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Today's Accounting Crop: Spoiled Rotten?

Finance chiefs try to cope with a new cadre of finance and accounting employees who just can't sit still.

David M. Katz, | US
October 29, 2007

What Jobs

Having recently graduated with an AAS in Accounting, I have found it very difficult to find a position in this market. I am not one of the young ones either. This will be my second career. The young people of today have no sense of what it will take to succeed. They want immediate results and do not look at long range plans.

Posted by Dora Blue | February 05, 2010 12:30 pm

Lack of Leadership

I am in the twilight of my working years and see a great deal of misunderstanding on both sides of this debate. Many senior managers, and those at executive levels, are more interested in being bosses and less inclined to exercise good leadership. As stated in several of the responses hereto loyalty is a two-way street and starting down the street is the challenge of company management. Some people work to live and others live to work. Neither is right or wrong, that's just how it is. Manager's must understand that both types are in any given organization and lead their people accordingly to attain corporate goals. Both sides need to stop whinning, work together and get a life!

Posted by Thomas Morris | October 27, 2009 06:44 am

Loyalty is a Two-way Street

I have seen numerous articles along these same lines, and while I technically miss out on being lumped in with people born after 1982 by 5 years, I feel lumped in as well being one of the younger members of management at my company. I started out in public accounting and perhaps was unlucky, but my experience with three CPA firms was that they out and out lied to get candidates to accept jobs. I only worked for one of these three firms, for five years, and found that working there was getting me nowhere. The two times of the year that the CPA exam was offered typically came and went with me working from 7 in the morning until 10 or 11 at night and on weekends while I should have been allowed time to study for the exam. The "class" of recruits that I started with were gone by year three, I alone surviving because I was afraid to go somewhere else, such was the impression they had driven into our heads: "You're not worth more money, you don't work hard enough." After promises of bonuses, the final straw that broke the camel's back was my 5th and final tax season. I had billed over $150,000 inside of three months and was handed a $50 gift certificate for a dinner at a mediocre steakhouse for my troubles (11 hour average days). When searching for my next public accounting job, I was a bit naive and accepted a verbal offer from another firm, only to find out that the written offer was $10,000 less than the offer over the phone and they were unwilling to negotiate despite their broken verbal offer. Needless to say, I left public accounting and never looked back. You cannot instill loyalty in employees without showing some on the employer side. Firms today do not do this at all, in my experience. So please, baby boomers, get off your high horses. Our generation will work and work hard. We will not work indefinitely for a carrot on a stick that is not attainable.

Posted by Justin Green | October 30, 2008 02:34 pm

Loyalty to companies

I see companies are distressed with "millenials" lack of loyalty to their employer. I do not think this generation will ever develop much of such loyalty. Too many saw their parents, or their parents' friends and relatives, downsized and formed an unspoken opinion, reinforced by their parents, to "never" depend on a company's loyalty. The job uncertainty did not have to happen to each family to make its way into our culture. I am afraid this is the price of the flexibility to right-size and change to adapt to market changes. Companies have to invest in the talent they have for the time they can keep those persons, and hope the rest of the market has done something similar.

Posted by Barrett Peterson | June 30, 2008 05:10 pm

What's the objective of the experienced generation...

I am one of the kids born in the early 80's, recruited by big accounting firms, and went to work for one. They discussed in recruiting the differences in generations. Other elders have mentioned what our generation is lacking. My mother and mother-in-law have both pointed out to me the problems of my generation in the workforce. I try to be objective and I do understand many of the issues. I often, like my peers, like to point to reasons the generation has turned out the way it has to come to an understanding. It often just comes across as excuses. Whatever the problems are, it is interesting to me what the older generation is trying to accomplish. The young generation likely feels like the criticism is an attempt to insult them into change and improvement. I feel lumped into a generation and insulted. This aricle seems to be insulting the younger generation. Assuming it's all true and the gen-Y just doesn't have the thick skin to accept it, what are older gen's accomplishing by appearing to be insulting and whining about how bad the next gen is. If our work sucks, give it to us straight, work with us, let us go, don't higher us, etc. Do something other than criticize and complain the generation! I guess this is how it is though. From my understanding of history it seems like generations often received flak from a previous generations and take little responsibility for the result of the generation they raised.

Posted by Jono Castleton | May 12, 2008 03:45 pm

Not just accounting . . .

Couldn't agree more with this article. Only problem is - this prima donna attitude is not limited to accounting by any means. I would venture to say the WHOLE CROP of newer graduates (with a few exceptions) have absolutely no loyalty or desire to maximize the workplace experience. RESPECT ME they say. When the heck did respect stop being something that was earned?? Maybe they should start by respecting their accomplished elders and trying to learn something instead of jumping around for a few extra dollars (and whining incessantly while doing it).

Posted by Roberta Dean | March 28, 2008 12:09 pm

Wake up, Ms Morales

Before you bemoan the "lack of commitment" of your junior staff members, ask yourself what steps you personally have taken to demonstrate your or your company's commitment to them!

Posted by STEPHEN BURNS | February 21, 2008 01:55 pm

We're Out Here

I'm a Generation X'r and I LOVE accounting...auditing specifically. I do it because I get satisfaction from doing it well and I gladly welcome constructive criticism. My goal is to become and stay at the top of my game. The problem I find is that the respect is not given to those that work hard, but to those that know how to politic. In turn, its hard for those of us who put our noses to the grind on the daily...we're the outcasts that's trying to show up the rest. I'm looking for respect and a focus on hard work, not more money...but yes, I'll job hop to do it.

Posted by Pamela Hill | January 23, 2008 03:47 pm


There is a simple solution to this problem: Hire accounting and financial professionals who are seasoned and experienced (over 45). Let the problem of inexperience and immaturity be someone else's problem.

Posted by Craig Bothwell | November 05, 2007 09:32 am

What's Your Point?

Sounds to me like the CFO in the article does not have children in the educational system. She should not be surprised at the need for "atta kid" 's. Our whole society is based on micro-wave ovn quick, disposable relationships. After years in the educational system, it should no surprise that recent graduates want it all, and are prepared to get up and walk out when they perceive they are not getting it right away. Sometimes, you get the society you deserve.

Posted by Bernard Boona | November 02, 2007 08:27 am

It's not a job, it's a project

During our "parents'" generation there was a thing called loyalty to a company. Those days are long gone, as "jobs" don't exist for the "millennium generation." It's called "projects," and once a project is completed, it's off to the next challenge and bigger bucks.

Posted by Andreas Droste | October 31, 2007 10:06 am


I find the current responses to this article to be myopic and totally miss the point. Loyalty?!! give me a break. Loyalty on both sides of the employer/employee relationship was NEVER there. I know it from both the blue collar and white collar perspective. I grew up in a blue collar union family where my father, put in over 30 years at the local GM plant. What the union fought for, the company tried to find every loophole possible to take away. The union rank and file had to use what my father called "unscrupulous" tactics to force the plant manager into honoring their committments. Not that the union rank and file were innocent. There where many who used their union connections to get lazy and underperform. The issue, properly highlighted in this article is the lack of motivation and lack of hunger this current crop of finance professionals posess. I know it first hand. I'm reviewing the work of a couple of first year staffers and it is clear they neither did much in the way of research, nor did they really care about the end product. Yet I'm suppose to give these kids attaboys and attagirls for the fine work they did. In reality, the work they did sucks All of the previous responses here, suggest that we somehow have the right to a good paying job. That corporate America owes us a job and a risk free ride through life...Bull S#it. Let me tell you what you have the right to...STARVE thats it. If you want it you need to go get it. Of course, the current crop of professionals simply want to network their way to the top. Seems thats the only real value they bring to the table. I've been a CPA since 1997, and I have 20 years in this profession. I got into it because I would be good at it NOT for the money. I'm damn good at it and will stack my MAC conference degree against any current Big Ten conference degree because I have one thing they don't...A Committment to excellence in client service and quality. All they give a damn about is their paycheck.

Posted by Guy Nevers | October 31, 2007 08:27 am

Loyalty is a Two Way Street

Ok, I'll spell it out: why should we show loyalty when corporations will layoff anytime to make the bottom line look better? No more post retirement benefits. No funded pension plans. Age discrimination. Working hours and environments that make accounting and finance departments look like sweat shops. Do you think we enjoy doing accounting? If you want the talent, you have to pay the big bucks, and then your work life balance needs to also be in line. After paying the big bucks, you better keep paying us because we are like NFL players in terms of free agency: we only have a short number of years to perform as corporate atheletes so we need to get the most comp before we get caught up in a career ending Enron or Arhtur Andersen event. Shame on you decision makers, you should go back to school and study the laws of supply and demand. If you do not give us the perks and comp we want, we WILL go somewhere else, so get used to it.

Posted by Working Pay | October 30, 2007 09:45 pm

You reap what is sown

I think this "new crop," which I consider myself part of, has seen with their parents and friends companies do what they must with lay-offs and downsizing; lose their jobs. I think the new crop is aware that they are expendable. Furthermore, the new crop has to deal with hitting AMT at an earlier age, inflated housing prices, looming student debts, alternative retirement funding, etc. The desctruction of the American dream for our generation has made us always keep our eye open for the next best situation to propel us economically forward. That's not to say that we are not loyal; we will show loyalty to organizations that provide us the right environment. But we have become what the old generation has sown.

Posted by Todd Transue | October 30, 2007 02:59 pm

"You want loyalty, hire a cocker spaniel"

I think much of the problem stems from loyalty from the company to the employees as well. There is no more 30 years, a pension, and a gold watch. As part of the millenium generation myself I see firms quick to layoff highly qualified employees as soon as there is any sign of a downturn, yet they expect their employees to stick by them with absolute loyalty. If you want your best to stay, make it worth their while. I bet if new graduates were offered a position with a guaranteed 5 years of employment with no chance for layoffs you'd find they would stay. I also think the end of the training program leads to discontent. Employees are thrown in and expected to learn by osmosis. No wonder we constantly need feedback, we have no idea if we're doing a good job with such minimal trainng on what success should look like.

Posted by Philip Hancock | October 30, 2007 11:44 am

Welcome to the Real World

With companies, being bought out and sold, or taken private or better yet constant reorganization, create an environment in which loyalty is a luxury. Current environment does not support longevity at employers. We are all entrepreneurs and business people and it would not be productive to one's own corporation not to take on a better opportunity with the potential of more reward. Employee loyalty is of thinking of the past. Furthermore, Corporate Finance & Accounting has done a terrible job in developing skills and talent for new works in the past to even foster employee loyalty and growth that is required today. They want worker bee’s but the bee’s are leaving the hive to find better hives to live and work.

Posted by Michael Kuczynski | October 30, 2007 09:12 am

Employee loyalty

Employers are reaping what has been sown for the past 20 plus years. Systematically the american corporations have increasing ly felt that no employee should expect job security. The attitude is "What have you done for me lately?" Goals are set out but not changed- if during the year situations change. The employers create an atmoshere that does not reward thinking - only adherance to the "company POLICY". Computers allow micro managing that was never available before . Therefore, employees are not encouraged to solve problems- only check with policy or some one higher-up. Then you have the higher-ups whinning that they have to mentor (micro manage their employees). Solution: Provide meanigful training, assign jobs that allow for growth , mentor- don't micro-manage, work with the employee by providing meaningful job experiences, pay a good wage (accountants are not salespeople- they actually worry about their future) and provide anatmosphere that allows them to grow without the threat of getting downsized, outsized or fired on a whim. If senior executives would actually manage the "big picture" and not attempt to micro manage everything they would be more efective and whine less.

Posted by Jeffrey Bartlett | October 29, 2007 09:09 pm

Duality of Loyalty with Balance for Work and Rest

I concur with a previous post by another reader that loyalty of the employer to the employee influences employee loyalty to the employer. It's a two-way street, not a one-way street depicted in the article. Plus, business schools have taught that loyalty has changed. Thus, it is ingrained from education, which influences attitudes and behaviours of both employers and employees. Similarly, we must look at organizational dynamics. Does the employer provide the best possible workplace, especially in terms of civility? If not, why would anyone want to work at Organization A when Organization B might be better? It is common sense that mistreatment does not have to be endured in a sellers market. A good example is the largest public accounting firm. Not a great place to work based on hyper competitive work efficiency expectations and outcomes. Instead, better paced organizational work processes can be found that provide work life balance and a memory of social issues whilst working in an accounting and finance environment. Time and motion studies should be used to slow work down not to speed work up so as to avoid labour process intensification, resultant health concerns, work alienation, and diminishing work returns to scale from poorer memory and subsequent errors in decision-making. Re-engineering of work for physical, as well as more importantly mental, ergonomics is important and some employers might be overlooking this. The ultimate goal of work is to like it, not to despise it since most of an individual’s waking life is spent at work. I still think there is a significant problem with work when employees can hardly wait for the weekend to come and when it does that weekend is also filled with non-employment work. The same could be said for vacation and retirements. Too much work burns the mind when it should not be as such. USA organizations have been cited as having higher productivity than Canadian organizations. But, what is the quality of the higher productivity and at what cost? Perhaps a lesson could be learned from European organizations that offer 6 weeks vacation to newly starting employees. Also consider some German organizations that structure a 10-hour 4-day workweek such that there is a long weekend every weekend. Indeed Europe has been around for longer than the USA and Canada, and there is a better understanding, in Europe, of the interaction between working lives and personal lives couched in terms of the interplay between productivity and rest respectively. Work and rest should be like a coin: while there are 2-sides, there must be a balance (and even the law of large numbers in Statistics predicts this to be so). Perhaps Bertrand Russell’s “In Praise of Idleness” needs to be re-examined.

Posted by David Newman | October 29, 2007 06:55 pm

Job Hopping

Some of the lack of company loyalty comes from the lack of management's loyalty to employees.

Posted by Bradley Schwieger | October 29, 2007 05:38 pm

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