Finders, minders and grinders: Hiring tips and red flags for your accounting firm

Hiring is difficult. It’s time-consuming and ever-evolving. But when you see your new hires finally have their ‘ah-ha’ moment and everything falls into place, hiring is rewarding, exciting and motivating.

4 people looking out over an orangey pink sunset. They are silhouetted. 3 are standing together in the foreground, and the other is in the background on the left, taking a photo on their phone.

So how can you guarantee your employees have their ‘ah-ha’ moment? It all starts with hiring the right people for the right roles.

Ed Chan, Co-Founder of Chan & Naylor (one of Australia's biggest accounting firm franchises), credits building a top-performing ‘accounting A-team’ to ensuring people are hired for the roles that suit their personality.

“We're not all the same—your firm needs complimentary skills. Very few of us have all the skills across the board,” explains Ed.

An often-used hiring structure involves three key staffing pillars that identify workers based on personality traits and aligning them to suited roles. These pillars are:

  1. Finders

  2. Minders

  3. Grinders

So, what are these roles in a typical accounting firm? What can you do to hire the right people for these roles? And what are some potential red flags when hiring for each of these pillars?

Tips for hiring finders

What are finders?

Finders are generally your senior client managers and assistant client managers. They’re motivated by seeking out sales opportunities, they’re charming, and have excellent interpersonal skills. They can break down complex tax issues into terms any client can understand.

Tips for hiring finders

  1. Find people with great industry connections, experience and knowledge. All three can benefit your firm.

  2. The purest form of a finder is someone who genuinely loves to network, build new connections and chat with people. Keep an eye out for these types of people.

🚩 Red flag for finders

A red flag to watch out for when hiring finders is someone who isn’t motivated to forge new professional relationships, preferring to work on operational, production-type work. If you put someone with these characteristics in a finder role, you simply won’t receive the results you’re after (and your employee will be unhappy at work). 

Tips for hiring minders

What are minders?

Minders are reliable, experienced accountants with the knowledge, but not necessarily the people skills. They are best-suited to your firm’s senior production manager roles.

They ensure everything is functioning smoothly and efficiently across the firm, oversee technical staff and often bridge the gap between client managers and production staff.

Tips for hiring minders

  1. Avoid hiring too many minders too quickly—this can slow down growth.

  2. Your Office Manager is arguably one of the most important minders on your team. Often they’re responsible for triaging client work and managing capacity in an accounting firm.

🚩 Red flag for minders

A classic red flag for minders: a lack of empathy. A nurturing personality is important in minders—after all, they’re responsible for overseeing your production team.

Tips for hiring grinders

What are grinders?

Grinders are your production staff—the ones with the technical knowledge. Grinders are how the work gets done. Without them, it would be all talk and no action. They’re enthusiastic about putting in the time and effort to achieve solid output.

Tips for hiring grinders

  1. Grinders should be able to work independently and take instruction well—keep an eye out for these characteristics.

  2. Typically, recent graduates will begin their careers as grinders, so stay on the lookout for enthusiastic and talented young accounting professionals.

🚩 Red flag for grinders

If your grinder isn’t willing to put in the hard yards, this is an immediate red flag. By nature, their workloads can sometimes be thick and fast, so they should be ready and willing to get it done. If not, they might not be up to the task.

Striking the right balance is key

Just like having too many minders slows growth, hiring too many grinders when you don’t have enough clients is a misuse of resources, and too many finders can create burnout and pressure  for everyone else. 

The key is striking the right balance of finders, minders and grinders. But there is no secret sauce here—it depends on your firm’s nuanced situation.

Finding your balance means weighing your production and communication needs, and then hiring accordingly. And if your current team already feels out of balance, take a look at what skills and talents they have, and then redeploy or reskill as necessary to ensure you have the right people in the right roles.

If you can do that, you’re well on your way to achieving harmony across your team.