Brian Brennan and Jorge Revilla

Firms are providing professionals with flexibility in their careers while providing the expertise that clients require in a volatile world. 

Career patterns are increasingly personalised. And KPMG is recognising and responding to changing aspirations of the diverse talent which it attracts. 

KPMG's philosophy remains constant: that if people perform then the firm wants to promote them.

A manager who works for Brian has just gone on a secondment for two years to the US. The plan is he will return to KPMG in Dublin but as Brian notes: "Circumstances and priorities change so he may not come back." While this was an internal secondment, KPMG is also arranging similar placements in industry, so their people can gain business experience. 

It is not uncommon for those who leave the firm to return. Perhaps after qualification they decide a break is needed. They may travel, or others go to businesses. Brian welcomes that movement as valuable and experience enhancing.

Jorge, an audit and advisory partner in the financial service group, says that every partner in the Dublin office takes on responsibility for around 25 staff ensuring they have a talent programme, overseeing their promotion and progress and working with the mentors and performance directors which look after them.

Jorge says: "As partners we talk to our people to understand how they are getting on and check they are getting the breadth of experience required." He sees this communication as motivational especially for Millennials who appreciate, maybe even expect, such contact.    

"They want to be kept abreast of developments in the firms, as well as their own progress", continues Jorge. "They feel part of the business so want to know about the business drivers and decisions." 

It is key that the firm has specialists who can give clients the required advice, but they also know when to bring in expertise from other parts of the business. This ensures a complete range of the right expertise is collated for clients.

Such specialism is not grown overnight. Firms must ensure they have the right pipeline of talent. But having visibility over the skills, knowledge and competency required is not easy. For instance, transfer pricing has quickly emerged as a big issue for Ireland and it takes significant time to build the requisite skill. 

As well as such technical expertise, Jorge says that the firm is looking for critical thinkers who are proactive in suggesting solutions and who want to play a positive role in a team effort. It is essential that employees build up significant relationship management experience as they progress in their careers. Perhaps earlier than they could expect if they switched over to industry.

Jorge says: "The next generation of professionals are going to have to move with the technology. A huge amount of data will be used to support decisions. Advisers will verify the data and must be prepared to provide complex advice."  

Technology is moving the dial again for the profession. Digital disruption such as Blockchain has the potential to force auditors to rethink what they do and how they do it. Jorge says that Generation Next can expect to see many jobs remodelled. The need to develop sound advisory skills will become more pressing.