Branding Matters for Recruiting and Retention at Professional Services Firms


This post originally appeared on Accounting Today, written by Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk, president

Building a strong brand helps you stand out in the marketplace and draw new clients. That’s common knowledge, but few accounting firms realize how important branding is for solving another of their biggest challenges: recruiting and retaining top talent

Branding for Recruiting & Retention

Image source:

Attracting the best candidates to fill open positions at your firm is a perennial struggle for most CPA firms today. In fact, it is listed as the top thing keeping the leadership of big firms up at night. Once you have succeeded in hiring great people and invested resources in training them, it’s hard to see them leave for greener pastures at a different firm.

Solving this problem requires a multi-pronged approach. Analyzing your firm culture, providing competitive compensation packages and conducting strategic recruiting efforts all play a part, naturally. While these elements are often considered, branding is a key element of successful recruiting and retention that often gets ignored. If you’ve taken the first three steps and can’t seem to find and keep the talent you want, consider the possibility that your brand may be sabotaging your efforts.

Accounting professionals, whether fresh out of college or later in their careers, want to join a firm that will benefit their professional trajectory. Salary, benefits and a pleasant work environment are all positives, but they aren’t enough for CPAs with lofty goals. When these jobs are in plentiful supply, strong candidates who receive multiple offers will, almost every time, choose the firm with the stronger brand.

Consider the social aspects. Wouldn’t you rather work at a firm that your dear mother, friends and colleagues know by name and respect than one that may be perfectly fine but lacks the same level of recognition? Wouldn’t you leave a pretty good job at an unknown firm for what seems like a pretty good job at a better-known one? An awful lot of people would—and do.

There’s also a higher comfort level that comes with choosing a clearly branded firm. When it comes to employment, most people prefer to avoid surprises. Job candidates will be able to get a good idea of what the firm is like, who it serves, its style and its clients from the brand identity and its marketing efforts, particularly its website. That removes a great deal of uncertainty from the job search, which encourages the talent you want to make the commitment to join your team without wondering what’s behind the veil.

A strong brand also carries the implication that the firm will be around for the long haul, growing in fame and reputation as it rises through the ranks of competitors. Firms with strong brands are seen as more dynamic, which is appealing to accounting professionals of all ages (and their mothers). It’s only natural for professionals to want to hitch their wagons to the stars that seem likely to ascend the highest. Recent grads take all this into consideration as they weigh their prospects at one firm versus another. So do those already employed, who may be tempted by the chance to join a stronger brand in order to bolster their own chances of success.

Whether a firm has a long history or is a relative newcomer, having a clearly defined and recognizable brand delivers a greater chance of growth that will benefit individual team members. It helps job seekers identify a good match and recognize a rewarding opportunity, just as it does for potential clients. Good branding equals more clients, more respect and more revenue. Based on these factors and more, it also equals a better chance of attracting and retaining the talent your firm needs to be successful. That’s why when you’re thinking about bolstering your team, you should be sure to think about bolstering your brand as well.

2 comments on “Branding Matters for Recruiting and Retention at Professional Services Firms

  1. anonymous on

    As a strategic branding professional, I work with firms struggling to find the balance, and often not taking into consideration the very connection that these branding efforts have in terms of the type of talent and mentality that they seek to better their overall company culture. A prospective candidate, to your point, is able to quickly recognize and qualify a firm that emphasizes their commitment to stay relevant and innovative in their branding strategies, therefore, adding to their desire to be a part of something that is growing, changing, adapting, and recognizing their overall messaging in order to have the best potential growth trajectory. In short, as an independent Consulting Firm specializing in finding a client’s unique value in order to match a branding objective based on that ‘value-add/differentiator’ as a long-term tool to provide growth in all areas, I completely see the connection to how this affects the overall quality and retention of great candidates and employees. Thank you for this perspective and I do hope that given the current state of the Atlanta area growth, traffic conditions, hiring struggles, and so much more, I found this to be extremely insightful from a new perspective. Thank you for that!

    • Bonnie on

      Thanks for your input and expanding on my premise. It really is an important factor, and likely one that will become even more important over time.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *