It’s all about staffing

Human capital concerns topped the priority lists for firms of all sizes, according to the AICPA Private Company Practice Section’s Top MAP Issues survey. Speaking at last month’s Cleveland Accounting Show, PCPS’s Heidi Brundage, CPA reported on conclusions from the Top MAP Issues Survey and challenges faced by firms in 2008.

For every breakdown by firm size, with the exception of sole practitioners, “finding qualified staff” was the number one concern, with ‘”retaining qualified staff” not far behind. Differences between employer and employee top reasons for joining and staying with a firm highlight staffing disconnects:

  • While employers listed “salary” as the top reason to join a firm, employees listed career growth opportunities as their highest priority.
  • While employers again listed “salary” as the top reason for staying with a firm, employees rated “respect for the mission” of the organization more highly.

Bottom line advice for employers included clarifying what career growth in their firm or company “looks like,” and providing opportunities for staff to be engaged in the firm’s mission, vision and values.

The 2008 PCPS/TSCPA National MAP Survey results indicate that the human capital challenge may be shifting.

In a preview of survey results, Jim Metzler, CPA, AICPA Vice President Small Firm Interests, said that for the first year in some time, staffing concerns may be easing. (Note that the survey was completed prior to the current market crunch.) Total turnover rates for participating firms dropped from 42% in 2006 to 14.5% in 2008. Reported net earnings were healthy, and average compensated hours worked declined from 2006.

Retention of highly qualified staff may be replacing recruitment as firms’ top human capital concern, leading to changes in staffing strategies.

Other interesting results included a decline in audit and attest fees as a percentage of small firm revenues. Brundage cited risk assessment standards and complexity as reasons that some firms have reduced attest services as a percentage of their practice.

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One Response to It’s all about staffing

  1. Mark says:

    I like this piece it addresses some of the issues. I am a practicing accounting professional that recruits. I have come in contact with talented CPA’s with public/industry experience who have no desire to be the CFO or a partner within the corporate environment and yet those very people are shut out. The only reason I can come up with is age discrimination, because these same firms have brought new less experienced staff on board for more money,,,,,,,the only difference again being the age of the candidate,,,,,,,,,,,,it wasn’t about skill set,,,,maybe firm chemistry,,,but that can’t be it when I see those same kids resumes three months after they’ve started working with one of these firms.

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