1 in 5 Junior Staffers Planning to Quit

Expect a new hiring crisis.

One in five junior staffers plan to leave their accounting firm by the end of the year, according to a startling new survey.

And, of those, about 75% plan to quit public accounting completely, significantly worse than last year's 65% loss rate.

The data comes from the latest issue of IOMA's Partner's Report (subscribe here) which reports the results of a survey of more than 2,000 employees of CPA firms, conducted as part of Consulting magazine’s 2010 Best Firms to Work For survey.

In addition, the average anticipated tenure for a junior employee is slipping -- to just 3.9 years, a decline from the year-ago 4.1.

IOMA Jr staff turnover

Furthermore, mid-level employees (those between partners and junior staff) say they too would quit public accounting if they could -- by more than a 2-1 margin, (61 percent vs. 29 percent).

"This means that the spike in turnover isn’t likely to lead to a redistribution of talent among accounting firms," according to Editor Jess Scheer, writing in the monthly newsletter. "Instead, we’re seeing signs of a one-way stream away from the profession."

"To stem the tide," he advises, "accounting firms must first convince their staff of the merits of remaining within the profession, as well as staying at their current firm... Moreover, as the War For Talent rekindles in the coming year, this trend will likely lower the supply of talent, thus exacerbating the hiring challenges. "

38 Responses to “1 in 5 Junior Staffers Planning to Quit”

  1. Carson

    I worked in Corporate and found it boring. Moved to PA and found it interesting. Formed a Firm and decided to work 35 hour work weeks. Did that for 32 years (proving that one can be successful in PA and have a Firm that works less hours per week.
    Merged with large regional. Now back to 40+ hours per week. In my opinion if Firms are going to keep their professional staff in the future they will need to rethink their priorities. Shorter work week, time to network and enjoy family life or whatever other endeavors they may want to pursue while young and able. We are going to have to be more flexible in the hours worked and that means that the partners may have to sacrifice some to maintain a creditable workforce.

  2. Thomas Avery Blair EA

    I worked for a CPA firm in Western Michigan for four years, taught the staffs how to do write up and keying the data properly into the systems, worked an average 68 hours per week and was paid a flat rate of 30% of the fees generated and promised a place in the partnership. The fourth tax season ended and I was expecting a $4,500 bonus as promised…instead the partners gave me a case of red wine (turned to vinegar) and a promise of work the next tax season.

    I dropped my CPA efforts, went “rogue” and ran an ad that announced “I MAKE HOUSECALLS” and within four years’ time I acquired 91% of their “branch office” to their South by aggressive “guerilla tactics” I learned from my former employers. I have since never looked back, became an EA and became licensed in seven different financial services industries.

    The best thing those CPA partners did for me was to piss me off…it motivated me sufficiently to acquire 1/3 of their business without paying them a single dime for it…and they never challenged the violation of the non-compete because they were scared to death about what I might reveal in court about their unethical behavior toward me, three other partner-wanna-bees and also various sexual harrassment events towards four of their female members of staff workers.

    I esteemed all CPAs very highly until I worked for this firm…today I prefer more readily the company of Enrolled Agents, but still do tax returns for a few CPAs and turn to them for internal audit and other CPA “fortes” from time to time.

    Question: What might the new registration of all tax preparers by the IRS in 2010 do to alleviate the problems mentioned in the original article or perhaps to otherwise still worsen it?

    I hope you will see my comments at least as somewhat enlightening and at least food for thought.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Thomas Avery Blair, EA

  3. Sue

    I have an interesting perspective in that I started my career with 6 years at a Big 4 firm, then left PA for a long time. I’ve recently made the move back to PA (a large local firm) after 18 years. Many of the complaints voiced about PA are happening in the private sector also, like too many hours, too few dollars, etc. The grass is always greener… As someone said, you have to find the right firm for you. They are not all the same, and there are bad bosses in and out of PA.

    I am thrilled to be back in PA! Where else can you get the diversity of experience, the challenges to stretch yourself, and the opportunity help others (clients and staff) succeed? I sank into the monotony of the routine in my non-PA jobs, and basically got too bored to do it anymore.

    One huge improvement in PA in recent years has been the openmindedness towards flexible work schedules. I have sacrificed a few bucks for a flat 40 hours/week arrangement, and it has been worth every dime. I have time with my husband and 3 kids, and get to experience all that I want out of PA, without the overtime (the one thing I disliked the most before.) Again, if your firm is not moving in that direction, they are frankly out of touch. The Gen Y desire for more balance, and the percentage of female accounting majors make it imperative that we rethink the way its always been done. Working Women Magazine lists all of the Big 4 firms as Best Places to Work. Most of their recognition is in regards to flex scheduling and number of women partners. If the big players are going the flex scheduling route, all firms will probably have to do it to attract talent.

  4. Anonymous

    Whoever commented on 11-18, I’m looking for someone like you, assuming you are partner material. I have been in this game for 45 years and would love to have someone step up and take over, buy me out. If not, I will have to sell to an outsider.

    As to the question raised of PA owners, I believe I have had a good family life. Yes I work and worked many hours during tax season, but the rest of the year was up to me. I have been married for 46 years to the same person. Our family, children and grandchildren are very close. I attribute that to our beliefs and church. PA accounting has afforded me the income and available time to make that possible.

    As to staff, I believe they should be fairly compensated. On average, even in our down economy, salaries adjustments have been positive and probably averaged 7 to 10% the last two years. Most all staff are compensated based on an annual salary. In addition they receive compensation for the excess hours worked during
    the year. Many pocket an additional $3,000 to $6,000. I hope that doesn’t make me too greedy.


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