The Secret Life of CPAs

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Those cute little biographies that are on your accounting firm’s website serve as proof to your family that you did, in fact, amount to something. But beyond your circle of relatives, nobody reads them, right?

Very, very wrong! In fact, the bio pages are some of the most-read on the sites of professional services firms. In a LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell study of international law firm websites conducted last year, 85% of those surveyed said the bios were the single most popular spot on their sites! Your bio is definitely not an ‘extra’ and shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought.

When you think about it, it makes sense. Picture a person who’s looking for an accountant. He or she has a somewhat defined need that’s driving the search. Finding your site might be the result of a simple internet search or, if you’re lucky, the visitor may have come to you via a referral from one of your current clients. In either case, this prospect will want to know something about you before risking a call or email to talk about anxiety-provoking issues like finances or taxes.

Then again, the reader could be someone considering you as a speaker, an employer, a new partner or in some other capacity. The common theme in all of these situations is the legitimate desire to know more about who you are as a person and how it feels to know and work with you. Your bio is out there representing you, greeting all these interested parties. Since the bio you create is going represent you to so many viewers who have nothing else to go on, it behooves you to make a great one that meets and greets politely, professionally and graciously. And if it can also manage to convey the fact that you’re a fun yet responsible person, so much the better.

Is this too much to ask from a short biography? Not at all. Try these tips to write bios that are a delightful glimpse into unfamiliar territory:

Point out the major monuments. Start by identifying your current role at the firm and describing what you do. You don’t have to list every duty, naturally. The goal is to convey an idea of what makes you particularly valuable to the firm. Include past experience as it relates to your current services or shows complementary skill acquisition. Mention professional memberships that strengthen your ability to provide service. List professional awards you’ve won and honors you’ve received, picking and choosing if space becomes an issue. Focus on the most recent, most relevant and those that mean the most to you.

Note the landscape. Expand beyond your current work to share pertinent details like your educational background, your home town and your community involvement. You can also describe what you love about your profession, if you do, and what inspired you to pursue it as a career. Letting readers see how you got where you are today helps them feel confident in your ability to help them.

Explore the fun details. In whatever way you are comfortable, share things about you that are unique and personal. Not “I like to drink alone in my underwear and watch a lot of reality TV” personal, but “I’m crazy about home-brewing and love coaching little league for my grandson’s team” personal. Do you like to sew and collect Edward Gorey books? Perfect! Do you have family you’re close to or a Black Belt you’re proud of? What is it you gravitate to when you don’t have to work? Do you still thank your lucky stars you got fired from that college job as a telemarketer, or did it help you discover what you really wanted to do? Have you always resented the color orange, hated spiders with an irrational passion or dreamed about becoming an astronaut for your next career? This is what makes you you, and it makes your bio interesting to read. It also helps show you as a human being, and people usually choose to work with humans they can relate to rather than generic “service providers.” Besides, it’s only polite to volunteer information like this to those whom you’ll be asking for very personal details about their own lives.

Reading your bio should feel like picking up a beautiful but very short novel. When readers come away from it, they should be smiling and feeling that in some way, they can relate to the person you are. Not necessarily as a twin spirit or a bosom buddy, but as a fellow human who shares the same kinds of joys, struggles and quirks that they do.

Writing a bio that hits that perfect blend of professionalism and personality takes some time and care, but it’s worth every bit of extra effort. I encourage you to set aside plenty of time and ask lots of thoughtful questions when you begin to make bios for the accountants at your firm. Bringing people to life on the page can’t be done casually but it is possible. And remember, we’ve got your back if you need a little help.

Follow Sarah:
Sarah Warlick is responsible for making us and all of our clients sound professional and eloquent as the content director at bbr marketing. In this role, Sarah is in charge of ensuring that all copy is well-written, accurate and free of pesky typos before it heads out the door. Additionally, she is a prolific writer and a frequent contributor to bbr marketing’s blog sites. She spends a good deal of time writing copy for our clients and has a unique way of crawling into our clients’ heads to create ghostwritten copy that sounds as if it came directly from their pen.
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