Building the perfect accounting team for the modern practice doesn’t depend on the shoulders of just one person, or on just the one type of person.
You’ve probably heard of the terms finder, minder, and grinder. These characterizations are commonly used in professional services firms, including accounting, to describe the archetypal roles of workers.
So, what does each ‘type’ look like and do? And how does this fit into your modern practice as you move away from traditional roles and structures, toward running your firm more like a business? What roles should these progressive accountants have?
“We're not all the same—your firm needs complimentary skills. Very few of us have all the skills across the board.”
Finders are generally charming, charismatic, and smooth-talking. They love to promote and can persuade anyone of anything. They’re always up for a challenge and are extremely competitive, but can get bored quite easily.
Finders can often be at the top of the pyramid—perhaps at a Partner level of your firm. The great ones can seem like a different breed, and they’re perfectly suited to sales roles. They’ll thrive if given the responsibility to generate and find new business. You want a finder to be your Business Development Manager—someone who can focus on establishing relationships, gaining trust, and converting your prospects into ongoing, revenue-generating clients.
Minders are those accessible types who are on the front line of your firm, maintaining the relationships and coordinating the efforts of their colleagues. They keep everything ticking along and are always across everyone’s activities. Generally, minders are managers.
Minders often spend more time on the phone than their colleagues—they’re happy to take calls and love client meetings—it’s through conversations that they make decisions and get everyone on the same page. They can relate to people with different skill-sets and may find themselves as the link between groups or individuals, especially between the firm and clients. They’re organized and personable, and strive to keep people happy and deadlines on target.
Minders are well-suited to several roles within a modern practice, including Operations and Practice Manager positions, and Onboarding Specialists. Many progressive firm owners are leaving the job of sales to finders and are instead taking the role of the minder—often in a CEO role. A minder is a great fit for this leadership position—they can keep a close eye on and relate to all aspects of the firm, and spend the bulk of their time focusing on strategy and leading.
Grinders are the technically skilled staff. They work well on their own, are good at taking instruction, and like to keep busy. These are the ones who get the grunt work done. Without grinders, the firm would be all talk!
Grinders in modern accounting firms don’t just focus on number-crunching. Particularly in smaller firms these workers are all-rounders, and fit that model of the full-stack employee—they have transferable skills that relate to multiple areas of the business such as digital marketing or IT advisory, on top of their standard accounting skills. If your firm focuses on a niche, you may consider bringing grinders into the team who specialize in areas that suit your target client.
Tax and compliance work is becoming increasingly automated and performed by technology, and a growing number of firms are turning to outsourcing. Progressive accountant grinders have expanded skill sets that fit this new model, and perform tasks that are far beyond what accountants were doing last decade.
“Going forward a lot of accounting firms are going to have to shift further into advisory. And that means all accountants in the office getting out and dealing with clients on higher-level services rather than just flogging out tax returns.”
Knowing where your staff fit will help you to better structure your team and position them in positions that suit their individual strengths. It’s not simply a matter of a pigeon-holing a young graduate into a grinder role—they may have personality traits that make them a good fit for a minder or finder position. Likewise, some of the most experienced accountants excel at grinding work.
Have a look at your firm—which role-types are heavily represented? Do some people in your firm stretch over more than one role? A ‘people audit’ will help you find ways to leverage staff strengths, learn more from one another, and recruit smarter to fill any gaps.
Some firms will have more of one ‘type’ than others—it’s rare to find an even spread—but in all cases, you’ll need all three to operate successfully. Accounting firms generally tend to be grinder-heavy, which can be a detriment; all progressive accountants need to have client-facing skills as firms branch out into broader ranges of advisory services.
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