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Baker Tilly Banks on Celebrity Endorsements to Bring in Young Talent

In case you didn’t notice because who cares, Baker Tilly has engaged the help of filmmaker and adventurer Jimmy Chin and teenage tennis star Coco Gauff to brighten up the Baker Tilly name and recruit the youfs to this exciting accounting firm. Said Coco Gauff at gunpoint in a press release about the partnership: “I am excited to partner with Baker Tilly, a dynamic organization who, like me, dreams big and thinks bold. I look forward to building a rewarding relationship and blazing new trails together.” Sure, she said that. 18-year-old Gauff is worth $3-5 million, with much more earning potential ahead.

I mention her net worth because a recent Puget Sound Business Journal article discussed Baker Tilly — along with Seattle’s Moss Adams — in an article about the difficulties firms are having recruiting young people. It is, as you would expect, full of lots of dumb ideas that don’t start with Sal and end in ary.

This is from “The new math in recruiting at accounting firms”:

When they’re not striving for the pinnacle of their sports, internationally famous mountaineer Jimmy Chin and teenage tennis phenom Coco Gauff are promoting accounting firm Baker Tilly as brand ambassadors.

The press releases drop phrases like “new horizons” and “blazing new trails” to maximize the star power in an industry typically noted for its stodginess. It’s part of a larger trend of accounting firms trying to find young talent as the industry wrestles with staffing shortages.

“Baker Tilly’s purpose is to unleash and amplify talent – to help our people discover their strengths, sharpen their skills, deepen their knowledge, explore possibilities and soar to personal heights,” said Baker Tilly CEO Alan Whitman. “Coco Gauff embodies this very spirit.” He said the same thing in regards to the partnership with Chin, just changed a few details: “Baker Tilly’s purpose is to unleash and amplify talent – to help our people discover their strengths, sharpen their skills, deepen their knowledge, explore possibilities and soar to personal heights,” he said. “Jimmy Chin knows all about soaring to personal new heights.” (he does)

Accounting firms in the Pacific Northwest are particularly challenged when it comes to standing out as employer of choice against Amazon, Microsoft, and numerous other tech outlets that pay better than firms in the Pacific Northwest do. So they’re pitching experience as the draw:

Local accounting firms pitch the breadth of experience young accountants gain working for them.

“You’re getting exposed to a lot of variety and a lot of industries,” said Kelly Nelson, Seattle managing partner for Baker Tilly. “We have access to some of the greatest minds in the Seattle landscape through who our clients are.”

Nelson acknowledges that, more so than in the past, young accountants do have the option to start their careers as in-house accountants in a specific field. She said, however, that it’s hard for young accountants to know what field is a best fit before gaining broader experience at a public accounting firm.

I’m not going to spend all day hunting down figures but I found something from 2019 that says the average entry-level Amazon salary for computer science majors is $108,000 plus bonuses, extrapolated from this r/cscareerquestions thread. Do yourself a favor, don’t look at it. We’re working on a more thorough comparison of starting salaries for compsci vs. accounting that should be ready shortly which I also recommend not reading because it is depressing. But that is where the talent is going, and not because their new employer has the coolest celebrity endorsements.

I had to scroll way too far down in the business journal piece before I found any mention of pay, which finally came after a brief mention of CPA exam perks — paid time off to take the exam at Baker Tilly, a bonus for passing the exam from Moss Adams. They also got the Seattle managing partner at Deloitte to say the firm provides bonuses and reimbursements for passing the exam if you knock it out within a certain time after hire, pretty sure it’s $5,000 within a year plus paid study materials (feel free to correct that in the comments if wrong). TL;DR: firms “are prioritizing better pay for accountants.”

There are positive signs in the industry. [University of Washington accounting department chair David] Burgstahler said firms are prioritizing better pay for accountants, and the profession is very recession-proof, making it more popular if the economy continues its current downturn.

Ugh, not this again.

I know we have been banging the salary drum hard lately but come on, celebrity endorsements!?

Here’s what Glassdoor has for average Baker Tilly US salaries. I imagine this is what potential recruits are looking up first, not “which accounting firm does Jimmy Chin think is cool?” But what do we know 🤷

screenshot of Baker Tilly US average salaries
Baker Tilly US salaries from Glassdoor

The new math in recruiting at accounting firms [Puget Sound Business Journal]

3 thoughts on “Baker Tilly Banks on Celebrity Endorsements to Bring in Young Talent

  1. I work at Baker Tilly, and while I love the firm, I agree with the sentiment here. Baker Tilly’s internal numbers are fantastic, even in an econmic downturn. They should raise salaries instead of paying Jimmy Chin. Cam Smith I get, he’s cool, he plays golf, and you’ll see our logo all over. Not Jimmy Chin.

    Let me emphasize, BT is doing great financially. They can, and SHOULD be an industry leader in pay.

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