How to Get a Fully Remote Accounting Job

Scott Orn of Kruze Consulting shares what he looks for in fully-remote hires, how they can get a fully-remote job, and how they can be successful in that job.

[00:00:00] Preview

Scott: I think if you compare the generation that we're in right now, especially post COVID, versus maybe people who were doing accounting 10 or 15 years ago, the maneuverability and the ability to join a new firm, or pick a new firm, or just use tools that you like, or pick a firm that focuses on your- the client base you want to learn about or specialize in, it's incredible.

It's probably 100X improvement, you know? And so, I feel like we're unlocking all these really smart people.

[00:00:34] Earn free CPE by listening to this episode

Blake: If you'd like to earn CPE credit for listening to this episode, visit earmarkcpe.com, download the app, take a short quiz, and get your CPE certificate. Continuing education has never been so easy. And now, onto the episode.

Blake: Scott Orn, it's great to talk to you.

Scott: What's up, buddy. How are you doing?

Blake: It's been too long. I was trying to think, trying to remember, how did we meet? Was it a Xerocon thing?

Scott: We met at Expensifycon something-

Blake: Oh, yes.

Scott: -in Hawaii about seven years ago.

Blake: What a great connection that was.

Scott: And I was super- didn't you go to a business- didn't you go to Northwestern too or something like that? Didn’t you have a-

Blake: I did.

Scott: Yeah, yeah. So, I went there for MBA.

Blake: Oh, yeah. Kellogg. [CROSSTALK].

Scott: Yeah. And you were a young, young person who was kicking ass. I say that as I'm significantly older than you, I think. But not- you were actually way more successful than I was at a young age. And I remember I was like, “You built this whole practice out of college?” It was pretty amazing.

And you were from the first Xero people, right? And then you kind of parlayed that into quite a bit of success.

Blake: Yes.

Scott: And then you started working- you started going into the tech companies, which always- you always were very good at picking the tech companies you worked for, which I was always impressed with. So, we do talk, but I'm an admirer of your career choices.

Blake: Oh.

[00:02:01] Kruze Consulting's growth

Blake: Well, and the admiration is mutual, Scott. I have been following your firm, Kruze Consulting, for a long time. You specialize in technology startups. You're in the heart of San Francisco. Building a firm that's serving the subscription economy, which I love.

I'm very excited about, and I don't know. It's been fun watching your growth. I think when I first met you, maybe you had a dozen people and now, where is Kruze at? I mean, I know head count isn't everything, but-

Scott: Yeah. We're about 135 people.

Blake: Are you kidding me?

Scott: No, dude.

Blake: It was 30 or 40 a few years ago.

Scott: When we recorded one of the early Cloud Accounting Podcasts, which was when your- I think I was an early 10-episode guests. And I vividly remember sitting in our office in San Francisco. We had about 15 people and, yeah, man.

We've grown a lot. We have 650- it's actually more than that, but 650 is the approved number right now- venture capital-backed clients. We've- our clients raised $6 billion.

Blake: Wow.

Scott: Yeah, we've gotten pretty big. It's been-

Blake: 135 people.

Scott: Yeah, yeah.

Blake: 660 venture-backed companies that are clients of yours, and $6 billion in capital.

Scott: Yeah.

Blake: Among them. Wow. That is amazing.

Scott: Yeah, thanks. I'd say- I mean, first of all, my wife and founder of the company, Vanessa Kruze, has a lot of credit. And then we just- the team deserves a lot of credit. We were very- we have just amazing people that work at Kruze, and we're very fortunate. And I don't know, man. I love- everyone listening to this podcast knows accounting is hard, especially- and in the professional services aspect of it, it's hard.

But it's been fun. And I- you know, I've learned so much and matured so much. I was just talking to our VP of tax today, of giving him an example of how I've matured and become a better person through this whole journey. So, it's good. It's been good all around.

Blake: Well, I hope you don't mature too much, Scott, because one of the things I've always liked about you as a firm leader, is that you aren't the stuffy, wearing-the-suit kind of guy. And that is, I don't know. It's different. And I feel like I haven't worked in Kruze, but it must be a fun work environment.

I've been to the office- and that was certainly great- when we recorded an episode for your podcast. You have your own podcast, and actually, you were-

Scott: That's right.

Blake: I think you might've done- started that before I did mine. So, you were a leader in that [CROSSTALK].

Scott: Yeah, thanks. I think I've done 200 and something episodes, Founders and Friends Podcast, or just type in Kruze Podcast, KRUZE. But yeah, I learned- I did investment banking early in my career, Hamburg and Quest, JP Morgan. And I kind of learned, the first year, first couple of years I did it, I tried to have the personality of maybe some of the stuffier people, because I didn't really know how to act at work, ‘cause I was 22 years old.

And then I realized that if you kind of just become who you are, and you let your personal persona be your work persona- as long as you're professional and everything like that- it actually really works, and you just have more fun at work, and you're not pretending to be someone you're not.

And yeah, and I just- I think also, we've done a bunch of personality stuff and we use it pretty actively during our hiring. And I learned a lot about myself using this tool called predictive index. And I learned that I'm a helper kind of person. I really enjoy helping people.

It's actually not a coincidence that I'm working in professional service, because actually, really, I get way more joy out of helping people, then those little, you know, the problematic clients or problematic situations take me down. So, that's pretty key.

[00:05:45] Company values

Scott: And then at Kruze, yeah, we try to have a very- we're very culture-focused. We have seven core values. You know, we want to make sure it's a great place to work. We want to make sure that people are growing, and if they leave Kruze, they're gonna go somewhere awesome, and get amazing experience.

I think probably, one of the kind of secret advantages we have is, we work with really exciting clients. And we also hire remotely. So, we're- we hire throughout because- it's funny you say we're in San Francisco, but we actually don't have an office in San Francisco anymore. We-

Blake: Oh, you got rid of that.

[00:06:17] Remote workers

Scott: Yeah. ‘Cause when COVID hit- we started hiring remotely four and a half years ago in the United States. And what we found was, we could just find really amazing accountants who, because of geography, were not able to work with the best companies. They were kind of stuck working with not cool companies, or clients that treated them poorly, or things like that.

And so, we kind of opened this window for a lot of people, and now, you can work with the best venture-backed startups in the world and do it from wherever you live. And that's pretty big. So, COVID accelerated that for a lot of firms, and I- it's a little bittersweet, ‘cause I think we probably have a little bit more competition hiring-wise these days, but I think it's overall, a really good trend for the industry, and for people's happiness, and for people's experience levels. And it’s awesome.

Blake: Oh, I could not agree more.

Scott: Yeah.

Blake: I'm an example of that, right? I relocated in the pandemic from LA. I was living in the city of Los Angeles, and you know, could barely afford to live the middle-class lifestyle there. And I moved out to Phoenix in Arizona, and I just am so much more comfortable, so much less stress, less stress financially. Everything's just easier.

Scott: Probably more space. Your kid's probably happier.

Blake: Oh, yeah.

Scott: That happened. So, we actually moved to the east bay, in the suburbs, outside of San Francisco, Vanessa and I. But actually, we have one, two people in San Francisco for the whole company now, but it's exactly that. We were stressed financially. You know, living in San Francisco is really expensive.

And then now, our life is just- my daughter is, you know, has plenty of space and tons of kids around her, and things like that, you know? So, yeah, I'm a huge- and then we couldn't have done that without being a complete remote company. And I remember I used to get asked- we used to have a couple of competitors who would sell against us and say, “Well, they're remote. They're not in your office.”

And we would be like, “Listen, startup founder, you know, you don't really want us in your office. It's a giant waste of time. You usually ignore us. We usually sit in an office that no one- and no one walks by and ask us questions or talk to us. And you're usually having to reschedule ‘cause you had some other urgent thing. It's a total waste of time everywhere around.”

Blake: Yeah, let's be honest about this. We're not adding to the culture in your office if we sit there, right?

Scott: We're just doing work. We're doing work that we could be doing in our own home, you know, and talking to you at a more convenient time. And so, they- about 19 out of 20 understood that. And one out of 20 would, you know, get all worked up, and not want to work with us. And we'd be like, “Okay.” And then now, I haven't been asked about that since- literally, probably since COVID started.

Blake: And probably, never again.

Scott: So, you know, people woke up, you know?

Blake: Yeah. Well, so, that's great. So, you relocated. Did any of your team relocate?

Scott: Oh, totally. We- I think when COVID hit, we still have 12 or 14 people in San Francisco. And every single person in San Francisco moved out of San Francisco, except for Vanessa and I, and went- and by the way, I am so jealous. This is another advantage of the working remotely. We had people move to low-tax states.

We had people go live with their in-law- you know, their family or in-laws. We had people, a lot of people, doing these nationwide kind of, one month in Montana, one month in Wyoming, one month in Texas, that kind of stuff. And then we also had people traveling south America and Europe, doing the same kind of one-month, two-month thing.

And our policy is, if you're working U.S., you know, U.S. business hours, totally fine. And you have good internet access, and you're available for clients, it's totally fine. And so, I'm 45 years old, but if this- I mean, I would have totally been one of those people in my twenties or thirties before I had a child that would have done that.

And I mean, I feel- yeah, I feel like everyone’s- there’s been a ton of tragedy and a ton of challenges, you know, mental, physical challenges with COVID. But I do think one of the silver linings is this freedom and life experience that people are able to get now. And so, I'm jealous. And I do my one-on-ones with people. Last night, we had a very sophisticated tax problem, and the client manager is in Italy, and he is in Genoa, and he's going to Rome next week, you know? And all we talked about was carbonara for five minutes, you know, and-

Blake: Now, I’m hungry.

[00:10:53] Benefits of relocating

Scott: Yeah. So, that's the kind of thing that is just the world's becoming a better place in that way. And yeah, I'm jealous, man.

Blake: Well, for me personally, I mentioned the financial thing. And what that means to me is my wife and I both work in LA. We had to both work in order to afford the lifestyle that we wanted. But here, we only need one salary-

Scott: Oh, nice.

Blake: -to live a similar lifestyle. It's almost half as expen- half as much, based on where we were. And so, that just gives us the flexibility, the freedom to do what we want to do and not worry about, “Oh, if I lose my job, what are we going to do?” Right?

Scott: Well, you're an entrepreneur. This whole Earmark endeavor, I remember talking to you a year ago, I think. I think it was a year ago, right? Or maybe six months ago.

Blake: Yeah. It was almost one year ago when this thing was a little- yeah, this thing launched.

Scott: Because I remember talking about it when I was in the summertime [INAUDIBLE], and dude, you couldn't take this shot. I mean, I still remember Vanessa and I got- we were so stressed out, ‘cause we basically- I quit my job and joined her. We paid ourselves $25,000 a year for the first two years of when we were both working together at Kruze. And we were as broke as broke could be, you know?

And I will- it's actually kind of a negative, and that stress is imprinted on me. Luckily, we've been built- company’s profitable. We've always been profitable and we're-

Blake: Yeah, but you have years. So, years of struggle.

Scott: Yeah. So, I really respect the leap you took. And I think it's smart. You're probably not having that many sleepless nights with the way you've constructed your financial life with your wife, you know? Great.

Blake: So, compared to the way that I started my first business in LA, the stress that I had of- I would reconcile my Xero file every day to make sure I had cash for the next day. You know, that's how close I was to the edge. Whereas here, it's a completely different situation.

Obviously, I'm further along in my career, I have more reserves built up, right? But I don't stress about the company going out of business because I don't have to take a lot out of it, right?

Scott: Yeah.

Blake: I don't have to take anything out of it in order for us to thrive here.

Scott: And you can make- one thing I always tell founders, you know- we do a lot of salary studies and things like that for venture back startup founders. And we always want them to be paid appropriately because we find that they make- they start making bad decisions if they have too much personal financial stress.

And actually, the venture capital community is really coming around to this. They are now real- it used to be like, “I want you to sweat it out and grind it out.” And now, they kind of realize that letting them have some- it's not even financial security, it's just a fair wage, you know?

Blake: Not starving? Yeah.

Scott: Yeah, it really helps.

[00:13:44] Scott almost had no money in the bank account

Scott: You actually reminded me of a funny story that I think I'm allowed to talk about now, which is about seven years ago, I was still learning Expensify. And I ran- we had let our expenses build up, and we had almost no money in the bank account. And I accidentally ran all the expense reimbursements, not just the one report I was supposed to run.

And there was a two-day period where all the money in our bank accounts had disappeared because it had to basically run it, and then reimburse us personally, kind of thing.

Blake: Oh, gosh.

Scott: And I remember, that was maybe the two of the toughest days of my life, but luckily- God bless Expensify- it came through in time, and payroll was met, and we were in good shape.

Blake: So, Expensify-

Scott: We're very far away from those days now. We have a CFO, a controller, a staff accountant. We have all these internal resources that manage all that stuff, so I don't click the wrong button in Expensify anymore.

Blake: Well, we've talked up the benefits of working remotely. We are both sold on this. I think a lot of people are sold on this idea. This is really exciting, that we can do this as accountants. Now, we can run firms this. It stimulates the economy because we can take more risks. People can jump out of where they're at because they don't feel like they are stuck to earn a paycheck anymore.

So, it’s causing a lot of churn in accounting firms, right? It's causing a lot of people to move around. They're leaving the Big Four, going to smaller firms, moving from one firm to another. The competition has really heated up, and in many ways, it is an employee's job market right now.

If you are an accountant with a brain, you can probably go in and get a job almost anywhere. Well, I should ask you that, Scott, because you're hiring. You're big enough where you've got people leaving and coming and going all the time. How- what's the job market in accounting look like to you?

[00:15:30] Opening job market for accountants in 2022 with remote work

Scott: Yeah, it's definitely- it's a tight market. I don't want to seem like I'm the- on my high horse, or- I think it's good. I think that a lot of people- I think if you compare the generation that we're in right now, especially post COVID, versus maybe people who were doing accounting 10 or 15 years ago, the maneuverability and the ability to join a new firm or pick a new firm, or just use tools that you like, or pick a firm that focuses on your- the client base you want to learn about or specialize in, it's incredible.

It's probably 100X improvement, you know? And so, I feel like we're unlocking- even Vanessa, she joined Deloitte, you know, out of college and she stayed there, I think for two years. But even maybe two years might've been a little too long for her, you know? Not that- it is nothing about Deloitte, and they invested in her, but it was the kind of work she was doing, you know?

And so, I think we're unlocking all these really smart people. And sometimes, I'll- and I think this maybe applies most to the millennial or I don't- you know, the younger generation, but I am one of these people who sticks up for that generation, because the people that work at Kruze, they are hardworking.

They are super nice. And really, what it is, is they kind of don't put up with the BS of career, or just-

Blake: Climbing the ladder to-

Scott: It’s not even climbing the ladder. It's just, you're going to do this for two years and you're going to like it, kind of thing.

Blake: Sucking it up. Yeah, putting in your time.

Scott: Yeah, sucking it up, sucking up the right word, right? So, now, we have unlocked all this stuff, and everyone has to kind of pay attention to this, especially because you're not locked into working somewhere just because you live somewhere, right?

Blake: Yes.

Scott: And so, that has all these positive ramifications and I think- well, even us, we continue to get better at this stuff. And I think the attention we pay to our culture is way bigger than it used to be probably four years ago or five years ago, right? It's a little bit of self-interest.

Blake: Oh, yeah.

Scott: But I also feel like if you- the lesson we learned is, if you install and nurture a really positive culture, a responsible culture, the company can police itself, the people can police themselves. The people who aren't fitting because maybe they're the old school way, or they don't value people's feelings or things like that, they kind of get pushed out.

Not in an overt way, it just doesn't feel like the kind of place they want to work anymore. And so, I think that's one of the best things that has happened, and it's kind of like everyone has had to step up their game. And, you know, everyone can- you can sit around and complain about it and say it's really hard to hire people, or you can do something about it, you know?

And I think we still have a way to go, but we try to do- we try to make it better, fix it. And the other thing that's interesting with us is our clients, the startup founders, they have the same hiring challenges we have, you know? So, they're- I mean, they can totally commiserate, because they can't hire engineers the way they would like to, you know?

Blake: Oh, yeah.

Scott: And so, everyone in our world is kind of in it together. And so, we find that they treat our team on- 99 percent of the founders we work with treat our team very positively, and are nice, and are understanding, and understand deadlines and guidance and things like that.

Whereas maybe before, or if you're in a different industry, you just need- people just want it yesterday, and they don't give you enough time to do the work properly, and they don't care about how you feel, you know, that kind of stuff? So, I don't know. I think the industry is getting better, and it's going to be- I think it'll also just attract more talent as we go, as it continues to change.

Blake: Well, I hope so, because that's a problem in the accounting profession, is that we lose a lot of talent. And I think it's because it's too many hours and it's not enough pay in a lot of these traditional firms. You're asked to work- when you come out of school, you're asked to work at Deloitte. Let's say- let's pick on Deloitte ‘cause that's your wife's alma mater.

Scott: Yeah, I don't want to pick on them, but it's-

Blake: They’re all the same. They're all the same. Look, they have different logos, but they're all- they all operate under the same traditional model, which is you graduate with an accounting degree, you go there, and you grind for 55 to 65 or more hours every week, you fill in a time sheet. You know, the trade-off is, the exchange is you're supposed to learn a lot.

You get a lot of exposure to a lot of different kinds of businesses. Sometimes, that happens. Sometimes, that doesn't. sometimes, you get stuck auditing cash for a year. And then, you know-

Scott: That's what I'm saying, the suck it up, you know, do this work, it's good for you. But also, you get the logo, which is helpful, but yeah.

Blake: The logo, but that's less helpful every year, because now we can demonstrate our skills in so many other ways, right? The resume is less important than it ever used to be. So, I haven't- my LinkedIn social profile is my resume, and not the LinkedIn jobs. It's what I post.

Scott: For sure.

Blake: In many ways, right? So, I think that's changing, and that's for the better, ‘cause it forces these firms to get better. But you know what, I don't want to talk about the Big Four because they're their own beast. I want to talk about remote accounting firms, fully remote, like Kruze Consulting.

[00:21:04] What does Kruze look for when hiring a remote accountant

Blake: And if I am an accountant who wants one of these jobs, right, how do I get one at Kruze? And maybe we should start with, what do you look for when you're hiring?

Scott: Yeah, it's funny ‘cause the Danny Meyer book, I'm forgetting the name of it- I think it's called Setting the Table- is one of my, kind of- it was a great epiphany for me reading that book. And he has this saying where he looks for 49 percent technical competence or skill, and 51 percent basically, soft skills. Getting along with people, being a good person, being a good teammate.

And I think in the accounting profession, a lot of people are- they think technical skills are what it's all about, right? But for- in our world, because we are so client-facing, so client-forward, and our clients are growing so fast, and how fundraising rounds or MNA or just things coming up. And they're oftentimes first-time business owners or entrepreneurs.

Blake: Mm-hmm.

Scott: But they really look to us as their cosignatory, you know? How do I do this? What do you do? That is actually one of our strengths is, “Hey, we've answered this question 50 times. And we've- we have 600 clients that are doing using these types of systems. Here's how you do it.” And we're just there for those crazy rough moments, or phone calls that no one can ever predict.

And so, you have to have this emotional bandwidth, this emotional ability to connect with people. And so, I would say that's why I mentioned predictive index. We actually really focus on that stuff. We can teach you the skills, or we can teach you how an app works, or how it integrates into QuickBooks, or, you know, the proper way to do your supporting schedules, things like that, right?

But what we can't really teach is these emotional connections that we hope you make with the clients. And that's really what we're looking for. And that's probably different than the old school way, or the being in office way, because the in-the-office way, maybe the client comes in for a meeting and there's five people in the meeting, and you're- you don't even get to talk in that meeting because you're subordinate to someone else in the firm, or the head partner does all the talking or things like that.

We are not like that. We are- frankly, we depend on your good judgment. We depend on your skills. And we depend on these skills where the senior people are always there to support you, and the trainings are there to support you. But a lot of times, these kind of conversations come up when you are scheduled to talk about something else, you know?

And so, just having some empathy and ability to connect emotionally, that's probably the biggest skill we actually look for.

[00:24:01] How do they evaluate emotional skill in interviews?

Blake: How do you evaluate that when you're interviewing candidates? What- that's tough to figure out in a-

Scott: It is, it is.

Blake: 30-minute Zoom call or a 15-minute Zoom call.

Scott: Yeah. So, predictive index is a good tool because it takes a personality- it gives you a personality test. And then we do a series of interviews. I think most people do, right? I think it's just we’re- I think we're super tuned into it, versus not- versus it being a checkbox. It is a super important thing that we're writing commentary on in Lever and things like that.

So, it's just a priority thing.

Blake: You said Lever?

Scott: Yeah, we use lever for- to track all of our applicant tracking, and then we-

Blake: Tell- so, it's like an HR information system.

Scott: Yeah, Lever’s great. There's a couple- Greenhouse and Lever are the two players in that market. And you could probably tell, we're very technology-forward because our clients are technology forward, and we kind of have to up our game constantly.

But those kinds of tools will make managing your applicant tracking so much easier, and just more organized during your interview process. That's kind of another thing is, we're very conscious of the interactions, and making them quality interactions for people that are interviewing at Kruze.

We- you have to- you can't just talk about core values, and not live them. And people will pick up very quickly if you're not living your core values, especially in the interview process. Because it's easy to write a bunch of text, put on your website, but they will see it. They will pick up on that.

And so, it's this kind of mutual thing where I think it's- honestly, it's like dating, you know? You find people who value the same things you do. There's these social cues and things where you demonstrate those values, and you have to look for the right values. And we firmly believe that we can teach people, you know, all the accounting skills- they have to come in with- we only hire people with pretty significant experience.

But we can tell if there's a couple areas, we need to teach them something and that's okay. We'd rather hire someone who's emotionally cued in and connected, than someone who has a bunch of skills that just wants to not be a participant, you know, who just wants to kind of be on their own.

Blake: So, what I'm hearing is, if I know my debits and credits well enough, I can get my way around a statement of cash flows and reconcile accounts, and I know my KPIs and, you know, all the stuff we learn in management, accounting in school, right? It's not super complex.

And a lot of times, what we're doing for companies, really. You know, so, you're looking for those basic skills, and then experience. How much experience does a typical hire have?

Scott: Yeah, for our county managers or controllers, it's usually 10 years’ experience or more. For the seniors, it's, you know, two, three, four years kind of thing, but not all experience is created equal, you know? And so, we're pretty good at judging that. And again, if you're- there's some people who come to us who are emotionally cued in, and also very comfortable with technology, and maybe need a little bit of work on the accounting.

And that's- those are people we'll take all day long because our practice is so technology enabled that we really- we can't have the person who's all thumbs on the keyboard and doesn't know how to sync an app or log in to something. We actually did a study.

I think I can share this too, but we actually did a correlation study between people who call the help desk constantly in their first two weeks of working here, and how long they last.

Blake: Uh huh. And how long they last?

Scott: And it's not going to surprise you. There's a 0.99 correlation between someone who can't set up their computer, or log into their email account, or things like that, and how long they last at Kruze, right? What it is, is it's a proxy for being willing to solve problems, and having some tolerance for a situation that's not clear, right?

You have to actually just think your way through something and ask questions. And so, if you're the kind of person that can't do that- and we're talking about us a lot, but I think this is probably how- you know, there's a lot of firms out there I really respect, who do a good job. And sometimes, we have a client with a personality match that's not a match for us or something like that.

We refer- we're kind of unusual. We want the client to be taken care of, even if there's some type of friction there, you know? And so, we will refer them to two or three firms that we really respect and like. And those firms know that; we all talk, you know? And those firms are kind of the same way.

The trade-offs with this independence and being able to live wherever you want and things like that is that you have to kind of up your problem-solving game and be willing to deal with some ambiguity. So, it's funny ‘cause we're talking about these skills, but these are all soft skills. These are not the hard skills.

[00:29:18] The value of being able to look things up on your own first

Blake: So, I tell people who ask me- I've learned how to do a lot of things. I'm kind of a Jack of all trades in many ways. I do audio recording. I was a musician. I love technology. I learned QuickBooks on my own, taught myself it, you know? And they're like, “How did you- how do you do this?” And I say, “Well, there's this amazing website on the internet. It's called google.com.” And-

Scott: I’ve used that joke before, too.

Blake: Yeah. A long time ago, I learned how to use Google. And every time I have a question, I type in the question. And I have learned the syntax for how to search for things, and it's gotten easier over the years, because they've made it stupid easy now to find stuff. And all you gotta do is try that first.

And try for five minutes to find the answer before you go ask somebody. And I've actually taught that skill to a few of my employees and they're like, “Oh, yeah, this has changed my life.” You know?

Scott: Well, there's things like stack overflow, or- you know, there's- I have to say, I want to go- I want to make sure we don't over-index too much because you also have to be cognizant of the type of personalities that often go into accounting in the industry. So, I'm not looking- we're not looking for Han Solo out there, or Princess Leia who are leading the rebellion and fighting Darth Vader on the front lines, right?

Blake: Right.

Scott: We are looking for men and women who are- who have some component of those skills, but they're also, you know, the steady people, and get their stuff done on time. And so, we're not- I don't want people to listen to this and them to think, “I've got to be this person who is on the cutting edge for everything, and I'm on my own.

You're not on your own because the other cool thing is the way tools have connected us with Zoom and Slack, and we have tons of week meetings and all hands meetings and things like that. We're pretty good at kind of sussing out issues that need to happen, and be fixed, or questions.

[00:31:18] Biggest challenge of remote work

Scott: Just answering people's questions in real time is very powerful. That is- it's a substitute for the walk into someone's office or walk over to their cubicle. And so, we have- we use Slack, and we have a really robust questions and answers Slack channel. So, people- ‘cause that's actually really stressful if you can't get your questions answered. And I actually remember that when I- yeah, go ahead.

Blake: Yeah. This is the- well, this is the biggest challenge of remote, in my opinion is-

Scott: Yeah.

Blake: -it's, the thing about being in an office is you can look over at somebody, see how busy they are, and then go over and ask them the question. You can feel that out just with body language, and other cues, right?

The door is closed, it's open, all that stuff. With remote, you don't see the person; you don't really know what's going on. Most of the time, it's hard to sometimes, even see their presence, as in whether they're in a meeting or not. And so, you might have a question, and then you got to wait hours, potentially, to get the answer.

And that slows everything down, and it makes everything harder.

Scott: Totally.

Blake: So, not only do you have to know how to Google stuff and figure out some of the easy stuff on your own, and maybe search in Slack to see if someone else asked this question, but then, you also have to be confident enough to go ask, right?

So, you have to do both. You have to know how to solve the problem yourself, but also be- if you don't ask- I'm sure you've had people who you hire, who don't want to ask questions, and then they fail because they're in a remote environment. And if you don't ask questions, you don't get answers.

[00:32:39] Understanding how the company is a community

Scott: Totally. And I also think there's another component, which is the company is a community, and the rest of the team members have to have a commitment to answering those questions. And they have to remember that other people did it for them when they started, or six months ago, or a year ago or whatever.

And so, we're constantly reinforcing that because, which- if you don't nurture that, you end up with people who got the benefit of training, and all these questions being answered, and then they're not giving back. And the culture suffers and you're right. People do churn, leave, because they're not getting their questions answered. That's stressful.

Believe me, we were so busy in the early days that I remember being stressed out, that I couldn't get my questions answered, right, before I kind of had learned a lot of this stuff. So, there's a commitment to each other, a sisterhood, brotherhood. And we call it communication collaboration as one of our core values.

And that is one of the most important core values at Kruze. Because if you are- if you're doing that, you're de-stressing everyone else. And everyone knows there's going to be a moment in time where you need that help too. So, it's better to give, and then- and you'll receive later on.

[00:33:50] What is the ideal remote accountant candidate?

Blake: Yeah. We've been talking about this ideal- what is your ideal remote accountant candidate? And let's talk not about the people with the lots of experience. Let's talk about the people with two to three years who are like, “I've put in my time in the traditional firm, and now, I want to go somewhere else.”

Do you recruit those kinds of people, or do you- where do you recruit your staff?

Scott: Yeah, we would definitely recruit people like that. We like people who have a passion for startups. So, I would say to that person, find the industries that you like first. You might be really into wine. You might be into consumer products, or doctor's offices or things like that, right?

Maybe your parents were doctors, and you understand the pain they went through with our back office. Then find firms that specialize in what you are passionate about, and who also have that commitment to core values, and making a good workplace. And that's where I would actually start, and then take those companies, and then, you know, obviously, make sure it's a good fit, and you want to work there, and the personalities match, and things like that.

But that's how I would do it. For me, working with the kind of industries you want to work with is super important. I've worked for startups my whole career. Vanessa likes startups, you know, and the people that work at Kruze like startups.

So, that's- but do that, and then narrow down your search for either firms or companies that- I'm kind of- I kind of think a firm is a good way to do it. I'm biased, but you kind of learn in dog years. And so, I started investment banking. I learned in dog years doing that. Then I joined a venture capital fund, learned dog years doing that.

And then at Kruze, we have so many clients that you kind of just learn a lot faster. But there's probably a moment in time in your career where it makes sense to kick over and join a corporate entity, or something like that.

[00:35:40] What about employees with more experience

Blake: And what about the folks with more experience? You said you hire controllers, CFOs, 10 years of experience. What do you recommend to those people who are looking for a remote- fully remote job?

Scott: For those people, I think a lot of times, they've kind of lived the not great lifestyle, not great work environment kind of thing. And so, they're actually, usually- they know what they're looking for. They're looking for a place that respects them, respects their work, gives them the tools and resources they need to do a good job, and really cool clients, fun clients; clients that appreciate them.

And so, you know, the skills, again- occasionally, we'll have someone who needs to learn a new tool or something like that. And it's like, “No, it's no problem. We'll teach you that.” So, they do like that too. They're kind of getting this- almost a master's degree in accounting systems and process.

And we still have ways to go. We still need to improve and can continue to improve, but we’re working on it pretty damn hard. But that's what those people are really looking for.

[00:36:42] Employees with young families and benefits of remote work

Scott: Just having- and also, the other thing with Kruze is, we have a lot of people who are- have young families. We didn't really talk about that, but I have a young family. My daughter came in while recording this podcast, and I handed her a bottle of milk. There's things you gotta do when you've got young kids that maybe you don't worry about 10 years later, right?

And so, having some flex- I constantly see in our Slack channel, people saying, “I'm going to pick my kids up at school. Got to take my kids to a doctor's office. Got- we're not micromanaging any of that stuff. And you know, those little, kind of, the freedom and trust are the kind of things you should be looking for, because your family comes first at the end of the day.

Blake: Yeah, I would ask that. It's my favorite thing, actually- other than the financial stuff, which I tend to focus on, ‘cause I'm an accountant- it's, I get to pick up my kid at school at 3:00 every day, and I hang out with him, and then he goes to bed, and I work a couple more hours. And I have that flexibility for myself, and I want that for everyone.

Scott: Yeah. It makes- my favorite part of my day is driving my daughter to school. ‘Cause it's the one time where mommy's not around, and I'm the cool kid, and she wants to talk to me. And so, I get 20 minutes of talking to her, and what's on her mind, and that's kind of irreplaceable. One of our controllers-

Blake: Yeah, you’re never going to get that back.

Scott: Yeah. My wife took a little bit of time off last year and one of the controllers had these great words of wisdom. Steve, he said, “I would give-” his kids are grown. He's like, “I would give anything to spend a week with my daughter when she was four years old again,” you know? And that's the kind of things that hit you.

And so, that's what I would look for. You know, there's- and if you find a place that's not working for you, you could- like we talked about in the beginning of the podcast, there are other opportunities out there.

Blake: Well, check out Kruze Consulting, kruzeconsulting.com, is that right?

Scott: Kruze- KRUZconsulting.com. And yeah, thank you. And by the way, just one more quick congratulations to you. Thank you for doing Earmark. And I think the whole industry is going to really benefit from this. It's just smarter learning. It's stuff you care about. This is amazing.

Blake: That's the goal, is connect people with what they need to learn, and make it convenient, and people will do it. So, thank you, Scott, and great talking to you. I've been talking with Scott Orn, COO at Kruze Consulting?

Scott: Yeah, COO.

Blake: Yeah, COO. And if you wanna get CPE, download Earmark CPE, get the CPE for that. Hope to talk to you again soon, Scott, and good luck to you in the busy season, and all the growth. I want to see Kruze, you know, on that leaderboard. The accounting leaderboard.

Scott: We’re growing responsibly. It may take a little bit longer, but we're growing responsibly and making sure that we- that the people that work at Kruze are, you know, are not getting burned out, and are doing it the right way.

Blake: That's awesome. Well, that's what we need as a profession, so good on you for doing that. All right. Talk to you later.

Scott: All right, buddy. Thank you. Take care.

Blake: Bye.

[00:39:34] Visit earmarkcpe.com to download our app

Blake: Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode and that you learned something new. And if you did, wouldn't it be nice to get some CPE credit for it? Well, I've got great news. My new app, Earmark CPE, offers free NASBA-approved CPE credits for listening to podcasts, including this one. Visit earmarkcpe.com to download the app, take a short quiz, and get your CPE certificate. That's earmarkcpe.com.

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How to Get a Fully Remote Accounting Job
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