What Do Young Finance Professionals Want?

Young finance professionals at large accounting firms view a background in finance as a springboard for a career in business, finds a new report by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

Generation Next: Managing Talent in Large Accountancy Firms dives deeper into ACCA’s 2016 global survey examining the career aspirations of the younger generation in finance today at the Big Four and other large accounting firms worldwide. You can read the report at http://www.accaglobal.com/gb/en/professional-insights/pro-accountants-the-future/Generation-Next-large-accounting-firms.html.

“Our research on young finance professionals globally has found that they view accounting and finance as a launching pad for success in their long-term career in business, with opportunities for developing wide-ranging skills,” says Warner Johnston, head of ACCA USA. “We’ve also found that more than those in other sectors, young professionals in large accountancy firms see clear potential for progression and great access to learning and development opportunities within their firm.”

In order to meet demands in today’s evolving landscape, accountancy firms continue to diversify and evolve client offerings, looking to expand into digital, regulatory and broader consultancy services, redefining the roles and responsibilities of professionals in accountancy firms.

“Younger generations of finance professionals expect automation and technology to transform large accountancy practice, but they see such innovations in a positive light, offering opportunities for adding more value to their roles,” adds Johnston.

In fact, 85% of respondents in large accountancy firms see technology as an opportunity to focus on much higher value-adding activity.

ACCA research has also found that Generation Next as a whole is particularly mobile, and that pattern holds for those employed at large accountancy firms. Young professionals in this sector are highly driven to progress fast and are ready to switch employers quickly to attain their career objectives. This is even more pronounced among Big Four respondents that other groups - 80% of respondents in this group said they were aiming at a more senior position in their next role, and 75% of all top accountancy firm respondents expect to change roles within the next two years.

Members of Generation Next have global aspirations and are willing to explore more general business roles as they progress in their career. And, in the future, the vast majority of young professionals at large firms intend to move into the corporate sector, preferably within a large corporate firm. This growing appetite for exploring roles beyond traditional finance and accounting is perhaps adding another layer of pressure on those firms’ strategies for retaining the best and brightest talent of Generation Next.

Among large accountancy firms, 60% of respondents see progressing their careers as the most important factor in deciding to stay with an employer.

And while job satisfaction is higher among Big Four respondents than across any other Generation Next group surveyed, with close to 60% of respondents expressing great satisfaction with their role, more respondents in this group also stated to have a poor work–life balance in their role.

The report findings indicate talent retention may present an issue for these organizations. In particular within the Big Four, 40% of respondents said they are looking for their next role within a year (compared to an average of 36% across all large firms), with 52% of those expecting their move to be outside the organization.


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