The culture in most public accounting firms shape us to aspire to partner level. There may as well be shinin’ disco lights spelling out "PARTNER" plastered above our dismal hotel cube farms.
Even Caleb has admitted it:
I certainly had my own partner aspirations for a brief point in time… For me, my attitude changed when I observed a few partners, saw what their workload and lives were like and thought, JESUS H. CHRIST, BEING A PARTNER SUCKS.
With partner being the only laudable end goal, no wonder the big accounting firms have become essentially an accounting industry training ground. Firms pay to train us, and then we jump ship after a few years if that shinin’ disco light partner standard does not jibe with our long-term career aspirations. Even AICPA President, CEO and ballroom dancing champion Barry Mealncon knows it:
Melancon: "Firms have to deal with issue that young people aren't sticking around unless they find culture they know is the future." #pstech
— Accounting Tomorrow (@ATomorrow) June 9, 2015
Firms need to realize that they cannot retain talent unless young accountants can see a future with the firm. And if public accounting culture says “making partner” is the Holy Grail of the accounting profession, then it excludes the 98% of us who will never make it to that level. That’s right. According to the AICPA, only 2% of accountants entering CPA firms will make it to partner.
Studies show that we Millennials, who make up a third of the current workforce, want jobs we can stick with long-term. It’s a misnomer that we job hop more than our predecessors -– at least according to an October 2014 White House publication. That publication claims that “contrary to popular perceptions, Millennials actually stay with their employers longer than Generation X workers did at the same ages.” The study admits that this could be partly due to the recession, which stopped a lot of us from jumping ship for fear of not being able to find another job.
For public accountants, this means an industry job could be more suitable as a viable long-term career option. As a long-term career option, the shinin’ disco light partner standard actually only works for two types of CPAs:
The shinin’ disco light partner standard threatens firms’ ability to retain the top talent they worked so hard to recruit, which hurts both the employee and the firm. Those peel and stick Grant Thornton tattoos aren’t free, ya know.