make sure you post valuable and informative links, and explain their importance. Use social media to give your audience insight into your profound industry expertise, but don’t make your marketing efforts obvious. You want your communications to broadcast thought leadership, not advertisements.

It can certainly be dangerous to air sensitive information on social media. However, if you approach your social media strategy from a branding perspective (rather than actively selling services, solutions, and outcomes), you can position yourself and your practice as an effective subject matter expert.