By Joelise Tillman-Josey, AFWA Member
Millennials, individuals born between 1981-1997, are disrupting the nature of every industry and the fields of finance and accounting are not exempt. Although the disruption is new and challenging for some, those who do embrace the change will be pleasantly surprised with what trends are to come and have already arrived. Each generation boasts certain characteristics and millennials possess a variety of lively traits. Millennials have grown up in a time of constant change and can be categorized as highly driven, ambitious, and craving added responsibility. Growing up at the beginning of the internet age has given them an expanded global view and they are aware of the accounting and finance profession from this standpoint. In the upcoming years, millennials will have an opportunity to work and partner with accounting and finance firms that cater to their strengths, needs, and most surprisingly, their wants.
Policies that were once thought unprofessional will be implemented to attract millennial talent. Unlimited paid time off and remote working opportunities will be offered as an effort to promote work-life balance in the workplace. Employers are also remodeling their workplaces to reflect modern and cohabited spaces as millennials desire collaborative environments. Progressive firms will also rise to the occasion of providing growth opportunities for millennials through mentorship and leadership programs, giving millennials a voice in the firms.
Millennials can also expect to see employers assisting with student loan repayments, as this is one of the largest issues impacting their livelihood today. Currently, student loan debt has reached 1.2 trillion dollars and 44.2 million Americans have student loan debt. With student loan delinquency rates at about 11%, employers are stepping up to be a part of the solution, while retaining top talent. Fidelity Investments, Price Waterhouse Coopers, and several employers are presently participating in this well received trend.
Millennials also value flexibility and employers are creating new ways to build this value into their work environments. Firms have started to offer paid time off to assist employees with preparing for the CPA exam. Some have also partnered with CPA preparation companies, such as Becker Professional Education, to provide review courses to ensure employees have all the tools needed to pass the exam successfully. Employees who pass the CPA exam within the time allotted by participating employers can expect to receive a pay bonus between $5,000-$8,000 as an added incentive.
Technology will continue to play a large role in the accounting and finance field and millennials can expect to be participants in the change. To move with the times or stay ahead of the times, the finance industry has begun to move accounting functions into the “Cloud”. This allows companies to run applications online, giving them access to information anywhere at any time. Mobile working is also becoming popular. Clients can now record expenses on the go, check their financial data and manage their accounts from their mobile device. The finance industry has taken notice are partnering with software development firms to make their business uses and client business uses mobile friendly.
In addition, an increasing number of clients are shopping and screening professionals and their employers based on their digital presence, making digital branding and its footprint increasingly important. The use of social media platforms has provided accounting and finance professionals with an opportunity to create new business, connect with professionals in a variety of industries, and allow users to post blogs and articles relevant to their profession. A social media survey conducted by the Social Media Examiner in 2012 showed that, of the more than 3,500 marketers polled, 74% found traffic increased with as little as spending 6 hours a week on social media marketing.
Millennials are creating a good disturbance in the accounting and finance industry and employers are looking to create environments they can excel and thrive in. With initiatives, such as unlimited paid time off, collaborative work spaces, and mentorship programs, millennials can expect to grow both personally and professionally in the profession. They can also expect to experience an improved quality of life as employers are looking to assist in student loan repayments and CPA licensing. Millennials will also be very active with the use of technology and social media as this represents a large part of their era.
Have you experienced any of these changes in the workplace? Are you a leader or mentor for young professionals in the industry? Share your comments below.
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