Only 10 percent of accounting and finance professionals believe there is someone internally who could easily step in to fill their role if they quit, according to a new survey.

Robert Half Management Resources found that 50 percent of the respondents to a recent poll said the company would need to hire an outside candidate to fill the position. That number goes up among the executive ranks, where 64 percent said their companies would have to hire someone new to replace them.

Forty percent said training would be required if someone were to step in if they quit. That percentage declined to 27 percent in the executive ranks.

“Succession planning may feel like a long-term initiative, but the pain felt watching a star employee walk out the door with no backup in place is immediate and costly,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, in a statement. "Having no 'Plan B' puts the business at risk, particularly at the executive level, where it can take a significant amount of time to replace someone."

McDonald noted that although establishing succession plans throughout the enterprise can be complex, small steps make a big difference. “Executives and business owners can start by asking managers for succession plans specific to their teams, and use this input to form a broader organizational strategy,” he said. “Cross-training staff also can prepare employees to take on new roles.”

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