Training your new hires to achieve success in the accounting department has never been easy, but in today’s remote working environment it can be even more difficult. Last week we wrote up some great tips and tricks on onboarding new employees virtually, but what happens afterward? Whether your new team member will be seeing you mostly via Zoom or in-person, the process of training them will likely involve a lot of moving parts – and could last quite a while before they get the hang of things.
We decided to reach out to our top Virtual Accounting Talent leader in Manila, Philippines: Elmer Sarmiento - Director, Finance & Accounting Outsourcing to share just how Personiv trains their GAAP-compliant, degreed CPAs and accountants offering offshore accounting support to our U.S. clients. For us, training is a large part of what we do when equipping our new hires for success – taking that burden away from our customers – and is just one of the reasons that our team members serving our accounting solution have one of the longest tenures in the industry.
And who better to ask about training than our own Sarmiento who brings nearly 20 years of experience in a variety of industries across accounting disciplines. Elmer joined Personiv in April 2020 as the Director of Finance & Accounting Operations. Having started his career in 2001 with a World Bank funded project for a Philippine Government owned & controlled corporation – SBMA, Elmer has risen up the ranks to manage large teams responsible for everything from accounts payable and accounts receivable to reporting, M&A and service delivery.
Most recently, Elmer served as the Chief Financial Officer for Business Process Outsourcing International where he led the business transformation of the F&A division through a combination of process alignment & standardization, process waste elimination and spearheaded automation projects. His skills include Global Best Practices, RPA & Intelligent Automation, Streamlined AR & AP Process and People Management.
Find out More: Meet Our Finance & Accounting Outsourcing Services Team
“I manage and oversee the day-to-day financial operations of clients and ensure optimum performance of my team —I develop people and create more leaders,” Sarmiento said.
Accountant Training: A Q&A With Personiv’s Director of F&A Operations
Q: What should Day One of work look like for a brand-new accounting hire? - Setting up your new hires for success since day 1
A: On Day 1, it’s critical to establish the work culture, have the accountant get to know the team they will be working with and establish the higher goals and tactical objectives for the client. It should also be an opportunity for sharing between current and new team members, including everything from what made them stay with the company, past successes and “learning opportunities”. Day 1 is less about work immersion and more about making the team member feel welcome.
Q: What comes next, specifically in the first week(s) after a hire?
A: Day 2 leads us to process training, which involves immersing the new team member first in the end-to-end process map of the company’s finance ops. It helps them to get to know and appreciate their role in the overall service delivery. Technical training will follow throughout the first week. Then we will proceed with the actual process trainings. Every training module must be accompanied with both conceptual tests and work simulations. It is important to recognize our new team member on their successful completion of each training module. However, it is likewise critical to call out management’s attention if we find them struggling. From there we determine if it is a training or a skills concern.
Onboarding New Accounting Hires to Maximize Success
Q: Is there a list of technical skills that new hires need to demonstrate mastery of by a certain deadline to ensure success?
A: It really varies depending on several factors such as ERP mastery, which accounting tasks are required, etc. Timelines vary from client to client and can range anywhere between two weeks to two months initially. But our focus on training and continuous improvement doesn’t stop there.
Q: How about soft skills? Is that important within the initial onboarding period or is the focus on process and tech instead?
A: A person may be technically sound, but they do need to thrive in a team environment, partner with our clients and engage with internal stakeholders. These are skills beyond the process knowledge and are part of their success measures in their role. Because it’s equally important that our team members are engaging and personable as well as technically skilled, we often reach outside of the finance group to further develop these traits in our team members. We allow our people to go outside of their comfort zone and to partner with people in Ops, IT, sales and even outside parties such as vendors and clients to train in areas that they may have never developed before. This 360-degree view of training is one of things that sets our people apart in the outsourcing industry.
Q: What is Personiv's new accounting hire's training process like? Do we collect feedback from employees about this process? How often do we update/improve our training process to make success a reality?
A: Our training process continuously evolves as we incorporate input from clients, team members and the trainees themselves. There is no set timeline on when and how we update out training process. Rather, it’s determined by the need and grounded on service excellence and training efficiency.
Accounting Hires Training That Stands the Test of Time
Q: It sounds like the training aspect is ongoing when looking to ensure the success of all new hires—not just in the beginning of the relationship.
A: Yes, we are always ready to improve our training program if necessary and are also ready to continuously improve our exceptional hires. Training is not a one-day or one-week event.
Q: How will trainers/employers know when the new hire is ready to work autonomously?
A: This is verified through a combination of process reviews and engagement checks, where the frequency should go down consistently until end of training. At Personiv, KPI targets are set every month, but feedback is done almost immediately. Consistent attainment of targets, positive VOC feedback and engagement reviews should determine when our team members are ready to work independently.
Q: When is a new hire no longer "new"?
A: Tenure may differ from every company, once a new team member is deemed productive and operates will little to no supervision, they are deemed to be tenured enough to navigate their tasks and stakeholder engagements independently.
Training your new accounting hires is an ongoing effort and one that never stops improving or gaining in importance. It’s one of our top priorities in our Virtual Accounting Talent solution here at Personiv. If you’re interested in learning more about our service, and how it can augment your in-house team without the hassle and at half the cost, contact us.