We have seen a huge increase in accountants getting out of public practice and stepping into company or management accounting..
The main reasons are culture, salary, lack of training or the archaic structure of how the public practice system operates which in-turn impacts the culture.
What is the answer?
Does the public practice accounting industry need a complete shake up??
Ive witnessed the roll out of the fixed pricing model in the legal industry and for the firms that have taken this approach, their ability to attract and retain staff has gone through the roof.
The best thing about fixed price billing is the fact that the client knows upfront what the services will cost. I hear you say, but this is crazy, we wont even know how much time this will take.
It doesn’t come down to time but the value that you are delivering.
The impact this has on your staff would be huge. The pressure comes off a little and they can ensure they are doing the best thing for their client. It gives your culture that little bit of flexibility too, instead of counting minutes your staff can still interact with each other whilst getting the job done.
Although accounting is about numbers, it is primarily a people business so leadership is critical and a firm will never outperform its leadership team.
What we hear from people is there is a lack of mentoring on offer to them, they are promised a lot and then receive minimal training and are thrown in the deep-end and within the blink of an eye, three years have passed, they get stale and then look at opportunities with more variety.
I think firms should take a much more pro-active approach to training and mentoring which will increase their retention rates. You shouldn’t underestimate the impact the leadership teams behaviour has on their people.
Nearly every firm we have spoken with over the past few years are all having huge problems recruiting and retaining Accountants.
The biggest issue however, is salary.. How are CPA qualified accountants with 2-3 years experience still only earning $60,000 per year??
Company Accountants are earning a minimum of $80,000 straight off the bat with bonuses and annual pay rises. This is what you are competing with.
Im not saying i have all or any of the answers to this, it is simply an observation over the past five years from speaking with many accountants who have left that side of the industry.
Let me know your thoughts.