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The Sterling Culture Code

Creating a Company We Love
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

WELCOME TO STERLING

We'd like to personally welcome you to the team. It's an exciting time for Sterling  as we continue to grow, we strive to remain as adaptable, motivated, and responsive to our new employees as we are to our clients. We pride ourselves on being client-focused, relevant, and open to new ideas. We're glad to have you on board!

We're continuously transforming the way we operate to improve our ability to innovate, expand, and make our clients' lives better. Our team members have continued to meet the challenges of our field and to excel despite setbacks. We are very proud of where we are today and excited about where we are headed.

Before we finish, we'd just like you to know that you, as part of our team, are our most important and greatest asset. We could not accomplish what we do every day without our employees. I'm very pleased to welcome you to Sterling and look forward to working you!


Jessica Sterling

Who we are?

We aren't big on traditional accounting values. Our company values, objectives, and philosophy are a direct reflection of the kind of firm we want to inspire: where everyone involved is driven to deliver world-class services with meaningful, positive impact.

Simply put: we strive to be the best. And we're looking for more like us. Our recruiting radar is always on seeking the next superstar from every discipline.


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Our Four Guiding Values

 
1

Embrace and Drive Change

 

Charles Darwin once said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change."

We carry that idea with us as we continue to grow our services and company.

 
2

Be Passionate and Determined

 

We owe it to ourselves to work on things we are passionate about. If you're passionate about something, you'll do a better job and enjoy the process. There some necessary evils at every job, but it's up to you to make sure you're passionate about what you're working on.

3

Serve the client like family

 

We are in business to improve our clients lives. We do this by treating the client like our own family. 

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4

Leave a postive impact on the community and profession

Our time on this planet is short. We want to be remembered for contributing and making our community and profession better places than which we found them.

Add Value

Our Mission

To be a highly respected, world-class natural resource company committed to adhering to international standards and environmental conservation.

 

Where We Came From

Started from the bottom.

December 1977

Hired our first employee.

September 1981

Opened our New York office

July 2015

Won Xero's Preferred Partner of the Year

August 2016

Reached 201.5 million in Gross Revenue

December 2016

Now we're here

Growing faster than ever

Add Date

We have fun!

You're Hired - What's next?

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Your First Day

 

 

Your first day will be fairly slow. First, you'll sign all the paperwork and read this handbook!

Then, you'll have a chance to meet everyone including your mentor. They will show you around and then walk you through your first project.

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Your First Week

 Make mistakes. Ask questions. We all did it.

We also encourage you to talk with everyone! Grab people to go get coffee, share your perspective on where you think you can provide the most impact to the company, and as we said earlier: ASK QUESTIONS!

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Your First Month

 We are extremely proud that within a month at Sterling, you will be working directly with clients to help solve their problems. By the end of your first month, you'll be ready to dive in head first.

You will have learned a lot from us and we will have learned a lot from you.

Add Value

Training

All new team members are assigned a mentor, who will show you the ropes over the first few weeks. You are encouraged to ask as many questions as you can.

You learned a lot in school or at a previous job, but at Sterling you learn by doing. Over your first few weeks you will work tightly with experienced CPAs and accountants to learn how to do different tasks.

Tools We Use

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Applied Systems Epic

 

 

 
2

Xero

 

3

Google For Work

 

4

Karbon

 

5

Gusto

 

6

Box

 

Add Value

Who Should I Contact For X? 

If you have general questions (or aren't sure who to ask), ask your mentor. Otherwise, please ask your question directly to who you think could answer it best.

For all HR issues please contact Jackson or Danielle. 

 

Company Policies

Can I work from home?

Yes. You're welcome to WFH within reason. Please let us know you're WFH the day before.

Flex Time

Sterling encourages team members to be involved in their family's lives have passions outside of the office, which is why the firm has adopted a flex-time policy.  We expect team members to enjoy their lives and meet firm deadline.

New content for section.

 

Team Member Classification

Full-Time Team Members

Full-time team members are employees who are normally scheduled to work at least thirty-five (40) hours per week.  Full-time team members are eligible for all of the benefits set forth in the following pages.

Part-Time Team Members

Part-time team members are employees who are normally scheduled to work fewer than thirty-five (40) hours per week.  Part-time team members are not eligible for most benefits.  Part-time team members should consult Jack or Jill to determine those benefits, if any, for which they are eligible. 

Temporary Employees/Interns

Temporary team members are employees who are employed to work on special projects for short periods of time, or on a "fill-in" basis.  These positions are not intended to be a part of continuing operations.  The employment status of temporary team members will not be changed as a result of an extension of employment in excess of that originally planned.  Temporary employees are not eligible for benefits.

If you have any questions concerning your employee classification or the benefits for which you qualify, please consult the Jack or Jill.

 

How much vacation and sick time (PTO) do I get?

We offer 20 days of total PTO per year (prorated when starting mid-year). These days must be used the year they are rewarded and are not paid out upon leaving.

 

After a team member's tenth year of employment, an employee will receive an additional 5 days (total of 25).

 

After an employee's twentieth year of employment, an employee will receive an additional 5 days (total of 30).

 
 

What happens if my 10th year anniversary falls on July 1st?

You would get an extra 2.5 days for that year (20 days + prorated 2.5 days for your 10th year). The following January 1st you would be awarded your full 25 days.

 

How many sick days do I get?

Sick days are counted as PTO days

Confidentiality

By nature, we deal with confidential and sensitive information about our operations and our customers. Everyone on the team is expected to keep these secure within the company.

It is required that all information about Sterling, its customers, and other employees, be kept strictly confidential. The release of confidential information, whether intentional or unintentional, can injure Sterling and those individuals associated with it. If a team member violates this policy, disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including immediate discharge.

All records and files of Sterling are property of Sterling and considered confidential. No employee is authorized to copy or disclose any file or record. Confidential information includes all letters or any other information concerning transactions with clients, client lists, payroll or personnel records of past or present employees, financial records of the Sterling, all records pertaining to purchases from vendors or suppliers, correspondence and agreements with manufacturers or distributors and documents concerning operating procedures of the Sterling. All telephone calls, letters, or other requests for information about current or former employees should be immediately directed to Jack or Jill.

If a team member is unsure if something is confidential or has any questions regarding the team member's responsibilities in dealing with or releasing confidential materials, please ask Jack or Jill.

 

Professional Ethics

Team members, by the nature of their work, are in close contact with clients and their staff and bear a major responsibility for strict adherence to the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct and the rules of the South Carolina Board of Accountancy. Every member of the professional staff is expected to be thoroughly familiar with the rules of professional conduct. 

Conduct at the Client's Office

This policy places a special burden on the accountant to maintain a professional demeanor at all times. Rather than leave this important aspect of behavior to personal interpretation, we believe it is necessary to be specific about what we consider to be appropriate conduct.

  • After spending time with client's personnel, a close personal relationship may arise. Although a friendly attitude is encouraged, long personal discussions with client employees during working hours should be avoided. Such disruptions of work are likely to be resented by the client's executives.
  • As a general rule, discuss with client employees only those matters that are pertinent to their department and level of responsibility.
  • Do not discuss internal Sterling affairs with client employees.
  • Refrain from discussing personal matters or personal problems with client employees. This specifically includes the subject of your own compensation.
  • Do not comment on or criticize the work, fees, or other characteristics of other public accounting firms. Support our firm, but do not disparage others.
  • Do not discuss the shortcomings or idiosyncrasies of client personnel.
  • Avoid all talk pertaining to client matters in elevators, restaurants, public transportation, or other public places.
  • Do not discuss procedural problems, technical questions, and controversies in the presence of client employees.
  • Do not make purchases from clients other than at their normal sales price.
  • Do not borrow money from financial institution clients unless the loan is in accordance with the institution's normal lending procedures, terms, and requirements. Any loan must be collateralized and must at all times be kept current as to terms.
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Discussions with Clients

Discussions of significance with clients or requests for opinions on important tax or accounting matters should be brought immediately to the attention of Jack or Jill. It is the latter's responsibility to decide how the matter should be addressed and to prepare a written memorandum on the subject, if appropriate.

 As a result of daily exposure to client operations, staff members may be tempted to make informal recommendations, comments, or criticisms regarding the client's staff or accounting system. Staff accountants should make such recommendations only to their immediate superior on the engagement. Suggestions to the firm should be in writing. Action taken as a result of staff recommendations will be considered when evaluating the staff person.

 

What should I do if I discover or suspect evidence of theft, embezzlement, or fraud by the client?

You should report this immediately to the person in charge of the engagement. If you are in charge then you should report this to Jack or Jill. You should NOT discuss your findings with any of the client's staff or officers.

 

Policy Against Harassment

We do not tolerate unlawful harassment of any of our team members, clients, vendors, suppliers, or independent contractors.  Any form of harassment which violates federal, state, or local law, including but not limited to harassment related to an individual's race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, uniformed service member status, marital status, pregnancy, age, medical condition (cancer-related or HIV/AIDS-related), or disability is a violation of this policy and will be treated as a disciplinary matter.  For these purposes the term harassment, includes slurs and any other offensive remarks, jokes, other verbal, graphic, or physical conduct.

In addition to the above listed conduct, sexual harassment can also include the following examples of unacceptable behavior:

  •  Unwanted sexual advances
  • Offering an employment benefit (such as a raise or promotion or assistance with one's career) in exchange for sexual favors, or threatening an employment detriment (such as termination, demotion, or disciplinary action) for an employee's failure to engage in sexual activity
  • Visual conduct, such as leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons, or posters
  • Verbal sexual advances, propositions, or requests
  • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual's body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations
  • Physical conduct, such as touching, assault, or impeding or blocking movements
  • Violation of this policy will subject a team member to disciplinary action, up to and including immediate discharge.
  • If you believe that you are being harassed by another team member, you should immediately notify Jack or Jill.  You may be assured that you will not be penalized in any way for reporting a harassment problem.
  • All complaints of unlawful harassment which are reported to management will be investigated as promptly as possible and corrective action will be taken where warranted.  Sterling prohibits team members from hindering our own internal investigations and our internal complaint procedure.  All complaints of unlawful harassment which are reported to management will be treated with as much confidentiality as possible, consistent with the need to conduct an adequate investigation.
  • Harassment of team members in connection with their work by nonemployees may also be a violation of this policy.  Any team member who experiences harassment by a nonemployee or who observes harassment of a team member by a nonemployee should report such harassment to Jack or Jill.  Appropriate action will be taken against violation of this policy by any nonemployee.
  • Harassment of our clients, or employees of our clients, vendors, suppliers, or independent contractors, by our employees is also strictly prohibited.  Such harassment includes sexual advances, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, sexual comments, and gender-based insults. Any such harassment will subject an employee to disciplinary action, up to and including immediate discharge.
  • Your notification of the problem is essential to us.  We cannot help resolve a harassment problem unless we know about it.  Therefore, it is your responsibility to bring those kinds of problems to our attention so that we can take whatever steps are necessary to correct the problem.
  •  If management finds that a team member has violated our Sterling policy, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken up to and including termination.
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Good to Know's


 

What times do people work?

Office hours are 8:00am - 5:00pm Monday through Friday; however, CPAs & accountants work on their own schedule as long as they get their work done.

I Need Gear!

Sterling will provide you with the equipment you need in order to do your job. Typically this means a computer (Apple or PC - your choice), mouse, keyboard, and monitor, but special equipment requests are welcomed and will be approved on a case by case basis. 

Some things we are happy to purchase for you:

  • Laptop

  • Monitors

  • Keyboard / mouse

  • Company t-shirt / sweater (we do company clothing purchases a few times a year - contact Kate for more information).

To request equipment, find what you'd like on Amazon and email a link to that item or items to Jill and we'll do what we can within reason! 

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What do people wear?

We don't have a formal dress code, but people typically wear jeans, tshirts, running shoes, etc. Sometimes people wear blazers if they are feeling fancy.

Can I bring my dog into work?

If your dog is well behaved, you can bring them in once in a while. Please make sure they are with you at all times and you get approval in advance.

Office Lunch

There is no designated lunch time - feel free to take lunch when you want.

Snacks are available in the kitchen. These are meant to be enjoyed throughout the day as quick energy boosts, but are not a meal replacement. Please be courteous and do not use these as an alternative to lunch or dinner.

We also try to keep the fridge stocked with beverages. Please be courteous and mindful of your usage. You are required to clean up after yourself and keep the kitchen clean. We are part of a family here and you should treat the kitchen and office space with respect.

Please mark your items in the refrigerator; otherwise, they are fair game!

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Team Outings

We try our best to plan as many activities as possible. It's important for us to get to know each other as a team and as people, inside and outside the office. These are work events and all employees are expected to make a conscious effort to attend.

Even outside the office, all employees are expected to behave appropriately towards one another. Do not make anyone feel uncomfortable. Be a good human. If you consume any alcohol, do not drive until it is legally safe to do so. If you are unsure, please use Uber or have somebody else drive you.

How often are performance reviews held?

We have performance reviews every year. These are just coffee chats with Jack or Jill.

Last One in The Office 

If you're the last one in the office, please make sure to turn off all of the lights. You can do this by selecting "After Hours" on the key pad in the conference room on the 4th floor.

 

I want to take a vacation / time off, how early do I need to tell you?

Please confirm one week before you'd like to take time off.

Company Expenses

Team members are allowed to be reimbursed for applicable expenses. Here are some examples of what Sterling reimburses:

Things allowed:

  • Mileage or actual travel expenses

  • Conferences/CPE trainings

  • Computer / monitor / peripherals

  • Lunch with clients

  • Professional licenses / dues

Not allowed:

  • Kittens

For anything over $100 please get approval from Jack or Jill. Expenses must be submitted to Jack for reimbursement monthly.

 

Medical Leave of Absence

Sterling is not subject to the federal or state Family and Medical Leave Act at this time.  However, we have established the following medical leave policy for our team members.

Full-time team members who have been with Sterling for one (1) year are eligible for unpaid leaves of absence for up to three (3) months for medical reasons.  Medical reasons may include illness, injury, medical and surgical procedures, and related medical conditions.  Leaves for female employees with disabilities attributable to pregnancy and childbirth are available for up to four (4) months and are available regardless of whether they have been employed for one year.  Team members must request a leave of absence if they will be unable to work for medical reasons for a period in excess of five (5) consecutive days.  Such requests are subject to management approval and must be made as soon as possible.  Each request must be accompanied by a statement, acceptable to Sterling from the employee's physician or Sterling-approved physician indicating that the employee is unable to return to work.  Sterling reserves the right to have employees on a medical leave of absence examined by a physician of Sterling's choice.  In no event may an employee's total medical leave of absence exceed three (3) months in any twelve-month period, except for females requesting leave for disabilities due to pregnancy or childbirth.  Sterling may require periodic physician's verification of the employee's inability to work.  Misrepresenting the reason for applying for a leave of absence may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

During a leave of absence, Sterling's medical insurance plan allows covered team members and their eligible dependents to maintain medical insurance benefits by electing and paying for continuation coverage.  The team member and his or her eligible dependents must pay the monthly premiums for any continuation coverage as elected.  It is the plan document that ultimately governs your eligibility and entitlement to these benefits.

Upon the team member's return from a medical leave of absence, we will attempt to return the team member to his or her regular job if it is available.  If it is not available, the team member will be placed in a similar job for which the team member is deemed by management to be qualified if such a job is available.  If no jobs are available at the time, the returning team member will be given preferential consideration for any position for which he or she applies and for which he or she is deemed by management to be qualified.  A returning team member will be given such preferential consideration for a period of sixty (60) days following his or her notifying Sterling in writing that he or she is ready and able to return to work.

Failure to report to work as scheduled following a leave of absence can result in dismissal.  Team Members who are out on leaves of absence will not accrue such benefits as vacation or holiday pay during their leaves of absence.

 

You should speak directly with Jack or Jill prior to taking a leave to insure your understanding of all of your obligations to Sterling while on leave, such as reporting and verification obligations. Failure to comply with Sterling policy may substantially affect your ability to return to work.

 

Military Leave of Absence

 Team Members who require time off from work to fulfill military duties will be treated in accordance with applicable requirements of state and federal laws.  You are expected to notify Sterling of upcoming military duty by providing Jack or Jill with a copy of your orders as soon as possible.

 

Jury Duty

If you receive a call to jury duty, please notify Jack or Jill immediately so they may plan the department's work with as little disruption as possible.

 Team Members who are released from jury service before the end of the business day or who are not asked to serve on a jury panel are expected to call Jack or Jill as soon as possible and report to work if requested.

If your Jury Duty falls during tax season, we ask that you request that your Jury Duty be postponed to a less busy time of the year.

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Compensation

Getting Paid

When
Team members are paid twice a month, on the fifteenth and last day of the month. If these dates fall on a weekend, you will get paid the Friday before.

How
We pay via direct deposit. To set up your payments, talk to Jack.

Bonuses
We offer performance based bonuses. Bonuses are not guaranteed and are only given if everything in the company is going swimmingly.

Bonuses are derived from a discretionary percentage of the net income of the office for the twelve month period ending April 15th of each year. Bonuses are normally paid in May.

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Benefits

Who are eligible for benefits?

Salaried team members are eligible for benefits. Part-time (team members who typically work fewer than 35 hours) and hourly team members may be eligible for benefits. Please consult Jack or Jill for more information.

 

 Holidays

At Sterling, all employees are paid (and not expected at work) for: New Year's Day, Tax Day (floating holiday), Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Rosh Hashana (if falls on weekday), Yom Kippur (if falls on weekday), Thanksgiving Day, Day after Thanksgiving Day, 1/2 day on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. To be eligible for holiday pay, you must have not terminated your employment before the holiday occurs.

Sterling may be open on a holiday due to business necessity. Employees will be given as much advance notice as possible if they are required to work on a holiday, although advance notice may not always be possible. Employees asked to work on a holiday will receive their normal rate of pay for work performed on a holiday. If you are a salaried employee and you work on a holiday, you are entitled to a floating replacement holiday.

Salaried employees will receive their regular weekly salary, regardless of whether they work on a holiday.

If holidays fall on a Saturday, employees receive the previous business day off. If the holiday falls on a Sunday, employees receive the next business day off.

We're Excited!

We're thrilled to have you on the team


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