Counting On CPAs Working Together

As seen in Newsday

Midlevel accountants with five to 10 years of experience are in short supply on Long Island, said Steve Marcus, CEO of Gettry Marcus CPA, P.C., and mergers in the accounting industry are creating a competitive environment for firms trying to attract top talent. “I have no interest in merger mania. I’m interested in growing internally,” Marcus said. “I want to keep our culture strong.”

This month, the 27-year-old firm moved — during a blizzard — into a 20,000-square-foot building in Woodbury that doubled its space and allows for more collaboration. “Most accountants don’t work in an interactive environment,” he said. Marcus, 59, also plans to offer meeting space for free for nonprofit events. “It’s going to make us a bigger part of the community,” he said. It’s also part of a larger plan to attract and retain top talent.

The firm was named one of the top 50 accounting firms nationally by Inside Public Accounting, and Marcus said the application process taught him that time spent talking with employees and listening to their suggestions is invaluable. “My major initiative for 2014 is [to be the] best career place,” he said.

What trends are you seeing?

Many firms don’t have a succession plan in place, so they have no choice but to merge into a large firm . . . in order to retire.

It must be tempting, when you get closer to retirement age, to sell the firm. How do you make that choice?

It’s a very difficult choice. I look at the faces of the partners and staff that I have . . . At some point, you have to make that commitment, and you have to tell the staff that’s your choice, because that gives them the incentive to succeed in a firm . . . they know exactly where the firm stands. They know we want to remain an independent firm.

Many of your employees started as interns from local colleges. Why do you look for working students?

When someone works their way through school, they’re not spoiled. They’re used to working. They’re outgoing, they have confidence.

How do you attract that midlevel employee?

You can only find talent when they see a firm is growing. There’s a lot more graduates now than in the past, but the midlevel people, people with five, 10 years experience — very hard to find. If you don’t give them a growth opportunity, they’re going to look elsewhere. We want to make it exciting for them to stay.

How are you boosting the so-called “soft skills” of your employees?

The key areas are how to manage, how to lead, how to communicate . . . we’re trying to develop more of a marketing mentality, because for their career to grow they have to not only be technical, they have to be outgoing, they have to be part of the community.

You want every employee to also be marketing for the firm?

The last staff meeting I called Marketing 101, and I told them I’m hopeful that if every employee in this firm could bring in one client next year, we could have a very successful year. We actually had an intern that has brought in a nice prospect recently.

Name: Steve Marcus, CEO and managing partner of Gettry Marcus CPA, P.C., in Woodbury.
What it does: An accounting, tax and consulting firm.
Employees: 82 full time, 70 on Long Island; 3 part time on Long Island.
Revenue: $17 million to $18 million.