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Generation Y: Young Accountants Challenge Employers For Dynamic Careers

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Generation Y: Young Accountants Challenge Employers For Dynamic 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, according to new research from ACCA (the global body for professional accountants - Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and Mercer, the global consulting, outsourcing and investments firm.

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 finance careers.

It presents a wakeup 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, including KPMG, Unilever, Hays, Pannell Kerr Forster and Aviva.

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 finance roles. 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."

Sharon Spence, Head of Human Capital at Mercer in New Zealand says New Zealand employers, particularly in the financial services industry, face the added challenge of losing a large proportion of the younger workforce to international competitors.

"New Zealand employers have a role to play slow down the 'brain drain' and show their employees that dynamic career opportunities do exist on New Zealand soil. This is especially important in the financial services industry, where individuals, predominately in their twenties, are often lured offshore to countries such as Australia which is seen as the region's financial hub and houses many of the major banks' head offices," Ms Spence said.

"In an ever-changing competitive environment, the one constant seems to be for the need for talented people, and keeping young finance professionals in New Zealand is a constant challenge fuelling the skills shortage. Organisations must be aware that to be considered 'an employer of choice' by any workforce sector they have to ensure the employment proposition addresses a range of engagement drivers, providing flexibility to address different employee expectations and business needs.

"It's about striving for best fit, not best practice. This means understanding who you need in your talent pipeline, and devising a strategy that works for you - and despite the stereotypes, not all Gen Y employees want the same thing," she said.

Other key findings from the research reveal the following:

Money matters: Remuneration is important to this age group 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 Generation 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.

Be attractive, be different: Employers need to put career development at the heart of their proposition to make them attractive to Generation Y in the finance profession.

Jamie Lyon from ACCA concludes, "as our report shows, this is an ber 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."

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