How to Retain Your Audit Talent

ManagementMay 18, 2023 10:00

Amidst a slight market downturn, professional services firms are nonetheless on a hiring spree! For example, Deloitte (a Big Four accounting giant) has set its sights to hire around 3,000 new employees in Singapore within the next five years. Nearly a third of these new roles will be in the areas of audit and taxation.

Aggressive recruitment drives are indicative of the growing demand for professional services in Singapore. However, an accounting labour shortage is looming on the horizon. This means that although your company is looking to expand, you may potentially have great difficulty hiring skilled accounting talent.

Why There’s a Labour Crunch in Accountancy and Audit

The audit profession is generally perceived as one which involves much toil but relatively low pay. It is not uncommon to see auditors pull all-nighters after the financial year-end in order to churn out financial statements. Some employees working in the Big Four audit firms in Singapore even highlight “the possibility that [one] will be worked to death” for less-than-stellar compensation.

Therefore, fewer accounting graduates are interested in joining the audit profession. The talent shortage is further compounded by high attrition rates in this industry.

The median attrition rate among auditing firms in Singapore prevails at an astounding 62%! Such high turnover rates indicate the presence of systemic issues which your company needs to address: overwork and insufficient compensation.

Are your junior auditors quitting in droves, with some not even lasting two years? We suggest two overarching strategies that will help you retain your existing employees—and even attract more fresh graduates.

1. Transform the Overwork Culture

There’s no running away from the reality that the audit season will be the busiest time of each year. Even though your employees may have to work longer hours during certain months, cap the amount of overtime to a reasonable level. An upper limit of 60 to 70 hours a week should ideally be imposed.

You can also reward your employees with time off during non-peak periods so as to compensate for the overtime worked during the audit season. By taking an extended vacation, your employees will be able to recharge and take their minds off work. This reduces the likelihood of burnout amongst your employees.

Furthermore, you should tap on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to optimise your employees’ precious time. Leverage various AI technologies to review millions of clients transactions efficiently, thereby allowing auditors to focus on risk analysis.

2. Pay Employees Fairly

Fair pay is at the forefront of your employees’ minds. In a recent LinkedIn survey conducted by Reeracoen, 68% of the respondents indicated that they felt underpaid.

As such, competitive salary packages will go a long way in retaining—and attracting—talent. The Big Four firms are cognisant of this fact, with Ernst & Young LLP having an off-cycle pay raise in April last year. Likewise, KPMG LLP provided enticing bonuses while raising entry-level salaries by up to 20%.

Another way to ensure your employees feel adequately compensated is to move towards greater pay transparency. Openly share the salary ranges for various positions within your company. You do not have to disclose the exact salary of each employee, only a rough gauge.

By practising pay transparency, you can better manage your employees’ expectations of this thorny issue. Top talent will also be more inclined to join your company, which is known for being an equitable and inclusive workplace!


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