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 on 14 January 2013 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 the following action plans to be adopted by firms for talent recruitment and retention:
1. Create an engaging and open culture where staff are confident to surface issues relating to their well being and career satisfaction.
2. Influence client behaviour to improve their accounting practices and be firm with clients about clear delineation of responsibilities over preparation of financial reports and supporting documents.
3. Create a more conducive working environment to support female staff so larger number are inclined to stay and encouraged to aim for partnership.
4. Offer employees more international mobility and facilitate job rotation among different divisions within the firm based on meritocracy and transparency.
5. Promote effi ciency in the audit by having partners and senior staffs involved in the audit engagement at the early stage.
6. Mid-tier and smaller firms to implement a more comprehensive structured training to ensure that staff gets to climb swiftly up the learning curve. Apart from technical training, the firms should also introduce soft skills training into their training and development programmes for their staff.
7. Enhance clarity over partnership admission criteria.
8. Increase awareness of the value of audit to stakeholders which will lead to the reduce pressure on audit fee.
The full report can be downloaded here.