Date posted: 24/05/2017 3 min read

What young chartered accountants really want

What young CAs really want from their leaders and workplace environments.

In brief

  • It’s important for employers to understand what the next generation of CAs want from employers.
  • This group values development opportunities and companies with a social purpose.
  • Young CAs are seeking empowerment and responsibility in the workplace.

In the movie What women want (2000), Nick Marshall, played by Mel Gibson, gets a whole new insight into the advertising world when a freak accident gives him the ability to read women’s minds.

What if organisations could read the minds of young CAs? Are their wishes different to those of older CAs? Or do CAs of all ages generally want the same things in the workplace?  

What do organisations need to know to attract and retain the next generation of accounting profession leaders? What do CAs at the start of their careers really want from their employers?  

Acuity interviewed young “twenty something” CAs and provisional members currently completing their CA studies to find the answers to these questions.  

Sick leave unlimited

Paul Monkus CA, commercial finance manager for Seek Learning, says it’s all about development opportunities.

“The CA qualification is really just a licence to learn; I want to do that in an organisation that trusts employees and values work-life balance,” Monkus says.  

“Seek has unlimited sick leave – something which is not abused – and we choose the hours we work. Some organisations say that, but the reality is that members working unusual hours are subtly given negative messages. It’s not like that here.”  

Social purpose

For Monkus, having a social purpose is also important.  

“At Seek our purpose is to help people live more fulfilling and productive working lives and to help organisations succeed,” he says. “It’s really lived out, from the CEO down.”  

Juhee Tulshyan CA, a business analyst at AusNet Services, believes that young CAs entering the workforce today are asking more of their employers than previous generations did.  

“We seek a culture where we are valued and trusted as professionals,” she says. “We also want to be where it’s okay to say ‘no’ and question things without being criticised or told we can’t. We want to be challenged and see senior management follow through on what they promise. There’s no point speaking up if nothing changes.” 

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A supportive, inclusive culture

Sylvia Soo, diversity manager at Oaktree and in her final year of a commerce degree at Melbourne University, wants to work with colleagues who can also be friends. Soo also values diversity in the workplace.  

Digital disruption and leveraging artificial intelligence are hot topics in the accounting profession.

“From my experience, where everyone is the same it results in ‘group think’, which is not helpful in solving problems,” she says. “In a diverse group a variety of ideas and perspectives lead to a more productive environment.  

“There will be conflict, but the good type of conflict. I want a work culture where I can bring my whole self to work and not have to change or hide who I am.”  

Constant challenges

Digital disruption and leveraging artificial intelligence are hot topics in the accounting profession. For William Tang CA, senior analyst at Deloitte Australia, this means young CAs are looking for work environments in which they can constantly challenge themselves.  

“There is a big shift towards doing more than just the simple administration and processes,” Tang says. “Young CAs need an environment where we can constantly challenge ourselves to be ahead of the game.  

Empowerment and responsibility

Tang adds that young CAs are seeking empowerment and responsibility in the workplace.  

“If we stagnate we will be left behind,” he says. “It’s about finding the next challenge. Young CAs expect empowerment and responsibility. We know we can achieve what we want if we put our minds to it.  

“Social responsibility is important. Young CAs have a sense of professional responsibility to give back and guide those who have not been as lucky as us.”