May 23, 2022


The Number One Source For Business

5 reasons staff are leaving your firm

Public accounting is engaged in a talent war.

The leading voices in our profession consistently cite a pipeline issue — the number of accounting graduates and CPA candidates coming through the system is not high enough to meet demand — exacerbated by the strain brought about by COVID-19. However, this explanation is superficial; it only accounts for the symptoms and not the underlying illness.

There’s been a great deal of talk about the “great resignation,” a supposed outgrowth of our collective pandemic experience. People had time to think about whether their job was the right one for them because they were forced to stop working for some period of time, or they were forced to reevaluate their career because their job became their entire existence. Accountants naturally fall into the latter category. We were lucky enough to be indispensable advisors to clients throughout this unprecedented period in world history. We had more work than we could handle. Sure, we got it done to one extent or another, but at what cost?

Overwork has been a problem in our profession for decades. Accountants generally start their careers with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, which inevitably wanes over the years until they can no longer stand it and seek refuge in the employ of a private company that maintains reasonable working hours and time off. Sure, some make partner or director and stay in public accounting over the long haul. Some start their own practice. The masses, however, are forced out of public accounting lest they risk their mental and physical health or overstrain relationships with loved ones. So if this cycle of overwork and the resulting churn has persisted for decades, why has a talent shortage cropped up all of a sudden only now?

In my view, the answer is in plain sight: People are fed up with being treated like a machine in an assembly line. The pay no longer justifies the toil. And there are more attractive alternatives to public accounting jobs. Stated differently, the age-old accounting business model simply does not work for a growing percentage of those in their early 20s to mid-40s. How do I know this? I’ve spoken with hundreds of CPAs over the past decade about their journey in public accounting. Their grievances are not unique or situational; they are pervasive and consistent. They embody the underlying illness that the symptoms confirm. And they are the reason we built Dark Horse to be a CPA firm for CPAs. Too many firms have started with tunnel vision on the client and tried to cram accountants into a predetermined box that increasingly feels like a prison to them.

So why are your accountants leaving your firm? I guarantee you it is due to some combination of these factors: