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Top 4 Reasons Accountants Leave Their Jobs


Controlling turnover is important in any business. The process gets especially difficult in the accounting profession, due to heavy demand and the need for specialized skills. For that reason, it’s crucial to investigate why accountants would want to leave your firm. 

According to The CPA Journal, turnover at large firms (those with revenues above $20 million) saw a significant increase in 2019. The figure reached nearly 19% for the year, up 18% from the previous year (when the figure came in at about 16%). At the high end, the publication found rates hovering around 30%.  

That only gives a clue to the problem of turnover in the accounting industry. In its report from 2018The CPA Journal declared that turnover rates for the accounting and auditing professions were among the highest in the country. Figures put it in competition with professions like nurses, telemarketing, sales, and even movie-theater employees. (And that observation took place before the bump up for 2019.) 

It’s not clear what impact the aftermath of COVID-19 outbreak will have on these statistics. But, as a long-term situation, high turnover in the accounting profession forms a significant factor in job market dynamics. For that reason, you should drill down on the reasons accountants would want to leave their jobs, and take steps to lower the risks of each impacting your staff. Here are a few things to look out for.” 

More Money

Often, employee relations come down to a simple factor: compensation. If you find yourself unable to hold onto your best talent, look to money matters first. 

According to Indeed, the average salary for an accountant in the U.S. is about $56,500. However, a simple average doesn’t provide much information. You have to look at statistics in your area, and compensation figures for any unique attributes you need in your staff. Research the market rate for the kind of skills you need to fill out your team. From there, you can review whether your compensation package is competitive. 

Remember: salary represents only a component of compensation. You might be offering enough in terms of base pay, but falling short in things like bonuses, retirement, or other benefits. As you’re looking at monetary issues, take the whole situation into account. 

Advancement Opportunities

No one likes to feel stuck in their career. Even if your accountants are making top dollar, and enjoying a generous benefits package, they might start eying the door if your organization doesn’t offer enough advancement opportunities. Your most ambitious and dynamic employees will be the ones most likely to seek out higher-level assignments and management roles…and they will look elsewhere, if necessary. 

This need to get ahead can be especially acute in accounting, where staffers fight for partnership opportunities. The CPA Journal report included the observation that higher leverage (increased staff-to-partner ratios) fed higher turnover in the profession. 

To combat this, regularly talk to your best employees about their long-term goals. Learn what motivates each individual. Meanwhile, emphasize promotions from within. It will give your organization the flexibility it needs to keep your best accountants on staff for the long haul. 

Switch Career Tracks

Not all career moves involve climbing the corporate ladder. Sometimes, people just want a change. This might involve a radical departure, leaving accountancy for something else entirely. But, most often, it manifests as a change in focus. 

If you have the need for different accounting specialties within your organization, you may be able to accommodate these transitions. If so, let your employees know that you support this kind of professional curiosity. You might even go so far as to subsidize the additional training and certification necessary to allow someone to change career tracks. 

Work/Life Balance

Sometimes people leave their jobs are completely personal motivations. They want to start a family. Or they need to take care of a sick relative. Or they have just gotten burned out and need to slow down. Whatever the case, they need to step away in order to readjust their work/life balance. 

In many circumstances, there’s not much you can do. However, you can lower the likelihood of these departures by encouraging a healthy work/life balance in the first place. Offer your accountants flexible schedules, family leave, and other similar benefits. This way, you make it easier for them to dedicate themselves to your company while simultaneously advancing their own personal fulfillment. 

Need to fill some accountant positions?

Partnering with a strong staffing agency, like Recruiting In Motion, can help. Contact Recruiting In Motion today to find the perfect candidates for your open positions. 

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