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50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2019

Redefining Workforce Strategy in Public Accounting: Makosi

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It is no secret that audit departments, and the leaders who run them, are under incredible pressure to perform under increasingly fast-paced, complicated and unpredictable conditions.

There are various challenges that have been foisted upon today’s audit teams. From external factors such as emerging technologies, decreasing client bill rates and ever-increasing skills gap to internal pressures like the mandate to serve as a strategic partner to the business, shrinking budgets despite growing workloads, and staff burn-out and turnover. It’s no wonder HR teams often feel like there are never enough hours in the day or dollars in the budget.

Audit groups have spent years in a workflow flux that, frankly, is not fully serving audit leaders who are under pressure to reduce spending and meet business goals. They are required to provide bandwidth for client peak needs; while at the same time, ensuring high retention rates during very low utilization rates. Audit Management and HR Teams often rely on ingrained habits in the absence of time or tool sets to guide an optimized approach to talent utilization.

The crux of the matter about this flux of workflows? There are situations where either choice by itself may not be the best match for the job at hand.

It is incredibly difficult to match a full-time team to a workload that ebbs and flows. With huge swings between billable and non-billable work, it may leave internal resources feeling disengaged or underutilized. Strictly following the need to hire for future trends may mean you are missing opportunities to challenge and engage current in-house talent, especially high performers, with high-profile work.

The “either or” model split between needs of now and needs of tomorrow has prevailed long enough – it isn’t working for the audit teams and is doing audit teams a disservice. Luckily, there is a third way.

The third-path approach, created by Makosi, to managing the “who” in audit work, elevates HR teams’ ability to build an agile audit ecosystem, with a model that offers unprecedented flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. This approach is not a replacement for in-house teams; and it isn’t an elevated term for “temp work” either.

The third path doesn’t cancel out the need for hiring for future client needs or for robust in-house teams. What it does is harness flexibility to meet the audit group as it stands today, complement internal and external resources, and enable group to operate proactively with more predictability.

In conversation with Darren Isaacs CEO of Makosi

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Q. What motivated you to establish Makosi?

We’re focused specifically on public accounting space; and there’s a lot of pressure on that market at the moment from a workforce strategy perspective. What we saw was that the traditional methods of finding talent, whether you are hiring people full time or using a contracting agency, should satisfy the needs of the business. We were able to identify a better way, a more profound way, and a more efficient way with a richer experience for the employees that were coming on board because there was a significant drop off in the market of people who wanted to stay in orbit. We’ve created what we call the third pass approach to the WHO in audit work; so, what we did is, we rebuilt a straightforward technology platform that will enable us to start interacting with a global talent pool. Then the global talent pool could be presented to audit firms here in North America.

Q. How many people did your workforce contain when you started your company?

We started with probably four or five people working for just a single client in New York City; and it’s grown more significant year after year. Now we’re close to 100 people.

Q. What is your perception of a Smart Company?

A smart company in the modern environment is leveraging technology in a way that frees up time for the workforce to be focused on the activities that only human beings can do. The right technology for us is not a way to replace human beings but to empower them to add a richer customer experience.

Q. How do you maintain your customers trust and morality?

We pride ourselves on the fact that we’ve got a 100 percent reference-based client base. Any one of our clients will happily speak to a potential new client for us. By being very honest and very transparent, they feel that they can trust us if things go wrong, or things don’t go right, or things take a bit of a turn. They know that we’ve got their best interests at heart; and this is keeping us motivated in the long run.

Q. How do you maintain consistency in delivering high quality services and products?

We are at every level of our customer journey; we have built our technology platform in what we call feedback loops. We continually assess in a data-driven way to make sure that we are adding bottom-line value to our client. We also ensure that our employees receive both professional and personal growth.

Q. Technology is transforming every industry. How do you think it transforms the consulting industry?

A lot of technological advancement is doing great in transforming every industry. I think every industry is being affected to varying degrees due to technology, but we can say that technology enhancing every part of our life is erroneous. I think people need to look very critically at the use of technology; because even though there’s been a massive uptick in the use of technology within the workplace, productivity levels have stagnated in some industries.

Q. Where do you see your company in five years from now?

We’re piloting a tax program at the moment. so we’ll be in the tax base. We also see leveraging our technology in new industries outside of public accounting as well.

Darren Isaacs, CEO and Paul Emery, CXO of Makosi Consulting are working to redefine workforce strategy. Makosi is transforming the way large public accounting firms manage Audit/Tax work. By using their tech-backed talent model, firms have access to a truly on-demand global talent pool. They work with their clients on intelligent automation, outsourcing and offshoring. Makosi is forging a third path. The third path harnesses flexibility to meet the audit group as it stands today, complement internal and external resources, and enable group to operate proactively with more predictability.

Darren is a CA (SA) who’s experience includes business strategy, financial risk, new business development; along with audit & accounting. He is a graduate of University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, gauteng (South Africa) with a degree in Accountancy and Financing.

Paul is well-versed in leadership, negotiations, planning and development, relationship management, recruitment and operations. He is a graduate of Solent University in Southampton (United Kingdom).

“Our success depends entirely on the success of our clients.”