Kuala Lumpur, 15 January 2013

ACCA and AOB recommend action plans to optimise talent in accounting firms

In an attempt to address the high attrition and turnover rates in accounting firms, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and the Audit Oversight Board (AOB) jointly conducted a survey to determine the state of audit talent in Malaysia.

The resultant report, entitled ‘Optimising Talent in Accounting Firms‘, was launched yesterday at the ASEAN Audit Regulators Group Forum organised by AOB, Securities Commission Malaysia.

Conducted in the last quarter of 2012, the survey revealed that an overwhelming majority (86%) of external auditors surveyed enjoy the nature of their work. They appreciate that a career in external audit provides abundant career opportunities, and that the progression path is generally predictable up to the senior management level.

The survey further found that opportunities to earn diversified experience, high future earning potential and job security were ranked high as key retention factors. Employees also appreciate the availability of diverse, structured and on-the-job learning opportunities.

This reinforces the prevalent view that working in an accounting firm provides an excellent foundation to a professional career in finance and accounting industry.

The survey subsequently recommended action plans to be adopted by firms for talent recruitment and retention. The proposals suggested ideas such as for firms to create an engaging and open culture where employees are confident to surface issues relating to their well-being and career satisfaction; create a more conducive working environment to support female staff so larger number are inclined to stay and encouraged to aim for partnership; increase awareness of the value of audit to stakeholders which will lead to the reduce pressure on audit fee.

Nik Hasyudeen Yusoff, Executive Chairman of AOB, said, “The survey provides the participating audit firms with insights on how their efforts in attracting and retaining talents are viewed by their employees. It is interesting to note that while audit is seen to be providing a good platform for career development, many respondents are looking for more wholesome offerings including having more work-life-balance. Firms also need to work harder to make partnership opportunity a compelling value proposition. This is important as retention of experience in the firms is one of the key elements in sustaining quality service.”

Jennifer Lopez, head of ACCA Malaysia, concurs and advises accounting firms to be mindful of the generation gap that exists between employees.

“A career in the public practice sector will continue to be a hot attraction for new talents joining the workforce. It is all the more important that accounting firms continually refine their talent development and retention strategies. Now, as more and more Generation Y employees flood the workforce, expectations will differ and traditional talent development strategies and remunerations will no longer be as effective,” said Lopez. Lopez concludes: “Malaysian professional accountants have always been highly sought after within and outside the country mainly for our versatility, skills and experience. This global demand is something to be proud of, for it shows that we are doing something right. While accounting firms must be commended for investing heavily in talent development initiatives, from the respondents’ perspectives, there is clearly still room for improvement where remuneration and work-life balance are concerned.”

For more information on the report, please visit http://www2.accaglobal.com/documents/optimising-talent.pdf