7 Ways to Retain Top Accounting Talent in 2024

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In the fast-paced world of accountancy, retaining top accountants is more crucial than ever. With the accountancy industry evolving and the competition for skilled professionals intensifying, your firm must stand out if it will attract and retain the best accountants! 

To help your accountancy firm thrive and stay ahead of the competition when it comes to retaining top accounting talent, we’ve created this comprehensive guide with our top 7 strategies you can implement today.

So, let’s dive right into it!

1. Master the Market

2. Reward Exceptional Performance

3. Pre-seen exam challenges

4. Workplace Culture

5. CPD Tactics

6. Promoting Work-life Balance

7.  Recruitment Strategy

Strategy 1. Master the Market

Competitive salaries are non-negotiable for an accountancy firm’s retention strategies. To attract and retain the best talent in accounting, your accountancy firm must offer remuneration that reflects the value and expertise of your team. 

Stay ahead by regularly analysing the market to ensure your compensation packages and base pay remain competitive. This approach ensures your firm is a desirable workplace, attracting and retaining top accountants.

Fair pay reduces turnover, as employees are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. In fact, according to Matthew Lawford, Operations Director at AJ Chambers, not paying market rates can lead to significant losses, including the risk of losing entire teams to competitors! 

McKinsey‘s research also underscores this, revealing that companies with generous financial incentives see nearly five times higher total shareholder returns.

So, ensuring your salaries and compensation packages are competitive is one of the most essential strategies you can do to not only retain top accounting talent, but also improve your organisation’s performance, too! 

Strategy 2. Reward Exceptional Performance

Recognising and rewarding exceptional performance is a pivotal aspect of retention strategies in accountancy firms. Beyond competitive salaries, acknowledging individual and team achievements through financial bonuses, public recognitions, or additional annual leave can significantly impact employee morale and motivation. These rewards convey a clear message to your team: “We see your hard work, and we value it.”

Here are just some reward performance examples for you to think about to improve accounting staff retention rates:

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Financial bonuses

Financial bonuses are a direct and impactful way to reward exceptional performance and the most popular choice for employees. They can be structured in various forms, such as performance, spot or project completion.

Public Recognitions

Public recognition is about acknowledging and celebrating employees’ contributions in a way that is visible to their peers and the broader organisation. Examples include employee of the month, achievement awards and even thank you notes.

Additional Annual Leave

Offering additional holidays as a reward for exceptional performance can enhance work-life balance, showing that the firm values not only the employees’ contributions but also their well-being and personal time. 

Professional Development Opportunities

Offer opportunities for further education, certifications, or attending industry conferences. This rewards employees and invests in their professional growth, benefiting both the individual and the firm.

Increased Responsibility and Autonomy

Recognise high performers by entrusting them with more significant projects, leadership roles in high-profile assignments, or the freedom to pursue innovative projects. This acknowledges their skills and contributions and demonstrates trust in their capabilities.

Equity or Share Options

For senior employees or those who have significantly contributed to the firm’s success, offering equity or share options can be a substantial reward. This aligns their personal success with the firm’s success, fostering a deeper commitment to its long-term goals.

Work-Life Balance Enhancements

Beyond additional annual leave, consider offering flexible working hours, the option for remote work, or a sabbatical leave for long-serving employees. These rewards recognise the importance of work-life balance and personal well-being.

Special Experiences

Reward employees with unique experiences such as a luxury dinner, team retreats, or experiential gifts like hot air balloon rides, cooking classes, or anything that can create memorable experiences as a token of appreciation.

Charity Matching

For employees motivated by altruism, offer to match their charitable donations up to a certain amount. This not only rewards the employee but also supports their personal values and the broader community.

By integrating various rewards into your accountancy firm’s retention strategy, you can create a more engaged, motivated, and committed workforce and retain top accounting talent. These examples can be adapted or expanded based on your accountancy firm’s culture, size, and resources, ensuring that recognition efforts are as impactful and meaningful as possible. 

Strategy 3. Exploring Extended Benefit

Now that we’ve discussed exceptional performance benefits, what about general employee benefits to retain top accounting talent

Think beyond the basics. How about unique perks like allowances for remote working setups or annual company retreats? These benefits show that you care about your accountants’ well-being inside and outside the office.

In a JMF survey, job candidates and client firms were questioned about the employment benefits they prioritise and offer. Within this report, work location, hours, and increased holiday allowances emerged as highly valued benefits. In contrast, perks like cycling to work schemes were less popular.

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This is where a smaller accountancy firm’s retention strategy can harness a unique advantage. While competing with larger firms regarding high salaries and substantial bonuses might be challenging, small accountancy firms often have more room to offer flexibility. This flexibility can be manifested in allowing team members greater autonomy in managing their workload and being accountable for results rather than fixed working hours.

Crucially, the effectiveness of any benefits scheme hinges on understanding what employees and potential candidates genuinely value. Engaging in open dialogues with staff and candidates to discern their preferences is essential to retaining top accountants.

Strategy 4. Workplace Culture: A Fresh Approach

Creating a supportive work environment that recognises achievements and provides constructive feedback for employee growth is essential in any accountancy firm’s retention strategy. A positive workplace culture improves morale and significantly enhances retention rates within any organisation.

With this in mind, below are detailed examples of how accountancy firms like yours can retain top accountants by cultivating such an environment:.

Recognising Achievements and Constructive Feedback

At the heart of a nurturing workplace culture is celebrating success and delivering constructive feedback in the right way. Techniques like the “Sandwich Approach,” which encapsulates feedback between positive comments, have proven effective in retaining top accounting talent. This method respects and motivates team members, fostering a sense of growth, belonging, and appreciation.

    Mentorship Programs

    Implementing mentorship programs can be transformative for retaining talent in accounting, with over 25% of accounting firms adopting such initiatives. These programs facilitate skill transfer, build community, and underscore the firm’s dedication to its employees’ growth and well-being. A mentorship program pairing junior accountants with experienced professionals has increased job satisfaction and retention, demonstrating the firm’s investment in career development pathways.

      Team Building for Trust and Camaraderie

      Team-building activities are crucial for cultivating trust and camaraderie among staff. Such activities can range from professional development workshops to informal social events, all aimed at breaking down barriers and fostering a collaborative environment. 

      For example, firms that have conducted off-site team-building retreats report a noticeable improvement in team communication and morale. A study found that 63% of leaders observed enhanced team communication following such activities, with 61% noting an uplift in team morale.

        Flexible Working for Enhanced Performance

        Emphasising work-life balance through flexible working arrangements has shown direct positive effects on job performance and satisfaction. Since the pandemic, options like flexible working hours or remote working arrangements acknowledge the diverse needs of employees, contributing to a supportive culture. 

        This approach not only meets the immediate needs of the workforce but also aligns with retaining top accountants by mitigating job stress and improving mental health. Something that’s at the forefront of conversation in 2024!

          A culture that values achievement, offers guidance through mentorship, promotes teamwork, and supports work-life balance is crucial in navigating the challenges of the modern workplace and ensuring the firm’s long-term success. 

          Adding just one or two of these examples to your accountancy firm’s retention strategy can create a more engaging and supportive workplace. This not only attracts top accounting talent but ensures employee growth and retention within your accountancy firm.

          Strategy 5. Career Advancement: Transformative CPD Tactics

          Investing in your accountants’ development through continuous professional development (CPD) and creating clear pathways for career progression are vital strategies for retaining top accountants in your firm. This demonstrates your commitment to their long-term success and benefits your firm by cultivating a knowledgeable and skilled workforce. 

          Not to mention, for some accountants, CPD is mandatory for their membership! So, ensuring you provide them access to accountancy training without them having to provide it themselves can really go a long way. 

          With this in mind, let’s break this down a little deeper:

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          Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

          The accountancy landscape is ever-changing, with new regulations, technologies, and best practices regularly emerging. A survey published by Business Wire found that 86% of respondents wished their employer offered opportunities for reskilling and upskilling, highlighting the high demand for continuous learning.

          CPD ensures your team remains at the forefront of these developments, maintaining your firm’s competitive edge and, in turn, retaining top accounting talent. For example, with the constant evolution of tax laws, providing your staff with the latest tax legislation training can directly impact the quality of service offered to your clients.

          At Astranti, we’re thrilled to provide your entire team with an incredible 14 hours of free online verifiable accountancy CPD. Discover more about this fantastic offer – click here now!

            Clear Pathways for Career Progression

            Defining career trajectories within your accountancy firm is crucial for employee motivation and retaining top accountants. Employees need to see a future for themselves within the organisation! 

            By clearly outlining potential career paths and setting realistic milestones, you offer a tangible roadmap to their professional growth. This approach not only motivates your current team but also aids in building a reservoir of future leaders.

              Leadership and Skill Enhancement Programs

              Offering targeted leadership training and skill development programs prepares accountants for increased responsibilities and encourages them to aspire to higher roles within your firm. 

              This investment signals to your team that you value their growth and see them as integral to the firm’s future success, which helps to improve accounting staff retention rates. For instance, leadership development programs such as CMI can not only equip potential leaders with the necessary skills to manage teams effectively, navigate complex projects, and contribute to strategic decision-making but also allow your accountants the opportunity to become chartered managers.

              Learn more about CMI and how Astranti can help your future leaders.

                Regular Performance Reviews and Goal Discussions

                Engaging in meaningful dialogues about career aspirations and performance is a powerful retention tool to retain top accounting talent. These discussions help accountants align their personal goals with the company’s objectives, reinforcing their sense of purpose within the accountancy firm. Regular feedback sessions ensure that employees understand their progress, areas for improvement, and the steps needed to achieve their career goals.

                  Implementing these strategies showcases your firm’s dedication to its accountants’ career advancement, making it an attractive workplace for ambitious professionals. By fostering a culture that values growth, learning, and development, you retain your top accountants and attract high-calibre candidates looking for a firm that invests in their future.


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                  Strategy 6. Promoting Work-life Balance

                  Flexible working arrangements directly impact job satisfaction and performance. Encouraging a healthy balance between work and personal life can significantly reduce stress and improve overall well-being, which in turn helps retain top accountants.

                  Here are just some examples of how you can promote healthy work-life balance in your accounting firm today:

                  1. Flexible Working Hours

                  Allow employees to start and finish their day at times that suit them best, enhancing their ability to manage personal commitments alongside work.

                  2. Remote Work Options

                  Offer the option to work from home, reducing commute times and allowing for a more comfortable working environment.

                  3. Compressed Workweeks

                  Implement a four-day workweek, where employees work longer hours on those days but get an additional day off, contributing to greater personal time.

                  4. Mandatory Time Off

                  Encourage employees to take their full annual leave entitlement and implement mandatory days off to ensure rest and recovery.

                  5. Wellness Programs

                  Introduce wellness programs that include activities like yoga, meditation, or fitness classes to promote mental and physical health.

                  6. No-Email Policy After Hours

                  Enforce a policy that discourages sending or answering emails outside working hours to respect personal time.

                  7. Parental Leave

                  Offer generous parental leave policies that go beyond the legal requirements to support families.

                  8. Mental Health Days

                  Recognise mental health as equally important by offering mental health days as part of the sick leave policy.

                  These examples illustrate a commitment to fostering a workplace culture that values and promotes work-life balance, demonstrating that your accountancy firm recognises the importance of personal time in maintaining productivity and overall well-being. This is crucial in 2024 for any accountancy firm’s retention strategy.

                  Strategy 7. Align your Recruitment Strategy

                  Surprisingly, the key to retention strategies for accountancy firms starts right at the recruitment stage. Ensuring that your recruitment and retention strategies are harmoniously aligned is crucial.

                  Consider it akin to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Where just bread with jam can be overly sweet, and peanut butter alone can be overly dry, combining the two can create a delightful mix that simply works!

                  That’s why, here at Astranti, we have crafted an extensive 2024 Recruitment and Retention Strategy Guide, which is readily available for you to access right now! We recognise the unique challenges faced by accountancy firms in this evolving environment.

                  To learn more about how to retain top accounting talent and attract them, make sure to download our comprehensive guide today.


                  Are you ready to enhance your firm’s recruitment and retention strategy? Delve into our guide and find out how Astranti can revolutionise your approach. 

                  Download our full guide today for an in-depth review of our strategies and access exclusive insights.


                  Illustration by Storyset.