Losing staff in your accounting firm? Here’s how to fix it.

Discover how to overcome the woes of retaining top talent with the right business model, a meaningful culture and effective recruitment strategies.

minute read

Last Updated March 27, 2024

Team around a conference table discussing what to do in order to attract and retain top talent.


I’m going to be blunt.

If you’re struggling to retain top talent in your accounting firm, it’s probably because of the way you run your firm. But before you email my manager asking for my resignation, hear me out.

You’re not alone.

Since 2020, more than 300,000 accountants and auditors have left their jobs, either through retirement or leaving the profession entirely. See? It’s not just happening to your firm—it’s a problem for the profession as a whole. Of course, I’m not sure that statistic helps you feel better. But misery loves company, right?

What I can tell you is that high turnover happens for three reasons: culture fit, lack of professional growth and lack of workplace flexibility. But guess what? These are all things you have control over, and we can help. So, let’s get started.

Know your business model

Retaining top talent relies on a healthy firm culture. And a healthy culture can’t exist without an intentional business model. That means you need to know:

  • WHO you want to serve. Determine your ideal clients—the ones you’re great at serving and the ones you love to serve.
  • WHAT you want to sell. Figure out the products and services your firm excels at providing. And determine whether they can be standardized and repeatable. (Hint: They should be.)
  • HOW you want to deliver your products. Consider the tech stack that would make your products and services as frictionless as possible for your team and clients.
Image that states: You need to know: Who you want to serve, what you want to sell and how you want to deliver your products.
There are three key elements to creating an intentional business model for your accounting firm.

Having a clear business model lays the groundwork for everything in your firm. And when you have clarity around who you serve, what you provide and how you deliver your services, it helps create healthy boundaries for your clients. And this can help improve your firm’s culture. (It helps in the retaining top talent department, too.)

Develop a healthy workplace culture that matters

Being unhappy with firm culture is one of the top reasons younger employees leave firms. And if your firm’s culture teeters on unhealthy, it’ll be the main reason you continue to see high turnover. When you have a clear business model, though, you’re on the right track to creating a healthy company culture—and retaining top talent.

So, what else can you do to create a culture that matters? You can implement what we call the Four Cs: Clarity, Candor, Connection and Consistency.

Image that says: So, what else can you do to create a culture that matters? You can implement what we call the Four Cs: Clarity, Candor, Connection and Consistency.
Creating a culture that helps you retain top talent requires attention to the Four Cs.


Clarity is the awareness of the “who, what, how and why” of your firm. The WHO, WHAT and HOW are part of your business model. But the WHY is just as important. Your team needs to know why their work matters. You need to create clarity around who you’re serving, what you’re selling, how you’re operating the business and why your work matters. (Hint: This is driven by the awareness of your firm’s mission, vision and values.)


Candor is perhaps one of the most challenging components of developing a healthy culture. Why? Because firms have to allow space for their staff to be candid with their experiences. And that means letting them tell you the good, the bad and the ugly—all without repercussions. Set up regular one-on-one meetings with staff members to encourage honest communication.


Employees thrive in an environment where they feel engaged and connected. So, it’s important that they’re acknowledged on a daily basis and given an environment that helps them feel seen, heard and valued. Help your team feel like they’re a priority by providing regular encouragement and appreciation.


Dedicate time each day to making small, incremental changes that keep your employees engaged and part of the conversation. You establish consistency by consistently creating clarity, building candor and making connections.

Recruit and retain top talent

When armed with a clear business model and a healthy culture, your firm stands out from the crowd when looking for—and keeping—the best of the best. With that in mind, here are five actionable steps you can take for recruiting and retaining top talent.

  1. Modernize your recruiting process. Make a killer first impression from the very beginning of the recruiting process. You can do this by creating a modern job description, posting jobs in the right places, setting a timeline for the interview process (and sticking to it), and treating the interview as a conversation.
  2. Offer flexible schedules. People are looking for work-life balance and flexibility in their schedules. Offer remote and hybrid work options, and consider flexible schedules instead of the typical 9-to-5 grind. Doing this helps expand your job search outside city boundaries and increases your candidate pool.
  3. Up your benefits game. Consider offering benefits like competitive pay (this one’s a no-brainer), 401(k) matching, retirement packages, additional sick days, mental health days, meal allowances and leadership development opportunities.
  4. Onboard all new employees. Onboarding plays a significant role in whether a staff member sticks around for the long haul. Create a staff onboarding team that helps new employees transition seamlessly into their new positions. And make sure they have all the tools they need to perform their job.
  5. Create a career path for advancement. Provide an intentional career path for each position in your firm so your team members know there’s room for growth. And if you have staff members interested in expanding their knowledge and expertise, set aside a continuing education budget and encourage your team to use it.
Image that states: Steps you can take for recruiting and retaining top talent: 1. Modernize your recruiting process. 2. Offer flexible schedules. 3. Up your benefits game. 4. Onboard all new employees. 5. Create a career path for advancement.
If you want to find and keep the best of the best employees, you need to take steps to make your firm more attractive.

Take control of your accounting firm’s environment

Remember, you’re not alone in the struggle to retain top talent; many firms are struggling, too. While you can’t control whether someone decides to stay or leave, you can control your firm’s environment. And when you have a clear business model and a healthy culture, you’re setting your firm up for success in finding and keeping the right people.

For more information on hiring, managing and retaining the best talent for your firm, download our eBook.

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