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In an increasingly competitive world where deregulation and automation are posing new questions towards the business model of small and medium sized practices (SMPs), the challenge of attracting the best talent and holding on to it is becoming more complicated.

Yet employers must accommodate the needs and ambitions of the youngest generation of finance and accounting professionals – what we refer to as Generation Next. The difficulty for many SMPs is that time and resources are in short supply.

However, this needn't get in the way of putting together a compelling proposition to Generation Next. 

What the next generation are telling us

Through a survey of nearly 1,300 younger professionals working in SMPs the following insights were revealed:

  • Working for an SMP is recognised as a platform towards building a successful long-term career
  • Finance experience will be valuable for future business leaders 
  • Pay and prospects for career progression are important but work life balance, interest in the subject matter and flexible working arrangements also matter
  • Job satisfaction is holding up with 48% of those working for SMPs reported being satisfied in their current role
  • In the short term the majority are keen to take advantage of the learning and development opportunities available in SMPs - longer term they see it as a springboard into other sectors
  • Learning works best when its personal and practical – On-the-job training and mentoring are the most used learning activities across the SMP sector, and encouragingly, are also seen by Generation Next in SMP as the most effective as well.

Some pointers for SMPs

When thinking about talent management it is important steps are taken to build on existing resources within the organisation and limit costs to a minimum. It is also valuable for you to consider how staff can contribute towards the growth ambitions of your business. 

  • Attraction - directly engage with younger people in order to communicate the benefits of career experience in the SMP sector. Explore how this could be better achieved through engagement with academic institutions, where prospective employees can be effectively targeted. 
  • Development - 80% of Generation Next in SMP agrees that technology will enable finance professionals to focus on higher value-added activity. Positively, this suggests they see  good opportunities for innovation in order to reinvent service provision across the SMP sector.
  • Retention - employers should look to harness employees’ intrapreneurial skills through initiatives that encourage them to identify costs savings as well as growth opportunities within the firm.

This wider report includes further guidance and insights from younger professionals and employers about how SMPs can create a winning formula for successfully attracting and retaining new talent.

ACCA lead author Ben Baruch