Young accountants challenge employers for dynamic careers
More than half of young finance professionals seek to use their
finance training in broader business careers
The young finance professional of the 21st century has a confident
and clear vision of their career progression, demands job security and
is motivated by money, finds new research from ACCA (the Association of
Chartered Certified Accountants) and Mercer, the human resource
The research - called Generation Y: Realising the potential - shows a
generation of young finance professionals seeking aspirational and
dynamic career paths, both inside and outside traditional mainstream
It presents a wake up call to employers of finance professionals to
embrace the career aspirations of the youngest generation and offer
dynamic career routes that capitalise on their finance skills, or risk
losing future talent. Over 3,200 individuals responded to the research,
from 122 countries around the world, making this one of the biggest ever
studies of the youngest generation presently in the workforce. Leading
global organisations were also interviewed to provide unique insights
into managing this generation effectively.
While the survey reports that most Gen Y finance professionals
suggest they are satisfied with their current role, concerns are
expressed regarding the future, with half suggesting their organisation
is not able to offer them sufficient career development opportunities.
Jamie Lyon, from ACCA, and co-author of the report, says: "Generation
Y finance professionals are smart operators. Our survey suggests they
are hard working, but they want quick and transparent rewards.
In the future, we know many businesses will need a blend of
employees, some staying in traditional finance careers, and others
taking their finance skills into broader areas outside mainstream
The good news is that this is what Generation Y wants too - they
rightly see the accountancy qualification as a great step to a
broader-based business career .... but for the employer, providing more
diverse career paths in the timescales demanded is a big challenge.
Managing the career expectations of Generation Y and being transparent
about career development will be key to delivering on the career
promise. If employers get this wrong, there's a significant retention
risk, particularly if global economic conditions start improving."
Chris Johnson, UK Head of Human Capital at Mercer says: "In an
ever-changing competitive environment, the one constant seems to be the
war for talent, and one of the most critical talent pools is Generation
Y. Companies are aware that to be considered 'an employer of choice' by
the most recent generation they have to find new ways to attract and
"Generation Y employees around the globe are taking their careers
into their own hands and focusing on their prospects for development to
ensure their own career progression. This has implications for the way
the finance profession builds its talent pipeline and how organisations
should attract, develop and retain their young finance talent.
Other key findings from the research reveal the following:
- Money matters: Remuneration is important to this age group
and they seek out competitive packages. But they also want a good
contractual package - they want money, work-life balance, and they want
to work for an attractive brand that reflects their own values.
- Experiential learning is crucial: Employers and Gen Y
themselves see experiential learning as key to developing the skills
required of today's finance professional.
Face to face learning still resonates with this generation and they
are less reliant on e-learning than may have been previously thought.
Organisations need to develop a wide range of learning opportunities to
engage this generation successfully.
- Be attractive, be different: Employers need to put career
development at the heart of their proposition to make them attractive to
Generation Y. Contrary to popular perception, the survey shows this is a
generation who value job security but are prepared to leave if career
promises are not fulfilled.
Chris Johnson adds: "Value creation is key for organisations
in the future. Increasingly, human capital will be the primary source of
competitive differentiation. Its value will be created by people, ideas
and the brand of the organisation. Organisations will need to think
creatively about how they can offer roles and greater career path
variation to benefit from this talent and drive value".
Jamie Lyon from ACCA concludes: 'As our report shows, this is
an über confident generation, who value security, but who are equally
prepared to walk away if their career path is not being delivered.
They are a demanding generation to manage, but ACCA and Mercer
believe that if employers can offer them interesting careers, and get
the career proposition right, this generation can offer a wealth of
untapped talent that is waiting to be unleashed." (ACCA)