CPAs, want a promotion? Here's what you should do.

CPAs, want a promotion? Here's what you should do.

Posted by  on 17 April, 2017  5 minute read

Professional growth is inevitable in any profession. If you are good at your job – you are bound to get an increment and a promotion. If you are not, you strive to work a tad harder to ensure you get the rise you deserve. This happens faster if you love your work; but that’s another story – not something we will touch upon here.

In the accounting industry, where the competition amongst CPAs is tougher than ever, boosting professional growth is necessary. Everyone wants to be a boss someday. So it doesn’t matter how the industry functions or what its pain-points are – CPAs have to look out for ways to get the promotion of their dreams!

It is not surprising to see that 64% of CFOs aspire for the top job, i.e. aspire to become the CEO of their company. The People Puzzle survey suggests that 47% of CPAs want to become a manager or a controller. While 3 out of 10 respondents in the survey suggested they are happy with their current jobs, it doesn’t mean they have no aspirations.
Here are seven handy tips to work towards the promotion you desire:

1. Expand your network
Seriously - if you are holed up in your cubicle and stay buried in your work (which is good in a way), you are not going to be able to do much networking. This, by the way, is an integral part of any profession.
You need to get out of your comfort zone and meet and greet with fellow peers and industry influencers. Make contacts, build relationships and maintain them. You never know who might become a catalyst in your promotion process!

2. Grow your technical expertise

Managers, CFOs and CEOs are the glue that hold a project, the finances and a company together respectively. It is not an easy job. Therefore, staying at the top of the technical game is a must - for that forms the core of an accounting firm.
A CPA must be an expert in skills such as management accounting and reporting, tax strategy and planning, risk management, etc. Superiors deal with the less experienced direct reports. Wouldn’t it be easier for them to spot errors quickly if they are knowledgeable?

3. Bring in new business
Superiors are always on the front lines for generating new business. They don’t just do work themselves or get work done from others. They get more work for the accounting firm. They scout the target market, plan an engagement with the prospect, supervise the deal and communicate with the CEO to make sure the deal doesn’t go kaput.
You want that promotion? Show that you are an asset to an organization, and that you are a pro at churning new business for it.

4. Express your intention of promotion

Every professional wants a promotion. The process of promotions varies from industry to industry, and firm to firm. In an accounting firm, it may take 2-3 years. If you have finished a certain period of time in an accounting firm, it is best to discuss your impending promotion with your superior.
Convey the real reason for your promotion. Please don’t say you need more money – that’s just lame! Instead, ask your superior the tasks you need to complete to get that promotion. Do a one-to-one meeting. Don’t make the mistake of discussing this in front of your whole team. Just a private chat with your superior is all you need to get things started.

5. Ask for feedback

Criticism always hurts, but constructive criticism - seldom! If you are serious about your job and want the decision-making authority to know so, then make sure you ask for feedback from your manager. Mold your questions around anything you can help with, progression relating to your goal of promotion, work satisfaction level of your client, etc.
Make your feedback questions about your team, deadlines and clients. Again, this needs to be done in private. Don’t bother your superior every now and then. Make it sound casual. Ask him or her while walking towards the car, or going up in the elevator, etc. You don’t need to act all official here. Your quarterly review is enough for that!

6. Interpersonal communication skills
If you can’t communicate with your team and superiors, and express your thoughts and opinions, your technical expertise won’t matter much. You should be in such a position that you are able to take off matters from your manager’s plate, and have your say.
It is not a bad thing if you are looking for promotion. It’s more work - yes. You should be able to communicate clearly within your team, cross-divisionally and influence decision making.
Are there any other points we’ve missed out on? What do you think is important for bagging a dream promotion?