Accounting for Generational Change

Author: John tougher

Akin to many generations before, people are not well voiced on the Millennial and all that comes with them. When the word Millennial is brought up, there is a sense of fear that is often aligned with it. Fear of the unknown if you may. Companies across the globe are scrambling to come to terms with this new generation and how to understand them. We do know that Millennials are different to other generations and that they are not one for conforming or settling into a job and being satisfied. The millennial view runs from conforming and complacency. They are an incredibly driven generation that see no ceiling to their limit and no boundaries to their influence on bettering the world. There appears to be a strong opposition to corporate America ideals amongst this generation, who do not want to be a mere cog in the wheel of the beast.


     They want to write their own script where previous generations were simply following the beaten path. In corporate America, men and women are forced to sit in offices, working from 9 to 5 at a job they hate, just so they can afford to have items they don’t even have the time to enjoy. What is different about Millennials is that they value time over money, which is why so many of us follow entrepreneurial dreams. Passion and purpose over security and salary. We hope to find a career in line with our own passion. But is there any job Millennials might accept where they are okay being part of the system?


            I think the answer to that question is yes; the accounting industry. Wait, hear me out! Accounting is stereotypically a dull and boring career for people who are good with numbers. Number crunchers, pencil pushers and so on and so forth. While those who are left-brainers and mathletes do often gravitate toward accounting, there are a lot of people who don’t give it the chance it deserves. When I decided to choose accounting as my major I did so for one reason and one reason alone. Job security. Moving here from Ireland I had no idea what the future had in store for me. Whether it would be get my degree and go back to Ireland or stay in the US I knew that accounting would be a strong base. Accounting is the language businesses speak. A study of accounting teaches you how to understand the company’s financial statements. As an 18 year old kid moving halfway across the world I had no limit to my dreams. I would often think about starting my own business. What better way to learn how to run a business than by studying how different industries, companies, states and nations operate in that domain? It wasn’t until my junior year that I began to see what types of jobs were in the accounting field besides pushing buttons on a calculator for hours on end. I attended various networking events at my university where accounting firms came to recruit the students. Yes you read that correct, recruit you. One of the biggest concerns college graduates have had over the past five years is getting a job within the first year after college. That means for accounting majors there is no spamming resumes to every firm in the country to no avail. No hopeless job searching through websites to find a position with a huge job description that has no real attraction other than to conform to the beast and become a cog. If you choose accounting, however, you know you have a job before you hit senior year. Accounting firms go after all accounting majors, offering well-paying internships across the country. Nearly every large accounting firm guarantees a raise and promotion every year (as long as you put the work in). That's right; you’re moving up the ladder and watching your salary go up every year.


             I may sound like one of those pop up advertisements but this is what I am seeing. Millennials value growth and job progression. For most industries in order for a Millennial to achieve this growth as quick as they desire they have to constantly change companies. This is not the case with Accounting. The timeline of promotions allows the Millennial to grow organically in the company. That is why there is such an emphasis on how companies worldwide entice Millennials. I attend these networking events and see how successful some people are at the age of 30, making good money and having some of the best benefits that come with working for huge accounting companies.


            Suddenly, this boring career path seems to have a little more to offer. But it gets better. Public accounting has always been a field with a high turnover rate. Many employees put in their time to gain the required experience, and then leave to join a company with a more stable environment. This career tactic is very useful, as outgoing public accountants are treated like war heroes by accountant-hungry companies, for all their “noble work” performed. However, with the rise of Generation-Y in the workforce, accounting firms are changing their ways to become more Millennial-friendly. They’ve realized that, in the long run, it’s more beneficial to hold onto current talent than to constantly recruit new talent. With all the positive changes being made to retain employees, it’s never been a better time to be in the industry. The Baby Boomer and Generation-X bosses are seeing Millennials put their social lives in front of their work lives, regardless of the cost. To combat this mindset, accounting firms have been doing everything they can to satisfy employees, by creating a culture that supports the Millennial mindset. Companies have offered frozen yogurt machines, coffee machines, ping-pong tables, free food and various happy hour events to show employees they are appreciated for the time they spend at work. While accounting does have a busy season that entails a couple of months of very long hours, the rest of the year is much more relaxed. Firms are aiming to make employees enjoy being at the company. National accounting firm, Grant Thornton, actually just announced unlimited vacation days for its employees (talk about summer break).


            There are so many other great benefits when it comes to accounting. One of these is the fact the accounting industry is one that doesn't really get damaged by any economic crisis. As a matter of fact, the AICPA has recently come out and said jobs and salaries in accounting have gone up, and are continuously better than the national average.. While I wish I could live that way now, I know the lifestyle is available to me if I work hard and continue on my current path. I do work a lot, and it's not the job children wish for growing up (I still want to be an entertainer). But it’s the job that can help you get what you want from life. I still manage to have fun with the job, be creative, write articles, hang out with friends and work on personal endeavors.  As much as accounting stereotypes make the job seem negative, when you take a second look, you might see it’s the one industry Millennials might actually be okay with.