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More than one in four accountants find their path blocked by late-retiring colleagues


28% of accountants say career progress has been obstructed by older colleagues delaying retirement

Professionals in their early 30s most affected

Nearly two-thirds of all accountants feel it is now harder for younger professionals to progress to senior level.

85% take decision to leave when career progress is hindered

Accountants aged between 31 and 35 are the most affected with 38% reporting that their career development has been hampered in this way. Accountants in this age bracket are most likely to be on the cusp of promotion to director or partner level.*

In comparison, just 20% of those aged 26-30 have found their career development blocked, suggesting that the issue becomes more pronounced as they progress upwards from junior positions.

Progression to senior levels harder than for current generation

The research also shows that almost two-thirds (63%) of accountants believe it is now harder to progress to director and partner level than it was for those currently occupying these positions.

Marks Sattin’s 2014 Salary Survey indicates that just 1% of the current accountancy workforce is over the age of 60. However, the research showed that 43% of accountants believe they will retire beyond the age of 65.

This is despite high levels of pay across the industry, averaging &pound66,795, nearly two and a half times the national average salary**.

Accountants not afraid to move out to move up

Moving firms was the most popular method of resolving obstruction by senior colleagues according to Marks Sattin’s research. Of accountants who had been faced with older colleagues preventing their progress, 73% took the decision to leave.

Only 24% felt able to consult with senior management about their career and a minority (5%) raised the concern with the Human Resources team. Just 22% continued to seek progression in their current role.

Across all respondents, 85% said that they would move firms if they felt their career progress was being obstructed with only 17% indicating that they would stick with their current role.

Marks Sattin’s 2014 salary survey shows career development is the most common reason for accountants having left their previous role, with a quarter (25%) citing this among their biggest motivations. The annual survey also shows 39% of accountants are actively looking for a new role.

Dave Way, managing director of Marks Sattin, said, “Our research reveals just how important it is for accountants to move up the career ladder. The fact that 85% of professionals would move firms if they felt that their path to the top was blocked should serve as a clear warning of the impact that failing to address issues of career development can have on the retention of top talent.

“With the economy grinding back into gear, more firms are competing for a finite pool of highly quality accountants, many of whom would have little difficulty finding a well-paid position. In order to stay ahead of the competiton and retain tomorrow’s leaders, businesses need to ensure that junior and mid-level accountants are aware of how their career development will be supported, what they need to do to achieve their next promotion and the benefit of learning from and working alongside more senior colleagues.”


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