Deloitte Tells How Firms Can Win Accounting Talent War

In the latest in a series of speeches on the importance of integrity and quality, Deloitte CEO Jim Copeland explained why he sees a talent war ahead and what accounting firms can do to win the war. He outlined the best recruiting and retention tactics for today's emerging social, economic and regulatory trends.

Factors conspiring to create the talent war:

  1. An aging workforce, leading to more competition for entry-level workers and a net loss of intellectual capital as masses of experienced auditors leave the workforce.
  2. Limitations on the services accounting firms are permitted to provide, which can translate into more limited career options for both partners and staff.
  3. An increase in the number of clients changing auditors, causing more changes in local staffing needs and forcing workers already characterized as "road warriors" to endure heavier travel requirements, longer hours and more frequent relocations.
  4. The prospect of greater legal liability, which frightens prospective partners away from accepting positions with accounting firms.

Tactics for winning the talent war:

  1. Defend your people. Firm leaders should take opportunities to combat the overall impact of criticism of accountants in the media by defending their people in speeches, interviews, and testimony.
  2. Provide as much career variety and opportunity as possible. This can be done by arranging for staff to work with the best experts in all fields, including taxes, technologies, and legal counsel.
  3. Protect your firm's professionals from litigation by being selective in the clients served and resigning from higher-risk clients.
  4. Initiate programs to help retain more experienced workers. For example, Deloitte has a senior partner program to retain partners in their fifties who are thinking of retiring early.
  5. Maximize intellectual capital. This can be done by investing in the education and training of people, carefully monitoring their assignments, and using knowledge-sharing systems.
  6. Improve the interaction between workers and their immediate supervisors. "People don't leave bad companies," notes Mr. Copeland, "they leave bad managers."

Read the full speech.

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