We continuously hear about millennials in the workplace and the lack of understanding of goals and desires millennials have compared to their predecessors. But what about Millennials specifically in the accounting profession?
According to the AICPA’s 2015 report Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits, “total accounting enrollment continued to increase, with a majority of the increase coming from a 34% rise in masters in accounting students.” Yet, despite growing enrollment in accounting degree programs, 68 percent of Chief Financial Officers say it’s “challenging to find skilled candidates for accounting jobs and other professional-level positions.” If degrees awarded are at an all-time high, why are these roles so hard to fill?
Why not ask a Millennial? I had the pleasure of interviewing a student who is looking to get start in public accounting. She is in the process of finishing her MBA this year, just finished an eight-week internship at a Big 4 firm and is planning to sit for the CPA exam by the end of this year.
Why do you want to go into Public Accounting?
Ideally I’d like to work in private accounting or start my own practice. I think that starting in public accounting gives you the most well-rounded background and qualifies you for more future opportunities.
You just finished an eight-week internship at a Big 4 firm, why did you choose to do an internship with them?
For me, Big 4 is most likely just a starting point to get experience. My personal preference is a smaller, more local firm where you can get a more personalized experience.
How can firms attract Millennials and get them to stay at their firm?
The Big 4 do a good job of attracting millennials by their presence on campus, competitive wages and innovative benefits. On the retention side, the hours are long and people often feel overworked and underappreciated. They are making a move to have many benefits outside of “busy season” but the question remains, “But the question remains: Does it make up for the amount of overtime required during busy season?” Showing recognition and appreciation for hard work as well as monetary compensation can help convince people to stay.
As a millennial, what are you looking for in a firm?
I am currently looking for high wages and a flexible schedule (aren’t we all?). However, the opportunity for promotions is important to me as well.
Where do you think the accounting profession headed?
As with everything, technology is taking over. More things can be done remotely on a laptop or phone so there is less need to be in the office (unless you need to be at a client site). Also, I notice that the “accounting” firms are moving away from that term and rebranding themselves as “professional services” firms to highlight that they offer other services as well.
After talking with this student two things stuck out. First, being part of the biggest and best companies is not something that everyone wants these days. For some, it’s more important to follow their personal vision. Secondly, accommodation is important. While it is unrealistic for a firm to completely renovate their business model to meet the growing demands of Millennials, it is important for firms to listen to Millennials, whether that means offering flexible work arrangements or finding ways to recognize hard work and show appreciation. Either way, Millennials are giving us feedback, it is up to us to decide whether we listen and adapt or keep the status quo.
By Jacqueline Ratzing
Boomer Consulting, Inc.