Industry changes are creating new challenges for all types of accounting and financial professionals. Whether you are a staff accountant, own a firm or work in L&D, take a look at common issues and how the right training can offer a simple and effective solution.
Top issues staff accountants face
1. Learning problem solving and consulting skills as an entry-level employee
College curriculums cover accounting skills like preparing statements, balance sheets, basic audits and reporting. However, as the industry changes, automation takes the place of these traditional daily accounting tasks. Instead, consulting with clients becomes the primary focus and drives the need to develop new skills.
Solution: training for problem-solving skills
While seasoned accountants acquire these skills through practice and experience, entry-level professionals can struggle to get their start. Surgent offers several solutions to upskill and build confidence in these newer areas.
Surgent CPE courses include soft skills training (such as communication, presenting and negotiating), data analytics and Excel. Furthermore, Surgent Interactive teaches through gamified simulations – a tried and true opportunity to practice problem-solving skills. Get CPE credits while learning skills you’ll use day to day.
2. Keeping up with changes and regulations
When new legislation passes, new standards are implemented and updates occur, how are accountants supposed to keep up?
It’s simple enough to read through new regulations and stay aware, but it’s a whole different game to understand how changes affect daily tasks and clients’ business strategy.
Solution: training that helps accountants adapt and stay current
Surgent takes a unique approach to helping accountants stay ahead. Our in-house experts track legislation and regulations before they’re implemented, releasing courses the moment a change is established.
Within days of an update taking place, accountants can quickly learn breakdowns and analysis of impact. In addition to courses surrounding individual updates (for example: analysis of the Inflation Reduction Act), Surgent CPE courses include tax updates, government and not-for-profit updates, A&A updates and a weekly expert hour to stay abreast of changes in a discussion panel format.
3. Networking and career growth while working remotely
As more teams switch to remote work, it can be challenging to develop virtual relationships with other employees, existing clients and potential new clients. These relationships are crucial to career and salary growth.
Solution: training that builds soft skills
Now is the time to become active on Linkedin and attend virtual events or conferences. Soft skill courses can help you find ways to develop remote leadership skills and find strategies to stay connected with colleagues and clients.
Solution: certifications that stand out
In addition, consider differentiating yourself while working remotely with in-demand certifications and credentials. For instance, a CMA, EA or CPA credential demonstrates advanced expertise, professionalism and dedication to your practice.
Top issues learning and development teams face
1. Finding training that covers in-demand skills
As the accounting and financial service industry evolves, clients seek accountants that can:
- Leverage data analysis to make smarter business decisions and increase efficiency
- Help clients navigate new regulations and build strategies to adapt
- Ensure clients stay compliant with industry best practices and security measures
It’s up to firms to provide training that shapes accountants who can step into these analytic and consulting roles.
Solution: training to upskill staff
Find a firm training provider that addresses these needs. Firms benefit from staff learning the impact of new regulations and legislation, improving efficiency of working in Excel, and becoming experts at data analysis. The right courses can tackle each of these areas.
2. Increasing employee engagement while working remotely
Next, firms are focusing their attention on employee engagement metrics, making them a top priority for L&D professionals. According to shrm.org:
“Executives from around the world say that enhancing employee engagement is one of their top five global business strategies. Not only does engagement have the potential to significantly affect employee retention, productivity and loyalty, it is also a key link to customer satisfaction, company reputation and overall stakeholder value. Increasingly, organizations are turning to HR to set the agenda for employee engagement and commitment to establish a competitive advantage.”
Solution: training that improves employee’s career paths
Increase employee engagement by helping them progress their careers and see the value they add to the company. A provider with an expansive library of courses helps employees choose credits that are most applicable to their career path. Help staff focus on the areas of personal development they deem important.
Furthermore, dashboards can help you track training progress and easily create reports related to engagement.
3. Meeting the diverse needs of employees
Finally, employees come from a variety of backgrounds, have varying levels of experience and prefer different methods of learning. For these reasons, it’s important to find diverse training solutions that meet employees’ preferences and requirements.
Solution: personalized training
Training should come in a variety of formats with flexible schedules. Some professionals prefer to learn through live webinars where they can ask questions, some prefer self-paced self-study options with a final test, and others prefer gamified interactive courses.
Three key features of quality training and their impact
With so many options available for professional training, both staff accountants and L&D teams should consider these factors when searching for course providers.
1. Courses should fit into busy schedules
Attending a mandatory 4-hour training ensures timely completion, but it does not ensure retention of the information. For training to sink in and help learners develop new skills, it should be completed at a time when they feel focused and relaxed. In fact, past studies demonstrate how stress negatively impacts the ability to recall information.
Therefore, flexible schedules and self-pacing are crucial features for learning success.
2. Courses should use real-world examples and applicable use cases
Scientist Hermann Ebbinghaus is known for discovering “the forgetting curve.” When learning material that has little relevance or personal applications, you’ll retain approximately 15%.
According to scihi.org,
“His results roughly state that just 20 minutes after learning, we can only recall 60% of what we have learned. After one hour, only 45% of what has been learned is still in our memory, and after one day only 34%. Six days after learning, the memory has already shrunk to 23%; only 15% of what has been learned is permanently stored.”
Therefore, taking or providing training that fulfils a requirement could be fruitless. Instead, look for courses that will improve daily tasks and teach through real-world examples.
3. Courses should provide hyper personalization
Everyone absorbs information differently, and courses should accommodate these learning styles. For example:
- Auditory learners might prefer lectures
- Visual learners tend to prefer textbooks and vivid PowerPoints
- Kinesthetic learners prefer practice questions and gamified experiences
Look for courses that fit diverse preferences with a variety of engaging formats.
Quality training unlocks new opportunities
Don’t count out the impact of training when solving your toughest challenges at work – the right courses can help professionals achieve their full potential and L&D teams achieve their goals. Providing training that is flexible, applicable and personalized is mutually beneficial for staff accountants and firms.