Accountants loyal now, but may jump ship when economy rebounds

The accounting profession, when compared to the rest of the U.S. job market, has held up well in terms of job losses, shedding less than 2% of jobs since June 2008. Perhaps as a result, accountants are loyal to their employers with 57% saying they plan to stay with their companies once the economy improves, according to a new survey by Ajilon Finance, a finance and accounting recruitment firm, in conjunction with the Institute of Management Accountants' Inside Talk Webinar Series.
 

In contrast, a smaller but still significant number of accountants - more than one-fifth (23%) of the 458 accountants surveyed - say they plan to look for new jobs when the economy rebounds, according to the survey. Impressively, however, when asked where they see themselves in five years, 44% of accountants anticipate serving in a more senior role at their current company with a much smaller 25% saying they see themselves at another company in five years.
 

"Despite the deterioration of the overall job market over the past year, accountants are still in great demand nationwide," said Jodi Chavez, senior vice president of Ajilon Finance. "That said there is still a strong core of highly-skilled accounting professionals available for hire. Companies which are gearing up for the transition to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), the implementation of XBRL-tagged financial statements or even just for the coming tax season should take the opportunity now to snap up top accounting talent while it is available."
 

Looking for a way to best retain your current finance team or recruit your next accounting super star? Ajilon Finance offers the following tips:
 

Retention

  --  Use creative incentives: Many employers today aren't in the position
      to offer a bonus or annual raise. But that doesn't mean there aren't
      ways to show your finance super star that he or she is a valued
      employee. Flexible work hours and arrangements, low cost incentives
      like free movie tickets or discount cards can be great ways to show
      employees you care without breaking the bank.
  --  Don't forget performance reviews: Again, just because your company has
      deferred wage raises and suspended bonuses doesn't mean you should do
      away with employee reviews. You should apply the same level of detail
      that you do in preparing tax returns, financial reports and income
      statements to evaluating an individual's overall job performance to
      ensure feedback is received and performance improves on a timely
      basis. In order to keep staff on board, employees need to know their
      achievements and hard work are noticed, and will therefore be
      appropriately recognized.

  --  Create a positive work culture: Accountants thrive in an environment
      where ethical leadership is promoted and teamwork is encouraged. To
      build a culture your star performers won't want to leave, remember to
      reward hard work and create opportunities for employees to engage with
      one another: have tax preparers engage in open dialogues with their
      reviewers; have senior counselors interact and mentor junior staff;
      and enable client contact and senior exposure to new staff so they can
      prove their on-the-job abilities. When employees feel they are an
      important part of your company, they are less inclined to leave for
      another.

Recruiting

  --  Think younger: Appealing to the next-generation of accounting talent
      will require an entirely new toolbox than you may be used to.
      Graduating students today are looking for a job where they feel
      connected to the organization as well as one in which they can achieve
      work/life balance.
  --  Utilize technology: The next-generation of talent - including finance
      and accounting talent - are relying more on technology to communicate
      than the generation before. To recruit the best candidates, reach them
      where they are most at home - on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Try
      uploading a video to the Careers section on your website showcasing a
      day in the life of your company or provide a podcast from a senior
      executive about their career path. A creative use of technology helps
      your company stand out from the competition as well as communicate
      with next-generation talent in the way they like to be reached.

  --  Demonstrate stability: In this rocky economy, employees are looking
      for stability and job security now more than ever. Use this
      opportunity to demonstrate your company's financial strength and
      employees' growth potential and you will have a huge advantage in the
      market.
 

 Methodology

This survey of more than 458 accountants was conducted on June 17 as part of the Institute of Management Accountants Inside Talk Webinar Series sponsored by Ajilon Finance.

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