Career Growth, Salary, Paid Time-Off Most Attractive to Talents in CPA Firms, Survey Shows

Jack Humphrey, Regulatory journalist
December 30, 2011 /

Career growth opportunities, salary and paid time-off are the key elements in attracting and retaining the best and brightest young CPAs, according the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ 2011 Top Talent Study.

The survey notes that firms should not overlook the importance of an accessible management style and a comfortable office environment.

The 2011 Top Talent was a web-based survey conducted by the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice membership section via email, Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter and virally by bloggers. The survey was fielded, Dec. 16, 2010 – Feb. 3, 2011. A total of 1,195 respondents completed it. On average, the Top Talent being polled denotes CPAs who have nearly 14 years of experience as a CPA, have been with their current employer for more than 10 years and believe they are being groomed for leadership in their firms (63 percent and would like to be partners of senior leaders (62 percent).

“As the economy begins to stabilize, firms are once again focusing on finding and keeping the highest-quality CPAs,” said James C. Metzler, CPA, AICPA vice-president, small firm interests. “The Institute’s 2011 Top Talent Study provides valuable information on what motivates the most promising young professionals to join and stay with a CPA firm.”

For 91 percent of the survey’s respondents, career growth opportunities was the top reason they were attracted to their firms. This represents an 11 percentage point change from 2006. Salary and paid vacation time were the next two biggest reasons for staying at or joining a firm. They ranked at 88 and 86 percent, respectively.

Open-door / accessible management and a comfortable office atmosphere moved into the top five for the first time in the survey’s 11 year history. They ranked at 83 and 81 percent, respectively.

In order of importance, responses from firm leadership were salary (88 percent), career growth opportunities (83 percent) and paid personal time-off (84 percent). The firms’ leadership gave less value to open door / accessible management and retirement savings plans, in contrast to the top talent. They were ranked at 74 and 61 percent, in comparison to the top talent’s rankings at 83 and 72 percent.

“The Top Talent Study’s findings can be really useful for firms trying to recruit and retain talented young CPAs,” said Metzler. “A key take away for firm leadership in smaller to more mid-sized firms would be to begin creating career development programs and investing their time in mentoring the younger CPAs to give them the opportunity to grow.”


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