Despite concerted efforts, the profession is struggling to attract and retain talent, and at the same time is facing declining number of entrants. 

This significant study amassed insights from over 6.500 respondents worldwide. Over half of the survey respondents were Gen Y/Millennials aged 25-42, with 37% current auditors, 33% former auditors and the rest considering audit as a future career. 

This research unearthed consistent challenges:

  • A prevalent concern about auditors’ work-life balance, prompting calls for flexible working.
  • Equitable remuneration – inadequate remuneration is exacerbated by a long-hours culture, especially at peak times, and made worse by staff shortages.
  • A requirement to emphasise empathy and respect in the workplace in a bid to build inclusive and diverse work environments.

In adding to these concerns a lack of career satisfaction and prevailing working practices, as well as questions over the audit profession’s reputation and its societal contribution, the report concludes the audit profession stands at a critical crossroads.  

Five key themes

To address these formidable challenges, the report identified and explores five themes:

  • Work-life balance matters the most.
  • Remuneration should be fair.
  • Career ladder and variety of work.
  • Interest in sustainability reporting and assurance presents opportunities to attract, develop and retain, but may imply a lack of clear purpose in financial audits.
  • Embrace technology to remain relevant.

As well as identifying challenges and themes, the report makes a series of recommendations grouped around the themes.


Regarding work-life balance, the report recommends that firms:

  • Provide individualised, flexible support.
  • Invest in technologies to ease workloads.
  • Be more transparent about working hours in the busy season.
  • Shift the culture.
  • Give greater visibility to initiatives addressing issues.

But it also calls on regulators to listen to firms’ concerns over taking practical steps such as spreading out deadlines across the year where practicable.

On remuneration the report recommends firms should: 

  • Perform comparative salary surveys.
  • Ensure all extra hours worked are paid.
  • Ensure pay keeps up with inflation.

Regarding career ladders the report recommends firms should:

  • Promote a ‘career-lattice approach’.
  • Provide internal career opportunities.
  • Listen to their employees. 

On reporting the report recommends:

  • Stakeholders should improve how they communicate audit’s purpose.
  • Firms must grasp sustainability reporting as a unique talent acquisition opportunity.
  • Regulators should share success stories of best practice.
  • Firms should focus on the needs of existing staff to improve retention. 

On technology the report recommends:

  • Bridging the technology gap should be a strategic imperative.
  • Small and medium-sized practices need to enhance their capabilities.
  • New entrants should experience advance technologies at entry level.