Firms not Delivering What Younger CPAs Want

October 31, 2006 ( - At a time when demand for talent is high and the pool of available talent is shrinking, accounting firms are not delivering on items younger CPAs say they want or need, according to a nationwide CCH Young Accounting Professionals Survey conducted by Harris Interactive.

The survey examined the benefits, tools, technology and culture that CPAs with four to seven years of experience want most and asked them to rate how well their firms were meeting these needs.

The three most important benefits and compensation attributes to CPAs surveyed were compensation (74%), flexible hours (51%), and reward directly on merit (34%), according to a release on the survey. When asked how well their firms deliver on these attributes, only 19% ranked their firm’s offering for compensation as very good, and only 20% of CPAs ranked their firms as very good when it came to rewarding directly on merit. The respondents gave their firms a higher rating when it came to offering flexible hours (45%).

Support for continuing professional education (49%), a challenging work environment (37%), and continuous skill development (33%) were identified most often as a top-three training and development attributes of accounting firms, according to the release. Sixty-seven percent of respondents ranked their firm’s support for continuing professional education as very good; 41% gave their firms a very good rating for offering a challenging work environment; and 32% rated their firm’s continuous skill development as very good.

When asked to choose the three most important attributes of their firm’s infrastructure, 67% of survey respondents cited comprehensive resources to get the job done; 55% cited access to the latest technology to aid productivity; and 48% cited investment in leading tax and accounting software as most important. What CCH found is that less than half of firms received a “very good” rating from the CPAs on delivery of these attributes.

Only 39% of CPAs highly rated their firm’s ability to provide comprehensive resources to get the job done, while only 33% said their firms were doing a very good job when it came to providing access to the latest technology to aid productivity. Just 41% of CPAs surveyed rated their firm as very good when it came to making an investment in leading tax and accounting software.

The survey found that ethical leadership is considered among the most important firm culture attributes by 63% of young CPAs. Having a workplace that encourages a work/life balance ranked second with 56% of respondents seeing this as important. Twenty-four percent also ranked high quality feedback as among the top three most important firm culture attributes.

Overall, more than one-half (55%) of CPAs gave their firms a very good rating when it comes to ethical leadership, but only 38% of firms received a very good rating on their work/life balance programs. When it comes to giving high quality feedback, only 13% of CPAs said their firms do a very good job at this.

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