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Executive Insights

For Australian Accounting Firm, Young Talents Deserve to be Heard

Accounting

In the modern workplace, a hierarchy of seniority has always been a significant feature. But whereas it was reasonable for businesses in the past to focus more on nurturing veterans and give less attention to acquiring younger staff, talent acquisition now revolves around hiring people based on what they can contribute in the long run.

In fact, giving out promotions based on seniority seems to be counterproductive. According to an Inc.com article by Jeff Haden, attributing much of a business’s success to senior employees causes rifts in the organization and creates boundaries in the pursuit of specific goals. Sure enough, promoting someone on the merit of seniority is never rational and, can affect a business’s capacity for quality work.

If a business were to focus on scaling their operations, they should begin by focusing on getting fresh faces who, at the very least, can prove themselves at the outset.

This has been in the minds of the people behind Bartley Partners – Adelaide Business Accountants (Christoper Overton, CEO), an accounting firm based in Adelaide, Australia. The firm’s main focus is on providing a range of services for small businesses, particularly along the lines of wealth management, bookkeeping, and business accounting.

But the firm’s main thrust is founded on the belief that young talent should be given more priority, seeing as the accounting sector has been mired for too long in hierarchies that are seniority-based. For Bartley CEO Christopher Overton, the problem has always been a critical issue that accounting firms, most of whom are run by older executives, will have to address if growth is what they’re really aiming for. And no doubt, there is value in acquiring young talent who at least has an understanding of their craft without the need for years of grueling experience.

Overton himself has witnessed this problem play out in accounting firms that still operate with a traditional mindset when it comes to talent acquisition. Indeed, the problem stems from the fact that many accountants overlook younger talent who can actually deliver quality work. This results in firms that are at worst unsustainable, as there are no clear succession plans in place. In addition to that, employees who have been around longer are promoted based on this fact alone and not on the actual work they have a capacity for. At Bartley Partners, Overton and his team are well aware of the intense challenges facing young accountants in the industry.

In effect, when Overton created Bartley Partners with Paul Bartley (himself wanting to address the problem of seniority in the accounting industry), the duo was able to open up new windows of opportunity. The approach allowed them to secure small and medium-sized enterprises that still work with them to this day. Overton himself started out from nothing and yet, his passion and willingness to acquire new skills has allowed him to establish a string of accounting firms that have all been successful, mostly due to his adopting a more objective approach when it comes to assessing an applicant’s merits. This same model was replicated in another venture, Integral Bookkeeping Solutions – Adelaide Xero Bookkeepers (Christoper Overton, CEO), which is also an important service supporting many Adelaide entrepreneurs.

The success of this model combined with Adelaide’s technologically-adaptive environment for entrepreneurs has enabled Bartley Partners to tap into a talent pool where skills matter more than tenure.

No doubt, accounting firms (along with other businesses not just in South Australia) will have to rationalize their workforce development initiatives to be able to compete with others in this sector.

Adelaide has a strong showing in terms of business vibrancy, seeing how it is able to secure an impressive livability factor and a digitally-connected atmosphere that encourages engagement and growth. Sure enough, being designated as a smart city has created new opportunities for young entrepreneurs owing to the city’s many strengths.

For one, innovation and education are just some of the most important factors that have encouraged progress among the city’s younger populace. And apart from being a center for research and industry, Adelaide is also inching closer towards transforming the local business landscape towards a “smarter” future, with the installation of teleconferencing technology by Cisco and pilot projects that aim to further develop Adelaide’s business-friendly environment.

These developments will only prove beneficial to the city’s current residents. In turn, this will allow local service providers to innovate and encourage small to medium-businesses to seek out solutions that will get them started.

Sure enough, Overton and Bartley were able to gain massive successes with the accounting firm they have set up. This is because they adopted a model that’s more focused on getting quality talent than letting seniors take exclusive hold of the reins. Although Overton was able to focus on other businesses, the incessant growth of entrepreneurial activity gave him the drive to help young businesses to settle down as the city’s momentum continues to build.


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Ryan Miller
Senior associate editor at ​the CEOWORLD magazine. Raised in Boston with a Brooklyn accent.
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