Date posted: 27/03/2024

Attract, Retain, Engage: New research sheds light on the fight for audit talent

CA ANZ and ACCA have released a new joint research report Attract, Retain, Engage: Insights and Recommendations for Audit Talent Success.

In brief

  • Major challenges that the audit profession faces in attracting and retaining talent are set in ACCA & CA ANZ’s new report
  • More than 6500 professionals participated in the research globally via surveys and roundtables
  • Key issues are work life balance, fair remuneration and career ladders/ variety of work

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), have released their latest research report, which reveals persistent challenges facing the auditing profession in its battle to attract and retain talent, implying declining numbers entering the audit profession.

More than 6,500 finance professionals across the globe provided their insights via surveys and a series of roundtables. More than half of the survey respondents were Gen Y/Millennials aged 25-42, with 37% current auditors, 33% former auditors and the rest considering audit as a future career.

The results reveal a sector whose workforce is demanding flexible working and equitable remuneration in the face of increasing concerns about individuals’ work life balance.

While audit firms are implementing initiatives to address concerns, the persistence of the core issues signals the need for transformative change. For instance, the survey revealed enthusiasm for sustainability reporting and assurance among both existing audit professionals and potential entrants to the profession. This presents a unique talent attraction opportunity that audit firms need to capitalise on.

Five themes emerged from the research to solve the current crisis:

Work-life balance is the key issue: unsupportive workplace cultures need to be addressed, with more emphasis on supportive working environments which recognise personal needs and wellbeing.

Fair remuneration: intensive workloads during the peak audit season must be remunerated and if not addressed could further impact the attraction and retention of talent in the future.

Career ladder and variety of work: the traditional career ladder is unappealing to young audit professionals. Firms need to look to develop a ‘career lattice’, to offer a greater variety of roles and to work to accommodate auditors’ preferences and outside interests.

Sustainability assurance and reporting: this work is seen as purpose driven and offers a clear hope for the audit profession with 48% of non-auditors saying such work could tempt them to join the profession and 40% of auditors saying such a career could tempt them to stay.

Embrace technology to remain relevant: those considering entering the profession wish to embrace advanced technologies. While the Big Four and mid-tier firms can fulfil that wish, small firms are lagging. Bridging the technology gap is a strategic imperative for the profession.

Attract, Retain, Engage

Insights and Recommendations for Audit Talent Success.

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