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If you were in charge of your firm, what would you do to improve staff retention right now?

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It’s time for the industry as a whole to realize that everyone in this field would benefit by removing the overtime exemption laws for public accountants. All firms would now face a more equal cost structure and client fees would raise across the board. Let’s face it, accounting partners do deserve to make a very good living, and I believe there should be a great reset in accounting fees. We keep having the SEC and PCAOB demanding more and more but not pushing anything legislatively that might actually help the situation. Staff, seniors, and managers are done earning middle class wages to subsidize client savings. Who cares if a F500 audit fee is 3m or 4m. No one. In fact, if investors knew that the incremental $1m fee went to staff - managers, they would probably want that to ensure highly quality FS.

The AICPA and the PCAOB need to realize the number one lynch pin that would increase quality across the board would be paying people overtime. This would result in legacy seniors and managers staying which are really the main source of audit quality improvement - having several years of experience to actually know how to spot client specific issues.


First I’d tell the partners to stop with the strategy that if we have a full fucking pipeline we can just replace everybody we don’t like or isn’t killing themselves to keep their jobs. Gen z doesn’t want that shit anyway. Second - I’d establish some managerial fucking training for seniors/managers because PA is the only industry that promotes people (usually too early, with a sink or swim style) without actually preparing them to manage *people* first. And I’d increase their compensation. If you get seniors and managers to stay vs burning out left and right, you’d stop the staffing hemorrhage that’s going on rn and has been going on for years. If you retain more of your middle level talent, they’ll be more inclined to train/recruit/retain younger associates and then you won’t need a giant pipeline to replace 50-70% of churn every year. Then interns can actually start acting like they want the job they’re interning for and have to actually earn it again vs the firms throwing a shitload of perks and money at them hoping they’ll be bribed into employment while consistently driving down morale for your middle levels who are probably already burned out while they’re hourly pay is driven into the ground because they’re salary and the more hours they work the less they earn per hour. You’d cut out that resentment between the levels.

And I’d tell the partners - your livelihood and the old way of doing things is on the line if you don’t knock it tf off. And in the interim you’re gonna have to get your hands a little bit dirty in the details to fill the gap or double your burnout rate, which makes you a piece of shit that no one feels sorry for.


If it means anything S3, I will be with you in spirit, retired Jedi hologram style, as we watch you power through that documentation.

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Decrease partner pay, increase staff pay, and reduce staff hour requirements


Maybe the audit profession should function like Pizza Hut where it says your tip goes directly to the driver. Let the clients decide - your tip here goes directly to the audit staff. Maybe make it a FR requirement so journalists can write about which companies are the worst tippers to overworked middle class, non Ivy League students, who pump out those audit opinions for their Ivy League hedge fund cousins.

As someone involved in recruiting, there is a much bigger issue at hand. The pipeline to accounting is shrinking drastically. There are 30% less accounting students on average across the 4 schools I recruit at. Students aren’t interested in going into accounting anymore. There needs to be significant higher salaries at the associate levels to incentivize kids to go into this field.


A lot of good answers have been said here. So I will add something I haven't seen said. Transparency. Higher level management should be sharing what their plan is and what avenues they are trying to take to make things better. Action is crucial, but so is being transparent. It sucks right now? Nothing is working that you are doing? You aren't sure? Tell us. Will it suck for a year but it open up opportunities for everyone for early promotion and open up spots for growth? Tell us. It will go a long way.


Agree with this sentiment. Although I think the challenge is that when more people in the firm know about issues, so too do people outside the firm because people inevitably blab. It can happen at all levels but it's a numbers game. The firm then runs into reputational risk issues.

Work to build rapport and trust with your partners. If you gain that trust most partners will let you know what's happening behind the scenes by the time you're an experienced senior/new manager.


Hire more people! I can’t tell you the number of engagements I’m on now where people quit and I don’t see anyone new being assigned. Makes me feel like a 🤡 for not leaving myself.


So much this

Pizza party.


Honestly I would put one or two people on PIP. Morale for the rest of staff would skyrocket.


Its really really hard to get out on a PIP. I’ve done multiple of them - it’s never general below average performance. It’s either: 1) objectively awful work product; or 2) not doing the work.


Give everyone a 10-20% pay bump.

Send out new contracts with clients to charge higher fees.


This is even more relevant since the Q came from EY


REDUCE HOURS so people aren’t working all day and night. Hire more people so people aren’t working all day and night. Double the wellness fund again (with the expanded uses $2000 would go a lot further and be very meaningful). Implement a policy of no meetings after 2pm on Fridays. Learn to tell clients “no” or at least give reasonable turnaround times and expectations. Upgrade the tech systems and tools. Have better training for new hires versus rely solely on people who are swamped with their own engagements to teach people basic things. Impress upon management to encourage their teams to not work all day and night.


I am not ey and so agree


Cut partner comp by 10% and invest into the associate and senior associate level in raises and additional hires.


Yes, investing in associates and senior associates by giving them an environment and opportunities to learn effectively. Which means there is sufficient staffing so you available resources to learn from and the resources feel like they have time to teach. In order to have sufficient staffing one of the ways is to pay more, but the goal is to be staffed appropriately in order to create a good training environment and not just pay more to get bodies in the door. You can pay $100k, but if they don’t have a good training environment they won’t learn and they will see the future just means more money with no support.


In addition to what everyone else has said, my biggest thing seen since PwC switched to “the new equation” is to stop forcing resource sharing so much. My teams are running in fumes because we’ve had people leave for reasons noted above, so other team members have had to pick up off-year end jobs. So now, instead of working with a 2-3 month busy seasons we’re at 6+ months. This job can be manageable if our life is over for only 1/4 of the year, but nowadays it’s turned into over half. If we don’t get better pay or more staff, there will be no more public accounting anymore. And stop forcing us to share our staff who have just come off of MONTHS of busy season to help your job over in your city because you can’t plan properly. I don’t want to lose my good staff because you didn’t plan.

TL;DR: minimize what the busy season looks like for people so it’s only 2/3 months as opposed to 6+


You guys need to calm down and get out of here with that “you’re the reason” BS. I’m on your side. I don’t know the background of your specific situation, but at PwC the HR teams have not understood that 85% utilization for the year doesn’t mean nothing ever over 100%. That doesn’t mean every week should be 60, but you can bet that client service will have some bad weeks sprinkled in there.

I have always said people need to forecast utilization for the year and be held responsible for falling short if they pass up opportunities to hit that utilization goal. I’m not advocating that we go back to the post financial crisis 110%+ yearly utilization. The problem is that we set a utilization goal and we have some markets that reward an entire team for missing the goal when the office 3 hours away was 15% above the goal. Maybe the national staffing model will fix that (I have my doubts), but it’s going to hurt when someone is the highest utilized in their office and still gets rated a 3 because they didn’t meet the goal.


My shortlist of improvements:

-20-30% salary increases from the bottom up. Hard to convince people to become accountants when there are more lucrative opportunities out there.

-Greater scrutiny towards dropping unprofitable and/or difficult clients.

-Drop divisive DEI/wokeness initiatives. Do the activism stuff on personal time

-Lobby the legislators to curtail if not outlaw offshore work. The seemingly endless supply of offshore labor has been used to keep salaries down for too long


That’s gross k1. But this is exactly what this “movement” is coming to.


Transparency and higher pay, like everyone else has already said here. Those are the two main things most people care about. They want to be paid well and to know what their career looks like if they stay at the firm for the long-haul.


I think one of the things that has happened over the last 5 years is a compression of comp. Staff and seniors make a ton more than they used to, but the managers and senior managers make a little more than they used to. With the explosive growth in partner comp, that means the comp jump is huge when you get admitted. It’s no longer “I make less in my first year as a partner” like you used to hear.

Raise the manager/senior manager comp so it makes sense to stay. Partners should realize that their comp going up by 100% in 5 years means there is something unsustainable in play.


Decrease hour requirements so good people stick around instead of quitting after a few years, which means hire more people initially to lessen the load. Have a class of seniors or managers that aren’t assigned to a specific client that just float around helping new hires and seniors with their questions. Have more trainings on actual work paper prep and review with assignments like tests staff can practice on, that are then reviewed/graded, rather than high level theory. Have the Deployment staff do the TL/FF updates and have the EAs do the wip analysis and sales force stuff instead of the managers. Get the ELs and WBS codes before the end of the year instead of in February. Stop having so many weekly catchup calls with 15 people on the phone for topics that could be addressed via email. Allow staff to pick their clients / rotate within the group more often instead of staying on the same clients (unless they choose to). That’s a good start.


@Tm3 your math is a little off……….

I need a girlfriend so more women in the office?


Each office should have a dedicated matchmaker


I refuse to go back to public accounting because of the terrible hours and relatively low pay. I’ve said it before on other posts, but during busy season I made a lower hourly wage than the Taco Bell next to my house.

Increase pay and decrease hours. I liked the work and (some of) the clients, but it’s not worth it for me to ever consider public accounting as a career. Industry gang for life.


You have to compare to equivalently educated people.

Get rid of unlimited PTO


What?! I just scheduled 12 days of time off and the year is not even half way thru! No way


Get rid of engagement economics, billing, expected time to completion, margin review responsibilities that have been shoved on the plates of staff (non partners). That’s what administrative people should do, not client-servers.


Give everyone one, BUT ONLY ONE, minute break a day. Call it “Minute Your Way”


Bruh don’t give them ideas


Fire poor clients and low performers. Pay according to performance/value and not tenure. Smart and hardworking people don’t want to work with low performers for equal pay. Also, don’t be a jerk.


Something makes my heart tickle when I see a partner proactive to fire crap clients, or maybe it's just the beer.


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