Research indicates that the Australian Government’s plan to increase the age of eligibility for the Age Pension to 70 will have a significant impact on accounting firms.
Widespread early retirement among professionals in the industry suggests that firms may need to develop new ways of engaging with older members in the workforce.
Many accountants today anticipate retirement before they reach the age of 65. In a number of cases, it is common for workers in the industry to retire in their late 50s. This is despite the growing trend among other professionals in other areas of employment to continue working until later in life.
In the past, this has meant that accounting firms are accustomed to losing practitioners with decades worth of experience.
David Elrod, financial director of Microsoft Corp has expressed concern over the loss of skills and talent that are not being replaced as top-level finance professionals retire.
This pattern also poses challenges to clients who are seeking a professional to manage their family finances and provide ongoing advice for multiple generations. Business owners who intend to pass ownership of the company to their children may view their own accountant the ideal mentor.
This importance of this issue is highlighted in a recent Report which identified senior accountants as being among the highest demand among employers. The publication indicated that employers were seeking highly experienced candidates due to many employers lacking the time to train new staff.
HLB Mann Judd Chairman, Tony Fittler has recently examined how the situation differs for other industries. Lawyers and engineers for example find that more alternative career paths become available to them as they become older. As there are no equivalent options for accountants, the recent increase in retirement age is something that will need to be addressed.
Chief Executive of Certified Practicing Accountants Australia, Alex Malley spoke in favour of providing opportunities for older workers but emphasised the need for the collaboration of businesses.
Speaking generally about older professionals, Mr. Malley said that there were a range of social and economic benefits to retaining older professionals with “experience, common sense and wisdom” in the workforce longer.
Mr. Fittler suggests that accounting firms should consider adopting aspects of the model that exists in other professions in the endeavour to create better career alternatives for older professionals.
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