CPA partners believe compensation is the driving force behind a new recruit’s decision to join and stay with a firm -- but a new study says that’s not necessarily the case.

According to a “Top Talent Study” conducted by the Private Companies Practice Section of the American Institute of CPAs, young professionals say that growth opportunities are the principal motivator for deciding where they work.

PCPS surveyed 645 partners and 646 young professionals from 600 firms during the spring of 2006. Among survey participants, 93 percent of partners identified salary as the top motivator, while 80 percent of young professionals pointed to the chance to advance within a firm.

In contrast, salary was ranked No. 3 by new accountants, while partners placed career growth at No. 4.
According to the survey results, the top five reasons new talent joins a firm are growth opportunities, paid personal/vacation time, salary, respect for the company mission statement, and interesting and challenging projects. Partners felt new recruits joined their firms for the following reasons, ranked in order of preference -- salary, medical benefits, paid personal/vacation time, growth opportunities and paid overtime. 

As far as the reasons why new hires stay with a firm, both groups listed four of the same top five reasons -- respect for the company’s mission statement, career growth opportunities, salary and interesting and challenging projects.

The AICPA has produced a new guide, “Gaining a Strategic Advantage in Recruiting and Retention,” containing the survey results and solutions for staff hiring and retention. This booklet is available at no cost to PCPS member firms, and is available for sale at

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