Industry Trends

Funny Job Titles, Coming to a Firm Near You

Caleb Newquist Editor-at-Large, Gusto 
tracking employee time

August 11, 2022

Want more On the Margins? Check out the archive.

Making up new jobs

One of the primary worries people have about technology is that it will eliminate jobs. This worry isn’t entirely unfounded. When cars came around, for example, fewer people rode horses to get from place to place, which meant we needed fewer blacksmiths. Likewise, people worry that if automated bookkeeping gets really good, we’ll need a lot fewer accountants. Or, as a recentish example in these pages, if robots start auditing cash, we won’t need nearly as many 22-year-old auditors.  

Humans have their downsides, but one thing we are quite good at is finding new things to do and deciding those things are valuable. In other words, those new valuable things can become businesses and jobs. If we continue with our horse example: yes, people driving automobiles meant we didn’t need blacksmiths and equine excrement picker-uppers anymore. But it did spawn countless new industries and jobs that continue to grow and evolve to this day. 

More recently, the pandemic forced many employers to get creative when thinking about their workplaces. Businesses had to figure out how to allow their people to work flexibly, remotely, hybridly, less burnedoutedly or whatever. So accordingly, this has led to a boomlet of new roles that are in charge of … figuring out how everyone can work flexibly, remotely, hybridly, less burnedoutedly or whatever.

LinkedIn has seen a 304 percent spike in titles that reference “hybrid work” and a 60 percent increase in titles related to the future of work since the start of the pandemic. Far-reaching currents of malaise, coupled with churn in the labor market, have also led to the creation of new positions focused on boosting morale — though workers are often skeptical of what they really stand to gain from those feelings-focused roles.

As far as accounting goes, I think we’re still in the midst of making up these new jobs. I have to imagine there are some “Head of Cloud” roles out there, even if it sounds a little antiquated, like “Fax Machine Technician” or “Head of AOL Strategy.” 

But in many ways, these new buzzy jobs coming out of the pandemic are exactly what accounting firms need. Why? Well, what accounting firms really need—are desperate for even—are people who want to work at accounting firms. Because, right now, no one wants to. Any firms serious about building better work environments would probably be doing themselves a favor by hiring for new roles like “Head of Remote” or “Head of Future.” It certainly can’t hurt at this point. In fact, it might be the first step to building a new kind of firm.

Still. Anyone who’s been around the profession for a while will likely admit that some of these “new” jobs are a little late to the party. Many accounting firms could have used a “Head of Boosting Morale” decades ago, and no amount of technology would ever eliminate it.

Old technology

Last we checked on the Internal Revenue Service and its legacy systems problem, we learned that the IRS badly needed scanning technology to deal with a backlog of paper tax returns. So, how’s that going?

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins is protesting a decision by Internal Revenue Service officials to postpone implementation of scanning technology by next tax season to deal with a backlog of millions of paper tax returns. 

As someone who occasionally defends the IRS from the never-ending scapegoating, I have to admit that the IRS can’t seem to get out of its own way here. Back in 2017, it requested $8.4 million to implement 2D barcoding, which would help scan paper returns, but Congress failed to provide it. Still, it sounds like the Service could’ve figured it out:

“It is not clear why the IRS, managing a budget that at that time exceeded $11 billion, could not reallocate funding to cover the $8.4 million implementation cost,” said Collins. “Had it done so, the technology would have paid for itself many times over.” 

It’s a little weird that a project whose cost is a rounding error in the grand scheme of things couldn’t sneak through. Seems like another good excuse for some accountants to get out of the tax game.  

PPP fraud

We’ve talked about PPP fraud quite a bit around here, and while I’m sure I could’ve dug up a recent story to share, I’ll point you to a recent Oh My Fraud podcast that Greg Kyte and I did on the subject instead. If you listen on Earmark, you’ll even get free CPE. That’s handy, isn’t it?

Fresh from Gusto (and friends)

A Safe Harbor 401(k) can help boost savings and reduce administrative work. Unlike traditional 401(k) plans, Safe Harbor 401(k) plans automatically satisfy most IRS nondiscrimination tests, and in exchange, require a company contribution. Help your clients open a Gusto-integrated 401(k) from Guideline by August 19, 2022, and pay no employer fees your first month. 

  • Gusto is attending Xerocon in New Orleans this month, and no visit to the Big Easy would be complete without a party on Bourbon street. We’re teaming up with our friends at Ignition to throw a pre-con party at Cornet in the historic French Quarter on Tuesday, August 23, from 8pm to 11pm. Register to attend.
  • ICYMI: Gusto’s economic data is now available for you to use. Chart graphs on employment trends, average hourly earnings, conditions by state, and more.

Webucation

  • How to Help Clients Find R&D Tax Credits with Joshua Lee, CEO of Ardius, a Gusto company, and Kenji Kuramoto of Acuity on August 18.
  • The next edition of Gusto’s Quarterly Scoop will be on August 30. Get your fill of the latest product updates and insights in this live webinar. Save your spot now.

Read with Gusto

Empower your team with Gusto’s training programs built with accountants in mind. Get People Advisory Certified to build your skill-set (5 CPE credits). Enroll in the People Advisory Accelerator Program to grow your firm’s revenue (4 CPE credits).

Caleb Newquist
Caleb Newquist Caleb is Editor-at-Large at Gusto. In 2009, he became the founding editor of Going Concern, the one-of-a-kind voice on the accounting profession, serving in the role for 9 years. Prior to Going Concern, Caleb worked as a CPA for nearly 6 years in New York and Denver. He lives in Denver with his wife, two daughters, and two cats.

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