IPA Profile: Angela Kerns, Wall Einhorn & Chernitzer

Years in Business: 33

Main Office: Norfolk, Va.

Staff Size: 75

What is the single biggest challenge facing your firm right now?

Finding and retaining talent. Not only has recruitment become more difficult, a lot of candidates these days only want to work remotely. In the past, people would be willing to relocate to your town and your office, but now you barely get to meet them in person or form a relationship before you’re giving them an offer to work from a city you’ve never been to. It’s a unique challenge that we’re facing with recruiting new folks, because a lot of the people we already have now actually want to come into the office. But we’re just trying to make our technology as easy as possible and trying to work with everyone as if they’re here.

Where do you expect to be focusing most of your attention in the next two to three years?

One area is growing our advisory services. Years ago, we started our client accounting services practice, and we still feel there’s a lot of opportunity to grow there. That’s just one of the places where we’re looking to be more advisory-oriented for our clients.

And again, of course, we’ll be focusing on finding and retaining talent. We’re just trying to make sure we stay competitive and top-of-market in terms of pay and benefits.

What is the biggest and sometimes missed opportunity for your firm and/or the profession?

As a profession, we get too focused on getting the work done and not enough time planning for the future with our clients. We should have the mindset of helping our clients grow and be successful first and the compliance tasks will follow. Gaining a client’s trust is such a rewarding feeling and we should always be forward-thinking advisors.

What was the best advice you received as a young up-and-comer in the profession?

When I first entered public accounting, my first managing partner reminded me that there are very few accounting emergencies. We aren’t doctors and a lot of our stress is self-imposed. It was an important reminder that public accounting is a challenging profession, and you get really good at problem-solving.

What advice would you offer to someone entering the accounting profession today?

I never regret my choice to be in public accounting – it’s a great profession with so many opportunities to grow and develop. You are always around smart professionals and interesting clients, and you have the chance to learn about so many different aspects of the business world.

What motivates you most as a leader?

Continuous improvement and learning, both for myself and for the firm.

 How has your role as managing shareholder changed since you first stepped into the position?

I officially took the reins as managing partner right as COVID hit. It was challenging and still is, but the pace of change and the resilience of the profession has been great to see. We have had to think differently about how to service clients and train staff remotely while thinking of new ways to engage and take care of employees.

Where do you see the accounting profession in five years? How do you see it changing/developing and/or how would you like it to change?

Using technology to work more efficiently and manage capacity is going to be even more important in the next five years. This will also allow us to spend more time being advisors and strategists instead of working overtime to complete compliance tasks. The firms that adapt best will continue to grow and succeed.

As a profession, we also have to figure out how to be more attractive to people entering college. We need to start getting into the high schools to talk about what a career in public accounting really is and what it means and what opportunities it can create.

What is a book you’d recommend to other leaders?

True Professionalism by David Maister continues to be one of the best professional services books out there.

What is your proudest achievement?

Becoming managing shareholder was a career goal of mine. I am very proud to represent this firm in the marketplace and look forward to being part of its continued success.


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