Employee Turnover in Accounting Industry

The Importance of Staff Retention in Accounting Firms

Talent acquisition and management is quickly becoming a top priority in the accounting industry. In 2017, the nation-wide professional turnover rate averaged 12.4%, with some large firms hitting 20%.  While the opportunities for professional growth are tremendous, the poor work-life balance, untenable overtime hours during tax season, and better opportunities abroad mean that 6 in 10 accountants are considering leaving their job. With a thorough understanding of the factors influencing the talent drain, better and targeted policies can be crafted to retain the firm’s best.

  • In 2017, the nation-wide professional turnover rate averaged 12.4%, with some large firms hitting 20%
  • 6 in 10 accountants are considering leaving their job


Senior Staff Turnover in Accounting Firms

As a generation of baby boomers retire, a large talent gap needs to be filled so that companies can stay on top of their game and have the means to plan for succession. Turnover among experienced staff is forcing partners to take on work they would otherwise normally delegate. Billing rates are not increasing as quickly as salaries are, and this results in the pressure to spend longer hours producing more work, exacerbating existing problems.


Demographics in Big 4 Accounting Firms Turnover Rate

Work-life balance at the Big 4 affects females the most. Women are significantly more likely to start and stay in public accounting if their first job is not in the Big 4. For both males and females, better pay and more opportunities to drive change are primary reasons for changing jobs. For millennials, which make up a sizeable bulk of the workforce in the accounting industry, a lack in fairness of organizational procedures and rewards impact turnover. With the different demographics having varied reasons for leaving, it is essential for firm leaders to be armed with the power to generate insights from turnover data.


How Can Retensa Help You with Your Accountant Turnover Rate:

  1. Exit Interviews start you off with actionable intelligence by asking the right questions. Using a third party like Retensa to conduct exit interviews creates the safety net people need to avoid burning bridges and be really honest about why they are leaving. Pinpoint the root causes for high turnover at your accounting firm and prepare strategies to help increase retention today.
  2. Retention Skills Training is critical because being a great manager takes different skills than being a great accountant. It took 4 years of learning to master accrued expenses and accumulated depreciation. In 4 sessions, you could give them the tools they need to be a great manager who retains and engages their best staff and seniors. Retensa provides data-driven training based on customized insights from what your accountants say they want and need from leadership. Don’t lose any more billable hours to audit and tax staff turnover. Invest in training that is customized to the needs of accounting firms.
  3. Retention Diagnostic identifies the areas where your organization is excelling when it comes to retention, as well as where it can focus to create the biggest impact. In accounting, there will always be travel, longer than average hours, and client pressures. Retensa focuses on the issues you can control. To reduce accountant turnover, you need more than just knowing the root causes of low morale, high absenteeism, or disengagement. You need clear and actionable recommendations to retain great accountants.


Retention does not get easier by itself. But there are real tactics that work. It succeeds when we get proactive to reduce turnover and increase connection to the firm and future. Call us now at (212) 545-1280 or contact a retention expert here.