06Jun

It takes a little getting used to, but companies are finding that recruiting executives remotely offers more than enough benefits to make up for the lack of in-person meetings.

“There are many ways where the virtual recruitment is more efficient than what we did before,” said Jacqueline Welch, chief human resources officer and chief diversity officer at mortgage-finance giant Freddie Mac.

She told The Wall Street Journal that Freddie Mac has remotely onboarded 250 employees since mid-March when the government sponsored home loan company closed down its offices and had employees work from home.

Just this month, Welch said, the company hired a new CFO, also virtually.

In another example cited by The Journal, Nielsen Global Connect, a part of the US research company Nielsen Holdings PLC, hired a new CFO with all but a single in-person meeting with the CEO.

“I will admit that, in the end, it felt a bit odd to hire a CFO who I had never met,” CEO David Rawlinson told The Journal. “So we met at my house and talked briefly through masks, properly distanced in the backyard.”

The Boston Business Journal described how Massachusetts tech startup Drift, Inc. hired a new chief revenue officer to lead its 100-person sales team entirely remotely. The publication described the month-long interview process as being conducted via phone calls, video chats, emails, WhatsApp and text messages.

“In the back of my mind, and the rest of our minds, we expected that at some point we would meet him and then we would probably be going back to normal,” Drift CEO David Cancel said. “That just never turned out to be the case.”

Virtual recruiting offers several advantages, executive search recruiters explained. Besides the substantial savings on flights, hotels and meals and avoiding travel hassles and scheduling conflicts, remote hiring is quicker.

Cathy Logue, an executive recruiter who leads the CFO practice, said a recent search for a senior executive was completed in three months. “If you had asked me in January if this was possible I would have said, ‘Absolutely not,’ in no uncertain terms.”

There’s another, less obvious, benefit to remote interviewing.

“So often, when you meet someone in person and you spend time with them, there’s a lot of things beyond the communication happening … and some of that can bias you in the decision-making process,” Cancel said. “This let us focus more on the actual substance of the conversation.”

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

The New Role AI Can Play In Accounting

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“But,” says AccountingToday, “AI is for more than just automating processes and creating efficiencies — now is the time for firms to be creative, thinking about new industry-specific applications and firm-specific pain points where AI can play a role.”

Driven by the COVID pandemic, there’s been a mass migration of businesses to cloud-based services. This includes accounting firms of all sizes, who now see the benefits of the cloud and especially the automation that artificial intelligence-powered services can bring to routine and time-consuming tasks.

Deloitte report found three-quarters of business executives believe AI will transform their organization in less than three years. To be competitive and remain relevant, says the AccountingToday article, “Firms working with enterprise clients must consider AI seriously.”

A second AccountingToday article notes, “Today, artificial intelligence is transforming processes across the accounting profession, for those who are ready to invest in and adopt it.”

However, the benefits won’t be realized immediately. “It takes [time] to adopt the software and to validate it, to train it enough for a firm to realize its benefits. The machine has to learn.”

The article – “AI, applied: Opening the black box” – goes into detail about a few new AI applications for audit, tax, accounts payable and receivable.

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Discussing a new AI accounts receivable program, the article explains, “The platform automates the invoicing process so bills are sent in a timely manner, but it also learns a client’s payment habits over time. How many emails or messages does it take before an invoice is opened and viewed? How many contacts does it take before a client pays the bill? Each client is different, and therein lies the art.”

To learn that takes time. In discussing an AI accounts payable process at Armanino, a top 100 firm, Youngseung Kuk estimated it will take the program three years to predict client behavior and needs at a close-to-perfect rate.

“The time spent validating is worth it, because by the end, as a firm, we’re going to be so much more scalable,” said Kuk, who manages business outsourcing services for the firm.

At Garbelman Winslow CPAs, partner Samantha Bowling said an AI program she brought in three years ago is still in the adoption phase, though it is already being used for many audits. “There is no substitute for time to allow an artificial intelligence platform to live up to its true potential,” the AccountingToday article says.

“This takes an investment both of money and patience, but for the willing, it’s worth it.”

Photo by Scott Graham

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Green Key