5 top issues making Gen Zers and millennials leave their accounting and finance jobs


Finding skilled talent in accounting and finance may only get harder as turnover is on the rise, especially among Gen Z and millennial professionals.

Talent Retention in the U.S. Accounting and Finance, a new report by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), a global association of accountants and financial professionals, in collaboration with Robert Half, an employment agency, examines the reasons why talent is eyeing the door.  

Almost one-third (29%) of survey respondents reported leaving a company in the past 24 months. But there’s also a distinction in job turnover by age. Thirty-nine percent of those ages 18-38 (Gen Zers and millennials) have left their jobs in the past two years. 

Overall, 24% of respondents plan to leave in the next 6 or 12 months. That percentage increases to 26% for Gen Zers and millennials, and as high as 8% also expect to leave the accounting and finance profession in the next 12 months. The findings are based on a survey of 1,236 current and former accounting and finance professionals and academics in the U.S.

“The accounting and finance profession is facing significant barriers to retaining talent, but this study provides us with insights into key factors contributing to the job turnover,” Susie Duong, senior director of research and thought leadership at IMA and co-author of the study, said in a statement. 

Here are the top five factors fueling job turnover (across age demographics), according to the study:

Job satisfaction 

Of those who intended to leave their current employer in the next six months, 29% said they were not satisfied with the work they were asked to do. And 54% said they were not satisfied with their supervisor. Meanwhile, of those intending to leave the profession in the next 12 months, 22% said they were not satisfied with the work, 28% were not satisfied with coworkers, and 35% weren’t satisfied with the supervisor.

Perception of career advancement

Eighty-three percent of professionals intending to leave their jobs in the next six months did not expect to advance at their current company. And 75% of those who intend on leaving the profession within the same time period felt the same.

Work flexibility 

Approximately one-third of those who planned to leave their employer or the profession reported a lack of flexibility in determining where to work. Employers with hybrid work arrangements are likely to experience the lowest employee turnover in the next six or 12 months compared to those with fully remote setups and those that require employees to be 100% on-site, the study found. 

Employee engagement

Thirty-one percent of employees intending to leave in six months are not engaged at work. The most common sentiment is their contributions are not valued by the organization (22%). And of those leaving the profession in the next 12 months, 22% said they think leadership doesn’t care about their wellbeing. 

A sense of belonging

More than 40% of those who intended to leave in the next six or 12 months highlighted the absence of a strong sense of belonging in the workplace, while only 10% of those intending to stay shared the same perspective. 

The research found compensation is also a factor. For example, one of the respondents told IMA and Robert Half: “I left the profession due to the low pay, excessive work hours, and the overall negative atmosphere among my coworkers.”

What are some strategies to retain talent? Providing competitive compensation and benefits is a must, according to the report. Also, measures like upskilling and reskilling to increase digital literacy, create a supportive and inclusive work environment, emphasize work-life balance and flexible work, and provide professional growth and development opportunities. 

And brand building is paramount, notes Steve Saah, executive director of finance and accounting–permanent placement at Robert Half. “Developing and promoting a strong employer brand is essential for companies to attract talent. That includes shining a light on all the ways a business fosters a great work environment and invests in its people.”

You can read the complete report here.

Sheryl Estrada

Upcoming event: Fortune‘s Emerging CFO virtual event, in partnership with Workday, “Finance and IT as co-innovation partners,” will take place on Oct. 25, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET.

Join us for a conversation where we will explore strategies to shift the Finance-IT relationship from its traditional support model to a partnership focused on co-innovation, from breaking down data silos to improving cross-functional skills. Confirmed speakers will include: Eric Kutcher, CFO, McKinsey & Company; Zane Rowe, CFO, of Workday; and Sindy Wilson, CFO, of Kickstarter. 


Shalene Jacobson was promoted to CFO at Guaranty Bancshares, Inc., the parent company of Guaranty Bank & Trust, N.A. Clifton A. ‘Cappy’ Payne, senior executive vice president and CFO of the company plans to retire on March 31, 2024, after 40 years, and 35 years as the principal accounting officer. Cappy will step down as CFO, effective Dec. 29. Shalene joined the bank in 2016 and currently serves as EVP and CFO of the bank. She will retain that title after her appointment as CFO of Guaranty Bancshares, Inc.

Joanne Bryce, CFO at Disc Medicine, Inc. (Nasdaq: IRON), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, is stepping down from her position. The disc has initiated a search for her successor. Bryce plans to remain with the company and oversee her current responsibilities until a successor has been identified. "With the company on firm footing and preparing to embark on the next phase of its journey, it is a good time for me to pursue other endeavors and ensure a smooth transition," Bryce said in a statement.

Big deal

"In a Tight Labor Market, Employees Bear the Burden," a Gallup article, discusses how employers look to their current workforce to fill the gaps of essential job openings that remain unfilled. However, the risk is increased employee stress and burnout. When employees say that their organization has asked them to take on additional responsibilities, they are also 55% more likely to watch for or actively seek a new job, according to the report.

Courtesy of Gallup

Going deeper

The latest EY CEO Outlook Pulse survey released this morning is based on the viewpoints of 1,200 global CEOs. It provides insights on capital allocation and investment strategies, and GenAI, including the urgency that CEOs find themselves acting under when it comes to the technology. 

For example, 70% of CEOs surveyed are accelerating GenAI investments to maintain competitive advantage. However, 68% say GenAI uncertainty creates challenges for adoption, according to the report.

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