Over my years at LBMC, I’ve watched a wide variety of people come into the firm. Some are still in college and just beginning their internship, some are fresh out college and some are making lateral moves later in their career. Regardless of which point they have reached in their career, it’s never easy to decide which firm to commit to, and without a doubt, they each have their own reservations and worries. After all, choosing a firm to either launch or base your career is no easy decision and warrants careful thought and consideration.
However, it doesn’t take long before we see those same individuals breathe a sigh of relief, realizing the benefits of a large regional firm are well-worth the uneasiness of any transition they might have endured. In a field such as public accounting, finding the right firm is key in long term professional success. When I first joined LBMC as an intern in the spring of 2004, I felt confident the relationship would be career long. Twelve years later, I am just as confident in my decision and with each passing year, understand and appreciate the benefits of a large regional firm.
1. Culture of Commitment
It’s no secret that millennials tend to only stay with their jobs between 3-5 years before searching out another employer, a statistic we at LBMC know well and face yearly. Our firm and client base is growing at a rapid rate, posing a challenge when determined to recruit the best-of-the-best in the field. However, despite the raging statistic, we find that our retention rate surpasses that of the industry average and those at our firm tend to stick it out for the long haul. There are probably a variety of reasons we see this trend, but in my opinion, the culture of commitment maintained throughout the firm warrants much of the credit.
For obvious—and understandable—reasons, any firm is primarily concerned about its overall, long-term success. And as individuals climb the promotional ladder, it’s only natural to gain more vested interest in the organization as a whole. However, at at very early stage in my own career, I noticed that the culture of LBMC was deep-rooted and each individual, no matter how early professionally, seemed to be truly committed to the firm. This can be seen in a number of ways, from referring family and friends to be either employees or future clients.
I noticed this culture early on; in fact, it played a large role in how I made the decision to join LBMC in the first place. Everyone knows the two-year turnover is brutal. Standard practice is to join a firm, work exhausting hours for two years and after giving your time and gaining experience, make the transition to another public accounting firm or go industry. I didn’t want to succumb to this trend so from day one, sought out a firm where I could survive that 2-year turnover—and found LBMC.
Since then, I’ve been given opportunities many feel like they have to move firms to find, but because LBMC has such a strong growth track and commitment to it’s staff, I am now entering year twelve with LBMC. As we as a firm continue to learn, in order to recruit and keep the best, we must have room for them to advance professionally and maintain a high quality of life.
2. Growth Oriented
I realized early on at LBMC I would not be just another number and this large regional firm held opportunities for growth simply not found at the big 4 firms. It’s common practice to spend the first two years clocking away hours on low-risk areas or cash/PP&E. It’s an understandable practice; after all, no client wants an inexperienced staff working on their engagement. However, this practice does make gaining valuable experience challenging, especially if you have the desire to exceed set expectations and really challenge yourself. At LBMC, these opportunities exist.
Leadership at LBMC understands that the overall success of the firm really is dependent on the success of each and every individual, regardless of their rank. That knowledge influences decisions at all levels and has likely been much of the motivation behind a system that consistently promotes growth and individual success. We really do want everyone to stay—and succeed—long term at LBMC, and there are a plethora of initiatives in place to facilitate both consistent and expedited growth.
We push for young staff to complete their CPA as soon as possible, requiring (with incentives) one section each quarter until it is completed. Promotion is limitless with completing the CPA so accomplishing this early on is extremely beneficial, both to the individual and the firm. Continuing professional educational opportunities are provided by the firm, allowing each staff to develop professionally. From day one, each new hire is paired with someone of a higher rank in order to receive continual feedback and coaching positives and constructives. Deliberate relationships are in place so that each person feels supported and encouraged. While I’m sure all firms try to create such systems, I seriously doubt many do it as well as LBMC.
Over the years, I’ve made every effort to take advantage of these opportunities, regardless of which stage of my career I was currently in. I recognized that even in my first years, my desire to succeed would be matched with increased opportunities for growth. After 3 years a manager, I was promoted to senior manager, a swift transition I attribute to taking advantage of every growth and learning opportunity possible. I didn’t hesitate to take on more responsibility or a challenge because I understood the long term benefits and was confident I would be supported every step of the way. At a firm like LBMC, few boundaries will stand in the way of someone who really wants to succeed—and that’s something that could not be said of other firms.
At the end of the day, LBMC is a business, and like any good business, we know that our success is 100% based on client satisfaction. This conviction is deep-rooted and motivates almost every decision made, from personnel decisions to technological advancements to developing the best possible customer service. In a large regional firm like LBMC, clients are personal and relationships are formed over the course of years.
It’s common to for clients to be lifelong and personally recommended by friends, family or colleagues. In fact, our logo boasts the slogan “Make a Good Business Better,” perfectly depicting the desire of our firm to meet the variety of needs a growing and successful business needs. Often times a client is exposed to one aspect of LBMC and is so satisfied with their experience, taking advantage of the multitude of other offerings, such as LBMC Technology or Staffing Solutions, is a no brainer.
During my first two years as a staff, I started forming relationships with clients that I still work with, one of which I’ve now worked with for almost ten years. That length of time with one client establishes a substantial level of trust and confidence that just isn’t ordinarily found in a client relationship.
4. Ability to Specialize
It goes without saying at this point but the opportunities for growth have been key in any and all professional success I have seen in my career. I’ve come to realize and appreciate that large regional firms are large enough to have abundant opportunities but small enough to allow individuals to find their "sweet spot" and specialize in a particular field. Choosing to specialize empowers individuals to become an expert or household name in their respective field, a benefit and accolade that might not be achieved without a specialty.
While LBMC doesn’t require everyone to specialize, I’ve found clients in my area of expertise do prefer working with those who do, simply because they don’t have to explain their industry specifics. Additionally, becoming an “expert” of your respective field empowers you to focus on the audit and the engagement at hand without feeling the pressure to relearn a new field for each engagement, a task that is not only incredibly difficult but often times distracting from the actual task at hand.
When I first started at LBMC, like most of my colleagues, I worked with a variety of industries (healthcare, manufacturing, distribution, not-for-profit). However, it wasn’t long before I realized I clicked extremely well with the client base in healthcare. One successful job led to another and soon, I realized this was the area in which I wanted to specialize. Another factor influencing this decision was the fact that Nashville was and is a health care mecca, and the opportunity for growth was endless. Choosing and developing myself in this particular field has been one of the most rewarding and effective decisions of my professional career.
However, despite the fact that I’m an obvious advocate of specializing, it’s certainly not a requirement. Not everyone chooses to specialize and if that’s your choice, we (at LBMC) support that and still encourage and enable your professional growth. If at some point you decide to begin specializing, you have the ability to explore different fields and find a market of your choosing. Making this transition at a larger firm isn’t so easy. It’s common for one job to take upwards of 6 months, making the transition to another field incredibly difficult. At a firm like LBMC, that’s not the case. You have the ability and flexibility to explore different fields, and if you choose to transition at a later point, you are free to make that choice.
5. Commitment to Quality of Life
It’s no secret. This field is tough. The hours are long, busy season seems unending and the travel can be exhausting.
But it doesn’t have to be. Finding a firm that values the quality of life of its’ staff is absolutely key to your long-term success in public accounting. At LBMC, we are committed to finding the best in the business but we understand that in order to do that, we—as a firm—must be firmly committed to our employees’ quality of life. We work hard but allow ourselves to play hard.
As long as the job is done, we offer flexibility to enable you to feel happy and empowered in all aspects of your life. The benefits and perks are plentiful so that when you do get time off, you’re actually off.
It’s possible I’m a self-proclaimed workaholic. When I’m working, I’m focused and attentive, giving 100% in every aspect. However, there is one aspect of of my life that rivals my love for my work and that’s my love for the beach! Over time, I have learned that my professional success is also reliant upon me taking personal time. LBMC understands fully and as a result, PTO is generous. First and foremostly, we are concerned with client satisfaction but beyond that, encourage all of our employees to maintain a balanced quality of life both in and out of the office.
LBMC also encourages social interaction outside of the office, planning social functions and playing key roles in local professional organizations. We are active in organizing events for Young Professionals, and I’ve had the honor of being involved in WIN, a group bringing together women in accounting.
It’s hard to believe I’m coming upon my twelfth year at LBMC, and I honestly don’t believe I could have found a better firm to call home. I’m constantly challenged yet empowered to succeed professionally, finding opportunities continue to arise for growth. Choosing LBMC has, without a doubt, been absolutely key in any and all success thus far in my career.