Why Dudettes Will Save Beancounters

Without young women, baby boomer accounting firm partners can’t retire.  Guess who’s in the driver’s seat.

It took us six months, dozens of interviews and a boatload of analysis to produce the 2011 Accounting MOVE Project Executive Report. 

One of our sponsors, Moss Adams, recommended that this year we do a deep-dive into the implications of this one fact: 55% of today’s accounting grads are women.  Here’s the implication:  twenty-something women control the retirement of baby boomer accounting firm partners.

Who’s your Daddy now?

Here’s how it shakes out:

  • Young women are well over half of all accounting firm grads
  • Women tend to evaporate from the accounting firm partnership pipeline at the senior manager level
  • Without up-and-coming partners, the current generation of partners can’t retire
  • Without sufficient leaders to bring in new business, the current generation of partners won’t have a growing firm to sell
  • All that stands between the golf course and today’s partners is an army of young women

Firms slow to grasp this are going to find themselves stranded, their partners unable to either retire (not enough partners to replace them) or sell (losing half the talent midstream dried up their revenue and growth).

The report outlines plenty of strategies for keeping young women in the pipeline:

  • Equipping them with business development skills from the start
  • Rotating them into positions where they can meet and learn from women just a few steps ahead
  • Ensuring that they really understand the variety of paths their careers can take
  • Providing tracks to leadership through women’s initiatives and other programs
  • Transparency in pay equity and the advancement of women at the firm

We looked into the whites of these guys’ eyes and we saw….yes, fear. Things are starting to change at tradition-bound accounting firms. Retaining and promoting younger women is suddenly mission-critical. Some will do it better than others…but they’ll get it done. Nothing will keep them from that golf course.

Image courtesy of Morguefile contributor  carool.

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