Benefits packages emerge as key to CPA job changes. Which benefits matter most to CPAs? Join the study. Get the answers.
by Rick Telberg
If youâ€™re like most CPAs, one of your New Yearâ€™s resolutions may be to start looking for a new job.
A whopping 75 percent of CPAs apparently have some interest in moving on to a different job, according to the responses so far to my latest survey. Of course more money is always the concern, but many CPAs seem as interested in the workplace benefits at the next stop.
â€œMost of us consider the benefits package to be just as important as the salary,â€ said one senior corporate executive whoâ€™s participating in the Bay Street Group/CPA Trendlines study on accountantsâ€™ job and benefits preferences. â€œI would not accept a job if the critical benefits were not offered.â€
â€œRecruiting is based on cash compensation, but competitive benefits plans are a given. If you don't have them, you can't compete,â€ adds a midlevel CPA at a large public practice firm.
In fact, staff retention now rivals staff recruitment as a challenge for most CPA firms according to the latest AICPA PCPS MAP survey. Early responses to the Bay Street Group/CPA Trendlines study suggest that only 6 percent of CPAs are â€œseriously lookingâ€ for another job. But another 15 percent are â€œcasually looking,â€ and 54 percent â€œcould be persuaded.â€
As expected, paid vacations and health insurance are the benefits that job hunters most often identify as critical. To be sure, the health insurance concern is not about the availability of coverage but rather about how much of the costs will be borne by the employer.
â€œOffering health insurance isn't enough,â€ says one corporate accountant. â€œThe employer should contribute more toward the employee's cost, especially when family coverage is necessary.â€
From the public practice side, a manager with a small firm complained that â€œThe employee deduction for the medical insurance has increased at an outrageous pace at our company.â€
Employers and managers had better take heed of CPAsâ€™ benefits desires because the competition for accounting talent has never been stiffer.
An accounting workforce shortage was one of the major themes in the Federal Reserve Bankâ€™s mid-summer â€œBeige Bookâ€ report on economic conditions, which determined that accounting staff shortages exist in seven of the 12 Federal Reserve districts. The situation is so bad in the Dallas area that the Fed projects accounting salaries there will grow between 5 and 8 percent in 2008.
Compounding matters in Dallas and elsewhere is the national 4.7 percent unemployment rate. That borders on what some authorities consider to be full employment, which means that about 5 percent of the population is always out of work because they are transitioning to jobs that theyâ€™ve already agreed to accept.
Meanwhile, accounting graduates in 2007 again rank as among the most sought after groups entering the workforce according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. NACE reports that salaries for accounting graduates increased 2.3 percent between 2006 and 2007 to an average of $46,718.
â€œFirms are looking beyond the traditional fringe benefits to attract staff,â€ says one manager at a CPA firm. â€œWe even offer free chair massages in house during tax season.â€
Chair massages were not offered as a key benefit in the Bay Street Group study. But weâ€™ll reconsider.
WHICH BENEFITS MATTER MOST TO CPAs? Join the study. Get the answers.
Copyright Â© 2007 Bay Street Group LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.