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The Remote Shift: Driving Talent, Operations and Innovation in Professional Services

As seen in the Chicago Business Journal

In the wake of major global events, such as the pandemic and the Great Resignation, the way in which businesses operate has undergone a profound transformation. One change that is here to stay is the widespread adoption of remote work. This shift has particularly left its mark on the professional services industry, impacting recruitment, talent development, operations and innovation as firms now find themselves compelled to adjust to this new reality to continue delivering exceptional client service.

Talent recruitment and development

Now more than ever, employers must explore new ways to expand their workforce and attract, retain and develop top talent. One avenue is to diversify recruitment strategies, looking beyond traditional candidates and considering people from non-accounting backgrounds.

The industry as a whole is even restructuring its talent pipeline with the AICPA and NASBA piloting the ELE (Experience, Learn and Earn) Program, designed to “provide an engaging program to support students on the way to CPA licensure,” offering the opportunity to get 30 credit hours towards the 150 hour requirement by working at a qualified CPA firm. This will reduce the burden on students to obtain a costly master’s or post-undergrad degree in order to reach the number of credit hours necessary for CPA licensure.

Once top talent is acquired, an organization’s staff needs ongoing effort to keep up to date on emerging technologies and industry trends. Unlike before, where real-world learning was absorbed through in-person interactions with managers, partners and clients, firms must develop innovative training that can cultivate their talent in the growing hybrid and remote workforce.

Increasing operational efficiency

There have also been many innovations and advancements in the way businesses operate in response to remote work. Third-party tools have emerged to enhance efficiency, while the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning has automated and streamlined processes. In the audit field, the rise of remote audits has revealed numerous advantages, most notably enhancing the level of client service that can be delivered, but also benefiting the firm and staff that oversee the audits.

Remote audits, for example, significantly reduce travel expenses that clients incur. In this competitive market, the ability to audit remotely also promotes greater work-life balance for staff, mitigates the risk of burnout and assists with talent retention.

Global shared service centers

As workforces adapt to being more dispersed, leveraging global shared service centers has become an enticing opportunity for organizations. Prior challenges, such as time zone differences and supervision issues, have now been mitigated by the widespread focus on effective communication for seamless operations across remote employees in different states, time zones and countries. Citrin Cooperman has found success in investing in offshore service centers, utilizing the Citrin Cooperman India (CCI) office to supplement its domestic teams.

Since tapping into this workforce, the firm has seen numerous benefits including having staff available around the clock to work on client engagements. This eliminates downtime between receiving, processing and commencing work, operates on a lower cost structure, and provides an abundant workforce of highly knowledgeable accounting professionals strengthened by the nation’s chartered accountant programs. For firms looking to explore this option, vigilance is required to address high turnover due to the competitive nature of offshore talent markets.

Today, most businesses have changed the way that they operate and for professional service firms, that entails tapping into global shared service centers, diversifying talent pools and development and embracing remote operations. These adjustments showcase the resilience and flexibility of the industry, and as the business landscape evolves, organizations must continue to pioneer new ways to foster community and professional growth. Citrin Cooperman’s diverse array of service offerings and dedicated professionals can help your business meet the demands of the evolving market by providing customized solutions to support your strategic vision.

For more information, please contact Ryan Dailey at or

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