In this fun father/son edition, we asked Baby Boomer regional managing partner Walter J. Brasch, born in 1952, from ParenteBeard, a Top 25 Firm headquartered in Philadelphia, and his son, Generation X senior manager Walter Brasch Jr., born in 1979, from Big Four firm Deloitte & Touche LLP, to answer the following question: "In what ways do you see public accounting similarly to your father/son, who is also a member of the profession?"

 

THE GEN X VIEWPOINT

There are some things in this profession that transcend generation. For instance, delivering exceptional client service with integrity will always be of paramount importance. As regulation increases, audit requirements often increase, and the time left for other activities may be constrained. It can become more challenging to develop meaningful relationships with clients, which can foster better lines of communication.

To continue to provide exceptional client service and serve the investor public, we need these lines of communication open, and this is something that I think all generations might agree on. When we focus on building relationships, we can help our clients embrace the positive effects of change and help them find solutions through our understanding of their business.

I think people of all generations value meaningful work and being able to utilize their skills effectively. I see those around me work most effectively when performing tasks that utilize their strengths. This often builds confidence that allows them to develop in other areas to be ready to tackle the next challenge that they face.

A recent article published by Deloitte University Press, Talent 2020: Surveying the Talent Paradox from the Employee Perspective, noted: "A workforce is far more engaged and committed when it trusts its leadership, receives clear communications about corporate strategy, and believes its leaders have the ability to execute on that strategy." An organization centered around the unique skills of its employees, performing meaningful work with a commitment to its leadership, sounds like a place I want to be.

 

THE BOOMER VIEWPOINT

Some truisms about public accounting seem time-tested. I hear my son, a Gen Xer, reference these often in his role as a senior manager at Deloitte & Touche. Delivering excellent client service in a timely and efficient manner is critical to client relationships. Client service demands brought on by stringent deadlines and work compression are challenges. Technical competence is another critical success factor. Lastly, maintaining strong professional relationships with clients, referral sources and industry colleagues is more important than ever.

By watching my son's career and many of our team members at our firm, I have noticed a few things that have changed:

  • Technology. Constant technology changes have brought more than just speedy work; they've also brought increased job expectations.
  • Leadership development and sustainability of the CPA profession. There is a much greater emphasis on this today.
  • Regulatory oversight. There have been profound changes here!
  • Soft skills. It's hard to think back to when we only figured the math. Now we bring in business, network, and speak to the media.
  • Work/life balance. In the past, when we worked significant hours, it was applauded. Now, long work days come with warnings of possible health concerns and a poor example set.

Significant emphasis is placed on the differences in generations, but the fundamentals of our profession - relationship development, technical proficiency, risk management, and the need to communicate effectively - remain the same. Lastly, I am extremely proud that Walt Jr. is a member of the accounting profession!
This column is facilitated and edited by Brianna Marth, the Millennial sales and marketing coordinator, and Jennifer Wilson, the Baby Boomer co-founder and partner, of ConvergenceCoaching LLC (www.convergencecoaching.com), a leadership and marketing coaching and training and development firm that specializes in helping leaders achieve success. To have your firm's generational viewpoints considered for a future Accounting Tomorrow column, e-mail brianna@convergencecoaching.com.

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