Employers should take note: young finance professionals prioritize job mobility and career progression over company loyalty. In order to cultivate and retain top talent, it’s important to recognize that while “jobs for life” are a thing of the past, there are ways to harness the ambitions of our future leaders of finance.

Warner Johnston

Warner Johnston

To get a clearer picture of the next generation of finance leaders, the ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) recently surveyed the career aspirations of young accountants and finance professionals, polling nearly 19,000 professionals under 36 years old from 150 countries.

The report reveals that 70% of the respondents are looking to change jobs in the next two years, with 67% looking for a promotion.

Because young professionals are prepared to chase opportunity and change jobs often, employers who don’t deliver on the high expectations of youthful pros risk hemorrhaging their best talent and losing it to competitors, both at home and abroad. If employers want to keep hold of their talent, they need to make sure career planning packages are available, from learning and development to talent-spotting initiatives.

ACCA found that the young professionals surveyed were more likely to stay with an employer if they’re offered the opportunity to learn and develop skills (88%), career progression opportunities (88%), and a competitive financial remuneration package (87%).

Opinion_Bug7It’s essential that employers take stock of how well their company is doing in these areas, because future finance leaders are happy to seize the initiative in the labor market to achieve professional satisfaction. They know that demand for their skills is high, and if their employer isn’t delivering, they won’t wait around. The result of that is employers can’t attract, nurture, and retain talent the same way they could in the past.

If an employer fails to offer career satisfaction and clear paths to progression, the next generation indicates they will waste no time seeking opportunities elsewhere. Interestingly, a huge majority aspires to go it alone. Eighty-one percent of respondents want to start their own company at some point in the future, with 10% harboring ambitions to do so as a next career move.

Young finance professionals’ ambitions also extend internationally, ACCA found, with 80% expressing a desire to move to another country or regional role at some point. The results suggest the next generation in finance understands the global context in which their careers are taking place. They see the value of international experience and recognize the career benefits that exposure to globalization brings.

It’s clear that rising leaders in finance increasingly value mobility and have ambitious goals for career advancement. The challenge ahead for employers, both large and small, is to make sure that they provide the sort of work environment and clear path for progression that the best of the next generation of finance professionals demand.

Warner Johnston is the chief executive officer of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in the United States (ACCA USA). ACCA is the global body for professional accountants.

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